Max Verstappen avoided any drama as he secured a record-setting third win at the Red Bull Ring to pull further clear at the top of the drivers’ championship.
Verstappen’s fourth victory of 2021 – his best return in a single Formula One campaign – gave Red Bull a weekend to remember at their home track at the Styrian Grand Prix.
This triumph never appeared under serious threat, however, as Verstappen started from pole and quickly pulled clear of defending champion and title rival Lewis Hamilton.
With Sergio Perez victorious at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix between two prior Verstappen successes, Red Bull have four straight victories for the first time in the hybrid era ahead of a return to this circuit next week for the Austrian Grand Prix, the third leg of a triple-header.
Hamilton was also in the clear despite an early battle between Perez and Lando Norris behind him. Norris won that tussle but offered little defence when Perez attacked again, also letting Valtteri Bottas through as McLaren focused on outlasting Ferrari.
Red Bull expertly executed an undercut in the previous race to give Verstappen the edge over Hamilton, but a poor pit stop cost Perez this time.
He dropped behind Bottas, who was swiftly called in to ensure he emerged on fresh tyres with an advantage still intact.
Hamilton was followed in by Verstappen, whose lead was so significant the Mercedes man could scarcely see the back of his opponent as he exited the pit lane.
He never got any nearer, with Verstappen showboating as he crossed the line well clear of any competition.
Hamilton at least took the fastest lap and Bottas held off Perez in a tense scrap after both men pitted once more, giving Mercedes two drivers on the podium.
LEWIS BEING LEFT BEHIND
Such was Verstappen’s advantage with still more than 10 laps remaining that Hamilton appealed to his team radio for guidance.
The seven-time champion knew he had no chance of cutting the gap to Verstappen but understandably did not much like the idea of settling for second.
Only twice in the hybrid era (both in 2016) has Hamilton previously gone more than four races – his current winless run – without a victory in a single season.
WILLIAMS WOE ONCE MORE
Hamilton at least enjoyed a better outing than the man who could eventually become his Mercedes team-mate.
George Russell was running in eighth after early contact between Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly caused chaos and ended the latter’s afternoon.
All was going so uncharacteristically well for Williams as Russell piled pressure on seventh-placed Fernando Alonso, already on course for a career-best finish.
Then a power unit issue kept Russell in the pit lane for an extended period. A second stop to treat the same problem set the Williams man back further and a third visit was his last, cutting his race short on another frustrating day.
IN THE POINTS
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +35.743s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +46.907s
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +47.434s
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1 lap
6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +1 lap
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1 lap
8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1 lap
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1 lap
10. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1 lap
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 156
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 138
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 96
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 86
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 74
1. Red Bull – 252
2. Mercedes – 212
3. McLaren – 120
4. Ferrari – 108
5. AlphaTauri – 46