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.
- 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
- Niki Lauda was reunited with his 1976 Ferrari F1 car today as he took part in a special parade ahead of the grand prix.
- Pastor Maldonado was left lamenting his Renault engine’s lack of power during qualifying.
- Romain Grosjean started the race from the pits after Lotus broke parc ferme rules.
- Valtteri Bottas claimed his first F1 podium finish in Austria today.
- But the spotlight shone brightest on Nico Rosberg, despite his car having a minor problem.
- Red Bull’s first ever home grand prix was a bit of a disaster.
- Lewis Hamilton put on a show to charge from P9 to P2 in the race.
- Pastor Maldonado was surprisingly happy with 12th today.
- Esteban Gutierrez will take a ten place grid penalty with him to the British GP.
- Sergio Perez was a man on a mission, running from 16th to sixth.
- Felipe Massa is sure Williams will keep fighting and improving.
- Fernando Alonso once again was Ferrari’s saving grace in Austria.
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.