Hamilton masterclass victory at the Red Bull Ring

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton took his first win of the 2020 Formula 1 season with a masterclass drive to win the Styrian Grand Prix.

As for the Ferraris, the opening lap was a pure frustration as Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel collided together and retired.

In what was a dull race compared to last weekend’s incident-filled and attritional Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton controlled the lead throughout, while Bottas edged a thrilling battle with Max Verstappen for P2 and retained the championship lead.

At the start, Hamilton easily led away from pole position, with Verstappen under pressure from the fast-starting Sainz on the outside of the first corner.

As Hamilton ran clear, Sainz’s shot across the Turn 1 runoff, which cost him momentum and let Verstappen surge back onto the offensive as they approached the tight, uphill right of Turn 3.

The leaders ran through unscathed but in the pack behind the two Scuderia drivers came together, with Leclerc bouncing onto his teammate’s rear wing after a late dive to the inside of his teammate, who was battling Kevin Magnussen’s Haas after a slow start.

Vettel’s rear wing was broken and he retired as the Ferrari drivers came into the pits just as the safety car was called for the debris from their collision – their second in two seasons after the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix – with Leclerc being called into stop a lap later after a front wing change.

The race restarted for lap four of 71 and Hamilton immediately pulled clear of Verstappen with a series of early fastest laps, while Bottas took until lap six to pass Sainz into Turn 4 – where Hamilton and Alex Albon clashed last weekend – with Albon also getting by the McLaren at the same spot two laps later.

Bottas gave chase to Verstappen as Hamilton continued to build his lead little by little over the Red Bull across the first stint.

The Mercedes drivers began to push hard after the first two laps had been completed, which forced Red Bull to pit Verstappen on lap 24 to ward off the threat of being jumped by an early Bottas stop – as by this point Albon was too far behind to back up his teammate.

Verstappen rejoined on fresh mediums ahead of Albon in third and Hamilton stayed in the net lead when he came in at the end of lap 27.

Bottas stayed out for a further seven laps before he too came in to switch to the medium tyres and he came out again third, 8.2 seconds behind Verstappen.

The Mercedes driver initially struggled to close the gap but the team told him he would have the chance to attack Verstappen in the final stages.

As Hamilton surged into a big lead across the second stint to take his first win of the season by 13.7 seconds at the flag, Bottas suddenly began to take chunks out of Verstappen’s advantage – the Red Bull’s front wing also sustaining damage to its right-hand endplate.

Bottas launched an attack around the outside of Turn 3 on lap 66 and then used DRS to blast alongside Verstappen into the downhill right of Turn 4 – but Verstappen fought back and edged him wide into Turn 6 to hang onto second.

But it was only for one more lap as Bottas used DRS to get further ahead into Turn 4 on lap 67, defending the outside lead to make sure of second place

Behind the podium finishers came Albon, who survived late contact with Sergio Perez at Turn 4 in near copy of his incident with Hamilton a week ago, although Albon was on the defensive this time which broke the Racing Point’s front wing.

That damage undid a sensation charge from Perez, who had started in P17, and as he limped to the flag he was overtaken by Lando Norris – who had put in his own late-race rise – at the event’s penultimate corner.

Perez hung on in a drag race to the line to beat his teammate Lance Stroll – also rising from a lower-than-expected grid spot in P12 – while Daniel Ricciardo took eighth as his contra-strategy of starting on the mediums did not pay off.

Sainz had handed Norris a place just before he pitted late on to take fresh softs for an attempt at the fastest lap, which Verstappen also did, with Sainz ultimately taking the extra point on offer.

Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten – the only driver to make the hard tyres work, after his teammate Pierre Gasly abandoned that plan with a second stop to move back to the softs.

Gasly was hit by Ricciardo at the first corner and lost out to the Renault driver as they scrapped over P7 at the start, but his race unravelled with the second stop and he finished P15, just ahead of the Williams pair.

George Russell started strongly from his P11 grid spot but fell to last at the safety car restart when he skated into the Turn 6 gravel as he battled Magnussen (who finished P12, just ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean and behind Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen).

