The start of the European F1 Grand Prix season marked the real beginning of Nico Rosberg’s title campaign. Much of the focus this season has been the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, but specifically Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg has been quietly going about his business collecting podium finishes in all four of the previous races and today he put himself back into contention for the Formula One Driver’s Championship with a commanding win over Mercedes teammate Hamilton.
The German started on pole, and after a superb start off the grid he was never challenged for the win. Hamilton over revved the start due to the rear tyres wheel spinning and lost a place to Ferrari’s Vettel and he just about managed to hold onto third place ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The start for Hamilton was crucial if he was to challenge for the lead with his teammate, but Vettel proved to be unmovable for the World Champion on track as he could not get close enough despite being in DRS range on occasion, this allowed Rosberg to open a gap before the first round of pit-stops.
Lap 40 saw Hamilton finally get beyond the Ferrari, after executing the undercut by pitting eight laps earlier than the German. Hamilton was on a charge or ‘Hammer Time’ as the driver himself refers to it, now setting a new target on closing down his teammate.
The midfield scrap intensified as many found delight in overtaking down the pit straight. The high flying Toro Rosso’s in qualifying found themselves sitting ducks for large parts of the race due to modifications on the car allowing speed in the corners but slow speed on the straights.
Mclaren had another poor and unreliable afternoon after showing promise coming into the weekend due to many car developments. Fernando Alonso failed to complete his home race due to a rear brake failure. Williams where again best of the rest with Bottas winning the battle if the Finns late on to hold off Kimi Riakkonen for fourth place.
Despite Hamilton’s efforts on regaining what time he had lost to his teammate, it was not enough and Rosberg maintained the gap to finish comfortably for his first win of the 2015 season and remind everyone he is still in the mix.
The title race has swung open again with Rosberg showing that his performances can prevent Hamilton from running away with it. Ferrari overall seemed further behind Mercedes, but with Monaco up next a very different challenge is ahead. Qualifying at the street circuit is vitally important as overtaking at the front is made that bit more difficult thanks to the narrow nature of the track. Hamilton’s lead has now been cut to 20 points over his teammate, everything is very much all to play for.
Pictures courtesy of The Daily Mail and BBC Sport