Race Report: Bottas wins Austrian GP ahead of Leclerc, Norris

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2020 Austrian Grand Prix, Saturday - Steve Etherington

The first race of the 2020 Formula 1 season in Austria was a crazy affair with only 11 cars finishing the Austrian Grand Prix. Mercedes were the team to beat once again but it was Valtteri Bottas who drove a terrific race to claim the win with his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, finishing second but drifted backwards to 4th place after a 5 second penalty was assessed.

Lewis Hamilton claimed a 5s penalty for clouting Alex Albon, just like Brazil last year, and was given a penalty for his efforts. Still, Mercedes nursed their gearboxes home after several warnings over the radio about staying off the curbs in order to protect the car, it was Bottas holding off a charging Hamilton to claim the first win.

Charles Leclerc managed to put in a terrific drive in a car that seemed to have very little interest in securing a podium. Charles said he certainly didn’t expect to take second place but put together a terrific run contrary to his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who spun and languished back in 10th.

The final spot was secured by McLaren’s Lando Norris who had to close the gap to Lewis Hamilton to take advantage of the looming penalty. On the last lap, Norris put in a terrific lap and finished within 5s of Hamilton for his first podium. McLaren put in a great defense of their 4th place in the constructor’s championship from last season and fended off the Racing Point assault.

Win

Huge win for Bottas who put in a terrific pole position and drive holding off Lewis Hamilton and opening his account on the 2020 season. Lewis tried to take the fight to Bottas but both drivers were creating mechanical issues for their cars and it was Bottas who pulled it off.

A big win for Ferrari who entered the weekend downplaying their chances and they were right to do so but Charles Leclerc managed to do what all champions have done, put a recalcitrant car in a place it doesn’t really belong.

A huge win for McLaren and Lando Norris for securing third place. McLaren, who have been impacted severely from the COVID-19 economic impact, needed the success that Lando delivered and Carlos Sainz was right on his tail to bring home a great points haul.

Fail

A fail for Sebastian Vettel who tried to cram his nose underneath Carlos Sainz in an ill-advised move that left him at the back of the grid and recovering to 10th when his teammate managed second.

A fail for Alex Albon who was, in his view, denied a real shot at a grand prix victory by Lewis Hamilton who also denied him of a podium last year as well. With many offering terse words for Sebastian Vettel who has had some issues battling wheel-to-wheel, this is twice for Lewis to the same driver.

A fail for Red Bull and Honda for the issue that removed Max Verstappen from the race while he was running in second. Not how you want to start a season.

WTH

What happened to Kimi Raikkonen’s wheel? That issue prompted a serious fine for the team.

A WTH for Haas F1 who, once again, had issues with their brakes and this time it wasn’t just Romain Grosjean but Kevin Magnussen as well ending both they races.

Certainly many are asking why so much technical DNF’s but it is the first race of the season and these cars haven’t put in any serious miles in anger so some attrition is customary but this was a lot of attrition.

The Sky Sports team apportioned some blame to Albon for the clash with Lewis and yet exonerated a few others for banging wheels. The Sainz move on Perez was suspect and there were others but I think making excuses for a 6-time world champion may have been a slight overplay.

Austrian GP Race result – 71 laps

POSDRIVERCARGAP
1Valtteri BottasMercedes1h30m55.739s
2Charles LeclercFerrari2.700s
3Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault5.491s
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes5.689s
5Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault8.903s
6Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes15.092s
7Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri/Honda16.682s
8Esteban OconRenault17.456s
9Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari21.146s
10Sebastian VettelFerrari24.545s
11Nicholas LatifiWilliams/Mercedes31.650s
12Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri/HondaSuspension
13Alexander AlbonRed Bull/HondaPower Unit
Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/FerrariWheel
George RussellWilliams/MercedesFuel pressure
Romain GrosjeanHaas/FerrariBrakes
Kevin MagnussenHaas/FerrariBrakes
Lance StrollRacing Point/MercedesPower Unit
Daniel RicciardoRenaultOverheating
Max VerstappenRed Bull/HondaPower Unit

Driver’s Championship

POSDRIVERPOINTS
1Valtteri Bottas25
2Charles Leclerc18
3Lando Norris16
4Lewis Hamilton12
5Carlos Sainz Jr.10
6Sergio Perez8
7Pierre Gasly6
8Esteban Ocon4
9Antonio Giovinazzi2
10Sebastian Vettel1
11Nicholas Latifi0
12Daniil Kvyat0
13Alexander Albon0

