The races in China have never ceased to amaze with close wheel-to-wheel battles ensured in aplenty. The 2016 Grand Prix weekend at Shanghai International Circuit was no exception as in the end there were plenty of thrills and spills reminiscent to the opening two races. We pick the ten best of them:
Nico Rosberg on a Flyer:
Once again on a thrilling race, Nico Rosberg found himself out of the harm’s way whilst his main rivals, especially Mercedes team-mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, hit trouble to claim his sixth straight win. One more victory will level him with the record of Michael Schumacher and if he can keep his momentum further, Sebastian Vettel’s nine race winning streak in the ultra-dominating 2013 season is comfortably up for grabs.
With the 36 points advantage at the top of the leader board, the fact that no driver who has won first three races in a season has failed to win the championship will give him a world of confidence. Lucky goes in his favour as well as both Ferraris and Daniel Ricciardo had problems early on in the race but the German is on top of his game to snatch every opportunity and convert them into race wins.
Another Gruesome Weekend for Hamilton:
For the second successive race, Lewis Hamilton damaged his car in the first corner. The three-time world champion was about to serve a five-place grid penalty prior to the race for an unscheduled gearbox change but his miserable engine failure in Q1 put him at the back of the grid as he didn’t get a chance to do even one flying lap.
With the damage sustained, he pitted thrice in the opening six laps. He changed front wing once before strategically trying a gamble to get ahead of the low-end of the field. He could only finish in seventh at the end of the race after indulging in battling throughout the 56 lap event.
The 31-year-old British driver is now 39 points behind his own team-mate in second position and certainly has a mountain to climb in order to claw back the deficit.
Ferrari’s Misery Continues:
As Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne looked on, the team were determined to put on a good show only to end up colliding at the end. Vettel called Kvyat’s move as “suicidal” leading up to the prang but the move was deemed as a racing incident by stewards in the end. Both Kimi and Vettel were expected to claim double podium after reliability difficulties in the first two races but the coming together forced the Finn to pit and dropped the German down the field.
He called the Red Bull’s Russian driver as “mad man” on team radio. Whilst he fought back and finished on the podium in second place, his Finnish team-mate could only manage fifth.
Vettel and Kvyat Argued in Driver’s Room:
The conversation between Vettel and Kvyat about the incident in the driver’s room went viral.
Here’s their conversation in full:
“If I don’t go left, you crash into us and we all three go out,” complained Vettel shortly before heading out for the podium ceremony. “You came like a torpedo.”
“That’s racing,” came the response from Kvyat, before adding that in the end they had both made it into the top three.
“If I keep going on the same line, we crash,” continued Vettel. Kvyat’s reply? “Don’t keep going.”
Vettel Proves his Intelligence:
The Shanghai race brimmed with overtaking manoeuvres and surely would have put all the negative publicity about the sport taking a day-off. Sebastian Vettel put on some brilliant overtakes and one that will stand out was the cheeky move on entry into the pit lane.
With several cars entering the pits for new set of tyres during safety car period, Vettel was behind a Haas and a Toro Rosso. He put the foot down and went past them with two wheels on the grass before braking just at the right time for the pit entry.
Red Bull Show Pace:
Another solid weekend for Red Bull ensured them a big haul of points. Their pace was underlined even on Saturday as Daniel Ricciardo qualified second and led the race for the opening three laps before a puncture marred him of finishing on the podium. However, he dealt with the race strongly and recovered to finish fourth for the third consecutive time in as many races.
In contrary to Ferrari, Red Bull’s consistency meant that they are just four points behind the Maranello-based team in the constructors’ championship in third and a massive 28 points ahead of Williams. The young Russian Daniil Kyvat impressed everyone once again by coming home to the bottom step of the podium and tasting champagne.
Haas’ Run of Points End:
The American team’s Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez failed to score points for the first time ever when chequered flag fell in Shanghai. It doesn’t ever matter as the team have already cemented their position in the history books with what they had achieved in Australia and Bahrain.
Grosjean celebrated his birthday on Sunday in not a good way as he came into contact with Suber’s Marcus Ericsson in the opening lap and was forced to pit for new nose. Gutierrez completed the race in 14th position.
McLaren are still having a hard time
Jenson Button ran as high as seventh but he could only garner a 13th place finish in the end as he couldn’t hold on in the battle to finish on points. After finishing 12th, the returning Fernando Alonso described the race as boring for him. It’s no secret that McLaren and engine supplier Honda have improved in the winter testing but still there are giant leaps to be made in order to become a regular points contender.
Manor are No More Slouches:
The action at the back-end of the field was as interesting as the runners up front in Shanghai much to the delight of all the fans and spectators flocked to see the event unfold.
The Manor boys have improved leaps and bounds with the presence of Mercedes power unit and tech relationship with Williams. The highly skilful Pascal Wehrlein used the back straight in China – longest in the calendar – to full effect en route to complete the race above Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer of Renault.
Sauber in Talks with Investors:
Sauber have been said to finish the 2016 season despite the uncertainties hovering over their future. They are believed to be in talks with potential investors and it’d be shame to see such a resilient team leave the sport if something goes wrong. Let’s hope all the rumours are not true! In Shanghai, Marcus Ericsson finished 16th whilst his Brazilian team-mate could only manage to deliver a sixteenth-place finish.