[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix, taking the brand’s first victory at its home track - and his first for 2018, his fourth overall, on a day when both Mercedes retired.

The Dutchman benefited first from Valtteri Bottas’ retirement on Lap 14, the Finn forced out with hydraulic issues, and took the lead on Lap 26, when Lewis Hamilton pitted - the 4-time F1 World Champion staying out under the Virtual Safety Car deployed for his teammate, when his rivals pitted, ultimately costing him the lead.

Verstappen then managed the gap all the way to the end, despite coming under pressure from the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in the race’s closing stages all the way to the chequered flag.

“It was amazing,” Verstappen said. “It was very hard to manage the tyres as well. So we really had to look after them, a lot of blistering. But we managed to hang on until the end. It’s amazing to win here at the Red Bull Ring, and also so many Dutch fans around here. It’s incredible!”

Raikkonen and Vettel completed the podium, with the German 4-time F1 World Champion retaking the lead of the drivers’ standings. Vettel now 1-point ahead of Hamilton as the sport heads this week for the final leg of F1’s first ever triple-header, the British Grand Prix. Ferrari also takes the lead of the constructors’ championship by 10-points.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 71 1:21:56.024 25
2 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 71 +1.504s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 +3.181s 15
4 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 70 +1 lap 12
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 70 +1 lap 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 70 +1 lap 8

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
Austria always provides exciting racing, despite only 10 turns and a sub 70-second lap. And we’re expecting another thriller in 2018, with the two Mercedes going head-to-head - the Silver Arrows locking out the front row of the grid for just the third time this season. Valtteri Bottas on pole for the fifth time in his career, his first for 2018. And he’s desperate for a win, having had a lot of bad luck across the first eight races including a puncture in Azerbaijan that cost him the win.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen starts third, and will lead the charge for the Prancing Horse, in this the 30th F1 race to be held at Spielberg - after his teammate Sebastian Vettel was penalised after qualifying, for impeding the lap of Renault’s Carlos Sainz in Q2. He starts sixth. The Red Bulls are on the back foot at their home track, Max Verstappen starting in fourth place, and Daniel Ricciardo seventh - with the Australian turning 29 today. Can Ricciardo become the third driver to win on his birthday after James Hunt and Jean Alesi?

Haas’ Romain Grosjean will be hoping to earn his first points for the year, after qualifying fifth. The Frenchman needing some luck to shore up his drive at the American team, which is celebrating its 50th race start. It’s also a milestone 200th race for Force India, but both drivers are well down the grid with Esteban Ocon 11th and Sergio Perez back in 15th place. Can the two Pink Panthers get into the points?

There’s quite a few penalties on the grid, ensuring only seven drivers behind the front row stay in their original grid slots. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc was penalised five places for a gearbox change and starting down in 17th. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley is down in 19th, after a 35-place grid penalty for his fifth internal combustion engine of the season, as well as its fifth MGU-H and turbocharger, and the fourth examples of its MGU-K, energy store and control electronics. Alonso is required to start from the pit lane due to an old-spec front wing being flown out to Austria and fitted under parc ferme conditions, after he damaged his last example in qualifying. He’s also taken a new MGU-K.

One of the big stories after qualifying was a strange squabble between the Red Bull drivers, with Ricciardo slowing down on the lap and complaining about having to do three runs in qualifying ahead of his teammate Verstappen on the road - despite the fact the pair alternate on this between races. In Austria, due to a very short lap, the advantage to be behind is bigger given the importance of slipstreaming. Ricciardo, though, admitted after qualifying he should have spoken with team management earlier.

In terms of strategy, we’re expecting a one-stop race - given the shortest lap of the year, and the importance of track position at the Red Bull Ring. 21 seconds is set to be the time you need in hand to pit, and then stay ahead of your rival. The quickest strategy at the Red Bull Ring is reported to be a start on the purple ultrasofts, pitting between laps 18-28 and going onto the softs. Those starting on supersofts could go 10 laps longer before taking the softs. It’s a quick lap here, with Bottas’ second-straight pole at Spielberg breaking the track record, but racing should be improved care of three DRS zones. And 50 per cent chance of a safety car. Mercedes, though, has won all four of the Grands Prix to be held at the track since F1’s return in 2014.

Formation Lap:
It’s hotter than expected at the Red Bull Ring, with the track temperature 47 degrees Celsius - and 22 ambient. Starting on the supersofts are both Mercedes, and both Red Bulls. The balance of the top-10 are on ultrasofts. The balance of the field is on supersofts, with Stroll in P13 on ultrasofts - while Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson is the only one on softs so going long first stint.

