Austrian GP

Flashback to 2016 – Austrian Grand Prix

It rained in the morning, although that sounds like a familiar theme, but it was dry for the start of the race. There was still a little but of drizzle around, with more rain possible but with the cell having already gone, unlikely.

Following his crash in qualifying, Daniil Kvyat would start from the pitlane, joined by Felipe Massa who had a structural failure on the front wing which needed to be changed. Other changes on the grid included five place grid penalties for Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg for changing their gearbox.

The teams decided to take a different route in qualifying, some taking the ultrasoft tyre, and some taking the supersoft tyre. Mercedes and Hulkenberg, Button starting on the ultrasoft, with Ferrari starting on the supersoft and Red Bull. Soft compound tyres on Haryanto and Nasr.

Sitting on the grid for a while, Hamilton was aligned towards the first corner. The Manor got in the wrong gridspot, reversing down the grid. Hamilton got away well, with Button also getting a good start with the McLaren going second. Hulkenberg was down to 4th. Bottas, Vettel and Verstappen were also close together. Rosberg climbed to sixth place after losing it at the start.

At the end of the first lap Button was able to keep to the back of Hamilton, he was still within a second, with Kimi Raikkonen in third and Hulkeberg in fourth, and right on the back of the Ferrari. Daniil Kvyat retired on lap 3 at the first corner.

Button was under pressure from Raikkonen, with the DRS unleashed although the McLaren looked to be doing a good job at holding him at arm length. Rosberg was closing in on Hulkenberg. using the DRS to get ahead into turn 2, and fourth place for the Mercedes. Vettel did the same thing a lap later, with Raikkonen getting ahead of the McLaren a corner later.

Hulkenberg and Alonso pitted on lap 8, soft tyres for the McLaren, and a set of the supersoft tyres for the Force India. Button pitted a lap later, while Ricciardo was right on the back of Vettel’s Ferrari. Bottas pitted behind Button, along with Sainz and Perez.

Nico Rosberg, having been in traffic stopped first and like those around him put on a set of the soft tyre. Only on lap 11 of 71. Ricciardo on the supersoft tyres was also told over the radio that he would need to pit soon. Massa and Gutierrez were also battling hard on the outskirts of the top ten. Nasr and Ericsson were right behind the pair, with Rosberg at the back of the group having pitted. Struggling on his tyres, Massa pitted.

At the front, Hamilton was still leading on the ultrasoft tyre from Raikkonen by four seconds, Vettel just behind his teammate. Wehrlein said over the radio that there was light rain around the circuit. The Manor came in and took a set of the ultrasoft. Perez went down the inside of Sainz for 15th on lap 15.

Ricciardo pitted on lap 15, a 2.4 second stop for the Red Bull driver coming out behind Nico Rosberg having set the fastest lap of the race. Verstappen pitted a lap later in the other Red Bull, and come out immediately behind Rosberg who in turn was behind a non-stopping Grosjean. He got ahead at turn 2, with Verstappen doing the same thing in turn 3.

Raikkonen started to gain on Hamilton, the Mercedes the only one left on the ultrasoft tyre. Further down the field, Button was still ahead of Hulkenberg, although they were behind Gutierrez and Nasr.

With Hamilton still not stopped by lap 20 and Rosberg was closing in quickly on the leader by over a second a lap. Bottas had closed in on the back of Hulkenberg, who had in turn dropped off the back of Button. Button with better traction made the move on Nasr, while Bottas overtook Hulkenberg.

With a slow stop for Hamilton on lap 22, Rosberg took the lead; Verstappen just behind the pair of them. Gutierrez also pitted on the same lap.

Ferrari pitted Raikkonen a lap later coving the Mercedes team. He came out behind Daniel Ricciardo, behind both of the Red Bull drivers. Ferrari put the soft tyre on his car. Hulkenberg had fallen a long way down the field, and even behind Fernando Alonso in 12th.

Wehrlein complained over the radio in a move by Magnussen, which replays showed that the Renault driver was weaving in order to keep the Manor behind him, it would be taken to the stewards.

Vettel had a tyre failure on the start/finish straight, with the safety car coming out. Button came in along with Grosjean. Replays showed that the tyre exploded right in front of Rosberg, debris all over the race track. With marshalls on the circuit, the cars were brought through the pitlane, Mercedes didn’t pit either driver.

Behind the safety car the order was Rosberg, Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Nasr, Button, Grosjean and Magnussen.

