Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes stronger after Austria failures

Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes stronger after Austria failures

Mercedes are hopeful Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will avoid grid penalties at the British Grand Prix after their Spielberg woes last Sunday.

"It was wonderful to win at the Red Bull Ring with so many Dutch fans here". "It was fantastic to win here with so many Dutch fans".

Of course, that wasn't the only reason Verstappen won.

"Obviously, we know it was a hard weekend and of course we have all wished it wasn't the way it was but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger", Hamilton said. This was the best result for the team since their 2016 debut, and it also earned them enough points to move them up to fifth in the championship ahead of McLaren.

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Second in the standings by just a point, the championship lead has bounced between Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel repeatedly during the opening nine races of the season.

"The luck I'm having this year feels like a bit of a bad joke at the moment", said Bottas, who had collided with Vettel at the start of the previous race in France.

"It's the same as every year really but the British Grand Prix is the most special in the sense of all the races that we get to do for me", said Hamilton in the Thursday press conference. "After that, the auto came good, but we just ran out of laps". Meanwhile, Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out. In the 64 lap, Hamilton lost fuel pressure in his vehicle, forcing him to retire for the first time in 33 races. Hamilton then opened up a 2.4 seconds lead as the field was stretched on the tight, short track. Nico Hulkenberg ("Reno") - 34 10. Three laps later, the luckless Bottas was also forced to abandon, pulling off to park his Mercedes. The four-time world champion went to school in Stevenage with Manchester United midfielder Ashley Young, who has been a regular fixture in Gareth Southgate's World Cup teams so far.

Verstappen hit the front after Mercedes kept Hamilton out on track during a virtual safety auto period that followed Bottas's retirement, with the other contenders pitting for fresh tyres.

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"It was awesome, very hard to manage the tyres, lot of blistering, but we managed to hang on", said Verstappen of Red Bull's first win at the circuit they own.

Lewis Hamilton says it's impossible to say how the F1 season will pan out; especially in a season where both Mercedes and Ferrari have at times appeared dominant while other times have been way off the pace. "It's my mistake. Do what you can", replied Mercedes strategist James Vowles.

Hamilton's retirement with eight laps to go, and while in fourth place, ended a record run of 33 successive scoring finishes. He rejoined the track without damage, though, and finished ahead of the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen. "I hope they're sleeping well, I hope they're eating well because that's a large part of it, and ultimately just going out and enjoying themselves".

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