Yesterday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
After qualifying yesterday, the stewards announced that Nico Hulkenberg will receive a three place grid penalty as a result of his incident in Q2. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/hulkenberg-handed-three-place-grid-penalty/.
Also, Lewis Hamilton has had to change his engine after qualifying yesterday after problems with ERS. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/mercedes-change-hamiltons-engine/.
The Chinese GP is underway!
Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo have great starts. Valtteri Bottas runs wide going into Turn 1. But both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel into Turn 1 crash into each other, with Raikkonen going off the road. This crash then affects Lewis Hamilton who has damage to his front wing and is caught underneath the car.
Lap 2 sees Ricciardo leading Rosberg by 0.7 seconds. A battle for eighth then starts between Felipe Masa, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas at the hairpin; with Button keeping Massa at bay.
At this stage of the race, Rosberg is on the soft tyres and can just follow the Red Bull of Ricciardo and was planning to make his move on the Australian driver when Ricciardo suffers a left rear puncture and has to pit at the end of the lap.
Lap 3, we saw a battle between Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr and Sebastian Vettel for fourth place just as the Safety Car is deployed to clear up the debris on the track and many taking the opportunity to pit for fresh tyres. During this period, Hamilton pits twice for tyres and many were wondering what strategy Mercedes are doing with the British driver.
Lap 9 saw the Safety Car leaving the circuit and we are racing once again in China.Valtteri Bottas passes Rio Haryanto. In the space of six corners, Daniil Kvyat makes up two track places to fourth and Sebastian Vettel makes a move on Nico Hulkenberg and makes his way up the grid. At the hairpin, there’s action everywhere and places changing up and down the grid.
Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Massa by 2.2 seconds. Into Turn 1, Jenson Button passes Jolyon Palmer for track position as Lewis Hamilton tries to pass Kevin Magnussen for position. There is a battle for sixth between Esteban Gutierrez, Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas. We then see Kvyat and Palmer making a good moves on Hulkenberg into the next few corners for track position.
On Lap 11 at Turn 6, Bottas and Vettel make contact with each other and then at the hairpin, there was four drivers abreast searching for track position. By Lap 12, Perez is up to fifth place, Pascal Wehrlein is starting to go further back down the grid and Vettel is also making his way up through the field and is catching Perez.
Lap 12 saw Kvyat passing Massa at the hairpin for second place at this stage of the race and is having a great drive so far; especially when the spotlight has been on if he has what it takes to be at Red Bull. At this stage of the race, the battle for eighth included drivers such as Wehrlein, Button, Ricciardo, Sainz Jr, Hamilton and Gutierrez; with the latter driver losing two places within a couple of corners and Vettel passes Perez at the hairpin and Button passes Wehrlein for position.
The battle for fourth on Lap 14 between Alonso and Vettel was great to watch, with Vettel trying to pass Alonso at the hairpin and Alonso trying to come back at him straight away; showing that McLaren-Honda have been making small solid bits of progress since last year and is now in fifth place.
Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Kvyat on Lap 16 by 8.8 seconds. Lap 16 saw Hamilton getting into the top ten after passing Button for track position. Three laps later, Button and Verstappen are battling with each other for eighth place, with the young Dutchman catching him very quickly indeed.
A battle between Kvyat, Verstappen and Vettel was building up on the track and by Lap 20, all three drivers were together and were wanting to pass each other. The next lap saw Kyvat, Button and Vettel battling for fourth place; with Vettel gaining very rapidly on Button and passing him relatively easily at the hairpin.
The stewards then announce that Hulkenberg is under investigation for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pitlane as his team mate Perez the following lap will be investigated after the race for an unsafe release. But Hulkenberg does receive a five second time penalty for the offence and has the choice to take it in the race or be added to his race time at the end of the GP.
On the track, the battle for seventh includes drivers such as Bottas, Ericsson, Ricciardo, Sainz Jr and Raikkonen; with drivers swapping and changing places all the time; even though Alonso appears to be going backwards as Button loses fourth place to Massa on Lap 25.
As we approach the second half of the GP, Rosberg is leading comfortably at the front by 17.9 seconds and the battle for ninth between Sainz Jr, Raikkonen and Hamilton builds up and the battle for fifth between Button, Perez and Bottas continues and Button manages to keep both drivers at bay until Perez takes Button on the outside with a good move and Bottas passes Button the following lap.
In the early stages of the second half of the Chinese GP, Ricciardo passes Perez for position as Alonso loses a place to Verstappen. Sainz Jr, Raikkonen and Hamilton are engaged in a battle for seventh place on the track. By Lap 33, Vettel is catching Kvyat for second place at this stage in the race. Two laps later, Hamilton passes Perez on track for ninth place.
