Max Verstappen dominated the Styrian Grand Prix from start to finish and the Red Bull driver extends his lead in the championship. Rival Lewis Hamilton had to settle with second while Mercedes Valtteri Bottas finished in third position, just ahead of Sergio Perez.
At the start, Verstappen and Hamilton leapt off the line together, with the Red Bull driver coming across to cover the inside line into Turn 1.
As the leading duo raced clear up front, Sergio Perez put Lando Norris under huge pressure for third position through the opening corners, but the McLaren driver was able to resist the Red Bull and even had a look around the outside of Hamilton at the downhill long right of Turn 4.
Verstappen raced to a 0.9-second lead at the end of the first lap and the next time by was already out of DRS range from Hamilton behind, with the Max’s advantage reaching nearly three seconds by the end of the first ten laps of 71.
The top two quickly pulled well clear of Norris, who initially kept Perez and the chasing Valtteri Bottas at bay with good straightline speed through the Red Bull Ring’s three DRS zones.
But on lap ten Perez dived to Lando’s inside at the tight uphill right of Turn 3 and moved into third as the McLaren driver offered little defence against the move, which Bottas essentially copied on the following lap.
By the end of the race’s first 15 laps, with Perez 15s off the lead in third, Verstappen edges over the three second mark ahead of Hamilton, as he was regularly able to lap in the high one minute, 09 seconds bracket as the chasing world champion swung between matching Verstappen and logging times in the low one minute, 10 seconds.
Over the next 13 laps Verstappen gradually worked his lead up to nearly six seconds before the pitstop phase kicked off.
Perez was the first of the leading four cars to pit when he came in at the end of lap 26, to switch his starting softs for hards, but was delayed by a slow left-rear change.
That allowed Bottas to jump ahead into third when he came in at the end of following tour to go from the mediums to hards, which Hamilton did as well one tour later at the end of lap 28.
Red Bull duly brought Verstappen in to make his own switch to the hards one lap after Hamilton and he easily retained the lead, albeit with his advantaged reduced to 4.4 seconds by the time the stops had shaken out.
Mercedes instructed Hamilton to push to close the gap, which came down to 4.0 seconds as he set a then fastest lap at the end of lap 34, before Verstappen was able to edge his lead out again over the next part of the race as the leaders made their way through traffic.
Verstappen’s lead was back to nearly six seconds at the end of lap 46, with Bottas nearly 30 seconds adrift in third as the final phase of the race approached.
The only problem Verstappen encountered from there was what he called a “random” brake pedal issue Red Bull advised was being caused by him braking on the Turn 9 exit kerbs ahead of the final corner.
His margin of victory at the finish was 35.7 seconds, with Hamilton reporting he spotted his right-front tyre blistering in the closing stages, as although the weather clouded over in the final ten laps, the rain stayed away.
Behind the top two, Bottas held on to finish third, but only just ahead of Perez after Red Bull called him for a surprise second stop on lap 55.
Perez had a near 20 seconds gap to close, having been running just behind Bottas for the opening phase of the Mercedes driver’s second stint, and he quickly scythed into that advantage – sometimes taking over two seconds a lap back.
But as they also negotiated the traffic the leaders had already passed and Perez’s new mediums began to wear, the gap came down at slower rate, with Bottas eventually taking the final spot of the podium by just 0.5 seconds, with Perez unable to get close enough to make a move in time.
Norris came home in a solid, if lonely, fifth place, ahead of the Ferrari duo led by Carlos Sainz.
Sainz’s progress from P12 on the grid came via running deep into the race on the medium tyres and overcutting a big group of cars that had run ahead of him in the early stages, then moving up to sixth by passing Lance Stroll shortly after his pitstop by using DRS to blast by on the inside out of Turn 3 on lap 45.
Charles Leclerc’s race to seventh behind his teammate was rather more adventurous, as he had to stop at the end of the first lap after clouting Pierre Gasly on the run up to Turn 3 on the opening lap, which gave the AlphaTauri a left-rear puncture and damaged the right side of the Ferrari’s front wing.
Leclerc made two stops on his way back up the order, showing strong pace and making a series of bold overtakes – twice going down the inside of Antonio Giovinazzi and Turn 3 and passing Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso around the outside at Turn 4 – with the former pass occurring at the turn-in point for the corner and with the Alfa Romeo’s front wing picking up a bit of damage as the cars briefly came together.
A final stint charge helped Leclerc recover to surpass Stroll for seventh, with Alonso finishing just behind and himself only just ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who took the final points-paying place in P10.
Raikkonen was 11th ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who had made an excellent start to run in the top ten early on before falling back dramatically on lap seven, when he reported he had “low power”.
Although Ricciardo’s power level returned, he ran in the pack from there and ended up P13 ahead of Esteban Ocon in the Alpine.
Gasly retired as a result of the puncture he picked up on lap one, with the Frenchman also making contact with Giovinazzi – spinning the Alfa at Turn 3 just a few moments after his clash with Leclerc – as he fought to control his damaged car.
In the runoff beyond Turn 3, Gasly also touched Nicholas Latifi (who eventually finished P17 between the two Haas drivers) and gave the Williams a puncture before limping back to the pits with his left-rear destroyed.
The other DNF was George Russell, who was running strongly behind Alonso in the early stages as they headed a train of cars looking to take seventh place, boosted up the order by Leclerc and Gasly’s clash.
But Russell was warned of a reliability problem ahead of his stop, where he was stationary for nearly 20 seconds as Williams had to top up the pneumatic pressure in his power unit, and he then had to come in again immediately for the process to be repeated.
Although Russell returned to run at the rear of the pack for a while, he was called in and retired on lap 39.
So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning at the Red Bull Ring. That’s his fourth victory of the season and he extends his lead in the championship over Lewis Hamilton. The next race is at the same track. Can Mercedes strike back?
Styrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:22:18.925
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 35.743
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 46.907
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 47.434
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +1 lap
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1 lap
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +3 laps
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari +3 laps
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda DNF