Verstappen victorious as Mercedes suffered double retirement

The crowd favourite Max Verstappen scored a popular victory at Red Bull Racing’s home race as Mercedes’ challenge imploded in a dramatic Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen headed the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who stole the championship lead from Lewis Hamilton by one point after Mercedes turned a one-two in qualifying into a double retirement.

Poleman Valtteri Bottas retired with a gearbox problem while a strategy error under the ensuing virtual safety car ruined Hamilton’s race and a loss of fuel pressure forced him to a late retirement.

Hamilton and Raikkonen jumped Bottas on the run to Turn 1, with the leaders three-wide, before Raikkonen tucked into Hamilton’s slipstream and attacked into Turn 3 but locked up and ran wide.

That allowed Verstappen to challenge him on the run out of the corner but Max was rebuffed aggressively and Bottas was able to re-pass both on the outside of Turn 4.

Verstappen got inside Raikkonen two corners later and a slight nudge on The Iceman’s left-rear wheel pushed him wide and allowed the Red Bull driver to sneak through.

Bottas offered no threat to Hamilton before slowing on lap 14 and retiring on the escape road at Turn 4 with a loss of hydraulic pressure.

That triggered a virtual safety car under which the frontrunners all stopped except for Hamilton, a mistake that Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles came on the radio to apologise for.

Verstappen rejoined from his pitstop 13 seconds behind Hamilton, who ran ten laps without being able to stretch out the gap and eventually stopped.

That dropped him to fourth, handing Verstappen the lead, but Hamilton’s misery continued a few laps later when Vettel forced his way past on the grass on the way up to Turn 3 and aggressively ran Hamilton wide on the entry to corner.

Hamilton was gifted a position back just after mid-distance when Daniel Ricciardo had to pit to change tyres after battling a blistering left-rear.

He gave chase to Vettel after receiving another apology from Vowles over the radio but then had to make his own forced stop for the same reason as Ricciardo on lap 52.

Hamilton’s race lasted just another dozen laps before a loss of fuel pressure forced him off the road at Turn 3 and into retirement on the left-hand side of the circuit on the run down to Turn 4.

That ended a run off 33 consecutive races in the points for Hamilton, whose last retirement was his spectacular exit from the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix with an engine failure.

His dramatic race gave the top three an easy run to the podium, with Raikkonen closing to two seconds of Verstappen by the end but not troubling the 20-year-old and likewise being unchallenged by Vettel.

Ricciardo should have finished fourth in Hamilton’s absence but had already retired with an apparent gearbox problem when Hamilton stopped.

That meant Romain Grosjean ended his point-less start to the 2018 season in style with fourth place for Haas, the best result in the American team’s fledgling Formula 1 history.

His teammate Kevin Magnussen battled back from losing places after not pitting under the Bottas-induced virtual safety car to finish fifth and net Haas a huge points windfall.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez took advantage of the chaos to rise to sixth and seventh from P11 and P15 on the grid, ahead of pitlane starter Fernando Alonso.

The McLaren driver ran P19 early on and, after complaining at that point to his team over the radio that he refused to run in that position all race, used the VSC and a strong, long second stint to charge to eighth late on.

That included an aggressive move on Charles Leclerc, who reclaimed ninth on the last lap from teammate Marcus Ericsson after the Sauber driver was let by to try to catch and pass Alonso on fresh tyres.

While that bid failed, Ericsson was still able to complete a double-points finish for Sauber after an extremely long first stint on softs and late charge on fresh supersofts.

Nico Hulkenberg and Brendon Hartley joined the three frontrunners in retiring from the race.

Renault’s Hulkenberg suffered a spectacular engine failure early on while Hartley stopped near the end after a bizarre mechanical failure forced him off-track at the penultimate corner and eventually forced him to stop at Turn 2.

So an entertaining race at the Red Bull Ring. Full of action, drama and overtaking. Many congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning and for Sebastian Vettel recovery from his grid penalty to take the championship lead by a single point.

It’s quite remarkable that both Mercedes were forced to retire. The last time the team suffered a double DNF was at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Ironically Verstappen scored his win that day followed by the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel.

