Red Bull’s first home grand prix ends in disappointment

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Red Bull’s first ever home grand prix in Austria ended in disappointment today after Sebastian Vettel retired from the race and Daniel Ricciardo scored just four points.

The team made its F1 debut in 2005, two years after the last race in Austria, and the return of the event was brokered by the brand’s billionaire owner, Dietrich Mateschitz. However, at the Red Bull Ring today, things did not go to plan.

Qualifying had been bad enough for Sebastian Vettel on Saturday. The defending world champion could only qualify 13th, but was promoted to 12th after Sergio Perez served a five-place grid penalty. After holding position off the line, his race soon took a turn for the worse when his RB10 car lost drive.

As Vettel’s car coasted around the track, it looked like his race was over after just two laps. However, he somehow managed to reset what was wrong and get the car back going again – although by this time he was a lap down on the rest of the field.

His engineer, Rocky, told him to “go racing” and enjoy himself, but a run-in with Esteban Gutierrez meant that he had to pit for a new front wing. On lap 37, the team decided that enough was enough, and retired the car to save its engine.

Ricciardo, on the other hand, fared far better in qualifying, lining up fifth on the grid. However, a poor start saw him drop down the order and start battling for the small points with Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg.

After Kvyat retired, Ricciardo managed to pick up a place, and continued to push before passing Hulkenberg on the last lap of the race to secure eighth position.

For a race that was intended to be Red Bull’s big show, just four points is a miserable offering. The team will be hoping to bounce back at the British Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, but the problems may not be resolved by then. Instead, it could be that seeing Vettel and Ricciardo struggle to compete is a running theme of the 2014 season.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.