Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton returned to winning ways as the Styrian Grand Prix conjured up a Mercedes 1-2, and a familiar sense of doom at Ferrari. 

The second race at the Red Bull Ring may not have been as thrilling as its Austrian Grand Prix twin sibling last weekend, but it nonetheless delivered plenty of action and talking points. 

Driver ability was tested throughout the weekend with extreme wet conditions in qualifying, before a dry race followed on Sunday. Some excelled, while others will be pleased to see the back of Spielberg after a nightmarish opening pair of races…

The Winners 

Lewis Hamilton

Recovering from tough circumstances has become a trademark of Lewis Hamilton’s repertoire as he bounced back from a tricky opening race of the 2020 season in emphatic style to cut teammate Valtteri Bottas’ early advantage in the championship. 

The six-times world champion claimed a pole position for the ages with a crushing performance in treacherous conditions on Saturday, which set up a dominant run to victory on Sunday. Hamilton controlled proceedings with a vintage display to lead home a Mercedes 1-2. 

Austria is one of Hamilton’s weakest tracks by his own admission. So to have extracted such level of performance across the weekend will have come as a huge confidence-booster for Hamilton heading to Hungary and a circuit he has won at a record seven times. 

Lando Norris 

Norris is fast gaining himself a reputation for being something of a last-lap specialist as he capped off an outstanding fortnight at the Red Bull Ring which sees him leave Austria third in the championship with a maiden F1 podium and fifth place finish to boot. 

The Briton battled chest and back pains throughout the weekend and also found himself falling foul of a yellow flag violation in practice that led to him being slapped with a three-place grid penalty, leaving him ninth on the grid. 

But Norris quickly put the setback behind him by running long into the opening stint to set-up a grand-stand finish with a late rise to P5. The McLaren driver picked off Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo on the penultimate lap, overtook Lance Stroll half-way round the final tour, and then seized fifth from his ailing Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez at the very last corner in a sensational finale. 

Racing Point 

Racing Point has come away from the Spielberg double-header with a big points haul that sees it hold fourth place in the constructors’ championship heading to the third round in Hungary. 

Despite a disappointing showing in a wet qualifying and starting lower-than-expected on Sunday, the Styrian Grand Prix underlined the true potential of just how fast Racing Point’s RP20 is. 

Sergio Perez charged through the field from 17th to run as high as fifth, and he could have claimed P4 had he judged an ambitious move on Alex Albon slightly better late on. Damage picked up after light contact with the Red Bull driver saw the Mexican pipped to fifth, as he headed home teammate Lance Stroll.

It was a superb race for the team that was only clouded by a post-event protest from midfield rivals Renault over the legality of its 2020 car - a debate which looks set to rumble on. 

The Losers 

Ferrari and Charles Leclerc 

It was another nightmare weekend Ferrari will want to forget in a hurry. 

The Scuderia was hopeful of an improved showing at the second round in Austria after a woeful start to the season and even fast-tracked a major upgrade package originally intended for Hungary to the event in a bid to increase competitiveness. 

Heavy rain and storms during qualifying failed to brighten the outlook with the SF1000 still way off the pace as Charles Leclerc made it back-to-back races that a Ferrari has been eliminated in Q2. 

And things got even worse on race-day when Leclerc mounted the rear of Vettel’s car, causing race-ending damage to both Ferraris. 

Leclerc put his hands up and accepted full blame for the collision which not only cost Ferrari points, but denied it the opportunity for a valuable data-gathering exercise to help it understand its revised package. 

Compounding a dire weekend, the team admitted that its upgrades had not worked as intended. 

Renault 

Renault looked well-placed for a strong two-car finish inside the points as Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo ran well inside the top 10 early on, only for yet another reliability issue to bring a premature end to Ocon’s race. 

Ricciardo initially appeared on course for a potential P5 but lost out in a frantic final few laps as he was passed by the late-charging Norris, and barged off the track by a bullish Stroll as he ended up crossing the line in eighth place. 

The French manufacturer - which lodged a post-race protest regarding the legality of Racing Point’s RP20 challenger - already finds itself trialing McLaren by 31 points, while it is also 14 points behind Racing Point. 

Alex Albon 

Albon was again comfortably outperformed by Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in both qualifying and the race. It was a disappointing second edition following up from his impressive late-race efforts last weekend. 

While Verstappen finished on the podium, Albon was left scrapping over fourth place with a Racing Point that might well have beaten him had Perez not nicked his front wing in the process. 

The Anglo-Thai driver finished 11 seconds behind Verstappen on the road but his teammate had made an additional pit stop in a late bid to steal the fastest lap bonus point. Ultimately he had no answer to Verstappen’s pace as he faded to a low-key fourth. 

 

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