Rating the drivers for their performance at the Austrian Grand Prix, which returned to the Formula 1 calendar after an 11 year hiatus.
1 | Sebastian Vettel | Red Bull-Renault | Ret | 5/10
The reigning world champion was ill at ease with the handling of the Red Bull RB10 from the outset. An uncharacteristic spin in first practice precipitated a weekend in which he was not at the sharp end of the grid. As a result, his exit from Q2 was little surprise. Vettel made an okay start but his car lost power; when it rebooted he emerged right in the pack. Clipping Esteban Gutiérrez was poor and this was a miserable weekend.
3 | Daniel Ricciardo | Red Bull-Renault | 8th | 6/10
Ricciardo arrived in Austria off the back of his sensational Canada victory but while he fared slightly better than Vettel, he too looked uncomfortable with the RB10. Fifth place in qualifying was therefore a thoroughly impressive result. He found himself on the wrong side of the sausage kerb at the first corner and he lost traction all the way up to turn two. From thereon it was a difficult race for the Australian, although a last lap pass on Hülkenberg was a highlight.
44 | Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | 2nd | 7/10
Hamilton was in impressive form throughout practice but in qualifying it all went pear-shaped. He exceeded track limits on his first run (although ironically, he ran so wide that he cost himself time) while on his second attempt he braked 10 metres later than usual and arrived at the apex rear-end first. His start was phenomenal and he made strong progress across the rest of the race, but a slow second stop was crucial and he was unable to best Rosberg.
6 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | 1st | 9/10
Rosberg was not on the ultimate pace for much of the weekend and on his first run in qualifying he played second fiddle to Valtteri Bottas before his second run was ruined by Hamilton’s spin. He initially passed Bottas but soon lost out, while he jumped both Williams in the first stint to end up in the net lead of the race. Pass on yet-to-stop Sergio Pérez was incisive while he repelled the advances of both Bottas and Hamilton to claim the win.
14 | Fernando Alonso | Ferrari | 5th | 9/10
Alonso was in typically sprightly form all weekend as he was at the sharp end of the top 10 before putting his car onto the second row of the grid – no mean feat considering the horrific understeer of the F14T. As he has been for most of the season he was best of the rest – this time behind the Mercedes and Williams – as he collected fifth place. No more he could do, realistically.
7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | 10th | 5/10
Räikkönen again struggled with tyre warm-up over one lap and his predicament was exacerbated by his difficulty in perfecting the first corner – an error in Q3 left him eighth. Handling issues left to him being off the pace in the race as despite gaining a spot at the start his brakes began to overheat. Ferrari left him out too long on worn tyres in the first stint and he duly slipped to the lower end of the top 10. Another disappointing weekend.
8 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus-Renault | 14th | 5/10
After a couple of nascent races for Lotus, the last few rounds have yanked them back to reality with a bump. Grosjean spent much of his practice sessions exasperated with the feeling of the car and a Q2 exit was little shock. The team opted to start from the pits after a few changes but it made little difference to his race prospects and he came a distant 14th.
13 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus-Renault | 12th | 7/10
Maldonado claimed pre-season that his move from Williams to Lotus was the “best decision ever,” although few would agree as his former team claimed a 1-2 in qualifying while he slithered through the gravel on his way to 13th. Nonetheless, this was probably his best race performance of the year as he battled hard and cleanly and he finished in 12th, despite suffering brake issues.
22 | Jenson Button | McLaren-Mercedes | 11th | 5/10
Button had a difficult Saturday as an issue with his brakes left him stranded in the garage during the final half of practice – thus leaving him without a proper qualifying simulation. He fared well in the circumstances but ended up in 11th. In the race he was edged out at the start and lost a few positions, while the presence of slower rivals scuppered his strategy.
20 | Kevin Magnussen | McLaren-Mercedes | 7th | 8/10
Magnussen raced in Austria in Formula Renault 3.5 last season and he looked super-smooth through the last couple of corners on his way to sixth on the grid. He raced well but a late error on used tyres allowed Pérez to get through into sixth, but this was nonetheless one of Magnussen’s better races.
27 | Nico Hülkenberg | Force India-Mercedes | 9th | 6/10
Hülkenberg was on the fringes of the top 10 throughout most of practice but he made it into Q3, where he ran wide and promptly had his lap time deleted. He cut a disappointed figure after the race as he was second best to Pérez due to struggling with balance, with exacerbated tyre wear issues. Lost out to Ricciardo at the end, but still scored points.