Esteban Ocon was the only other retirement with suspected cooling problems, coming to a stop on lap 25 after he had been battling teammate Ricciardo in the opening stint.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in the race and Mercedes in achieving the perfect 1-2 finish. That was important points finish for the defending champions.

Styrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22:50.683
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 13.719
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 33.698
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 44.400
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:01.470
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:02.387
7 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:02.453
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:02.591
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +1 lap
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
13 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNF
– Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNF

6 thoughts to “Hamilton masterclass victory at the Red Bull Ring”

  1. Styrian Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Following his sensational wet weather pole position on Saturday, Lewis Hamilton secured a comfortable victory in the Styrian Grand Prix, winning out over his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen – while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc collided on Lap 1, causing race-ending damage for both.

    Having been classified a disappointing P4 at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton was strong away from the start line, before spending the race managing the gap, first to Red Bull’s Verstappen then to Bottas, to secure his 85th Grand Prix win.

    Despite a stern defence from Verstappen, Bottas claimed second place from the Dutchman four laps from the end, last week’s Austrian Grand Prix winner limiting the damage in the drivers’ championship, which the Finn still heads.

    Behind Verstappen, an exciting finale saw the Red Bull of Alex Albon finish ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris, Norris passing the Racing Point of Sergio Perez with one corner to go in the race after the Mexican suffered front wing damage from contact with Albon.

    Perez was classified sixth, ahead of team mate Lance Stroll in seventh, with Stroll having performed a late-race pass on the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who finished eighth. After a frustrating day, P3 starter Carlos Sainz was ninth, taking an extra point for fastest lap, while AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10.

    Ferrari’s 2020 difficulties continued, meanwhile, with Charles Leclerc losing control of his SF1000 on the run up to Turn 3 on Lap 1 and slewing wildly into his team mate Vettel. Their contact wiped off Vettel’s rear wing, with both cars forced into retirement – the second time a Leclerc/Vettel collision has caused the team a double DNF.

    Hamilton was smartly away off the line at the start, as Verstappen had to defend from the fast-starting McLaren of Sainz, who got his nose ahead before a robust defence from Verstappen forced the Spaniard onto the Turn 1 run-off. Ricciardo had said ahead of the race that he was planning to be punchy – and he was true to his word, tagging the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly before nipping past to take P7.

    As the field charged up to Turn 3, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc, who’d started P14 and was looking to make up ground. But as the pack concertinaed, Leclerc lunged into Vettel, the kerbs launching his SF1000 into his team mate’s, smashing Vettel’s rear wing, and damaging Leclerc’s front wing and floor.

    Vettel retired that lap, while an attempt to fix Leclerc and get him back out lasted until just Lap 5, when the team retired the Monegasque too. Ferrari’s woes continue, with Leclerc accepting blame from the crash and for hurting his team’s chances to test their hastily fast-tracked upgrades further – while debris from the collision forced a Safety Car.

    With the race getting back under way on Lap 4, qualifying star George Russell – who’d been holding his own in the early part of the race after starting P11 – undid all his hard work by running off the track at Turn 6 while battling the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, plummeting down the order and eventually finishing the race in 16th.

    There was some more intra-team acrimony, meanwhile, when on Lap 17 Ricciardo – having started on mediums – was trying to find his way past his soft-shod Renault team mate Ocon, to allow him to enjoy the strategic advantage of his yellow-walled tyres.

    Ocon defended robustly, though, repeating the defence a lap later, before Ricciardo eventually made it past at Turn 4 on Lap 19 – and doubtless unimpressed by his new team mate’s unhelpfulness. Ocon’s race would last just another seven laps, however, as he was brought into the pits to retire his R.S.20 as a precaution for a cooling issue, just as Ricciardo had been seven days previously.

    Up at the front, Hamilton was managing the gap to second-placed Verstappen, eking it out to around 5s by Lap 20 of 71, while Bottas had made a key move past Sainz for P3 on Lap 6 – with Albon repeating the move on the Spaniard two laps later.

