Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

2021 Styrian Grand Prix Star Performers

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and George Russell were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Styrian Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Lando Norris

  • Started the weekend slightly off the pace in first practice before set-up changes delivered more confidence
  • Secured a season-best fourth in qualifying – third on the grid after Bottas’ penalty – having consistently run in the top five
  • Ran third in early phase but did not resist Perez and Bottas attacks when it became clear it would cost him time
  • Drove a lonely rest of the race to secure third consecutive fifth place finish, leading the midfield home again

Max Verstappen

  • Fastest in both Friday practice sessions
  • Took pole by over two tenths from rival Hamilton
  • Verstappen left Hamilton behind for fourth win of 2021
  • Led every lap of the race pulling steadily away from Hamilton to claim third victory in four races
  • Managed a minor brake-by-wire problem from developing further in second half of the race

George Russell

  • Felt comfortable in the car from Friday practice
  • Just missed out on first Q3 appearance for Williams by eight-thousandths of a second
  • Ran comfortably in eighth for opening 23 laps
  • Loss of air pressure forced him into retirement and ruined his best chance of scoring points for Williams so far

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Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2021
While Ocon dropped out in Q1, his team mate reached Q3
  • Ran inside the top 10 in practice
  • Eliminated from Q1 in a lowly 17th
  • Moved up to 14th in the opening laps but failed to progress any higher
  • Admitted he was “just not quick enough” to keep pace with the bulk of the midfield

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Was second-fastest driver after opening day of practice
  • Mystified by dramatic loss of pace between Friday and Saturday
  • Eliminated in 13th in Q2 after narrowly avoiding exit in Q1, half a second slower than Norris
  • Jumped four places to ninth at the start but lost all the places he gained with a power unit problem relegating him back to 13th

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Hamilton’s pace slumped towards the end of his second stint
  • Happy with the balance of the car in practice
  • Beaten to second in qualifying by Bottas but inherited front row start after team mate’s penalty
  • Stuck with Verstappen in opening stint before gradually losing touch in second
  • Pulled enough gap to Bottas to pit for fastest lap point in closing stages

Valtteri Bottas

  • Bizarre pit lane spin in second practice led to him being docked three grid places – his most significant error of the weekend, without which he’d’ve been a ‘star’ contender
  • Out-qualified Hamilton but lined up fifth after penalty
  • Passed Norris for fourth in opening stint and stayed close enough to Perez to move into third when the Red Bull driver had a slow pit stop
  • Held off Perez in the closing laps despite worn tyres, but almost half a minute adrift of team mate Hamilton before his second stop

Sergio Perez

  • Spun in first practice while trying to fine-tune his set-up
  • Was forced to use a second set of tyres to secure passage through Q1, compromising his Q3 attempts
  • Disappointed to only manage fifth in qualifying, which became fourth after Bottas’ penalty
  • Dived past Norris to take third in the race, but lost the place to Bottas after a slow stop
  • Brought in for a second stop in a bid to pass Bottas and caught him by the final lap but never looked likely to pass

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Eighth for Stroll was the product of a solid weekend
  • Consistently inside the top 10 throughout all three practice and qualifying sessions
  • Reached Q3 and secured 10th on the grid
  • Strong start to move up to sixth place on lap one
  • Lost out to faster Ferraris but crossed the line in eighth place to underline a solid weekend

Sebastian Vettel

  • Struggled for overall pace over the whole lap in qualifying
  • Eliminated in Q2, two-tenths of a second slower than team mate Stroll
  • Struggled for grip in traffic and could only manage 12th

Fernando Alonso

  • Ran in the top six on Friday
  • Made it comfortably through to Q3 for third consecutive weekend to take ninth, which became eighth on the grid
  • Moved to seventh at the start before spending the entire second stint chasing Stroll for eight place

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gasly paid a greater price for Leclerc’s clumsy lap one error
  • Struggled with single-lap performance in practice
  • Could only manage seventh on the grid, despite being very happy with his fastest Q3 lap
  • Turned into Gasly at the start, puncturing his rival’s tyre and breaking his front wing, forcing him to pit
  • Fought his way back up the field while making further contact with Raikkonen and Alonso
  • Finished in a “bittersweet” seventh place after a string of passes in the second half of the race

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Spun twice in Friday practice while testing set-up changes
  • Failed to progress to Q3, missing the cut by just over a tenth of a second, and started 12th on the grid
  • Took advantage of long first stint to leapfrog four rivals to move up to sixth
  • Could have attacked Norris for fifth place if he hadn’t been stuck behind – of all people – Hamilton, who had lapped him