11 | Sergio Pérez | Force India-Mercedes | 6th | 8/10
Pérez arrived in Austria believing that ‘new elements’ would overturn his five place grid penalty for causing the accident in Canada. Ultimately the officials opted to uphold his sanction and he duly started the race from 16th. He made a strong start and stayed out of trouble to lead when everyone else dived into the pits. Drove maturely thereon and pounced on Magnussen’s error to collect a fine sixth place.
99 | Adrian Sutil | Sauber-Ferrari | 13th | 6/10
Sutil, who said earlier in the weekend that he will stay with Sauber in 2015, made a valiant bid to progress through to Q2 but he ultimately went wide and was eliminated. In the race he had an unusual problem as the message for Gutiérrez to stop the car – due to the pit error – also went to Sutil. He naturally obliged and lost almost 10 seconds until the mistake was rectified!
21 | Esteban Gutiérrez | Sauber-Ferrari | 19th | 5/10
It was difficult to know whether the Sauber C33 or the Switzerland football team defence was a worse example of Swiss sports on Friday evening. Q1 elimination the following day was always on the cards, although the gap to Sutil was unusually large. Right rear problem during the pit stop phase led to a stop and go penalty as his utterly miserable season continues.
25 | Jean-Éric Vergne | Toro Rosso-Renault | Ret | 5/10
The STR9 had snap oversteer throughout the penultimate corner all weekend and Vergne was unable to get sufficient confidence in the car as he exited in Q2. He raced outside of the points and was a fairly anonymous figure until his brakes started producing black smoke, beckoning yet another retirement.
26 | Daniil Kvyat | Toro Rosso-Renault | Ret | 8/10
Kvyat was on form throughout the weekend as he overcame the STR9’s difficulties to record a line-up a fine seventh place on the grid. He dropped down a few positions at the start but regained one after a brilliant move at turn five. Points were ultimately on the board but his STR9 appeared to suffer a rear right suspension failure which pitched him into the gravel.
19 | Felipe Massa | Williams-Mercedes | 4th | 8/10
The FW36 was hooked-up all weekend and it was Massa who made the most of it to claim an emotional pole position – his first since 2008 – unthinkable when he was seemingly down and out at the start of 2012. He bolted away at the start but lost out in the strategy and was passed on track by Hamilton. Second stop was slower than Bottas’s while he was also unfortunate with traffic. Still a super result.
77 | Valtteri Bottas | Williams-Mercedes | 3rd | 9/10
Bottas’s pace in third practice hinted at what was to come and he set a stunning lap at the start of Q3, only to make a mistake on his second run and watch as Massa bettered his time. He lost position to Rosberg into turn one but quickly gained it back, before jumping Massa and hounding Rosberg. Ultimately he had to settle for third but this was a well-deserved podium for the youngster.
17 | Jules Bianchi | Marussia-Ferrari | 15th | 6/10
Bianchi admitted that qualifying was not entirely smooth – losing radio communications left him driving ‘blind’ – but even so he continued to inch closer to the Saubers. Marussia gambled on a one stop strategy in the race and Bianchi executed it well, battling past Kobayashi but he ran out of laps to get close enough to Grosjean.
4 | Max Chilton | Marussia-Ferrari | 17th | 5/10
Chilton had a messy Saturday as he sat out the latter stages of practice and was beaten by Kamui Kobayashi after encountering the sister Caterham of Marcus Ericsson on his hot lap. Having had to start from the back, Chilton’s one stop strategy was a harder proposition but he came close to edging out Kobayashi.
10 | Kamui Kobayashi | Caterham-Renault | 16th | 6/10
Considering the speed and handling of the Caterham, Kobayashi did a good job to get ahead of one of the Marussias – and is hopeful that improvements will show better at Silverstone. In the race Caterham opted to switch Kobayashi to a one stop strategy to react to Marussia but that meant completing 55 laps on prime tyres and he ultimately lost out to Bianchi.
9 | Marcus Ericsson | Caterham-Renault | 18th | 4/10
Ericsson was the biggest loser of the track limits rule in qualifying although it made little difference to his overall result anyway. On Sunday he raced well but having to play second fiddle to a Ferrari in the pit lane cost him time, as did the blue flags. Still, an improvement on recent races.