Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton didn't have the greatest Austrian Grand Prix this past weekend. Picture: Dan Istitene/Pool via AP
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton didn't have the greatest Austrian Grand Prix this past weekend. Picture: Dan Istitene/Pool via AP

Lewis Hamilton aims to immediately shrug off modest start to F1 season

By John Bagratuni Time of article published Jul 6, 2020

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BERLIN - Two penalties were too much for even the mighty Lewis

Hamilton to swallow at the season-opening Austrian Formula One Grand

Prix, but it could make the season a lot more exciting.

A grid demotion from second to fifth for not slowing down under

yellow flags in qualifying, imposed an hour before the race start

Sunday, was followed by a five-second penalty towards the end of the

race for an incident with Red Bull's Alex Albon as Hamilton finished

off the podium in fourth.

The outcome shows that Hamilton won't have an easy ride as he chases

a record-equalling seventh world title in a season already very

different than others owing to the coronavirus crisis.

"The mistakes of the favourite were not the worst news for what

should be a strange season all around," Germany's Sueddeutsche

Zeitung paper said on Monday.

Britain's Guardian named the race with plenty of excitement and three

safety car phases an "engrossing and bravura show" while saying

Hamilton's day "ran like some violent rollercoaster."

Teammate Valtteri Bottas stayed out of all trouble and won from pole, but it was not an easy day for Mercedes even before Hamilton was

punished for the incident with 10 laps left.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/AustrianGP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AustrianGP🇦🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/TSGwVpaCKB

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Running first and second at the time, the drivers were repeatedly

warned by the team to stay off the kerbs because of gearbox sensor

problems.

"At a certain stage it looked like neither of our cars would finish

the race, so we were trying to cruise home and really look after our

cars," Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff admitted.

And when Albon pitted for fresh and fast soft tyres under the final

safety car stage victory appeared under threat as Bottas and Hamilton

stayed out on their slower mediums.

"I really think we could have easily won that race," Albon said. "I

feel like I had completed the move on Lewis already, and I was

thinking about getting Bottas on the next lap."

But the two collided as Albon tried to pass Hamilton on the outside,

their second incident after Brazil 2019, the Thai spun and then even

had to retire late in the race, just as teammate Max Verstappen,

winner of the previous two Austrian races, early on.

Hamilton still seemed on course to a podium but Lando Norrris then

put together a sensational final lap in his McLaren to pip Hamilton

by less than two-tenths for a his first career podium in third, with

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc second from seventh on the grid.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/LandoNorris?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LandoNorrisand inside the @McLarenF1 garage as they celebrate an incredible podium finish in Austria 🎉 #AustrianGP🇦🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/tMywYR6Bbe

— Formula 1 (@F1)

By doing so, Norris became the first Briton to rank ahead of Hamilton

in the championship since Jenson Button at the 2014 season-opener in

Australia where Hamilton didn't finish and Button placed third.

Hamilton, who had made plenty of headlines in the run-up and during

the weekend with his big support of the Black Lives Matter movement,

and along with 13 other drivers had taken a knee before the start,

took it all in his stride as a somewhat elder statesman now.

"I drove my heart out in the race, I did everything I could - but it

was just one of those weekends," he said.

"There are lots of areas where I can improve. I didn't do a great job

in qualifying ... The scenario with Alex felt more like a racing

incident to me. The time penalty meant that I lost the podium, but it

is what it is.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/AustrianGP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AustrianGP🇦🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/3j6oikLJj9

— Formula 1 (@F1)

"Ultimately, this was not a good weekend for me, but it could be

worse - I'll take what I've got, try to learn from it and be better

next time."

Hamilton's next chance comes right away on Sunday on the same course,

where he has now missed the podium four times since his lone win

there in 2016.

dpa

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