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Rosberg defeats Hamilton in Austrian dogfight – Race Report

Austrian Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg has won the Austrian Grand Prix for Mercedes. He headed home team-mate Lewis Hamilton, while Felipe Massa took third position for Williams. The race took a turn immediately as the lights went out at race start. Starting from second place, Nico Rosberg nailed his getaway to get alongside Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 and weathered the attacks from Hamilton as the championship leader attempted to gain back the lead. The battle was neutralised almost immediately as the safety car was deployed for a big Lap 1 collision.

Leaving Turn 2, Raikkonen & Alonso collided after the Finn lost the rear of his car exiting the corner. Spearing off to the outside of the track, Fernando Alonso was collected and both piled into the barriers. Thankfully, neither were injured and clambered out as the pack drove around behind the Mercedes safety car. Daniil Kvyat had also been an unfortunate victim, hitting debris from the collision; he pitted for a new front wing at the end of Lap 1 and was shuffled to the back of grid. He would struggle with bodywork damage for the remainder of the race.

Once the race resumed on Lap 7, Rosberg set about extending his gap to Lewis. Jenson Button, who had pitted under the safety car to serve his penalty, was forced to retire at the end of Lap 10 with a very ill sounding McLaren. Marcus Ericsson was handed a drive through penalty for jumping the start of the race, while Romain Grosjean & Carlos Sainz banged wheels at Turn 3; Sainz emerging in front as a result. Grosjean, running wide, lost a position to Sergio Perez.

By Lap 24, the gap was up to 2.5 seconds between Rosberg & Hamilton while the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel had fallen back. Seemingly unable to live with the Mercedes race pace, Vettel was 4.5 seconds behind Hamilton on Lap 24 and just 2.3 seconds in front of Felipe Massa. Bottas climbed past Max Verstappen by out accelerating the Toro Rosso leaving Turn 2; the Finn took 6th spot with Verstappen slotting in behind in 7th place. Felipe Nasr, Carlos Sainz & Sergio Perez completed the top ten, with Romain Grosjean stalking Perez just outside the points.

A great battle emerged between Nico Hulkenberg & Valtteri Bottas as the pit-stops approached. Bottas managed to pass Hulkenberg around the outside of Turn 3 on Lap 26; the Le Mans winner pitted immediately for a fresh set of soft tyres. Bottas pitted the lap after the Force India, and emerged behind Hulkenberg again; Bottas somewhat fortuitous to not pick up a penalty after a borderline unsafe release from his pit box in front of Max Verstappen.

After Verstappen’s stop, he emerged behind his Toro Rosso predecessor – Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull. Darting around behind the RB11, Verstappen utilised his fresh tyres to pass the slightly wounded Red Bull to leave both of the Milton Keynes cars outside the top ten. Romain Grosjean also managed to pass Kvyat shortly after to leave the Russian driver down in 12th place. Bad news too for Carlos Sainz – he picked up a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Approaching the half-way point of the race, Rosberg began to struggle with the front tyres on his car and visibly started to understeer. The gap shrank incrementally down to 2 seconds before Rosberg came in for his first stop on Lap 33. Hamilton pitted at the end of Lap 36, and emerged 4.1 seconds behind Rosberg as Nico had put in some blistering out-laps.

Critically, Lewis Hamilton had made an error leaving the pits. While the stop itself went to plan, he allowed his left wheels to cross the white line on the exit of the pits; this meant a 5 second time penalty would be added to his race time.

Felipe Massa had also stolen a march to take over third place ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Pitting on Lap 35, Massa took over the final podium position after Sebastian Vettel suffered a poor stop. A sticky right rear wheel meant Vettel was stationery for 13 seconds and while he was arguably the faster man on track and applied pressure to the Williams towards race end, he was unable to reclaim the position.

Just after the halfway point, Romain Grosjean went off the track at Turn 3; he radioed in to report a gearbox problem. He returned to the pits and retired. This meant he wasn’t able to join in with the battle between the 5th-8th placed drivers, led by Sergio Perez ahead of Maldonado, Bottas & Hulkenberg. With Perez yet to stop, Bottas effectively took over 5th place when he managed to overtake Pastor Maldonado on Lap 38.

Daniel Ricciardo made his sole stop on Lap 51 and served his five second penalty at the same time. While he came out on track outside the points, he was armed with super-soft tyres and a short stint. He pushed hard and managed to get back into 10th place after a great duel with Felipe Nasr.

Rosberg grew the gap up to around 6 seconds over the laps following the sole stop, but began to struggle with a vibration towards the end of the race. As a result, Lewis Hamilton began to catch him and had reduced the gap to 2.2 seconds on the penultimate lap; Rosberg held on to take the win. He had started to feel the pressure in the closing stages, making requests over team radio for his team to pay full attention to what the data showed.

Vettel claimed fourth after catching Felipe Massa; he finished just half a second behind the Williams and left rueing the slow pit stop. Fifth went to Valtteri Bottas. Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez & Daniel Ricciardo completed the top ten.

  1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30:16:930
  2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 8.800
  3. Felipe Massa Williams + 17.573
  4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +18.181
  5. Valtteri Bottas Williams +53.604
  6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1:04:075
  7. Pastor Maldonado Lotus  +1 Lap
  8. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +1 Lap
  9. Sergio Perez Force India +1 Lap
  10. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing +1 Lap
  11. Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 Lap
  12. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing +1 Lap
  13. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2 Lap
  14. Roberto Merhi Manor + 3 Laps
  • DNF Romain Grosjean Lotus
  • DNF Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso
  • DNF Jenson Button McLaren
  • DNF Will Stevens
  • DNF Fernando Alonso Mclaren
  • DNF Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

About Thomas Maher

Thomas Maher is one of the founders of FormulaSpy.com. He is an FIA-accredited F1 journalist, as well as working in the Irish radio industry. Hobbies include writing, music, and polishing his beloved Mitsubishi FTO. Check him out on your social network below.

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