Verstappen sweeps Austria, extends championship lead

The recent momentum and domination for Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing continued in Spielberg, Austria, after the 23-year-old Dutchman scored his fifth Grand Prix victory of the season in the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, the ninth Grand Prix event of the 2021 Formula One season, as he also completed a two-race season sweep at the circuit.

Verstappen, who started on pole position for the fourth time this season, dominated the second Austrian Grand Prix event of the season as he led all 71 laps, a similar feat he made when he won last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. With a huge advantage over the field, he even made a pit stop with 10 laps remaining for four fresh tyres, which allowed him to pull away from runner-up finisher Valtteri Bottas and establish the fastest lap of the event before claiming the checkered flag.

With his 15th career victory in Formula One, third in a row in recent weeks after winning the French and Styrian Grand Prix events, Verstappen extended his lead in the drivers’ championship standings to 32 over Sir Lewis Hamilton.

“Yeah, it was really, really good today,” Verstappen said. “I expected it to be good, but not this good. Really, really happy with how the whole race went. You don’t get these races often. You have to take it and enjoy it. When you feel good in the car, you have a good balance and [the crew does] not mention your lap times, which is exactly what you want, and that’s why we could extend our gap like this.”

“[Verstappen] was in a league of his own these last two weekends,” Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing’s team principal, said. “I think he’s pretty much led every single lap that we’ve done here. A phenomenal performance by him and the team, and extending both leads in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. I think [Verstappen]’s just taking things session by session, race by race. He’s not letting his concentration drift. We’ve had a phenomenal start, we’ve built some great momentum and we’ve got to carry that on, but there are some big races coming up.”

Behind Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas notched a strong runner-up result for his fifth podium result of the season while Lando Norris, who started on the front row, came home in third place for his third podium result of this season, fourth of his career and second in Austria. The podium result for Norris occurred after he rallied from a five-second penalty for forcing Sergio “Checo” Perez off the course and into the gravel.

“I think it was a strong race,” Bottas said. “Definitely, starting fifth and ending up second was the maximum today we could get. We need to keep working. We have two weeks to try and find more pace, but also, we have some upgrades planned for Silverstone, so hopefully, they will help. Hopefully, we can carry this good momentum. I just try to look ahead.”

“Whether or not, we can keep this up at every race track,” Norris said. “This is one of the tracks we’ve done well every single year, qualifying and the race. It’s always been one of our best circuits of the season, so I think the main thing is we don’t get too complacent and think this is where we are now because just last weekend, where we didn’t have two weeks to nail everything, the car wasn’t good enough, so yeah, we had a great day today and we’ve been fast all weekend, but I don’t expect to be like this every single weekend throughout the rest of the season. I think there’s gonna be much tougher again and not so much glory, so we’ll see.

Meanwhile, Sir Lewis Hamilton, fresh off a two-year contract extension with the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, ended up in fourth place after slipping in the final laps due to sustaining aerodynamic damage from running over the curbs.

Behind, Sergio “Checo” Perez, coming off a podium result in France and a fourth-place result in Styria, finished in fifth. Perez, however, was hit with a pair of time penalties as a result of forcing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc off the course and into the gravel on two separate occasions. As a result, Carlos Sainz, who crossed the finish line in sixth, was promoted to fifth place while Perez was penalized to sixth place.

Daniel Ricciardo rallied from a 13th-place result last weekend during the Styrian Grand Prix to finish in seventh while Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top-10 points-finishing positions.

George Russell, who was battling Alonso for the final points-finishing result, settled in 11th as he has yet to record the first points of the season for himself and the Williams Racing team. Rookie Yuki Tsunoda settled in 12th followed by Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi.

Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel ended up in 16th and 17th after both collided and wrecked on the final lap while Haas F1 drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, settled in 18th and 19th.

Esteban Ocon ended his race in 20th, last place, following an opening lap incident with Giovinazzi and picking up damage to his Alpine machine.

Results:

1. Max Verstappen, 26 points, 71 laps led

2. Valtteri Bottas, 18 points

3. Lando Norris, 15 points

4. Lewis Hamilton, 12 points

5. Carlos Sainz, 10 points

6. Sergio Perez, eight points

7. Daniel Ricciardo, six points

8. Charles Leclerc, four points

9. Pierre Gasly, two points

10. Fernando Alonso, one point, +1 lap

11. George Russell, +1 lap

12. Yuki Tsunoda, +1 lap

13. Lance Stroll, +1 lap

14. Antonio Givinazzi, +1 lap

15. Nicholas Latifi, +1 lap

16. Kimi Räikkönen, +1 lap

17. Sebastian Vettel – DNF

18. Mick Schumacher, +2 laps

19. Nikita Mazepin, +2 laps

20. Esteban Ocon – DNF

Max Verstappen continues to lead the drivers’ standings by 32 points over Lewis Hamilton, 78 over teammate Sergio Perez, 81 over Lando Norris and 90 over Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull Racing continues to lead the constructors’ standings by 44 points over Mercedes, 145 over McLaren and 164 over Ferrari.

Next on the 2021 Formula One schedule is Silverstone Circuit for the British Grand Prix on Sunday, July 18.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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