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July 6, 2021

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Verstappen on a roll after latest win in Austria

Max Verstappen is driving in the same dominant way that Lewis Hamilton did for so long. And he is even starting to sound like him.

“When you go into the weekend and everyone sees you as a favorite, it’s not easy to deliver,” Verstappen said after clinching his fifth win of the season at the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg on Sunday.

He extended his advantage in the Formula One championship to 32 points over Hamilton. He leads the defending champion 5-3 for wins; 5-2 in pole positions.

“I’m enjoying it, but I’m very focused for the rest of the season,” the 23-year-old Verstappen said after his 15th career win and 50th podium.

“It’s still very long.”

Hamilton dropped from second place to fourth late on after going too wide on a turn and rolling over a kerb, damaging the floor of his car.

“Obviously it’s frustrating to lose so much downforce on the rear of the car and not be able to hold onto second,” Hamilton said. “A lot of points lost today.”

Disappointment for Hamilton, who has not won for two months, elation for the Dutchman Verstappen in front of his adoring orange-shirted fans after another clinical drive.

“I’m a bit amazed myself how today went,” he said. “The car was on rails.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finished second ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, who clinched the fourth podium of his career on the same track where he secured his first last year.

The 2020 top-three finish made Norris the youngest British driver on a podium and third-youngest overall behind Lance Stroll and Verstappen. The ultra-consistent Norris is the only driver to have scored points in every race this season.

He could have finished second but was given a five-second time penalty for an incident with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on Lap 1.

“It was exciting. I’m disappointed because we should have been in second place,” Norris said. “We had good pace. It’s nice to know that we can be there and can race. Hopefully we can keep it up next time.”

Hamilton has not won since the Spanish GP on May 9, a dismal streak of five races for the defending champion seeking a record eighth F1 title. All of those have gone to Red Bull, with Perez taking the other.

This was another crushing success for Verstappen at the Red Bull ring, his team’s home track and with thousands of Dutch fans cheering on his 15th career win. He also won here last weekend at the Styrian GP.

“Even better than last week,” Verstappen said. “The car was unreal.”

Verstappen clinched his third straight pole on Saturday and got away cleanly again for another lights-to-flag win, the way Hamilton has so often done.

A great day for him was completed by a bonus point for the fastest lap.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s wait for a 99th F1 win continues and he will hope for a change of fortune at the British GP in Silverstone in two weeks’ time.


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