Hamilton scores his eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory

Six-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his eighth victory at the Hungaroring with a dominant lights-to-flag drive to success.

The Mercedes driver was in total control throughout the race after starting on pole position and was never under threat from his rivals. Lewis finished well clear of second-placed Max Verstappen, who secured the runner-up position despite crashing on his way to the grid before the race.

Full credit to Red Bull Racing in repairing Verstappen’s car moments before the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Fixing the front suspension and front wing in a mad rush, but the job got done and Max delivered the result with second.

Hamilton was leading Verstappen by over 25 seconds but decided to make a late pitstop to secure the fastest lap point.

With this race win, Hamilton becomes the second Formula 1 driver to triumph in the same event eight times alongside Michael Schumacher, who also took eight victories in the French Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas completed the podium in third position after a terrible start saw him drop down the order from second on the grid, but the Mercedes driver lost the championship lead to his teammate.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll finished fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon and Sebastian Vettel in the best of the Ferraris, as teammate Charles Leclerc failed to score.

At the start, Bottas appeared to move before the five red lights went out and he and Sergio Perez were then slow away from second and fourth, while Hamilton and Stroll leapt clear, with the fast-starting Verstappen and Ferrari drivers charging up the order.

Hamilton pulled away from Stroll through the opening corners while Verstappen sealed third going into Turn 2 after Vettel slid on the exit of the first turn, losing momentum.

At the front, Hamilton raced to a 3.1 seconds lead at the end of the opening lap, with the frontrunners starting to shed their intermediates for slicks at the end of lap two of 71, led by Leclerc and Bottas, who took the softs and mediums respectively.

Hamilton and Stroll came in for their own mediums at the end of the following lap, with Hamilton rejoining in the net lead, while Verstappen stayed out for one more lap and used his time in the lead to jump past Stroll when he took his own mediums at the end of lap four.

While Hamilton quickly retook the lead ahead of Verstappen, Stroll found himself running behind both Haas cars after Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean pitted at the end of the formation lap to take mediums.

By lap six and the end of the early pitstop chaos, Hamilton led Verstappen by 7.8 seconds, which he set about extending with a series of fastest laps.

Stroll dispatched Grosjean with a bold move aided by DRS into Turn 1 and the set about catching and passing Magnussen, which he did after a brief pause to take third at the same spot at the start of lap 16.

As the drivers were regularly told of the threat of more rain, Hamilton continued to extend his lead over Verstappen – while Stroll did not immediately close up on the Red Bull, instead coming under increasing pressure from Bottas.

The second Mercedes driver had followed Stroll through the field after a brief off-track excursion at Turn 2 when he slide wide while fighting Leclerc, who quickly began to struggle for grip on his softs.

As the promised rain failed to appear, Bottas pitted first of the leaders for a second time on lap 33 and used the clear air to clear Stroll, who came in two laps later and rejoined well adrift of the Mercedes in fourth.

Verstappen and Hamilton came in on lap 36 and 37 respectively, going for the hard and medium tyres in turn, and while they stayed in the same order, Verstappen was immediately in danger from Bottas’s rapid pace on fresh mediums.

While Hamilton was busy extending his lead up above 20 seconds, Bottas homed in on Verstappen with his softer rubber with a series of fastest laps.

By lap 45 he was within striking distance, but after falling back in traffic Mercedes opted to bring Bottas in for a third time and switch him to the hards, with a 22-second gap to close to take second.

Although the Finn tore chunks from Verstappen’s lead in the early stages of his final stint, he did not close in as quickly as might have been expected despite his tyre advantage.

After they had dodged their way through traffic it all came down to the final lap, but although Bottas was finally within DRS range he was not close enough into Turn 1 and could not find away by, coming up 0.7 seconds short.

At the front, after some confusion with his engineer about a late stop and which tyre to take, Hamilton swapped his massive lead over Verstappen to come in a take fresh softs at the end, which he used to break the fastest lap twice – for the second time on the final tour.

He won by 8.7 seconds at the chequered flag to take his eighth win at the Hungaroring.

Behind the top three, Stroll finish 57.5 seconds behind Hamilton to score his best result for Racing Point.

Alex Albon went from P13 on the grid to take fifth ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who, shortly after team-mate Charles Leclerc made an early second stop despite the possibility of rain.

It looked like it had worked a treat for Vettel, but running deep into Turn 2 late on cost him against the Red Bull.

Perez recovered to seventh at the finish ahead of the long-middle-stint running Daniel Ricciardo.

Magnussen scored a magnificent ninth to take Haas’s first points of 2020 season after sliding down the order as the quicker cars eased by across the race.

