The fight for the Formula 1 world championship is hotting up, as Nico Rosberg won the Austrian Grand Prix from points leader Lewis Hamilton, closing the gap to just 10 points.

Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole, despite spinning off in the closing stages of qualifying. Rosberg took a trip through the gravel as well, but it didn’t stop him claiming second on the grid.

When the lights went out at the start of the race Rosberg won the drag race to the first corner, capitalising on Hamilton’s slow start – he blamed it on a clutch problem.

Hamilton tried to fight back in the opening lap, but his efforts were nixed when the safety car was thrown. Kimi Raikkonen lost control of his Ferrari under power coming out of Turn 2 and collected Fernando Alonso, the McLaren ending up on top of the red car’s nose. Fortunately, both drivers were unhurt.

McLaren’s weekend went from bad to worse shortly after. Both cars were running new parts, the team treating the race as an extended test session. But just a couple of laps after Alonso’s exit, Jenson Button pulled out with an electrical problem.

Back at the front, Hamilton followed Rosberg until their only pitstop of the race. As he rejoined, Hamilton’s car slid over the white line at pit exit which incurred a five-second penalty. That effectively ruled out any chance of victory.

Behind the leaders, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams pilot Felipe Massa battled over third place. Vettel had been in front until he was delayed in the pits by a problem on the right rear wheel. Vettel closed back up but couldn’t find a way past Massa.

Massa’s teammate Valtteri Bottas won a battle over fifth against Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg – fresh from winning Le Mans a week before – that had raged for much of the race.

Pastor Maldonado was seventh for Lotus having nearly come a-cropper as he passed Max Verstappen. With the DRS open, Maldonado pulled out of the Toro Rosso’s slipstream – perhaps a bit abruptly – and the car snapped sideways. Somehow he held onto it. After a crash-strewn start to the season, it was a timely reminder that Maldonado has among the best car control on the grid.

Sergio Perez finished ninth in the second Force India, while Daniel Ricciardo completed a pretty dismal weekend at Red Bull’s own track by taking a single point for tenth.

Hamilton enjoys home advantage at the next race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where he will be hoping to pick up a second consecutive win.

The British GP is held on 5 July.

Austrian Grand Prix results after 71 laps

  1. Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — 1:30:16.930s
  2. Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — +8.800s
  3. Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — +17.573s
  4. Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — +18.181s
  5. Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +53.604s
  6. Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +1:04.075s
  7. Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Mercedes — +1 lap
  8. Max Verstappen — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1 lap
  9. Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1 lap
  10. Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — +1 lap
  11. Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
  12. Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull-Renault — +1 lap
  13. Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — +2 laps
  14. Roberto Merhi — Marussia-Ferrari — +3 laps
  15. Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Mercedes — DNF (gearbox)
  16. Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Renault — DNF (gearbox)
  17. Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — DNF (electrics)
  18. Will Stevens — Marussia-Ferrari — DNF (oil leak)
  19. Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — DNF (crash)
  20. Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — DNF (crash)

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By Only Motors