No challenge for Verstappen as he sails to Austrian GP victory

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Max Verstappen hardly had any challenge on his way to today's victory in the Austrian Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc did lead the race for a while due to strategic differences and finished in second place while Sergio Perez put up a great recovery from 15th to complete the podium.

After Pirelli had already predicted a three stopper with hard and medium tyre stints, suggesting the medium was best to start on, most drivers actually opted for this option. Only three drivers went out to start the race on hard tyres of which Ferando Alonso was the best placed.

When the action got underway Verstappen easily held onto his lead and did not get surprised like he did in Saturday's Sprint. Charles Leclerc followed up in third place, closely followed by Carlos Sainz. Leclerc did attempt to make a pass at Turn 4 but soon bound himself behind Verstappen again with his team mate eager to find a way to make it past his team mate. Sainz though would stay behind as his team asked him to "stick to the plan. No fighting for now".

Lewis Hamilton gained a spot and moved up into 4th with Norris right behind. Fernando Alonso gained two positions by passing Hulkenberg and getting around his teammate at Turn 1 who had to brake as being somewhat stuck on the inside of the right hand corner.

Further back Tsunoda incurred some damage and then rumbled across the gravel at Turn 4. Race control immediately brought the safety car for 3 laps. Nothing much happened at the restart after Verstappen bunched up the field closely together before sprint away quite a way before Turn 9.

Only when DRS got enabled in lap 6 some overtakes started to happen. In fact it was mostly Hulkenberg helping events a bit as his tyres started to fade. After getting passed by 3 cars over the next laps he retired on lap 13 with a loss of power.

This resulted in a VSC period activated right before Hamilton passed the pit entry. Hamilton pitted and so did many others. The next lap, both Ferraris and Aston Martins also pitted whereas Red Bull opted to stay out, sticking to their regular pit strategy that would eventually help them at the end of the race. The stops at Ferrari on the other hand were dreadful. For both men it was around 4.5 seconds while for Sainz one needs to add some waiting time as he entered the pitlane right behind his team mate.

The next laps of course saw drivers pass through the fields or move backwards due to a different phase in their strategies. During those stages there was several close battles and people pushing hard to stay away from challengers behind. All of this resulted in several 5s penalties, most of which were served during the second series of pitstops.

On this series, Red Bull was again offset a little bit and slowly moving away from the field as they did not have to make their tyres last as long as the others did during their second and third stints.

The domination was such that Verstappen was able to make a free stop at the very end to switch to soft tyres and easily get fastest lap. Ferrari can be happy with second even though Sainz may well be wondering what could have been if pitstops or strategy were any better. Sergio Perez saved the day and recovered from a disappointing qualifying session to complete the podium.

Post-race penalties

But that wasn't the end of the story. On top the many in-race penalties, Aston Martin appealed the result of the Grand Prix on the basis that many deleted laptimes for surpassing the track limits had not resulted in penalties during the race. The stewards upheld the protest, resulting in several more penalties.

According to the stewards, the retrospective penalties have been applied as follows:

For four infringements, a 5-second time penalty; for five infringements, a 10-second time penalty.
Then a “reset” has been allowed due to the excessive number of infringements. The counting of infringements restarts. After another four infringements, a five-second time penalty will apply; after five, a 10-second time penalty.

The stewards also added that they “very strongly recommend” that a solution be found to the track limits at the Spielberg circuit.

The penalties demoted Sainz from 4th to 6th in favour of Norris and Alonso who both gained a position. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell exchanged 7th and 8th, just like Gasly and Stroll did in 9th and 10th. Zhou moved up from 14th to 12th while Ocon did the reverse thanks to amassing 30 seconds worth of penalties. Bottas and Piastri both gained a spot as De Vries dropped two and finally Tsunoda dropped from 18th to 19th in favour of Magnussen.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt711:25:33.60726
216Charles LeclercFerrari71+5.155s18
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt71+17.188s15
44Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes71+26.327s12
514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes71+30.317s10
655Carlos SainzFerrari71+31.377s8
763George RussellMercedes71+48.403s6
844Lewis HamiltonMercedes71+49.196s4
918Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes71+59.043s2
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault71+67.667s1
1123Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes71+79.767s0
1224Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari70+1 lap0
132Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes70+1 lap0
1431Esteban OconAlpine Renault70+1 lap0
1577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari70+1 lap0
1681Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes70+1 lap0
1721Nyck De VriesAlphatauri Honda Rbpt70+1 lap0
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari70+1 lap0
1922Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt70+1 lap0
NC27Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari12DNF0

Note - Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.
De Vries received a five-second time penalty for forcing another driver off track.
Sargeant, Magnussen, Ocon (x2), De Vries and Tsunoda received five-second time penalties for exceeding track limits.
Tsunoda, Sainz, Hamilton, Gasly, Albon, Ocon (x2) and De Vries received 10-second time penalties for exceeding track limits.