Formula 1 has made its much-anticipated return in style with a drama-filled double header Grand Prix held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Styria, Austria.
Many of the teams were slow of the mark for the Austrian Grand Prix held on 5 July with only 11 cars reaching the finish line in a race full of attrition. Many late incidents shook up the midfield order while up at the front Mercedes struggled to hold on with gear box issues. The Ferrari’s struggled to find pace to keep up with the front of the pack in what undoubtedly the 5th fastest car. Lando Norris put in an absolute stellar final lap to take third place away from six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton while also getting the fastest lap. Overall, the opener was a terrific Grand Prix, probably the best opener in the history of Formula 1.
The Styrian Grand Prix which although was held at the same venue, the Red Bull Ring managed to give us a different race entirely. With the skies opening and the weather taking a turn for the worst during Saturday’s qualifying session, the Sunday’s Grand Prix grid was properly mixed up. After struggling to get to grips with his car, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari never made it out of Q1 with the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel barely making it into Q2. However, the weather on Sunday was bright, hot and sunny, and with teams relatively settled after the ‘feeler’ race the weekend prior, the Grand Prix was relatively boring until the last 10 laps. The action picked up towards the end with a stunning finish from Lando Norris and an amazing drive from Sergio Perez in the ‘Pink Mercedes’.
Lewis Hamilton: Went on to win the Styrian Grand Prix from pole to finish with a well-managed drive. However, in the Austrian Grand Prix Lewis was handed a five-second time penalty for colliding with Albon which saw him finishing in fourth.
Valterri Bottas: Starting from pole for the Austrian Grand Prix, Bottas delivered a well-balanced performance from lights to flag. He was able to finish in second behind Hamilton for the Styrian Grand Prix, the two drivers showing off the excellent pace on the epic repainted ‘Black Arrows’. After the double header Bottas leads in the championship fight.
Max Verstappen: The Bulls were expecting a win at their home Grand Prix; however, they were not able to keep up with the pair of the Mercedes ahead. Max retired from race-one due to mechanical failure while he finished in third in race-two.
Alexander Albon: A lack of experience saw Albon lose an opportunity at a podium position, possibly the race win for the Austrian Grand Prix. A late lunge in the last laps on Hamilton saw Albon being spun around and finish in 13th.
Sebastian Vettel: The Ferraris were clearly lacking in pace and in speed for both races. Vettel was only able to finish 10th in the Austrian Grand Prix. However, in race-two the two Ferraris came together on lap-one which saw both cars retire from the race.
Charles Leclerc: He nursed the stricken car to an impressive second place finish in race-one. However, after causing a collision with his team-mate in lap one he had to retire from the race a couple laps later.
Carlos Sainz: Had a relatively quiet race in the Austrian Grand Prix where he finished in 5th behind Hamilton. However, a slow pitstop in race-two saw Sainz’s strategy taking a hit and ultimately finishing behind his team-mate in P9.
Lando Norris: The meme lord has been the talk of the town, with a career first podium in Formula 1 in the season opener. A stunning final lap saw Lando close the gap between Hamilton by two-tenths of a second which gave him P3. In race-two, Lando pulled another amazing last lap out of the hat to overtake three cars and finish in P5. He is still third in the overall championship.
Sergio Perez: Did a great job in the ‘Pink Mercedes’ which was no doubt the fastest car in the mid-field. Finished race-one in a respectable P6. In race-two Perez was on a mission, he led the charge and positioned himself to finish in P4 ahead of Albon’s Red Bull after starting in P17. However, late damage to his front wing after coming into contact with Albon saw him being overtaken by Lando in the final corner.
Lance Stroll: Definitely in Perez’s shadow, Stroll had an impressive qualifying performance in the wet. However, he finished P7 at the Styrian Grand Prix while he retired from race-one due to mechanical issues.
Daniel Ricciardo: retired from race-one with timely Renault mechanical issues. However, the car lacked in pace in comparison to other mid-field teams to and Ricciardo finished P8 in race-two
Esteban Ocon: Had an Impressive Formula1 debut in race-one with a point finish in P8. However, he had to retire from race-two due to the ‘scheduled’ mechanical issues of the Renault team.
Kimi Raikkonen: Retired from race-one after his Front-R wheel came off in spectacular fashion. Finished in P11 after a tough race-two.
Antonio Giovanazzi: finished P9 in a race of attrition at the Austrian GP while only managing P14 in the Styrian GP.
Pierre Gasly: Finished P7 in race-one while only managing P15 in race-two after being lapped.
Danil Kvyat: DNF in the Austria GP after Front-L wheel puncture and managed a point finish in P10 for race-two.
The Ferrari powered Haas struggled throughout the double header weekends with both cars unable to make it into points finishes.
Williams are making slow but noticeable progress with rookie Latifi and the promising drive of Russell behind the wheel.
By Randev Jayasinha