RACE REPORT: Bottas staves off Vettel for victory in Spielberg

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas drove a solid race in the Red Bull Ring to for his second win in Formula One at the Grosser Preis Von Osterreich (Austrian Grand Prix), six-tenths better to fend off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who finished second. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the podium for a fifth consecutive race came third.

Lewis Hamilton starting in P8 as a result of a five-place grid penalty for gear box change, could not beat the Australian for the last place on the podium, Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari crossing the line in fifth.
A near chaotic-free race but for an opening lap collision started by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in an ambitious drive hitting the rear of Fernando Alonso causing McLaren to spin and budge into Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. The Spaniard and Dutchman both retired without completing the first lap.

Polesitter Bottas made an excellent start, the Finn taking off milliseconds just as the lights went off. Second placed Vettel reported on radio a potential jumpstart by the Mercedes driver but after a review, no further action was warranted.

The second Ferrari of Raikkonen lost out an opening exchange with Ricciardo then was overtaken by Haas’ Romain Grosjean. The Iceman responded on the Frenchman and he will later be used by the Maranello-based team in a strategy play to try and get Vettel the win.

Hamilton was one of four drivers to start the race on Pirelli’s red-marked supersoft tyres than the ultrasoft chosen by most on track. The intent was to stay out long and benefit from early pitstops by cars on the purple boots. However, having gained a place after Verstappen’s retirement and overtaking Perez and Grosjean for P5, Hamilton was brought in on lap 31 to change onto the ultrasofts  in a bid to undercut Raikkonen.

Ricciardo and Vettel followed soon into the pits, thus pushing Raikkonen to second behind his compatriot in the Mercedes W08. Bottas went in for his switch to the red-marked rubber on lap 41, emerging behind the older Finn. The Ferrari’s degrading tyres could only hold out the Silver Arrow for three laps and when he eventually made his stop, he was behind the Red Bull and second Mercedes.

Vettel took the fight to Bottas all the way but just as it panned out in Sochi back in April, the Finn held on to the few tenths lead for the win.

Hamilton was also hunting down Ricciardo for the final podium spot and crucially reduce the drivers championship defecit to Vettel but the Red Bull just managed to hold on for his fifth straight podium finish.

Romain Grosjean brought his Haas home in sixth ahead of the Force India’s, Sergio Perez and Esteban. Williams also scored double points with Felipe Massa and rookie Lance Stroll for the third race in a row.

Jolyon Palmer finished P11 for the third time in the last four races ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg. The two Saubers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson were 14th and 15th with Daniil Kyvat the last the last to see the chequered flag.

Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz were there other retirees alongside  the aforementioned Alonso and Verstappen.

Sebastian Vettel has opened a 20-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers standings. Bottas on 136 has closed in on his teammate to 15 point with the championship now looking more like a three horse race. Mercedes lead the constructors with 287 points and Ferrari on 254.


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