The Red Bull driver secured pole position by a healthy margin (either of his two fastest qualifying laps would have been good enough for pole) and never looked troubled all afternoon. Hamilton grabbed a bonus point for recording the fastest lap, following a late tyre change for fresh rubber, but it’s clear he’s got his work cut out to get closer to the Red Bull, especially as there are just six days until the next grand prix, also in Austria.
Valtteri Bottas was third in the second Mercedes. He’d qualified directly behind Verstappen, but was given a three-place grid penalty for the most bizarre of reasons - a spin in the pit lane - so did well to claw back up to a podium spot. Sergio Perez pitted late on to have another run at Bottas on new tyres, but couldn’t quite close the gap by the flag, ending up fourth.
Lando Norris was fifth, while Carlos Sainz was sixth. Ferrari had an awful qualifying session but ran much better in the race, with Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc finishing seventh. Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.
Verstappen at ease
Channel 4’s highlights package ran a fascinating side-by-side comparison lap between Verstappen’s and Hamilton’s fastest quali laps, and Lewis never got close. With some excellent commentary from Mark Webber, the two laps showed just how much work Mercedes has to do to catch Red Bull, as Verstappen was already 0.1sec ahead by T3, at the top of the hill before the cars start to drop back down the gradient. Hamilton ended up 0.226sec behind by the end. And so it proved in the race, as Verstappen simply drove off into the distance. He was 1.4sec ahead by lap three, and never looked flustered all the way to the flag, winning by some 30 seconds.
Norris continues his great season
Lining up third (boosted from fourth due to Bottas’s grid penalty), Norris was in excellent form all weekend. He got to within a tenth of Hamilton’s time in qualifying, and then kept it clean during the race, despite not having the pace to keep up with the front four. He continues to dominate his illustrious team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who could only qualify 13th and finish in the same spot.
After lining up 10th on the grid, his best-ever start for Williams, George Russell looked all set for his first-ever points for the team, in his third season of racing for the British outfit. He was running eighth when his afternoon came to a premature end courtesy of an engine problem. But with his impressive weekend, Russell continues to make the case for a race seat at Mercedes next year.