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Max Wins In Austria As Mercedes Suffer Double Disaster

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Austrian GP after Mercedes suffered a day of double disaster following car failures for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Having lost the lead of the race after Mercedes mistakenly failed to pit their lead driver under a Virtual Safety Car deployed for Bottas’ retirement, Hamilton was overtaken by title rival Sebastian Vettel and then suffered his first DNF in 34 races to lose the lead of the world championship as well.

Vettel, having started sixth following a controversial grid demotion, finished third behind Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to move a point ahead of Hamilton in the title race.

Mercedes’ double mechanical retirement is believed to be their first since 1955, while Vettel’s return to the summit was the third change in leader in as many races.

To add to Mercedes’ misery, Ferrari’s double-podium finish has propelled the Scuderia to the top of the Constructors’ Championship as well.

Romain Grosjean claimed his first points of the season in fourth ahead of Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen, while Fernando Alonso eased the pressure on McLaren by taking eighth behind Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.

Sauber took the final points-paying positions with Charles Leclerc taking back ninth from team-mate Marcus Ericsson on the final lap – and a day of striking success for Ferrari-powered cars.

With an estimated 20,000 Dutch fans providing a sea of orange around the Red Bull Ring, Verstappen shrugged off the complaints of Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo after qualifying to deliver a faultless performance for his fourth F1 victory.

After fending off Raikkonen through the first lap, Verstappen inherited the lead when Hamilton belatedly took a pit-stop seven laps after both Red Bulls and Ferraris had pitted under the Virtual Safety Car.

“I have thrown away the win,” radioed Mercedes strategist James Vowles. “It’s my mistake.”

But after gaining track position Verstappen never looked back, nursing his tyres to the line despite a late charge from Raikkonen and Vettel – with Ferrari declining to order Raikkonen to let Vettel through in order to boost the German’s title prospects.

“We always want more but we ran out of laps,” Raikkonen said. “We gave it our best but it wasn’t quite enough.”

Ricciardo and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who suffered an engine failure, joined Hamilton and Bottas on the list of retirees on an unexpectedly-attritional day at the Red Bull Ring.

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