Self-destruction leads to youngest winner
After the Russian Grand Prix, Hamilton needed to get his championship back on track in Barcelona. But the main talking point going into Barcelona was the announcement that Red Bull demoted Daniil Kvyat following the crash with Sebastian Vettel in Sochi. He would be replaced by Max Verstappen for the rest of the season.
Hamilton was in great form in qualifying taking pole from Rosberg by a quarter of a second. That pole looked set for his championship defence to restart and see him take Red Bull once again out-qualified Ferrari with Verstappen getting fourth the best of his career.
Drama unfolded almost immediately as the two Mercedes made contact at turn four. It was Hamilton who got away better on the run to turn one, but Rosberg came back at him. He led through turn two and three, it appeared he had a problem so Hamilton tried to go down the inside but Rosberg pushed him off.
This sent Hamilton into a spin, and then he made contact with Rosberg sending them both on a one way ticket to retirement! What unfolded next was a battle between Verstappen and both the Ferrari’s. But the teenager didn’t buckle under the pressure with a two stop strategy to allow him to take his first victory, the first win for a Dutchman in F1 and topple Vettel as the youngest winner in Grand Prix racing.
Hamilton rises again
After the events of Barcelona and twelve months ago Hamilton wanted another win at his ‘home’ race as did Rosberg who wanted a fourth win at his ‘home’ race too. Rosberg stole victory a year ago thanks to Verstappen’s crash leading to an error off track from Hamilton side of the garage.
But Mercedes wouldn’t this time would not have it their own way, the pace Red Bull had in Barcelona looked genuine as the team looked strong in practice and taking pole with Ricciardo. Verstappen it was hero to zero, the Dutchman crashed in Q1 meaning he started on a back row.
The race was wet starting behind the safety car, when it started for real Hamilton must have learnt from his mistake last year as he soon was on the attack aided by team orders to allow him past Rosberg.
As the circuit started to dry, Hamilton went onto dry tyres prompting Ricciardo to pit however, Red Bull weren’t ready for him! Just as Mercedes cost Hamilton victory last season, it seemed Red Bull were making the same mistake losing the lead to Hamilton.
Verstappen v Monte Carlo round three saw him join the long list of retirements after locking up into Casino Square sliding on the damp track into the barrier. Jolyon Palmer lost grip on the zebra crossing, almost taking Grosjean with him.
Raikkonen was next, crashed at the hairpin braking his front wing and dragged it under his Ferrari all the way to the chicane before pulling off. In the process he almost forced Haas’s Romain Grosjean into the wall, Kvyat hit Kevin Magnussen while both Sauber’s of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson also collided at Rascasse.
Hamilton Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee
Montreal has been a place where Hamilton has always performed well and once again he took pole in damp conditions from Rosberg and Vettel with all three of them within a second. this did see a number of accidents in the session with a few sliding off track.
It was Vettel who got away better getting pass both the Mercedes but once again Hamilton and Rosberg made contact. With the pair of them escaping without taking eachother out, but it saw Rosberg drop down the field. But Hamilton he needed to go on the attack, which was aided by safety car and a change of strategy to a one stop for Hamilton. This allowed Hamilton to build his lead and in his ‘own’ words “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” To his sixth win in Montréal while Rosberg had a messy afternoon fighting with Verstappen.
Rosberg back in form
After three years the Grand Prix of Europe was back over the years the race as evolve from a honorary title into its own race, it was held previously in Valencia, the Nurburgring and Donington.
But this year it was a new circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan which would hold the race around the city, billed as the fastest street race in the world. It was taking place against the back drop of a divided conintant in the mists of Britain’s Referendum on its EU Membership, the biggest refugee crisis and concerns over human rights.
Rosberg took pole after Hamilton made a costly error, locking up on his final run in Q3 going into the wall in the narrowest section which brought out the red flag. This meant no one could improve giving Sergio Perez a front row start ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel who set an identical lap times.
Rosberg again led from the start after getting away better and took victory despite a technical issue which he managed to fix. Hamilton was also affected by the same issue but under the rules Mercedes couldn’t help him, Rosberg found the problem and fixed it himself. Vettel finished second ahead of Raikkonen, however he had crossed the white line entering the pits earning a penalty.
It was another tough race for McLaren with Jenson Button just missing out on points and Fernando Alonso being forced to retire because downshift problems.
However, Rosberg was back he took the first win in Baku and at the Grand Prix of Europe ahead of Hamilton! But, could he keep the momentum going into July?