Motorsport: Flames and Lames Tue Jul 5

By Dale Budge

Ott Tanak during Day Three of the WRC Poland. Photo / Getty Images
Ott Tanak during Day Three of the WRC Poland. Photo / Getty Images

Flames

Jenson Button
Ok the Brit only finished sixth in the Austrian Grand Prix but given where McLaren has been this season his third place start on the grid for the race was cause for major celebration. Button has struggled to crack the top 10 in qualifying all season so to park the car on the second row - albeit in part to a couple of faster cars getting penalties - is a big step in the right direction for the struggling outfit. Button is off-contract at the end of the season and there's plenty of speculation he will be replaced but this performance will help ease the pressure on the former world champion.

David Holder
Holder claimed his maiden New Zealand Rally Championship at the weekend's one-day Rally Gisborne, banking enough points to take an unassailable lead in the championship with one round to go on the Coromandel. The result came out of the blue as his nearest rivals ran into problems one after another. It took a television crew to inform Holder's team that they were about to win the championship before anyone knew they were about to achieve their ultimate goal. The Bay of Plenty product has been mentored by WRC star Hayden Paddon and is tipped for big things.

With Paddon blazing the trail internationally there could be opportunities for Holder to follow in coming years.

Ott Tanak
The Estonian has long promised to be a future star of world rallying but to this point has failed to live up to the hype. MSport Ford gave up on him last year opting for WRC rookie Eric Camilli in their fulltime seat this season but Tanak showcased the raw talent that had people tipping him as a future world champion as he dominated the field for just shy of three days at the weekend's WRC Rally Poland. He blew his competitors away on the fast gravel roads of Poland and looked set for a break through win until late on the final day.

Lames

Ott Tanak
For the first time someone appears on both the flames and lames list. If anyone ever needed proof that motorsport can be so cruel then Tanak's second place finish at WRC Rally Poland over the weekend certainly provided it. Having led the event from start to finish (well almost) Tanak seemed certain of a maiden WRC win as he headed off for the final two stages of the event with a nice buffer over second placed Andreas Mikkelsen. But a puncture on the penultimate stage saw him lose valuable time and drop behind the Norwegian and have to settle for second. With tears streaming down his face the young Estonian couldn't speak to reporters at the conclusion of the rally and was consoled by his competitors after suffering such bad luck.

Mercedes F1
Less than a week ago Lewis Hamilton proclaimed his relationship with teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg was "better than expected." It may have taken a hit (excuse the pun) during the weekend's Austrian Grand Prix with the two Mercedes drivers coming together yet again (third time in five races) at the front of the field on the final lap. Hamilton tried to pass around the outside and two drivers made enough contact for Rosberg to fall to fourth while Hamilton managed to hang on for the win and reduce the German's championship lead to just 11 points. Both drivers blamed each other but the stewards took Hamilton's side issuing Rosberg with a time penalty for causing a collision.

Sebastian Vettel
In a season of costly incidents for the former world champion Monday's Austrian Grand Prix was no less cruel to him. The Ferrari driver's rear tyre exploded mid-race, within its expected life duration, and took him out whilst in the lead of the race. Vettel has struggled to consistently match the outright speed of the Mercedes this year and hasn't been able to capitalize on the mistakes the German manufacturer and their drivers have made this year because of the number of problems his own team has faced.

- NZ Herald

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