Hamilton fights back

MONZA REVIEW

The title contenders celebrate. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

The title contenders celebrate. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

In two consecutive races now, Nico Rosberg has made errors that reveal a weaker side to the German. In an attempt to let Hamilton know that he won’t be bullied on-track, a clumsy first-lap swerve saw both Mercedes AMG cars lose out on a potential one-two at Spa. Last Sunday, he out-braked himself keeping one eye on Hamilton who was closing down the gap to him rapidly.

At the Autodromo di Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton claimed pole position on Saturday with Rosberg second best, sealing the front row for Mercedes. The points gap between the two contenders was 29. It was all for Lewis to claw back into. Track position was crucial for him as Nico ran a lower-downforce set-up, that gave him a higher top speed. Which meant he might be uncatchable.

But at the start the gremlins chose their favourite victim. Car #44 suffered a software glitch that saw it fall backwards down the grid as soon as the lights went off!

To Hamilton’s luck it was only till P4 thanks to an even slower starting Valterri Bottas in the Williams. On Lap 23, Hamilton after overtaking both Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Massa had the gap down to just 1.4s from his teammate. When Rosberg pitted it was ‘Hammer time’. But on Lap 25, after Hamilton had exited the bits with a marginally faster pit stop it wasn’t enough to jump Nico. The gap began to go up to 1.8s. Meanwhile Red Bull star Daniel Ricciardo pitted for fresh rubber and rejoined in P12. Around this time, Mercedes  engineers let Hamilton know where he was losing or gaining to Rosberg. They recommended he cool off and fall back temporarily in order to attack in the closing laps.

Crucially, Hamilton disobeyed!

Later, in the press conference he explained that he learnt from past experience that the Pirellis didn’t really offer a big advantage in the dying laps to mount a massive attack. This was a new-steely and determined Lewis Hamilton that we witnessed. It could be that the DNF in Spa had really charged him up to claim top honours at Monza. A race he’d won before. He charged after Rosberg bringing the gap down to nothing and well inside DRS range. At this point the German must’ve seen Lewis’ white helmet filling up his mirrors. He misjudged his braking point going into T1, locked up and slalomed through the escape road for the second time in the race. Allowing Hamilton to breeze past him on track and build up a a comfortable gap to P2.

The race was lost for Nico. It seemed the safer option rather than running wheel-to-wheel with the Briton and risking the fury of the team – again. It seemed so safe that fans suspected if it was an agreement with Mercedes to ‘gift’ the win to Lewis for the ‘wrong-doing’ of Spa.

But it was Hamilton’s relentless drive ultimately that won him the race, forcing his rival into an error. Fantastic stuff. It will go down as one of his greatest drives of the 28 wins he’s achieved so far in his career.

Behind the closely matched Mercedes AMG cars, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso bowed out of the Italian Grand Prix with a mechanical failure. A big blow to the tifosi. Lap 35 saw Ricciardo sweep past Raikkonen smoothly while between him and his team mate Vettel in P4 was a convoy of Mercedes powered cars. Magnussen lead from Bottas, Perez and Button! Magnussen was penalised for driving off Bottas at T1. Which left Bottas now charging up to catch Vettel, Perez and Button duelling for P6. While Bottas made easy work of the four-time defending world champion, his sensational team mate swallowed both Perez and Button together! Ricciardo has turned out to be the find of the season with an outside chance of even winning the championship should the Mercedes drivers do anything silly.

The RB10 of Ricciardo was clocked at a top speed of 362.1 kph! The highest ever at Monza was 369.9 kph demonstrating the pace at which the Hybrid Formula is catching up.
On Lap 44, the Mercedes car numbered 44 was leading Rosberg by 4.4 seconds!
Thats one for the numerologists!
While Lewis had all but sewn up the Monza win, watching Daniel Ricciardo make up positions in the last few laps has become a thing of habit for fans now. He was 2.5s faster than Sebastian Vettel with 9 laps remaining. He overcame him quickly. And by doing so put the Renault-engined Red Bull up among the Mercedes-powered Williamses of Bottas and Massa in P3 and P4 respectively. Only Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa and Bottas completed all 53 laps of the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton now 22 points behind Rosberg in the title hunt is sitting confident. But can the ‘honey badger’ as Ricciardo is fondly known in the paddock, pounce back to win at the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore? It’ll be a brave soul who bets against that!

