On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button.
Before the start of the race, it was announced that Daniil Kvyat would both have to start from the pit lane after the damage he sustained in Qualifying meant that his team needed to change components on his car.
The Austrian Grand Prix is underway! Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen get good starts as Hamilton leads into the first corner. Nico Hulkenberg has had a bad start and has lost a few places. Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg battle each other and could have hit each other but managed not to do so.
At the final corner, Rosberg is up now up to sixth place as Hamilton leads Button by 0.9 seconds. On Lap 3, Daniil Kvyat has gone off at Turn 1 and officially retires from the race. There is a battle between Ricciardo and Vettel for seventh place and Button and Raikkonen battling for second place.
Lap 6 sees Rosberg passing Hulkenberg for fourth place at Turn 2 with a great move and then loses a place to Verstappen in the next corner. The following lap sees Raikkonen passing Button for second place as Vettel passes Ricciardo for position into Turn 8 with a stunning move. Lap 8 sees Rosberg passing Button for position and then Verstappen the next lap passing Button for position too.
By Lap 11, Hamilton has a lead of 3.8 seconds ahead of Raikkonen. Lap 15 sees Perez passing Sainz Jr for fifteenth place after both drivers nearly hit each other going into Turn 3. A few laps later, Rosberg is now up to fourth after his first pit stop. There is a battle on track by Lap 17 for ninth place between Nasr and Button; with Button gaining on Nasr all the time.
Lap 23 sees Vettel leading the race ahead of Rosberg by 7.3 seconds as Hamilton and Raikkonen make their first pit stops. Fernando Alonso is catching Felipe Nasr for tenth place and looks very likely to pass him shortly. Four laps later, Vettel has to officially retire from the race after suffering a right rear tyre blow out on the straight going into Turn 1. This then brought out the Safety Car in order to recover the Ferrari off the track safely.
The Safety Car leads the field and Rosberg leads the grid ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen. Lap 32 and we are back racing. Both Renault drivers were battling each other and Perez gaining places at the restart. The stewards then announce that Magnussen has a five second time penalty for changing direction on the track more than once. Rosberg leads Hamilton on Lap 33 by 1.3 seconds.
Lap 34 sees Hulkenberg being under investigation for speeding in the pitlane as he manages to pass Magnussen for position. Two laps later sees Hulkenberg and Grosjean receiving a five second time penalties for speeding in the pitlane as Perez battles Massa for the final point at this stage in the race.
By Lap 40, Button has managed to pass Nasr for seventh place and is pulling away from the Sauber who is struggling to keep the Haas of Grosjean at bay. At Turn 2, Perez tries a move on Massa but cannot get past the Williams driver as light drops of rain are hitting the Spielberg circuit.
Lap 43 sees Grosjean just making the corner at Turn 3 and is able to pass Nasr for eighth place and Nasr is now under pressure for ninth place from Massa and the next lap sees Massa passing Nasr and Perez is also able to pass the Sauber driver.
At the front of the grid, Rosberg leads Hamilton by 1 second as Rosberg makes a mistake on Lap 44 going into Turn 1. Four laps later sees Button catching Bottas for sixth place and could make a move on him shortly. Lap 53 sees Ricciardo being caught by Raikkonen for fourth place as Hamilton is 0.8 seconds behind Rosberg who still leads the race.
Rosberg pits at the end of Lap 55, hands the lead of the race to Verstappen and manages to remain ahead of his team mate as well. Lap 58 sees Raikkonen passing Ricciardo for fourth place as Hamilton is gaining all the time on Rosberg. Verstappen leads the race on Lap 61 by 1.3 seconds, Rosberg tries into Turn 1 to pass him, cannot do so and Rosberg makes the move stick on Turn 3 and Rosberg now leads the race again.
Lap 62 sees Rosberg leading the race ahead of Verstappen as Hamilton tries everything to pass Verstappen into Turn 1 but cannot do so. The next lap sees Hamilton passing Verstappen for second place and is now starting to catch his team mate for the lead of the race. Lap 65 sees Felipe Massa officially retiring from the race as Ricciardo catches Button for fifth place and passes him into Turn 4.
