Hamilton "quickest of everyone" in Austrian GP

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton believes his fourth-place finish in the Austrian GP was not reflective of a race where he'd been “the strongest”.

Hamilton "quickest of everyone" in Austrian GP
Race winner Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, the team
 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-17, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08 battle for position
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India VJM10 at the start of the race
 Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Hamilton was third quickest in qualifying but was forced to start the race in eighth due to a gearbox change penalty.

He gained a place at the start due to Max Verstappen's troubles, soon cleared the Force India of Sergio Perez and the Haas of Romain Grosjean and then got ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen through an earlier stop.

Despite his frustration at narrowly missing out on the podium – as he spent the last few laps fruitlessly trying to find a way past Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo for third place – Hamilton said he'd actually had "a really good race".

"When I go and look at the race trace, I was actually quickest of everyone today, so I actually had the strongest race," said Hamilton, whose late 230.597 km/h race lap was the fastest of the F1 season so far.

"Once I finally got past the two cars, the Force India and the Haas, I was something like 16 seconds behind [race leader] Valtteri [Bottas] and then there was another bunch of seconds that I lost and then in the end I was only six seconds behind.

"So it was actually really positive, looking at that afterwards. I don't think the points really reflect that but it is what it is."

The Briton said he was initially disappointed to lose out to Ricciardo in the battle for third, having made a last-ditch attempt to overtake the Aussie on the penultimate lap around the outside of Turn 4.

However, he said his outlook on the result changed after he'd seen replays of the battle.

"He defended his position very well, I don't think I could have done better. At the time, when I finished the race, I was thinking maybe I could have but he was in my blind spot so I didn't know.

"So when I'm doing interviews [right after the race], that's what I was disappointed in, because I worked so hard to close that gap and get into that window."

Hamilton had started the race on supersofts but made his mandatory stop as early as 31 laps into the 71-lap event, switching over to the ultrasoft compound.

He radioed to his team that he was "struggling" during the second stint and told Mercedes he was carrying "too much front wing" and was worried about the tyres.

However, after the race, Hamilton said the ultrasoft stint had actually turned out better than he initially worried.

"I didn't have any problems with my tyres," he said. "The second stint was a little bit, I would have taken out some more wing, balance-wise, just a little bit heavy on the front end of the car.

"It's difficult to race for 35 laps when the car is already neutral from the get-go, it's better to start maybe understeer and it progresses maybe into neutral and oversteer later on, but you think, if it starts neutral already towards positive early on, there's no way I'm going to get to do 35 laps without the rears going off.

"But actually I was able to make some switch changes and manage it. I actually pushed the fronts quite a lot and just got a little bit of blistering on the front tyres, but it was just a little bit of vibration, it didn't cause any trouble, I actually didn't have any problems."

Additional reporting by Ben Anderson

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