SPIELBERG, Austria, CMC – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire from the Austrian Grand Prix yesterday following a Mercedes strategy blunder and tyre problems, allowing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to take an unexpected victory.
Hamilton, the reigning world champion, retired due to a loss of fuel pressure with eight laps to go as he was looking to regain his title lead.
His retirement, with title rival Sebastian Vettel finishing third in his Ferrari behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, puts Vettel into a one-point lead heading into next weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was also forced to retire due to a loss of hydraulic pressure
Their problems handed the first win on their home track to Red Bull, for whom Verstappen drove beautifully to control the race once Mercedes hit their problems, well out of reach of the pursuing Ferraris.
Hamilton, whose paternal grandparents are from Grenada, said the entire Mercedes team was taking the loss hard. “We’ve got to definitely work hard to understand where we’ve gone wrong, on both ends. Everyone in the team will be feeling pain today but we’ve got to take out the positives of this weekend. Ultimately we were the quickest, we should have won, so we’ve got to keep working hard,” he said.
Mercedes’ team boss Toto Wolff described the day’s events as one of the worst in his life.
“It’s a tremendously painful day for us, for me personally the most painful in six years,” said Wolff, after the world champions suffered their first double DNF since Spain 2016.
“We were one and two on the grid, Lewis had a fantastic first lap and then DNF-ing twice – and obviously losing the race under the Virtual Safety Car (VSC): it doesn’t get more cruel for us.”