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Hamilton rages at Mercedes after Austria woe

09 Juillet 2018

Mercedes has brought its biggest set of updates of 2018 so far to the Red Bull Ring, with a focus on the sidepods and bargeboard area.

Hamilton, the four-time champion, has not been at his dominating best yet this season, but poor strategy calls by Mercedes have still cost him victories in Australia and Austria, while their overly-cautious approach to a late safety auto period in China was a factor in him dropping points there, too.

"You can't see much when you're out on the track". We need to recover from this but I am in no doubt that we'll come back strong.' That is his mindset.

Lewis Hamilton heads into the ninth round of the championship at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg 14 points clear of Vettel in the standings, and having topped both practice sessions he will start as the favourite to extend his advantage. Raikkonen is 45 points behind Vettel in third.

With Bottas' vehicle sat on the outside of turn four a Virtual Safety auto was released to clear it up - and presented an opportunity for teams to pit drivers and lose less time than during normal race laps.

"I don't know if it was a failure or we hit some debris but that broke, so then already with the soft tyre, we were struggling when we left the pits and then I think a few laps later the team said the right part broke, so both parts identically seemed to break".

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

Hamilton made his stop but it wasn't the best call, he rejoined in fourth just ahead of Vettel.

Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas also retired on a woeful day for Mercedes.

It was there that in 2014 he scored the first podium of his career while he was still driving for Williams, and he's led more laps on the circuit (72) than any other current driver.

F1 overhauled its technical regulations previous year in order to make the racing more entertaining, but increased downforce on the cars has made it harder to follow. We are fighting six cars.

His exit brought out the virtual safety auto, slowing down the pace and disallowing overtaking.

Mercedes have dominated the sport in recent years but here, distracted by Bottas stopping on track following a loss of hydraulic pressure, they took their eye off the ball, and when the VSC was deployed to slow down the pack, Hamilton, unlike all of his rivals, did not stop for fresh rubber. When the defending champion made his stop 10 laps later, he dropped to fourth.

James Vowles, the team's chief strategist, moved to take the blame.

Mercedes had triumphed in the prior five races in Austria since its return to the calendar, but Bottas' retirement was just the start of their problems on Sunday. "This is going to be the story of the season", added the Austrian. We had a spectacular first lap: a great getaway for Lewis and Valtteri battling back into P2 under braking for Turn 4. "I'm going to keep pushing, trying to maximise a bit more out of it". "It had gone relatively well, a good weekend, pace was relatively good throughout qualifying. It was damage limitation for me and a positive day".

Hamilton rages at Mercedes after Austria woe