Round 2 of the 2016 F1 season is done and dusted, and the happiest man in the paddock will without question be Nico Rosberg, after a comfortable win.
His victory was virtually assured at the first corner, when Lewis Hamilton once again got away slowly, allowing himself to be squeezed going into turn 1, where he was tagged by Valtteri Bottas’ Williams and suffered damage to his car. In the chaos, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen ended up losing a few places and Felipe Massa was actually running in second with Bottas in third.
Another factor that helped Rosberg was the early retirement (in fact, the pre-raceretirement) of Sebastian Vettel, whose Ferrari car gave up on the formation lap. The two Williams cars just didn’t have it in them to make a fight for the lead, and in fact would fade as the race wore on.
Early retirements also haunted Renault’s Jolyen Palmer (who also retired at the end of the formation lap) and McLaren’s Jensen Button had to park his car early on. However, there was no safety car to interfere with the race, despite all the retirements, so Rosberg would continue to expand his lead, even as Raikkonen fought his way into second and Hamilton pushed his way back up to third. The top three would remain in that order until the end.
Drive of the Day
Tyre stops and strategic gambits would combine with some confident racing to give this fan a headache when deciding upon the drive of the day. There are several candidates, all of whom have pretty solid cases.
Hamilton’s recovery drive with a damaged car to finish third underscores why he is rated as one of the best F1 drivers, but he only has himself to blame for a slow getaway that allowed him to get pinched at the start. Kvyat’s rise from 15th in qualifying to finish seventh deserves credit – the Red Bull man is under a bit of pressure, as Red Bull often like to rotate their drivers after a couple of years, especiallyif strong replacements are on the horizon – and Verstappen’s sixth place was yet another solid performance from the youngster at Toro Rosso.
There was more early season promise from Haas. Grosjean had finished sixth in Australia – in Bahrain he went one better, taking fifth. From being a problem driver in 2012 to putting in good shifts for the new boys is a very encouraging direction for the Frenchman.
A mention has to go to Pascal Wehrlein of Manor, who drove superbly to finish ahead of both Force Indias and the Sauber of Nasr. He thrashed teammate Haryanto to finish a very credible 13th.
For me though, the drive of the day belongs to debutant Stoffel Vandoorne, who scored a point for McLaren. He was not phased by the occasion and to score points on your debut – especially with a car as awkward as the McLaren – deserves heaps of credit.
I hope you enjoyed the race – see you next time for China!