#F1 Race Review: 2015 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix

RaceReview
Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
Air 20°C Track 47°C Humidity 34 % Wind 2 kmh

Prelude
It was a hot afternoon in Shanghai, blue skies with the sun hammering down on spectators and teams alike. Mr E prowled the pit lane like a demented gerbil chasing down errant Team Principals. Sainz and Kvyat elected to start on the Prime Tyre. Not to be out done, Ricciardo went with a brand new engine, his 3rd for the year.

At the end of the parade lap Lewis came to the line pointed at an extremely acute angle, clearly targeting his teammate.

Summary

Lights out saw a clean and fast start by both Mercedes, with Hamilton able to maintain his position. Further back, Raikkonen was able to get around both Williams through the first set of turns, latching onto Vettel’s gearbox as the race began to unwind, setting the stage for a strategic battle between Mercedes and Ferrari.

Further back it was Ricciardo, with his brand new engine, who had forgotten which pedal to press, dropping down to 17th by the time he made T1 and valiantly carrying on the Australian tradition of poor starts.

For the second race running, it was Ferrari behaving mischievously. Staying close early days they tried the undercut, and threw Vettel back out on the Options, which prompted Mercedes to follow suit. The Mercedes showed no inclination to chew through its tyres though, but the real damage was done when Rosberg found himself stuck between an approaching Vettel and a tyre saving Hamilton. After a few back and forths on the radio, Lewis picked up the pace after being instructed to by Mercedes, but not sufficiently as the team were forced to pit Rosberg first to protect him from Vettel’s undercut.

The switch to the Medium tyre put paid to Ferrari’s hopes, however, as they simply were not as fast as Mercedes on the harder tyre. And the longer the stint the more pronounced the Arrow’s advantage.

Thankfully, the drama between the two Mercedes teammates continued all the way through the presser and post race interviews, with Rosberg convinced Hamilton had done him over on purpose and Lewis unable to keep a straight face when interviewed about it, though maintaining he was well within his rights to run his race at the front and that Nico should have come at him, bro, if he’d wanted more speed. Pass the popcorn as they say on the intertubez, this should be entertaining.

Meanwhile it was left to the midfield to take care of the actual racing and they did so with little prodding. Grosjean came out the big winner, pulling the first points of the year and proving that if he isn’t run into, he can do a decent job, at one point even running with the Williams. His teammate was less lucky, after having a bit of a scruffy race including overshooting the pit lane exit rather spectacularly and having a bit of a spin, he wound up getting taken out by Button after a spate of fantastic driving by the both of them as they battled back and forth, as Button left his nose a little too far alongside into T1.

The Saubers, too, featured heavily in the midfield battle as P10 was a hot commodity and viciously fought over the entire race. At the end of the day it was multiple encounters between Ericsson and Ricciardo that dominated a fair bit of the TV show, as pit strategy kept them rubbing up against each other. Although the Australian eventually got the better of the Swede going P9 to Ericsson’s P10, it was great value for unit of currency as they settled the matter.

Verstappen, too, delivered great value as he put on an overtaking clinic, at least until his engine blew up most magnificently 2 laps from the finish, bringing out the Safety Car and prematurely ending the race. This, much to the disappointment of Kimi fans as he was hauling Vettel in at a rate that would have given him a real shot to overtake before the checkers fell. It was not a total loss, as the spectacle of the marshals trying to get the car through the gate and onto pit lane resembled an epically bad attempt to parallel park a car in too small a spot. Eventually the Toro Rosso mechanics were allowed to remove the nose, but not before the race hit the final lap under the Safety Car, meaning no overtaking would be allowed under the regulations.

Verstappen was not the only Renault engine to bite the dust, Kvyat caught on fire rather nicely on lap 16, which would make it 3 each now for both Kvyat and Ricciardo. Sainz too had a forgettable race, best characterised by the shot of him trundling down the back straight trying desperately to grab a gear, before the gearbox finally decided to work again.

Hulkenberg’s day ended early as well with a gearbox issue, and Perez 3 stopper did not wind up paying dividends as the best he could manage was 11th. Manor made their first 2 car finish and due to Verstappen’s retirement, they wound up taking P15 and P16, with Stevens ahead of his teammate, Merhi.

McLaren finished, which was a massive improvent, and P12 and P13 not bad, though Jenson will likely get dinged for his incident with Maldonado. Williams’ race was basically over in the first lap, with Massa ultimately getting the better of Bottas and Raikkonen getting ahead of the both of them. A bit ominous, the dice with Grosjean, as Bottas was told he finished ahead of some “faster” cars at the end of the race.

All in all a supremely interesting race, even though the switch to the Medium tyre revealed Ferrari’s weakness relative to the Mercedes. Ferrari’s use of strategy is a breath of fresh air in the season and it is only to be hoped that they can continue to develop the car to the point where they can mount a real challenge to Mercedes. Lotus seems to have made a big step, when driven in between the lines at least, and Williams will be scrambling for answers as they seem to be falling away from the front end and into the clutches of the midfield. Renault will not be having a good time of it in their post race meetings and the only question now is exactly how many engine penalties will the Red Bull drivers be racking up.

