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F1: Verstappen wins in Austria as Mercedes suffers double DNF

05 July, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Formula One Grand Prix Friday free practise sessions Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W08 EQ Energy

"It was unbelievable", said Verstappen. Nico Hulkenberg's engine let go early in the race while pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas had a gearbox failure.

The Australian, out of contract at the end of the season but now expected to sign a new deal, had a testy exchange over the radio after having to run ahead of team mate Max Verstappen in the final shoot-out. But at the time, the strategist faces more of a dilemma and the person who is in the lead of the race always faces the biggest dilemma of all because they have the most to lose.

"We made the right call when virtual safety vehicle came out and we pitted. Red Bull and Ferrari are not going to rest on their laurels", he said.

The Dutchman's first win of 2018 moves him up to fifth place in the drivers' championship, three points behind Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo and 53 points off leader Sebastian Vettel.

"We were one and two on the grid, Lewis had a fantastic first lap and then DNF-ing twice - and obviously losing the race under the Virtual Safety Car (VSC): it doesn't get more cruel for us".

Verstappen is in fifth place overall, 50 points behind Vettel with almost half the season gone, but he told Sky F1: 'We need a bit more engine power and then we can definitely be in the mix'. But I think the pace was very good, the tyre management was very good. His hopes of fighting for a podium were ruined when his auto began losing power, resulting in him retiring on the 63rd lap of the race. It's just not my thing, I don't have the need to share.

At the front, Verstappen led his Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo by 4.9 seconds with Raikkonen third, a second down, and Hamilton a further six-tenths adrift. On lap 53, he pitted again for super-softs, dropping a place to fifth behind Ricciardo, who nearly immediately slowed and stopped.

"Hats off to him", said Horner. "The more we can attract the better for all of us and the better for the sport".

"It was a good result for the team".

The race high attrition rate became obvious from the start. "So positive day, but could have been better".

After a torrid start to the season littered with errors and mistakes, Verstappen has enjoyed an upturn in form, finishing on the podium in four of the last five races.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of Monegasque rising star Charles Leclerc and his Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson.

The triple-header of consecutive French, Austrian and British races concludes next week at Silverstone with the championship now fascinatingly poised.



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