Today’s Styrian Grand Prix couldn’t have been more different from last week’s Austrian Grand Prix, despite being held on the same circuit. Heavy rain mixed up the field and made things interesting at yesterday’s qualifying at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, with Lewis Hamilton taking pole position and Bottas only managing fourth. He then went on to win the Grand Prix with a comfortable margin ahead of his teammate, with Max Verstappen taking the final podium position. Add into the mix the two Ferrari’s colliding with each other on the opening lap, taking out both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, it made for an eventful race.
Lewis Hamilton made up for a disappointing opening Grand Prix last weekend, where he was demoted to fourth, to take his 85th Grand Prix win.
Hamilton said after the race that “This has tended to be one of my weaker tracks, so I am over the moon to have a performance like this today – so, so happy. This feels like a long time coming since the final race of last year and it is a great step forward to come back from a difficult first weekend. The team did a fantastic job with the strategy and then it was about keeping it together, staying off the kerbs and bringing it home. I tried to get the fastest lap towards the end, but I had 40-lap old Mediums, so it was going to be difficult against someone on new, fresh rubber. A big thank you to my team and everyone back at the factories, they have done a brilliant job. I think it’s easy to lose focus and determination, but I don’t ever see that with this team. We know there’s a long way to go and it’s a challenge for everyone, but this is a step forward, for sure.”
Having qualified on the second row of the grid, Bottas’ race was very much about damage limitation and he did well to take second from a defensive Verstappen just four laps from the end to retain his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Behind the top three, an exciting battle took place between Alex Albon in his Red Bull, who managed to finish ahead of Lando Norris in his McLaren, with Norris managing to then get past Sergio Perez’s Racing Point with just one corner to go on the final lap to finish fifth. Sainz finished ninth in the end after a frustrating race, having qualified in P3, but he did take the extra point for fastest lap as some consolation. Daniil Kvyat took the final point for AlphaTauri.
The Ferrari team’s difficult start to the season continued, when Charles Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari on the run up to Turn 3 on the opening lap, sliding into teammate Sebastian Vettel, who lost his rear wing as a result of the collision, forcing both cars to retire.
Following Lando Norris’s podium finish last weekend and overcoming chest pains in practice for the Styrian Grand Prix and receiving a three-place grid penalty, he went on to fight his way through the field to finish a very credible fifth and a race he called his “best race in F1”. He went on to say that “[It was a] really good race from me. “Probably my best race I’ve done in Formula 1 in [that race pace was] definitely not my strength last year and also something I worked on a lot last year, over the winter and this year. To see those gains and some of those boxes ticked, I’m very happy with it.”
Following a disappointing race last weekend when both cars were unable to finish the race, both Haas drivers finished the Styrian Grand Prix, Kevin Magnussen in twelfth and Romain Grosjean in thirteenth. After the race, Team Principal, Guenther Steiner said: “It was a better weekend than last weekend. The race was actually quite interesting, at least for us. The driver comments were a lot more positive than last weekend. We still need to find some pace. We at least showed here that we can race in our group. It’s a good starting point and hopefully we can continue this trend in Hungary. While last weekend was very disappointing, and we went away almost broken, now we’re really looking forward to the next race to see if we can do any better and improve on our results from here.”
Grosjean added: “Today the car was much better. It obviously wasn’t fast enough, but much better, so we’ll keep working from there. It’s important to feel good in the car, to feel confident. I had to keep pushing. Obviously, things were better than Friday and Saturday. That’s the positive to take from here.”
So the top ten finishers at the Styrian Grand Prix are: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteris Bottas with another one-two for Mercedes, Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon for Red Bull, Lando Norris in another good showing for McLaren in fifth, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in a strong performance for Racing Point, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing eighth in his Renault, Carlos Sainz ninth in the other McLaren and Daniil Kvatt tenth in his AlphaTauri.
Bottas still leads the Drivers’ Championship with 43 points, six points ahead of Hamilton, with Mercedes leading the Constructors’ Championship on 80 points, ahead of McLaren on 39 points.
Following two races in the Styrian Alps, the Formula 1 teams bid adieu to Austria as they head to Budapest for next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the twisty Hungaroring for round three of this truncated 2020 Championship.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, McLaren and Haas F1 Team