A pattern emerged from this weekend’s racing in Austria as Marco Sorensen’s quest for dominance continued at the Red Bull Ring. The Dane secured two pole positions and two wins in largely-untroubled performances.
Nigel Melker, who was a podium finisher from race one, started second with current championship leader, Kevin Magnussen qualifying third. Melker did post the fastest time in qualifying but was penalised a position for speeding in the pit lane.
Magnussen was joined by a familiar face on the front row, his main championship rival and fellow McLaren Junior, Stoffel Vandoorne, who qualified fourth. Will Stevens was a consistent force again to start fifth. He now sits third in the points.
Austria is the home place of Red Bull so all eyes were on their next young talent, Antonio Felix da Costa, who started eighth on the grid; mechanical issues forced him to the fourth row.
During race two, Sorensen’s only real threat came in the form of Kevin Magnussen who closed the gap on the restart; the weekend was once again plagued with safety cars. Both drivers maintained these positions to create a Danish one-two whilst Nigel Melker secured another podium finish. A spinning Stoffel Vandoorne threatened to ruin Melker’s race but the Dutchman recovered his positions.
Sergey Sirotkin, who now faces enormous pressure from Formula 1 fans, chose to take his mandatory pit stop late. The strategy worked in the Russian’s favour and allowed him to take fourth place ahead of William Buller and a slow-finishing, Stevens.
Red Bull’s home race did not go all Felix da Costa’s way; an overnight engine change and reheating problems has dropped him fifth in the championship standings. The Portuguese driver entered 2013 as the pre-season favourite.
Stoffel Vandoorne was added to the list of retirements in what was an eventful weekend plagued with mechanical issues for many. He now sits 30 points behind Magnussen with half the season remaining.
Magnussen remained optimistic about his future championship hopes.
“I aim to win, but you also need to know how to do what’s best for the championship.”