I’m not going to talk about the qualifying format. Instead I’m going to leave that for another post that will be up later this week.
What I will talk about is the mixed up race that we had on Sunday afternoon, in which Nico Rosberg took a fifth consecutive victory after getting a crucial good start off the line and into the first corner. In a way Rosberg was lucky not to be collected along with Hamilton at the first corner, when Bottas seemed to misjudge the pairs intentions as he defended into the corner.
He was also lucky that Raikkonen didn’t get the storming start off the line Vettel did two weeks ago in Melbourne, because that really would have made his strategy more complicated with Red Bull and Haas lingering. Ferrari did the right thing by pitting Raikkonen early in the final stint and putting him into the clean air where he could catch up on Rosberg’s lead.
But it seemed that worked against them in the closing stages when Kimi was forced to nurse his tyres towards the end, eventually dropping off with the help of back markers squabbling. It was nice to see Raikkonen without any sort of bad luck ruining his race, but for just one Ferrari driver to have finished the two opening races in 2016 and the other retiring with engine-related issues, it doesn’t bode well in terms of reliability for the team we’re all counting on taking the fight to Mercedes.
Haas had another successful outing with Romain Grosjean, who finished in the top five ahead of Williams thanks to the new tyre rules. The car looked pretty good when Grosjean was pulling off his overtakes and post-race over the team radio he was heard praising the brakes the team have given him, which has allowed him to be more confident in the braking zones compared to last year.
Many will be quick to point out their early success is down to them being a Ferrari ‘B-Team’ but I’d rather see a new team successfully enter the sport instead of spending six years fighting over the scraps in 22nd place.
Stoffel Vandoorne impressed on his Formula 1 debut. Even though Fernando Alonso looked fit enough to compete in a marathon on Thursday, the FIA ruled that it would be dangerous for him to compete until further notice, after it was found he fractured one of his ribs in his near-death crash at Melbourne.
I thought Vandoorne was given a fair shot this weekend at showing what he’s worth and he did just that. I wasn’t really surprised when I found him competing for McLaren’s first points of the season on Sunday, but I think the team will be noting this performance when considering their options for 2017. The silly season is not far off, so expect surprises.
Finally the other rookie who impressed me all weekend was Pascal Wehrlein. I think that was the second time I’ve saw a Manor overtake a car on the world feed in the entire six years they’ve been competing, the other being the late Jules Bianchi’s cheeky shove on Samui Kobayashi for points at Monaco in 2014.
Wehrlein showed much of what he was known for in DTM last year during qualifying on Saturday; delivering a banker lap under pressure when it mattered. That set him up on Sunday and whilst I was convinced the Manor would be left for dry into turn one, Wehrlein did a good job at making use of the opportunities whilst all the other drivers tripped over each other.
I expect we’ll probably see a breakthrough performance at either Monaco or Hungary, where Manor’s best bet for points stand.
And that is your lot.
I thought the race on Sunday displayed a nice mix of strategies that we got through the new tyre rules, which shows that F1 teams do have the capacity to agree on something collectively for the good of the racing.
Image Credit: XPB Images