Austrian Grand Prix: Rosberg closes in on Hamilton with victory

Austria’s Red Bull Ring witnessed a tame 71 laps on Sunday as the 8th Grand Prix of this season presented fans with another Mercedes win.

Williams also put their Mercedes engine to good use as Felipe Massa claimed the third spot on the podium, giving the team their second podium of the season.

With the track being the hottest it’d had been all weekend, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locked out the front of the grid once again with Hamilton on pole after both drivers ran off-track during the last lap of qualifying. 

Off to a Shaky Start

As the lights went out and the drivers pulled away on Sunday, Rosberg took the lead from his pole-sitter team-mate as Hamilton had a tricky start. After swiftly getting away off the racing line, Rosberg calmly and easily made his way to 1st place and won the Austrian Grand Prix. 

“After my mistake yesterday in qualifying I was determined to push really hard to win this race”, Rosberg explained. “I had a good start and went into turn one in the lead, which was very important as I knew from past races this year that it’s very difficult to overtake the same car on track. After I passed Lewis I was able to control the lead quite comfortably.”

The German driver now sits only 10 points behind his team-mate and the 2014 World Champion, upping the anti for this season. 

Former team-mates Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso also had an exciting start to the race as a crash on the opening lap caused both cars to retire. Räikkönen claimed wheel spin was the main cause for the Ferrari driver to collect the Spaniard’s McLaren before crashing into the barrier.

Alonso remarked: “We’re both fine. It was a strange incident, because he lost the car in fifth gear, so it must have been very low grip.”

Classic Competitive Racing

Once the safety car from the Alonso-Räikkönen crash headed in on lap 6, there was nonstop wheel-to-wheel racing. 

Despite the current issue with fan’s boredom with the sport, as early as lap 15 Williams’ Bottas had already tussled with Toro Rosso’s rookie Verstappen, Red Bull’s Kvyat had damaged his front wing injuring the team’s race and Manor’s Will Stevens had retired from an oil leak. 

Sahara Force India also showed might this weekend after introducing some new upgrades to this season’s car, which left both drivers finishing in the points. 

The team’s driver Nico Hülkenberg, who led Porsche to victory in Le Mans last weekend, was clearly still full of fighting spirit as lap 28 saw him undercut Bottas after a dramatic overtaking battle.

Reliability Issues and Ruthless Penalties

By lap 10 McLaren had been forced to retire both cars, in turn continuing the woes of the previous weekends. As well as Alonso’s crash on lap 1, Button also faced issues.

“Nothing was broken on my car, but something was wrong – and the switch-changes didn’t make any difference. So the team took the decision to retire the car. In times like these, you’ve just got to stay positive.” Button said. 

Once again Red Bull also suffered from a poor race, getting only one of their drivers into the top 10 to get one point.  Despite Kvyat soldiering on with his wounded car, both himself and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had a poor pace, letting drivers pass without much of a fight. 

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was also forced to retire due to gearbox issues while Sauber’s Marcus Erricson narrowly escaped the same fate when his car stopped mid-track after his steering wheel screen went blank.

Spielberg also saw numerous penalties with qualifying alone gifting 4 drivers with drive through penalties after gearbox and engine issues. Toro Rosso’s Sainz also suffered a 5 second loss after a pitstop error saw him almost collide with Bottas, this never happened however as he was forced to retire.

The most troublesome penalty of the race however came from Hamilton where he crossed the line on the pit-exit, which is used to ensure that drivers safely leave the pits before racing again. 

Receiving a 5 second penalty for his mistake, the British driver was now forced to settle for second behind Rosberg. 

The fight for third was still in full action however, after Ferrari’s Vettel suffered a painfully slow 13-second pit stop and was now breathing down the neck of third place Felipe Massa. 

With only 5 laps remaining, the Brazilian WIlliams driver managed to remain in front, putting his years of experience to use to help him secure the bottom step of the podium after narrowly missing out in Austria last year.  

The end of the race one again saw a Mercedes 1-2 win, however Rosberg’s victory this time puts him much closer to current championship leader and team-mate Lewis Hamilton, only 10 points behind.

What do you think? Does Rosberg have extra fight in him this year? Will he win the championship? Have your say below.