Austrian Grand Prix: Christian Horner Praises “Mature” Max Verstappen

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has praised Max Verstappen’s approach to the Austrian Grand Prix, in light of the Dutchman’s win this afternoon.

It was Verstappen’s first victory of 2018 after a series of incidents in the early stages of the year, and is Red Bull’s first win at their home race since it returned to the F1 calendar, re-branded in their image, in 2014.

Max Verstappen the Winner of the 2018 Austrian GP with Kimi and Seb. Image courtesy of Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“To win in a Red Bull Car at the Red Bull Ring is something I never imagined would happen this morning,” said Horner. “All credit to Max today, he drove a very, very mature race, managing a very tricky situation with the tyres and he completed a very controlled drive to win our first Austrian Grand Prix.”

Verstappen started the race in P4 and gained a position on the opening lap when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen overcooked an attempt to overtake Lewis Hamilton.

When Valtteri Bottas retired on lap fourteen and brought out the Virtual Safety Car, Verstappen emerged from the round of pit-stops in P2, now on the soft tyres and thirteen seconds behind the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who had stayed out.

He then inherited the lead of the race when Hamilton finally did pit, and calmly waved off his team’s concerns about his tyres blistering, an issue that befell a number of other drivers on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen may have been closing in the final stages of the race, but Verstappen had built up enough of an advantage to hold on to victory.

Max ahead of kimi. Image courtesy of Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – whose 29th birthday it was today – retired from the race on lap fifty four. “It was a great shame not to have Daniel up on the podium as well,” Christian Horner said, “after running for so many laps in P2, but then his rear tyre started to overheat which caused a second pit stop. Shortly after that we began to see an exhaust crack that was causing gearbox damage, forcing his retirement.

“A special word to our pit-crew, again executing a faultless stacked pit stop on our route to victory, as they had done previously this year in China. I have to also applaud out entire staff back at the factory and their commitment to produce a competitive race car. The day belongs to them, to Max, to the team, to Red Bull and particularly to Mr Mateschitz who has given so much to modern Formula One. We are all delighted for him.”


Orange Magic: Max Verstappen wins 2018 Austrian Grand Prix

The second race of the first ever ‘triple header’ saw F1 return to the mountains of Austria, for the Grand Prix at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring.

As it’s the team’s home race, Red Bull Racing had high hopes. These hopes were, however, seemingly shattered when a disappointing qualifying on Saturday meant that Max Verstappen would start the race on Sunday from P5 (which ended up as P4 when Vettel got a three-place grid penalty for impeding Sainz in Q2), with Daniel Ricciardo in P7 behind the Haas of Romain Grosjean. There was no reason for them to be yodelling just yet.

This weekend not only was a special Grand Prix for the Austrian team’s management, but also for Max Verstappen personally. With a sea of orange shirts in his very own ‘Max Verstappen Grandstand’, it is no surprise that this is seen as the second home Grand Prix for the Dutchman (with Belgium being the other one). Not only that, shortly before the weekend he announced he would be driving with a special helmet design. Rather than its normal dark blue, his helmet instead shone yellow as a thank-you to his first big sponsor, the Dutch supermarket Jumbo. Were these things the trigger for Verstappen to get the luck he so desperately needed?

Start of the Austrian F1 race. Image courtesy of Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

He had a pretty good start, and went from P4 to P3 after turn one as Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas ran wide. Still taking risks on the first lap, he made slight contact with Raikkonen, who then had to run wide a bit. He was briefly under investigation for the touch, but the stewards decided it was just a racing incident as the consequences for the drivers were little.

Shortly after Nico Hülkenberg retired with a spectacular engine failure – resulting in some big flames – another car retired. It was none other than Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, whose gearbox got stuck in second gear, resulting in a loss of drive. This brought out the Virtual Safety Car on lap fourteen. Some teams decided to use this VSC to change their strategy, as Ferrari and Red Bull put on the soft tyres on their cars.

One team that didn’t decide to change their strategy, however, was Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton stayed out on track. This led to a gap of just thirteen seconds to Verstappen, who emerged from his pit stop in P2. It takes roughly twenty-one seconds to complete a pit-stop in Austria, including time spent driving down the pit-lane, so it was looking disastrous for Hamilton. When he finally did pit, Max Verstappen inherited the lead and, from that moment onwards, dominated the race. Things later when from bad to worse for Hamilton, and he eventually had to retire the car due to engine problems.

Max Verstappen leading the Austrian Grand Prix. Image courtesy of Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

One critical issue during the race for lots of drivers was tyre degradation. Daniel Ricciardo for instance had changed to the softs during the Virtual Safety Car period, but after just twenty-two laps it became clear he would not be able to make it to the end, as his rear-left tyre was destroyed.

Someone that didn’t seem to struggle at all with the soft tyres, however, was Verstappen. He drove over fifty laps on those tyres to bring home the victory for Red Bull Racing, claiming his fourth career win. The orange crowds went insane and it didn’t look like the party would end very soon for the fans and the team.

