By Thomas Dodd
- Valtteri Bottas claims second career and 2017 Grand Prix win with victory in Austria
- Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo complete podium in Spielberg
- Lewis Hamilton comes home fourth after starting eighth, as Vettel extends championship lead to 20 points ahead of British GP next weekend.
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – The Austrian Grand Prix wasn’t quite as dramatic as Azerbaijan two weeks ago, but it still threw up plenty of talking points. Here are five things we learned.
Not a memorable weekend for Pirelli
Probably not a race the tyre manufacturer will want to replay too many times. Despite not witnessing a single failure throughout the course of the weekend the evidence of graining and degradation on the TV screens being beamed around the world was clear to see.
The fact that practically the entire field switched to a one stop strategy, thus running long stints on a set of rubber, undoubtedly didn’t help, but a Formula 1 driver needs four completely round tyres to get the best from his car. The only upside? It made the race closer and more it exciting than it should have been come the end, as Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel with Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton behind scrapped it out to decide the order of the podium.
Verstappen’s bad luck continues
Second in Austria a year ago and a race winner too, Max Verstappen just cannot catch a break in 2017. The Dutchman, who was cheered on by a very vocal contingent of supporters from his homeland all weekend lasted one corner in Sunday’s race, as he was punted off by a series of events caused by Daniil Kvyat hitting Fernando Alonso. It marked the youngster’s fifth retirement in seven races and any chance he had of being best of the rest behind Vettel and Hamilton in the championship are already over. Rumours have been flying around lately that he’ll be a Ferrari driver next season, and while this latest DNF was at least down to an accident and not a Red Bull failure – it could well push him further towards wanting out for 2018.
Austria worthy of its place
It may be the shortest lap in Formula 1, but there’s no question the Red Bull Ring deserves its position on the calendar. Now in its fourth year on the rotation, the track set among the Spielberg mountain range once again kept fans guessing until the last lap with the first three corners providing ample opportunities for overtaking and close racing. The mix of slow and fast sweeping corners still prove the ultimate test for the drivers, and the old-fashioned gravel traps present round the layout caught out a fair few over the course of the weekend.
McLaren with better package
It slipped under the radar as it ultimately proved to be another scoreless weekend for the team from Woking but there’s no doubt McLaren brought an improved package to Austria. Both Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne comfortably reached Q2 and both knocked on the door of Q3 with genuine pace. Both Renaults and Williams’ were bested on Saturday giving hope for Sunday. Who know what could have happened had Alonso – who had already made up places off the line – not been taken out at the first corner. Vandoorne was solid if uninspiring in his run to twelfth but nevertheless McLaren will head to their home GP at Silverstone with just a hint of a spring in their step.
Haas quietly best of the rest
While Mercedes, Ferrari and the remaining Red Bull of Ricciardo raced off into the distance, and the Force India, Williams, Renault battle forming behind, Romain Grosjean seized his and the team’s opportunity for a good haul of points by calmly steering his Haas to sixth place. The Frenchman mixed it with the big boys early on and had no problem keeping the midfield easily at bay for the rest of the 71 laps. The American outfit are progressing nicely in their second season, and were perhaps unfortunate not to go away with a double points haul from the weekend after Kevin Magnussen, who looked racy in practice, succumbed to a series of mechanical faults and failure on Saturday and Sunday. The gap to Force India will take some overhauling, but the newest team in F1 are still holding their own with aplomb.
The British Grand Prix takes place between 14016 July.
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