Nico Rosberg showed his championship potential by overtaking pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first turn to win the Austrian Grand Prix in style on Sunday.
The German driver, runner-up to his Mercedes teammate in last year's Formula One championship, took an aggressive inside line to shoot past Hamilton heading into the first turn in an eventful race featuring a heavy crash between Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso and several more retirements.
Rosberg's third win this season took his career tally to 11, and cut Hamilton's overall lead to 10 points. Felipe Massa finished third for Williams, matching his finish from last year. In the fight for the last podium spot, Massa held off Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari by just 0.6 seconds. On another terrible day for McLaren, Jenson Button retired to join Alonso in the garage.
Rosberg likes the Red Bull Ring, where he won from third on the grid last year. This time he did it starting from second. "Yeaahhh!" a jubilant Rosberg shouted on his radio after crossing the line, then jumped onto his car and hugged his team mechanics. He has good reason to be happy, having beaten Hamilton in three of the past four races.
"Not the result we wanted," Hamilton's engineer said, consoling him. It was a frustrating day for defending champion Hamilton, who received a five-second penalty for incorrectly leaving the pit lane. He got penalized for going over the white line after straying to the left after coming out of the pits after his tire change.
Hamilton's seventh pole in eight races, achieved late in Saturday's qualifying, was perhaps more precarious than on another track.
Rosberg made an aggressive start, giving Hamilton no time to settle as he screeched past him. Within moments of that exciting start, there was great drama at the back as two world champions collided coming out of turn 2 and the safety car came out for a few laps. Raikkonen appeared to lose control of his Ferrari and swerved into Alonso's McLaren, which then ended up on top of the Ferrari as they scraped along the barriers.
A worried Jenson Button, Alonso's teammate, asked over the radio: "Is Fernando OK?" After 10 laps, Button could check for himself, after trundling back to the garage. McLaren has scored only four points this season since the transition back to Honda engines.
There was no animosity from either driver as Alonso and Raikkonen shook hands before walking away from the wreckage of their cars unharmed. They were lucky, considering the state of Alonso's car, which was upside down on the Ferrari. Alonso has now retired from the past four races and has yet to score a point. Both McLarens started from the back after being hit by 25-place grid penalties for a fifth engine change plus added penalties for further element changes.
Amid the carnage of that crash, it went almost unnoticed that Manor Marussia driver Will Stevens parked his car on the side and also pulled out. After six laps with the safety car, the race resumed with Rosberg comfortably holding his lead. With 23 laps of the 71 completed, Hamilton was losing time in the middle sector and drifted 3 seconds behind Rosberg, with Vettel lagging 10 seconds back.
Then, as Hamilton started to close the gap, Rosberg changed for new tires on lap 34, as Hamilton took the lead. It was a brief lead, however, as two laps later the British driver came in for his new tires. His stop was slower than Rosberg's and the time penalty made it worse. Vettel came in on the next lap.
But Vettel's tire change proved problematic as the new rear right tire got jammed for a few seconds, and that left the German driver chasing Massa for third spot. He almost passed him on the 68th lap, but the Brazilian held on.
In other incidents, Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson was given a drive-through penalty for jumping the start and Williams' Valtteri Bottas - who finished fifth - almost collided with Max Verstappen as he was leaving the pits and the Dutch teen was coming in. Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. retired and so did Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, meaning six cars had retired before the 40th lap.