F1 – Austrian GP – Race
The idyllic Red Bull Ring hosts round nine of the 2019 FIA F1 World Championship this weekend, from the heart of the Styrian mountains. The circuit is located in the tiny city of Spielberg bei Knittelfeld – a place that only has a population of 5,000! I’m sure that’s increased massively this weekend – especially with the number of Dutch fans who have visited to support Max Verstappen.
Formula One has its youngest front row ever this weekend as Charles Leclerc will lead away from Max Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton actually qualified in 2nd place, but received a grid penalty for blocking and will start 4th behind Valtteri Bottas. Lando Norris will impressively start from 5th. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel suffered a pneumatic issue in qualifying and will begin from 9th.
As they got underway in the blistering temperatures, Verstappen had a dreadful start with the anti-stall system kicking in. He would end the first lap down in 7th place. Leclerc maintained the lead ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Lando Norris and Vettel in 6th.
As the race progressed through the pit stops, the traditional top five would find their way into those positions – dispatching of Norris and Raikkonen. Hamilton would need a new front wing during the stops after several runs onto the curb caused damage, this would demote the British driver down to 5th place.
An excellent battle saw Verstappen pass Vettel which sent the Dutch fans berserk. Vettel then immediately pitted for a second time – hoping for others to struggle with heavy degradation towards the end of the race. The Dutch fans would go mental once again as Verstappen then overtook Bottas for 2nd. All of a sudden, Verstappen was 5s off the lead with 15 laps to go, could he take the win despite he dreadful start?
With two laps to go, after an intense battle, Verstappen would find a way past Leclerc. Although, I have to say, utterly stupid driving by Verstappen. He clearly had the quicker car and could have made a clean pass, but he made contact with the Ferrari driver and the stewards are looking at that. I think the contact will be deemed as “racing”, but why take the risk? Very, very silly by Verstappen.
The provisional results are Max Verstappen taking the win ahead of Charles Leclerc. Crucially, Leclerc only finished 2.7 seconds behind, so a five second penalty would change the winner. Bottas finished 3rd ahead of Vettel who overtook Hamilton in the late stages of the race. Norris will be delighted with 6th place for McLaren ahead of Pierre Gasly. Carlos Sainz finished 8th in front of the two Alfa Romeo’s; Raikkonen ahead of Giovinazzi.
Mercedes may be dominant in 2019, but today it was Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen who shined. A great day for the neutrals; the first non-Mercedes win of the season! Let’s play a little game, how many races do you think Mercedes will win this season? So far they have eight victories from nine races. Let us know in the comments below.