Pierre Gasly

  • Full of confidence in his car on Friday after running in top six
  • Lost valuable track time in second practice with MGU-K problem
  • Successfully progressed through to Q3 using a single set of tyres en route to yet another third row grid slot
  • Forced into retirement after opening lap puncture caused by Leclerc in a weekend which had clear ‘star’ potential

Yuki Tsunoda

Saturday penalty compromised Tsunoda’s Sunday
  • Struggled with long-run balance in practice
  • Reached Q3 but lost three grid positions after impeding Bottas – the stewards ruled his team were at fault but that Tsunoda should have been aware of the Mercedes catching him
  • Took final point in tenth after “most consistent weekend so far”

Kimi Raikkonen

  • Worst qualifying result of the season saw him eliminated in Q1 after failing to complete a ‘good’ lap by own admission
  • Gained five places at the start as carnage unfolded ahead of him at turn three
  • Passed the fading Vettel with three laps to go to finish one place outside the points

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Ran in the middle of the order in practice
  • Reached Q2, unlike team mate Raikkonen, but could only manage 15th on the grid
  • Pitched into a spin on opening lap by damaged Gasly but recovered to finish 15th

Mick Schumacher

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Schumacher passed Mazepin on-track
  • Qualified 19th, 0.151s faster than Mazepin
  • Said he “chose the wrong line” at turn three at the start, losing time
  • Battled with team mate on track yet again, finishing 16th

Nikita Mazepin

  • Spun in third practice after experimenting with setups throughout practice
  • Gained more confidence in the car after increasing its front wing angle
  • Qualified at the back of the grid behind team mate Schumacher
  • Switched to hard tyres long before his team mate
  • Encountered degradation, was passed by Schumacher and lost more time due to blue flags when he was lapped again, finishing over 40 seconds behind

Nicholas Latifi

  • Lucky to emerge unscathed from high speed spin in turn six in second practice
  • Frustrated to have only secured 16th on the grid for third consecutive race weekend, after just failing to progress to Q2 by less than five-hundredths of a second
  • Caught up in the turn three melee at the start, dropping him to 19th after puncture
  • Gained 54 seconds on Mazepin after the start to pass him and finish 17th

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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29 comments on “2021 Styrian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Stars: VER, NOR, SAI, and LEC.
    Strugglers: OCO, RIC, VET, GIO, and MAZ.

    1. someone or something
      28th June 2021, 17:03

      Leclerc doesn’t belong there, sabotaged his own race. Almost recovering from your own mistake is about as impressive as recovering really well after shooting your own foot. Props to you, but how about just not doing it in the first place?
      Same vibe as that one Brazilian Grand Prix where Hamilton ‘impressively’ finished 4th after crashing out in qualifying, on a weekend where no one came close to his pace.

      Similarly, Giovinazzi has no place on the strugglers list. He was collected by Gasly’s tricycle on the first lap and punted into a spin, after which he was the last car on the track. And I could go on about how this ruined his race, but the bottom line is: not his fault. He had an okay qualifying, and was running in 13th place, about to move into 12th, but Gasly’s car was out of control – race over.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        28th June 2021, 19:47

        I agree about Giovinazzi. He was far faster than Kimi this weekend. Despite being spun on lap one, he still got ahead of kimi after both had pitted and was close to the points for some time. Kimi passed him when his tyres were done, but even then, Kimi only finished around 12 seconds ahead and Giovinazzi lost far more time to that due to the time he lost with the spin and it having an effect on the rest of his race. Kimi finished 11th – Giovinazzi almost certainly will have been in the points. Giovinazzi was one of the good drivers this weekend.

        1. @thegianthogweed He struggled later and lost positions.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            29th June 2021, 13:15

            he did the longest 2nd stint of anyone excluding mazepin. This is likely related to him having to change his plans. The fact he even was ahead of kimi after both had pitted was already impressive. He then stayed ahead for 20 laps and i don’t see how you can really blame him for falling behind at the end.

