Lewis Hamilton started Sunday’s Spielberg race from pole position, but it was Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg who led into Turn 1. From there on the German never looked back, securing his third win of the season to reduce Hamilton’s title advantage to just 10 points.
The world champion, also handicapped by a 5s time penalty for crossing the white line on the pit exit, took the flag 3.8s behind Rosberg, while Felipe Massa scored his first and Williams’ second podium of the season in third.
With Hamilton slow off the line, Rosberg snatched an advantage he only surrendered for a lap during the single pit stops, and he controlled the race with ease despite late worries about a serious front tyre vibration. Hamilton pushed hard, but even his penalty made no difference to the outcome; this was a day on which nobody could live with Rosberg.
Nor could anyone hold a candle to the Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel tried his best, but lost third place when Ferrari’s pit stop was delayed as the right rear wheel took longer to change. That was sufficient to drop him behind Massa’s Williams, and his chase after the Brazilian was one of the race’s highlights. Over the final laps he was within striking distance, but Massa held on for his first podium since Abu Dhabi last year.
Ferrari lost their other car in a violent accident on the opening lap, which brought out the safety car until lap seven. As Kimi Raikkonen got wheelspin exiting Turn 2, the Ferrari came into contact with Fernando Alonso’s McLaren. Both hit the outer wall and the McLaren mounted the Ferrari and was dragged along atop its cockpit – only inches from Raikkonen’s head – until their momentum was sapped. It looked bad, but neither driver was harmed.
McLaren then retired their second car soon afterwards, when Jenson Button lost power after two pit stops, one to serve his 10s stop-and-go penalty for power unit changes, the other to investigate the incurable problem.
After a gritty fight with Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India, Valtteri Bottas finally got his Williams home fifth, while seventh developed into a tooth-and-nail fight between Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen. Maldonado had started on the soft Pirellis and the Venezuelan was attacking on the supersofts just as Verstappen was struggling as his softs began to lose their edge. After being rebuffed several times and having a couple of wild moments, the Lotus driver finally made it stick with two laps to go. Verstappen never gave up, however, and the Toro Rosso was still less than a second behind by the flag.
Despite serious vibrations from a flat-spotted front tyre, Sergio Perez hung on to take ninth for Force India, as Daniel Ricciardo made use of a very late pit stop on lap 50 and then a set of supersofts to climb back into the points for Red Bull. He was three seconds adrift at the finish.
Felipe Nasr couldn’t keep 10th place for Sauber under the Australian’s onslaught and thus finished 11th, well ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull which lost time with an opening lap stop for a new nose and then struggled with other bodywork damage. Marcus Ericsson made the flag despite a drive-through penalty for a jump start and his Sauber twice cutting out and needing him to reset its electronics, and Roberto Merhi was the final finisher for Marussia.
Besides Raikkonen and the McLarens, Will Stevens’ Marussia retired with an oil leak, Carlos Sainz went out after losing time with a rear wheel problem in the pits, and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus lost gears.
Hamilton still leads the drivers’ championship with 169 points to Rosberg’s 159 and Vettel’s 120, while in the constructors’ stakes Mercedes have 328 points to Ferrari’s 192 and Williams’ 129.