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Verstappen in dominant F1 Austrian GP win

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Spielberg (Austria), July 5 (IANS) Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took a firm grip on the 2021 Formula One world championship with a dominant win in the Austrian Grand Prix, as title rival Lewis Hamilton could only finish fourth after struggling with a damaged car.

In F1’s second successive Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Verstappen lived up to his pre-race billing as the hot favorite, leading all the way from pole position and collecting the fastest lap on way to his third victory in succession on Sunday, reports Xinhua.

“Incredible, to be honest. The car was on rails,” said Verstappen, who now has a championship lead of 32 points over Hamilton. “Every tyre set we put on it was really enjoyable to drive. I’m a bit amazed how today went; I didn’t expect it to be like this.”

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Verstappen’s main title rival Hamilton had been running second but dropped to fourth by the end after complaining of damage to his Mercedes, likely caused by riding his car up onto the Red Bull Ring’s sausage kerbs.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas took second place ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris, who had an excellent weekend and might have finished second had he not been harshly given a five-second penalty for forcing Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez off track early in the race.

Carlos Sainz took a solid fifth for Ferrari ahead of Perez, who had a scrappy race in which he himself was slapped with two five-second penalties for his involvement in separate incidents with Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc.

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Norris’ teammate Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a poor qualifying session to take seventh, just ahead of an unhappy Leclerc and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, while Fernando Alonso rounded out the points’ positions in his Alpine.

The only driver to fail to see the chequered flag was Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon, who retired on lap 1 after contact with Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo to compound a miserable weekend for the Frenchman.

Verstappen’s fifth win of the season sees him extend his lead in the drivers’ championship with 182 points. Hamilton remains second on 150 points, with Perez third on 104.

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In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull stay top with 286 points. Mercedes stay second with 242, and McLaren are third on 141 points.

The 10th round of the 2021 F1 season is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 18.

–IANS

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