The sunny skies in the Styrian mountains led to a very warm track and a very unpredictable Austrian Grand Prix. There was no doubt that Mercedes looked to have this race by the scruff of the neck. A new Power Unit last week in France and a serious chassis upgrade package this weekend manifest itself in a lockout of the front row on Saturday.
The Austrian Grand Prix stage was set on Sunday with Valtteri Bottas on pole and his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, behind him. As the race started, Hamilton’s Sunday looked to be off to great start when he jumped his teammate and took the lead. This was made all the better when his rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel starting from 6th due to a penalty, lost a few positions. Things couldn’t be looking better for Mercedes.
All of that unraveled with the first victim in the form of Bottas who stopped on track with a hydraulic issue forcing a DNF. A Virtual Safety Car session offered the chance for a strategy miscue from Mercedes and Hamilton was left on track while his rival boxed for fresh tires. When Hamilton eventually boxed, he was in front of Vettel in 4th but behind two Red Bulls and a Ferrari.
The increased track temp did not flatter the soft compound Pirelli tires and blistering became the talk of the paddock strategist with serious right-rear tire troubles for Lewis and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Both drivers would pit late, lose positions and eventually retire with mechanical problems. In Lewis’s case it was a loss of fuel pressure. For Daniel, it was a suspected gearbox issue.
Mercedes turned a one-two qualifying effort into a dual DNF and lost not only the driver’s championship lead by a point but the constructor’s championship lead by 10 points.
A big win for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was cheered on every single lap by a throng some 20,000 strong of orange-shirted Dutch fans on his team’s home circuit. You couldn’t script it any better and it’s reminiscent of the Hamilton/Silverstone and Schumacher/Germany days. Max drove a great race and managed to avoid the serious blistering issues his teammate suffered by guarding his aggression on the tires and avoiding a second stop. Max’s re-pass of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was the move of the race for the Dutchman and It secured his firs twin since Mexico last year.
It was a win for Ferrari but only just as it took a dual DNF from Mercedes to feel good about their race. They are slower than the Mercs and were reined in by the pace of Bottas and Hamilton. They also found it difficult to have enough pace to quickly dispatch of both Red Bulls. It’s racing and DNF’s happen and to be fair, this season is going to be won by small margins in performance differentials, small details and team errors in strategy so attrition by their rivals is part of what this season has to factor in to Ferrari or Mercedes success.
A big win for Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen who gave the team their best result ever with a 4th and 5th place finish. The team were clearly the best of the rest all weekend long but could Grosjean get out of his funk and convert a terrific qualifying effort into a great race result? Yes, he could and his teammate did as well. In fact, Kevin leads the best of the rest driver’s championship.
A seemingly tough season and circuit for Force India did make today’s 6th and 7th a win for the team. It isn’t where they should be running based on last year’s results but it is better than they have been in recent races.
A huge win for both Sauber’s bringing home a dual-points finish with Charles Leclerc leading Marcus Ericsson in 9th and 10th. Results the team needed and even if it was attrition-gained, you have to be there to take advantage of it and Sauber were.
A big fail for Mercedes who looked set to choke the life out of the Austrian Grand Prix but a dual DNF and a serious strategy flaw by Lewis Hamilton’s crew sent what was to be glory down the drain of disappointment. The weekend that promised dominance in turn lost them the lead in both championships.
A fail for Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo’s weekend. The towgate saga on Saturday left some thinking Daniel was being a bit cheeky knowing the team has a process for equanimity between drivers. Then on Sunday the tire blisters and eventual DNF made this Australian’s birthday one to forget.
A fail for Toro Rosso with a serious lack of pace on its home track and hopefully not a precursor of what Red Bull can expect with Honda power next season. Brendon Hartley suffered a DNF and Pierre Gasly was DRS fodder for anyone in the same postal/zip code as he was.
A fail for Nico Hulkenberg and Renault who suffered a dramatic engine failure for Nico and couldn’t manage to get Carlos Sainz in the points. The team, who should be best of the rest, was barely best of the also-rans in Austria.
Lance Stroll did a decent job of qualifying his Williams F1 car but the team proved that perhaps no circuit type will flatter their Mercedes-powered pig of a chassis and they languished at the back all day.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne suffered front win damage on the first lap, had to pit for a new wing and trundled around at the back all day. His teammate, Fernando Alonso, was not happy hobbling around at the rear of the race but his qualifying put him there and as he knows, anything can change in Formula 1. As it was, attrition handed him some points that he may not have had if he would have boxed and hung it up.
Was it just me or did there seem to be a lot of armed police in the paddock after the race. It seemed like a lot to me. I’ve been to races here in the US and maybe it’s a European thing but there was a phalanx of police stand shoulder to shoulder down the entire pit lane as Sky Sports walked down it speaking with Romain Grosjean.
A WTH with the new F1 theme song being played over and over while interviews are being done and the race is over. I know they’re proud of the song they paid big money for but give it a rest, we’re trying to hear Kevin Magnussen talk about Haas F1’s best-ever result.
Austrian GP Results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||71||1h21m56.024s|
|4||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|5||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|8||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Renault||70||1 Lap|
|9||Charles Leclerc||Sauber/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|10||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||70||1 Lap|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Renault||70||1 Lap|
|13||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||69||2 Laps|
|14||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams/Mercedes||69||2 Laps|
|15||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Renault||65||Not running|
|–||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||54||Retirement|
|–||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||53||Retirement|
|–||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||11||Power Unit|
I’m so glad RG got out of the basement! I love it when the evil empire fails.
