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GP Week : Issue 223
There are less than 200 metres between pole position and the first corner in Austria. That was more than enough for Nico Rosberg. After getting a near perfect start he put in an error-free performance behind the wheel to command the Austrian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was his nearest rival but, as has often been the case between the two Mercedes drivers, there was never any immediate threat. Hamilton being on pole was an anomaly. He may have put in the better lap when it mattered on Saturday afternoon but Rosberg had been the stronger of the two silver drivers all weekend. Second place for Hamilton on Sunday should therefore be viewed as in line with expectations; not a bad result, simply one which saw him achieve what was realistically going to be his peak performance for the weekend. Rosberg somehow just had the measure of him. If the result between Rosberg and Hamilton was no surprise there was some eyebrow raising being done over at Ferrari. Just what the Italian team was doing in qualifying with Kimi Raikkonen is beyond comprehension. Ferrari has to shoulder some of the blame for the farcical sequence of events that saw the Fin qualify just 18th, though it was Raikkonen's fault alone that he buried himself under Fernando Alonso in the race. It was such an unusual incident that it's difficult to think a driver of Raikkonen's calibre could simply drop the car as he did, but he admitted as much post-race. Alonso was an innocent bystander in it all. On the other side of the red garage Sebastian Vettel had a disappointing race. While the German's performance was sound - not spectacular but error free, which is what is expected of top line drivers - his team's was. Somewhere upstream from the mechanic fitting the right rear wheel there was a problem. It may lay in the design office, in quality control or somewhere else but the simple fact is a less than compliant wheel-nut cost Ferrari a podium. In the grand scheme of things it's absolutely inconsequential. Ferrari is well clear of Williams in the constructors' championship so the loss of points is insignificant and it's hardly going to catch Mercedes. Still, that Maurizio Arrivabene has called for a post- mortem is positive. It shows the team has fighting spirit and is being ruled by logic and reason. Importantly, there has been no finger pointing, simply the statement that the error cost a podium and that something needs to be done to understand how. Wind the clock back twelve months and it's difficult to imagine the same approach being taken. Arrivabene was also correct in pointing out that Ferrari remains some way off the back of Mercedes. Though it looked to have closed to gap in practice, when it mattered the Mercedes drivers were able to canter clear. Williams made the most of its opportunity to steal third. Both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fast across the weekend but some way short of the pace of Ferrari and Mercedes. For Massa to stand on the podium was a fine piece of opportunistic driving. There were also sound performances from the two Force India drivers who achieved more than could have realistically been expected. Nico Hulkenberg dropping down the order was always going to happen, he'd over achieved in qualifying, but at least he made Valtteri Bottas work hard for fifth place. Sergio Perez had a combative race to ninth. After being knocked out of 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> AUSTRIA PARTNERS: