Nico Rosberg’s momentum threatens to leave Lewis Hamilton red-faced at home grand prix

 

Nico Rosberg’s domination of the Austrian Grand Prix sets up an intriguing race at Silverstone a week on Sunday, for the last thing Lewis Hamilton wants is to lose his home grand prix.

Yet Rosberg suggested that his latest success was relatively easy, and believes he has succeeded in resolving the shortcomings that blighted some of his races last year. He is also on a roll, having won three of the last four races.

After making a better start than Hamilton, who was on pole, Mercedes team-mate Rosberg had clear command of the race and after their mid-race tyre stops, he was never seriously challenged.

“To get a day where it’s one of the easier wins and not having pressure from Lewis behind was great to see,” Rosberg said after drawing within 10 points of the world championship lead. “I had the pace advantage over him so all in all it was an important day. It’s coming in my direction  so that’s good. I just had a great car and everything worked out.”

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Rosberg on his way to victory in Austria

It was BBC commentator David Coulthard who called the race correctly prior to the start. “I fancy Nico, because he has nothing to lose here,” the former F1 driver said. “He can afford to be very aggressive at the start, and if he gets ahead then he’s pretty much been quicker than Lewis all weekend.”

That is pretty much how it worked out, as Hamilton’s car got bogged down with a clutch adjustment problem that lost him the advantage of his 45th career pole.

“The start was really the most important part of it,” Rosberg admitted. “It’s the biggest opportunity so I had to try everything and go for it and nail the start. A lot of it is down to my engineer who does the clutch settings, and we’ve worked on the clutch to improve that.

“It’s the guy who goes into Turn Three first that then has the best chance of winning of course because it’s so difficult to overtake in the same car. I was very happy to see the gap open up at times and then in the second stint, because racecraft was the area I needed to work on from last year and that’s really coming good now.”

Hamilton said that he had not been mentally disregarding his team-mate’s challenge after winning three of the opening four races.

“I think the points where he has been quicker than me were Barcelona and here. Otherwise I’ve been happy with my pace. Of course, you never want to go backwards, so it’s not great to finish second when you start from pole.

“In the first part of Sunday’s race I was thinking, ‘Wow, what a great race.’ We were both pushing flat-out the whole way, on the limit, and I was really enjoying it. That’s how racing should be.”

Hamilton still believes he is stronger than he was in his successful title season last year and expects to be as strong in all the places where he won in the second half of the season.

“I’m more consistent this season and hopefully that will sit well for the rest of the year if I drive at least as well as I did last year.

“This coming race I’m not worried about not having the momentum behind me from a winning weekend. I’ve never ever felt that thing about bringing momentum through with you when you’ve been successful. You just start again at the next race.”

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