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Formula 1

Winners and losers from the Austrian Grand Prix

The 2021 Austrian Grand Prix was decisive in the Drivers World Championship, as Max Verstappen extended his lead even further over Lewis Hamilton. But who were the winners and losers from the ninth round of the 2021 F1 World Championship?

Analysis
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

It was a weekend in which Max Verstappen dominated, taking a lights-to-flag win, the fastest lap, and previously sealing pole position.

Behind him, it was Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in second place, with the final podium spot taken by McLaren's Lando Norris.

It was a successful day for some, whilst others will be keen to move on from the second Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in as many weeks.

RacingNews365 takes a look at the main winners and losers from Sunday's race in Austria.

Winners

Max Verstappen

There's really not many superlatives that can't be used about Max Verstappen's peerless repeat performance in Austria. Having been in a league of his own for the Styrian Grand Prix, Verstappen was even more untouchable second time round.

Perhaps the only blemish to his weekend was his self-admitted sub-par second flying lap in qualifying. Had he not already had a decent buffer over the rest of the field, losing out on pole position could have opened him up to some potentially disastrous opening lap mishaps or put him in the position that Perez found himself in.

But, Verstappen did have enough in hand to secure pole and, from there, never looked back. Seeing off Norris into Turn 1, the Dutch driver controlled the rest of the race. Even before Hamilton's issues, Verstappen looked capable of opening up a gap that allowed him the luxury of a second stop.

Verstappen's buffer in the championship, 32 points, is now enough to retire from a race and finish second to Hamilton once before the Mercedes driver can even match him. And that's after retiring from the lead of a race already. Unless something goes radically wrong for Red Bull, it's hard to see them losing this one.

Lando Norris

No surprise that the official Driver of the Day would make it onto our winners list. Norris' reputation and confidence continues to soar, and he's starting to look increasingly comfortable at the front of Formula 1.

With a long-term deal at McLaren, it's possible that the British driver could become synonymous with the Woking team in the same way that Mika Hakkinen did over two decades ago, or that Hamilton did himself in his early career.

Aside from the last corner, Norris had a better qualifying lap than Verstappen and was a constant thorn in the side of Mercedes throughout the race. Harshly punished for the incident with Sergio Perez, Norris lost out to Bottas serving his penalty but, realistically, should have been ahead of the Finn at the time when Hamilton started losing pace up ahead.

His proximity to Mercedes meant that the Brackley team couldn't try massaging their own two cars home in second and third place and, if there's any sort of 'protection' deal in place between Mercedes and their customer teams, it certainly wasn't evident as Hamilton fell down to fourth, unable to have the luxury of Bottas defending him.

Carlos Sainz

Having started from outside the top ten, Ferrari took a gamble with Carlos Sainz starting on the hard tyre compound.

Running a long, long first stint, Sainz had to take the initial punishment of such a hard compound. Falling down to 14th place on the opening lap, the Spaniard stayed calm and gradually started working his way up the order as the race progressed.

By the time he pitted on Lap 48 to ditch those hard tyres, he had risen to an impressive fifth place. Falling back to eighth but armed with much fresher tyres than those in front, he stayed patiently behind teammate Charles Leclerc until Ferrari made the call to release Sainz to chase after the drivers in front.

Catching up on McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo, Sainz passed him in just the nick of time to give himself a shot at fifth. With Perez up ahead facing a ten second time penalty, Sainz finished 9.2 seconds behind and was classified in front. It was a tremendous drive from Sainz, and Leclerc's willingness to cede position is also worth mentioning.

Daniel Ricciardo

Having been very much put in the shade by Lando Norris since the pair aligned at McLaren earlier this year, Ricciardo's races are starting to show some signs of life. Despite his poor qualifying on Saturday compared to Norris, the Australian rose from 13th to ninth during the opening laps in Austria.

Proving that his pace during last weekend's Styrian Grand Prix was no fluke, Ricciardo was in the mix with the likes of Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll after passing Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on the Safety Car restart.

