|Valtteri Bottas celebrates|
Valtteri Bottas has won the season opening Austrian GP F1 race at the Red Bull Ring over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and McLaren's Lando Norris after Lewis Hamilton received a 5-second penalty for taking our Alex Albon while battling for 2nd place.
Bottas was pressured the entire race and had to withstand pressure from three race restarts, but kept his cool and led from start to finish.
In a race that saw a lot of attrition - both mechanical and driver error - 9 cars failed to finish and that mixed up the results, no one was more happy than Norris who got his first ever F1 podium and the first podium for the McLaren F1 team that has struggled for so many years.
Hamilton finished second on the road, only to be given a five second time penalty for his clash with Albon with ten laps remaining.
That demoted him to fourth at the checkered flag with Charles Leclerc coming into second for Ferrari, with Lando Norris producing a fastest lap on the final lap to get within the five-second margin to Hamilton to take a maiden F1 podium.
After a late safety car period bunched the field up with Albon poised in third place and on fresher and softer rubber, the Thai driver was clearly faster than Hamilton and he attempted to pass immediately on the restart around the outside of Hamilton at turn four. Albon seemed to be ahead on the outside line but contact between Hamilton's left-front and Albon's right-rear sent Albon spinning off in the gravel.
As a result Hamilton was given a five-second time addition. That meant Leclerc finished second as he had stopped for fresh mediums during the Russell safety car and was easily able to stay less than 5 seconds behind Hamilton.
Norris claimed the final podium spot after surviving a late scrap with his teammate Carlos Sainz and then bumping past Perez. But Norris needed to close the gap to Hamilton rapidly and he set the race's fastest lap on the last tour to take third by 0.1s once the world champion's penalty was applied.
Behind Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jr. made it a superb day for McLaren in fifth place, ahead of Sergio Perez – who had his own time penalty – Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.
Sebastian Vettel had another disastrous race spinning out while battling Sainz Jr in turn 3 that was clearly Vettel's fault and he finished in 10th place, his worse finish ever in an F1 race since his rookie year - excluding when the car failed.
Nicholas Latifi finished his F1 debut as the final runner on track in P11.
|Bottas leads at the start and was never headed|
Winning an F1 race is never easy, but today was particularly challenging. There were so many things going on in the race and it would have been quite easy to make a small mistake and lose it all. When the Safety Car came out the last time, I was thinking 'Come on! Again!?' I guess it was my chance to really master the restarts here. When you're in the lead, you want things to be constant and trouble-free, but today felt more like dodging bullets, though things were never out of control. I could build a good margin in the first stint and look after the car and the tires to make sure that we could stick to our planned strategy. In the second stint, there was more pressure, particularly after all the Safety Cars. We faced some reliability concerns during the race, which put quite a bit of pressure on us, but luckily we made it to the end with both cars. I think we've shown that we have a good package. We need to get on top of the reliability issues, but I have no doubts that our team can solve those. I'm looking forward to another race here next weekend.
The team did a really great job today and so did Valtteri. I drove my heart out in the race, I did everything I could - but it was just one of those weekends. There are lots of areas where I can improve. I didn't do a great job in Qualifying yesterday and there's only me to blame; then this morning was very unusual to get called up right before the race, but I just tried to keep my head down and drive hard. The scenario with Alex felt more like a racing incident to me. The time penalty meant that I lost the podium, but it is what it is. The car felt great, although reliability was a real issue for us today. But at least we finished, so we'll take those points. Obviously it's a loss from a potential 1-2, but I'll try to recover those in the coming races. Ultimately, this was not a good weekend for me, but it could be worse - I'll take what I've got, try to learn from it and be better next time.
What a great race for the fans who waited so long to see F1 back on TV. Congratulations to Valtteri and the entire for the win. It wasn't a good day for Lewis who was very unfortunate with the two penalties. The grid penalty is something you must take on the chin, but the five-second time penalty felt too harsh from my perspective. I looked at the video a couple of times: Lewis had full steering lock in the corner, Albon had track left to make the corner, so in my opinion this wasn't justified. But I recognize that the stewards have a very complex job of coming up with the right decisions and sometimes those decisions go for you, sometimes against. As a team, we faced some real challenges with our gearbox in the race. The situation was pretty serious; we saw issues on Valtteri's car early on and a little later on Lewis' car as well. It was something that could end your race instantly. We know that it was linked to the vibration of the car which is why we asked both drivers to keep off the curbs. At a certain stage it looked like neither of our cars would finish the race, so we were trying to cruise home and really look after our cars. Both drivers showed strong pace, they were pretty evenly matched this weekend and it was really more the reliability that caused us headaches. Spielberg stresses some parts on the car more than any other track in the season, so we need to work hard to improve the situation for the next weekend, but we have some ideas on how to do that.
