Bottas beats Vettel in Austria, Hamilton ends up fourth
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.
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.
SPIELBERG: Drivers steer their cars after the start during the Formula One Austria Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.