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PODIUM

P1 Hamilton– Mercedes AMG 1hr 19m 10.236s
P2 Rosberg  – Mercedes AMG
P3 Massa – Williams Martini Racing

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Speed at the temple

Lewis delivers. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Lewis delivers. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

At the Italian Grand Prix Saturday, Lewis Hamilton delivered the precision lap that seemed to have evaded him since Barcelona. Much to the relief of the whole watching Formula 1â„¢ world. Everyone wants the epic intra-team battle to continue. Complete with it’s drama. Nico Rosberg ignored him at the post Qualifying weigh-in. Adding a little more tension to the rivalry.

It is important to note that Rosberg is set-up with a lower-downforce wing angle than Hamilton. This was evident in the speed traps as the Briton’s W05 was 3 kph slower than Rosberg’s 353 kph top speed.

This should make Rosberg faster through the straights and Hamilton sharper through the curves. A super contest is on tomorrow at Monza, the temple of speed.

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P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 24.109s
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 24.383s
P3 Bottas –  Williams Martini Racing 1m 24.697s

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It’s Hammertime!

SILVERSTONE REVIEW

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.12.29 pm

Lewis’ fandom at Silverstone. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Lewis Hamilton bathed in the ecstasy of a home win at the British Grand Prix, after the agony of losing pole position to his team mate in qualifying on Saturday.

Cheered on by a 120,000-strong, partisan crowd he took his 27th career win, equalling Sir Jackie Stewart’s total and is now behind only Nigel Mansell, for most number of wins, by an English driver. It was his fifth win this season.

Two DNFs in Australia and Canada, yellow flags in Monaco, slow pit-stops in Austria and a 29-point deficit to Rosberg before this weekend, did not bode well with Hamilton fans worldwide. They believed the German, was getting the better deal in the intra-team rivalry at Mercedes. At half distance in Silverstone, had they finished as they were, Rosberg would’ve had the luxury of settling for P2 in the next five grand prix without losing the championship lead!

But it wasn’t to be. Nico Rosberg’s W05 sputtered and stopped on Lap 29 with gearbox downshifting issues. Putting an end, to his long streak of consecutive points finishes and any suspicion that Mercedes AMG Petronas were building only one bullet-proof car. It’s worth remembering that the last team order that actually influenced the result of Mercedes’ race was made by Ross Brawn, in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. Back then Rosberg was asked to hold station behind Hamilton although he was much quicker –– the team felt Hamilton was nursing a wounded car home and it wouldn’t be fair to race him.

With Nico, registering his first DNF of the season, Lewis is now just four points behind him in the title fight on 161, with 10 races to go.

At the race start, both Mercedes cars got off the grid cleanly. With the performance advantage of his W05, Hamilton was quick to blast past a sluggish Nico Hulkenberg in his VJM07 and a poor starting Sebastian Vettel in the RBR10. On Lap 2 the race was red flagged because of Kimi Raikkonen’s spectacular shunt on the Wellington Straight. The Finn was seen limping away from the site of the accident which also saw the end of Kamui Kobayashi’s and Felipe Massa’s afternoon. During the restart, Hamilton overtook the McLarens of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, while Rosberg built a gap of 5s to P2.

Meanwhile, behind them the Williams of Valterri Bottas was on a blistering run to attack the final podium position. Overtaking Alonso, Button, Magnussen, Vettel and Ricciardo on the outside of the racing line, he was a racer on form fresh from his P3 finish in Austria.
He ultimately, went one better here in Silverstone.

Back at the front, Lewis brought down the gap to 2.3s to Nico and pitted for fresh rubber after running longer. A problem with the rear left wheel nut however saw him exiting the pits almost 2s slower than his team mate, who now rebuilt the gap back to about 6s.

Lewis, on hard tyres now was expected to be slower. But to everyones surprise, the hard tyres suited the race temperature perfectly and he was able to cut the deficit by almost a second a lap! The home crowd anticipated a big showdown and the atmosphere was electric. Sadly Nico’s gearbox then decided to give up. And the lead was Lewis’ to keep.

A year ago at the same venue, Hamilton was in the lead when his tyres blew and the win was Rosberg’s to cherish.

The crowd’s focus now shifted to the battle for P5 between Alonso and Vettel. An epic fight that involved unbelievably close racing, questionable manoeuvres and numerous radio messages that kept TV audiences entertained too. Alonso, who was flagged down for leaving the track limits repeatedly, received a five-second penalty for overshooting his grid and had numerous complications with the performance of the F14T still managed P6 after Vettel passed him for P5!

