The wrong rumble for Ali inspired Hamilton
Nico Rosberg quite literally stole the show in qualifying for tomorrow's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. With seconds to go, and as the track rapidly dried, Rosberg came out on top after first Lewis Hamilton, then Nico Hulkenberg and finally Sebastian Vettel were all expectantly poised to take pole.
As Rosberg celebrated his show-stopping lap in the dying seconds of qualifying,his team mate Lewis Hamilton was left to lament what could have been as what looked like his own best effort for pole position disappeared in a flash and he was left wallowing back in sixth. He abandoned his own final lap thinking he was safe in prime slot. With his championship attack requiring nothing less than wins, he will be kicking himself and no doubt looking carefully at who is calling the shots at Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel was third, having been quickest with just a few secconds to go, and Jenson Button third. Hulkenberg was fourth and Button's team-mate Kevin Magnussen will start fifth, Hamilton sixth.
In a rain impacted session, both Ferrari and Williams drivers failed to get through quali three and start the race at the back of the grid. Bottas was 17th followed by Massa, Alonso and Raikkonen. Williams will be inconsolable given that they were looking for a strong performance on home soil. It's not worth considering how Ferrari will be feeling!
Making the most of the early conditions Marussia's Max Chilton was thirteenth and team-mate Bianchi was one place ahead in twelfth.
Day 2 – Qualifying:
Williams recorded a sensational result in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. A lock out of the front row with Felipe Massa quickest ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas was a superb result for the Williams team and registered their best qualifying result since Juan Pablo Montoya took pole alongside team mate Ralf Schumacher at the German GP in 2003. Massa’s pole will have them sambaring in Brazil tonight!
Mercedes had dominated practice on Friday and Saturday but in the end the best they could achieve was third for Championship leader Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton entered the first corner backwards as he spun under braking on his final lap and finished ninth. He was unable to register an earlier time as his first “quick” lap was disqualified when he put all four wheels outside the white lines – an automatic penalty.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fourth ahead of Montreal winner Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren in sixth. Magnussen’s team mate Jenson Button was eleventh (benefitting from Sergio Perez’ five place grid penalty after his altercation with pole sitter Massa on the penultimate lap in Canada) while reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel missed the final cut and will start in twelfth. All-in-all it was a disappointing qualifying for Red Bull who, on their “home track”, were hoping for a much better result to wow the large Austrian crowd. Vettel has now been out-qualified by his team mate on no fewer than six occasions this year and the jury is now publicly out on whether he will be able to rekindle the form that took him to four World titles.
Williams will rightly accept all the plaudits for a job well done. Rarely has there been a better received qualifying result in recent years. Up and down the Austrian pit lane teams, media and spectators alike were congratulating Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams and her father, the man who’s name graces the team, Sir Frank. Now all they need to do is convert a Williams front row into a Williams one-two at tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix. The job will then have been completed.
Day 3 - Rosberg wins but Austria takes the praise
The first Austrian Grand Prix for eleven years finished in victory for Nico Rosberg, but importantly it underlined how much the Formula One World Championship has missed the experience of racing in this country that exudes hospitality, friendliness and the true values of a massive and enthusiastic set of race fans.
The “chocolate box” setting of the circuit in the Styrian mountains was a fitting backdrop for one of the best races of the season. Almost 240,000 people attended the race weekend with campsites full to bursting and local hotels and guest houses enjoying one of the busiest weekends of the century so far.
Felipe Massa’s surprising pole position alongside his team-mate Valtteri Bottas had created added interest, but eventually the Williams boys were outpaced by the Silver Arrows of Rosberg and second placed finisher Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton, starting from ninth after a torrid qualifying, made a demon start and was fourth at the end of the first lap but could not find a way past his German team mate. Rosberg’s third win of the season (to Hamilton’s four) allows him to extend his lead at the head of the Championship table. He now enjoys a healthy 29 point advantage.
Bottas finished third, the first podium finish of his career, with Massa fourth and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fifth. Massa lost three places in the pit stops which undid his race challenge, but Williams will, nevertheless, be very happy with the overall result. Perez was sixth for Force India, Magnussen seventh for McLaren and Ricciardo brought his Red Bull home in eighth. World Champion Sebastian Vettel failed to finish.
As the F1 circus leaves the Austrian countryside it does so safe in the knowledge that it has found a new “favourite” race. The atmosphere and undeniable spirit of the country, the Austrian people and its race fans have ensured that everyone will be looking forward to returning in 2015 and booking their hotel rooms well in advance!
The Championship now heads to the home of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in two weeks time. Expect Mercedes to be dominant once again and for Lewis Hamilton to be hungrier than ever to chip away at the lead that his team-mate Rosberg has at the head of the table.