STYRIAN GP – Max Verstappen cruises to victory ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton in another hard-fought strategic battle

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen has taken victory by thirty-five seconds ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton at the Styrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver looked quick and further cemented the team as genuine challengers for the championship following the teams third win in a row.

Verstappen was able to hold the lead after Hamilton switched to a two-stop strategy in an attempt to undercut Red Bull. It appears as if Red Bull have made a big step forwards as they challenge Mercedes, the Dutchman building his lead in the driver’s championship.

The pace of Red Bull and Mercedes saw them lap every car, Valtteri Bottas finishing third half a second ahead of Sergio Perez. Bottas got past Perez following his extra pit stop, which proved to be uncharacteristically slow for Red Bull leading to him dropping behind Bottas when he re-joined.

The top two teams fighting hard throughout a race without any major drama as it became a battle between them. Verstappen has an eighteen point lead going into the second race at the Red Bull Ring next weekend. Mercedes have now gone four races without a win the longest in the hybrid era.

Hamilton did make a late pit stop after realising he was going to be unable to catch Verstappen, switching to softs to set the fastest lap and that’s why Verstappen took a thirty-five second win.

Verstappen converted pole into the lead and then a 1.4 second lead in the opening two laps, he then went onto slowly and steadily build that lead over the remaining laps. The Dutchman also managed to lead every lap of the race, but Hamilton stealing fastest lap meant he was unable to seal a grand slam, this weekend.

Verstappen said, “Straight away I felt a good balance in the car. It was good to manage the tyres from the start. It felt to the end that I had tyres left. We kept on trying to hit our lap times. That worked really well today. We have to show it again next week. We’ll look at what we can do better and I’m looking forward to next week.”

Hamilton said, “I was trying to keep up but the speed they have, they’ve obviously made some big improvements over the last couple of races and it’s impossible to keep up. I’ve got to do my best job I can each weekend and we need to find some performance. We need an upgrade of some sort.”

One of the things which Mercedes will be taking away from the race was the stronger performance by Bottas, day’s after claiming the relationship

Lando Norris underlined the strong pace of the McLaren, although he was a lap down, he managed to finish six seconds ahead of the Ferrari’s. At the start of the race, the Englishman had got past Perez early on and he had held him there until the end of lap ten.

Perez diving up the inside at Remus, McLaren realising that the battle was with Ferrari instructed Norris not to put up much of a defence.

Carlos Sainz finishing twelve seconds ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc after starting in twelfth and dropping down the field early on, again underlining the step forwards the team has made in the last year. Ferrari still managing to outscore McLaren in their championship battle, with Daniel Ricciardo failing to score.

Sainz when strongly through the pit stop phase of the race and joined behind the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, soon getting passed the Canadian to get sixth.

Leclerc had damaged his front wing on the opening lap, making contact with Pierre Gasly, which saw the Alpha Tauri driver gain a puncher and saw him retire from the race. The Ferrari driver then went long into the race and stopped on lap thirty-seven re-joining in fourteenth.

Gasly also made contact with Antonio Giovinazzi, when trying to recover the car he spun as he fought to regain control of his damaged car.

Lance Stroll was eighth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top ten. Williams George Russell looked on course for eighth place during the early stages of the race, but he was forced to retire from the race after running strongly behind Alonso.

However, was warned of a reliability problem ahead of his stop, where he was stationary for nearly 20s as Williams had to top up the pneumatic pressure in his power unit. He then had to come in again immediately for the process to be repeated and retired eventually after running at the back on lap thirty-nine.

Russell tweeting, “This one hurt. Every single member of the team should hold their head high today. We were up there on merit. Racing can be brutal but we keep fighting.”

Kimi Raikkonen was eleventh fastest finishing the race five seconds ahead of his former teammate Sebastian Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo was thirteenth ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, and the second Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi in fifteenth.

Ricciardo did start to drop back down the field after reporting “low power” on lap seven, although the power did return, he was unable to get himself back into the points.

Mick Schumacher was sixteenth with his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin eighteenth, being spilt by the Williams of Latifi.

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