Lap 1:
Polesitter Bottas gets a great start, but Raikkonen gets in between them - as Hamilton takes the lead. Raikkonen goes wide at Turn 3. Bottas retakes second into Turn 4. Verstappen takes Raikkonen for third into Turn 7.

Lap 2:
Hamilton leads Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Grosjean trying to re-pass the Red Bull. Vandoorne pits. Magnussen passes Hulkenberg for P8.

Lap 3:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:09.252. He’s 1.3 seconds up on Bottas. Hamilton calls in for debris at Turn 3. Vettel passes Grosjean for P6 into Turn 4.

Lap 4:
The two Mercedes have a big lead - Hamilton 3-seconds ahead of Verstappen in P3. The two Haas cars are fighting with Magnussen in P8 chasing down Grosjean. Replays at the start show Raikkonen getting a great start to split Silver Arrows. Both Ferraris go off at Turn 3, Raikkonen in trying to pass Hamilton.

Lap 5:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 1.6 seconds. Top-10 covered by 13-seconds.

Lap 6:
Top-10 is Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Grosjean, Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Ocon.

Lap 7:
Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:09.051. He’s 2.5 seconds ahead of Bottas. Race settling down now. Ricciardo in P5 is chasing down Raikkonen, 0.6 seconds the gap.

Lap 8:
Hamilton’s lead over Bottas is stabilised at 2.3 seconds. Raikkonen says debris at Turn 3, he drove over it. Ricciardo closing down the Finn. Ocon in P10 is shaping up Hulkenberg.

Lap 9:
Another fastest lap for Hamilton, a 1:08.972. Ricciardo continues to apply pressure on Raikkonen - 0.4 sec the gap. Sirotkin has passed Gasly for P14.

Lap 10:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 2.1 seconds - Bottas 0.4 sec faster on that last lap. Sainz in P11 is 0.3 sec behind Ocon. Replay showing Verstappen passing Raikkonen at Turn 7 on Lap 1.

Lap 11:
Hamilton 2.1 seconds ahead of Bottas, both doing 1:09.5s. So Hamilton responding to Bottas’ pace. Alonso complaining of being stuck behind Hartley’s Toro Rosso.

Lap 12:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 2.1 seconds. Hulkenberg has engine failure, the Renault showing plumes of smoke and fire and stops at Turn 1. He’s out of the race.

Lap 13:
Hamilton just 2-seconds ahead of Bottas, the Finn doing a personal best on that last lap. Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, a 1:08.954 - he’s 8-seconds behind the leader in P4. Sainz in P11 is less than half a second behind Ocon.

Lap 14:
Hamilton stays 2-seconds up on Bottas, and was three tenths faster than his teammate on that last lap. Bottas has retired at Turn 4, lost hydraulic pressure.

Lap 15:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:08.911. As the Virtual Safety Car has been deployed. Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vettel pit - 2nd to 5th place.

Lap 16:
Hamilton stays out as his rivals pit for a chance at a better place. Order is now Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Vettel, Perez, Grosjean, Ocon and Sirotkin - as VSC ends. Vettel passes Magnussen for P5 into Turn 4.

Lap 17:
Hamilton, who is yet to pit, leads Verstappen by 13-seconds. Ricciardo in P4 is less than a second behind Raikkonen.

Lap 18:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:08.607 - has he ruined his win by not pitting under the safety car? Ricciardo has immediately improved on Hamilton’s lap, by setting his own fastest with 1:08.228. He’s in hot pursuit of Raikkonen.

Lap 19:
Hamilton leads Verstappen by 13.2 seconds - but will need around 21 to pit and retain his lead. Hamilton could have pitted during the VSC, as he hadn’t passed the pit lane entry.

Lap 20:
Hamilton retains his 13.2 sec lead over Verstappen. Ricciardo passes Raikkonen for P3 into Turn 4, clean move.

Lap 21:
Ricciardo sets the fastest lap of the race, a 1:08.201 in P3. Hamilton leads Verstappen, both Red Bull drivers in podium positions. Hartley in P13 is less than a second behind Ericsson.

Lap 22:
Hamilton does a personal best lap, but it’s the same pace as the Red Bull of Verstappen behind.

Lap 23:
Hamilton is under pressure here, he’s 13.2 seconds ahead of both Red Bulls - Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo. Then it’s both Ferraris in Raikkonen in P4, then Vettel. If Hamilton pits now, he’ll come out ahead of Vettel in P5 - with the German 22-seconds behind the leader.