The next race is the British Grand Prix and with strong home support, Lewis Hamilton is determined to strike back.

Austrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 71 1h21m56.024s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 71 1.504s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 3.181s
4 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 70 1 Lap
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 70 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 70 1 Lap
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 70 1 Lap
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 70 1 Lap
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 65 Not running
– Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 62 Retirement
– Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 54 Retirement
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 53 Retirement
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 13 Hydraulics
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 11 Power Unit

Drivers’ standings:
1 Sebastian Vettel 146
2 Lewis Hamilton 145
3 Kimi Raikkonen 101
4 Daniel Ricciardo 96
5 Max Verstappen 93
6 Valtteri Bottas 92
7 Kevin Magnussen 37
8 Fernando Alonso 36
9 Nico Hulkenberg 34
10 Carlos Sainz 28
11 Sergio Perez 23
12 Esteban Ocon 19
13 Pierre Gasly 18
14 Charles Leclerc 13
15 Romain Grosjean 12
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Lance Stroll 4
18 Marcus Ericsson 3
19 Brendon Hartley 1
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Ferrari 247
2 Mercedes 237
3 Red Bull-Renault 189
4 Renault 62
5 Haas-Ferrari 49
6 McLaren-Renault 44
7 Force India-Mercedes 42
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 19
9 Sauber-Ferrari 16
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

7 thoughts to “Verstappen victorious as Mercedes suffered double retirement”

  1. Austrian Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Mercedes looked like they had the Austrian Grand Prix sewn up. But disaster struck in spectacular fashion as Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton both retired. Max Verstappen took advantage and seized his first win of the season, to the delight of the swathes of Dutch fans who had made the pilgrimage to the Red Bull Ring…

    Everything that could go wrong for Mercedes, did go wrong. First Bottas pulled off with a gearbox problem. Then their strategists made a mistake by not pitting leader Hamilton during the subsequent virtual safety car period. Then Hamilton rolled to a halt when he lost fuel pressure.

    It meant Mercedes suffered their first double DNF since the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Hamilton’s record 33-races-in-the-points streak came to a shuddering stop while he also relinquished the lead of the championship, with Sebastian Vettel – who finished third behind Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen – overturning a 14-point deficit to lead by a single point.

    Verstappen took advantage of Mercedes’ misfortune to take a fourth career victory, the Red Bull driver inheriting the lead, having previously put a good early move on Raikkonen, and then managing his tyres beautifully as several of his rivals struggled with blistering.

    He crossed the line just 1.5 seconds clear of Raikkonen to take a third successive podium for the first time in his career, with Vettel completing the rostrum on a very strong day for Ferrari in the foothills of the Styrian mountains.

    Raikkonen made a mighty move at the start, utilising the extra grip his ultrasoft tyres afforded him to vault up in between the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton into Turn 1. The Finn ran wide, but rejoined in second ahead of pole-sitter Bottas before attacking Hamilton for the lead on the run up the hill. He locked up, ran wide and then lost a position to Bottas into Turn 4.

    Things got worse for the Ferrari driver as Verstappen muscled past, briefly touching the Ferrari, to take third, while Vettel was on the move further back, having dropped to eighth, passing both Haas cars for sixth. Hamilton settled down at the front, ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen third and Daniel Ricciardo fourth in the sister Red Bull – but the race was about to explode into life.

    First Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault engine blew in spectacular fashion and then Bottas pulled off the track citing a gearbox issue. The latter sparked a virtual safety car period. While Hamilton stayed out, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Vettel all pitted and switched to the soft tyres, suggesting they could get to the end of the race.

    Hamilton was unhappy. He couldn’t understand why Mercedes didn’t pit him too. In an unusual move, chief strategist James Vowles came on the radio and said, “It’s my mistake. Do what you can.” Mercedes boxed Hamilton, in a bid to cover Vettel, and he rejoined ahead. But he struggled for pace on those soft tyres, despite them being 10 laps fresher.

    Meanwhile, Ricciardo had pitted, too, as his soft tyres started to blister in what were the warmest conditions of the weekend. Hamilton was struggling, too, and Vettel pounced to take third.

