Exciting China: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on excellent form, but Vettel hot on their heels
The rivalry between Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and his team-mate Nico Rosberg is itself intriguing – and with Ferrari’s Vettel now hot on their heels – it will ensure some captivating viewing in China.
We saw an eventful start to the season in Australia, with three cars lost before things got underway at Melbourne’s packed Albert Park – where Hamilton won with a cool and tempered performance.
After much commotion the race finally got started, with Hamilton taking a rapid lead and controlling his pace until the first pit, holding it out at roughly 2 seconds.
As the Mercedes duo – Hamilton and Rosberg – raced far ahead of their peers, Ferrari saw an improvement in form with their new signing Sebastian Vettel taking third place, beating Williams’s Felipe Massa.
As Hamilton took to the podium, he told Arnold Schwarzenegger, who presented the trophies: “My team did an amazing job today and it’s an incredible feeling to win and also to be here with you, man. I thought you were taller!”
At the podium, Rosberg said: “I was trying every lap to my maximum and I will do all year. I will give him a big run for his money and hopefully beat him.”
This is the sort of healthy rivalry we want to see. Then throw in the result from Malaysia and things begin to get all the more exciting.
Arriving in a tropical Malaysia having won the last eight races Mercedes perhaps got a little complacent with Hamilton’s winning form, and soon found themselves behind Ferrari as the laps were running thin – and Vettel took first place.
Ferrari technical director James Allison told the BBC: “Vettel, like any other driver, wants a car that is balanced, that you feel confident in when you are hard on the brakes when turning in and doesn’t understeer on the apex.
“Broadly speaking this car has that, we just have to add more downforce and more power.”
More power and downforce aside, this at least lends a new excitement to the Chinese Grand Prix come April 12.
Who cannot feel a tad sorry for Fernando Alonso – the double world champion who left Ferrari for McLaren at last season’s end, while his former employer went on to celebrate the Malaysia victory with their new star signing Vettel.
This was Ferarri’s first victory since 2013, and we dare say it’ll be the only win they have this year.
Hamilton’s dominance has been shaken, and that’s a good thing.