It is absurd of course that in this most rational and empirical of pursuits as F1 is that we still sometimes try to fly explanations that have little more basis than hocus pocus. But on the evidence of the Chinese Grand Prix we can perhaps understand why.
After two 2016 races in which just about everything resulted in his smelling of roses – the latter in effect having the race handed on a plate after one turn – which then was followed by a similarly-starred qualifying session for him here in China, surely Nico Rosberg could not count on the same again in the Shanghai race?
Everything’s Coming Up Rosberg (Again)
He could. Things continue to be written in the stars for him it seems, and furthermore the echoes with the previous round in Bahrain were spooky. Just like then, the three other nominal pace-setters had their days compromised by the time of turn one; just like then it meant first place was Rosberg’s barring unusual happenings, which never arrived.
And, in another echo with the Bahrain round, there was plenty of diverting racing way behind the imperious Nico. Not least with Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat, and not just because they were best of the rest in that order behind Rosberg. It was thanks mainly to carnage at that first turn mentioned. It started with Kimi Raikkonen running wide, which impeded his team mate Seb towards his inside somewhat (or he was similarly understeering). Kvyat put a spurt on and helped himself to the inside line; at this moment the two Ferraris collided, damaging both of their front wings while Kvyat carried on.
It looked one of those things, certainly Kvyat did little wrong as far as nearly everyone, Seb’s Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene among them, thought. But Seb was scathing, including with Kvyat directly in the podium ante-room. One hopes having seen a replay he’ll reconsider.
As mentioned Seb recovered from his first corner woe to bag second, while after Kvyat we had two more fine comeback drives. First his Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo got fourth after an early puncture, then Raikkonen – who was more set back by the turn one clash than Seb – was fifth.
Lewis Hamilton, starting from the back after technical problems in qualifying, made progress of his own. But in yet another Bahrain echo he too was caught up in the turn one concertina, his front wing knocked off, and after he got a replacement his car was hobbled by the resultant wider damage. Seventh place was all he could do.
While again just like after Bahrain, Nico continues a run of wins that has only in F1 history ended with that year’s title, but also just like after Bahrain no one is counting chickens. Not least because just like after Bahrain we’re awaiting our first straight fight between Mercedes, Ferrari and their respective drivers.
But Nico has given them all a long way to catch him up. And as Super Soul said of Kowalski, “the question is not when’s he gonna stop, but who is gonna stop him”. Appropriately, Nico has spent most of 2016 in others’ vanishing point.