Mercedes explains 'painful' Hamilton VSC blunder in Austrian GP

02 July, 2018, 03:40 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Toto Wolff

After a virtual safety auto period began following the retirement of race Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, which took place as a result of a hydraulics issue on lap 14, Verstappen, who was running in second place at the time, led a group of cars into the pits.

The virtual safety auto was triggered by a mechanical failure for Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas, and saw all frontrunners except Hamilton pit.

Meanwhile, Vettel now leads the Drivers' Championship by a single point ahead of next weekend's British GP at Silverstone, with Ferrari also nudging ahead in the Constructors' stakes amid their rivals' horror show. The race officials have meanwhile confirmed that they won't take any action over an incident between Raikkonen and Verstappen on Lap 1.

The strategic blunder ultimately proved irrelevant to the outcome of Hamilton's race when a fuel pressure problem halted his W09 with eight laps to go, but he nonetheless urged Mercedes to up its game.

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Williams driver Lance Stroll, who did a good job to make Q2 for the first time since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two months ago rounded out the top 15. Vettel is in fifth place, more than 22 seconds back.

Tension grew between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen over team race about giving a tow to one another, when the Australian was slow during his out lap and failed to provide his team-mate a tow before the start of his lap. Verstappen had slight blistering, but Hamilton's left rear was a mass of blistered rubber.

His exit brought out the virtual safety vehicle, slowing down the pace and disallowing overtaking.

But while Red Bull and Ferrari quickly brought in both drivers for fresh tyres, the Mercedes garage did not make the same call for Hamilton.

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Force India's Sergio Perez was 17th, with radio messages suggesting he had some kind of energy recovery problem that possibly restricted his available power at least on his first run. Yes, it was clearly his gearbox. His engine is on fire!

Leclerc, who reportedly is a candidate to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari next season, ended practice with an engine issue, forcing his team to replace the gear box.

For Bottas, his retirement from a race he won last year was another bitter blow, especially having beaten Hamilton to pole, and especially after the disappointment of Baku earlier in the year, where he lost an nearly certain win to an unlikely late puncture. Hamilton's lead is now 2.5 seconds ahead of his Mercedes teammate. "I'm looking forward to getting the auto back and trying to understand what the problem is, and I know the guys will be working hard to rectify it and make sure it doesn't happen again". Vettel is in sixth place.

But Mercedes didn't call in Hamilton, who had been leading the race from the start. It will be the two Mercedes starting from the front row. His Ferrari was deemed to have "unnecessarily impeded" Renault's Carlos Sainz in the second qualifying session on Saturday and the stewards slapped him with a three-place grid penalty. Bottas will also be looking to win in Spielberg for a second consecutive year.

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African side Senegal , became the victims of the fair play tiebreaker, after they finished level on points with Japan in Group H . It's the first time in World Cup history that a team has been eliminated on the basis of fair play points.

The win saw Verstappen climb to fifth in the standings with 93 points.



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