Don’t put red in front of a bull and not expect it to charge. That is the lesson we should take away from a rather satisfying Austrian Grand Prix. Unquestionably the most exciting Formula One race we’ve had all this season, the Red Bull Ring was the perfect setting for some epic wheel to wheel action that saw Max Verstappen quite literally take the win from Charles Leclerc. However, fans of the young Dutchman had to delay celebrating as they waited a nail-biting three hours and 20 minutes for the stewards to deliberate on the outcome of the race, which was in Max’s favor in the end.
The Austrian Grand Prix was a rather thrilling seventy-one laps that saw some good old fashion overtakes, great battles between new gen racers and more seasoned pilots, all while coping with track temperatures north of 50’C.
Ready. Set. Stall.
Austria served up sizzling action right from lights out with an immediate reshuffling of the starting grid worthy of a Las Vegas poker table. As Max Verstappen’s Red Bull suffered anti-stall issues, he was bypassed by several drivers keen to get ahead including teammate Pierre Gasly, both Mercedes, Kimi Räikkönen, Lando Norris, and Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen lost a total of five places – yes, five – an appalling start after qualifying P2 just behind the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
As expected, the young Dutchman did not stay down for long, and we saw him aggressively make his way back up the grid passing the likes of Norris, Räikkönen, and Gasly, before claiming the fastest lap in 17.
Battle of the generations
Having the youngest front row in F1 history, there was bound to be some clashes between old and new generation racers. In turn 3 of the first lap, the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel gained on Lando Norris, prompting the young Briton to respond in kind. Unfortunately for Norris, the four-time world champion’s experience seemed to outmaneuver his keenness, and the Ferrari driver was able to hang on to fifth place, though under pressure from the younger driver.
Later on, Norris took the challenge to Räikkönen – a man who was making his F1 debut when Lando was just a one year old – this time easily breezing pass the Alfa Romeo to take P6 in lap 14.
When champions fail
Lewis Hamilton starting from fourth followed by his noticeable absence from the podium – his first this year. Sebastian Vettel’s lengthy pit stop in lap 22 that had him stationary for 6.1 seconds due to a communication breakdown in the Ferrari garage. Hamilton’s damaged front wing that seemed to hinder his race pace around lap 28. Things were just a bit messy for our world champions at the Red Bull Ring this week. Between Vettel and Hamilton, there is a combined nine championship wins, but no one new to the sport would have guessed that at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Leclerc vs. Verstappen
Charles had a neat start, clearing the pack by 2.4 seconds. The #16 Ferrari then sat comfortably throughout most of the race with little to no challenge from the field. A win seemed imminent for the young driver who took his second pole start in Austria, after doing the same in Bahrain but eventually losing to Hamilton following issues with the turbo energy recovery system in his car.
Unbeknownst to Charles, there was a new threat looming behind at the Austrian Grand Prix in the form of Max Verstappen. As the #33 Red Bull aggressively moved up the grid butting all his rivals out of the way, he seemed to catch a whiff of the scent of win. An old go-karting rivalry was reignited in lap 68 when Verstappen finally caught up to Leclerc and barreled down the inside of the track to try and overtake the Monégasquedriver for first place. This instigated one of the best displays of racing we’ve witnessed so far this year.
Leclerc defended beautifully keeping his lead, but Verstappen was far from finished. One lap later and going into turn 3, Max with DRS assistance went down the inside of the Ferrari as they both made for the turn. Seemingly caught off guard, Charles tried to defend once again but went off track when both cars touched wheels, allowing Verstappen to take the lead with just two laps to finish.
This was the moment that initiated an investigation by the stewards, which they ultimately ruled as “a racing incident” allowing Max to keep his win.
What were your favorite moments from the Austrian Grand Prix?