Finishing Grid

2015 Constructors' Champinship China

2015 Drivers' Championship China

Detailed Review

Lights out

Hamilton hit the line at the end of the parade lap aimed at Rosberg at an unusually extreme angle. When the lights went Mercedes flew off the line with Hamilton easily leading Rosberg into T1. Bottas, Massa Raikkonen Ericsson all with good starts as well. There was some nice driving as Raikkonen got past both Williams Contact around T4 as Verstappen and Kvyat came together twice in the general melee. Bottas got round Massa, but Massa took the spot back by the end of the lap. Ricciardo had issues at the start and plunged to 17th whilst at the other end, Lewis had pulled out a gap of over 1s by time he hit the start/finish for the 2nd lap.

Lap 2
Sainz spun the car in a very rookie looking error. Kvyat and Ricciardo occupied P13 and P17, likely not the original plan as Kvyat was having no luck with Prime tyre.

Lap 3
Maldonado took 9th from Ericsson. Ricciardo advanced to 15th

Lap 4
Hamilton continued to dangle just outside DRS.

Lap 5
Rosberg continued inching closed the gap with Hamilton. Perez went P13 as the Ferrrari’s held the gap to 2s back of Mercedes. Ricciardo up to Kvyat, who held him up due to different tyres

Lap 6
Battle between Kvyat and Ricciardo continued to rage with Alonso joining in the fun. Grosjean P7, Nasr P8, Maldonado P9, Ericsson P10 for the moment

Lap 8
Mercedes was still running low 1:44’s and Ericsson defended against Verstappen. Maldonado continued the assault on Nasr as Ferrari began losing losing 0.5s a lap to Mercedes. Maldonado finally got by Nasr in T14.

Lap 9
Ferrari dropped to 4-6s back of Mercedes compared to Williams 10-12. Clear difference between Ferrari/Mercedes and rest. Verstappen passes Ericsson most aggressively, with a bit of contact. No doubt will be following JPM to NASCAR when he gets old enough.

Lap 10
Boom out of race went the Incredible Hulkenberg. His Gearbox checked out and ordered a pizza. He cleverly ditched the car out of the way so yellows flew but no more

Lap 11
Nasr pitted during local yellow while Ricciardo radioed in, wanting off the option tyre.

Lap 12
Maldonado in as pits get busy.

Lap 13
Hamilton turned a new fast lap. Grosjean and Verstappen both pitted and out with the Prime tyre.

Lap 14
Vettel boxed for the under cut, onto Options. Massa followed suit to cover. Further back Perez grabbed a place from Sainz, who had started on Prime tyre.

Lap 15
After a bit of an excited radio call (Merc, changing strategy on the fly, tingles) Hamilton pitted and emerged onto Options for his next stint. Bottas chose Mediums as on track Grosjean belted past Kvyat. Rosberg called in for Options next lap and Maldonado got the better of Kvyat as well.

Lap 16
As promised Rosberg serviced for Options and out in front of Vettel, but Vettel was definitely on it, gained about a second through the undercut. Then, with no warning save the rest of the season, Kvyat’s engine let go in a massive plume of smoke.

Lap 17
The struggle for P9-12 continued to entertain with Nasr, Verstappen, Perez and Ericsson being the prime mischief makers on track

Lap 18

Hamilton turned a slow lap as the telly turned to Button overtaking Alonso. Not much in it as they were on different tyres much.

Lap 19
Rosberg complained about too much radio traffic. Mercedes Race Engineers developing PTSD about race calls. Verstappen was giving Nasr the business

Lap 20
Verstappen passed Nasr at T14 with a neat little move, that also appeared a bit suicidal should the opponent or his brakes not cooperate.

Lap 21
Rosberg complained about being stuck in Hamilton-Vettel sandwich, with Lewis tyre saving backing him into Vettel. Mercedes asked Hamilton to hit 43.7’s and he responded, though how delayed radio message was not clear.

Lap 22
Ricciardo put in a brief rallycross practice but then got right back to passing Ericsson, or at least attempting to.

Lap 23
The rarely sighted Manors put in an appearance in TV commentary, with Stevens getting the nod for climbing into P17. Raikkonen demonstrated his pace, turning a 1:43.257.

Lap 24
Sainz with a mystery gearbox issue crawled down the straight before the software decided to cooperate again.SAI crawling at start of back straight. Hamilton continued to pick up the pace

Lap 25
All about the tyres this season as following closely seems to creat more degradation than last season. Possibly related to new nose and aero rules.

Lap 26
Ricciardo into P13 has caught up Ericsson again.

Lap 27
Ricciardo got Ericsson through the first turn complex then went wide, letting him right back through. The Swede may be many things, but he needed no engraved invitation to walk through the door that Ricciardo held open. Hamilton was told to up his target to 43.3’s or Rosberg would get first dibs on pit to cover off Vettel undercut.

