#F1 Race Review: Mercedes Delivers But For How Long Still?

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

 

2014 AustrianGP Podium

The return of Formula 1 to Austria saw blue skies populated with the occasional cloud. At the start of the race, the temperature was 25◦C and the wind was a calmer 10kph with the track up to 48◦C. Great excitement attended the Williams front row lockout but it was to be the inexorable weight of Mercedes backend that saw all the important work being done through pit strategy at the front, while the poor luck of Sebastian Vettel continued to plague him with issues on lap 1 effectively ending his race. It was a tough race for Ricciardo as well, as both cars were denied the use of the overtake button due to electrical issues. Still, his last lap pass on Hulkenberg was one of the highlights of the race.

Equally, Hamilton’s first lap which saw him ascend from 9th to 4th in just one lap demonstrated the brutal might of the Mercedes package. But all was not hunky dory in Mercedes land as the Styrian setting put quite the strain once again on the brakes and cooling of the Silver Arrows, constraining the competition and forcing the long game to be played by all. Wags will be barking about Hamilton’s loss of time in the pits, but the real issue is that it let the competition split the pair on both stops rather than losing him the race. Further back it was to be a hard race on the machines as there were 5 retirements, including both Toro Rosso’s.

Still in the end it was all smiles for the Mercedes duo as Rosberg was able to retain his qualifying advantage in the race despite real pressure on the last lap and a mistake that nearly gave his rival the advantage. But the biggest winners today were Williams, overhauling McLaren in the Constructor’s and Bottas, taking to the podium having deftly slipped his teammate trying to cover Hamilton in the pits.

Act I

With Mercedes in the decidedly unusual and delightful situation of not starting from the front it was not surprising to hear Nico Rosberg already complaining of car issues on the parade lap. Still, it mattered not as the Mercedes driver got off to a good start and after looking racy with Bottas for P2, he settled into P3. His teammate starting in P9, however electrified the crowd by making up 3 places by turn 1 once the lights went out. He continued his assault slipping past Magnussen into turn 2 and then, wasting little time efficiently dispatched Alonso into turn 8 and effectively having caught up Rosberg to limit the damage from yesterday’s qualifying. Also racy further back was a feisty Kvyat who had quite the nice dice ending with him taking the advantage over Perez on the first lap.

At the back end of the first lap was a truly unlucky Sebastian Vettel, whose overtake button apparently caused a total loss of power, much to his dismay. AS he crawled around the circuit his engineers advised him to shut the engines down. Displaying his usual regard for team orders, he roundly ignored them and was once again rewarded as his power came back and he was allowed to go racing, though he had already been lapped by most of the field at that point. Equally bad news for Ricciardo as the team advised him to not use overtake as well, dooming him to finish well back of the leaders after his brilliant finish in Canada.

By lap 5 the Williams and Mercedes lads had started to open a gap to Alonso and the rest of the field and it was one that would never really narrow. An eerie lull settled over the lead pack as Hamilton slowly edged up to Rosberg but by lap 8 you could see the cars squirrelling into the downhill exit of turn 8 under as the tyres began to give up under the soaring temperatures and heavy fuel loads. Shots of the leaders confirmed heavy graining on the rears. Lotus led the first round of pit stops on lap 10 as a train began to form behind Magnussen in 6th. Responding to this McLaren pitted him lap 11 as the leaders continued to circulate, followed by Kvyat and Ricciardo. Toro Rosso released Kvyat directly into the path of Ricciardo, which did neither one of them favors and no doubt the good Dr. Marko was on the blower to Toro Rosso in short order.

Act II

It was Rosberg to act first, seeking the undercut on Massa and boxing at the end of lap 11. With a rapid 2.6 second stop he emerged into traffic as his teammate was busy tracking down Bottas. Hamilton stayed out for an extra lap as Gutierriez encountered trouble in the pits having left without all the bits attached to the car. This cost him not only a 10second stop and go, but also a 10 spot grid penalty for Silverstone. Lap 14 saws Hamilton box as the Williams continued to lap serenely in the lead. With a slowish stop the stage was set for drama, but Hamilton managed to get out just ahead of Button. One lap later, however and Massa’s stop saw him lose the lead to Rosberg but emerge ahead of Hamilton. Reacting quickly, Hamilton pounced and took the spot from Massa without much fuss. But his stop continued to bite as Bottas stop one lap later was clocked at 2.1 seconds and he once again split the Mercedes duo. This time, Hamilton was unable to pull off the overtake on track, a theme that would be repeated quite often amongst the Mercedes powered cars. Meanwhile all the shuffling left the recently disgraced Perez with the lead and though at first it appeared he was holding up Rosberg the leaders settled into his pace and the status quo was confirmed for the next stint as Alonso made the move into 7th.

