Bottas zeroes in on title challenge as Vettel edges away from Hamilton F1 | Nigeria sports news, transfers & gossips
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Bottas zeroes in on title challenge as Vettel edges away from Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas continued his push to make the Formula One drivers’ title race a three-way fight with victory at the Austrian Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas closed the gap to Vettel and Hamilton by taking second place in Azerbaijan and he further trimmed their respective advantages at the Red Bull Ring, though he had to hold off a late push from the Ferrari man in the final three laps.

It provided a tense ending on a day in which the Finn had looked in complete control, despite being investigated for a suspected jump start, while Daniel Ricciardo successfully fended off a final charge from Hamilton to take third for his fifth podium finish in succession.

Hamilton now finds himself 20 points adrift of Vettel and only 15 clear of Bottas, whose second F1 victory puts him firmly in place for a title tilt.

Hamilton faced an uphill battle as a gearbox change incurred a five-place grid penalty that resulted in him starting eighth.

Rear-end issues meant the three-time champion – who still managed to break the record lap time – could only guide his car to fourth.

While Ricciardo’s position gave Red Bull reason to celebrate at their home circuit, a fifth retirement in seven races for Max Verstappen will provide further cause for concern.

TOO QUICK OFF THE MARK?

Bottas got off to a start that was so rip-roaringly good it prompted suspicion from Vettel and Ricciardo.

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The Ferrari and Red Bull drivers suggested over team radio the Finn might have jumped the lights, and he was soon under investigation by the race stewards.

However, a 0.201-second reaction time proved sufficient for Bottas to avoid any further action – it was simply just a brilliant start.

“THEY CAN’T JUST PLAY BOWLING”

Verstappen got off to a sluggish start and was out of the race by the first corner. Daniil Kvyat locked his brakes and shunted Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren spun into Verstappen and all three ended up off-track. The contact prompted an amusing comment from the Spaniard to highlight the difference between F1 and bowling.

Verstappen, whose father Jos prior to lights out insisted his son will remain at Red Bull next season despite links to Ferrari, tried to guide his car back to the pits but was ordered to stop over team radio, with a clutch issue later cited as the reason for his withdrawal. Alonso was also unable to continue, and Kvyat was punished with a drive-through penalty.

NO REPEAT FOR HAMILTON

Hamilton is no stranger to making his way through the field for a podium finish in Austria. He did just that in 2014, when he came second after failure to set a time in Q3 meant he started in ninth position.

He was unable to replicate that impressive feat, though, as he had to manage severely deteriorating rear tyres before a late, and ultimately unsuccessful, push for third.

PERFECT TIME TO SHINE

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It is always a good idea to put in a good shift when the boss is about, and Vettel did just that with Ferrari chief executive Sergio Marchionne in attendance at the Red Bull Ring.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, extending his championship lead and challenging Bottas right up to the chequered flag will certainly boost his hopes of a renewal.

IN THE POINTS
1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.658seconds
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +6.012secs
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +7.430secs
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +20.370secs
6. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +73.160secs
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 lap
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 lap
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 lap
10. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 lap

DRIVER STANDINGS
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 171
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 151 (-20)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 136 (-35)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) – 107 (-64)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) – 83 (-88)

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS
1. Mercedes – 287
2. Ferrari – 254 (-33)
3. Red Bull – 152 (-135)
4. Force India – 89 (-198)
5. Williams – 40 (-247)

NEXT UP
There is not long for the drivers to think about recovery with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone up next weekend.

ajike

Ajike is one of Nigeria's top Sportscasters with over 15 years of experience in writing and talking Sports.

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