Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix 2014: Results, Times for Practice and Qualifying
Formula One returns to Austria for the first time since 2003 this weekend for the eighth round of the season after a dramatic Canadian Grand Prix last time out.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finally broke the Mercedes deadlock in Montreal two weeks ago, his maiden win making him the first victor of the season not named Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg.
However, Rosberg's second place in North America saw him move 22 points clear of his team rival in the drivers' championship, as Hamilton could not finish the race due to a brake failure.
The Englishman will be hoping to redress that balance at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, but the Mercedes' aura of indomitability has been broken, and Red Bull will look to take advantage of its momentum.
The Austrian track will be largely unfamiliar to most of the field, but Australian Ricciardo—who is currently out-performing his teammate, Sebastian Vettel—is raring to go ahead of the weekend's action, per Formula1.com:
It's great to be going to Red Bull's home race after an awesome weekend in Canada. I've only driven the Red Bull Ring on filming days, essentially a handful of laps without the out-and-out aggression that you'll see at the weekend. It's a tidy circuit - not the longest and not many corners, but what is there is good. It's very odd going to what, essentially, is a new race but in a place where the racing history is firmly established.
Despite the 24-year-old's victory in Canada, he still sits 39 points adrift of second-placed Hamilton, and Mercedes still seem to have greater pace than all the other teams.
While Rosberg stayed on the track last time out, he also had issues with his car, which gave Red Bull its opportunity to claim victory.
All things being equal, Mercedes should once again be dominant in Austria. However, the unfamiliarity of the circuit and Hamilton's eagerness to gain ground on Rosberg could all factor into what is likely to be a very exciting race.
Read on for full practice and qualifying results as the drivers attempt to master the remarkably few nine corners of the short Red Bull Ring.
Q3: Felipe Massa Takes First Pole in Six Years
The first Austrian Grand Prix since 2003 could be set to host an incredible turnaround of events in Formula 1 after Felipe Massa upset the odds to take pole position in qualifying.
The Williams driver capitalised on a Lewis Hamilton spin at Turn One to surge into the lead and will look to build on the strong form he and teammate Valtteri Bottas have shown over the past two days.
Bottas impressed until the end of qualifying, too, taking second place with a time of one minute and 8.846 seconds, just under one-tenth of a second slower than Massa's one minute and 8.759 seconds.
BBC Sport quotes Massa in saying of his achievement:
I am so happy with what has happened today, with us, our team, it was such a great moment. It is a long time since I last had a pole position so for sure we need to concentrate on the race tomorrow. It is a great moment and I am in the best place to be - first place.
After a long time, I hope this is just the beginning of great possibilities. I hope to be in this position again. Williams are back to the top, they are back to fight. I am pleased for me and the team as well.
Having started so well in qualifying, Hamilton will be disappointed to now be starting in ninth on the grid as a result of his spin, failing to register a track time in Q3.
That positioning makes things difficult, and Mercedes will be hoping that third-placed Nico Rosberg bring a strong presence closer to the front.
Full qualifying results, via Formula1.com:
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.395||1:09.638||1:09.466||22|
|10||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:10.389||1:09.624||23|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:10.124||1:09.754||18|
|13||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.630||1:09.801||15|
Q2: Sebastian Vettel Misses out on Austrian GP
Red Bull suffered a big loss after reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel failed to clinch his place in the top 10 of the Austrian Grand Prix's second qualifying, essentially a "home" event for the manufacturer.
The German star finished below teammate Daniel Ricciardo for the sixth time this season in Q2, placing 13th after running a fastest lap of one minute and 9.801 seconds.
Nico Rosberg became the first driver to crack the one minute and nine seconds mark in Austrian GP qualifying with a time of one minute and 8.974 seconds, while Lewis Hamilton was 0.118 seconds slower than his Mercedes teammate.
Daniil Kyvat kept up his impressive pace to land seventh spot thanks to his fastest lap of one minute and 9.490 seconds, giving Toro Rosso an underdog's chance of creating something special in Spielberg.
Joining Vettel in the contingent who failed to make it to Q3 is Sergio Perez, Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado, Jean-Eric Vergne and Roman Grosjean.
Q1: Lewis Hamilton Reclaims Top Spot
Lewis Hamilton surged back into a leading position at the Red Bull Ring in first qualifying, edging out Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg (third) in the speed rankings by just 0.181 seconds.
The British driver clocked in a time of one minute and 9.514 seconds, while the Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa kept up some of their strong practice pace to finish 10th and ninth, respectively.
BBC Sport's Alan McNish says of the Q1 leader: "When Lewis Hamilton has a car underneath him he can trust, he can make it dance."
That would certainly appear to be the trend this season, and provided the engineering of his Mercedes can continue to run smoothly the Briton is sure to challenge for top honours come Sunday.
The biggest story of Saturday's first qualifying session, however, was perhaps that of Toro Rosso's Daniil Kyvat, who scored a time of one minute and 9.678 seconds to place second.
A couple of the Red Bull Ring's turns, specifically Turns One and Eight, have proven tricky for the drivers to get around without diverting off track at times, and could pose an issue as qualifying continues.
Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Kamui Kobayashi, Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson all fail to place in the top 16 and are out at the first hurdle.
P3: Williams' Valtteri Bottas Ends Practice Session on a High
Valtteri Bottas gave Williams a confident end to their practice session on Saturday, ending his third run with a fastest lap of one minute and 9.848 seconds in Spielberg.