Lap 28
Ricciardo in catch up mode, still chasing Ericsson

Lap 29
Vettel’s times started to drop and Ricciardo finally passed Ericsson for P11, all over again.

Lap 30
Vettel asked to go faster. Replies he’s “on the limit”. Push and Box was the answer

Lap 31
Vettel out on the Medium tyre as Mercedes are forced to box Rosberg first to cover undercut. Hamilton, not wanting to get undercut by Rosberg, decides to see exactly what was left in his tyres. Turns out to be a 1:42.208, fast lap of the race

Lap 32
Rosberg out in front of Vettel and immediately into traffic. No songs from Vettel this time round, however. Perez got round Button for P12 as the marshals were on it and waved Blue Flags for Sainz.

Lap 33
Hamilton, looking like he could go a few more if necessary, told to box.

Lap 34
Grosjean, Verstappen and Hamilton all came in. With the track temperature having dropped down to 43°C, Mediums were behaving better.
Maldonado boxed as well, but missed his braking rather severely, ending up in the access road and needing a push back out to get to the pits.

Lap 35
Raikkonen having run longer to have a good run at Vettel on fresher tyres, is finally brought in for fresh boots. Hamilton having nothing better to do, complains about his seat feeling warm again.

Lap 36
Bottas and Alonso boxed as Maldonado worked on some rally skills, sliding sideways off track before getting it pointed the right direction and carrying on.

Lap 37
The slow tick tock of the upfront battle carried on as Ricciardo hit the pits for his last stop

Lap 38
Verstappen in his quest to become a one man highlight reel, caught Perez and started reeling him in.

Lap 39
Slow grind continued for Verstappen as his engine’s lack of power was doing him no favor against the Force India.

Lap 40
Time for some Mario Kart tricks as the frontrunners were all in their own little bubbles of time.

Lap 41
Thankfully Verstappen passed Perez and Maldonado continued to build his rallying CV, this time with a Ken Block special, driving sideways. Rosberg was making very slow progress on Hamilton and the Ferrari boys were nowhere on the Medium tyre, losing steady time to Mercedes.
Nasr decided to join the party as well, nabbing Perez down the Start/Finish straight.

Lap 42
Raikkonen began to make good use of his fresher tyres, making a move towards Vettel that looked very promising. Alonso’s strategy too seemed to be paying off as he had reeled Button back in.

Lap 43
Time for one more round of the Ricciardo/Ericsson show as Danny boy had once again encountered the Sauber on track. Perez finally dove into the pits as the back and forth struggle went on, with Ericsson having held on for the moment.

Lap 44
Nice battle through the T1 complex finally ended with the Red Bull getting the better of Sauber through T6.

Lap 45
As with his last stint, Hamilton has stemmed the bleeding and started to pull the gap back out from Rosberg. Meanwhile, Raikkonen showed every sign of being able to catch Vettel before the end of the race with his newer tyres.

Lap 46
Maldonado and Button both lapped by Vettel going from T14 through Start/Finish.
Bad timing for Raikkonen as he’s forced to get by through the T1 complex, giving Vettel a little extra breathing room.

Lap 47
Fantastic fight through 3-4 turns with Maldonado and Button. Maldonado getting Button through the hairpin but Button using DRS to reclaim the position, whilst Alonso lingered in background.

Lap 48
Alonso now right on top of Maldonado, who patiently was reeling Button back in.

Lap 49
And again the epic battle for P13-P15 commenced. As expected, it all ended in tears headed to T1. But the big surprise was it was Jenson getting over eager (and ultimately penalized) and taking Pastor out. The even bigger surprise was Alonso was still in the race to take advantage. Though both combatants got their steeds rolling again, Maldonado’s wound was fatal, and he retired with failing brakes the following lap.

Lap 50
Raikkonen was now within 2s of Vettel and closing at a couple of tenths a lap.

Lap 51
Raikkonen to 1.5s on Vettel and stealthily moving in.
RAI 1.5s

Lap 52
Hamilton ran a 1:43.0, keeping himself out of Rosberg’s sights.

L53
Winter was coming, in the form of a phlegmatic Finnish driver, though his recent adventures in traffic (“Get that McLaren out of the way”) made him seem a bit choleric in the actual race. Fans everywhere chewed nails and invoked the lesser gods of Maranello.

Lap 54
And then the Safety Car deployed. Boo.

Verstappen’s engine had decided to eat itself on the Start/Finish, leaving him nowhere to park out of the way, though he did try to get close to one of the gates before the entire chassis erupted in flames.

Lap 55
On the bright side, there seemed to be a silly new light bar on the Safety Car, which did not have the look of improving its aero or balance one bit.

There was also total chaos trying to get Verstappen’s car to the pitlane, once it was very thoroughly extinguished. Try as they might, the marshals couldn’t get the car to turn steeply enough because the steering rack didn’t let them cut the wheels sharply enough given the proximity to the wall.

Entertaining though it was, it was a pale substitute for the on track battle that had been brewing.

