IMAGINE the situation. You’re fourth on the grid, your teammate is third, the reigning World Champion is 22nd, so it is a perfect opportunity for the team to make up some ground. The CEO is in the garage watching, so the one thing you must not do is crash into your teammate on the first corner.
It is perhaps unsurprising then, that Sebastian Vettel blamed Daniil Kvyat’s ‘torpedo’ manoeuvre for the first-corner crash with Kimi Räikkönen, which then led to Lewis Hamilton losing his front wing in the follow-up, and potentially caused the puncture on the car of Kvyat’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. This series of events left Nico Rosberg free to take his sixth successive victory, and he now has a 36-point lead over his Mercedes partner Hamilton, who will be hoping for a trouble-free weekend this time around in Russia.
It has been the troubles of Hamilton (and others in China) that has helped to contribute to an exciting start to the season, especially compared to the processional races of last year. Bad starts to races have forced Lewis to fight his way through the field, which will give him hope that a trouble-free weekend will allow him to close the gap at the top of the standings. This combination of fast cars further down the grid, and the new freedom teams have when it comes to tyre compounds, have led to battles throughout the field, something that the fans will hope continues throughout the year.
Ferrari will also be hoping for a good weekend in Russia, after reliability problems and the crash in China have given Mercedes a big advantage in both championships. Although they do appear to be closer to the reigning champions on race day, they are still lagging behind in terms of outright qualifying pace, and the hunt for extra power has led to issues for both drivers. Red Bull will be pleased with their start to the season, just three points behind Ferrari, and with hopes that an upgraded engine midway through the season will enable them to challenge for their first race win since Belgium 2014.
Hamilton will have reason to be optimistic ahead of the Russian GP, having won both of the previous races at the Sochi circuit. Force India will also be hoping for a repeat of last year, where they achieved a podium with Sergio Perez to turn attention away from the legal troubles of their owner, Vijay Mallya. Renault will be hoping for their first points since their return as a constructor, while Sauber have more pressing matters than results on track, with their financial problems leading to unpaid staff bills, with many wondering if the team will fold before the end of the season.
With teams likely to bring upgrades to the first European race of the season, it could be interesting to see how the pack has shuffled, and what Hamilton, Ferrari and Red Bull can do to stop Rosberg ruling the roost again in Russia.
Featured image: The Independent