Max Verstappen. Image courtesy of Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Criticised for his aggressive driving style many times this season, Verstappen has surely shown the press they were wrong. Whilst his teammate struggled on the same tyre compound after just twenty-two laps, Max managed to make it to the end and keep both Ferraris behind. Once again his aggressive driving style brought him a brilliant victory. Should he really change his driving style?

Austrian Grand Prix: Bottas Claims First Pole of the Year

Image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Valtteri Bottas has claimed his first pole position of the year, and leads a Mercedes 1-2 into tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Of the big-hitters, only Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had a truly clean session. Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made mistakes early on – at turn three and turn four respectively – and ended up relatively far back after the first Q3 runs had been completed. It took until the last couple of minutes for the pair to pull themselves back up the order – Hamilton ultimately qualified P2, and Vettel P3, with both pushing Kimi Raikkonen down into P4. Vettel was noted as being under investigation for allegedly impeding Carlos Sainz in Q2, but since Sainz did advance to Q3 it is uncertain whether Vettel will receive any penalty.

Red Bull had expected qualifying to be a struggle compared to Mercedes and Ferrari coming into the weekend. Max Verstappen may have qualified P5 but he was still two tenths behind Raikkonen, and Daniel Ricciardo ended up P7 behind the Haas of an impressive Romain Grosjean. Replays of team radio throughout the session indicated a certain amount of tension in the team, with Ricciardo frustrated that Verstappen did not follow orders to lead the Australian for a lap and give him a tow, as Ricciardo had done for Verstappen the lap before.

Kevin Magnussen and the two Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg complete the top ten.

Further down the order, Charles Leclerc continues to impress in the Sauber. He qualified P13 but carries a five-place grid penalty due to his gearbox needing to be changed following a stoppage on track in FP3.

Force India’s Sergio Perez had a nightmare of a session. The Mexican complained of running out of battery during his first run and of getting stuck in traffic during his second. He failed to make it out of Q1 and starts P17.

It was also a frustrating session for McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley. Both were looking to pull themselves out of the drop-zone and into Q2, but encountered yellow flags on their flying laps when Charles Leclerc ran through the gravel trap in the final moments of Q1.

Both Mercedes and Red Bull will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix on the supersoft tyres, with all those around them starting on the ultras. Bottas will be hoping to convert pole position into a win, at the circuit where he claimed his second ever victory in 2017.

Austrian Grand Prix Grid

1. Valtteri Bottas – 1:03.130

2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:03.149

3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:03.464

4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:03.660

5. Max Verstappen – 1:03.840

6. Romain Grosjean – 1:03.892

7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:03.996

8. Kevin Magnussen – 1:04.051

9. Carlos Sainz – 1:04.725

10. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:05.019

11. Esteban Ocon – 1:04.845

12. Pierre Gasly 0 1:04.874

13. Fernando Alonso – 1:05.058

14. Lance Stroll – 1:05.286

15. Stoffel Vandoorne – 1:05.271

16. Sergio Perez – 1:05.279

17. Sergey Sirotkin – 1:05.322

18. Charles Leclerc – 1:04.979 *5-place penalty for gearbox change

19. Brendon Hartley 1:05.366

20. Marcus Ericsson – 1:05.479


Update – 17:30 – Sebastian Vettel has been given a three-place penalty by the stewards for impeding Carlos Sainz at turn one in Q2. The German will now start P6, promoting Kimi Raikkonen to P3, Max Verstappen to P4, and Romain Grosjean to P5.

Joe’s Quali Report

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria.
Saturday 08 July 2017.
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _O3I7851

Valtteri Bottas secured only the second pole position of his Formula 1 career, and Mercedes’ 80th, on Saturday after pipping Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and teammate Lewis Hamilton to top spot at the Red Bull Ring in Austria with a blistering lap-time of 1:04.251.

The Fin was not only able to replicate the good pace he set throughout the weekend which saw him finish third at the end of FP1, 2 and 3, but managed to overcome the fierce competition set from the red Italians to clinch the vital grid position ahead on Sunday’s race.


“It feels good. I really enjoy driving here. I enjoyed it today the car was getting better and better as the grip was coming”, Bottas told Sky Sports.


“A decent lap at the end, it wasn’t perfect, but it was enough.”


The 27-year-old will have Vettel alongside him for company on the front row, whose best Q3 lap-time was just 0.042 seconds from the pole-sitter. It could have been different however, if Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who ended up in the barriers on Friday, hadn’t lost control in dramatic fashion on his final flying-lap to finish Q3 in the gravel trap under yellow flags.


“At Turn Seven I tried to be a little too aggressive with the throttle and lost the rear”, Verstappen said.


“I’m not sure on pace if we can get both cars on the podium. A lot of things will have to happen in front of us. Rain would be good for us.”


