Rate the Race and Driver of the Weekend – Spielberg, Austria, 2019
Mean Reader Score: 9.0 Ranked 1/9
Due to time constraints, the author has made a unilateral decision to rank the race and the drivers based entirely on her own opinion: [ Another (proper) Rate the Race may follow.]
What is it about Austria that makes it so good? Apart from the 4.96 of 2017, this race has scored highly and provided drama for the past few years. In 2018 it scored 7.96, and 2016 it scored 8.15. Each race provided its own drama, from the slugging it out between team-mates Hamilton and Rosberg for the WDC in 2016 and their final lap collision (not to mention the penalty given to Rosberg). 2017 saw Bottas being 0.001s too slow to have been deemed to have got a flyer at the start, last year we still had a battle for WDC, except this time it was between Vettel and Hamilton, as they flip-flopped between 1st and second in the WDC.
This year, even though both championships have been pretty much sewn up (Mercedes for WCC and Hamilton for WDC) we had an excellent race. So, what was it that made this race so good? Enter the wonderkid, (who’s not much of a kid anymore) Max Verstappen, Version 2. (The more mature, less reckless, less hot headed, or impulsive version). And of course, Leclerc, and Norris, and Sainz, not to mention Vettel (let’s not dwell on yet another of Ferrari’s mistakes, scuppering what could have been, if not a maiden win, then possibly a podium).
One way or another, this was a great race, fully deserving of its top spot in the rankings (in my opinion). We had some good wheel to wheel racing throughout the field (special mention here to Norris and Sainz) as well as the battles between Vettel and Verstappen, and of course, Verstappen and Leclerc. Even the prospect of penalties being applied to alter the outcome of the race added to the drama of the day. This was largely due to our driver of the Weekend, Max Verstappen. Due to the heatwave in Europe, the track temperature was about 20C higher than normal (58C), so this race was a scorcher in many ways.
Driver of the Weekend, Max Veratappen, 36% of reader (i.e. my) vote
The drama of this race was largely due to my driver of the weekend, Max Verstappen, although it does take two to tango, so he may not have won this accolade had it not been for the second and third placed drivers (Vettel, 34% and Leclerc 30%). I know several readers thought Sainz deserved this accolade, but personally I didn’t see much of him on TV so he didn’t get my vote).
Anyway, back to Max: Qualified in P2, got an abysmal start, lost five places, wrestled his way back through the grid, overtook Vettel, (second best wheel to wheel scrap of the day) Bottas and of course, Leclerc, with THAT incident on lap 68. Max brought in the Orange Army, may have salvaged the decline of F1, injected a burst of enthusiasm into disillusioned fans, won his first GP (and Red Bull’s ) of this season, retained his winning position in Austria, moved into third place in the WDC rankings, gave Honda their first F1 win since 2006, AND won our driver of the Weekend accolade. Well done MAX!!