The chances were good for Lewis Hamilton at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. His team mate was starting down in P6 due to a grid penalty and starting nearest to Hamilton was Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Jenson Button, an odd starting grid considering the pace of the Force India and McLaren in recent years. However, with this huge advantage, the race proved to be an uphill battle for Hamilton against his team mate.
With a great launch Hamilton pulled away at the start with Hulkenberg being the biggest loser falling down the field since the moment the lights went out. Amazingly, Jenson Button held position in P2 for nearly 7 laps until Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen dove down the inside of the McLaren at turn 3. Hamilton extended the lead while team mate Nico Rosberg climbed up the field into P2 by the first pit window. However, in the stops Rosberg took the lead from Hamilton as Mercedes kept Lewis on the Pirelli Ultra Soft tires for too long, slowing his pace on track, and then gave him a slow stop.
Even more drama came on Lap 27 when Sebastian Vettel suffered from an exploding tire on the front straight, causing the German to crash out of the grand prix in dramatic fashion. The safety car was then deployed in order for the marshals to clear the car that was blocking most of turn 1. Vettel was on a very long super-soft stint and tire wear could be the reason for the explosion, however, Pirelli says the possibility of running over debris is more likely the cause.
When the restart came the two Mercedes led the two Red Bulls until Raikkonen overtook Ricciardo for P4 on lap 58. Then came the final lap drama. Hamilton caught right up to the gearbox of Rosberg after an incredible exit from Turn 1 and with slip stream on the run up to turn 2 pulled to the outside of his team mate as they went full speed up the hill. Into the braking zone, everyone held their breath remembering the last battle for the lead between the two in Barcelona. On the brakes Rosberg moved over on Hamilton and failed to turn into the corner colliding with his team mate! Free of damage Hamilton went wide off the track to avoid further contact. Rosberg pulled away but with his front wing dangling off the front of the car. Hamilton soon caught up to the damaged Rosberg and overtook him at turn 3. With Perez off in the gravel at Turn 3, yellow flags were waved as mayhem occurred in turns 2 and 3. Streaking off in the distance, Hamilton took the win from Max Verstappen and Raikkonen as Rosberg fell to P4 in the end. Because of Perez’s DNF, rookie Pascal Wehrlein brought home a point for Manor, a huge accomplishment for him and the team. Pascal has shown his skill thus far in F1 and scoring a point solidifies his place in the sport. What a final lap!
With even more controversy coming Mercedes’s way this season they certainly have had their hands full on and off the track. Now with two collisions already, Mercedes have already begun talking about implementing team orders. Although the fans would not like to see this, Mercedes may think it is necessary for their title hopes. Analyzing the crash, I believe Rosberg is the one clearly at fault. He didn't even try to turn into the corner and instead went straight on. Lewis had no where to go and gave Nico ample amounts of space. Although there is excitement from contact being made at the corner I think if we could actually see the two rivals race for the championship cleanly, it would be much more of a spectacle for the fans.
Watch an analysis of the crash: https://www.formula1.com/en/video.html