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  • Writer's pictureRhonan Colquhoun

F1: Hamilton dominates Styrian GP

Lewis Hamilton claims his first victory of 2020 with a dominate drive to win ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen as both Ferrari's retire after colliding early on.

12th July 2020

Hamilton gets closer to win record

Having started from Pole, Hamilton dominated, managing his tyres and the gap to his rivals behind him to take his first win of the season and his 85th of his career - just six races wins behind the all-time total set by Michael Schumacher of 91.

Championship leader Valterri Bottas finished second making it a one-two finish for Mercedes. The Finn started 4th and was running third for most of the race before overtaking Red Bull's Max Verstappen on Lap 68. Verstappen kept Hamilton honest all race but admitted that he did not have the pace to challenge him. The Dutchman also coped with front wing damage for the majority of the race but a podium finish was "good."

Best of the rest

Alexander Albon finished the race in fourth but struggled massively compared to Verstappen throughout the whole race. He overtook the McLaren of Carlos Sainz Jr early, ran fourth but came under serious pressure from the resurgent Racing Point of Sergio Perez. Contact was made between the two with Perez coming off worse.

Perez, who topped FP1, struggled in the wet conditions yesterday and started today's race from 17th. It was a brilliant drive from the Mexican who was voted the Fans Driver of the Day for his performance. With a damaged front wing, he lost out on finishing in fifth on the last lap to Lando Norris who came alive in the final ten laps.

The McLaren driver claimed his debut podium last weekend by finishing third after a storming drive in the last ten laps and the Brit rose from eighth to fifth today. His first half of the race was slow being stuck in the mid-field pack but when team-mate Sainz was struggling with his tyres, Norris was allowed past and started to catch the battling Racing Point of Lance Stroll and the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. When Stroll lunged down the inside of Ricciardo at Turn 3, Norris took advantage and got past both of them and then he was to overtake Perez on the final corner of the final lap.

Stroll took seventh behind team-mate Perez as Ricciardo took eighth for Renault to grab his first points of the season. The Renault driver was one of two drivers to start inside the top ten on the Medium tyre.

Sainz Jr, qualified third, ran as high as fifth, had a slow pit-stop and this dropped him behind the two Racing Point drivers. He stopped with only a few laps to go for the Soft tyre in a bid for the Fastest Lap and the Spaniard was able to take home the extra point.

Rounding-out the top ten was the Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat who drove a controlled race to grab the final point.

Alfa Romeo and Haas do battle

Outside the top ten came the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, the Haas drivers of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean and the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi in 11th to 14th.

Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 Champion, failed to see the finish last weekend after his front-right tyre wasn't fitted properly during his stop, but was happy with the progress today. He said: “We actually had a pretty decent car today and our pace was definitely a step forward, so it’s a bit frustrating not to be able to fight for the points."

Grosjean started from the pit-lane while Giovinazzi started in 19th and it was a solid race for both drivers.

Pierre Gasly finished in 15th for Alpha Tauri. The Frenchman started an incredible seventh but stopped early in the race for the Hard tyre. That gamble did not pay off and the Hard tyres did not work as the team though they would. He made another pit-stop and trundled home, finishing ahead of both Williams drivers.

The star of yesterday's wet qualifying, George Russell, had a frustrating race. Starting from 11th, he was battling Magnussen in the opening laps when he went wide and slid into the gravel, dropping him to last. He finished ahead of team-mate Nicholas Latifi.

Compared to last weekend's nine retirements, there were only three drivers that failed to finish the race. Renault's Esteban Ocon was running well, battling with team-mate Ricciardo, but pulled into the pits and retired the car with a suspected cooling issue.

Ferrari's double DNF

Finishing with the most disappointed team of the race was none other than Ferrari. For the second time on four races, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc made race-ending contact but this time, it was on the opening lap.

As the field charged up to Turn 3, Vettel was ahead of Leclerc. Vettel did not have the perfect start from tenth while a grid penalty demoted Leclerc to 14th. As the pack concertinaed, Leclerc lunged into Vettel, the high kerbs launching his SF1000 into his team mate’s, smashing Vettel’s rear wing, and damaging Leclerc’s front wing and floor.

Vettel pitted and retired while Leclerc tried to keep his car going but it was hopeless as the damage was just too much. After the race, Leclerc accepted full responsibility: "I apologised. Excuses are not enough in times like this and I'm just disappointed in myself. I have done a very bad job today. I have let the team down."

Vettel was busy battling the other drivers around him and didn't expect Leclerc to make such a move: "I was fighting two other cars, we were already three cars into turn three, and I was very surprised. I was not expecting Charles to try something. I don't think there was any space."

For this weekend, the Scuderia brought forward upgrades that were scheduled for next weekend's race in Hungary in a bid to boost results. Vettel said the car responded better on the high runs in Practice but unfortunately, they never got to see how the upgrades performed in race-trim. Ferrari are fifth with 19 points after two rounds while Mercedes lead on 80.

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