Since the Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers had no problems in finishing the race in style, all the battle was in the bundle at the Australian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen’s incident tops the list of the race negative highlights. Lucky for them, the Ferrari squad has not been punished for the awkward moment.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas rivals, Ferrari, escaped the penalty for letting Kimi Raikkonen leave the pits with a cross-threaded nut not properly attached to his left rear wheel. Kimi stopped soon after that, on the squad’s request, after they noticed the telemetry data.
The FIA technical delegate Joe Bauer agreed on the fact that the car was not sent out of the pits in an unsafe condition.
Actually, the video replay shows one of the mechanics with his hand up, to signal there was a problem on that wheel. But the stewards concluded Ferrari had closely monitored the situation as stopped the car as soon as it was clear it was dangerous to remain on the racetrack.
“The team explained that the system used to monitor pit stops gave no indication the car was in an unsafe condition when released”, Joe Bauer stated.
Ferrari denies any tension inside the pit box after the incident, even though the team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was seen storming inside to talk to the pit crew. “I went down into the box first of all to calm them down, because I didn’t want them to panic. I simply said to the mechanic to calm down, to be focused, not to worry”, the Italian told.
For Raikkonen, it all started in the very first corner of the race, when he got clipped by Carlos Sainz. “The floor got damaged and the rear from the crash”, Raikkonen complained after the race. Sainz admitted the responsibility for the incident. He said he was sorry and that he learned his lesson.
Raikkonen also had had problems during his very slow first stop, in the 16th lap, but going back on the racetrack, the Finn managed to get some fastest laps out there.
The first corner was pretty intense. Raikkonen’s slowing Ferrari got into a three-way contact with Felipe Nasr and Pastor Maldonado, both trying to go drive around it. But Maldonado ended up spinning into the guardrail. The incident caused the first official outing of the new Safety Car of the Formula 1, the Mercedes-AMG GT.
It’s been plenty of drama making it to the grid, it’s been even more during the race. Only 15 drivers toed the line in the Australian Grand Prix, after Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat failed ever since the very reconnaissance lap. Valtteri Bottas had suffered an injury in his lower back in an qualifying accident and was not let to race.
The Williams squad was a bit upset for not being allowed to replace Bottas with the female driver Sussie Wolff, for she had not driven on Saturday, as rules demand.
With the Mercedes vs Mercedes battle at the front and both running on medium tires, Hamilton was always faster than Rosberg, their time gap ranging from 3,6 to 1,2 seconds. The German was the leader only when the Brit went into the pit lane. Extremely short stops for both, with a 3,3 seconds for Hamilton and an amazing 2,9 seconds for Rosberg. The runner up tried to hunt down the world champion, gaining about 0,2 seconds per lap on to the end of the race.
Hamilton had a tense moment as his display was showing he was short on fuel. “Ignore the dash, Lewis, there’s an error”, was the message from the Mercedes pitwall.
The Rosberg vs Vettel post-race conference. Joke or war?
It all started when Nico Rosberg said he hopes Ferrari is going to come a bit closer to Mercedes, so they don’t run the championship by themselves, as they did last year, when him and Hamilton won 16 of the 19 races of the season.
But that caused quite a reply from Sebastian Vettel, the 4-time world champion who ticked his Ferrari debut with a podium finish.
“Be honest! Do you really hope so? Seriously? You finished 30 seconds ahead of us and you hope it’s going to be closer? So you hope you slow down? Is that what you’re saying?”
“I hope that you can give us a challenge. Because it’s important for the sport and for the fans. And I do think about the show. I want to give people a great time at home watching on TV or at the track. If you do come a bit closer, that would be awesome for everybody”, Rosberg replied.
And the Mercedes driver was about to cut deeper, when Vettel said it was a shame his teammate, Raikkonen, did not finish the race.
“You find it a shame that your teammate didn’t finish?”, Nico interrogated.
Hinting at last year’s tense relationship between the two Mercedes driver, Vettel replied: “I don’t know how much you like each other, but Kimi and myself get along, so I think it is a shame.”
Photo source: Daily Mail