The Chinese Grand Prix: A New Battle Begins

Alas! Our days of enduring a Mercedes-on-Mercedes Drivers’ F1 Championship is over! (Or so we hope.) It’s a new era, with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari win at the Australian Grand Prix, followed by Lewis Hamilton again showing how incredibly talented of a driver he is by nabbing the win in China this past weekend.

And this wasn’t a repeat winning experience like we saw last season. Lewis had what looked like a relatively easy year in 2016. As a great driver and having one of the best cars on the grid, he managed to pull ahead with what looked like ease, EVERY. SINGLE. RACE (aside from when Rosberg caught a good break. Either way–a Mercedes would always be delicately dancing around in the front of the pack). At one point last year, I described his F1 race drives as driving around to lounge music, while the rest of the grid experienced a full-on metal thrasher soundtrack.

And sometimes it was intense–BEHIND Lewis.

But in China, this wasn’t the case. Lewis may have caught the lead early, but Vettel fought to not only catch up with Lewis–but challenge him. Lewis was forced to stay vigilant and actually fight to stay ahead. And this was done by a driver, who is not only equally as talented as Hamilton (and there are quite a few out there on that grid), but was driving a Ferrari. The Stallion had finally made a car that could be equally competitive with Mercedes this year and now we have something to look forward to as we sit on the edges of our seats watching the rest of the season.

It’s not to say the Nico Rosberg-Lewis Hamilton Team Mercedes battle wasn’t fun and intriguing to watch. It was. And it again, gave us something a little exciting to watch…I guess.

But to finally have teams that can be more equally competitive now–it’s wonderful.

Red Bull is also on Mercedes and Ferrari’s heels, but so far, it’s not looking like quite enough to make a mark on the Championship. At least, maybe not this year.

(And to be fair, this was technically Daniel Ricciardo’s first race of the season, considering he didn’t even get his car to start to race his home grand prix in Australia. The Aussie needs a little time to catch up!–And well, Max Verstappen was trying to get to Vettel. Trying….)

As for the rest of the Chinese Grand Prix–Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon scored points, placing P9 and P10. This was a team that had been struggling not too long ago. Just goes to show how much a few years can do for a team.

Kevin Magnussen also scored points for Haas–a nice change for the team since last year’s 26 points for the team were all scored by Romain Grosjean.

McLaren continues to have issues with its cars as both Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso. (Alonso might not be as sore about it this week though with today’s explosive announcement that McLaren, in tandem with Andretti Autosport and Honda are sponsoring his ride in the Indy 500. But you can read that on any other racing blog for more details.)

Sauber was also having a rough weekend, after Antonio Giovinnazi wrecked his car during qualifying, and after putting it together for the race the next day, he again managed to crash it. Disappointing, and I’m sure painful for a team that doesn’t quite have the same income as a team like Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, etc. They may be anxious to have Pascal Wehrlein back in his seat soon and luckily, it’s looking like after Bahrain. So, fingers crossed.

This year is full of promise and surprises with the new cars. They are definitely meaner and tougher, and the drivers still make it look like they are putting little-to-no effort into driving them.

And then there are the not-so-surprising returns of our favorites, like Kimi Raikkonen’s old man, grumpy radio comments.

Now to anxiously await who is replacing Alonso at Monaco while he plays in the States at the 500.

 

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