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F1 | The biggest winners and losers from the season-opening race in Austria

2020-07-06 12:30

Charlen Raymond

f1,formula 1

Podium finishers at 2020 Austrian GP (Leonhard Foeger / Getty Images)

• Bottas the big winner after winning Austrian GP.

• Leclerc salvaged some respect for Ferrari by finishing in second place.

• Hamilton one of the big losers of the race.



What an eventful opening race to the 2020 Formula 1 season!

Fans could not have asked for a better showing, with lots of on-track action and brooding rivalries that will give this season so much more substance.

Valtteri Bottas got his Mercedes F1 car over the line first, followed by team mate Lewis Hamilton; but thanks to a penalty the defending champion was demoted from second to fourth.

We list some of the biggest winners and losers from the 2020 Austrian GP.

valtteri bottas,mercedes,f1,formula 1

Valtteri Bottas after winning the 2020 Austrian GP (Leonhard Foeger / Getty Images)

Winners:

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas drove a flawless race from start to finish to take the first victory of the 2020 campaign. Having made his intent to challenge Hamilton for the title clear before the season started, he managed the perfect start.

While all kinds of trouble hit his rivals, Bottas remained untouched en route to victory. Even when the team told both him and Hamilton of gearbox issues and performance took a slump, Bottas remained strong.

Charles Leclerc and Ferrari

It's probably strange that we're adding Leclerc and Ferrari to the list, but after the torrid weekend they've had they could be the biggest winners. Ferrari's 2020 season got off to a bad start, with pre-season testing not at all going their way. When the first practice sessions for the weekend's race came along, it was evident that Ferrari was way off the pace.

Fact: While every team improved on their 2019 qualifying time, Ferrari went backwards in 2020.

But in the closing stages of the race - and thanks to drivers retiring from the race - Leclerc managed to secure second place and give Ferrari a dream finish. They were nowhere near challenging either Mercedes or Red Bull Racing, and even McLaren and Racing Point were faster than them!

charles leclerc,ferrari,f1,formula 1

Charles Leclerc (Clive Mason / Getty Images)

Lando Norris

For the second time in three races (when you include 2019's Brazilian and Abu Dhabi GPs), a McLaren driver has stood on the podium. In Brazil, it was Carlos Sainz Jr., and in Austria it was Norris' turn. Norris is one of the youngest drivers on the grid, but he has impressed immensely since joining F1 at the start of 2019.

His McLaren team, too, has been on the up and is looking like the third or fourth fastest team this year. Norris made the most of his chances and drove a brilliant race to secure third place. He was elated over the radio and could not contain his excitement.

Don't be surprised to see more of Norris on the podium in 2020.

lando norris,mclaren,f1,formula 1

Lando Norris celebrating his first F1 podium (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Losers:

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton got his weekend off to a good start, but in qualifying the wheels began to come off for the defending F1 champion. During the third and final stage of qualifying, Bottas went off track which brought out the yellow flags. When these flags are waved, drivers must slow down. Hamilton did not. On Sunday morning, race day, he was penalized with three grid positions and started his race in fifth place.

While he managed to fight his way back to second place, a late tangle with Red Bull Racing's Alex Albon landed him a five-second penalty, which demoted him to fourth place.

Hamilton is a stellar driver, but in 2020 his focus is on social injustices (Black Lives Matter, racism, etc.). It's not wrong, and we commend him for taking a stance, but just how much of his external fights will be having an impact on his F1 campaign?

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton (Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel's Ferrari journey is going from bad to worse, and in Austria, he touched wheels with the driver set to replace him next year, Sainz Jr. In qualifying, Vettel could only muster eleventh place, and in the race, he finished tenth - second-last of the 11 finishers. This downward spiral has been coming since 2014, and he has been failing to recapture the Red Bull glory years from 2010 - 2013.

His latest incident in Austria is testament again that his time at Ferrari is duly over. But even more so, perhaps he is done with F1?

Alex Albon

Lately, it seems that you can't mention Albon's name without also mentioning Hamilton. In Brazil 2019, Hamilton took Albon out of the race and subsequently robbed him of his first podium finish. This past Sunday (5 July), a similar event took place when Hamilton again took Albon out of the race, but this time robbed him of a possible race win.

While Hamilton did receive a time penalty, Albon was the biggest loser of the two. He was dropped to last place, and suffered an engine issue, as well - it is not known if the problem with the engine has anything to do with Hamilton driving him off track.

Albon is a good talent and is steadily growing into his role at Red Bull Racing. Expect another strong race from his this weekend when F1 returns to the same track for round 2 of the season.

alex albon,red bull,f1,formula 1

Alex Albon (Getty Images)

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