After an incredible race last weekend and an even better qualifying yesterday, there was a lot for today’s race to live up to.
Lewis Hamilton drove almost pole-to-flag in an assured and calm win for the champion who had a rocky first-weekend last week. He is now just six wins off Micheal Schumacher’s record of 91.
The greatly anticipated battle between himself and Max Verstappen was not to be. The Red Bull just didn’t have the pace to take the fight to Mercedes. It couldn’t even put the pressure on and try to replicate the reliability issues that the German marque fought here just a week ago.
Front wing damage for the young Dutchman put paid to holding on to 2nd, and eventually gave up the position after a short battle with Valterri Bottas.
All the big action book-ended a fairly uneventful rematch in the Austrian hills. The Ferraris collected each other at just the 3rd corner of the race, ripping Sebastian Vettel’s rear wing from its mountings. It also damaged Charles Leclerc’s floor, ending in a double DNF for the Scarlett cars before the race had even really begun.
The dual retirements were a massive blow for the Italians as they looked to gather data on their upgrades they rushed through for this weekend. It probably spared their blushes, as the cars are well in the midfield this year. A finish like last weeks lucky podium was well and truly off the cards given the pace of those around and ahead of them.
The Racing Point cars were carving their way through the field, making up for a disappointing Saturday, when Sergio Perez found himself line-astern with the Red Bull of Alexander Albon on merit.
Perez was in DRS range for what felt like 20 laps, but couldn’t find a way past and went for a move on the inside of turn four. The Mexican came off worse, in an almost action replay of Albon and Hamilton from last week, as the rear right of Albon ripped the front wing almost completely off the pink car.
Perez kept on the track with the damaged wing. As he was losing time hand over fist in the last couple of laps he was passed on the final corner by the flying McLaren of Lando Norris.
It was a photo finish between both Racing Point cars and Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault as they crossed the line behind the impressive Norris, who made up three places in the last two laps for another strong finish.
We’re off to Hungary next weekend for the last of the opening triple-header. The track has been a strong hunting ground for Hamilton over the years. He could find himself in the lead of the championship at the flag.
Red Bull will be bullish as they are closer this year to Mercedes than past years going into this round, and are quite handy around the Hungaroring. But Albon will need to show his speed and close that gap to his teammate.
If Racing Point can nail Qualifying, they will be a threat to taking even 4th given that Ferrari will need a miracle to be in any sort of competitive shape.
We will be well and truly spoiled if we get another fantastic weekend.