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Rosberg corrects qualifying error to win in Austria

Nico Rosberg has cruised to victory at the Red Bull Ring after seizing the lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton at the first turn.

Rosberg executed a perfect start to force the issue on the inside line at the first turn and take the lead, before defended against an attempt around the outside of turn three, but maintained the advantage and wasn’t challenged again.

Even a safety car prompted by a dramatic accident between Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso — during which Alonso’s McLaren leapt over the top of the Ferrari before coming to a stop on the nose cone — wasn’t enough to loosen Rosberg’s grip on the lead.

“It’s an awesome feeling to win again here,” he said on the podium. “Very, very happy.

“The start made the race, then I managed to defend in the first couple of corners.

“I really tried to push flat out, and the gap opened up to Lewis.”

If Rosberg’s victory was ever under threat, it was when the driver reported increasingly severe vibrations from his front tyres in the closing stages of the race.

“All eyes on that,” he implored of his pit wall, but executive director (technical) Paddy Lowe confirmed after the race that the team thought it unlikely the issue was anything more than a nuisance.

Hamilton looked a neutered version of his ordinarily feisty self, looking unlikely to mount a challenge at any point in the race.

The Briton hung around five seconds behind his teammate, but never closed until the end of the grand prix.

Matters were compounded when Hamilton crossed the white dividing line on the pit lane exit, earning him a five-second penalty added on to his race time. Though his buffer to Massa easily absorbed the punishment, it made his unlikely victory near impossible.

“I was pushing as hard as I could, but the second stint was just about making the distance, which is what I was trying to do,” he summed.

Felipe Massa scored Williams’ second podium finish of the year after Valtteri Bottas’ third place in Canada a fortnight ago.

The Brazilian’s cause was helped by a slow stop from Sebastian Vettel, who qualified third and held that position for the first half of the race.

Trouble with the Ferrari driver’s rear right tyre during the stop dropped him down to fourth, and spent the second half of the race chasing the Williams, but ran out of laps to execute the pass.

“We managed to get Sebastian with the problem he had at the pit stop,” acknowledged Massa.

“I understood maybe at the end of the race he would be behind me because they were one or two tenths quicker every lap, but I just got there.

“I’m so happy. It was an amazing race and a fantastic result for the team.”

Valtteri Bottas suffered behind the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg for he first half of the race, and was only able to get past until lap 27.

Force India reacted by pitting Hulkenberg on the next lap, which prompted Williams to do likewise to protect Bottas’ position.

Bottas, however, endured a slower stop than Hulkenberg and lost the position after exiting the pits, and was kept at bay until lap 36 — but the damage had already been done.

Hulkenberg, though — who won at Le Mans last week with Porsche, if you didn’t know — held on to sixth in the last race behind his A-spec Force India.

Pastor Maldonado survived a terrifying loss of traction in the DRS zone in the last moments of the race while battling Verstappen, but survived to sake seventh place from the Dutchman.

Maldonado tried to pull out of Verstappen’s slipstream with the DRS open and immediately lost the rear, but managed to keep his Lotus on the track and see his Toro Rosso prey run wide into the next corner, allowing him to close the deal.

Sergio Perez recovered from qualifying sixteenth — P14 on the grid after both Red Bulls took their engine penalties — to score two points.

His ninth place looked threatened by Daniel Ricciardo, who was closing fast in a truncated final stint on the supersoft tyres.

The Australian, leading Red Bull’s charge at its home race, fell three seconds short, out of laps.

Ricciardo waited until lap 52 of the 71 lap race to switch from the soft to supersoft tyre, and had enough pace to put 20 pass Sauber’s Felipe Nasr with 10 laps to go and finish 20 seconds up the road of the Brazilian.

Nasr gave a strong performance, but the Sauber didn’t have the pace to fend off attacks from faster midfield cars with its underpowered a-spec Ferrari engine.

Daniil Kvyat looked uncompetitive on his way to P12 after sustaining bodywork damage on the first lap, while Marcus Ericsson finished two laps down after serving a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.

Roberto Merhi brought up the end of the grid in P14 as the only Manor car left in the race after teammate Will Stevens had his car stop on the opening lap.

Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean were the only two other retirements, the former after losing power in his Renault engine, the latter with a terminal gearbox problem.

Formula One continues with the 2015 British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 5 July.

2015 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX — PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

Pos. Driver Team Time Points Grid
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30:16.930 25 2
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +8.800s 18 1
3 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +17.573s 15 4
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +18.181s 12 3
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +53.604s 10 6
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +64.075s 8 5
7 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes +1 lap 6 10
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap 4 7
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1 lap 2 13
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault +1 lap 1 18
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap 0 8
12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing-Renault +1 lap 0 15
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari +2 laps 0 11
14 Roberto Merhi Marussia-Ferrari +3 laps 0 16
Rt Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes Gearbox 0 9
Rt Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault Engine 0 12
DNF Jenson Button McLaren-Honda Engine 0 20
DNF Will Stevens Marussia-Ferrari Electrics 0 17
DNF Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari Collision 0 14
DNF Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda Collision 0 19

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