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Monday, August 10, 2020

Race: Valtteri Bottas beats Charles Leclerc in the dramatic Austrian GP

Valtteri Bottas survived the curbs, three SC restarts and an insane Austrian GP to beat Charles Leclerc with Lando Norris P3.

Blue skies, hot asphalt and controversy awaited Formula 1 at the start of the Austrian Grand Prix as Red Bull, clearly not done with his right to protest, protested against the stewards’ decision not to penalize Lewis Hamilton for ignoring the yellow flags in Q3 on Saturday. Red Bull claimed to have a new video on the flag situation, which was caused when Valtteri Bottas, a pole position, ran off the track during the last hot lap.

Unlike Friday’s DAS protest, Red Bull won this and, 41 minutes before the training lap was set to leave the grid, Mercedes was informed that Hamilton had a three-seat grid penalty, leaving him from second. to the fifth. The top six: Bottas, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Hamilton and Sergio Perez. Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were P7 and 11.

The lights went out about 100 days after they were initially scheduled for the start of the season in Austria with a quick start from Bottas. The Finn was helped by Norris, who challenged Verstappen at every turn in the opening round before the Dutchman finally dropped the McLaren driver and went off in search of Bottas. Albon did the same with Hamilton, refusing to give in while Perez held Leclerc at bay. Vettel invented only one place, passing Daniel Ricciardo.

A race is not decided in the initial lap, but with Bottas three seconds ahead of Verstappen on the third lap, it seemed that it was his to win and his to lose. Mercedes simply said, “Take care of that car.”

Norris began to collapse order, losing positions against Albon and then Hamilton before Perez in the pink Mercedes drove the British driver. However, he was unable to close at that time as quickly as many had predicted with the RP20, based on last year’s Mercedes, and expected to be the faster of the two despite losing qualifying. One car that was noticeably better than the others was Hamilton in his W11 since 2020 with a black liver. He overtook Albon third with DRS fleeing round 4.

A disaster after a lap hit Verstappen in second place while his RB16 suffered an electrical problem and slowed down. Complaining that it continued to become “anti stall”, Verstappen moved from second to 20th when he returned to the pits. Red Bull put on new hard tires and changed the Verstappen steering wheel, but was replaced by the reigning Austrian champion.

Verstappen’s DNF gave Mercedes a comfortable 1-2 with Bottas leading seven seconds ahead of Hamilton. Albon was third ahead of Norris, Perez, Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll, Vettel and Ricciardo. The walk was another driver in trouble with Racing Point who told him that he had an “engine problem”, but he was handling it. Walk: “But it’s so low power.”

The walk was passed by Vettel. The Racing Point driver did not have to worry about a Ricciardo attack as the Aussie became the second Grand Prix retreat. He pulled into the pits with his RS20 overheating. Three laps later Stroll retired, driving straight into the garage to park his car.

As Hamilton chases Bottas, narrowing the gap to less than four seconds by lap 25, he is warned by Mercedes to “take care of his car” as the team has voiced its concerns over the Stroll sensor failure.

Romain Grosjean was the first driver to make a mistake, turning in turn 4, while a few laps later his teammate Kevin Magnussen had a horrible mistake while arguing with Esteban Ocon. In what looked like a brake problem, Magnussen went straight to turn 5 and turned around in the outflow area. He parked his Haas and the Safety Car was deployed.

Bottas preceded Hamilton, while Mercedes stacked the drivers in the pits. Albon also did laundry while Norris and Perez fidgeted in the pit lane while the latter was being freed on Norris’ path. Perez, put on the pitch while the rest of the top ten was in trouble, relented. Leclerc, Sainz, Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat ranked in the top ten while the whole field came back.

The Safety Car pierced at the end of lap 30 with Bottas trying to break away but Hamilton clings to his rear wing. Albon finished third with Perez fighting against Norris and Sainz and Leclerc. Vettel tried to take advantage of their battle, blocked his nose where he didn’t want to and turned around turn 3. He went from P8 to P15.

Two laps later Perez got fourth on Norris, Vettel was authorized by the administrators to clash with Sainz (he was the only one to pay a price after all) and Hamilton asked Mercedes if he could start the engine to fight Bottas for the victory. Mercedes teammates were five seconds off the road from Albon.

