Verstappen seals dominant win in Austria

Third win in a row for Dutchman, who leads drivers' championship by 31 points

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 04: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 04, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202107040248 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen increased his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings with an emphatic win at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman never came under pressure at the front of the field, and had a big enough lead to make a second pitstop in the closing stages to secure the fastest lap.

Valtteri Bottas joined the Red Bull driver on the podium, while Lando Norris completed the top three.

There was a safety car on the opening lap as Esteban Ocon found himself in a narrowing gap between Mick Schumacher and Antonio Giovinazzi, with the Alfa Romeo leaving Ocon with a damaged front wheel.

Sergio Perez was all over the back of Norris on the restart, and he tried to go around the outside of the McLaren, sending Perez across the gravel and dropping him down to 10th. The move resulted in a five-second time penalty for the Briton.

Giovinazzi also received an early penalty for overtaking before the safety car line, while Yuki Tsunoda was penalised for crossing the line while coming into the pits.

Norris managed to keep Lewis Hamilton behind for 20 laps, but the reigning champion was able to pass as he looked to close the gap to Verstappen ahead.

Norris and Bottas were the first of the front runners to stop, coming in on lap 31, with Norris’s penalty allowing the Finn to jump ahead of the McLaren. Hamilton followed on the following lap, before Verstappen pitted from the lead one lap later, comfortably rejoining ahead of the Mercedes cars.

Perez struggled to recover from his early incident with Norris, getting stuck behind Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc. He was able to get ahead of Leclerc at the pitstops, but soon found himself having to defend against the Ferrari driver. As Leclerc tried to find a way around the outside, Perez squeezed him wide, with Leclerc dipping a wheel in the gravel.

The incident was almost identical to the coming together the Mexican had with Norris at the start of the race, and he received the same punishment – a five-second time penalty. The pair were under investigation again a few laps later when they came together again, resulting in another penalty for Perez.

Bottas started to close the gap to his teammate, but the Finn was told not the challenge Hamilton, who had sustained damage to the rear of his Mercedes. However, the team decided to switch the drivers around, releasing the faster Bottas as Norris started to catch the duo.

The McLaren easily overtook Hamilton before the seven-time champion came in for a second set of tyres, and then turned his attention to catching Bottas ahead.

The stewards were kept busy as Lance Stroll picked up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane, before Tsunoda received his second penalty for crossing the line on the pit entry.

George Russell found himself running in the points 15 laps from the end, but was having to defend hard to keep Fernando Alonso behind. The two-time champion eventually found a way through two laps from the end of the race.

Kimi Raikkonen also tried to put the Williams driver under pressure in the closing stages of the race, with the Finn appearing to make contact with the rear of Russell’s car.

There was late drama for Raikkonen though as he collided with Sebastian Vettel on the final lap, with both ending the race in the gravel, but both were classified ahead of the Haas cars, having covered more distance.

A late charge from Carlos Sainz ensured he was close enough to Perez to move up to fifth once the Red Bull driver’s penalties were applied.

Provisional classification:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

3. Lando Norris (McLaren)

4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

6. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)

8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)

11. George Russell (Williams)

12. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

14. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

15. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

17. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

18. Mick Schumacher (Haas)

19. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)


Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

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