Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling Austrian Grand Prix on the final lap after a collision with fellow title contender Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg turned late into Turn 2 as Hamilton tried to pass on the outside. Hamilton largely escaped unscathed to cruise home for victory but the incident damaged the German’s front wing and he was overtaken by Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen to finish in fourth.
Dramatic Last Lap
The race was perfectly setup for a tight finish towards the end with some tight contests across most of the field.
Out in front, Rosberg entered the final lap less than a second in front of Hamilton. But a mistake on Turn 1 mean that Hamilton got a jump on the front-runner and closed quickly leading into Turn 2.
The Englishman looked to overtake Rosberg on the outside but Rosberg braked late forcing a collision and pushing Hamilton off the track.
Rosberg’s front wing was shattered and got caught under his Mercedes with sparks flying. With no downforce and limited control, he could only limp home in fourth place as Verstappen and Raikkonen – in their own close fight – overtook him.
Hamilton, though, barely had any damaged and kept his foot on the throttle to claim a hard-fought victory and his first in Austria.
Rosberg expressed his surprise about Hamilton’s move after the race.
“I’m gutted. That’s sport sometimes, but unbelievable. I was sure to win, I lost in the last lap – pretty intense.”
“We were battling, and I was struggling a bit with my brakes and tyres degrading, and that gave Lewis a chance.”
“Nevertheless I was confident I could defend accordingly – I had the inside line. I went a bit deep into the corner but that’s okay, I dictate, but I was very surprised Lewis turned in. I’m frustrated about losing the win like that – I was out front, felt great and was going to win the race.”
For his part, Hamilton was relaxed about the incident.
“I don’t feel it’s controversial really,” Hamilton said.
“He blocked the inside, so I went to the only place I could on the outside, the racing line.”
“He was in my blind spot so I went very wide, left him room, and as I started to turn he collided with me. My guys said he had something wrong with the brakes maybe.”
“I came back onto the track as fast as I could and it was very close again. For me it was exciting.”
The stewards looked at the collision and gave Rosberg a 10-second penalty and two licence penalty points but it didn’t alter his final position.
How Did it Get That Close?
The fact that Hamilton was behind Rosberg entering the final lap will be the source of conversation within the Mercedes camp this week.
Hamilton started the race on pole and comfortably led through the opening stages.
Rosberg – hit with a five place grid penalty for changing his gear box – fought through the field passing Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Jenson Button to be third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by lap 10.
The team then brought Rosberg in for his first pit stop, fitting the most durable soft tyres, while Hamilton stayed out on the more fragile ultra-softs.
It gave Rosberg the opportunity to close on Hamilton so he was 21 seconds behind when Hamilton made his first pit stop on lap 21.
That gap should have kept Hamilton in the lead but he was delayed in the pits by a problem with his left rear wheel and he rejoined behind Rosberg.
“I don’t understand exactly how I ended up being second,” said Hamilton.
“But I never gave up. I pushed all the way. I knew I needed those points.”
Great Drives in Spielberg
The close contest out front mostly drew the attention away from some other great drives.
Ferrari’s Raikkonen was tailing Verstappen over the finishing laps and ended just 0.3s behind the Red Bull driver.
Jenson Button also battled strongly over the course of the race. Starting from third, he made a strong start to jump Hulkenberg and sit in second until his first pit stop. He came out in a competitive mid-field scrap but ended in an impressive sixth place in an underperforming McLaren.
But probably the driver of the weekend was Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein. Locking in a fantastic 12th place grid start after an impressive qualifying session, he continued to deliver on race day and finished in 10th place – giving Manor their first points of the campaign.
“When I crossed the start-finish line, I looked at the screen and I saw my name in P10 and I thought it must have been Perez. I asked the team, I was lapped and I wasn’t sure what the rule is. So I asked if we managed to finish P10 or P11 and they said P10. Amazing.”