Steiermark GP 2021
JUNE 27, 2021
Race Notes - Verstappen dominates Styrian GP
By Mark Karp
Max Verstappen won the Steiermark Grand Prix wire-to-wire in his Red Bull-Honda, 35.743 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second in his Mercedes GP. Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes was third, 46.907 behind the winner, just ahead of a hard charging Sergio Perez (47.434s) in his Red Bull in fourth.
The win is Verstappen’s fourth of the year, his 14th career victory. Verstappen extends his lead in the Drivers Championship to 18 points ahead of Hamilton, Red Bull-Honda now leads Mercedes by 40 points.
Lando Norris (1 lap) in the McLaren-Mercedes was fifth, followed by Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari in sixth, his team mate Charles Leclerc in seventh, Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin-Mercedes in eighth, Fernando Alonso in the Alpine-Renault was ninth and Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri-Honda took the final point in tenth place.
Before the start, Verstappen is on the pole, Bottas and Tsunoda get three grid place penalties, so Hamilton is alongside on the front row. Norris and Perez are on row two, Bottas and Gasly on row three, Leclerc and Alonso on row four and Stroll and Russell rounding out the top ten.
There is a 40% chance of rain during the race.
At the appointed time the field comes around, the lights go out and the race begins with Verstappen going into the lead with Hamiton, Norris, Perez, Borras, Stroll and Alonso following. Leclerc damages his front wing and pits. Gasly has damage and pits. Latifi also has to pit.
Hamilton tells his team that he ran over some debris.
On lap 4 Verstappen sets fast lap at 1m09.606, and has a 2.5 second lead.
Ricciardo after making a good start drops four places to 13th.
On lap 10 Perez passes Norris for third place.
At lap 10 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 2.7 seconds, followed by Perez (12.9s), Norris (14.6s), Bottas (15.3s), Stroll (21.4s), Alonso (23.8s), Russell (25.2s), Tsunoda (26.2s) and Sainz (27.5s) in tenth.
On lap 11 Bottas passes Norris for fourth.
On lap 18 Wiliams tells Russell who is stuck behind Alonso in eighth to switch to plan B.
At lap 20 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 4.3 seconds, followed by Perez (17.6s), Bottas (20.9s), Norris (28.6s), Stroll (39.3s), Alonso (41.8s), Russell (43.8s), Tsunoda (45.1s) and Sainz (45.9s) in tenth place.
On lap 22 Verstappen sets another fast lap at 1m09.585s.
On lap 23 Mazepin pits.
On lap 25 Leclerc passes Ocon for 14th.
On lap 27 Russell pits from eighth and rejoins 17th, Perez pits from third and rejoins in fitth.
Bottas pits for hard tyres and rejoins ahead of Perez.
On lap 29 Hamilton pits from second for hard tyres and rejoins in the same place.
On lap 30 Verstappen pits from the lead for hard tyres and stays in the lead ahead of Hamilton.
On lap 29 Bottas sets fast lap at 1m09.071s.
Russell pits again.
On lap 32 Norris pits third and rejoin in sixth.
Verstappen tells the team that to check some brake warning he received on the dash.
On lap 33 Hamilton sets fast lap at 1m08.362s, and is 4.4 seconds behind Verstappen.
At lap 35 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 4.4 seconds, followed by Bottas (23.1s), Perez (26.2s), Sainz yet to pit (40.1s), Norris (49.5s), Raikkonen (52.4s), Ricciardo (54.1s), Leclerc (55.3s) and Ocon (58.7s) in tenth place.
On lap 37 Raikkonen pits from seventh and rejoins 14th, Ocon pits as well.
Perez is closing on Bottas in third.
On lap 39 Russell pits again and retires with a mechanical issue.
Sainz and Ricciardo are still on the tyres they started on.
On lap 42 Leclerc passes Raikkonen
Sainz pits for hard tyres, Ricciardo pits for hard tyres as well.
On lap 44 Sainz is challenging Stroll and passes him for sixth.
At lap 45 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 5.5 seconds, followed by Bottas (26.9s), Perez (29.2s), Norris (1m00.2s), Sainz (1 lap), Stroll, Alonso, Tsunoda and Vettel in tenth place.
Leclerc passes Giovinazzi for 11th.
Tsunoda is closing on Alonso in eighth.
On lap 50 Leclerc passes Vettel for tenth.
There are some dark clouds near the circuit. Red Bull tells Verstappen to stay off the kerbs.
Hamilton complains that he has blistering on his front tyre.
On lap 55 Perez pits from fourth place for medium tyres, and rejoins in the same place.
Leclerc passes Tsunoda for ninth, and then Alonso the next lap for eighth.
On lap 57 Perez sets fast lap at 1m08.049s.
At lap 57 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 8.9 seconds followed by Bottas (36.0s), Perez (51.9s), Norris (1 lap), Sainz, Stroll, Leclerc, Alonso and Tsunoda in tenth place.
Mercedes warns Hamilton that he is exceeding track limits.
Perez is hoping to catch Bottas at the end of the race with his new tyres.
On lap 60 Leclerc passes Stroll for seventh place.
The dark clouds continue to be close by and drivers are asking about the possibility of rain.
At lap 65 Verstappen leads Hamilton by 14.2 seconds, followed by Bottas (41.2s), Perez (49.9s), Norris (1 lap), Sainz, Leclerc, Stroll, Alonso and Tsunoda in tenth place.
On lap 69 Raikkonen passes Vettel for 11th place.
There are reports of a few drops of rain, but nothing serious.
On lap 70 Hamilton pits for new soft tyres and rejoins still in second.
Stroll, Alonso and Tsunoda battling for eighth.
Perez is 1.5 behind Bottas.
Verstappen cruises to the win over Hamilton and Bottas.
Hamilton takes the fastest lap on the last lap at 1m07.058s.
Afterward Verstappen said, "Straightaway I felt a good balance in the car, was good to manage the tyres from the start. We just kept on going, hit our lap times. I'm looking forward to next week!”
Hamilton said, "Bit of a lonely race really, just trying to keep hold of these tyres. They've obviously made some big improvements over the last couple of races, I don't know where they've made up the time. Their long run pace is better, we're losing too much time down the straights. They're faster, there's not much I can do in that respect. We need to find some performance from somewhere.”