One of the frustrating elements of an otherwise excellent 2016 season has been regulatory inconsistencies. The rulebook has been evolving over the year, with modifications coming on a near-weekly basis.
Unprecedented levels of tinkering have given way to stewards decisions that more often than not set the precedents as opposed to following them. They have been redefining the goalposts week in, week out.
The Mexico Grand Prix featured inconsistencies within the same race and I can fully understand Max Verstappen’s frustration at being stripped of third place when all things are considered.
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.
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.
A lot has changed since the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull and Renault have filed their divorce papers, Sebastian Vettel has notched victories number two and three for the Scuderia and crucially, Lewis Hamilton has sealed his third World Drivers Championship title. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg had failed to record his fourth race win of what has been a difficiult campaign. The breakthrough for the German came in Mexico City, as the re-profiled Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez played host to its first Grand Prix since 1992, with Rosberg claiming the spoils ahead of teammate Hamilton.
Their dice usually dominates the headlines, particularly after such a tense duel, yet Sunday was deservedly dominated by the Mexican fans who collectively staked their claim to the accolade of crowd of the season.
In a race which depicted Lewis Hamilton’s career of high’s and low’s, the Briton sealed a historic third world championship title in fine style, with a victory against the odds at COTA. Capitalizing on an unforced error by race leader Nico Rosberg, Hamilton led home a Mercedes one-two, while Sebastian Vettel recovered well from his midfield start to finish a close third. The latter looked to be in a prime position to snatch an unlikely victory at one point, as Safety Car’s prompted a race defined by strategic ebb and flow, with numerous momentum swings and lead changes.
A COTA classic – a spectacle worthy of being 2015’s match point in the battle to be champion of the world.