The last time Nico Rosberg took the top step on the podium was in November 2014 at Sao Paulo in the Brazilian GP. Since then he has been playing only a second fiddle to teammate Lewis Hamilton. On May 10, however, he reversed that and finished a faultless race, beginning with the top pole position in the qualifying. With Hamilton taking the second spot, it was one more time that Mercedes have made the 1-2 finish in F1. In five races of the 2015 season, this was the fourth time that a Mercedes driver has finished first. In the last 16-17 months since the 2014 Australian GP, Mercedes has been a dominant force on account of technology that has gone into constructing cars, suitable for F1 tracks worldwide. It is a sad confirmation that the important aspect of human skill has been relegated to the sidelines. Although Ferrari designers and engineers are doing their best, they still need plenty of updates to match the machine performance of the Mercedes’ cars. Sebastian Vettel, who was literally unbeatable until the last race of 2013 season, had to leave Red Bull because; after new machine features were made mandatory from 2014 season onwards, his constructors could not match the technical aspects of Mercedes machines. On Sunday, he finished third on the Ferrari but he was more than 45 seconds behind Nico Rosberg in the end. Also despite having a chance to go ahead of Hamilton, who had a mechanical failure, Vettel found it too difficult to steer clear off the Englishman because it boiled down to the machine superiority and Hamilton had a much better machine.
In the qualifying on Friday and Saturday, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the only driver to get within a second of the Mercedes. Ahead of him were Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Williams’ Valterri Bottas was fourth but maximum cheers were reserved for Spain’s rookie Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz, who finished fifth. Sainz’s team mate Max Verstappen was sixth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who finished seventh on the grid. The two Red Bull drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo took the eighth and tenth spots with Felipe Massa of Williams sandwiched on the ninth spot on the grid.
Sunday’s main race began in lovely Spanish spring sunshine with Rosberg breaking away from the pack as he headed into Turn 1. But Hamilton’s sluggishness allowed Vettel and Bottas to overtake him early. However, the Briton fought back to wrest the third place from Bottas. In the second Lap, Rosberg extended his lead over Vettel to almost two seconds and by Lap 5 that lead became 3 seconds. In the 14th Lap, struggling Hamilton went to the pits and spent an unusually long time and when he rejoined the track, he was behind Lotus’s Maldonado. Vettel made his pit-stop in Lap 15 but when he emerged, he had a three-second advantage over Hamilton. The next Lap saw Rosberg going to the pits but the German took a mere 2.5 seconds in changing all his four tyres. Halfway through the 66-Lap race, Rosberg had built a phenomenal 10-second lead over Vettel. It was here that the German truly realized the machine advantage that Mercedes had over his Ferrari. But he must have been grateful that he was not driving the Red Bull like last year.
In Lap 41, Vettel went to the pits for the last time but when he emerged, he yielded his second spot to Lewis Hamilton. Afterwards, it was Rosberg, Hamilton and Vettel in that order and with passage of time, Rosberg kept building his lead and when crossed the finish line, he had a 17-second advantage over Hamilton and a whopping 45.3 seconds’ gap over the third-placed Sebastian Vettel. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas took the fourth place ahead of Raikkonen of Ferrari and the other Williams driver Felipe Massa was sixth, Rd Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo seventh, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean eighth, Torro Rosso’s Spanish driver Carlos Sainz was ninth and Daniil Kvyat was tenth.
With Mercedes’ superiority clearly on display, other constructors will need at least new aero updates to come anywhere near the Silver Arrows. But on Sunday at the Circuit de Catalunya Rosberg was supreme once he took the pole position on Saturday. After losing out on the previous four races of the season, Rosberg came up with a thoroughly deserved victory that would inject new life into the championship.
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