With another weekend comes another race of barely-controlled aggression between two drivers of near-uncanny similarity.
Despite the campaign spanning 66 laps and lasting close to 2 hours, the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ended the race separated by a time difference equal to that of their grid position distance from one another, emphasising yet again how closely matched the two drivers are.
Whilst Rosberg looked sloppy and ungainly off the line, the German never grew discouraged, and gradually clawed his way back into contention. By the time the Grand Prix reached it’s concluding stages, Rosberg had managed to break down his gap from a 5 second deficit into a mere 1 second space. With 3 laps remaining, Rosberg entered DRS territory and began to look favourable. Ultimately, he was yet again unable to mount a successful charge against his team mate, as Hamilton reigned supreme despite a few pressure-related mistakes, taking the win after nothing more than a couple of minor lockups.
Following another routine domination by the Silver Arrows, attention obviously turns to the matter of who should be considered ‘best of the rest.’
Any hopes of Alonso repeating his home race dream performances of old quickly dissolved as the Red Bull drivers flexed the muscles of their superior race packages, depriving the Spaniard of another podium finish. Alonso’s teammate grabbed positive attention for the first time this year, as the Finnish Raikkonen spent much of the race occupying the position directly ahead of Alonso. Whilst the Ferrari duo’s battling undoubtedly compromised their races and perhaps cost them an outside chance of a top 4 finish, their racing still fulfilled the role of ‘crowd pleaser.’
Red Bull once again appeared to have the measure of their rivals as the RB10 demonstrated it’s potential as Mercedes’ nearest rival, despite being a long way off the silver cars. Ricciardo completed the race distance in a quiet and un-dramatic fashion to stand on his second (and his first legitimate) podium, whilst his team mate Sebastian Vettel proved just why he is the defending world champion as he finished in 4th after starting from 15th. Whilst he is yet to race wheel to wheel with the championship leaders, his pain will be eased slightly by the fact he was rewarded with the consolation of claiming the fastest lap.
Other standouts include Williams’ Valtteri Bottas – who took his race package to places it arguably shouldn’t have been, to finish 5th and nearly retain 4th before Vettel charged through.
Whilst at a glance, Sebastian Vettel yet again finished shy of the podium and behind his team mate – his battle through the field to pick up 12 points places him at the top of not only the ‘best of the rest’ but also above the dominant Mercedes duo in the hearts of many.
Drivers of the weekend:
1st – Sebastian Vettel
2nd – Lewis Hamilton
3rd Nico Rosberg