Nico Rosberg has secured his sixth consecutive win on Sunday, which puts his name among the likes of Michael Schumacher, Alberto Ascari and Sebastien Vettel in the back-to-back wins list.
He is also the first driver since 2004 to win the first three opening races of the season, a feat that was last accomplished by Schumacher who went on to in the title that year.
Admittedly I don’t tend to look at the stats in Formula 1 since they can sometimes offer a skewed view on what actually went on during the weekend. But so far this season they’ve proved to be a valuable tool in quantifying how well Rosberg is actually doing in relation to the other top drivers.
The races have been quite frantic since the new tyre rules came into play. If the teams don’t have a smooth start to the race, it can mess around with all of the simulations that they do and force them to think on their feet.
Thats why Lewis Hamilton made a total of five pitstops during Sunday’s race. Most of them were done under the Safety Car, but it was done by the team so he was free to use whatever tyres he wanted should he need to pit again whilst coming back through the field.
Likewise for Red Bull, they needed to ensure Daniel Ricciardo was reacting to the drivers around him on Mediums and who had not pitted under Safety Car, in order to ensure that he came back through the field with minimal risk. The result was what Ricciardo called: “the best race I’ve ever driven.”
There are other drivers who were forced to think on their feet too during that race and their results speak for themselves. But for Rosberg, it was a simple case of building up the gap in clean air. He must have been having flashes of his debut win in 2012, when it effectively all kicked off strategy-wise behind him again whilst he just drove the perfect race.
Hamilton will be determined to break this streak. He already has the upper hand in qualifying, he just needs to have a clean Sunday to show Rosberg a title in 2016 won’t come easy. Especially with Ferrari and Red Bull’s pace lingering.
It was good to see no retirements on Sunday. I think I’m right in saying that its the first time we’ve had all finishers reach full-race distance since India 2013? Certainly the first time we’ve had it since the turbo-electric-hybrid era was introduced in 2014.
It’s quite an incredible achievement when you think of what was being said during 2014 pre-season testing. Stories of cars overheating and drivers potentially missing out on weekends if they had engine-related issues because of how complex these cars are have since faded with all the other “would be” Formula 1 stories.
It also shows that Ferrari have worked out their early technical gremlins, likewise McLaren Honda who would’ve bagged some points had they not put their drivers on a two-stop. I thought Button said something interesting on Saturday though “one day we will show our true pace” – which I believe to be just outside the top five.
Daniil Kvyat and Vettel’s post-race scrap in the green room was probably one of the highlights for me. The young Russian held his own against the established four-time world champion Ferrari driver, and rightly so. Vettel would’ve done exactly the same thing to his former team if it was him, Kvyat and Ricciardo going three-wide into the corner.
It was perhaps a bit of theatre on Vettel’s part in front of the onlooking Sergio Marchionne, but I also believe he was slightly upset with Kvyat’s judgement given how you tend to take a late apex into that corner. The stewards were right to not investigate it, but not bringing out the Virtual Safety Car so the debris could be cleared was a bit stupid considering that was the root cause of Ricciardo’s puncture whilst he was leading.
The stewards have been oddly lenient on debris calls in recent races. Stoffel Vandoorne ran over a rather sizeable piece in Bahrain which should’ve been retrieved under VSC. Their time-wasting drying effort during qualifying was also rather bizarre. Why didn’t they just disable DRS for the rest of the session?
Renault looked to have what was probably their worst weekend ever in Formula 1. Suspension failure for Kevin Magnussen on Friday set him back all weekend and meant that Jolyon Palmer did not have a reference after complaining about balance issues in his RS16. By the looks of things the takeover of that team is still very much happening and I think it will take a few more races and months before things start to finally click for Enstone again.
Next up we move onto Russia, a track Rosberg has not had the best of records at in recent years. Is the winning crest he’s on about to crumble? Or will he just simply add to the tally whilst his rivals try to scrabble for a result?