Jenson Button charged home to P4 after hounding Ricciardo’s Red Bull in the closing stages in an attempt to give the British fans a fuller weekend. McLaren team mate Kevin Magnussen led home Nico Hulkenberg from Daniil Kyvat and Jean Eric Vergne for positions 7, 8, 9 and 10 respectively.

Eric Clapton, Naomi Campbell, Jude Law and Prince Harry were amongst the celebs present to celebrate Silverstone’s 50th Grand Prix. It was Lewis Hamilton’s victory though, that commemorated the occasion best, as the fight for the championship had now come alive once again.

Hockenheimring in Germany, is up next. Mercedes and Nico Rosberg’s home race. It seems the only team that can stop the Silver Arrow juggernaut from a clean sweep again, is the German team themselves.

_

PODIUM

P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 2hr 26m 52.094s
P2 Bottas – Williams Martini Racing
P3 Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing

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Mercedes conquer mountains

SPIELBERG REVIEW

Rosberg leads the pack. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Rosberg climbs to T2. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

A scenic return to alpine forests and grassy mountains in Austria, saw the Turbo Hybrids perform against a backdrop of spectacular green landscape. A perfect setting to promote eco-friendly technology and the new green formula.

The circus last visited here in 2003.

Lewis Hamilton seemed unable to do anything about his German team mate’s height -scaling form of recent. He did however botch up two Q3 laps on Saturday and found himself sitting all perplexed on the grid in P9. Was it the W05 that let him down with a sudden spin under braking or was he cracking under pressure as his championship lead had all but vanished?

At the race start though, he was spectacular. Leaping from P9 to P4 in the span of half a lap swallowing the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the STR of Daniil Kvyat right off the blocks! He was right behind Nico Rosberg in the sister Mercedes on Lap 2 although behind both the fast starting Williams Martini Racing cars.

For Hamilton, though the race had its ups and downs, with agonisingly slow pit stops and ERS K and tyre precautions he was destined to finish behind Rosberg. Again.

His car managed the rear tyre wear better than that of Rosberg’s and he was encouraged to have a go for the lead in the closing stages. But the closest he got was about .562s of car #6 after many attempts.

In this race, he had to battle against the equally Mercedes-powered cars of Felipe Massa and Finn Valterri Bottas too, who were in turn fighting to claim the third step on the podium. The Williams Martini Racing cars came good on Saturday sealing an all Williams-lock-out of the front row. Their chassis seemed to ride the Super Soft Option tyres more effectively than the Mercedes factory team. But the Germans were confident of race pace.

Massa, after taking pole earlier could not match his Finnish team mate’s solid drive to his first ever Formula One podium. Behind him, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen shone for their teams in what was a technically challenging circuit for the new V6 machines. Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen brought up the top ten. Ricciardo was advised not to use his overtake button as earlier Sebastian Vettel’s car stalled when he deployed it.

Lewis’ attempts on Nico were as futile as Rossi on Marquez in MotoGP. Rosberg had just enough to distance himself in the sectors that mattered.

With this win, Nico Rosberg helped Mercedes achieve their 7th 1-2 of the season. An incredible feat. Next stop is Silverstone. The momentum has firmly swung back into the Rosberg garage as he leads Hamilton by a healthy 29 points now in the championship.

Will he humiliate his nearest competitor on what is his home ground? Or will Lewis reward his fans with a fantastic win? Bring on the British Grand Prix!

_

PODIUM

P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1hr 27m 54.976s
P2 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG
P3 Bottas – Williams Martini Racing

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Ricciardo beats Mercedes

MONTREAL REVIEW

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates. Image Copyright © Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates. Image Copyright © Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing’s new signing Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, will never forget his debut win. Choking with emotion over the radio on the slow down lap, Formula One’s newest Grand Prix winner could hardly believe what he had just achieved. A fantastic attacking drive from P6 on the grid signalled the end of the Silver Arrow’s domination and granted Ricciardo the podium’s top step in the last two laps!

The bullet-proof W05s finally broke. The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is a renowned car-breaker. But in recent times cutting edge technology, together with stringent regulations by the FIA saw F1 cars achieve solid milestones in reliability. However, 2014 and the Turbo Hybrid cars were a brand new story in Montreal.

It looked like a another Mercedes 1-2 in the making, but after about 45 laps of trouble free running, both drivers reported a massive loss in power from their ERS K units. This amounted to a reduction of speed of almost 3 seconds per lap with the hungry pack of Force Indias, Williamses and Red Bulls on full charge pursuing them.