          2. someone or something
            29th June 2021, 16:16

            Yeah, that’s what I was referring to when I wrote “And I could go on about how this ruined his race”.
            After the collision with Gasly, his stint began with a deficit of a few seconds and tyres whose warm-up consisted of a spin.
            So, in addition to the track position disadvantage, he likely had a material disadvantage as well, and instead of setting in to a position on the track, his first 5-7 laps were characterised by pushing to get past the Haases and closing the gap to the back of the midfield. From then on, he was stuck (just like everyone else), and his strategic options were limited. Due to the early phase of his race, his tyres started losing performance a bit earlier than e.g. Ocon’s ahead, and Leclerc came knocking as well. That reduced the available strategic options to basically just one: Staying out to try and pit at the same time as everyone else was obviously out of the question. Trying to stay out longer than the cars ahead, in order to come back at them with better tyres on a shorter stint near the end of the race: Not feasible, seeing as the tyres were already showing signs of wear. The last option left on the table was an early pit stop in order to make use of the Sauber’s decent pace in clear air, and then hoping the tyres perform a little miracle by surviving until the end without dropping off the cliff.
            Turns out 47 laps were a tad too much for them.

            So, that was what I was getting at. That collision at the start, for which Giovinazzi was not to blame, had a ton of knock-on effects for the rest of his race, and there was very little he could do to finish any higher than he did. I’d say it was a commendable effort, with a forseeable outcome.

      2. Ah, I know that brazillian gp, was interesting, it was the 2017 and the last ferrari win of the season after quite a few races they failed at that, hamilton indeed crashed in qualifying and started from the pit lane, recovered really well but then got stuck behind raikkonen, who managed to open a gap before the straight, and then hamilton could never give a proper attempt, unfortunately when doing these recoveries tyres are usually dead when you need them the most, in the end when you get to the faster cars, and he was only a few seconds behind the leader, which was impressive, but indeed doesn’t make him a star since he most likely would’ve won otherwise.

      3. I agree about LeClerc. He needs some penalties, it might even help him mature a little.

    2. @jerejj IMO it’s not a star performance if you qualify way behind your team mate like Sainz

      1. @balue But he did a good race and overcut several drivers.

        1. For sure, but I think that’s more due to ferrari choosing a setup for the race rather than qualifying and having good race pace, so both drivers “started” far behind where they should have.

          1. someone or something
            29th June 2021, 11:48


            I think that’s more due to ferrari choosing a setup for the race rather than qualifying and having good race pace

            It simply doesn’t work that way. Ferrari were pleasantly surprised with their Sunday performance themselves, so the discrepancy probably had more to do with external factors, such as the lower track temperatures on race day.
            As a rule of thumb, simplistic explanations are usually wrong. And it doesn’t get any more simplistic than explaining a discrepancy between qualifying and race pace with a ‘qualifying’ or ‘race’ setup. Especially without further explanation as to what this session-specific setup is supposed to be, and without corroborating evidence. Like, how would you set up a car specifically for the race on the Red Bull Ring, and where in the available data would it show? Sector performance? Speed traps? Cornering speed comparisons?
            Also, why would they suddenly start doing that? Yeah, having a good car on race day is its own reward, but seeing as everyone is already trying to find the best compromise between having good pace on Sunday without sacrificing too much single-lap pace, there is a high risk of spoiling your chances with a min-maxing approach. Let’s say you’re Ferrari, and virtually even with McLaren pace-wise. And you purposely set up your car in a way that allows you to be 1-2 tenths per lap faster in the race (let’s just assume it’s as predictable as that), but due to the tight midfield, you risk qualifying 2-3 places lower. Does that really sound like a reasonable move? We know how valuable track position is and how difficult it is to overtake cars on similar strategies. Why would you sacrifice track position in a situation like that?

          2. Someone, I don’t know, it’s a hard question, 2 tenths per lap would give you 14 sec overall IF you managed to overtake cars, but if you get stuck in a drs train it ends up being a bad decision, I think I would probably go for it in austria since there’s 2 good overtaking attempts close to each other, but not sure; in any case, I heard from either someone associated with ferrari or a commentator when watching the race about the setup thing, and I thought it wouldn’t be weird seeing how they were competitive in qualifying in france and not in the race, and the opposite here.

          3. someone or something
            29th June 2021, 15:49

            2 tenths per lap would give you 14 sec overall IF you managed to overtake cars

            That’s a big if if I ever saw one. How many overtakes like that did we actually see? Pretty much all of them were the result of different tyre strategies. Typically, you need a pace advantage of more than a second per lap – even on this track; in other places, that figure tends to be higher – to overcome dirty air as well as the concertina effect, before you can start thinking about overtaking.
            Look at how Norris was able to keep Pérez and Bottas behind for the first 9 laps without even changing his line once. They had a second in hand over him, but he still cost them more than 10 seconds. And that was without fighting them. Just imagine what that would’ve been like in a battle with a Ferrari, that has less of an advantage, and against which Norris would’ve defended. Same story for Gasly and the train of cars that held Sainz up. Ferrari know how difficult overtaking is, so sacrificing qualifying pace on purpose would’ve been borderline nonsensical.

