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After 11 years, the Austrian Grand Prix returned and it did so in wonderful fashion. From the world-class facilities to the old-school circuit and even down to the culturally classic dirndl-clad grid girls—no bum-floss spandex perpetuating the objectification of women–, Dietrich Mateschitz put on a terrific event. If there was any doubt as to how much Formula 1 in missed in Europe, the Austrian Grand Prix was a brief glimpse with over 100,000 fans attending the race.

Aside from the great venue, the race wasn’t bad either. The circuit proved to be challenging even if it only has nine turns. The point-and-squirt nature of the circuit means that brakes take a drubbing at the Red Bull Ring and brake management as well as tire management was serious business all afternoon.

The Austrian Grand Prix is hosted by the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg Austria and even though it is Red Bull’s house, only one Red Bull sponsored car finished the race out of four. Tire deflation, and the resulting suspension damaged, ruined Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat’s race while his teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne, suffered brake failure.

Red Bull’s 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel’s miserable year continued with a loss of power only to re-set the system to toil at the back of the grid before retiring the car in order to save componentry for another day. This leaft his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, the only Red Bull liveried car to finish the race in a distant 8th which is miles from his win just two weeks ago in Canada.

Mercedes nursed their brakes and tires to take the fight to the Williams duo who held the front row and eventually came out on top for a 1-2 finish extending Nico Rosberg’s championship lead by 29 points.

Win

 

Win

Mercedes read the tea leaves perfectly and even if it seemed that the circuit could ravage their brake systems, the duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg drove excellent races and were able to manage their resources perfectly.

Rosberg’s win extends his championship lead by 29 points and the signs are, he’s settling in for a long defense of his position as Hamilton is wringing the neck of his car in order to claw back points. A Mercedes battle to the end will be key and one has to wonder if the double-points finish in Abu Dhabi could come in to play for Lewis.

Regardless of what the traffic issues may have been, it is a big win for Mateschitz and Austria. The grand prix was stunning visually and the attention to detail was perfect. A huge win for Europe as getting F1 back to the continent is important and Austria is leading the way. Austria 1, AsiaPac 0.

A big win for Valtteri Bottas who scored his first-ever podium finish. The Finnish drive seemed awestruck during the post-race interview showing a humble side of Bottas and the impact F1 has on his life. A terrific result and big points for Williams in Austria with his teammate and pole-sitter Felipe Massa scoring a well-deserved 4th place finish.

A big win also for McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen who has been taking heat in the press over statements made by his veteran teammate Jenson Button regarding the lack of car development in the team due to having a rookie at his side. Magnussen seemed to use Austria in order to tell his venerable teammate to shut up as he scored a 7th place finish to Button’s 11th.

Spielberg-Grid-Girls-GP-Oesterreich-2014-fotoshowBigImage-5e1ece7f-787007

Also in the “Win” camp was Force India and Sergio Perez. The Mexican had a 5-place grid penalty from his collision with Mass in Canada and while the review of the penalty was upheld in Austria, the young Mexican turned disappointment into motivation by managing his tires better than most and finishing 6th after starting down in 11th. Perez, often accused of being ham-fisted on track, drove a gentleman’s race and looked every bit the driver that his fans know him to be. Perez used a completely opposite tire strategy to great effect.

An honorable mention must be given to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who ran with a pack his car had little business running with and managed to finish 5th giving the team accolades it needs but may not fully deserve.

Fail

Fail

Red Bull, the racing team, has to look at this weekend as a fail only finishing one car of its four-car livery. Sebastian Vettel’s patience is being tested every grand prix weekend and the pressure of the team’s home race didn’t help matters. Red Bull need to sort out Seb’s issues quickly and stop blaming him for issues beyond his control like Helmut Marko did last week.

Lotus has had another miserable weekend and talk about keeping motivation high, the team struggles to get Romain Grosjean a car he can remotely compete with. The teams social media and email updates are always full of “chin-up”, “keep-walking”, “dig-deeper” headlines but one wonders just how long email subject lines will prevail in a team rumored to be on the ropes. Both cars finished a lap down.

