Chinese GP Debrief: Rosberg Dominant for Third Win of 2016

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    rosbergchina.jpg Nico Rosberg made it a hat-trick to open the season, while his teammate’s weekend was an exercise in damage limitation.

    It might not be possible to win or lose the title three races into what will be the longest season in Formula 1’s 67-year history, but with another Sunday in his favour, Nico Rosberg has to be liking his chances.

    Making it a hat-trick of victories to start the season, Rosberg was treated to another leisurely Sunday drive thanks to a remarkable sequence of events that saw all his immediate rivals left fighting just to reach the podium at all. Lewis Hamilton battled reliability issues all weekend, the Ferraris hit each other after a first corner incident with Daniil Kvyat, and early leader Daniel Ricciardo suffered a left-rear puncture. If the first two races were a credit to his ability as a driver, this was more a case of being lucky than good.

    Of course Rosberg won’t care, as he departs Shanghai with an ominous 36-point lead and the previously unattainable tag of the bookmakers’ favourite to win the driver’s championship. For a look at how he got there, and some of the other big talking points from the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, read on.

    rosbergteamphoto.jpg Hamilton forced to play catch-up after big trouble in little China

    Whether you see it as six-for-six or merely a hat-trick, it’s hard to deny the sizable advantage Nico Rosberg finds himself with in 2016.

    After just three races, the German finds himself more than a win’s worth of points ahead of two-time defending champ Lewis Hamilton, with the latter unable to regain the advantage (assuming 1-2s in his favour forthwith) until the start of July.

    And while it might be weird to start throwing around phrases such as “his year” in relation to Rosberg, it’s not like the Chinese GP weekend did anything to disprove the notion either, as his own continued stellar form aside, the fortunes of Hamilton can perhaps only be reasonably explained away if he’d spent his time since Bahrain desecrating ancient Indian burial sites. Before the weekend had even begun Rosberg had been gifted a head start with Hamilton’s gearbox penalty, and by the end of Q1 that advantage was the length of the field with the Brit’s engine failure. More damage in the race had Hamilton chewing through his tyres, leading to a seventh-place finish and a weekend that might’ve been the worst of his nearly ten-year career.

    In contrast, for Rosberg it seemed like everything was coming up Milhouse. He was able to avoid the need for an early pitstop after setting his Q2 time on the slower (but more durable) soft tyre, and remained unchallenged for pole after both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel errored in their final Q3 runs. The race was more of the same with the aforementioned incidents befalling the Ferraris and Daniel Ricciardo, leaving Rosberg with the only real dilemma of which side of the track to pass backmarkers on. If the German was unimpressive in victory, it was because he had no chance to impress.

    Impressive or not, what was remarkable about Rosberg’s race is where it leaves him in relation to history. This is a man who since his current teammate first joined him at Mercedes, has had the past working against him. Hamilton began their duel with a championship already to his name, and outpointed him in each of their previous three seasons. If anything, that history only got more damning as time went on, culminating with Hamilton trouncing Rosberg on the way to the 2015 title – and yet, now he has some pretty big history working for him rather than against. No driver has had as many wins without an accompanying world title, nor started the season 3-for-3 without winning the championship. He’s got six wins in a row. The speed, and the luck. What more could a prospective world champion ask for?

    redbullchina.jpg Farmyard wars – Bulls match Horses for best of the rest

    The Chinese GP weekend was supposed to be where Ferrari finally challenged Mercedes. Instead, it was the Scuderia who found itself being challenged.

    Finishing 3-4 with Daniil Kvyat’s podium after a front-row start for Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull were able to test Ferrari all the way to the chequered flag in what was undoubtedly their best performance of the season. In so doing they came into direct contact with the Scuderia, who with Chairman Sergio Marchionne watching, were left bitterly disappointed.

    Unsurprisingly much of the talk after the race has been about the first corner incident between Kvyat and the two Ferraris (which for the record, was a racing incident that has been overblown thanks to Vettel’s animated post-race discussion with the Russian), but Sunday’s result also raises the question of just where Red Bull place on the totem pole. If the teams were ranked in tiers, Mercedes would still remain alone at the top, but would Ferrari remain similarly separate in the second tier? Or, has Red Bull also earned the designation of “win capable”, should Mercedes slip up?

    Given Vettel still managed to put his damaged SF16-H in second, as well as Raikkonen having to fight from as far back as 20th, maybe Red Bull is still a little off, but perhaps closer than we previously thought. Ricciardo in particular was right with the Ferraris throughout qualy and the race, and had to put in his own stellar recovery drive to take fourth. This alone wouldn’t be cause for too much excitement, but with Renau “Tag Heuer” having 16 more tokens to spend on engine development for the rest of the season, they have every reason to be hopeful they can really cause an upset, particularly after the summer break.

    So while this weekend didn’t herald the start of any championship power play for Red Bull, it’s the sort of result that will have them wanting at least one win by the end of the season, and Ferrari looking over their shoulder. As much as the Scuderia will look to ascend the perch it currently occupies, it might have a greater fight to remain its sole occupant. Then again, there’s a long season ahead – but boy, is it already a weird one.

