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Hamilton soars on another dismal day for Ferrari

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Winning form: Lewis Hamilton poses on the podium

Winning form: Lewis Hamilton poses on the podium

AP

Winning form: Lewis Hamilton poses on the podium

Lewis Hamilton dominated the Styrian Grand Prix to take the first win of his world championship defence.

The Mercedes driver laid the groundwork for his victory with one of his greatest pole laps in Saturday's rain-hit qualifying session.

And in the dry at Spielberg's Red Bull Ring yesterday, Hamilton delivered a faultless performance to see off team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third.

"It is great to be back up here and driving with this kind of performance," said Hamilton. "It was about keeping it together and bringing it home.

"I am so grateful to be back in first place. It feels like a long time since I won at the final race of last season. This is a great step forward."

Ferrari's miserable start to the season continued after Charles Leclerc punted team-mate Sebastian Vettel out of the race on the opening lap. Both drivers were forced to retire.

Alexander Albon finished fourth ahead of Lando Norris, who moved up three positions in an impressive final two laps. Bottas is four points clear in the championship following his win here last Sunday.

Hamilton might have finished only fourth in the season opener following, by his own admission, a rather tame display.

The drama instead took place behind the six-time world champion, with Verstappen just about managing to hold off McLaren's fast-starting Carlos Sainz in second, before the two red cars collided.

Leclerc, starting in 14th, attempted to overtake Vettel at the third corner on the opening lap, but he completely misjudged the move. Leclerc was launched airborne and out of control after hitting the kerb. He smashed into the unwitting Vettel, ripping off the German's rear wing.

Vettel was forced to park his wounded car in the pits and, while Leclerc attempted to carry on, he was unable to do so following terminal damage sustained in the accident.

The crash here marks the second time in four races that the two Ferrari drivers have collided. Vettel was largely blamed for that incident in Brazil last year, but here it was Leclerc who was at fault.

"I apologised to Seb," said Leclerc, 22. "Excuses are not enough in times like this and I'm just disappointed in myself.

"I have done a very bad job today. I have let the team down."

Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix, The Red Bull Ring, Speilberg, Austria

Final Positions after Race (71 Laps): 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP; 2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP ; 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull ; 4 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull; 5 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:21:52.153, 6 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point; 7 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point; 8 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault; 9 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren; 10 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia AlphaTauri; 11 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing; 12 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1; 13 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas; 14 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing; 15 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri; 16 George Russell (Gbr) Williams; 17 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams.

World Championship Standings

Drivers: 1 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 43pts, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr)Mercedes GP 37, 3 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 26, 4 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 18, 5 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 16, 6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 15, 7 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 13, 8 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 12, 9 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 6, 10 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 6,

Manufacturers: 1 Mercedes GP 80pts, 2 McLaren 39, 3 Red Bull 27, 4 Racing Point 22, 5 Ferrari 19, 6 Renault 8, 7 Scuderia AlphaTauri 7, 8 Alfa Romeo Racing 2, 9 Williams 0, 10 Haas F1 0

Belfast Telegraph