Sauber’s Adrian Sutil recovered with a 13th place finish but his teammate, Esteban Gutierrez, was released from the pits with an unsecured wheel garnering the attention of race control—they tend to frown on such things for very good reason.

WTH

Williams gains a WTH for their strategy on the pit wall. Having viewed Mercedes pitting for fresh rubber on the first round of stops, Williams chose to leave pole-sitter Felipe Massa and his second-place running teammate, Valtteri Bottas, out for extra laps which ultimately scuttled any chance of winning the race. Rob Smedley says tire wear was so close that to react to Merc’s stops would have meant potentially not finishing the race…er, ok. He’d know better than I would.

Bottas fared better than Massa in the ensuing pit stops but the reaction time during the second round of pit stops was equally delayed. Whether or not you believe Williams had the pace to hold off Hamilton or Rosberg isn’t the point, the team needed to put their drivers in a position to have to hold them off, not give the positions away due to reticent pit strategy. Regardless, it is a big points haul for the team and it was great to see them mixing it up with the Mercedes duo.

Another WTH moment coming from Lewis Hamilton fans is the suggestion that the team is purposefully making Lewis’s pit stops longer than Nico’s. I find this yet more Hamilton-mania crazy speak. We are measuring these stops to the hundredth of a second and to say that a group of men—a large group mind you—could perform .700 or .900 of a second slower for Lewis each time he came in is just simply nonsense.

I may never understand the Hamilton die-hard fan because it sometimes seems they go from mountaintop elation claiming Senna-like domination to instant hostility throwing out racism, conspiracy and acidic insults in less time than it takes to make a Lewis Hamilton pit stop slower than Nico’s. I find that kind of fan somewhat perplexing and seemingly devoid of balance or critical thinking at times.

If Mercedes could do what they are suggesting, they’d be Pietro Maximoff for crying out loud! Massa had a slower stop than Bottas, was that collusion between Bottas and the team to keep Massa down? It happens at every single pit stop to every team, one driver will have a slightly—and I mean SLIGHTLY—slower stop than the other one. We are talking about a second or less here folks. Go turn your couch or love seat in the complete opposite direction a few hundred times and start managing it down to .700 of a second.

The End

In the end, the race was a great return of Austria and the nation put its best foot forward. Regardless of Red Bull’s lack of success at Sunday’s Grand Prix, Didi’s efforts in bringing the race back to Austria was a resounding success.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Rapierman

    So, looking solely at the track, should it have been longer?

  • From article: “. . . even down to the culturally classic dirndl-clad grid girls—no bum-floss spandex perpetuating the objectification of women–, . . .”

    Whether it is bum-floss spandex or dirndl-clad grid girls, the term “grid girls” alone should give us pause; may as well say eye-candy. First, they are not girls, they are women. (I know of no men who enjoy being called boys, btw). Second, it matters not what they wear, women are still minimized and objectified by F1, in fact all of racing, by and large. Women (read models) standing around passing out hats, maintaining forced smiles, holding grid placement flags, and applauding in the hallway in salute the victors is of an era that should be long past by now. Yes, we all can point out a few exceptions, but they are exceptions that prove the rule. (And, no the playing field is not a level, talent-vs-talent proposition when it comes to men and women. That is a shop-worn excuse for rationalizing obvious, uncomfortable truths.)

    I frequently watch the races with my 11 year old daughter. She sees it. She notices and makes comments; “Why are all those ladies just standing around?”; “Aren’t high heels dangerous on a race track?”, etc. We discuss how there are, surely, race involved women behind the scenes, but other than the gratuitous female co-anchors for the broadcasters, there is precious little show of inclusion. ~ One notable standout is Jenny Gow of the BBC. ~ Q: why did the woman race engineer for Button last year disappear back into the wood work? All at McLaren said she was an excellent engineer.

