What did we learn from Austrian GP?

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Well, we learned a race isn’t over till it’s over, with the traumatic lead change on the final lap, giving the race to Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) relegating his team mate (and not best friend) Nico Rosberg. That last lap contact between the two Mercedes drivers could be looked at as Rosberg pushing Hamilton up the track, or Hamilton turning in on Rosberg.

Post-race, the stewards decided that Rosberg was in the wrong and applied a 10 second time penalty. However, the popular vote was that Hamilton turned in on Rosberg and made the feeling obvious by booing Hamilton on the podium. Hamilton appears now to consider himself a minor deity, as when asked his feeling about being booed, replied, that he loved Austria, “So to have that kind of feeling for a country and then have that response when you have a win, for sure it’s not the greatest, but I forgive them. Sometimes that’s just the way it is and I don’t judge them for that.” (I’m sure the disgruntled burghers will be so happy to receive his blessings.)

With the mixed up grid after the wet Qualifying, the first lap saw much shuffling of the order behind Nico Rosberg, which was then compounded by the usual tyre “strategies”. Three tyres were allowed for this meeting, soft, ultra soft and Swiss cheese. The latter were lasting 8-10 laps, so the pits were busy.

By the time the two stoppers and the one stoppers allowed the order to settle, Hamilton was leading from Vettel and Raikkonen (Ferrari), Rosberg, Verstappen and Ricciardo (Red Bull), but tyres were again going to change the order, with Vettel’s car suffering a right rear explosion on the 27th lap, with the unhappy German hitting the fence, bringing out the Safety Car and another round of pit stops for tyres that might last more than 20 laps.

Rosberg looked comfortable at the front having already taken on new tyres and in control of the situation, while there was much passing and repassing in the middle order with Button (McLaren) showing the younger drivers some excellent race craft ending up with a 6th place, which is almost as good as a win for Ron Dennis’ team. His team mate Alonso experienced yet another battery/generating unit failure. Alonso will soon have to go for training to remember what a chequered flag looks like. To continue at McLaren next year would be nothing short of masochism.

The US team Haas continues to amaze, Grosjean being competitive in the middle order and coming home behind Button and ahead of Sainz (Toro Rosso), Bottas (Williams) and in 10th place Wehrlein (Manor) who scored the first F1 point for his team. If Wehrlein keeps this up, he and Hamilton can do some joint walking on water exercises at Silverstone.

The team which went home thoroughly depressed was Force India with Hulkenberg (brake failure), who had started from grid 2, and Perez (accident) on the penultimate lap.

It had been an exciting GP with many changes in the order, and bodes well for Silverstone’s spectators this weekend July 9 and 10.

Meanwhile, down at Mercedes, the Beatles song “Come together, right over me!” is being played on the factory PA system. However, it is obvious that the musical arranger Toto Wolff is not amused and is considering team orders to keep his naughty children under control.

Results:

1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 M Verstappen Red Bull

3 K Raikkonen Ferrari

4 N Rosberg Mercedes

5 D Ricciardo Red Bull

6 J Button McLaren

7 R Grosjean Haas

8 C Sainz Toro Rosso

9 V Bottas Williams

10 P Wehrlein Manor