Belfast Telegraph

Hamilton's title hopes dealt blow after being hit with grid penalty


By Mark Mann-Bryans

Lewis Hamilton's hopes of reeling in Sebastian Vettel with victory at the Austrian Grand Prix suffered a blow as the Mercedes driver was hit with a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

The Briton had topped the timesheets in both of yesterday's practice sessions as he looked to set about closing a 14-point gap on Vettel in the F1 World drivers' championship standings.

But, after declaring his happiness with his running, he will now face a battle to finish ahead of the Ferrari as he will drop five places from where he qualifies today.

Asked if he was pleased to be back in the car rather than discussing the clash with Vettel in Azerbaijan, Hamilton said: "That is what I came to do.

"I have been training, keeping my head down, staying focused and staying quiet and making sure I came here healthy and strong so we can fight.

"These two weekends are important, I lost points in the last race and I want to reverse that. These next two are an opportunity to do that.

"It has been a pretty good day at the track, pretty good from the get-go. The track was amazing from the start so we had a good baseline to start with and have just been chipping away at it."

Vettel could only manage the fourth-fastest time in the morning before getting closer in free practice two, but he still could not match the man closest to him in the title race.

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who spun in both sessions, was third with Max Verstappen up in fourth for Red Bull in their home race.

Belfast Telegraph


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