Verstappen wins as Mercedes implodesposted in F101 | 07 | 2018

    RED BULL’S MAX VERSTAPPEN — in front of 20,000 orange-bedecked Dutch fans — took a shock win in the Austrian Grand Prix, the team’s home race, as the challenge by Mercedes and defending world champ Lewis Hamilton imploded in dramatic style. (Related: Hamilton dominates French GP)

    While Verstappen took the checkered flag — after brilliantly managing his tyres – ahead of the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes was left cutting the cost of technical failures which denied it the opportunity of another 1-2.

    Polesitter Valtteri Bottas retired with a gearbox problem. That left four-time world champ Hamilton leading the race, but while the rest of the front-runners pitted under the virtual safety car — ironically caused by Bottas’s problem — Mercedes failed to call their No1 driver in.


    The error ruined Hamilton’s race, as he was back in fourth place when he rejoined after his later pitstop. But the team’s problems were further compounded later when Hamilton was forced to retire when his car suffered a loss of fuel pressure.

    At the start, both Hamilton and Raikkonen jumped Bottas on the run to Turn 1, with the leaders three-abreast. As they sped towards Turn 3, Raikkonen tucked into Hamilton's slipstream but locked up and ran wide.

    The Finn’s error allowed Verstappen to challenge him on the run out of the corner. The Dutchman’s challenge though was rebuffed and Bottas brilliantly repassed both on the outside of Turn 4. Two corners later, Verstappen got inside Raikkonen and a slight nudge on the Finn's left-rear wheel pushed him wide and allowed the Red Bull driver to sneak through.


    While Bottas settled into a comfortable second place, unable to match the pace of team leader Hamilton, the Finn’s race ended on lap 14 of the 71 when he was forced to park on the escape road at Turn 4 with a loss of hydraulic pressure.

    That triggered the VSC period and, though Mercedes had plenty of time to call Hamilton into the pits, they didn’t. Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles later came on the radio to apologise to an incandescent Hamilton for the mistake, and took full responsibility for the error.


    When Hamilton emerged from his pitstop 10 laps later a distant fourth, Verstappen had inherited the lead. A few laps later, world championship rival Vettel — who now heads to this weekend’s British Grand Prix leading the title race by one point —forced his way past on the grass on the way up to Turn 3. (Related: Vettel dominates Canadian GP)

    Hamilton clawed a place back when the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo pitted again to change tyres after battling a blistering left-rear. With 19 laps remaining, Hamilton too was forced into a second pitstop when his rear tyres suffered blistering.


    Twelve laps later, his race ended when a loss of fuel pressure forced him off the road at Turn 3. Hamilton’s retirement ended a run off 33 consecutive races in the points. The Brit’s last retirement was his spectacular exit from the 2016 Malaysian GP with an engine failure.

    Hamilton’s retirement took the pressure off the leading three cars and they held station to the chequered flag. Ricciardo should have finished fourth in Hamilton's absence, but the Aussie — celebrating his 29th birthday — had already retired with an apparent gearbox problem just after the Mercedes’ second stop.


    That left the door open for Romain Grosjean to end his point-less start to the 2018 season in style with fourth place for Haas, the best result in the American team's fledgling F1 history. Even better for the US-based team, team-mate Kevin Magnussen battled back from losing places to finish fifth and net Haas a huge points windfall.


    Sixth and seventh went to the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez — rising from 11th and 15th on the grid — both finishing just ahead of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso in eighth, despite starting from the outline.

    The top 10 was rounded off by Alfa Romeo Sauber duo Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson.

    F1 — Austrian Grand Prix  the Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. (Result):

    1. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 71 laps

    2. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari +1.504s

    3. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari +3.181s

    4. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team +1 lap

    5. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team +1 lap

    6. Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India F1 Team +1 lap

    7. Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India F1 Team +1 lap

    8. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team +1 lap

    9. Charles Leclerc MON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +1 lap

    10. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +1 lap

    11. Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +1 lap

    12. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Renault Sport Formula One Team +1 lap

    13. Sergey Sirotkin RUS Williams Martini Racing +2 laps

    14. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing +2 laps*

    15. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team +3 laps


    Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 62 laps

    Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 54 laps

    Daniel Ricciardo AUS Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 53 laps

    Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 13 laps

    Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team 11 laps

    *Post-race time penalty for ignoring blue flags

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    Jim McGill

    Photographs: Copyright Red Bull

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