The 2016 season was shaping up to be the battle between the Ferrari and Mercedes but who would be victorious when the season reaches it climax in Abu Dhabi after twenty one races.
Continuing rise of Rosberg
Melbourne hosted the season opener which saw the debut of a new team Haas. The team were expected to be off the pace but come Sunday the sport was in for a surprise. Lewis Hamilton took pole after a knock ou qualifying which was introduced to make the session more interesting but the format was knocked by all the drivers and teams with Red Bull boss Christian Horner said F1 should “apologise to the fans”.
Hamilton was jumped at the start by his team-mate Nico Rosberg but the race was interrupted by a crash between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez. Alonso crashed with Esteban Gutierrez leaving his car shattered in pieces after hitting the back wheel of the Haas car which sent him flying off. While for the other Haas it was a brilliant debut for the team, with Romain Grosjean scoring the team’s first points, describing it as a win for the team.
The stewards decided that neither driver was responsible calling it was a racing incident. The incident left Alonso injured and meant he would not be able to race in Bahrain. But Rosberg was left unfazed and sealed his fourth back to back win setting him up well for the start of the season continuing his run of back to back wins.
Alonso was ruled out from racing in Sahir following the crash in Melbourne meaning Stoffel Vandoorne would make his debut for McLaren. The build up to the weekend was dominated by the axing then reinstatement for one last time of the knock out format.
The session proved more exciting with drivers following the cristisum of the format ran longer in the session. Hamilton looked strong through-out the weekend out pacing Rosberg to take pole ahead of the Ferrari’s and red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Again like in Melbourne Rosberg would lead Hamilton home after the world champion made a bad start. This allowed the Ferrari of Raikkonen to get in between the Mercedes. Hamilton had made contact with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas at the start saying he was in his blind spot.
Meanwhile both Vettel and Jolyon Palmer both did not start after technical problems on the formation lap. Grosjean once again scored points for Haas making the team have the best start for a new team since Brawn GP in 2009 when they took two back-to-back wins on the way to the title.
Vandoorne had a brilliant weekend being ahead of Jenson Button throughout and taking McLaren’s first points of the season.
Rosberg out foxed Hamilton in wet conditions to take pole, partly due to technical issues which harmed him throughout the session. Hamilton had been struggling all weekend he spun in FP1 while Rosberg had power unit issues but it didn’t seem to harm his weekend. Both Ferrari drivers had their own issues, the both messed up on their last runs allowing the German to take pole.
Rosberg managed to take the win after he managed to stay ahead building his lead despite losing out at the start. There was drama for Vettel who collided with Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat before dropping down the field. But the Russian recovered to third after a puncher later in the race.
More reliability problems came for Hamilton in Russia when he suffered an engine failure at the end of Q2. Hamilton required another power unit change, while Rosberg was unchallenged going seven tenths faster than Vettel. But Vettel had his own issues a gearbox change prompted Williams’s Valtteri Bottas to second ahead of Raikkonen.
Rosberg would again take another victory building up his lead over Hamilton, despite him showing he had the pace to take his first win and a third in Sochi. For home boy Kvyat it proved a difficult race after contact lead to a puncher, sending him into a spin sending him on a one way ticket to the barriers and into retirement and brought the safety car out and the first of many foul mouthed words from Vettel this season. It was a strong race from Max Verstappen strong fighting with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso until lap 34 until he was forced to retire because of an engine failure. This allowed McLaren to take their first double point score of the season.
History says you win the first four races you go onto win the title; would it be true again in 2016?