The reasons for this quickly became obvious as radio traffic between Mercedes and Hamilton confirmed that they were far less than confident about the cooling and brake solutions that had cropped up in Canada. No sooner would he begin to close on Bottas than he would be told he was over target and the main straights featured him pulling out of the slipstream to cool the car.

Further back Vettel took to the pits and Hulkenberg managed to pass for 9th. Back at the front Perez finally pitted for a second pair of softs on lap 30. Left to his own devices, Nico decided to spice up the race by going rather wide in turn 1 and opening the door for Bottas. Looking rather racy Bottas took after Rosberg with enthusiasm, though he was unable to actually find his way past it made for several laps of nail biting excitement as Hamilton was trying to line him up at the same time. By lap 35 Hamilton was being warned off as he was once again over target and Vettel had managed to hit the rear of Gutierrez trying to get past him. He boxed for a new nose as the collision was investigated with no further action resulting, but no matter as the team had seen enough and retired Vettel to save the PU as Vettel. Bottas too began to drop back from Rosberg and was gradually falling out of DRS. Perez passed his teammate for P7 and Alonso Magnussen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Raikkonen quietly occupied the rest of the top 10.

Lewis no doubt acquired a new nickname as the team told him it was “Hammer Time” on lap 38 as evidently his brakes had finally recovered from the beating he was giving them. Given the opportunity, the Sky broadcasters had no choice but to begin reciting the lyrics, but they get no points unless the wear the pants too.

Act III

Lap 40 saw Lewis being given the first stop in an attempt to undercut Bottas since he was unable to find his way past on track. And again, with a 4 second stop the team risked him not getting past, though in replay his brakes were smoking and clearly on fire as he left the pits so maybe there was a need for that extra time. And post-race analysis shows damage to the cake tin actually slowed his stop. Still, it all came good as Mercedes boxed Rosberg a lap later as Bottas was slow to respond and didn’t come in until lap 42, emerging behind Hamilton. Massa came in 2 laps later and there they would stay till the end of the race.

With the race temporarily unsettled there was a rather comical transmission from Rosberg asking who he was racing, he was told by the team “Lewis, to the end”.

Massa’s stop saw Alonso in front for a bit as Hamilton was told he was good to go to the end of the race. The stops continued to reverberate down the field as Raikkonen came in and emerged in front of Maldonado. Massa’s late stop continued to cause him trouble as having emerged into 6th he had managed to close up on Perez but was finding it difficult to get past. Raikkonen and Button continued to struggle at the back of the top 10 and lap 55 saw Perez com in releasing Mass to begin the job of reeling in his teammate. Perez’ nifty driving saw him out ahead of Hulkenberg and it was quite the recovery given his poor starting position. Vergne in a cloud of carbon brake dust looked suddenly dubious to make the finish and indeed he would retire a few laps later with a brake failure, but not before holding up Massa and giving Alonso a chance to catch him up.

As dark clouds loomed in the distance, Bianchi smartly executed a pass on Kobayashi to put Marussia once again ahead of Caterham, adding to the woes of the green team as Button began to work his way back up to Raikkonen after his latest pit stop.

The last phase of the race was in gear with Massa and Hamilton slowly edging their way back up to the teammates in the hopes of one last push. Despite the best efforts of the commentators to gin up some excitement, it was clear that the only way a pass would happen at the sharp end was through a mistake or mechanical failure. As the laps ticked by, once again Rosberg was happy to oblige as he locked up on the last lap, finally bringing Hamilton into DRS. But it was too little too late as Hamilton didn’t have enough grip left in his tyres to take advantage and they crossed the line in the same order they had run the final third of the race. But not all was lost as Ricciardo did manage a pass on Hulkenberg for 8th on the last lap and a rather neat one at that.

A big podium for Bottas and a huge thrashing of McLaren for Williams is clearly the story of the day. Mercedes too managed a careful victory, though the fragility of the brakes will no doubt be a cause for worry at Brackley as potentially we are seeing the first signs of Brawn’s departure and Lauda’s housecleaning appearing in the races. Additionally the inability to get round the Williams on track will no doubt be the cause of some sleepless nights for the boffins at Mercedes. Alonso took his customary 5th followed by a fairly brilliant drive from Perez into 6th. A quiet and workmanlike drive by Magnussen saw him claim the only points for McLaren today as Raikkonen ultimately won the battle for 10th with Button.