    After complaining about his tyres for several laps, Mercedes pitted the world champion for a second time and fitted the supersofts. He rejoined in fifth, behind Ricciardo. But that became fourth when Ricciardo pulled off the track, saying on team radio that he had lost gear sync.

    Hamilton looked more comfortable on the supersofts, but disaster struck when he lost fuel pressure, forcing him into retirement for the first time since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

    That promoted Romain Grosjean to a brilliant fourth, the best ever result for Haas, one place ahead of team mate Kevin Magnussen, with Verstappen comfortably leading the Ferrari duo of Raikkonen and Vettel up front.

    Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were sixth and seventh respectively, with Fernando Alonso charging from a pit-lane start to an impressive eighth.

    Charles Leclerc lost a bunch of time when he ran into the gravel at the start but recovered to take ninth – his fourth points finish in five races – with Sauber team mate Marcus Ericsson taking 10th in what is only his second time in the points in 2018.

  2. Red Bull Racing reveals tactic that helped Max Verstappen to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix. has the full story.

    Max Verstappen’s “cute” tactic of backing off through the final two corners at the Red Bull Ring has been singled out by his team as a key factor in his brilliant victory in the Austrian Grand Prix.

    The Dutchman faced a challenging time in managing blistering of his rear tyres after the early change to softs, but was able to hold on for a win ahead of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

    Speaking after the race, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has revealed how Verstappen changed his approach to the sequence of corners at the end of the lap once it became clear he needed to look after his tyres.

    “It [the blistering] wasn’t predicted coming into the race, but it is hot today and the load in these last two right corners, they are massive the amount of energy these tyres have to take up around there,” Horner told Sky.

    “So that is where Max was really cute today. He backed off through those right handers and made his time in the other parts of the circuit. A really, really mature drive.”

    Horner said that Verstappen did such a good job in ensuring that the tyres were being looked after that the critical left rear tyre was operating at a cooler temperature than the right.

    “Unbelievable,” added Horner. “He was keeping the rear left cooler than the rear right, and the rear left here is the one that takes all the load.

    “He was constantly asking for information and managing those tyres and that is why they didn’t blister up. A very, very mature drive for him.”

    Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo had to pit from second place when his left rear tyre blistered in the middle of the race.

    “The soft tyre fell apart. It was strange, don’t know why,” Ricciardo told Channel 4.

    “It was going good and all of a sudden it quickly fell apart. Max’s race was good and Kimi did the fastest lap at the end so if it worked, it worked. But for Lewis [Hamilton] and myself it fell apart very quickly.

    “I don’t really have an explanation for that right now.

    Horner also paid tribute to his team after it pulled off a high-pressure double stacked stop during the virtual safety car period that was called when Valtteri Bottas retired.

    Asked whether he was surprised that Mercedes did not stop then race leader Hamilton, Horner said: “I was surprised, it was a pretty much a given.

    “But you have to have confidence in your boys to nail a double stop with the proximity that the drivers were in there.

    “We have got the best guys in the pitlane without any shadow of a doubt. It was a ballsy call but it was the right thing to do and it paid dividends.”

    Horner also revealed that Ricciardo’s retirement from the race was caused by an exhaust problem.

    “We started to see an exhaust leak where temps were going through the roof, but we thought we will keep going in the hope we can try do things to cool it down,” he said. “But that is ultimately what has caused his failure.”

    Ricciardo said “there was no point being upset” with the retirement, which occurred on his 29th birthday.

    “I know what I signed up for with this sport as a kid and sometimes it does this, things happen out of your control. It is what it is,” he said.

    “For Red Bull, the team, Mr [Dietrich] Mateschitz, the ‘Orange Army’, it’s the perfect day, so I don’t want to stand here and talk about my sob story and how my birthday didn’t become a great birthday. It happens.

    “I would love to be the one up there, I’m not going to lie, but congratulations to Max and congratulations to the team. I hope they enjoy it. We’ve won Monaco and we’ve won their home one so I think they’ve had a good 2018 so far.”