The battle for third goes Vettel’s way on Lap 37 and passes the Russian driver for position and puts a lot of faith in him as a driver despite what happened on Lap 1 of the race as Verstappen and Massa battle for sixth place. Verstappen, Massa, Bottas and Hamilton are battling each other for fourth place, with Massa trying to pass Verstappen which he does on Lap 40 and Hamilton and Ricciardo passing Bottas not long after this.
Lap 41 sees Rosberg leading the race ahead of Vettel by 26.8 seconds. In the next few laps, we see Raikkonen passing Perez for eighth place, Ricciardo catching Hamilton and Massa for fourth place and in a great move on the outside of the hairpin on Lap 43, Ricciardo takes fifth place away from Hamilton and the following lap takes fourth away from Massa.
There were still battles ongoing down the track in the final stages of the race but the one that got our attention was the battle for fifth between Massa, Hamilton and Raikkonen; with all three drivers literally all together and trying to pass each other as well. In the end, Raikkonen passes Hamilton on Lap 47 for sixth place and Massa for fifth the following lap.
With battles still going on down the field between the McLaren drivers for twelfth place, Massa and Hamilton battling for sixth and Bottas, Verstappen and Sainz Jr for eighth place which Bottas loses the place after going in too deep at the hairpin.
On the last lap, Kvyat passes Massa for seventh place. But Rosberg leads Vettel on the final lap of the race by 38.2 seconds and wins the Chinese Grand Prix which is his sixth consecutive win in F1, his third of the season and his seventeenth win of his career.
Vettel is a credible second 37.7 seconds behind Rosberg, Kvyat finished in a brilliant third place despite what happened on the first lap 45.9 seconds behind Rosberg, Ricciardo was a credible fourth 52.6 seconds behind Rosberg and Raikkonen finished fifth 1.05.8 seconds behind Rosberg.
Massa was sixth 1.15.5 seconds behind Rosberg, Hamilton was seventh 1.18.2 seconds behind Rosberg, Verstappen was eighth 1.19.2 seconds behind Rosberg, Sainz Jr was ninth 1.24.1 seconds behind Rosberg and Bottas was tenth 1.26.1 seconds behind Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg leads the Drivers’ Championship with 75 points, Hamilton is second with 39 points, Ricciardo is third with 36 points, Vettel is fourth with 33 points, Raikkonen is fifth with 28 points, Massa is sixth with 22 points, Kvyat is seventh with 21 points, Grosjean is eighth with 18 points, Verstappen is ninth with 13 points and Bottas is tenth with 7 points.
Mercedes lead the Constructors Championship with 114 points, Ferrari is second with 61 points, Red Bull are third with 57 points, Williams are fourth with 29 points, Haas are fifth with 18 points, Toro Rosso are sixth with 17 points, Force India are seventh with 6 points and McLaren are eighth with 1 point.
I feel that McLaren have had an good weekend and have shown that they can still race near the front when they have the opportunity to do so. But with both drivers struggling all weekend long on long run pace, it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car that they need in order to get back to competitive ways once again as quickly as possible for the rest 2016 season.
The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Kvyat getting third place in the race. I do feel that Daniil drove a superb race to gain third today despite a defensive race and it is very well deserved. And for him to secure this result at the third GP shows that he did a brilliant job and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.
Bottas did an okay job to get tenth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Verstappen, Sainz Jr and Hamilton for most of the race. This point for himself and Williams are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.
Massa battled his way through today to get sixth place today. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Massa may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Williams this weekend despite what happened with his team mate in the race, but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.
Hamilton had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh. But he managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team and even though he couldn’t beat his team mate, he still managed to get a result from the weekend and will help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Verstappen did a great job to get eighth place today after battling with his team mate and Hamilton today. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.
Ricciardo did a great job to get fourth place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today despite his puncture and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Sainz Jr did a credible job to finish ninth today. Sainz Jr has managed to struggle to extract pace and performance from the car this weekend; and I feel that the results that Carlos achieved so far in the season will only spur him on to get better this season as the pace is there.
Raikkonen deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to fifth place and battled his way through to get these points which just solidify Ferrari’s status in the Constructors Championship. But he needs to keep the momentum going and see if he can get back to the front in Sochi in two weeks time.
Vettel drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Sochi
All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Shanghai and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are just the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Rosberg for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his sixth consecutive race and his third race of the season.
With Sochi not far away, many will wondering if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.