Can Any­one Stop Nico?

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Abhishek Takle

Fer­rari will be de­ter­mined to de­liver on t hei r prom­ise a nd f i nal ly prove that they can be a threat to dom­i­nant Mercedes by hope­fully string­ing to­gether a trou­ble-free run at this weekend’s Rus­sian Grand Prix. Pre-sea­son test­ing form had tipped Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen to threaten Mercedes pair Lewis Hamil­ton and Nico Ros­berg’s two-year stran­gle­hold on F1. While Vet­tel or Raikko­nen have fin­ished on the podium in ev­ery race this sea­son, a run of mis­takes and mis­for­tune has pre­vented them from dis­play­ing the Ital­ian mar­que’s true po­ten­tial, in­stead leav­ing the way clear for Ros­berg to romp to vic­tory in each of the sea­son’s open­ing three races so far.

“Of course it’s frus­trat­ing when things hap­pen and you know that you have a good car,” team prin­ci­pal Mau­r­izio Ar­riv­abene told re­porters a fort­night ago fol­low­ing the Chi­nese GP.

“We touch all the dif­fer­ent stairs of the podium. Now, I got enough, it’s bet­ter to touch the high­est po­si­tion in the podium.”

Fer­rari’s vic­tory hopes at the last race in China were dashed by mis­takes by both driv­ers in qual­i­fy­ing and an em­bar­rass­ing first-cor­ner col­li­sion be­tween its two scar­let cars on the open­ing lap of the race.

That came on top of more er­rors and re­li­a­bil­ity woes that cost them dearly in the sea­son’s open­ing two races in Aus­tralia and Bahrain.

De­spite their trou­bled start to the sea­son, Mercedes con­sider Fer­rari a se­ri­ous threat and are cast­ing a wary eye at the Ital­ian squad. But reign­ing world cham­pion Hamil­ton will be look­ing ahead as he heads into Sun­day’s race need­ing to bridge a gap­ing 36-point deficit in the stand­ings to cham­pi­onship-lead­ing team-mate Ros­berg. His ti­tle de­fence this sea­son has been hit by a slew of bad luck, es­pe­cially in China, where he over­came en­gine prob­lems in qual­i­fy­ing that forced him to start dead-last and a first-cor­ner col­li­sion to fin­ish sev­enth.

“Af­ter all th­ese years, experience has taught me to stay calm and keep push­ing for­wards when I get knocked back,” said Hamil­ton, un­beaten in Rus­sia since the race made its de­but on the cal­en­dar two sea­sons ago. Ros­berg has now won six races in a row,

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