From there, Ricciardo was able to hold Leclerc to the chequered flag, helped by Sergio Perez's stern defence against the Ferrari during the race.

While Norris is still clearly the leading man at McLaren, Ricciardo is showing signs of the Daniel we're all familiar with.

Fernando Alonso

Even without Esteban Ocon's first lap retirement, Fernando Alonso very much looked like the leading man at Alpine all weekend.

Starting from 14th after his final run in Q2 was destroyed by the hapless Sebastian Vettel, Alonso fell to 15th in the opening stages.

But his relentless pace, particularly in the second half of the race, brought him back into contention for a point. Latching on to the fading George Russell, Alonso eventually found a way past to squeeze into the points in a car that remains a completely enigma as to its true position in the pecking order.

Losers

Mercedes

Mercedes looked no quicker than their customer team McLaren in Austria, despite having been comfortably quicker during the Styrian race.

Had Norris not picked up a penalty, he would have been ahead of Bottas on merit to pick up the pieces once Hamilton's car picked up some kerb damage midway through the race. Without that penalty, Norris was clearly on for second place.

Mercedes appear to now be in a position where they are looking increasingly lost and frustrated, without the benefit of having a buffer to the rest to protect them from when things go slightly wrong.

Even on off-days, Hamilton appears to no longer be assured of second place. Fortunately for him, Mercedes are bringing some upgrades for Silverstone. But they need to respond, and quickly, as the points gap is quickly becoming substantial.

Kimi Raikkonen

The Finn's career is very much in its closing stages, but it's starting to look as though he's fading out with a bit of a whimper. Raikkonen is now, usually, behind Antonio Giovinazzi on qualifying pace and, concerningly, his famed racing prowess certainly doesn't look as sharp as it once did.

Fortunate to escape damage after a slight touch with Russell towards the end of the race, Raikkonen appeared completely caught out by where Sebastian Vettel's left rear wheel was as he was passed by the Aston Martin driver. It resulted in a silly collision, with both spearing off into the gravel.

This followed on from a little bit of damage racing Charles Leclerc last weekend, while there is the obvious big moment where Kimi drove into the back of Giovinazzi in Portugal a few rounds ago. The Finn's usual sharpness isn't quite there, and it's something we've seen before. Michael Schumacher's race prowess wasn't as good as it once was when he returned to F1 over a decade ago, and there are some signs that age is now finally starting to slow Raikkonen's reflexes.

However, there was also some tremendous racing from Kimi to balance out the negatives, with a particularly strong battle with Fernando Alonso that initially went in Raikkonen's favour.

Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong about Raikkonen over the remainder of the season, as the Finn's illustrious career deserves to end on a high note.

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda is clearly unfamiliar with the musical work of Melle Mel, as the Japanese driver ruined his race with two white lines transgressions during his pit stops.

Having crossed the white line entering the pits on Lap 12, Tsunoda was given a five second time penalty for doing so. Having had his race already ruined for such a silly error, he did the exact same thing when he pitted again on Lap 51.

It was an astonishing lack of concentration for something that appeared quite a simple, and universal, instruction for all races in Formula 1. On top of the time penalties, Tsunoda picked up two penalty points for the errors.

Sergio Perez

Perez was perfectly aware of the imperative nature of overtaking Lando Norris as early as possible during the Austrian Grand Prix, in order to give himself a buffer over the Mercedes drivers and offer Red Bull a great chance of a 1-2 at their home event.

But Perez was impatient, and tried to hang around the outside of a corner where he was never properly alongside the McLaren and entitled to more room.

Despite the stewards ruling in Perez's favour, the move showed a slight bit of desperation from the Mexican as talks about his contract for 2022 aren't far away. Perez is known for being a calm and solid racer, and there have been some signs on occasion this year that he's trying a mite too hard.

Given the pace of the Red Bull, Perez would likely have cleared Norris eventually but just went all-in too early.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Austrian Grand Prix

The latest news about the Austrian Grand Prix straight from the Red Bull Ring.

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