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Wesley Branton | June 30, 2019 @ 10:48 am
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The teams were in Austria for the FORMULA 1 MYWORLD GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2019 around the Red Bull Ring. To bring the string of boring races to an end, Formula One needed an exciting race: they got it.
When the lights went out, Max Verstappen had a dismal start from the front row of the grid, sitting nearly stationary in his grid slot. Lewis Hamilton nearly collided with the slow Red Bull. By the end of the first lap, Verstappen was in seventh position.
Rookie Lando Norris had an exciting opening stint, battling wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton for P3. He also had a battle with Kimi Raikkonen, who was doing a fantastic job at what appears to be a strong circuit for the Alfa Romeo’s. Norris also made life difficult for Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, as the two advanced through the field.
Raikkonen also put up a good fight with the upper half of the field. He put up a good fight against Norris as well as Verstappen and Vettel. Norris got by the Finn eventually and Pierre Gasly began to attack the former Ferrari driver. Raikkonen did a good job defending against the Red Bull, holding him off until it was his turn to pit for tyres.
On lap 22, the pit window opened for the leaders. Mercedes was the first to pit, calling in Valtteri Bottas for the hard tyres. Ferrari responded, having Vettel dive into the pit lane. The move worked out well for Ferrari since Vettel’s car blocked Bottas from exiting his pit box until Vettel had passed. But any advantage gained was nullified by the fact that the team didn’t actually have any tyres ready for his pit stop, as the mechanics dashed out of the garage carrying Vettel’s set of hards.
This cost Vettel dearly, as he rejoined the race behind Gasly, Raikkonen and Norris. He was slowed by the traffic, although he was able to swiftly dispose of them. He was able to show strong pace in some clean air, setting the fastest lap.
Leclerc pitted the following lap for his set of hard tyres from the lead of the race. He had built a commanding lead of more than 5 seconds.
Hamilton stayed in the lead of the race but began to complain of a lack of downforce, insisting that the car had some front wing damage. While no obvious damage was visible on the car, his Mercedes car had taken a few trips over the sausage kerb in turn one.
When Hamilton pitted on lap 30, the team opted to replace the potentially damaged front wing, eliminating any chance of coming out in front of Vettel. He rejoined the race 7 seconds behind his rival.
After the pit cycle was complete, the race cooled down significantly, as the cars near the lead of the race worked to close the gap to each other.
On lap 48, Verstappen showed that he had more pace than Vettel, closing into the gearbox of the Ferrari. Verstappen was getting a better run out of the tight turn three, but Vettel took a defensive line into turn four, forcing Verstappen to try around the outside. It took a few attempts, but eventually, Verstappen was able to get a super run and overtake Vettel on the outside before they arrived at the corner.
Vettel drove into the pits in response to losing the position to fit a fresh set of soft tyres. In doing so, he gave up a position to Hamilton, banking on the fact that the Mercedes tyres won’t last to the end of the race.
Free from the dirty air of Vettel, Verstappen was rapidly able to close the gap to Bottas and get to DRS range within a few laps as the duo navigated their way through traffic. As Verstappen got close, he complained about a loss of power but the engineer gave him a setting over the team radio that appeared to rectify the issue. He was able to get alongside Bottas on the run up to turn three, out braking the Mercedes on the inside of the corner and taking the position.
Verstappen was now released to chase down the leading Ferrari of Leclerc. With blistering pace, he was able to catch up to Leclerc in no time. With five laps remaining in the race, Verstappen entered attack mode. On lap 68, Verstappen dove into the inside of turn three, but couldn’t get a quick enough run out of the corner. The pair were wheel-to-wheel down the straight. Verstappen had the outside line for the fourth corner, conceding the position to Leclerc.
The following lap, he made a repeat of the move into the third corner. The two made contact as they fought wheel-to-wheel around the corner and Leclerc was forced out wide, losing the position.
Verstappen cruised away to take victory in Austrian, but it may be yet another race determined by the stewards after the race, as they confirm that they will be looking into the overtaking move.
Further back, Vettel took fourth position from Hamilton, dropping the championship leader to P5. Bottas wrapped up the podium.
Above results table does not include any post-race penalties