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Pre-Spielberg analysis - Mercedes mind games and more

20 Jun 2014

As world championship points leader Nico Rosberg played mind games with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton yesterday, the man who beat him recently in Canada was his usual smiling self as he prepares for his Red Bull team boss’s big race.

“It took a few days to sink in, but, yeah it was awesome,” Daniel Ricciardo said of the aftermath of his breakthrough victory. “We had obviously a great day and a good night with the team; we celebrated and enjoyed the moment. It was nice. I got lots of messages from lots of people, fellow drivers and other sportsmen and people around the world, which is pretty cool. I didn’t see all of them but the amount I saw were really nice.

“The race here is obviously exciting for us now. We’ve got a bit of steam as well from the last race. I think we’re all really excited - the home one for Red Bull. We’ll see what happens on track. Hopefully we can be strong again but I think as the weekend goes it’s going to be a lot of fun - not only for us drivers, but for the spectators as well. I think they’re going to put on a good show. There’s a few planes flying around today and I think that will continue throughout the weekend with a good show.”

Ricciardo highlighted the general feeling, that qualifying is going to be a humdinger and crucially important on a track with only nine corners and thus few places where a driver can make up time.

“I think it’s going to be really, really tight, especially as by the time that comes we’re all going to have our eye in, and I think mistakes are going to be costly here so it’s just about putting it all together. But it should be fun. I don’t think I’ve got an advantage here.”

Rosberg said that believes he now has the mental edge over Hamilton following his recent victory at Monaco and the clever damage-limitation job he did without ERS in Canada. The former stopped Hamilton’s streak of four victories in a row, while the Englishman’s second retirement of the season, in Montreal, put him 22 points down and almost back where he’d started with a 25-point deficit after his first, in Australia. Rosberg has finished all seven races, and Hamilton’s slide down leaves him with it all to do again in their game of F1 snakes and ladders.

"If your team mate has three or four wins in a row that's obviously going to strengthen his position," Rosberg said yesterday. "So it was really important to bring that run to an end because psychology is a big part of sports. If you have those results behind you, like I do now, it gives you that little bit of an edge."

Hamilton, however, insisted he is unfazed by the setback and ready to fight back all over again.

“It’s positive he feels that way, even for me,” he said after Rosberg’s comment. “If he is feeling that way and I beat him anyway, that is even better for me. As far as I am concerned this race is a clean slate and we’re starting again. I will attack and go again.”

Meanwhile, following a request from Force India, the stewards here in Austria - Tom Kristensen, Garry Connelly and Nish Shetty - will meet with team representatives this morning to see whether a crucial ‘new element’ of evidence warrants a further review of Sergio Perez’s final-lap clash with Williams’ Felipe Massa at the last round in Canada. If they feel that it does there will be another meeting this afternoon in which they will decide whether to rescind Perez’s five-place grid penalty for this weekend.

Massa, incidentally, is one of only four drivers with previous experience of the Austrian track.

“There are very few guys who have driven the circuit which is a little advantage but the track and limit may have changed and the cars have changed so it won't be the same as 11 years ago,” said the Brazilian. “It's not a difficult track to learn and we have the best drivers in the world in Formula 1 so they will be able to get up to speed very quickly. We can be competitive here but at the moment it's hard to tell where we will be compared to our competition.”