Verstappen prevails in Austria, Vettel takes F1 lead

SPIELBERG, Austria: Max Verstappen took advantage of a disastrous double no-finish for Mercedes to win the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday as Sebastian Vettel regained the lead in world title race.
Lewis Hamilton lost the lead when Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke down to cause a virtual safety car (VSC) and his own race ended with a late engine failure.
Vettel had started his Ferrari sixth, having been penalised three grid places for impeding a rival in qualifying, but fought back to end third. With Hamilton failing to score, Vettel regained the championship lead 146-145.
Verstappen, who started fourth, held off a late charge from Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari to celebrate his fourth career victory and first of the season.
The triple-header of consecutive French, Austrian and British concludes next week at Silverstone with the championship now fascinatingly poised. “It was amazing, very hard to manage the tyres, lot of blistering,but we managed to hang on,” Verstappen said. “It was amazing to win at the Red Bull Ring with so many Dutch fans here.
“I needed to catch up with the points, today was a very good day for me and I hope we can continue like this.”
Verstappen is fifth in the standings, 53 behind Vettel. Mercedes had dominated the 4.318 kilometre Red Bull Ring in Spielberg since the Austrian race returned to the calender in 2014 and that looked set to continue until an inexplicable error.
When Bottas suffered a failure of hydraulic pressure and lost gearbox function, he trundled to a halt on lap 14.
Red Bull and Ferrari brought in both drivers for fresh tyres but Mercedes did not make the same call for Hamilton.
The Brit immediately realised the severity of the situation but could not find the pace to recover. When he eventually pitted on lap 25, he re-emerged ahead of Vettel but behind both Red Bulls and Raikkonen.
“That is totally on us, sorry,” an apologetic engineer told him.
That continued a terrible race for Mercedes who began with Bottas chasing a first season victory from pole.
A poor start dropped him to fourth, though he recovered to second behind Hamilton and the Mercedes pulled away from the rest until the VSC.
Vettel took advantage of the bad luck of others to make the podium and his result was made even better when Hamilton pulled over on lap 64. — dpa