Mercedes miss out for the first time but are still clear
Well, it had to happen sometime – a Grand Prix not being won by a Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver.
It happened in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring where Valtteri Bottas scored the Brackley’s team’s sole podium spot with a third place finish.
It was his third podium in his 50th race for Mercedes-AMG Petronas while world champion Lewis Hamilton could only finish in fifth place.
Hamilton still leads the FIA F1 Drivers’ Championship by 31 points from Bottas while Mercedes-AMG Petronas lead Ferrari by 135 points in the FIA F1 Constructors’ Championship following Max Verstappen’s victory on Sunday.
Team boss Toto Wolff said: “We said before the race that the high temperatures would be a huge challenge for us and that turned out to be true. Our Achilles heel was exposed, with both drivers struggling with overheating in these incredibly warm temperatures.
“We had to open up the bodywork all the way, turn down the engine and had to do lifting and coasting for long stretches. So, we couldn’t really race with our car, neither attack nor defend, we were just trying to keep it alive and cooling it properly.
“On a more positive note, though, we still scored a good haul of points and managed to put in some decent lap times despite these limitations. However, it’s clear that we have to fix our cooling problems for the coming hot European races. As we say, the bad days are the ones when we learn the most to come back stronger. And we’ll be looking to do just that at the next race at Silverstone.”
Bottas said: “I think we made the most of it, we expected this race to be tricky, but it turned out to be even more difficult than we predicted. We had to do lots of lifting and coasting and couldn’t use all engines modes to keep the engine from overheating.
“So, we couldn’t really race properly, and I had to manage temperatures for the majority of the race. It made both defending and attacking very difficult. But you have to look at the positives, I got some good points and I don’t think there was much difference in terms of race pace. So, it isn’t all bad.”
Hamilton added: “We knew already before the race started that we might be in trouble here. Overheating proved to be a fairly big issue for us.
“There’s going to be more hot races coming up, so we’ll need to get on top of this. It’s just one of those bad days but at least I still got some good points with fifth place.”