Lap 56
As the pack flashed round for the last lap, the Toro Rosso mechanics were finally in a position to get their hands on the car and removed the nose, making the whole process quicker. Perhaps it’s time for a rethink of the rules regarding car recovery. In any event, with the car not being out of the way the race finished, not with a bang, but with a whimper under the Safety Car. Well, OK, technically with a bang and a whimper but regardless, due to Shumacher’s creative argumentation under a similar situation in Monaco, the possibility of passing between the Safety Car in and the finish line was prohibited under the regs.

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on his win, as well as for surpassing both Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark in laps lead, moving himself up to 6th all time.

Congratulations also to Ferrari and in particular Vettel, whose impish sense of humour will no doubt see him egg on the incipient drama at Mercedes, as his post race presser already demonstrated.

Join us next week for coverage of Bahrain at a much more reasonable hour, though one that precludes any whiskey sipping. On this side of the pond, at any rate.

2015 Drivers' Championship China

2015 Constructors' Champinship China

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75 responses to “#F1 Race Review: 2015 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix

    • Getting so sick of your comments. You never called races dull as dishwater whenever vettel was winning every race by 20 seconds. Now lewis is doing it, and not even by that margin to the second placed man, you seem to have a voice on how boring the races supposedly are.

      • > You never called races dull as dishwater whenever vettel was winning every race by 20 seconds.

        Suggest you read the archives, because your claim is based upon fresh air not fact. I did call those races just as boring

  1. Well, at least Nico didn’t say “I could have beaten Lewis”, you can’t do an undercut, if your going onto the slower tyre? but please correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. “My job is not to look after Nico’s race, my job is to manage the car and bring it home.”

    Perhaps someone needs to remind Lewis that Nico is in the same team. There’s this little competition called the World Constructors Championship, too.

    I’m sure Lewis was just messing with Nico but he’s just going to get in trouble from Mum & Dad now. More thought required.

    • @RogerD for some reason you also forgot to mention that Lewis also this: “I wasn’t trying to back him up into Sebastian because ultimately we do need a one-two and that is a priority to the team. If he wanted to get close to overtake he could have done.

      • Disingenousness is one of the things that Hamilton & Horner share. I reckon there’s more truth in my quote than yours – simples.

        • @RogerD, then I stand corrected. I wasn’t aware that you know Lewis Hamilton personally. Did you go to school together, maybe work together or are your just mates? To call someone disingenuous means you know them well and not ‘telly’ well.

          • No need to stand corrected. Take a seat, you’re making the place look untidy 😉

            But seriously, if we take your comment on board then this forum may as well call stumps and go home ‘cos the fun sponges have shown up.

        • RogerD, oh it’s just ‘a bit of fun’ sorry I misread your tone, no ‘LOL’s or winks, my bad. 😉

    • They finished 1-2 and scored maximum points and increase their lead over Ferrari, so what difference would it have made to result had Nico gotten pass?

      What if he had done what Nico wanted and push flat out and they both wore out their tyres before the target stint length and the Ferrari’s mugged them again, then what?

      To say Lewis ruined his race was just stupid, he qualified second and finished second, so how was his race ruined?

      Nico has been doing a lot of talking about what he’s going to do, how he’d like the Ferrari to get in the fight so as to take points of his team mate. The simple truth is, he’s trying to blame everyone else for his poor performances so far this season. Yesterday he blamed the team for not getting pole, because they told him he had to speed up, or else he wouldn’t have made it to checkered flag in time to do his final lap.

      He had a 25pt start last season, not this time around. He needs to man up and grow a pair, knuckle down and get the job done on the track, because no one is going to make it easy for him.

      • Well said. Nico needs to get rid of this victim mentality fast otherwise he will get crushed.

      • Very simple, Lewis would have just upped the tempo if Nico had come into DRS range. In the end he tried to get VET between himself and ROS, I think. He tried to back ROS into VET hoping that Ferrari would do the undercut. It became obvious when he suddenly went over a second faster as soon as ROS pitted.

        We had a word for people like that when I was a lad, but it isn’t printable.

        • Hippo, if Lewis was in Nico’s position, he would’ve just driven up to the back of him and pass. Problem solved.

          • Congrats, Fortis, you fail to see the point, as usual…

            Nico knew if he tried to challenge Lewis all that would happen is his tyres would get wrecked and it would leave him in greater danger from Vettel. The same would be the case the other way around – the team-mates fighing each other would harm their overall pace and put them in danger from Ferrari.

            The best way to maximise points for the team was for both cars to stay far enough ahead without pushing unnecessarily.

            Yes, we know that Nico wouldn’t have got past Lewis in a fight but that isn’t the point here, Lewis knowingly tried to disadvantage Nico and that is not good for the team.

            Things like this are probably part of the reason why Lewis still hasn’t signed a contract….

          • And here’s the point your missing and I think you’d still miss it, even if it was tattooed to your eyeballs….

            Nico wanted Lewis not only to drive his own race, but also his (Nico).

            If he felt Lewis was going too slow and he had the pace, then all he had to do was up the pace and force him to up his own pace.