Slow motion replays showed that there was a lot of debris attached to the front of Rosberg’s Mercedes.

The safety car came in at the end of lap 31 – where Nico Hulkenberg was also investigated for speeding in the pitlane, along with Grosjean. Rosberg led the field away, with a gap to Hamilton. Perez gained two positions at the start, with Massa making a move on Magnussen, Perez also gaining from that move as well. The Renault driver was also given a five second penalty for weaving across the road earlier.

Grosjean locked up, with Massa and Perez with Alonso behind also wanting to get in on the action. Rosberg set the fastest lap, pulling away from Hamilton at the front. Hulkenberg got ahead of Magnussen for 13th place, after tumbling down the order in the Force India after a good start.

On lap 36 and the result of the pitlane speeding came through for Hulkenberg, a five second penalty for the German. Grosjean got the same penalty in the Haas who was running in 9th and only just ahead of Massa and Perez. Nasr, who had made his way upto 7th, would have to stop again and had Button just behind.

Button made the move stick on the Sauber on lap 39 into turn 2, a queue now forming behind the Sauber on old tyres. Perez was on the move again, but couldn’t get ahead of Massa. Hamilton was making his own move at the front, setting the fastest lap, bringing the gap down to under two seconds. Gutierrez pitted on lap 42, while his teammate went down the inside of Felipe Nasr at turn 3. Both Perez and Massa got ahead of Nasr.

The Sauber drivers pitted on lap 44, releasing the group including Alonso and Sainz. Rosberg made a mistake into turn 2, with Hamilton closing the gap to half a second. Sainz also got down the inside of Nico Hulkenberg. Hamilton was told that he needed to be careful on the kerbs.

In the meantime, Button had closed on the back of Bottas, half a second per lap for the McLaren. Hulkenberg was also complaining of a vibration in the Force India, already a long way down the order. He pitted on lap 51 from 13th, teammate Perez in 10th. He then had to serve the five second penalty, taking on a set of the ultrasoft tyre, and a lap down to boot.

Bottas pitted from 6th place, moving McLaren into that place. A set of the ultrasofts for the Williams, although Grosjean was closing in on the back of the British driver. Raikkonen was also closing on Ricciardo for fourth, with Hamilton also closing on Rosberg who was in traffic.

On lap 54 Hamilton was told over the radio that it was ‘hammertime’, the British driver closing on the German, the gap under a second. Hamilton pitted first, a 3.5 second stop for Hamilton and another set of the soft tyres. Rosberg pitted a lap later, while Hamilton went wide at turn 2. The supersoft tyre for the Rosberg car, and a scruffy outlap by Hamilton meant that he retained second. Verstappen took over the lead of the race.

Ricciardo went wide at turn 2 on lap 58, the Ferrari taking 4th place. The Ferrari quickly pulled away from the Red Bull. Rosberg was closing on Verstappen, while Hamilton was in turn closing on the Red Bull. Rosberg got very close on the run up to turn2, but was blocked by Verstappen, but then got back ahead before turn 3. Hamilton was held back by Verstappen, with Rosberg heading off down the road in the process.

The traffic worked well for Rosberg. Hamilton helped overtake Verstappen, after the Dutchman was caught out by Jolyon Palmer. Ricciardo who had pitted came out behind Button, with the McLaren now up to 5th place. Massa retired on lap 65.

Ricciardo came to pass Button at a rate of knots into turn 3, with the places changing back pre-pit stop for the Red Bull. Fernando Alonso also retired on lap 66, with Nico Hulkenberg also coming into the pits on the same lap to retire. Raikkonen was also closing in quickly on Verstappen, while Wehrlein was also closing quickly on Valtteri Bottas for 10th place.

At the front and Hamilton was closing in quickly on Rosberg again, with a lot of traffic as well in front of the two Mercedes with three laps remaining. These back markers included the battle for 10th between Bottas and Wherlein. Hamilton was much later on the brakes than Rosberg, and was helped by DRS and got alongside his teammate. Hamilton and Rosberg got ahead of Wehrlein, with them both getting ahead of the Williams into turn 3. Wehrlein also got on the back of Bottas.

The two Mercedes drivers hit each other in turn 2, the German getting damage. He was overtaken by Raikkonen and Verstappen, with Perez going off at turn 3, with Bottas and Werhlein moving up a place, giving the Manor driver their first point of the season.

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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