F1 2017: Austrian Grand Prix Race Recap

rr F1 AUStria

Valtteri Bottas won the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix, leading from a brilliant start and remaining clear of the drama behind him all afternoon. The final laps were nail-biting for the podium positions, but the drivers behind could not quite make passes work. Though Sebastian Vettel complained the Finn must have jumped the start, the Ferrari had nothing for the Mercedes and finished second. Quietly confident in third, Daniel Ricciardo continued his summer-long points and podiums streak. Lewis Hamilton powered through tire complaints to finish fourth, with Kimi Raikkonen forcing his way through technical issues to complete the top five. Romain Grosjean finished a quiet sixth.

Max Verstappen did not finish for the fifth time in seven races, with a clutch failure on the start dropping him through the field and into contact with Fernando Alonso that spun him into a retirement. Alonso got caught by Danil Kvyat. Though the start was messy, it provided space for the Williams duo to move forward from a dismal qualifying to score points.

Results of the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM GAP
1.  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes
2.  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari  +0.658
3.  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull  +6.012
4.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  +7.430
5.  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari  +20.370
6.  Romain Grosjean  Haas  +1:13.160
7.  Sergio Perez  Force India  +1 Lap
8.  Esteban Ocon  Force India  +1 Lap
9.  Felipe Massa  Williams  +1 Lap
10.  Lance Stroll  Williams  +1 Lap
11.  Joylon Palmer  Renault  +1 Lap
12.  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren  +1 Lap
13.  Nico Hulkenberg  Renault  +1 Lap
14.  Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber  +1 Lap
15.  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber  +2 Laps
16.  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso  +3 Laps
 Carlos Sainz  Toro Rosso
 Kevin Magnussen  Haas
 Fernando Alonso  McLaren
 Max Verstappen  Red Bull

Bottas (1:04.251) won his second career pole over Vettel and Hamilton, though the Finn’s teammate lost five starting positions to a gearbox change penalty. Hamilton had no chance to start sixth, with a bobble on his final hot lap and yellow flags for Grosjean’s stopped Haas ending the Briton’s attempts at damage control. Instead, Raikkonen qualified to start alongside last week’s race winner Ricciardo. Verstappen, Grosjean, Perez, Ocon, and Sainz rounded out the runners in Q3.

Though both Haas drivers set times quick enough to move on to Q2 from Q1, Grosjean scuppered a lap with a spin. Magnussen had his own bad luck: a suspension failure kept him from running in Q2. Both McLarens moved forward from Q1 to Q2, but could not move on to Q3. Reversal of fortune struck Williams, with both Massa and Stroll complaining and unable to qualify quicker than seventeenth and eighteenth. Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Stroll, and Wehrlein all started on the supersoft tires. Palmer and Massa wore the softs, while the ultrasofts shod the rest of the field.

Race Start:
The sun shone as the lights went out, with Bottas maintaining a clear lead on the start. Vettel held station behind, while the Force Indias moved through the middle of the grid. Meanwhile, Verstappen spun in T1, scattering bits of carbon across the track. At the end of the first lap, Bottas led Vettel, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Raikkonen (who spun in T3), Perez, Hamilton, Ocon, Massa, and Sainz as the top ten. One of the Toro Rossos went into the back of Alonso. Kvyat ran into the McLaren after Alonso passed Sainz passed on the inside on the run to T1. That pushed Alonso into Verstappen, who had made a horrible start and drifted down the field.

Verstappen slowly made his way around to the pits, only for Red Bull to tell him to pull over to retire. In the pit lane, Alonso climbed out of his McLaren, seemingly from involvement in the first lap scuffle. On L3, Raikkonen took fourth from Grosjean. Vettel also complained to Ferrari and race control that Bottas must have jumped the start. He would soon be investigated.

Hamilton continued to move up, taking sixth from Perez at T3 and soon hassling Grosjean for fifth. He soon used DRS to become fifth on track. By the end of L8, Bottas extended his lead to 3.3s over Vettel. Though Vettel continued to ask if Bottas had been penalized, the stewards first assessed a drive-through for Kvyat for causing the first lap collision.

