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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Hamilton: Austrian F1 sprint like karting at Rye House

Lewis Hamilton has likened the action in Saturday’s Formula 1 sprint at the Red Bull Ring to his karting days at Rye House, the venue where he started his career.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Having qualified fifth for Sunday’s Grand Prix, Hamilton endured a disastrous shootout session on Saturday ahead of the sprint, losing his best time in Q1 to track limits and then getting caught up with Max Verstappen on what would have been his last flying lap.

That left him 18th on the grid, and after a fraught race in the midfield that included a charge after a stop for slick tyres, he crossed the line out of the points in 10th place.

"It was fun,” he said when asked by Autosport about his afternoon. “I just had a laugh out there, and it was just enjoying myself. It was like being around Rye House on a normal weekend, just enjoying yourself.

“I had a great first lap. And then generally just struggled with the balance of the car. When you get into wet conditions, it highlights the issues you have with the car, and those don't give you confidence.

“But otherwise, I transitioned to the slick way too late. I don't really like gambling, and I didn't, so I paid the price for that. But otherwise, I'm relatively happy with it.”

Hamilton admitted to some frustration at the potential result he lost by having to start 18th: "I think I was relatively quick this morning. So I think I should have easily been in the top five.

“And then in the race today, then I would have probably been on the podium, or close to the podium with the general pace that we had. But wasn't meant to be.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“And so we just enjoyed ourselves in the race, lost a few points, but it's not the most important of days today. We've got a lot of learning. So hopefully we can take that into tomorrow.”

Regarding the form of his W14 he added: "I mean, we haven't progressed it so much this weekend. We're further behind this weekend than we were in the last one. But yeah, it's still the same car. We've just got to keep chipping away at it."

Changes to the sprint regulations this season have made Saturday a standalone event, with the result no longer dictating the grid for the grand prix.

Despite his difficult day, Hamilton said: “It's nice having something different. When we usually have just a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the same for every season – Jesus! 

"I think it's cool to have something different. Today is kind of an OK day. Hopefully, tomorrow is a better day.”

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