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Hamilton wins in Austria following last lap clash with Rosberg

NEWS STORY
03/07/2016

Having wasted much of the pre-race preamble for previous races speculating about things that never happened, be it the interference of the weather gods or pile-ups at the opening corners, we'll keep it to a minimum today.

Needless to say, the weather gods are playing up.

At a time most are focussing on the problems faced in terms of the new kerbs around the track, which, it is fair to say, have caused havoc and more than a few nasty incidents, the ever changing weather conditions have also contributed to the lottery that is the Austrian GP weekend.

Having disrupted sessions on Friday and Saturday, the weather gods look to be saving the best to last.

Of course, whether this morning's GP2 race really needed to be started behind the Safety Car is a moot point, but the fact is that although the tramp was damp, the rain had stopped and there was no serious threat from standing water. Previous sessions had been held in much worse conditions.

That aside, due to a combination of factors including gearbox change penalties, yellow flag penalties, those damn kerbs and various other things, the grid has a strange look about it.

How strange? Well Jenson Button starting from the second row just about sums it up.

And, following a great effort, Pascal Wehrlein starts from twelfth, Manor making it to Q2 for the first time.

Despite qualifying second and fourth, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel will start sixth and ninth following those gearbox changes, with the hapless Kvyat starting from the pitlane in that new Toro Rosso chassis.

Whilst Sergio Perez was a victim of the notorious kerbs, teammate Nico Hulkenberg, like Button, was able to make the best of the situation yesterday and starts alongside Hamilton on the front row today.

We can't help feel, weather and kerbs permitting, that Kimi Raikkonen could be the one to watch today, the Finn looking strong all weekend.

In what could be a brilliant tactical move, while everyone else was qualifying on ultrasofts in Q2 yesterday, the Italian team tried the supersofts, meaning they will start on the red-banded tyres. Seeing the sense in this, Red Bull followed suit, while Mercedes left its call just a little too late.

Other than the ultrasofts and supersofts, the third compound available is the soft. Due to the differing data available from Friday and today, a number of opportunities are open and it is quite difficult to predict the best strategy.

The drivers with two sets of soft tyres available have a big potential advantage. A two-stop strategy looks to be the winning one.

Using the data from Saturday, two different types of two-stopper appear to be best: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 16, and soft again on lap 44 is the optimal strategy.

If starting on ultrasoft, a change to soft by lap 10 and then soft again by lap 40 looks to be just a few seconds slower.

The pitlane opens and one by one the drivers head out.

Sadly, despite the promise of a classic race, and the obvious amount of effort the promoters have clearly put into the event, including a demonstration by the legendary BMW M1 Procars, there are huge swathes of empty seats even in the main grandstand facing the pits.

Air temperature is currently 15 degrees C, while the track temperature is 25 degrees, considerably cooler than yesterday. It is overcast.

A late change will see Massa start from the pitlane after Williams found some structural damage to the new front wing and opted not to run it on safety grounds. Consequently, the Brazilian, who was due to start from tenth, will start from the pitlane with the old wing.

In the moments before the field heads off on the warm-up lap, Mercedes reveals: "No rain expected in the near future, skies getting brighter!"

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap officials confirm there is a 20% chance of rain.

A good mixture of compound; Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Button, Rosberg, Bottas, Perez and Kvyat are on ultras, Haryanto and Nasr are on softs and the rest are on supersofts.

The grid forms. However, as the green all-clear flag is waved, Wehrlein is out of position having driven into Massa's slot by mistake. He reverses into the correct slot but he'll be lucky to escape punishment both for being in the wrong slot and reversing on the grid.

They're away and Hamilton maintains his lead in T1 as Raikkonen tries to get between Hulkenberg and Button but the McLaren driver has him covered. Indeed, a poor start from Hulkenberg sees the German lose positions.

No such problems for Bottas who makes up a couple of positions thanks to great traction out of T1, he makes a move on Vettel but the German keeps him at bay..

Further down the field drivers are chopping and changing positions like crazy, but there are no incidents.

Hamilton leads Button, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Verstappen , Bottas and Vettel.

Rosberg makes short work of Verstappen and then Ricciardo in T8 to take fifth.

After 2 laps, Hamilton leads Button by 2.155 with Raikkonen a further 2.5s behind. Vettel is up to eighth, while Verstappen has passed Ricciardo for sixth.

Kvyat stops at T1, his weekend going from bad to worse.

Raikkonen really needs to get past Button in order to make the most of the team's tyre gamble and keep Hamilton in sight, but the Finn is unable to get within DRS distance of the McLaren. Elsewhere, Vettel is all over Ricciardo.

Rosberg nails Hulkenberg on the run to T2, with the Red Bull duo closing in in the process. Still recovering from Rosberg's pass, Hulkenberg loses out to Verstappen also.

Vettel has passed Ricciardo and subsequently nails Hulkenberg to set off after Verstappen.

Raikkonen finally passes Button, the Finn taking full advantage of his DRS.

Consequently, after 7 laps it's: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Button, Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Bottas, Sainz and Perez.

Check out our Sunday gallery, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ZAK., 05/07/2016 19:14

"I am begining to wonder if Lewis is being dealt a straight hand here, he has only one new engine left. Rosberg has 4? in two races really slow Lewis pit stops have left him coming out behind Rosberg, also it seems really strange that in the first few races this season Hamilton's car has bogged down at the start allowing Rosberg to clear off. If Toto brings out team orders that means Lewis is to be handicapped further then Lewis should leave to race in another top team."

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