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June 27, 2021 — SPIELBERG, Austria
The Red Bull Racing Hondas returned to their 'home' Red Bull Ring for Sunday's Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix and Max Verstappen treated it like he owned it, rolling from pole and leading wire-to-wire for his fourth win of the season.
Verstappen dominated all day in leading Honda to its fourth consecutive victory – a feat the manufacturer had not achieved in F1 since the legendary Ayrton Senna won the first four races of the 1991 campaign.
The championship leader built a six-second lead over the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the opening stint allowing the Honda-powered Red Bull to react to any sort of pit strategy employed by their title pursuers. Verstappen waited one lap after Hamilton to make his one and only stop of the race, and easily maintained his place at the front of the grid.
Sergio Perez, who joined Verstappen on the podium last weekend in France, chased down Bottas for third before starting the run of pit stops on Lap 26, but an uncharacteristic delay on Pit Lane allowed Bottas to leapfrog the Mexican driver, dropping him back to fourth. Unable to make up the ground, Perez switched to a two-stop strategy and nearly made it pay off with another podium. Trailing Bottas by more than 12 seconds, Perez made up more than a second on each of the final laps, but came up a few carlengths short in settling for fourth.
Meanwhile Verstappen was never headed, building a 15-second lead late in the race before Hamilton pitted for new tires in a successful bid to run the fastest lap of the race. The win is the 11th in the hybrid era for Honda and the 83rd of its F1 history.
Scuderia AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly had a strong day torn from his grasp on the first lap and retired after one orbit of the Red Bull Ring. Gasly suffered a cut left-rear tire after early contact with Charles Leclerc, which led to more contact later in the lap that ended his day. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda qualified eighth but received a three-spot penalty impeding Bottas on his qualifying lap. The Japanese rookie was equal to the task on Sunday however as he placed 10th to earn his third points-paying finish of the 2021 season.
With the win, Verstappen widened his lead in the Drivers' Championship to 18 points over Hamilton. Perez expanded his gap over Lando Norris for third in the standings while Gasly maintained his eighth-place spot despite the tire failure. Honda's fourth straight win expanded its lead in the Constructors' Championship to 40 points. The team will remain in place this week, preparing for next week's Austrian GP, also to be held at the Red Bull Ring.
Technical Director, Honda F1
"Max produced a faultless performance to take his fourth win of the year and Red Bull Racing Honda's fourth consecutive victory. As expected, we were pushed hard by our closest rivals. A slower than usual pit stop for Sergio meant he could not join his teammate on the podium. For Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, Yuki produced a solid drive to bring home points, which will boost his confidence after some difficult races. Pierre's race was over immediately after the start following his collision with Leclerc. Overall therefore, a good result with three cars in the points, but it could have been much better. We are still leading both championships but there is no let up, as we now prepare to race here again in a few days' time."
Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 1st, Finish: 1st (Fourth win of the year)
"I am super happy to win here and doing it at home at the Red Bull Ring is always so special. I had a really enjoyable race, the car was working well and I always enjoy driving on this track. I just focused on my own race, concentrating on hitting the apexes in the places I wanted to, looking after the tires and it worked out well. You never know how competitive or how close it's going to be on a Sunday and to be honest I really wasn't expecting it to be like it was today as the long run pace between the two teams was very closely matched all weekend. Overall, we've had a really positive weekend and of course it's not going to be completely the same next week. Everyone else will also learn from this race so we will of course try and do even better and keep improving ourselves so we can stay ahead. It's a whole Team effort so thank you very much to everyone here and back at the factory for another great win today."
Sergio Perez - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: 4th, Finish: 4th
"Unfortunately, it didn't work out today and it's a shame to miss out on the double podium. We just needed one more lap and we could have done it, that's all it would have taken. I think the soft tire was slightly worse than expected this race and that hurt us towards the end of the first stint, we also had a slow stop that impacted the race as we gave the position to Bottas. The Team tried something different with the two-stop strategy but we got caught out by traffic, but that's how it is sometimes and we had to try something. I'm really happy for the Team today though, because Max did a great job and I know we have a strong package. I look forward to next weekend where we will try again to step up on the podium together."
Pierre Gasly - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 6th, Finish: DNF
"Honestly, I don't think there's too much to say about today. I was in the middle of the straight when the incident happened, so I don't believe there was a lot I could do. It was a great weekend up until that moment and I'm extremely disappointed to not be part of the race today, as I think we had a great package to score points. It's extremely frustrating, as we're in a tight fight in the Constructors Championship, but we remain fifth which is positive for the team."
Yuki Tsunoda - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 11th,, Finish: 10th
"It's a good step up from last week and I'm happy to be finishing in the points today. I want to say thank you to the team, we've put in a lot of work over the last few weeks, so to be in the top ten is really positive. I think potentially there was the opportunity to even finish in P8 or P9, but we just need to analyze everything and work hard ahead of next week. I believe this has been my most consistent weekend so far and I have to say overall I am happy. It was a real shame for Pierre today, but the pace of the car is there, so we just need to put it all together next week. I've got some cool activities planned with AlphaTauri and Red Bull over the next few days and then we'll start preparing for the second race here in Austria."