If the Styrian Grand Prix was the suspicion, the Austrian Grand Prix has been the confirmation. The ninth round of Formula 1 in this 2021 season was held again at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, and the winner was the same. Max Verstappen took a comfortable victory that consolidates his lead in the drivers' world championship. He already leads Lewis Hamilton by 32 points. The Dutch driver scored his third consecutive victory, his fifth this season and his first grand slam -pole position, led every lap, fastest lap and victory-. It is Red Bull's sixth victory this season, and after nine Grand Prix races, they are the clear favorites. But there are still many races to go.
Verstappen's victory has put Mercedes in a complicated situation. Despite Valtteri Bottas' second place yesterday, the Germans were never able to match the pace of the Red Bulls. Hamilton was fourth and had several problems throughout the race. First, he struggled for a long time to overtake Lando Norris, who was resisting. Then he damaged the undercarriage of his car and wore the tires more than the rest. This caused his teammate Bottas to overtake him and also Norris. The young McLaren driver took his third podium of the season and completed a brilliant race that was only marred by a doubtful five-second penalty for an incident with Sergio Pérez.
The Mexican driver had a good start to the race, resisting the Mercedes' attacks. But after trying to overtake Norris, he took the turn 4 wrongly and went into the gravel, losing a few positions. With overtaking in the pits and on the track he moved up positions. In a particular duel with Charles Leclerc he applied the same action that Norris had done to him. Pérez forced the Monegasque to go off the track twice, and both times he was penalized. Although he crossed the finish line in fifth position, his final position was sixth. That would benefit Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari driver started tenth and moved up five positions in a good race.
Daniel Ricciardo's performance was also good. The Australian started thirteenth and achieved a well-deserved seventh place, although minimized by the great performance of his teammate. Pierre Gasly finished ninth and had difficulties finding the pace. Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 and scored points after a qualifying session with an unfair outcome for him and the Alpine team. The Spaniard had a nice battle with George Russell for tenth place and with a few laps to go, he managed to overtake him. The young British driver was just a few laps away from scoring his first points with Williams.
The Austrian Grand Prix is known for being a race where retirements and accidents are common. However, yesterday there were only two accidents. The first one happened on the starting lap. Esteban Ocon collided at turn 3 with Antonio Giovinazzi and the right front suspension of his car was broken. The second accident would happen when Verstappen had already crossed the finish line. In a somewhat inexplicable action, Kimi Räikkönen collided with Sebastian Vettel, causing the Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin to go off the track.
What was plentiful yesterday were the penalties. In addition to penalties for Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez for forcing another driver off the track, Räikkönen, Nicholas Latifi, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda also received penalties. The Finnish driver received a drive-through for the accident with Vettel. Latifi and Mazepin were penalized for ignoring yellow flags. And Tsunoda was penalized twice for overstepping the pit lane entry line.
In two weeks, the British Grand Prix will be held. Lewis Hamilton will race at home, in a circuit where he has won seven times, six of them with Mercedes. Toto Wolff's team needs to return to the top. Now it is almost an obligation.