    Verstappen rolled the dice on Lap 25, bolting into the pits to swap his softs for mediums and emerging P3, the team wanting to protect the Dutchman from the threat of an undercut from Bottas in third. Hamilton matched Verstappen’s strategy three laps later, while Bottas stayed out on his softs until he pitted for mediums on Lap 35, emerging in P3, eight seconds off Verstappen but maintaining his advantage over Albon, who wasn’t able to match the front-running pace in throughout the race.

    The big movers in the early part of the race had been the two Racing Points, with Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez having worked their way up from P12 and P17 respectively to P6 and P7 by the time Stroll pitted on Lap 34.

    Perez managed to make his soft tyres last until Lap 39, before taking on mediums. The Mexican emerged just in front of the McLaren of Sainz – who’d been hurt by a slow left-rear wheel nut during his stop – with Sainz DRSing past Perez on the run down to Turn 4 to briefly take P8, before Perez re-passed Sainz brilliantly around the outside of Turn 6. “Did you like that man?” Perez cooed to his race engineer after the sweetly-executed move.

    en laps later and Perez had used his superior dry pace to pass the Renault of Ricciardo to move up to P5, and begin to close up to the Red Bull rear wing of Albon. With one lap to go in the race, Perez and Albon were in close quarters – and as Perez tried to a move at the exit of Turn 4, the pair touched, causing Perez front wing damage that would lead to a thrilling climax…

    A few laps previously, Bottas had used his own superior pace to close up to the back of Verstappen, who was hobbled with damage to his front wing. But as Bottas breezed past Verstappen going into Turn 4, the Dutchman switched to the outside of the corner, cleverly fighting back past the Finn to maintain his advantage into Turn 6. He was merely prolonging the inevitable, however, as Bottas comfortably took over second place a lap later.

    So that was the top four locked in, Hamilton winning after a supreme day at the head of the field from Bottas, Verstappen and Albon, who’d lagged behind his team mate enough during the afternoon to allow Verstappen a free pit stop two laps from the end for a failed attempt to go for the fastest lap (which eventually went to ninth-place finisher Sainz).

    Fifth place, though, was far from settled. Perez held it going into the penultimate lap but had no pace thanks to his Albon-related damage. Behind on the circuit, Stroll barged past Ricciardo at Turn 3 to claim P6, but it was Norris who benefitted from the squabble, as he moved ahead of Ricciardo before sneaking past Stroll for sixth on the final tour going into Turn 4 – only to then nab fifth from the limping Perez going into the final Turn 10, the Briton executing yet another sterling drive after his maiden podium last week.

    In a photo finish behind, Perez narrowly held onto sixth from Stroll and Ricciardo in seventh and eighth – with the stewards deciding after the race to take no further action on Stroll’s move on Ricciardo following an investigation – while behind them, Sainz and Kvyat rounded out the top 10.

    So, it’s the Mercedes drivers with one win apiece in 2020 – but can any other team challenge when the action heads to the Hungaroring in a week’s time?

  2. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes full blame for Sebastian Vettel accident on the opening lap which resulted a double DNF for the Scuderia. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Charles Leclerc has taken the blame for the collision with Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap of the Styrian Grand Prix that forced both drivers to retire.

    Leclerc ran into the rear of Vettel after trying to pass up the inside of his teammate at Turn 3 on the opening lap of Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring.

    The collision left Vettel with damage that ended his race immediately, while Leclerc was instructed to retire four laps later due to a broken floor on his Ferrari SF1000 car.

    It marks the second time in four races that both Ferraris have retired due to a collision between Leclerc and Vettel.

    Speaking on Sky Sports after retiring from the race, Leclerc was quick to take the blame for the collision, and confirmed he had already apologised to Vettel.

    “Obviously excuses are not enough in times like this. I’m just disappointed in myself,” Leclerc said.

