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Lewis Hamilton Heads The Field in Spielberg, Perez penalty upheld
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  20 Jun 2014   |  4:00 pm GMT  |  44 comments

Lewis Hamilton headed a Mercedes one-two in Free Practice for the Austrian Grand Prix as Formula One returned to Spielberg and the newly named Red Bull Ring for the first time since 2003. Elsewhere, Sergio Perez will have to take the five-place grid he received in Canada, after the FIA’s review of his Montreal accident with Felipe Massa still found him culpable.

Although the picturesque Red Bull Bull Ring is new to current day Formula One, at least trackside, today’s result is not. After the reliability blip that hit Mercedes last time out in Montreal, in which electronics problems slowed the team-mates and title contenders before a brake failure for Hamilton saw the Briton retire from the race, the pecking order was re-established in Spielberg, with the Mercedes duo being pursued by the Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull contingent.

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The pair continued their season long battle at the top of the time sheets, as Hamilton held the upper hand over Rosberg, with both in the 1:10.4s, three tenths of a second ahead of the next best, Valtteri Bottas, as the cars used the soft tyre.

Following the change to the super-soft compound in the remaining fifty minutes the Mercedes drivers were the first of the front-runners to complete a qualifying simulation.

Rosberg went first, setting the fastest time, although making a mistake in the middle sector and only improving on his prime tyre run by one tenth. Hamilton gave a more true reflection of the time gains available on the super-soft, usurping his colleague to reclaim first place with a 0.7s margin.

A second timed lap for Hamilton would see him drag a further tenth of a second out of the W05 Hybrid, and within half a second of Michael Schumacher’s pole time the last time Formula One cars raced in Austria.

A more representative time from Rosberg saw him end the day 0.4s adrift of Hamilton, with Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa competing the top five and being the only cars to put themselves within a second of the Mercedes.

“It didn’t feel bad out there today considering this is a new track to me,” said Hamilton. “Already after the first few laps I was feeling comfortable and always seemed to be finding time with new lines and improvements. To be as quick as I was considering others have already driven this track is a great feeling.”

As in Montreal the Ferrari looked more competitive with the updates it was running here, including tighter bodywork, but the acid test will be whether they can run that more competitive package through the weekend or whether they are concerned about cooling.

In terms of race pace, Rosberg showed impressive consistency on the soft tyre as he was able to maintain a 1:13.9 pace across a ten lap stint on tyres that were twenty-one laps old. It was a similar story for Hamilton on the super-soft, indicating that only an intra-team feud or mechanical issues will take Sunday’s victory away from Mercedes.

With intermittent showers throughout the day washing away the thin layer of Formula One rubber that made its way back to Spielberg after an 11-year hiatus, the 2014 specification Formula One cars struggled with grip in both sessions today.

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The entrance to turns one and two, being uphill, allows for a very short braking zone and less risk of making use of the tarmac run off. However, the second half of the lap sees the circuit fall away in the braking area and a careful application of the left pedal is necessary.

At one point or another every car found themselves twitching towards the outside of the track, especially in the penultimate corner, which Race Director Charlie Whiting said would be discussed among the drivers this evening to find a suitable protocol.

The pit lane entry line will be another hot topic in the drivers’ meeting as Ricciardo cut the line this morning without sanction, but in qualifying drivers will have to be very disciplined as the racing line cuts across the pit lane entry lane.

The Red Bull Ring is, incidentally, now the shortest lap on the calendar, being the only one completed below 70 seconds by the quicker cars and consists of just nine corners.

A seven-year contract to host the race with the option of a further five-year expansion will require a strong showing from Red Bull Racing this weekend. The four-time World Champions remain on a high from their first victory of this season in Montreal, however it is this weekend that they would most enjoy a win.

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Thirteenth and fifteenth for Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel respectively in this morning’s session was slightly improved to eighth and sixth this afternoon. The pair showed decent race pace during the long runs, but were unable to find the improvements that many others did on the super-soft tyre.

