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Formula 1

Winners and losers from F1's 2024 Austrian Grand Prix

by Matt Beer, Jack Cozens
7 min read

George Russell took a surprise victory in the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen and Lando Norris collided while battling for the lead late in the race.

As you'd expect there were some drivers who massively benefitted from that incident, and others whose weekends didn't get any better even when the leaders handed everyone else an opportunity.

Here are our winners and losers from Austria:

Losers: Max Verstappen and Lando Norris

If their battle stays clean and it's either Verstappen leading a track-limits-neutered Norris home or Norris snatching it from him then they're probably both winners - Verstappen for having at least looked more dominant than he has since April and only losing through some circumstantial quirks, and Norris for having taken the fight to - or even beaten - him so emphatically.

Instead they both go home with nothing, or effectively nothing.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner may say that Verstappen at least still outscored his main rival by salvaging fifth but no matter how perky Norris and McLaren get, there is no title fight in 2024 so those points are irrelevant. And a man for whom the default since mid-2022 has been that if an F1 race is happening, he's likely to win it has no interest in fifth in a race he led most of.

And rather than celebrating a career-so-far-defining win against the driver of the decade, Norris was retiring a broken car in the pits.

Winner: George Russell

"We shouldn't laugh," laughed Russell as he, Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz watched the video of Verstappen and Norris's collision in the cool-down room before the podium ceremony. Actually George, go for it - you and Mercedes haven't had a lot to laugh about recently.

This wasn't exactly a win on merit but it was at the upper end of part-meritocratic right place/right time luck. Russell had his illustrious Mercedes team-mate, the Ferraris and the second Red Bull covered and did everything right.

Mercedes must be feeling more and more confident about 2025 with its car getting ever more respectable and its new lead driver putting in tidier performances like this.

Loser: Ferrari

Though there wasn't a lot in it versus Mercedes, Ferrari was fourth-best team through the Austria weekend - which for a team that saw itself as Red Bull's big 2024 threat a month ago just isn't really good enough.

It was a particularly scrappy weekend for Charles Leclerc, mostly through no fault of his own. And there was some classic Ferrari radio delusion with its reassurance to Leclerc - when he was running approximately 27th on a strategy that wasn't achieving much - that he was definitely on course to get back into the points.

Winner: Haas

Haas just scored as many points in one race as it did in the whole of 2023.

Forget the elevated position its drivers were in because of the Verstappen/Norris clash, or the fact it was potentially saved by the Alpine drivers' multi-lap squabble. Sixth and eighth is a huge result for a team that has proved plenty of people wrong in 2024.

And it wasn't a total fluke either; Kevin Magnussen's excellent, albeit point-less, race to ninth in the sprint was evidence that Haas had the pace here.

Eighth here marked Magnussen's first grand prix points finish above 10th place since the United States GP in October 2022, but it still ended up being overshadowed by team-mate Nico Hulkenberg's resolute defence of sixth place - as he outduelled Sergio Perez's Red Bull effectively on merit.

A massive opportunity landed in Haas's lap on Sunday and it made sure it didn't squander it.

Loser: Oscar Piastri

Piastri and McLaren absolutely had a point about his Saturday qualifying track limits penalty. If you're solving the problem with gravel, why use the sensors too? It felt like he was punished for an evolving rule situation not properly catching up with itself.

And how costly it turned out to be. This was a first proper grand prix win lost, as it turned out.

Could he have made progress faster early on and been ahead of Russell when everything went mad?

Maybe, but that's a marginal call. Just like the one that wrecked his grand prix the previous day.

Loser: Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton didn't manage a top-five finish in any of the first eight grands prix of the season, so a third top-four finish in a row looks decent enough on paper.

But there's a big caveat with this result - the Verstappen/Norris clash that elevated him two positions, without which he'd have finished 40-odd seconds off the lead - and an even bigger elephant in the room.

On one of those rare occasions where Mercedes has been in the mix in the ground-effect era, even if circumstantially, it was again Russell who found the spotlight and Hamilton who was left in the shadows, more than 20s down on his team-mate.

Recall the a five-second penalty for stepping marginally beyond the pit entry line, and the need for team principal Toto Wolff to intervene on the radio to encourage him, and this made for a pretty muted subplot on Mercedes' day of days in F1 2024.

Winner: Daniel Ricciardo

When Daniel Ricciardo failed to advance from the first part of sprint qualifying on Friday, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that any talk of a genuine uptick in form had fallen at an early hurdle, and that his weekend might've crumbled from there.

And even after RB had made a step with its car, Ricciardo probably could've made Q3 but didn’t. And there was another iffy start too where positions were sacrificed.

But the rest? That was pretty solid. RB went aggressive with its stops to make full use of the undercut and that bought Ricciardo track position, which he crucially then held onto in every stint. That included the last one, where he was required to complete 34 laps - almost half the race distance - on a set of hards while keeping the faster Alpine of Pierre Gasly at bay.

Ricciardo succeeded and that meant he was in position to benefit from any late-race drama for any of the frontrunners - which in this case handed him a welcome points finish.

Was this vintage Ricciardo? Absolutely not, there's still some way to go there. But there are signs that this is trending towards a sustained run of form.

Loser: Sergio Perez

This is old news now, isn't it? Verstappen hits trouble, Sergio Perez isn't there to pick up the pieces. Not just a little bit not there, but not-even-beating-a-Haas not there.

Damage from a first-lap brush with Piastri was a big part of his grand prix going wrong, but Perez didn't have any pace whatsoever even when his car was intact earlier in the weekend, and his reasons for that were pretty vague.

Is Perez the real level of the 2024 Red Bull and Verstappen is achieving miracles in it? Or is Verstappen's pace what this car should be doing and Perez is woefully underachieving with it? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Loser: Fernando Alonso

Was the Aston Martin a marginal points contender on Sunday? Maybe not.

That in itself is no good thing, given three cars that it was comfortably faster than at the start of the season - the Haas, the RB and the Alpine - had Alonso, Lance Stroll, and Aston Martin's numbers this weekend.

But Alonso left a massive blot on his copybook by nerfing Zhou Guanyu into the Turn 3 hairpin - an error you just don't expect from a driver of his calibre.

Even if the onboard from Zhou's Sauber made the impact look more dramatic than the trackside angle suggested it really was, the 10-second penalty Alonso copped was completely justified - and ended any faint point-scoring hopes very early on.

Setting the fastest lap of the race offered little consolation. Maybe there is speed in the Aston Martin after all, though...

Winner: F1 2024

Not because a crash between its current main protagonists is good for business - though frankly it doesn't hurt in terms of getting eyeballs on the season. Certainly the resumption of the predictable Verstappen walkovers that most of the race looked like would've been worse for business.

What makes the Austrian Grand Prix a good story for F1 2024 is that swing from stint two to stint three. The first two-thirds of the race made everything that's happened since China in April seem like the anomaly. Like that run of races where Verstappen was either beaten or looked like he really could've been was just a tease of closer competition. Actually Red Bull could still win at will.

It only took a slow tyre change, some older rubber and a dose of DRS to turn that inside out again. Any sport where you know the outcome before the start is in trouble. F1 isn't that right now, as the Austria denouement proved.

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