June 22, 2015

Horse 1922 - F1: Mercedes Power Still Conquers All (Round 4)

All of the iterations of the Ostereichring/A1-Ring/Red Bull Ring have favoured power over most other aspects of car design and this race was no exception. Even in spite of both Mercedes spinning during Q3, they were so far ahead of the pace that they easily secured a front row lockout. To add injury and injustice to insult, both McLarens were given a 25 place grid penalty before the start of the race for changing engine components; which seems beyond farcical when there are only 20 cars on the grid to begin with. At this point of the season I don't see why McLaren shouldn't just screw up their turbos as far as they'll go and try to wring a thousand horsepower from their Honda engines. Even if they blow up spectacularly, what's the worst that could happen?

As ambient air temperatures barely struggled to reach double digits, many drivers found it difficult to translate engine power to the track. Rosberg who had started from second, made better use of his tyres than Hamilton and the German was able to scoot nicely up the inside at the first corner.
At the start of the race Eriksson got bigger down and Daniel Kyvat in the Red Bull tagged the rear wheel of the Sauber, which broke several elements of his front wing.
It was coming out of turn 2 though where real trouble started.
Kimi Raikkoknen came who had started the race in a miserable 17th, came off turn 2 on still cold tyres and as he fed the power in, he got something of a tankslapper going and weaved from right to left. Whilst he weaved left, he ran across the path of the unsighted Alonso and the McLaren was thrown on top of the Ferrari, sending both cars into the fence with the McLaren still perched on top of the scarlet misery. It would take 5 laps to properly extricate both cars from the circuit and out of harm's way.

When racing resumed on lap 7, the running order was Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Massa, Bottas, and Hulkenburg. During the safety car period though, the McLaren engineers brought in Jensen Button for a change of tyres and it was hoped that these would see him through the next 64 laps and to the end of the race. This was in vain though as two laps later, the McLaren would suffer a loss of drive as its hydraulics in the gearbox failed. Almost in sympathy, the Ferrari engine in the back of Merhi's Marussia also decided that the race was point land refused to continue.

The race settled down into a sort of groove until lap 26 when Bottas made a sterling move around the outside of Hulkenburg; thus giving the Williams driver 5th spot. In response, Force India brought in Hulkenburg for fresh types, hoping to get an undercut but that was to no avail.
When Rosberg was brought in on lap 34, Hamilton tried to extract some quick times from the end of the tyres that he was on but that was to no avail and two laps later, he also came into the pits for fresh tyres. Rosberg passed him whilst he was stationary to retake the lead and Hamilton made so much of a spirited exit from the pits that dramatic oversteer threw his tail over the pit exit line and he was given a time added penalty of 5 seconds, which would later prove to be irrelevant.
Sebastian Vettel made a horror stop though and he lost 9 seconds whilst his pit crew struggled and then failed to replace his right rear tyre. Felipe Massa sailed past the Ferrari whilst it was in the pits and although Vettel would slowly catch the Williams in the latter stages of the race, the damage was done.
Toro Rossi brought in Carlos Sainz for no reason that they would offer, on lap 37 and Lotus would do likewise with Romain Grosjean; also offering no explanation.

From here the race would dribble out into inevitability, with the Mercedes powered Force India of Perez and the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, reining in the Red Bull and Toro Rossi ahead of them. In the end though, the only non-Mercedes powered car that played any significant part in the standings was Vettel's Ferrari; with the two factory silver arrows again giving all and sundry a shellacking.
Rosberg easily won this Grand Prix which has become something of a German benefit; having had Schumacher win here previously. You have to go back until 2001 to find David Coulthard as the last non-German driver to win here at the Ostereichring/A1-Ring/Red Bull Ring.

Race Results:
1. Rosberg- Mercedes
2. Hamilton - Mercedes
3. Massa - Williams-Mercedes
4. Vettel - Ferrari
5. Bottas - Williams-Mercedes
6. Hulkenburg - Force India-Mercedes

"The John Logie Baird Television Was Better in 1984 Memorial Cup" at the end of Round 4 looks like this:

28 Hamilton
28 Rosberg
15 Vettel
7 Raikkonen
7 Massa
5 Riccardo
5 Bottas
3 Kyvat
2 Nasr
1 Hulkenburg

The Constructor's Championship is thus:

56 Mercedes
22 Ferrari
12 Williams
7 Red Bull
2 Sauber
1 Force India

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