    I get that guys like watching racing and that guys like (by and large) looking at pretty women (me too). This sideshow should stop, though. Women and girls should be encouraged to love engineering and love a sport where they will be treated as equals among peers within the business of racing. This is not evidenced by what we see on our television machines and in many on-line racing journals; we are treated to camera shots of “the girlfriend” and articles titled “Hottest Grid Babes of (name your race)”. My wife and I encourage our daughter to not feel shy about loving math (she’s not great at math, but she’s good and she likes it) and to pursue STEM. But already, she is being sold the group-think that boys are better at math and science. Why?; because that’s the message she sees all around her, a message reinforced, unfortunately, by Formula 1.

    Enjoyed the race today, btw. Thought the venue was wonderful. Makes me want to travel to Austria. Sorry about the Williams pit strategy(?) and Felipe’s lack of luck, not to mention Seb’s. Clearly stoked for Williams, overall. At least I can draw attention to Clair Williams as a woman who is having a demonstrable, positive impact on F1

    • Motorsport seems to think it needs a female driver to legitimize the cause. I say they can start by not objectifying women on the grid and in the teams and sponsors for starters. It isn’t a driver they need, it’s a change in the way they view women associated with motor sport. just my opinion. Having said that, it is also a job and a living so there are two sides, if not three sides of the equation.

      • The Captain

        When a female driver finally gets on the grid will she get a “grid guy” holding her sign?

        • Paul Charsley is in training right now for that job.

          • The Captain

            The question becomes speedo, or the Bond swim trunks for Casino Royal?

            I think he’ll have to wear the trunks, The Flavio already has a lock on the speedo thing.

    • “we are treated to camera shots of ‘the girlfriend’ and articles titled ‘Hottest Grid Babes of (name your race)’.”

      Can I mention that the lack of “hottest grid babe” articles on this site is one of the reasons why I lurk here over any other racing site? Well, here and Motomatters, for the same reason — exceptional writing and analysis, and no extraneous “grid babe” fluff that I scroll past while rolling my eyes. (And it’s not because I don’t like looking at pretty girls. It’s just not relevant bandwidth when I want to read about RACING.)

      @Michael: Good for you for encouraging your daughter to be interested in STEM! My parents did the same with me, and now I work for a high profile tech company. I wasn’t the best at math, either, but I still found my niche. Hopefully she won’t take the group-think crap to heart. Keep up the encouragement — it absolutely makes a difference.

      • We try hard to not cater to the least common denominator such as movies that seems to always go for toilet humor these days and sites that rely on traffic for revenue so they put as much T&A as they can on to gain eyeballs. I tend to think our community deserves much better. now…whether we deliver “better” is purely subjective but at least we aren’t shoving breasts in your face while we do what it is we do. :)

    • Let me try to be a bit contrarian. I don’t get why it should be objectifying to appreciate someone’s looks just as I don’t see how it is objectifying to appreciate someone’s ability to drive a car quickly around a circuit.

      People chose to make a career out of either of those and there’s nothing wrong with it. A lot of the girls you talk about would probably be happy to be in a “Hottest girls of…” article and who are you to judge them?

      I mean, don’t get me wrong, I share your values. The superficiality of this entire modeling thing drives me nuts. The point is that I have met many women over the years who wanted just that.

      That’s why I really changed my opinion on this. I don’t believe anymore in this idea of society driving girls into these roles by giving them bad role models, it’s rather the exact opposite. It’s that girls demand these role models on the market place. Think about it: Who’s actually watching horrible shows like America’s Next Topmodel? A few old perverts and a lot of young women who create most of the demand. They’re not fed this against their will, they want it. Otherwise there are ample alternative role models to choose from, be it in science, politics, etc.

  • Biggest WTH moment:
    Sauber telling Gutierrez to stop immediately after the botched pit-stop…only that they had Sutil on the line who did as he was told. It took 10 seconds until Sauber realized their mistake.

  • PM

    When Hamilton pitted, I’mm pretty sure he missed his box by a bit, which might explain the delay.

