FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Mercedes’ worst weekend in six years

FORMULA ONE: Bold were those who picked Max Verstappen to win the Austrian Grand Prix, but bolder still were those who forecast he would get there thanks to Mercedes unreliability and miscalculation.

Formula-One
By Michael Lamonato

Friday 6 July 2018, 12:03PM


Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix in Spielberg, central Austria, last Sunday (July 1). Photo: Andrej Isakovic  / AFP

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix in Spielberg, central Austria, last Sunday (July 1). Photo: Andrej Isakovic / AFP

The Austrian Grand Prix features the quickest lap and one of the smoothest surfaces on the calendar and comprises not long straights, excessively fast bends nor particularly slow corners. Frightening, then, was how effortlessly Mercedes, equipped with updated power unit and new bodywork, cruised through the weekend, threatening to win the Spielberg race for the fifth season in a row.

Lewis Hamilton, who had taken a 14-point championship lead over Sebastian Vettel with an easy victory in France one week earlier, had his German counterpart’s measure, and though the Briton qualified second to teammate Valtteri Bottas, Vettel was dealt a three-place grid penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz during qualifying and was forced to start from sixth.

Red Bull Racing, not for the first time at the team’s home race around the Red Bull Racing, was out of sorts. Based on practice times neither Max Verstappen nor Daniel Ricciardo had the race pace to challenge for the podium, never mind victory, and they duly qualified fifth and seventh respectively.

When Hamilton jumped Bottas for the lead at turn one the team looked set for a comfortable one-two victory, but by lap 14 the dream began unravelling.

Bottas pulled to the side of the road with a hydraulics problem, triggering a virtual safety car under which all four Ferrari and Red Bull Racing drivers dived into the pits, leaving Hamilton leading on his own. Once racing resumed, with their fresher tyres they began bearing down on the Brit.

It was a strategic own-goal, and Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles took the rare measure of coming over the team radio to concede responsibility to the unhappy Hamilton, who pitted 10 laps later and dropped to fourth.

It left Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen and Ricciardo leading Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, but Ricciardo was fading fast. The Australian’s tyres blistering under the unexpectedly warm Styrian sun, and he made a second pit stop on lap 38, only for his car to break down with an exhaust problem on lap 54.

By then, however, Hamilton had begun experiencing blistering of his own. He furiously returned to this pits on lap 52 for a second stop, effectively eliminating himself from victory contention, and he was finally put out of his misery on lap 63 of 71 with a loss of fuel pressure.

QSI International School Phuket

“This is definitely the worst weekend that I can remember for a long time,” lamented Hamilton. “Everyone in the team will be feeling pain today.”

Verstappen led Raikkonen and Vettel home, all three masterfully managing their tyres, to record Red Bull Racing’s first home win and give Vettel back a one-point lead in the drivers championship.

“We can’t throw away points,” Hamilton continued. “So we’ll have to find a bulletproof method going forward.”

Team boss Toto Wolff said it was the team’s most painful race since 2013.

“A double retirement through reliability is hard to stomach,” he said. “But we know from bitter experience that the difficult days are when we learn the most.”

Wolff had told the media at the beginning of the weekend, albeit in relations to Vettel’s messy crash at the previous race, that the championship would be decided by who makes the fewest errors and who can maximise their points haul each race.

By the end of the weekend, with both cars halted on the circuit and with Ferrari taking control of both championships, his words now appear ironically prophetic.

Don’t forget to listen to Live89.5 each and every Saturday at 9am and 5pm for the Box of Neutrals radio show.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Ugandan females arrested on Bangla Rd for Phuket overstays

Of course they stay longer, RTP hardly ever do their job, most people can see these people working i...(Read More)


Foreign media’s Wild Boar interviews come under fire

It's interesting to see a "psychologist" touting the same societal hang-ups we see her...(Read More)


Live grenade found dumped in roadside rubbish

Anyone surprised? On Phuket, 'We' dump everything at road side. The big question is, how is...(Read More)


Foreign media’s Wild Boar interviews come under fire

"These foreign journalists should be reprimanded" rubbish, no laws have been broken, Thai ...(Read More)


Phuket Governor leads beach cleanup ahead of HM King Birthday

Ah, the 'Clean-Governor' in action again with his prime task on Phuket. Volunteering under r...(Read More)


Phuket-bound bus passenger arrested with almost 20,000 ‘ya bah’ pills

Do they count all the pills, or goes it by kg? Are admirals and generals now doing road block jobs ...(Read More)


Foreign media’s Wild Boar interviews come under fire

Conventions on Children Rights? Thailand never signed any convention of human rights. And,..about ...(Read More)


Ugandan females arrested on Bangla Rd for Phuket overstays

..."They arrive as if on a vacation, but stay longer"... The understatement of the day....(Read More)


Phuket police refuse to confirm or deny bail for Phoenix boat owner

The charges are not alleged, but established facts. And under law, all are innocent until proven gu...(Read More)


Phuket search launched for jet-ski rider missing in storm

If true he can not swim and was not using a life jacket, then it is entirely this man's own faul...(Read More)