Rosberg to lead charge against Williams while watching out for Hamilton

2014 Austrian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Posted on

| Written by

A surprising qualifying session has set up two fascinating storylines for the Austrian Grand Prix, both of which revolve around Nico Rosberg.

Starting third on the grid behind the two Williams drivers, Rosberg is Mercedes’ best hope to get in among them and challenge for victory.

But at the same time Rosberg’s championship aspirations require him to keep one eye fixed on his rear-view mirror to watch out for Lewis Hamilton. He will be out to stop his team mate from extending his point lead for the third race in a row.

The start

Rosberg’s best chance of extending his advantage over Hamilton is to do what his team mate did in China – make use of the traffic between him and the other Mercedes to build up a lead.

But before he can do that he’s going to need to pass the two Williams drivers. That won’t necessarily be straightforward, as they have been among the best starters in the field this year.

What’s more the Williams drivers have the same Mercedes engines and have been hitting the highest top speeds (see below). If he can’t clear them at the start, Rosberg may have to wait until later in the race, when the Mercedes’ superior tyre performance come into play.

The long straights of the first two sectors at the Red Bull Ring should invite plenty of opportunities for overtaking at the start. That will be especially vital for Hamilton as he tries to bring his team mate back in range after his disastrous run in Q3.

“The shot for the win will be very hard,” he admitted after failing to set a time in the top ten shoot-out, “so I guess it’s mainly a case of damage limitation”.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up


Valtteri Bottas is aware that it’s over the longer runs that Williams are most vulnerable to Mercedes.

“I think both of us, me and Felipe, we really need to just try and do the best we can, try and go as forward as possible after the first corner and the first lap and keep the position as long as possible,” he said after qualifying.

“We know that Mercedes’ race pace is going to be really really strong so it’s not going to be an easy day tomorrow but we will do our best.”

Tomorrow is expected to be the warmest day of the weekend so far, with air temperatures exceeding 25C. Given that, some drivers set up their cars with more of an eye on qualifying that the race – including Rosberg, who said he’s “worked more for the race” and not expected his car to be as difficult to handle in qualifying.

“Two stops is expected to be the most likely strategy,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, “but just as was the case in Canada some teams might try a one-stopper, depending on factors such as safety cars”.

As usual the ‘top ten tyre rule’ has failed to produce any variation in strategy between the front runners and everyone in the first five rows will start on the super-soft tyre. But one driver who made the other tyre work well in the last round was Jenson Button, who is the first driver on the grid with a free choice of compound.

“Being outside the top ten, we can run new tyres at the start of the race, and we can play with the strategy,” he said. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Button try to bring himself into contention by starting on the soft tyre.

A significant factor in tomorrow’s race will be how easy overtaking is, particularly with the addition of two DRS zones on a track where overtaking has been easier than at other venues.

“The DRS zones look interesting,” said Button. “Not having one at the exit of turn one looks like it’ll make racing more fun – now, you’ll have to make a move to overtake rather than just passing along the straights, which is what it should be about.”

Track limits remained a talking point during qualifying, with half the drivers having at least one of their lap times disallowed after running wide at turn eight. Expect to see the stewards wielding penalties against those who do the same in the race.

“Turn eight is tough in terms of track limits,” said Esteban Gutierrez, who was among the drivers to lose a lap.

“We did not have the penalty for exceeding the limits on Friday, but today and also for the race we will have it. When you push and get into the corner with a higher speed, it is a risk to go out of the track’s limits.”

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Felipe MassaWilliams1’10.2921’09.239 (-1.053)1’08.759 (-0.480)
2Valtteri BottasWilliams1’10.3561’09.096 (-1.260)1’08.846 (-0.250)
3Nico RosbergMercedes1’09.6951’08.974 (-0.721)1’08.944 (-0.030)
4Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’10.4051’09.479 (-0.926)1’09.285 (-0.194)
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’10.3951’09.638 (-0.757)1’09.466 (-0.172)
6Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1’10.0811’09.473 (-0.608)1’09.515 (+0.042)
7Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’09.6781’09.490 (-0.188)1’09.619 (+0.129)
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’10.2851’09.657 (-0.628)1’10.795 (+1.138)
9Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’09.5141’09.092 (-0.422)
10Nico HulkenbergForce India1’10.3891’09.624 (-0.765)
11Sergio PerezForce India1’10.1241’09.754 (-0.370)
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’10.2521’09.780 (-0.472)
13Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’10.6301’09.801 (-0.829)
14Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’10.8211’09.939 (-0.882)
15Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’10.1611’10.073 (-0.088)
16Romain GrosjeanLotus1’10.4611’10.642 (+0.181)
17Adrian SutilSauber1’10.825
18Esteban GutierrezSauber1’11.349
19Jules BianchiMarussia1’11.412
20Kamui KobayashiCaterham1’11.673
21Max ChiltonMarussia1’11.775
22Marcus EricssonCaterham1’12.673

