SPIELBERG, Austria — Despite a late-race charge from Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas won Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix for Mercedes, notching his second-career Formula 1 race win.
Bottas made a great start, so impressive that he was investigated by the stewards of a potential jump before being cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards, but behind him there was early chaos.
Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso were both collected by Daniil Kvyat at Turn 1, causing terminal damage to both the Red Bull and the McLaren. Kvyat was handed a stop-go penalty for the contact during the race.
From there, no further issues slowed the race, with Bottas leading all the way before pitting on lap 42, handing Kimi Raikkonen the lead of the race. Raikkonen then pitted on lap 44, handing the lead back to Bottas for good.
However, it wasn’t quite that simple. Though Bottas had a 4.5-second lead over Vettel, Vettel was faster on the Pirelli supersoft tires and began closing the gap on the Mercedes driver.
With seven laps to go, Vettel closed the gap to two seconds as a few drops of rain began to fall, and the margin fell even further inside of three laps to go.
Despite Vettel’s best efforts, sitting inside a second back with a half lap to go, Bottas hung on in a fantastic display of driving.
“The first win is obviously special, but this is only my second win, so it’s a great feeling to get it,” said Bottas. “It’s been my best weekend yet with the pole and the win and I hope we can continue from here. The start was absolutely perfect – definitely my best start ever. And you saw how close it was with Sebastian at the end, so today I needed it.
“The car was so good this weekend, so I knew we could still do it,” Bottas continued. “I got a massive blister on the rear-left in the second stint after just five laps, which made the car tricky to drive. I was losing more and more performance, but it wasn’t my first time having to keep Sebastian behind me. I kept my focus and managed to finish the race without any mistakes. It would have been tricky to keep Sebastian behind for much longer, so it was good to see the checkered flag. I’m still in the title fight and I’m only going to get better. We’re growing all the time.”
Bottas is indeed in the title fight, closing to within 35 points of Vettel as Hamilton sits second, 20 points back.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo held off Lewis Hamilton for third after a furious final stint, with Raikkonen a distant fifth.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, and Williams’ Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll completed the top 10.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…