  • Did Vettel inherit whatever curse afflicted Ben Spies in his last two seasons? I mean, dang, dude. Even Mark Webber had an easier time last year. (Yes, a new engine format equals less reliability, but still…)

    Regarding the grid girls discussion, I remember having a similar conversation with a friend of mine from the MMA scene when I started following motorsport. I think I made some off-handed comment about how MotoGP brolly girls wore slightly more respectable clothes than ring girls*, and she said it didn’t make that much of a difference, because they were still doing the same job, even if they got to wear actual pants or skirts once in a while. On the upside, at least we’re not having to discuss whether scantily clad women parading around between bouts of sweaty, shirtless men grappling is their way of saying “no homo” to the majority fanbase. Ugh. This is why I don’t follow MMA as closely as I used to.

    Do the drivers get any choice in who holds their umbrellas and grid numbers? I’m more invested in MotoGP than F1, so I’ve paid enough attention to notice riders having their girlfriends or family members standing by them before the race, but I have no idea if F1 allows for that.

    *the local MMA promotion in my state earned my respect when the first show I went to had a ring girl clad in actual fight gear…because she was one of the fighters. Turns out she volunteered because she thought it would be a fun thing to do to kill time before her main event match. They pretty much let anyone hold the round cards, regardless of gender, and they don’t have to dress “sexy” if they don’t want to.

  • Chuck C

    Interesting …
    Rosberg has won 3 races: Australia, Monaco, Austria
    Vettel has DNF’d 3 races: Australia, Monaco, Austria

    I think we see where Vettel’s luck has gone. :)

    • And Mark Webber attended all three of those races…I’m sure Helmut is blaming Webber, :)

  • Scott Dooley

    While I believe that women are typically objectified particularly in mainstream advertising, I for one have to give a shout of support to the Ladies of the Grid (Lame, but much better than Grid Girls!) Like it or not, beautiful women and glamour are a part of the spectacle of F1 and a tiny spark would be missing if these ladies weren’t present. My wife doesn’t want to muck about in the racing details I do, but she always enjoys seeing these ladies and how they are dressed because she enjoys that international facet of F1. It’s not as if these ladies are constantly dressed as strippers, and in most cases a great deal of care and sophisitcation is involved in designing and crafting these outfits that represent a trait of the hosting country. If you like design and technical perfection well executed, fashion is a wonderful career choice for many young ladies, and there is a lot of math and science going on in this industry as well. I would also like to mention that Claire Williams enjoys far more TV time, especially in the US broadcasts, than the few random glimpses of the Ladies in the Lane (still horrible, but still better than Grid Girls!). That is who I point out to my daughter. I wish there were more examples, but that will come over time and hopefully by merit. Finally, what you do with your kids is way more important than what they see. I’m sure you are doing all sorts of wonderful activities with your daughter that are going to impact her interest in science far more than seeing a few lovely women on the start line runway.

  • “lowest common denominator”? Heck, that’s the F1 FIA rule book’s intent, isn’t it?

    The race? ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (except bravo Williams! and nice work Alonso with that POS).

  • Oscar Bracamontes

    Hello, on Checo Perez just a clarification on qualy he classified 11th, but due to that 5 place penalty from Canada, he was further sent to 16th place on the starting grid.
    So he advanced 10 places on race.

  • Grid girls are a part of F1. Maybe not an important part, but the series was partially built on glamor and WAGs. They are gratuitous, yes, but just the same as ring girls are in MMA and boxing. That said, just like everyone else, I enjoy seeing them but if I want to, I will seek articles with them. Its better they aren’t plastered everywhere.

    Being a Hamilton groupie, sometimes I think Mercedes is doing this do him. For what reason, I have no idea. They would likely benefit much more if Lewis where world champion as opposed to Nico because of the former’s greater popularity and willingness to be extroverted and outgoing. Anyway, losing a few or several tenths in the pits would be very simple. Just tell the mechanics to hold on on pulling the trigger on the impact for a split second or have the person responsible for releasing pause briefly before sending off the car.

  • Thanks for all the comments re: Grid Girls / F1
    Suffice to say, how we speak to our children becomes their inner voice. What messages do our advertising, our sports, our actions send? I’ll step off my soap box and share this link to an ad from Verizon Telecom here in the States.
    http://youtu.be/XP3cyRRAfX0