Mercedes explains 'painful' Hamilton VSC blunder in Austrian GP

Toto Wolff

GETTYToto Wolff knows that the Austrian Grand Prix will not be easy given the track's difficulties

Hamilton had already been on the back foot before he stopped on lap 64, his vehicle suffering lost fuel pressure while he was in fourth place, after a glaring strategy error by Mercedes had cost him the lead.

"Everyone in the team is really feeling the pain today but I think you just have to look at it, we've had such great reliability for so many years and as painful as it is, and we are perfectionists, we really have to take the rough with the smooth".

"The development race is always tight and up until now, we haven't had a lot of development parts on the vehicle", Hamilton said.

Hamilton was in front from the start but lost his lead following a tactical mistake by his team, which did not pit him under a virtual safety auto while most other teams took the opportunity to switch to soft tires.

It is the first time Red Bull have won their home meeting and Verstappen, 20, ran his race to perfection, running with exemplary control, pace and skill while managing his tyres, where others were hampered by blistering. "This is where we lost the race".

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Hamilton dropped from first to fourth and then out of power after a loss of fuel pressure with only seven laps to run.

"My sole goal right now and focus is fully Formula One", said the four-time world champion, dodging the story that has buzzed around the music world about the artist identified as "XNDA" in a duet with Aguilera on her album Liberation. "It's a real shame because we had great auto and we were looking very strong but we will live to fight another day". "Lewis, this is James", he said on the radio. As painful as it is, we are professionals and we have to take the rough with the smooth'. "I just think about how can I get the auto in the right ballpark so I can do what I do".

With Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo out of contention, the top runners now just had to complete the race to bring home the win.

"We were going flat out, and going flat out means you are overheating the surface of the tyre, and that causes the blistering". We will pick ourselves up in the next days, learn from our errors and go to Silverstone with our heads held high.

Wolff said in defence of his chief strategist: "James is one of the best ever".

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This is the first time Mercedes have had a double non-finish since the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. It needed guts to come out and speak in front of millions of people and say it was his mistake.

'For Lewis, he was leading comfortably and then he was in fourth.

"I had plenty of people coming to see me before the start and saying, 'This was going to be a walk in the park, 1-2, you have the quickest auto'".

Daniel Ricciardo also failed to make it to end in his Red Bull, while the Haas cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished an impressive fourth and fifth.

McLaren had another lacklustre day, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne 17th and 18th respectively in the opening session, although the Spaniard was testing aerodynamic details.

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