Lewis Hamilton wins Styrian GP in Mercedes one-two

Struggling Ferrari provided a major talking point with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel colliding on the opening lap and both retiring from the race.

Winner Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix race on Sunday.   -  REUTERS

Lewis Hamilton won the Styrian Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday to clinch an 85th career win and move within six of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record.

Most of Schumacher’s wins were during a dominant spell with Ferrari, but his old team is struggling badly. For the second time in the past four races, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel crashed into each other and went out.

Hamilton’s record-extending 89th career pole on a rain-drenched track was one of his best in extreme conditions, but during the race he was hardly challenged as he finished a sizeable 13.7 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and 33.7 ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Bottas won last weekend’s season-opening Austrian GP on the same Red Bull Ring track in Spielberg at the foot of the Styrian mountains — hence the name change.

READ | Hamilton's pole lap was out of this world - Mercedes boss

Like last Sunday, drivers again wore black T-shirts with “End Racism” and most took the knee a few moments before the national anthem.

Red Bull driver Alexander Albon did well to fend off persistent attacks from Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and finished fourth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Perez, who dropped to sixth after touching wheels with Albon late on.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. started from third and finished ninth, but collected a bonus point for the fastest lap.

Hamilton got away cleanly while Verstappen did well to hold off Sainz.

Leclerc tried to overtake down the right entering a hairpin bend and ended up riding over the back of Vettel’s car, mangling his rear wing and prompting a safety car to come out for two laps.

Vettel, who finished 10th last week, had to retire while Leclerc came into the pits on Lap 5 and was soon out of the race.

At last season’s penultimate GP in Brazil, both Ferrari cars crashed out. Vettel appeared at fault that time after being overtaken cleanly by Leclerc and trying to regain position.

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But this time Leclerc was far too hasty and impatient.

Up ahead, Hamilton was coasting and about five seconds clear of Verstappen when the Dutch driver came in for his first tire change on Lap 25 of 71.

Hamilton came in for fresh tires soon after and then Bottas a few laps later, meaning that by Lap 38 Verstappen was second again — still five seconds adrift of Hamilton.

Verstappen’s front wing was damaged on the right side and, with six laps remaining, his lead over Bottas was under one second.

Bottas overtook Verstappen on the next lap but Verstappen regained his position superbly, only to concede it again moments later as Bottas’ superior speed proved decisive.

Renault driver Esteban Ocon was the other driver not to finish, but teammate Daniel Ricciardo was eighth behind Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.

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