Fernando Alonso to start Austrian Grand Prix in last place

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Fernando Alonso will start the Austrian Grand Prix from last place after taking on new engine parts.

Alonso was due to line up in 14th for the struggling McLaren team, but the Spaniard will now start from the pit lane.

The two-time world champion also has a new front wing after he ran across the kerbing in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.

Alonso has failed to finish the last three grands prix following a series of mechanical issues.

The 36-year-old Spaniard is out of contract with McLaren at the end of the year and is considering whether to walk away from the sport.

McLaren are in the midst of another awful season despite the British team’s hopes for improvement following their switch from Honda to Renault engines.

Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne qualified only 18th of the 20 runners on Saturday.

Valtteri Bottas lines up on pole position ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 14 points, was demoted to sixth by the stewards after he was adjudged to have blocked Carlos Sainz in qualifying.

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Lewis Hamilton completes practice double at Austrian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off in France by completing a practice double for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton is back in charge of the championship, and he was fastest in both sessions at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring on Friday.

The British driver, who is 14 points clear of Sebastian Vettel following his win at the Paul Ricard Circuit last weekend, finished clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas on a dominant day for the world champions.

Vettel placed third for Ferrari, two tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton, with the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen fourth and fifth.

Mercedes have brought a heavily-updated car with them to the second instalment of F1’s triple header, and it had the desired effect.

Hamilton set a best time of one minute and 04.579 seconds, only marginally slower than last year’s pole positon lap, with Bottas not far behind.

Hamilton also posted his quickest effort on the hardest tyre compound available to the teams this weekend to suggest there is more time to come.

Mercedes have not lost a race in Austria since the grand prix returned here in 2014. Indeed, Hamilton and team-mate Bottas, who triumphed last year, are the only active drivers to have won at the Red Bull Ring.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “I’m happy with how today went. Austria has been a kind track on us in the past.

“But you can see that there are three teams capable of putting the car on the front row. There are just a few hundredths or tenths between us. I have no doubt that tomorrow in qualifying that story will continue.”

For Vettel, who will be seeking to avenge his first-corner crash with Bottas in France, there is work to do.

The same can also be said for McLaren and their star driver Fernando Alonso. His floor had to be replaced after he ran over the kerbs and he finished a dismal 19th of the 20 runners.

The session was also red-flagged when Pierre Gasly crashed out. The Frenchman lost control of his Toro Rosso at the penultimate corner, braking his suspension, and ending up beached in the gravel.

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Niki Lauda's class in 1984 and other memorable Austrian Grand Prix

David Cooper 28/06/2018
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Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the rest of Formula One’s elite drivers have descended on Spielberg for the Austria Grand Prix this weekend.

Ahead of Sunday’s race, we look back at five dramatic moments in Austria.

1984

The entire field was caught up in the drama at Osterreichring. Two time world champion Niki Lauda had made a comeback with McLaren and was battling against reigning champion Nelson Piquet. The Austrian lost pace in the closing stages of the race, but Piquet hesitated as he closed in for the lead, thinking Lauda had tactically held back. The problem proved to be temporary though and soon Lauda regained speed and went on to secure his 23rd career victory. At the end of the season, he won the world title by half a point, the narrowest margin in history.

1987

Organisers must have wondered if they’d ever get the race underway at the original Osterreichring. It began with a collision between Stefan Johansson and a deer. Martin Brundle then lost control and hit the barriers, his car ricocheting back on to the track and into the incoming traffic. The race was red-flagged, only for Nigel Mansell to kick start a bigger incident, with more than 10 cars involved. It took nearly two hours for the race to resume after the original start time, with Mansell going on to clinch his third win of the season for Williams.

2001

Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya enjoyed some titanic battles on track during the five seasons they raced against each other. And perhaps one of the best remembered was in 2001. Schumacher attempted to overtake Montoya but the Colombian outbraked himself, resulting in both drivers running off the track. Rubens Barrichello soared into the lead, leaving both Montoya and Schumacher falling further down the field. Schumacher fought his way back to second, while Montoya was forced to retire due to hydraulic failure.

2002

It was another thrilling championship battle between Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen. But it was Barrichello who shone at Spielberg, showing composure to lead until the final lap until he was ordered to allow his Ferrari teammate Schumacher to overtake him and win the race. The Italian outfit wanted their marquee man to win the race and collect maximum points for the Drivers Championship. The Brazilian let Schumacher pass him on the final lap – for the second year in a row. The German went on to win his third successive title that year.

2015

Former world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso were eliminated after the first lap in the 2015 edition of the race. Raikkonen lost control of his Ferrari on turn two and collided with Alonso. The two came against the barrier, with Alonso on top of the Ferrari. Both drivers walked away unharmed from the incident. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” said Raikkonen after the race. “I had some wheelspin in an unusual place. I was at a quite high speed, suddenly went left and end up there…”

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