Hamilton, while some way behind dominant race winner Verstappen, was running a comfortable second at the Red Bull Ring before he was told of floor damage just after the halfway point of the race, confirmed by Mercedes to have been sustained when running over the kerbs at Turn 10. The seven-time world champion then quickly started losing pace to team-mate Valtteri Bottas and star performer Lando Norris, with both drivers then passing him and dropping him out of the podium positions. The end result leaves Hamilton 32 points behind Verstappen in the title standings, rather than the 26 it likely would have been without his issue.
“I already said before the race that it would be very hard to beat Max of course,” said Hamilton. “It’s obviously frustrating to lose so much downforce on the rear of the car and not be able to hold on to second place.
“So a lot of points lost today.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff absolved Hamilton of blame for the damage as he wasn’t “running too hard over the kerb, it was just a part that fell away”.
And asked by Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes about the issue, Hamilton replied: “I wasn’t going over the kerbs any more than anyone else, so I have no idea where it happened, but a lot of damage.
“I was in second when all of a sudden it obviously broke. Second place would have been easy.”
Hamilton added to F1 that “there was not anything I could really do” and that the damage was “super unlucky”.
Hamilton: Upgrade won’t be enough to catch Red Bull
The Austrian GP proved to be Verstappen’s third win in a row, while it was another tough race for Hamilton – who before May’s Monaco GP held the title lead and appeared the man to beat.
“I would say these past five races have been so difficult,” admitted Hamilton. “I’ve obviously lost a lot of ground after these past five races so it’s been pretty painful.”
And Hamilton isn’t exactly optimistic of catching Red Bull. Even without his damage or his grid position, Verstappen appeared destined for a runaway victory.