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2018 F1

Verstappen wins chaotic Austrian GP, Mercedes hits PU trouble

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Max Verstappen won the Austrian Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday after both Mercedes drivers were forced to retire as Sebastian Vettel moved ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the driver’s standings.

Hamilton suffered his first race retirement since 2016 and it was the first time Mercedes had suffered a double-retirement since Verstappen won on his Red Bull debut at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix after Hamilton collided with team-mate Nico Rosberg on the opening lap.

The Dutchman, Verstappen’s fourth F1 career victory as he came home ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Romain Grosjean was successively made fourth ahead of his Haas F1 team-mate Kevin Magnussen, and Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.

Double-time world champion Fernando Alonso came home eighth for McLaren ahead of Monegasque rising star Charles Leclerc and his Ferrari-powered Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo was also forced to retire on his 29th birthday.

“It’s amazing to win in a Red Bull at the Red Bull Ring,” said Verstappen, who was supported by an “Orange army” of more than 20,000 fans.

Mercedes team error

Mercedes had dominated the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg since the Austrian Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in 2014 and that looked set to continue until a mysterious error.

When Bottas retire from the race due to gearbox trouble on lap 14, front-runners Red Bull and Ferrari quickly brought in both drivers for fresh tires, but the Mercedes garage did not make the same call for Hamilton. By the time he pitted on Lap 25, he re-emerged ahead of Vettel but behind both Red Bulls and Raikkonen.

“That is totally on us, sorry,” an apologetic engineer told on team radio.

Hamilton had to pit again on Lap 53 and came out fifth behind Ricciardo but took that place back within a lap when the Red Bull’s engine failed to ensure no happy returns on Ricciardo’s 29th birthday.

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