2015 Austrian Grand Prix Recap: Rosberg Overtakes Hamilton for the Win
The Austrian Grand Prix is set at one of the loveliest locales in the whole calendar, with a history almost as rich and resplendent as the faunas, trees, and mountains the drivers and spectators can behold in the background of the short, nine-corner circuit.
It was formerly known as the Österreichring, then the A1 Ring, and now finally the Red Bull Ring, each time having endured a near-10 year break period followed by a redevelopment phase by a new sponsor.
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Despite having hosted 29 official Grand Prix in the last 52 years, no one driver has truly dominated there. Alain Prost holds the record for most wins with just three and was the only driver during the Österreichring era to score back-to-back victories. Only Michael Schumacher was able to achieve that feat at the A1 Ring, and now with the conclusion of the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg can claim to have done the same at the Red Bull Ring.
Time and time again, Rosberg proves to us that the championship isn’t over. Last season, he struggled to pass Hamilton on track, relying mostly on his teammate’s misfortune and the occasional shenanigans to maintain a point advantage. With neither of these coming into play this season, most had expected Hamilton to wipe the floor with the German driver, but it simply hasn’t happened.
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Following a strange qualifying session in which both Mercedes drivers lost control of their cars on their final lap, Rosberg once again found himself starting behind Hamilton on the front row of the grid. It’s only a short run to the first corner, but he took the inside line and made a pass stick. He only needed to hold on to his lead for about three more corners until Alonso ran into and nearly over Räikkönen, who had lost control of the rear of his car, triggering the release of the safety car.
As soon as the race was back on, Rosberg exploded away as though a rocket had been attached to the back of his car. He increased his gap to the World Champion by one, two, then three seconds, and when the latter grabbed a five-second penalty by illegally crossing the pit exit line, he knew victory was in the bag. He fought wheel vibrations near the end of the race but still won with a comfortable margin, marking his third win of the season (just one less than his teammate) and bringing him within ten points of the championship lead.
Joining Rosberg and Hamilton on the podium for the first time this season was Massa, who had started fourth but was able to slip ahead of Vettel when the latter endured a botched pit stop. Though the four-time champion caught him in the ending stages, he never could get quite close enough to pass.
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Bottas ended fifth, followed by Hulkenberg, who, no doubt spurred by his win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, seemed to have found a new reserve of energy and performance throughout the weekend.
Most of the wheel-to-wheel racing occurred between Lotus’s Maldonado and Toro Rosso’s Verstappen, culminating when the former passed the latter with just two laps to go, but almost losing control of the car in the process.
Perez brought home points for Force India as well despite serious vibrations from a flat-spotted front tire, while Ricciardo wrapped up the top ten after a late pit stop for supersoft tires.
McLaren was once again disappointing (surprise, surprise). Button had to retire before even completing a single lap because of an unknown issue. Alonso might have been able to get something done, but his crash with Räikkönen damaged his brand-new engine, which means he’ll have to get yet another for the upcoming British Grand Prix and suffer a penalty once more.
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In the driver’s championship, it seems more and more unlikely that Vettel will be able to contend with the Mercedes drivers, unless Ferrari somehow unlocks some hidden power without any response from the Brackley team.
Räikkönen is also in danger of losing his fourth place, with Bottas just five points within reach of catching his fellow Finn and Massa just another five behind. Red Bull still clings on to fourth in the constructor’s championship, but the last few races have not gone so well, and Force India and Lotus both seem poised to catch up.
To find out how the rest of the season will play out, tune in to the British Grand Prix in two weeks!
- Kurt VerlinEditor
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.