Hamilton’s woes continue having to change a gearbox so soon into the season and starting last ended up about the same as him starting in the front–with damage to his car. But it happened with the Ferraris at the front of the race, too, so I’m not sure which would have been better. I was impressed Ricciardo was able to get the jump on Rosberg, though, but then he blew that left rear tire on lap 3. Heartbreaking.
Then the safety car showed up for lap 4 which I think helped Riccardo and both Vettel and Raikkonen get tires that will last longer and their front wings changed.
And who’d have ever thought when the safety car came in, a Manor would be in the top 4? Or Alonso in third for that matter? Of course, it didn’t stay that way long, but pretty entertaining for the restart.
Then Hamilton finally got back to racing and picking off people in front of him one by one. By lap 14, he was back up to 11th. Then up to 7th by lap 18. But always struggling to get past Ricciardo. After the pit stop shuffle, he managed to find himself in 3rd place. I didn’t quite understand his pit stop on lap 22–the team knew from Rosberg they could get 23 laps out of the soft tires, but he came in way before that and put on another set of the exact same tires… with 30 plus laps to go. 5 pit stops total. There’s no chance when you have to make 5 pit stops. Or when you just can’t get around Kimi’s Ferrari to keep moving up the ranks. Damage to his undercarriage from that front wing being shoved up under his car on the opening lap crippled him the whole race. 7th isn’t a bad result, all things considered.
Rosberg, of course, made up enough ground by getting away unscathed in the opening lap to finally pit on lap 20 and then maintain his lead coming out. Then he put a ridiculous 25 second gap on Kvyat before he had to make his second pit stop on lap 37. It was a easy drive all the way to the finish for him. And now he’s got all the momentum in the world for the Mercedes team.
Red Bull finally had something to be proud of. Those “Tag Hueur” power plants that Renault delivered after the whole stink of last year are turning out to be pretty decent. Wonder if Christian Horner has had to apologize for that yet. Kvyat finished on the podium and Ricciardo took 4th. Wow.
Ferrari proved they’re on pace with Mercedes. With the damage both cars dealt with, it’s amazing Vettel took 2nd and Raikkonen took away 5th. I know Vettel was beyond upset he ran into his teammate, and he certainly let Kvyat have it before the podium ceremony. Did you watch it? SO tense.
McLaren showed signs of life again. It’s nice to see them at least a mid pack car instead of back with Manor. No offense to Manor, of course, but McLaren is one of the most storied teams in F1 history. They should never be a back of the pack team.
Today was not the day for Haas, though. No points for either of them, but at least they both finished this race. Grojean almost cut it close according to the radio, but he limped the car home in those final two laps. In fact, all 22 cars finished the race. How long has it been since that happened?
At the end of the day, Hamilton needs to get his head right. He’s not going to defend his title with this kind of driving. And Mercedes needs to make sure they don’t get lazy because Ferrari is on the attack. Anyone who says they think Formula 1 is boring, this race was a perfect slap in the face to that notion. Haas has had their first test of adversity, but in the same way, it was a positive because both cars finished. But it’s always important to see how they will recover from not finishing in the points.
Sochi, Russia up next.