        • If there was not enough evidence in Melbourne then Shanghai gives enough evidence/ reasons to believe that mercedes will fix the races based on Saturday classification

          • Exactly, I wonder if Ferrari does the same? We didn’t see it today, it might have been close within the safety car at end. Maybe better luck next time.

        • And if Lewis upped his tempo then ROS gets what he wanted, again, where’s the problem, b/c that’s not it.

          The issue ROS identified post race is that he had to pit early to cover the undercut by VET, meaning his tyres were knackered by the end of the race. Which could have left him vulnerable except that Merc were easily 0.5s faster on the Prime so he had pulled out a lead on VET who was still slower than him even though his tyres were going off. Therefore, the only person he couldn’t catch was HAM, whose tyres were in better shape.

          I think ROS was irritated b/c HAM took advantage and sorted it early on so ROS couldn’t catch him, end of story. That’s racing. IT was clever and smart and had the shoe been on the other foot, the ROSfosi would’ve been crowing about his cerebral prowess.

          W/R/T his inlaps, well he followed a similar pattern when he was on Prime tyre. ROS ran faster early in stint and HAM began to go faster later. What we don’t know is how much life was let in his Option when he pitted, which would be much more telling.

          One other thing, Bonnington on radio told him flat out he’d followed the plan to perfection, so don’t assume it was just Lewis in a vacuum here, he had his entire side of the garage with him.

          • Mattp55 you have it exactly right. I recall FH claiming Nico cleverly let Lewis get on his gearbox in advance of the pit stop window in Brazil last year.

            Lewis never would’ve let Nico stay within DRS range today … THAT’s controlling the gap.

          • We do know that he was complaining about his front tyres being shot a lap or so before he pitted, so I don’t think he could have run much longer in any event.

        • Really, you think Lewis would rather see Vettel 2nd than Rosberg? With Rosberg, Lewis knows it all comes down to driving skill, as they have the same car. He knows he has him covered because of that. With Vettel, the fear would be that the Ferrari overhauls the Merc in performance, which he has far less control over. Vettel also being second in the standings should put paid to anyone’s silly notion that Lewis wanted to push Rosberg down to 3rd by backing him up. Truly garbage.

          • It is indeed garbage, especially when you consider that at race time Vettel was only 3 points behind Hamilton in the drivers standings and Rosberg 10. What kind of weird logic would make a driver choose a rival team driver for second place instead of his teammate? Remember that the WCC is calculated using both drivers WDC points. Some people could do with a little more facts and a little less conjecture.

        • Fat Hippo, does the undercut work, if your putting on slower shoes and isn’t it every drivers dream to have a slower car in front of them and 1 second to boot?

          PS. ‘Inspired’ is printable.

          • It does if the option tyres on your opponent are so degraded that the achievable lap time is still slower than a new set of primes, then the under-cut still works as it doesn’t take too long to take 1.8sec of life out of the options. Where as the primes start slightly slower but drop off much slower giving more consistent laps times for longer, supposedly.

        • “Very simple, Lewis would have just upped the tempo if Nico had come into DRS range.” (not specifically directed at you

          Yeah, so why didn’t Nico come into DRS range then? Because he was worried about ‘his’ tyres… who’s problem is that? Lewis drove his race, which quite possibly did involve backing Rosberg up, and the team gave him the hurry up to attempt to protect the group result with the view of the big picture. From what I could see, he respected this and drove exactly to the deltas given, Nico was given the priority stop as belt a braces… nothing to see here. If we complain about this we complain about racing and racign strategy. Its not like Rosberg was incapable of some counter action.

        • Hate Lewis much? How about some facts:
          – The original plan was for the team to do OPP, but as the options held well enough, they switched strategies to OOP. This required an extended second stint.
          – Lewis had to do a longer second stint on options than any they tried before in practice. He had to take care of the tires as they did not know how well the tires would hold up on the Merc and the ferrari’s. In Malaysia the ferrari’s were better on the options which brought them victory. A very real threat for China.
          – Track temperature was higher during the race than during practice or qualifying which gave ferrari a massive benefit in Malaysia so again it was important to save the tires as the same thing could happen in China.
          – Hamilton drove to a delta the team thought was alright, but after Rosberg complaining the team asked Lewis to speedup to a new delta of 1:43:7 which he did. The next five laps were 1:43:722 averaged. They asked him to go faster after that and he did.
          – If Rosberg thought the speed was too low, he could have overtaken Hamilton. This is racing last time I looked. Last year Hamilton did exactly that but Rosberg didn’t have the guts to do so. He should live with the consequences and stop whining.
          That you think Hamilton tried to get Vettel between himself and Rosberg is pure conjecture and therefore rubbish. What was clear is that Hamilton did a good job of preserving his tires enabling him to put in some good laps at the end of the second stint.

          So not so simple. I could reply I have a word for people like you, but I find it bad taste and very disrespectful to stoop to that level. In fact I find your whole reply simplistic and unworthy of this site.

