Ivan Georgiev has secured his second win in a row after edging defending champion Ezequiel Montero by just three-tenths of a second in Austria.
Montero looked revitalized after France and claimed Pole Position ahead of Ivan Georgiev and a surprise third from Darren Fisher. Cory Mackey would complete the second row just above half a second from the fastest. The third row was made up by O-double-T-O Acosta in the Williams and The Ghost David Carney in the other Renault. The fifth row belonged to the only Bermudan of the field and Janos Magasrevy. Locking up the top 10 was Adam Freitas and Jacobo Cardozo. Moving further down the starting grid we had Sean Higgins and Jeff Oppenheim occupying P11 and P12 respectively. In 13th place, there was the other Alfa Romeo of Mat Harto. Richard Haynie would start in P14 after a surprisingly poor qualifying. Row 8 was all McLaren orange with The Captain John Cook in P15 and The Greek Theodoros Eziroglou in P16. In P17 we had the only Force India of Mike Conger. Lastly, we had The Huntsman Craig Hunter in P18 who couldn't set a lap time. Rookie Matt Murphy would manage to qualify in 18th but was later on excluded from the results after breaching regulations.
It was now time to start the race with 19 cars on track. Let's break down how each driver faired against the others:
P1 - Ivan Georgiev (Ferrari) - Secured his second win in a row after exchanging the lead several times with Ezequiel Montero and managing to make a last lap pass on the Argentinian to win by just 0.3 seconds. Georgiev had a 1-stop strategy starting the race with the medium compound and stopping on lap 31 switching to the hard tires for the remainder of the race. Georgiev would never drop below third place and led 16 laps of the race.
P2 - Ezequiel Montero (Mercedes) - Was once again beaten by a Ferrari. Had a good start and was leading the race at the end of lap 1 but was then overtaken by both red cars on lap 2 and dropped to third place. The Argentinian opted for a two-stop strategy starting the race on the soft compound then pitting on lap 22 for a new set of softs that he would use until lap 40. On lap 41, the defending champion switched to the yellow-banded mediums and would carry on until the end of the race. Montero's lowest position during the race was P4 for a brief amount of time due to pit stops. He would go as high as to lead the race for 16 laps just like Georgiev. Lost the race on a last lap attack from Georgiev. Montero was given a 2-grid place penalty in his next race for not being able to reach the pits at the end of the race after running out of fuel just meters from the pit entry.
P3 - Cory Mackey (Ferrari) - Looked strong at the beginning of the race claiming the lead on lap 2 ahead of his teammate Ivan Georgiev. Would hold onto the lead until lap 22 when he pitted to get rid of his set of mediums. Switched to the softs on lap 23 until lap 41. In the meantime, he would retake the race lead on lap 30 from his teammate. Stopped for a second time for a new set of softs on lap 42 to briefly drop from the lead for only 5 laps. Retook the lead on lap 47 and stopped for a third and final time on lap 57 for another set of softs. His third stop would cost him dearly as he dropped from the lead down to third place to finish the race 13 seconds behind the leader.
P4 - Otto Acosta (Williams) - Another consistent display from the Williams driver. Held his position (P5) at the start and had a brief fight with Adam Freitas early on. Opted for a two-stop strategy starting with the mediums for 20 laps. Then switched to the hards for a 35-lap stint that would take him all the way to lap 57 where he switched to the softs for an all-out third and final stint. Dropped as low as P10 during the race after his first stop but fought his way up to finish in 4th comfortably ahead of his nearest rival David Carney.
P5 - David Carney (Renault) - Finally his raw pace gave him dividends with the new tire spec. Was cautious at the start and dropped one position to P7 but would retake it back on lap 4. Had an on-track battle with Haas driver Adam Freitas, swapping positions a couple of times. Moved up to 4th place before his first stop on lap 23 when his set of softs were showing signs of heavy wear. Switched to the mediums on lap 24 and dropped to P8 while doing so. Fought his way back up to 6th, a position he would hold from lap 29 to lap 41. Stopped one final time on lap 50 for a set of softs waiting to be destroyed in the last stage of the race. Was blindly fast and moved from P7 to end the race in P5.
P6 - Richard Walcott (Alfa Romeo Sauber) - Had numerous on-track battles throughout the race. Dropped a position at the start to P8 and was later on overtaken on lap 4 by Janos Magasrevy. His long first stint (25 laps) on the mediums put him as high as third on lap 23 but then dropped to P10 after stopping. Switched to the hards for a 1-stop strategy on lap 26. Would slowly start climbing back overtaking Fisher and Magasrevy to finish the race in 6th a lap down on the leader.
P7 - Janos Magasrevy (SRHF1) - Had once again a slow first couple of laps dropping one place to P9. Overtook Walcott on lap 4 to move up to P8 again. Pitted on lap 17 to get rid of the used softs for a set of hards. Dropped to 12th after the pit stop and started recovering places up to 7th when he let his teammate Cardozo by on lap 35. It then became a teammate fight for about 10 laps before pitting for a second a final time. Switched to the mediums on lap 50 but it was already too late for any gains. Would finish the race in 7th eight seconds behind Walcott and a lap down on the leader.
P8 - Jacobo Cardozo (SRHF1) - Showed another strong performance that might have been hampered by his teammate during the first half of the race before the pit wall intervened. Held his starting position (P10) and didn't lose any ground until his first stop on lap 19. Switched from the softs to the mediums on lap 20 and would drop from P8 down to P12. Was probably one of the busiest drivers on track making up positions after his first stop as he moved up to P6 just before his second and final stop. Put on a set of softs on lap 48 and pushed them hard until the end of the race to make up three positions and finish 8th just a second behind his teammate.
