Max Verstappen wanted to come out firing in Austria, and he delivered.
An assertive drive from the Red Bull star in last night’s Austrian Grand Prix gave the Dutchman his third win in a row this season.
He now leads the world championship standings by 32 points.
Verstappen led from pole and never looked back as his main title rivals became entangled in an enthralling battle for the final podium placings.
Valtteri Bottas finished second, benefiting from self-inflicted damage for his teammate Lewis Hamilton late into the race.
Hamilton was en route to finish in P2 before clattering the vicious sausage kerb on the outside of turn one.
The incident damaged the Mercedes’ floor, and Hamilton battled a lack of downforce and consequent high tyre degradation for the rest of the race.
“I wasn’t going over the top of the kerbs any more than anyone else, so I have no idea where it happened. It was a lot of damage,” Hamilton, who resigned to finish fourth, said.
Lando Norris passed the ailing Hamilton 18 laps from the chequered flag to claim third, his fourth career podium.
From the start, Norris held onto second after his spectacular front-row qualifying effort yesterday.
It took Hamilton 20 laps to demote Norris to third on track before. The same lap then saw Norris dealt a five-second penalty for an earlier incident with Sergio Perez.
Perez dared a move around the outside of Norris at turn four in the battle for second. However, he ran out of road and took a bumpy trip through the gravel trap and fell back to tenth.
Norris’ penalty meant Bottas overtook him in the pitstop sequence.
“I’m disappointed because it should’ve been second place,” Norris said.
“[Perez] tried to go around the outside, which was a bit stupid, and he just ran off the track himself, I didn’t even push him.”
A long first stint on hard tyres for Carlos Sainz paid dividends when he overtook Daniel Ricciardo on the track and crossed the line in sixth.
He was then elevated one spot to fifth after Sergio Perez picked up two five-second penalties for forcing the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc off the circuit twice.
“I was angry in the car because it felt like I had no space,” Leclerc said.
“I know the overtakes were quite optimistic, but on the other hand, I had to if I wanted to make it work.
“There was no space on the outside on the exit but that’s life.”
Fernando Alonso broke the heart of the Williams team by overtaking George Russell for tenth with three laps remaining, snatching the last available championship point.
The final lap then witnessed a bizarre crash between Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, which ended the race for both drivers.
The championship now has a week off before heading to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on July 17-19.
|Carlos Sainz Jr.