“The first excitement was before the start. World champion Lewis Hamilton had to live with a short-term sanction. At the Grand Prix in Spielberg/Austria on Sunday afternoon, the Mercedes driver was only allowed to start from fifth place instead of second place because he had violated yellow warning flags during his fastest lap. This was decided by the race commissioners after a protest by the Red Bull team about an hour before the start of the race on the basis of new video recordings.
The penalty for Hamilton put Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, McLaren driver Lando Norris and Alexander Albon in second place in the red bull. After all, it helped a little to curb Mercedes’ already cemented dominance in the top class of motorsport.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas won in the end, but the Briton finished only fourth after another five-second time penalty. Between the Silver Arrows, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) moved up to second place, Norris was third. For ex-champion Sebastian Vettel, however, the postponed start to the season of Formula One was the next disappointment. He finished only tenth in the ghost race in the Ferrari.
The former driver Ralf Schumacher went to court hard with Vettel. Speaking about the Ferrari driver’s turn on lap 31, he told Sky during the race: “Bitter Sunday is the understatement of the year. This is probably more of a thing that should happen to a young rider and not Sebastian. I don’t know what’s going on in him sometimes.’
Ferrari may feel confirmed by the announced non-renewal of Vettel’s contract, Schumacher said. ‘Obviously it’s very early, but it’s just happening to him again. He is so experienced and thus drives into a gap that does not exist at all. That’s more than annoying, to say that nicely now.”
Vettel himself said: “I’m honestly glad it was just a spinner, it was very, very hard today. I didn’t recognize the car compared to Friday. It wasn’t an easy race. There was the worm in there today.”
Mercedes option gone?
Vettel also had to put up with a dampener off the piste. Daimler Group CEO Ola Källenius rejected a change of German after this season. “We’ll stick with our two guys,” the Swede said on Sunday.
Vettel will have to leave Ferrari at the end of the year after his contract expires and had last called Mercedes an “option.” For the world champion team, the contracts of Hamilton and Bottas also expire after this season. “I can understand that this is a very exciting thought for the German fans,” Källenius said of the speculation surrounding Vettel. But in Hamilton and Bottas, Mercedes already have “a super pairing.” Team leader Toto Wolff had also stressed that the two current regular pilots would be a priority for the factory team.
Signs against racism
There was little agreement in the paddock on a political gesture. The pilots had not been able to agree on a closed knee as a sign against racism. After intense debates, especially at the instigation of world champion Hamilton, a number of drivers rejected this gesture before the start of the Grand Prix. “I believe that facts and behaviors count for more in our daily lives than formal gestures that could be controversial in some countries,” Ferrari driver Leclerc said of his renunciation of a knee- as many athletes around the world had previously shown.
A total of 14 drivers got down on their knees before the start, including Hamilton and Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel. In addition to Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi and Daniil Kwjat also remained standing. All drivers, however, wore black T-shirts, most with the inscription “End Racism”. Hamilton’s shirt showed the message “Black Lives Matter.”