Valtteri Bottas took the top step of the podium in the Austrian GP as he led the race from start to finish. The first race of the Formula 1 2020 season was an eventful one with three safety car interruptions. Only 11 cars finished the race as most of the teams suffered technical issues including Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton finished just 0.6 seconds behind Bottas but he was demoted to fourth with 5 seconds penalty for making contact with Red Bull’s Alex Albon. Yes, Hamilton once again clashed with Albon as he was defending his second position. Albon made a move on the outside and almost got ahead, but Hamilton did not give enough space, and both made contact. This is the second time the duo tangled with each other in the last three races, remember Brazil 2019?
Bottas had a clean start and extended his lead while Hamilton started the race in P5 as he collected grid penalty for speeding under yellow flags in qualifying. Max Verstappen was set for another solid performance in Austria until the Red Bull lost power on lap 11. The team tried to fix the issue in the pits, but it didn’t work and Verstappen was forced to retire. Hamilton passed Lando Norris and Alex Albon and was putting pressure on race leader Bottas.
The first safety car interruption was caused by Kevin Magnussen as he suffered brake issues. The safety car resulted in a flurry of pit stops as everyone stopped for hard tyres except for Racing Point’s Sergio Perez who opted for medium tyres. Hamilton got close to Bottas and also wanted to choose his engine mode, but the team turned down the power of both cars. As the race progressed both Bottas and Hamilton got a gearbox sensor issue warning and were asked to stay away from kerbs. The issue turned out to be critical, and both the drivers changed their driving styles, and Hamilton was slowly backing off.
George Russel’s Williams lost fuel pressure, and this incident caused the second safety car interruption. Alex Albon pitted for soft tyres, and both the Mercedes stayed out on track with hard tyres. But soon after the race restarted, Kimi Raikkonen lost his front right wheel, and the safety car was deployed for the third time. Just before the arrival of the safety car, Albon passed Perez but gave the position back to the Mexican driver thinking he made the move under the safety car period.
Albon was asked to pass Perez again as it was a legit move. Soon after the end of the safety car, Albon attacked Hamilton and almost got the pass done. But Hamilton’s front left and Albon’s right rear tyre touched and the Red Bull was left spinning into the gravel. Bottas managed to nurse the car to the finish line and took the chequered flag.
Charles Leclerc finished second, and it was equal to victory for the Italian squad. Ferrari struggled all weekend as the car lacked the straight-line speed. Norris took his first podium finish as he pushed hard in the dying stages of the race. First, he made a move on Perez who was struggling with his old medium tyres. In the final lap, the McLaren driver posted the fastest lap of the race to close the gap to Hamilton who had a deficit of five seconds as a penalty.
Carlos Sainz finished fifth as Perez was demoted to sixth place with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Pierre Gasly finished in seventh, and Esteban Ocon managed an eighth-place finish for the French team. Antonio Giovinazzi crossed the line in ninth place, and it was a decent result as the Alfa Romeo was struggling for pace. Sebastien Vettel rounded off the top ten finishers. Vettel had a race to forget as he spun while trying to make a move on Sainz.
Formula 1 debutant Nicholas Latifi brought the Williams home in 11th position. Both Red Bull cars retired with technical issues, Haas too retired both the cars with brake issues and Lance Stroll was also forced to retire after engine issues. Daniil Kvyat suffered a blown tyre and retired from the race.