  3. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton commented that Mercedes “can’t afford to throw away points” like this after disappointing outcome in the Austrian Grand Prix. has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes Formula 1 team “can’t afford to throw away points” the way it did in the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Hamilton took the lead from teammate Bottas off the line but was left vulnerable when his rivals all pitted during the early virtual safety car period, while he stayed out on track.

    He subsequently pitted and rejoined in fourth, which is where he ran when he lost fuel pressure late on and was forced to retire.

    Teammate Bottas had exited the race earlier with a hydraulic problem, marking Mercedes’ first double DNF since 2016.

    “I’m not going to lie, all areas we’re going to have to work on,” Hamilton told Channel 4 after the race.

    “The car has been great, we were quickest. But then to have two different faults is very unusual.

    “We can’t afford to throw away points. We need to find a bulletproof method to move forward for strategy because if our car had kept going it was an easy win for us, we were comfortably ahead.”

    Hamilton entered the weekend with a 14-point lead over main title rival Sebastian Vettel, and looked in with a strong chance of extending that gap as Mercedes locked out the front row – with Vettel relegated to sixth on the grid by a penalty.

    Instead, the German now leads Hamilton by one point after claiming a third-place finish.

    “[It is] an unfortunate day. Everyone in the team is going to be feeling the pain but we’ve had such great reliability for so many years,” Hamilton said.

    “As painful as it is, we are professionals and we have to take the rough with the smooth.

    “This is definitely the worst weekend I can remember us having for a long, long time but I have every confidence in my team.”

    Hamilton said that his Mercedes W09 has “got to be quick” in his upcoming home race at Silverstone, where he would look to make up for “a lot of points lost today”.

    Asked by Sky whether the sudden poor reliability of the car was a concern, he said: “I feel fine about it. It is what it is.

    “There’s nothing I can do about it, and all we do is move forwards.

    “I’m looking forward to getting the car back and trying to understand what the problem is, and I know the guys will be working hard to rectify it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

  4. Kimi Raikkonen commented that Max Verstappen and I did well not to crash during the first lap. has the details.

    Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen says he and Max Verstappen did well not to crash in their wheel-banging tussle on the opening lap of the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Raikkonen had challenged the two Mercedes cars for the lead into Turn 1, but was soon back down to third – and came under attack from Verstappen after exiting Turn 6.

    The Red Bull driver got a run on the Finn and committed down the inside at the fast Turn 7 left-hander, his right front making contact with Raikkonen’s left rear and forcing the Finn wide.

    “The Red Bull hit me on the rear,” Raikkonen radioed, and the clash prompted an investigation by the stewards – but they ultimately decided to take no further action, and Raikkonen conceded after that the move was “fair enough”.

    “Obviously there was a lot happening in the first lap and I got a little bit of sideways, lost the line a little bit, into 6 and Max was very close into 7,” Raikkonen recalled.

    “The car in front of me [Valtteri Bottas] disturbed me a bit [into Turn 6], and he [Verstappen] got the run, I tried to hang on the outside.

    “I got a bit sideways because we touched a little bit and lost the place.

    “We did the best out of it, not taking each other out and fighting through that kind of corner, it’s not easy to stay next to each other when you try.

    “That’s what happens sometimes, it wasn’t ideal for me but it was fair enough.”

    Verstappen, for his part, reckoned the move made for good viewing.

    “It was hard racing but good racing,” he said. “Kimi is experienced enough to handle the situation well.

    “We had a little touch but I think it’s good for the sport.”

    The overtake proved crucial for the outcome of the race, as Verstappen went on to beat Raikkonen to victory after misfortune for the two Mercedes cars ahead.

    This was despite the Ferrari driver cutting into Verstappen’s lead late on on worn softs, the pair split by 1.5s at the finish line.

    Asked whether he could’ve won the race if given a few more laps, Raikkonen said: “Sure, [it was] possible, but this is the laps that we have in the race. It’s always easy to say ‘if’ this, ‘if’ that.

    “Basically, I think we had good speed, especially in the end. A little bit tricky on the first part in the second stint, and then once the tyre started to do the work, was good.

