Rookie of the Race
#33 – Max Verstappen – Netherlands – Scuderia Toro Rosso
Despite a few, lets say questionable defensive manoeuvres during the Austrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen returned to the points for the first time since the Malaysian Grand Prix, and was by far the best of the Renault-powered cars pretty much all weekend.
The Dutchman had the advantage of arriving at a track where he has previous racing experience for one of the first times this year, and was quick straight out of the box, and qualified an excellent seventh.
He jumped into the top six on the opening lap ahead of the much faster Williams of Valtteri Bottas, and made it difficult for the highly rated Finn to pass him, and spent the final laps attempting to hold off the challenge of Pastor Maldonado, although he made some mistakes on tyres near the end of their life to allow the Lotus driver to pass him on the penultimate lap.
Eighth place was probably where Verstappen deserved to end up, but he showed up the sister Red Bull Racing team all weekend, and further justified the team’s decision to promote him into Formula 1 at such a young age.
#12 – Felipe Nasr – Brazil – Sauber F1 Team
There were high hopes heading into the race on Sunday that Felipe Nasr could finish inside the top ten in Austria, but the Brazilian’s race was compromised early by brake issues that saw him fade and fall to eleventh at the chequered flag.
Nasr had been having a strong weekend for Sauber, getting into the top ten shootout on Saturday, and would line-up eighth on the grid, higher than most people were expecting ahead of the weekend with the team apparently having taken a backwards step in development, at least compared to some of its midfield rivals.
He once more had the better of team-mate Marcus Ericsson, but with his brakes overheating early on during the race, he was unable to maximise his performance, but nevertheless put in a good days work, even if points were not forthcoming.
#98 – Roberto Merhi – Spain – Manor F1 Team
The last handful of races have been far stronger for Roberto Merhi, who is now more than a match for team-mate Will Stevens.
The Spaniard out-qualified Stevens for a second consecutive weekend, and wound up sixteenth on the grid when all of the penalties around him were applied, and kept himself out of trouble when it matters in the race to take a season’s best fourteenth.
He may only have his team-mate to gauge his season against with the Manor as bad as it is, but at least Merhi is now beginning to prove what he is truly made of.
#55 – Carlos Sainz Jr – Spain – Scuderia Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz Jr had a relatively quiet weekend in Austria, and was overshadowed pretty much the whole way by team-mate Verstappen. On a power circuit, the underpowered, underachieving Renault engine did not help, with the Spaniard qualifying outside the top ten.
The rain that he felt he needed to have a better race was not forthcoming, and despite running inside the top ten early in the race while others made their pit stops, but a slow pit stop of his own saw him fall down the order, before ultimately retiring with a power related problem.
There will be circuits better suited to the Toro Rosso team and to Sainz, and the Spaniard will be seeking more from Renault as well.
Rookie of the Race Winners:
3 – Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen
2 – Felipe Nasr
0 – Roberto Merhi