But the Haas driver nevertheless held on to take ninth ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, who survived contact in the pitlane with Williams’s Nicholas Latifi (who finished P19 and last after two spins, one with a puncture immediately after the clash with the McLaren, for which he was given a five-second time penalty).

Sainz prevailed in a tight late scrap with Leclerc to take the final point.

Latifi ended up as the final runner, with Pierre Gasly the only non-finisher as he retired after 25 laps with smoke pouring from his AlphaTauri in the pitlane.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this latest triumph. The defending champion has equalled the great Michael Schumacher with eight wins on the same circuit and is getting closer to matching the all-time record of the most wins in the sport. Getting the championship lead is also a bonus.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36:12.473
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +8.702s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +9.452s
4 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +57.579s
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda +78.316s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1 lap
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +1 lap
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
10 Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault +1 lap
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1 lap
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +1 lap
14 Esteban Ocon Renault +1 lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +5 laps
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda DNF

Hamilton takes 90th career pole

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 90th career pole position in Formula 1 with a dominant display at the Hungaroring.

The Mercedes driver, the winner of the previous race in Austria, set a new lap record with a time of one minute, 13.446 seconds to beat his teammate Valtteri Bottas by over a tenth of a second.

Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez secured third and fourth on the grid in the Racing Points, but they were nearly a second off the pace set by Hamilton.

The Mercedes-powered cars will start the Hungarian Grand Prix in 1-2-3-4 positions. As for the rest, over a full second adrift from the flying Black Arrows.

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest Ferrari driver in fifth, ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had to settle for a disappointing seventh position.

It is the first time in 2020 that both Scuderia have made it through to Q3.

Verstappen ended up seventh, almost 1.5 seconds down on Hamilton’s best time, after complaining about the handling of his RB16 in the medium-speed corners.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz took eighth and ninth, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly rounding out the top ten.

Gasly, who missed all of FP1 with an engine issue, complained of power problems in both of the opening segments, but did not set a time in Q3 after suggesting his power unit would not be able to go further in qualifying as he completed his final run in Q2.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified P11, unable to beat his first run in Q2 set on the mediums after he switched to the softs, but the Renault driver will nevertheless have free choice of starting Pirelli for the race.

George Russell was delighted to make it in Q2 for the second race in a row and he equalled his best qualifying result with P12 – the same place he qualified at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix – ahead of Alex Albon’s Red Bull.

After complaining about the balance of his car throughout practice and qualifying, Albon ended up in P13, 0.207 seconds behind Gasly’s cutoff time in the second segment, and criticising his team after encountering traffic on his final Q2 lap.

Like Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon tried the mediums early on Q2 and although he improved his personal best after switching to the softs he will start P14 and ahead of Nicholas Latifi.

In Q1, Latifi had made it through to make it two Williams cars into the second stage of qualifying for the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix, as Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat could not improve enough in the final laps, which were characterised by significant track evolution and tumbling times that meant all drivers went for a final effort.

Haas driver Magnussen ended up P16, with the AlphaTauri just behind, while Romain Grosjean qualified P18 in the other Haas car.

The Alfa Romeo drivers will start last – with all four Ferrari customer cars knocked out in Q1 – with Antonio Giovinazzi ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Giovinazzi lost a time early in Q1 – which was topped by Perez and Stroll – for a track limits infraction at Turn 4, the fast left-hand kink at the start of the second sector.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with his seventh pole position at the Hungaroring and his 90th in the sport. Impressive qualifying performance. The Mercedes-powered cars are looking strong and it will be interesting to see how well the rivals can fight back.

Qualifying positions, Hungarian Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.447
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.554
3 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:14.377
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:14.545
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:14.774
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.817
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.849
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:14.966
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:15.027
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda –
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:15.661
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:15.698
13 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:15.715
14 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:15.742
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:16.544
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:16.152
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:16.204
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:16.407
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.506
20 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.614

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

Hamilton takes wet Styrian Grand Prix pole

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved pole position for Formula 1’s first Styrian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen in a wet and wild qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring.

Carlos Sainz Jr will start in third position for McLaren, with last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth.

Despite fears heavy rain would lead to a washout on Saturday after the cancellation of FP3, qualifying got going 46 minutes later than scheduled as a break in the weather meant the action could take place on the extreme wet-weather tyres.

The fluctuations in the weathers’ intensity meant Q2 had the fastest times of the three segments, but still came down to the final runs in Q3 as the water cleared from a late-Q2 rain surge.

