Hamilton was planning strategy 'risk' to beat Bottas before safety cars

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Lewis Hamilton was planning to "take a risk" with strategy to try and beat Valtteri Bottas in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

The six-time world champion was left playing catch up after a late protest from Red Bull saw the stewards give him a three-place grid penalty, dropping Lewis from second to fifth.

But after clearing Lando Norris, Alex Albon and benefiting from Max Verstappen retiring, Hamilton found himself reeling in the seven-second advantage to his Finnish teammate, right until Kevin Magnussen caused a safety car after a brake problem.

"I don't remember which lap the safety car came out but it was unfortunate for sure because I was closing down Valtteri during that period," said the Mercedes driver post-race.

"It was just at the time when he was really starting to fall off the cliff with his tyres, and I could see the gain that I was having each lap. It was getting quite exciting because I needed to get him as close as possible but then the safety car came out and obviously that put a spanner in the works, but that's racing."

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With all the leaders taking the opportunity for a cheap pit-stop while the race was neutralised, that stopped Hamilton from performing what he thought was his best chance at victory.

"At this track, in order to have an opportunity to pass the car in front you always want to go for the opposite strategy," he continued.

"When you're in a team like ours, the first car always gets the priority in the stop, and so if you both come out on the same tyre it's pretty much... you need something like 0.8s advantage against the car ahead in order to have an opportunity at fighting with them.

"So I knew that on the same tyre I would most likely be finishing behind, but then obviously the safety car came out and that really messed with things because I was planning to try and extend my stint as long as I could, then stop for the opposite tyre and just take a risk.

"Ultimately when I'm behind that's what I like doing, taking a risk, but it didn't work out that way and I don't think it was a big issue. There were so many other things that came into play."

Also hampering Hamilton's chances was Mercedes needing to manage their cars due to sensors issues that threatened to cut the engine over the kerbs.

But they were finally ended when the Briton collided with a much faster Albon after the third safety car, earning himself a five-second penalty from the stewards.

To try and limit the damage, Bottas upped the pace in the closing laps with Lewis on his tail as Charles Leclerc and Norris closed in, but it would be to no avail.

“I got the message about the five-second penalty, but there was a double yellow flag, so you have to slow down quite a bit — I feel like some drivers slowed down a bit less, so they could catch up,” the Finn told Racer.

“At that time we were still not using the kerbs, so I tried to find the best compromise between making sure I would get to the flag, not risking too much, but I also tried to go as fast as I could within those limits.

“It’s not really my fault that he got the five-second penalty," Valtteri noted. “In racing, you can sometimes get into these situations and you have to deal with them.

“I was just trying to calculate the risk — I really wanted to win the race but I was also thinking about the points for the team. With the circumstances, with the reliability concerns and issues we had, obviously you don’t want to take too many risks."