Hamilton disappointed after rough outing (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton’s first year with Mercedes came to a sour conclusion today in Brazil, as he finished ninth following a run-in with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and a subsequent drive-through penalty for his role in the incident.

Sunday was a mixed bag for the former World Champion. His Mercedes squad managed to lock up second in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull, but Hamilton slipped to fourth in the driver’s table behind the now-retired Mark Webber.

Had he been able to hang on to third, it would’ve been his first Top-3 result in the driver’s standings since 2008.

“From my side, it was a tough race today,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know what happened exactly with Valtteri and will have to have a look at the replay. I thought that I had moved to the left, he outbraked me and then we touched but it happened so quickly and it was obviously judged that I did something wrong.”

In his comments to NBCSN’s Will Buxton (seen above), Hamilton was markedly bothered about his season altogether despite coming out very well from his move over to Mercedes from the struggling McLaren.

On the other side of the coin, Hamilton was pleased that his team claimed the No. 2 spot in the constructors’ table, its best showing there since returning to Formula One in 2010.

“It’s the reward for what I know has been many years of hard work and my thoughts are with everyone here at the track and back at our factories at Brackley and Brixworth,” the Brit said.

“We’ve got so much to look forward to next season so I’ll put today behind me quickly and focus on what should be a great year in 2014.”

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.