Formula 1 moved to unchartered waters last weekend when F1 returned to Austria for the first time since 2003. Most drivers have little to no experience of the Red Bull Ring - whether in F1 or juniour categories. In the race, the two Mercedes drivers made up from their poor grid slots to record their sixth one-two of the season. Valtteri Bottas in the Williams secured his first career podium in Formula 1 while Fernando Alonso drove another strong race to take an unnoticed fifth place in less than competitive machinery.
Lewis Hamilton’s spin during dying moments of qualifying inadvertently hurt Nico Rosberg’s second run with the result that the German started the Austrian Grand Prix from third place, with the two Williams locking out the front row. With Hamilton in the other Mercedes down in ninth, smart money was on the championship leader to take his third victory of the season.
Come race day, Rosberg made a brilliant getaway and passed Valtteri Bottas on the run down to turn 1, only to lose the position on the back straight. From there, the German maintained a decent gap to the Williams in front while also keeping Hamilton at bay. His breakthrough came during the first round of pitstops where he successfully undercut the two drivers and took the lead of the race. He then held off Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race to win his third race of the season, and in the process, extend his championship to a mammoth total of 29 points.
It was a bit surprising to see Hamilton stumble under pressure on Saturday, considering qualifying is his speciality. But the 29 year old quickly made up for his poor poor starting today position with a stonking first lap that put him in fourth place, right behind the battle for lead between two Williams driver and his own teammate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton jumped Massa in the first round of pitstops and Bottas in the second to close right behind his teammate. He then put on a late charge for lead of the race but never came close enough to have a go.
While you may argue that the 2008 world champion lost too much time in the pits(1.9 seconds to be exact), he actually lost the race on Saturday when he made two small, but crucial errors that put in the middle of the pack at the start of the race.
Valtteri Bottas had already proved his mettle in his debut season in 2013 despite being in a car that could hardly finish in the top 10. This year, he’s got a much better car underneath him and Felipe Massa alongside him as his teammate.
The Finn was a close match to Felipe Massa in qualifying but a small error on his second run cost him pole position. Nevertheless, he got to start the race from the front row of the grid - his best ever starting position.
In the race, the 24 year was initially passed by fast charging Mercedes of Nico Rosberg who got ahead of him on the run down to turn 1. But Bottas quickly found a way to regain second place from the German. From there, he held his second place and jumped his teammate Felipe Massa in the pits. However, a less-than-aggressive strategy by Williams also meant that both Mercedes cars were ahead of him by the time he was out of the pits for the second time. He didn’t have the pace to challenge the Mercedes duo in his final stint but was able to retain third place and taste the champagne for the first time in his short career in the pinnacle of motorsport.
Time and tide, Fernando Alonso has proved that he’s the best driver on the grid. The Austrian Grand Prix only added that to his list of strong finishes in poor machinery with the Spaniard finishing somewhere in the middle of six Mercedes powered cars.
The double world champion started the race from fourth place - equalling his best grid slot of the season. He made a decent start but was passed by the fast charging Mercedes Lewis Hamilton by the end of first lap. From there, he spent majority of the race alone on the conventional supersoft/soft/soft strategy to take fifth at the chequered flag.
Sergio Perez seems to have put his less-than-stellar 2013 season behind and is now on a charge to prove that his performances in 2012 season were no fluke. If a car is able to manage its tyres better than the rest of the field, then Sergio Perez is the man to be put in that car.
At yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix, Perez qualified in 11th place which turned into 16th place on the grid after taking into account the five place grid penalty that he was carrying from the Canadian Grand Prix. In the race, Perez crucially made a good start that put him in 12th place by the end of first lap. He then kept on gaining positions as other pitted earlier than him(he was on the reverse soft/soft/supersoft strategy) and at one stage, he even led the race. In the end, the Mexican finished the race in sixth place. After the chequered flag was dropped, Perez said that he could have even challenged for on the podium, had he not been handed the grid penalty.