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Formula One: Red Bull’s Verstappen Wins Austrian GP As Mercedes Implodes

By Fitzgerald Cecilio
on Jul 03, 2018 12:01 AM EDT
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Max Verstappen of Red Bull ruled the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday to the delight of his home fans as he capitalized on a disaster-filled race for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen thwarted the challenge of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari en route to his first win of the season to the delight of Dutch fans, who trooped to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. The win was the fourth for the 20-year-old Verstappen, who held off the Ferrari duo of Raikkonen and Vettel over 71 laps of racing.

"From previous experience in practice sessions, I know it can happen. I tried to manage, I could see my tyres opening up. I just had to drive around the issue. Luckily I could manage it until the end of the race," Verstappen said.

Sebastian Vettel Snatches Lead  

Verstappen finished the race in one hour, 21 minutes, and 56 seconds, while Raikkonen ended up second, 1.5 seconds behind the winner. Vettel placed third, 3.18 seconds behind Verstappen.

Finishing in the top 10 were Romain Grosjean of Haas Ferrari (4th), Kevin Magnussen of Haas Ferrari (5th), Esteban Ocon of Force India Mercedes (6th), Sergio Perez of Force India Mercedes (7th), Fernando Alonso of McLaren Renault (8th), Charles Leclerc of Sauber Ferrari (9th) and Marcus Ericsson of Sauber Ferrari (10th).

With a top-three finish, Vettel took a one-point lead over Hamilton (145). Räikkönen was third with 101 points, Daniel Ricciardo with 96, and Verstappen with 93 points.

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas Did Not Finish Race

Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas both did not finish the race. Bottas retired in the 14th lap due to a gearbox problem, sparking a virtual safety car period.

During that span, Verstappen, Raikkonen, and Vettel all went into the pit and changed to softer tires, while Hamilton passed. Driving with wearing and blistered tires, Hamilton was forced to change his tires in the latter part of the race, dropping him from the lead to fourth place.

The decision made Hamilton unhappy, telling his crew that they have thrown away the win. Chief strategist James Vowles acknowledged the blunder, telling Hamilton that it was his mistake. In the 64th lap, Hamilton lost fuel pressure in his car, forcing him to retire for the first time in 33 races.

The last time that Hamilton retired was in 2016 when he crashed with teammate Nico Rosberg in the Spanish Grand Prix. After the race, Hamilton said that his team should work hard to understand what went wrong. Hamilton insisted that they should have won the race.

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