It was total domination for Red Bull at the Styrian GP as Max Verstappen takes a home a well-earned win but the spiciest part of the weekend was found in the midfield.
Max Verstappen managed to win the Styrian Grand Prix by not just a little bit, but by a whole lot. By the end of the race Verstappen was 35 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Granted this was due to a pit stop that enabled Hamilton to steal the best lap time, but even without that stop, Verstappen would have won by at least 14 seconds. That is domination pure and simple. Verstappen was so quick that he lapped Lando Norris in P5! P5! What a stellar race from the team at Red Bull with Sergio Perez just missing out on the podium after putting constant pressure on Valtteri Bottas.
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, told Sky Sports F1 that,
“It’s not a bad result indeed, but what’s tough is it’s been the first race, really, in eight years where we are just lacking the pace. We have stopped developing this year because we believe for the next years it is so important to get it right and they [Red Bull] are still adding bits with aero parts, and all credit to their strategy.”
Some have seen this as a sign that the championship is over already but those people would be very wrong indeed as Wolff continued,
“We’ve just got to put our heads up together and do the best out of the package that we have. This is far from over. We are totally fired up. This is not a fait accomplit, we were lacking pace today. It was the Sunday of the first Austrian race, there’s 15 to go and we will be doing the best we can. We will be winning races, we will be on pole positions and we will be fighting back.”
I, for one, am very much looking forward to that.
While not much changed over the course of the race out at the front, the midfield saw quite a bit of chaos as soon as the race started. An unfortunate collision between Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc left both in bad shape. Gasly suffered a puncture to his rear left tyre while Leclerc suffered some front wing damage. Both entered the pits at the end of the first lap but Gasly had to unfortunately retire after a stunning qualifying that saw him start from P6.
Charles Leclerc had to fight back from last place and drove like an absolute madman! He managed to take back P7 by the end of the race as he collected a few of the other driver’s front wings. Both Ferraris proved that they had pace this weekend and it’s looking good for next weekend. Carlos Sainz managed to gain a noteworthy 6 places, starting from P12 and finishing at P6. Sainz believes that he could have taken the fight to Norris in P5 had the decision to lap himself by overtaking Hamilton had come sooner. It is very good to see the Ferrari team recover after a shocking performance in France.
It was a mixed bag for McLaren this weekend with Lando Norris once again finishing in P5 for the third consecutive race this year but Daniel Ricciardo has again found himself in dire straits. Ricciardo showcased a great first lap but due to an issue that saw him lose power, he was back down in P13. It is easy to blame the power issue but it was resolved and Ricciardo still could not get ahead, meanwhile Leclerc managed to do it from a worse position. This seems like a Ricciardo issue more than it is with the car because as Norris has shown, the McLaren is quick but Ricciardo doesn’t know how to get the best out of it. The fight for third in the constructors would not be this tight if Ricciardo could consistently finish in the points.
It’s been sad to watch the Australian struggle and after a promising performance in France, it seemed that we had the old Daniel back, but this weekend in Austria has left us all a little heartbroken.
The greatest tragedy this weekend was, of course, George Russell. He managed a P11 in qualifying, his highest qualifying place yet and a real effort for the struggling Williams car. Everything was great, Russell had even gained positions, moving up to P8. It looked like Russell would earn his first points of the season, but it was not meant to be. The car suffered a power unit failure that saw the Brit retire from the race. It was truly shocking to see a Williams so high up on the grid and it is such a shame that it ended this way. This pace could carry into next week but who knows if the Williams car can keep up with George Russell.
This one hurt. Every single member of the team should hold their head high today. We were up there on merit. Racing can be brutal but we keep fighting.— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) June 27, 2021
That really says it all, doesn’t it?
Aston Martin showed that the pace they earned over the last few races is still there though the other teams in the midfield have upped theirs just that bit more. Lance Stroll had a solid race finishing in P8 while Sebastian Vettel struggled and finished out of the points in P12. It should be interesting to see what they do next weekend with more knowledge of the track. Hopefully, they can gain some pace.
It’s shaping up to be an exciting race next weekend and hopefully Mercedes can solve their pace issues to give Verstappen a fight for the finish.