The 2016 Chinese GP had it all – carnage, intense battles, and some big surprises. While Nico Rosberg sauntered off into a sizeable lead and eventually finished 38 seconds ahead of next-best man Sebastian Vettel, pretty much everything behind was incredible.
Here’s our top picks – the Chinese GP Badgerometer
It was Romain Grosjean’s 30th Birthday on Sunday, and the Frenchman, famed for having the second-biggest grin in F1 after Daniel Ricciardo (obviously) showed off his pearly whites for the occasion.
Not wanting the Frenchman to have his cake and eat it (in the conventional way), team mate Esteban Gutierrez decided to rub some of the frosting into his team mate’s face.
After two consecutive points-scoring races, it was sadly the sweetest thing he tasted all weekend. Get more F1 cake shenanigans here.
Red Bull in a China Shop
Cast your mind back to January and February; the rhetoric from the top brass at soda pop racing squad Red Bull Racing was that their car would not be up to scratch for a while in 2016, and they predicted that Toro Rosso would be ahead of them too.
You can imagine the surprise, then, when Daniel Ricciardo put his car P2 on the grid for the race, and then, staggeringly, took the lead at Turn 1.
It didn’t work out for the Honey Badger due to a nasty tyre failure on Lap 3. Rosberg’s pace suggested that he would have got past anyway, but nonetheless, his toothy grin diminished to a subdued smirk.
Despite this setback, the Aussie came back to finish a brilliant fighting fourth, and the other Dan was able to haul his Red Bull up to third from sixth on the grid. This is especially surprising and impressive when you consider the three long straights in China are not supposed to suit the
Renault TAG-Heuer package. Were they downplaying their improvements over the winter?
The Battle for Fifth
The amount of overtaking at the Chinese GP was simply astonishing. Some overtakes, like Daniil Kvyat’s on the Ferraris, did have some casualties. Others, like Lewis Hamilton’s on Felipe Massa were a bit rough.
For me though, the best overtaking scrap of all was between three of the title challengers in 2008. Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen all fought over fifth place towards the end of the race.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 17, 2016
With his ex-Ferrari nemesis and his, er… ex-Ferrari-who’s-not-at-Ferrari-any-more nemesis on much better tyres, Hamilton was pretty much powerless to challenge either, and Kimi took fifth, with Massa finishing sixth eventually. You could call it a small revenge for Hamilton taking the world title in 2008… but that would be an incredibly small consolation prize.
On paper, Sebastian Vettel had a great weekend; he qualified fourth and finished second. However, a first-lap crash with team-mate Raikkonen left the German annoyed and with a damaged front wing.
Vettel blamed the fast-starting Daniil Kvyat for the incident, as the Russian came in “Like a torpedo”, apparently forcing the German into the side of the other Ferrari. Of course, our followers on Twitter had a different idea:
— Badger GP (@BadgerGP) April 17, 2016
The post-race cool down room was anything but for Vettel, who blamed the Russian for the incident. Kvyat though, replied with a smirk, remarking “I’m on the podium, you’re on the podium, so it’s okay.”
And who can argue with that?
More like Knock-IN Qualifying, amiright?
The best thing to come out of the weekend was the return of Knockout Qualifying. It was announced ahead of the race, and it’s not exactly news, but it was such a welcome relief to return the the format that inherently just works. It just does.
After only two weekends of being ridiculed, chided and otherwise torn to pieces by everyone, Elimination Qualifying has gone the way of the dinosaur and left us all alone. One thing Elimination did succeed in was beating 2005’s much-hated Aggregate Qualifying to the shortest Qualy system ever. Aggregate was around for 6 races; Elimination, just two.
The session might have had Rosberg on Pole my a country mile, but there were surprises all over the place, including the aforementioned Ricciardo on the front row, Raikkonen beating Vettel, and of course Hamilton’s start from 22nd.
Elimination Qualifying could not be reached for a statement.
Be sure to let us know what your favourite part of the weekend was!