 

 

 

 

Final Results:

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Pits
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:13.308 1:27:54.976 2
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.080 1.900 2
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:12.800 8.100 2
4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:15.041 17.200 2
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:12.779 18.300 2
6 Sergio Perez Force India 1:13.099 28.200 2
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:13.045 31.500 2
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.882 42.900 2
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:14.995 43.500 2
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:14.311 47.100 2
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.481 50.200 2
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:13.977 1 lap 2
13 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:14.617 1 lap 2
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:16.859 1 lap 2
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:15.771 2 laps 1
16 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:17.998 2 laps 1
17 Max Chilton Marussia 1:16.649 2 laps 1
18 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:17.384 2 laps 2
19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:16.185 2 laps 3
R Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RETIRED 37 laps 3
R Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso RETIRED 12 laps 3
R Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso RETIRED 47 laps 1

World Drivers Championship

2014 Drivers' Championship Graph Austria

World Constructors Championship

2014 Constructors' Championship Graph Austria

55 responses to “#F1 Race Review: Mercedes Delivers But For How Long Still?

  1. After Canada a disappointment. Predictable at the front. The others were determined by tyres, brakes and pitstops. Lots of race management with little real racing. It looked like Hungary in the Alps. 5 out of 10 at best.

    • Someone forgot to tell Hamilton that he was supposed to have crashed at the start of the race…..😒

      • Just as well as it showed again Hamilton can’t overtake Rosberg.

        • What, just like how Nico couldn’t do the same in Bahrain and Spain?….

          Let it go, wishing to see a driver crash, so as to give you something negative to talk about, is pathetic.

          • I never said that I wanted a crash – I said I wouldn’t be surprised if one happened as Austria is famous for large accidents at the start. Though you wouldn’t know that as those races were before 2007.

          • That’s Cav Fortis.

            He’s our resident curmudgeon. Happy Gilmore he is not.

            The relentless negativity, whining and sarcastic comments are actually very funny. After a while.

            You just haven’t reached the point of grinning yet, but it will come.

            For some reason I keep picturing Jack Nicolson in ‘As good as it gets’ 🙂

        • Are you sure you didn’t?

          “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hamilton has a coming together at the start of tomorrows race and Rosberg wins. That would put Rosberg 47 points ahead and the WC would effectively be over.”

          • There is a difference between pointing out that going in to the first corner in the middle of the pack is a risk and saying you want a particular driver to crash….

            Goes back to what we were discussing yesterday, as it turns out things worked out OK for Lewis despite making a pigs ear of Q3. However, the point still stands that he was putting himself in an awkward position by not going for the banker.

    • It would have been interesting to see Williams take it to Mercedes on both stops… it didn’t look like Bottas ran out of tyres at the end, although maybe Massa did.

  2. disapointed with Hamilton’s post race attitude. He needs his dad to sit him down and tell him to grow up some.

    • what did he do? i saw him congratulate rosberg after he got out of the car and compliment his team during the podium interview.

      • walked in -late- into the cooling down room and spoke /shook hands with everyone else and totally blanked Rosberg to the point of making it offensively obvious. I suspect he forgot the camera’s were still on. I like and rate LH but the shine is starting to come off as far as i am concerned.

        • Come on man, are you serious?

          Did you know why he walked in late to the cool down room? From what was shown, it looked like he was being weighed and removing his helmet, whilst collecting his hat and so forth from his engineer. If you noticed, neither Nico nor Bottas came into the room with their helmets on.

          Didn’t he shook his hands when he came out the car? Actually it was reminiscent of what happened after the race in Bahrain.

          • @ Fortis

            you been watching fanboy TV again ?

            The first 3 drivers were clearly weighed in parc ferme in front of the camera’s immediately after they got out the cars.

            And – BTW – Nico was weighed last

            which I thought strange as it appeared that he had already been weighed – but Charlie W asked him to be weighed again.

            But r.bartlett is right – he totally blanked Nico

          • @manky

            Actually I was watching manky tv…

            I’m going to renew my subscription to fanboy tv, that offers better viewing.

            Look, you nor I knew why it took him so long to get to the cool down room and they didn’t show anyone getting weighed in parc ferme.

