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F1 Austrian Grand Prix: Verstappen dominant; his fifth win so far this year

Spielberg, Austria, July 4/21 (GRW): A week ago, Max Verstappen scored a convincing win in the Styrian GP here at the Red Bull Ring. A week later in the Austrian GP, a reprise here at the same venue, Verstappen had an even more crushing win over the opposition, taking the checker 18 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas – and with Lewis Hamilton finishing a distant fourth, some 46 seconds behind.

Verstappen had started from the pole and he led every lap from start to finish. Lando Norris (McLaren) had qualified in second fastest a mere 0.048 seconds behind Verstappen. He ran a strong race and finished in third place two second behind Bottas.

No report of this race can ignore the amazing turnout of Dutch Verstappen supporters. In its current form this circuit has built a number of large grandstands and the big one must have been sold out to the Dutch supports who, all wearing orange ‘MAX’ T-shirts turned the stand into a solid orange mass.

This race was straight forward for Verstappen who started from the pole and, after the first lap safety car pulled in, he pulled away from all the challengers. Once he had made his first pit stop on lap 32 of the 71-lap race he had a 20-second lead over Hamilton. Hamilton was having trouble he was unable to prevent his teammate Bottas from passing him and taking over second place. Meanwhile, Norris, who had started on the front row, had been given a five-second penalty for pushing Perez off course which he served during his pit stop. This dropped Norris to fourth behind Verstappen and the two Mercedes – while Perez had fallen to tenth place.

The four at the front – Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton and Norris – raced in this order until Hamilton, who was not able to run competitive laps with the two a head of him, came in fell to fourth behind Norris. After that, the remaining laps were processional. Verstappen had such a big lead that he could afford to make a second pit stop without any threat of losing his place at the front. The fresh tires enabled him to set the fastest race lap and earn an extra championship point. And so the final laps of the race wound down and the three – Verstappen, Bottas and Norris – took up their places on the podium.

Verstappen said, “To win again at home at the Red Bull Ring is just incredible. I expected it to be good, but not this good, and the car was on rails. It was really nice to drive and the pace was incredible on both tire compounds. I could push and also look after the tires which is exactly how you want it to be and I could extend my gap lap after lap. Just like everyone else we learnt from last weekend and we optimized the car even more by improving the set-up.

“The fans were also incredible all weekend, so much orange in the grandstands and it’s just great to see people back and enjoying Formula One at the track. There are of course a lot of difficult races coming up and Silverstone will be interesting with the Sprint Race to mix things up. But for now, I’m really happy with the way the whole race went and you don’t often get this type of race, so we all have to enjoy it.”

The most notable thing about the race behind these front runners was the number of penalties handed out by the race stewards. By my count, they handed out a total of ten penalties of five or ten seconds plus another 21 penalties for exceeding the track limits. So many penalties that one might have been distracted from the drama playing itself out at the front of the field. Only nine cars finished on the lead lap, the relatively short race lap here in Austria (2.68 mi) playing a role in this.

This result gives Verstappen a 32-point lead over Hamilton (182 to 150 points) and it gives Red Bull a 44-point margin over Mercedes in the constructors’ championship standings.

The next F1 race will be held at Silverstone in England in two week’s time, on Sunday, July 18

• Click HERE for the Race Results +Points

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