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F1 2020 Styrian Grand Prix – Hamilton Takes Commanding Win at the Red Bull Ring

Grand Prix  ·  July 15, 2020

F1 2020 Styrian Grand Prix – Hamilton Takes Commanding Win at the Red Bull Ring

The F1 Styrian Grand Prix was held at the Red Bull Ring located in the city of Spielberg, Austria, the 2nd race of the 2020 F1 World Championship Series. It was also the first running of the Styrian Grand Prix. The race was held without spectators due to the dangers of the coronavirus. 

The Mercedes was again in a league of their own, especially in the hands of the 6-time champ Lewis Hamilton. After a bad first race of the season, Hamilton was back to his very best and dominated the whole weekend in wet or dry conditions. He claimed his first pole position of the season under challenging conditions, then went to win the race in a calm and controlled way leading from lights out to the chequered flag. Valterri made it a Mercedes 1-2 followed by Red Bull’s Verstappen.

Thursday Pre-Race Preparations

The weather prediction was not ideal for the second race, with the forecast that the Saturday running at the circuit might not happen due to torrential rains and as a result, qualifying might have to take place on the Sunday before the race.

Scuderia Ferrari decided to bring some of the aerodynamic updates forward by one week to try to solve the problems with the car. Even though Leclerc took second place at the season opener, their pace compared to the opposition was weak. 

FIA announced the addition of two more races to the F1 2020 calendar. The new rounds included a second race in Italy at the Mugello Circuit (Tuscany GP). Ferrari owns the circuit, and it's an interesting coincidence that the Prancing Horse will celebrate its 1000th F1 Grand Prix at its home track. The other race is the originally scheduled Russian Grand Prix at Sochi in September.

Friday Practice

The Friday practice is all about teams tuning their car setup, finding the right balance between front and rear wing downforce and drag levels to get the best out of the car throughout the weekend. Both the Friday sessions were completed in dry conditions, and the teams tried to do some extra mileage in anticipation of the Saturday rain. 

Max Verstappen showed some blistering pace by posting the quickest time on Friday. But the one-lap pace analysis put Mercedes on top with Red Bull behind by some 0.3sec/lap. Racing Point again looked best of the rest behind the top two teams trailing Mercedes 0.5sec/lap on short runs. McLaren 4th with a gap of 0.8sec/lap and Ferrari struggling again with 1sec/lap slower than Mercedes. 

After suffering from 'electrical noises' during the Austrian GP race, Mercedes looked to have solved the problem and reverted to excellent shape on race pace. Red Bull with the Honda engine was even slower in the long run and stood no chance to beat Mercedes in the race. The Red Bull was 0.5sec/lap slower but ahead of Racing Point by 0.2 sec/lap. Ferrari 4th in the order with the pace deficit of 0.8sec/lap and McLaren 1.0sec/lap on the race pace. Renault 6th, Alpha Tauri 7th, Alfa Romeo 8th, Haas 9th, and Williams 10th.

Saturday Practice

FIA and the local weather stations were spot-on. The heavy rain made it impossible to run the Saturday practice, and it looked highly likely that the Qualifying would be cancelled and might be rescheduled for the Sunday morning before the race. 


The heavy rain continued into the qualifying, but the intensity was slightly reduced. After the wait of 46 minutes, the FIA gave the green light, and Q1 was underway but under very wet conditions. All 20 drivers were forced to do qualifying on full wet tyres. 

The start of the first session was highlighted by George Russell (Williams), who made it into Q2 for the first time in his career and the first time for Williams to progress into Q2 since Brazil 2018. Sergio Perez was the biggest loser as the car had no pace in the wet conditions and was knocked out in Q1. Both Alfa Romeo drivers, Roman Grosjean and Latifi, were also eliminated.

Q2 started with rain now even lighter than before, but the track conditions meant that the drivers still had to use full wets for the second session. Both Ferrari drivers were fighting against each other to reach the Q3, and it was Leclerc this time who failed to reach top-ten shootout. George Russell got to a brilliant 12th on the grid, Lance Stroll 13th, Daniil Kvyat 14th, and Kevin Magnussen 15th.

Q3 was all about the reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton. The rain's intensity increased throughout the session, and so did the speed of the Mercedes F1 car in the hands of Lewis Hamilton. The champ went faster every time he crossed the line and ended up taking his first pole position of 2020 season and 89th of his career by some margin of 1.2 sec over Max Verstappen. 

Carlos Sainz in his Mcl35 was the star performer of the qualifying as well by qualifying a tenth behind Verstappen in 3rd. It was his career-best starting position and the second race in a row that McLaren will start 3rd on race day. Valterri Bottas a disappointing 4th, Ocon 5th, Norris 6th (started 9th due to a 3-place grid drop penalty for passing cars under yellow flag during Friday practice), Albon 7th, Gasly 8th, Ricciardo 9th, and Vettel only 10th.

Sunday Race

Race day was the exact opposite of the Qualifying. It was a bright, sunny, and pleasant day to run around the Red Bull Ring. Lewis Hamilton led from the start and into the first corner. Everybody got away cleanly, apart from the two Ferraris which came together at turn 3 when Charles Leclerc misjudged his teammate’s move and made heavy contact with Sebastian Vettel's rear wing. The rear wing was broken, and Vettel became the first retirement of the race. The Monegasque himself retired on lap 5 due to extensive floor damage, making it a double DNF for a team already struggling due to lack of pace.

The Ferrari skirmish left a lot of debris on the track, and the safety car was deployed on lap 1 and ended on lap 4. Ahead, Hamilton was controlling the race and gap to Max very easily; such was the advantage Mercedes had over its rivals. On lap 25, Red Bull rolled the dice and pitted Verstappen for new medium tyres. Lewis pitted 3 laps later and also took new mediums and emerged ahead of Verstappen. Bottas stayed out longer on soft tyres, pitted on lap 35, and went after the second-placed Max Verstappen.

Meanwhile, Sainz was leading the midfield battle until a very poor pit stop dropped him down the order and ruined the chances of a top 5 finish. Lando Norris outside the top ten also extended the first stint on soft tyres, much like what Bottas did, to lap 39 and then pit for new mediums to challenge others ahead of him with fresh rubber and worked a treat.

Valterri Bottas took second place from Verstappen very smoothly and made it Mercedes 1-2 at the start-finish line. Lewis Hamilton took a commanding first win of the season, and now only 6 behind the all-time record of 91 Grand Prix wins by Michael Schumacher. Verstappen finished in lonely 3rd place. Carlos Sainz and Verstappen both pitted 3 laps before the end of the race and bolted on soft tyres to take an extra point for the fastest lap of the round. But just like the first race, Sainz posted a new race lap record and made it two out of two fastest laps for McLaren.

Lando Norris just like last race made a spectacular grand finish. He overtook Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, and Sergio Perez on the final lap of the race to finish 5th in the race. It was a photo finish with Lando Norris finishing 5th and behind 3 cars side by side with Perez finishing 6th just 2 tenths ahead of Stroll and Ricciardo. Carlos Sainz 9th (fastest lap) and Kvyat took final championship point.

Mercedes leads 1-2 in the driver's championship with Bottas ahead of Lewis and Lando Norris 3rd on the standings. Mercedes also leads McLaren in the constructor's standings with Red Bull 3rd on 27 points.

The Hungarian Grand Prix Ahead

F1 travels to Budapest to complete the first triple-header of the 2020 F1 Season. Can Mercedes make it 3 wins in a row? And can McLaren hang on to 2nd place in the standings? We find out at the Hungaroring! Keep posted by following the Grand Prix here on!

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