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Winners and Losers: Austrian GP

Sunday 22nd June 2014

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Winners and Losers: Austrian GP

Winners and Losers: Austrian GP

Red Bull may have organised a fantastic race, but it was one they were never going to dominate. And didn't...

Star of the Race
Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 3rd
Bottas may have lost out in qualifying to Massa, but he put that all behind him in the race. Rosberg grabbed second place going into Turn 1 and then Bottas calmly cruised back past him into Turn 2. What's more, he didn't make any kind of mistake under pressure from Lewis Hamilton who couldn't get past him on track and had to overtake him in the pit-stops. Finally, Williams are delivering the points that have been eluding them.

Overtaking move of the race
Lap 1: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes on Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, for P4
Lewis Hamilton's opening lap was one of the best opening laps of the season, especially considering he was on the same tyres as all the cars around him. He had already made his way through to P5 and was on the back of the Ferrari of Alonso as the cars approached Turn 8. The rear light of the Ferrari winked as it went into energy harvesting mode under braking and Lewis was up the inside for P4. It was a fitting end to a spectacular opening lap that was executed with no stupid risks.

Later in the race, he put a similar opportunistic move on Felipe Massa after Felipe's pit-stop which ultimately paved the way for a move up to P2. Had he been stuck behind Massa during the second stint, then P3 might have been the limit of his ambitions.

There will be a focus on Lewis's pit-stops now as he seems to be constantly getting slower stops than Rosberg, for whatever reason. Had he managed the same stopping time as Nico during the first round, then he would have come out in front of Bottas, not behind him, and it would have been game on with Nico till the end of the race. However Lewis well and truly lost this race on Saturday in Q3 when he looked like he was going to stroke his W05 to pole position and messed up. Rosberg played safe on his first run in Q3 and was able to bank the grid slot and ultimately the win.

Winners
The Red Bull Organisation
Dieter Mateschitz's backing for the Austrian Grand Prix produced an event that was widely welcomed by the F1 fraternity. Are we going to get a sell-out 240,000 crowd across three days at Sochi in 2014 or Azerbaijan in 2015? No. Austria has a long history of involvement in F1, a compelling backdrop, passionate fans and the Red Bull organization have invested a lot money to produce an excellent facility. Like McLaren's recent jinx at Silverstone, it's just typical that it's the one place where the Red Bull teams have massively underperformed.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1st
Nico Rosberg waved away Sky's Martin Brundle as he tried to walk and talk with him on the grid in Austria. Around Lap 42 of the race he came over on the radio sounding just as panicky as he had done in Canada: "Who am I racing? What do I have to do?" Pressure is a mind-distorting thing and ironically, the longer he has a gap over Lewis, the more the pressure will build, because now he is expected to win.

In Canada and Austria he held his nerve, but for Lewis fans it would be no bad thing to be in second place through the long summer break of August. Jenson Button felt it very badly in 2009 but just about managed to scramble home as World Champion. Mark Webber was leading Sebastian Vettel into the final race of the 2010 season, but the pressure got to him in Abu Dhabi. Will the same happen to Nico...?

Felipe Massa, Williams, 4th
In grand prix racing a little plastic figure of Brazilian footballer Neymar can only do so much. It may have inspired Felipe Massa to pole position yesterday, but it wasn't going to determine their pit-stop strategy. Ultimately Williams' failure to cover off the Mercedes pit-stops lost them places, and it was almost like they were driving for third and fourth places right from the first stint. Claire Williams said as much on the grid, but after they managed to get away and keep P1 and P2, you wondered if they might set their sights a little higher.

This was definitely an engine circuit rather than an aero circuit and on Lap 50, the eight Mercedes engined cars were: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8 and 9. Only Fernando Alonso intervened in P6.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 5th
Alonso got to within a second of Felipe Massa, but Massa was never in danger down any of the straights. Before the race Fernando paid him the complement of saying that Felipe Massa was the best team-mate he'd ever had. And he's had Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton as team-mates. And that means he also rates him higher than Nelson Piquet Junior.

Sergio Perez, Force India, 6th
Perez made up five places on the opening lap, helped by his team-mate shoving Jenson Button out of the way at Turn 1. After that he put in the same kind of tyre-preserving race he'd done in Canada, except without the catastrophic ending.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 7th
While Button got on the outside of Hulkeenberg at the start and was pushed out, Magnussen did the same thing to Daniel Ricciardo who plunged down the order on the opening lap. It was a strong race for the Dane backing up excellent qualifying and although a mistake let Perez through at the end, it would have been tough to keep the Mexican back on new tyres, especially when he was setting the Fastest lap on Lap 59.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 8th
A late race overtaking move on Hulkenberg - round the outside of Turn 4 - eased Dan up to P8, but it was still a poor return for the team. Not a surprise, though. Clearly the team had electronic issues from the start with Vettel pressing the 'Overtake' button and his car immediately losing power. After which Dan was asked not to press his and his whole race was compromised. Presumably towards the end, they'd found a solution otherwise he'd never have got past the Force India.

Losers

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, DNF
Vettel spent his race skulking around waiting for a Safety Car to get back on the same lap and when one didn't happen, he decided to save mileage. The longer the season goes on, the more embarrassing it gets because he's now been outqualified 6:2. There were rumours that Red Bull would be signing a new engine contract this weekend and with McLaren taking Hondas in 2015 it's not hard to work out what they might be in the market for.

Media Watch
"You've got these very brake braking areas." Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish

"And he goes comfortably...well, I say comfortably fastest, it's actually three thousandths of a second, that's about the length of a paperback book." James Allen

Andrew Davies

Highs & Lows Of Alonso At Ferrari

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