Constructor’s Championship

POSCONSTRUCTORPOINTS
1Mercedes37
2McLaren/Renault26
3Ferrari19
4Racing Point/Mercedes8
5AlphaTauri/Honda6
6Renault4
7Alfa Romeo/Ferrari2
8Williams/Mercedes0
9Red Bull/Honda0
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MIE

I think Hamilton can be given some slack, as he was ahead going in to the corner, and tried to give Alvin some room once he got ahead. However, once committed to a corner you can’t just back off or brake, so there is a limited amount he could have done. Albon showed that he is not phased by racing top drivers, it won’t be too long before he gets his first podium. Ferrari were very lucky to get second place, thanks to a determined drive by Leclerc. I’m sure it’s just coincidence that the Ferrari power unit appears so… Read more »

Xean Drury

Question for those who might know more than I do. Both Haas cars sadly left due to brake failure. Once back in the garage, why not slap a new set of pads on them and get them back out there? Does it just fry the rotors and everything too much to be repaired/replaced in time? Or if a car hits the garage, it is considered retired and cannot re-enter the race?

MIE

Both the Pads and discs wear (the are both carbon material) so both would need replacing. Unlike in WSC (where brakes are designed to be replaced during the longer 24 hour races), F1 cars aren’t designed to have the brakes replaced during the race. It would take too long to change the brakes to make it worthwhile attempting as the car would not be able to make up the laps lost to be able to score points. Better to save the Power Unit mileage for later in the season.

Xean Drury

Thank you both for the feedback. Given how crazy that race was though, would they even need to make up all he laps to improve their result? Even if it took near to the end of the race, I’d think as long as the car was making up some laps, they could overtake some of the other DNF’s and improve their ranking. But I guess that what they get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to strategize (which is too bad, because I’d be willing to do the job for a hellofa lot less!)

Schumie_Toronto

5 seconds for Lewis is a joke! Should have been a drive-through! Reports are in that several NFL teams are scouting Lewis Hamilton for his perfect PUNTING technique! He has mastered the art! Rosberg at COTA anyone?

Xean Drury

XD he does seem to come out on the good more often than not in his tussles, doesn’t he? Just once I’d like to see a VSC implemented so the person run afoul could change places with the victim. A proper result for consequence. Will never happen though.

MIE

There are only a limited number of penalties available for transgressions that the stewards can apply. For consistency, five seconds for causing an avoidable accident seems to be the preferred penalty. The one I thought Hamilton was lucky on was the three place grid drop for passing a yellow flag in qualifying. His earlier lap had already been discounted due to exceeding track limits, so I did wonder whether they would exclude the later lap as well (leaving him 10th), and then apply the three place grid drop. In Mexico last year, Verstappen already had a lap quick enough for… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

Certainly a win for LeClerc yes but I still call it a fail for Ferrari, that car looks awful. I guess they took downforce off because it’s so slow but it looked like a live axle Mustang on the corners. Don’t disagree with the penalty for Lewis but for Albon discretion would’ve maybe been the better part of valor there. He seemed to have loads of pace over Lewis, and we all know in 50 years Lewis is gonna break his hip trying to keep another guy at the nursing home from going around his outside to get a piece… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

My takeaway from this race was that tire management is still killing F1. The race was boooring until cars started breaking. Broken cars meant safety cars, safety cars meant fresh tires, fresh tires meant real racing. This turned out to be a fun race, specifically because it got all screwed up. Gotta fix this.

Xean Drury

That comment is kind of contradictory, if I could point out. The fresh tires allowed some cars to push up to cars that didn’t pit. Are you suggesting that the tires be manufactured (as they once were) to last the full race distance, basically eliminating the need for pit stops all together? If that is not the point you’re trying to make, then tires that wear are necessary (and of course tire management along with that), otherwise the drivers simply won’t pit. Vettel and Hamilton running tires down to the canvas prove that point. Not trying to take the piss… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

Well good points, and I’d be the first to say it’s easier to criticise something than to find a solution, but to clarify I think what I’m saying is that under the current setup they’ve put fragile tires on the cars to encourage pitstops, but the pitstops don’t seem to be worth what they give in return, so the teams just baby the tires. Then we get lap times 10 seconds off qualifying (i.e. the guys aren’t driving hard) and people won’t approach or stalk another car much because it’s hard on the tires. When there’s a safety car, the… Read more »