Danke Niki – Hail the Dutchman

With two laps remaining in the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team’s young Charles Leclerc leading and losing gap control to the Dutchman. The outcome was under investigations by the FIA Race Stewards.

Max Verstappen in his red Bull Honda arrived at turn 3 on the inside of the right-hander. In expected Verstappen form with three grandstands of orange t-shirted Dutch fans standing and cheering, had his F1 car matching Leclerc’s Ferrari, side by side.

Lap 69 of 71 we saw Leclerc’s lead in danger as Verstappen accelerated through and out of the corner slowly moving over to the left of the apex exit forcing Leclerc wide off the racing line. Leclerc came straight back at Verstappen still side-by-side banging his right front wheel and tyre into Verstappen’s left front. Control was with the Dutchman who continued on to win the 71 lap epic race.

Stewards decision to leave the result as completed, no further action required.

You could hear the Dutch fans from Amsterdam to Speilberg cheering their fellow countryman on as we’re sure the late great Niki Lauda was looking down on everyone saying to himself, “damn good racing”.

The race itself was a strategy in soft to hard Pirelli tyre compound with extreme heat on track nearing 50 degrees celsius. It’s how the team plan the race having their driver go long distance in hard compound and switch to soft for a possible 1-stop pit stop trying to score points and win or at least podium. Same strategy though starting on hard and moving to medium or soft, the issues are how good their car and driver is on that compound and whether at the end they have the pace to stay ahead of their rivals.

Sebastian Vettel had his problems the day before in qualifying with an air pressure line ruled him out of the Q3 starting in P9 for the race. On lap 22 he came to pit for a tyre change only to find a radio communications problem with his mechanics who were not ready for him. He was happy “they have the car to win” it’s all about everything coming together on the day.

Vettel was quick enough to overtake the Mercedes AMG of Lewis Hamilton to finish 4th who with his team mate Valtteri Bottas in 3rd place on the podium were experiencing overheating issues all weekend. “We knew we had problems early in the weekend so we need to look into it and try to fix it” said Hamilton.

Elsewhere on track McLaren Honda performed extremely well with Lando Norris finishing in 6th place and Carlos saint in 8th splitting them was Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly. The sport actually has two young Monaco resident F1 drivers doing very well in 2019 with Leclerc and Gasly with Verstappen being one old Karting competitor of theirs some 7 years ago.

Alfa Romeo F1 finished 9th and 10th with Kimi Raikkonen holding firm on his position with a lack of pace to improve as his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi was excited under his own personal pressure to get his first point for his F1 debut in 2019. “I feel a lot of work has been rewarded today” said Giovinazzi.

Renault F1 has issues and some feelings from the drivers have revealed they both felt the same all weekend. Daniel Ricciardo confirmed this today “There’s stuff we can improve, but I won’t put it all down to the car. I’ll look at myself and see what I can do better as well. Something wasn’t right this weekend and Nico shared the same feelings too. We’ll do our best to figure it out and get on top of it.””.

The Haas American team had issues all weekend with balance, power and some bad luck penalties with things very much the same at Racing Point F1 “but we had an issue with the fuel flow meter, so we had to turn down the mode quite a bit, which cost us another place to Ricciardo” confirmed the Canadian driver Lance Stroll.

The Honda F1 factory were so so happy with the win for red Bull today.

Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director

“Thanks to the efforts of all the Honda F1 staff in Japan and the UK, who worked tirelessly on our PU development, we finally made it, our first win in the hybrid era, the first since Hungary 2006. And a special word of thanks to all their families who supported them. Thanks of course to Max for a great drive and to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for providing him with a fantastic car. We must not forget the great contribution made by Scuderia Toro Rosso, who helped us get back on the right path last year. Honda has not done this alone and so we want to acknowledge the contribution of our outside suppliers. This win is also a way of saying thank you to all our fans, all over the world, for their continued support. We have been back in this sport since 2015, but today feels like a new beginning. While we can enjoy the celebrations for a short while, we must get back to work as soon as possible, because we still need to close our performance gap to the quickest teams.”

Pirelli are staying on for 2 days of F1 tyre testing with Alfa Romeo.

Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

“Today we had a thrilling race all the way to the finish, with a fantastic battle between two of the most exciting and talented young drivers in the sport. Congratulations to both Max and Charles for two great drives today. From a tyre perspective, we were satisfied with the performance of all three compounds, which each played an important part in the race, despite the hottest track temperatures seen all year. Nonetheless, nearly all the drivers completed just one stop, while Lando Norris in sixth didn’t even use the hardest compound. Now we remain in Spielberg for two days of testing 2020 tyres together with Alfa Romeo, which also brought two cars home in the points today.”

The stats talk for themselves with only 5 of the 20 cars finishing on the same lap, all other cars were lapped.

133Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA711:22:01.82226
216Charles LeclercFERRARI71+2.724s18
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES71+18.960s15
45Sebastian VettelFERRARI71+19.610s12
544Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES71+22.805s10
64Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT70+1 lap8
710Pierre GaslyRED BULL RACING HONDA70+1 lap6
855Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT70+1 lap4
97Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI70+1 lap2
1099Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI70+1 lap1
1111Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES70+1 lap0
123Daniel RicciardoRENAULT70+1 lap0
1327Nico HulkenbergRENAULT70+1 lap0
1418Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES70+1 lap0
1523Alexander AlbonSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA70+1 lap0
168Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI70+1 lap0
1726Daniil KvyatSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA70+1 lap0
1863George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES69+2 laps0
1920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI69+2 laps0
2088Robert KubicaWILLIAMS MERCEDES68+3 laps0

Note – Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Source F1.com

Next race is the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2 weeks.

2019 Driver Standings

1Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES197
2Valtteri BottasFINMERCEDES166
4Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI123
5Charles LeclercMONFERRARI105
10Daniel RicciardoAUSRENAULT16
11Nico HulkenbergGERRENAULT16
12Kevin MagnussenDENHAAS FERRARI14
17Romain GrosjeanFRAHAAS FERRARI2

Images XPB.cc