Saturday 22 September 2018

Hamilton rages at Mercedes after Austria woe

Lewis Hamilton. Photo: Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton. Photo: Getty Images

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 (VSC) period and decided not to bring their star driver in for a tyre change.

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

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

It was a dream start for Mercedes, but things quickly changed. 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.

"We understand. It's my mistake," he said.

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 yelled: "I don't get it. I am not going to be able to pass these guys. We have thrown away the win."

Irish Independent

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