If you’re Daniel Ricciardo, or anyone linked with Mercedes, then you may have woken up feeling a bit down on Monday. But for everyone else, what a race!
The Austrian Grand Prix was a rollercoaster ride. As unpredictable as it was exciting. Mercedes started 1-2 on the grid, they had the fastest car all weekend and they were expected to take maximum points. What happened? Valterri Bottas got a bad start from pole and lost a few places. The Finn passed Verstappen and Raikkonen to get back into second before he was forced to retire on lap 14 due to a loss of hydraulic pressure.
Perhaps it was the shook of seeing Bottas out of the race, but Mercedes strategists failed to react to the VSC. Their rivals took advantage and left Lewis Hamilton in a scenario that meant when he pitted, he would come out behind Verstappen, Raikkonen and Ricciardo. Hamilton questioned this over team radio saying: “I’m not going to be able to pass these guys, we are just throwing away a win.” The reply from strategist James Vowles was intriguing, when he stated: “Lewis its James. I have thrown away the win today, but you have the potential opportunity to get back up. I’m sorry,”
Vowles should be commended for his honesty. It takes guts to admit that to an audience of millions that you are in the wrong. That said, it was a serious misjudgement on his part.
As it transpired Hamilton suffered a loss of fuel pressure with eight laps to go and retired from the Grand Prix. In the meantime, Sebastian Vettel finished third and took a one-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Lewis did not mince his words, saying afterwards: “This is definitely the worst weekend that I can remember for a long time.”
And the race winner? Well, looking out over the ‘Orange’ Grandstands, it seemed that most of Holland had travelled to the Red Bull Ring to support their beloved Max Verstappen. Some of you will remember the race last year when he crashed out on the first lap. But not this time! Fans were rewarded with a superb drive and a deserved victory.
Max’s father, Jos Verstappen, was quick to hit back at his son’s critics after the race stating: “It was said that he (Verstappen) had to change his driving style, but because of his driving style, he took the win… if Max had not made that pass on Raikkonen in the first lap, he would not have won. So, let’s not talk about that anymore.”
It was a very good weekend for Red Bull at their ‘home’ race. But the best team performance in Austria must go to the Haas F1 Team. We still don’t know how they did it, but Romain Grosjean finished 4th ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen in 5th place. This was an unbelievable result. Well done guys!
At the other end of the spectrum we have McLaren. Fernando Alonso managed a commendable 8th place, however, this was perhaps more down to the number of DNFs rather than his car’s performance. News today that racing director Eric Boullier has resigned took us by surprise but perhaps a reshuffle is exactly what this team needs to get them back on the track.
Silverstone is up next and it promises to be a block buster weekend to commemorate 70 years of the British Grand Prix.
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