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Austrian Grand Prix driver ratings

Austrian Grand Prix driver ratings

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Third time lucky for Lewis Hamilton at the Red Bull Ring – finally securing the win at a circuit that he was so desperately chasing for. However, it was certainly not a result in the way that he was expecting.

Having expertly perfected qualifying on pole, 0.543 secs ahead of teammate Rosberg, Hamilton led the race pace during the stint. A slow pitstop brought him out behind his teammate, who he closed the gap to, finishing with a bold move around the outside of Turn 2 on the final lap – resulting in a yet another collision with teammate Rosberg, who threw away his podium position and was resigned to fourth, dragging his damaged front wing underneath his car.

It’s now hard to argue that Hamilton has the mental edge over his troubled teammate, and showcased his ability with a sublime performance in Austria. Heading into his home grand prix at Silverstone, expectations must be high for the championship leader.

Qualified: 1st

Finished: 1st

Rating out of ten: 9.5

2016 Austrian Grand Prix, Sunday

 

Although not as surprising as his victory in Barcelona, Max Verstappen‘s performance at a difficult circuit was just as impressive.

Starting in eighth, the young Dutchman quickly passed his teammate to pick his way through the field. Red Bull had anticipated a two-stop race but the colder conditions and Safety Car period gave Verstappen the opportunity to show his tyre saving ability, completing 56 laps on the soft compound.

Verstappen even briefly held the lead when the two Mercedes pitted for their second stops, but struggled with tyres that team principal Christian Horner admitted were “down to the canvas”. In a repeat of the Spanish GP, Verstappen beautifully kept Raikkonen behind and remained in the best position to capitalise on any Mercedes errors.

While it may have only ended in second position, it is still Red Bull’s first podium at their home grand prix. Whilst Verstappen’s qualifying performances need polishing, such a high quality of racecraft is impressive at just the age of 18.

Qualified: 9th 

Finished: 2nd

Rating out of ten: 9

Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

If Kimi Raikkonen‘s future in the sport does depend on his race results, then a fourth podium within nine races will surely only boost his chances.

Team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty boosted Raikkonen to the leading Ferrari for the race start, but this was made fairly insignificant by Jenson Button in the McLaren ahead. Still, he rose to second place by lap seven and carrying sufficient pace, although pitting one lap after Hamilton despite wearing the harder tyre compound was a setback.

Undercut by the Red Bull pair, Raikkonen then dropped back as he tailed Daniel Ricciardo for 25 laps. After passing, he caught Verstappen, suffering on his one-stop strategy, and believed he would have overtaken his rival if it weren’t for the yellow flags waved on the final lap.

Qualified: 6th 

Finished: 3rd

Rating out of ten: 7.5

GP AUSTRIA F1/2016

What a loss for Nico Rosberg. The German has supremely led 276 laps so far this season, and was faultless for 70 laps in Spielburg. The championship leader let himself down, and was simply in the wrong on the last lap – non arguable.

A brake issue may have hampered Rosberg, but Hamilton left plenty of space for them both to complete Turn Two easily. It seemed that Rosberg made no effort to avoid contact. Hamilton is sublime at demonstrating tough but fair overtaking, and it’s possible that Rosberg was attempting revenge for similar moves in Canada this season and Austin in 2015. The move was nowhere near as polished and complete, resulting in bodywork contact that Rosberg solely paid the price for.

His championship lead has now fallen to just 11 points and Hamilton has the upper hand once again, spotting a weakness in his teammate last race and a greater weakness in the title battle.

Qualified: 2nd (Demoted 5 places due to a gearbox change)

Finished: 4th (10-second time penalty)

Rating out of ten: 6

2016 Austrian Grand Prix, Saturday

It’s hard to disagree with Daniel Ricciardo‘s assessment of a “disappointing” race. To finish fifth on a track where Red Bull were pessimistic at best, is far from awful, but teammate Verstappen’s push to second place showed the car’s potential.

The team’s teenage star may still not be able to out-qualify Ricciardo, but is giving the three-time race winner a tough challenge every Sunday. Overtaken by Verstappen on lap one, the Australian had dropped eight seconds behind his rival by the time he was passed by Raikkonen and abandoned a one-stop strategy with just 13 laps left.

Just 16 points separate the Red Bull partners in the championship. All still to play for.

Qualified: 7th

Finished: 5th

Rating out of ten: 7

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Jenson Button claimed sixth position in today’s Austrian Grand Prix with perhaps the most convincing display yet of the burgeoning pace of the McLaren-Honda partnership.” The abundant praise in McLaren’s post-race debrief summed it up perfectly – The Honda partnership hasn’t brought many positive moments so far, but this race weekend was an undoubtable high point.

Button showed his natural ability in changing conditions during Saturday qualifying and made the most of driver penalties around him as he was boosted to P3 on the grid – a spot he has become unfamiliar with in recent seasons.

Despite a strong start passing Hulkenberg’s Force India for second place, he was only able to hold onto the position for eight laps before being overtaken by Raikkonen’s superior Ferrari. The veteran Brit worked hard in the second half of the race, overtaking on the straights and maximising the most from the Honda engine, despite it’s obvious power deficiency.

“The cars that beat us are all much quicker than us,” he stated to Sky Sports F1 after the race. “To beat Williams, Haas, Force India – it’s a good day.” A near-perfect Saturday and Sunday may grant the most experienced driver on the grid another season at the Woking based team, unless reports in the media about a potential Williams seat are believed to be true.

Qualified: 5th (Started 3rd)

Finished: 6th

Rating out of ten: 10

LAT Photographic
LAT Photographic

Romain Grosjean demonstrated his steady form last seen earlier in the season, raising his Haas up the grid to finish in seventh, and end the American team’s four-race points drought.

