- Sebastian Vettel Claims a Podium Finish
- Kimi Raikkonen Finishes Fifth in The Points
- Intense Closing Stages of The Austrian GP
- Valtteri Bottas Wins, Seb Places Second And Ricciardo in Third
The iconic hills of Austria, known for being “alive with the sound of music” as sung in ‘The Sound of Music’, traded the sounds of songs and music in for the roars of Formula 1 that brought the Styrian Hills alive for 71 laps this weekend. The second place finish by Sebastian Vettel was worth its weight in gold in terms of the 2017 F1 driver championship.
Scuderia Ferrari fought hard to get back on the podium thanks to a second place for Seb Vettel, who thus extends his lead over Lewis Hamilton to 20 points, while Kimi was fifth at the end of 71 very closely contested laps. The battles unfolded in the last 10 laps, with a spot on the podium to fight for between third placed Ricciardo and fourth place Hamilton, as well a chasing Seb on Bottas – a spot of déjà vu from the Russian GP.
All eyes were on the start lights, with Seb on the front row alongside Bottas, with Kimi right behind. It was LIGHTS OUT and the first two tore away while Kimi was immediately in a fight with Ricciardo which saw him go off track. It was soon time to get back on track in every sense of the word and that fight began with a nice passing move on Grosjean. Meanwhile, the Race Stewards were investigating a possible jump start from the pole-sitter, Bottas. It was reported that Valtteri’s reaction time to the lights going out was 0.22 seconds – incredible reaction times, thus no further action was needed.
The track surface was boiling hot, almost 50C and that gave the tyres a harder time than expected, with a lot of rear tyre degradation. Kimi was fourth, coming under attack from Hamilton, but the Finn was doing well to hold him off. Out in front, nothing much happened until lap 32, when Lewis pitted to take on Ultrasofts. Raikkonen stayed out, while Ricciardo pitted. Then, on lap 34, Seb came in and, as planned, switched to the red-striped tyres.
Bottas’ Ultrasofts were done and he pitted on lap 42, coming out on track behind Kimi who, having yet to stop, was in the lead. The Iceman held him off until turn 4 and so it was time for him to come in for new tyres. Seb and Kimi were nibbling away at the gaps to their closest rivals. Vettel posted the race fastest lap on lap 50. Four laps later and Kimi did better, but the back-markers didn’t help his cause and he repeatedly had to brake on the dirty part of the track.
The final stages were very close with traffic typical of a short track like this one, as lap times tumbled and the leaders suffering from blistering on the tyres as did more and more of the pack. In the final two laps, Seb was within DRS distance of Bottas and Hamilton was in the same situation with Ricciardo, but that was the order at the flag, with Vettel coming home second to increase his lead by a further six points in the Drivers’ championship. “Guys, we really tried.” And Kimi brought home a further 10 points to add to the haul.
Sebastian Vettel: “Today I struggled in the first stint with the first set of tires, the Ultrasofts. I think they were just getting too hot. Then the clouds came in and the balance of the car improved. That’s why I think we were starting to get quicker. It was a shame that we couldn’t win, because we were close. We learnt more about the car in these days and there are many positive aspects regarding this race, but I feel like I could have won today and I didn’t, so I am not entirely happy. At the beginning of the race I was just not quick enough. The pace was there, but the balance wasn’t. I like this place, which has a lot of history and it’s the place where I drove a racing car for the first time, in 2003. It’s a long time ago, but I still have beautiful memories. And now I am already looking forward to going to Silverstone.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “In the first part of the race we had some difficulties with the balance of the car. I struggled a little bit with the first set of tires at the beginning, but then it was getting better and better. The second set was fine: at the beginning of the last stint the car felt very good and we had good speed, but at that point we were too far behind to try to recover. As the tires were getting older we obviously started to go slower, but we were still doing good lap times and the balance was improving. Overall, though, it was not a very easy weekend.”
Next up for the Scuderia Ferrari is a trip to the iconic Home of British Motorsport, the Silverstone Circuit for the British GP next weekend!