Austrian GP: Max Verstappen stretches away in F1 title battle with win as Lewis Hamilton finishes fourth

Max Verstappen took full advantage of a difficult Austrian GP for title rival Lewis Hamilton to widen his points lead beyond the equivalent of a race win for the first time with a second crushing victory at the Red Bull Ring.

Triumphing on Red Bull’s home track on successive weekends to complete a clean sweep of wins in F1’s triple-header, Verstappen was in a class of his own and his victory, combined with a fourth-placed finish for Hamilton who picked up car damage, means the Dutchman now leads the standings by 32 points in his increasingly-assured pursuit of a maiden world crown.

Valtteri Bottas finished a distant second in the lead Mercedes while Lando Norris capped a superb weekend with his third podium finish of the year for McLaren, despite picking up a five-second penalty for an early clash with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

  • Full Austrian Grand Prix race result
  • Latest championship standings

Hamilton, who started fourth, had moved up to second in the first stint ahead of Norris but started to struggle with his Mercedes in the second after seemingly sustaining damage to the car’s rear.

He was overtaken by Bottas, eased through on instruction by the team, and Norris in quick succession before heading for a second pit stop for fresh rubber, but to no avail in terms of gaining back any ground.

Bottas finished 15s behind Verstappen but the gap would have been even larger had the runaway Red Bull not taken a late second pit stop for fresh tyres to secure the fastest-lap bonus point.

“Even better than last week,” said Verstappen, who secured a first career Grand Slam of pole, fastest lap and lights-to-flag win.

“The car was on rails on every tyre. Incredible, guys. That was just amazing, let’s keep this up.”

Perez had a more tumultuous afternoon in the second Red Bull and was eventually classified in sixth.

The Mexican dropped down to 10th place on lap four after running onto the gravel when going wheel-to-wheel with Norris for second place at Turn Four.

But while stewards found in Perez’s favour there, handing Norris the time penalty, the Red Bull driver was later handed two five-second sanctions of his own when he was found to have forced Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc off track in separate incidents at Turn Four and Six.

The combined 10s demotion dropped Perez from fifth to sixth behind the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who enjoyed another strong race in Austria. Daniel Ricciardo also drove strongly, recovering from starting 13th to secure seventh ahead of Leclerc.

But there was late despair for George Russell.

The young Briton was relegated out of what would have been his first point for Williams at the 46th attempt when Alpine’s Fernando Alonso overtook him for 10th with three laps left.

More to follow…

Austrian GP Result: Top 10
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3) Lando Norris, McLaren
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
7) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
8) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
9) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
10) Fernando Alonso, Alpine

Full race result

Next up: The British GP at Silverstone

It’s the Home of British Motorsport next up for F1 2021 – with a race weekend like no other before in the history of the sport. The British GP on July 16-18 will see the debut of Sprint Qualifying, a short, flat-out 100km sprint race on the Saturday to set the grid for the Sunday Grand Prix, as part of a revised weekend schedule which sees competitive action on all three days. Watch all the coverage live on Sky Sports F1.

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