Front to back: the Austrian Grand Prix

Reviewing every F1 team and driver from Sunday’s thriller at the Red Bull Ring.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 1st, finished 1st
Nico Rosberg: qualified 2nd, finished 4th
Hamilton lined up on pole and Rosberg from sixth on the grid as the lights went out to start lap one on Sunday, but it was the 71st and final lap that everyone will be talking about for some time – a moment that may go down as when the title turned this season. Rosberg had absorbed plenty of pressure from his teammate, but a mistake at the first corner on the last lap – which Mercedes say was caused by a brake-by-wire issue – left the door ajar for the rapidly-pursuing Hamilton, and the drivers clashed at Turn 2, Rosberg leaning on his teammate and coming off second-best, his front wing folding beneath his car as Hamilton took off in his own damaged machine to take the chequered flag. A nailed-on 1-2 finish became first and fourth, and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was beside himself as each driver, predictably, blamed the other. Had the positions stayed the same at the end of lap 71 as they were on lap 70, Rosberg would have been taking a 31-point championship advantage into the next race; now, his lead over the reigning world champion has been slashed to just 11, Hamilton winning for the first time in the Styrian Mountains. And with that next race being at Silverstone in seven days’ time, expect the volume of the booing directed at Hamilton on the podium to be magnified ten-fold towards Rosberg if the German finishes in the top three next Sunday. Whether it can drown out the insufferable cheerleading by some members of the British broadcasters, of course, is another matter.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 4th, did not finish
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 6th, finished 3rd
Yet another Grand Prix where it feels like Ferrari underachieved. Vettel’s marathon stint on the red supersoft tyres from ninth on the grid after taking a five-place gearbox penalty following qualifying looked like a masterstroke until his right rear tyre exploded without any warning on the start-finish straight on lap 32, seeing the German retire from the lead and perhaps kiss his title hopes goodbye through no fault of his own. As 29th birthday presents go, it was a rough one. The season isn’t yet at its halfway point, but a 57-point deficit to series leader Rosberg seems a bridge too far. Vettel was Ferrari’s hard luck story; quite why Ferrari left Raikkonen on track until lap 22 before pitting him to cover off Hamilton – and letting both Red Bulls undercut him in the process – was downright baffling, and left the Finn stuck behind cars he should have been well ahead of for much of the rest of the afternoon. The Rosberg-Hamilton last-lap contretemps saw Raikkonen at least salvage a podium out of his Austrian afternoon, but this was a race that Ferrari could have, maybe even should have, won.

Front to back: what happened in Baku?

