Max Verstappen steals the show and other takeaways from Austrian Grand Prix

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Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull stayed cool in the heat to win the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, while Sebastian Vettel took over first place in the driver standings.

Verstappen took his fourth Grand Prix victory ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel, who came third.

Lewis Hamilton began the race top of the standings, but he and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who started in pole position, both dropped out with mechanical problems.

Here’s our main takeaways from Austria.

Verstappen roars into life

Starting from P4, the Dutchman produced another impressive and mature drive. The 20-year-old is finally making up for his error-strewn start to the season, with four podiums in his last five races. But the Monaco resident looked magical around the sweeping circuit in Austria, pushing hard ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen late on to seal his first win of 2018. With his teammate Daniel Ricciardo retiring with 17 laps remaining when in third, it proved to be a mixed weekend for Red Bull on their home ground.

Hamilton struggles

A race that started with so much promise ended in despair for the Briton when he was forced to retire with seven raps remaining. Apart from his retirement, his biggest frustration will be Mercedes’ decision not to pit under the virtual safety car on lap 15. When Hamilton did pit 11 laps later, he came out fourth and was clearly angry with his team. He said over the radio that the team “had thrown away a win”, something that definitely wouldn’t have gone down well in the garage. As disappointing as his retirement may be in Austria, it’s still a minor blip on the calendar with another 12 races remaining in the championship. Remarkably, it’s Mercedes first double retirement since Spain in 2016, after Valtteri Bottas bowed out earlier in the race.

Vettel takes title lead

The new title leader bounced back after hitting Bottas on the first lap in France last week, finishing third in Austria. Starting sixth on the grid, Vettel benefited from an early pitstop under the virtual safety car to storm into contention for the win. His standout moment in Spielberg was his stunning overtake on Hamilton on lap 39 to climb into a podium position. We may only be nine races through the season, but Vettel will not want a repeat of 2017 when he lost his firm grip on the title after the summer break. The 30-year-old is now back in control of the title race and needs to stay composed and minimise his errors behind the wheel for the remaining races. If can do this then expect him to win a fifth world title.

Unlucky Bottas

The title fight may be between Hamilton and Vettel, but Bottas could be right in there only for bad luck. Starting on pole in Austria, the Finn dropped down to fourth after a poor start and pushed his way back to second. However, he was forced to retire on the 14th lap due to a gearbox failure. That’s potentially 24 points lost now in two weeks for the 28-year-old – after he was taken out by Vettel at the first corner in France last week when qualifying on the front row at Paul Ricard. At Spielberg, he could have held on for a podium place only for the mechanical issue to force him out a quarter of the way into the race. It’s unlikely Bottas would have beaten Hamilton, but if things had gone his way then he could be right at the sharp end of the championship alongside his teammate.

Haas revival

A stunning result for Haas. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen capitalised on the retirements of Hamilton, Bottas and Ricciardo to finish fourth and fifth respectively – the best result for the American side in their short history. The duo showed once again that they have the potential to threaten the bigger midfield teams, especially in the European races. Grosjean and Magnussen looked consistent throughout the race and the car had good pace and balance to remain ahead of Renault and Force India. Their 22 points scooped from two top-5 finishes in Austria means Haas are now fifth in the constructors’ championship – five points ahead of a struggling McLaren.

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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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