The Red Bull pair sandwich McLaren’s Jenson Button, with Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne completing the top ten.

Force India have extensive updates this weekend but were unable to exploit them fully this afternoon after going the wrong way on set up. They should be stronger tomorrow.

Before today’s sessions, the FIA met to review the Perez/Massa crash after Force India had asked to present new elements. The team’s suggestion was that they were unaware at the time of the investigation that Perez was being investigated for causing the collision and that because the Mexican was on his way to hospital they had been unable to get his input. The team also said they had had been since able to review the relevant telemetry and thus Force India requested the FIA take into account Perez’s verbal submission and the telemetry.

That resulted in another meeting being schedule for 4pm and after two hours of discussion the stewards in Austria ruled that the original decision of the stewards in Montreal would stand.

The FIA verdict read: The driver of car 11 contended that the new element(s) evidenced that in defending his position he was exercising his right, under article 20.4 of the 2014 Formula One Sporting Regulations, to use the whole track. However it was clear to the stewards that the defence of his position occurred in the braking area. article 20.4 specifically states that any right to defend by using the whole track must occur prior to any braking area. Accordingly the driver of car 11 was not entitled to defend his position in the manner he did.

Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Free Practice

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m 09.542s laps
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m 09.919s laps
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m 10.470s laps
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m 10.519s laps
5. Felipe Massa Brazil 1m 10.521s laps
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m 10.807s laps
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m 10.813s laps
8. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m 10.920s laps
9. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1m 10.936s laps
10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m 10.972s laps
11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m 10.974s laps
12. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m 11.261s laps
13. Sergio Perez Force India 1m 11.296s laps
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m 11.491s laps
15. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1m 11.765s laps
16. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1m 11.806s laps
17. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m 11.935s laps
18. Max Chilton Briton 1m 12.229s laps
19. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m 12.262s laps
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m 12.279s laps
20. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1m 12.937s laps
22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1m 13.596s laps

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44 Comments
  1. Hal says:

    With Merc team mates sharing data I expect a lot closer quali. 4 tenths is quite big over such a short lap time. Although we don’t know the relative fuel loads so as always we have to take them with a smidgen of salt.

  2. Gaz Boy says:

    Can I just say, 10 our of 10 for Mr Vettel for those double spins at the last corner. Robin Cousins or Torvill and Dean, Olympic Gold medallists in ice skating would be incredibly proud of that double 360 rotation!

    1. Phil says:

      Incredible how close to the barrier he came with his triple salco. Judging by the way he looked to the left after he’d straightened out he didn’t believe he’d got away with it either ;-)

  3. Elie says:

    Easier said than done but Lewis has to just focus on his racing and not worry what Nico does. He will find he would be quicker almost every time. Its only when he starts thinking about what Nico does /not do, that gets psyched out.

    Im convinced that Ferrari have only one garage in Formula one. After publically admitting that they had a power electronics failure in Montreal that caused 2 maximum power spins for Raikkonen, he was in/ out of the garage again all day today..’what on earth is going on. Remember the last time he was on that track he was only 3/100′s off pole to MS untouchable Ferrari. I hope they were just testing some new parts and that will get a better indication of real pace tomorrow.

    I was very impressrd with Bottas pace here and I think he could do very well here.

    1. Malcolmn says:

      If Lewis wasn’t psyched out by Fernando whenn they were teammates, I hardly think that he will be with Nico.

      1. clyde says:

        No probably not ,Its apparent from every statement of his that Lh is the king of mind games and tantrums just as in 2007

    2. Harshad says:

      There were using different Engine Maps on Kimi’s car compared to Fernando’s car in Canada.
      And looking at the pace difference between the two in practise so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if both were different set ups, or even different engine maps.

      But given the race, don’t expect much from either of the Ferrari drivers, because their cars don’t have what it takes to beat Mercedes powered cars in Qualifying and in the race.