Hamilton held the top position ahead of the final runs but was under significant pressure from Verstappen, who saved two big snaps of oversteer at Turns 6 and 8 on his final flying lap but could not save a slide exiting the penultimate corner.

Although the Red Bull Racing driver managed to avoid a full 360 his chances of pole were dashed and Hamilton in any case improved his best Q3 time to a one minute, 19.273 seconds to end up 1.216 seconds clear.

Sainz popped into third to take his best Formula 1 career starting position, with Bottas taking fourth despite setting his best Q3 time right at the end.

Esteban Ocon took fifth for Renault ahead of Lando Norris, who will drop three grid spots for his FP1 penalty for overtaking under yellow flags.

Alex Albon was seventh for Red Bull ahead of the sister team’s of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, with Daniel Ricciardo ninth.

Sebastian Vettel rounded out the Q3 runners in another disappointing qualifying showing for Ferrari.

Behind the top ten, Charles Leclerc became the second Ferrari driver in a week to be knocked out in Q2 as he could not improve on his final laps in the middle segment.

Leclerc had indicated he wanted to stay out on his initial Q2 wets when it came to putting a fresh set on for the final runs, but when he did come in the rain intensified and few drivers managed to improve their times late on.

Leclerc was told to push all through his final runs, but his final lap was 1.3 seconds down on his Q2 best and he will start P11 – as Vettel did a week ago.

George Russell will start in an impressive P12 – his best ever qualifying position – and in doing so, got Williams into Q2.

Russell then posted a strong early Q2 effort, which helped him hold onto his high grid spot as the rain that harmed Leclerc also frustrated Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen.

Stroll did look like he might be able to improve on his final run, but after a strong start his last lap got slower as it went on and then running wide at the exit of Turn 9 cost him and he will line up P13.

When Q1 did get underway, Vettel headed the queue to get out of the pitlane when the delayed session finally started and it was an ever-changing order as the drivers explored the soaking track.

Hamilton ended up quickest in the first segment, which was ended early after Antonio Giovinazzi spun as he ran across the kerbs at the exit of penultimate corner, spearing off into the barriers at the final turn.

He was able to drive clear by dropped debris on the pit straight and eventually stopped on the approach to Turn 4 – where Hamilton and Albon clashed in the closing stages of last weekend’s Austrian GP – which meant the red flags were shown.

That meant few drivers were able to improve on fresh wets, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez heading those knocked out in Q1 – with the latter the most high-profile exit after finishing Friday with the day’s third fastest time.

Unlike Russell, Nicholas Latifi, who skated across the Turn 6 gravel mid-way through Q1, was unable to improve on his new wets as the red flags came out as he approached the final corners and he will start P18 as a result, ahead of Giovinazzi.

Romain Grosjean did not set a time in Q1 after going off at Turn 4 on his out-lap – just in front of Vettel’s opening lap in the segment – and he did reappear after returning to the pits after that incident.

So congratulations Lewis Hamilton with this fine pole position for Mercedes. A pure masterclass in the tricky wet conditions. Going to be an exciting race at the Red Bull Ring.

Qualifying positions, Styrian Grand Prix

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.273
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:20.489
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:20.671
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:20.701
5 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:20.922
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:21.011
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:21.028
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:21.192
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:20.925
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.651
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.628
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:19.636
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:19.645
14 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:19.717
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:20.211
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:21.372
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:21.607
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:21.759 2.486
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:21.831
20 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari

Alonso returns back to F1 with Renault

Double world champion Fernando Alonso is coming back to Formula 1 by signing a new deal with Renault.

The Spaniard, who won his only world titles for the French squad in 2005 and 2006, last raced in Formula 1 at the end of 2018 season when he decided that the sport was no longer an attractive option for him.

Alonso will take over the pace of Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who has signed to join McLaren as replacement for the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz Jr.

Renault did not confirm the exact length of Alonso’s deal beyond saying that it is ‘for the upcoming seasons’. Alonso has talked about having high ambitions for the 2022 season, when the sport embarks on a new regulations era.

His return to Renault will be his third outing at the team. He originally joined the outfit as a test driver in 2002, before being promoted to a race seat the following year.

Alonso won his first race for the team in the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix and was the main figurehead to its most successful campaigns in 2005 and 2006.

Following his championship wins, Alonso quit to join McLaren in 2007 but his relationship there turned sour especially with Ron Dennis and he returned to Renault for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Although he won races, including that controversial one at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix when teammate Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashed, the team could not deliver the title he was after.

Alonso subsequently moved to Scuderia Ferrari from 2010 to 2014 – unable to win titles there, before making a return to McLaren from 2015.

