Formula One: No talks with Verstappen, says Mercedes' Toto Wolff

"Over these past couple of days I was thinking to myself, you know, bringing someone in that doesn't know much about Formula One is not necessarily the right decision".

"It's going to be very hot this weekend, especially on Sunday, and it will put the cars to the limit in terms of cooling the brakes and the engine".

He revealed on Saturday evening that he compromised his final run by being too close to polesitter Charles Leclerc's Ferrari because he thought he would run out of time to start his lap before the session ended.

But it transpires that Hamilton was merely concerned about how his mechanics might cope in the European heatwave that is set to hit Austria this weekend, a problem that will afflict every team anyway.

Max Verstappen blamed the gusty conditions on Friday for his session-stopping crash in second practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

"Just like when I get out of bed and see 44 (his racing number) or six (former team mate Nico Rosberg's)".

In other incidents, Sainz also ran off track at Turn Six where he survived after diverting through a gravel trap and re-joining and then Leclerc nearly collided with Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo at Turn Three.

Verstappen drove carefully to protect his tyres early started to pile on the pressure, first catching Vettel before passing him on lap 50, then dispatching Bottas on lap 56 before chasing after Leclerc.

The Spielberg circuit was the scene of Mercedes" "darkest hour' in 2018, according to team chief Toto Wolff, recalling that they failed to score a point as both drivers failed to finish.

"They have to open up the auto to create cooling".

Hamilton then dropped to fifth, leaving second unfilled until everyone moved up - with the champion therefore fourth. His team-mate, British teenager Lando Norris, finished 10th, more than four tenths off Sainz.

Previous year in Austria, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel had started with a three-place grid penalty for having impeded Carlos Sainz Jr during the second qualification session. They would have cheered loudly when reading a headline in which the reigning world champion and 1/12 favourite to retain that title admitted to a "heat worry" ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix. About 140,000 fans are expected to descend on Silverstone for what could be the last race there, given the state of contract negotiations.

It was a validating result for Ferrari, which is continuing its aggressive upgrade push to catch Mercedes. So sometimes you just need to go step by step, make little progress. It's not a matter that after Canada that we should change approach [to the rules].

  • Julie Sanders