Verstappen, Norris, and Penalties dominate AustrianGP

Jul 4, 2021

The Red Bull Ring turned orange for the Austrian Grand Prix as thousands of ‘Oranje’ Dutch fans had flown in to see their young Dutch star – Max Verstappen, complete a hat-trick of wins.

Verstappen extends the dream run

Max Verstappen did win, just like last weekend, starting at the pole and finishing the race 17 seconds ahead of the second-place Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.  His Red Bull was clearly too fast for anyone to catch, except for maybe Lando Norris in the McLaren, who threatened him in the initial phases of the race. The combination of the Honda engine and Red Bull design seems to be doing magic for the car, and Verstappen is making the most of this sweet spot. At the end of the race though, Verstappen admitted that he was amazed at the ‘insane pace’ of his Redbull.

This win puts Verstappen comfortably at the top of the drivers’ standings and more importantly 32 points clear of Lewis Hamilton. Lewis had a forgettable race, finishing in fourth place after being in second place for the most part of the race. This, because his car sustained some damage after running on the kerbs at turn 10.

Norris extracts the best out of the McLaren

Norris had pleasantly surprised many with the sheer pace he was able to extract from the McLaren on Saturday. He put together an excellent Q3 lap, nearly matching the pole-sitting Verstappen, and started the race from second place on the grid. Norris drove beautifully, winning many hearts, and the driver of the day poll on Formula1.com. His challenge was, however, dented by a rather controversial 5-second penalty that he received for an incident with Sergio Perez.

However, he took the penalty in his stride, displaying brilliant defensive driving against Hamilton, denying him the second spot for a long time. After serving the penalty he kept on pushing hard, extracting great speed from the McLaren.

He got his share of luck towards the end of the race when Hamilton started to drive conservatively. Lando overtook him to join Verstappen and Bottas on the podium, his fourth podium finish of his career. It was a well-deserving podium, one that will do a great deal of good to his confidence going forward in the season.

The race was marred to a certain extent by over-penalizing stewards who dished out 5-second penalties at the drop of a hat to several drivers during the race. But there were some other strong performances down the grid.

George Russell in the Williams nearly won first points in two years with an excellent defensive drive but was overtaken by the Veteran Alonso with only a couple of laps to go. Daniel Riccardo in the other McLaren also had a good race, finishing in seventh after starting from 13th place on the Grid. Kimi Raikkonen, who started in 16th place had a good race and was chasing Russell for a second-place with one lap to go, but had a freakish accident with Vettel.

With the British GP two weeks away, McLaren has started to peak at the right time and it will be interesting to see, if Hamilton, Norris, or anyone else can catch the orange hot Verstappen. Can’t wait!

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