Max Verstappen wins in Austria as Brendon Hartley suffers mechanical failure

JUNE 28 Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring

JUNE 28 Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring

"Max has got a great ability to do that".

"I think again the margins in Formula 1 are so fine, you saw there was a touch at Turn 3 with Kimi, a touch at Turn 7, a few races ago that could've been a puncture and it would've been a different story", Horner said.

At the subsequent Red Bull media debrief Ricciardo was his usual smiley self.

Verstappen went on to control the race once Mercedes' failure to pit Lewis Hamilton under the early virtual safety auto, caused by Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas's retirement from second place, cost the Briton track position later on.

The changes to the aerodynamics of the chassis came a week after Mercedes finally introduced its improved engine, which helped Hamilton to a convincing win at the French GP.

It was Verstappen's fourth career victory as he came home ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who regained the lead in the drivers' championship ahead of Hamilton by a single point.

Sauber duo Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson finished ninth and 10th.

Vettel leads the title race with 146 points ahead of Hamilton on 145, Raikkonen on 101 and Ricciardo on 96.

"Sometimes you have hard moments", Verstappen said of his recent turnaround. "Very consistent. No mistakes".

"I couldn't have chosen a better race to do it, so very happy", the Dutchman, cheered on by an estimated 20,000 countrymen in the crowd, added. Raikkonen said: "I had to back off at turn one because the cars were squeezed together".

"We had a really good vehicle, really good pace".

The 29-year-old started emphatically, climbing from seventh to second early in the race, but when the condition of his tires forced him into an unscheduled pit-stop, a sudden power loss ended the Aussie's day on the 54 lap.

Leader Hamilton stayed out - unsure whether the chasing bunch would follow him in or not - but was the only major player to stay on track.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was the first retirement, with his engine spewing a cloud of smoke and flames.

He has had Mercedes and Ferrari in his sights but, despite potential vacancies at both teams, neither have seemed interested. "My gearbox is gone", he told the team.

There was a strategy error on the part of the Mercedes team, who opted not to pit Hamilton during the Virtual Safety Car period that was necessitated by the fact that Bottas' car was beached at a slightly less and ideal spot.

The Australian has been linked with moves to Ferrari, Mercedes or McLaren for 2019, but Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko said in Austria that Ricciardo is getting "closer" to inking a new contract.

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