        • Fat – suggest you take a look at the championship table and see exactly who is LH nearest challenger…. It is not his teammate and thus your comments are completely stupid.
          Merc were using those tyres for many more laps than they had been able in the practice sessions. Thus LH had no idea what was left until he put a few quick ones in at the end of the first stint. As indeed his team had no idea until they grot them back in the pits.
          That, your angst aside, is how you win races. The fact that NR sat moaning all day simply says he has no idea how to cope with LH without mishaps.

      • He wouldn’t be able to. Partly due to lack of racing skill but mainly because Lewis would just up his pace. Nico – and the team – knew the best way to maximise points in the race was to stay just far enough ahead of Ferrari that they couldn’t pull off a trick strategy.

        Lewis, as usual, thinks only of himself and tries to push Nico back behind Vettel, not thinking that this will cause the team problems, that it means if he needs it he won’t get support later in the series, and that if Ferrari keep developing the way they are that it may actually be Vettel, not Nico who is his main challenger at the end of the season.

        It’s a bit multi-21, Lewis did what was best for him but paid no heed to what is best for the team as a whole. We’ll have the same argument – do you need to be a selfish git to be a champion or does it degrade his achievement.

        I don’t think there will be much agreement on here!

          • No, lame is not even trying to make a counter-argument…

          • @stephen hughes
            TBH mattpts55 delivered a pretty comprehensive counter-argument about 9 comments above, especially his last point that this wasn’t Lewis operating in a vacuum but rather with the backing of at least one half of the garage.
            As far as Nico’s concerned, I think he would be better served by having these kind of discussions in his team’s post-race debrief, rather than in the press conference. I’m starting to think about reserving Nice a place in my Barrichello and Massa file!

          • @StephenHughes, should I just copy ‘n’ paste a prior post back to you again? You can see my thoughts and arguments in those posts. The entire premise of your arguments is that Nico is helpless against a bully, and so is deserving of outside assistance. THIS IS F1. Time for Nico to hang up the helmet & gloves?

        • Disagree. Nico should try to get his mojo back, get poles on Saturdays and do his talking on Sundays. That all there is to it so he can be the one who can dictate the race. Lewis simply outthought and outraced him. The team still got a 1-2 and maximum points. I don’t see the problem. You are overcomplicating things.

    • You guys are like little kids. This is F1 and it is about racing. We didn’t wake early in the morning for this kind of crap. If he thought that he was faster, he should have overtaken him.

      What will he have done if it was Vettel in front him? Would he still have asked his team to tell vettel to speed up?

      • i really don’t get the problem. if nico had pushed he could have either overtaken hamilton or made him go faster. why whine over the radio, if you can just push and solve the problem yourself. i think this is more him being mad at the situation he is in and getting agitated over not finding an answer to hamiltons pace.

        • Not unlike Hungary 2014, by the looks of it. Then too Nico never quite showed the pace to seriously get within Hamilton’s DRS range…

    • Thanks, bro. Glad you found it clear. Simple, mostly because I’m a two-finger techno geek. Any suggestions for improvement welcomewd

      • …as in it takes me about half an hour to punch in simple sentences with a keyboard!

  3. @ Stephen, except of course, when requested by the team Lewis went faster. So if that’s the case then Lewis did exactly the right thing. Looked after his race and did what the team asked.

    • Seb was never going to undercut Nico, because on lap 29 when Seb’s engineer asked if he could go any faster, he said just a little, but he was already on the limit of the tyres. Nico then followed that message on lap 30 by saying his left front was already shot.

    • He required a second radio call to comply. Wolff refused to dismiss out of hand that radio instructions had not been properly followed

  4. Lewis Hamilton has just told DC, during a BBC interview, that had he deliberately backed up Rosberg, he would have broken Mercedes team rules.
    Time for Rosberg and the tin hat brigade to STFU.

    • Two things to me point out exactly what game Lewis was playing.

      First, as soon as Nico pitted he dropped the fastest lap time by nearly a second.

      Secondly, the team basically called him bluff by saying stop dicking around or we’ll give Nico the preferred strategy (and probably the race).

      I don’t think the undercut was ever on but from what Nico said at the end I wonder if the safety car basically saved his race as it sounds like his tyres were shot with a few laps left so he could well have been a sitting duck for Vettel.

      Which also answers all the ‘why didn’t he push Lewis and overtake him’ – running that close he was already hurting his tyres, pushing Lewis harder would have exacerbated the problem and may even have meant an extra stop was necessary.

      We all know Nico isn’t going to win a race where he is behind Lewis from the start. He doesn’t have the speed or the overtaking ability.

      The point remains that Lewis could well have cost the team a 1-2 today, he certainly made such a result harder to achieve than was necessary.

      It also shows that the Mercs do seem to have tyre issues and that could well open them up to pressure from the Ferraris later in the season. For that reason the team needs to bank as many points as possible now and it is better for Lewis to try and help Nico take as many points off the Ferraris as possible.

      When things shake out it is likely that all this is immaterial and Lewis will win this WDC this year by a healthy margin. But you never know. Sky was showing a review of the 1984 season where Prost lost by half a point after looking a shoe-in at the start of the season. It’s always a what-if but to the team the only answer is to maximise the points and take it from there.

