Mercedes scored a double podium at the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton comfortably in second place, while Valtteri Bottas held off a fast-charging Sergio Perez for third.
Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of Soft tyres with three laps to go and set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to earn the bonus point on offer.
Today was the 43rd second place finish for Lewis Hamilton in F1, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record for most P2 finishes in history.
Lonely Race For Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton drove a solid yet lonely race to take home second place in Austria, extracting the maximum performance from the W12 today.
‘Today was a bit of a lonely race for me – I was trying to keep up with the Red Bull but with the speed they have, they have obviously made some big improvements over the last couple of races and it was impossible to keep up. I don’t know where we are losing all the time, I think their long runs seem to be a bit better, plus on the straight it feels like we lose a lot. It’s a serious challenge, we need to figure out what we can do to elevate the package and give us more performance but it was a really good result to get second and third. We got good points as a team today and we have just got to keep pushing,’ said Hamilton.
Tense Fight For Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas jumped Sergio Perez in the opening round of pit stops to move up to P3 and managed his Hard tyres well for the remainder of the race, weathering a late surge from Perez who had switched to a two-stop strategy.
‘From where I started, I think we maximised the race – starting from fifth and finishing third was a decent result. There was not much left in my tyres at the end, today was more like rallying in Finnish Lapland than F1 in Austria! The Red Bulls seems two-tenths quicker than us each lap at the moment, which is quite a lot. Today we managed to beat one of them which was good but we need to improve the car moving forward to compete for the win. We need to accept that they are ahead at the moment and use it as motivation. It was a pretty clean weekend for me – other than the penalty – and P2 in qualifying and a podium finish is positive and I’m looking forward to next week,’ added Bottas.
Damage Limitation For Mercedes
A double-podium after being second-best to Red Bull all weekend was another case of damage limitation for Mercedes, according to team boss Toto Wolff.
‘A double podium with the second fastest car was the best damage limitation we could do today – we fought with everything we had but it wasn’t enough. Red Bull clearly had the quicker package this weekend, and we didn’t have the pace to apply strategic pressure to Max who could have covered every move we made; he simply controlled the race from the front. With Valtteri, we picked the pocket of Red Bull to claim P3, and he did a fantastic job to eke out the tyre life to the last corner and stay ahead of Perez. We knew the time would come when it became tougher for us – and it’s here right now. We will need to analyse the race, see what more we could have squeezed out of the package, and keep on chipping away each weekend. We can see that Red Bull are still developing strongly, while our focus is now primarily on 2022, but that doesn’t mean the championship is over – far from it. We will be fighting with every weapon we have, and the battle is still full on,’ concluded Wolff.