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Hamilton 'did best I could' on tough day in Austria

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Austrian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton came into the Austrian Grand Prix weekend knowing that he would be facing a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. That ended up meaning he started from eighth place in Sunday's race.

In the circumstances, finishing in fourth place - - and narrowly missing out on pipping Daniel Ricciardo to the podium - was a creditably damage limitation exercise for him.

But Hamilton certainly wasn't celebrating the day's achievements after the end of the race at the Red Bull Ring.

"I think it's pretty average, but I did the best I could," he sighed. "Tough race. Difficult track to overtake. But I gave it everything I had.

Hamilton had hoped that starting on longer-life supersoft tyres - while the rest of the top ten were on ultras - might provide a strategic edge. That didn't turn out to be the case, with Hamilton the first of the leaders to pit.

"It wasn't the strategy that we'd had decided earlier," he admitted. "We'd planned to go another ten laps or so, probably something like that."

Hamilton wasn't happy with his second set of tyres, but he toughed it out and ultimately came close to catching and passing Ricciardo at the finish.

"The car was great today," he said. "I could push the entire race on the tyres and I gave it absolutely everything out there.

"Really don't think there was much left in the car at the end of the race. But I was probably a bit too kind in my fight with Daniel, left him too much space. I won't do that again.

"I had one opportunity but didn't make it stick," he shrugged, admitting that he'd had to be mindful of the championship situation. "You have to find the balance with the risk."

Sebastian Vettel is now 20 points clear of Hamilton at the top of the drivers championship. But it could have been worse - Vettel's edge in Austria was only six points.

"I'm not thinking of anything right now. 20 points is a long way down and it's a constant challenge, but there's a long way to go," he said.

"I can take heart that I limited the damage to Sebastian in the points and that I went forward through the field," he agreed. "I'll keep battling and I'll never give up."

His team mate Valtteri Bottas' win this weekend - his second in 2017 - means that the Finn is also becoming a genuine factor in the championship.

"Congratulations to Valtteri, did a great job all weekend. Thoroughly deserves the win," said Hamilton. "He's just 15 points behind me now and he's very much in this title fight."

Asked by Sky Sports F1's Natalie Pinkham why he had appeared a little downbeat this week in Spieberg, Hamilton objected to the premise of the question.

"I think that would be just an assumption from yourself," he said. "I feel good. It's obviously been a difficult weekend. What else can I say?"

He's certainly genuinely excited for next weekend and his home race, the British Grand Prix.

"I'm really looking forward to Silverstone. I've got a few days to put this weekend behind me. I can't wait to see the home crowd again and start with a clean slate," he said.

"I hope I can use Silverstone as a springboard for the second half of my season."

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