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Ten talking points from the Austrian GP

Penalties, crashes and slippery surfaces. TG looks back at the highlights from the Red Bull Ring

  1. Nico Rosberg is very good at driving...

    Especially in Austria, it seems. The German made a flying start off the line to take the lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton, and had the pace to stay in control of the race from thereon in.

    The victory was Nico’s third in four races, with the gap at the top of the drivers’ standings now down to just ten points. Lewis looked capable of running away with the championship after Bahrain, but a mixture of hard graft and good fortune has reignited the title fight.

    “It was one of the easier wins, which was good for once. No pressure from behind,” said Rosberg, who now has 11 GP victories to his name.

    “Race craft was a thing that I needed to improve on from last year and it is going in the right direction, so I am pleased with that.”

  2. ...but not very good at crowd surfing

    So no late bid to headline Glastonbury, then.

    After arriving in parc fermé, amicable congratulations from Lewis Hamilton were followed by an exuberant head-first drive into the awaiting crowd of Mercedes personnel.

    Nico looked perilously close to clambering over the top of his crew at one stage, a move made riskier by the fact that he’d already removed his helmet.

    The morale of the story is this: celebrate first, undress later.

  3. F1's regs are under the spotlight again

    Comments made before the race by Bernie Ecclestone afforded the subject of rules fresh attention this weekend, as the chief executive criticised the current situation.

    It restarted the whole debate about which direction F1 should take in the future, with engines, tyres, circuits and finances all attracting the ire of fans.

    “There’s people always complaining about something,” said F1’s chief executive. “The winners never complain. The losers complain. All I’ve ever said is that it’s a pity that one team is at the moment dominating the sport.

    “If you change your engine you go back 20 places. It’s not what the public understand. They don’t understand and when they do understand they don’t care basically.”

  4. Stop! Look! Listen! Live!

    Remember those road traffic ads with the hedgehogs? Maurizio Arrivabene might be well advised to give them a cursory viewing after walking straight into the path of Felipe Massa’s Williams during the first free practice session on Friday.

    The Brazilian was forced to slam on brakes moments after leaving the garage as the Ferrari boss strolled out into the middle of the pit lane.

    A startled Arrivabene quickly took a few paces backwards to let the driver pass, offering an apologetic thumbs up as Felipe continued on his way.

    Remember kids: look right, look left, and look right again. Applies to left-side driving countries only.

  5. Football isn't the only sport fixated on penalties

    As the struggling teams begin to exceed their component allocations, increasingly hefty penalties are being handed out throughout the grid.

    Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were the worst hit with 25-place punishments apiece, while Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat each received 10-place demotions. Only the young Russian could take his sanction in full though, meaning the other drivers needed additional time penalties to compensate.

    Only eight races into a 19-date season, Eric Boullier mused: “I’m pretty sure we are going to have a new record in the Guinness Book of Records by the end of the year.”

    Fans have been vocal in their criticism of the reprimands, though in fairness, the rule makers would have been doing well to foresee such circumstances so early on in the season…

  6. Sebastian Vettel will do anything for points

    Well, nearly anything.

    The four-time world champion qualified in third on Saturday, the position on the grid from which last year’s grand prix and GP2 races were won.

    “Yeah, so it’s all done. I think we can pack up,” said Vettel. “If you speak to Charlie and the FIA to send the points to the championship table. And to the people at the circuit to send the trophy… I wouldn’t mind!”

    In the event, Sebastian lost his place on the podium to Felipe Massa after the pit crew struggled to replace one of his rear tyres half way through the race. A wheel of misfortune?

  7. Pastor Maldonado is a man on fire

    Not literally, though would you have really been surprised?

    The Venezuelan enjoyed another points finish in Spielberg, pulling off an impressive double pass on Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Nasr before an entertaining duel with Max Verstappen.

    It wasn’t plain sailing all the way though, with the Lotus driver recovering from a couple of dramatic wobbles either side of Turn 1 towards the end of the race. “It was all under control,” he said afterwards. Hmm…

    Maldonado Bingo players will have been rewarded for gambling on Pastor’s good form, with 10 points available for his contactless race, 15 points for beating teammate Romain Grosjean once again, and 20 points on offer for finishing in the top ten.

    A wheel on the grass on lap 69 would have earned you 5 points had you gone with ‘Limitation Game’, while his climb from 10th to 7th would have been worth 8 points to those including ‘Spin the Wheel’ in their three pre-race choices.

  8. Austria was slippier than usual for Carlos Sainz

    Spielberg is known for its lack of grip, a fact most of the field proved over the weekend with several departures from all sections of the racetrack.

    Carlos Sainz was especially unlucky though as the front jack slipped from underneath his front wing during a pit stop on lap 26. The mechanics had to frantically bring the error to their colleague’s attention before they could finish changing the wheels on the Spaniard’s car.

    It mattered little though. Sainz was soon handed a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, before retiring with “engine failure or something” a few laps later.

    An 8th place finish for Max Verstappen means that Carlos is now 15th in the drivers’ championship, one point behind his teammate.

  9. Another dismal weekend for McLaren

    More so than usual. Not only were the MP4-30s demoted to the back of the grid for replacing several power unit components, but Fernando Alonso was then involved in a scary collision with Kimi Raikkonen having completed only two corners of the opening lap.

    After a tankslapper on the Ferrari had taken the pair off the circuit, the Fin was forced to duck as the McLaren scythed over the top of his car. Fortunately nobody was hurt in the crash, although they came perilously close to hitting some spectators on the other side of the barrier.

    There even appeared to be liquid spilling out of Alonso’s car as the drivers climbed free.

    The crash was a blow for McLaren, who had planned to test their new aero package on Fernando’s car after the race. It never rains, it pours. Especially in Woking.

  10. Felipe Massa rolls back the years

    And that’s according to his own team.

    Rob Smedley - the Brazilian’s race engineer - came on the team radio after the chequered flag to congratulate his driver on a terrific podium finish for Williams. “Well done mate,” said the 41-year-old. “As I said to you a few races ago, not bad for an old man.”

    Massa was lavished with yet more praise after the champagne celebrations, as his young son was asked to describe his dad’s best performance of the season. “Good” came the reply.

    You’d think Felipe would have earned a few more compliments on Fathers’ Day…

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