Vettel denies Hamilton in final Austrian GP practice

Vettel denies Hamilton in final Austrian GP practice

Vettel denies Hamilton in final Austrian GP practice

The subsequent Virtual Safety Car allowed pit stops to be made with less time lost, given the slower pace enforced on track, and only Hamilton didn't take advantage in a call that the Mercedes pit wall apologised for after he was overtaken by a number of rivals when he eventually did change to the longer life tyres.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso came home eighth for McLaren ahead of Monegasque rising star Charles Leclerc and his Ferrari-powered Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson. With Hamilton failing to score, Vettel regained the championship lead 146-145.

"I had plenty of people coming to see me before the start and saying, 'This was going to be a walk in the park, 1-2, you have the quickest auto'".

The Ferrari driver was briefly in second but was soon overtaken by Bottas again and Verstappen.

Missing out on his fourth pole of the season, which would have been his 50th for Mercedes and 76th overall, Hamilton still felt upbeat as he recovered in his final lap under pressure.

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

"You look at the race of Max and it was good and Kimi did the fastest lap at the end of the race".

Bottas, victor in Austria a year ago from pole, also agreed that the updates were working well.

Verstappen hit the front after Mercedes kept Hamilton out on track during a virtual safety vehicle period that followed Bottas's retirement, with the other contenders pitting for fresh tyres. Going into Turn 3, I could recover two places and was back in second place.

But Mercedes didn't call in Hamilton, who had been leading the race from the start.

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Mercedes have dominated the sport since 2014, but they are crumbling under the fiercer competition provided by both Ferrari and Red Bull this year. "That's what got me invested in racing and really caught my heart, it's where the passion is", Hamilton said.

"We were going flat out, and going flat out means you are overheating the surface of the tyre, and that causes the blistering".

"I already said it before the race: It is super to start 1-2 but it is better to finish 1-2", Wolff said.

It was clear that tyre wear was emerging as a critical factor.

On lap 53, he pitted again for super-softs, dropping a place to fifth behind Ricciardo, who nearly immediately slowed and stopped.

Lewis Hamilton dramatically retired from the Austrian Grand Prix as Formula One's title race was thrown wide open. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari) one lap, 5.

Honda-powered Toro Rosso had Pierre Gasly inside the top 10 in both sessions, although he damaged the car's suspension in the second stint.

12 Carlos Sainz Jr.

Force India's Sergio Perez was 17th, with radio messages suggesting he had some kind of energy recovery problem that possibly restricted his available power at least on his first run. It will be the two Mercedes starting from the front row. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren-Renault) three laps.

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