Hamilton suffers in the heat to slip out of top two
Lewis Hamilton does not expect Mercedes’ lacklustre showing in Austria to derail his charge towards the championship.
Hamilton took the chequered flag in fifth, passed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on the penultimate lap at the Red Bull Ring. It marked the world champion’s worst finish in more than a year.
The Briton had to coast to the line, his Mercedes engine overheating in the extreme temperature. His race was also hampered when he ran over the kerbs and had to stop for a new front wing.
Hamilton, however, will head to his home race at Silverstone in a fortnight with a 31-point championship lead over his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
“We have not had any problems up until this race,” said Hamilton after his team had been beaten for the first time this year. “The race in Budapest in August will be hot, but I don’t think this performance will happen at a lot of places.”
Mercedes have dominated this season with six one-two finishes from nine rounds. This was the first time Hamilton had failed to finish in the top two. The five-time world champion added: “We knew it would be a difficult weekend, and it has been more painful than we thought, but, as a team, we have not been complacent at all.”
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, said: “From a fan’s perspective, this was a really exciting race to watch. However, from our perspective it was a difficult day.
“Today exposed our Achilles heel. We couldn’t really race with our car. We were just trying to keep it alive and cool it properly.
“It’s clear that we have to fix our cooling problems for the coming hot European races.
“The bad days are the ones when we learn the most to come back again stronger.”
Hamilton’s fellow Briton Lando Norris was pleased with his sixth place. “It was fun,” he said. “I lacked some straight-line speed compared to Lewis. I did what I could to stay ahead, I did what I could but then the Alfa [Romeo] got past, and then I got him again at lap 15 and managed to pull away.”
Below par: Lewis Hamilton admitted it had been a ‘painful’ weekend