Styrian GP: Verstappen crushes Hamilton and extends his title lead

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, has claimed a crushing second consecutive victory after France at the eighth round of the calendar, the Styrian GP, this Sunday at the Red Bull Ring. 

The Dutchman displayed an overwhelming superiority as compared to Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, who was powerless at the wheel of a much inferior machine. Valtteri Bottas completed the podium after fending off Pérez, and his RB16B.

Behind the Mexican, fourth at the Spielberg Autodrome, finished McLaren´s Lando Norris, closing top-five. Another great performance for the Woking squad´s Briton, 

Carlos Sainz has performed a remarkable comeback from twelfth to sixth place, partly thanks to the light brush suffered by his teammate Charles Leclerc with Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) at the start.

Ferrari‘s strategy of extending the Spaniard’s pit stop was key to his success, as well as an improved SF21 compared to France. In any case, Sainz together with his partner Charles Leclerc, seventh, managed to save some face for their team. 

Fernando Alonso, for his part, has taken a brilliant ninth place, the same position from which he started, and is slowly climbing his way up the standings. The Spaniard ended between Aston Martin´s Lance Stroll, eight and Alpha Tauri´s Yuki Tsunoda, tenth.

Verstappen escapes at the start  

At the start of the race, Verstappen held on to his pole position despite the attacks of Lewis Hamilton. Behind them, Norris and Pérez engaged in an exciting battle that lasted several corners, delighting fans with some thrilling ‘wheel to wheel’ action.

In the end, Norris defended his third place from the relentless attacks of his Mexican rival. Bottas closed the top five ahead of Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and a surprising George Russell (Williams), eighth.

Eleven laps on and Verstappen had imposed a merciless pace, escaping from Hamilton by almost three seconds. A lap earlier Pérez had finally managed to pass Norris following another sensational head-to-head.

The Mexican driver, however, was not happy with the time lost chasing a McLaren, a much slower machine than his Red Bull. 

Back at the top of the track and the Dutchman had extended his lead to 4.5 seconds before a powerless Hamilton.

Battle in boxes   

After lap 27, the war of the pit stops began. Perez was first to go through boxes a lap before Bottas who remained fifth. After the poor stop of the Mexican was overtaked by the Mercedes´ Finn. 

Two laps later it was Hamilton’s turn but the Dutchman remained on the track for another lap and pitted on the 30th. Both had re-fitted hard tires, the most reliable compound available at the Red Bull Ring.

From that moment on the race settle down with Verstappen gradually increasing his lead to over 17 seconds. With his W12 unable to stand up to the blue car, Hamilton had no choice but to fall back further and further away from Verstappen.

Behind them Bottas had risen to third, closely chased by Pérez who in the end had managed to cut his distance with the Fin from 4 to 2.4 seconds. 

In the penultimate lap, Hamilton pitted for a second time in the hope of earning himself the fastest lap point, which he did. Max crossed the finish line alone and unbothered by the seven-time champion. 

Bottas kept the third position despite Perez’ constant harassment. The Mexican driver finished in fourth ahead of Norris and the two Ferraris. 

Images of Styrian GP: Mercedes AMG F1.

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