Bottas has Hamilton in his sights after Austrian Grand Prix

Mercedes driver holds off Sebastian Vettel to take second victory and close gap on the title favourites

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas celebrates after winning the Austrian Grand Prix
(Image credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas could be the dark horse in the F1 title race this season after winning the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Finn is now just 15 points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, who started down the grid in eighth place and could only finish in fourth despite a late charge for the podium. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo held on for third.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel came second, to increase his lead over Hamilton to 20 points. Bottas remains 35 points behind the German, but he had the Ferrari man rattled with a perfect start that Vettel refused to believe was legal even after the stewards said it was.

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"Bottas led from pole to take the win, the second of his career, with a piece of precision driving that proves just how calm and mature he can be under pressure," says Giles Richards of The Guardian. "Just as he did for his first win in Russia, he held off the four-times world champion Vettel to take the flag, dealing with heavy blistering of his rear left tyre at the death that allowed the German to climb all over his back on the final laps."

Denying Vettel victory was significant and another strong performance at the British Grand Prix next week could herald a three-horse race for the championship.

"When Bottas joined Mercedes at the start of the season he said that his target was to win the title, given that he was taking over the seat of Nico Rosberg, who had retired after winning the world championship. With nine of the 20 races completed, Bottas is perhaps starting to believe that the target could become a reality, but is not getting ahead of himself," says Rebecca Clancy of The Times.

Hamilton, meanwhile, who was handed an unfortunate five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox could take some positives from the race as he posted the fastest lap time. He "will hope his luck changes this weekend at his home Grand Prix", says Clancy.

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