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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Grosjean catches a brake break - Frenchman overcomes brake issues as Haas hit top form


The Austrian Grand Prix wasn’t a thriller, but the slow burner came to the boil just in time as Valtteri Bottas saved his teammate from conceding vital points and brought himself right back to the edge of the title race. While Bottas stifled the Ferrari attack after a stunning, borderline jump start, there were some solid performances in the pack, performing under pressure to secure key results.

Grosjean heaps pressure on Räikkönen and Sainz

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team: Started 6th, Finished 6th

The shock result of the weekend was the Haas team
Credit: Haas F1 Team

By far and away the shock result of the weekend was the Haas team and specifically Romain Grosjean. It shouldn’t be forgotten that teammate Kevin Magnussen was right on the pace too, in fact he was the quicker Haas and would have helped deliver a great double result for the team had his suspension not failed at turn three after posting a great time in Q1. Kevin was consigned to start 15th before a hydraulic failure in the race put paid to his chances of beating the Williams into the points after a strong fightback to 11th.

That being said, Romain Grosjean was on it from Saturday morning onwards and delivered on Haas’ opportunity. The Frenchman qualified 7th after being in the top ten in P2 and P3. Having secured a spot in Q3 by nearly three tenths, Grosjean easily topped the Force Indias, despite their fabled Mercedes engines on a power circuit, as well as Carlos Sainz before his own unreliability curtailed the session and secured seventh. A strong seventh became sixth with Hamilton’s pending gearbox penalty but the job was not even half done.

A good qualifying meant that the Haas was well out of the way of the first corner carnage, passing Verstappen off the line. Running in fifth it was only a matter of time before Hamilton got past and with no hope of matching the sectors of the Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bull ahead, attention swiftly turned to his mirrors. The Force Indias weren’t far behind but Grosjean was comfortable and able to hold them off without overworking his tired super-soft tyres, even with Esteban Ocon running seven laps longer in the first stint.

Grosjean went on to finish 11 seconds ahead of Sergio Pérez and the only man from outside the top teams to finish on the lead lap. Grosjean, and Haas, were easily best of the rest as the Frenchman secured their best result of the season, the best in 29 races, benefitting from a low downforce track and maximising their opportunity.

Start as you mean to go on

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport: Started 1st, Finished 1st

Bottas now has more podiums this season than his teammate
Credit: Mercedes AMG

The forgotten man this season looked well and truly unfazed as he carried the Mercedes fight. The storyline will be that he saved Hamilton seven points in the title race – on his performance, Hamilton would have finished third regardless of his gearbox penalty – but in reality, it was probably the drive that secured his place at Mercedes for 2018, moved back to the edge of the championship battle and ruled out any midseason team orders for Mercedes.

Whisper it but Bottas now has more podiums this season than his three-time world champion teammate

Whisper it but Bottas now has more podiums this season than his three-time world champion teammate. The Finn was on form from the start, almost before the start even. A lightning quick start that was right on the edge of being legal appeared to give Bottas momentum. His wonder start, paired with Vettel’s shabby getaway meant that Bottas led by a second by the end of lap one.

The gap grew quickly as Vettel couldn’t match his pace, eventually pegging Bottas at seven seconds. Bottas was able to manage the gap throughout the race but eventually his supersoft tyres gave up with around ten laps to go, allowing Vettel to pressure Bottas and challenge for the victory in the closing laps. Much like in Russia, Vettel ran out of laps but Bottas showed once again that he is a tough nut to crack, cementing his medium-term Mercedes future.

Palmer falls just short

Jolyon Palmer, Renault F1 Team: Started 13th, Finished 11th

Austria was the first time this season that Jolyon Palmer outperformed his esteemed German teammate, Nico Hülkenberg and it couldn’t have come at a bigger time as the Brit looks on the verge of being forced out. On a rare occasion, the GP2 champion was Renault’s top performer and showed what he is capable of when he has a weekend without distractions, running throughout practice without reliability problems or the odd driver error.

The only thing missing from Palmer’s weekend was a point, as the Englishman came up just short of tenth place that would have done wonders for his confidence. In truth, 11th was likely all that the car had to offer, with all six Mercedes-powered cars in the points, stretching their legs on the long straights and putting major pressure on the other seven constructors to find time in the corners.

Palmer was as close as he has been all season to beating expectations in qualifying, as he came within three hundredths of making Q2 and only just over a tenth behind Hülkenberg in Q1. Sadly, the difference between 14th and 16th in Q1 can make or break a weekend, as Hülkenberg would go on to improve to 11th on the grid in Q2.

The only thing missing from Palmer’s weekend was a point
Credit: Renault Sport F1

The positions would be reversed by the first corner, as Palmer made three spots, jumping the slow starting Hülkenberg and avoiding the first corner melee in the process. That gave Palmer a sniff of a chance. Sadly, for him, both Williams jumped him at the start, giving him two cars in front that would prove very difficult to pass with a clear top speed differential.

It wasn’t a grandstand performance but it was a definite improvement, as he beat his teammate by 25 seconds

Palmer sat on Kevin Magnussen’s rear wing for much of the first stint, profiting from Carlos Sainz’s retirement, before the Dane suffered a hydraulic issue himself, putting himself within touching distance of a much-needed point. He hounded Stroll for the remaining 42 laps but couldn’t find a way, falling just short. He finished 11th by half a tenth.

It wasn’t a grandstand performance but it was a definite improvement, as he beat his teammate by 25 seconds, but Palmer will need to continue progressing and show this form, at a track where Renault have pace, to keep his drive for the rest of the year.