Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Bottas holds off Vettel for Austrian F1 GP

Published:Monday | July 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland lifts the winner's trophy on the podium of the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria yesterday. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso of Spain (left) and Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kyvat of Russia (right) crash at the start of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria yesterday. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
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SPIELBERG, Austria (AP):

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas made a great start from pole position to win the Austrian Grand Prix yesterday, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished just behind in second to extend his championship lead over main rival Lewis Hamilton to 20 points.

Bottas did just enough to hold off Vettel's late charge, with the German driver crossing the line 0.6 seconds behind.

"He was catching up. I had a massive blister in the rear left (tyre)," Bottas said. "I was losing more and more stability of the rear. I was happy the race ended on that lap."

Vettel was frustrated at missing out on a 46th career win by so little.

"I was told he was in trouble, I was pushing. The car came alive and I had really good pace," Vettel said. "I think I needed one more lap, because he was really struggling up the hill."

Vettel had never finished higher than fourth in Austria, twice retiring from races.

"I really wanted to win, so not entirely happy," Vettel said.

Meanwhile, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo showed great ability to defend third place from Hamilton, who almost passed the Australian driver on the last two laps, but had to settle for fourth.

Bottas, who won in Russia, clinched the second victory of his career and both have come since he joined Mercedes from Williams this season. His first career podium was on the same Spielberg track, when he finished third for Williams in 2014.

Bottas is now only 15 points behind Hamilton in the overall standings and close to contending for the title.

"I believe and the team believes," Bottas said. "We're not even halfway yet."

Hamilton started from eighth on the grid yesterday.

The British driver had the third-fastest qualifying time behind Vettel and Bottas, but was demoted five places for an unauthorised gearbox change after the last race in Azerbaijan two weeks ago, which Ricciardo won.

Ricciardo, who is fourth overall, clinched his fifth straight podium.

At the start of the race, Fernando Alonso had to retire his McLaren after a collision caused by Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was slowed at the start by a clutch problem, which dropped him back in the field where he was collected by Alonso's out-of-control McLaren the fifth time in the last seven races Verstappen has failed to finish.

Bottas got away cleanly, but Vettel contested the start on his radio, saying Bottas had jumped the lights.

The Finnish driver was later cleared by stewards of any wrongdoing, and defended his lightning start.

"You are gambling between your reaction and guessing," Bottas said. "Sometimes you are a bit late, and today was my best reaction to the lights."

Vettel emphatically disagreed.

"I don't want to take anything away from Valtteri, he drove an excellent race," Vettel said. "But I had a strong belief he had jumped the start. In my point of view, his reaction (time) was inhuman."

Ricciardo backed Vettel up.

Austrian GP Results:

1 77 Bottas 71 1:21:48.523 25

2 5 Vettel 71 +0.658s 18

3 3 Ricciardo 71 +6.012s 15

4 44 Hamilton 71 +7.430s 12

5 7 Raikkonen 71 +20.370s 10

6 8 Grosjean 71 +73.160s 8

7 11 Perez 70 +1 lap 6

8 31 Ocon 70 +1 lap 4

9 19 Massa 70 +1 lap 2

10 18 Stroll 70 +1 lap 1

11 30 Palmer 70 +1 lap 0

12 2 Vandoorne 70 +1 lap 0

13 27 Hulkenberg 70 +1 lap 0

14 94 Wehrlein 70 +1 lap 0

15 9 Ericsson 69 +2 laps 0

16 26 Kvyat 68 +3 laps 0

NC 55 Sainz 44 DNF 0

NC 20 Magnussen 29 DNF 0

NC 14 Alonso 1 DNF 0

NC 33 Verstappen 0 DNF 0

2017 DRIVER STANDINGS

1 Vettel GER FERRARI 171

2 Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 151

3 Bottas FIN MERCEDES 136

4 Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 107

5 Raikkonen FIN FERRARI 83

6 Perez MEX FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 50

7 Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 45

8 Ocon FRA FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 39

9 Sainz ESP TORO ROSSO 29

10 Massa BRA WILLIAMS MERCEDES 22

11 Stroll CAN WILLIAMS MERCEDES 18

12 Hulkenberg GER RENAULT 18

13 Grosjean FRA HAAS FERRARI 18

14 Magnussen DEN HAAS FERRARI 11

15 Wehrlein GER SAUBER FERRARI 5

16 Kvyat RUS TORO ROSSO 4

17 Alonso ESP MCLAREN HONDA 2

18 Palmer GBR RENAULT 0

19 Ericsson SWE SAUBER FERRARI 0

20 Vandoorne BEL MCLAREN HONDA 0

21 Giovinazzi ITA SAUBER FERRARI 0