The return of Formula One did not disappoint with an action-packed Austrian Grand Prix seeing Valtteri Bottas stake his world championship credentials, with the Mercedes driver dominating from start to finish to win the opening race of the 2020 season.
A race of high attrition meant that only 11 drivers crossed the finish line, with Bottas delivering the perfect drive to turn pole into victory and take an early lead in the world championship standings.
His bid to win a maiden world title was helped enormously by Lewis Hamilton’s below-par weekend, with the reigning world champion beaten to pole, only to then receive a three-place grid penalty in the lead up the race on Sunday afternoon.
Hamilton’s day got significantly worse when he was passed by Red Bull’s Alex Albon, who looked to have taken second place only for contact between the two to spin him off the track and land Hamilton a five-second penalty that would relegate him at the end of the race from second to fourth.
Charles Leclerc proved the main beneficiary of the penalty, with the Ferrari driver impressing with a mature drive to take second place after starting seventh, while McLaren put a difficult few months behind them with a maiden podium for Lando Norris to celebrate.
So who were the standout drivers of the day? Here’s how we rated each driver in the Austrian Grand Prix.
1: Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP - 9/10
Pole position and race victory, the Finn couldn’t ask for much more. Strong management kept his teammate behind him without a genuine attack, though gearbox issues for both drivers aided that.
2: Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari - 9/10
Ferrari appeared to have no chance of finishing the day on the podium pre-race after Saturday’s disastrous qualifying session, but Leclerc drove close to the perfect race to seize on any chances that came his way. His move on Perez was easily the overtake of the day, and he though he profited from Hamilton’s penalty, it was a just reward for a blemish-free display.
3: Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren - 8/10
Started third, finished third, but the journey in between was nowhere near as straight-forward as it sounds. Norris lacked pace at the start, losing positions to Albon and Hamilton, but kept Perez at bay until the first safety car. Eventually lost position to Perez, but showed excellent race craft late on to regain the position and setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to snatch fifth was a thing of beauty.
4: Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP - 6/10
His mistake in qualifying was understandable given the circumstances, but a second collision on three races with Albon should not have happened. He has been given space to race in the past, and should have conceded position to Albon when the Red Bull was already in front. Looked to have the pace to threaten Bottas, so to finish off the podium is very disappointing.
5: Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren - 7/10
Overshadowed by his younger teammate in qualifying and the race but Sainz still delivered an excellent showing. Would have liked to have got by Norris when the pair were battling for fifth, but he helped McLaren to a healthy points haul and had a lot to be happy with.
6: Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point - 6/10
The pace was there, but Perez was unable to extract anything close to what we expected from the Racing Point as the decision not to pit during the second safety car period cost him dear. He plummeted off the pace after the final restart, losing track position to Perez, Norris and Sainz, having been caught napping into Turn 3 as the first McLaren came hurtling up the inside.
7: Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia Alpha Tauri - 7/10
Another strong display from Gasly following his maiden podium finish in Brazil last year, and he looks to be really rebuilding his confidence nicely in the Red Bull ‘B Team’. Finished at the head of what looks like the midfield battle with Alpha Tauri, Renault and Haas.
8: Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault - 5/10
Looked rust early on as he struggled to find his pace, but as the race wore on he seemed to rediscover what made him such a hot prospect. Finished under a second behind Gasly to claim four points for Renault that will have been noticed.
9: Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing - 6/10
Two points for Alfa Romeo is far more than they would have expected following Saturday’s disappointing qualifying, and Giovinazzi deserves plenty of credit for driving a cautious and sensible race to bring it home inside the top 10.
10: Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari Ferrari - 2/10
Possibly Vettel’s worst weekend display of his career. Displays like this one only reinforce Ferrari’s decision to make a change to their line-up next season, with Vettel only 11th in qualifying and making an amateur error by spinning under braking when trying to force his way past Sainz, who was preoccupied in fighting Leclerc at the time. Spin dropped him to last, and he was lucky to salvage a point thanks to the retirement of others.
11: Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams - 4/10
The only finisher not to score points. It’s easy to forget this was his first race for Williams given the length of time it’s been since his appointment was announced, but he was well off the pace of the rest of the field and had no answer for teammate Russell
12: Daniil Kyvat (Rus) Scuderia Alpha Tauri - 6/10
Looked to be on for a welcome points finish, only for suspension failure to see the left-rear tyre ripped from his Alpha Tauri two laps from home. An agonising end to a good display.
13: Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull - 6/10
Looked to have trumped the Mercedes with a smart strategy that left him on the fresh soft tyres with Bottas and Hamilton on old mediums, but contact with Hamilton once again wrecked his podium chances. Couldn’t stay with the Mercedes’ early on and needed the safety car to get him back in the mix, and an electrical engine issue forced him to retire two laps from home.
DNF: Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing - 5/10
Was not making much of an impression running towards the back, though certainly grabbed attentions when his right-front wheel came off as the second safety car period was ending.
DNF: George Russell (Gbr) Williams - 5/10
A story of what could have been for Williams, who would almost certainly have picked up points had Russell not been forced to retire from the race with a reliability failure after 49 laps. Hopefully, Williams won’t come to rue this missed opportunity come the end of the season.
DNF: Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 - 3/10
Sloppy error saw him drop two wheels on the dirt and go for a spin that dropped the Frenchman to last early on, and after struggling to recover, his day was ended by reliability woes when he looked to suffer a similar brake failure that claimed his teammate.
DNF: Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 - 4/10
Was locked in a battle with Ocon 24 laps into the race when his brakes deserted him in what was a very scary moment. Thankfully he kept it out of the barrier, but Haas have serious work to do if their brakes are letting go so early in a race.
DNF: Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point - 4/10
Hindered from the start with a sensor issue that left him with no power.
DNF: Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault - 4/10
Poor getaway allowed Vettell to pass early, before a loss of power caused by overheating from a cooling problem forced his retirement.
DNF: Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull - 4/10
A strong start saw him fend off the McLaren of Lando Norris, only for an electrical failure to end his race almost immediately.