Instead of a report I was going to make a list of things more interesting than that race, then I realised that there is a lot that would qualify. The history of James Toseland’s fake tan for example, or the hair patterns of Fernando Alonso’s eyebrows. Even the life cycles of blades of grass would bring more entertainment, so I will just write the report!
Following the controversy of Azerbaijan, and Vettel’s disciplinary hearing where he was sentenced to 12 months community service for acting like a spoilt child and deliberately driving his car into the side of Lewis Hamilton’s, we gathered at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, with a still complaining Lewis Hamilton and a highly apologetic Sebastian Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas took pole from Vettel and Hamilton, with Hamilton being demoted to 8th following a gear box change and a 5-place grid penalty. Listening to the Hamilton fans, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a new rule brought into the sport especially for this race to give Vettel an unfair advantage! Both Williams drivers were eliminated from Q1 – it’s very different from 2014 where Felipe Massa was on pole.
Lewis Hamilton has stated that he will not be asking Mercedes to ask Bottas to back Vettel into him, probably because the last time he asked, they said no!
Bottas had a brilliant start from pole position, but Max Verstappen had an awful one and was falling back through the field before he was hit by Fernando Alonso, who himself was hit by Danil “the human torpedo” Kvyat. The damage to both Verstappen and Alonso’s cars was severe enough to force both cars to retire, and to get Kvyat a drive through penalty.
Vettel and Ricciardo both complained to the stewards that Bottas jumped the start, and it took the stewards 26 laps to decide that Bottas’ start was legitimate and just a fantastic one. If Vettel and Ricciardo had spent more time concentrating on their own race starts and less time moaning about Bottas, maybe they would have had better starts too.
Both Williams drivers had brilliant starts and were running 9th and 10th (and no one accused them of jumping it!) and Hamilton got past Grosjean for 5th, with the speed difference between the Mercedes and the Haas, it was the Formula One equivalent of taking cookies from a Marquez.
Lap 16, and I knew I was going to need a lot of coffee to get through this one!
Martin Brundle was getting confused as to which decade he was commentating on, having earlier called Max Verstappen Jos, and continued by calling Kevin Magnussen Jan!
Lewis Hamilton started to complain about his rear end on the radio, a trend he would be keeping up for the rest of the race, while setting fastest lap times.
The stewards had kept very quiet during this race, as there was nothing happening on the track for them to get involved in, so they decided to give Vandoorne a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags – I think just so the drivers knew that they were still awake.
Hamilton thought he was under investigation, only for his engineer to confirm that he was not. Guilty conscience maybe? Knowing that he wasn’t being investigated left him available to going back to complaining about his tyres.
Bottas went into the pits for a slow stop which lost him the lead to Kimi Raikkonen. With fresher tyres, he just caught him and breezed back past and into the lead.
Carlos Sainz was forced to retire, telling his engineer that he had a “glorious race” because everyone likes a sarcastic Formula One driver!
Ferrari decided to continue with the strategy of leaving Kimi Raikkonen out until his tyres fall apart. They finally pitted him and settled for 5th place.
The only driver who hadn’t pitted at this point was Felipe Massa who was running in 6th place. He finally went in on the end of lap 48 and dropped back down to 9th behind Esteban Ocon, who surprisingly hadn’t spent the race arguing with his team about being held up by Perez, and hadn’t even ran into him yet!
The weather forecast was saying that it might rain in the last 5 laps which was just what this race needed to liven it up, shake up the order and wake up the stewards!
Lap 59 and Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, but was still complaining about his tyres. He was catching Ricciardo, who was catching Vettel, who was catching Bottas. This could’ve been a good finish, as the top 4 were covered by 10 seconds.
The promised rain never arrived and Hamilton had one shot at Ricciardo, which failed. Bottas had Vettel under control, as he crossed the line for his second career race to move himself back into championship contention. Vettel was second, from Ricciardo, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Perez, Ocon, Massa and Stroll taking the final point.
Drive of the Day fan vote: Valtteri Bottas
Drive of the Day Fiona’s vote: Valtteri Bottas (with an honourable mention for Romain Grosjean)
Second career win for Bottas, moving him to within 15 points of Hamilton in the championship standings and on the verge of giving Mercedes a real headache in their decision of who to back for the title. Grosjean bringing the Haas home in 6th is just an wonderful a result, and really should not be ignored.
Conclusions from Austria
- Bottas is a championship contender, who shouldn’t be written off yet
- The Force Indias can go an entire race distance without hitting each other
- Danil Kvyat should lose his no claims bonus, and be given the bill for the repairs to Alonso and Magnussen’s cars.
- Mercedes need to find the mute button on Hamilton’s team radio
- Martin Brundle needs to be told that it is 2017, not 1997.
- Daniel Ricciardo needs a new celebration, the shoey is getting old now!
- That was dull.
Now I am going to watch England play South Africa in the test match at Lords, see you all next week for Silverstone.