If you simply saw that the podium was 1. Rosberg (Merc) 2. Hamilton (Merc) 3. Vettel (Ferrari) then you would conclude it was just another race with predetermined outcomes. Perhaps a curiosity that Hamilton was behind Rosberg.
However, how we got there was not so simple. After a disappointing application of new qualifying rules left us with less excitement and anticipation on Saturday, Sunday's race started off with a brilliant start that shuffled the deck before turn one.
In addition to the (soon to be scrapped) new qualifying rules, F1 has also implemented new single clutch launch requirements to start the race. I believe this is a direct attempt to reel in Lewis Hamilton a bit, as his one known weakness is starting, and that's what the result bore out. Vettel launched to a very quick start off the line, passing both Mercs, and by turn one Rosberg went a bit wide, further holding up teammate Hamilton, which allowed Raikkonen to come through to second in his own Ferrari.
Hamilton was swamped by the competition and got caught towards the back of the top ten, requiring him to fight his way forward, allowing Rosberg chasing the two Ferraris, led by Vettel who developed a huge margin over any other car.
Then deus ex machina took hold.
First, this spectacular crash, as Alonzo ran his McLaren into the back wheel of Gutierrez's Haas car, sending the McLaren flying into a horrific pile and leading to a red flag, which temporarily halted the race.
This allowed Hamilton to take advantage of a tire swap without the cost of a normal pit. This was followed later under green flag with Vettel making a full stop that cost an additional three seconds due to a very atypical error by the crew.
Vettel was able to push in the end to challenge Hamilton for that 2nd spot, but his tires had clearly lost this full grip at that point, he fought to keep the car on the track, and he settled for third.
What we seemed to learn this weekend was that Mercedes is still very dominant, Ferraris may be a close second and could challenge this season, and the new American endeavor Haas F1 is not your typical rookie team. Gutierrez was doing well before the accident, and the Frenchman, Romain Grosjean, brought the #1 Haas car in for 6th place and 8 points. Points in F1 equal dollars for the next season, and to score in their first race out was a huge victory for Haas.
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