Lewis Hamilton put his Monaco misery behind him by winning in Canada last time out and the Formula One world championship leader will attempt to increase his advantage over Nico Rosberg in the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.
Hamilton returned to the top of the podium in Montreal after Mercedes team-mate Rosberg had closed the gap by securing back-to-back wins in Spain and Monte Carlo.
The world champion’s third-placed finish in Monaco was particularly hard to take, given he had dominated before Mercedes’ erroneous decision to pit him under a safety car handed maximum points to Rosberg.
But he heads to Spielberg with a 17-point lead over the German and will aim to strengthen his grip by claiming his first victory in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Rosberg won in Austria last year despite the best efforts of Hamilton, who started ninth on the grid and gained five places on an astonishing first lap before having to settle for second.
AROUND THE PADDOCK
Williams locked out the front row in qualifying in Austria last year, with Felipe Massa claiming pole ahead of Valterri Bottas.
Mercedes raised their game when it mattered most, though, as Bottas and Massa finished third and fourth respectively behind Rosberg and Hamilton.
While Williams are down in third in the constructor standings, head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley said the team are full of confidence following a third-placed finish for Bottas in Canada.
Bottas claimed his first podium finish in Formula One when the Austria Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 2014 following an 11-year absence.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warned “the battle is far from over” ahead of the Spielberg showpiece, as Ferrari and Williams attempt to make their presence felt this weekend.
Hamilton: “It was a great feeling to finally get back on top in Canada and add to the great memories I have there. Now, though, it’s time to move on and put things right at a circuit I had a tough introduction to last year – Austria. Although I struggled in qualifying, starting down in ninth, it was actually a great race fighting back through the field. I think I was about fourth or fifth by the end of the first lap and then just kept chipping away to claw my way back to the podium, which was really good fun. Of course, I’ll be working hard to have a clearer shot at the win on Sunday.”
Rosberg: “My first race at this track last year couldn’t have been much better. I’m sure we’ll have some tough competition here once again with Williams and probably some others too. But it’s a circuit I really enjoy driving and the crowds are unbelievable, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there and having a good battle.”
Bottas: “Last year, as a team we had strong qualifying with a front-row lockout, and in the race I achieved my first Formula One podium. The track, with its long straights and a mixture of slow and high speed corners requires good straight line speed and strong aero efficiency from the car. With the upgrades we are bringing here, we are expecting another strong weekend.”
The 4.326km Red-Bull Ring circuit, with undulating features, is more of a traditional race track to the previous two Grand Prix in Monaco and Canada. After reopening following improvements in 2011, the circuit made a welcome return to the F1 schedule last year and the race proved to be an enthralling spectacle.
Conditions can change quickly given the circuit is located in the Styrian mountains. The forecast ahead of the weekend is unsettled.
GRAND PRIX GOLD
Elio de Angelis held off a late charge from Keke Rosberg to win a classic 1982 Austrian Grand Prix at the Osterreichring. De Angelis finished just 0.05 seconds in front of the Italian in a sensational end to the race as Rosberg came up just short, but went on to be crowned world champion.