Austrian GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – And so ends the first Austrian Grand Prix weekend since 2003. After Williams threatened to spring a surprise and beat Mercedes fair and square, normal service was resumed in the race on Sunday as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton secured a one-two for the Silver Arrows.

Although the win was by no means comfortable, it was certainly impressive. Both Rosberg and Hamilton proved that they can fight for victories in the W05 Hybrid, but Lewis will undoubtedly be left ruing his mistake in qualifying that left him ninth on the grid.

For the final time from Austria, here’s the full round-up in the Paddock Notebook.

RACE REPORT

  • The Red Bull Ring had one King today: Nico Rosberg. A mix of good strategy and searing pace saw him beat both of the Williams drivers and Lewis Hamilton to extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Maybe the result of the Austrian Grand Prix was not a surprise, but the fashion in which Mercedes claimed its sixth one-two finish of the season certainly was. Who would have thought that Williams would run them so closely this weekend?

Ultimately, the fairytale ending wasn’t to be. The Silver Arrows once again reigned supreme, with Nico Rosberg emerging as the victor in the latest episode of “The Nico and Lewis Show”. However, Hamilton was left lamenting two slow pit stops which he felt could have given him a shot at victory. Frankly, though, it was his mistake in qualifying yesterday that really lost him the grand prix.

Let’s be fair to Lewis, though. It was a titanic drive that he has constantly shown he is capable of. On the first lap, he shot up from ninth to fifth, and then picked off Fernando Alonso on lap two. There’s no denying that he is a true racer, perhaps even more so than his teammate.

It is Nico who comes away from the Red Bull Ring with the biggest smile, though. His championship lead has been extended to 29 points, meaning that even with a DNF and a win for Hamilton, he will still lead. With this win, he also surpasses the number of races that Keke Rosberg – his father – won during his F1 career. One journalist asked Nico if he’d grow a moustache like his Dad if he won the title. The response: “Maybe!”

In the final few laps of the race, the TV coverage showed a thank you message from Bernie Ecclestone to Dietrich Mateschitz on the track at turn one (superimposed, don’t worry!). As odd as it may have been, the sentiment is spot on. This weekend, Red Bull – the brand, not the team – has shown the F1 world how it should be done. Lower ticket prices, packed grandstands, wonderful hospitality, great racing – the other circuit promoters should take note. So, from someone far poorer and a bit taller than Bernie, thank you, Dietrich.

Last night, I spoke to a local in a bar at my hotel. In broken English, he explained to me how F1 had been away for so long, and how it was great to be back. “Mateschitz!” he cried, smiling and giving a big thumbs up. I think it’s a feeling shared by everyone who came to the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

So from Austria we head to England for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. With the majority of teams based near the circuit, it is the homeliest of home races, and usually puts on a show.

The Silver Arrows might be ahead once again, but the challengers are beginning to make themselves known.

Formula One’s Daniel Ricciardo drawn to NASCAR (and even NFL)

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MONTREAL (AP) Daniel Ricciardo drove go-karts while growing up in Australia and found himself drawn to stock car racing and the big personalities behind the wheels.

“I loved a lot of motorsports, but as far as the ovals go, I was more into NASCAR,” Ricciardo said this month. “Dale Earnhardt was kind of a hero of mine. The No. 3 – it was my first go-kart number, so I already had a bit of affection to No. 3. But being a fan of Dale’s as well, that definitely made me want to run that number.”

In an interview before the Canadian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth in his No. 3 Red Bull, Ricciardo said he saw a lot of similarities between Earnhardt and three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna.

And he wanted to be like them.

“I was so ruthless on track,” Ricciardo said, recalling Earnhardt’s nickname: The Intimidator. “Everyone was intimidated by him. But off-track (they) had a massive following and could balance that aggressiveness with humility off of track. I thought both Senna and Earnhardt carried that really well.”

Speaking to reporters in a Montreal hotel fresh off his victory in Monaco – the seventh of his Formula One career – Ricciardo joked about having to share the spotlight back home after the win with Will Power, who won the Indianapolis 500 on the same day.

It was the first time drivers from the same country had won the two races on the same day. Britain (1965, 1966) and Brazil (1989, 1993) had claimed both victories in the same year.

Ricciardo, who is from Perth in Western Australia, said he was featured on the front page in his home state but didn’t know how the East Coast papers played the news; Power is from Queensland.

“I would probably guess both of us would have gotten – if not front page, the back page,” he said, chuckling. “And if not, shame on them.”

Although Ricciardo said he has followed Power’s career – the IndyCar driver is 9 years his senior – the two have never met. “But I was really happy for him because everyone that’s worked with him tells me that he’s a really hard worker and he’s earned every step of his career,” Ricciardo said.

Like the Indy 500 for IndyCar, Monaco is the signature race of the Formula One season, and Ricciardo’s victory gave him a newfound celebrity. After performing his trademark “shoey” – drinking champagne out of his racing boot on the victory podium, in front of the Monaco royal family – he continued the celebration later by diving into a rooftop swimming pool while still wearing his racing overalls.

It was the conclusion of a fun weekend for him.

Earlier, while standing on the bow of a boat in the port, Ricciardo caught a pass from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – thrown from another boat – and then booted the football back to the Brady on the other yacht.

“I spoke to him a bit. Super-nice guy. I’m sure he gets harassed everywhere he goes,” said Ricciardo, who like the five-time NFL champion is sponsored by Tag Heuer watches. “I never really have expectations when I meet someone of his caliber, but the fact that we spoke and he showed an interest and he was excited to be there, that was cool.”

But the encounter left Ricciardo with one, lingering letdown.

“Australian rules football, we’re used to that shaped balls, catching and kicking. I grew up doing a lot of that. So that’s why I thought I would maybe impress a few people,” he said. “The only thing I’m really, really disappointed with is I haven’t gotten a call from the Patriots yet.

“They’ve got to spot talent when they see it,” he said with a laugh. “I mean this kid can catch. And I can run.”