Spielberg (dpa) – Grumpy and with a red Ferrari face mask, Sebastian Vettel commented on his false start to the Formula 1 emergency season.
In the superior victory for Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, the Ferrari driver in Austria was already far behind when he completely destroyed the race with a spin. With 10th place at the Geister Grand Prix in Spielberg, the farewell tour of Vettel, which was discarded at the Scuderia at the end of the year, started frustratingly. The fact that his mishap was preceded by contact with his Ferrari successor Carlos Sainz in the McLaren made the debacle perfect.
“I am glad that it was just a spin, it was very difficult to drive, I did not recognize the car. I had a lot of problems staying on track,” said Vettel disappointed after a chaotic Grand Prix at the end. “The worm was in there somewhere.”
A five-second time penalty after a collision with Red Bull man Alex Albon left world champion Lewis Hamilton in fourth place behind McLaren man Lando Norris, who was 0.1 seconds ahead of the British world champion thanks to the fastest lap. Vettel’s stable rival Charles Leclerc was still in second place behind Bottas. “You have to accept the punishment, it continues,” said Hamilton.
“I’m glad I got the car to the finish,” said Bottas, who, like Hamilton, had gearbox problems. “In the end, everything went well.” With a mouthguard on the podium, he was happy about the trophy for his Grand Prix success, and he then splashed champagne without the particle of cloth. For Leclerc, second place was “a big surprise, but a good one.” He wanted to take “every chance”.
Formula One had to wait for its next Grand Prix seven months since the season finale in Abu Dhabi and four months after the canceled start of Australia. The restart after the Corona crisis then took place with a symbolic act: 14 of the 20 pilots got on one knee as a sign of protest against racism. In addition to Hamilton, the strongest supporter of this gesture, Vettel also joined the campaign. In addition, all drivers wore black T-shirts, most labeled “End Racism”. Hamilton’s shirt had the message “Black lives matter”.
The Briton, who wants to equalize Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Cup titles this season, suffered a setback shortly before the start. Hamilton had to start from fifth instead of second because he violated yellow warning flags in his fastest lap in qualifying. The race stewards gave a protest by the Red Bull team. “You have to be sporty,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
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Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas, who secured pole position in front of the Englishman on Saturday, led the field into the first corner after the red lights went out. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, the winner of the two previous years, was already two seconds behind the Finns after the first lap.
However, the Dutchman experienced a disaster. Due to technical problems, he still lugged his car into the pits on lap 13, but had to end the race early. “It would have been an easy podium, but what can I do?” He said.
Vettel tried to make up for eleven places in the rear field after his qualifying debacle. Hesse in Spielberg had been annoyed by his retirement from Ferrari at the end of the year. He had received clear signals that the racing team actually wanted to continue with him. Vettel then named Mercedes as an option for 2021. “We’re staying with our two boys,” said Daimler CEO Ola Källenius, however, rejecting a change of German on Sky.
In emergency operation with a strict hygiene concept, the racing series still wants to save its World Cup year. At the top, however, the picture of past years did not change. The silver arrows, painted black as a sign of discrimination, led. And even after the first stop during a safety car phase on lap 26, Bottas and Hamilton came back on the track as the first duo.
The field contracted, the Grand Prix was released four rounds later. Then there was a crash at Vettel, who wanted to pass inside his Ferrari successor Sainz in turn three. The German made a spin in a duel with the Spanish McLaren man and fell back to position 15 by seven ranks.
Bottas and Hamilton then had to worry. Because of problems with the transmission sensors, both drivers were instructed to stay away from the curbs. The Mercedes duo survived these tremors just like a second safety car phase from the 52nd lap. When Alex Albon tried to overtake, Hamilton stayed cool despite the touch, while Max Verstappen’s stable rival had to take a trip to the gravel bed. The Brit got a five-second penalty, which made him fall behind.