Mercedes suffer as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas retire from Austria GP
Hamilton loses victory after failing to pit under the Virtual Safety Car before engine failure loses world championship lead
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 10/12/18 12:22pm
Mercedes suffered a day of disaster in the Austrian GP with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both forced to retire due to car failure.
Neither of the team's cars made it to the chequered flag in a race Mercedes were expected to win with comfort to spare having locked out the front row.
Hamilton's retirement was his first in 34 races since the 2016 Malaysia GP and brings to an end the longest run of points-scoring finishes in F1 history.
"This is definitely the worst weekend that I can remember for a long time," said Hamilton.
In the wake of Hamilton's retirement, diagnosed as a loss of fuel pressure, Sebastian Vettel has retaken the lead of the Drivers' World Championship by a point while Ferrari have leapfrogged Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship.
"It's a tremendously painful day for us," team boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1. "For me personally the most painful in the last six years."
How Mercedes' race collapsed
Bottas exited on lap 15 while Hamilton's race ended with seven laps remaining when his car lost fuel pressure.
The race had already turned ugly for Hamilton after the team mistakenly failed to pit their driver under the Virtual Safety Car triggered by Bottas' retirement.
The blunder meant that while Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo all enjoyed a cheap Virtual Safety Car, Hamilton had to take a 'full-fat' pit-stop with the extra 10 or so seconds of lost lap time demoting the aggrieved Mercedes driver from first to fourth.
"I have thrown away the win," Mercedes strategist James Vowles radioed Hamilton. "It's my mistake."
Vowles' honesty drew immediate praise from the Sky F1 commentary team.
But Hamilton's frustration was then compounded when he was overtaken by world championship rival Vettel shortly before the new-spec engine which Mercedes introduced at the Canadian GP three weeks ago failed.
"Ultimately the guys on the pit wall, you have to put 100 per cent confidence and faith in them," said Hamilton.
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"They have the full picture. All I can see is a guy in front of me and a guy behind me, I don't really know.. actually, at the time I was in the lead and I couldn't see where they were.
"In those circumstances you have to fully rely on the guys on the pit wall. We've got to definitely work hard to understand where we have gone wrong on both ends. I know everyone in the team will be feeling pain but we've got to take out the positives this weekend. Ultimately we were the quickest, we should have won, so we've got to keep working hard."
Asked if he retained full confidence in the team, Hamilton replied: "Of course."
Hamilton's retirement brought a dramatic conclusion to a race which had started with Mercedes seemingly set for a straightforward cruise to victory after Hamilton built up a comfortable lead from pole-sitter Bottas through the early stages.
But Mercedes' race unravelled on lap 15 when Bottas' car suffered a sudden failure, condemning the luckless Finn to his second retirement of the season.
"It is what it is, there's nothing we can do about it," said Hamilton. "We move forwards. I'm looking forward to getting the car back and trying to understand what the problem is and the guys will all be working hard to rectify it and make sure it doesn't happen again."