But it all came to a head on the final lap of the race. The battle between the Mercedes had been brewing for several laps and Hamilton seized the opportunity on the outside of Turn 2, with Rosberg going deep into the corner and into his teammate. The incident wiped out Rosberg’s front wing and the championship leader had to crawl to the flag, dropping to fourth place behind Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen in the final corners.
But Hamilton leads Verstappen on the final lap of the race by 5.7 seconds and wins the Austrian Grand Prix which is his third win of the 2016 season, Verstappen is a credible second 5.7 seconds behind Hamilton, Raikkonen finished in third place 6 seconds behind Hamilton, Rosberg was a credible fourth 26.7 seconds behind Hamilton and Ricciardo finished fifth 30.9 seconds behind Hamilton.
Button was a brilliant sixth 37.6 seconds behind Hamilton, Grosjean was a brilliant seventh 44.6 seconds behind Hamilton, Sainz Jr was eighth 47.4 seconds behind Hamilton, Bottas was ninth 1 lap behind Hamilton and Wehrlein was a superb tenth 1 lap behind Hamilton and scored his first points in his career and Manor’s first since Monaco 2014.
Shortly after the race, Rosberg faced a stewards’ investigation for “failing to stop with a seriously damaged car”, which saw him claim a ten second time penalty and also two points on his licence. The result as it currently stands provides yet another twist in the tale of the 2016 drivers’ championship, with Rosberg’s lead cut from 24 points to 11.
The resulting collision could split the Mercedes garage once more, with team boss Toto Wolff calling the incident “brainless”, but sets the scene for a tantalising British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.
Nico Rosberg still leads the Driver’s Championship with 153 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 142 points, Sebastian Vettel is in third place with 96 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in fourth place with 96 points, Daniel Ricciardo is in fifth place with 88 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 72 points, Valtteri Bottas is in seventh place with 54 points, Sergio Perez is in eighth place with 39 points, Felipe Massa is in ninth place with 38 points and Romain Grosjean is in tenth place with 28 points.
Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 295 points, Ferrari is in second place with 192 points, Red Bull is in third place with 168 points, Williams is in fourth place with 92 points, Force India is in fifth place with 59 points, Toro Rosso is in sixth place with 36 points, McLaren is in seventh place with 32 points, Haas is in eighth place with 28 points, Renault is in ninth place with 6 points and Manor are tenth with 1 point.
I feel that McLaren have had an encouraging weekend and have shown that they can still race near the front when they have the opportunity to do so. With Alonso officially retiring from the race with his brakes and Button finishing out in the points this weekend, it is a good small step forward for the team who managed to get into Q3 for the third time this season with Button and just missed out with Alonso.
Both drivers have shown that they can be on the pace this weekend which just shows they making solid steps forward despite this that even though it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car, they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races.
Bottas did an okay job to get ninth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Wehrlein and Sainz Jr for most of the race. This point for himself and Williams are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.
Sainz Jr battled his way through to get eighth place yesterday. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Sainz Jr may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Toro Rosso this weekend but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.
Ricciardo had a credible race to finish in fifth yesterday. It is a result that Ricciardo needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.
Grosjean had a good race to finish in seventh place yesterday. But it was the best that Grosjean could do with the strategy he was on even though he would have wanted more from the weekend after the last two races haven’t been too kind for him but never the less, the move to Haas is really paying off for him.
Rosberg had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish fourth yesterday, but he scored more points for the Mercedes team who seem to have having some problems extracting pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Rosberg scored points on a tough day allows him to keep his lead in the championship
Raikkonen did a good job to get third place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race despite not winning the battle with Verstappen and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Wehrlein deserves a mention and has to be my biggest surprise of the day. He drove a solid race to tenth place and battled his way through to get these points, his first and also Manor’s first points since Monaco 2014. Just a fantastic weekend for him and the Manor team and showing that he is a potential talent of the future if the call for a better seat was available to him.
Verstappen drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. And once again, luck helped him achieve this but he was in the position to make hey. But what a fantastic job from him all weekend and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Silverstone next weekend.
All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win at Austria and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are still the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Lewis for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his third race of the season in dramatic fashion.
With the British GP next weekend, many will wondering what will happen in the Mercedes team after what happened yesterday on the track and if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton, Ricciardo or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.