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|Austrian Grand Prix on the BBC|
|Venue: Red Bull Ring Date: 7-9 July|
|Coverage: Race on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.|
Lewis Hamilton will start the Austrian Grand Prix in eighth place with title rival Sebastian Vettel second behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton, who started the weekend knowing he would drop five grid places because of a gearbox penalty, had a scrappy session, with numerous errors.
It leaves him with a difficult task to limit the damage to his title hopes as Vettel has a 14-point advantage.
It is the first race since their collision in Azerbaijan.
Why did Hamilton struggle to limit the damage?
The final battle in the dying seconds of the session fizzled out as Romain Grosjean’s Haas ground to a halt with engine problems at the exit of the Turn Three hairpin.
But Hamilton had already probably thrown away his chance of qualifying fastest – and therefore starting sixth – with an error at Turn One, his Mercedes clouting the kerb on the inside, losing speed up the long straight that followed it and dropping 0.3secs in the final sector.
Hamilton, who was quickest in the first two qualifying sessions even though he used the slower super-soft tyre in the second, might have had time for another lap but Grosjean’s stranded Haas put paid to that.
Hamilton had also had a scrappy first run, in which he was 0.173secs slower than Bottas, who takes his second pole of the session.
Vettel, who described the end of the session as “an anti-climax”, missed out by just 0.042secs.
Hamilton’s engineers have gambled on a different tyre strategy for the race – he will start on the super-soft tyre while all around him in the top 10 will be on the ultra-soft.
The plan is possibly to run a longer first stint and certainly be on the quicker tyre at the end of the race.
He said: “I hoped to be higher up but it wasn’t to be. But I plan to be on the podium and make it a one-two with Valtteri.”
He added that he did not think the tyre choice would make much difference.
“I don’t think the tyre will make a big difference,” he said. “It is a slower tyre. But lots of things can happen, rain, safety cars. We shall see.”
A long race ahead
Being in eighth rather sixth means Hamilton has a tougher task getting into the podium positions.
He will have to negotiate a way past Force India’s Sergio Perez, Grosjean and both Red Bulls before he gets in the mix with the other drivers in the top two teams.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen completed the top four but was 0.486secs slower than Vettel – a significant margin on one of the shortest laps of the year.
Raikkonen was only just ahead of the Red Bulls, with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen for the first time since the Russian Grand Prix at the end of April.
Verstappen had a difficult session, a number of mistakes ending with a spin at Turn Five as he complained of a lack of grip and balance.
More to follow
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