F1: Bottas Wins Ahead Of Leclerc & Norris In Austrian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas celebrating his eight career victory his second in Austria. Image sourced from @MercedesAMGF1 via Twitter.

Valtteri Bottas Victorious In Chaotic Austrian Grand Prix Season Opener.

Bottas Takes The Flag

Valtteri Bottas took his eight career victory and the lead of the drivers championship at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix.

Bottas: “Lewis was really quick today but I managed to keep it together. No better way to start the season.”

The Finn’s Mercedes’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton crossed the line second position, but a five second time penalty after a collision with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon dropped the Brit to fourth place.

Podium Promotions

Subsequently, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was promoted to second position, while Lando Norris to third in his McLaren MCL35.

Making the 20 year old from Bristol the third youngest podium sitter in F1 history.

Norris: “I’m speechless. There were a few points where I thought I’d fudged it up a bit… but I managed to get past Perez and end up on the podium.”

“I’m so happy and proud of the team.”

A Race Of Attrition

Max Verstappen was the first driver to retire, due to an electrical issue while running in second place.

A retirement which in turn promoted Hamilton into second after the 6-time world championship blitzed past both Albon & Norris respectively during the opening laps.

After Hamilton’s grid penalty it wasn’t long before the Mercedes duo found themselves back leading the field. Image sourced from @MercedesAMGF1 via Twitter.

With the Mercedes pair now running 1-2 and pulling away from Albon in third Mercedes noticed a sensor issue on both cars.

As a result both drivers were told to avoidΒ  the kerbs as the engineers labelled both cars in critical condition.

Safety Car Deployed

During the opening half Racing Points’ Lance Stroll and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo both retired in quick succession, each with individual reliability problems.

With Haas’ Kevin Magnussen also retiring with soon after due to brake failure at Turn 3.

Prompting the stewards to deploy the first safety car of the grand prix.

Perez & Norris hunting down Alexander Albon during the Austrian Grand Prix. Image sourced from @RedBullRacing via Twitter.

Subsequently, multiple drivers pitted for a fresh set of tyres.

Once the safety car came in it didn’t take long for more action to unearth itself as Sebastian Vettel collided with Carlos Sainz on lap 31.

With the contact sending Vettel into an all too familiar spin, demoting him to fifteenth position.

Further ahead both Sergio Perez & Norris battled for fourth, with Perez coming out on top, utilising his softer medium compound compared to Norris on the hards.

Unfortunately for Racing Point, Perez was unable to close the gap to Alexander Albon’s Red Bull in third.

Heartbreak For Russell & Grosjean

As we settled into the second half of the race Williams driver George Russell and Romain Grosjean’s Haas retired within moments of each other with car issues.

Again, another second safety car was called out due to the positioning of Russell’s FW43.

Red Bull jumped at the opportunity to put themselves back in race winning contention as they brought in Albon for a fresh set of the soft compound.

Meanwhile, both Mercedes drivers were told to stay out on their worn hard tyres in a bid to preserve track position.

Just seconds after the restart, Albon dived down the inside of Perez for third place.

A position which he lost while pitting as Perez opted to stay out.

Just moments later, a third safety car was deployed after Kimi Raikkonen’s front right wheel careered off his Alfa Romeo while approacing Turn 10.

The Italian team being fined €5000 due to the unsafe pitstop which led to the incident.

FIA Statement: “Having examined photos of the damaged wheel and the axle shaft it is evident that the wheel nut of the RHS front wheel got cross threaded during the wheel change which was not identified by the wheel gun operator.”

“As a consequence the right front wheel went off when the car was back in the race.”

“The Stewards accept however that neither the team, nor the driver had the opportunity to realise that the car was in unsafe condition and therefore did not stop the car.”

“Taking into account these circumstances a fine of €5,000 is appropriate.”

A Thrilling Finish

Proceeding the final restart, Albon attempted go around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 4 but was spun around as a result.

Ending the Thai’s chances of a maiden win.

The stewards awarded Hamilton with five-second time penalty as a result of the contact.

Although this would be no consolation to Albon who was forcedΒ to retire near the end with a mechanical issue.

Leaving Red Bull with zero points at the first of their two home grand prix this season.

In the closing stages Charles Leclerc’s SF-1000 came alive as the Monegasque passed both Norris and Perez.

To add salt to the wounds, Perez was handed a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Ferrari will be hoping Leclerc’s late charge in Spielberg will be a positive sign after a poor showing throughout the weekend. Image sourced from @ScuderiaFerrari via Twitter.

Leclerc: “I gave my maximum. We managed the race perfectly with the package we have at the moment.”

“To have P2 with the performance we had this weekend is something I would have never expected. We made the best out of it and I am extremely happy about the result.”

Lando Makes History

As a result of Perez & Hamilton’s penalties Norris was given full engine mode by McLaren to try and capitalise.

Which he did with a stunning overtake on Perez and setting the fastest time of the race on the final lap.

Clinching McLaren’s second podium in the last three races, edging out Hamilton by just two tenths of a second.

Lando Norris celebrating his history making podium in the Austrian GP. Image sourced from @McLarenF1 via Twitter.

Behind Hamilton was Sainz who came home fifth in the other McLaren.

With Sergio Perez classified sixth once his penalty was applied.

Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly had a quiet race, the frenchman taking home seventh.

Contrary to team-mate Daniil Kvyat who suffered a puncture in the final laps, the Russian was subsequently forced to retire.

Ocon’s Return & Vettel’s Recovery

Esteban Ocon crossed the line in eighth for Renault after over a year and a half out of Formula 1.

Esteban Ocon on his way to a solid points finish on his F1 return. Image sourced from @RenaultF1Team via Twitter.

Antonio Giovinazzi was ninth in his Alfa Romeo as Sebastian Vettel recovered to take the final points position.

With the German venting his frustration on the teams huge stepback in performance on both the radio and in post race interviews.

Sebastian speaking on RTL: “It was not the car I had on Friday, I don’t know what happened.”

“I think that P5, P6 & P7 is where we are at the moment. There’s still definitely a lot of work to do.”

Debutee Nicholas Latifi was eleventh in his first grand prix with Williams, the Canadian last of the classified finishers.