The Canadian Grand Prix finish was certain to be a belter with the top 7 cars all 10 seconds within each other with just 10 laps remaining.

The ERS K failure on Lewis Hamilton’s car meant another DNF for the Briton as his close trailing of Nico Rosberg in the first half of the race led to overheating rear brakes that subsequently refused to work as the energy recovery system shut down. Nico, on the other hand managed to hold on to his injured car and nursed it back astonishingly to take P2 ahead of Sebastian Vettel who looked pleased with the outcome of the race and his own P3 finish.

On understanding Hamilton’s brake issues the Mercedes team were quick to advise Nico to adjust his car’s brake bias as forward as possible so he won’t face his teammate’s woes. It worked. And towards the closing stages Rosberg drove tactfully through sectors 1 and 3 to ensure he was out of the DRS range of the charging Sergio Perez. Although Ricciardo and Red Bull won the race, Rosberg’s relentless drive might prove crucial in his bid to become champion this year.

William’s Felipe Massa at one point looked most likely to take the win after the Mercedes cars called in sick. But his tyre management meant he would have to work real hard for it in the last stint of the race. During his charge back from his second pitstop he found himself nudging a late turning Sergio Perez into Turn 1. What ensued was a spectacular accident which saw both cars hit the barriers at 27G! Thankfully they’re both out of danger. But the Force India driver incurred a five-second penalty for the next round.

Jenson Button overtook both Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso in the last couple of laps to register an exciting drive to P4 after the retirements of Massa and Perez. While Valterri Bottas, Jean Eric Vergne, Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Raikkonen rounded off the top ten points finishers.

It was a dramatic victory for Daniel Ricciardo, though it became a reality only once it was clear the Mercedes cars were nursing technical issues. But when an opportunity presented itself, the young smiling Aussie grabbed it with both hands. True signs of a champion in the making.

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PODIUM
P1 Ricciardo – Red Bull Renault 1hr 39m 12.830s
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG
P3 Vettel – Red Bull Renault

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The smart banker

One would expect Lewis Hamilton to have learnt a lesson from the epic at Monaco a fortnight ago. It was Rosberg’s banker lap in Q3 back then that won him the race on Sunday.

It could yet again tomorrow at the Canadian Grand prix.

Circuit De Villeneuve. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Circuit De Villeneuve. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

All through the Q1 and Q2 sessions, it was Lewis who held the upper hand over his German team mate. But early into Q3, Nico set a blistering time that became the benchmark to beat for anyone.

No one did. And on his final run he improved marginally – putting it even more out of reach. It was a determined performance that added fuel to the dying flames of his Monaco win. With it he’s rubbished the theory that Montreal belonged to Lewis.
Will he further rub it in tomorrow?

Vettel is in P3 to add to Hamilton’s tensions.

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 14.874s
P2 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 14.953s
P3 Vettel – RBR Renault 1m 15.548s

 

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Battle of the Benzes

BARCELONA REVIEW

Rosberg rejoined the track 4.8 seconds behind Hamilton with 20 laps remaining. On the faster option tyre. Suddenly the Spanish Grand Prix had come alive and memories of the Sakhir thriller were revisited.

Lewis at times was so anxious with his race engineers that it seemed he was suspecting the team’s strategy and finishing preferences. The pit wall crew calmed him down and let him know exactly where he was losing time to the German. He demanded more info and pit-stop rationale constantly, knowing Nico was gaining on him rapidly.

The gap was down to .663 of a second on the penultimate lap! He had the AMG Hybrid W05 #6 car filling his mirrors menacingly. It wasn’t clear if he was panicking to keep his winning streak intact or whether he felt Nico’s superior car set-up would comfortably clinch the race. Or did he not want to tangle again, banging wheels to decide P1?

But he held on stoically. Win number 26 was his. And fourth on trot from his teammate.

In the post-race conference the mind games were evident. Lewis reiterated that Nico had the better and faster car in Spain. Yet he won. Rosberg insisted he would’ve had Hamilton if there were one lap more. But that’s his theory. If it were one lap shorter Lewis would’ve probably been even more difficult to beat.

Meanwhile team Mercedes AMG Petronas are earning the respect of Formula One fans for allowing their racers to race. That’s as important for the brand as the transfer of technology to their road cars.

LH44 surrenders in victory. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

LH44 surrenders in victory. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Behind the Mercedes intra-team mind games and on-track strategic battles, Red Bull Racing showed first signs of waking up to take the fight. Daniel Ricciardo drove a lonely calculated race to cover any threat from Williams driver Valterri Bottas to record his first podium finish. He finished 49 seconds behind Hamilton and about 27 seconds ahead of his charging World Champion team mate.

