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Red-hot Hamilton strikes in Styria; Ferrari duo crash out

Red-hot Hamilton strikes in Styria; Ferrari duo crash out

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Red-hot Hamilton strikes in Styria; Ferrari duo crash out

Red-hot Hamilton strikes in Styria; Ferrari duo crash out

Six-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in the Styrian Grand Prix, but it was another collision between Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc that stole the show.

What a difference a week makes for Hamilton as last weekend in the Austrian Grand Prix he was hit with grid and race penalties en route to finishing fourth behind Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the Red Bull Ring.

On the return to the same track, following an imperious performance in qualifying and one of the best wet-weather laps witnessed in F1, Hamilton was never troubled as he took the chequered flag ahead of Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen for his 85th career win, to leave him just six behind Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91.

And unlike what was a thrilling opening race seven days ago, on this occasion, the bulk of the action took place on the opening lap as Vettel and Leclerc took one another out of a grand prix for the second time in four races.

In Brazil last year, it was hard to determine who was at fault. This time around, the mistake was all of Leclerc's making for which he issued a wholehearted apology.

From lowly grid positions - Vettel 10th, Leclerc 14th - given the lack of pace with this year's car, on the approach to turn three and with the pack bunching into the slow-speed right-hander, Leclerc attempted an audacious move down the inside of Vettel.

But with little room for manoeuvre, Leclerc was forced onto the kerb from which his car was launched onto Vettel's SF1000, causing severe damage to the rear wing of the German's car, while the Monégasque sustained front-wing issues.

Although Vettel managed to return to the pits, he was immediately wheeled back into the garage and retirement, and while Leclerc's pit crew put a new nose on his car, he also retired soon after due to the damage sustained, primarily to the floor.

With debris on the track, it brought out the safety car, but Hamilton, who had made a clean getaway from top spot on the grid when the five red lights went out, negotiated the small hurdle of the restart to maintain his initial advantage over Verstappen.

A week ago, Red Bull had opted to go for an opposing strategy to Mercedes by starting Verstappen on the medium tyre compared to the soft for Bottas and Hamilton.

On this occasion, with all teams given a free choice after the wet running in qualifying, Red Bull and Mercedes both chose soft, perhaps hoping Verstappen could catch Hamilton at the start and potentially pull away.

Instead, it was Hamilton who called the shots from the front, enjoying a comfortable pit stop to take on the medium tyre, and eventually crossing the line 13.719secs ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen a further 20 seconds adrift after easing off late on after being passed by the Finn on lap 68.

Additionally, after the emergency calls from the Mercedes pit wall a week ago to avoid the harsh kerbs at the circuit that was causing suspension and gearbox sensor issues, there was not a murmur from the team, an indicator they had fixed the fault.

There was some drama towards the end, with Bottas and Verstappen enjoying a wheel-to-wheel battle on lap 67, with the Finn briefly claiming second, only to lose it again soon after before the Mercedes driver netted the runner-up spot for good a lap later.

Behind the leading trio, Red Bull's Alex Albon claimed fourth, holding off Racing Point's Sergio Perez on the penultimate lap, but with the Mexican settling for sixth from 17th on the grid after being passed for fifth by McLaren's Lando Norris on the last lap.

In a grandstand finish, Perez's team-mate Lance Stroll was seventh, narrowly ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, with McLaren's Carlos Sainz ninth, followed by AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat.

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Sun 02 Aug

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