Well done to Valtteri and the team, he has driven very well all weekend and deserved the win. The race itself was pretty tough; we've been nursing some issues all weekend that are causing a build-up of electrical noise on various systems and halfway through the race, we were seeing signs of the problem on Valtteri's car and later similar with Lewis. For a lot of the race our focus was just getting two cars to the finish, so we were trying to get both to stay off the curbs and also trying to give the Power Unit an easy time. The first stint was fairly straightforward. The plan with Valtteri was to steadily build a gap to Max and Lewis just had to make progress through the field. Alex wasn't making it easy for Lewis to get past and we did feel that Lewis gave him plenty of room to stay on the track and certainly more than he gave Lewis at the start, so it was a bit disappointing to get the penalty but sometimes these things don't go your way. The timing of the safety car wasn't great for us, we'd have been able to get both cars in but didn't want to end up having to overtake given the concerns with vibration so it was a balance of risk but we'll review that before next Sunday. We could also have done a better job at the end to keep Lewis on the podium but when Valtteri slowed for the yellow on lap 69 it left Lewis a bit sandwiched. However, the bigger picture is that we have a car that is very fast but right now it's too fragile. We've not got long to fix the issues and given that the track won't change, it's a safe bet that they won't all go away. We'll be working hard over the next few days to solve these problems and look forward to racing here again in a week's time. On a positive note for the fans, it's unlikely that the second race will be a cut and paste of the first!
“We had to fight hard today and we had strong pace. Sixth place is a good way to start the season, but we could have finished even higher. We were unlucky with the safety cars, but it's easy to say after the race that we should have pitted a second time. I had to defend from drivers on fresher tires in the final laps, which was a challenge. However, this was a good race to learn plenty about the car and our performance. The main positive is that we have a competitive package and I think we can be fighting for another strong result here next week.”
“It was a good start to the race, but then I began to lose power early on. We tried to make some changes to various settings, but eventually we had to retire the car. We'll look into the problem and come back stronger next time. The car felt good at first and I think our pace would have been strong. We could have scored a good amount of points today.”
“The team did a fantastic job, both in terms of strategy and with the car itself. We knew we had to make the best of it today. I told myself that we had to take any opportunity we had and that’s the way I drove. I am very happy with the result – we didn’t expect to finish in second place. While it was great to start off the season with a podium, we cannot ignore the fact that we aren’t where we want to be in terms of performance. We were lucky this weekend, with safety cars and retirements mixing things up, but we can’t expect to fight for the win at these next few races. We have to stay motivated and I am sure that the whole factory is working very hard to bring us back stronger. And that’s the spirit we need to remain focused on our targets.”
“It was a disappointing race for me, even if we knew beforehand it would be tough. I struggled for the entire race, already after the first two laps, just as I had done in quali. The balance and speed I had on Friday just slipped away from us and I was really struggling to keep the car on track. So now we have to try and find out why in the hope of doing better next weekend.”
“It felt amazing to get back racing after such a long break and I think we started the season with a really exciting race. If someone had told us that we would have been P7 on Sunday we would have signed straight away, so I think we can be very happy with my result after a difficult start to the weekend. We knew the race was going to be a challenge because the Renaults, McLarens and Racing Points are very strong, but I had some good fights on track and managed to stay out of trouble until the end. It was a really good one for us today!”
“The race was going really well for me until the contact with Ocon, I had a very good pace and fresher tires. After the collision, my front wing and a suspension broke, I also had a puncture, so my race was over. This moment cost me a lot of points today, so it’s a real shame and very disappointing to finish the day like this. Today it could have been a very strong race for me.”
Firstly, thanks to the team for getting us here, it has been a long way to come here. Today was all about learning for me. We struggled early on in the race with some cooling issues so I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. It was about managing a bunch of things, but that is part of Formula One, it can happen. We got caught out by the first safety car, by staying out an extra lap. Most of the race was unfortunately done by myself, so it was nice that the safety car came out at the end so I could experience running close to the other cars. I am frustrated that I was so close to getting a point, but it is a learning experience and I will come back stronger next weekend.
We didn’t have as much pace as we were hoping for today, and I struggled a lot out there. I was trying my hardest to hang on with the Haas and the Alfa Romeo, but they were too fast. I had a fuel pressure loss, but I don’t know all the details, I just had to turn the car off. It’s a shame as there were a lot of mistakes made out there today and many cars stopped. It is just one of those things. We still need to make some improvements, and we have the opportunity next week to do that.
||Racing Point BWT Mercedes
||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
||Red Bull Racing Honda
||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
||Racing Point BWT Mercedes
||Red Bull Racing Honda
* Provisional results