But his switch to McLaren failed to produce the kind of results he hoped for as he endured two difficult years with Honda power unit prior to a final frustrating campaign with Renault engines as McLaren’s car did not live up to expectations.

By the end of 2018, Alonso had grown tired of the demands of Formula 1 and a lack of good results, but his time away from it since then has given him new motivation to have one last assault.

His long-time manager Flavio Briatore said earlier this year that Alonso had been ‘detoxed’ by being away from the sport for a while.

Since leaving Formula 1, Alonso has won the FIA World Endurance Championship for Toyota – including back-to-back victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours – and earlier this year competed in the Dakar Rally for the Japanese manufacturer.

He has also tried to win the Indianapolis 500 race, but failed to qualify last year although is having another attempt later this season.

So welcome back Fernando Alonso. His ‘goodbye’ from Formula 1 after  the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was just temporary as the double title winner is back. Best wishes with Renault in 2021 champ.

Bottas victorious in wacky race at Austria

Valtteri Bottas took victory in a dramatic Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix from Charles Leclerc after a penalty for Lewis Hamilton following a contact with Alex Albon dropped him to fourth.

Bottas crossed the finishing line as the winner of an attrition race – only eleven cars made it to the end – 0.6-second clear of his Mercedes teammate, but Hamilton was immediately demoted, which boosted Lando Norris to his ever first Formula 1 career podium in third.

Hamilton’s incident with Albon happened after the end of the race’s third safety car period and after Mercedes had to intervene with its drivers due to critical reliability warnings, like staying off the kerbs.

At the start, Bottas easily held the lead off the line and blasted to a two-second lead at the end of the opening lap, as Verstappen soaked up pressure from Lando Norris after several cars – including Norris, Hamilton and Charles Leclerc shot across the runoff at the exit of Turn 1.

Bottas set about extending his lead as the race settled down, warned by his team to look after his car on the third lap, as Verstappen tracked him on his medium tyres.

But any hope Red Bull’s bold strategy would get Verstappen a third win in succession at the team’s home circuit was dashed when Verstappen suddenly lost power approaching Turn 1 on lap 11 of 71.

He back to the pits attempting to reset the issue – a suspected electrical problem – but was forced to retire.

That left Hamilton chasing Bottas as the world champion had demoted Albon using DRS to blast by on the run to the Turn 4 on lap, and he began eating into the leader’s advantage.

As the first stint wore on, Hamilton had lowered the gap to Bottas, but the soft-tyre run was suddenly ended on when the safety car was called out after Kevin Magnussen spun off with an apparent brake issue as he was being passed by Esteban Ocon into Turn 3.

Mercedes managed to turn its two cars around – both going onto the hard tyres – without losing any time for either one, and when the race resumed Bottas again streaked clear.

Hamilton, however, was soon putting Bottas under severe pressure and he called the team to check he would be allowed to choose his own engine mode, and was Mercedes soon planned to turn down the power units on both cars.

But as the leaders ran ever closer together, Mercedes moved to warn them about a potential gearbox sensor issue that threatened both of the continued participation of both cars.

The race engineers of both Bottas and Hamilton warned their charges to stay off the kerbs before the team’s chief strategist James Vowles intervened to tell them the issue was “critical”.

As the leaders adapted their driving styles Hamilton began to drop back from Bottas when the race was suddenly suspended again when George Russell retired from P13 with a loss of fuel pressure.

And as the race restarted, it was suspended again almost immediately as Kimi Raikkonen, who had just stopped for fresh softs, lost his right front wheel running through penultimate corner.

When the safety car peeled off for the final time, Bottas again shot clear and on the following lap Albon – who had passed Perez just before the previous safety car was called and then gave the position back only to resume third place while the race was still neutralised – attacked Hamilton around the outside of Turn 4.

The Red Bull seemed to be ahead on the outside line but contact between Hamilton’s left-front and Albon’s right rear sent Albon spinning off in the gravel – echoing the contact between the pair at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

As Bottas raced to the flag in what was an 11 lap final sprint, Hamilton was given a five-second time addition.

That meant Leclerc, who had been having a low-key race before the safety cars turned the action around, finished second as he had stopped for fresh mediums during the Raikkonen safety car.

He demoted Sergio Perez from third on the road with a late move into Turn 3 five laps to run and was closer enough to Hamilton to move up to second after the flag.

Norris claimed the final podium spot after surviving a late scrap with his teammate Carlos Sainz and then bumping past Perez, who had tried to make a long run of mediums work earlier in the race, at Turn 3.

