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.
Williams have stuck to form throughout testing so far, adopting a low profile and completing a programme free of headline making glory runs. However, Valtteri Bottas topped today’s timesheet as the team recorded qualifying simulation runs, on what was the Finn’s final day in the car before the season-opener in Melbourne.
Here are five things we learnt on day two of the second test.
Central to Toro Rosso’s very existence in the sport is its influence on bright young talent. Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat all excelled in the Toro Rosso proving ground and based on the evidence of the first ten races of 2015, the team’s current duo have all the hallmarks of recreating the success of the aforementioned trio. While Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr have been sensational this season, credit should also be given to Toro Rosso’s technical team, who have delivered one of Faenza’s greatest ever products for their young star’s to play with.
Lead time on engine development is always longer than chassis improvement but Red Bull’s 2015 campaign is somewhat dependent on a power-pack boost. Some promising dyno testing at Renault’s Viry-Chatillon headquarters has suggested that relief for the two Red Bull teams is incoming, but as Christian Horner has expressed, the team needed the upgrade “yesterday”. Will pressure from the partners see the supplier press fast-forward on the updates.
Just when critics limber up to lament another predictable outcome, Formula 1 has the ability to throw a surprise. Lewis Hamilton may have taken four consecutive pole positions, but it was Nico Rosberg’s time to shine, as he dominated qualifying to take top spot by a relatively comfortable margin. The German was imperious today and has achieved the result which has the potential to launch his 2015 title tilt in earnest. Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel’s third place was courtesy of a typically efficient performance but teammate Kimi Raikkonen failed to deliver and was duly engulfed by his rivals and will start P7. Toro Rosso proved that their practice pace was no fluke, with Sainz sensationally lining up in P5, and will be joined on the third row by his fellow rookie Max Verstappen.
12 points on the board, two bright talents behind the wheel and one of the best looking cars on the grid, 2015 has started well for the team from Faenza. Despite their first and only race victory dating back to 2008, when Sebastian Vettel’s heroics in Monza confirmed his status as a World Champion of the future, (how right we were), the team have slowly worked their way to the front of the ever competitive midfield. Their aspiration to finish with fifth place in the constructors seems very achievable.
Red Bull have been rather vociferous during what has been a hugely disappointing start to their 2015 campaign. They lie sixth in the constructors standings on just 11 points after two races, with conflicting arguments regarding the reasons behind the downturn in form coming from chassis builder and engine supplier. In short, they are not a group of happy campers at the moment and today, the big boss Deitrich Mateschitz has issued another threat that the drinks manufacturer could pull out of the sport if their fortunes do not turn around soon.