Rosberg wins in Austria to close in on Hamilton
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Sport newsMercedes’ Nico Rosberg took his third victory of the season at the Austrian Grand Prix to close the gap to Drivers’ Championship leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton to just 10 points as the Briton finished second ahead of Williams Felipe Massa. It was Mercedes fourth one-two victory of the season.
At the race start Rosberg got the jump on the slower starting Hamilton, who sought to protect his line on the run to the first corner. Rosberg drew alongside the champion and managed to force his way past and into the lead as the pair went through turn one.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel tucked into third ahead of Massa and Nico Hulkenberg but towards the back of the field there was drama as Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, who had started 14th, tangled with a hard-charging Fernando Alonso, who had started 19th for McLaren. The collision pitched both cars into the barriers, with Alonso’s car squeezed onto the top of the Ferrari. Both drivers, however, emerged unscathed.
The Safety Car was immediately deployed and that allowed Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, who had sustained some damage at the start, to pit for a new nose cone and to swap his starting supersoft tyres for soft rubber. He rejoined in P15, directly behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. McLaren’s Jenson Button and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also pitted in this period.
The race restarted on lap seven and Rosberg held his lead over Hamilton, with Vettel holding third ahead of Massa, Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was eighth ahead of Carlos Sainz in the second Toro Rosso and Sergio Perez, who had risen to P13 after a 13th-place start. The Mexican was on the soft tyres and defending well ahead of the supersoft-shod Romain Grosjean who had slipped back from P9 at the start.
After Alonso’s accident, McLaren’s tough Austrian Grand Prix weekend was completed when Button was asked to return to the pit lane on lap nine to retire his car. Elsewhere, Marcus Ericsson was handed a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.
At the front, the race was fast becoming a battle between the two Mercedes drivers. After 16 laps Rosberg led Hamilton by 1.7s but Vettel had dropped back to just over seven seconds adrift of his countryman.
Grosjean was the first to make a scheduled stop for tyres on lap 23, taking on soft rubber. He was followed a lap later by Nasr. On track, Bottas made more progress by passing Hulkenberg for P5. The Finn then made his first visit to the pit lane on lap 26, taking on soft tyres.
Hulkenberg too made his first stop and when he emerged it was in front of Bottas, leaving the Williams man to do all the work of passing him again, though the Finn eventually managed the task.
Sainz, meanwhile, had pitted for soft compound Pirellis but a problem with the front-right wheel meant a long stop that dropped him down the order. His race was further compromised by a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane and then ended when he was forced to retire with technical issues.
Rosberg pitted from the lead on lap 33, taking on soft tyres in a 2.7-second stop. Hamilton followed a lap later but his in-lap hadn’t yielded a significant gain and his stop took four tenths longer than the German’s, so he again slotted in behind Rosberg. Hamilton was then handed a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line on the pit exit. It would be added to his race time following the chequered flag.
Vettel made his stop on lap 36 but he too had a troubled visit to the pit lane. A problem with the wheel gun on the right rear left the German rooted to the sport and when he finally rejoined it was behind Massa.
Ricciardo was the last man to pit, swapping his starting soft tyres for supersoft rubber on lap 51. That dropped the Red Bull driver to back to P11, though on a tyre that he could attack with.
At the front, with all the stops complete and 20 laps to remaining, Rosberg now led Hamilton by a comfortable 6.5s margin with Massa a further 16 seconds back. Vettel was just two seconds adrift of the Williams, while Bottas was fifth but 20 seconds down on the Ferrari. Hulkenberg was a lonely sixth, six seconds behind Bottas and seven ahead of Verstappen, while Maldonado was eighth ahead of Perez and Nasr.
Ricciardo, though, on news supersofts was on a charge and running up to 1.5s a lap quicker than Nasr and by lap 61 he had slimmed an eight-second gap after his stop to half a second, within DRS range. He swept past the Sauber into turn three and reclaimed a points scoring position.
At the front, the leading positions remained unchanged, however. Rosberg took his 11th career victory 8.8s ahead of Hamilton, who completed Mercedes’ fourth one-two win of the season with enough time in hand over Massa for his post-race penalty not to affect the result. Vettel was fourth ahead of Bottas, while Le Mans winner Hulkenberg enjoyed another good race with sixth place. Maldonado meanwhile finally got past Verstappen, while Perez held off Ricciardo to claim two points.
Rosberg’s win means he climbs to 159 points for the season so far, 10 behind Hamilton, with Vettel third on 120 points.
2015 Austrian Grand Prix – Race
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30:16.930 71
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0:08.800 71
3 Felipe Massa Williams +0:17.573 71
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0:18.181 71
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams +0:53.604 71
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1:04.075 71
7 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +1 Lap 70
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +1 Lap 70
9 Sergio Perez Force India +1 Lap 70
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing +1 Lap 70
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 Lap 70
12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing +1 Lap 70
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2 Lap 69
14 Roberto Merhi Manor +3 Lap 68
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus DNF 35
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso DNF 35
17 Jenson Button McLaren DNF 8
18 Will Stevens Manor DNF 1
19 Fernando Alonso McLaren DNF 0
20 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari DNF 0
For full timing information click here