FP2: Vettel edges Hamilton as Verstappen crashes out

First-lap contact with Verstappen was fair- Raikkonen			Getty Images for Red Bull

First-lap contact with Verstappen was fair- Raikkonen Getty Images for Red Bull

Verstappen thwarted the challenge of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari en route to his first win of the season to the delight of Dutch fans, who trooped to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

This year's grand prix was held from March 22-25, welcoming nearly 300,000 fans over four days as Melbourne hosted the opening round of the 2018 season, which saw Sebastian Vettel victorious for the second year running. "Not every decision can be the same, and I don't see the necessity to decide every time".

While fifth-fastest Daniel Ricciardo collected plenty of meaningful mileage for Red Bull, Fernando Alonso brought welcome encouragement to McLaren and their reshuffled management team following Eric Bouller's departure by setting the sixth-quickest lap of the day.

"I can only imagine the boys are on a high at the moment and they just need to continue to do that".

Naturally, Hamilton was none too pleased with the fact that Mercedes had scuppered his race strategy, but there was little to be done about it.

Lewis Hamilton returns to his home ground and will be looking to bounce back from last week's nightmare showing where both himself and team mate Valtteri Bottas failed to finish the race.

McLaren ended a three-year partnership with Honda in 2017 but has also under-performed with the same Renault engines that have taken Red Bull to three victories in nine races.

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"The spirit within the team is stronger than it's ever been", Hamilton said.

Verstappen hit the front after Mercedes kept Hamilton out on track during a virtual safety auto period that followed Bottas's retirement, with the other contenders pitting for fresh tyres.

Do you think Verstappen would've still won the race if he wouldn't have made that move on Raikkonen?

That compromised his race day and while he recovered to a podium position, taking back the lead in the standings in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's exit, Vettel expressed frustration over the situation. "I told Max he had a very good race", said Vettel.

But underlining the uneven nature of this year's grid, Alonso was 1.754 seconds slower than Vettel while barely two tenths covered the Spaniard down to the 10th-placed Charles Leclerc of Sauber. I can't predict what will happen but that's not getting in my way'. "It's my mistake. Do what you can", replied Mercedes strategist James Vowles. "I've got no time left in the tyres", said Hamilton, aware that a straightforward race win was in peril. I'm not going to be able to pass these guys. "What I can say is, from the experiences like we had last weekend, the team are very, very reactive".

It was clear that tyre wear was emerging as a critical factor.

"Because Hamilton stayed out he lost more than eight seconds and immediately was out of the race", the journalist concluded.

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