It couldn’t happen again. There couldn’t be another race where everything went for Nico Rosberg; that all of his closest rivals would have their days spoiled. That would leave him well out front, ticking the laps off on his way to imperious victory. That’s what we’ve had to varying degrees in all three 2016 rounds so far. In Russia we couldn’t have a fourth.
Well, pretty much, we did.
Russian GP 2016 -F1’s Ground Hog Day Continues
F1 not for the first time this year got deja vu all over again, as was said inimitably by baseball coach Yogi Berra. And the outcome was the same too, Nico now has a perfect ton in the points and the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are well adrift. We still in 2016 haven’t had our straight fight at the front between the three of them, so we don’t have our clear sense of their relative competitiveness all else being equal. But whatever is the case Nico’s championship lead already looks neither quick nor easy to surmount.
Particularly with the way Nico is going, as while he has had the luck he has also clearly been driving at something like the top of his form – fast and flawless.
And in another parallel with previous rounds Nico’s day was looking rather good even just a few turns in. Indeed just as in China last time out Lewis had his qualifying compromised by an engine failure, although it struck at a point this time to only require him to start tenth rather than last. And Vettel too knew in advance his weekend would be tainted by a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Stings in the Tail for Seb and Lewis
But for Seb this had a sting in the tail as being in the pack meant he was hit twice in the opening turns, the second one sending him into the barriers and out. And in the latest case of F1’s cruel irony striking, it was Seb’s nemesis from China Daniil Kvyat that in both cases was doing the hitting. And unlike in China this time the fault was the Russian’s.
This for once aided Hamilton though, who motored through the carnage to get up to fifth immediately, and made fairly good progress from there though got stuck a while behind Valtteri Bottas’s Williams. Once he got into second and with a clear run at his team mate, just after the solitary pit stops, he also showed signs of even being able to claw back the large gap. From being 13 seconds down on lap 22 he’d got it down to seven seconds on lap 36, with 17 to go. But just at this point Lewis’s foul 2016 luck struck again, as a water leak slowed him. It meant for the matter of first place it was game over, though Lewis did manage to keep the thing circulating to come home still second.
He though more than most must be wondering when F1’s extraordinary tendency for repetition this campaign is going to end.