Mercedes proved on Sunday that Canada was just a glitch in the season, as leader Nico Rosberg topped the podium again in the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
The 28-year-old German denied his teammate until the very end to clinch his third win this year, while Williams driver Valtteri Bottas made it onto his first-ever podium in what turned out to be a disastrous home race for Red Bull.
For Mercedes, this was a seventh win in eight races and a welcome return to the top after they had to settle for second place in the Canadian Grand Prix behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Even more impressively, the team have now occupied the top two steps of the podium on six occasions.
“A 1-2 is good for the team; I am happy we achieved that again after the difficult race in Montreal,” Rosberg said after the race. “I am extremely happy with the result and it is also great to extend the championship lead, which was really my goal coming here to Austria.”
The German — who has not finished off the podium this season — now has a 29-point lead on four-win Hamilton in the fierce internal Mercedes battle.
The team have extended their lead in the constructors’ standings to 301 points, with Red Bull a distant second with 143 points.
Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring started with an all-Williams front row after Brazilian Felipe Massa and Bottas dominated Saturday’s qualifying, depriving Mercedes of the pole for the first time this year. However, the German team showed from the very first lap that they were in fighting spirit, with Rosberg briefly coming into second position, while Hamilton jumped from ninth into fourth place after a thundering start.
Massa eventually finished fourth, followed by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez of Force India and McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen.
“It was not an easy race. Williams were very quick in the straights, so it was hard to fight with them, also in the start. But I had a faster car,” Rosberg said.
Meanwhile, a displeased Hamilton said: “There wasn’t an opportunity to overtake,” after he spent several laps trying to pass his teammate.
“To get from ninth to second and be pressuring Nico at the end of the race really shows the pace I had this weekend,” he added.
After taking his first pole position since 2008, Massa had hoped to follow this up with his first win in six years.
However, it was Bottas who brought Williams their first podium in a year, bumping them to fifth place in the constructors’ standings.
“That was the best champagne I have ever tasted,” the 24-year-old Finn said afterward. “I am really really happy; I am just really thankful for the team. It has been a long long way for us since last year.
“The race was exactly what we needed at this point, everything went like planned really. I was good [enough] for the podium this time and I’m so happy,” he added.
Red Bull, racing at home, had hoped to capitalize on its recent win in Canada, but the day proved a wash-out with Ricciardo finishing eighth. Meanwhile, a disappointing season for reigning four-time champion Sebastian Vettel went from bad to worse as his car came to a complete halt shortly after the start. He eventually called it quits half-way through the race.
“I had no power anymore. I do not know what the problem was. It then sorted itself out and I could drive again, but with one lap down it did not make much sense ... so we decided to save on mileage,” Vettel said later.