'Worst weekend’ has Mercedes rethinking plans
Spielberg, Austria - There were highs and lows aplenty at the Austrian Grand Prix but with little time to the next race in the relentless F1 season, both Mercedes and Ferrari must quickly find their feet in a frantic title race.
Reigning Formula One world champion Mercedes had "the worst weekend that I can remember for a long time," said driver Lewis Hamilton, but has no time to dwell on its mistakes.
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admitted: "We weren't reliable enough, we didn't make the right strategy call, our starts weren't good enough and we didn't manage the tyres as well as we could have done."
That's quite a list to work through in the few days before practice for the British Grand Prix starts on Friday.
By the time the champagne was being sprayed at the Red Bull Ring, Mercedes was back in its garage reflecting on a double no finish with both cars breaking down for the first time since their return to the sport. It not only cost Hamilton his lead in a topsy-turvy world championship, to Vettel by a point, but Ferrari now lead the constructors' standings by 10.
'We can't throw away points'
"This is definitely the worst weekend that I can remember for a long time," Hamilton said. "The car has been great all weekend, we were quickest and we've had such great reliability for so many years. So, as painful as it is, we have to take the rough with the smooth.
"I have every confidence in my team that we will be able to bounce back," he added. "We will have to find a bullet-proof method going forward. We will work on it and we will try to re-evaluate and come back stronger."
Disaster to triumph
Vettel saw his weekend go from potential disaster to triumph after taking a three-place grid penalty for impeding a rival in Saturday qualifying. He started the race 14 points behind Hamilton and, had the world champion finished, would surely have fallen more than 20 adrift after nine of 21 races.
Instead the remarkable swing brought about by Valtteri Bottas' car suffering gearbox failure and Hamilton's fuel pressure halting him, put Vettel top of the standings once more.
"Obviously, I am happy with the points that we've got and the podium," he said, "but I am not satisfied 100 percent, because I think there would have been more up for grabs today, if I hadn't got the penalty. We were the only cars that could be there with the Mercedes in terms of pace, but in the end, we proved more consistent."
Mercedes may be relieved it is Silverstone next, a track which should suit them and Hamilton has dominated in recent years - with four consecutive victories - but Austria showed they can take nothing for granted as Hamilton and Vettel battle to the end in search of their fifth championship title.dpa