Nico Rosberg completed his third win in a row this season, to go 36 points clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the championship, as he led from lap 3 to the conclusion, at a chaotic and action packed 2016 Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.
The German struggled on the start and was initially beaten off the line by the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who got a fantastic launch to lead at the first corner, before disaster struck on lap 3. Just as Rosberg was about to make a pass the Australian suffered a puncture, debris on track causing the left rear of the Red Bull to deflate on the back straight, which allowed the Mercedes to take the lead. Luckily for Ricciardo he was not far from the pits at the time, and was able to head straight in to change to the soft rubber, from the super soft. A brilliant recovery drive from the Red Bull racing driver, allowed him to collect a fourth place finish.
It was a manic and chaotic start to the race, which saw the two Scuderia Ferrari cars of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen collide as the German weaved to react to a bold move from Daniil Kvyat into Turn 2. The Finn came off the worst in that scenario, but after looking like the Maranello based squad’s day would be compromised by that early incident, Vettel was able to salvage some dignity, recovering to take an excellent, and perhaps lucky second place. The German took full advantage of a safety car deployed on lap 5 , to change his damaged front wing and start his charge back up the grid.
Raikkonen meanwhile did not fare so well, but cannot be too disappointed with his fifth place finish. The Finn pitted on the opening lap for a new nose and front wing, initially dropping him to the back of the field. The early safety car helped Raikkonen make some head way, but after his progress through the field began to come to a stand still, Ferrari pitted him again to switch to the medium compound tyre. The move did not seem to work however, and so the Finn pitted for his final stint on the soft tyre, whilst the majority of drivers around him were on mediums, and soared up to a respectable fifth place.
Daniil Kvyat was one of only a few drivers to have a trouble free race, which allowed the Russian to bring the Red Bull home in third position, thirteen seconds ahead of his team-mate in fourth, and the second Ferrari of Raikkonen in fifth. The Williams of Felipe Massa made it home in sixth place, the Brazilian able to keep current World champion Lewis Hamilton at bay to stay ahead of the Brit.
Hamilton’s weekend went from bad to worse, as he too was involved in the chaos at the beginning of the race. After starting from the back of the grid, the Brit was unable to stay out of trouble, unfortunately getting tagged by the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, causing him to lose his front wing which became lodged underneath the W07. Hamilton pitted for a new nose and front wing which resigned him to the back of the grid once again.
The early safety car helped the current World champion make some headway, as Mercedes chose to pit Hamilton twice, to get the lesser favoured super soft tyre stint out of the way, leaving the Brit to bring down the gap on the soft rubber. After rising as high as fourth at one point, Hamilton struggled to make passes towards the end on fading tyres, finishing his torrid campaign in a hard fought seventh position. A solid effort, considering the Brit had lost front downforce which affected him for the whole race, possibly caused when the front wing went under his car at the start and damaged the floor.
Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz finished in eighth and ninth place respectively for Toro Rosso, with Valtteri Bottas completing the top ten in the second Williams, after being overtaken by the Spaniard on the final lap. Sergio Perez was the first of the Force India‘s home, finishing just out of the points in eleventh place, ahead of the two McLaren‘s of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in twelfth and thirteenth position respectively, after gambling on the medium tyre at the safety car for Button, and opting for a different strategy to the rest of the field, towards the end of the race.
Esteban Gutierrez, who managed to finish his first race of the season, was the first of the Haas F1 team cars home in fourteenth place, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India and Marcus Ericsson in the Sauber. Kevin Magnussen was next up in the first of the Renault Sport F1 team runners, ahead of Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor
Romain Grosjean, who had so far experienced a dream beginning to the season with his new team Haas, also hit trouble at the start, having to pit immediately for a new front wing after crashing into the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. It did not get any better for the Frenchman after that, and he finished a lap down to frontrunner Rosberg, in nineteenth place.
Felipe Nasr, Rio Haryanto and Jolyon Palmer completed the field, with no retirements being registered despite the number of incidents that took place in what was a highly entertaining race.
2016 Chinese Grand Prix Race Results
|1||ROS Nico Rosberg||GER||Mercedes||1:38:53.891||25|
|2||VET Sebastian Vettel||GER||Ferrari||+37.776s||18|
|3||KVY Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull Racing||+45.936s||15|
|4||RIC Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||+52.688s||12|
|5||RAI Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Ferrari||+65.872s||10|
|6||MAS Felipe Massa||BRA||Williams||+75.511s||8|
|7||HAM Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes||+78.230s||6|
|8||VES Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso||+79.268s||4|
|9||SAI Carlos Sainz||ESP||Toro Rosso||+84.127s||2|
|10||BOT Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Williams||+86.192s||1|
|11||PER Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||+94.283s||0|
|12||ALO Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren||+97.253s||0|
|13||BUT Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren||+101.990s||0|
|14||GUT Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||Haas||+1 lap||0|
|15||HUL Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India||+1 lap||0|
|16||ERI Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber||+1 lap||0|
|17||MAG Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Renault||+1 lap||0|
|18||WEH Pascal Wehrlein||GER||Manor||+1 lap||0|
|19||GRO Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas||+1 lap||0|
|20||NAS Felipe Nasr||BRA||Sauber||+1 lap||0|
|21||HAR Rio Haryanto||INA||Manor||+1 lap||0|
|22||PAL Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault||+1 lap||0|