It was the race that everyone predicted Mercedes to dominate, but thanks to a series of mechanical failures the top step of the podium was all Max Verstappen’s.
After a couple of not so exciting races in France and Canada, the Red Bull Ring in the Austrian Alps had action from beginning to end.
Mercedes led 1-2 out of the first corner with Kimi Raikkonen close to their gearboxes as his Ferrari had incredible traction off the line, nearly squeezing himself up the middle of the two Silver Arrows.
Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo clearly had a faster pace than Raikkonen and were quick to overtake him just before Nico Hulkenburg’s upgraded Renault engine blew in spectacular fashion down the start/finish straight.
Valtteri Bottas’ gearbox failed on lap 14 which brought out the virtual safety car. Both Ferraris and Red Bulls pitted to switch to the soft tyres, however, Lewis Hamilton did not. It’s usually Mercedes that are the strategic geniuses in the F1 paddock but in Austria that was not the case.
As Hamilton pitted he was now behind the both Red Bulls and Raikkonen. From here on in it was all Verstappen. The young Dutchman made no mistakes, lap times were consistent and managed his tyres.
Daniel Ricciardo’s 29th birthday was not so sweet as he also suffered a gearbox issue. Is this the final straw for him in deciding where he goes for 2019?
Hamilton and Vettel began closing down on Raikkonen in the final stanza of the race only for another DNF by one of the top teams as Hamilton lost power on lap 64. Hamilton’s streak of scoring in 33 straight races came to an end.
In the closing few laps, the Ferraris were chasing down Verstappen as his rear tyres began to blister. But there just weren’t enough laps for them to pass.
Verstappen came home in first to claim his fourth Grand Prix win and first of the season, Raikkonen in second and Vettel in third.
Big shout out to the Haas team as Grosjean finally scored his first points of the year as he finished in fourth with Magnussen in fifth. It was Haas’ best result in F1 in what was their 50th Grand Prix.
Vettel now takes the lead of the Championship by one point over Hamilton as the final leg of the first ever triple-header goes to the home of Formula 1, Silverstone. Hamilton is always strong at home so let’s hope it’s another action-packed weekend of racing.