The 2020 Formula One World Championship finally got underway on Sunday after the long delay caused by the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. The first race on the calendar, which is still being finalized, was the Austrian Grand Prix, held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
It was a closely fought battle that saw Mercedes-AMG's Valtteri Bottas cross the finish line first. He was followed by teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in second, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in third, though Hamilton was later demoted to fourth place after being handed a five-second penalty for contact with Red Bull Racing's Alex Albon.
It meant Leclerc was classified second, 2.7 seconds behind Bottas, and McLaren's Lando Norris was classified third, 5.491 seconds behind the winner. Hamilton took home fourth place and McLaren's Carlos Sainz rounded out the top five.
Bottas started the race on pole, with Hamilton due to start on second but demoted to fifth on the grid due to a penalty for failing to slow under the yellow flags during qualifying. Red Bull's Max Verstappen was promoted to second on the grid but after challenging Bottas a few times, he then had retire on lap 11 due to car trouble. Leclerc who struggled during qualifying started the race at seventh but managed to fight up the ladder.
2020 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix
The first major incident came on lap 25 when Haas' Kevin Magnussen went off with a brake problem which bought out the safety car. On lap 31, with the field bunched up at the restart, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel closed on Sainz in the McLaren and tried to attack him at turn three. Unfortunately, they collided with Vettel coming off worst, spinning and dropping to the back of the field.
The safety car would be out some 20 laps later, this time after Williams' George Russell came to a stop at the side of the track. It also came out on lap 55 when Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen lost a front tire. There was then a mad dash to the finish with Hamilton coming into contact with Albon who spun after the collision. Meanwhile, Leclerc managed to pass Norris on the outside of turns four and five, and two laps later he got ahead of Sergio Perez in the Racing Point to be third.
Thanks to his win, Bottas leads the 2020 Drivers' Championship with 25 points. Leclerc is second with 18 points and Norris is third with 16 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 37 points followed by McLaren with 26 points and Ferrari with 19 points. The race also saw Nicholas Latifi, son of Canadian businessman and major McLaren investor Michael Latifi, debut with Williams. He replaced Robert Kubica. Esteban Ocon also replaced Nico Hulkenberg at Renault.
For the first time ever in F1, the teams will race in the same place for the next round. A special Styrian Grand Prix will be held at the Red Bull Ring on July 12.
Mercedes-AMG's Valtteri Bottas at the 2020 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix
Below are the full results from the 2020 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix:
1) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +2.700 seconds
3) Lando Norris, McLaren +5.491 seconds
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG +5.689 seconds
5) Carlos Sainz, McLaren +8.903 seconds
6) Sergio Perez, Racing Point +15.092 seconds
7) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +16.682 seconds
8) Esteban Ocon, Renault +17.456 seconds
9) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo +21.146 seconds
10) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari +24.545 seconds
11) Nicholas Latifi, Williams +31.650 seconds
12) Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri DNF
13) Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing DNF
NC) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo DNF
NC) George Russell, Williams DNF
NC) Romain Grosjean, Haas DNF
NC) Kevin Magnussen, Haas DNF
NC) Lance Stroll, Racing Point DNF
NC) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault DNF
NC) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing DNF