Max Verstappen has won the Styrian Grand Prix, claiming his fourth win of the season and Red Bull’s fourth win in a row. The Dutchman extended his lead on Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship to 18 points, with the Mercedes driver finishing in second. Valtteri Bottas finished in third, joining the Championship contenders on the podium. Verstappen’s victory also extends Red Bull’s lead over Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.
Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez finished in fourth place and extended the lead on Mercedes in the Constructor’s championship, following Hamilton’s second and Bottas’ third.
Verstappen claimed pole position yesterday for the first time at the team’s home track and took revenge over their German rival’s as Mercedes claimed victory in both races at the Red Bull Ring last season.
Lando Norris was in fifth place, ahead of the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Lance Stroll took the next place, with Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda rounding off the scoring places.
A train was set in the midfield in a battle for seventh place, involving six drivers, for the first third of the race. Alonso led George Russell, Tsunoda, Sainz, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen until the pit window was open and changed the whole midfield standings. Hamilton almost lost the rear of his car at the exit of turn four, dipping his left rear tyre into gravel, but was able to counter the oversteer and lose minimal seconds on Verstappen in the lead.
Russell retired from the race on lap 39 after incurring some issues with the Williams' car, the young Brit was running comfortably in eighth for the first third of the race until the issues occurred.
Leclerc started in seventh place but dropped down to the bottom of the grid at the end of the first lap due to wing damage, but a gutsy performance from the Ferrari driver saw him move up the grid throughout the whole race.
Drama at the start
Leclerc instantly had wing damage coming out of the first corner, causing the Monegasque driver to pit instantly and drop all the way to the bottom. Pierre Gasly spun at turn three hitting Antonio Giovinazzi, dropping down 14 places to last on the grid and the spin resulted in a left rear-puncture for the Frenchman as well as suspension damage.
Daniel Ricciardo moved up four places to ninth on the first lap, with Russell moving up two places to eighth ahead of the Aussie. Gasly went into the pits but had to retire after the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen and Nikita Mazepin were the highest position gainers off the start with the Finn gaining six places to move into 12th and Haas' rookie gained four places to move off the bottom of the grid.
At the start of lap 8, Ricciardo found himself back down in 13th place, to his starting position, due to struggling with low power out of turn one. It was another low for McLaren as Norris didn't defend strongly against Sergio Perez at turn three, but it was deemed to be a strategic move from the British team. A lap later, Norris didn't fight Valtteri Bottas and dropped down to fifth.
In the pits
Before the race, it was projected to be a one-stop race with teams opting for soft and medium tyres off the start. Leclerc and Nicholas Latifi had to pit after lap one due to sustaining damage from turn 2 and turn 3 respectively. The Ferrari driver opted for the hard tyre, looking to last a large number of laps before having to pit again later on in the race.
Haas and Mazepin were the first to pit in the strategic window as he pitted on lap 23. Russell pitted at the end of lap 27 but an issue with cooling resulted in an 18.3 second stop and the Brit dropped to 17th place. A lap later he had to pit again and found himself once place further down the grid in 18th.
Perez and Red Bull were the first of the race leaders to pit and this resulted in all four drivers pitting one after another. The Mexican's stop was slow due to an issue on the left rear tyre, with the stop being 4.8 seconds. Mercedes then reacted and pitted Bottas and Hamilton on consecutive laps, with both being clean stops of 2.6 and 2.2 seconds. Finally, the home team pitted Verstappen with a 2.0 second stop which saw the Dutchman come out of the pit lane still holding the lead over Hamilton.
Norris was running his own race from the start and pitted on lap 32, however got beaten on pit exit by Raikkonen but was able to pass the Finn at the exit of turn four. McLaren then pitted Ricciardo at the end of lap 43 and he was the last of the drivers to complete their first stop but dropped down to 15th behind Raikkonen.
Perez was then called in for a second time on lap 55 and was given a fresh pair of medium tyres in order to try and steal the fastest lap off of Mercedes and Hamilton, which was completed four laps later. Hamilton pitted on lap 70 as a precautionary measure, in order to make sure that the Brit finished the race and also to take the fastest lap which he did.