Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
In an event filled race Nico Rosberg took his Mercedes AMG Petronas W05 to the first victory of 2014. He was followed by a distant Daniel Ricciardo with McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen close on his tail. While Hamilton was left to ponder on what may have been Magnussen repeated Hamilton’s rookie performance of 2007 at McLaren. Time will tell if he will be able to maintain this performance.
The first Grand Prix of 2014 has also shown us that everything we kept saying we didn’t know from testing is actually true. Reliability was the story of the day with 2 former World Champions going down (Hamilton and Vettel) in the first two laps and only 3 Renault PU’s making the end of the race, though one of them was attached to Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull for P2. Bottas gets the unofficial TJ13 drive of the day award, for his thoroughly entertaining romp through the field.
Otherwise, you could just take any report from last year and substitute the word “Mercedes” for “Red Bull” and you’d have the story right. Mercedes confirmed their utter dominance with Rosberg’s win, and we were all deprived of a great race for P1 by the retirement of Hamilton on Lap 2.
Ferrari confirmed that we have yet to see their true pace, due to electrical problems, but as it stands Mercedes, Williams and McLaren were the order of the day. Mclaren had out-strategized the rest and taken the early lead in the constructors and Red Bull threatened with a strong showing from Ricciardo, if only Renault can get their house in order.
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
-The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again
The race began with Vettel and Gutierrez on Mediums and everyone else on Softs. Problems started immediately for Chilton on the parade lap as his car refused to start. The wind was gusting and changing directions. Grosjean who planned to start from the pit-lane was issued a drive through penalty for leaving the garage too soon. Vettel had boost problems on the parade lap and complained of no power on the radio. As the cars pulled into formation, out came the yellow flags and another formation lap was required. One could hear the screams of frustration echoing from the pit lane as the cars set off for the 2nd time. The cause was the other Marussia stranded at the back. Tension mounted as the cars lined up again, with 3 cars starting from pit-lane.
As the lights went out Turn 1 claimed its ritual sacrifice, with Kobayashi taking out himself and Massa with his brakes fully locked. He also bounced off Kimi, though Raikkonen was able to continue. Rosberg was able to get a great start and jumped into P1 while Hamilton looked to be driving backwards. Despite the assurances of his team over the radio, there was no MGU-K for Vettel.
Perez and Gutierrez headed into the pits with damage and Hamilton was told to retire on lap 2 to save his engine. He ignored his engineer and then they told him to stay out. Bottas was storming through the field up to 9th from his starting postion of 15th. Kvyat was sailing backwards, while Rosberg was showing the true power of the Mercedes.
Hamilton pulled in and called it a day in agreement with his engineers. Engine problems – specifically a misfiring cylinder. Meanwhile Bottas had passed JEV on the outside into the 8th turn.
So far this race had confirmed the impressions from testing. Vettel had now pulled in with a malfunctioning MGU-K, his day was also done as the new regulations claimed another victim. Bottas in the Williams had begun out-dueling the Ferrari of Raikkonen. Ricciardo held station in P2 as Rosberg effortlessly pulled away. And with a savage miscalculation Bottas tapped the wall exiting turn 9 and had blown his tire. Hulkenburg had snuck into 4th and Magnussen into 3rd. Lap 12 saw the safety car emerge so that debris from Bottas’ Williams could be retrieved.
Button then lead the charge into the pits having made little progress thus far – a last minute decision that saw him barely making the pit entry.
Rosberg decided to pit as well and was followed by most of the field. Raikkonen was up to 7th, but forced to drive to a very low delta so Alonso could get in and out. Sutil 10th and Maldonado 11th opted to stay out. Surprisingly neither Lotus had burst into flames. Aussies who bought fire extinguisher futures are no doubt sitting nervously right now.
Bottas re-emerged in 16th with a long road to reclaim the ground he made up prior to hitting wall. He had the pace, but would he have the fuel left? Lap 16 brought the Safety Car in. Rosberg got off well and immediately began disappearing into the distance. Repaint the Merc in Red Bull colors and you’d have a repeat of last season as far as P1 was concerned. Magnussen did better hanging onto Ricciardo, perhaps the car coming into a better balance as the fuel load dropped. Bottas moved rapidly up to 12th and with DRS enabled Bottas passed Maldonado and Raikkonen lost a further 2 places. The Finn does not look like a happy camper at the moment.
Lap 20 and Ricciardo was told no need to save fuel. Take that, haters. Button had moved up to 6th with his clever safety car work and Hulk was being harried by Alonso, as his tires’ graining cost him overall speed. Rosberg had put 5.2s on Ricciardo in 5 laps. Bottas was experiencing problems with his DRS system and the team cautioned his use of it.
