RACE DAY RUNDOWN: STYRIA AND AUSTRIA
STYRIAN GRAND PRIX, RED BULL RING, 27 JUNE 2021
AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX, RED BULL RING, 4 JULY 2021
The first triple header of this year’s Formula One World Championship is complete! Also, the first (and potentially only) consecutive race weekend at the same venue is complete. I decided to look at them both in one Race Day Rundown. Both the Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix took place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, and let’s face it, one was pretty average and one was pretty exciting.
We’ll start with the Styrian Grand Prix (obviously, since it was the first race out of the two). It was somewhat boring, and actually quite devastating, especially for George and Williams; the entirety of the Formula 1 community are desperate for him to score some points for Williams. Why, racing Gods, has it not happened yet?
Opening lap drama is always a given, no matter which circuit we find ourselves watching the race unfold at, and the Styrian Grand Prix was no different. Contact between Gasly and Leclerc left both Frenchmen with damage; Gasly went on to have another collision with Giovinazzi and Latifi, leaving him in P20, while Leclerc sustained a damaged front ring. Both drivers pitted, Leclerc emerging from his stop, but Gasly retired on lap one. Poor Pierre. He deserves more podiums and wins. We all have to agree on that, right? I did label him as the Unofficial Champion of 2020 (you can read that here), so maybe I’m biased. But he’s gooood.
I don’t actually really have too much to talk about for this race. Honestly, I could’ve napped and had a better time. Maybe my expectations for the Red Bull Ring are too high, especially after the excitement of 2020, but I just found the first race of the two very boring. Anyone else? It seems like a lot of people on Twitter felt the same as me, and honestly, I vibe with that.
Hamilton’s lap twenty-five oversteer could’ve changed the entire race. Honestly, he did well to save his Mercedes and prevent it from ending up in the gravel. He managed to keep his spot in P2, though, and he finished on the second step of the podium. The Championship battle is still very much alive, even though Max has won his last three races (France, Styria and now Austria). Red Bull have won their last five races (Monaco, Azerbaijan, France, Styria and Austria) – they’re flying in the Championship – and it’s making a great battle for the top spot. I have a feeling Mercedes will bounce back, especially after the summer break and the Championship battle will be so much closer.
Devastation for George and Williams came on lap twenty-seven when he came into the pits from P8 in the race. He was stationary for some time, and the fear came creeping in almost immediately as a viewer. Despite appearing to have an issue around the side-pod area, Williams released him back into the running order. The Red Bull Ring was honestly looking good for them. Devastation struck again when they made the decision to retire the car on lap thirty-nine. He was on track to score some points. Still not over it.
Mercedes made the decision to pit Lewis on lap seventy to ensure they held the fastest lap for that extra point. Their decision was the right one, too, because he did get the fastest lap of the race (1:07.058).
Despite that, Max Verstappen still crossed the line first, even after slowing down at the chequered flag to celebrate the win alongside his team. It caused some controversy, did Max slowing down at the line, and FIA race director, Michael Masi, said such ‘victory burnouts’ would not be tolerated in future. Read more about that here.
The Austrian Grand Prix was exciting from start to finish. Madness, really – same track, same cars, but different tyre compounds and conditions, meaning a different starting grid for Sunday’s race. As a McLaren and Norris fan, the most exciting thing to come out of Saturday’s Qualifying session was very obviously Lando’s P2 finish. He was so close to Pole. Verstappen’s Pole time was 1:03.720 and Lando’s lap which secured his second-place start was 1:03.768 – that’s a difference of 0.048, four hundredths of a second… truly amazing. McLaren’s straight line speed is something else. And I, as a McLaren fan, am absolutely here for it.
On lap one, contact left Esteban Ocon reporting ‘a sandwich situation’ to Alpine and he retired with damage, bringing out a safety car. That wasn’t the only drama we would see during the Austrian Grand Prix. In fact, it was only the start of a pretty dramatic race, really. So. Many. Penalties.
The first one came on lap four, and part of me still thinks it was a racing incident. Norris and Perez battling for P2, and Perez ended up in the gravel for a brief few seconds. It seemed like he was preparing to make a move which looked to be a little too risky, and Norris took a five-second penalty for forcing another driver off track. I guess it’s up for debate among fans, but the stewards’ decision is final. Lando took his five second penalty during his pit stop on lap thirty and returned to the track in P4 behind both Mercedes cars. He passed Hamilton for third on lap fifty-three, after Mercedes inverted their cars, with Bottas moving up to P2.
Perez and Leclerc went to battle twice, and both times, the Mexican Red Bull driver was struck with five second penalties for forcing another driver off track. Karma, maybe? Nevertheless, it was still all very dramatic. A total of ten seconds in penalties for committing the same offence twice. He wasn’t the only one to do that, either. Tsunoda was penalised twice for crossing the white line at the pit entry, leaving him with ten seconds in penalties, too. Giovinazzi was penalised for overtaking during the Safety Car, Stroll was penalised for speeding in the pit lane and Raikkonen was penalised for causing a collision with Vettel at the end of the race. Once all drivers took the chequered flag, what seemed like the entire grid was summoned to the stewards (it wasn’t the entire grid, really, but you get what I mean). Mazepin and Latifi were handed penalties for not respecting double waved yellows. So, you know that meme where the guy is throwing things off what I think is a balcony and someone has edited it so that he’s throwing FIA time penalties? Yeah, that literally happened…
All in all, though, the Red Bull Ring was good to us Formula 1 fans. Okay, the Styrian Grand Prix might’ve been a little on the boring side, but the Austrian Grand Prix made up for that (especially that Lando podium – it’s what we love to see).
Now it’s all about Silverstone. I was planning to attend this year, but because of COVID, we decided to cancel, so it’s all eyes on 2022 for us. Of course I’ll be watching, though. I am so excited. So many good races are coming up.
Which race are you most looking forward to?