            I always like how everyone picks up and the littlest and most irrelevant details and make a big deal out of it. How he reacted after getting out the car, gets overshadowed, by him apparently “blanking him in the cool down room”

            Btw… Bottas also blanked him as well

            Let it go

          • Actually I thought the congratilations after the race was like Canada (?) where Lewis was trying to be Nico’s friend for the cameras.
            While we don’t know why Lewis was late to the green room, it was clear he wanted nothing to do with Nico (and vice versa) – no smile, definitely no eye contact, couldn’t stand in the same half of the room – kinda funny to watch actually. A couple of teenager boys having a tiff over a girl… 🙂

          • Too much is being read into something as minuscule as that.

          • @ Fortis

            read me post again –

            I contradicted you because you were talking shite again in your pathetic fanboy defense of Lewis.

            I didn’t even criticise Lewis – but there you go – on your little rants ….

            AGAIN 🙁

            The reason ” everyone picks up and the littlest and most irrelevant details and make a big deal out of it … ”

            is because you always start it

            if you’d give reasoned comments – no one would complain

            but you don’t ……

            And then you come out with utter shite like

            ” Btw… Bottas also blanked him as well

            Let it go ”

            You really are deluded in the extreme

            Valteri and Nico were chatting before Lewis entered

            As for letting it go – it’s you that should do that

            You’re the one that has the problems

            Maybe you should go back on your medication eh ?

            Haloperidol ?

          • Hey manky…..

            What’s your goddamn problem?

            You always feel the need to use expletive language all the damn time!! What, does it make you feel macho or something?

            Listen, get off my damn back for once!!!

            You’re acting like a fucking keyboard warrior, who thinks swearing and calling people names make you out to be some tough guy. You’re nothing but a little BITCH!!!

            So FUCK YOU!!! And I’ll defend him where I see fit when pussy’s like you keep keep chatting shit!!!

          • The world turns on such “little things”. Broad gestures are the easiest thing in the world to fake and so hide behind.
            You have much to learn, grasshopper…

    • I cannot see what he did wrong. He had already congratulated Rosberg. For sure he knew there were cameras there in the cooling down room….they are there after every race.
      The team need to improve on Hamilton’s pit stops, though, or it will start the conspiracy theorists all over again. 🙂

      • Have you considered the possibility that Lewis might have a part in hisslower pitstops? While Rosberg usually drives in quite smoothly, Lewis hurls in like his hair’s on fire. I would suspect it makes a difference on how precisely they stop.

        • You may have something there, I dont know. But isnt it timed from the moment the wheels stop moving til the time they start moving? So it doesnt matter if he comes in quickly or not. Its the time it takes for the crew to change the wheels and they seem consistently slower for Hamilton.

          • If he consistently positions his car on the marks less precise than Rosberg, the team members have to adjust their position, losing vital tenths of a second during the pitstop.
            It would be just like Rosberg to have perfected his approach. He knows he’s slower on raw speed, so he has to find other ways to find an advantage.
            I remember Williams praising Suzie Wolff for her very precise pit positioning last year, so there seem to be differences in how perfect the drivers can stop inside the box.
            And Lewis’ stops were generally slower than Button’s at McLaren, too, so maybe he has room for improvement there.

          • It’s always noticeable that Vettel usually has the quickest pit lane times….. he knows that maximising pit entry, box positioning, and limiter pressing can gain you some of the easiest time gains in a race.

        • Webber asked Lewis about his pitstop positioning on the podium. Lewis didn’t comment for whatever reason.

          • Actually he did reply. It was he who said, he doesn’t know, maybe it’s his positioning or something, he doesn’t know, but he will look at the data together with the team.

            TK at the end of the show then said, he spoke to the team and on his first stop, he missed his mark by a few cm’s, I think it was 2 -6. On the 2nd, there was some damage to the “cake tin” on the right front wheel. So they had to be careful so as not to damage it any further.

            He also said, that there was a similar situation with Nico at a previous race, whereby he too had damage to the “cake tin” on his brakes as well, which resulted in slow stop for Nico as well.

          • OK, splitting hairs now… He did reply and his reply said nothing at all. Bland, defensive, corporate-line, nothing. He should have just said “I’m not telling you”.
            The point is that Webber was asking for a general comment in relation to the perception that Lewis *always* has slower stops – like for *every* race this season. If his positioning hasn’t been mentioned to date, say “I don’t know about today, but it hasn’t been a problem so far this year”.
            While I’m here, these passive-voiced, evasive, elusive, political, defensive answers from everyone in the sport are a key hurdle for growing the fanbase. There’s so much money and corporate / personal reputation tied up in it all that few people give straight answers.
            Anytime you can say to yourself “We’ll they would say that, wouldn’t they?” you know they’re talking loud and saying nothing.

