|Qualifying certainly didn't deliver|
Hamilton Bogged Down As Ferrari Fly
Last summer the FIA rightly decided to increase the skill required at the start of the race. If you've driven a manual car or motorbike you will be familiar with with the point in which you start to pull forward from a stop once throttle is fed and you 'release' the clutch. This 'biting point' as its known can be a bit more challenging to find in an F1 car. Their carbon clutches are strong but sensitive to heat meaning this point is changing all the time. Previously a team would 'learn' the perfect setting with ''bite point finder' software off the grid and information from practise starts. Feedback could then be relayed to the driver to preset the biting point for the start of the race. From the Belgium Grand Prix onwards drivers would now have to set the biting point themselves with no feedback and no use of bite point finder sofware on race day. Fluffing your start is now more likely with greater chance of spinning wheels or slipping the clutch. To further spice up the action in 2016 drivers must now also pull away with a single clutch paddle on the steering wheel rather than two. Two paddles allowed drivers to release one to begin the process and release the second once the car gained good traction allowing a smooth get away. Now with one paddle getting good traction off the grid is more of a challenge. Lewis Hamilton came a cropper off the grid as both Ferraris and Nico Rosberg sailed past with ease. Reflecting on this poor getaway Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted the more difficult start procedure "certainly plays a role". He went on to explain that "in the past if you would have a bad start off the line for the formation lap you could see how much the slip was. And if you can't adjust it makes a difference. Yesterday our practice starts weren't very good, and we weren't sure if this would cause a problem in the race. Lewis was a couple of metres worse up to 100m than Nico, but I'm not sure if it was a hardware problem or a software problem, a vibration or a slow reaction. We have to look into it."
Sebastian Vettel had completely aced the new starting procedure with himself and team mate Kimi Raikonnen out in front. However the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was keeping within a second of the the pair. Rosberg pitted onto the soft tyre on lap 12 and Vettel quickly followed suit, not wanting to lose track position.
Alonso Walks Away From Horror Crash
|Alonso clambers out|
Unfortunately 15 years ago track marshall Graham Beveridge was not so lucky when Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher were involved in a near identical incident at the same corner. A rogue wheel fatally wounded Beveridge when it flew through a gap in the catchment fence. A spectator was also injured.
Red Flag Shakes Up Strategy
|Pace on the ultra-softs wasn't enough|
Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo had made up positions on both Ferraris, with Hamilton also managing an overtake and moving up to second on lap 42. Vettel attempted to catch on fresher tyres but ran wide chasing Hamilton 2 laps from the end. The race order would remain with home favourite Ricciardo finising a respectable 4th. A blocked brake duct sent temperatures through the roof on Rosberg's Mercedes towards the end of the race, but he was able to nurse his car home to victory.
Further down Romain Grosjean put in a stellar performance to give the new Haas team a sensational 6th place on its debut. After all the teething troubles in testing this handful of points felt as sweet as victory. There was no love loss between the Toro Rosso team mates with Max Verstappen making contact with Carlos Sainz Jnr a few laps towards the end and spinning. The Dutch teenager had been infuriated with his team's strategy which saw Sainz pit first. Expecting his team mate to move over there was signs of teenage angst when he declared the situation on team radio a "f****** joke'. The pair finished 9th and 10th respectively. Just behind the Brit Jolyon Palmer took a solid 11th place on his debut in the Renault.
Pos # Driver
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes
6 8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes
9 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Ferrari
10 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Ferrari
11 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 56
16 94 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
88 Rio Haryanto Manor-Mercedes
21 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda
26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-TAG Heuer