Verstappen coasts again in Austria after Norris holds up Hamilton

By Sports Desk July 04, 2021

Max Verstappen eased to yet another victory at the Red Bull Ring in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, completing a triumphant triple-header in front of home support.

The Red Bull superstar and Formula One season leader won for the third week running to stretch his drivers' championship advantage to 32 points over Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen had become the first F1 driver to win three times at this circuit in the previous week's Styrian Grand Prix and led from start to finish again after claiming pole.

Hamilton's hopes of reeling in Verstappen – dismissed as "out of the question" after qualifying – were hindered by another fine drive from Lando Norris, with the Mercedes great starting where he finished in fourth.

Valtteri Bottas was the big mover, up from fifth to second, benefiting from keeping clear of controversy as numerous drivers – notably including Norris and Sergio Perez – tangled in costly fashion.

Verstappen displayed his superior straight-line speed from the outset to disappear into the distance, only to find his early progress checked by Esteban Ocon's crash that prompted a safety car.

The Dutchman – backed by swathes of orange-clad supporters – pulled clear again from the restart but team-mate Perez had more difficulty as he doggedly pursued Norris.

Norris' determination forced Perez off the track in an incident that was subsequently investigated.

Even Red Bull team principal Christian Horner dismissed the clash as "one of those things", but a five-second penalty for Norris was confirmed just as Hamilton passed him, having been held up for 20 laps – already around 10 seconds shy of Verstappen.

Perez's attempts to recover from his early setback saw the Mexican twice earn five-second penalties of his own for nudging Charles Leclerc out of his path.

However, Norris regained his composure in far more impressive fashion, serving his penalty and falling behind Bottas but then attacking Hamilton, getting ahead of the seven-time champion amid Mercedes tyre trouble for a third podium of the year.

MAX MAKING MOST OF HOME COMFORTS

Verstappen now has four wins, six podiums and 139 points at the Red Bull Ring, his best returns at any circuit.

Saturday's pole had seen him make Spielberg – Red Bull's home grand prix – the first track at which he has qualified first twice, following on from last week's effort.

Five victories and four poles have made this is his best season to date, but Verstappen has bigger fish to fry with the title in his sights.

UNLUCKY LANDO STILL THE BREAKOUT STAR

It was hard not to feel for Norris, who so bravely battled against Hamilton and then learned of his penalty for essentially holding his line.

Informed of the punishment, he first replied: "What for?"

Norris added: "What did the guy expect running around the outside?"

Regardless, he had built enough of a buffer to only fall to fourth and recovered to make the podium, meaning the McLaren man has now collected points in 14 consecutive races – his longest streak and the best ongoing run in the series.

Fernando Alonso, in the first 14 races of 2007, was the last McLaren driver to enjoy such a stretch of points returns.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +17.973s
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) +20.019s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +46.452s
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +57.144s
6. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +57.915s
7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +60.395s
8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +61.195s
9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +61.844s
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1 lap

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 182
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 150
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 101
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 92

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 286
2. Mercedes – 242
3. McLaren – 141
4. Ferrari – 122
5. AlphaTauri – 48

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