Tuesday, August 3, 2021
sport

Max Verstappen wins Austrian Grand Prix, with Lando Norris third

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen dominated at his team’s own track for the second time in a week to take control of the drivers’ championship.

Verstappen’s victory in the Austrian Grand Prix was his fourth in five races and moves him into a 32-point lead over title rival Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver had a troubled race and finished fourth behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

And Verstappen’s domination raises questions as to the state of Hamilton’s hopes of an eighth title this year.

Further down the field, George Russell agonisingly missed out on scoring a point for Williams for the first time when he was passed for 10th place by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso with three laps to go after holding the two-time champion at bay for 10 laps.

And there was a bizarre incident on the final lap when Kimi Raikkonen appeared to make a misjudgement and drove his Alfa Romeo into Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin as they were fighting with Russell, taking both cars out.

  • Full race results
  • Who is title favourite according to Fernando Alonso
  • Total domination for Verstappen

    Verstappen controlled the race at the front to send the thousands of Dutch fans who had travelled to Styria for the event into paroxysms of joy.

    He moved clear in the opening laps as Hamilton challenged Norris for second place in the first part of the race.

    It took Hamilton 20 laps before he could find a way past Norris at Turn Four, by which time Verstappen was nearly 10 seconds in front.

    The Red Bull driver continued to pull away in the lead and it looked as if Hamilton, who went into the race talking about limiting the damage to his title hopes, would have to settle for a comfortable second.

But the seven-time champion’s race took a turn for the worse when he suffered floor damage – from running wide at the final corner, Mercedes suspected – and he began to struggle for both pace and with heavy tyre wear.

Hamilton fell back towards Bottas and Norris. Mercedes initially told the Finn to hold station behind Hamilton, Bottas was then told he was allowed to race his team-mate, and finally the two were ordered to swap places, the Briton letting Bottas by into Turn Three with 20 laps to go.

Norris passed Hamilton two laps later and the Mercedes driver pitted for fresh tyres, having to resign himself to fourth place.

Norris chased Bottas all the way and finished only two seconds behind the Finn in an outstanding drive to the final podium place, despite being given a five-second penalty for pushing Red Bull’s Sergio Perez wide as they battled around Turn Four on the first lap.

A hectic race for the lower points places

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz secured fifth place on the final lap as his team tried successfully to calculate what they needed to do to get one of their cars to beat Perez, who was given two five-second penalties for twice forcing Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc wide.

Leclerc and Perez had spent many laps trying to pass Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and Perez twice broke the rules with over-aggressive defending from Leclerc.

Perez eventually managed to pass Ricciardo with just under 20 laps to go and Ferrari now had to try to stop the Mexican building a lead of more than 10 seconds to secure the place.

Leclerc was unable to pass Ricciardo and, as his tyres faded, Ferrari swapped their cars to allow Sainz a go at challenging the McLaren.

On fresher tyres, the Spaniard made it through with two laps to go and managed to put in two quick laps to secure fifth ahead of Perez.

Ricciardo took seventh ahead of Leclerc, with Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly ninth ahead of Alonso.

Driver of the day

What happens next?

After three races on consecutive weekends, the teams and drivers deserve a week off before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Traditionally a Mercedes stomping ground, if Hamilton cannot beat Verstappen there, his title hopes will look in very serious trouble.

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