Verstappen wins in Austria as Vettel grabs lead in standings
- Author: Stacy Allen Jul 03, 2018,
Jul 03, 2018, 11:31
Mercedes had won all four previous races since the Austrian GP was reinstated to the F1 calendar following a 10-year absence in 2014, with Hamilton and Bottas the only drivers in Sunday's field to have won the race before.
Vettel had also been ahead before last weekend's French Grand Prix, which Hamilton won to go 14 points clear.
A scathing Hamilton had already accused Mercedes of costing him a straightforward win after, and not for the first time this season, they failed to react to a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period, caused by Valtteri Bottas' retirement in the sister car, and stop him for new tyres. The young racer managed to keep it together even as the top contenders retired at different stages of the 71 lap race, including both the Mercedes-AMG drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, as well as Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
"The team did not make the right decision right away", Lauda said, adding that "those two, three seconds made the difference" as the virtual safety auto period was already over by the next chance for Hamilton to enter the pit lane.
Hamilton then, somewhat unexpectedly, pitted after 25 laps and emerged fourth, ahead of his direct title rival Vettel, but the defending champion was unhappy. Hopes that were ultimately thwarted when his vehicle finally ground to a halt.
The retirement brought to an end the Briton's record run of 33 consecutive points-scoring finishes dating back to the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix. He could not hide his disappointment but Wolff believes he quickly thought of the bigger picture.
It is worth remembering, however, that the Stevenage driver was under pressure at Silverstone past year, albeit for different reasons. Despite the problems coming just one week after the team introduced a power unit upgrade, Wolff says there is no link between the update and the failures.
Asked about the Austrian VSC call - and other strategy decisions in 2018 - Wolff insisted that Mercedes was fully behind Vowles and said it took "guts" for him to admit to a mistake in a team radio message that was broadcast to TV viewers.
"We did the best out of it, not taking each other out and fighting through that kind of corner, it's not easy to stay next to each other when you try". "All I can see is the guy in front of me and the guy behind me".
"In those circumstances you have to fully rely on the guys on the pit wall".
Hamilton, who is due to sign a $NZ78 million-a-year extension with Mercedes, later added: "As painful as it is, we are professionals and we have to take the rough with the smooth".
That the team had work to do before Silverstone was also acknowledged by the chief engineer, Andrew Shovlin.
"In that side it's good but obviously we want to win". With about 18 laps remaining, Verstappen had settled well into the lead and went on to win the race by a gap of 1.504s over Raikkonen, while Vettel finished third, 3.181s behind the race leader. "With just the strategic mistake, we could still have got P4 or P5".