He would possibly oversleep one Sunday. He would possibly take his Red Bull racecar to the mall and neglect the place he parked it. Or lose the keys. He would possibly run into the worst run of unhealthy luck in Formula 1 historical past.
Barring these potentialities, nevertheless, Max Verstappen now appears a secure guess to win his third straight Formula 1 title someday this yr. He inched ever nearer on Sunday on the Austrian Grand Prix together with his fifth straight Formula 1 victory, the ultimate cherry on high of a dominant weekend through which he was quickest in follow, quickest in qualifying, first within the dash race and first on Sunday.
Sunday’s victory in Spielberg, Austria, was Verstappen’s seventh in 9 races this yr — he was second to his teammate within the different two. It was marred solely by the top of his streak of laps led. Entering Sunday, Verstappen had led each race run in Formula 1 because the May 7 race in Miami Gardens, Fla. But the streak ended at 249 laps when he exited his first pit cease on Sunday in third place, behind the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
It hardly mattered: Verstappen handed Sainz and then Leclerc briefly order, and promptly began a brand new streak. It has been that type of yr. Verstappen wins. Everyone else, it appears, is now racing for second.
Best of the Rest
Leclerc was second for Ferrari, a heartening signal for a workforce whose midseason enhancements are bearing fruit. And Sergio Pérez was smiling after a terrific weekend in Austria: He was second to Verstappen in Saturday’s dash race and third on Sunday, returning to the rostrum on a day he had began fifteenth.
“It’s been a bit of a rough stretch for me,” Pérez stated, underplaying a run of weeks of irritating performances. “Now hopefully we are back.”
The Race in Photos
Talking Point: Track Limits
One driver after one other was penalized on Sunday for violations of what are referred to as monitor limits: Essentially, they repeatedly went exterior the white strains that mark the sting of the racing floor of the monitor. It received so unhealthy at one level that drivers who had been penalized started snitching on the automobiles in entrance of them, telling their groups to report rivals who had gone off the monitor.
After the checkered flag, Aston Martin filed a protest that produced time penalties for eight drivers. The outcome reshuffled the order of finish — and the factors standings — hours after race had ended.
The high three finishers have been unaffected, however the adjustments scrambled the highest 10. Carlos Sainz of Ferrari dropped to sixth from fourth, and Lando Norris of McLaren (to fourth) and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin (to fifth) every rose one place.
Aston Martin’s second driver, Lance Stroll, additionally benefited from the brand new penalties: He had completed tenth however jumped to ninth, swapping locations with Pierre Gasly of Alpine.
A spokesman for auto racing’s governing physique instructed reporters that the federation had obtained greater than 1,200 complaints through the 71-lap race about drivers who had presumably breached the monitor limits. Reviewing all of them took hours, and left the ultimate outcomes — and the factors standings — unsure lengthy after the race had ended.
“Due to the specifics of the circuit layout and the propensity of many drivers to repeatedly drive outside of the boundaries of the track, an unprecedented situation arose which resulted in all potential infringements not being able to be reviewed during the race,” the spokesman stated.
Track limits had been a speaking level all weekend after dozens of laps have been erased in qualifying on Friday. Those penalties had despatched a handful of drivers — notably Pérez — far down the beginning grid.
“People will say, ‘You should have kept the car in the white lines,’” Verstappen said Friday, when he was among the many drivers who misplaced a quick lap in qualifying. “If it was that easy, you can take my car and try it.”
But because the protest proved, monitor limits taketh, and monitor limits giveth, too.
Pérez completed third Sunday partly as a result of Sainz had been penalized 5 seconds through the race. After it ended, Sainz misplaced much more time, and two locations.
Show of Force
How assured was Verstappen on Sunday? With two laps left and a 24-second lead, he persuaded his workforce to let him pit for recent tires so he may attempt to submit the day’s quickest lap and declare the additional level within the drivers’ standings that comes with it.
How good is he? It labored.
It was a dangerous play: A pit cease at Red Bull Ring prices a driver about 20 seconds, and the Ferraris have been looming, able to steal the win, if something went flawed. But nothing goes flawed for Verstappen and Red Bull lately.
What They’re Saying
“Great day. I enjoyed it a lot.” — Verstappen, each week.
“Lewis, the car is bad. Please drive it.” — Toto Wolff, the Mercedes workforce principal, making an attempt to calm Lewis Hamilton’s complaints and focus him on the duty at hand.
“I think Friday and today we have maximized what we have, really. It’s good to be back on the podium.” — Leclerc, who stood on it for less than the second time this season.
Drivers’ Championship Standings
Verstappen’s victory and his cheeky push for the quick lap’s bonus level pushed him 81 factors away from Pérez on the high of the standings.
Season in Review
March 5: Bahrain Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen
March 19: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Winner: Sergio Pérez
April 2: Australian Grand Prix. Winner: Max Verstappen
April 30: Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Winner: Sergio Pérez