Max Verstappen took the fourth win of his career at the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel, as Mercedes suffered its first double-DNF in over two years.
When the light went out for the start, Räikkönen made a superb getaway and slotted between the two slower Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas.
The inside line belonged to Hamilton, however, and he emerged in the lead with Räikkönen second ahead of Bottas. The Ferrari driver then tried to attack Hamilton around the outside of Turn 3 but he went wide and that allowed Bottas to retake second place, and Verstappen then slotted into third as Räikkönen struggled for pace after his off.
Behind them Ricciardo, who was celebrating his 29th birthday, had passed Haas’ Romain Grosjean to take fifth place behind Räikkönen and Vettel was also soon past the Frenchman to sit sixth.
Hamilton quickly began to pull away from the field, and by lap 10 he had a two second cushion over Bottas, with the Finn a further two seconds clear of Verstappen.
The Dutchman was given a boost, however, when midway through lap 14, Bottas slowed dramatically on the run down to Turn 4 and pulled off track with a gearbox failure.
With a Virtual Safety Car called as Bottas’ car was recovered Red Bull chose to seize the initiative and pitted both Verstappen and Ricciardo at the end of lap 16. Ferrari chose the same tactic, with the result that when the quartet rejoined the action the order remained static, with second-placed Verstappen ahead of Räikkönen and with fourth-placed Ricciardo ahead of Vettel. Hamilton, who has stayed out on track, now led Verstappen by 13 seconds.
On lap 20, after harrying the Ferrari driver since the start, Ricciardo finally found a way past Räikkönen. The Finn made a mistake, locking up into Turn 3, and after running wide Ricciardo tucked in behind the Ferrari and with greater pace powered past into Turn 4 to steal third place.
Shortly afterwards, Hamilton was told that his team had missed the VSC opportunity and that he needed to find eight seconds on track to avoid losing out when he made his pit stop. The incredulous Briton responded that he had no time left in his starting supersofts and so on lap 26 the pitted for soft tyres. When he resumed he’d dropped to fourth place and Max Verstappen now led a Red Bull one-two ahead of Räikkönen.
However, as the race hit half distance, Räikkönen radioed his team to say he could a large blister on Ricciardo’s rear left tyre and the problem was soon confirmed by Ricciardo, whose pace began to flag. By lap 37 he was 6.2 seconds behind his race-leading team-mate and Räikkönen and Hamilton were smelling blood.
Räikkönen was the first to pounce, and on lap 39 he closed hard on Ricciardo on the run to Turn 3. He tucked in behind the Red Bull and breezed past on the straight to Turn 4.
Behind him, it was Vettel who made the next move and on the following lap, as Ricciardo pitted to shed his damaged soft tyres, Vettel launched an attack on Hamilton.
The German dived down the inside of the championship leader as they powered through Turn 2 and hugging the edge of the track he held firm in Turn 3 to steal third place.
Verstappen now led Räikkönen by seven seconds, with Vettel a further 2.4s behind. Hamilton was now third, 0.8s behind the German with Ricciardo, on fresh supersoft tyres, 19 second behind.
It now became a race of tyre management. At two-thirds distance Hamilton reported that he was suffering from the problem as Ricciardo, a seriously degrading rear left tyre and on lap 52 he told his team he did not feel the rubbers would last to the end of the race. He pitted and took on supersoft tyres.
When Hamilton rejoined he found himself behind Ricciardo, but any hopes the Red Bull driver had of holding fourth place until the end evaporated on lap 53. Entering Turn 10 a puff of smoke burst from the rear of Ricciardo’s car and by Turn 1 he was on the radio saying he’d lost gear sync. He pulled over at Turn 1 and retired from the race.
With 10 laps remaining Verstappen led Räikkönen by 3.7s with Vettel a further 2.4s back in third. Hamilton was fourth, 21.7s behind the German, while Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen held fifth and sixth places respectively. Force India’s Sergio Perez was seventh ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. The final points position was occupied by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
There were more twists to come, however, and on lap 64 Hamilton suddenly slowed dramatically. “I’ve lost power,” he said simply before being told to stop his car at Turn 4. Hamilton’s exit made it Mercedes’ first double DNF since the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
With five laps left Verstappen was just 2.8s ahead of Räikkönen and the Finn was behind told to he was free to push as hard as he liked. Verstappen, though, had managed the race perfectly and he crossed the line to take his fourth career win and his first since Mexico last year with 1.5s in hand over the Finn.
Vettel held third ahead Grosjean, with Magnussen fifth on a good day for Haas. Ocon took sixth ahead of team-mate Perez, while Fernando Alonso enjoyed a good afternoon, making the most of a late-race charge to claim eighth place ahead of Leclerc and Ericsson.
2018 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.504
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 3.181
4 Romain Grosjean Haas 1 lap
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 lap
6 Esteban Ocon Force India 1 lap
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1 lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 lap
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1 lap
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1 lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1 lap
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1 lap
13 Lance Stroll Williams 2 laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 2 laps
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 6 laps
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 9 laps
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 17 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 18 laps
19 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 laps
20 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 60 laps