      • If running behind Hamilton would ruin Rosberg’s tyres, what do you think would have happened to Vettel’s tyres?
        You are aware that Mercedes had to change their race strategy because of rise in temperature? Neither the drivers or the team knew how long the soft tyres would last in the middle of the race, although they did know that cooler weather towards the end of the race would enable them to get the best out the harder tyres. Rosberg is a serial whiner. Today he was put in his place.

        • Evidence is the Ferrari isn’t as hard on its tyres as the Merc. I think Rosberg had a genuine concern that he wasn’t able to take advantage of the superior car performance when necessary to be sure of staying ahead of Vettel.

          Lewis never has and probably never will see the long game. He thinks it is clever to dick his team-mate around not realising that he isn’t the threat. Rosberg can at least see that they need to maximise points as a team while they still have a pace advantage over Ferrari as once that goes there is no guarantee of a 1-2 Merc finish in the championship and there may even be a risk of Ferrari winning the WCC.

          All Lewis is thinking is that he needs to keep putting Nico in his place and sod the team.

          • Have you by any chance seen the race result? Mercedes 1st and 2nd. That’s what the team wanted and that’s what they got. If Rosberg is so fed up with how Hamilton races, he should qualify better and learn to race, otherwise he can STFU and enjoy the £15 million a year going into his bank account, little of which he actually earns.

          • Apart from Malaysia, which was freak conditions, there is no direct evidence that the Ferrari’s are better on their tyres than the Mercedes.

            I think Lewis doesn’t need to ‘dick his team-mate around’, Nico is quite good at doing that himself.

          • Evidence is the Merc is a bit better on it’s tires in China than Ferrari. Evidence is the Ferrari was a bit better on it’s tires in Malaysia than Merc.

            Everything else you say is conjecture and should be treated accordingly.

      • Two things to me point out exactly what game Lewis was playing.
        Couple of points…
        Mercedes did indeed give Rosberg the “preferred strategy” – ie they did indeed pit him first before Hamilton at the second stop. Somehow didn’t hand him the race. 🙂
        Secondly, at no point was Rosberg running within 2 seconds of Hamilton during the second stint (he started complaining when around 2.5 sec behind, and Hamilton then immediately responded to team instructions to speed up). As Hamilton’s tyres were a lap older (he pitted first at the first stop), what is evident is Rosberg’s complete failure to preserve his tyres.

        As for being ‘a sitting duck for Vettel’, Vettel’s tyres were a lap older than Rosberg’s in the final stint. Mercedes had already outlasted Ferrari on the option – and we know that they were significantly better on the prime.

        Rosberg needs to concentrate on improving his tyre management, rather than trying to manage his teammate’s race from line astern.

  5. His lap time went down because he was doing inlaps, nothing unusual about that. IF he’d kept that pace for 6 laps then point taken, but he didn’t. He set fast lap and then was slower and they brought him in.

    W/R/T your second point it will depend on temperature and compound. Ferrari were slower period on the Medium compound. They were almost as fast on the Soft, but Vettel was starting to lose time to both cars when he pitted first. It might’ve worked better had he gone long and let Mercedes go Prime and then pitted for Option as he might have got ahead of Nico on pace, but it would have been iffy.

    AS far as the games racers play, judging by Merc’s Twitter feed (they did a Q&A) Lewis seems to have been well within whatever internal rules they set. I suspect Lewis and his engineers were well aware ahead of time and gamed the situation for maximum advantage and I would expect no less from Nico were the situation reversed. Still, I’m sure we will hear about it if he was uber naughty over the next few days, but to me it’s hardly a multi 21 situation, as its not like he got on the radio and said screw you I’m not speeding up to help Nico out. I think in general the people jumping on Lewis are the ones who dislike him anyway, but frankly this sort of controversy is good for the sport so away go the headlines and we’ll have days and days of LuLu vs Britney articles to look forward to.

  6. ” … Lewis picked up the pace after being instructed to by Mercedes, but not sufficiently as the team were forced to pit Rosberg first to protect him from Vettel’s undercut. … ”

    Yes, contrary to some people thinking otherwise, Lewis did actually pick up his pace. Nico failed to match him even with one-lap fresher tyres than Lewis’s; although he did pull a slightly better gap to Vettel in the two or three laps prior to Vettel pitting. Ferrari saw that Lewis had picked up his pace and that Nico had started to pull away from Vettel. So Ferrari decided to pit Vettel before Rosberg got too far ahead. Mercedes covered that by bringing in Nico before Lewis (just as they had warned Lewis that this was on the cards if Nico failed to build a big margin over Vettel). As soon as Vettel pitted, Lewis knew it was hammer-time for him and so he pushed to the limit (just as he did in Brazil after Nico’s pit stop).

    All pretty normal racing. Move on, no conspiracy to see here.

