Valtteri Bottas won the Austrian Grand Prix – the first of the season – after all but six of the drivers took a knee on the grid before the race in support of Black Lives Matter. “There was definitely quite a bit of pressure all through the race…there were so many chances for Lewis to get the lead if I made a small mistake,” Bottas admitted after the race. “I managed to keep it together. No better way to start the season.” Hamilton and Bottas spent the second half of the race struggling with gearbox sensor issues – and being told over the team radio to avoid the kerbs as much as possible. Red Bull’s Alex Albon had looked likely to push Hamilton for second place – but ten laps before the end made contact with the Mercedes, and dropped back into the pack. It was a similar incident to the one between the pair back in Interlagos in November last year – for which Hamilton took responsibility. And it was the same outcome – a five-second time penalty for the world champion. Hamilton ultimately crossed the line just behind Bottas but the penalty meant he finished fourth – so third-placed Charles Leclerc took second, and Lando Norris of McLaren took third, his first podium finish in Formula One. “I’m speechless,” said Norris afterwards. “I kept going, kept trying to give it my all. I’m a bit out of breath. I’m so happy, and proud of the team.” Hamilton had not started the day in ideal fashion, losing three places on the grid for failing to slow for a yellow flag during Saturday’s qualifying – meaning he was bumped down to the third row. Max Verstappen – one of six drivers who opted not to take a knee on the grid in support of Black Lives Matter – chugged down the field on Lap 11, his Red Bull losing power and falling back from P2. He retired three laps later, and Hamilton was the prime beneficiary, sliding into second behind his team-mate Bottas, who started in pole. The Dutchman was not the only one to suffer a mechanical failure – Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo retired on Lap 19 due to a cooling issue, followed by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. Haas’s Kevin Magnussen went spinning off the track on Lap 26 after an encounter with Esteban Ocon – attributed to a brake issue – and it required the safety car. Plenty of teams took the opportunity to get their drivers in to the pit, adjusting their tyre strategy accordingly. Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari tried to attack Carlos Sainz once the race began again – but ended up making contact, spinning, and dropping down the field to P15. And Williams’ George Russell pulled over to the side of the track with mechanical problems in Lap 52, initiating another safety car stint – and as soon as the green flag was waved, Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo parked up on Turn 10 after his front right wheel flew off, bouncing across the track in front of his former team-mate Vettel.
MOTOR RACING FORMULA 1