2021 Austria GP Report - Verstappen takes win from pole, as Hamilton struggles  

Max Verstappen managed to secure Red Bull's fifth win in as many races, as the Dutchman took home the win in front of his fans at the Red Bull Ring. He led with concision throughout the 71 laps of the race, however behind him was a different story.

Lando Norris managed to continue his great form from Qualifying, as both him and Valtteri Bottas managed to capitalise on the damaged car of Lewis Hamilton, with Bottas securing second and Norris finishing third, behind the Mercedes driver.

Frantic Start

Everyone got off of the line well, with the midpack looking to make moves on one another up the hill towards turn two, however the first retirement was just around the corner. Esteban Ocon was the first casualty of the race at the end of lap one, with him making contact with the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, with the Frenchman concluding a miserable fortnight in Austria. As a result, the safety car was deployed, undoing all of Verstappen's hard work at the race start.

At the race start, the drama began again, this time between  Norris and Sergio Perez. In a carbon copy move of that between Alex Albon and Hamilton last year, Perez found himself into the gravel at turn three, falling down to the tenth position. As a result, on lap 22 Norris found out that he had been awarded a five-second penalty, meaning the Brit had to push harder for a decent result in the race.

From there the race settled in, with the next battle looking to be Mercedes vs Norris, with the McLaren driver making life difficult for the 'Silver Arrows '.Meanwhile the first of the soft tire drivers were dropping into the pits, with both the Alpha Tauri's dropping into the pits, both emerging on a set of hard compound tires, looking to go longer than others.

Norris vs Mercedes

The Norris and Mercedes battle would continue, this time between himself and Bottas. The McLaren team elected to serve the penalty at the pitstop, which allowed Mercedes to jump Norris in the pits, however, the young brit would only be three seconds behind the Finn, meaning the battle was far from over.

Towards the midpoint of the race, the whole grid was donning the medium compound tires. This was when a deja vu moment happened, with Perez and Charles Leclerc, with Perez conducting an identical move, being on the other end of the penalty, after forcing Leclerc off the track at the same corner that Norris did to him.

However, Perez would go onto gain another penalty laps later, fighting Leclerc still, forcing him off the track yet again at the start of the second sector, meaning that the best Perez could hope for out of the race was a top five finish.

As the race went on, it was apparent that something wasn't quite right with Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, as teammate Bottas was gaining on the defending world champion. It transpired that Hamilton had picked up floor damage after running deep into turn one, going over one of the large curbs. The floor damage limited the Brits speed, with Bottas and Norris fast approaching. Despite this, Bottas was told not to pass Lewis, this plan changed when Norris looked capable of a pass on Bottas, which saw Hamilton drop down to fourth position.

Done and dusted 

The race was never in doubt for Verstappen, who led all 71 laps in Austria, and once Norris and Bottas had passed Hamilton the podium was set and attention turned to the rest of the pack. The battle for the final points paying position was one of great attrition for Fernando Alonso and George Russell, after the Brit put in a great performance throughout the race, however the experience of Alonso would shine through, passing Russell five laps from the end.

Russell was spared from dropping further by the final lap collision of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, as two of the most experienced names on the grid tangled on the exit of turn three. The resulting incident would see neither driver cross the line, but plenty of bodywork being shed.

Formula One returns for the British GP in Silverstone in a fortnights time, with fans getting a first glimpse of the sprint race format.


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