(Spielberg Bei Knittelfeld) Reigning Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen continued his march to a third consecutive title by dominating the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Verstappen started from the lead position for a fourth race in a row and he signed a fifth win in a row. Winner of seven of the nine events this season, the Dutchman extended his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings to 81 points, ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

“I think our runs were perfect, so it was a great day and I had fun,” Verstappen said. I just enjoy driving this car and racing for this team. »

“I saw the gap and I thought I had to go back to the pits,” he said. From the outside, it looks like a big risk, but when you’re inside the car, that’s not the case at all. »

The 25-year-old scored a 42nd Formula 1 victory, which put him ahead of Ayrton Senna for fifth in history.

Charles Leclerc, who triumphed in Austria last year, finished 5.2 seconds behind Verstappen to take second place. Perez completed the podium, 17.2 seconds behind.

But Verstappen’s margin of victory narrowed due to a late pit stop. It was another comfortable win for Red Bull on its Spielberg track.

Quebec’s Lancer Stroll finished the race in 10th place to pick up a point for the Aston Martin team.

Getting off to a good start from the lead, Verstappen held off Leclerc on turns 2 and 3 and easily regained the lead when the Monegasque entered the pits halfway through the 71-lap race at the Oval. Red Bull.

It was only a second podium this season for Leclerc, but it gave him a sense of optimism.

“The improvements we’ve made make me feel better. It looks good for the future, he said. Obviously there is still work to do because Max and Sergio have a lot of pace. »

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. and several others received a five-second penalty for leaving the track limits.

Perez started from 15th and passed Sainz with 10 laps to go to register his first podium since his second place finish in Miami two months ago.

“It’s a nice comeback,” Perez said. It was a difficult streak for me, but I hope to be back on track and to be able to keep this consistency. »

Sainz finished fourth ahead of McLaren driver Lando Norris and Stroll’s teammate Fernando Alonso. Hamilton and teammate George Russell completed the top 8.

The Red Bull team has won all nine races this season in addition to two sprint races. Verstappen won Saturday’s and Perez had the same success in Azerbaijan.