5 things we learned from the Austrian Grand Prix

10 July 2017 09:24

Valtteri Bottas took the second Formula One victory of his career as the Mercedes driver held off Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari to win the Austrian Grand Prix.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the five things we learned from Sunday's race.

1. Bottas can make title tussle a three-horse race

All the talk heading to Speilberg surrounded Vettel and Lewis Hamilton and their battle for the world championship.

The controversy over Vettel's decision to deliberately drive into the side of Hamilton's Mercedes in Baku also meant the spotlight was on the pair as the F1 circus rolled into Austria.

But Bottas, the quiet, reserved Finn, stuck his Mercedes on pole with a blistering qualifying lap before almost defying human physics to get the perfect start to the race.

He held off a late push from Vettel to take his second win of the year, closing to within 35 points of the Ferrari driver in the championship standings, with Hamilton now only 15 points clear of his team-mate.

2. Hamilton needs some home comforts

The future of the British Grand Prix is reportedly hanging in the balance ahead of the weekend's race at Silverstone.

Speculation suggests the circuit will announce this week it is executing an option to end the contract to host the event due to spiralling costs.

Whether or not this is the last race at the Northamptonshire track for some time, Hamilton needs an inspired drive to change his luck and get his title tilt back in full swing.

The three-time champion finished fourth in Austria and has only had one podium finish in the past four grands prix.

That win in Canada was proceeded by a seventh-placed finish in Monaco, with fifth the best he could manage in Baku after a loose headrest cost him an almost-certain victory.

A gearbox penalty, brake-disc failure and a poor qualifying lap meant he had a weekend of damage limitation at the Red Bull Ring but he needs so much more than that as he aims for a fifth British Grand Prix win.

3. Driver penalties need to be addressed

The fact Vettel escaped further reprimands for driving into the side of Hamilton in protest against what he considered dangerous braking behind the safety car in Baku was the focus at the start of the race weekend.

It was brought into the light again on Friday evening when Hamilton was hit with a penalty of his own for requiring an unscheduled change on his gearbox.

That severely hampered his hopes of winning here and showed that punishing drivers for technical problems may not be the way to operate moving forward.

Former driver Mark Webber, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and Mercedes director Toto Wolff all voiced that opinion to differing degrees in the last week and it certainly ruined the possibility of Hamilton and Vettel resuming their on-track battle immediately in Sunday's race.

4. Verstappen's luck is well and truly out

Max Verstappen had high hopes and plenty of expectation on his shoulders heading into the home race for his Red Bull team.

Instead he suffered a poor start, was bogged down and rammed out of the race after being caught up in Alonso's spin with the Spaniard having been shunted by Daniil Kvyat.

That meant thousands of Dutch supporters left disappointed and that their hero Verstappen has now retired from five of the last seven races, leaving him frustrated to say the least.

His annoyances with ongoing bad luck will only have been heightened by the fact his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has been racking up podiums while he stews in the paddock.

Five successive podiums, four third-places and a win in Baku mean the Australian is now 62 points clear of Verstappen.

5. Not every race can be like Baku

Other than Bottas' superb start and a couple of shunts at the start, plus the final two laps of tension as Vettel and Hamilton closed down their prey before ultimately coming up short, the Austrian Grand Prix was largely forgettable.

That is in stark contrast to the Azerbaijan race two weeks prior, which contained controversy, safety cars, penalties and memorable moments.

Finding the right blend of constant entertainment remains one of the biggest challenges for the sport's new owners Liberty Media and hopefully Silverstone will be more like the relative chaos of Baku as opposed to the somewhat uneventful race in Austria.

Source: PA