Nico Rosberg took his third win of the season at the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton despite a determind charge by the Briton to second from ninth on the grid. The German's win extends his World Drivers’ Championship leade over Hamilton to 29 points. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas claimed his first podium finish with third place ahead of pole winner Felipe Massa.
At the start pole position man Felipe Massa made a solid getaway to hold the lead. Behind him though Bottas lost P2 to Rosberg into Turn One but wrestled it back at the following corner. Behind them Hamilton made a storming start, climbing to fifth from ninth on the grid. He went one better in the final turn of lap one to pass Alonso and settle in behind team-mate Rosberg as the field crossed the line to begin lap two.
Sebastian Vettel though was in trouble. At the start of lap two he slowed dramatically and reported that he had lost power. He pulled over and seemed set to stop but then mysteriously his RB10 seemed to right itself. He was told to ‘go racing’ but a lap down on the field his task was now impossible. The champion soldiered on at the back of the field, surviving a collision with Esteban Gutierrez along the way, until he was eventually told to retire his car on lap 37.
Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also had a rocky start. Pushed wide in turn two on the first lap he dropped from fifth on the grid to eighth. He was then informed that he should not use his overtake button for the whole race and hampered by power problems he was soon down to tenth.
With the opening supersoft tyres of the bulk of the field graining badly, the first round of pit stops wasn’t long in coming. Jean-Eric Vergne was the first in, on lap nine, swapping the option tyres for prime softs. He was followed a lap later by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and on the following lap by Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo.
Rosberg pitted from third on lap 11, allowing Hamilton to fly past. Hamilton then came in on lap 13 and emerged just behind Rosberg.
Massa meanwhile was readying himself for his stop on lap 14. His stop was far from perfect however and when the Brazilian emerged he found himself behind Rosberg and was then quickly passed by Hamilton.
Bottas’s stop on lap 15 was much quicker, however, and the Finn was able to split the leading Mercedes after taking on soft tyres. The order on lap 16 was Sergio Perez, who had started on softs and hads yet to pit, followed by Rosberg, Bottas, Hamilton, Massa and McLaren’s Jenson Button, who had also started on the soft tyre from 11th on the grid.
On lap 27 Rosberg passed Perez for the lead, the Mexican ceding the position without much of a fight having been told by his pit wall that the race would come back him as his strategy played out later on. Bottas too sneaked through but Hamilton had to wait until the next tour before he could pass the Force India. The delay allowed Rosberg to pop in a fastest lap. Hamilton responded with his own but the gap was by now 2.4 seconds.
Perez eventually made his first stop on lap 29, tajking on a second set of softs before rejoining in eighth position.
At the front the battle was hotting up again as Bottas and Hamilton closed in on Rosberg, who made a small mistake. The Williams driver got to within a second, with Hamilton in close attendance, but Rosberg soon responded and the gap widened to 1.1s.
Hamilton made his second stop in lap 39, taking on a final set of softs and rehjoing in fifth. Rosberg though kept going for another lap and following a three-second stop he emerged 1.9s ahead of his team-mate. Bottas pitted on lap 41, registering a 3.4s stop and the tardiness allowed Hamilton to sneak past.
Massa made his final stop on lap 43, switching to soft tyres in 3.4s. The Brazilian then unfortunately found himself behind Sergio Perez, who was set for a longer stint on his second set of soft tyres.
On the road the leader was Alonso and the Ferrari driver continued until lap 47 when he took on his final set of soft tyres. He emerged in sixth place behind Massa. At the front, Rosberg led by 1.6s from Hamilton, with Bottas third a further 5.7s behind.
The question was what would Perez in P4 and Button in P7 behind Alonso make any impact once they made their final stop for supersoft tyres?
Unfortunately for Force India, the answer was not much. Perez took on the option tyre on lap 55 and rejoined in eighth position, five seconds behind McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen. The Mexican had enough pace in hand to pass Magnussen for sixth place on lap 66 but with a 13 second deficit to Alonso and just laps left sixth was xthe best Perez could do. Button, meanwhile made his stop on lap 58 but lodged behind tenth-placed Raikkonen in the closing stages the McLaren driver failed to make a significant move.
At he front the battle for the lead finally flared in the final three laps with Hamilton attempting to find a way inside the DRS zone of his team-mate. With a lap left both drivers were told they could use all the tools at their disposal and as the pair went through turn three Rosberg lit up his brakes. Hamilton saw an opportunity but he too erred in the corner and the chance was gone. Rosberg hung on to claim his third win of the season. The win means he stretches his cha,mpionship lead over Hamilton to 29 points.
With Hamilton second, Bottas took his first podium finish with third ahead of Massa and Alonso. Perez held onto sixth ahead of Magnussen but Ricciardo made and exdellent last-lap pass on Hulkenberg to steal eighth. The final points position went to Raikkonen who easily kept Button at bay.
Austrian Grand Prix, results
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h27m54.967s2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1.932s3. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +8.172s4. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +17.358s5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +18.553s6. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +28.546s7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +32.031s8. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +43.522s9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +44.137s10 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +47.777s11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +50.966s12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault -1 lap13 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari -1 lap14 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault -1 lap15 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -2 laps16 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault -2 laps17 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -2 laps18 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault -2 laps19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari -2 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault
Constructors' championship points
1. Mercedes 301 2. Red Bull/Renault 1433. Ferrari 98 4. Force India/Mercedes 87 5. Williams/Mercedes 85 6. McLaren/Mercedes 72 7. Toro Rosso/Renault 12 8. Lotus/Renault 8 9. Marussia/Ferrari 2 10 Sauber/Ferrari 0 11 Caterham/Renault 0
Drivers' championship points 1. Nico Rosberg 165 2. Lewis Hamilton 136 3. Daniel Ricciardo 83 4. Fernando Alonso 79 5. Sebastian Vettel 60 6. Nico Hulkenberg 59 7. Valtteri Bottas 55 8. Jenson Button 43 9. Felipe Massa 30 10 Kevin Magnussen 29 11 Sergio Perez 28 12 Kimi Raikkonen 19 13 Romain Grosjean 8 14 Jean-Eric Vergne 8 15 Daniil Kvyat 4 16 Jules Bianchi 2