First blood to Nico Ros­berg as he wins F-1 sea­son opener

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Nico Ros­berg won the Aus­tralian Grand Prix on Sun­day, pick­ing up where he left off at the end of 2015. The Ger­man opened his ac­count with a max­i­mum 25 points thanks to a smart strat­egy call from his Mercedes team, who had pit­ted him ear­lier than early race-leader Se­bas­tian Vet­tel for a set of new medium tyres. Vet­tel made a sen­sa­tional start from third on the grid to take the lead into Turn 1, fol­lowed by his Fer­rari team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen, who had also leapfrogged the nap­ping Mercedes pair. Hamil­ton had un­usu­ally po­si­tioned his car point­ing to the left, rather than the right, which meant he was not able to cover cars com­ing through the middle - as both Fer­raris did. Ros­berg got the bet­ter start of the Mercedes, de­spite drop­ping a place to third.

Hamil­ton made light con­tact with Ros­berg in the first cor­ner, los­ing him mo­men­tum and drop­ping him to sixth. Max Ver­stap­pen jumped to fourth af­ter an im­pres­sive start.

Rookie Jolyon Palmer in the Re­nault made an ex­cel­lent get­away from 14th de­spite be­ing forced onto the grass briefly on lap one. He fur­ther demon­strated his re­solve by mak­ing Wil­liams' Valt­teri Bot­tas work hard to pass him, dis­play­ing an air of ma­tu­rity sel­dom seen from debu­tants.

Ros­berg was the first front run­ner to pit on lap 13, and on a new set of soft tyres cru­cially emerged just ahead of Force In­dia's Nico Hulken­berg. Race-leader Vet­tel pit­ted a lap later for a brand new set of su­per-soft tyres and emerged just ahead of Ros­berg, but the Mercedes has closed the gap right up. But Vet­tel pulled away and then passed Hamil­ton, who was yet to stop, on lap 16.

Raikko­nen and Hamil­ton both pit­ted on lap 17, with the Finn tak­ing on a new set of su­per­softs while Hamil­ton bucked the trend and went for a set of un-tested medi­ums.

The race was red-flagged on lap 18 af­ter a mas­sive ac­ci­dent be­tween McLaren's Fer­nando Alonso and Haas' Este­ban Gu­tier­rez. On the run down to Turn 3, the Mex­i­can ap­peared to brake ear­lier than usual for the cor­ner. The McLaren driver's front right wheel con­nected with the back of the Sauber launch­ing the Spa­niard into the wall. The car dug into the gravel trap at high speed, flip­ping over be­fore launch­ing into the air and stop­ping, up­side down, against the wall. The re­mains of the car were un­recog­nis­able as Alonso crawled out, seem­ingly un­scathed.

Af­ter a 15 minute de­lay the race was restarted, and Vet­tel took in­stant com­mand from Ros­berg. Raikko­nen, who was slow away at the restart, re­tired on lap 23 from third place.

The cam­eras at this point were fix­ated on the Toro Rosso pair, Ver­stap­pen and Sainz Jr. Run­ning fourth and fifth the young driv­ers both be­gan to grow frus­trated with each other and, in Ver­stap­pen's case, the team too. The young Dutch­man pit­ted for new tyres, which weren't ready for him, and dropped him down the or­der. It would re­sult in the first of many heated ra­dio calls to the pit wall.

Af­ter the pit stops, the Toro Rosso pair found them­selves chas­ing Palmer, who gal­lantly fought them off for sev­eral laps be­fore his tyres could of­fer him no more. It was an im­pres­sive first race for the Bri­ton.

Ro­main Gros­jean caused one of the big­gest sur­prises of the week­end by driv­ing his new Haas to a mer­ited sixth-place fin­ish.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.