Max Versteppen clinched the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix with the same ease as one spots an athlete early morning in a park jogging away coolly sporting stylish ear-pods, seeming absolutely unflustered about the world around him.
A dominant victory that also marked the young Dutchman’s fifteenth career win and his team’s sixth in nine rounds proved to be a stellar performance, delivering, in the end, a fatal blow to arch-rivals Mercedes, who ruled the roost at the same venue in 2020.
Norris bagged another fine podium as Valtteri Bottas fought on to salvage some pride on a day where the Black Arrows weren’t quite up to the challenge!
But what were the key talking points from the 2021 Austrian GP? Let’s find out.
Max Verstappen- simply untouchable!
Making the life of his closest rival for the 2021 World championship even more difficult, in bagging yet another win, his fourth at the venue, and overall, his fifth this season, Max Verstappen strolled to an easy win at Spielberg, ensuring that his Red Bull team’s dominance remained unchallenged at a venue where Mercedes have simply struggled to match the Milton Keynes-based outfit’s pace.
Though the most valuable among all talking points from the 2021 Austrian GP was the fact that with the fastest lap, pole and finally, the treasured race win, Verstappen, whose first at the venue came in 2018, delivered his maiden F1 grand slam- such a fine achievement.
Not for once looking bothered by another car, having gotten away cleanly at the start, defending brilliantly from Norris, it was, truth be told, only a matter of time before Verstappen’s car would become the first to cross the checkered flag prompting exultation and vile celebrations.
With Red Bull defying Mercedes yet again, it remains to be seen what one of Formula 1’s premier constructors can do in a bid to mount a comeback.
Heartbreak for Perez!
In what was to have been a memorable race for the famous Mexican driver, the Austrian GP being Sergio Perez’ 200th Formula 1 Grand Prix, turned into a race fuelled with disaster given the Red Bull driver was harangued by two separate five-second time penalties for forcing another driver off the track limits.
Though, Perez had a podium in the bag, attacking from the word go, having also started the contest from third on the grid, his battles with Leclerc, especially during the mid-stages wherein the jockeying for track position around the testing Turn 4, proved to be his undoing.
While Leclerc did lose out to Perez’s dominant- if also dramatic- defences, the Red Bull driver was found guilty of pushing the famous Monegasque off the track limits and into the gravel trap, a move that didn’t quite help his chances.
Never before in his career has Perez been subjected to two separate accounts of five-second time penalties, but the undesirable antics at Spielberg proved to be his undoing, and resultantly, birthed one of the key talking points from the 2021 Austrian GP.
Needless rush of blood from Kimi!
Kimi Raikkonen started the race from a lowly sixteenth on the grid, his usual disenchanting positions owing to what has, thus far, been an ordinary run of form for the Alfa Romeo during the qualifying sessions.
But as always, the famous Finn made up a couple of places to move quickly up into fourteenth early on. Moreover, at the earlier part of the race, his close battle with the Alpine of Fernando Alonso was utterly interesting and not devoid of drama.
In the space of a single lap did Alonso move up into fourteenth, leaving behind a fighting Raikkonen, who’d take back his position only to see the Spaniard, also a former Ferrari teammate, re-capture the grid position. Though, eventually Kimi would move up on Fernando once again.
Until that time, things were fine and it seemed an attacking Kimi Raikkonen had risen to the occasion. That he was desperately chasing George Russell to move up into twelfth in the closing laps also made for some interesting viewing, before unwanted drama erupted in the final lap.
Seconds before the fighting duo of Raikkonen and Vettel, the latter fast catching the Alfa Romeo #7 were approaching the checkered flag did the Iceman turn the right of his car into the Aston Martin, a terrible move that resultantly, pushed both cars off the tracks and into the tarmac.
This strange, unforeseen error from an otherwise smooth and cool operator became one of the dramatic talking points from the 2021 Austrian GP. Not that it helped Kimi in any way, the Iceman struck by a 20-second penalty, which ultimately saw him end the race from fifteenth, when he was, at one stage, poised to finish, at least, twelfth in the contest.
The mega Alonso versus Russell battle
When Fernando Alonso, who finished a decent tenth in the end found out that the driver he was battling for a solitary point was none other than Williams’ George Russell, the celebrated Samurai of Formula 1 racing confessed, “I’d much rather have had anyone else in George’s place,” expressing the respect he has of the young British driver.
But one of the key moments and unforgettable runs from the race was the battle for tenth between a fast catching Fernando Alonso and a not so quick on the straights Williams of George Russell.
For thirteen back-to-back laps (in the latter part of the race) did George defend brilliantly from a much stronger machine piloted by a true legend of the sport. And this closely-fought duel for a point’s finish between a youngster who has an entire future in front of him and a giant of the sport competing against whom one’s future is made, made for one of the key talking points of the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix.
Though spare a thought for the young Williams talent, who, for the first time this season made it to Q3, having run an excellent show in Saturday’s quali-effort, wherein he bagged a powerful ninth on the grid contesting in a car that’s often found wanting on pure race-pace.
Is Hamilton losing the plot?
Unmistakably, one of the key talking points from the 2021 Austrian GP was a lack of impressive performance by the most complete and successful driver on the current grid- Lewis Hamilton. Someone who’d, hours before the start of an epic contest on Sunday, signed a new contract extension with his Mercedes team returned a disappointing finish for the stable that has reposed a lot of faith in the seven-time world champion.
Running over the kerbs early on in the race, which led to floor damage, and ultimately ulteriorly affecting the aerodynamic functioning of his car, Lewis Hamilton suffered a body blow of sorts at the Spielberg-bound contest and could do no better than bagging a lowly fourth in the end.
In fact, at one stage of the race, so poor was the performance and race pace of his Mercedes that his teammate Valtteri Bottas was told not to contest Lewis or pass his Mercedes, a move which the Wolff-led outfit eventually decided was helping no one and was thus, called off.
Moreover, in Lewis Hamilton’s world where stepping on the top step of the podium is a frequent occurrence, a P4 warrants to be described as a lowly performance.