Austrian GP- TEAMMATES Edition
The home racing circuit of Red Bull, the Red Bull Ring, in Austria was the site of ninth race of the 2016 F1 season. It was a race that saw nonstop action from start to finish but it would be the last lap where things really came together…literally.
Nico Rosberg led for 70 laps and exchanged the lead throughout the race, but after different pit stop strategies Lewis Hamilton, was able to close the gap and make a challenge for the lead on the last lap. As all fans of F1 know, Mercedes have been adamant that they don’t do team orders and that the drivers are allowed to race. This would the second time this season where that strategy failed miserably. In what appeared to be a deliberate attempt, Rosberg straight-lined a turn knowing that Hamilton was on the outside of the turn and that he would almost certainly have to contemplate making contact. It was a blatant attempt by Rosberg to defend his position by potentially taking out his teammate. We at TLP are no fanboys of Hamilton but he was quicker and had a clean run into the outside of the turn. Onboard video from the incident showed that Rosberg didn’t even try to turn his wheel until the contact was made. His boneheaded move would backfire as we would limp home in fourth place and Hamilton would take the win.
Before the tires had cooled down Mercedes team bosses were already making excuses for Rosberg’s lack of judgment, claiming that he was suffering from a brake failure rather than the obviously fact that he totally didn’t try to avoid the accident and then almost hit Hamilton again as he reemerged to the track. In a post race interview with Sky Sports, the question was put to Hamilton about the brake issue on both cars. His response was that he didn’t have a brake issue but if one does occur the steering wheel LCD provides sufficient warning.
The season is getting into a rhythm that ebbs and flows with the conflict between Hamilton and Rosberg. Every good season in F1 needs a dramatic story line.
Raikkonen grabbed third place after the last lap Mercedes brouhaha but still came in behind second place Verstappen. After Raikkonen’s early pitstop he came out behind the Red Bulls and was never able to overtake Verstappen. Ferrari appeared to pit Raikkonen in response to Merecedes’ pitstops but this decision left Raikkonen in a bad spot in traffic.
Vettel would be even worse off as he extended his opening stint only to have a massive tire blow out on lap 27 ending his race. Pirelli has since said that that debris was responsible the tire damage, but we have to wonder if poor strategy played any part.
While Red Bull has not lived up to their performance established in the Vettel era, the addition of young Max Verstappen has shown some additional performance potential and Verstappen claimed second place in an aggressive drive that allowed him to move near the front of the field and hold off Raikkonen. Only on Red Bull would the 27 year old Daniel Ricciardo be considered the old man on the team. Like Webber with Vettel, Ricciardo would do well to watch his flank with the young Verstappen around.
Jenson Button held second place for the first seven laps of the race. The McLaren actually looked like a legitimate racecar rather than the sick mule we're used to. Button would finish in 6th place and further add fuel to the rumors that he may be around next year, but in a return to Williams. Alonso wasn’t so lucky as his Honda engine lived up to its expectations.