The lights are green, the pack has been let loose, and the season is underway again!
Now, all expectations ae that Mercedes will be fighting amongst themselves to once again decide who will be the world driver`s champion, but behind that, it is yet to see how the power balance has shifted.
This was a Grand Prix without Fernando Alonso, who was injured during the last testing days and didn`t start this weekend to prevent repeat injury. He was replaced by the man he replaces this year, Kevin Magnussen.
It was a race without Kevin Magnussen, as the McLaren fell to pieces even before the warm up lap ended.
It was a race without Kvyiat, the new talent at Red Bull, for the exact same reason.
It was a race without Valteri Bottas, who suffered a back injury during qualifyers yesterday, and had to forfeit the race.
It was a race without the last moment ressurected team of Manor Marussia, as they didn`t got the car set up for the weekend, and didn`t leave their pitboxes in the end.
And in a way, it was a race without Lotus. The car has made great jumps forward from last year, but unfortunatly both where eliminated in the opening car. Maldonado was pushed into the wall while Grosjean limped to the pits only to be retired.
But what did we get then? Well, the expected might of Mercedes, who took the front row, started cleanly and steamed off in that position to places one and two, not even pit strategy shaking things up and Hamilton taking the win 2 seconds in front of Rosberg.
McLaren, who saw Button drive from last place on the grid (Magnussen didn`t `show up`, putting only 15 cars on the starting line) to last in the race as the Honda engine clearly has severe issues still. But that is the exact reason Jenson has been retained, having tons of experience and finally giving the engine supplier a full race distance of data to analyse now.
The big suprise to some was the guy on place 5, rookie Felipe Nasr in the Sauber. Last year the team scored no points, until the night of the qualifiers there was the Van Der Garde soap (which, we all know, could expect how it would end), and both cars that where already promising in testing ended in the points today. I play a manager game this season, I have Sauber as my chassis (only one of 100 participants who did this), I think my gamble will be paying off since I have Button and Vettel as my drivers.
Behind them, we get the Renault cars with both Ricciardo and Sainz Jr. A great result for the spanish rookie, because I got a bit sick and tired of the whole Verstappen hype down here. He was outqualified and outraced and outscored by someone all the local press labelled as `not talented enough to stand up to the 17th year old`.
The final points where for Force India, due to some smart driving mostly by Hulkenberg yet again, and the game of elimination playing the favor of Perez. Quite a result actually, seeing the problems they had with the car, including it`s very late moment of being ready.
1. Hamilton - Mercedes
2. Rosberg - Mercedes
3. Vettel - Ferrari
4. Massa - Williams Mercedes
5. Nasr - Sauber Ferrari
6. Ricciardo - Red Bull Renault
7. Hulkenberg - Force India Mercedes
8. Ericsson - Sauber Ferrari
9. Sainz Jr - Toro Rosso Renault
10. Perez - Force India Mercedes
11. Button - McLaren Mercedes
Driver of the Race
Who would have thought last year the name of Marcus Ericsson would ever appear here? Yet, he deserves it, because after the ruffled up weekend preparation, not only did he score his first points ever in his career, he was also the driver that had gained the most positions during the race. maybe he is a good pay driver instead of just a pay driver after all??
Team of the Race
Force India, they had big budgetary problems, issues with the car getting ready and no ambitiobn what so ever for the opening weekend, though a bit of luck left (Perez) and talent right (Hulkenberg), and suddenly they walk away with two cars in the points, the only other teams showing that sort of reliability for the opener being Mercedes and Sauber.
And so the 2015 season has started. The first race is still a bit to early to get an idea how the power levels are now, but it is clear that Mercedes will be the team to beat again. They seem to have coupled (and worked towards that) excellent reliability to excellent speed now...
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