F1 2020 Styrian Grand Prix

© J. Francois Barnard – July 12, 2020

It is a week later, and we are still in Spielberg, Austria, at the Red Bull Ring. The Formula 1 Pirelli Großer Preis der Steiermark 2020 is the second race of the season, and the empty grandstands tell a story of a most unusual racing season ever.

With so many DNF's last week, and even Mercedes complaining about reliability problems, it is no wonder that Ferrari moved their planned updates forward, and Mercedes trying out some new gearbox components too.

The practise sessions started with Racing Point's Pérez finishing ahead of Verstappen and Bottas. The second practise session ended with Verstappen ahead of Bottas and Pérez. Daniel Ricciardo crashed heavily into the barriers, and the session was red-flagged. Fortunately, he was not injured. Lewis Hamilton was trailing seven-tenths behind teammate Bottas in sixth place.

Race control cancelled the third and last practise session due to heavy rain.

For the first time in 22 years, Austria delivered a wet qualifying for Formula 1 where the teams had to haul out the wet tyres. The first Q1 session started 46 minutes late due to the rain. The track was extremely wet, and the drivers complained about aquaplaning. Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo and slid into a barrier after turn seven. The session was red-flagged with only 13 seconds remaining. The surprise was that Pérez was eliminated in Q1, while George Russell in his Williams went through to Q2.

Even though the rain increased during Q2, no accidents occurred.

Q3 saw Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas exchanging the provisional pole position, while the rain gradually decreased. In the end, Hamilton took pole position, 1.2 seconds faster than Verstappen in second place. Sainz qualified third and Bottas fourth.

After qualifying, several penalties from the practice sessions and the qualifying changed Sunday's grid positions around. Because of the wet conditions of the qualifying sessions, all 20 drivers had a free choice of tyres they could start on come Sunday. Contrary to our expectations, Sunday promised to be a dry race.

With the race underway, Hamilton led from the start. Just as we thought it was going to get boring, Ferrari amused us with rookie mistakes. Vettel lost two places at the start, and his faster teammate, Leclerc attempted to overtake him on the inside of turn three. Leclerc collided with Vettel, breaking his rear wing. This incident brought out the safety car so that the marshalls could clear the debris from the track. Both Ferrari's came into the pits, retiring Vettel's car and replacing Leclerc's front wing. His floor also suffered some damage. At the end of lap four, Ferrari withdrew Leclerc from the race.

2020 styrian leclerc vettel colide

Meanwhile, Bottas and Albon overtook Sainz, while Pérez steadily moved up the ranks.

Verstappen was the first to make a scheduled pit stop on lap 24. Hamilton followed on lap 27, and Bottas on lap 29. After the first pit stops, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Albon, Ricciardo, Stroll, Pérez, Sainz, Norris, and Gasly. Pérez kept on marching up the ranks, passing teammate Stroll and after that Ricciardo setting fastest laps in doing so.

In the closing stages, Bottas passed Verstappen on lap 66. They briefly exchanged places, but the stronger Mercedes eventually held on. On the penultimate lap, Pérez attempted to overtake Albon for fourth place. The two made contact, and Pérez lost his front wing.

Hamilton took the chequered flag, followed by teammate Bottas, and Verstappen came in third to complete the podium.

The race classification:

Position Driver Constructor Grid Points
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 25
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 4 18
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing-Honda 2 15
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 6 12
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 9 10
6 Sergio Pérez Racing Point-BWT Mercedes 17 8
7 Lance Stroll Racing Point-BWT Mercedes 12 6
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 8 4
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 3 3
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 13 1

The 2020 Driver Standings

Lewis Hamilton

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Valtteri Bottas

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Max Verstappen

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Sergio Pérez

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Daniel Ricciardo

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Carlos Sainz

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Alexander Albon

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Charles Leclerc

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Lando Norris

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Pierre Gasly

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Lance Stroll

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Esteban Ocon

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Sebastian Vettel

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Daniil Kvyat

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Nico Hulkenberg

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Kimi Räikkönen
 

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Antonio Giovinazzi
 

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George Russell
 

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Romain Grosjean

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Kevin Magnussen

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Nicholas Latifi

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Jack Aitken
 

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Pietro Fittipaldi
 

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Team Standing

Mercedes

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Red Bull Racing

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McLaren

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Racing Point

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Renault

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Ferrari

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AlphaTauri

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Alfa Romeo Racing

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Haas F1 Team

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Williams

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