Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes suffer in the heat of battle in Austria

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Lewis Hamilton does not expect Mercedes’ lacklustre showing in Austria to derail his championship charge.

After being passed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on the penultimate lap at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton took the chequered flag in fifth, marking the world champion’s worst finish in more than a year.

The Briton had to lift and coast throughout the race due to his Mercedes engine overheating in the extreme heat. Hamilton’s race was also hampered when he ran over the kerbs and had to stop for a new front wing.

Hamilton, however, will head to his home race at Silverstone in a fortnight’s time with a 31-point championship lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

“We have not had any problems up until this race,” said Hamilton after his Mercedes team were beaten for the first time this year.

“The race in Budapest will be hot but I don’t think this performance will happen in a lot of places.”

Mercedes have dominated this season with six one-two finishes from nine rounds. This marked the first race Hamilton has failed to finish in the top two.

The five-time world champion added: “We knew it would be a difficult weekend, and it has been more painful than we thought but, as a team, we have not been complacent at all.”

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal said: “From a fan’s perspective, this was a really exciting race to watch. However, from our team’s perspective, it was a difficult day.

“It’s clear that we have to fix our cooling problems for the coming hot European races.

“We knew that it was our Achilles heel and we were carrying the problem since the beginning of the season.

“We tried to work on mitigating the performance loss but in the end it was really painful to watch them cruising, not being able to defend or attack.

“But the bad days are the ones when we learn the most to come back stronger.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Max Verstappen wins Austrian GP thriller and other talking points

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Max Verstappen won the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday after overtaking Charles Leclerc in the closing laps. Verstappen’s Red Bull touched wheels with Leclerc’s car triggering an immediate investigation with Leclerc forced off the circuit.

Valtteri Bottas came in third, with Sebastian Vettel in fourth. Here are our key talking points from the race.

VERSTAPPEN STARS

A scintillating drive from the Dutchman. Verstappen, who won the Austrian Grand Prix last season, started from second on the grid but a poor start saw him drop down to seventh by turn one.

At this early point of the race, it was hard to see him climb back up to a podium spot. However, it’s not about the start of the race but the end, and Verstappen roared back, benefiting from fresher tyres to mount successful attacks on both Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.

He pushed hard in the final frenetic laps, and after reeling in Leclerc, he finally dived in to take the lead with two laps remaining – touching Leclerc’s wheels in the process.

It may be split opinion with the touch of tyres, but this is racing against two drivers of the future, and should be allowed.

HEARTBREAK FOR LECLERC

More heartbreak for the Monaco man. The 21-year-old drove superbly around the Spielberg circuit all weekend, maintaining his pace for large spells of the race before conceding the lead with two laps to go.

Leclerc was the faster driver for much of the weekend but couldn’t hold off the searing pace of Verstappen late in the race, despite the Dutchman touching his wheels.

After being denied victory in Bahrain three months ago, Sunday’s second place will at least add more positives for a driver who is only in his second season in Formula One.

He will be disappointed no doubt, but let’s hope this podium finish will at least be the start of more success for the Scuderia.

HAMILTON STRUGGLES

The Briton qualified second fastest but was given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen.

Starting from fourth, he could only manage fifth, with his edginess in the car down to a lack of pace on the straights, where Red Bull and Ferrari dominated all weekend.

Although he will be disappointed with the result, it doesn’t have much affect on the drivers’ standings where he still holds a 31-point lead over Bottas. His confidence won’t be affected either, with six wins from the first nine races.

Next up is the British GP – a track Hamilton has won a joint-record five times.

MIXED SHOWING FOR VETTEL

Poor old Seb. The German started ninth after an engine-related problem stopped him from setting a laptime in Q3 on Saturday.

A bright start to the race saw move up to fourth and threaten a podium position early on.

However, when Vettel came in to pit on lap 22, the Ferrari mechanics had an issue with their radios and they didn’t receive the message. As a result the stop took 6.1 seconds, denting his hopes of a podium finish.

Overtaking Hamilton for fourth late on will put some gloss on a mixed weekend.

MCLAREN SHINE AGAIN

The McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz are slowly becoming one of the most likable driver line-ups on the gird.

Not only do they come across as genuine and outgoing people, but they are also fearless, pacey and continue to get the best out of the McLaren car.

Norris finished a joint-season’s best sixth, while Sainz crossed the chequered flag in eighth after starting from the back of the grid.

A superb weekend for the Woking side.

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Formula One: Lewis Hamilton handed grid penalty as Charles Leclerc claims pole in Austria GP

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Charles Leclerc , Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen after qualifying at Austria GP.

Lewis Hamilton was dealt the first significant blow of his title bid after he was penalised three grid places for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The world champion, having qualified second at the Red Bull Ring, was expected to be demoted to fifth, punished for blocking Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying.

But confusion reigned in the Styrian Mountains when the provisional grid, published more than four hours after the result, instead placed the Briton in fourth.

This is despite the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, insisting that Hamilton would definitely start one place lower.

F1’s complex rule book favoured Hamilton after Kevin Magnussen, the Haas driver who finished fifth, was also penalised five places for a gearbox change.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, 21, secured pole position, with Red Bull star Max Verstappen, also 21, promoted to second. The duo will form the youngest front row in the sport’s history.

For Sebastian Vettel, his torrid time of late extended into another weekend. An engine problem prevented him from starting a lap in the shootout for pole, and the German, already 76 points Hamilton in the championship standings, will start a lowly ninth.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was promoted to third, while British teenager Lando Norris, just 19, will line up fifth – the rising McLaren star continuing to impress.

Hamilton should have been on the front row, but for an uncharacteristic mistake in the opening moments of qualifying.

He had just left the pits when Raikkonen, who was on a quick lap, came across the Briton’s sluggish Mercedes at the top of the hill on the approach to Turn 3.

Hamilton saw Raikkonen at the last minute, but in attempting to get out of the fast-approaching Finn’s way, he crossed in front of him and thwarted his lap.

“Hamilton completely blocked me,” said an angry Raikkonen on the team radio, giving Hamilton the middle finger.

Hamilton was hauled in front of the stewards, but after hearing from the world champion, and reviewing the video evidence, they deemed he “unnecessarily impeded” Raikkonen, throwing the Briton down the grid.

“I totally deserved the penalty and have no problem accepting it,” said Hamilton. “It was a mistake on my behalf, and I take full responsibly. It wasn’t intentional.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: “The rule book says if you impede someone, and it is clear, then you get a three-place penalty.

“It is not the driver’s fault, but there is a precedent, and we have to accept that.”

Hamilton’s punishment has played its part in the topsy-turvy grid, providing hope of an exciting race – much-needed after last week’s tedious affair in France.

Leclerc will line up from the front for the second time in his career, the power-heavy track suiting the straight-line grunt in his Ferrari. The young Monegasque will be the favourite to win his first grand prix and end Mercedes’ unbeaten streak.

Meanwhile, Norris, the teenager from Somerset, has adapted to Formula One life with staggering ease. Here, he got the very best out of his McLaren to qualify sixth, before he was bumped up one spot after Magnussen’s punishment.

Norris’s fellow novice George Russell beat Robert Kubica in the sister Williams to extend his qualifying record over the Pole to a remarkable 9-0.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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