Bottas wins Austrian GP with Vettel and Ricciardo following

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Photo Credit To @F1

Bottas calmly held off Vettel, while Ricciardo kept a fast climbing Hamilton in check to round off the podium in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took his second win of the season on Sunday when he kept his pole position from qualifying with a fine, controlled race to finish first in the Austrian GP after fending off a late charge by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

The race hummed along largely incident-free, compared to the charged proceedings at Baku, save for a crash in the opening lap caused by Daniil Kvyat which ultimately took out Alonso and Verstappen from the race. Things heated-up however with Vettel’s late bid to displace Bottas from first, and Hamilton’s attempt to take third from Ricciardo.

Hamilton, who had to start in eighth after a poor qualifying and a five-place grid penalty, did well to claw up to fourth. But the Briton failed in his attempts to pass Ricciardo in the final stages, settling for fourth. Hamilton is now 20 points behind Vettel, but will be fairly content with the damage containment he managed.

Vettel’s lead aside, perhaps the biggest strides in the Austrian GP were made by Bottas. The Finn notched his second ever win of his career, and his second this season after Sochi. He drove well to take second in the last race in Azerbaijan. And this win means he’s now only 15 points behind teammate Hamilton in the championship, meaning he’s well in contention.

Ricciardo, too, will be pleased with his showing, having fought hard to stay ahead of Hamilton to take third. Hamilton’s rapid ascent from eighth was halted by the 28-year old with some skillful defending. The Briton came as close to 1.3 seconds off Ricciardo, but could not pass in the end. The Australian is now on a five-race podium-finish streak, and his delight at the end was palpable.

Bottas keeps his lead from start to finish in an excellent display

So sharp and focused was Bottas on the day that Vettel, suspicious of the Finn’s brilliant start, called for the officials to check for a possible jump-start. As it turned out, Bottas was just super quick – a reaction time of 0.201 seconds, within the regulations. Bottas had a clear lead on the German at Turn One itself, and kept building on it thereafter.

When Vettel pitted on lap 34, Bottas had an eight second lead. The German made a late charge, however, cutting the gap to under a second in the final laps. But much like in Sochi, Bottas remained firmly in control despite struggling with blistered tyres, and took the win.

The spotlight in the Austrian GP, though, was clearly on Hamilton and Vettel. After their recent clashes following the Baku incident, tensions between the two have been dialed up several notches. Even so, with such a disastrous qualifying and his penalty, Hamilton had his hands full just trying to make up.

He did quite well, however, in the end, battling with supersofts to prolong his time on the track. The Briton was stuck behind Raikkonen for a while, which worsened the blistering on his tyres. But once on the ultrasofts after pitting, the Briton managed to pass into fourth, where he was held by the impressive Ricciardo till the end.

Apart from the battle between top constructors, the Austrian GP also provided more taste of the increased competitiveness this season. Ricciardo’s smarts have enabled Red Bull’s relatively inferior engine to go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights. And Austria threw another surprise in the results – Hass finishing with points as Grosjean came in sixth. They may not really challenge in the championship, but it’s nice to see results opening up the way they are.

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Valtteri Bottas, with a superb, controlled performance on the day:

“I had a bit of deja vu in the end from Russia. Vettel was catching up but the problem was I had a massive [tyre] blister.

“At the beginning, I could control the race but it was trickier towards the end.

“I’m really happy. It’s only the second win in my career. I think that was the start of my life.”

Sebastian Vettel, who extended his lead to 20 points in the championship:

“How would you feel if you were just shy of half a second behind the winner? It was very close.

“I was very happy in the second stint of the race. As soon as we put on the super-soft tyre, the car came alive. I think I needed one more lap because Bottas was really struggling to get up the hill.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who made it a fifth consecutive podium finish:

“It was a fun race. There were some decisive moments at the start and then it was about defending the last couple of laps.

“But I stuck to my breaking points and held off. Max Verstappen got the home podium last year and I was a bit envious, so it’s nice to be up.

“The second last lap was the tightest and Hamilton got close but I was very pleased to see the chequered flag.”

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