Bottas wins dramatic Austrian GPposted in F105 | 07 | 2020

    POLESITTER VALTTERI BOTTAS won a dramatic Formula 1 season-opener in Austria. The Finn finished ahead of second-placed Charles LeClerc’s Ferrari, and the McLaren of Lando Norris, who claimed his maiden podium finish. Six-time world champ Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag in second, 0.6s behind Bottas and handing Mercedes a 1-2 finish, but was relegated to fourth after receiving a penalty for contact with Alex Albon’s Red Bull. (Related: Sir Jackie Stewart at 80)

    The contact between the two drivers, who also clashed in Brazil last year, came at the end of the race's third safety car period as Albon — on fresh soft rubber — eased passed Hamilton on the outside the tight right-hander. 

    At the start of the race, Bottas easily held the lead off the line and quickly establish a two-second lead by the end of the opening lap ahead of Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver had been promoted to second on the grid after Hamilton received a three-place penalty dropping him back to fifth. (Related: Mercedes F1 tackles Covid-19)


    Bottas set about extending his lead further, but the threat from Verstappen — looking for his third win in succession at the team's home track — evaporate d when the Dutchman’s Red Bull suddenly lost power approaching Turn 1 on lap 11 of 71. Battling to reset the issue, he trundle back to the pits, but was ultimately forced to retire with a suspected electrical problem.

    This promoted Hamilton, who has eased passed Norris and then Albon using DRS, to second and he rapidly ate into the lead of his team-mate. But the soft-tyre run was suddenly ended when the safety car was called out after Kevin Magnussen spun off with an apparent brake issue at Turn 3. (Related: F1 world champ Vettel to leave Ferrari)


    Mercedes stacked both cars at the pitstop and fitted hard tyres. Neither drivers lost any time, and once again Bottas romped off into the lead. But Hamilton again responded and clawed his team-mate back in, asking team to check he would be allowed to choose his own engine mode.


    But Hamilton’s challenge was halted when Mercedes warned both drivers about a potential gearbox sensor issue that threatened the continued participation of both cars. As Hamilton and Bottas continued to fight, each bumping over the car-wrecking Austrian kerbs, Mercedes' chief strategist James Vowles intervened to tell them the issue was "critical".

    As both drivers altered their driving styles to cope with the problems, the safety car appeared on-track again after the Williams of George Russell retired from P13 with a loss of fuel pressure. Both Mercedes opted to stay out on their hard compound tyres, while Albon pitted for a set of softs and rejoined in fourth. (Related: Sainz to Ferrari, Ricciardo to McLaren)


    No sooner had the race restarted — during which time Albon mad muscled his way past the Racing Point of Sergio Perez into third — than it was halted again by another safety car when the right front wheel sheered off the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.


    On the restart, Bottas again accelerated away from Hamilton. The Englishman was then attacked by Albon round the outside of Turn 4. The Red Bull driver had clearly eased himself ahead of the Mercedes as both cars emerged from the corner, but Hamilton understeered wide. The contact between Hamilton's left-front and Albon's right-rear sent Albon spinning off in the gravel.


    The defending world champ subsequently received a five-second time penalty. As a result Leclerc finished second, having demoted Perez on the road into third. The Mexican though also received a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane, relegating him to sixth, and allowing Norris to claim the final podium position for McLaren.


    In a blistering performance, Norris posted the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to deny Hamilton third by just 0.1s. The second McLaren of Carlos Sainz finished fifth. Pierre Gasly took seventh for AlphaTauri, ahead of the returning Esteban Ocon for Renault. Antonio Giovinazzi finished ninth for Alfa Romeo, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel rounding off the top 10.

    2020 F1 Austrian Grand Prix — Result: 

    1. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team 71 Laps;

    2. Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow +2.700secs;

    3. Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team +5.491;

    4. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team +5.689;

    5. Carlos Sainz ESP McLaren F1 Team +8.903;

    6. Sergio Perez MEX BWT Racing Point F1 Team +15.092;

    7. Pierre Gasly FRA Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda +16.682;

    8. Esteban Ocon FRA Renault F1 Team +17.456;

    9. Antonio Giovinazzi ITA Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen +21.14.6;

    10. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow +24.545;

    11. Nicholas Latifi CAN Williams Racing +31.650.


    Daniil Kvyat RUS Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

    Alexander Albon THA Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

    Kimi Raikkonen FIN Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen

    George Russell GBR Williams Racing

    Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team

    Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team

    Lance Stroll CAN BWT Racing Point F1 Team

    Daniel Ricciardo AUS Renault F1 Team

    Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

    Related: Scot Sandy Mitchell returns to British GT with Black Bull

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    Jim McGill

    All photographs copyright of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1


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