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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Throw down the gauntlet

LH44 waves after P1. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

LH44 waves after P1. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Issue a challenge. Whatever the conditions. Lets see what he’s got.
Lets see what they’ve got.

Thats what it seemed the LH44 garage was doing in the very wet Shanghai afternoon. Fastest through most of Practise…fastest through Q1 and Q2…by a whole second almost!

Lewis Hamilton is a wet weather specialist and he’s been on Pole in China before. Even those well known facts did little to explain his astonishing 1.3s gap to rival and teammate Nico Rosberg in equal machinery.

The Bulls ran amok in the rain. The underrated Newey-penned RBR10 chassis will sooner or later give the Mercs a run for their money, but for now they’ll have to depend on the elements to level things.

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P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 53.860s
P2 Ricciardo – RBR Renault 1m 54.455s
P3 Vettel  – RBR Renault 1m 54.960s

 

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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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