Even though Hamilton posted a time under 0.2s behind Vettel to grab P3, he will start in P8 on the supersoft tyres after a five-place grid penalty was issued due to an unsanctioned gearbox change.


The three-time world champion’s frustration was obviously evident after being unable to give himself the best possible chance of climbing the field, but he was still happy it was a Silver Arrow at the front of the grid.


“Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a fantastic job and Sebastian has been very quick. It just wasn’t meant to be today”, Hamilton stated.


“I’ll do the best job I can. I want to get up there and get a one-two with Valtteri.”


The Mercedes-man’s issues means that Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, whose time pushed him into P4, will start third on the grid alongside Daniel Ricciardo, who for the first time in five races managed to out-qualify his teammate.


Verstappen and Romain Grosjean will occupy the third row, even though the Frenchman’s car had been somewhat difficult to handle this weekend on the high-paced circuit. The remainder of the top 10 will feature the Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, split by the penalised Hamilton, and Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso – who sat in P4 at the end of Q1.


Elsewhere, Lance Stroll was brought sharply back down to earth following his podium-clinching heroics in Baku two weeks ago, as the young Canadian and teammate Felipe Massa both failed to make it out of Q1 and will start on the second-last row of the grid.


Nico Hulkenberg will begin Sunday’s race in P11, but could have even forced his way into Q3 if it was not for a rear suspension failure during P2 that forced the German to abandon the remainder of the session.


It remains to be seen whether, similarly to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix a fortnight ago, the qualifying results will truly dictate the outcome of the race.

But with only four pole-sitters in the past 10 years going on to claim victory at the Red Bull Ring, the same number as P3, Sunday’s race is certainly not a foregone conclusion.

Haas F1 Austrian Grand Prix Preview

Kevin Magnussen says Haas have “made improvements and taken small steps forward”, while Romain Grosjean focused on “geting back to decent level”

Kevin Magnussen says Haas have “made improvements and taken small steps forward”, while Romain Grosjean focused on “geting back to decent level”
Following a season best P7 finish for the team by Kevin Magnussen in Azerbaijan, Haas F1 Team moved to 7th in the constructors standings with 21 points, a three-point margin ahead Renault and 12 points behind sixth-place Toro Rosso. That gives Haas points-finishes in the last four consecuitive Grand Prix’s having not scored in only two race’s so far this season.

Next is the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, this beginning a five-race European tour leg of the Formula 1 Championship. The 4.326-kilometer (2.688-mile) Austrian circuit uses a smaller layout of the Österreichring, which held Formula One races from 1970 until 1987. In last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean finished a strong seventh to pick up six points

It’s a very short circuit wtih just ten turns – the fewest in Formula One and is relatively easy on brakes. For Haas F1, brakes have been the one issue that has come up in the team, but in 2017 it seems Kevin Magnussen has had more fortune with Brembo brakes than Romain Grosjean. Following previous GP weekend in Azerbaijan, those frustrations of the French driver seemed to reach a boiling point, with the team too offering comment on the situation. Grosjean spent most of the Azerbaijan weekend struggling again with the Brembo brakes on his VF-17.

“The brake feeing has been terrible all weekend long but Kevin’s got he same comment and he can drive around [it], that’s why I’m saying I don’t want to blame anything. Braking is my strength, since Formula Renault. But when things are not working as I want, it’s my biggest weakness” Grosjean said.

Guenther Steiner however suggested later in the week it was driving styles which was the difference.

“It’s not that Kevin didn’t have the problems with the brakes,” Steiner said.

“With his driving style for him it’s easier to drive around it, or make it less evident. He was not happy ith the brakes in FP2. For the race he had to lift and coast as well, because we had some issues. With Romains driving style, the brakes need to be perfect, or as close to perfect as can be. At the moment, we are not there.”

“I think it’s driving styles. Maybe Romain brakes later and harder and then turns and maybe Kevin brakes into it and turns already. Maybe it’s easier to feel the brake, but I am not a race car driver so for me I can just see it from data and from my eperience to see what people do, but that is my gut feeling, that that’s what they do. Kevin can drive around it a little bit more.” Steiner said.

These issues are definitely to watch for in Austria, and whether Grosjean can keep calm otherwise the brakes become a more mental issue than anything.

Though most of the lap is easy on brakes the Red Bull Ring’s main overtaking spot will be at turn 2, a heavy braking first or second gear corner after a steep hill climb from turn one where Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton famously crashed on the last lap in 2016. Turn 5 kink will be flat out this year followed by two very fast corners of 6 and 7, the quicker of the two. Turn 10 is also critical because it is blind for the drivers, it will be important for both Haas drivers to get this become comfortable with their braking markers here. If Haas can score double points it should give them a more comfortable cushion to Renault behind and keep the pace with their target Toro Rosso.

Pirelli will bring its three softest tire compounds for this Grand Prix weekend – P Zero Yellow soft, P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Purple ultrasoft – to the Austrian Grand Prix making it the fifth time this season this package has been offered.

by Jeremiah Doctson

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