The Finn was closely followed by Lewis Hamilton, who ended the second practice session on top of the pile, with Williams teammate Felipe Massa coming in third.
This result gives the manufacturer strong omens as they prepare for Saturday qualifying, with Bottas and Massa both in good form ahead of the first Austrian Grand Prix since 2003.
Speaking to the official Formula 1 website before this weekend's stage at the Red Bull Ring, Bottas was quizzed on his hopes for Sunday's race and the enigmatic prospects it holds after so long away from the sport's spotlight:
It’s also the first time for me. We have a good simulator at the factory and I have done many laps of this track on it. Plus I did a track walk with the engineers this morning. The track looks really good - it’s one of the few ‘old school’ tracks.
It is quite narrow, has a lot of hills, not much run-off and not much room for mistakes. And quite long straights, which we like at Williams as we’ve done well on these parts. As a place it is really beautiful.
Williams are yet to claim a podium finish this season after seven races, with Bottas ending in fifth on two occasions and currently eighth in the drivers' standings.
However, both he and Massa will be hoping that the unknown aspect of Austria's track will give them a more open platform on which they can compete.
After spending the first two practice stages in first and second, respectively, Nico Rosberg drops down to fifth, while reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel lies in 10th, registering a fastest lap almost one second slower than leader Bottas.
Jenson Button was barely involved in the third practice, recording just four laps before heading back as Autosport Live report that the Briton veered into the run-off area, raising fears of any damage to his McLaren Mercedes.
Having had time to become accustomed to the course and its layout, all drivers will now look to qualifying as a chance to build on their performances over the past two days, with any minor tweaks likely to have a big impact on Sunday's proceedings.
Full practice results, via Formula1.com:
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.392||0.544||19|
|10||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.562||0.714||21|
|11||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:10.683||0.835||22|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:11.235||1.387||18|
P2: Mercedes Swap as Hamilton Goes Fastest
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were once again the two fastest cars in the second practice session at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, although the Englishman prevailed this time over his teammate by 0.38 seconds.
As dark clouds set in toward the end of the session, Hamilton decided to call it a day with seven minutes to go, while the majority of the drivers stayed out to get as much run-time as possible on the Austrian circuit where there has not been a Grand Prix since 2003.
Fernando Alonso was third-fastest once again—almost a second down on Hamilton—but Felipe Massa was pushed into fifth by his Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The Red Bull cars of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and Montreal victor Daniel Ricciardo improved on their first sessions by both breaking into the top ten.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button—fifth-fastest in first practice—seemed to have problems with speed on Friday afternoon, complaining audibly at one point over his McLaren team radio regarding the performance of his car. However, he still managed to finish seventh-fastest.
Alonso predicted another difficult weekend for his Ferrari team as the Mercedes cars continue to show far superior speed, per Andrew Benson on BBC Sport:
This year we are definitely in a position we are not happy with. Mercedes is dominating by a big margin and we are aware of this. We need to put in place some of the things we are weak at the moment, improve in different areas.
Alonso has managed to pick up 69 points so far this season but, pace-wise, has never looked close to challenging the Mercedes cars.
With one final practice session remaining on Saturday before qualifying, all the drivers will be eager to become as familiar with the track as possible.
Mercedes' dominance does not seem to be letting up and a front-row lockout from Rosberg and Hamilton on Saturday is to be expected.
However, as was proven in Canada, anything can happen when it comes to race time and the likes of Ricciardo and Vettel will hope to put in strong performances at their home-team race.
Full practice results, via Formula1.com:
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.807||1.265||39|
|8||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:10.920||1.378||36|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:11.296||1.754||36|
|17||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:11.935||2.393||39|
P1: Rosberg Fastest Ahead of Hamilton
It was business as usual in the first practice session in Austria as the two Mercedes cars topped the lap charts, with Nico Rosberg edging out Lewis Hamilton for the top spot by 0.14 seconds.
In a rain-affected first practice, several of the drivers found themselves off the track, which is a new experience for many—only Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen having raced in a Spielberg Grand Prix before.
The Ferrari of Alonso was third-fastest—0.311 seconds back from Rosberg—while Felipe Massa, the Spaniard's former team-mate, was fourth-fastest in his Williams car.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was fortunate not to damage his car in a two-spin slide after his Red Bull hit some artificial grass wide of a corner.
The German finished 15th-fastest while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo—winner in Canada last time out—fared little better in 13th.
Jenson Button was fifth-fastest in his McLaren, while the two Force Indias followed in behind him.
Hamilton is eager to make ground up on his team-mate this weekend after two races this season in which he did not finish—Australian and Canadian—per Formula1.com:
The two DNFs so far this season have not been ideal but that's racing and there's a long, long way to go. I caught up before and I can catch up again. It's going to take another four wins to make the difference so I'm going to do my best to get those results. I'm feeling good in the car right now and I'll be pushing flat out to come away with maximum points this weekend.
While Rosberg topped first practice, the Englishman is unlikely to be too concerned as the Mercedes are clearly still the pace-setters in Austria.
Second practice will give a greater indication as to the performance of each of the cars, and the Red Bulls will be looking to improve on a poor return from the first session.
Full practice results, via Formula1.com:
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:12.009||0.714||33|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:12.072||0.777||20|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:12.570||1.275||28|
|15||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:12.988||1.693||25|