Good Race, Bad Race: Austria


Nico Rosberg topped the charts, Lewis Hamilton is on the pit wall and did you hear the one about McLaren…

Good Race
Nico Rosberg; P1

Having missed out on pole position through a mistake at the final corner on his final flying lap, Nico Rosberg was quick to make amends as he snatched P1 off Lewis Hamilton at the start of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. Keeping his wits and bravery about him, he did not back down as the team-mates raced wheel-to-wheel to take the lead.

From there the German always appeared to have the measure of Hamilton as he raced unchallenged, although not entirely untroubled given a vibration in the closing laps, to his third win of this season. With Sunday's victory he also threw his hat into the ring for the World title as, more importantly than him closing the gap to Hamilton to 10 points, he proved he can come out tops when the two race it out.

Felipe Massa; P3
Some may say that Felipe Massa was gifted his first podium of the season thanks to a Ferrari error. Others will note that the Williams driver not only drove a flawless race but he did not buckle under the pressure when Sebastian Vettel caught him in the final laps. Success in F1 is about not only the driver but also the team getting it right. Massa did, Williams did, a podium was the end result.

Sebastian Vettel; P4
Sebastian Vettel did nothing wrong this weekend; you could say he did everything right. Ferrari, though, let him down. Problems in both Friday practices and yet he still finished the day quickest. A car unable to match the Mercedes in qualifying so he lined up third. A car also falling short on race-pace so he joined the Mercedes on the podium. Or at least he would have if Ferrari had not dropped the ball.

A botched pit stop – the one and only pit stop Ferrari did the entire Sunday and they could not get it right – left him in the pits for 13 seconds and dropped him behind Felipe Massa out on track. Yet Vettel never gave up and hunted down the Brazilian. He ran out of time.

Nico Hulkenberg; P6
Following up his Le Mans 24 Hours victory with a P6 in Spielberg, Nico Hulkenberg's phone must be ringing off the hook. Racing a VJM08 that is just days away from a massive (and much-needed) upgrade, the German raised his hand high into the air for a better 2016 race-seat as he qualified fifth and brought the car home in sixth place, his – and Force India's – best result of this season.

Max Verstappen; P8
Pastor Maldonado may have had a go at Max Verstappen in the wake of their closing-laps battle, saying the rookie driver "wasn't really respecting the rules" but, however you saw it, it made for a good racing. Taking on Valtteri Bottas, Daniil Kvyat and Maldonado at different times of the race – and at times wheel-to-wheel – Verstappen finished P8, his second points-haul of his fledgling F1 career.

On The Pitwall
Lewis Hamilton; P2

For just about any and every other driver, finishing a grand prix in second place would count as a good race – for many it would even be a great race. But not for Lewis Hamilton.

The reigning World Champion started Sunday's grand prix from pole position having edged Rosberg in qualifying, a session which ended with a mistake for both drivers. Hamilton, though, suffered a clutch issue off the line and before he knew it he was staring at Rosberg's rear wing.

A racer by reputation, fans had hoped it was only a matter of time before Hamilton attacked his team-mate for the lead but instead he drifted back. Even commentators were asking if he was biding his time for a late attack but that never happened and instead Hamilton incurred a five-second penalty for crossing the white line at the exit of the pitlane. A good reason for some to say why he finished second but most definitely not the true story.

Bad Race
Red Bull Racing; P10 and P12

They scored a point. At a race track that Red Bull owns and that carries the Red Bull name, dominated by a giant metal bull (not red), they scored a point. A single, solitary point.

McLaren; double DNF
I would never call a team with McLaren's history and prestige a joke but their performance this past weekend in Spielberg was laughable. Between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso they amassed a 50-place drop on the grid (engine parts and a gearbox). But given that there are only 20 places that meant in-race penalties for both. And all this taking place in front of Honda's head honcho.

The team's misery was compounded when Alonso, completely innocent in the matter, was taken out by Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap, which meant McLaren were unable to gather any useful data from the new aero package – including the short nose – that the Spaniard was running. Button's race didn't last much longer as he retired with an electrical problem on lap 8.

Despite their rather public woes, the drivers sprouted off phrases such as "in a good place" (Button) and "the crisis is over" (Alonso). To anyone watching the only place McLaren are in is in the pits and the crisis is far from over.

Kimi Raikkonen; DNF
On the up side, Kimi Raikkonen is making Ferrari's decision on whether or not to keep him rather easy. On the down side, it probably won’t go in his favour.

Even if the 2007 World Champion was done in by his team in qualifying, and that depends on whether you're wearing your 'Iceman' cap, having a go at your team is never a good idea especially while still in the interview process. And crashing out on the first lap is a big no-no. That, though, is exactly what Raikkonen did. Yes he was on the prime tyres, which gave less grip, but so too were Maldonado, Perez and Ricciardo and none of them suffered wheel spin. None of them had a tank-slapper. None of them ended the race with Fernando Alonso on their head.

Marcus Ericsson; P13
Oy vey, what do you say to that. Jumping the start is a rookie error and a rather embarrassing one. Could the Swede have scored if not for that mistake and subsequent penalty? Given that his fastest lap time for the race was on a par with sixth-placed Nico Hulkenberg and only marginally slower than Verstappen's and Perez's, Sauber will be wondering the same.

Michelle Foster