Nico Rosberg has become the favourite to win the world championship after winning the Austrian Grands Prix. Despite a fantastic effort from Lewis Hamilton, who followed him home in 2nd, Rosberg now sits 29 points clear at the top of the table after his third win of the season.
Hamilton chased Rosberg home hard but he couldn’t quite get within striking distance highlighting, once again, that the German has all the tools to win the championship this year.
Valtteri Bottas took third after Williams struggled to live with the pace and intensity of Mercedes. Williams were ruthlessly disposed of by both Mercedes, who then fought for the win. Hamilton was the most impressive driver on the track after a stunning start saw him leap from 9th to 4th. The Brit will be disappointed to fall further behind Rosberg but can be proud of a mighty effort.
Pole sitter Felipe Massa couldn’t thrill the crowd with a win, as he showed rustiness at the sharp end of the grid as he faded to 4th. He was chased home by Fernando Alonso as Ferrari showed an improvement in their race pace. Sergio Perez reproduced his old trick and claimed 6th after a long stint on his tyres. The Mexican looks back to his best following an uncomfortable season at McLaren.
At the start, the Williams pair pulled away in the opening laps but once the first round of pits arrived, Mercedes were sharper and quicker in their decision-making. Rosberg jumped into the lead as Massa tumbled to 4th.
Williams maintained that they were happy with a good haul of points and it was clear that they weren’t concerned about scrapping with Mercedes all afternoon. Hamilton jumped Bottas in the second round of stops and from there he and Rosberg pulled away and scrapped amongst themselves. Bottas was still within ten seconds of Mercedes, showing how much the grid has caught up with the leaders since the first race.
However, the fragility of the Mercedes was once again apparent after both cars were forced to nurse their over-heating brakes. Despite being fast, they are certainly vulnerable.
Also suffering from poor reliability was Sebastian Vettel who lost drive on the opening laps. He got the car going again but was a lap down on the field and retired shortly after. Daniel Ricciardo also struggled to 8th despite passing Nico Hulkenberg on the last lap making it a dismal home race for the champions.