Both Toro Rosso’s were still running in the top 10, with JEV catching up to Button. Magnussen was told other cars may struggle with fuel so to remain patient. The battle to avoid humiliation was being fought by RoGro and Mal in 13th and 14th, with RoGro overtaking Mal.
Barring any miscalculation the race was over for P1, the retirement of Hamilton had effectively removed any competition for Rosberg. It also proved very interesting, too, that Mclaren couldn’t make any headway on the Red Bull of Ricciardo.
Bottas stormed back up in to 9th for the second time (yes, I am required by the style guide to use the word ‘stormed’ when discussing Bottas). At this rate he would actually be able to challenge for top 5 and if he hadn’t stuffed it into the wall, of course, he may well have been looking at a top 3. Kimi continued to struggle with his car but held onto 8th. In his post-race interview, Massa wanted a race ban for Kobayashi – a la Grosjean at Spa 2012 – but most knowledgeable observers agreed it would most likely be points on Kamui’s license. Kamui himself admitted fault, but the stewards would look at the incident after the race.
By this stage of the race Sutil, Grosjean and Maldonado all appeared to be on a one stop strategy and with a vicious finality the reliability bug bit again with Ericsson out of race and told to shut his engine down. On lap 32 Maldonado retired with an MGU-H failure.
Button again led the charge into the pits on lap 33 but Rosberg was told to extend his stint. His medium tires well past their best as they were sliding as he finally entered the pits. In the haste of the pit-stop, Button was dropped off the jack and damaged his nose. Hulkenberg and JEV both tried to respond to protect against the undercut, but it was too late – Button passed ahead of both Hulk and JEV when they emerged from the pits.
Bottas had caught up to Raikkonen and Kimi locked his tires up and Bottas walked past. Bottas had provided the most entertainment in this race by far, as the Lotii have refused to engage in an Auto-da-fe´. When Ricciardo boxed he was followed by the drivers in positions P4-6. Bottas maintained his position on exit and Button to 4th. Magnussen boxed from P2 on lap 38 and despite a 2.8s stop he still emerged behind Ricciardo. Rosberg pitted to cover Ricciardo and emerged into P1 with enough time left over to order a pizza for his pit crew.
Raikkonen dropped back to 9th. Kvyat sat in 10th and was making up ground. At this point, McLaren headed for P3 and P4, looking to take an early lead in the Constructors championship. It was a pity that Bottas had removed himself from that potential battle as the fireworks at the end would have been fantastic. As it was, Bottas moved up to 8th with no signs of slowing to save fuel.
Meanwhile Magnussen had caught up to Ricciardo. It was K Mags debut, and 2nd on the podium would indeed be a special treat and would have improved on Hamilton’s rookie 3rd in 2007. Ferrari had reported electrics problems which meant both cars were down on power. Bottas had caught up to JEV and looked to dispatch him quickly. Bu lap 45 Grosjean was out. How many laps does it take to get to the center of a Lotus? 45.
JEV made a huge mistake which allowed Bottas to over-take and move up to 7th. This moved Hulkenberg squarely in to his sights with just 9 laps remaining. Bottas ripped into 6th after an excellent recovery, but it was a little disappointing compared to what might have been. Meanwhile the battle over second position intensified as Magnussen put Ricciardo under increasing pressure with only 5 laps remaining.
2 laps later and Magnussen had turned his engine up to have a final assault at Ricciardo but either way it was a certainty that a local boy – Ricciardo – would finish on the podium.
The last laps were utterly free of drama, and Rosberg finished P1 followed by Ricciardo and Magnussen, who matched with Hamilton’s 2007 debut 3rd place for McLaren.
****************** UPDATE ******************
Two big decisions handed down by the Stewards post race, the biggest being Ricciardo’s exclusion from the results. This moves Magnussen into 2nd and Button into 3rd, belatedly eclipsing Lewis Hamilton’s debut 3rd in 2007.
The FIA ruling is quoted at length in the comments, but suffice it to say that the Fuel Flow Meter for Red Bull had issues and rather than going with the FIA solution – they substituted their own. This was noticed during the race and rather than reverting back they continued to race – hence the exclusion and subsequent appeal to the FIA. Red Bull allege, however, that this was a problem throughout the pit-lane this weekend. If so, then the FIA face a real issue going forward.
The second major decision was the total exoneration of Kobayashi from any responsibility for his crash. The Stewards have determined that it was a technical failure and have remanded Caterham to work with the technical delegate to resolve the issue. Essentially, the brake by wire system failed and they’re not sure why yet.
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||01:33.4|
|9||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||01:34.9|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||01:35.8|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||01:37.4|
|R||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||RETIRED|
*Results are provisional as Ricciardo is being investigated for exceeding the fuel-flow limit during the race.
World Drivers Championship
World Constructors Championship