Lap 24:
The Red Bulls are eating into Hamilton’s lead, he’s just 12.7 seconds ahead of Verstappen. Stroll in P14 is 0.5 seconds behind Hartley.

Lap 25:
Hamilton and Verstappen do personal best laps, the Brit one tenth up on that last lap. Sirotkin pits. Sainz has been reprimanded for an incident between him and Ocon.

Lap 26:
Hamilton pits for softs, he’s dropping down the order - and has emerged in P4. As Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:07.989. The top-5 are all on softs now. Hamilton has it all to do in P4, but is just 7.8 seconds behind the leader.

Lap 27:
So we’re seeing a Red Bull 1-2, with Verstappen now leading Ricciardo, then it’s Raikkonen, Hamilton and Vettel.

Lap 28:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo by 4.2 seconds. Leclerc passes Stroll for P14 into Turn 5 but the Canadian gets back ahead. Perez pits.

Lap 29:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo, Raikkonen in P3. Hamilton is 6.5 seconds behind the leader. Leclerc passes Stroll for P14 at Turn 3. Magnussen pits from P6.

Lap 30:
Hamilton is in P4 and on a charge, fastest first sector - he’s less than a second behind Raikkonen. Hamilton complaining over the radio, but doesn’t want to air frustration. Big train forming behind Ricciardo, with Raikkonen, and Hamilton all chasing.

Lap 31:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo by 4.8 seconds, Raikkonen is less than half a second behind in P3. Hamilton is the same distance behind in P4. This is the big battle.

Lap 32:
Hamilton complains that he feels like he’s running out of power. Verstappen sets a personal best lap out front, he’s 5.1 seconds up on Ricciardo. Magnussen in P9 is 0.4 seconds behind Sainz. Hamilton is really catching Raikkonen.

Lap 33:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo, then Raikkonen who’s under fire from Hamilton. Vettel is 2-seconds behind that pack in P5. All of them passing traffic as well.

Lap 34:
Magnussen has passed Sainz for P8 into Turn 3. Ricciardo still under fire from Raikkonen and Hamilton, the Australian in P2. Raikkonen says Ricciardo has a big blister on left rear. Perez has passed Sainz for P9 into Turn 3.

Lap 35:
Ricciardo in P2 is struggling, he mentions left rear issue over radio. He’s now 6.2 seconds behind his teammate who is leading the race. Sainz pits.

Lap 36:
It’s a repeat of Monaco, with Ricciardo running wounded - Raikkonen and Hamilton chasing him.

Lap 37:
Replays show Sainz had an issue at stop, with right front tyre not going on easily - supersofts. Verstappen leads Ricciardo by 6.4 seconds. Raikkonen looks to make a move on Ricciardo at Turn 4, but can’t make it stick. Vettel in P5 is on the back of Hamilton.

Lap 38:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo by 6.6 seconds. Raikkonen attempts to pass Ricciardo into Turn 3, but can’t stay ahead - the Ferrari ahead into Turn 4 and into second place. Ricciardo says “it’s getting really bad now”.

Lap 39:
Ricciardo pits, he puts on the supersofts. Vettel passes Hamilton for P3 into Turn 3. This is a nightmare for Mercedes! So the order is now Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Ocon, Magnussen, Perez, Ericsson.

Lap 40:
Mercedes’ chief strategist says “I have thrown away the win today,” but you can still achieve a strong result - after Hamilton says he can’t do anything from here.

Lap 41:
Replays show Vettel was able to get closer to Hamilton, after Ricciardo slowed to get into pit entry. Will we see the Ferraris change places for the championship? Hamilton is saying his tyres are now blistering.

Lap 42:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 6.9 seconds, with Vettel 1.8 seconds behind in P3. Hamilton’s tyres are blistering, but he’s in P4 just 0.7 seconds behind Vettel.

Lap 43:
Hamilton in P4 is now half a second behind Vettel. Magnussen in P8 is 0.3 seconds behind Ocon.

Lap 44:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 7-seconds, Vettel is 2.2 seconds behind in P3. Hamilton less than half a second behind. Is he about to make a pass on the Ferrari?

Lap 45:
Vettel in P3 is under fire from Hamilton.

Lap 46:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 6.6 seconds. Vettel in P3 is 2.2 secs adrift, with Hamilton 0.7 behind his rival. The field has been lapped up to P10. Ericsson pits from P10.

Lap 47:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race in pursuit of Vettel, he’s done a 1:07.923 - immediately bettered by Ricciardo, a 1:07.591. The top-nine is covered by 65 seconds.