      Only high tyre degradation on Force India, Williams might work in Ferrari’s case that’s all.

    3. Chromatic says:

      Elie
      Did you see the ferrari spokesman tell kravitz in montreal that kimi spun because kimi spun!!!

      2 weeks later they admit it was unpredictable power surges. Kimi asked them to fix the issue in canada practice. He is still waiting…..

    4. Ahmed says:

      Hamilton “To be as quick as I was considering others have already driven this track is a great feeling.” And with that attitude and “I walk on water” statements, you can see why Hamilton struggles psychologically when beaten by Rosberg whom he does not rate as one of the best drivers.

      By the way:
      a)who has a car to compete with Mercedes on any given qualifying?
      b)who of the current drivers has driven on the old circuit? Raikonnen, Alonso and Massa? Hardly qualifying threats with their current cars…

      Hamilton needs to learn the meaning of being humble…

      1. Serj says:

        Of course you didn’t know back then, but:
        a} Williams
        b} Massa
        Somitemes it’s funny how difficult it is to predict anything, even such obvious…
        Your post seems to have some sence, but “strange” things happens.

  4. goferet says:

    Classic tracks are always fans favourite for they all have one thing in common and that is they punish driver errors through sand pits or barriers.

    Yes in modern day F1, drivers have been able to escape the jaws of driver error thanks to aerodynamics but due to reduced downforce in 2014, classic tracks like the Red Bull ring become more of a nightmare.

    Mercedes are back to business but reliability concerns are still in the back of the team’s head as Rosberg had to switch his cooling system after today’s running and the last time the team tickered with the cooling components was at the Canada race.

    As has been the case in 2014, Ferrari try different things with Alonso’s car on Fridays as Kimi’s form tends to point to were the team are pace wise more so after Alonso said he feared the team would struggle this weekend.

    Williams are likely to be the second fastest team on the road but with Force India slated to go for the one stop strategy, I think it would be a safe bet to see Massa and Perez back at the headmaster’s office.

    As usual the long straights are hurting Red Bull as just like Canada, the team looks to be behind the Williams.

    Regards the Red Bull drivers, Vettel hasn’t had a good record of handling home pressure very well as shown in Germany whilst Ricciardo passed with flying colours at the 2014 Australian race.

    Mclaren don’t appear to have the in season development muscle they had a couple of seasons ago and according to Jenson’s team radio, the team has encountered the same problems they did in Canada.

    Likewise, Lotus aren’t tearing up circuits with their in season development ever since Pirell brought in the durable tyres.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I’m glad someone else has noticed that Macca have lost the plot when it comes to in-season development. That really is Scuderia Woking’s elephant in the corner…………mind you, the elephant would probably be a bit more agile and aerodynamically balanced than the last few McLaren’s…….
      How times change eh? Back in 2009 McLaren turned a dog’s breakfast into a splendid Sunday roast capable of poles, wins and fastest laps, and was a very competitive machine in the 2nd half of that season. Even in 2011 Macca got stranded with that silly octopus exhaust system that could have wiped out their season, but they recovered to win half a dozen races and be the only car and team to take the fight to the Bulls.
      So what’s gone wrong?
      Personally…………..I think Woking has been distracted by its road car business. The factories at Red Bull, Brackley-Merc, Force India and Williams just exist to go racing. And what 4 teams are doing the business on the track this year?
      Yes, I know the Macca road cars are supposedly – supposedly! – separate from the racing business……………but like Ferrari I think the grind of being in a volatile road car business is denuding their racing programme.
      Theories, theories…………….

      1. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        For sure the road car business has stretched Mclaren’s resources for discounting the genius Newey’s wins in 1998 and 1999, Mclaren have won only one driver’s title since the early 90s when the road car business opened it’s doors.

        But that’s not the whole story, the modern Mclaren has been involved in other projects like designing olympic bicycles.

