Things we learned from the Styrian Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen cruised to victory in truth, untroubled at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix to extend his championship lead to 18 points over reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, who had no answer to his rival’s pace at the Red Bull Ring. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó analyses Round 8 of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Slowly, but surely – After a hard-fought victory at the French Grand Prix, Verstappen was adamant to build on the momentum and increase his championship lead over Hamilton. And that is exactly what the Dutchman did on his team’s home turf. The 23-year-old sits now on 156 points on top of the Drivers’ Standings, 18 points clear of Hamilton. Sergio Perez is third on 96 points, followed by Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari’s duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are sixth and seventh on this list with the last two races proving difficult for them in the battle with Norris.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finished in the top ten for the third time this year while his team mate ended the race after just one corner due to a clash with Leclerc, which ended his six-race run in the point-scoring zone. While George Russell was on course to clinch his first points for Williams, a power unit-related issue prevented the Briton from seeing the chequered flag, leaving him and his team mate Nicholas Latifi and the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin without a single point in 2021.

Battle on three fronts - The fight in the Constructors’ Championship also continued at the Red Bull Ring. Red Bull gained three points over Mercedes, increasing its lead to 40 points. The fight for third place between McLaren and Ferrari went on as well. Following their disastrous French Grand Prix, Ferrari slipped back to P4 in the Standings, but they were able to claw back power in Austria. The Italians finished with both cars in the points while McLaren only gained points with Norris, which saw Ferrari decrease the gap to 12 points (120 to 108).

The fight for P5 in the Team’s Standings is also getting highly intense with AlphaTauri currently leading the way two points ahead of Aston Martin. Alpine currently sits in P7 as the Anglo-French team has been unable to produce sensational results such as AlphaTauri achieved thanks to Pierre Gasly in Baku and Aston Martin conducted with Sebastian Vettel on the same venue.

The extra point – Enjoying a comfortable lead ahead of his third-placed team mate Bottas, Hamilton tried to mitigate the disappointment at the end of the Styrian Grand Prix. The Briton peeled into the pit lane two laps from the end and sped off with a fresh set of soft tires, going for a blistering lap around the Red Bull Ring of 1:07.894, beating Sergio Perez. In doing so, Hamilton secured a bonus point that lessens the sting of Red Bulls fourth consecutive win.

The most difficult season in the hybrid era - This was a humbling weekend for defending world champion team Mercedes. The Anglo-German outfit has gone winless for 4 consecutive races for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era. The team’s Finn driver Valtteri Bottas scored his fourth podium - all of his podium finishes this season have been for 3rd place with the Finn standing on the rostrum in Bahrain, Portugal, Spain and most recently in Austria.

Record results – Although Hamilton was hardly satisfied with his second-place finish at the first Red Bull Ring race, he has tied the all-time record for 2nd place finishes, joining Michael Schumacher on 43. For his big rival, Verstappen, the 3rd win at the Red Bull Ring brought another milestone as he is now tied with Alain Prost for the most victories at this circuit.

Diligence - McLaren’s Lando Norris extended his scoring streak to 13 Grands Prix in a row while his former team mate, now Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz scored points for the 13th time in the last 15 races.

Ten A total of ten lap times were deleted at the Styrian Grand Prix after drivers failed to use the track limits. At Turn 9, Yuki Tsunoda lost two lap times while Hamilton and Mazepin exceeded the limits once apiece. At Turn 10, Norris, Hamilton, Räikkönen and Vettel all left the confines of the track once which was the red-white kerbs while Leclerc did the same twice.

Fastest for the 6th time - Red Bull looked set for a fantastic weekend on their home track in Spielberg, and they turned their good fortune into results and celebrated their third win at the Red Bull Ring. The Anglo-Austrian team completed three pit stops in total – one for their Dutch race winner and two for the Mexican star.

While Sergio Perez’ first, critical stop was a bit tardy, the mechanics were on top of their game and delivered a DHL Fastest Pit Stop of 2.09 second during Max Verstappen’s solo pit visit. That was their sixth DHL Fastest Pit Stop in eight races. Aston Martin performed the second fastest pit stop (2.22s), followed by Alpine (2.24s), Ferrari (2.26s), Mercedes (2.27s).The fastest pit stop in 2021 is still the one Red Bull completed at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at which they changed tyres on Max Verstappen’s RB16B in just 1.93s.

The Japanese driver – The highest top speed registered at the Styrian Grand Prix was measured at 334.7kph, set by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Race winner Max Verstappen’s highest was ‘only’ 317.8kph – no wonder as he spent the entire race alone and could only activate his DRS occasionally when lapping the backmarkers.

Parc ferme – A total of eight of ten teams changes parts during the parc Fermé ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix with only Mercedes and AlphaTauri keeping their cars in the very same conditions as they were in qualifying. For example, the race winning outfit Red Bull replaced the rear transponder fairing wing on Verstappen’s car and the oil pipe wiggins on Perez’s car.

Alpine and Alfa Romeo made the biggest changes with the Anglo-French team replacing the rear brake calipers and the rear brake friction material on Fernando Alonso’s car and the Swiss-Italian outfit changing the front rim seal and the fuel lift pump on Antonio Giovinazzi’s machine.

One-stop strategy - Verstappen took his second consecutive win and the fourth one on the trot for Red Bull, thanks to a one-stop medium-hard strategy from pole position in Austria. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished runner-up, followed the same strategy before making a second stop on the penultimate lap to fit softs and gain the extra championship point for fastest lap.

In fact, all the drivers stopped once apart from four two-stoppers: Hamilton, Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi. However, Hamilton stopped twice only for the already mentioned reason while Leclerc's first stop came on Lap 1 after an early collision with Pierre Gasly.