Max Verstappen continued his remarkable run of success at the Austrian Grand Prix, securing his fifth consecutive victory and his seventh win out of nine races this season. The reigning Formula One champion started from pole position for the fourth straight race and extended his lead in the championship standings to a massive 81 points over his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
Verstappen’s dominance was unparalleled as he navigated the race with ease, leaving chaos behind him as multiple drivers received time penalties for going off track limits. Despite the penalties, Verstappen remained calm and composed, focusing on his own performance and delivering yet another flawless race.
Not only did Verstappen secure the victory, but he also claimed the fastest lap, even against his team’s reluctance to take the risk. His determination paid off as he earned an extra point on the final lap, completing a perfect weekend after his pole position and victory in Saturday’s sprint race.
With this win, Verstappen also achieved a personal milestone, reaching a total of 42 Formula One wins. He surpassed the late Ayrton Senna and moved into fifth place on the all-time list of F1 winners.
The race saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finish in second place, 5.2 seconds behind Verstappen. Leclerc, last year’s winner at the Austrian Grand Prix, expressed optimism about the future after the upgrades made to his car. He acknowledged the pace of Verstappen and Perez but believed that the improvements to his car would bring him closer to challenging them.
In a surprising turn of events, several drivers, including Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr., received time penalties for going off track limits. Aston Martin lodged a protest, leading to a change in the race classification. As a result, McLaren’s Lando Norris moved up to fourth place, and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso secured fifth place. Sainz dropped from fourth to sixth, and Hamilton fell to eighth.
Perez, starting from 15th on the grid, made an impressive comeback to finish in third place. It was his first podium since the Miami GP two months ago, and he expressed relief and hope for consistent performances going forward.
Red Bull’s dominance continued as they secured their ninth consecutive win of the season. Verstappen’s victory in the sprint race on Saturday, followed by Perez’s victory in Azerbaijan, demonstrated the team’s exceptional performance throughout the year.
Throughout the race, drivers struggled to stay within the track limits on the challenging Red Bull Ring circuit. Hamilton, in particular, faced difficulties controlling his car and repeatedly went off track. The issue of track limits was a point of contention, with drivers expressing frustration at the penalties imposed and the impact it had on qualifying and the race.
Aston Martin lodged a protest, highlighting the inconsistencies with track limits enforcement. While the protest went against the opinions of most drivers, Perez echoed the sentiment that penalties for track limit infringements were unfair and affected the outcome of the race. The governing body, FIA, acknowledged the need for a solution and recommended the addition of a gravel trap at turns 9 and 10 to prevent further track limit infringements.
However, adding gravel traps has been a topic of debate as the Red Bull Ring also hosts a motorbike race. Balancing the needs of both Formula One and MotoGP has posed challenges for track owners. Despite the controversy, the FIA emphasized the importance of finding a solution to the track limits issue at the circuit.
As the season progresses, Verstappen’s dominance raises questions about his competitors’ ability to challenge him for the championship. With a commanding lead and consistent performances, Verstappen looks set to claim his third straight world title unless his rivals can find a way to disrupt his winning streak.