Dutch dominance at Austrian GP
Red Bull Racing Honda Driver, Max Verstappen completed a hattrick of wins at the team’s home circuit, the Red Bull Ring. It was also the first grand slam of his career thanks to a dominant Austrian Grand Prix win that saw the Red Bull driver lead every one of the 71 laps from pole, take victory and attain the extra point on offer for fastest lap.
Verstappen scored a 2021 Red Bull Ring double in a faultless drive and after maintaining the lead at the start and managing a restart following a short safety car period due to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon’s lap one crash, Max effortlessly controlled the following 68 laps to finish almost 18 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris. Nursing a damaged car, Lewis Hamilton finished in P4.
It was a more difficult afternoon for Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez though however, he incurred two five-second penalties as a result of separate collisions with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and finished in sixth. The Mexican missed out on P5 by just 0.7s after he narrowly failed to stretch a 10-second gap to the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in the closing stages.
Verstappen's victory in the Austrian Grand Prix was his fourth in five races and moves him into a 32-point lead over title rival Lewis Hamilton. The team’s 70th F1 victory means that Red Bull Racing Honda extend their lead over championship rivals by 42 points with Verstappen on 182 points and Perez 104 points.
Discussing his three consecutive race wins, Max Verstappen said: "To win again at home at the Red Bull Ring is just incredible. I expected it to be good, but not this good, and the car was on rails. It was really nice to drive and the pace was incredible on both tyre compounds. I could push and also look after the tyres which is exactly how you want it to be and I could extend my gap lap after lap. Just like everyone else we learnt from last weekend and we optimised the car even more by improving the set-up.
"It’s actually hard to put into words because it was so enjoyable to drive and the weekend was the best it could be, so let’s hope we can carry on in the same way. It’s a great reward for everyone in the Team and it was also very nice to have Honda represented on the podium by Tanabe.
"The fans were also incredible all weekend, so much orange in the grandstands and it’s just great to see people back and enjoying Formula One at the track. There are of course a lot of difficult races coming up and Silverstone will be interesting with the Sprint Race to mix things up. But for now, I’m really happy with the way the whole race went and you don’t often get this type of race, so we all have to enjoy it."
Checo made a good start from third place and after the safety car, piled the pressure on Norris and attacked as they went down to turn four. The Mexican tried a bold move around the outside of the McLaren, but as Norris held his line, Checo was forced off into the gravel and he dropped to P10 behind the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.
With two five-second penalties to take at the flag for contact with Leclerc, Checo needed to eke out a 10-second advantage over the sixth-placed driver, but as Sainz rose through the order with pace, Checo ended up missing out by just 0.7s and had to settle for sixth.
Discussing his race, Sergio Perez said: "I’m obviously not very happy with my race today. On the fourth lap I had the position and I out-braked Lando but he pushed me off the track which pretty much ended my race. As for the other incidents with Charles, I still have to review the situations and look at the incidents because I thought that I was ahead in both of them, especially the second one but it’s hard to say right now. I braked as late as possible, we were in dirty air and we had very old tyres so I lost the rear on the second one into Turn 6.
"I’m very sorry for Charles and how I affected his race because that’s not the way I like to race. I don’t feel happy with myself for compromising the race for another driver. But I am very happy for Max and the rest of the Team, it was great that we could get more points today at our home race at the Red Bull Ring. We move on and I’m looking forward to the next race at Silverstone."
Since the Azerbaijan GP, Red Bull Racing Honda have been using a breakthrough engine oil developed by Mobil 1 in collaboration with Honda Research & Development and Red Bull Racing Honda.
The new Mobil 1 RB16B Engine Oil is designed specifically for the new Honda power unit, helping deliver maximum power without compromising protection or fuel efficiency.
Commenting on the race dominance, Team Principal Christian Horner said: "Max had another fantastic race today and a second victory at the Red Bull Ring is a great way for the Team to sign off the triple header.
"It was another impeccable drive from Max and he didn’t put a wheel wrong. To achieve pole position, fastest lap, lead every lap and become the first driver to win all three races in a triple-header is just phenomenal and shows the calibre of driver he is and the effort the Team are putting in every single weekend.
"Checo was unlucky to have a racing incident with Lando, but for me that’s hard racing, just like the similar incidents later in the race but he came back strong and we could all see how hungry he was to get a result. We’ve now won the last five races, a first for us in the hybrid era, but we cannot get complacent and need to keep that momentum going.
"There’s a long way to go in this championship, we don’t take anything for granted and we have to keep doing what we’re doing, session by session, race by race. Silverstone will be a big challenge and it’s been a Mercedes stronghold for the last seven years but there’s going to be a big crowd there and we have brilliant fans, so I can’t wait to put on another show for everyone who comes out to support us."
After three races on consecutive weekends, the teams and drivers have a week off before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It will be the first grand prix where start positions on the grid will be decided by a sprint qualification race on the Saturday.