Rosberg hoping for more Hamilton pain in Austria


Nico Rosberg capitalised on a horror weekend for Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton last time out in Baku and the German will be hoping he can continue his form as the Formula One calendar heads to Austria this weekend. 

After seeing his championship lead cut to nine points, Rosberg extended it to 24 over Hamilton with victory in Azerbaijan at the European Grand Prix after leading from start to finish. 

Rosberg will be feeling confident going into Sunday's race in Spielberg, with the German aiming for a third straight win at the Red Bull Ring since it made its F1 return in 2014 after a 10-year absence.

Hamilton has finished runner-up behind Rosberg two years in a row, but will know that will not be good enough as he looks to win a third consecutive F1 title. 



After back-to-back wins in Monaco and Canada, Hamilton was in buoyant mood heading to the streets of Baku. That was accentuated with dominant displays in free practice. However, it all fell apart in qualifying.

The Briton hit the wall in Q3, forcing him to start from 10th on the grid, and it did not get much better during the race, though Hamilton did fight back to secure a respectable fifth. 

It was not the weekend he needed, especially after seeing Rosberg claim the win, but the 31-year-old is focused on securing a maiden victory in Austria. 

"Baku started out great but, clearly, it just wasn't meant to be that weekend. It's a shame I wasn't really in the race - but there's no point talking about 'ifs' and 'buts'. It's one to put behind me, take the positives in terms points on the board and move on," he said.

"We've got an old school track there in Spielberg. It's definitely a big advantage starting up front there, though, so I need to get back on it in qualifying and do a better job than last time out. It would be great to get a win there and tick it off the list."



The track, owned by Red Bull, has not been a happy hunting ground for the team since its return to the F1 schedule. An eighth-place finish for Daniel Ricciardo is the highest Red Bull have finished at the circuit, with Sebastian Vettel and then Daniil Kvyat failing to finish in the top 10.

Ricciardo believes Red Bull have the pace to improve on that record, but was cautious over their chances of making the podium.

"We haven't had the results we would like there in the past, but I think we're coming there with our best package yet so hopefully that can put us up into the top five," the Australian said.



The Red Bull Ring has had an upgrade since last year's edition of the race, with newly laid tarmac set to provide a "big impact" for drivers, according to Rosberg.

The circuit is one of the oldest in F1, having hosted its first race in 1970. But it features a completely different track layout these days, after it was purchased by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and rebuilt last decade.

At just 4.326 kilometres in length, only Monaco, Mexico and Brazil are shorter than the Austrian track, with the race set for 71 laps. There are two DRS zones around the circuit, located on the main straight and after turn nine.



The weather in the mountainous Styrian region is somewhat unpredictable, but windy and rainy conditions are expected for Friday free practice and Saturday's qualifying. However, the temperature will drop from 24 to 17 degrees Celsius on race day, providing a challenge for teams with their set-ups. 



The talk of the weekend will be grip due to the re-laid surface, with Pirelli making all three soft options available. Ferrari and Renault have made the most aggressive nominations, electing nine sets of ultrasoft each.

Rosberg claimed victory last year with a one-stop strategy - affected by an early safety car - but Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery expects teams to choose two stops this time around.

"The ultrasoft compound should be well-suited to the Red Bull Ring, which means that we will almost certainly see the fastest laps ever of this current circuit configuration this weekend," he said.