How Bottas won F1’s survival of the fittest in Austria

After a 217-day wait, Formula 1 returned at the Red Bull Ring with a thriller that reminded everybody what they had been missing during the COVID-enforced hiatus. Mercedes crossed the line 1-2, but that hardly told the whole story

Despite all that was different about the 2020 Formula 1 season opener given the major changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, there were some reassuringly familiar themes in an action-packed Austrian Grand Prix.

So much happened in the 71-lap race at the Red Bull Ring that it emphasised again the tragedy of the pandemic, with spectators barred from attending an event that would have sent them into raptures multiple times. There was the political wrangling over the pre-season controversies ahead of the race – Red Bull’s protest of Mercedes’ dual-axis steering in particular – and a last-minute grid penalty for the reigning world champion after previously uncovered footage proved Lewis Hamilton had impinged the rules around yellow flags in the closing moments of qualifying.

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