    “I’ve done a very bad job today, I’ve let the team down. I can only be sorry, even though that it’s not enough. I hope I’ll learn from this and we come back stronger from the next races.

    “We don’t need that. The team doesn’t need that, and I put all the efforts of the team in the bin. I’m very sorry, but it’s not enough again.”

    Asked if the move was too optimistic, Leclerc replied: “Yes, yes it was.”

    Vettel said that he was surprised to see Leclerc try and overtake given the tight nature of the corner and the fact other cars were also battling for the position.

    “I was fighting two other cars, we were already three cars into Turn 3, and was very surprised because I went up the inside, and I wasn’t expecting Charles to try something,” Vettel said.

    “I don’t think there was any space. Obviously a big pity, something we should avoid, but not much that I could have done differently.

    “I was just taking it easy and conservative because it’s already very busy, it’s a hairpin, it’s very tight, and just trying to place my car for the next straight. By then I realised that I had quite some damage on the car.”

    The double retirement came as a blow to Ferrari, which had been expecting to get a full race worth of data from the new updates that were fast-tracked to Austria on both of its cars.

    “That is a shame,” Vettel said.

    “Obviously it was a bonus to come here with the same track, and today was very similar in terms of conditions. But we will not get that answer I’m afraid.

    “The car felt a lot better on Friday, and back to where it was last week tip to the point where it went in the wrong direction, but it’s a shame because also for the update, we would really like to get the race on the line and some laps to see where the car is.

    “But unfortunately we will not get that answer.”

    The stewards noted the incident between Leclerc and Vettel, but deemed that no investigation into the clash was necessary.

  3. Ferrari Formula 1 boss Mattia Binotto says it is not the time to place blame for the clash that forced Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel to retire early in Austria.

    Leclerc and Vettel collided on the opening lap of the Styrian Grand Prix after Leclerc tried to pass up the inside of his teammate at Turn 3.

    Vettel had lost a place after starting 10th, while Leclerc was recovering from 14th on the grid after receiving a penalty on Saturday, only to misjudge the move and run into the rear of his team-mate’s car.

    The collision left Vettel’s rear wing hanging from his car, forcing him to retire immediately, while Leclerc was called into the garage five laps later due to a broken floor.

    It marks the second time in four races both Ferraris have retired from a grand prix due to a clash between Leclerc and Vettel.

    Leclerc was quick to take responsibility for the clash, apologising to Vettel and saying that “excuses are not enough”.

    But Binotto stressed the importance of Ferrari remaining united and focusing on bouncing back from the clash, and did not look to publicly place blame.

    “I don’t think there is much to say to the drivers,” Binotto said speaking on Sky Sports after the clash.

    “It’s somehow a pain to conclude a race in such a way after only two laps. I think it’s the worst conclusion on a very bad weekend somehow, so a difficult weekend for us.

    “I think it’s not time to look for responsibility or accuse, it’s time to work united. Back home we’ve got the right people to progress as soon as possible.”

    The clash leaves Ferrari with just 19 points to show from a possible 88 to start the 2020 season.

    It also denied the team the chance to see how the new updates for the SF1000 car – fast-tracked by one week after originally being planned for the Hungarian Grand Prix – would fare across the length of a full race.

    Vettel said it was “a shame” that Ferrari had lost out on this data-gathering, and said he was surprised to see Leclerc attempt the move as he did.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas admitted that a second place finish was the best “damage limitation” following Lewis Hamilton domination. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Valtteri Bottas called his run to second place in the Styrian Grand Prix “damage limitation” after maintaining his lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

    After winning last weekend’s season-opener at the Red Bull Ring, Bottas could only qualify fourth in wet conditions on Saturday after struggling with a glazed brake, as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton took pole position.

    By the time Bottas passed McLaren’s Carlos Sainz for third place early in the race, both Hamilton and Max Verstappen had already pulled a gap that he could not close through the opening stint.

    An extended run on the soft-compound tyres gave Bottas fresher rubber for a late charge, allowing him to pass Verstappen for second with five laps to go.

