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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