Mercedes 'Achilles’ heel’ exposed 

Mercedes arrived in Austria concerned about a Ferrari resurgence and cooling issues with unusually high temperatures forecast throughout the weekend amid a European heatwave. 

The reigning world champion squad’s fears came to fruition as Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggled for pace all weekend. While Hamilton managed to set the second-fastest time in qualifying, he would be hit by a grid penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen and instead line-up on the second-row alongside his Mercedes teammate.

Mercedes had already been opening up the cooling vents on its W10 package where possible during the early stages of the weekend in an attempt to reduce overheating, but the race - which took place in searing temperatures - was where its weakness was really exposed. 

Both Bottas and Hamilton were unable to keep up with Leclerc’s Ferrari early on and were ultimately forced to significantly turn down their power units to prevent the problem from worsening, leaving them coasting for up to 400 metres per lap to control the issues. 

“We knew that it was our Achilles’ heel and we were carrying the problems since the beginning of the season,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff acknowledged.

“We tried to work on mitigating the performance loss, but at the end it was really painful to watch cruising, not being able to defend or attack."

Bottas was pleased to see the chequered flag arrive when it did with Sebastian Vettel bearing down on him, as the Finn crossed the line just 0.6s clear of the Ferrari driver to complete the podium, while Hamilton could not improve on fifth. 

Mercedes had won all eight prior races before Austria and looked almost untouchable, but its latest performance proved its 2019 challenger is not entirely bulletproof and the overheating issues will have acted as something of a wake-up call. 

It is far from a disaster for the German manufacturer, which despite its worst result of the season, dropped just five points to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship heading to the British Grand Prix. 

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