    Bottas eventually crossed the line 13 seconds behind Hamilton, but said he stood little chance of beating his teammate after his qualifying result.

    “Obviously Lewis started from the pole and had a good start,” Bottas said in parc ferme after the race.

    “He could really control the race and there was not as much happening as last weekend.

    “But from my side, starting fourth, I think today was damage limitation. Still got good points, still leading, so it’s not too bad.

    “Yesterday wasn’t ideal, so that’s why I couldn’t get 25 points today.”

    The result means Bottas holds a six-point lead over Hamilton in the standings ahead of the third round of the season in Hungary next weekend.

    Bottas enjoyed a close battle with Verstappen for second place late on, with the pair going side-by-side at Turn 4 as the Red Bull driver looked to hold on to the position.

    Verstappen was able to hang on around the outside of the corner and force Bottas to back off initially, only for the Finn to get the overtake completed one lap later.

    “It was a good battle with him,” Bottas said.

    I think I had quite a bit more pace at the end than him as we extended the first stint. Racing closely is always good fun.”

    Asked if he was leaving Austria feeling satisfied with his championship lead intact, Bottas replied: “I could have been more satisfied, but it’s been a not bad first couple of races.

    “So I’m looking forward to next week.”

  5. After finishing in third place, Max Verstappen commented that Red Bull are “a bit too slow” when compared to rival Mercedes. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Max Verstappen says Red Bull is “a bit too slow”, after being unable to stop Lewis Hamilton storming away to victory in the Styrian Grand Prix.

    The Dutchman had high hopes of being able to challenge pole position man Hamilton thanks to his front row start, but in the end never really was able to threaten the reigning world champion.

    Having sat around five seconds adrift of the Mercedes for much of the afternoon, he eventually dropped further away after picking up damage to his front wing late in the race.

    As Verstappen’s pace fell away, he was eventually overhauled by Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    Speaking after the race, Verstappen welcomed a podium finish after his retirements but says there was little to get excited about – beyond a temporary repass of Bottas late on.

    “I tried but we are a bit too slow,” he said about his battle with Hamilton.

    “I did what I could also when Valtteri passed me. I tried to make it a bit difficult, because he was anyway going to get by one lap later.

    “But at least it was a bit fun because the race was boring. [The] podium was good but still a lot of work to do.”

  6. Mercedes made a “solid step forward” to avoid a repeat of last Sunday’s gearbox issues en route to Styrian Grand Prix victory, according to team boss Toto Wolff.

    Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were given repeated warnings to avoid the kerbs during last Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring, with the team fearing a gearbox problem would prove terminal for both cars.

    While Mercedes worked to try and put some counter-measures in place to aid the issue ahead of the second race weekend at the circuit, the tight turnaround meant concerns lingered for the team.

    But Hamilton was able to lead home Bottas for a 1-2 finish without any repeat of the problems, something Wolff credited to the fixes put in place by the team’s engineers.

    “We didn’t have any concerns today,” Wolff said. “I was asking Simon [Cole] whether our systems were happy on a regular basis, because last weekend obviously was a bit of a scare.

    “[The] gearbox was fine, and I’m really happy what the team did, what the guys did in fixing that. On the suspension, we saw stress on the suspension but no overload. So that was a solid step forward.”

    Race winner Hamilton added: “It wasn’t a problem today, the guys did a great job during the week understanding what the issue was.

    “It was nothing particularly major, but of course it could have had quite large consequences so they did a great job to rectify it.

    “We haven’t really heard them mention it since we started the weekend, so we were able to drive as normal today.”

    Although the issues did not return, Wolff said the team could never be 100% certain there would be no repeat in the future as it was yet to get to the bottom of the exact cause.

    “When you have such a problem, you’re never 100% sure that you’ve solved it, because we were not 100% clear what caused it,” Wolff said.

    “We believe that sausage kerbs were part of it, but obviously we need to improve the design in these areas because they seem to be a little bit vulnerable.

    “I have no doubt that we will get on top of this and understand it very soon.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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