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Motorsport | Formula 1

Nic Rosberg © Gallo Images

Rosberg, Mercedes back to winning ways



Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull may have upset the trend by winning in Canada two weeks ago but any hint of weakness from Mercedes was crushed at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton produced a sixth one-two of the season.

The Mercedes teammates already look uncatchable atop the drivers' standings and it seems certain the world title will be decided between the pair of them.

But unlike some recent races where Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated at the success of his colleague, both drivers could be happy with their work over the weekend as Formula One returned to Austria for the first time in 11 years.

"That was an amazing weekend for us here. It was so great to be back again in Austria. For me it felt almost like being at my home race in Germany," Rosberg said.

"This is a great track, with amazing fans and at the end also with a great result for us. I have to thank the team for a great car and a perfect strategy."

Rosberg now leads the championship by 29 points over Hamilton, a gap which is too big to be closed in one race.

Even if Rosberg fails to finish the next Grand Prix, in Britain on July 6, Hamilton could only close the gap to four points with a victory.

"Before the weekend, my target was to extend the lead in the championship, which I achieved," Rosberg said.

"So I can be quite confident before the next home race for our team in Silverstone."

While Hamilton lost ground in the title race, his hopes of better were effectively ended on Saturday when he failed to post a time in final qualifying.

This meant he started from ninth on the grid and after a wonderful start quickly moved up to fourth. Though he then claimed two more places, a serious challenge to Rosberg was not possible.

"After what happened yesterday in qualifying, today was all about damage limitation for me, so I'm as happy as I can be with a P2 finish," Hamilton said.

"Next race is in Silverstone and all the positive energy from my home fans; it will be a special time and I'll be going all out for the win."

The British Grand Prix is the ninth race of the season but with more than half the campaign remaining, Hamilton does not have to write off hopes of a second world championship just yet.

Current title holder Sebastian Vettel had another miserable race in his Red Bull, retiring at the halfway stage after suffering a power problem on lap two and then later being clipped by Esteban Gutierrez.

"Obviously, it has been a bad first half of the season with a few retirements and other problems, but I guess it's part of the game," said Vettel. "Equally we were able to learn a lot today and it's good that Daniel got some points for us."

Ricciardo, third in the championship, is the nominal challenger to the dominant Mercedes pair in what has been an excellent debut season. Consistently outperforming Vettel has shown his potential for the future.

Also looking to the future is the Williams team and Valtteri Bottas in particular after the young Finn claimed third place and the first podium finish of his career.

"It's difficult to explain how I feel right now. That was the best champagne I've ever tasted," he said. "All the hard work that the team puts in shows in moments like this."

Felipe Massa finished fourth, having started on pole, but was willing to look on the bright side.

"To stop first and come back out fourth is a bit disappointing but that's racing. It was a positive weekend for the whole team and an emotional one as well," Massa said.

"The main thing is that we got 27 points which means we move up in the constructors' championship. We have progressed a lot but there still work to do to close the gap to Mercedes."

However, closing on the gap to Mercedes, at the British Grand Prix or anywhere else, is likely easier said than done.

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