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Verstappen wins entertaining Austrian Grand Prix


With the weather Gods unlikely to play a part today, it appears we're going to have to rely on the derring-do/stupidity/recklessness of the drivers, the derring-do/stupidity/recklessness of the engineers and the strategists.

The warm and sunny conditions mean that we are unlikely to see the sort of frantic activity witnessed yesterday, though this could prove all too tempting when it comes to testing the track limits.

Having had their cars modified overnight, Magnussen and de Vries will both start from the pitlane, but having qualified 19th and 20th anyway this is is unlikely to make much difference.

While Perez was understandably happy to finish second to his teammate in yesterday's Sprint, today represents an altogether different challenge for starting 15th his first challenge will be to get into the points.

Of course, his lowly qualifying position means that - not for the first time - teammate Verstappen finds himself alone as he seeks to fend off the Ferraris, Norris, Hamilton and the Aston Martin pair.

That said, the form of both the Ferraris and Mercedes has been up and down all weekend, and while the Aston Martins have been a little off the pace - certainly compared to the aforesaid - they are likely to be very much in the mix, while Norris is understandably delighted with the upgrade to the MCL60.

With only the one practice session, not to mention Saturday's changing conditions, the teams are pretty much in the dark heading into the race in terms of data, so this is likely to be a factor.

The fastest strategy seems to be a two-stop, starting on the medium and the switching to hards and back to mediums, or for those who have two sets of the C3s available, another stint on the hardest tyre. The one-stop (medium-hard) could also be competitive, but looking at how last year's race played out, it is a less attractive option than making two pit-stops.

This weekend, and in Canada, we've seen a number of outstanding performances from the likes of Albon and Hulkenberg, and despite the limitations of their machinery there is no reason they cannot be fighting for points again today.

On the other hand, one driver who really needs to raise his game his de Vries, who seemingly has until the summer break before Helmut Marko takes action.

Along with Perez, Russell is starting out of position and it is going to be interesting to monitor their progress (or not).

Over the years - and even yesterday - we've seen drivers come to grief - or very close to it, on the opening lap here, and today with Max under intense pressure from the Ferraris it could all be over before it has even started. As is ever the case, the race cannot be won on the opening lap.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out.

"I felt like a little power cut at 8," reports Sargeant.

"I think fifth is an encouraging position," says Toto Wolff of Hamilton. "We should see what Ferrari's pace is and the McLaren. Take it one step at a time. I think we were pretty equal to Ferrari, but it was a bit warmer, so we don't really know."

"Ferrari were very quick here last year," says Christian Horner. "It's going to be an interesting race. They've got two against one. That gives them options strategically. We've got to build a lead. A more standard start today, let's hope he gets off the line well."

Ahead of the anthem there is a minute's silence for young Dilano van 't Hoff, who perished at Spa yesterday.

Ahead of the formation lap the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. Despite the current conditions, race control claims a 30% chance of rain

All are starting on mediums bar Alonso, Bottas and Magnussen who are on hards. All are on fresh rubber bar Hulkenberg who is on used mediums.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly.

The grid forms.

They're away! Verstappen leads into Turn 1, ahead of Leclerc and Sainz, while Stroll, Norris and Hamilton are three abreast the Canadian on the inside and the Mercedes on the outside.

Hamilton gets ahead as they exit the corner, while Norris has little wobble while under attack from Alonso. Behind, teammate Stroll is battling Hulkenberg.

In Turn 3, Verstappen and Leclerc almost touch, and while Alonso is momentarily ahead of Norris he loses traction allowing the McLaren to pull ahead.

Meanwhile, having hit the rear of an Alpine at Turn 1, Tsunoda brakes too late at Turn 4 and ends up in the gravel. Though he is able to get going again, the Safety Car has been deployed.

"I have damage," reports the AlphaTauri driver while Magnussen complains of an ERS issue. Both pit.

Behind the Safety Car, it's: Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Gasly and Albon.

The field is led through the pitlane due to the debris at Turn 1.

The Safety Car is withdrawn at the end of Lap 3.

At the restart, Verstappen leads the field which appears unusually strung out.

Tsunoda passes de Vries while Russell is all over Albon and Stroll is under intense pressure from Gasly who has Albon hard on his heels.

Perez is up to 12th, a place behind Russell, after a nice move on Ocon.

Hamilton is told that his biggest loss to Sainz is under braking for Turn 4.

"Track limits again, that's his third time," says Norris of Hamilton.

Alonso is told to keep to the right of the bump out of Turn 1.

As Leclerc loses ground (2s) to Verstappen, he comes under pressure from his Ferrari teammate.

Stroll passes Hulkenberg for 7th in Turn 3, with Gasly now lining up the Haas driver.

"Let me know for pace," Sainz is asked. "I think you can see," he replies, clearly feeling that his teammate is holding him up.

Zhou pits at the end of Lap 8.

Perez makes a move on Russell in Turn 3, the pair appearing to touch. The Briton fights back but the Mexican slams the door.

Suddenly the timing screen shows a whole load of track limits violations, clearly the FIA's Geneva HQ being kept very busy.

"This car's slow mate," reports Hamilton as he is shown the black and white flag.

Meanwhile, Russell has been passed by Albon.

Told about the black and white flag, Hamilton replies: "I can't keep it on the track if I can't turn."

Moments after pitting, Hulkenberg pills to the side of the track. "I've lost power," he reports.

Check out our Sunday gallery from the Red Bull Ring here.


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