Hamilton suf­fers in the heat to slip out of top two

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Austrian Grand Prix - By Philip Dun­can

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

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