        • Arghhh @FH I shan’t continue to write my beautiful words if you don’t read them. 😉 From the opening para of Act III referring to Lewis’ pit stop:

          “though in replay his brakes were smoking and clearly on fire as he left the pits so maybe there was a need for that extra time. And post-race analysis shows damage to the cake tin actually slowed his stop.”

          I was just to the point of speculating that the cause of Hamilton’s slow 2nd stop might not be visible when Sky helpfully went and talked to the garage. The first stop was on Lewis as he missed the mark and the team had to relocate equipment to service him.

          • Personally, I think Webber’s question was a leading one and if anything he did well to avoid getting drawn into any unnecessary controversy.

            Can you imagine the headlines, if he had said, “yea, I don’t know why my stops are always so slow compared to my teammates”

            The press and his detractors would have had a field day castrating him…

            “Lewis accuses team of sabotage” and anything else they could think of.

            It’s clear he has learnt from his Monaco meltdown.

    • Christ Judge you’re making it difficult for me to retain interest in your site.
      The sheer volume of fan boi crap is really cruelling it.
      Show a bit of spine would you.

      • That’s fine, if you asked me: decide which posters you take seriously and want to read systematically, which ones you don’t care so much but read anyways from time to time, and which ones you simply ignore and refuse to read. Just like in real life, learn what you don’t need and can ignore.

  3. What was that message all about, that popped up on the screen, thanking Bernie and DM for bringing F1 back to Austria?

    • No, it was a message from Bernie, thanking Dietrich Mateschitz for reviving the A1 Ring…

      • @ Maxime

        so why did the message say – thanks to Bernie ?

        Bernie thanking himself ?

        I don’t think so ……

    • “Dietrich, thanks for giving me X millions and another race to stick on the calendar. Can’t be going down to 18 races, you know. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the increased exposure for Red Bull. Yours, your pal Bernie!”

    • I really laughed when Ferrari told Raikkonen to drive faster, and he replied, “so give me a car that goes faster”. Priceless! When is his contract up there?

      • Kimi remembered the 2009 debacle and has another year he can take up (or get paid off once more). Indeed, news said they told him to cool the brakes as early as lap 2. On the pit stops, he had no clue why he was kept out so long.

  4. Mercedes must surely be worried about the Hungaroring in a few weeks time, it’s always blazing hot there and Hamilton is mighty around the tight turns so the brakes may really need some attention before they arrive there.
    Plus if the UK weather continues in its recent trend, Silverstone will be a real scorcher.

    • Yeah,I do wonder if they won’t think about a different brake spec, but I would imagine it’s a very tricky area to change.

      Also, wonder why none of these problems cropped up any earlier. It’s not like Malaysia wasn’t hot.

      The other thing to think about is those caketins are fragile. Several times I’ve seen them featured parc ferme reports. Sadly, FIA didn’t get them up prior to the race this week.

      • “Also, wonder why none of these problems cropped up any earlier.”

        See my other comment for a possible explanation.

  5. “Mercedes too managed a careful victory, though the fragility of the brakes will no doubt be a cause for worry at Brackley as potentially we are seeing the first signs of Brawn’s departure and Lauda’s housecleaning appearing in the races.”

    That’s what I’ve been wondering, too.

    Moreover, Autosport+ today features the following:
    http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/6077/should-williams-have-won-the-austrian-gp/
    “MERCEDES HOT AND BOTHERED

    Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton qualified third and ninth respectively, but a win was regarded as nailed-on and a one-two far from out of the question pre-race. That was before it emerged that the cooling both of the rear brakes and the engine package, specifically in the vicinity of the energy store deep in the bowels of the car, was a concern.”

    ===
    So this made me think:
    Isn’t this about the guy whom Lauda fired about 2-3 months ago, who was responsible for the optimal packaging of the car’s components (engine, chassis, gearbox, cooling, etc.)? Frustratingly I cannot find the link nor his name, but TJ13 reported on this at the time speculating (or subtly suggesting) trouble ahead for the Mercedes works team. Another TJ13 prediction come true?

  6. Excellent point, I remember the article too and if so we should rapidly see Mercedes sliding down the hill.

    They’ve gone and messed something up and can’t quite work out how to fix it.

    And yes, nothing more frustrating than not being able to find the link

    • Yay! And of course I have the bookmark, but the damn TJ13 website makes it very difficult to search for anything in your bookmarks. 🙁 I heard a new website was in the works; any news on that?

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