Bottas holds off Vettel again to win Austrian GP
Valtteri Bottas took a light-to-flags victory in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, while Sebastian Vettel finished a very close second to extend his Championship lead over the fourth-placed Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas made a brilliant start in his Mercedes – so much so that he was investigated for a jump start, before the stewards ruled there was no action necessary – and looked comfortable throughout until the final phase of the race when he came under late pressure from Vettel, the gap just 0.6secs at the chequered flag.
Bottas held on though – just like in Russia earlier this year where he took his maiden F1 victory – and now puts himself very much in title contention with 136 points, closer to Hamilton on 151 points, than Hamilton is to Vettel on 171 points.
“I had a bit of déjà vu in the end with what happened in Russia. Vettel was catching up, but the problem in the last stint was I had a massive blister on the rear left and that made it quite tricky,” Bottas said.
“At the beginning I could control the pace but at the end the backmarkers made it quite difficult.
“But really happy. It is only the second win in my career. Thank-you guys for the support and a massive thank-you to the team for making this possible.”
“The start? I think it was the start of my life. I was really on it today,” he continued. “It was good.
“It is still a long year ahead [too] and we are not even at halfway. This win is good for the points but it is still early days and we are still developing as a team.”
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“It was very close. I was told he was in trouble,” added Vettel, who now leads the Drivers’ Championship for Ferrari by 20 points. “I was pushing anyway because I felt much better in the second part of the race. In the first part I was struggling a little bit to feel the car.
“But as soon as we put on the supersoft tyre the car came alive and I had really good pace.
“I was catching little-by-little and then he obviously struggled and so the last laps it was getting really close. I think I needed one more lap because he was really struggling to get up the hill. Obviously I wanted to win, but nevertheless a good result.”
Meanwhile, the battle for third was just as exciting at the end, with Lewis Hamilton getting right alongside Daniel Ricciardo into Turn 4 on the penultimate lap. Ricciardo though, was able to stay in front and secure his fifth podium in a row on Red Bull’s home track.
“It was a fun race with some decisive moments at the start and then defending from Lewis on the last couple of laps,” Ricciardo said.
“He got pretty close but I just stuck to my braking points and where I thought the limit was and held him off.
“The second to last lap was the tightest. He got the DRS and got a good exit out of one and mine wasn’t so good. He got close, but it was nice to hold him off. It was clean and fair – so that is good. I was very pleased to see the chequered flag. Five [podiums] in a row is awesome, but to get it here in Austria, and to be up here – it is nice to see all the Red Bull and F1 fans here.”
“It’s been a difficult weekend, but I can take heart that I limited the damage to Sebastian in the points and that I went forward through the field [after having to start in eighth due to the five place grid penalty],” Hamilton noted.
“The car was great and I gave it absolutely everything out there. I really don’t think there was much left in the car at the end of the race, but I was probably a bit too kind in my fight with Daniel – and left him too much space. I won’t do that again.
“We’ve slipped further behind Sebastian again, but there’s a long way to go. I’ll keep battling and I’ll never give up.
“I’m really looking forward to Silverstone – I’ve got a few days to put this weekend behind me. I can’t wait to see the home crowd again and start with a clean slate. I hope I can use Silverstone as a springboard for the second half of my season.”
Behind, Kimi Raikkonen was a lonely fifth in his Ferrari, losing out to Hamilton during the pit stop phase, and more than 10 seconds back at the end.
Romain Grosjean rounded out the top-six for Haas, with Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon seventh and eighth.
Williams duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll completed the top ten – despite starting down in 17th and 18th.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was just outside the points in P11, followed by McLaren Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne, the other Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Sauber’s of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson in positions 12 through to 15.
Daniil Kvyat took 16th in his Toro Rosso – but was 3 laps down, given a drive-through penalty early on after the stewards ruled he caused the collision at the start that took out McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Toro Rosso man Carlos Sainz and Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen also failed to finish, both retiring later on with technical issues.
Race Result available – HERE.
Picture credit: Pirelli