The victory podium in Austria.

The victory podium in Austria.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Austrian Grand Prix from pole position, following a two-stop strategy after an action packed race that culminated in a duel between him and his team mate Nico Rosberg all the way to the final lap.
 
Rosberg initially used the timing of his pit stop tire strategy to boost his position, ‘undercutting’ a number of drivers including his team mate (who started from pole) to lead the race. But Hamilton reeled him in during a thrilling finale, with Rosberg eventually finishing fourth after they touched on the last lap.
 
Compared to the previous sessions in Austria, ambient and track temperatures were considerably cooler, with 16 and 24 degrees respectively at the start of the race. This had the effect of containing wear and degradation, although the strategy was affected by a safety car that teams used to take a ‘free’ pit stop without significant loss of track position.
 
Ferrari and Red Bull adopted a different strategy to the majority of frontrunners, beginning the race on the supersoft tire rather than the ultrasoft, which was the default choice for the other top 10 drivers – being just over half a second quicker. However, during a long first stint, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel experienced a tire issue. The exact circumstances are still being investigated together with Ferrari; however this appears to be an isolated incident as no other drivers experienced similar problems.
 
After the final pit stops, there was a three-way battle for the lead between the Mercedes drivers and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who made one less pit stop than Rosberg and Hamilton. Rosberg and Hamilton were separated by less than a second all the way to the checkered flag, making this one of those memorable races of the season.
 
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “With Ferrari we’re fully investigating the incident on Sebastian Vettel’s car, in order to finalize a cause. Tire strategy proved to be crucial to the Austrian Grand Prix, with a close battle to the finish that went all the way to the final lap, using a number of different strategies. The teams headed into the weekend with little information on the tires following the mixed conditions in free practice and qualifying, as a result of which strategy was a question of thinking on their feet and extracting the maximum advantage from the changing race circumstances.”

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