Verstappen wins in Austria to pull clear of Hamilton in title race
- Updated: July 5, 2021
SPIELBERG BEI KNITTELFELD: Max Verstappen reeled off his third win in a row from pole in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday (Jul 4) to consolidate his world championship lead over Lewis Hamilton who after finishing fourth said his toiling Mercedes team were “miles away from Red Bull”.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas took second with McLaren’s Lando Norris a fine third after picking up a five second time penalty.
Verstappen’s latest step towards ending Hamilton’s hold on the drivers’ title triggered a carnival atmosphere in Formula One’s first capacity crowd since the coronavirus pandemic struck with most of the 100,000 in attendance decked out in his Dutch orange colours.
“To see so much orange in the stands is incredible, it’s an extra motivation, thank you” he told his cheering congregation at the Red Bull-owned Spielberg circuit.
“The car was unreal,” added the 21-year-old threat to Hamilton’s bid for an unprecedented eighth world crown who was following up his win at the track last week.
“It’s insane – I’m a bit amazed myself how today went. I didn’t expect it to be like this. Incredible job by everyone to deliver something like this.”
After his fifth win of the season Verstappen moved on to 182 points in the standings, 32 clear of Hamilton ahead of the seven-time world champion’s home British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Jul 18.
Hamilton, without a win since Barcelona in early May, had forecast after qualifying Saturday that beating Verstappen looked unlikely.
Aside from his Red Bull rival’s superior pace, damage to Hamilton’s car late on in the race cost him a likely second place.