POLE position in qualifying for Formula 1 Grand Prix races are usually decided in 10ths, or 100ths of a second, but Lewis Hamilton took the coveted position on a very wet Red Bull Ring circuit by a sensational 1.2 seconds from Max Verstappen for the best qualifying performance of his long career.
It was dry on race day and Hamilton just continued with his winning way, putting his Mercedes over the finish line nearly 14 seconds ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen well astern in third, albeit after a prolonged scrap with Bottas.
It was a spectacular race right from the start on the twisty circuit, and one that Ferrari will want to forget.
Teammates Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc collided in the traffic on Lap 1, with both retiring — Leclerc taking the blame.
“I let the team down,” the Monegasque racer said.
Behind Verstappen came Red Bull’s Alex Albon, with the McLaren of Lando Norris next after a most exciting last lap.
Norris got past the Racing Point of Sergio Perez with one corner to go in a fierce dogfight that included Lance Stroll in the other Racing Point and Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault.
Perez was classified sixth with Stroll seventh after a controversial pass on Ricciardo.
Renault protested, but the stewards upheld the finishing order and Ricciardo finished 8th.
Behind them, Carlos Sainz in the McLaren and Daniil Kvyat in the Alpha Tauri (formerly Toro Rosso) rounded out the top 10.
Ricciardo was less than delighted.
“He forced us both off the track,” he said of Stroll’s bold move.
The Australian, who started from 8th on the grid, made a good start and was trying to find his way past team mate Esteban Ocon, but the young Frenchman, running on soft tyres, was having none of it.
Ricciardo, on medium rubber, finally got by on lap 19 of the 71-lap race.
Ocon retired a few laps later with overheating hassles.
George Russell, who’d qualified 11th in his Williams, was in good form until he went farming while scrapping with Kevin Magnussen in the Haas, and eventually finished 16th.
Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to his team after the 85th win of his career.
“What a weird year it is. But it’s great to be back up here and to be driving and driving at this kind of performance level,” the 35-year-old said.
“The team did a fantastic job with the strategy. It was just for me to keep it together, stay off the kerbs and bring it home.”
His win came seven days after he finished 4th in the Austrian Grand Prix — at the same track.
Ricciardo was still fuming after the race.
“We certainly hoped for more today,” he said
‘The end of the race was frustrating, and I was struggling to hold on to the position on the last couple of laps.
“Of the incident, I did see Stroll coming but I felt if I turned in, we would have crashed, so I had to make that call.
“I maybe should have blocked him and it’s a shame to lose a couple of positions from that one moment.”
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: ‘The overriding feeling is frustration, however, we should not deter from the fact we’ve improved massively at this track compared to previous years.
“The car has made huge steps forward, but so have the other teams.
“Now it’s gloves off for the rest of the season.”
Next race is at the Hungaroring in a week.
Meanwhile, Italy’s spectacular Mugello circuit will host a Grand Prix for the first time in September, as Formula 1 announced the Tuscan Grand Prix and the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi have been added to the revised 2020 race calendar.
Mugello is owned by Ferrari, and the circuit’s first F1 event — set for September 11-13, the weekend after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza — will mark the Scuderia’s 1000th race in the world championship.
The addition of Mugello and Sochi, which will take place September 25-27, brings the current number of confirmed races in 2020 to 10, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Formula 1 expects the revised 2020 season to have 15 to 18 races.
|3||33||RED BULL RACING HONDA||71||+33.698s||15|
|4||23||RED BULL RACING HONDA||71||+44.400s||12|
|6||11||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||71||+62.387s||8|
|7||18||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||71||+62.453s||6|
|9||55||MCLAREN RENAULT||70||+1 lap||3|
|10||26||ALPHATAURI HONDA||70||+1 lap||1|
|11||7||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|12||20||HAAS FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|13||8||HAAS FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||99||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|15||10||ALPHATAURI HONDA||70||+1 lap||0|
|16||63||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||69||+2 laps||0|
|17||6||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||69||+2 laps||0|
Note – the classification of both Racing Point cars is provisional, subject to the outcome of any decision concerning a protest over their legality from the Renault team. Sainz scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.
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