When the idea of reviving the Austrian Grand Prix was first mooted and Red Bull refurbished the Spielberg circuit, probably our owners had been hoping for a rather more glorious weekend than this one. However from the start of this season, it’s been clear that Red Bull Racing is no longer the totally dominant force it has been for the past four years. Never mind, Formula 1 is a cyclical sport and that’s the nature of competition. But even allowing for that, this was a particularly disappointing day for cars proudly carrying the Red Bull. There were three retirements in this eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the two Toro Rossos and Sebastian Vettel.
With Daniil Kvyat starting from seventh on the grid, we were particularly hopeful of a good result, especially as, but for the yellow flags in qualifying, it seemed our rookie had the pace to have been fifth on the grid. But it was not to be and a problem with the right rear corner on his car meant his race was over on lap 25. As for Jean-Eric Vergne, he fought bravely with brake problems from early on and eventually retired after 59 laps when he could no longer fight the car round the track.
On the positive side, there is the performance improvement that was clear to see this weekend, thanks to the positive effect of the new aero package we introduced here on the STR9. With the sweeping high speed turns at Silverstone, the lessons learned here in Spielberg will definitely prove useful in the British GP in a fortnight’s time.
Off the track, the event was a great success and even the TV World Feed featured a superimposed message from Bernie Ecclestone, saying “Congratulations Mr Mateschitz, Thank You Bernie!” The Austrian fans definitely showed they’d waited a long time for a home race as the crowd today was estimated at around 100,000, with the total amount over the four days reckoned to be double that.
With its long tracks, the Red Bull Ring was always going to favour the Mercedes powered cars and they duly filled the top four slots, with Nico Rosberg taking his third win of the season, with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton making it their sixth one-two. Behind them came the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas making his first F1 podium appearance and Felipe Massa.