Max Verstappen has scored an unlikely victory at his Red Bull Racing team's home race after a tense race of extreme attrition cost Mercedes its first double retirement since 2016. The Dutchman managed the race from there on and fended off the two charging Ferraris in the closing laps to secure Red Bull's first win on home soil.
Mercedes's chief strategist James Vowles came on the radio as the bearer of bad news, admitting his error as Hamilton struggled to comprehend what the team had done.
"So, yeah, incredible that they all came over here", he said. Hamilton led after getting the jump off the start, while Bottas, who fell back as far as fourth after stumbling off the line from the pole, got back to second after making a three-wide pass on the outside of Raikkonen and Verstappen entering Turn 3.
- Verstappen revealed: "If you want to win a race this is the flawless place, in a Red Bull vehicle at the Red Bull Ring". With the field bunched up, Hamilton's advantage was shot, and when he pitted, Verstappen took over the lead ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
At the subsequent Red Bull media debrief Ricciardo was his usual smiley self. "It was damage limitation for me and a positive day".
Verstappen went on to control the race once Mercedes' failure to pit Lewis Hamilton under the early virtual safety auto, caused by Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas's retirement from second place, cost the Briton track position later on.
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This weekend was Daniel's time to drive out the garage first ahead of Max. Can I just get your respective thoughts on the move - we don't normally see overtaking there?
He was passed by Ricciardo for the place on lap nine, but a solid stint on the soft-compound tyre after his pit stop ensured he could capitalise on the misfortune around him and guarantee his fifth podium of the season. We thought that the Virtual Safety Car would last for more than one lap, so we thought we would wait and see what happened to the guys behind us, see whether they stop or didn't stop, and make our decision on the second lap.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished a close second, with team mate Vettel third against expectations after a grid penalty had demoted him to sixth on the grid. "That's why he obviously started to back off a bit". The win was very unexpected, which makes it even better.
The race high attrition rate became obvious from the start.
The triple-header of consecutive French, Austrian and British races concludes next week at Silverstone with the championship now fascinatingly poised.
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