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Flawless Max Verstappen dominates Styrian F1 GP and Lewis Hamilton


Max Verstappen won the Styrian Grand Prix, with a dominant run from pole position for Red Bull. He beat Lewis Hamilton into second with the British driver unable to match his pace and mount a real challenge. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was in third, with Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez in fourth and McLaren’s Lando Norris in fifth.

Verstappen was in control throughout and did not surrender his lead at any point. His Red Bull enjoyed a clear pace advantage at the Red Bull Ring. He displayed the control and discipline Hamilton has displayed on so many occasions to execute flawlessly over the laps. In what was a fairly humdrum affair out front the two were effectively in a race of their own and once Verstappen had it in his grasp he was relentless in closing it out.

This is Verstappen’s third win at the Red Bull Ring, his fourth victory this season and his second in a row, delivering another blow to Hamilton in the title fight. The Dutchman had gone into the race 12 points clear and he leaves with an 18-point advantage.

Worse still for the world champion another race follows at the same venue next week with the Austrian GP. There is little to no chance of Mercedes radically improving their form before then and if that is the case Verstappen will have gathered even more momentum for his title challenge. Red Bull have also further increased their advantage in the constructors’ championship, now leading Mercedes by 40 points.

Verstappen’s 14th win is further consolidation of what is by far the most successful season of his career. He has three second places to match the four wins and was on for another victory in Baku until a tyre blowout scuppered his chances. He now has one more victory than Hamilton who has not taken a win since the Spanish GP and has finished seventh, 15th, second and now second again in the last four meetings. He has not been under pressure this intense since Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari opened 2017 and 2018 with similar vigour.

Verstappen held his lead from Hamilton on the short run uphill into turn one as Norris and Pérez vied for third with Norris losing then regaining his place. Hamilton reported his front right tyre had been hit by debris, which he believed had come off Verstappen’s car.

There appeared to be no damage however and Verstappen and Hamilton were swiftly in a race of their own. Pérez made the pass stick on Norris on lap 10, while almost three seconds separated the two leaders with 11 seconds back to Pérez, whom Bottas had followed through into fourth.

By lap 18 Verstappen had four seconds on Hamilton but both had maintained their advantage over Pérez. The Dutchman was entirely comfortable out front, putting in some fastest laps and opening a gap that made the undercut unfeasible for Hamilton on such a short lap. The world champion kept Verstappen in sight but could make no dent in his lead.

Pérez pitted first on lap 26 and Bottas charged, coming in a lap later and taking third place after a slow stop by Red Bull. Hamilton came in on lap 28 to take the hard rubber and was covered off by Verstappen a lap later. His stop was quick, in two seconds, and he emerged with his lead intact.

A total of 42 laps remained with their stops completed and the leaders switched their focus to ensuring their rubber would last the distance. Hamilton was told to push by his team and the British driver once more made it to within four seconds but could move no closer.

Peter Bonnington, his race engineer, had admitted by lap 55 that they were helpless against the Red Bull. “What should I do?” asked Hamilton on closing the eight-second gap. “Options are just battling it out on the tyre degradation,” conceded Bono of their only hope that Verstappen’s rubber would fade. Hamilton was left enquiring as to the possibility of rain but there were no crumbs of comfort from the clouds ringing the Styrian mountains.

Mercedes pitted Hamilton late to go for the fastest lap, which he duly took, the best they could manage before Verstappen’s rubber showed no weakness and he took the flag after an exemplary run to win, describing the car as “on fire today”.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were sixth and seventh for Ferrari. Lance Stroll finished in eighth for Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso in ninth for Alpine and Yuki Tsunoda in 10th for AlphaTauri.



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