Vettel begins to recover. Image Copyright © RBR

Vettel begins to recover. Image Copyright © RBR

Sebastian Vettel drove a fighting race of recovery after being shifted down to start at P15 by the stewards. His car lacking straight-line speed and not working perfectly to his corner-entry preference the four-time champ is making slow but sure progress back to the top. The lack of testing pre-season courtesy Renault’s engine woes has hurt him big time.

We’re experiencing a precision racer being put to the test. It was interesting to watch him make quick work of both the Ferraris and Bottas’ Williams. The RBR10 might come back to him before the season is out but most certainly will not help him fight for the championship with the Silver Arrows, who are in a class of their own. Atleast for now.

At Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen expressed concern about the team’s strategy to pit Fernando Alonso first although he was behind on track position. But the more telling quote from him post-race was “…we cannot be happy with sixth and seventh places, because we are a long way off where we want to be.” The Italian team’s updates at Barcelona weren’t making a visible difference. They could, however take consolation from the fact that their traditional arch rivals McLaren are deeper in performance trouble with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finishing P11 and P12 respectively. The Force India’s rounded off the bottom of the top ten finishers with Sergio Perez overcoming Nico Hulkenberg once again.

If there’s one race on the calendar where any of the top six teams have a fairly reasonable shot at victory it is Monaco.

The tight twisty street circuit offers very few overtaking opportunities, so all emphasis will be on qualifying. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are now residents of the principality. A win would impress the neighbours mightily. It’s no secret who has the momentum for pole position on Saturdays. But on race Sundays the armco barriers at Monaco have historically taken no prisoners.

Mercedes versus the chasing pack. It’s going to be a classic street fight.

PODIUM
P1 Hamilton - Mercedes AMG 1hr 41m 05.155s
P2 Rosberg - Mercedes AMG
P3 Ricciardo – Red Bull Renault

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.168s

That’s under two tenths.

Lewis Hamilton takes P1 in Spain. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Lewis Hamilton took P1 again, in Spain. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

The knock out blow to team mate Nico Rosberg was like the blink of an eye.

Earlier, Lewis looked a bit out of rhythm. It seemed Nico had set up perfectly and was going to repeat the P1 performance of 2013. But that was Q1 and Q2.

In Q3, after Sebastian Vettel reported “…no drive” in his RBR10 and brought out the Red Flag and after Jenson Button stormed to P8 in a hard tyre shod McLaren, Hamilton delivered his lap of precision.

He is peaking. It seems that his career graph is hitting the highest possible peaks. Surely it must be impossible to get any better. The man himself confesses “I haven’t experienced this level of performance before.”

So another lights-to-flag demonstration tomorrow? Possible. But Lewis’ poor finishing record in Barcelona suggests it might not be as easy as that.

P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 25.232s
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 25.400s
P3 Ricciardo – RBR Renault 1m 26.285s

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Hamilton & Rosberg hat-trick

SHANGHAI REVIEW

The biggest moment of the 2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix was at the start. Felipe Massa veered his FW36 left wards into the charging field resulting in a heart-stopping thwack with Fernando Alonso’s F14T. They both continued into Turn 1 unscathed. But the Williams’ left rear wheel nut was jammed in, causing a disastrously long pit stop later in the race that saw the Brazilian finish only in P15.

Nico Rosberg starting from P4 dropped down four places after a poor start. After that his afternoon was all about using the W05’s superior pace to claw back the gap to his teammate and rival. He managed to finish 18s behind in P2 ultimately. For the third time in a row. His body language post-race spoke frustration. His mind was perhaps wandering to his victory in Melbourne and wondering what might have ensued if his weekend nemesis did not have engine troubles there.

Maybe Lewis Hamilton would’ve recorded a lights-to-flag victory there too? The 2008 World Champion has everything covered so far. If he finishes, he finishes first. If he loses Pole he still wins the race. His pace is outstanding. His confidence is such that even though Rosberg leads the championship by a slim margin currently it’ll only be a matter of time before his lead is overhauled. It’s not going to be an easy season for the German for sure. For Ferrari, things looked promising in China. Fernando Alonso was at his fighting best. Just how he managed P3 in a slow car overcoming the Red Bulls is one for the story books. After surviving the collision at the start his was a calculated drive to the podium.