        So it would appear Mclaren are suffering from their own success >>> if that makes sense.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Yes, I’d agree, Macca are a victim of their own success – well, success in the past!
        Ron Dennis quote: “If McLaren don’t win a race I feel genuine pain.”
        The last few seasons Ron must have experienced something akin to being punched in the face by Joe Calzaghe, toothache, having his legs sawn off, being smashed in the plums (!), having somebody break a chair across his back and having cystitis all at the same time!

      3. Thompson says:

        Hamilton…

        The cars are fast, they just need to be switched on.

        Its here that driver feedback really matters – current driver line up in the team is what’s hurting them.

      4. kenneth chapman says:

        @ thompson,,,yes you are quite right. who do you suggest to replace hamilton?

      5. AuraF1 says:

        As Eric Boullier explained they had become an engineering group and not a racing group. Essentially they’ve pulled it all apart and are rebuilding. It’s actually looking like the development muscle has gone into the Honda arrival and building a new aero team.

      6. Gaz Boy says:

        Let’s hope so.
        Watching Macca flounder is like watching the hapless England team trying to defend against their opponents………..oh dear.
        Speaking of football, I bet dear old Fernando feels like he’s being hit over the head with a frying pan after Spain’s shock exit, not to mention the humiliation. I know he’s on friendly terms with same of the National team and I bet he feels disgusted by their feeble effort.
        PS James, if you’re reading this, I know you’re a LFC fan – God help you! – but you have to admit Mr Gerrard is past his best and had a right stinker against Uruguay. Not that I’m blaming him entirely for England’s shambolic campaign – they were all rubbish – but that howler in midfield that led to the second goal………..ugh!

      7. Scotty_E says:

        I think you have hit the nail on the head.. Merc are so dominate this year because they started working on the whole chassis / Hybrid Engine marriage years ago.. McLaren would be somewhat silly to burn cash and resources on band-aiding this years car. All Eggs in th Honda Basket I suspect!

      8. Matthew Cheshire says:

        Looking back to the MacLaren promo video James posted in November about the “perfect lap”, their mantra had become:

        Collect Data+Apply Data+Repeat Until Victory

        Not only have they turned a racing group into an engineering business, they’ve devolved their engineering into a form of Accountancy.

        This is the kind of thing that gets Sponsors excited- the idea that doing more homework than the others will guarantee wins. MacLaren seem to be believing their own spin- they then wheeled it out to the fans thinking it’d excite them too.

        Boulier looks like he understands. A guy who could use grit and a touch of genius to race with the big money teams. Good Luck Eric.

  5. PremjitS says:

    Return of a vintage circuit, which never should have been off the calendar in the first place!!

    James: the laps column is missing the number :)

    1. Anil Parmar says:

      Yeah it’s a great little track. I REALLY hope Red Bull revert it to its original layout though, with that incredible first sector. It’s up there with Spa and Suzuka imo.

  6. Wade Parmino says:

    James,

    How did the Ferrari’s go in the speed trap? Are they as far behind here as they were in Canada?

  7. Anil Parmar says:

    Today I watched cars run wide and hit grass and gravel.

    Why can’t all tracks be like that? :(

    1. AuraF1 says:

      It was great wasn’t it? I think this is another track that looks rubbish on paper that translates into something much better in reality. The elevation changes are for once really obvious on camera.

    2. Gaz Boy says:

      I totally agree – most grand prix tracks have ultra grippy tarmac/asphalt…………..but it seems Austria hasn’t read the ultra-sticky tarmac script – thank goodness!
      That’s why I love rain affected races so much – when it’s wet there is very little grip!

  8. Thompson says:

    The Perez verdict is wrong if they claimed he moved in the breaking zone one look at the footage will show Massa was not breaking – the speed at which he was approaching the corner was crazy.

    Parez had to defend that corner for 10 or so laps prior to Massa’s clumsy attempted move..

    They need to look at Massa’s telemetry. The investigation sounds rushed to me.

