Can Anyone Stop Nico?
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,