Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

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.

Mercedes crash Williams’ party // But is the German team's dominance under threat?

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Bottas gets his maiden F1 podium
Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic

Well that wasn’t what was expected but it was certainly what the doctor ordered. Mercedes finally have someone to play with at the front in the form of Williams. Now maybe the track favoured Williams with 90 degree corners not as challenging on their tyres as the long sweeping corners of circuits like Circuit de Catalunya or Shanghai, and the short track reducing the advantage of pure speed.

In qualifying they may have got lucky with Lewis Hamilton’s spin ruining both Mercedes’ final Q3 run, but many were left stunned when their advantage warming up tyres in qualifying didn’t hurt their tyre wear in the race. Williams appear to be for real this time, but Silverstone will be the true test of that

Massa gets the headlines but Bottas takes the points

Valtteri Bottas & Felipe Massa, Williams Martini Racing: Started 2nd & 1st, Finished 3rd & 4th

There’s no doubting that Valtteri Bottas was the star of the Williams team in the race. At the end of the day, he outshone his teammate and finished on the podium. The crucial moment came at the first round of stops. Williams had already been undercut by Mercedes after leaving their drivers out later than the competition (a decision I support), and when Felipe Massa stopped, he was stationary for an extra second and a half, dropping him from first to third and fourth after Hamilton’s testicular fortitude on the brakes into turn two.

Meanwhile, Bottas’ stop was like clockwork, stationary for only 2.1 seconds, allowing him to maintain second. He kept the pace up too, battling with Rosberg throughout the second stint, but his goose was cooked at the second round of stops when Hamilton had the speed on the undercut to secure second behind Rosberg. From there, Bottas ran his own race and kept temperatures under control, knowing he had Massa as a rear gunner, but it would have been interesting to see how close he could have been to the Mercedes had he pushed for all 71 laps. While the Mercedes weren’t trouble free, they must be concerned that both Williams cars matched them for pace over the course of a race distance.

It would have been interesting to see how close Bottas could have been to the Mercedes had he pushed for all 71 laps

I do want to give Felipe Massa some well deserved credit. Many have written him off as an over-the-hill Sunday driver, which he did rather show after dropping to fourth in the race, but on Saturday it was he who held his nerve.

Teammate Bottas had set the fastest Q3 lap when he showed his inexperience and ran wide at turn five and ruined his chances of pole, while Lewis Hamilton pushed too hard and spun (the order of the Mercedes once again proving a problem for them in qualifying) but it was Massa who showed his experience and hooked up a good lap when that was what was needed.

Quiet Magnussen keeps McLaren ticking

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren Mercedes: Started 6th, Finished 7th

It wasn’t a groundbreaking day for Kevin Magnussen and McLaren but it’s fair to say that the Dane put Jenson Button in the shade all weekend. He was a full half second faster than the Brit in Q2, crucially advancing Magnussen into Q3, while Button was stuck in twelfth on the grid. At the start he showed Daniel Ricciardo exactly where to go, leaving the Aussie no option but to back off the throttle and take to the runoff area. That move did just cost young Magnussen a little as he lost out to Hamilton in turn two, a place he would likely have lost over the course of the race anyway.

Magnussen was best McLaren driver in Austria
Credit: McLaren Mercedes

Magnussen acted as a bit of a stopgap in sixth behind Alonso, but that was the best that McLaren could manage in Austria. Sergio Pérez’s long first stint was the fly in his ointment as it allowed the Mexican to jump Magnussen and jump up to sixth. But Magnussen held several big names like Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hülkenberg and Kimi Räikkönen behind him for a third points finish in a row and his best result since his podium on his debut.

Pérez perfect once again

Sergio Pérez, Sahara Force India F1 Team: Started 15th, Finished 6th

Just to prove that Canada wasn’t a flash in the pan, Sergio Pérez continued his great form to secure an unlikely sixth place finish. In qualifying, Nico Hülkenberg edged Pérez out of Q3, which proved particularly costly with Sergio's five place penalty from Canada meaning that he had to start down in 16th.

It didn’t take Pérez long to start recovering, launching off the grid and up to 11th by the end of the first lap. I’m not sure how he got such a good start and his tyres up to temperature so fast given that he started on the prime compound. Not only that, but he was also able to keep the tyres in good shape and fight at the front as he ran long in the first stint, leading the Williams and Mercedes battle for ten laps until the rubber cried too much and Rosberg and Bottas forced their way through.

I’m not sure how Pérez got his tyres up to temperature so fast given that he started on the primes

The strategy did help Pérez up to eighth and right in the battle for points with fresher tyres and one stop to make (along with everyone else). The strategy meant that he was one of the fastest men on the track throughout the second half of the race having compromised others earlier in the race. His fresher tyres helped him past Nico Hülkenberg, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen with just a few laps to go.

I have to be honest, I thought that Pérez would be blown out of the water by Nico Hülkenberg, but he has proved me wrong. While Nico had the better of the early season, Sergio has come back fighting and appears to be the man at Force India to fear. Recovering from 15th to 6th in Austria is just the latest in a line of good performances for the Mexican. And while Hülkenberg still has a considerable edge in the championship, he must have had his tail between his legs in the Austrian paddock after the race having been thoroughly embarrassed by his South American teammate.