P9 - Darren Fisher (Renault) - Had all the necessary pace to finish on the podium but was once again unlucky to do so. The Swiss Fish dropped from P3 to P4 at the start to the hands of Cory Mackey and would remain there for all his first stint. Stopped on lap 20 to switch from the softs to the mediums and with that dropped 4 places. Moved back up again to P4 on lap 24 and would hold it until lap 40 when he briefly took P3 after Montero's pit stop. Made his second stop on lap 43 for another set of mediums, this time dropping down to 9th place. Had a couple of position swaps with Richard Walcott until he stopped again on lap 62 after what it looked like an incident coming out of turn 1. Put on a fresh set of softs to go all out and claimed the fastest lap of the race to earn one extra point. Finished in 9th eight seconds behind Cardozo and comfortably ahead of Haynie.
P10 - Richard Haynie (Williams) - Last driver to score a point. His race was severely compromised at the start when the McLaren of Theodoros Eziroglou rammed him at turn one. Dropped to dead-last (P19) on lap 1 and had to work his way up the field. His initial strategy of starting with the hard may have played into his favor when he took them for a 30 lap ride and moved all the way up to 6th before stopping. Switched to the mediums on lap 31 and by then he was already running in the last point scoring position. Made his second and final stop on lap 50 for another set of mediums that would go to the end. Fought with Fisher at the end after briefly holding P9. A remarkable drive once again from Haynie and a great recovery to end in P10 after what could've been a terrible weekend.
P11 - Sean Higgins (Haas) - Just missed out on the points after an incident with rookie Matt Murphy. Higgins dropped a position at the start to move to P12 but gained it back after Harto's retirement on lap 8. Ran as high as 7th on lap 21 after his nearest rivals pitted. Changed his set of mediums for a set of hards on lap 23 after having a collision with Matt Murphy who was being lapped. Would run the remainder of the race with the same set of tires and finish in P11 less than one second ahead of John Cook.
P12 - John Cook (McLaren) - The Captain had another quiet race but dropped from 15th to 18th in the first 3 laps. Would slowly start recovering back and made it up to 13th before making his one and only stop. Switched from the softs to the hards on lap 21 and would run them all the way to the end to finish in 12th right behind Sean Higgins.
P13 - Adam Freitas (Haas) - The best race starter on the field by far. Gained 3 positions at the start and another more on lap 4. Ran as high as 5th but was then overtaken by both David Carney and Otto Acosta. He would overtake Carney back on lap 7 to reclaim 6th place until his first stop on lap 17. Dropped to 11th after switching from the softs to the mediums but received a 10-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Came back into the pits to serve his penalty and switched to the hards for an attempt to make it until the end of the race. At this point, he was running in 13th. He moved up to 11th by lap 25 and later on was in the points again in P9 right before making his final stop on lap 56. He put on the softs for the last stint but it wasn't enough and had to settle for P13.
P14 - Jeff Oppenheim (Toro Rosso) - Dropped 3 places at the start and then was running last by lap 3. Had a massive collision with Mike Conger after the Force India driver touched with Craig Hunter at turn 9 and became a sitting duck that Oppenheim couldn't avoid. Pitted on lap 8 to switch from the hards to the mediums. Gained 5 positions with this set of tires before pitting for a second and final time on lap 34. Put on a set of hard tires and didn't drop a position. He would finish in 14th.
P15 - Craig Hunter (Toro Rosso) - The last driver to see the chequered flag. Gained 3 places at the start and moved as high as P14 by lap 3. Haynie would then overtake him to put him on P15. Had an incident with Mike Conger early in the race which may have hindered his rear suspension. His first stop came on lap 28 after his medium set of tires said no more. Was caught speeding in the pit lane in the process and was given a 10-second stop and go. He served that right away and put on another set of mediums. Ran as high as 11th but then after his pitstop mistake dropped down to 15th where he would finish the race.
P16 - Theodoros Eziroglou (McLaren) - Last car to retire. The Greek ran into the back of Haynie at the start of the race and somehow made up 3 spots while doing so. On lap 9, he had a massive crash with Mat Harto after seemingly ignoring yellow flags, this would ultimately cost him a one-race ban that the stewards handed after the race. His race would end on lap 12 after sustaining heavy suspension damage from his collisions.
P17 - Mat Harto (Alfa Romeo Sauber) - Had very little track time coming into the race and it was noted after starting from 13th. Made up 2 spots at the start and was running 11th chasing down Cardozo. But on lap 9 had a racing incident with the Venezuelan driver coming out of turn 3 which would put him on the wall and then to the middle of the road. Yellow flags were waived but Eziroglou appeared to not take caution and ran into him ending Harto's race prematurely.
P18 - Mike Conger (Force India) - Found himself in 19th place by lap 2 but then recovered a few places after overtaking both Cook and Oppenheim. On lap 7 he had an incident with Hunter that would put him in the middle of the road on a blind spot for incoming cars. Oppenheim could not avoid hitting him and his Force India was destroyed then and there. Game over for the Conger.
P19 - Matt Murphy (Red Bull) - Retired from the race in 16th but was later on disqualified after breaching the ESC rule in Q1. The rookie driver had his first race experience and was shown the blue flag on many occasions. It can only go uphill from here as he seems like a good promise with both McLaren and Red Bull showing interest in the Detroit-based driver.
With this result, Georgiev extends his championship lead by 17 points ahead of defending champion Ezequiel Montero. Ferrari scored once again a double-podium putting them 55 points clear of nearest rival Mercedes in second.
We now rest two weeks before we head down to the beloved Silverstone Circuit where the teams will put to the test their aero packages. Will Georgiev continue his recent dominance? Will we see Riera back again on track challenging the Ferraris along with Montero? Stay tuned for next Thrusday's SRHF1 2019 British Grand Prix!