Rosberg wins frenetic season-opener

2016-03-23 06:00

NATURALLY, before the start of any race several scenarios run through your mind, all of them including some situation that will spice up the race from the get go.

The catalyst at the first race of the season, the Australian GP, was an extra formation lap after Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull was stranded at the back of the grid.

The exhilaration was delivered by the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen who blast past Nico Rosberg and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and first and second place.

On lap sixteen the race changed. The race was red flagged for a crash between Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren. The damage to Alonso’s car looked horrific but he exited the car and walked away without injury.

This red flag was where the race changed for Ferrari. Ferrari opted for the red-walled supersoft tyre while Mercedes fitted the medium compound. It was evident that the Silver Arrow’s aim was to get to the end of the race without another stop.

For Raikkonen it didn’t make much difference as he was forced into retirement a few laps after the re-start. Ferrari still had Vettel in the lead of the race but the tyre choice meant that the former champion had to pit again. It was a strategic error by Ferrari and it cost them a definite shot at winning the race. Vettel nearly recovered to second place but a slight error at the end sealed his fate in third behind Hamilton and Rosberg, respectively.

Nico Rosberg may have taken the big prize but the Haas F1 Team owns the performance of the day. A sixth place finish for Romain Grosjean on the team’s debut is what F1 dreams are made of.

If you were to look only at the result of this race another Mercedes one-two would make you think it’s pretty much the same story, different season. But they really had to work for it. An overheating right-front brake caliper and critical tyre wear on Rosberg’s car is indicative of just how hard they had to push. Twenty races remain in this F1 season and we may just have ourselves a real championship.

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