Bottas can make title tussle a three-horse race and four other things we learned from the Austrian GP

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Winner: Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas took the second Formula One victory of his career as the Mercedes driver held off Sebastian Vettel’s  Ferrari to win the Austrian Grand Prix.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the five things we learned from Sunday’s race.

Bottas can make title tussle a three-horse race

All the talk heading to Speilberg surrounded Vettel and Lewis Hamilton and their battle for the world championship.

The controversy over Vettel’s decision to deliberately drive into the side of Hamilton’s Mercedes in Baku also meant the spotlight was on the pair as the F1 circus rolled into Austria.

But Bottas, the quiet, reserved Finn, stuck his Mercedes on pole with a blistering qualifying lap before almost defying human physics to get the perfect start to the race.

He held off a late push from Vettel to take his second win of the year, closing to within 35 points of the Ferrari driver in the championship standings, with Hamilton now only 15 points clear of his team-mate.

Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton needs some home comforts

The future of the British Grand Prix is reportedly hanging in the balance ahead of the weekend’s race at Silverstone.

Speculation suggests the circuit will announce this week it is executing an option to end the contract to host the event due to spiralling costs.

Whether or not this is the last race at the Northamptonshire track for some time, Hamilton needs an inspired drive to change his luck and get his title tilt back in full swing.

The three-time champion finished fourth in Austria and has only had one podium finish in the past four grands prix.

That win in Canada was proceeded by a seventh-placed finish in Monaco, with fifth the best he could manage in Baku after a loose headrest cost him an almost-certain victory.

A gearbox penalty, brake-disc failure and a poor qualifying lap meant he had a weekend of damage limitation at the Red Bull Ring but he needs so much more than that as he aims for a fifth British Grand Prix win.

Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton.

Driver penalties need to be addressed

The fact Vettel escaped further reprimands for driving into the side of Hamilton in protest against what he considered dangerous braking behind the safety car in Baku was the focus at the start of the race weekend.

It was brought into the light again on Friday evening when Hamilton was hit with a penalty of his own for requiring an unscheduled change on his gearbox.

That severely hampered his hopes of winning here and showed that punishing drivers for technical problems may not be the way to operate moving forward.

Former driver Mark Webber, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and Mercedes director Toto Wolff all voiced that opinion to differing degrees in the last week and it certainly ruined the possibility of Hamilton and Vettel resuming their on-track battle immediately in Sunday’s race.

Hamilton received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Hamilton received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Verstappen’s luck is well and truly out

Max Verstappen had high hopes and plenty of expectation on his shoulders heading into the home race for his Red Bull team.

Instead he suffered a poor start, was bogged down and rammed out of the race after being caught up in Alonso’s spin with the Spaniard having been shunted by Daniil Kvyat.

That meant thousands of Dutch supporters left disappointed and that their hero Verstappen has now retired from five of the last seven races, leaving him frustrated to say the least.

His annoyances with ongoing bad luck will only have been heightened by the fact his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has been racking up podiums while he stews in the paddock.

Five successive podiums, four third-places and a win in Baku mean the Australian is now 62 points clear of Verstappen.

Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen.

Not every race can be like Baku

Other than Bottas’ superb start and a couple of shunts at the start, plus the final two laps of tension as Vettel and Hamilton closed down their prey before ultimately coming up short, the Austrian Grand Prix was largely forgettable.

That is in stark contrast to the Azerbaijan race two weeks prior, which contained controversy, safety cars, penalties and memorable moments.

Finding the right blend of constant entertainment remains one of the biggest challenges for the sport’s new owners Liberty Media and hopefully Silverstone will be more like the relative chaos of Baku as opposed to the somewhat uneventful race in Austria.

Bottas leads the field during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Bottas leads the field during the Austrian Grand Prix.

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Bottas holds off Vettel to win Austrian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas roared to the second victory of his career on Sunday when he won the Austrian Grand Prix for Mercedes ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

The Finn, in his first season with Mercedes after replacing 2016 champion Nico Rosberg, came home 0.658 seconds clear of Vettel who increased his lead ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the drivers championship to 20 points.

Hamilton, in the second Mercedes, did his utmost to grab a podium finish after starting from eighth on the grid, but had to settle for fourth behind Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.

For Ricciardo, on his team's 'home' Red Bull Ring circuit, it was a fifth consecutive podium finish and the 22nd of his career. Vettel now leads the drivers championship with 171 points ahead of Hamilton on 151 and Bottas on 136, while in the constructors title race Mercedes lead with 287 ahead of Ferrari on 254. What did you make of the action in Austria? Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Valtteri Bottas produced an inspirational performance to win his second F1 race after 87 attempts. Starting on pole, the Finn managed his race perfectly and never looked in doubt on his ultra soft tyres. With Sebastian Vettel breathing down his neck on the final frenetic laps, Bottas stayed composed to seal a fifth win for Mercedes this season.