End L10 of 71:
Bottas continued to lead comfortably over Vettel at the end of L10. Ricciardo sat another two plus seconds back in third. Raikkonen, Hamilton, Grosjean, Perez, Ocon, Massa, and Stroll rounded out the top ten. The Williams drivers gained much ground in the early stages. Despite the likely one-stop strategy for the field, rain teased the teams. Bottas continued to increase his lead as the laps ticked by. His teammate, when asked for feedback on the tires, complained that his longer wearing tires were already causing oversteer.

Hulkenberg pitted his Renault on L15 for the soft tire, rejoining seventeenth. Hamilton continued to complain about his tires. Kimi informed Ferrari his ultrasofts had a blister on his front left. Hamilton sat fairly close behind the Ferrari, soon within DRS distance. Teams began to ask drivers for tire feedback, and teams began to receive complaints. Fighting to catch Bottas, Vettel went wide and lost a bit of time as the Finn ahead posted a race fast lap the next time by on L21. Bottas continued to push, likely to gain a gap to pit and rejoin ahead of his teammate, for yet another race fast lap at 1:08.959.

Hamilton fidgeted behind Raikkonen, looking for a way around the distracted Finn. The other Finn continued to power forward in the lead. Vettel drifted to 7.7s behind Bottas on L24. Meanwhile, Mercedes learned Bottas was clear on the start, tweeting, “Not a jump start, just a really epic one!” Magnussen pitted on L31, complaining he had no power steering. He stopped on the track.

Pit Stops Begin {L32 of 71}:
Hamilton pitted on L32, peeling off from behind Raikkonen, switching to the ultrasoft tire, and rejoining in fifth. Ricciardo followed him on L33. Vettel (2.5s) pitted on L35, rejoining in third. Vandoorne also pitted. Ferrari had called Raikkonen in, but chose to stay out when Hamilton pitted instead. Palmer pitted on L36, as did Perez. Stroll came in as well, as did Wehrlein. Grosjean made his way in for fresh tires. On the track, Vandoorne made his way around Ericsson on the outside for fourteenth. Raikkonen complained of other drivers not adhering to the blue flags.

Halfway {L36 of 71}:
Most drivers stopped by the end of L39. Bottas led Raikkonen (neither of whom had not yet stopped, and Raikkonen still suffered technical issues), Vettel, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Ocon, Massa, Grosjean, Perez, and Sainz as the top then. Stroll, Palmer, Vandoorne, Hulkenberg, Wehrlein, Ericsson, and Kvyat rounded out the seventeen drivers still running. Sitting in fifth, Hamilton complained that his rear tires were already going. He also complained he had “far too much front wing.” Sainz and Bottas finally stopped on L41.

Bottas (3.4s), who indicated “there’s not much left on the tires,” lost the lead to Raikkonen on his stop with a slow right front change. Ocon soon stopped, leaving only Raikkonen and Massa on their starting tires by L43. Raikkonen pitted and dropped to fifth on his L45 stop. Vandoorne served his drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags, and Sainz increased traffic on pit lane by retiring on L46. He radioed, “what a glorious race,” in the gloomiest of voices. Massa made his stop on L48. Bottas had around four and a half seconds on Vettel at that point. The German soon posted a race fast lap. Though they moved quickly, drivers generally held station in the closing laps of the race.

15 Laps Remain of 71:
Bottas held steady in the lead with fifteen laps to go in Austria. Lap times settled with clouds drifting across the sky. Hamilton, though, seemed to push harder, looking to gain time on Ricciardo with a race fast lap. He looked to gain the podium with ten to go.

10 Laps Remain of 71:
Bottas’ lead looked as insecure as it ever did with ten laps remaining. Vettel sat less than three seconds behind the Finn. Ricciardo also looked not quite as safe, less than two seconds ahead of Hamilton, who continued to set race fast laps despite a ragged right rear. Meanwhile, Perez noted a drop of rain. Raikkonen suddenly picked up the pace, setting race fasted second and third sectors on L68. Still, Hamilton continued to set fast laps. The gaps between first and second, and third and fourth, continued to fluctuate. Despite the fluctuation, no changing of position occurred with three to go. Vettel sat within DRS range with two to go, lurking and ready to attempt to steal the win. Hamilton asked to be left alone to hunt down Ricciardo. Hamilton had a look at T4, but the Aussie kept third. Vettel closed, but Bottas kept the lead neatly across the line.

{VMR}

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