Williams
Felipe Massa:
qualified 10th, did not finish
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 8th, finished 9th
A very disappointing weekend for Williams at a track where it typically shines. Massa’s qualifying was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time as he started his final lap first of the top 10 as the track dried, and he didn’t even get to begin the race from 10th as Williams replaced his front wing because of structural concerns, necessitating a pit-lane start. The Brazilian was embroiled in a lengthy fight with the Force India of Perez at the back-end of the points before brake temperatures saw him retire eight laps from home. Bottas struggled for tyre temperature in qualifying, and was lapped by the leaders late as he salvaged a couple of points from a weekend the team will be keen to forget.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 7th, finished 5th
Max Verstappen: qualified 9th, finished 2nd
Since the Red Bull Ring returned to the calendar in 2014, the Austrian track hasn’t been too kind to Red Bull Racing, but that all changed on Sunday when Verstappen brilliantly executed a one-stop strategy to finish second. The Dutchman pitted on lap 15 in a move that seemed to commit him to a two-stop strategy, but conserved his rubber superbly to have enough pace to fend off Raikkonen on the final lap, which earned him a second-place finish as Rosberg nursed his crippled car to the line. The masses of orange-clad fans in the stands roared their approval as Verstappen took his second podium finish in five races since coming across from Toro Rosso. Ricciardo again had his teammate’s measure in qualifying and jumped to fifth on the grid after penalties for Rosberg and Vettel, but could never run at Verstappen’s pace in the race, and made a second pit stop with nine laps to go to get back to where he started on what was, by the Australian’s standards, a fairly anonymous weekend. A haul of 28 points was – by far – Red Bull’s best showing at its home race.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 3rd, did not finish
Sergio Perez: qualified 16th, did not finish
A disaster for Force India, after Hulkenberg had been the star of Saturday, and Perez came in riding a wave of confidence after podiums in two of the past three Grands Prix. Hulkenberg started from the front row of the grid for just the second time in his 104-race career after Rosberg’s gearbox penalty, but that was as good as it got for the German – he made a tardy start, was in the pits as early as lap eight, got a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane, complained to his team about a vibration in his car, and eventually retired with five laps left. Perez started 16th after the Red Bull Ring’s much-discussed kerbs broke his rear suspension in qualifying, and was running inside the points on the final lap before a mechanical failure pitched him into the barriers at Turn 3.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 18th, finished 12th
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 17th, finished 14th
Neither Renault made it out of Q1 for the third successive race, and Palmer then had to drop three spots on the grid for failing to slow down under yellow flags thrown for Sainz’s stricken Toro Rosso, which had blown its engine. The Briton finished ahead of his Danish teammate in the race, Magnussen hampered by a five-second penalty for weaving in front of the Manor of Wehrlein as they scrapped outside of the points.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat:
qualified 20th, did not finish
Carlos Sainz: qualified 15th, finished eighth
Sainz made it four points finishes in the past five races by coming eighth, which looked highly improbable after his engine blew in qualifying and the team was forced to re-install an old one – remembering that STR are running the 2015 Ferrari power plant anyway – for the race. His feisty defence, particularly at Turn 2 in the heavy braking zone, was a highlight. By contrast, Kvyat’s weekend started badly and got worse – a broken rear suspension after clouting the kerbs in Q1 on Saturday pitched him into a nasty accident at the final corner, and his race – in a brand-new chassis built overnight – lasted all of two laps after a pit-lane start. Worse still, he had to watch his replacement at Red Bull’s senior team, Verstappen, spraying champagne from the podium. Silverstone can’t come soon enough.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr:
qualified 22nd, finished 13th
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 21st, finished 15th
Nasr’s three-place grid penalty for failing to observe yellow flags in qualifying was irrelevant as he was starting last anyway, and the Brazilian made a marathon opening stint work as he scrapped in the top 10 for some time before finally pitting on lap 44, regressing to his mean. Ericsson was shuffled up to 19th on the grid because of penalties imposed on Palmer and Haryanto, but the Swiss team’s wait for its first points of 2016 labours on.

McLaren
Jenson Button:
qualified 5th, finished 6th
Fernando Alonso: qualified 14th, did not finish
Ever the realist, Button described finishing fifth in qualifying – and then being elevated two places because of Rosberg and Vettel’s penalties – as “madness”, and it looked like a repeat of Saturday’s unpredictable weather was his only hope of managing a solid points haul on Sunday. The rain never came, but Button never wavered, finishing lap one in second place, and only losing fifth to Ricciardo, who was on much fresher tyres, with six laps left. It was a timely reminder of Button’s quality and cool head, and a useful audition for a job next year, either with McLaren or someone else. Alonso scolded his team after being fitted with used rather than new tyres for his first run in Q2 on Saturday – calling the error a “primary-school mistake” – and ran competitively early in the race before tumbling back, and he eventually retired with seven laps left.

Manor
Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 12th, finished 10th
Rio Haryanto: qualified 19th, finished 16th
A magical weekend for the sport’s minnows, with Wehrlein earning Manor the second points finish in its history and showing why the hype about the young German is entirely justified. Wehrlein was arguably the star of Saturday, taking Manor into Q2 for the first time all year, and he inherited 10th and the final point on offer when Perez crashed on the last lap, a reward for a weekend of hauling his car into positions it has no places being. Considering he was dead last when the safety car came out, it was a mighty performance. Haryanto had no answer to his teammate’s pace and was the final car to finish, but at least saw the chequered flag for the eighth time in his first nine F1 outings.

Haas
Romain Grosjean:
qualified 13th, finished 7th
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 11th, finished 11th
Grosjean earned Haas’ first points in five races after a composed and lengthy first stint and some good fortune with the timing of the safety car, much as he did in Australia to start the season. The Frenchman was assessed a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, but six points was his – and the team’s – first haul since Sochi two months’ ago. Gutierrez came agonisingly close to joining his teammate inside the top 10, and again showed his improvement in qualifying, beating Grosjean for the third time in the past four races.

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