Scuderia Ferrari caught a break at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix this past weekend when both Mercedes-AMG cars suffered mechanical failures, forcing them to retire and making way for both Ferrari drivers on the podium. Kimi Räikkönen crossed the finish line in second place, one position ahead of his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took the win.
The Austrian Grand Prix was frantic from the start, with Räikkönen swiftly splitting the Mercedes cars on the front row and gaining a position heading into the first corner. He maintained second even after he was forced off-track while attempting to pass Lewis Hamilton coming into Turn 3, although it wasn’t long before Valtteri Bottas managed to squeeze Räikkönen back to third. Räikkönen gave up another place to Red Bull’s Verstappen, settling into fourth place for a time.
Further back, Sebastian Vettel had more ground to cover. The German Ferrari driver was third in Qualifying, but he was handed a three-position grid penalty for blocking Renault’s Carlos Sainz during the session, knocking him back to sixth on the grid. He lost several places in the first few corners on the opening lap, being caught out by traffic, but had little trouble battling his way back to his starting position.
Ultimately, though, the race was decided by mechanical failures. Bottas was the first of the frontrunners to go, suffering a gearbox issue and prompting a virtual safety car that allowed Räikkönen and Vettel to pit for new Soft tires. Mercedes initially made the mistake of keeping Hamilton out on track, before calling him in for new rubber several laps later. The British Mercedes driver encountered difficulty with his new Soft tires, pitting again for Supersofts and rejoining in fifth, shortly before Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (fourth) lost gear sync and had to retire.
Now on Supersoft tires, Hamilton appeared competitive again, but the British driver suddenly experienced a loss of fuel pressure and was forced to retire. With the two AMGs and one Red Bull out of the race, Ferrari had an easy time of cruising home in second and third. Räikkönen put in the fastest lap of the race for good measure.
With his third-place finish, Sebastian Vettel is now back in the lead in the Drivers’ Championship fight, ahead of Lewis Hamilton by one point, and Kimi Räikkönen has moved into third in the standings. Ferrari now leads Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship standings by ten points.