Valtteri Bottas led from lights to flag as he took victory in a dramatic season opening 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, which saw just 11 drivers finish the race after a series of incidents.
Bottas got away cleanly but faced not just a challenge from Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton but also the car itself as both drivers encountered gearbox issues throughout the closing stages on top of three safety car restarts.
Hamilton however would finish fourth after receiving a five second time penalty for colliding with Red Bull’s Alex Albon, elevating Charles Leclerc into second, whilst McLaren’s Lando Norris clinched his first podium with a fastest lap on the final lap.
Speaking post race on his victory, Bottas was delighted with how his race went, saying; “We had to manage the car quite a lot so we couldn’t use all the kerbs but I’m glad all the cars managed to finish, and the team standings we are leading so that’s a very good start.”Embed from Getty Images
Bottas made a clean start from the lead to lead Verstappen and Norris, building up a nice lead ahead of the Dutchman whilst Norris got passed on lap three by Albon, with Hamilton following through a lap later before getting Albon for third on lap nine.
Hamilton however was out of position on the grid after receiving a late three-place grid penalty, after Red Bull lodged an appeal that proved that the Brit had failed to slow at end of Qualifying when Bottas had spun his car.
Verstappen because the first victim on an afternoon of unreliability when he slowed on lap 11 with a hydraulic issue, crawling his way back to the pits where he retired the car after attempts to restart the system.
Ricciardo and Stroll soon followed Verstappen into race retirement with separate issues, as they too withdrew from the race in the pits, before Kevin Magnussen spun into the barriers on lap 26 with brake failure to trigger the first safety car period.
During the first safety car, several drivers pitted although Racing Point nearly realised Sergio Perez straight into Norris, although both took avoiding action of which Perez accidentally sped over the pitlane limit to earn himself a five second penalty.
Bottas led the first safety car restart on lap 31 ahead of Hamilton after the Silver Arrows did a double stack pit stop, as Vettel spun on inside of turn three after trying a move up inside of Carlos Sainz.
Hamilton soon had Bottas reeled in to within a second until Mercedes radioed both drivers on lap 46 to warn of critical gearbox sensor issues, from which the gap then grew until George Russell stopped on inside of T4 five laps later to cause a second safety car.
Romain Grosjean meanwhile retired with brake issues after running wide at turn four, where he had spun earlier on in the race after dipping his front left tyre on the gravel.Embed from Getty Images
Kimi Raikkonen then triggered a third safety car upon second restart when he suffered a huge tyre failure after hitting the inside kerb of the penultimate corner, sending him straight on at the final corner before eventually coming to a rest next to the pit wall.
Bottas survived both the second and third restarts to take a comfortable win whilst Hamilton forced Albon on new softs to the outside of T4, of which the Thai duly got ahead mid corner when he clipped Hamilton’s front left and spun.
Hamilton eventually received a 5s time penalty which demoted him to fourth after Leclerc passed both Norris and Sergio Perez to take third, which became second at the flag.
Norris snatched the final podium place after launching a lunge up the inside of Perez with two laps left, before unleashing quick laps which saw him snatch fastest lap at the death to put himself third by just 0.198s after Hamilton’s penalty was applied.
Sainz, Perez, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top ten, ahead of Nicholas Latifi who finished 11th on his F1 debut.
Daniil Kvyat meanwhile saw his race finish in dramatic fashion on the last lap, when his rear left suddenly disintegrated into turn one, due to a puncture.
Speaking post race, Kvyat confirmed that his dramatic final lap exit was caused by a collision with Ocon which also broke his front wing and suspension, ultimately costing the Russian points which he described as a “real shame and very disappointing” finish.
|2||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||71||+ 2.700|
|3||Lando Norris*||McLaren||71||+ 5.491|
|4||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||71||+ 5.689|
|5||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||71||+ 8.903|
|6||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||71||+ 15.092|
|7||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||71||+ 16.682|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Renault||71||+ 17.456|
|9||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||71||+ 21.146|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||71||+ 24.545|
|11||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||71||+ 31.650|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||71||Puncture|
|13||Alex Albon||Red Bull||68||Electrical|
|DNF||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||55||Tyre|
|DNF||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||21||Power|
|DNF||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||13||Hydraulic|
- Lando Norris set fastest lap (1m 07.475)