Lewis Hamilton claimed his first victory of the 2020 Formula 1 season while it was a dark day for Ferrari whose two drivers collided and crashed out on the opening lap of the Styrian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Reigning world champion Hamilton, who finished fourth in the opening race of the season last weekend, led practically from start to finish after commencing on pole position in a masterful display for Mercedes.
Hamilton finished ahead of Mercedes’ teammate Valtteri Bottas who worked hard to overtake Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the dying stages of the Grand Prix to round out the podium.
The six-time world champion, who again led the majority of drivers pre-race by taking a knee in an anti-racism protest, was delighted with his victory.
“What a weird year it is,” Hamilton said. “It’s great to be back out here and to be driving and driving with this kind of performance.
“The team did a fantastic job with the strategy and it was just up to me to keep it together, keep off the kerbs and bring it home.
“I’m so grateful to be back in first place and honestly it feels like a long time coming since the last race last year. To come back this year after a difficult first weekend last week, this is a great step forward.”
Bottas started fourth but early on overtook McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jnr - who finished with the fastest lap - before a long tussle with Verstappen which he eventually saluted in.
“It was a good battle with him,” the Finn said. “I had a bit more pace at the end than him. Racing so close is always good fun.
“It could’ve been more satisfying and I could’ve been more satisfied but I’m looking forward to next week.”
Ferrari’s whole weekend was disastrous, after Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc qualified back in 10th and 11th on the grid respectively, before colliding on the opening lap.
The talented Leclerc accepted the blame and took to Twitter to clarify his error and apologise for his mistake.
The 2020 season continues next weekend in Hungary before a fortnight-long break until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 2.
I am disappointed in myself. I'm sorry but being sorry is not enough. Seb hasn't got any faults today. I've let the team down after them working a whole week to bring the updates early. Too eager to gain those places in the first lap. I will learn from it.— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) July 12, 2020