July 28, 2021

GRAND PRIX DE STYRIA – Max Verstappen (Red Bull): “The car was on fire!”

For the second time this season, a winner led a race from start to finish, and it was again Max Verstappen who achieved this feat. Untouchable on Saturday in qualifying, the Dutchman did not tremble from his pole position on Sunday and spun with rare confidence towards his fourteenth victory in Formula 1, his fourth seasonal, at Spielberg. “The car was on fire!”, he jubilated on the radio, in his lap of honor on this Red Bull Ring which had already seen him triumph in 2018 and 2019. On the back of Mercedes, already. But this year, the successes have another flavor because he doesn’t just play the troublemakers, he is fighting for the world title. And even better than that since he sponsors the championship now 18 lengths ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman quickly built up a small four-second safety mattress, which he inflated to ten. On lap 71, he received the checkered flag more than 35 seconds before his British rival, who had enough lead to allow himself a second pit stop to glean the bonus point for the best lap in the race, in the last loop.

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“You never know how things will turn out, but from the start I was able to confirm that the balance of the car was good, explained the hot Batavian to Mark Webber, twice winner of the Monaco Grand Prix. She was good at handling the tires from the start. And in the end, they were still good. “

“The car is not as balanced as in testing”, he nevertheless let go, before his pit stop, at the 30th passage. RB16B n ° 33 had flown over the lap time exercise the day before and he did not push it to its limits on his two stints, in “medium” then in “hard”. So, it remained to take care of the strategy, adapt to ensure this 69th success of Red Bull. Thus, the mechanics of Milton Keynes were ready when Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes put forward the plans by stopping on the 29th lap.

“For a while I didn’t have a brake”

“We gave them the answer and tried to set our own times. It worked pretty well”, said Max Verstappen proudly. Indeed, Lewis Hamilton improved the fastest lap several times to get back to four seconds, without panicking the navy blue clan. Because Gianpiero Lambiase called at this time his pilot to follow his chart. “These laps are crucial for your stint. You have enough to manage your tires”, explained the Italian technician. Insensitive to this struggle, the Batavian then gradually resumed its distances.

However, the last laps gave him a scare. By themselves. “The brake pedal lengthens a bit”, he told his engineer, at the 52nd of 71 laps. “The problem is that you brake at the same time as you touch the vibrator at the entrance of turn 10“, Gianpiero Lambiase immediately explained to him. What the pilot confirmed on arrival: “Normally it shouldn’t have anything to do with it, but when braking on the last corner my brake pedal went full double. For a while I didn’t have a brake. But on the exit , it came back. Not very nice. “

“We’ll have to show that again next week”

With 18 safety points, a gap that has only grown since his victory in Monaco, Max Verstappen will drive with full confidence next weekend, still on the Red Bull Ring, this time in an Austrian Grand Prix. “It’s very positive, but we’ll have to show that again next week, he warned. We will see what we can do better. Especially with the softer Pirelli. “

Never stingy with comments, Helmut Marko welcomed this mastery from the team of Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who brought it closer to the goal of five straight wins. “The circuit and the car remain the same, the 78-year-old Reb Bull Racing advisor told Servus TV. Only the tires change. And I guess the softer compound will delight us even more. After Mercedes stopped, we calculated that we could have continued ten more laps, but we didn’t want to take the slightest risk. I think that with the ‘tender’ we can exercise the same domination, if not better. “

Mistrust all the same. Spielberg hosted two races in a row last year, resulting in two different polemen and winners.

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