Hamilton fumes at team error

Lewis Hamilton dramatically retired from the Austrian Grand Prix as Formula One’s title race was thrown wide open.

Hamilton fumes at team error

Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton dramatically retired from the Austrian Grand Prix as Formula One’s title race was thrown wide open.

A furious Hamilton had already accused Mercedes of costing him victory after they failed to react to a virtual safety car period and stop their star driver for a tyre change.

Hamilton was running in fourth, behind his rival Sebastian Vettel, before he then ran out of power with only eight laps remaining and stopped at the side of the track.

Max Verstappen celebrates his Austrian Grand Prix win for Red Bull. Picture: AP
Max Verstappen celebrates his Austrian Grand Prix win for Red Bull. Picture: AP

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen took the chequered flag at the team’s home race ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel. Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas also retired on a woeful day for Mercedes.

Vettel now leads Hamilton, who failed to finish for the first time since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, by one point ahead of next week’s British Grand Prix.

Hamilton started in second, but roared off his marks on the 300-metre charge to the right-handed opening corner to assume the lead from his team-mate Bottas.

The Finn temporarily slipped behind Verstappen and Raikkonen for fourth, but made his way back past both drivers with a daring move around the outside of Turn 4 on the first lap.

It was a dream start for Mercedes, with Vettel back down the order after his grid penalty. But the race flipped on its head in the space of only a few minutes to turn their dream into a nightmare.

First, Bottas retired with a loss of hydraulic pressure. The VSC was deployed by the officials to slow down the pack, but Hamilton, unlike all of his rivals, did not come in for fresh rubber.

It did not take long for Hamilton to lead the inquiry after he was told by the Mercedes pit wall that he needed to find eight seconds to ensure he would stay ahead.

“Eight seconds?” Hamilton asked. “How did we miss that? I’ve got no time left on these tyres.”

James Vowles, the team’s chief strategist, moved to take the blame. “Lewis, this is James,” he said over the radio.

“We understand. It’s my mistake.”

In came Hamilton for tyres on lap 25. He left the pits in fourth.

A seething Hamilton said: “I want to say something, but just leave me to it.”

Moments later, Hamilton was back on the radio again.

“I don’t get it,” he yelled.

I am not going to be able to pass these guys. We have thrown away the win.

Vowles responded: “Lewis, this is James. I have thrown away the win. We trust in you, and believe in you. I’m sorry.”

The crisis continued to worsen for Hamilton when Vettel, who had started sixth, passed his rival on the inside at Turn 3. To make matters worse, Hamilton then had to stop for a second time for another set of tyres.

He dropped to fifth, behind Daniel Ricciardo, but moved up one place when the Australian retired with a mechanical failure.

But on lap 63, Hamilton, who had already told his team he was down on power, pulled over to the side of the track and parked his Mercedes following a loss of fuel pressure.

Romain Grosjean finished fourth for Haas ahead of his team-mate Kevin Magnussen. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was eighth.

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