Austria goes Orange

Austrian F1 2021 – Review

There were more penalties and VAR reviews in yesterday’s Austrian GP than we have had during the whole of Euro 2020?

No fewer than 11 drivers were summoned to the FIA stewards for various infringements but only Mazepin (HAAS), Latifi (Williams) and Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) received penalties post-race. On track, Norris got a penalty, Perez got 2, Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) got one and Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) got 2. WOW

Austria was a dust cloud of Orange with thousands of fans out in force to support the Dutchman Max Verstappen at his team’s home GP. And boy, he did not disappoint. A dominant, flawless, super-fast drive from the 23-year-old to increase his points lead over his rival and 7 times world champion Lewis Hamilton. It was Max’s first ever grand slam. Pole, fastest lap, win and led every lap.

Max in his Red Bull led from the front and the scrap was on between Norris (Mclaren), Perez (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes) and Bottas (Mercedes) behind. Perez was ambitious and tried a move on Norris which was not going to come off. He went into the gravel and lost a whole bunch of places. Why Norris got a penalty, I am not sure but the FIA stewards do at times work in mysterious ways.

Norris vs Lewis was just wonderful to watch. The Mercedes is the quicker car, but Norris did everything to keep Lewis behind him and when Hamilton eventually passed Norris, Hamilton went onto his radio to praise the driving skill of Norris. Quite a compliment from the most successful driver in F1 history.

Hamilton suffered some rear end damage from riding the curves and it slowed him. Mercedes at one stage wanted to hold station with Lewis ahead of Bottas but realised that by doing that both Merc’s would have been caught and passed by the very quick Norris. Bottas drove solidly to finish 2nd and Lando Norris was the final driver on the podium.

Hamilton finished 4th and is now 32 points behind Max Verstappen.

Sergio Perez finished 5th on track but was demoted to 6th because of his hard driving that forced Leclerc off the track.

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) adopted a very different strategy and started the race on the Pirelli Hard tyre, but it worked out well for him as he had the quicker medium tyre for his last stint. Some clever team orders by Ferrari let Sainz attack Daniel Ricciardo (Mclaren) in the 2nd Mclaren and Carlos passed Ricciardo with a lap to go. A strong race performance from Ricciardo after yet another dismal qualifying session. Danny Ric finished 7th with Leclerc finishing in 8th place.

Yet again, Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) showed what a star he is with another points finish in 9th and Fernando Alonso (Alpine) stole the last point from George Russell (Williams) with only a few laps to go. Had Alonso not been so heavily compromised in Qualifying, we do not know where he would have ended up. Alonso was extremely gracious and comforted Russell after the race and even commented that if there was one driver, he did not want to pass to get the point it was George. What does Russell have to do to score a point for Williams? Desperate for him and the team.

On the last lap, Raikkonen and Vettel (Aston Martin)came together in a bizarre accident and Kimi received a 20 second time penalty.

But the Austrian GP belonged to Max Verstappen. He is just getting better and better and now Mercedes knows what it is like to be beaten by a large margin. We have all suffered this for 8 years. I do love that we have a battle in the front but please let us not have the kind of domination we have had to endure since 2014.

A two-week break for the teams and drivers after the triple header and then it is Silverstone with full crowds and the first of the Sprint Races.

Let’s go racing

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