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Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2024

Winners and Losers from the 2024 F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Who has made the list of Winners and Losers from the Red Bull Ring and the 2024 F1 Austrian Grand Prix?

Russell podium austria
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

The Austrian Grand Prix unexpectedly produced the moment of the season so far, with George Russell left to pick up the pieces to clinch his second F1 victory.

It was a race that only vaguely flirted with exploding into life before the Max Verstappen-Lando Norris flashpoint on lap 64 of 71 lit the fuse.

The initial catalyst, of course, was the Dutchman's poor pit stop on lap 51 which eradicated his comfortable seven-second advantage and brought the McLaren back into contention.

It was a contentious coming together and the fallout will undoubtedly roll into this weekend's British Grand Prix, but first, it is time to assess the winners and losers from an ultimately entertaining trip to the Red Bull Ring.

Winner - George Russell

Who else to start with then than the main beneficiary himself? Yes, this quite easily could have been the entire Mercedes team - after all, they shared the same victory drought of 595 days - but I cannot escape the feeling that this win for Russell has been coming.

He, more than Lewis Hamilton, has been knocking on the door of late, and the victory in Spielberg has been building over the past three grand prix.

After pole position and the first Mercedes grand prix podium of the year in Montreal, Russell seized the initiative early in Spain to lead the opening laps. 

There was an air of inevitability that not only would he claim a second career win sooner rather than later, but that he would be the one to lead Mercedes to its first triumph since late 2022.

Sometimes in motorsport, it is about being in the right place at the right time, and Russell's win at the Red Bull Ring is proof of that. However, that somewhat diminishes the hard work put in to best execute a tricky offset tyre strategy.

Even with team principal Toto Wolff trying his best to distract Russell, the 26-year-old showed he should not be considered merely a Mercedes placeholder for the seemingly inescapable Andrea Kimi Antonelli-Verstappen era at Brackley.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Haas

It cannot be understated how important the result in Spielberg was for the American squad. 

Not only did Nico Hulkenberg's sixth position and Kevin Magnussen's eighth-place finish vault the team back past Alpine in the constructors' standings, it more than doubled its haul for the season, moving Haas from seven points to 19. The French outfit has been left in its wake, on nine.

Yes, RB is just out of grasp on 30 points and in seventh overall, but the trip to the Red Bull Ring was Haas' strongest performance for some time.

Not since the Austrian Grand Prix two years ago has the team taken home as many points, when Mick Schumacher led Magnussen in an identical finish.

Yes, it was somewhat fortuitous that Verstappen forced Norris into retirement, and even that Sergio Perez was nursing damage, but even without those incidents, superior strategy put Haas in the position to capitalise after lining up ninth and P13 respectively.

Winner - F1

Before we get into the Losers of the Austrian Grand Prix, it is worth appreciating how much of a win Verstappen and Norris' clash was for the championship itself.

Since the melting pot of the 2021 season, F1 has been bereft of a true rivalry, and whilst we have not quite got a full-blown one yet, there is certainly potential between the two friends.

We've seen it all before - most recently between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The friends-to-foes narrative is timeless, and how the pair respond to the Spielberg incident will go a long way to determining the pathway forward.

One clumsy collision is explainable, but a second would establish a tone shift moving forward. It is a battle we can only hope rages, but together, they have set the scene for the British Grand Prix and an electric end to the European triple-header.

Let's see how they acquit themselves at Silverstone.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Max Verstappen

Prior to triggering the incident with Norris, the triple-world champion was enjoying an excellent weekend. His performance from sprint qualifying through the first 50 laps of the grand prix was near-faultless.

He was dominating as he has so many times before. That is what makes the Norris clash all the more mystifying and frustrating. It was completely unnecessary.

I first judged it to be a racing incident, but upon a second review, changed my mind. Make no mistake, the Dutchman moved under braking, squeezing the McLaren and instigating the wheel-bang that was critical to both punctures.

That is one of his two calling cards in close wheel-to-wheel racing when the pressure is at its highest point. The other, the deliberate missed apex, renders his opposition powerless to react, but the moving under braking is somewhat more sinister.

We all thought we had seen the last of that Verstappen when he won his maiden title in 2021, but old habits die hard. He has proven he is still the same racer, one who does not know the fair limit in the heat of the moment. It was tolerated in 2021, and on Sunday, it was the consequence of that prior inaction. 

It is often said that many great athletes hate losing more than they love winning, and I think the 26-year-old is in that group.

What happened in Austria is not a good look and has understandably dragged up accusations of old. This is not about the Dutchman getting better in close combat – it is a deliberate and concerted strategy. This is who Verstappen is.

Loser - Lando Norris

The Briton has shown over the previous five rounds he is the only driver who can – and will – test Verstappen consistently.

The pair finished one-two in four of the five rounds before the trip to Spielberg, and if it were not for what happened in Austria, that would have been five from six.

Despite that, their on-track battle was a coming-of-age moment for Norris. He finds himself in this section of the list mainly because of what he lost, but the sparring match with Verstappen perhaps exposed some naivety.

He simply did not anticipate being met with such robust defensive tactics, highlighting his inexperience in win-critical scenarios. How much he can learn from this clash will be key to how well he can fight Verstappen in the future.

His demeanour post-race impressed me, though. He was unapologetic and direct in his appraisal of the incident. If he can carry that mindset into battle moving forward, it will hold him in good stead.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Fernando Alonso

It would have been a thoroughly anonymous afternoon for Fernando Alonso, which would have been bad enough as it is, not to mention highly irregular for the Spaniard.

However, punting off Zhou Guanyu at Turn 3 rightly caught the ire of the stewards and earned the 42-year-old a 10-second time penalty.

As Martin Brundle said on Sky Sports F1's broadcast, it was “ambition over adhesion”, and to borrow another Brundle-ism, it was most certainly a “day late and a dollar short” - not something you can often levy against the Aston Martin driver.

It is unusual to see Alonso make a mistake of this kind which cuts to the centre of his and his team's current plight. After starting P15, he sunk backwards, ending the grand prix in P18.

Aston Martin is nowhere at the moment and the two-time world champion is left searching for answers – which he did not find at Spielberg.

But what is telling is that over the past few rounds, team-mate Lance Stroll has slowly started closing the performance gap between the pair.

That maybe says more about the Canadian than it does about Alonso, but the 32-time grand prix winner undoubtedly offered up one of the most underwhelming displays of his career at the Red Bull Ring.

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