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Catching up with Formula One: Austria

Written by Sofia Costantino, Edited by Tarun Suresh 

Races are certainly not won on the first corner, but they sure can be lost!

Photo credits: Motorsport images

The British driver Lando Norris had achieved only his second pole position in Formula One the day before, surpassing the perennial favourite Max Verstappen by a mere two-hundredths of a second but he ruined his chances of winning the Spanish Grand Prix with a bad start.

While Norris was trying to cover off his rival, pushing him towards the grass on the inside of the track, the cunning George Russell with a near-perfect start, took advantage of the scuffle between the McLaren and Red Bull cars to get the lead of the race, which in turn delegated Lando Norris to third.

It was all over for Lando. He was third and behind Verstappen. Of course, things got worse a couple of laps later when Verstappen got within DRS range of George Russell and overtook him for the lead.

Photo credits: Motorsport images

Despite having the fastest car on the grid, Norris’s team had no choice but to switch to Plan B. They made Norris stay on track for longer and pit him a few laps after Max pit. He lost quite a bit in terms of track position, but he had fresh tyres and the fastest car at his disposal.

It ended up not working, despite the Briton giving it everything throughout the race. In the first segment of the race, he was behind Russell, unable to overtake him until the Mercedes pitted on lap 15 but Verstappen had extended his lead to an impressive 5.5 seconds by that point, which Norris reduced to 4.3 when the Dutchman came in two laps later and changed his soft compound tyres (C3) used from the start to new ones (C2).

There, his track engineer (Will Joseph) motivated him by telling him that Verstappen had entered the pits and that now was the time to accelerate. Norris extended his opening stint for six more laps.

By the end of lap 23, Verstappen was running significantly faster (almost a second per lap) and was 11 seconds behind, so he put himself back in front by 10 seconds, which Norris had to make up by passing Sainz, Hamilton and Russell in 8-9 laps, while Verstappen kept the tyre degradation under control.

Photo credits: Motorsport images

Norris finally clawed his way back to second place by passing Russell on lap 34 with a spectacular outside pass at Turn 3. Verstappen was 9.4 seconds ahead, which Norris managed to bring down to 4.4 (0.5 seconds per lap) by the three-time champion's second stop on lap 44. Verstappen had reserved for the final stint that lasted 21 laps.

The Briton stopped three laps later (end of lap 47)with a lead of 14.7 seconds, also on soft (but used) tyres, trailing the leader by 8 seconds. He would have 18 laps to catch and pass him.

Except for the fastest lap of the race (51) of 1 min 17.115 sec, in the final stint, Verstappen lapped in the low 1:18s. Norris was lapping in the high 1:17s, about 3 tenths of a second faster per lap, but the Dutchman maintained consistent lap times between 1:18.0 and 1:18.3.

Only when three laps of the race were remaining, after the win was almost certainly his, did he slow down to the 1:19s.

Photo credits: Motorsport images

On Thursday, before the race weekend begins, both Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll announced a contract extension with their respective teams.

This weekend the on-track action continues with the Austrian GP, which includes a Sprint, then Silverstone, without a break.


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