Austrian Grand Prix: Story Lines

Max Verstappen won his fifth grand prix of this young season in a penalty filled race. Verstappen jumped out in front of Norris before Turn 1 of the first lap and never looked back. Throughout the race, he continuously widened the gap between himself and whoever was in P2. At one point in the race, the gap was as high as 20 seconds. Ultimately, he finished 17 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas in P2. He is now 32 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers Championship. During the race, he accomplished his first career the grand slam. The grand slam in Formula 1 is a pole position, leading each lap of the race, race win and  the fastest lap. This weekend caps off a spectacular run by Verstappen, where he could have had five victories in a row if his rear tire did not explode on the final straight in Baku. There were many other story lines of the race that lead to an interesting Austrian Grand Prix.

Story Lines

You Get A Penalty and You Get A Penalty… Everyone Gets A Penalty

Some on Twitter deemed this race the “Five Second Penalty” Grand Prix. The race stewards were hard at work today. They assessed a total of ten 5-second time penalties to five drivers and a further three time penalties after the race. Of those five drivers to receive penalties during the race, two of them received double 5-second penalties for the same infraction. Yuki Tsunoda received two penalties for crossing over the white line at the pit exit and Sergio Perez twice forced Charles Leclerc off the track and into the gravel at Turn 4 and Turn 6. 

Lando Norris started the day off with the first time penalty when he leaned into Perez on Turn 4 which caused Perez to go off the track and into the gravel. Many people in the F1 paddock and the commentary box did not agree with the stewards decision to penalize Norris. Even Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner disagreed and deemed it a “racing incident”. The two other drivers that received penalties were Antonio Giovinazzi for overtaking while the safety car was deployed and Lance Stroll for speeding in the pit lane. 

The three drivers that received time penalties after the race were Kimi Raikkonen, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin. Raikkonen received a 20-second time penalty for his last lap collision with Sebastian Vettel. Mazepin and Latifi were each given a 30-second time penalty for failing to slow down on a double waved yellow flag. So again, the final total on the number of penalties were 13 and the total time given on those penalties were 103 seconds.

Alonso vs. Russell Battle for P10

Today was not the day for George Russell to receive his first points with Williams Racing. During the reconnaissance lap, Russell told his team engineer that “100% something’s not right guys, with the rear of the car. His team reassured him that the data showed no issues but that they would check things out on the grid. He managed to start the race. With ten laps to go, Fernando Alonso was within a second of Russell for P10. The battle continued until Lap 68 when Alonso, with DRS, beat Russell to Turn 3 and took the position with only three laps to go in the race. Russell fans and most likely F1 fans in general were heartbroken to see him not get those points. It is the third time in his career with Williams that he has finished P11. Even Alonso was heartbroken to see Russell lose out on the point, he was quoted after the race saying “when I saw it was Russell in P10, I hoped it’d be anyone but him.” It seems as though Russell does not only have viewers at home and in the grandstand cheering him on to get his points but also driver’s on the grid as well. There were some tense moments after the race for Russell and his fans because he could walk away with points when eleven drivers were called into the stewards’ office for failing to slow down under the double waved yellow flag at the end of the race. Unfortunately, only two time penalties were handed down and they were to drivers already outside of the points.

McLaren Shines in the Sea of Orange

McLaren’s Lando Norris was named the Driver of the Day by the fans… and deservedly so. Before the race started, he tried to temper expectations of a podium finish by saying that he thought they would finish in the top five based on their car performance over the weekend. Norris managed to hold his position in P2 through Lap 4 when he battled with Perez into Turn 4 and was later assessed a time penalty for the incident. After the incident, he kept his P2 position until Lap 20 when Hamilton overtook him after a lengthy fifteen lap battle. Hamilton praised Norris on the team radio saying “such a good driver, Lando.” On Lap 31, Norris pitted but since he had to serve his 5-second time penalty, Bottas managed to gain a position. Norris stayed in this position when Hamilton ran the curb on Turn 10 and suffered damage to his floor boards… Cue the comeback. Mercedes originally told Bottas not to pass Hamilton but when the damage became evident and Hamilton was struggling significantly and consequently Norris was starting to gain on them, Mercedes decided against their original plan and swapped their drivers position on Lap 51. It proved to be a good decision because three laps later Norris overtook Hamilton for P3. It managed to stay that way until the end. Norris took his third podium of the season and his fourth podium of his career. Norris had another cheeky remark to the fans today when he praised the predominantly orange crowd for celebrating McLaren’s success. 

Daniel Ricciardo meanwhile had himself a race too. He started the race in P13 and quickly made his way up the grid into P9 on Lap 7. At one point during the race, he got as high as P5 when he surpassed Vettel who was on soft tire at the time. After his pit stop on Lap 31, he fought with Pierre Gasly for P6, who was on 25 lap hold hard tires. During this fight with Gasly, the two Ferrari’s were closely behind him competing for the same position. Towards the end of the race, Ricciardo and both Ferrari’s were fighting for P5 since Perez had to serve a 10-second penalty at the end of the race for his two consecutive penalties. Ferrari decided to let Carlos Sainz pass Leclerc on Lap 66 since Sainz was running on fresher medium tires, which allowed him to make his way toward Ricciardo. Sainz did so on the final lap of the race. Ricciardo finished in P7 just missing out on the 10 second gap to push him into P6 over Perez. Due to the strong showing by both drivers, McLaren is 19 points ahead of Ferrari for the “best of the rest” title.

Race Result

Verstappen

Bottas

Norris

Hamilton

Sainz

Perez

Ricciardo

Leclerc

Gasly

Alonso

Russell

Tsunoda

Stroll

Giovinazzi

Raikkonen

Latifi

Vettel (DNF)

Schumacher

Mazepin

Ocon (DNF)

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