Verstappen takes glory at the Red Bull Ring
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The hills of Spielberg was alive with the sounds of thousands of Dutch fans revelling in the surprising victory of Max Verstappen. The Flying Dutchman had his work cut out for him as he began the race down in P4. Just behind Raikkonen and both the Mercedes who topped the grid.
At the start Bottas got bogged down, thus, giving Lewis, who was on P2, a clear run up the steep turn 1, but it was Raikkonen who muscled his Ferrari in between the Mercs to grab P2 from Valtteri, only to loose it after Verstappen clipped his rear wheel.
From that time on it seemed that it was another Merc procession, but, as with most races today, the outcome was truly unexpected. Midway into lap 14, the #77 Merc crawled to halt with a broken gearbox, bringing out the virtual safety car, which, majority of the teams used to bring in their cars in for a “free stop”, everyone that is except Lewis. Mercedes, for whatever reason, kept the race leader out, and everyone in attendance knew that they just committed another error in its pit strategy. In a radio transmission, James Vowles, Mercedes chief strategist, apologised to Hamilton for throwing away the win with his error in judgement. This was not the first time Mercedes made bad calls during safety car periods and could be costly near season’s end.
At the resumption of the race, Lewis tried in vain to get a sufficient gap to Max but failed miserably. The #33 Red Bull had fresher tires and lap after lap, was gaining on the leader. Verstappen easily took over P1 as soon as Hamilton pitted for tires and only to come out 4th.
Everyone in the Mercedes garage knew that they missed out on the win.
The order now is Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Vettel, who, despite being slapped with a 3 grid place penalty for blocking, was running consistently.
Vettel even got the better of a struggling Hamilton on lap 39/71 as the Ferrari passed the #44 Mercedes with ease. Lewis tried to fight back against Ricciardo after another stop for tires but, even with failure to the #3 Red Bull, it all became academic; when with just about 10 laps to go, Lewis crawled into retirement with an engine failure.
The last time Hamilton failed to score a point was back in Malaysia 2016, also, this was the 1st double DNF for Mercedes since the 2016 Spanish GP.
Verstappen crosses the line amidst the cheers of the “Orange Army” and to win the 2018 Austrian GP! This is the very first win of the team from Milton Keynes, at the Red Bull Ring!
Coming in 2nd was Kimi Raikkonen, with Sebastian Vettel, 3 seconds adrift of the winner, took the last step on the podium. Going into the British GP, the driver championship standings now has Vettel with a 1 point lead over Lewis, while in the constructors championship, Ferrari has a good 10 point gap to Mercedes.