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Felipe Massa17.047 (3)30.294 (2)21.410 (4)
Valtteri Bottas16.995 (2)30.470 (5)21.381 (3)
Nico Rosberg17.060 (4)30.400 (3)21.296 (1)
Fernando Alonso17.132 (8)30.546 (7)21.347 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo17.390 (16)30.522 (6)21.463 (5)
Kevin Magnussen17.140 (9)30.434 (4)21.714 (11)
Daniil Kvyat17.174 (10)30.683 (11)21.479 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen17.248 (11)30.637 (9)21.696 (10)
Lewis Hamilton16.957 (1)30.113 (1)21.588 (7)
Nico Hulkenberg17.091 (6)30.665 (10)21.830 (12)
Sergio Perez17.092 (7)30.632 (8)21.835 (13)
Jenson Button17.082 (5)30.721 (12)21.849 (14)
Sebastian Vettel17.325 (12)30.798 (14)21.610 (8)
Pastor Maldonado17.331 (13)30.726 (13)21.882 (15)
Jean-Eric Vergne17.363 (14)30.815 (15)21.668 (9)
Romain Grosjean17.429 (17)30.987 (16)21.946 (16)
Adrian Sutil17.382 (15)31.137 (17)22.246 (18)
Esteban Gutierrez17.548 (19)31.303 (18)22.440 (19)
Jules Bianchi17.687 (21)31.503 (20)22.200 (17)
Kamui Kobayashi17.611 (20)31.449 (19)22.613 (21)
Max Chilton17.545 (18)31.519 (21)22.486 (20)
Marcus Ericsson17.763 (22)31.936 (22)22.733 (22)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes327.5 (203.5)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes323.1 (200.8)-4.4
3Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes322.7 (200.5)-4.8
4Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes321.4 (199.7)-6.1
5Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes321.1 (199.5)-6.4
6Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes320.2 (199.0)-7.3
7Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes320.0 (198.8)-7.5
8Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes319.6 (198.6)-7.9
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari319.2 (198.3)-8.3
10Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault319.1 (198.3)-8.4
11Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari317.3 (197.2)-10.2
12Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault317.1 (197.0)-10.4
13Adrian SutilSauberFerrari315.5 (196.0)-12.0
14Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault314.3 (195.3)-13.2
15Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari314.2 (195.2)-13.3
16Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault312.7 (194.3)-14.8
17Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault312.6 (194.2)-14.9
18Kamui KobayashiCaterhamRenault311.6 (193.6)-15.9
19Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault311.3 (193.4)-16.2
20Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari309.8 (192.5)-17.7
21Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari309.6 (192.4)-17.9
22Marcus EricssonCaterhamRenault309.2 (192.1)-18.3

Over to you

Can Williams keep the Mercedes drivers at bay – or will they be content to settle for their first podium of the year? And will Hamilton stop Rosberg adding to his points lead?

Share your views on the Austrian Grand Prix in the comments.

2014 Austrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2014 Austrian Grand Prix articles

Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Pirelli/Hone

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

31 comments on “Rosberg to lead charge against Williams while watching out for Hamilton”

  1. Hard to look past Hamiltons Purple S1 and S2 as an indicator of raw pace today

    1. Yeah, he clearly has great raw pace as always. But the way his rear came swinging around as soon as he hit the brakes in the third sector, it sure looked like they didn’t have that brake issue from Canada resolved yet. Or possibly they overcompensated and the KERS regen jumped in too hard and locked the wheels up. But SOMETHING looked wrong there.

