The 2019 Austrian GP race was one of the remarkable race weekends in this calendar year yet. Max Verstappen is the first non-Mercedes driver this year to win a race and has won the Austrian GP twice in succession. Last year the win was handed over to him simply because of the double mechanical failure of the two charging Mercedes up front. This year was a completely different story as the dominant team of this 2019 F1 calendar year, Mercedes, were nowhere near the pace of the front runners but still managed to finish 3rd and 5th. The two main problems faced by teams and drivers in this year’s Austrian GP were tyre degradation and overheating.

Mercedes were one of the top 3 teams that struggled a lot both with tyre deg and power unit overheating issues. Both Valtteri and Lewis had to lift and cost at least 200 to 400 meters before corners in order to avoid PU overheating, which cost them a lot of time. Lewis Hamilton had a poor weekend at Austria. He finished 2nd in Qualifying but received a 3 place grid penalty for impending Kimi during the Qualifying session. Later in the race, he had a front wing damage, which cost him 6 to 8 seconds in pit stop, which meant he had to fall back. Many other mid-field teams were also struggling a lot due to this, mainly Haas, Renault, Toro Rosso and Racing Point. McLaren were able to achieve a double point finish this time around, with a strong 6th and 8th for Lando and Carlos. Another mid field team that had a strong finish around the RedBull Ring was Alfa Romeo, with 9th and 10th place finishes for Kimi and Antonio.

Moving on to the man of the weekend, Max Verstappen, who was on a whole different class compared to others. His teammate who has been struggling throughout this year was able to finish a distant 7th from him, who was the race winner. Pierre and his side of the garage needs a lot of work to be one to stay up to par with the charging Max Verstappen. Verstappen did have a poor start with anti-stall kicking in and by the second turn he was behind his own teammate but made a charging comeback to finish 1st in the end. His late pit stop strategy to go 10 laps more on the Medium before switching on to the hard to end the race proved to be the best race strategy. The last 5 to 10 laps were simply amazing, with Max passing all the lead runners to fight for the win with Charles. The move on Charles towards the end of the race sealed the win for Max, but it was under investigation with the race stewards. It did end up being a racing incident in the end, which was a huge relief for all his fans who came in thousands. There was a dedicated Max Verstappen fan stand, which was brimming with Dutch fans who visit the Austrian and Belgium race weekends just to support their racing hero Max Verstappen.

Charles Leclerc was equally quick, and had he not pit 10 laps early to cover the undercut threat posted by Valtteri Bottas, he would have finished the race as winner comfortably ahead of Max. Sebastian Vettel was another charging driver who came through the pack towards the end of the race to finish almost 3rd. He finished 4th in the end and if he had a struggle free pit stop he would have comfortably gone ahead of Valtteri. Ferrari was clearly the dominant team, and if they had played their race strategies spot on they might have definitely finished 1-2. They were the quickest on soft tyres and did not suffer much of deg compared to other teams and drivers. Had they played their cards right, they would have reigned supreme. 

With this race, it is quite clear that Mercedes are beatable. They were struggling with PU overheating mainly because of their packaging at the rear, but we don’t expect them to struggle in other races as well, since we generally cannot expect the same level of air and track temperatures in the future tracks that the teams travel to. Ferrari and Max Verstappen can still post a major threat to the table toppers, if they get their acts together and play their strategies spot on during the race. The dream run of Mercedes is finally broken but we expect them to bounce back strong in the next race at Silverstone, which has been one of the strong races for the team in this hybrid V6 era.