The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix saw this year’s Formula 1 World Championship finally burble into life last weekend, almost 4 months after its originally scheduled start. It is the first part of an Austrian double-header, with the Styrian Grand Prix scheduled to take place at the same location this weekend.
This will be the first time that the same circuit has ever hosted two Formula 1 races within the same calendar year. Or, at least, on different weekends within the same calendar year: the 1959 German Grand Prix at AVUS was decided by the aggregation of the results from two 30-lap heats during a single race meeting.
The Finn Who Win
The long-awaited 2020 Austrian Grand Prix was something of a red letter day for Valtteri Bottas. The Finn scored his eighth Grand Prix win for Mercedes-Benz, moving him ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio in the team’s all-time standings.
Bottas also edged ahead of his countryman Kimi Räikkönen in terms of his percentage of total races in which he has finished on the podium (32.86% to 32.80%). This is the second successive Formula 1 World Championship season in which Bottas has won the opening race.
Bottas started the race from his 12th pole position, bringing him level with the mark set by both David Coulthard and Mark Webber. It was the fifth time that Bottas would convert pole position into a race victory.
Austria is rapidly proving to be Bottas’ happy place. The Finn has started three of the last four Formula 1 races at the Red Bull Ring from pole position and won twice, in 2017 and 2020.
Mercedes engines have now won a total of 188 Formula 1 races, just 51 shy of the all-time record held by Ferrari. Since the beginning of the Turbo Hybrid era in Formula 1 at the start of the 2014 season, Mercedes have recorded 90 Grand Prix wins to Ferrari’s 17 and are rapidly closing in on the Scuderia’s mark. Worthy of note, too, is that of Mercedes’ 188 Grand Prix wins, Lewis Hamilton alone accounts for 84, or 44.86%.
At 20 years 235 days, Lando Norris was the third youngest driver to ever stand on a Formula 1 podium, behind Max Verstappen (18 years 228 days) at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix and Lance Stroll (18 years 239 days) at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Norris was the 212th different driver to score a top three finish in a World Championship Grand Prix.
Norris’ late charge to third place also netted him his first fastest lap in Formula 1, making him the 133rd different driver to record fastest lap in a World Championship Grand Prix. He is also the second youngest driver to do so: Max Verstappen’s fastest lap at the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix (aged 19 years 44 days) remains the benchmark.
It was McLaren’s first fastest lap since Fernando Alonso’s at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix and it moves the team to within a tantalising 98 of the all-time record, held by Ferrari.
Le Travails du Renault
Esteban Ocon had a rather subdued return to Formula 1 competition with Renault last weekend, but his eighth place did at least secure the team 4 World Championship points.
This meant it was the first time that Renault have scored points in Austria since 2003. Seventeen years ago, Jarno Trulli would also secure the team eighth place, although it under the points system of the time it scored the team just a single point.
The Iceman Cometh
Had the series been able to follow its originally published 2020 calendar, the Austrian Grand Prix would have been the season’s tenth race and, as such, would have been the first event at which Kimi Räikkönen could have equalled Rubens Barrichello‘s record for the most Grand Prix starts.
Barrichello’s mark of 323 has stood since the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix. This was the 858th Formula 1 World Championship race, meaning that when Barrichello hung up his helmet he had competed in 37.65% of all the World Championship Grands Prix ever held.
Räikkönen has now started 314 World Championship Grands Prix and will need the season to run to at least eleven events in 2020 if he wants to be a record breaker. However, something tells me that Kimi is fairly easy either way about such trinkets.
As they stand: