2020 Austrian Grand Prix F1 - RACE RESULTS

Valtteri Bottas held on for a brilliant victory in the Austrian Grand Prix after a dramatic, incident-filled opening round of the 2020 F1 season was turned on its head by a dramatic clash between Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon in a chaotic final few laps.

The Finn led from start-to-finish from pole position but the result doesn’t tell the story of the race after Hamilton finished second on the road, only to be given a five second time penalty for a clash with Albon that ultimately demoted him to fourth position.

As a result, Charles Leclerc rose into second for Ferrari to bring some joy to the Scuderia on a tough weekend, with Lando Norris producing a sensational fastest lap on the final revolution to get back within the five-second margin to Hamilton to take a maiden F1 podium.

An absorbing race that exploded with drama in the final laps, though Mercedes had dominant raw pace over its rivals as Bottas and Hamilton quickly established a comfortable 1-2, persistent radio messages from the pit wall revealed they were contending with technical issues brought on by hitting the kerbs too hard.

Indeed, Mercedes looked to be cruising to a simple 1-2 finish as Bottas held his advantage off the start line, with Hamilton – despite starting fifth following a pre-race grid penalty – climbing to third position by lap 9 before being promoted to second at the behest of Max Verstappen, who retired with mechanical issues on lap 15.

While Hamilton was able to break the margin down to Bottas to run line astern with the Finn, his progress was hampered by calls from the pit wall to avoid the kerbs over concerns with the sensors. Described as ‘critical’ at one stage, with Bottas getting the same call it appeared as though Mercedes were preparing to manage their pace with a 10secs advantage over Albon in third.

However, the race would come alive in the closing stages when George Russell stopped on track on lap 51, prompting a safety car period. With Albon, Norris, Leclerc and Sainz each pitting for fresh rubber, they were able to bunch up behind a top three of Bottas, Hamilton and Perez.

At the restart, Albon quickly pounced on Perez to take third just as the race was put under safety car conditions once again when Kimi Raikkonen lost a wheel from his Alfa Romeo and stopped on the home straight.

It meant the soft-tyre shod Red Bull was on Hamilton’s tail as the race restarted with ten laps remaining and he wasted no time in making it count, attempting to make a move stick around the outside of turn four. However, while Albon just had position, Hamilton would collect the Thai driver on the overlap, spinning him around and down to the back of the pack.

Hamilton continued but race stewards would quickly slap him with a five-second penalty ahead of the chequered flag.

All of this was no concern to Bottas, who held on to complete victory ahead of Hamilton on the road.

However, the time penalty meant Leclerc had done enough to be classified in second. On a day that saw Ferrari struggle for pace, Leclerc took his chances in the closing stages, using his soft rubber to snatch position from both Perez and Norris and be rewarded with a better result than anticipated.

Norris, meanwhile, looked on course to just miss out on the podium but for a superb fastest lap at the final time of asking to get him back to within the five seconds he needed to leapfrog Hamilton for third.

Leaving Hamilton in fourth position, Carlos Sainz made it a big pay day for McLaren in fifth position, helped in part by Perez himself getting a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. The Mexican looked to have pulled off a masterstroke by fitting the medium tyres in the first round of pit-stops, but by opting not to stop during the final safety car was left vulnerable by those directly behind him.

In a race of just 11 finishers, Pierre Gasly avoided the chaos to score a solid seventh for AlphaTauri, while Esteban Ocon marked his return to F1 with Renault with a run to eighth. Antonio Giovinazzi made it seven teams in the points with a flawless run to ninth for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who ruined his chances of a good result when a sloppy attempt to overtake Sainz at the hairpin on lap 31 instead saw him spin to the back of the field.

Nicholas Latifi was the last classified finisher in 11th place, just shy of a point on his debut.

In a race of high attrition, Verstappen was eliminated early on with electrical issues, while Albon parked up soon after his collision with Hamilton for a Red Bull Racing double DNF.

Daniil Kvyat was on course for points before a suspension failure with two laps remaining, while both Haas cars retired with braking issues. Sensor problems eliminated Lance Stroll, while Daniel Ricciardo retired his Renault from the top ten early on with an overheating problem.