With the track limits in play, Grosjean was shown the black and white flag for exceeding the track limits. A final warning before he could incur a time penalty. McLaren informed Norris: “This is plan A, plan A, the maximum pace!” and Bottas was told “urgent 2-1 chassis default” while Hamilton finished 0.6 seconds behind his teammate.

Bottas was then told to “stay away from the sidewalks” after “sensor problems seen on both cars” with Hamilton said the same thing. He replied, “Him [Bottas] he’s using a lot more brake than me. “Hamilton was then told that it was a gearbox sensor problem, not a suspension one.

Bottas was then told that “changing is essential, please stay away from the sidewalks, both cars.” The Finn was then told that he was in “worse shape than the other car”. Both drivers have moved backwards, marginally. Teammates ran 10 seconds ahead of Albon with only problems in the car that threatened Mercedes’ chances of registering a 1-2.

Grosjean’s day went from bad to worse when the Haas driver left at turn 4 and followed the escape route until he had to cut the grass to get back on track. Her Haas mechanics were already in the pits waiting for the Frenchman to park her. But as Grosjean returned to the pits, George Russell of Williams, who was P12, “lost energy” and parked on the grass at the exit of turn 4. Grosjean stopped in the pits to park his car and the Safety Car arrived outside for Russell .

Albon, soft tires, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Vettel all pitted. Teammates Mercedes and Perez stayed out to race from first to third place. The Safety Car closed at the end of the 54th lap with Bottas putting the meters between himself and Hamilton while Albon and Norris were all behind Perez. Albon easily passed Perez but the Safety Car was out again for Kimi Raikkonen who was having a major accident on the main staircase. The front right wheel of his Alfa Romeo broke.

Albon relinquished third place to Perez but, after Red Bull spoke with control of the race, the Thai-British driver was allowed to resume third behind the Safety Car while he was in front of the yellow flag. For the third time the race resumed with the SC at the end of lap 60.

Bottas bluffed Hamilton and soon went with Albon from behind the reigning world champion. Perez kept Norris at bay, running ahead of Leclerc, Gasly, Ocon, Sainz and Kvyat. Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi and beginner driver Nicholas Latifi were the other three in the race.

Albon persecuted Hamilton from various angles, forced to go a long way until he finally made his move. Albon’s rear tire touched Hamilton’s front and the Red Bull driver turned. He fell from the third to the thirteenth and last and immediately blamed Hamilton. Hamilton was given a five-second penalty for causing a collision.

While that was going on Sainz overtook Ocon and then Gasly to run P6. Leclerc then made his move on the other McLaren, Norris, to slip into fourth place before he started chasing Perez for the podium. A late pass and Leclerc grabbed the third from Perez, actually second because of Hamilton’s penalty. Behind them Norris and Sainz fought hard for fifth place before the Briton left his teammate and took fourth from Perez.

After 71 laps of the drama Bottas took the victory over the Red Bull Ring, crossing the line ahead of Hamilton. But since Leclerc and Norris were both five seconds behind the reigning champion, Leclerc finished second and Norris third. Hamilton was P4.

Sainz was fifth ahead of Perez, who had a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, Gasly, Ocon, Giovinazzi and Vettel. Latifi was the only other driver to finish in P11.

Albon, who ran at the back of the field, retired on the third lap last with Daniil Kvyat who retired on the penultimate with a rear wheel problem.

Times
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
2 Charles Leclerc5 Ferrari 2.700s
3 Lando Norris McLaren 5.491s
4 Lewis Hamilton1 Mercedes 5,689s
5 Carlos Sainz3 McLaren 8.903s
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point 15.092s
7 Pierre Gasly5 AlphaTauri 16.682s
8 Esteban Ocon6 Renault 17.456s
9 Antonio Giovinazzi 9 Alfa Romeo Racing 21.146s
10 Sebastian Vettel1 Ferrari 24.545s
11 Nicholas Latifi9 Williams 31.650s

Not finished
Rear wheel drilling Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri
Alex Albon Red Bull
Wheel Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo
George Russell Williams fuel pressure
Brakes Romain Grosjean Haas
Kevin Magnussen Haas brakes
Lance Stroll Racing Point engine sensor
Daniel Ricciardo Renault cooling
Max Verstappen Electric Red Bull

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