By Jesus Coronel
The standings heading into the weekend had Red Bull leading in both drivers and constructors championships, but Mercedes wasn’t that far off from them.
Max “the Dutchman” Verstappen was in the lead for the drivers championship by four points over Lewis Hamilton. Both were eager to redeem themselves after failing to score a single point in Azerbaijan.
After qualifying, the top four on the grid were all Mercedes and Red Bull, with Verstappen in pole position, Hamilton second, his teammate Valtteri Bottas — under pressure to keep his seat for next year — in third and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in fourth.
When the race began, Verstappen couldn’t keep his car on the track and Hamilton took the lead from that point onward.
Mercedes made the first pit stop when Bottas entered on the 18th lap. Verstappen pitted the next lap and was able to take second place from Hamilton when he pitted on the 20th lap.
On the 32nd lap, Red Bull took a big gamble and pitted Verstappen a second time to gain a tire advantage near the end of the race.
He steadily caught up to the Mercedes drivers and, on the 44th lap, he got back to second place by overtaking Bottas.
It wouldn’t end there for Bottas as Perez caught up to him with four laps left. He was frustrated with the team for their strategy backfiring.
Hamilton’s engineer reported to the Briton that the last six laps would be the most painful because Verstappen was inching closer to him at a rapid pace.
And he was right.
With the tire advantage Verstappen had, he was able to take the lead from Hamilton with two laps to go.
He won his third race of the season, his second victory in three races, and helped Red Bull win their third consecutive race. It is their first time doing so in the hybrid era.
The Dutchman was happy with the results he was able to produce today. He also earned the Driver of the Day honors.
“The two-stop pit stop (strategy) paid off,” he said in an interview. “The whole race we were fighting each other. I think it will be like this for the rest of the season.”
Hamilton, while somewhat disappointed, was happy with second.
“Congratulations to Max, he did a great job,” he said. “I am happy with the result, unfortunately I lost the position but it was still a great race. We have got to dig deep and find some pace.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris went from ninth to fifth to remain the only driver to score points in every race. He made spectacular moves on his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
It was a day to forget for Ferrari as their drivers failed to score points in this race. They now trail McLaren by 16 points for third in the constructors championship.
Red Bull seems to be doing everything right to keep up in the title fight against Mercedes as this is the closest battle for the championship in four years.