Hamilton takes dominant Styrian Grand Prix win after Ferraris collide
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton cruised to a comfortable victory in the Styrian Grand Prix. The world champion’s first victory of the year was founded on a stupendous performance in wet qualifying, in which he took pole by more than 1.2 seconds.
Hamilton led from pole position, headed only at the pit-stops, as team mate Valtteri Bottas overtook Red Bull’s Max Verstappen late on for second. The Ferraris retired early after colliding with each other on lap one.
It was another dark day for the Italian team, after another uncompetitive showing in qualifying, as Charles Leclerc apologised for a rash move on the first lap that took out both cars.
No problems for Hamilton
Hamilton, who has pledged to continue the fight against racism this year in parallel with his quest for a record-equalling seventh world title, was in total control of the race from the start.
He converted his pole position into a lead at the first corner, survived an early safety car period following a collision between the two Ferrari drivers, and never looked back.
The fight was all behind him, as Mercedes sought to get Bottas ahead of Verstappen.
The Finn had qualified fourth in the rain, 1.4secs slower than Hamilton, passed McLaren’s Carlos Sainz by lap six, but was not able to make much progress towards the Red Bull.
When Red Bull made Verstappen’s pit stop for fresh tyres on lap 24, Hamilton was brought in three laps later, while Bottas was left out 10 laps longer than the Dutchman.
The aim was to give him a tyre off-set and greater pace at the end of the race. And it worked. Bottas crept up on Verstappen and was with him with five laps to go.
Bottas looked to have the move down on the straight down to Turn Four on lap 66, but Verstappen fought back around the outside of the corner and held on to the place.
But his valiant defence lasted only another lap before Bottas was able to storm past to complete a Mercedes one-two.
He retains the championship lead over Hamilton, but it is now down to eight points. (BBC Sport)