Nico Rosberg managed to increase his championship lead over Mercedes teammate (and rival) Lewis Hamilton by 29 points, after winning the Austrian Grand Prix in a race filled with exciting duels for the lead. Although Hamilton was only 1.5 seconds behind Rosberg heading into the final stretch, he was unable to catch him after the two passed Williams driver Valterri Bottas, who came in third (just ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa) for his first ever Formula 1 podium finish. The Mercedes team has dominated the season with alternating one-two finishes in 6 out of 8 races thus far. This was Rosberg’s third victory.
Massa and Valtteri Bottas started out by locking down the front row at the Red Bull track in Speilberg, on Saturday, before the Finn was overtaken by Rosberg into the first turn. However, he was soon able to repass him as Lewis Hamilton rocketed from 9th place on the grid up to 4th heading into lap 2.
Although Force India’s Sergio Perez managed to claim the lead briefly after the Mercedes team pitted on lap 11 (for Rosberg) and 13 (for Hamilton), his tires soon began to give way, allowing Rosberg and Bottas to regain their one-two positions. Hamilton followed suit on the ensuing lap, as Massa eventually passed Perez who was forced to pit, dropping him down to 8th place as he re-entered the race on a set of super-soft tires. He eventually finished 6th ahead of Kevin Magnussen and teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Felipe Alonso finished 5th, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ended up 9th. Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari took the final point.
In the meantime, problems continued to plague Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull #10 car, which lost drive on lap 2, only to resuscitate itself (weakly) a minute later leaving him dead last a lap behind the rest of the field. With no chance to challenge, Red Bull finally retired the car on lap 37. Despite being the reigning Formula 1 World Champ, having won the title for the past 4 years in a row (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013), Vettel has not been able to win a single event this year, and has failed to even finish a number of races including the Australian Grand Prix, when software issues with his car forced him to retire after completing only 3 laps.