    “I think it’s disappointing – obviously it’s great for the team, a lot of points, against the team that we race in the championship [Mercedes], they had a pretty awful day.

    “In that side it’s good but obviously we want to win. And we had this speed in the end, but it didn’t happen today.”

  5. Unexpected. That’s how Max Verstappen described his Austrian Grand Prix victory. The Red Bull driver admitted he didn’t have the car to win on outright pace, but managed his tyres to absolute perfection to seize the opportunity when Mercedes gifted it to him on a platter…

    Verstappen did not have the best of starts to the season. But despite many calling for him to changing his approach, the Dutchman refused. And now it’s paying him back.

    Victory in Austria was his first of the year, his third successive podium and his fourth in five races. Suddenly, he’s only three points behind Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the drivers’ standings.

    Red Bull may not have had the quickest car at the Red Bull Ring, but they finally clinched victory on home soil. Verstappen was aided by Mercedes’ misfortune, as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas retired, but the key – along with an aggressive early pass on Kimi Raikkonen – was the way he managed the tyres.

    As his rivals struggled in the warmer than expected conditions, with the likes of his team mate Ricciardo and Hamilton forced to pit because of blistering tyres, Verstappen appeared to have no such problems and was able to manage his beautifully to make a one-stop work.

    “It was amazing,” said Verstappen. “It was very hard to manage the tyres as well. We really had to look after them – there was a lot of blistering. We managed to hang on until the end.

    “The tyres are very sensitive and it can happen in the first five laps, if you’re too aggressive, the tyre starts to open up and the damage is done. From previous experience in practise sessions, I know it can happen.

    “I tried to manage, I could see my tyres opening up. I just had to drive around the issue. Luckily I could manage it until the end of the race.”

    Red Bull looked to be third-best in terms of race pace based on the long-run data gathered on Friday, but the warmer weather brought them into the mix come race day and their good reactions with regards strategy were crucial.

    While Mercedes chose not to pit Hamilton, who was leading, when the virtual safety car kicked in to clear Bottas’ stricken car, Ferrari and Red Bull reacted – and that opened up Verstappen’s path to victory.

    “It was a bit unexpected, especially after our Friday pace and in the long runs,” said Verstappen. “In the first stint, we could keep up well. I tried to do my own race, then saw Valtteri disappearing with a problem.

    “We made the right call when virtual safety car came out and we pitted. I was in the lead, I tried to do my own pace.”

    Kimi Raikkonen, who finished second, started to catch Verstappen in the closing stages, but the Dutchman suggested he didn’t feel any pressure.

    “It was difficult to tell because Kimi was catching, Sebastian was catching,” said Verstappen. “Maybe they still had half a second in hand. With three laps to go, I was comfortable it wasn’t going to happen. But still, the blister could open up and you’re really in trouble. My fourth victory, it’s a good one.”

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described Verstappen’s drive as “unbelievable” and praised the way he dealt with the warmer conditions and the impact that had on the tyres.

    “It [the weather] wasn’t predicted coming into the race,” said Horner. “It’s hot today. The load in these last two right corners, it’s massive.

    “The amount of energy that these tyres have to take up round there. That’s where Max was really good today, backed off through those two right-handers and made up his time in other parts of the circuit.

    “He is constantly asking for information, managing those tyres. And that’s why they didn’t blister up. A very, very mature drive by him.”

    That was Verstappen’s fourth career victory, tying him with Eddie Irvine and Bruce McLaren for the most wins by any driver without ever taking pole position.


  6. Red Bull turned down Max Verstappen’s Renault Formula 1 engine during the Austrian Grand Prix as it feared the race winner may suffer a repeat of Daniel Ricciardo’s retirement.

    Verstappen claimed the team’s first home race win at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday after an aggressive pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap put him in control when both Mercedes retired.

    His teammate Ricciardo retired with an exhaust problem and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted that prompted concerns over Verstappen’s car.

    “We were quite concerned that there might be a similar problem with Max so we turned his engine down to try and reduce temperatures,” Horner said.

