Race Report: Verstappen wins Styrian GP

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RED BULL RING, AUSTRIA - JUNE 27: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, with his trophy during the Styrian GP at Red Bull Ring on Sunday June 27, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Steven Tee / LAT Images)

IT may not have been the most exciting race on the 2021 calendar so far but it may have answered a few questions about Red Bull’s pace against Mercedes and with the same race coming next week, what can Mercedes learn from this weekend?

Max Verstappen took a home-track win for Red Bull Racing and had Mercedes adequately covered for the majority of the race. Lewis Hamilton struggled to find the pace of his rival and settled for second ahead of his teammate, Valtteri Bottas.

Win

A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen because even after several races already, no one was quite sure just how track-specific their pace may be and it is difficult to imagine anyone winning by Mercedes after years of dominance. If you’ve watched Formula1 for any length of time, you’ll know that team dominance ebbs and flows over time and over regulation sets. Regardless, Red Bull seem to have a legitimate edge at many different circuit types and Max pulls 18 points ahead of Lewis in the driver’s championship.

A win for Lando Norris who managed to manhandle his veteran teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, and climb to 5th for much-needed points.

A win for both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc who minimized constructor’s points damage by recovering from a poor qualifying to find race pace and finish 6th and 7th respectively. Charles had a bit of a scrappy race getting there but it was a great recovery drive from the back of the grid as he had to box on lap 1 with front wing damage.

A definite win for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll who put in a terrific performance finishing 8th with his teammate, and four time champion Sebastian Vettel, down in 12th.

A win for Fernando Alonso who finished P9 and made his recently-signed teammate, Esteban Ocon, look out to lunch down in 14th. Unlike the McLaren situation, Fernando is a veteran who is here to win and making the youngsters look slightly off the pace.

Fail

It’s hard to give Mercedes a fail but not winning is a fail in their book so I am going with it. Lewis did all he could but the car just didn’t have the qualifying or race pace to hang with Max. Valtteri Bottas made a decent recovery to the podium but Hamilton may be right, Red Bull are a quarter of a second quicker in aggregate.

I feel horrible for George Russel who had a terrific race going int eh top 10 only to be scuttled by a pneumatic pressure issue causing a DNF.

I am not sure what plagues Daniel Ricciardo but the move from Renault is not looking as promising as I had hoped. Lando is mopping the floor over at McLaren and Dan just can’t seem to get on top of that car. If you consider Carlos, Sergio, Fernando and Dan, the Aussie is struggling the most to come to grips with a new car ant team.

A fail for Pierre Gasly and while it may not have been his mistake, it was a loss of points and one wonders where he may have factored in the running order had he stayed in the race. Yuki scoring a point was good but I suspect Pierre would have been quite a bit higher in the order.

WTH

I am not sure why Mercedes have publicly stated they won’t develop the car any more this year. There are a lot of head games in F1 and perhaps this is one of them or they really are doubling down on next year’s car as they would like a repeat of 2014 onward.

I am curious with the harder compounds for next weekend’s Austrian GP, will Mercedes do better on those tires and will they have a strategy to avoid a repeat?

Pirelli Key Moments:

  • Max Verstappen took his second consecutive win and the fourth one on the trot for Red Bull, thanks to a one-stop medium-hard strategy from pole position in Austria. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished runner-up, followed the same strategy before making a second stop on the penultimate lap to fit softs and gain the extra championship point for fastest lap.
  • The highest-classified driver to start on the P Zero Red soft tyre was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished fourth after being passed by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas following a slow pit stop. Perez also made a second stop: this time for P Zero Yellow mediums 17 laps from the end of the race. He used this set to make up ground on Bottas, finishing just behind the Mercedes driver.
  • All the drivers stopped once apart from four two-stoppers: Hamilton, Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (who eventually finished seventh from the back of the field) and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.
  • The drivers who had a free choice of starting tyres opted for the medium (apart from Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen) as this was the most versatile choice. However, it was obviously not an option for those who had set their best Q2 times on the soft compound.
  • Despite the consistent forecasts of rain for the weekend and some dark clouds towards the end of the grand prix, once again wet weather didn’t materialise throughout the 71 laps. Instead, conditions were warm and dry: 31 degrees ambient and 47 degrees on track at the start.

Styrian GP Results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda71711h22m18.925s1m08.017s125
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes710+35.743s1m07.058s219
3Valtteri BottasMercedes710+46.907s1m08.619s115
4Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda710+47.434s1m07.894s212
5Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes700+1 lap1m08.903s110
6Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari700+1 lap1m08.609s18
7Charles LeclercFerrari700+1 lap1m08.738s26
8Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes700+1 lap1m09.787s14
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault700+1 lap1m09.749s12
10Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda700+1 lap1m09.65s11
11Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari700+1 lap1m09.128s10
12Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes700+1 lap1m09.821s10
13Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes700+1 lap1m09.305s10
14Esteban OconAlpine-Renault700+1 lap1m09.576s10
15Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari700+1 lap1m09.723s10
16Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari690+2 laps1m10.005s10
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes680+3 laps1m10.104s20
18Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari680+3 laps1m10.951s10
George RussellWilliams-Mercedes360DNF1m10.499s30
Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda10DNF0s10
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Fred

Why don’t we talk about Haas anymore? Oh yea, last place and no points.

Xean Drury

I lieks me the Haas’ too. But honestly, there’ wasn’t much to talk about them in this race.

Xean Drury

That’s interesting that the compounds will be harder next race. Nice to see some mixing up. Honestly though, why doesn’t Pirelli just let the teams decide what compouds they want to use in advance and then supply them? For lack of a competing tire manufacturer, at least that would be an interesting talking point and make for interesting strategies.

Fabio

They used to do that, but the teams had to decide on the compound months in advance, and then on the day, the weather might favour one team over the other.
Plus Pirelli didn’t like not knowing how many different compounds they were making for the year.

Xean Drury

Are you referring to the Tire Rainbow era that we just passed through or even previous to that? I just started watching in 2008, and during the Rainbow, team could select how many of each compound, but were still limited to just three slick choices. Personally, I say more’s the pity if a team were to get their selection wrong due to weather or anything else ^_^ but I suppose that’s the difference between a spectator wanting diced up excitement and a team wanting to win the darn thing.