    Is Nico Rosberg the championship favourite? Can Red Bull challenge Ferrari for “best of the rest”? Was the Kvyat-Vettel clash more than a racing incident? Let us know your thoughts below.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2016
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  2. BoogerMac


    Vettel would've done the same thing in turn one if he was behind the Red Bull cars. Kvyat made a great racing move when he saw an opening, nothing more to it. Next topic!

    BTW, am I the only one that laughed when Hulkenberg got the penalty for going too slowly down the pit entry lane?
    • Like Like x 3
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  3. Reik Major

    Reik Major

    I was more surprised that Vettel didn't receive a penalty for overtaking there during a safety car periode.
  4. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly
    A bad quali means I can go forwards in the race.

    Rosberg is looking strong.
    The is still an irritant when some british BBC race callers make statements like "Rosberg has won 3 races by default" or "Hamilton has been desperately unlucky".
    As proud the union jack wearers are of their ace driver he is currently being out performed. Yes thats the word. Its not the "workmanlike Rosberg vs the genius of Hamilton".
    Rosberg beat him fair and square at the start in Melbourne. He showed no mercy in a similar way to 2015 Suzuka when Hamilton got him from P2. That was when Hamilton said "you can ask any world champion, if you have the inside its your corner".
    He also beat him fair and square in Bahrain and the hit from Bottas was 50% Hamiltons fault. If he had been smarter and covered the apex into T1 he would not have been hit. Instead he was looking for a better drive from T2 so positioned his car for that.

    I have a lot of time for Rosberg. He works hard to exploit his opportunity, doesn't get rattled easily and has had to see off amongst others the great Schumacher on his return.
    This is why it grates so much on me when he is not given the respect of a driver of his level by the british press.
    I paused to try to think of some parallels. I thought about Gerhard Bergers season with Mclaren when he won one single race that Senna essentially gifted him.
    Whereas here In 2014 Rosberg outqualified Hamilton.
    The performance levels are so close, why does it always seem a shock to some people when Rosberg beats him?

    Vettel, yeah he had been naughty in front of Fiats big boss and wanted a scape goat. Kvyatts move was good.
    • Agree Agree x 10
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  5. MoerasGrizzly


    Although I do agree with the assesment that Rosberg is doing a really good job, I kinda get the sense that the drivers that are able to challenge him are put out of the fight due to circumstances they do not have (full) control over. Kimi Raikkonen being bumped into by Vettel this race and his car being on fire in Australia, Vettel's car just deciding "You know, I don't really feel like doing this right now" in Bahrain just before the race starts, Ricciardio's tyre disintegrating after he had overtaken Rosberg because of all those F1 cars being decapitated at the start....

    It's a bit of a shame as I do feel that both Red Bull and Ferrari have the ability to challenge Mercedes.
  6. Reggie Blain

    Reggie Blain

    Think it was smart of Vettel knowing the rule book so well, Article 39.8 the exceptions of over taking behind the safety car. whilst in the pit entry, pit lane our pit exit a driver may overtake another car which is also in one of these 3 areas.

    Really enjoyed the race, it was action packed and think it is shaping up to be a good season. fair play to Daniil Kvyat that was a awesome drive and a well deserved podium.

    Dont think Mercedes will have it all there own way this season!!! I can see Ferrari or a Red Bull pulling out a few race wins when we get to the tighter circuits:):);)
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  7. Reik Major

    Reik Major

    Wow. Good to know. When I first saw the move I was somehow scared, because he touched the grass and could have spun and crashed into the others easily.
  8. Kakusso


    Rosberg is just like Button, they only shine when they have the best car.
    Give them a less than the best car and you will see them struggling.
    • Haha Haha x 1
  9. Cote Dazur

    Cote Dazur

    Very happy for Rosberg, he would be a great champion for the sport. Still a long way to go, let see what the rest of the season has in store for him.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Dolf4737


    Well you can pretty much say the same about Vettel and Hamilton, Vettel got destroyed by Ricciardo in 2014 and Hamilton was never able to mount a championship challenge from 2010 to 2013 despite at least having the second fastest car, even Alonso and Raikkonen manage to finish ahead of him in slower cars
    • Agree Agree x 3
  11. gamer19


    I really hate that Hamilton ** talk "I must winn ALL races now..." I mean c'mon... there's 18 races left... are you frickin serious ?!? Rosberg wouldn't make a mistake (we all know he will. and not one) or he wouldn't have also some mechanical gremlins ? That too, he will.
    And for those who say "Rosberg looking really strong to me" I just say one thing... just wait for Lewis not having car troubles AND not make his, this year trademark, awful start. :sleep:
    And, believe or not, this not comes from some LH fan. :D I'm actually quite sick of his prima donna behaviour (Nuico looks much more down to earth to me) and really root for Nico to take his title. Finally.
    Oh I actually root for Romain, Ricciardo, Massa and some more but I say myself - be realistic.
    But Nico had just drop it so many times and always when it's most important.
    I just hope he will drop it a little less this year. And he'll have more luck than that, imho faster... oh you know who. :cool:
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