In Spain, Mercedes’ mistake afforded Red Bull the opportunity to snatch victory. Just two weeks later it was Red Bull who, having dominated the weekend, made a costly error to allow Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to take his 44th race win.
Such is the speed at which fortunes can change in motorsport, pole sitter Daniel Ricciardo saw his maiden win at the Principality slip away, when a miscommunication between pit wall and garage saw him arrive in his pit-box, while his mechanics were still fumbling over which compound of slick tyres to fit.
Elation on Saturday became heartbreak on Sunday for the Aussie.
Occasionally, sport will provide a storyline which defies belief. Max Verstappen has completed the impossible, writing his own fairytale by winning his first Grand Prix at the tender age of 18. He has not only broken Sebastian Vettel’s record as the youngest ever race winner, but managed it in his first race with Red Bull. There is not a superlative to do justice to the scale of the achievement.
It was, however, made possible by the latest drama in the Mercedes camp. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on lap one, with both ending the race in the gravel trap at turn four, following decidedly aggressive maneuvers.
Ever since F1’s regulations were overhauled ahead of the 2014 F1 season, Mercedes have been the class of the field. A brace of Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles have been achieved in dominant fashion, with 701 and 703 points amassed by the team in 2014 and 2015 respectively. While 2016 has seen Nico Rosberg claim four victories from a possible four and Mercedes secure two one-two finishes, unreliability has hindered them, particularly on Lewis Hamilton’s side of the garage.
Following accusations that the team are deliberately favouring Rosberg this season, Mercedes have written an open letter to the fans looking to quell the speculation.
Nico Rosberg is the man you want picking your lottery numbers at present. The German was once again imperious out in front, taking a dominant fourth win from four races in 2016. Yet again though, his chief rivals were heavily compromised, with Lewis Hamilton battling back to second after enduring yet more unreliability in qualifying, while Sebastian Vettel filled the swear box to the brim on lap one, as he was punted out of contention by none other than Daniil Kvyat.
Littered with spikes of drama, the Russian Grand Prix threw up plenty of talking points.
With his fifth consecutive victory and second of the 2016 campaign, Nico Rosberg’s rich vein of form continued in Bahrain. Despite losing out to teammate and chief rival Lewis Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, Nico dominated Sunday’s race after the Briton was heavily compromised by another poor start, followed by contact with Valtteri Bottas at the turn one pressure point. Recovering to finish third, Mercedes’ inter-team battle currently sees Rosberg a substantial 17 points ahead having recorded the maximum so far.
Rosberg capitalises on Ferrari’s strategic mistake
The 2016 F1 season is underway and some things never change. Mercedes achieved their second consecutive Australian Grand Prix one-two finish, while Sebastian Vettel occupied the final step of the podium for Ferrari. However, read only the final result at your peril, as this year’s season opener was a thriller. With Ferrari matching their pre-season performance and challenging Mercedes down to the wire, it is game on in 2016.
F1 is adept at shooting itself in the foot. Following a 2015 season admittedly lacking in intrigue, the winter has been filled by discussions regarding how to improve the sport. The F1 Commission unanimously voted for a new elimination qualifying format three weeks before the start of the season in an attempt to spice up the action on a Sunday.
With today’s qualifying session being the debut for this new idea, it is evident that a rethink is required. Missing a crescendo, void of surprises and short of laps, calling it a shambles would not be too far from the truth.