But Norris needed to close the gap to Hamilton rapidly and he set the race’s fastest lap on the last tour to take third by 0.1 seconds.

Sainz finished fifth with Perez sixth after his own five-second penalty was applied for speeding in the pitlane.

Pierre Gasly took sixth ahead of the returning Esteban Ocon, with Antonio Giovinazzi ninth for Alfa Romeo.

Sebastian Vettel took 10th despite a spin when he misjudged his braking while running behind Sainz going into Turn 3 shortly before half distance.

Nicholas Latifi finished his F1 debut last in P11, with Albon a late retirement alongside a host of other non-finishers who suffered various mechanical problems – except Daniil Kvyat who retired late on with a blown left-rear tyre as he ran into Turn 1 with two laps to go.

So a crazy race at the Red Bull Ring. Congratulations to Valtteri Bottas in winning the first race of the delayed 2020 season and yet the biggest cheers goes to Lando Norris. Third place for McLaren is such an incredible achievement. Fingers crossed next weekend race at the same venue will give us more excitement.

Austrian Grand Prix race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:30:55.739
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +2.700
3 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +5.491
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +5.689
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +8.903
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +15.092
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +16.682
8 Esteban Ocon Renault +17.456
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +21.146
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +24.545
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +31.650
– Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 67
– Alex Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 67
– Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 53
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes 49
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 49
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 24
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 20
– Daniel Ricciardo Renault 17
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 11

Bottas takes pole position at Austria

Valtteri Bottas scored an advantage on his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton by claiming pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix despite taking a trip into the gravel on his final Q3 run.

Max Verstappen claimed third place for Red Bull and will start on a different tyres to the Mercedes drivers, with Lando Norris an incredible fourth for McLaren as Racing Point’s pace was only good enough for sixth place for Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s performance faltered further than expected.

Bottas broke the track record at the Red Bull Ring with a lap time of one minute, 02.939 seconds on his first run in Q3, with Hamilton unable to get under 63-seconds on his own first effort in the final qualifying segment as he lost time in the second and third sectors.

On their final flying lap, Bottas improved his time in the first sector but then slid into the gravel at the exit of Turn 4 – later spinning on the grass as he returned to the track – while Hamilton looked to be improving.

The world champion did better his time to a one minute, 02.951 seconds but wound up second on the grid for the race having topped all three practice sessions.

Verstappen took third but will start the race on the mediums after getting through Q2 on the yellow-compound, with Norris rising to fourth with a fantastic final effort in his MCL35.

Alex Albon qualified fifth for Red Bull ahead of the much-fancied RP20 of Perez, who nevertheless beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to P6.

Leclerc was the remaining Ferrari runner in Q3 after Sebastian Vettel did not make it past Q2, but last year’s polesitter ended up nearly a second slower than Bottas’ time.

Carlos Sainz took P8, with Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top ten.

In Q2, which Bottas topped fractionally ahead of Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel was dramatically knocked out when Albon leapt up the order with a late improvement in the second segment.

Vettel had been at risk as he was only tenth after the first Q2 runs, and on his final effort he bounced over the kerbs at the first and final corners, sliding wide on each occasion and not improving as a result, with Leclerc only just getting into Q3 with P10 at the end of Q2.

Behind Vettel came Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri, with his teammate Daniil Kvyat in P13, ahead of Esteban Ocon – making his first Formula 1 qualifying appearance since the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and Romain Grosjean.

In Q1, which was topped by Verstappen while Albon had a nervous wait as he was not sent out again for a final run in the opening segment, last-gasp improvements from the Haas drivers cost Williams a Q2 slot.

Grosjean squeaked through ahead of his teammate Kevin Magnussen, while Russell, who was P15 before the final Q1 runs, did not improve on his last effort – possibly losing out thanks to a snap of oversteer exiting the downhill right of Turn 4 – and will start P17.

Antonio Giovinazzi ended up P18 after he skated into the Turn 4 gravel trap on his final run, with Kimi Raikkonen behind in P19, ahead of Williams rookie Nicholas Latifi, who took to the track immediately in Q1 to make up for the time lost in his FP2 crash.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas with pole position, heading a Mercedes front row. Going to be a fascinating race at the Red Bull Ring.

Qualifying positions for the Austrian Grand Prix:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:02.939
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:02.951
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:03.477
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:03.626
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:03.868
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:03.868
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:03.923
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:03.971
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:04.029
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:04.239
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.206
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’04.305
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1’04.431
14 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:04.643
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:04.691
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:05.164
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:05.167
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.175
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:05.224
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:05.757