Max Verstappen wins dramatic Austrian GP as Mercedes retires
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen held on for victory at a dramatic Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, as both Mercedes drivers retired due to mechanical failures.
Verstappen preserved a set of Soft tyres for much of the race as the field struggled with blistering to chalk up his first win of the 2018 campaign.
It marks the first time Red Bull has triumphed on home turf in the championship and ended Mercedes’ four-year grip on the event, as neither Lewis Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas saw the chequered flag.
Hamilton prised the lead away during a dramatic opening lap as he, Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen went wheel-to-wheel into Turn 1, the Ferrari driver using the superior grip from his Ultrasoft tyres to make it three-wide.
Hamilton edged clear while the fast-starting Verstappen battled with Raikkonen into Turn 3, before both were overhauled by the recovering Bottas, who had missed out through Turn 1 after taking the outside line.
An opportunistic Verstappen nudged his way past Raikkonen into Turn 6 – a move that ultimately proved crucial in the outcome of the race.
Mercedes comfortably held a 1-2 until Bottas slowed on the run to Turn 4 after 14 of 71 laps due to a gearbox problem, with his stricken W09 requiring a Virtual Safety Car.
Verstappen, Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel all pitted to take on fresh Softs, but Mercedes kept leader Hamilton out on track.
Hamilton held a 13-second advantage over Verstappen and was perplexed when informed he needed to find a further eight seconds in order to pit, with strategist James Volwes repeatedly apologising for the team’s decision not to stop.
Hamilton filtered back into fourth place when he stopped on lap 25 and expressed his frustration once more, while Ricciardo nabbed Raikkonen for second, making it a Red Bull 1-2.
Ricciardo, though, lost time with blistering on his left-rear tyre and was forced into a second stop shortly after he was re-passed by Raikkonen, who by then faced a seven-second gap to Verstappen.
Hamilton was usurped by Vettel mid-way through the race as the Ferrari driver executed a stunning move through Turn 2, dipping a wheel onto the grass, after which Hamilton informed Mercedes of worsening blistering on his Soft tyres.
Mercedes serviced Hamilton once more and he emerged behind Ricciardo – but a puff of smoke from the Red Bull shortly after indicated a terminal problem, and he slowed moments later.
That promoted Hamilton into fourth position but with eight laps remaining he crawled to a halt amid a fuel pressure problem and was forced to park his W09.
It ended his run of races in the points, that stretched back to the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, and marked Mercedes’ first double DNF in over two years.
Up front Verstappen carefully managed his tyres through to the chequered flag to keep the pursuing Raikkonen at bay, while Vettel remained a similar distance behind in third place.
Vettel’s podium enabled him to take back the lead of the championship over Hamilton by just a single point.
With Hamilton, Bottas and Ricciardo all failing to reach the chequered flag it opened up fourth position for Romain Grosjean, who ended his barren spell in spectacular fashion.
Grosjean was backed up by team-mate Kevin Magnussen, giving Haas its best-ever haul of 22 points from a single race weekend, enabling it to jump McLaren in the standings.
Force India added much-needed points to its tally as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished sixth and seventh respectively, as Fernando Alonso raced from the pits to take eighth.
Sauber completed the top 10 courtesy of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson, the pair both adding to the team’s burgeoning tally.
Pierre Gasly held on to a points finish until the closing laps, when he was passed by both Sauber drivers, while Renault had a disappointing day, with Carlos Sainz Jr. only 12th, as Nico Hulkenberg suffered a smoky and fiery early exit.
Williams placed 13th and 14th, Lance Stroll ahead of Sergey Sirotkin, while Stoffel Vandoorne was officially classified in 15th, though retired six laps from home.
Vandoorne ran most of the race at the back after sustaining damage in a first-lap clash with Gasly.
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was in contention for points until he encountered a suspected mechanical issue three-quarters of the way through the race and was forced out.
Silverstone will host the next round of the season, the British Grand Prix, next weekend.
Austria - Race Result
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|4||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1 Lap|
|5||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1 Lap|
|6||Esteban Ocon||RP Force India||1 Lap|
|7||Sergio Perez||RP Force India||1 Lap|
|8||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||1 Lap|
|9||Charles Leclerc||Sauber||1 Lap|
|10||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1 Lap|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1 Lap|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Renault||1 Lap|
|13||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||1 Lap|
|14||Lance Stroll||Williams||1 Lap|
|15||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||1 Lap|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||DNF|
|18||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||DNF|