Ayrton Senna – ‘91, Nigel Mansell – ‘92, Michael Schumacher – ‘94 & ‘04
& now Nico Rosberg.
These are the only F1 drivers to win the first four races of a season. The other members of that exclusive club all went on to win the title that season. Extend that to his run last year and Nico Rosberg has now won 7 races in a row, matching Schumacher – ‘04 and Alberto Ascari – ‘52-‘53. Only Sebastian Vettel – ‘13 has more. (9)
The silver machine rolls on, while Lewis Hamilton’s title defence crumbles around him, Red Bull’s upturn in form has manifested itself in them effectively taking Ferrari out of contention for the season. If you wanted a perfect storm to allow one driver to run away with a season then 2016 has certainly aligned that way.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 1, 2016
Rosberg won at a canter from pole in Sochi, starting on the supersoft tyre then switching to the soft on lap 21. Lewis Hamilton recovered from a disaster in qualifying to claim 2nd place, using the same strategy to make up eight places from 10th on the grid. While Nico is having a season where the title seems to be coming to him, Lewis is having the kind of season where he might have to check for voodoo dolls and broken mirrors.
Outside of Rosberg’s Grand Slam two drivers stood out in Sochi, largely by keeping out of trouble as the chaos unfolded around them. McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso & Renault’s Kevin Magnussen. They finished 6th & 7th respectively. 7th place for KMag giving Renault their first points since returning to Manufacturer status.
— Renault Sport F1 (@RenaultSportF1) May 1, 2016
Most drivers used a one-stop supersoft-soft strategy, but an alternative tactic was used by both Red Bull drivers, who were caught in the incident at the start that caused a brief safety car, which influenced strategy. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat both switched to the medium tyre, with Kvyat completing more than 50 laps on this compound to finish 15th from the back, despite picking up a 10-second penalty. The gamble simply didn’t work for Red Bull and they would later switch Ricciardo to Softs.
A different alternative strategy was adopted by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who switched to used soft tyres on lap one under similar circumstances, then switched to more used softs with just over 20 laps to go. Perez finished in the points but he was not the highest-placed two-stopper: that was Williams driver Felipe Massa in fifth, who completed a final stint on supersofts. Only six drivers stopped twice, with the rest all stopping once.
Following a cool day yesterday, temperatures during the race were much warmer.
Truthometer: We predicted a one-stop strategy as being the best option before the 53-lap race, starting on supersoft and then stopping on lap 18 for softs. This is exactly what Rosberg did, but helped by the early safety car he stretched the first stint for 21 laps.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The early safety car certainly added an interesting dimension to the race, with a number of drivers trying an alternative strategy. In the end, Daniil Kvyat completed an entire race distance on the Medium compound, in an era when there is more load going through the tyres than there ever has been before in Formula 1 history. We saw some other different strategies: Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were able to maximise their opportunities with a one-stop strategy to make up several places compared to their grid positions. Generally speaking, the one-stop strategy was the way to go as we predicted, with low wear and degradation across all three compounds. This was the 100th grand prix for Pirelli since we returned to Formula One in 2011.”