This really is Nico Rosberg’s year. The German took a third consecutive win, while his teammate and sole championship rival Lewis Hamilton finished at P7 after a brave fight from the back of the grid. Rosberg was joined on the podium by Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat.
Another almost perfect race by Rosberg
The championship leader made only one mistake in the entire race. He let Daniel Ricciardo take the lead at the start. Ricciardo’s first stint, however, lasted only five laps before his right rear tyre exploded. From then on, Rosberg’s win was inevitable. He had the race firmly under control and finished with a thirty-seven second lead over the second-placed Vettel.
Red Bull Racing is back
The quadruple world champions did not have the best of times during pre-season testing. The top managers at the team were even warning that the Junior Red Bull team Scuderia Toro Rosso might have a pace advantage at the start of the season. This cannot be further from the truth. Both Ricciardo and Kvyat performed admirably in China. Ricciardo survived the early puncture to finish at P4, while Kvyat’s great start allowed him to stay amongst the leaders throughout the race. A Red Bull win is surely in the making in the next few rounds.
A three-way battle at the start
It is curious that both Vettel and Kvyat ended up on the podium in China. The two drivers were involved in a three-way first-lap incident with Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen got the most damage from the accident, but Vettel also was forced to change his front wing during the first pitstop. Kvyat’s great start resulted in him getting on the right side of the German, while the Finn was cutting across from the left. Given the trajectories of the three cars it was impossible that all of them would make it through the corner without contact. As it happened, Vettel crashed into his Ferrari teammate and spent the rest of the race saying ‘sorry’ to the team on the radio. At least, Raikkonen managed to recover to finish P5, so the race was not a complete write-off for the world champion.
Hamilton’s problems continue
Raikkonen had a difficult start of the race, but finished on a positive note. The same cannot be said about Lewis Hamilton. The reigning world champions problems in China started with an unscheduled gear-box change. Then he had horrific qualifying plagued by mechanical issues that saw him start last. And as if that was not enough, he also suffered damage during a first lap back-of-the-field accident with Felipe Nasr. The strategists at Mercedes tried everything, pitting the British driver five times, but its was not enough. Hamilton finished at P7 and lost a lot of points to Rosberg, whose winning streak has no end in sight.
Poor result by McLaren
McLaren are by no means as bad as they were last year. The Honda power units are finally right up there with the rest of the field in reliability and the black ‘Macs’ are not that far behind on pace. Fernando Alonso, who sat out the Bahrain GP with an injury, seemed quite competitive at the early stages of the race, squaring off against Sebastian Vettel at one point. That, however, was it from Britain’s favorite team. Alonso finish twelfth just ahead of teammate and fellow world champion Jenson Button.
Passions flair after the end of the race
The first lap crash between the two Ferrari drivers was the main point of contention after the end of the race. Vettel, who was looking to appease the higher-ups at Ferrari, attacked viciously Daniil Kvyat for the accident. Kvyat defended himself by quoting Vettel himself with the simple “I was racing.” Probably deep down inside the German knows the collision was a racing incident, but he cannot stomach having destroyed Raikkonen’s race. If Vettel had cared so much about the fortunes of Daniel Riccardo and Mark Webber, he would have probably been a bit more popular amongst the fans. The German’s latest outburst, however, makes him look like a petulant child for the first time since joining Ferrari. Old habits die hard.
Now, it is the German’s time to shine. Last year, Lewis Hamilton started the season with a string of wins and secured the championship early on. Now, the British driver has had three difficult races and is trailing his teammate by 36 points at the drivers’ standings.
|3||DANIIL KVYAT||RUS||RED BULL RACING||+45.936s||15|
|4||DANIEL RICCIARDO||AUS||RED BULL RACING||+52.688s||12|
|8||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NED||TORO ROSSO||+79.268s||4|
|9||CARLOS SAINZ||ESP||TORO ROSSO||+84.127s||2|
|11||SERGIO PEREZ||MEX||FORCE INDIA||+94.283s||0|
|14||ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ||MEX||HAAS||+1 lap||0|
|15||NICO HULKENBERG||GER||FORCE INDIA||+1 lap||0|
|16||MARCUS ERICSSON||SWE||SAUBER||+1 lap||0|
|17||KEVIN MAGNUSSEN||DEN||RENAULT||+1 lap||0|
|18||PASCAL WEHRLEIN||GER||MANOR||+1 lap||0|
|19||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||FRA||HAAS||+1 lap||0|
|20||FELIPE NASR||BRA||SAUBER||+1 lap||0|
|21||RIO HARYANTO||INA||MANOR||+1 lap||0|
|22||JOLYON PALMER||GBR||RENAULT||+1 lap||0|