Currently reading: F1 talking points: Verstappen wins Austrian GP – again
Red Bull driver dominates from pole position to stretch his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton
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3 mins read
5 July 2021

Max Verstappen comfortably won the Austrian Grand Prix to further cement his position at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ table, with a 32-point lead over Mercedes' Sir Lewis Hamilton.

For the second week in a row, Verstappen led from pole position and rarely looked threatened throughout the race. Unlike last week, when Hamilton nicked the fastest lap with a late pit stop for fresh tyres, the Dutch driver got the clean sweep and claimed the point for quickest lap.

In the same weekend that Hamilton announced a two-year extension to his Mercedes contract, he suffered a frustrating race. Running second and in damage-limitation mode, the British driver ran wide at the final corner, damaged his floor and slipped behind both his team-mate Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris, eventually ending up fourth.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fifth, doing just enough with two quick laps at the death to jump ahead of Sergio Perez, the Red Bull driver having suffered two separate five-second penalties for clashing with Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver ended up eighth. Daniel Ricciardo was seventh, Pierre Gasly ninth and Fernando Alonso 10th.

What do Mercedes do next?

It’s easy to be over-dramatic, but it’s clear that Hamilton and Mercedes need to make some significant developments if they’re to break the current Red Bull stranglehold. But will they get any? Team principal Toto Wolff has said the team is switching its attention to 2022, when significant rules changes are introduced, rather than pushing this year’s car.

The one ray of light is that the next race is at Silverstone in two weeks time, a Mercedes/Hamilton fortress. But if they can’t beat Verstappen there, you have to wonder what hope the current champions have for the rest of the season.

Norris brings some UK cheer

Like Verstappen, Norris had another excellent weekend. He qualified an incredible second, held off Hamilton for the first chunk of the race and then managed to grab the final podium spot, just a couple of seconds behind Bottas at the flag.

The one blot in his copybook was an aggressive defensive move against Sergio Perez at the start of the race, which earned him a five-second penalty and an extra two points on his licence. It means he’ll spend a significant chunk of the season with eight points - 12 lead to a ban.

Russell misses out again

For the second race in a row, George Russell gets a special mention: because for the second race in a row, he came agonisingly close to scoring a point for Williams. Qualifying a stunning ninth, and managing that on the slower medium tyre compound to boot, Russell was running in 10th in the final period of the race, but Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was closing and ready to spoil the party. Russell managed to hold him off for 10 laps, before the Spaniard nipped past with three to go.

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si73 5 July 2021
Norris's penalty seemed harsh when you consider previous similar instances where no penalty was given, I've always thought the rule was to give room and not to crowd a car off the track, with no allowance for who is leading into or out of the corner or who is on the normal racing line, you must not force a car wide and or off. But Hamilton didn't leave room for Verstappen in Bahrain causing Verstappen to pass off the track and have to give the place back, surely Hamilton crowded Verstappen off the track as he ran him wide whilst maintaining his racing line, surely no different to how Norris held his line against Perez? Admittedly, Verstappen probably wouldn't have attempted the move if there was a gravel trap as opposed to a huge tarmac run off, so maybe Perez was at fault? At Imola Verstappen forced Lewis wide and across the high kerbs which sent bodywork flying and could have ended Hamilton's race, no penalty, and very similar to Perez on Leclerc, plus drivers lunging down the inside at turn 2 in Austria frequently force the outside car wide and off with no penalty. In my opinion, Norris was in the wrong with regards to my understanding of the rules, but this isn't enforced evenly or consistently so as such Norris was unfairly punished, 5 second penalty?Maybe, licence points? No.
F1 really needs to be consistent with its enforcement of the rules.
Otherwise form the promised Verstappen/Hamilton championship battle, a boring race, but from the midfield and 3rd/4th place battles, it was great, Norris was superb in both quali and race, great to see Riccardo battle through, and Sainz as well, gutted for Russell, points will come, he qualified fantastically.