The early stage of the race appeared demanding, as he was overtaken by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, but a 26-lap opening stint on the supersoft compound managed to coincide with the mid-race Safety Car period. A five-second time penalty for speeding through the pitlane looked threatening to the strong result, but the Frenchman raced with purpose, benefitting from Sergio Perez’s last lap crash to guarantee seventh place.

Qualified: 13th

Finished: 7th

Rating out of ten: 8

Andy Hone/LAT Photographic
Andy Hone/LAT Photographic

Carlos Sainz may have suffered from reliability issues in qualifying, but this purely seemed to make his Sunday more enjoyable, fighting through the field. The young Spaniard earned respect from scoring points in Canada and deserves similar acknowledgment for achieving eighth place from starting fifteenth.

Sainz was quickly into the top ten at the start, but stopping before the Safety Car period bought him back out further down the order. A strong final stint on the soft compound tyre was vital for the team’s championship standings, and his form continues to improve with every race – making Red Bull’s recent contract renewal even savvier as Ferrari were reportedly considering Sainz to replace Raikkonen.

Qualified: 15th

Finished: 8th

Rating out of ten: 9

Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Valterri Bottas‘s Williams struggled all race with tyre graining issues, resulting in the Finn finishing in ninth place, the same position he finished the first lap in.

Changing conditions during qualifying followed by a sharp drop in temperature on Sunday were as bad as possible for the Grove-based team, meaning the FW38 was never able to show its true pace around the Red Bull Ring.

Bottas can at least take comfort in improving his qualifying advantage over teammate Felipe Massa – now 7-2 – proving he is often their number one driver.

Qualified: 3rd

Finished: 1st

Rating out of ten: 9

Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic
Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic

It is clear to see why Mercedes rate Pascal Wehrlein so highly, rumoured for a drive with them in the near future. The young German gave the best drive of his Manor career to date, securing the team’s first points of the season and his first points in the sport.

Despite being in his first year in F1, Wehrlein has more knowledge of the Red Bull Ring than most rivals due to his experience in the DTM series. Twelfth in qualifying was remarkable, fighting to tenth place on his final stint completed an astonishing weekend – so nearly ruined by starting in the wrong grid position, quickly fixed by reserving before the lights went out.

Qualified: 12th

Finished: 10th

Rating out of ten: 10

Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Esteban Gutierrez’s return to F1 continues with yet another eleventh place finish, his third in five races with the Haas team.

After a poor start to the season, the Mexican’s qualifying performances are certainly getting him closer to scoring points and Austria was the third time in four attempts that he out-qualified teammate Romain Grosjean.

Unfortunately, his VF-16 faltered into anti-stall mode at the start, losing a valuable seven positions. Gutierrez recovered well, overtaking Alonso but finding himself unable to pass Wehrlein.

Qualified: 11th

Finished: 11th

Rating out of ten: 7

Andy Hone/LAT Photographic
Andy Hone/LAT Photographic

Jolyon Palmer is also left waiting for his first points of 2016, but finishing ahead of his teammate for just the third time and securing twelfth place gives his best result since the season-opener at Australia.

After the race, Palmer felt confident he could have reached a points scoring position with a better pit strategy during the Safety Car period, although he did benefit from Kevin Magnussen’s five second penalty at his pitstop. Overtaking his proven difficult for Renault but Palmer was able to pass a Sauber in the closing stages, demonstrating a definite progress for the French team.

Qualified: 18th

Finished: 12th

Rating out of ten: 7

Francois Flamand / DPPI
Francois Flamand / DPPI

Felipe Nasr surprised commentators and fans when he was shown to be running in seventh place as late in the race as lap 38, having started from the back row of the grid in 22nd place.

A massive 43-lap opening stint on soft tyres helped, but the Brazilian did an impressive job defending from faster cars behind for a number of laps.

A final thirteenth place finish may not have been much to boast about, but beating a Renault and teammate Ericsson by seven seconds was about the best Sauber, who are still yet to score points, could achieve.

Qualified: 22nd

Finished: 13th

Rating out of ten: 6.5

GEPA Images
GEPA Images

Kevin Magnussen appeared downcast all weekend, begging his Renault team to begin work on the 2017 car as soon as possible. Such admiration is impressive, but that should be the last thing on his mind when struggling at the back of the grid.

Perhaps he should not have been concentrating so hard on his future when he blocked Wehrlein five times whilst fighting for position, receiving a five-second penalty he later admitted was fair. Magnussen was simply not at his best form in Austria.

Qualified: 17th

Finished: 14th

Rating out of ten: 5

Francois Flamand / DPPI
Francois Flamand / DPPI

On yet another difficult weekend for the cash-strapped Sauber team, Marcus Ericsson beat teammate Nasr on Saturday to avoid qualifying last. He then struggled to make the front tyres work suit him over the race distance, later stating: “I think we just did not have the pace during the whole weekend,” – a fact made clear as he only just held off Rio Haryanto in the Manor.

Qualified: 21st

Finished: 15th

Rating out of ten: 5

GEPA Images
GEPA Images

Manor’s potential was obvious, but for Rio Haryanto, Austria was the first race where teammate Wehrlein’s superiority was so shockingly blatant.

The Indonesian was catching Ericsson in the closing stages after an earlier electronic glitch, and was at least gracious in defeat to his teammate – posting a message of congratulations on his Twitter.

Qualified: 19th

Finished: 16th

Rating out of ten: 5

GEPA IMAGES
GEPA IMAGES

 

DNFs: Daniil Kvyat (mechanical issue on lap 2), Sebastian Vettel (tyre failure on lap 26), Felipe Massa (brake issue on lap 63), Nico Hulkenberg (Brake issue on lap 64), Fernando Alonso (battery fault on lap 64), Sergio Perez (brake failure + accident on lap 69)