Hamilton hopes upgrades will give Mercedes an edge in title fight

Lewis Hamilton

GETTYLewis Hamilton enjoys his French Grand Prix win in Le Castellet

Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of his Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen‚ an indicator that their Ferrari-powered cars have the performance needed to shine on the short‚ but picturesque and power-hungry Red Bull Ring circuit in the Styrian Alps.

"Up until now we've not really had a lot of development parts on the auto", said Hamilton, who leads fellow-four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 14 points. "It was incredible to win here with so many Dutch fans". If our auto was still going it was an easy win for us.

Verstappen won Red Bull's home race in Austria ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen during practice on April 6, 2018.

Vettel now leads Hamilton, who failed to finish for the first time since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, by one point ahead of next week's British Grand Prix.

"I couldn't have chosen a better race to do it, so very happy", the Dutchman, cheered on by an estimated 20,000 countrymen in the crowd, added. "It was damage limitation for me and a positive day".

The four-times world champion has been critical of the difficulty to overtake that the current generation of cars present but said the sport is heading in the right direction but that greater competition at the front remained key as F1 considers new regulations for 2021. "After that, the auto came good, but we just ran out of laps".

Raikkonen grabbed second, but then ran off at Turn Two giving fellow-Finn Bottas a chance to recover second on the straight in a frantic opening lap.

The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas remained atop FP2, with Hamilton's quick time of 1:04.579 bettering Bottas' mark by.176 of a second.

Valtteri Bottas suffered a hydraulic leak early in the race, whilst Hamilton's problem was related to his fuel pump, confirmed Wolff, therefore both were nothing to do with the spec-two power unit.

Bottas, victor in Austria a year ago from pole, also agreed that the updates were working well.

"My gearbox is gone", he told the team.

The virtual safety vehicle was triggered by a mechanical failure for Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas, and saw all frontrunners except Hamilton pit.

While both Red Bulls and Ferraris went to their boxes to have their tires changed, Mercedes surprisingly let Hamilton driving on.

Mercedes' chief strategist James Vowles came on the radio as the bearer of bad news, admitting his error as Hamilton struggled to comprehend what had happened.

With Hamilton failing to score, Vettel regained the championship lead 146-145.

He dropped to fifth, behind Daniel Ricciardo, but moved up one place when the Australian retired with a mechanical failure.

"I don't get it", he yelled.

"This is James, I have thrown away the win today", replied Vowles. Verstappen had slight blistering, but Hamilton's left rear was a mass of blistered rubber.

"You look at the race of Max and it was good and Kimi did the fastest lap at the end of the race".

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