Right on dude! Evil Empire in smoking ruins … I loved it!
Vowles stricks again! Pitting from the lead with a 13 second advantage and into traffic is not a mistake, that’s sabotage! Should of just went long if you missed the VSC pit. Even Red Bull thought that was Mercs plan. Mercedes are playing games with Hamilton. It was if they hit self destruct on Hamilton’s race the moment Bottas retired. I think he realizes it and explains the reluctance to sign a contract. This smells like the final year at McLaren when Whitmarsh refused to have the team support Hamilton 100% even though he was their best chance at winning… Read more »
Do you really believe what you are writing? This is absurd! Mercedes wouldn’t harm themselves like that in regard to the constructors championship…But I guess you are just trolling…
Lets say you are Toto. Do you know who James Vowles is? Given his performance over the past 4 years, would you continue to hire him or employ him as your only strategist? James will be probably be there next year. So yeah…Mercedes are willing to harm themselves. Or these “blunders”are actually deliberate. You’re making the mistake of thinking this is just a sport and chips fall where they may. WRONG! This is a business. And if Hamilton wins another championship, this business is going to be in a sorry state. Liberty Media as a business, cannot afford another Mercedes… Read more »
How many titles has Merc won over the last four years? I am not sure I understand fans calling for Vowels or Allison’s firing. Spent all day on twitter defending Hamilton and Merc. Very odd for a Ferrari fan but there you go. Me the Hamilton hater, defending Lewis tooth and nail on twitter.
Oh please. If it wasn’t for Vowles you’d be 50 points down on Hamilton and complaing about DRS. Not buying it. Vowles mistakes go all the way back to 2015. Your argument is “why change a good thing” right? Well, did they or did not break up a championship winning garage? When have you ever seen a Championship winning group broken up and the personal switched to the other garage. Winning titles does not excuse Vowles. Its actually making the case for his firing. For three years the fight was inhouse between Hamilton and Ricciardo and even then Vowles showed… Read more »
Feel free to fact check me…four titles in four seasons is what I said. You can argue your own topics, points and fact check those if you’d like. Not particularly interested in arguing about issues that neither of us have a clear line of sight to or understand the intra-team dynamics of. Also, I will always complain about DRS regardless of who is leading the championship. I’ve been very clear about that since podcast 200.
Good Grief Arrow. Take a deep breath and have a look at yourself, you’re behaving totally irrationality.
I was thinking you were playing a parody of a myopic Hamilton fanboy, but its not parody you really are that fanboy.
Being that emotionally invested in one driver can’t be healthy.
That’s enough of that. I’ve tried to reason with him and asked him to discuss without the personal attacks but apparently they are not capable. This isn’t the website for him.
Listen to some music to chill out man!
Merc has never lost a race at this track in the new PU era! ‘NUF SAID!
The conspiracy theories being thrown around here… This is on the same level as the Flat Earth Theory and ‘Jet fuel doesn’t melt steel beams’.
Thankfully it is a rare few who are whipping up conspiracies. As I said, I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who thinks the team would scuttle their own race and impact 2,000 employees hard work and effort. Takes a lot of tinfoil to dream that up.
“For me, James is one of the best strategists ever,” said Wolff later. “To have the guts to say that was my mistake in order to get Lewis out of the mindset of ‘how can this possibly have happened?’ took a lot.”
That could be the bigger picture.
A WTH award goes to the race sponsor Eyetime. What is it? And the Skysports crew told us nothing. After a little digging, it’s a recently introduced Whatsapp-type app for Android. How does such a start-up afford to become a F1 race’s title sponsor? It gets better: the young woman who is their CEO and awarded a trophy on the podium, she is also employed by a global company called Lyoness which is believed to be a pyramid scheme.
I think its a larger agreement with the circuit, rather than just with F1 as it appears to be the sponsor for the MotoGP Austrian round also held at the Red Bull Ring next month.
On the other hand, their sponsorship just turned you into a well versed person on who they are so maybe it worked from that standpoint but they failed to convince you it is a product you need so their marketing efforts might need a polishing. ;)
Pass Bottas three wide heading into turn 4
For all the talk about the Mercedes strategy error, I think the tire wear would have made the whole thing moot anyways had Lewis made it to the end of the race. As the race played out, Lewis pitted after 25 laps to put on a set of softs, which only lasted him for 27 laps before he had to pit for a set of supersofts which he would have needed to get 19 laps out of to finish the race. Had Lewis pitted in lap 14 with the rest of the crowd, he would have been in big trouble… Read more »
An interesting point. The only thing I might add to that would be that the way he needed to drive to try and close gap after losing the positions may have been harder on his tires that he would had to be if he pit at the same time as everyone else. Perhaps he would have been gentler on his tires in the lead like Max was? Just a thought.
Yeah, good article NC and, you have to admit, this is MILES better coverage than anything we’ve had for years and years… Lord, it feels like 1979 again! Actual coverage, a ton of personnel to cover almost every aspect. INVOLVING for the audience. Bravo.
Another WTH is those weird CGI the put in, that star over the track at the exit of turn 7
Almost gave those donkey of the race.