Lewis Hamilton is up and running in 2020 with his first win of the season, while last year’s main rivals, Ferrari, is in free fall after a first-lap bungle of epic proportions.
Meanwhile, Renault missed a trick in Austria that could have drastically changed Daniel Ricciardo’s fortunes.
Here are five things we learned from the Styrian Grand Prix.
Watch the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship™ on KAYO. Every practice, qualifying session and race LIVE. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
FERRARI NIGHTMARE CONTINUES
‘HE FORCED BOTH OF US OFF THE TRACK’: Ricciardo fumes at rival’s ‘desperate’ move amid F1 drama
‘GET IT TOGETHER’: F1 under fire for racism protest cutaway
It took just one corner for the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc to come to blows and it took just one lap for both drivers’ race to end.
It was actually twice as bad for the Scuderia, who scored a surprise podium with Leclerc last week, as they were unable to test the upgrades they hurriedly brought forward after just one race. It means they won’t have any new data going into the Hungarian Grand Prix next week and have effectively wasted a week of work.
It will infuriate Mattia Binotto and you can be sure he was throwing some choice words at his drivers in Italian as he left the pit wall before he’d even managed to get comfortable.
Vettel said “there was not much he could have done differently” and that he was driving safely but ran out of room as “Charles tried something”, and Leclerc held his hands up as the guilty party.
“I apologised,” he said. “Excuses are not enough at times like this. I’m disappointed in myself and let the team down. I am sorry even though it’s not enough. We don’t need that, the team doesn’t need that and I’ve put all the plans of the team in the bin.”
RICCIARDO’S CHANCE WASTED
Daniel Ricciardo began in eighth and was the furthest one up the field who started on the medium compound tyres, with the rest of the top 10 starting on the softs.
He immediately went up to seventh but was held up by his teammate Esteban Ocon, despite going faster not only than his teammate, but McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in front of him.
The time was opportune for a call on the Renault pit wall to switch the drivers so Ricciardo could attack Sainz but no call came, leaving Ricciardo to try and overtake his teammate on his own.
As he went for it on lap 18, they so nearly collided with each other as Ocon refused to yield and caused him to lose more time on Sainz, as well allowing those behind the Aussie to close the gap on the two Renaults. He eventually passed Ocon on lap 20, but by that time had wasted at least four laps to have a go at taking fifth place.
It was a waste of what could have been a brilliant strategy call from Renault but could also be a sign of the French team’s potential bitterness over Ricciardo’s decision to jump ship.
They must have wished they’d not wasted the time letting the two race when Ocon rolled into the garage to retire three laps later.
HAMILTON GETS SEASON STARTED
Lewis Hamilton was looking at this season, before all of the coronavirus disruptions, as his best opportunity to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships, but it’s not been smooth sailing.
He started last weekend with a number of troubles, being pinged with two penalties across the three days, the second of which cost him a podium place.
However, he came back fighting like the champion he is this weekend, first with a stunning pole position in treacherous wet conditions and next with a classic, dominant display out front in his Mercedes.
The Brit managed his tyres perfectly as he avoiding hitting the kerbs as aggressively as he did the week before while still keeping the chasing Max Verstappen at arm length.
It was more hope than expectation that Hamilton would continue to flap but on the basis of this race, he will again take some beating this season.
RACING POINT NAIL IT
The Racing Point cars, especially that of Sergio Perez, have really impressed so far this season and look a lot like the Mercedes model of 12 months ago that conquered all that was put in front of it.
The team seems to have got the Mercedes engine working a treat and it proved it with 20 laps remaining as Perez passed Ricciardo with so much ease that it made all onlookers scratch their heads and think the Aussie had a mechanical problem.
The Mexican then set after Red Bull’s Alex Albon and set fastest lap after fastest lap in doing so, while his teammate continued to attack Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s experience held off Stroll for long enough but in such a short period of time, Perez opened up an eight-second gap between himself at the two battlers behind.
Racing Point is already the surprise package of the season and it could just be the dark horse to nick the tag as ‘best of the rest’.
That is unless the stewards step in and deem their package to be illegal. Renault has formally protested against the ‘Pink Mercedes’, suggesting Racing Point has not designed all of their cars’ elements themselves.
Max Verstappen was pretty quiet for the majority of the race as the midfield battles took the limelight but he sprang into action when Valtteri Bottas came back to attack him for the second step on the podium with just five laps to go.
The Finn was trimming the gap, lap after lap, and thought he’d finally got Mercedes the 1-2 they so desired, but it wasn’t as easy as he thought it was going to be.
Verstappen returned serve immediately with a stunning overtake on the outside and then defended it expertly to hold his position for a little bit longer with much less power at his disposal.
Bottas did eventually take the position but it was a stunning exchange nonetheless.