So after a qualifying session that confirmed what we all suspected – that Mercedes were much quicker than everyone else – the majority of the action in today’s race was largely happening off the track, with Bottas ruled out due to a back injury, Kvyat not able to start owing to technical trouble and Magussen also losing out due to engine failure. Couple this with the two Manor cars not running and this meant five cars were out before the race even started!
Within a couple of laps of the start we’d lost both the Lotuses too. Maldonaldo was taken out through no fault of his own at the second corner whilst Grosjean retired thanks to mechanical issues, something that would trouble other drivers as well.
Max Verstappen, making his debut, was acquitting himself quite well until his Toro Rosso gave up on him, whilst pit stop nightmares would prove very costly for Kimi Raikkonen, who was forced to retire after his mechanics failed to properly secure his rear-left tyre.
It’s fair to say the race was not especially entertaining. The two Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg raced off into the sunset, with Hamilton leading Rosberg reasonably comfortably throughout, and the pair would finish 30 seconds ahead of third-placed man Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel put in a solid, reliable shift on his Ferrari debut, getting onto the podium and doing so without too much trouble from the Williams of Felipe Massa, who will nonetheless be quite happy with fourth and some solid points in round 1. The star of the day though, as far as I’m concerned, was fifth-placed man Felipe Nasr, who gave a very strong performance for Sauber, pushing hard and looking sharp on his debut. He raced cleanly, was not overawed by the occasion and did very well.
Force India scored points, but this is probably a reflection of the number of retirements rather than the car’s performance. Carlos Sainz took points, and given the fine showing of Toro Rosso in testing, this wasn’t surprising.
Jensen Button was able to complete race distance, albeit coming in last, but the ability of the car to go the distance is at least vaguely promising.
Red Bull laboured in practice with unreliable Renault engines, and the lack of power today meant Daniel Ricciardo could only manage sixth, having been out muscled by Nasr’s more powerful Sauber. There can be little question that Red Bull and Renault have a lot of work to do.
So it’s as you were, with Hamilton picking up where he left off last time, and Mercedes simply crushing the field. Next up – Malaysia!