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Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, P4 and P12 After Friday Practice in Austria

It's an interesting thing to look at the Formula 1 World Drivers' Champions list. Fangio dominated the '50s with 5 titles, Schumacher was the king of the early 2000s with 5 titles as well, Vettel clinched 4 titles at the start of the last decade, and Lewis Hamilton has been on top of the game with 6 titles in the past 7 years.
2021 Styrian Grand Prix - Mercedes-AMG F1 18 photos
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For many years it looked like Michael Schumacher's record of 91 Grand Prix victories might never be broken. But along came Lewis Hamilton, the first British driver to score more victories than Nigel Mansell, Jackie Stewart, and Jim Clark. Since 2007, Hamilton has won more Grand Prix events than all of his three predecessors together, overtaking Schumacher with a total of 98 wins!

After the first 7 rounds, Lewis Hamilton is now second in the overall rankings, with 119 points, just 12 points behind Max Verstappen. His team-mate, Valtteri Bottas isn't far behind, in fifth, with 59 points. Lewis has won 3 of the first 7 races and has been second in two of the other ones. Compared to his previous season, this years' performance is not at the same level, but I guess there's only so much winning a driver can do.

The first day of the Styrian GP saw the drivers lining up for two free practice sessions, which were reduced to just one hour each, as compared to the previously allotted time of 90 minutes. Max Verstappen was the fastest driver in FP1, with a lap time of 1:05.910. Pierre Gasly finished the session in second place, while Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas came in third and fourth, with a lap time less than half a second slower compared to Verstappen.

2021 Styrian Grand Prix \- Friday Practice
You can get an idea of how top-notch these drivers by observing that the fastest 16 drivers were within a second of each other throughout their fastest lap. For FP1 Lewis Hamilton completed a total of 32 laps, while Valtteri Bottas managed to get slightly more seat time, with 34 laps in total. As the drivers got reacquainted with the track, the rhythm for the FP2 was turned up to 11, as Verstappen improved his previous lap time by almost half a second.

This time Daniel Ricciardo was right behind him, with Esteban Ocon in third. Lewis Hamilton managed to put in three more laps than earlier in the day and secured fourth with a lap time of 1:05.796, which in FP1 would have brought him first place. Valtteri Bottas was also faster than he was in FP1, but his time was only good enough for P12, just slightly ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari. Overall a difficult day for Bottas, who even spun out exiting his pit box on hard tires, albeit without causing any damage to the car.

Talking about his first day of practice Lewis Hamilton mentioned that "We’re a little bit down, particularly over a single lap, but generally the car felt relatively solid...Red Bull are throwing some good punches at the moment so we’ve just got to have our guard up and make sure we’re ready for the return." Valtteri Bottas noted that "the focus for today was on the long runs, trying to find the long-run performance - we prioritized that well today and hopefully that will pay off on Sunday."

Drivers are looking ahead to another practice session today, and then everyone will be going into the qualifying session at 3 PM, local GMT+1 time. The main event of the Styrian GP will be taking place tomorrow at the same local time, 3 PM, and from the looks of it, the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen might be a very interesting one, to say the least.

 
 
 
 
 

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