Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 3. heinäkuuta 2016

Austrian GP: Another dramatic collision between the Mercedes teammates!

Dark clouds were lurking over Red Bull Ring, when the race was about to get underway. The weather forecast predicted 20 % chance of rain during the race. Both Hamilton and Button got excellent starts, and Hamilton had no difficulties to maintain the lead. Kimi, too managed to jump Hulkenberg at the start and made it 3rd. Hulkenberg´s start left a lot to hope for, and Mercedes´ Rosberg (who finally started to the race from P6) was right at his countryman´s tail. On lap 7 Kimi made a classy overtaking move on McLaren´s Button, and the Iceman was now in P2. Everything looked very good in terms of Kimi´s race. Rosberg also made it past Hulkenberg and was already in P4.

Rosberg pitted on lap 11 for a fresh set of soft tyres. As both Button and Hulkenberg had also pitted, Red Bull´s Verstappen was now third, and the Dutchman´s pace seemed excellent. It was a huge surprise, how long the ultrasoft tyres actually lasted in the race; Hamilton didn´t pit until on lap 22! After what we saw in yesterday´s free practice, it seemed, that those ultrasofts wouldn´t last even 10 laps! Kimi was now leading the race -but for one lap only! In spite of starting to the race on the supersoft tyres, Kimi pitted only a lap after Hamilton. After his pit stop Kimi rejoined the track in P6 behind the Red Bulls, so it didn´t seem a perfect pit stop strategy...

On lap 27 Sebastian in his SF16-H was leading the race, as the German hadn´t pitted yet. Suddenly there was huge drama on the pit straight, as Sebastian´s rear-right tyre exploded without any warning! Due to the puncture Sebastian hit the wall, which caused significant damage to his Margherita, and his race was over! How utterly frustrating! Maybe it was risky tactics from Ferrari to make that first stint so long; on the other hand, there were drivers, who had even more mileage on their tyres. I was so gutted for Sebastian, I would have wanted to see him on the podium on his birthday! However, safety car was deployed, as there was a lot of debris on the pit straight.

Rosberg had benefitted from the undercut and Hamilton´s slightly delayed pit stop (the team had had difficulties to attach the rear-left tyre) and the German was leading the race with his teammate Hamilton second. Verstappen was driving a stunning race in P3, his teammate Ricciardo was 4th and Kimi 5th. For some reason Ricciardo seemed unable to match his teammate´s pace. Soon Kimi started to put serious pressure on the Australian.

On lap 55 Hamilton pitted for the second time -this time also for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft rubber. He rejoined the track right ahead of Ricciardo and Kimi. Rosberg pitted a lap later; he opted for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. Rosberg rejoined the track ahead of his teammate. But super fast Max Verstappen was now leading the race on the extremely worn supersoft tyres. After battling with Ricciardo for several laps, Kimi finally managed to make an overtaking move on the Australian; the Iceman was now in P4!

Verstappen had pitted only once, and with the 50-lap worn tyres there was no way the Dutchman could prevent Rosberg from taking the lead. A moment later Hamilton, too made it past the flying Dutchman. The question was: would Max be able to drive till the very end on the same set of soft tyres? Towards the end of the race, Kimi started to chase down Verstappen on the much fresher set of soft tyres. The Iceman closed the gap tenth by tenth, until he was within DRS distance from the Red Bull ace.

On the final lap there were two hair-raising battles on the track: Rosberg vs. Hamilton for the victory and Verstappen vs. Räikkönen for the 3rd place. But oh my God, what happened between the Mercedes teammates on the final lap! Rosberg made a small mistake in Turn 1, which made Hamilton get extremely close. Going into Turn 2, Hamilton took the outside line and was already alongside his teammate; Rosberg, however, didn´t even turn in but deliberately hit his teammate! (That´s what it looked like from the in-car camera!) Hamilton got off track, and when trying to rejoin the track, Rosberg blocked him again. This collision ended up destroying Rosberg´s front wing, and Hamilton took the lead! Rosberg´s car was so severely damaged, that the German lost positions also to Verstappen and Räikkönen.

Kimi, on the other hand, could possibly have been able to make it past Verstappen on the final lap, had Perez not suffered from a brake failure and ended up in the barriers causing yellow flags! So after dramatic final lap Hamilton won the race with Verstappen second and Kimi third! So both Verstappen and Kimi made the one-stop strategy work after all! Rosberg had to settle for P4 after the "brainless" collision. Ricciardo finished 5th and Button impressively 6th. What also caught my eye, was the fact, that Manor´s Wehrlein finished 10th and scored one point. This German rookie has made a brilliant job, and I´m confident that he´ll have a promising career awaiting. But most of all, I was so so happy to see both Max and Kimi on the podium today! And although it was quite irrelevant in terms of the race result, I absolutely loved Red Bull´s lederhosen themed overalls this weekend! :D

Oh, how I would love to be at Mercedes´ debriefing tonight to hear, what Hamilton and Rosberg talk about the collision. Rosberg´s explanation after the race about a brake issue sounded like a bad excuse. He made a serious mistake and he should admit it and take the blame for it. Mercedes has a serious issue with their drivers, as this wasn´t the first time this season, when they hit each other. This could possibly be a turning point in terms of Rosberg´s dreams of winning the world championship this year. If he really was facing a brake issue, he should have settled for P2 and not lost a handful of points by colliding with his teammate on the final lap! The next race will be already next weekend, so the team doesn´t have too much time to discuss today´s clash and put it behind them. I wouldn´t be surprised to see team orders from Mercedes from now on!

Rosberg is currently under investigation for causing a collision and not stopping although his car was severely damaged, so there might be a penalty on the way. So in my opinion, there´s no doubt about who was at fault in this incident!

P.S. You can find my thoughts on the race also here:

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