For second week in a row Formula 1 visited the Red Bull Ring, this time for the Styrian GP. After a time penalty dropped Lewis Hamilton to fourth in the season opener one week ago, Hamilton vowed redemption.
Winning pole in wet conditions yesterday and becoming the first driver to win a pole in 14 consecutive seasons, it was apparent nothing would stop Hamilton who marched to his first victory of 2020 in the Styrian GP. Leading wire to wire, Hamilton raced nearly unopposed all day long. It was very clear that once again Mercedes’ pace was second to none, as Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas would come second and remain the season points leader.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came home third after the late-race damage would damper his shot at a runner-up. Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon rebounded for a fourth-place finish, as Lando Norris made more last lap heroics to round out the top five.
Despite breaking a front wing, Sergio Perez held off two other drivers to come home sixth. Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll logged his best finish of the season in seventh, with Daniel Ricciardo following behind in eighth.
Hamilton started first after the late qualifying spin derailed a hard charging Verstappen. Getting a good jump, Verstappen came under fire from Sainz Jr., with the ensuing battle allowing Hamilton to drive off into the sunset.
At least momentarily.
In a shocking turn of events, the safety car was deployed on the first lap. In a careless dive bomb move, Charles Leclerc flew over the curbing in turn two. The flying Ferrari crashed right into his teammate Sebastian Vettel, causing them both to DNF less than three laps into the Grand Prix, capping off the team’s dreadful week.
After the safety car, Hamilton once again got the jump on Verstappen. As the top five broke away, the race’s third and final retirement would occur. Renault’s Esteban Ocon retired on lap eight, citing a sever mechanical failure.
Unlike last week, there were no further incidents as the drivers would keep it fairly clean for the remainder of the race.
The action picked up with five to go. Front wing damage on Verstappen’s Red Bull caused Bottas to catch the Dutchman after being nearly nine seconds back. Meanwhile the Racing Point of Perez broke his front wing after contact with Albon.
This all culminated into a very exciting last lap, with Norris, Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez all within a second of each other. Norris flew past both Racing Points for the second week of last lap heroics in a row, while Perez would some how hold off Stroll and Ricciardo in a photo finish at the line.
However, nobody was a match for Lewis Hamilton, who rolled to a very convincing victory.
- Hamilton continues to show why he is the greatest F1 racer of all time. For 14 seasons, Hamilton has scored at least one pole and one win – a feat not accomplished by Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna or even Juan Manuel Fangio. Love him or hate him, Hamilton has remained in absolute beast mode for his entire career and doesn’t look to stop any time soon.
- Norris had been having a week to forget. Battling both chest pains and a grid penalty, the young Brit pulled off more last lap heroics for another top five, elevating McLaren to heights that haven’t been seen since 2013. It’s clear the future is bright for both Norris and McLaren themselves.
- A big kudos to Racing Point. The team that seemed to be dangerously close to bottom feeding last year has now made some of the biggest progress of any team on the grid. With a double points effort the British outlet, it is clear that Perez and Stroll are here to play and contend for podiums this season.
- What in the world is happening over at Ferrari? For the last two weeks, they have been slow in qualifying, slow in practice and slow in the race, and it seems that bad luck follows the team everywhere they go. This week was no different, with both drivers being mired in the back of the grid. Leclerc would collide with Vettel, causing a double DNF and even making the FIA stewards take pity on them. The Italian outlet has been in just an absolute state of “what the heck”, and with Sainz Jr. set to take over at Scuderia next year, it might be worth reconsidering if the team keeps down this route.
- What is next for George Russell? The youngster at Williams has been showing he is a serious contender and the lead car at the struggling team. Starting the Styrian GP in P11, it was all sunshine and rainbows before Russell lost control and slid into the gravel trap, pushing him back to the back. With the sudden improvement at Williams most likely coming from the surge of money coming from Michael Latifi, what else can Russell and Williams accomplish by seasons send to get them off the back row of the grid?
It won’t be a far drive for the F1 teams to their next event. The teams will be making their way about four and a half hours to the Hungaroring for the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix. The lights are set to go out on Sunday, July 19.