Rosberg makes hay in China

2016-04-20 06:00

FOR years we’ve been frustratingly calling for Nico Rosberg to up his game. With a third win out of three in 2016 he’s done it.

The German driver effortlessly converted pole position into victory as the chaos unfolded behind his Mercedes. However, it was second-placed starter Daniel Ricciardo who snatched the lead of the race off the line in his Red Bull.

Behind this pair the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, starting third and fourth, looked set to challenge for the race win until Vettel barged into the side of Raikkonen to avoid the sister Red Bull of Dannil Kvyat on his inside.

Although Vettel recovered to second place in the end it was a sloppy race for the four-time champion. The clash with teammate Raikkonen caused damage to his front-wing which required replacing. But it would be damaged again as he tried to find his way past the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Visibility in F1 car is limited but into such a tight corner Vettel should’ve been aware of Raikkonen on his outside given that he started close to him on the grid. Though the German did his best to shift blame to Dannil Kvyat the Russian driver was well within his rights to place his car alongside Vettel’s Ferrari into turn one.

Kvyat eventually finished third and despite a confrontation with Vettel after the race wasn’t unhappy at all to secure only the second podium of his career.

Raikkonen’s front-wing damage and punctured tyre meant into turn one he had to crawl around the entire lap to make it back to the pitlane. It dropped him right to the back of the field and onto an alternative strategy which had him running on the white-walled medium tyre in the middle stint of the race.

The Finn who had shown great pace throughout the weekend was able to resist an attack from Hamilton on quicker tyres. It left the soft, yellow-walled, tyre for the final stint of the race and with it Raikkonen was able to make up enough positions to ultimately finish fifth.

Even Lewis Hamilton was involved in the mess of the opening lap. After starting last following an overnight power unit change the Brit also lost his front-wing and sustained damage to his barge board into turn one.

In the lead of the race Daniel Ricciardo’s hopes evaporated as he picked up a left-rear puncture on lap three. Ricciardo was able to recover to fourth.

If it wasn’t clear before why both Mercedes and Ferrari refused to provide the Red Bull team with an engine from their shed it is surely clear now. The 2016 Red Bull car is a great chassis, with two great drivers and all they’re missing is a great engine.

Debris from Ricciardo’s blown tyre prompted the deployment of the safety car and drivers took the opportunity to fit the more durable soft and medium tyres. Behind Raikkonen in fifth Williams’ Felipe Massa was able to hold onto sixth while Hamilton had to settle for seventh.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen finished eighth ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz in ninth and the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten. Despite numerous incidents throughout the race all twenty-two cars saw the chequered flag at the end of the race.

Since the start of the 2016 season things haven’t been going Lewis Hamilton’s way. Less than ideal starts off the line, unreliability, and damage early in the last two races have severely tested the champion. His response has been to remain remarkably cool about it all.

However, three victories and a thirty-six- point lead in the driver’s championship for a perfect Nico Rosberg is getting to be a bit tight. It’s a good thing Lewis Hamilton likes a fight because he has a big one on his hands now.

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