No excuses for Mercedes after Austrian agony

Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen took the lead after Mercedes kept Hamilton out during a virtual safety vehicle period that followed Bottas's retirement on lap 14, with all the others behind the Briton pitting for fresh tyres.

Max Verstappen made the most of a rare Mercedes double retirement today by claiming his first win this year, and Red Bull's first at "home", in an incident-packed Austrian Grand Prix.

The bigger problem was the strategy call, in keeping Hamilton out on track once a virtual safety auto had been called following Bottas's retirement.

With the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in second and third, Hamilton surrendered his title lead, with a 15-point swing in favour of the German, who now leads by a single point. But the race flipped on its head in the space of only a few minutes to turn their dream into a nightmare.

Pole sitter Valtteri Bottas recovered from being jumped by Lewis Hamilton to sit second by lap 14 when a hydraulic issue ended his race and continued the rotten luck experienced by the Finn in 2018. The VSC came out, we had half a lap to react and we didn't. "How did we miss that?"

"It's my mistake. Do what you can", replied Mercedes strategist James Vowles. We have had such great reliability for so many years and as painful as it is, we have to take the rough with the smooth.

A major strategy error and tyre problems were to blame for Hamilton's withdrawal.

"He was keeping the rear left cooler than the rear right and the rear left here is the one that takes all the load".

Not only was Red Bull's victory from fourth on the grid unexpected, it represented the team's first at their own circuit in five attempts.

Sadly, Kimi got a bit greedy a corner later, locking up and losing all the ground he had made up, falling back behind Hamilton and Bottas.

"I don't get it", he yelled.

"All I can see is the guy in front of me and the guy behind me and actually at the time, I was in the lead".

"Lewis, it's James. I've thrown away the win today but you have the potential opportunity to get back up", he said.

"I think there was a little bit more in me", Vettel said.

"We trust in you and believe in you".

The crisis continued to worsen for Hamilton when Vettel, who had started sixth, passed his rival on the inside at Turn 3.

Hamilton then opened up a 2.4 seconds lead as the field was stretched on the tight, short track.

He dropped to fifth, behind Daniel Ricciardo, but moved up one place when the Australian retired with a mechanical failure.

Hamilton had already been on the back foot before he stopped on lap 64, his vehicle suffering lost fuel pressure while he was in fourth place, after a glaring strategy error by Mercedes had cost him the lead.

Esteban Ocon ended up 11th after his final Q2 lap fell nearly two tenths of a second short of beating Hulkenberg, who improved by enough on his second run to jump ahead of the Force India.

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