F1 2021: Verstappen dominates Austrian GP, Bottas, Norris get podium. Hamilton left behind

Max Verstappen has extended his championship lead to Lewis Hamilton after the dominant Austrian Grand Prix victory at the Red Bull Ring. McLaren forced Mercedes to damage control with Norris as Hamilton finished only fourth.

By:Updated: Jul 04, 2021 8:51 PM

The tripleheader has come to a conclusion with a Red Bull domination. After winning the French and Styrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen has given Red Bull another victory for its home race at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix. Despite a penalty, Lando Norris and McLaren forced both Mercedes drivers into damage control. Norris finished third behind Valtteri Bottas.

Verstappen started from pole and pulled away with stunning pace from the pack. The Red Bull driver led a lonely unchallenged race to claim a dominant victory but raced a lonely race. Despite two pit stops, Verstappen finished the race with the fastest lap and nearly 18 seconds ahead of Bottas.

However, behind the Dutchman, the rest of the pack provided a stunning race to remember.

On the second lap, Sergio Perez in the Red Bull challenged Norris for second place going around the outside of turn 4. But the Norris closed the door and the Mexican went on a trip to the gravel, thus, dropping down into the midfield battle.

Norris picked up what was seemingly an unjust 5-second penalty for what looked like a racing incident. But he charged on as Hamilton and Bottas started to close the gap. Norris kept the seven-time world champion at bay for another 18 laps before he eventually conceded second place on Lap 20.

As they started to pit around lap 31, Norris served his penalty. However, Bottas was able to get past the McLaren in the pit lane.

With Hamilton unable to close the gap to Verstappen, and nursing damage to the floor of his car, Bottas was allowed to overtake the Brit to fend off a charge from Norris who had started to close in on The defending champions. With Hamilton struggling with grip, Norris got past and was into the top three. Although he started to reel Bottas in, Bottas crossed the finish line after 71 laps in second and Norris third ahead of Hamilton in fourth.

Behind them in the midfield, the fight was even hotter between Perez, Ricciardo and the two Ferraris. Ricciardo was leading the midfield trail with Perez trying to find a way through. But the door was always closed by the Aussie. This allowed Leclerc to try his moves on Perez. Down into turn 4, Leclerc made the move around the outside on the Red Bull, but Perez ran the Ferrari wide into the gravel, similar to what he suffered on lap 2.

In the name of consistency, Perez was awarded a 5-second time penalty. And another for 5 seconds a few laps later for a similar incident around turn 5. Perez now carrying a 10-second penalty managed to get past Ricciardo and was into fifth place.

Ricciardo may still be struggling with his McLaren in qualifying pace, but he does perform in the race when required. He fended off all the chllenges by Leclerc, but when Sainz was allowed to get past Leclerc and attempt his move on the McLaren with fresher tyres, Sainz got the job done for the Tifosi.

With 10 seconds added to Perez’s time, Sainz was classified fifth ahead of Perez. Ricciardo finished seventh and Leclerc in eighth. Pierre Gasly brought his AlphaTauri home in ninth. Fernando Alonso had to involve all his experience and eke out the pace from his Alpine to deny George Russell the final championship point of the race. Just like the rest of the field, that battle was exciting to watch and Russel proved his might by fighting valiantly before he finally conceded to Alonso who finished 10th.

Verstappen and Red Bull now have a healthy lead on Hamilton and Mercedes in the championships. The next round will see an experimental race weekend for the British Grand Prix with a qualifying, sprint race and the main Sunday’s race format which will be held from July 16-18.

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