FASTEST LAP

Lewis Hamilton had a mixed weekend in Austria after topping the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2 on Friday. Despite finishing just outside a podium place in fourth, the three-time world champion clocked the fastest lap of 1:07.411 on lap 69. Daniel Ricciardo – who claimed a fifth successive podium - proved the second-fastest, with Kimi Raikkonen’s 1:07.486 on lap 68 coming in third as he tried to push Hamilton for fourth spot. Lewis Hamilton. Lewis Hamilton.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Max Verstappen was forced to retire for the fifth time this season after a collision on the first lap caused by Daniil Kvyat. It was disappointing to see the Red Bull driver withdraw again, especially after starting fourth on the grid and looking like he could potentially fight for a podium place. Max Verstappen. Max Verstappen.

ONE TO WATCH

It was another scintillating performance from Lance Stroll as he rose from P18 to finish in 10th place. It’s the Canadian driver’s third time registering points this season after a stunning podium in Baku two weeks ago. Stroll was instrumental, overtaking Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz to confirm his place in the points alongside teammate Felipe Massa who finished 9th. Lance Stroll. Lance Stroll.

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Hamilton looks for reaction on the track and four other talking points ahead of Austrian Grand Prix

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Formula One heads to the Styrian mountains this weekend ahead of what promises to be an intriguing Austrian Grand Prix.

Fresh from an action-packed race on the streets of Baku there is much to talk about even before the cars take to the Red Bull Ring circuit for the first time on Friday.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five of the main talking points heading into the grand prix weekend.

HOW WILL THE GRID REACT TO SEBASTIAN VETTEL’S ANTICS?

Vettel courted plenty of controversy by driving his Ferrari into the side of title rival Lewis Hamilton after deeming that the Mercedes braked too heavily behind a safety car.

The German was hit with a 10-second stop-go penalty during the race but still finished in front of Hamilton to stretch his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 14 points.

Vettel avoided further sanctions from the FIA, motorsport’s governing body, amid speculation he could have been docked points or banned for his actions.

Instead he will be in Spielberg along with the rest of the field, but it will be interesting to see what the other drivers make of Vettel’s behaviour and the lack of retrospective punishment from the powers that be.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel.

…AND WILL HAMILTON REACT ON THE TRACK?

While the rest of the grid will have a chance to air their views on Thursday, it will be telling to see their actions on the track once practice gets under way on Friday morning.

Hamilton labelled Vettel a “disgrace” following the incident in Baku as the three-time champion followed the Ferrari home in fifth having seen his hopes of a race win dashed by a dislodged headrest.

Now the 32-year-old will want to do his talking on the tarmac and when Hamilton feels he has a point to prove it is usually quite hard to stop him doing just that.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton.

CAN VERSTAPPEN TAKE HIS RED BULL TO THE MAX?

While his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was avoiding all the trouble in Azerbaijan and taking his Red Bull from 10th on the grid to win the race, Max Verstappen was retiring for the third time in four races.

This is home turf for the Red Bulls and their support will want to see something more akin to Ricciardo’s display rather than another failure for the highly-rated Verstappen.

The Dutchman has not finished outside of the top five when he has managed to take the chequered flag but will want to see reliability improve, with Ricciardo having been on the podium for the last four outings.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen.

ANOTHER STROLL IN THE PARK FOR LANCE?

Plenty of questions were asked of Lance Stroll when the 18-year-old took to the wheel of his Williams at the start of the year.

The Canadian seemed a little out of his depth and struggled to make any sort of impact before finishing ninth in his home grand prix back in June.

He followed that up with a stunning drive in Azerbaijan, showing maturity beyond his years to claim his first F1 podium, only losing second place to Valttteri Bottas as the Finn passed him almost on the finish line.

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll.

MCLAREN TO BUILD ON MAIDEN POINTS IN BAKU?

It has been another season to forget for the beleaguered McLaren Honda partnership as the eight-time constructors champions continue to make up the numbers.

Fernando Alonso, who has threatened to walk away in the winter if the team do not improve, at least managed to take two points with a ninth-place finish in Baku.

It still leaves the team bottom of the current constructors’ standings heading into the ninth round of the season and, with Ron Dennis severing a 37-year bond with the team before the weekend, a continuation of their small signs of progress would be timely.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso.

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