As far as disappointing weekend’s go, Kimi Raikkonen’s trip to Spielberg was an excellent definition. On a short circuit, where Mercedes had demonstrated potential vulnerability last season, Ferrari targeted a strong result with both cars at the Red Bull Ring. Sebastian Vettel may have secured 12 points for the Scuderia, but Kimi Raikkonen left pointless, following a nasty accident with Fernando Alonso on the opening lap. Albeit unfortunate circumstances, but the Iceman’s weekend unraveled on a Saturday once again, and had it not been for a confusing qualifying session which saw him ejected from contention at the Q1 stage, it all could have been very different come Sunday evening.
Hamilton Notches Fourth Canada Win
After the disappointment of having victory snatched from his grasp in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton responded in fine fashion, taking victory in a tense game of cat and mouse at the head of the field with teammate Nico Rosberg. The gap may have fluctuated but ultimately, it seemed as though the championship leader was in control of proceedings. Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas claimed his first podium of the season, demoting Ferrari off of the rostrum for the first time this season. While some commentators suggested that the race lacked the typical Canadian sparkle, I beg to differ.
Monaco is notorious for it’s double-six nature. The unique characteristics of the circuit mean that the form guide can be thrown into the harbour and past results count for very little. While Red Bull and McLaren benefited, Williams were one team who struggled throughout the weekend. With Bottas falling out of qualifying at the Q1 stage and early contact spelling a Sunday afternoon of woe for Massa, the team left Monaco without a point to their name. Certainly not the type of performance that Williams have become accustomed to over the past 18 months.
Rosberg Notches First Victory of 2015
Second best to his teammate at each and every round so far this season, Nico Rosberg has finally delivered a performance to convince his critics that he can challenge the reigning champion for title honors in 2015. The German’s Sunday performance matched the efficiency of his Saturday triumph, aided by the fact that Hamilton needed to negotiate a rather stubborn Sebastian Vettel in the opening exchanges after a below-par start by the Briton. Ultimately, Hamilton could never challenge his teammate after his early set-back. The race did, however, highlight some rather pressing issues for the sport which have been bubbling to the surface in recent races.
During the winter, we all like to speculate in regards to the pecking order, yet ultimately, it is not until qualifying in Melbourne that the true picture is revealed. Fortunately, today was the day when sandbagging came to an end and team’s showed their hands. On queue, Mercedes lit up the timing screens, with Lewis Hamilton comfortably taking pole position, to the tune of six tenths of a second, from title rival Nico Rosberg. The German had an uncharacteristically luke-warm Saturday, but such is the Mercedes advantage, P2 was his reward.
It was the grand finale of the pre-season programme today, as drivers and cars took to the track for the final time before the 2015 curtain-raiser at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. As teams looked to finesse their 2015 challengers, Valtteri Bottas ended a positive period of testing for Williams on a high, as a supersoft run took the Finn to the top of the timesheet. However, Mercedes were certainly not chasing times today – an ominous statement in itself. They know that pace is readily available in the W06 and few pundits will be able to look past the Mercedes duo to take the spoils of victory down-under.
2014 was an exciting year in Formula 1 for a multitude of reasons. One aspect of this was undoubtedly the emergence of new superstar drivers to challenge the established ‘elite-tier.’ While his three spectacular victories saw Daniel Ricciardo steal the show, Valtteri Bottas was another young talent to enter the spotlight – a man who thrived in a resurgent Williams team.