Race Report: Bottas conquers Red Bull Ring in Austrian GP

The Austrian Grand Prix is a very Red Bull-ish affair and that’s to be expected as the energy drink company owns the Red Bull Ring but it was Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas who owned pole position followed by two Ferraris. Valtteri’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, entered the qualifying session on the back foot with a gearbox change and 5-place grid penalty meaning that he started on Sunday in 8th.

Win

A big win for whoever it was that organized the seas of orange shirts which consumed the grandstands in support of Max Verstappen. Great to see such a fan turnout and passion for an F1 driver. That was impressive.

While some felt the start of Valtteri Bottas may have been a jump start and even Sebastian Vettel radioed for clarification, the stewards determined that it was just an incredible start from the pole sitter.

A big win for Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes who held of a charging Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Valtteri did exactly what the team needed; when Lewis is in trouble, the Finn delivered and capitalized on the points denying Vettel the 25-points for a win keeping him closer to Hamilton in the championship but it also creates an intriguing situation in that Bottas is just now 15 points behind Hamilton.

A huge win for Haas F1 and Romain Grosjean with 8 points and close to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship. A great run and not one mention of brakes the entire weekend.

A win for both Force India and Williams for top-10 dual finishes. Williams were perplexing in qualifying starting at the back of the grid but made a terrific nose-to-tail recovery drive to the front for big points.

It wasn’t a points finish but Jolyon Palmer managed to beat his teammate and finishes in 11th and just one place out of the points.

A big win for Austria with Niki Lauda’s team taking the win and Dr. Helmut Marko’s team on the podium for their home race and a vibrant, passionate crowd showing just how committed the Austrian’s are to great racing.

Fail

Turn one, lap one hit from Kvyat that took Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen out of he race. Max had a very poor start while Alonso had a great start and this placed both of them side-by-side when Kvyat cooked the corner hitting Alonso who then hit Verstappen. Kvyat has been in F1 long enough to not make these silly mistakes. Kvyat received a drive-through penalty for his actions. We did hear Max tell team boss Christian Horner that the engine wasn’t right at the start. It is his 5th retirement in 7 races.

A fail for Stoffel Vandoorne for ignoring the blue flags. That’s not what McLaren needed for their sole-remaining car in the race.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A fail for Toro Rosso who retired Carlos Sainz with a mechanical issue and this, compounded with Kvyat’s race made a controversial weekend even worse for Sainz. Equally, a fail for Haas F1 and Kevin Magnussen with a mechanical failure in a weekend that the team seemed poised for a terrific finish given Grosjean’s pace.

WTH

For Friday and Saturday, much of the talk was about the durability of the three tire compounds on offer this weekend and how the teams would fit Ultraspofts and go the distance but intriguingly, the tires were experiencing more degradation that any of the news reports I read suggested. With 22 laps in the books, the Ultrasoft and Supersofts were all showing signs of blistering and degradation that betrayed the initial commentaries on how the tires would react in Austria. By lap 35, the teams were pitting and while they did last quite a while, drivers were really struggling with the degradation. Makes you wonder if a 2-stopper might not have been an interesting option.

The challenges of car setup and interestingly, Lewis Hamilton’s first lap after the pit stop for Ultrasofts was terrific but a few laps later, his rear tires began to show signs of wear with Lewis saying there was way too much front wing causing oversteer and putting pressure on the rear tires. An interesting look into just how critical the margins are.

Austrian GP Results:

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1h21m48.523s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.658s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 6.012s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 7.430s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 20.370s
6 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m13.160s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
9 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1 Lap
10 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1 Lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 Lap
14 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 2 Laps
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 3 Laps
Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault Retirement
Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari Retirement
Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda Collision
Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault Collision

Drivers’ Championship Points:

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 171
2 Lewis Hamilton 151
3 Valtteri Bottas 136
4 Daniel Ricciardo 107
5 Kimi Raikkonen 83
6 Sergio Perez 50
7 Max Verstappen 45
8 Esteban Ocon 39
9 Carlos Sainz 29
10 Felipe Massa 22
11 Lance Stroll 18
12 Nico Hulkenberg 18
13 Romain Grosjean 18
14 Kevin Magnussen 11
15 Pascal Wehrlein 5
16 Daniil Kvyat 4
17 Fernando Alonso 2
18 Jolyon Palmer 0
19 Marcus Ericsson 0
20 Stoffel Vandoorne 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi 0

Constructors’ Championship Points:

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 287
2 Ferrari 254
3 Red Bull/Renault 152
4 Force India/Mercedes 89
5 Williams/Mercedes 40
6 Toro Rosso/Renault 33
7 Haas/Ferrari 29
8 Renault 18
9 Sauber/Ferrari 5
10 McLaren/Honda 2