Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
Chinese Grand Prix and Bahrain Preview
By Steve Aibel
The mark of a champion is how they rebound when they are down. Mercedes AMG Petronas came to China after being vanquished by Ferrari in Malaysia and reestablished the law. The Silver Arrows are still at the top of their game. The 1-2 domination in Shanghai leaves no doubt that Mercedes are still the team to beat.
Frankly, the Chinese Grand Prix was a straightforward clinic put on by the men and women from Brackley. Lewis Hamilton topped the charts for all practice sessions, took pole position and won the race handily while managing his tires and leading from the sharp end. Nico Rosberg was pressured slightly by a hopeful Sebastian Vettel, but still came in second easily. The Mercs brought a new front wing, a low drag rear wing and new brake ducts as upgrades intended to improve the F1 W06 Hybrid. From the looks of it, they are working.
Hamilton skipped off on the opening lap and was never threatened as he dominated flag to flag. Hamilton’s strategy was to build a gap and run conservatively, saving his tires, and insuring that he could match the tire degradation of rival Ferrari. Almost sounds like a page out of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull book. This was a brilliant, mature, tactical drive but one that irritated teammate Nico Rosberg.
From Rosberg’s seat, Hamilton was sandbagging on pace which caused Rosberg to come under threat from Red 5, the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg was downright angry after the race stating that this ”was compromising my race because driving slower than was maybe necessary at the beginning of stints meant Sebastian was very close to me, and it cost me a lot of race time as I had to cover him [strategically] and my tires died at the end of the race because my [last] stint was so much longer. I’m unhappy about that.”
Hamilton responded when asked about Rosberg’s comments.
“My goal was to look after my car. I had no real threat from Nico so I just managed it.”
Here lies the key to this controversy…there was none!
Hamilton’s job is exactly to look after HIS car, not Rosbergs! It is also a key that Nico never really threatened Hamilton. He never progressed within DRS range to make an attack on Lewis so I am puzzled as to why Lewis’ pace was causing Nico to back up.
Nico’s response was that he tried during the first stint to attack his teammate but in the process, destroyed his tires. Hence ran a slower pace in the middle stint waiting to make an attack at race end.
Niki Lauda summed it up best.
“Sure, he (Hamilton) will drive selfish,”
“Nico does the same to Lewis and Lewis the same to Nico”
The pressure is building on Nico to perform! Lewis is finding more ways to buffer the attacks from his teammate which I believe are starting to bother Rosberg.
Lauda commented that this is about to get “nasty.”
Watching this is fascinating as Lewis continues to master ways of maintaining championship caliber driving.
Pay attention! You may be seeing a legend in the making!
Ferrari and Williams grabbed positions 3 through 6 with the two Ferraris pacing the two Williams. Valtteri Bottas made a great start to move in front of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, but Raikkonen showcased his tremendous talent to grab those positions right back with Massa slipping by Bottas as well. Extremely good driving by Raikkonen!
In a nutshell, this running order summarizes the strength of the top three teams this season. At this point, each team is fairly secure with some space between the team above and the team below.
A late caution due to a collision between Jenson Button and Pastor Maldonado caused the race to finish under the yellow. Button was penalized 5 seconds which dropped him from 13th to 14th position. He also received a points penalty on his Super License. Lotus scored its first points of the season with Romain Grosjean placing 7th. Sauber also finished both Felipe Nasr (8th ) and Marcus Ericsson (10th) in the points.
Next week, Bahrain will end the first set of flyaway races as the paddock starts a move back Europe for the summer. Mercedes will look to sweep the flyaways with both drivers on all 4 podiums if they run well in Bahrain. Last years race was a battle between Hamilton and Rosberg. This year Nico needs to do something now to bounce back or he will quickly find himself battling Ferrari for second place instead of Lewis for the championship. With temperatures likely to be warmer than in China, but colder than Malaysia, this may be a race where the Scuderia closes the gap again and gives Mercedes a fight for the podium.
- Lewis Hamilton 68
- Sebastian Vettel 55
- Nico Rosberg 51
- Felipe Massa 30
- Kimi Raikkonen 24
- Valtteri Bottas 18
- Felipe Nasr 14
- Daniel Ricciardo 11
- Romain Grosjean 6
- Nico Hulkenberg 6
- Max Verstappen 6
- Carlos Sainz Jr. 6
- Marcus Ericsson 5
- Daniil Kvyat 2
- Sergio Perez 1
- Mercedes 119
- Ferrari 79
- Williams 48
- Sauber 19
- Red Bull 13
- Toro Rosso 12
- Force India 7
- Lotus 6
- McLaren 0
- Manor 0