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Hamilton hopes for F1 turnaround at Silverstone home grand prix

SPIELBERG, Austria -- Lewis Hamilton needs a turnaround at Sunday's British home grand prix after falling further behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas now breathing down his neck.

The three-time Formula One champion Hamilton had to settle for fourth place Sunday in Austria, a result seen as damage limitation after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change saw him start from eighth.

Bottas meanwhile got his second season win ahead of Ferrari's Vettel to turn the championship into a three-man battle for good.

British paper The Guardian said Monday that Hamilton "leaves Austria having to watch his back as well as the gap to the lead" as Vettel leads Hamilton by 20 points, with Bottas another 15 behind.

Hamilton has made up deficits before, and will hope to rebound in front of a home crowd in Silverstone from a bad spell which also includes missing a possible victory in Azerbaijan two weeks ago owing to a loose headrest.

"I can't wait to see the home crowd again and start with a clean slate. I hope I can use Silverstone as a springboard for the second half of my season," said Hamilton, who has won the last three races there.

"It's been a difficult weekend, but I can take heart that I limited the damage to Sebastian in the points and that I went forward through the field ... I'll keep battling and I never give up."

Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said that 275 points are still to be won and that the team will do its share that Hamilton can fight for victory at Silverstone.

"Our target will be to let him fight back in the best possible way in Silverstone," Wolff said.

At the same time Mercedes now have a second title contender in Bottas who in winter came from Williams to take the place of retired world champion Nico Rosberg.

The Finn has been consistent and just like in Russia held off a late challenge from Vettel for victory, with The Guardian saying his "precision driving ... proves just how calm and mature he can be under pressure."

Wolff spoke of "a perfect day for Valtteri" and Bottas vowed that there is still room for improvement.

"I'm still in the title fight and I'm only going to get better. We're growing all the time," he said.

Bottas paved the way to victory with a sensational start which Vettel believed to be a jump-start.

But race stewards cleared Bottas, saying that "he made an exceptionally accurate and fortuitous judgement call, anticipating the moment the lights went out with great precision. Any movement prior to the moment the lights went out was within the tolerances allowed."

Apart from lamenting Bottas' start, Vettel was on his best behavior after driving into Hamilton's car in Baku and lucky to escape sanctions from the ruling body FIA apart from a 10-second penalty during that race.

But despite moving another six points clear of Hamilton, Vettel was not fully happy as he believed that one additional lap could have given him victory over the struggling Bottas.

"There are many positive aspects regarding this race, but I feel like I could have won today and I didn't, so I am not entirely happy," he said.

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