    😉

    • The first message was to work to a delta of a 1:43:7, his next lap was a 46:66, 46:8. When the next message came, they said he needed to do a minimum 1:43:3 or else they would need to pit Nico first, did a 43:0

  7. Not a classic, but an exciting race with enough action. Hamilton controled it perfectly, one of the perks of being on pole and leading from the first lap. Nico has reason to be upset, but not to complain to the press. It just makes him seem like a sour loser. Next time out he should lead from the go and then race at the most adequate pace. It’s as simple as that.

  8. Some of you guys are just unbelievable – Defending the point that Rosberg is right in saying Hamilton was ‘holding him up’ is utterly ridiculous.

    The guy in front is slowing you down? Oh yes! There’s this marvelous thing called racing where racers try to overtake one another to win a race.

    Let us say for the sake of argument, that Lewis did it deliberately – Does it not show that Lewis is clearly very good at thinking in the race and it’s actually a very smart way of going about things – Put your team mate under pressure, with the chance that the driver behind will overtake them and hey presto, the gap to your main title rival in terms of points will increase. To be honest, It would have been great for us Hamfosi if Lewis was doing it deliberately, but the fact is, that he was just managing the tyres and there was no reason to push much harder because Nico was not threatend. He pushed straight away, when asked to, by his engineer over the radio after Nico had complained. It is simply not feasible to think that Lewis was doing this, as he had no idea as to the gap between nico and seb.

    Rosberg should be thankful that Lewis wasn’t pushing too hard as when he did push, for example towards the end of his first stint, the pace he had over Nico was absolutely devastating. He had that car completely hooked up, and tyres were well under control. Rosberg getting frustrated because Lewis has stepped up his game yet again, and this is one of the best chances any driver can get to snap up a championship. With Lewis in the team, his chances of winning that all elusive title are greatly diminished and he knows it.

  9. Another thing… If Rosberg though that backing up the guy behind you into the guy behind him (in order to preserve your tyres and destroy his) was such a devastating tactic), why didn’t he try it on Vettel ?

    Oh, and accusing Hamilton of “thinking about himself” !?!
    The horror.
    Does he think he is racing with St Francis of Assisi or something ?

  10. Sky Midnight News opened with some interesting photos/captions. Firstly a picture of Nico, Lewis and Seb from the after-race press conference, with the caption “Presidential Campaign”. This was followed shortly by a photo of an (IS ?) explosion with the caption “F1 Spat”. I know Nico is unhappy, but I didn’t realise things were this bad! 🙂

    (Apologies if this posting is considered inappropriate – I’ve read this site daily for ages, but this is my first posting. I hope the locals will be friendly? 🙂 Also, I did take some poor quality photos of the TV when these photos/caption were on-screen and as going to post them, but couldn’t figure out how to 🙁 )

    Brian

    • Welcome Brian – we are happy for such satirical comment to be made – please do not be a stranger in future.

      Other commentators will instruct you in the art of picture posting

      • Thank you, Your Honor. BTW thanks for providing such a great resource for the F1 community! 🙂

        Brian

    • Not inappropriate at all and welcome aboard. If you’ve been reading the site that long you’ll know that the only time the gloves come off is for Hamilton Rosberg do’s. But well made points welcome regardless of driver orientation. And funny. Funny is always good.

      • Thanks mattpt55. I’ll try to avoid Hamilton Rosberg do’s, for now at least 🙂

        Brian

  11. This weekend we had WSBK and MotoGP races as well as F1. It was enlightening to compare these. The differences go far beyond the number of wheels used. The pitiful decline of F1 in recent seasons is highlighted by the way in which intelligent changes to the technical regulations have benefited MotoGP – to the extent that Suzuki, for example, can now re-enter the series and achieve more than decent results in their first season back. Witness too the way in which Ducati have turned around their results. The competitiveness has been enhanced by intelligent adjustment of ECU, tyre and fuel regulations with the current differentials being gradually levelled out over a couple of seasons. This is already abolishing the total domination by two teams (Honda and Yamaha) which was threatening the entire series. WSBK is equally or even more competitive – and for the patriotic Brits amongst us, is now dominated by British riders.
    F1 needs to learn some of these lessons but almost certainly won’t.

    • No offence and as an avid watcher and unusually a participant of some of the series you mention over a 35 year period, I find the handing of ‘concessions’ to some crap teams offering a completely bountiful set of opportunities (often to very wealthy teams mind, Ducati – 12 engines, 4 litres of fuel, special softer tyres and unlimited engine and chassis mods just as long as you use our electronics… Which are developed by your supplier anyway) all to allow frankly lesser able racers to occupy spots on the grid they do not have the talent to get, completely reprehensible. Particularly as its essentially blackmail.

      However it has produced some interesting racing and the cream rises. The day however MM or VR really think say Dovi is a real threat without such concessions? The records speak for themselves really – along with the fact both Ducatis ran out of fuel now they only have 2litres more…

      It would kill F1 – but I suppose would allow more Hollywood type of races where say the likes of Maldanardo gets a win despite being so completely incompetent before or since, along with some of the other incompetent drivers making the numbers up. Anything as long as its entertaining right? God forbid the best chaps win. That would be terrible!

      I guess your in that bracket!

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