Bot­tas beats Vet­tel in Aus­tria, Hamil­ton ends up fourth

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bot­tas made a great start from pole po­si­tion to win the Aus­trian Grand Prix yes­ter­day, while Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel fin­ished just be­hind in sec­ond to ex­tend his cham­pi­onship lead over main ri­val Lewis Hamil­ton to 20 points.

Bot­tas did just enough to hold off Vet­tel’s late charge, with the Ger­man driver cross­ing the line 0.6 sec­onds be­hind. Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo showed great abil­ity to de­fend third place from Hamil­ton, who al­most passed the Aus­tralian driver on the last two laps but had to set­tle for fourth.

Bot­tas clinched the sec­ond victory of his ca­reer - both have come since he joined Mercedes from Wil­liams this sea­son. His first ca­reer podium was on the same Spiel­berg track, when he fin­ished third for Wil­liams in 2014. Bot­tas is now only 15 points be­hind Hamil­ton in the over­all stand­ings and is close to get­ting into con­tention for the ti­tle. Hamil­ton started from eighth on the grid yes­ter­day. The Bri­tish driver had the third fastest qual­i­fy­ing time be­hind Vet­tel and Bot­tas, but was de­moted five places for an unau­tho­rized gear­box change after the last race in Azer­bai­jan two weeks ago, which Ric­cia­rdo won. Ric­cia­rdo, who is fourth over­all, has been con­sis­tent this sea­son, clinch­ing his fifth straight podium. At the start of the race, Fer­nando Alonso had to re­tire his McLaren after a col­li­sion caused by Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen was slowed at the start by a clutch prob­lem, which dropped him back in the field where he was col­lected by Alonso’s out-of-con­trol McLaren - the fifth time in the last seven races Ver­stap­pen has failed to fin­ish. Bot­tas got away cleanly as Vet­tel made a some­what slug­gish start. Vet­tel con­tested the Mercedes driver’s start on his ra­dio, say­ing Bot­tas had jumped the lights, but the Fin­nish driver was later cleared by stew­ards of any wrong­do­ing.

It was a chaotic start in mid­field as Alonso’s car was sent spin­ning and oth­ers avoided him. Stew­ards de­cided Kvyat caused the crash and he was given a drive through penalty. Alonso has com­pleted only two races in a frus­tart­ing sea­son - but at least this time the Honda en­gine on his McLaren was not to blame.

By lap 10 0f 71, Hamil­ton had passed Ser­gio Perez’s Force In­dia and Haas driver Ro­main Gros­jean to move into fifth be­hind Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen and Ric­cia­rdo. Up ahead, Bot­tas was eight sec­onds clear of Vet­tel on the pictueresque 4.3-kilo­me­ter (2.7-mile) track nes­tled amid the rolling hills and forests be­neath the Styr­ian Alps.

Hamil­ton was the first of the top five to go into the pits, chang­ing his tires on Lap 32. Ric­cia­rdo and Vet­tel made their changes soon after. This shook up the order, with Bot­tas now lead­ing from Fin­nish coun­try­man Raikko­nen - both yet to change their tires. Vet­tel was in third ahead of Ric­cia­rdo and Hamil­ton, who was com­plain­ing about a bal­ance prob­lem on the rear of his car.

Bot­tas could not last much longer on his tires and fi­nally came in on Lap 41. After a some­what cum­ber­some tire change, he came out be­hind new leader Raikko­nen then overook him again on Lap 44 to re­gain con­trol of the race.

That prompted Fer­rari to pit Raikko­nen, jump­ing Vet­tel up to sec­ond, about 4 sec­onds be­hind Bot­tas. Vet­tel was work­ing hard to close the gap on Bot­tas, while Hami­ton com­plained of in­creased blis­ter­ing on his front tires. Still, Hamil­ton in fourth was gaining time on Ric­cia­rdo, de­spite the prob­lem. In the end, Hamil­ton crossed the line 1.4 sec­onds be­hind. Wil­liams driv­ers Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll made fine starts from 17th and 18th on the grid, and both fin­ished in the top 10. Dan­ish driver Kevin Mag­nussen (Haas) and Spa­niard Car­los Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) also failed to fin­ish.

— AFP

SPIEL­BERG: (From L) Fer­rari’s Ger­man driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (2nd), Mercedes’ Fin­nish driver Valtteri Bot­tas (1st) and Red Bull’s Aus­tralian driver Daniel Ric­cia­rdo (3rd) cel­e­brate on the podium after the For­mula One Aus­tria Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spiel­berg, yes­ter­day.

—AFP

SPIEL­BERG: Driv­ers steer their cars after the start dur­ing the For­mula One Aus­tria Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spiel­berg.

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