Ezequiel Montero has secured his fourth consecutive win after a start to finish cruise to the checkered flag from Pole Position. His nearest championship rival, Cory Mackey, came in second 16 seconds behind after having started from P12 serving a 10 grid spot penalty from Austria. Third place went to the veteran Otto Acosta for Williams after finally showing strong pace both in qualifying and during the race.
The start of the race gave us multiple isolated incidents with Richard Haynie being the first off-track after losing control of his Williams getting off the grid. The approach to the quick turn 1 saw an overly cautious John Cook (Sauber) hitting too early and too heavy on the brakes, he was rear-ended by Sean Higgins in the Haas which forced him to stop for a new front wing at the end of lap 1. Turn 3 was the stage of a collision between Carlos Reina (Force India) and Ivan Georgiev (Ferrari) with both cars ending up facing the wrong way. There were multiple collisions at that point which filled the tarmac with razor-sharp carbon fiber pieces waiting to destroy brand new Pirelli tires.
Things settled after lap 1 with Montero, Bautista, Mackey, Acosta, and Fascelli all fighting up front. The race was looking great for Renault in the early stages but it was on lap 18 when the first to retire was Bautista (Renault) with an electronics issue which blew up the chance of a double podium finish for the French team. Argenis Riera (SRHF1) was the second DNF after going off-track at Copse. Ben Bowcott (Toro Rosso) was hit with a power steering issue mid-corner through turn 5 sending him to the grass and ultimately spinning just in the way of Ivan Georgiev who was recovering from an early Drive Thru penalty from a false start, both had to retire from that incident on lap 33. The last retirement came from Dave Carney on lap 47 after trying hard to fight his way back from an apparent lag-related collision.
There was a lot of action for the last point scoring position between Thedoros Eziroglou (Mercedes) and Darren Fisher (McLaren). It was the Greek who managed to pass Fisher on a last lap effort for P10 in what ended up being a controversial overtake maneuver where Eziroglou was handed a 2-second penalty, giving 10th back to Fisher.
The story of the race went to exceeding track limits at turns 9 and 15. The stewards were busy overnight reviewing both turns for violations and at the end time penalties were handed to all but Montero, Haynie, Cardozo, and Hunter. Eziroglou got the worst out of it with a whopping 26.5 seconds added to his final race time, which moved him from P11 down to P13.
Montero now holds a commanding lead over Mackey in the Drivers Championship with 22 points ahead of the Ferrari driver. Meanwhile, the fight for third has intensified with just 4 points separating Georgiev, Walcott, and Angelone. On the teams' side, Renault was close to reducing the gap to Ferrari substantially but it had to settle for just a 7 point cut putting the French team 26 points behind the Italians. As is the case with the Drivers Championship, third place in the Teams Championship is also up for contention between Mercedes, Force India, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, and McLaren.
We can now take a week off after three exhausting events. Next round, we are going back to the Hockenheimring for the SRHF1 2018 German Grand Prix on July 19th.
Ezequiel Montero has now taken the lead in the Drivers Championship after emerging from Austria with the victory. Ivan Georgiev was, for the second time in a row, on Pole Position as the Ferrari driver snatched it from Keyter Bautista by just 36 thousands of a second.
The start of the race was short of being clean, with both Sean Higgins and Theodoros Eziroglou being involved in collisions with others as they approached the apex of turn 1. The race then started to unfold with Georgiev holding to the lead against Bautista in the pink Force India. It was later on when Bautista made the move and took the lead. After the initial pit stop round, we saw a brief fight for the lead between Montero and Angelone that lasted a few laps until the Colombian driver made contact with Montero sending both into a spin. Things started turning chaotic at this point when both drivers came into the pits and found themselves in a second collision, this time with Cory Mackey near the pit exit after being punted by Eziroglou right at turn 1. Angelone had to replace his front wing multiple times while Montero got the best out of this avoiding further repairs.
After all the mess midway through the race, it was Ivan Georgiev who found himself in the lead of the race and with a comfortable gap to second place Montero. Sadly, the killer kerbing of the Red Bull Ring denied the Ferrari driver his maiden victory when he went slightly over the kerb at the exit of turn 6 on lap 60 and broke his front wing. This meant now that Montero would take the lead of the race with only 11 laps to go, Bautista was right behind him and Cardozo in third, a double-podium finish for Force India was clearly in sight.
The last lap of the race gave us more drama when Cardozo's Force India started losing power with only a few corners to the checkered flag. The mechanics were scrambling and later on, they realized that not enough fuel was added prior to the race. Cardozo became a sitting duck on the final lap and saw his chances of a podium finish evaporate Infinity War style. Benny Fascelli managed to pass the Force India driver and secure his best career finish with a third place. Walcott also took another position from Cardozo and ended up in 4th. Right on the finish line, we could see the Force India with the engine shut down making it in a close 5th place.
Montero would end up with the victory just one second ahead of Bautista who made a fantastic return to racing after being absent for the past 3 events. This now means that Montero is back at the top of the Drivers Championship table leading Mackey by 15 points.
On the teams side, Ferrari saw a big blow with only 7 points scored against 33 from Renault. They, however, still hold a commanding lead over the French team.
Next up, the third and final race of the triple-header, the SRHF1 2018 British Grand Prix from Silverstone.