Nico Rosberg stormed to victory at the Red Bull Ring, narrowly fending off team-mate Lewis Hamilton who was keen to reel in Rosberg’s lead in the Driver’s Championship. Williams, who locked out the front row after Mercedes’ misfortune in Qualifying, were demoted to third and fourth – Bottas taking his first Formula One podium and poleman Felipe Massa finishing fourth after a battle with Sergio Perez.
Felipe Massa continued his string of strong starts and shot away off the line, leaving team-mate Valtteri Bottas fighting Nico Rosberg into turn 1. The Finn dropped behind the German but Bottas made good use of Williams’ superior straight line speed to get back past the Mercedes into turn 2. Lewis Hamilton also had a good start and jumped from ninth to fifth where he met some temporary resistance from Fernando Alonso. He finally dived down the inside of his 2007 team-mate and moved himself up to fourth.
While Hamilton progressed, Sebastian Vettel was falling behind the grid as he reported a loss of power. His team was at a loss to explain the issue and told him to retire the car – but after the reigning World Champion ignored the order, he found himself back to full power. He was now lapped, however, and facing a long afternoon of fighting his way through the grid.
At the other end of the grid, the Williams duo seemed safely in control while the two Mercedes drivers battled each other for third. Rosberg pitted from the final podium position and had a 2.6s stop before rejoining and pushing to use the undercut. Hamilton pitted on the next lap but was a second slower than his team-mate. Massa was called in from the lead on the following lap but the Williams pit crew could not get him out fast enough and he dropped behind both Mercedes drivers who had successfully used the undercut. Rosberg would also get the jump on Valtteri Bottas whose 2.1s pit stop kept him ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
In the pitlane, Daniel Ricciardo had to jump on the brakes to avoid Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso who was released into the path of the Red Bull. The Toro Rosso was not penalised but Esteban Gutierrez was brought to the attention of the stewards when his team released him without his right rear properly attached. He was handed a ten-second stop/go penalty for the unsafe release and will take a ten place grid penalty for the British Grand Prix, as per the regulations.
Lewis Hamilton was prowling behind Valtteri Bottas and was looking to pass the Finn to secure yet another Mercedes 1-2. Up the front, Sergio Perez was much slower on worn tyres but managed to hold the two Mercedes and two Williams drivers behind him. Several laps later Nico Rosberg finally pushed past the Mexican into turn 2 and Bottas followed the German through. Hamilton also moved past the Force India but Massa, who controversially came to blows with Perez in Canada, could not overtake him.
Meanwhile, Daniil Kvyat became the race’s first retirement when his rear suspension buckled suddenly and without warning – sending the Russian bouncing across the gravel and out of the race. He was soon joined on the sidelines by Sebastian Vettel whose team decided it was pointless to keep him in the race.
For their second stop, Hamilton was the first driver called in before Rosberg on the following lap. Hamilton’s four second stop was slower than Rosberg’s three-second stop and Rosberg maintained the lead over his team-mate, although he had Alonso ahead of him until he too stopped for fresh tyres.
After Alonso stopped, Rosberg took the lead and Hamilton inherited second. Valtteri Bottas moved up to third and Perez took provisional fourth, although he was holding off Felipe Massa and still had to pit for the super soft compound. Meanwhile, Jean-Eric Vergne joined his team-mate in the pits with a brakes failure, and Adrian Sutil had a nasty lock up which left him slowing.
The race settled down in the final laps, except for the battle between Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen, the Mexican passing the Finn out of turn 1, and Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg fighting until the last lap where Daniel Ricciardo pulled a ballsy move around the outside for eighth.
Although Lewis Hamilton pushed hard towards the end, and Nico Rosberg struggled to get the car around, no one could stand in Rosberg’s way as he crossed the line to take the victory and increase his lead in the Driver’s Championship.
- Nico Rosberg
- Lewis Hamilton
- Valtteri Bottas
- Felipe Massa
- Fernando Alonso
- Sergio Perez
- Kevin Magnussen
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Jenson Button
- Pastor Maldonado
- Adrian Sutil
- Romain Grosjean
- Jules Bianchi
- Kamui Kobayashi
- Max Chilton
- Marcus Ericsson
- Esteban Gutierrez
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Sebastian Vettel
- Daniil Kvyat
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.