Styrian GP: Lewis Hamilton takes first F1 2020 win, Ferraris collide

Lewis Hamilton took his first victory of Formula 1 2020 in dominant fashion in the Styrian GP as Mercedes proved too quick for Max Verstappen, while Ferrari imploded after a first-lap collision between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

After acing pole position in a qualifying deluge, Hamilton provided another masterclass – this time in dry conditions – to streak away from his rivals in a calmer sequel to last weekend’s season-opener at the Red Bull Ring.

“I’m so grateful to be back in first place,” said Hamilton, who raised his fist on top of the podium. “It feels like a long time coming since the last race last year and to come back in after a difficult weekend last week is a great, great step forwards.”

  • Styrian GP race results
  • Some F1 drivers take a knee, others stand
  • Leclerc takes blame for Ferrari wipe-out

Sky F1’s Jenson Button, Hamilton’s former team-mate, added: “He didn’t put a foot wrong in qualifying, he was light years above everyone else on his lap, and today – lights to flag – he did everything he had to do.”

Hamilton is now just six wins away from Michael Schumacher’s record of 91.

He is also only six points behind Valtteri Bottas in the championship, with the Finn keeping his lead thanks to converting fourth on the grid into second place, overtaking Verstappen late on for a Mercedes one-two.

Verstappen drove and defended valiantly, but Red Bull just did not have the pace of Mercedes.

“I tried, but we are just a bit too slow,” said Verstappen. “I pushed as hard as I could.”

That speed difference between the top two teams was proved by Alex Albon finishing 44 seconds behind race-winner Hamilton.

And Albon almost lost fourth altogether, making contact with a charging Sergio Perez, who started 17th, at the same Turn Four corner where the Red Bull driver collided with Hamilton the week before.

Perez sustained front wing damage and dropped back, allowing Lando Norris to enjoy another unbelievable late surge – passing Daniel Ricciardo, and both Racing Points – to take fifth on the last lap.

Lance Stroll and Ricciardo are under investigation for their final-lap tussle.

But the real controversy was provided, once again, by Ferrari. Hampered by slow pace to start the 2020 season, Ferrari shot themselves in the foot as Leclerc shunted into the back of Vettel heading into the third corner of the race.

The collision broke Vettel’s rear wing and the German immediately retired from the race, with Leclerc – who has taken full responsibility for the incident – following him into the garage and an early DNF soon after.

Styrian GP top 10 result
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4. Alex Albon, Red Bull
5. Lando Norris, McLaren
6. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
7. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
9. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
10. Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri

Mercedes dominate, Norris stars late again in F1’s sequel

A Hamilton-Verstappen front row set Sunday up perfectly, but it’s fair to say an unprecedented second race at the same Spielberg track lacked the spark of the chaotic season-opener.

There was an early Safety Car – caused by the early Ferrari crash – but Hamilton quickly built up a lead to Verstappen who, while only around 5s off for most of the race, never looked likely to challenge for the victory.

Without the variables of the first race, Mercedes’ pace buffer at the Red Bull-owned track was evident.

The Silver Arrows were able to toy with Verstappen in a three-horse race, pitting Hamilton just after the Dutchman but keeping Bottas out for a longer first stint, giving him a big advantage towards the end of the 71-lap affair.

Verstappen battled wheel-to-wheel and held off Bottas for a lap once in DRS range, but was never going to hold off the Finn after sustaining front-wing damage.

Hamilton was pushing for a fastest lap and extra point at the end of the race, which was eventually taken by Carlos Sainz after pitting late in the McLaren, although he finished 13.7s clear of Bottas in second.

The big drama late on came on the last lap as Norris, a week after sealing a podium on Lap 71, took advantage of Ricciardo and Stroll’s scrap for position before gaining a third place in a matter of seconds as Perez limped home after his clash with Albon.

The race for the line between Perez, Stroll and Ricciardo almost needed a photo finish.

What happened to Ferrari?

Even with their fast-tracked upgrades for the second Austria race, Ferrari knew they faced an uphill battle on Sunday with Vettel and Leclerc only starting 10th and 14th on the grid.

At the very least, they would have expected key data for their crucial new parts as they bid to make ground on their F1 2020 rivals.

But Ferrari’s race was effectively over after less than half a lap.

Vettel was in a three-car scrap heading into the Turn Three and, two places behind him, Leclerc sensed an opportunity up the inside of the hairpin. But the tiny gap closed, and Leclerc rammed into the sister Ferrari.

Vettel, who is leaving the team at the end of the season, retired immediately with a broken rear wing while Leclerc exited the race soon after with terminal floor damage.

“I apologised,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1. “Excuses are not enough in times like this and I’m just disappointed in myself. I have done a very bad job today. I have let the team down.

“I can only be sorry, even though I know it’s not enough. I hope I learn from this and will come back stronger for the next races.”

Vettel added: “I was fighting two other cars, we were already three cars into turn three, and I was very surprised.

“I was not expecting Charles to try something. I don’t think there was any space.

“A big pity and something we should avoid, but not much I could have done differently. I was taking it easy and conservative because it was already very busy and tight.”

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