Formula One Open Wheel

What We Learned from Austrian Grand Prix 2017

The Big Picture:  The race is a Red Bull festival as this is one racing facility owned by a Formula One team. That said, it has not consistently been held over the past 50 some year, but under the Bull, it has been there in the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg since 2013.

The Event:  Last year drew about 85,000, 2017 brought over 100,000 so it appears as long as there are schnitzel and Red Bull ownership, this race will happen.

In Our Last Episode: June 25th was Daniel Ricciardo’s day as he was the winning recipient of Sebastien Vettel punting Lewis Hamilton out of a win. It was a wild and crazy race with Lance Stroll earning his first career podium.

Qualifying: The second pole for Valtteri Bottas was the result of most of the competitors having only one qualifying lap in Q3 due to yellows. Sebastian Vettel was second and Lewis Hamilton third. Most remarkable was the two Williams entries did not make it out of Q1.

Start: Bottas had such a flawless start that he was accused of jumping the lights – which he did not. Daniil Kvyat broke late, which caused him to crash into the usually fast Fernando Alonzo. This caused Alonzo to crash into the always fast Max Verstappen. No one likes the Russian now, especially the thousands of Dutch who crossed the border to Austria to see their countryman.

Race: It was an interesting race! Everyone went with a one pit stop strategy and most of the cars started on Ultrasoft Pirelli tires. Lewis Hamilton, starting eighth due to a penalty for changing his gearbox, quickly moved up through the field from eighth. Once drivers had switched to supersofts, the contest suddenly came alive. Sebastian Vettel worked very hard to pass Bottas, but didn’t. Lewis Hamilton in fourth tried to get by  Daniel Ricciardo but didn’t. This left the podium to a sublimely happy Bottas, scowling Vettel, and smiling Ricciardo. Vettel did his best sour grapes by saying, I would have won if I had one more lap.

Best Team: Goes again to Mercedes, with drivers finishing first and fourth and no whining.

What We Will Remember: Valtteri Bottas’ second win and eclipsing Ferrari without Hamilton on the podium.

Quote of the Weekend: “That champagne tasted good! The first win is obviously special, but this is only my second win, so it’s a great feeling to get it. It’s been my best weekend yet with the pole and the win and I hope we can continue from here. The start was absolutely perfect – definitely my best start ever. And you saw how close it was with Sebastian at the end, so today I needed it. The car was so good this weekend, so I knew we could still do it. I got a massive blister on the rear-left in the second stint after just five laps, which made the car tricky to drive. I was losing more and more performance, but it wasn’t my first time having to keep Sebastian behind me. I kept my focus and managed to finish the race without any mistakes. It would have been tricky to keep Sebastian behind for much longer, so it was good to see the chequered flag. I’m still in the title fight and I’m only going to get better. We’re growing all the time.” Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes driver

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend: “Finishing seventh is a great result for the team and a nice reward considering how difficult this weekend has been for us. We struggled in practice, but come qualifying and the race we were quite strong and we came home with some good points. It wasn’t the easiest of races for me. I made a good start, but I lost places to both Esteban and Lewis [Hamilton] at turn one. Thankfully I was able to pass them both at turn three and regain my starting position. I suffered from a lot of front graining in my first stint, but after the pit stop I was able to settle down into a rhythm, even though it wasn’t enough to attack Grosjean. We had very similar pace to him so we couldn’t get any closer. It has been a difficult weekend, but we recovered well and we can be happy with the outcome. Now our focus shifts to Silverstone. I really can’t wait to try these 2017 cars on the fastest track on the calendar.” Sergio Perez, Force India driver

Schedule:  The venerable British Grand Prix at Silverstone happens next Sunday afternoon, July 16th,

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By Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.