Lewis Hamilton takes Austrian Grand Prix in final lap

Overtakes Mercedes team mate Nico Rosbergto close World Championship gap to 11 points

Lewis Hamilton won the austrian Grand Prix after overtaking team mate Nico Rosberg in the final lap. Photograph: Reuters

Lewis Hamilton won the austrian Grand Prix after overtaking team mate Nico Rosberg in the final lap. Photograph: Reuters

 

Lewis Hamilton won the Austrian Grand Prix after an extraordinary final lap in which he collided with his Mercedes team-mate and title rival, Nico Rosberg.

The incident left the world champion in the lead and dropped Rosberg to fourth. It was a climactic moment that denied Mercedes their third one-two in succession at the track. Many F1 fans will have appreciated the battle went wheel-to-wheel to the end but Hamilton was greeted with boos on the podium.

It is Hamilton’s third victory this season and the 46th of his career, a timely win that closes championship gap to Rosberg to 11 points with 12 races to go.

It was the 250th win for a British driver in a grand prix but more importantly it reignited the world championship. Stewards are investigating Rosberg, who started from sixth on the grid, for causing the collision at turn two on lap 71 and for not stopping with a damaged front wing that could have been deemed dangerous.

Hamilton said: “That was intense at the end. He made a mistake into turn one on the last lap. I left him a lot of room at turn two but he locked up and crashed into me. I am here to win, that’s all. I don’t know [why they are booing]. It’s their problem not mine.”

The fans’ reaction was reminiscent of the reception that greeted Sebastian Vettel after the incident when he overtook Mark Webber against team orders.

“It was not funny to watch,” said Niki Lauda, who won here for McLaren in 1984, and is an adviser to Mercedes. “I guess Nico had a brake problem so therefore he went long, why they hit each other I don’t know. Nico had a brake problem why they hit is completely wrong. I think it is Nico’s fault but we will have to look at it.”

Hamilton had a clean start from pole but the team pitted Rosberg earlier, looking for the British driver to match his race to the main threat from the Ferrari. It gave Rosberg an undercut that put him in the lead, albeit by never more than around two seconds. The pair then closed up after the safety car was employed.

On lap 27 Vettel’s right-rear tyre exploded, triggering the safety car. He had used the tyres in qualifying putting them up to 30 laps in total – close to the performance guideline for the lifetime of the tyre – although its structural integrity should outlast that distance.

“Rear right exploded nothing I can do, sorry guys,” the Ferrari driver said. He had a remarkably similar incident at Spa last year where his team opted to try to finish the race after only one stop. He also lost his right rear at high speed.

After the safety car restart Rosberg had a two-second advantage over Hamilton and the pair traded fastest laps as the gap stayed within a 10th of that for five circuits. Aan error into turn one cost the German time and put Hamilton almost into DRS range, the gap 1.1 seconds on lap 44.

There was little to choose between them but the questioned remained whether they would need to stop again. Mercedes asked Hamilton to push and he pitted on lap 54 for his second stop taking the soft tyres again, coming out ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Kimi Raikonnen (Ferrari) but lost time going wide on his out lap. It meant he could not regain the lead through stops.

Rosberg pitted a lap later and had a 2.3sec stop, quicker than Hamilton and retained the lead on the exit but on the super soft tyres. “Why is he on a softer tyre than me?” Hamilton asked. His team believed it was the right tyre to make it to the finish but Hamilton’s goal was overtaking his team-mate and it looked as if he would be frustrated in doing so.

As the pair drew up behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had yet to make a second stop and led the race, the gap between them was seven-tenths. Rosberg passed Verstappen on lap 61 but Hamilton could not make the pass for two more laps, letting Rosberg extend his lead and when back in clear air he was one and half seconds back from his team-mate. A chase to the finish ensued and it looked as if Rosberg had done enough to secure his third straight win in Spielberg.

In in a thrilling finale Hamilton would not be denied, he had a superb run into turn one and made the move on Rosberg, through two and the German, whose was struggling with his brakes, clashed with his team-mate, leaving his front wing severely damaged and dragging along the ground.

Hamilton took the flag and a stricken Rosberg was passed by Raikkonen and Verstappen, for second and third, the latter scoring Red Bull’s best finish at their home grand prix.

Ricciardo was fifth, while Jenson Button put in a superb run from third on the grid to take sixth in his McLaren, ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Haas. Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein also outperformed for 10th place, while the Sauber of Felipe Nasr was a creditable eighth with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas ninth.

(Guardian service)

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