The first F1 race weekend of 2016 certainly did not get off to the best start after the new qualifying format was universally lambasted throughout the F1 paddock following a damp squib of a session after weeks and months of predictions and build up.
Nevertheless in qualifying it was Mercedes that again showed everyone that they had been somewhat sand bagging over the winter, Lewis Hamilton over eight-tenths clear of the next best team Ferrari. The Scuderia were optimistic of better race pace however.
This was born out as the lights went green, Sebastian Vettel getting a great start and leading into turn 1 from p3 and with his teammate following him through into p2 Ferrari looked to be in great shape as pole sitter Lewis Hamilton had a terrible start and dropped down the order to sixth. As the first stint unfolded Ferrari looked to be able to hold Mercedes at bay, until down into turn 3 Fernando Alonso tagged the back of Esteban Gutierrez in a horrific incident which sent the Mclaren into the air leaving Alonso to crawl out of the overturned wreck, thankfully unharmed.
This brought out the red flag with all cars returning to the pit lane for a restart. The defining moment came through tyre choice. Rosberg and Hamilton onto mediums, but the Ferraris went with super-softs and Daniel Ricciardo and the two Toro Rossos on soft as they restarted behind the safety car in the order Vettel, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr, Hamilton and Massa.
Raikkonen retired from p3 with a technical issue leaving the sole Ferrari out in front.Vettel could not pull away enough on his super-softs and pitted on lap 35 of 57, handing the lead to Rosberg which he would not relinquish. Ferrari later admitting it was the wrong choice restarting on the mediums but said they had not done enough running on them to know the performance which ultimately cost them the win.
Vettel drew up behind Hamilton in the final laps but running wide in the penultimate corner with two laps to go robbed us of the battle we were all looking for.Daniil Kvyat retired before the start, with the Russian's Red Bull stopping behind the safety car as the grid formed. Ricciardo came in fourth, followed by Felipe Massa. Haas driver Romain Grosjean scoring points for Haas on its debut admittedly with a little help from the red flag., the first new team to do so since Toyota with Mika Salo in 2002.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was P7, followed by Valtteri Bottas for Williams, both struggled behind the Haas and dropped off the back of Grosjean following, the Haas for half the race.
Sainz and Verstappen caught the Williams, Force india, Hass battle after their pitstops, and touched during the final laps sending Versatppen into a spin.
Neither Renault scored points Palmer 11th and Kevin Magnussen 13th after a first-lap puncture.Disappointing day at Mclaren after Fernando Alonso’s crash Jenson Button had poor pace coming home P14.
Great race to start the season, next stop Bahrain.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||34.330s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m14.199s|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m15.680s|
|10||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m16.833s|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.699s|
|14||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||1 Lap|
|15||Felipe Nasr||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|-||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||Not started|