      1. There was no car failure, according to autosport, so it’s frustrating to see him squander this opportunity to put it one pole, and perhaps even put a car between himself and Rosberg.

        Instead, he will start back in P9 with all the first-lap risk that brings. I don’t think even victory is out of reach tomorrow, but he could just as easily crash out and hand the championship to Rosberg.

        1. I don’t see Hamilton winning tomorrow unless Rosberg has a DNF. Even finishing second will be hard for Lewis given Williams pace.

          1. @paeschli, it’s not likely, but a first lap can change a lot. If Rosberg doesn’t pass the Williamses early on, then Hamilton might make his way onto his rear wing and there might be a race bewteen them.

    2. I do love a “do-or-die (thankfully no longer literally) racer” but it is clear that in the psychology stakes Rosberg is the winner and Hamilton is being forced into error after error. At years end it is likely that Lewis will have lost another WDC worth 10s of millions due to the failure of a spark-plug lead that probably cost less than a beer.

  2. The 8 Mercedes powered cars are the 8 fastest on a straight line : how impressive!

    1. Yes, it just shows just how good that engine really is!

  3. What will happen in the race if drivers exceed the track limits when they aren’t passing another car? Will it be a warning for doing it a couple of times and then a drive through?

    1. Something like that I imagine. Maybe similar to Massa’s penalty in Brazil, but it is more likely to be a 5 second timed pit stop penalty than a drive through. A drive through would definitely be a little extreme.

  4. Felipe has a massive margin on the speed trap! Looks good for passing, or defending from passes

    1. It’ll only last until the first stop I think. A merc in clear air is filthy fast

  5. Doesn’t Hamilton have free tyre choice as he didn’t set a time in Q3?

    1. no because the quali rules changed for 2014. you have too start on your q2 tyres if you get into q3.

      1. Can’t he just cheat for the sake of the championship table?

        1. @tdm – What good would that do to him though?

          1. Seems to work in football :p. Joking aside, could be a good race as long as the Williams can hold up Rosberg for a while.

            Hamilton should cut through most of those cars around him. Just had to stay out of trouble at the first corner and hope his car stays in one piece.

  6. This is looking like the makings of a great race, unless of course you are a Ferrari or RBR fan.

  7. The last 5 Austrian GPs have been won by car #1 or #4. I’m rating Vettels chances higher than Max’s.

    1. May be but records are some thing is about to be broken so i consider #6 mostly

      1. or #44 i missed to add that

    2. Add 1+4, multiply by 4 then subtract 1.

    3. Its been 11 years since last Austrian gp. #4×11 = #44

  8. Can Williams keep the Mercedes drivers at bay – or will they be content to settle for their first podium of the year? And will Hamilton stop Rosberg adding to his points lead?

    Well I think Rosberg will have a shot early and try and dissapear , Lewis will hang it all out kamakazi style on the hunt for podium points , Massa will crash and Bottas will over drive and back peddle , Ric will sneak up and be ready to pounce if mercs retire , vettle will get in there as long as his Windows 98 / renault software runs without a BSOD ,
    Bianchi for points !

    Over and out

    1. Rajesh Kankavlikar
      22nd June 2014, 10:10

      Lol :-)

  9. The only laptime I can’t put into context is Alonso’s. It is impressive that he is only 0.526 of pole position, I mean we know that the Ferrari engine sucks yet he beat all the renault powered and half the Mercedes powered teams. We also know that the F14T isn’t as good as the Mercs and the Bulls in generating downforce so we can’t say that sector 3 suited him. And last but not least he isn’t the best qualifier, what happened then?

  10. Hamilton really camt hanfle.pressure it seems. Every lap was fat until the one that mattered. Granted he should be +50 points or so up right now due to dnfs…

    1. LOL. Fast, not fat. Damn phone

    2. I don’t see you saying that about Rosberg when he locked up in e.g. China and Monaco? And just look back at Bahrain and Spain, can’t handle pressure?

  11. Just realised (unless my calculations are horribly incorrect) that provided Sauber don’t beat them this race, Caterham need a 12th place to move ahead of Sauber in the championship battle. That’s not impossible.

    Also, I reckon there could well be a first corner collision here, with all the inexperience, etc. We haven’t seen a major one for a while.

  12. forceindia for a podium

Comments are closed.