Lewis Hamilton endured a tough race at the Red Bull Ring, having picked up damage to his W15 early on in the Austrian Grand Prix.

On a day when George Russell was there to pick up the pieces when Max Verstappen and Lando Norris clashed up front, Lewis Hamilton came home in fourth place.

Lewis Hamilton’s floor ‘just fell apart’

With both Mercedes drivers starting on the medium tyre, the duo ran opposing strategies after the first stint. While Russell ran medium-medium-hard, Hamilton ran medium-hard-medium – but his race was compromised by a five-second time penalty for a pitlane entry faux pas.

Crossing the white line on entry earned the seven-time F1 World Champion the penalty, compounding his early woes after being told to relinquish position to Carlos Sainz for fear of a separate penalty after overtaking Carlos Sainz off-track at Turn 1.

But Hamilton’s big issue was damage to the underside of his car, with the British driver explaining to media – including PlanetF1.com – what had been going on.

“I’m not really quite sure, I think Turn 1 I got a bit of damage and then the floor was just falling apart,” he said. “I don’t know when I got the damage.”

While Hamilton finished off the podium, he was very pleased for his teammate as Russell had no such issues and was in position to pounce when the leaders collided in the closing stages.

Hamilton could be seen moving over to congratulate Russell on the slow-down lap, and said: “From my side, it’s been different but, for George, you can see he’s doing very well, he’s won a Grand Prix already so that’s huge for everyone, a huge boost.”

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Toto Wolff explains Lewis Hamilton’s bad day ‘spiral’

Speaking after the race, Mercedes’ team boss Toto Wolff revealed the extent of Hamilton’s time loss to the floor damage, saying it was as much as a quarter of a second per lap.

“A pretty decent start and then Turn 1, lap one, giving the position back was a harsh thing,” he said.

“But it was pretty clear that we would be getting a 10-second penalty by not doing it.

“Then it started to spiral. He pushed very hard on the entry, you can see how much he pushed, lost the rear and then obviously the next penalty came about.

“On top of that, we had floor damage because of the kerb ride, which I guess most people have but his was extensive. It was two and a half tenths in parts that broke off on the kerb.”

Having claimed the team’s first victory since Russell’s win in Brazil 2022, Wolff said he’s been encouraged by the increasing competitiveness of the W15 in recent races – upgrades introduced to the car have transformed the machine comprehensively since the start of the season.

“On pace, we were the third-quickest car, and we’ve been this for the last three weekends,” he said.

“That is very encouraging to see that upward trend and the consolidation of the trend.

“But then racing happens on Sunday and, sometimes, we’ve been on the receiving end and, today, we benefited from the incident in the front.

“It’s just good to have that win in the pocket this year, it means there’s four teams that won races this year and it’s been just one year, 2022, where we haven’t won a race since 2012.

“That is good to know and, certainly, [there’s] big momentum now in the team to go to a point where we’re able, on real performance, to fight for the win and I think we will be.”

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