MAX VERSTAPPEN held on to win the Austrian Grand Prix in tense conditions, with a severely blistered rear tyre.
It was a chaotic race at the Red Bull Ring, with a number of lead changes, and several high-profile retirements.
Kimi Raikkonen hunted the Dutch Red Bull driver to the very end, finishing second ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Despite not appearing on the podium, Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton led the race early on, holding off a hard-charging Raikkonen at the start.
The Ferrari driver split the Silver Arrows (which had locked out the front row in qualifying) heading to the first turn, heading to turn two in second place. However, Raikkonen then ran wide and was demoted to fourth, as Verstappen slid into third, and poleman Valtteri Bottas soared into second.
However, the Finnish driver was soon out of the race with a gearbox failure. Bottas’s retirement prompted a virtual safety car, under which both Red Bull and Ferrari pitted. Race leader Hamilton stayed out on track, a tactical error that would turn out to be disastrous for the Briton’s hopes for victory.
Having to pit under green-flag conditions, Hamilton dropped to fourth behind Daniel Ricciardo, but importantly ahead of drivers' championship title-rival Vettel. Not for long, though, as Vettel made a bold move to pass the Mercedes-AMG driver at turn three.
Verstappen and Raikkonen were untroubled at the head of the field.
Blistering rear tyres then became a problem for many drivers, with Ricciardo pitting from second place for fresh tyres, followed 15 laps later by Hamilton.
Running in fourth, Ricciardo’s Renault engine then gave up the ghost, forcing the Australian to pull off the track, his race over.
Lewis Hamilton was next to retire with a loss of fuel pressure. The last time Mercedes-AMG had a double mechanical retirement was the Italian Grand Prix in 1955.
Late in the race, Verstappen’s rear tyre was blistering, but the Dutchman held on for victory. Raikkonen put in the fastest lap of the race on the 71st and final tour.
Romain Grosjean finished fourth, a best-ever result for the Haas F1 team, with teammate Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top five.
Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, and Marcus Ericsson completed the top 10.
The defending champion’s retirement promotes Vettel to the championship lead by a single point ahead of next weekend’s British Grand Prix.
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