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F1: Rosberg heads off Hamilton to extend lead in Austria

Story highlights

  • Nico Rosberg extends world championship lead with victory in Austria
  • Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton finishes second as both nurse cars home
  • Williams team claims third and fourth with Valtteri Bottas and polesitter Felipe Massa
  • Red Bull struggles on rebuilt home circuit, hosting F1 race for first time since 2003

Inside the Red Bull Ring -- home to the returning Austrian Grand Prix -- Mercedes toreadors Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were effectively left to slog it out by their peers in Sunday's race.

Hamilton flew from ninth to fourth by the end of the first lap to once again put himself into a fight with his teammate and chief world title rival.

The two Mercedes circled each other like silver sharks in the final 20 laps around the undulating circuit but each time Hamilton bit into Rosberg's lead, the German responded.

There was to be no final attack and Rosberg took a third win of the season to stretch his lead in the 2014 Formula One drivers' championship to 29 points.

"It's a nice gap," said Rosberg, who remains determined to stem rising expectation that he will emulate his father Keke and be crowned world champion.

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"It's still so early in the season. I'm more or less taking it step by step, and every weekend my aim is to extend the lead.

"It worked out well and I'm extremely happy with the result."

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Hamilton had hampered his chances of clawing back ground on his rival and long-term friend after making a mistake in qualifying Saturday.

The 2008 champion's fastest time was scratched because he infringed the rules by running wide at Turn Eight and he then spun on this second attempt to grab pole position.

Hamilton made amends Sunday with a sensational start, which saw him jump five places on the opening lap.

He then passed the Williams of Valtteri Bottas after the first round of pit stops to start the chase to Rosberg.

"It was a good start," Hamilton said. "It's probably one of the best I've ever had.

"(It was) damage limitation to get from ninth to second behind Nico. In the last couple of laps I tried to eke it up a bit but I'm just grateful I finished."

The English racer has retired twice this season while Rosberg has sailed to three race wins and five second places.

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A resurgent Williams team announced itself as Mercedes' closest rivals after Felipe Massa had taken pole position ahead of teammate Bottas.

But the former champions appeared to run a conservative race, content to settle with third place for Bottas -- the first podium of the Finn's career -- rather than risk a solid result by taking the fight to Mercedes.

Dictated by Williams' tire strategy, Massa had to pit for fresh rubber three laps after Rosberg, effectively surrendering the lead. The Brazilian eventually finished fourth.

Bottas said: "Overall it was my best ever weekend so I'm really happy.

"We need to analyze if there was anything we could have done better. It was difficult to know the real difference between optimum (supersoft tire) and prime (soft tire) so we really thought it would be difficult to undercut."

Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz is credited with returning the Austrian Grand Prix to the calendar after an 11-year absence.

After revamping the picturesque A1 Ring circuit and renaming it the Red Bull Ring, the owner of the race team with the same name probably expected to see his four-time world champions run rings round the competition.

It was ironic that the power-dependent circuit did not suit Red Bull's car or the 2014 Renault engines that give his Bulls their muscle.

Daniel Ricciardo -- a surprise winner in Canada last time out -- finished eighth while reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel had to suffer the ignominy of retiring with engine trouble at the halfway point.

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"It was frustrating today," said Ricciardo. "We tried to push and catch the others but we just didn't have that much pace."

Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished 10th, were the only cars inside the top-10 which are not powered by the Mercedes hybrid engines.

Alonso finished a hard-worked fifth ahead of Sergio Perez's Force India, McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, Ricciardo and the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

The Red Bull F1 brand may have its own race team and a beautiful circuit but there is growing speculation a Red Bull engine could be a future project for the team's technical guru Adrian Newey.

"We want to make sure we're competitive for the long term," team principal Christian Horner said after Sunday's race. "Designing and manufacturing our own engine currently isn't part of that plan.

"It's highly improbable. First of all we need to see what the plans for Renault are.

"We've obviously had a lot of success with Renault but the situation isn't improving and the reliability and performance is unacceptable.

"It can't continue like this -- it's not good for Renault and it's not good for Red Bull."

As F1 returned to Austria, the hills were alive with the sound of Mercedes music.

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