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7th Heaven for Rosberg

2016 Russia Hamilton Rosberg

In cruising to yet another victory at the Russian GP, Nico Rosberg entered a very exclusive club, becoming only the 4th driver in the sport’s history to achieve the feat of winning 7 races in a row. Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton finished a distant 2nd to Rosberg again, but mounted a brilliant drive from 10th after another engine issue in qualifying kept him out of the pole position shootout. Kimi Raikkonen scored Ferrari’s 700th podium in Formula 1 after finishing 3rd behind the two Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas couldn’t make the most of a front row start as he finished 4th, with his team mate, Felipe Massa bringing his car home 5th. There were welcomed points for McLaren and Renault as Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen finished 6th and 7th respectively, both scoring their first points this season. The Haas team returned to the points with Romain Grosjean finishing 8th ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Jenson Button who finished in 10th, and set a new record for points scoring in consecutive seasons - his 17th point scoring season in succession. However, the main talking point of the race was again Dani Kvyat and Sebastian Vettel. It was handbags in China in my view but Russia was a different story as Vettel crashed out as a result of Kvyat.

2016 Russia Kvyat Vettel

Rosberg once again got a stunning start and managed to avoid the chaos behind him. In China, Kvyat had plenty of space to put a move on Vettel, much to the Germans annoyance at the manner and speed at which it was done. Fast forward two weeks to Russia, and Kvyat is charging off the grid into turn one. They made it through into turn 2 and Kvyat just couldn’t slow down and went straight into the back of Vettel. To make matters worse, going through turn 3 Kvyat hit Vettel again, causing the former World Champion to spin off into the barriers. Vettel was understandably furious with the young Russian, racing in front of his home fans, and gave a foul mouthed assessment of the situation. Further back more collisions occurred which saw both Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg collide with each other, taking them both out of the race. With another chaotic start and bits of car everywhere, the safety car made and appearance whilst all of the debris was cleared up. To make matters worse at Red Bull, the accident that Kvyat caused had a horrible effect on team mate Daniel Ricciardo’s race, who had to make an emergency stop under the safety car and had to queue up behind Kvyat. Effectively, the whole team’s race was over by turn 1. As always however, there are drivers who benefit from this kind of situation. This time round it was Alonso and Magnussen, who qualified right down the field but were able to score good points.

Despite all of this, the accomplishment of Nico Rosberg should not be overlooked. Rosberg’s performance was nothing short of perfect, as it has been all season. Many people point to Lewis’ reliability issues, but I believe that Rosberg has the edge over Hamilton regardless. Hamilton has been very sulky about the situation, but he must not forget the issues that have plagued Rosberg in previous seasons. I’m not implying that Rosberg would have won any championships during that time, but he may have been closer. Rosberg should enjoy the wave of luck he is finally getting in F1 while he can, because like the great Murray Walker says, anything can happen in F1, and it usually does.

 

Formula Junior Starts in 2016

Sebastian Vettel asking what is happening....

Maybe at some point in 2016 we will see a start to a race where the first corner is not littered with Formula 1 car parts. I can’t remember a season or streak of races where so many collisions have occurred during the first few corners, or opening laps. Australia saw the heavy incident involving Alonso and Gutierrez which came further into the race. From Bahrain through until Russia, the starts to the pinnacle of motor racing have been nothing short of something you can view in GP2. Everybody enjoys close action racing going into turn 1, but the results lately have robbed fans of potentially thrilling races. Incidences in Bahrain involving Hamilton and Bottas stand out, and in China there were bit of front wing flying everywhere. Russia though was the tipping point. Kvyat steaming into Vettel like that was nothing short of amateur, and Vettel had every right to react in the manor he did. I think his interview during the race was handled in a brilliant manor by Vettel as he could have easily stood and slated Kvyat. He remained professional in my opinion and rightly went to speak to Red Bull boss Christian Horner. I believe the problem is many drivers are being thrown into F1 at such a young, inexperienced age. Yes, drivers such as Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton started at a young age, but had been through several racing formulas beforehand. Kvyat for example raced in GP3 for one season and came into F1. Max Verstappen didn’t even do that before becoming F1’s youngest ever driver. Although he will undoubtedly become World Champion one day, I think he should have had more junior formula experience, as is the case with many others. On Kvyat however, he can take some comfort in the fact that Romain Grosjean was being labelled as a liability on the circuit, and how he is one of the finest drivers out there. Just something to think about.

The Unflappable Finn

2016 Russia Bottas

What is it about Finnish drivers in F1 and their inability to crack under pressure? As far as I can remember, the only time I’ve seen a Finn flap in F1 was back in 1999 when Mika Hakkinen spun at the Italian GP and lost it. That was a one off. I bring this up because watching Valtteri Bottas at the Russian GP was a joy to behold. Starting P2 on the grid with the faster Ferrari’s behind him (thanks to Vettel’s grid penalty) and obviously Hamilton who would charge through the field. Vettel obviously never managed to get near Bottas, but when Hamilton did he put him under enormous pressure which many drivers would crack under. Bottas never once showed a sign of cracking and it took a brilliant move by Hamilton to get past the unflappable Finn. Unfortunately for Bottas, his Williams just wasn’t quick enough to get in a podium fighting place, but his race as a whole was brilliant.

Report Courtesy of Simon Gray

Read more on Simon’s blog here

 
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