High above sea level in the beautiful region of Styria, Formula 1 ventured to the Austria Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring for yet another thrilling race. Fans received an extra treat with Austria adding the second sprint race of the season on Saturday. With two races on the agenda and more points to be won the importance of this race for the championships was paramount.
Would Red Bull continue to pull away in the lead or would Ferrari make up lost ground after a series of misfortunes in the last couple of races? The only way to find out is to settle the matter on track.
On Friday, the Red Bull Ring circuit basked in the sun and was ready to provide excellent conditions for all three qualifying sessions. Qualifying did not disappoint once again with teams and drivers battling to the very last seconds of Q3 to determine the starting order for the sprint race. Track limits and drivers exceeding them became an interesting factor that would create issues during qualifying and throughout the entire weekend. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was the first to suffer the wrath of the stewards who had an excellent lap time that would have placed him in the front had his lap deleted forcing the Mexican to start in 13th for the sprint race.
Both Mercedes also suffered the same fate, not at the hands of the stewards but when both Lewis Hamilton and George Russel spun out and crashed into the barriers, ending their qualifying runs. The large Verstappen fan base that littered the grandstands dressed in orange and burning flares had their first real moment to cheer when their favorite driver claimed pole position. Opposing fans argued that Verstappen had exceeded track limits during his hot lap, but no punishment was issued. Ferrari, who had a strong day, followed Red Bull with Charles Leclerc in P2 and Carlos Sainz in P3. Once again Ferrari had to chase the might, Red Bull of Verstappen, on race day.
The orange army in the crowd was primed for the Sprint race hoping Verstappen could continue his dominance of Saturday. Lining up for the sprint race Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu suffered an engine failure and would have to start the race at the back of the grid from the pits. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso suffered the same fate as Zhou, but the difference was, that he never had a chance to start the race.
The rest of the field lined up with no issues and for the first time this weekend the red lights went out and Verstappen did not disappoint, taking off cleanly into the lead. Behind the Dutchman, the Ferrari’s swapped positions after turn one only to swap back in the next corner. The Ferrari teammates battled for P2 for multiple laps adding more drama to the race.
Perez in the meantime sliced through his rivals climbing up the ranks. The most impressive battle was between HAAS’s Mick Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton battling for P8. Schumacher impressed his team and fans by holding off the former world champion for multiple laps before finally succumbing to Hamilton’s attack.
Verstappen at the front had no problem winning his second Sprint Race of the season followed by Leclerc in P2 and Sainz in P3. The race order for Sunday did not change at the front of the grid while the rest of the field experienced a slight shuffle. Perez, who started in 13th managed to correct his qualifying error, bringing his Red Bull in 5th.
The Austrian Grand Prix so far had already proved to be very entertaining and continued to do so during the main race of the weekend. The weather over the Red Bull Ring was overcast but with only a small chance of rain in the forecast, which meant racing matters would be resolved cleanly on the track.
For the second time this weekend, the red lights lit up only to be extinguished cuing the start of the race. Verstappen took off cleanly again into the lead but had Ferrari and Charles Leclerc staying close to the dutchman’s rear. Perez, on the other hand, continued to be cursed by bad luck as he got bumped by Russel, forcing the Mexican into the pits early and to the back of the grid once again.
Leclerc and Verstappen battled for the lead around Lap 10 and two laps later Leclerc caught Verstappen by surprise overtaking him for the lead. It was clear Ferrari had great pace and was well on their way to spoiling Red Bull’s hope of winning in front of a home crowd.
Alonso, who started dead last, worked his usual magic dragging his Alpine in P8 by the time the 20th lap of the race was completed. Hamilton was entangled with both HAAS’ of Kevin Magnussen and Schumacher and reminded everyone of his elite skill overtaking both drivers on Lap 18. The race was action-packed with drivers battling for positions everywhere on the track.
After the first rounds of pit stops, Verstappen found himself in first once again with Leclerc breathing down his neck. Verstappen could not hold back Leclerc who took back the lead for Ferrari. Verstappen complained about an unknown issue with the car which was later revealed by the team to be a piece of debris from a damaged Alpha Tauri that was causing havoc in his Red Bull.
Nonetheless, after another round of pit stops Verstappen returned in the lead position until Leclerc took the lead back never relinquishing it until the chequered flag. Verstappen in P2 now had to worry about Sainz who was flying through his laps and looked prime to give Ferrari a 1-2 finish when his engine blew and caught fire ending the Spaniard day.
Leclerc could not breathe easy on the final laps of the race because his throttle was suffering and getting stuck on the release of his foot. Ferrari and their fans held their collective breath until Leclerc won the third race of his season, giving him some precious points for the championship. Verstappen survived his ordeal with the debris finishing in P2 followed by Hamilton who added his third podium of the season in P3.
REST OF THE PACK
Mercedes’s improvement continued to be evident with Russel in P4. Alpine was also pleased with Esteban Ocon in P5 and Alonso in P10. HAAS for the second straight race managed to have both their drivers in the points with Schumacher in P6 and Magnussen in P8. McLaren also showed some improvement with Lando Norris in P7 and Daniel Ricciardo in P9.
The 2022 Austrian Grand Prix was a thrilling weekend and Ferrari made important gains in the championship battle. Mercedes is hinting at joining Red Bull and Ferrari at the front with their improved pace and the resurging Hamilton.
Le Circuit Paul Ricard in France is next on the schedule with the possibility of a three-way battle for first place. The French Grand Prix will be the last race before the three-week vacation, which means every team will want to give their best before taking their break. Book your tickets for the French Grand Prix or any other race clicking here.
2022 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX FINAL STANDINGS
|2||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL||1:07.275|
|11||VALTERRI BOTTAS||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|13||LANCE STROLL||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|14||ZHOU GUANYU||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|
|15||PIERRE GASLY||FRANCE||ALPHA TAURI|
|16||YUKI TSUNODA||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|
|17||SEBASTIEN VETTEL||GERMANY||ASTON MARTIN|
|RETIRED||CARLOS SAINZ JR-LAP 56||SPAIN||FERRARI|
|RETIRED||NICHOLAS LATIFFI-LAP 48||CANADA||WILLIAMS|
|RETIRED||SERGIO PEREZ-LAP 24||MEXICO||RED BULL|