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F1 2017: Austrian Gp Review: Bottas Holds Off Vettel

The Austrian grand prix was a weekend that should have suited the Mercedes W08 to a tee. It did, but in the shape of Valtteri Bottas it wasn’t quite the Mercedes driver that most would’ve expected to see on the top step of the podium.

The Finnish driver delivered a dominant performance not only throughout the 71-lap race but also over the entire grand prix weekend. So perfect was his pull-away from pole that it was nearly considered inhuman and inspected by FIA stewards for a possible jump-start. As it turns out Bottas’ reaction time of 0.201 was nothing more than flawless precision.

The Mercedes driver streaked ahead in the first few laps and built a comfortable lead in the first stint of the race. The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, starting second, didn’t look especially comfortable in the first stint of the race on the ultrasoft compound and he struggled to consistently match Bottas’ pace. It was only in the second stint of the race, with the supersoft tyre, that the Ferrari came alive and that Vettel was able to exert a significant amount of pressure on the race leader. However, Bottas was well in control and armed with the notoriously calm Finnish demeanour that allowed him to maintain his composure and the lead of the race.

007While Max Verstappen suffered a fifth retirement in six races after being collected in a first corner incident Daniel Ricciardo shone for Red Bull on home turf with a hard-fought third place. The Aussie valiantly held off the quicker Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race to score his fifth consecutive podium finish of 2017. For Hamilton, in fourth, the day was about damage limitation, as he started eighth after incurring a 5-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen ran fourth in the first stint of the race and dove into the pitlane on lap 42. His longer first stint meant he fell behind Hamilton and while he was consistently catching the Brit in the second half of the race the impetus seemed to evaporate from his charge. Romain Grosjean ran an anonymous but impressive race to sixth ahead of the two Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in seventh and eighth. Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, in ninth and tenth, recovered a difficult qualifying for Williams to round out the top ten.

M72982Bottas may only have won the Austrian grand prix by 0.658 of a second but he showed incredible composure in the closing stages and an impressive dominance in the first half of the race. At Williams Bottas’ potential was somewhat masked but what the team’s requirement of him was. Naturally, he had the freedom to drive as rapidly as he possibly could but it was always slightly tempered with the knowledge that he needed to bring the car home in a decent points paying position.

At Mercedes Bottas has a bit more freedom in the fact that a decent haul of points is already assured, barring unreliability. This is what’s allowed him to stretch his legs and drive with a sort of freedom that has allowed him to finally begin to fulfill the potential he showed before entering Formula 1.

2017 Formula 1 Drivers Championship

Sebastian Vettel’s now 20-point lead in the driver’s standings is a handy one as the paddock heads to Silverstone for the British grand prix. Lewis Hamilton at his home race has always been something special and with Vettel pulling away slightly in the standings he needs to deliver in Silverstone.


About Natalie Le Clue

Natalie Le Clue is an F1 aficionado of the most dedicated vein. And, true to form for any F1-enamoured junkie, she readily admits to crying the first time she saw a F1 car, calling it an ‘overwhelming moment’. Natalie has won the 2010 gSport Woman In Media award, the 2015 Woman In Media Print award, and has been named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in South African Sport by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Natalie is currently serving as SAfm's F1 correspondent. Follow Natalie on Twitter @nlc27

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