            As for the rest, that’s all just tangential information, substantiated by … nothing, really.
            Let’s try to put some flesh on that bone: What would a deliberate ‘race setup’ look like, which performance parameters would you try to change? And what would the evidence look like?

          4. Someone, I found the article where I had read that, I knew it was someone important within ferrari,

            Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

            “As expected, this was a difficult session. Compared with what we have seen so far on Saturday afternoons, we were unable to reproduce our usual performance level over a single flying lap. We tackled this Grand Prix with a slightly different approach to usual, working mainly towards the race after the problems we encountered last week in France. That’s not a mitigating factor, because I don’t think we could have done much better than this, looking at the performance of our main rivals, but it is something to bear in mind when looking at today’s results. From what we saw yesterday, our long run pace is not bad compared to our closest competitors and we will try and exploit that tomorrow afternoon.

            “Working mainly towards the race”, he said it clearly, so I wasn’t the only one thinking that, the racing director thought that too.

            Agree on the 1 sec gap between norris and the front runners, so indeed, it took perez relatively long to get past him.

        2. someone or something
          29th June 2021, 12:10

          There is no denying Sainz’s race was good, but overall? 6th in the race is essentially the position Leclerc would’ve finished in by holding his grid position, taking Gasly’s retirement into account. In a way, 6th was the absolute minimum of what his car was capable of, and the only reason why reaching this minimum looked impressive, was his massive underperformance in qualifying. There was no force majeure, no limitations of his car that forbade him from starting higher than 12th. Leclerc proved that 7th was possible. So, for Sainz to recover from 12th to the baseline of what Leclerc proved to be possible, is pretty much the same as Leclerc almost recovering to where he was before he blundered into Gasly’s rear tyre. Good job, from a certain point onwards, but at the end of the day (or weekend, rather), Sainz underperformed compared to the car’s potential, just like Leclerc.

  2. Verstappen performed flawless
    Hamilton made some errors ( like the “moment” in turn 4) and ruined his tires as a result of setup choices and trying to follow VER.
    Bottas good quali but mediocre race
    Norris did great, mature knowing when en where to fight and when not.
    Ricciardo, nice first lap ruined by technical glitch and unable to recover
    Perez, i miss the first two passings of Norris he did and lost in the overviews. As a result of a slow pitstop lost it to Bottas.
    Leclerc: should have been penalized for his first few wild laps but he recovered excellent. Impatience still his weakness.
    Sainz, from 12 tot 6 under the radar.. great stuff.

    1. Sainz, from 12 tot 6 under the radar.. great stuff.

      Yes, those geezer backmarkers should move away and let him pass to have his chance on Lando. Or retire, just saying.

  3. I agree with this, although I would add Mazepin to the strugglers. He was a long way behind Schumacher yet again, and as usual his following of blue flags was awful (it almost lost Stroll his 8th place on the final lap).

  4. Pretty spot on, I’d most likely have made the same choices.

    1. someone or something
      28th June 2021, 18:08

      Yep, that’s an uncontroversial list if I ever saw one.

  5. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    28th June 2021, 19:41

    Funny how neither of the “strugglers” contain the word struggled while 3 that were not a struggler literally have a description of their weekend starting with the word “struggled”. I’m not reading the whole thing here, but even so, it seems odd.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      28th June 2021, 19:42

      Wait, Vettel struggled twice actually!

    2. Yeah that is funny @thegianthogweed

    3. Sebastian Vettel
      Struggled for overall pace over the whole lap in qualifying
      Eliminated in Q2, two-tenths of a second slower than team mate Stroll
      Struggled for grip in traffic and could only manage 12th

      It’s indeed funny, came here for this!

  6. I know it’s a bit left field, but Alonso was a star of the weekend for me.

    He made it through to Q3, ran comfortably in the top 10 and at no point looked like a driver who wasn’t going to score points and he did that in a car which looked decidedly 7th quickest overall. I think it was probably his strongest weekend this year.

    1. Especially as team mate Ocon was nowhere, and had been hard for Alonso to beat since returning @geemac

    2. @geemac

      I thought he was as strong as Lando this weekend. Given the car’s pace, he did a stellar job on qualifying and raced well enough in Sunday to finish in the points. The only setback for me was that he couldn’t get by Stroll. I’d say it was his strongest weekend this year as well… but thought Max and George were still slightly ahead of him on performance.

  7. I think I agree with the strugglers and stars this weekend, no significant exclusions or clear strugglers that didn’t make it.

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