    “Then [we] only turned it up over the last five laps just to make sure the Ferraris weren’t going to get within the DRS range.”

    Asked by about dealing with the closing laps, Horner added: “Well, the old lederhosen started to overheat, but Max seemed pretty much in control, bar reliability.

    “That was perhaps the most apprehension that I certainly had in the last 25% of the race.”

    Horner said Ricciardo had suffered “an exhaust issue that jetted hot air onto the rear of the car”.

    Asked by if that was the same problem Verstappen suffered in Friday practice, Horner replied: “I’m not sure whether it’s the same or not.

    “Until we get the cars back and stripped, it’s difficult to say.”

    Ricciardo’s retirement means Red Bull has lost ground to new constructors’ championship leader Ferrari, which completed the podium with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

    The Australian had run second before a blister on his left-rear tyre dropped him back and prompted another pitstop.

    Horner said not scoring 43 points for a one-two was “the only disappointment” on a “phenomenal” day for the team.

    Asked by about the significance of winning its home race for the first time, Horner added: “It’s huge. All the races have the same points, but some mean a bit more than others.

    “[Red Bull owner] Dietrich Mateschitz puts so much into Formula 1, a grand prix – you’ve seen the organisation here this weekend and the facilities – and two grand prix teams.

    “To win here in Austria with him in attendance, because he doesn’t come to many races, it’s fantastic, and for the Dutch fans as well.

    “There’s been 20,000 Dutch fans this weekend. They came all the way here last year and saw Max for one corner. This year they came back and they got a victory.”


  7. Mercedes came under fire regarding not pitting Lewis Hamilton during the virtual safety car period. The team explains that strategy mistake to

    Toto Wolff has explained Mercedes’ thought process that led to the ultimately erroneous decision not to bring Lewis Hamilton into the pits during an Austrian Grand Prix virtual safety car.

    The virtual safety car was triggered by a mechanical failure for Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, and saw all frontrunners except Hamilton pit.

    Hamilton lost out massively – the team told him that he would have to make up eight seconds on the track – but later it became academic as he retired with a loss of fuel pressure.

    Team boss Wolff admitted that Mercedes had simply thought too hard about what do with Hamilton when the VSC came out, instead making a more instinctive reaction and bringing him in.

    “We’ve just discussed it, and what I think happened was we were running one and two and controlling the race, and suddenly you see your second car stopping,” he recalled.

    “The VSC came out, we had half a lap to react, and we didn’t. Fact. This is where we lost the race.

    “At that stage of the race with the VSC, pitting is probably 80% the thing you need to do. With one car out there against two others, the thinking process that happened was, ‘What would happen if the others pitted [only] a car?’.

    “We would come out behind Kimi, because they would leave Kimi out, and behind Max. What would that mean for the race?

    “That whole thinking loop, I wouldn’t say distracted us, but we spent too much time on that.”

    Wolff has called the Austrian GP “his most painful day” in the job – and suggested that it was even worse than Mercedes’ most recent double retirement, the 2016 Spanish GP, when Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed out of the race on the first lap.

    “I guess that was a major wake-up call,” said Wolff. “For me, the most painful day in my years at Mercedes, worse than Barcelona.

    “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 car.’

    “This is exactly how motor racing can go. It can be very, very cruel and I think we had all the cruelty go against us today.”

    Wolff admitted that the team was surprised by the tyre issues that hit most of the top runners in the race, when conditions were much warmer than in practice.

    Hamilton struggled so much that he was forced to make a second pitstop.

    “The only ones who didn’t have the tyre problems were the Ferraris, but all others suffered from heavy blistering and that was definitely not something that we expected.

    “I think it was 10 degrees hotter than planned, but I guess it was due to the fact that everyone who suffered from the blistering was attacking.

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

    He stressed that neither of the retirements were related to the recent power unit upgrades.

    “It’s nothing to do with the reliability of the engine as far as we can see. We had a hydraulic leak that was to the steering of Valtteri and we had a drop in fuel pressure on Lewis’s car which was linked to the fuel system.

    “This is our current understanding. So no regrets on introducing the engine.”

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