    1. TimW says:

      I think you will find the stewards would have looked at both drivers telemetry and every second of available footage several times. Have you?

    2. ciao says:

      He was braking far better than Perez because Perez had brake issues. Perez was in his braking zone and Massa was on his before Perez moved across “to defend” & hit him This outcome was predestined when Perez claimed he could defend in that position when he couldn’t. He had a dangerously wrong idea and it is up to the FIA to make sure that this doesn’t get repeated by anyone. The grid drop is too lenient – no apology – no owning up to being wrong – no drive.

    3. Bryce says:

      Perez was hard done by for mine. I don’t really care what any telemetry says, my eyes saw a too hot approach from Massa.

  9. Damonw says:

    Hamilton yet again showing his Friday pace but come qualifying it has disappeared. I find it strange that Nico can close the gap every Saturday even after studying Hamilton’s data. Like Lewis said there’s no point in him sandbagging because it will only hurt his own weekend. Lewis is that fast out of the box though I don’t think he’d struggle that bad trying that strategy.

  10. Stephen taylor says:

    Pole time prediction: to be set I think by Lewis Hamilton
    1.08.896

    1. KRB says:

      It’s a short lap, so there won’t be the usual level of improvement. I can buy your number, but I think it’ll be even lower … 1:08.621.

  11. WARREN G says:

    “To be as quick as I was considering others have already driven this track is a great feeling” – erm, who exactly has driven this track before that might have a competitive car to challenge the Mercs? The closest might be Massa but the Williams are still nearly a second behind.

    1. Paige says:

      Rosberg drove it in junior categories.

      That was the point.

      1. Voodoopunk says:

        …and it worked so well you had to explain it to him…

    2. NFR says:

      Ricciardo drove the track last year.

    3. KRB says:

      Of course it was directed at Nico. But it’s too obvious … Lewis needs to couch these ‘hits’ better, so that the intended target has to peel it back a little to see it. Also make it more ambiguous for the intended target. Much better if the target is unsure whether the slight was intended or not.

  12. Rohan says:

    Hi James – Re. Perez verdict. It was a serious accident and both drivers took quite a tumble through the gravel and barriers. Do you think that the fact that the FIA has given Perez only a 5 place penalty is their unspoken way of saying that they believe that Massa also shares some fault in the crash? Maybe 55-45 Perez blame? I certainly thought that Mass should take some blame for hitting a car in the back on a straight (albeit approaching a corner).

    1. James Allen says:

      Good point. It is the tariff currently, but I’ll look into that

  13. Paige says:

    Wow. I wonder who Lewis is talking to directly when he gives answers like this to the press?

    “You looked pretty comfortable out there on a new track for you in Formula One. How did it feel?”

    “Not bad, considering I’ve never driven around here before…

    “To be as quick as I was, considering other drivers around me had driven this track before was a really good feeling.”

    “How do you do that?”

    “I don’t know. (smirk) I just work hard at it.”

    Guess who has driven this track before?

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/formula1/27937989

    “The track proved difficult for the drivers, only a handful of which, including Rosberg and Vettel, had driven it in the junior categories.”

    The mind games from these two definitely haven’t stopped. We should never have expected them to stop after Rosberg’s comment in Canada that Lewis is copyinghis setups.

    1. ngwe23 says:

      In fairness it is Lewis who sparked this whole “he studied my data” story back in Bahrain. I Imagine Rosberg was not pleased with it.

  14. GP says:

    I wonder if Perez actually understands the rule. He keeps saying he did nothing wrong and yet he defended in the braking zone. I can see why Massa is worried about him.

  15. Jake says:

    James, regarding Massa running into Perez (ahem), how does the FIA define the braking zone for each corner? I would imagine this is variable depending upon the entry speed and braking ability of the car at the most basic level. These two things are wildly variable, so just wondering how they arrive at the line in the sand so to speak.

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