LIVE – Styrian Grand Prix: ‘On fire’ Max Verstappen slows down to cross the finish line as he cruises to win AGAIN and extends his F1 title lead on Lewis Hamilton with Valtteri Bottas third
Max Verstappen dominated the Styrian Grand Prix to record his fourth victory of the season and extend his world championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 18 points.
The Briton started second and finished second – a reflection of the sterile nature of the afternoon’s ‘action’. He stopped late on to secure the fastest lap.
It was a perfect day for Verstappen, however, as he and his Red Bull led every lap in the Styrian mountains and established a comfortable lead that he never looked likely to squander. The Dutchman’s advantage at the end was 35.7 seconds.
‘The car was on fire today,’ said the winner after a clinical drive at his team’s home track.
Third place went to Valtteri Bottas, 11.5sec behind Mercedes team-mate Hamilton. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fourth with McLaren’s Lando Norris fifth.
The seven-time world champion said beforehand that he would need a wet track to have any chance of overtaking the Red Bull and, despite some slight darkening of the skies as the race wore on, his prayers for external help went unanswered.
With 20 laps remaining, Hamilton, then eight seconds adrift of Verstappen, asked: ‘What should I do, I can’t close the gap?’ There was real answer, just vague encouragement to look after his tyres.
Verstappen led away comfortably at the start, seeing off the Hamilton charge
Charles Leclerc had to pit for a new front wing on the first lap before making an incredible recovery drive to finish seventh for Ferrari
Then, clutching at another straw, he returned to the subject of his main hope, asking: ‘Is there rain coming?’
‘Nothing on the radar,’ he was told by race engineer Peter Bonnington.
What a bore this was after a season of high drama, with a first-lap kiss between Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc about the only notable incident. Gasly retired with a rear suspension damage to his AlphaTauri as a result.
George Russell drove superbly well all weekend to run seventh – as high as he has ever figured for Williams – only to retire with engine trouble.
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 12 points in the world championship and drew first blood at the Red Bull Ring after claiming pole position in front of the current and seven-times champion in qualifying on Saturday.
Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY for live Formula One coverage of the Styrian Grand Prix, including build-up, updates and result for the 2pm BST race.