He offered no challenge whatsoever when Rosberg came past him fully aware that his race pace was no match for the Mercedes. But crafted his last stint managing a gap that was fast diminishing to the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in P4.

Ricciardo put his illustrious teammate in the shade again. After Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel admitted he cannot do much if his teammate is genuinely faster than him in the RB10. However during the course of the race it seemed like he would disobey team orders and hold back the charging Aussie. When Vettel did allow his teammate through it didn’t seem like he did so deliberately as he seemed a bit out of control and ran wide off the apex. Christian Horner agreed that the German defending champion is not in sync yet with the new low-downforce cars. Lets prepare for some fireworks within Red Bull when he is.

The Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez recorded another dual points finish topping the race for best-Mercedes-customer engines. Hulkenberg held off Valtteri Bottas from a dismal Kimi Raikkonen. Behind them Sergio Perez made it into the points from P16 and Daniil Kvyat claimed the last point after starting P13. The young Russian has 3 points finishes in the premier league of racing before his 20th birthday. Imagine the support for him at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix later this year! His stellar drives so far can only be overshadowed by car #44, a full lap up the road from him.

Lewis Hamilton led home Nico Rosberg again in a third consecutive one-two finish for Mercedes AMG Petronas. They head into Barcelona in three weeks time with almost a 100 point lead in the constructors championship. Hamilton is now 8th in the all-time winners list with 25 victories to his credit. And his career seems to have resurrected by Mercedes on Easter Sunday. How fitting.

Hamilton completes the hat-trick! Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Hamilton completes the hat-trick! Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

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PODIUM
P1 Hamilton - Mercedes AMG 1hr 33m 28.338s
P2 Rosberg - Mercedes AMG
P3 Alonso – Scuderia Ferrari

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Mercs shook us all night long!

BAHRAIN REVIEW

It was difficult to lip-read what Bernie Ecclestone was saying to Australian rock band AC/DC’s frontman Brian Johnson on the starting grid. But it could’ve well been something to do with ‘noise and performance’. However, after 57 action-packed laps in the desert sands of Bahrain it felt like Mercedes had rocked more than just the F1 fraternity.

With a brave policy of allowing their drivers to genuinely race each other with no team orders thrown in, they’ve brought back true competition to Formula One. Along with the best engine of course. Six of the top eight finishers were Mercedes powered.

Lewis Hamilton stole the lead from teammate Nico Rosberg going into the newly-christened ‘Schumacher corner’ or Turn 1. With equally powered cars it was always going to be a challenge to break away from each other but Hamilton just about managed to keep Rosberg behind at one time even driving him off track. It was tough wheel-to-wheel racing through the sequence of Turns 1-2-3 and 4! The slow motion footage of which is guaranteed to go viral on the internet soon.

Once Lewis built a gap to Nico to avoid being within DRS striking range the race settled into a rhythm for P1 & 2. Behind them though it was a game of strategy, outright pace, aggressive attacking and sporty defensive driving. This is what F1 should be about after all the innovative technologies and cutting-edge sciences are sorted.

Before the first round of pitstops it looked like the Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas would battle for P3. Then it was the turn of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel to stake their claim on the last step of the podium. Even Jenson Button in his 250th Grand Prix start looked promising for McLaren. But it finally emerged that the Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were truly in contention behind the Mercedes duo who were now a clean 24 seconds up the road.

Lotus had a bad day at the office with Romain Grosjean struggling for performance in P12 and Pastor Maldonado causing the accident of the race, invoking a ten-place grid penalty in China for himself. He literally broadsided Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber coming out of the pit lane, an impact that saw the young Mexican’s car flip over dramatically and bring out the Safety Car.

Behind the Safety Car the entire field bunched up together to take a rolling restart. This bunching up completely erased Lewis Hamilton’s 9 second lead advantage over his teammate. Since Nico was now on fresh soft tyres for his final stint it looked like the race was in his bag. But Lewis wasn’t going to give in. He blocked, defended and cut back across sharply but within the limits to hold Nico a thrilling 1.085s behind! The racing was enthralling. And the fireworks at the end of it all at Sakhir seemed fitting.

At Parc fermé the camaraderie between the two Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers revealed a fresh, welcome side of F1. It reminisced the days of Mercedes’ previous winning era in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio. Whose 24 wins, Lewis Hamilton equalled tonight.

Podium lock out. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

‘Bromance’ on the podium. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

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PODIUM
P1 Hamilton - Mercedes AMG 1hr 39m 42.743s
P2 Rosberg - Mercedes AMG
P3 Perez – Force India Mercedes

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