Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas won the race at the Red Bull Ring, after making the most perfect start possible from pole position. He’s now 35 points behind championship leader Vettel, who finished second and 15 behind Lewis Hamilton who finished just 0.8 seconds shy of the final podium spot which was taken by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – a streak of 5 podiums now for the Australian, and the best result Red Bull could hope for.
There was drama on the first lap as a fast starting Daniil Kvyat ran into the back of Fernando Alonso, who then collided with the other Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who was suffering from a clutch problem, taking out both drivers; Verstappen’s bad luck continues. Bottas was also under investigation for a jump start, but it turned out to be a near perfect start – with a response time of 0.2 seconds!
It was turning out to be an uneventful and boring race, until the first round of pit stops followed. Hamilton had to pit quite early after his supersoft tyres couldn’t hold on for as long as he would’ve wanted them to. He had been stuck behind Raikkonen for a majority of the race, before finally passing him after he pitted. As a result, Ricciardo was running in 3rd place after a super move on Kimi on the first lap. Vettel was 2nd and Bottas was leading, with the gap remaining around 4 seconds. However, Bottas then started developing a blister on his front tyre, which meant a lack of grip and so Vettel was able to close in on him during the final laps. The finish was really close, with Bottas winning from Vettel by 0.692 seconds, and Ricciardo holding on to the final podium spot from Hamilton by less than a second.
Raikkonen came home to take 5th place in another disappointing race for the Finn. Romain Grosjean gave Haas their best ever result this season with a fine 6th place, while both the Force Indias finished in the points. Williams also overcame a tough qualifying to finish with both their cars in the points. Jolyon Palmer had another dose of bad luck, missing out on the points by just 0.5 seconds. The other remaining McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne finished in 12th place.
Bottas should now be considered as a serious challenger for the world title, given he’s just 35 points behind leader Vettel. Meanwhile, Ricciardo moved up to 4th place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, with his 5th consecutive podium. The race in Austria kicked off a succession of race weekends, with the next race at Silverstone. It should be another cracker, given we are witnessing close racing in nearly every race!
Facts of the day:
1) This was Mercedes’ 69th win in Formula One.
2) Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were on the podium for the first time at the Red Bull Ring.