Lap 48:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 7.1 seconds. Hamilton in P4 is chasing Vettel hard, 1-second the gap. The Brit half a second slower on that last lap.

Lap 49:
Magnussen passes Ocon for P7. Replays show Hamilton’s left rear is blistering as the leaders pass traffic.

Lap 50:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 6.4 seconds and told everyone is nursing tyres to the end - “Don’t worry, I’m feeling good!”

Lap 51:
Hamilton has dropped away from Vettel, 2.4 seconds the gap. Order is Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Magnussen, Ocon, Perez, and Gasly completes the Top-10.

Lap 52:
Blistered tyres hampering the field, with track temperature more than 20 degrees hotter than Friday practice. Mercedes are readying tyres, in case they need to stop. “These rears are not going to last,” Hamilton says.

Lap 53:
Hamilton pits from P4, he’s onto the supersofts - and comes out behind Ricciardo in P5. Can he get past the Australian quickly with fresher supersofts?

Lap 54:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 5.9 seconds. Ricciardo will retire, gearbox issue it seems like - he’s out of the race.

Lap 55:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 5.3 seconds. Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race, a 1:07.571 - down in P4.

Lap 56:
So it’s Verstappen leading Raikkonen by 5-seconds, then Vettel in P3 by 2-seconds. Hamilton is 21-seconds behind Vettel in P4.

Lap 57:
Hartley says we’re not OK, and looks about to retire. He pulls off before Turn 3. Could be hydraulics. The leaders have lapped up to P5.

Lap 58:
Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:07.460 - he’s on a charge on the supersofts in P4. Both Ferraris are chasing Verstappen. We’ve got just 16 runners in this race.

Lap 59:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by just 4.3 seconds. Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:07.301 - both 0.6 seconds up on the Dutchman’s last time. Hamilton immediately betters both Ferrari’s fastest laps with a 1:07.241.

Lap 60:
Verstappen just 4.2 seconds ahead of Raikkonen. 11 laps remaining in this race. The Finn was one tenth faster on that last lap.

Lap 61:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by just 3.9 seconds - the Finn taking 0.3 seconds on that last lap. Perez passes Ocon for P7 into Turn 3, big move from a long way back. Leaders have lapped up to P4 now.

Lap 62:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by just 3.5 seconds. Alonso in P11 is all over the back of Leclerc for the final point. Raikkonen told there are no more concerns and he’s free to push.

Lap 63:
Traffic affecting Raikkonen, 4.2 seconds the gap to the leader. Alonso passes Leclerc for P10 at Turn 4. Hamilton is going slowly, he’s pulling over at Turn 3 but rejoining. He’s told to stop. So both Mercedes are out of this race.

Lap 64:
Hamilton has stopped on run down to Turn 4. Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 3.8 seconds, Vettel 1.5 seconds behind in P3. Spain 2016 the Silver Arrows only double DNF since Australia 2011.

Lap 65:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 3.7 seconds, then Vettel by 1.6 seconds - the German taking the championship lead by 1-point if he stays where he is. Alonso passes Gasly for P8 out of Turn 3.

Lap 66:
So 15 runners remaining. Verstappen has a 3.1 second lead over the Ferrari of Raikkonen.

Lap 67:
Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, a 1:06.975. Leclerc passes Gasly into turn 4, as does Ericsson - so both Saubers into the points. Replays slow Verstappen’s left rear blistering.

Lap 68:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 2.7 seconds, Vettel 1.3 seconds behind in P3.

Lap 69:
Verstappen leads Raikkonen by 2.6 seconds. Ericsson has gotten past Leclerc for P9.

Lap 70:
Verstappen is ahead of Raikkonen by 2.4 seconds.

Lap 71 - FINAL LAP:
Verstappen has driven a calm race to take his fourth career win, and his first for 2018. As the crowds in the stands go wild! Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, a 1:06.957 - a new lap record.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 71 1:21:56.024 25
2 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 71 +1.504s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 +3.181s 15
4 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 70 +1 lap 12
5 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 70 +1 lap 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 70 +1 lap 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 70 +1 lap 6
8 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 70 +1 lap 4
9 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 70 +1 lap 2
10 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 70 +1 lap 1
11 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 70 +1 lap 0
12 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 70 +1 lap 0
13 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
14 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
15 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 65 DNF 0
NC 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 62 DNF 0
NC 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 54 DNF 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 DNF 0
NC 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 13 DNF 0
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 11 DNF 0