Spielberg, Austria: Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday as both Mercedes cars failed to finish.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel came second and third, with the German taking back the lead in the championship from Lewis Hamilton.
On a bleak day for Mercedes, both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas retired from the race with mechanical issues. It was the first time that no Mercedes reached the finish since the Spanish GP two years ago, when Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed into each other.
Hamilton was in front from the start but lost his lead following a tactical mistake by his team, which did not pit him under a virtual safety car while most other teams took the opportunity to switch to soft tires.
Having dropped to fourth, Hamilton then had to park his car on the 64th lap, seven short of the finish.
After nine of 21 races, he trails Vettel by one point heading into the British GP next week.
It was Verstappen’s first win of the season and fourth overall. Red Bull even seemed to be heading for a one-two finish on their “home” circuit with Daniel Ricciardo in second, but the Australian had to make a second pit stop after losing grip from his tires, before quitting the race on lap 55 with a gear box issue.
Hamilton was quickest from the start to take an immediate lead as Bottas, who started from pole position, struggled to hold off a challenge from Raikkonen. The Ferrari driver was briefly in second but was soon overtaken by Bottas again and Verstappen.
Bottas had to quit after 14 laps with a hydraulic defect to his gear box.
His exit brought out the virtual safety car, slowing down the pace and disallowing overtaking.
While both Red Bulls and Ferraris went to their boxes to have their tires changed, Mercedes surprisingly let Hamilton driving on. When the defending champion made his stop 10 laps later, he dropped to fourth.
Mercedes’ chief strategist, James Vowles, immediately apologised to Hamilton over the board radio for the mistake.
With track temperatures significantly higher than during practice and qualifying in previous days, tire management became tricky.
Things went from bad to worse for Hamilton, still in fourth at that time, when he lost the power in his engine seven laps from the end.
Mercedes had won all four previous races since the Austrian GP was reinstated to the F1 calendar following a 10-year absence in 2014, with Hamilton and Bottas the only drivers in Sunday’s field to have won the race before.
Having started the season with back-to-back wins and adding another victory in Montreal, Vettel recovered well from suffering a second serious setback in as many weeks on Saturday. After bumping into Bottas after the start of the French GP last week — and restarting his race from the back of the pack — the mishap this time happened in qualifying, with Vettel picking up a three-place grid penalty for impeding Renault’s Carlos Sainz.
Fernando Alonso’s disappointing season suffered another setback even before the race. Set to line up from 13th position, he had to start from the pit lane after McLaren made changes to the car earlier Sunday, including an adapted front wing and a new energy recovering system.
At just over 4.3 kilometres, the track is the shortest on the F1 calendar. It features just nine turns and four long straights, with inclines of up to 12 per cent.