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Chinese GP 2016

Rosberg Eases to Sixth Consecutive Victory

Another dominant display from Nico Rosberg ensured that he maintained his 100% start to 2016 with victory in China. Sebastian Vettel recovered after a first corner incident with team mate Kimi Raikkonen to finish 2nd with Red Bull’s Dani Kvyat finishing behind Vettel in 3rd. Another recovery drive saw Daniel Ricciardo finish 4th ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who also had to recover after the Vettel incident. Felipe Massa drove a solid race to finish 6th with Lewis Hamilton coming from 22nd on the grid to finish 7th. The Toro Rosso pair of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were 8th and 9th with Valtteri Bottas rounding off the point scoring positions in 10th. All 22 drivers finished the race, with bad days for the Renault team as their cars only managed 17th and 22nd. Romain Grosjean’s stunning start to the season stuttered on what was his 30th birthday as the Haas couldn’t adapt to the conditions in China and he finished a very lowly 19th.

After showing his dominance in qualifying by setting his fastest Q2 time on soft tyres, it was Rosberg’s to throw away from the start. Everybody around Rosberg started on the super-softs which would last only a matter of laps, so if anyone was going to stop Rosberg, they had to do it off the line. Step up Daniel Ricciardo, who from an outstanding 2nd on the grid, got the jump on Rosberg into turn one. Behind them, it was bedlam with the race resembling that of a dodgem park. The other fast starting Red Bull of Kvyat saw a fantastic opportunity to take the two scarlet Ferrari’s into turn 1 which in turn led to the dodgems that followed. Vettel felt aggrieved by the young Russians manoeuvre which resulted in Vettel colliding with Raikkonen, ruining the Finns race before it even started. As a result of Raikkonen coming back on the track without his front wing, Felipe Nasr in the Sauber had to take avoiding action that only led him into the charging Hamilton, who lost his front wing and really his chance of a podium finish.

That was until all of the debris caused leader Ricciardo’s tyre to puncture, adding more debris to the track and resulting in a safety car, essentially bringing Hamilton and Raikkonen back into play. The majority of the field decided to pit to ditch their super-softs, allowing drivers who started on the softs to move up the field, notably Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor and Esteban Gutierrez in the Hass moved into 4th and 5th. From the restart, Rosberg drove off into the distance and was barley seen for the rest of the race. Vettel’s charge through the field after the safety car was tremendous to watch. Watching his overtakes for me shows that his all round talent is most certainly there despite what people may say. He had his hands full when it came to the two Red Bulls but showed brilliant race craft to get past. His team mate Raikkonen also showed why he won a World Championship with a superb drive, showing the Kimi of old. Despite these brilliant drives, I don’t think they would have gotten near Rosberg who controlled the race superbly and won by a stunning 37 seconds.


Vettel Criticises Kvyat

Sebastian Vettel did not hide his displeasure with Red Bulls Dani Kvyat after the race, and during for that matter. Vettel firmly believed that Kvyat should not have tried to pass him at turn 1 citing that there was not enough room which forced Vettel into Raikkonen. Vettel referred to the move over team radio as suicidal, saying Kvyat came at him like a torpedo. Looking at the footage from a height and onboard, I believe Vettel was really trying to make excuses for colliding with Raikkonen, especially with the Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne present in Shanghai. Vettel had left more than enough space which Kvyat was not going to ignore. He was travelling at great speed, but nothing to suggest that he was going to be unable to stop. The mistake ruined Vettel’s race and he did superbly to come back and score a podium. Even without the mistake, I don’t think Vettel could have beaten Rosberg on the track simply because Rosberg looked too good. Vettel even confronted Kvyat in the cool down room before the podium to show his displeasure in which Kvyat laughed his complaint off by simply replying "yea but I’m on the podium and so are you"

Midfield Competitiveness a Joy to Watch

Despite the fact that Nico Rosberg drove off into the distance to record a comfortable win at the Chinese GP, it was still a cracking race thanks to the midfield battle. We as fans are so lucky to witness this golden age of F1, with so many talented drivers and teams on the grid, Despite all of the childish political problems that occur on a weekly basis, it does not take away the fact that the on track action has been fantastic over the last few seasons. It seems to have been taken up a level this season thus far, keeping fans on the edge of their seats from start to finish. This is down to the emergence of future title challengers such as Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz just to name two. Also due to experienced drivers such as Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg being at these midfield teams, it really spices up the races. The progression of the midfield teams is something that also contributes, with all of them upping the pace and their reliability, despite a couple of them running into serious financial trouble. I feel as though this season, the gains made by Renault, Ferrari and even Honda have added an extra ingredient to the recipe. Bridging this engine gap has certainly brought the action closer together, although not at the front where we want it to happen. Nevertheless, it is bringing the action closer together somewhere on the track, making the racing edge of your seat stuff and a joy to watch.

Report courtesy of Simon Gray

Read more on Simon’s blog here

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