Rosberg starts 2016 with a win after Alonso crash halts race

2016 Australian Grand Prix summary

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Nico Rosberg won a hectic season-opening Australian Grand Prix after the race was stopped following a major crash involving Fernando Alonso.

The McLaren driver was launched into the barriers after tangling with the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez at one of the fastest points on the circuit. The car rolled to a stop against a barrier but Alonso was able to climb out unaided.

The race had been led by the Ferrari pair until that point after Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen surprised the two Mercedes drivers at the start. Vettel had already pitted for a second set of super-soft tyres before the red flag and the team’s decision not to give him a further fresh set during the stoppage proved fateful.

Mercedes did choose to give Nico Rosberg a new set of tyres and when Vettel had to make a second pit stop that handed the initiative back to the silver cars.

Lewis Hamilton, who had fallen to sixth after a poor getaway from pole position, recovered to finish second. A late mistake allowed Vettel onto his tail for the final laps until the Ferrari drivers made a mistake of his own at turn 15, leaving Hamilton safe.

Daniel Ricciardo took fourth place and set the fastest lap after a late switch to super-soft tyres. He passed Felipe Massa on the way, the Williams driver finishing in fifth place.

Behind him was a jubilant Romain Grosjean who gave Haas a remarkable sixth place on their grand prix debut, keeping the Mercedes-powered Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and Williams of Valtteri Bottas at bay.

The Toro Rosso pair completed the top ten but and angry Max Verstappen complained the team had given his Carlos Sainz Jnr preference on strategy, allowing him to get ahead when they made their final pit stops.

Among the retirements were Daniil Kvyat, whose car broke down before the start for the second year running in this race. Kimi Raikkonen also parked up with an airbox fire on his Ferrari.

2016 Australian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Rosberg starts 2016 with a win after Alonso crash halts race”

  1. Fernando a ticking bomb.

  2. Great race, Shame overtaking is very limited. Merc had luck but they clearly have a beast of a car. Good debut for Palmer and Haas.

    1. Overtaking being limited was the best part of the race!

  3. Oh well. At least it was eventful. Very happy for Grosjean and HAAS.

  4. Just wondering if anyone knows if there’s any news about what happened to Button? Was the McLaren just a dog on race pace? Any particular strategy snafu?

    1. @skipgamer They just become the causalities on the red flag. Button just pitted before the red flag, and he restarted on super softs which proven to be the incorrect choice. Pace wise, Button a bit slower this weekend compared to Alonso but overall McLaren pace is enough to compete on points.

      1. @skipgamer, @sonicslv, Button also said he felt the softs were the wrong tyre to start on, so I guess he believes they could have been doing better even before the red flag, so points contenders (in a very tight midfield then).

        1. @sonicslv, @bosyber Thanks for the info!

  5. Great for HAAS and RB looks in good shape. Williams is not as fast as i thought. Massa was consistently slower then the RB and TR. RB looks like best of the rest considering the budget they have.

  6. at least it was fun. feel sorry for Alonso. even if he didn’t crashed, I can’t see it would have been good result.

  7. Of course kudos to RBR. They’re gonna be dangerous.

    1. Will they though? They were very lucky TR had a ridiculous strategy. RIC didn’t take either of them on the track. TR were the ones looking very dangerous before they pitted and got stuck behind traffic, and then pitted again to be stuck behind more traffic.

      1. RIC pace was better the whole race. The overtake in pit was just great strategy. He would’ve caught anyone in front of him in his last stint anyway, as he had the best set of tires left and was driven 1:29 like crazy, while everybody was doing 1:31-32. TR could’ve been 5th and 6th.

  8. Verstappen really annoyed me that race. Showed no sign of maturity and whinged whenever he was stuck behind his teammate who was being held up by Palmer (who done very well I must say) and Bottas. If he can’t overtake Sainz properly, he has no right to complain and try and get his way. And TR should’ve approved of the swap positions move. I hate team orders like that

    1. And poor alonso, dont know how hes fine. Thankful that he is though

    2. I agree partly. I’m a huge Verstappen fan (I’m Dutch as well), but he shouldn’t have shown his temper this way. However he did make one valid point: if you check the radio messages, he was already telling the team for several laps that his tires were going away. And as you know: the one who’s in front gets the first stop (VES in this case), but as soon as that was about to happen Sainz radioed in something like “we need to stop stop stop” and came in straight away. The team had no choice, as did VES. Result: the team forgot one tire for VES, causing him to lose even more than the pitstop advantage, probably 5-6 seconds if you count the tv images. So in short, he would’ve been in front if it wasn’t for the pitstop error. Plus: looking at the timing (I had the F1 app with premium live timing open at all times) VES was consistently 2-3 tenths quicker on same tires. So that’s where his frustration comes from. Although I don’t condone his whining and cussing of course.

      1. I hope it was an experience to learn from for him. Next time he should just pit when he feels it necessary like Sainz did.

        It seemed to be his main concern… That “they” pitted Sainz before him, where as it was just Sainz pitting himself. Made him look really foolish.

      2. @mattypf1 Well said @addvariety, he was whining a bit too much (and it might have gotten him that spin from not being focussed on racing), but he probably did have a point of contention with that pitstop, and the team likely missed an opportunity to do better and not have both cars end up behind traffic.

    3. Lol, teen not acting mature…

      No way Seinz should let him pass. Did Verstapen let Seinz pass last year? Your karma has been served son.

      Palmer though was excellent. If he is the weakest driver in F1, then we are in great shape.

      1. @jureo – , Haryanto (sp?) hasn’t proven much (though he went faster than Wehrlein on the 1 quali lap), so I am afraid Palmer might not be the weakest we have ;)

        1. it is generally assumed that Haryanto is the weakest one and he is made fun of a lot, but he and Palmer both did a solid job i think. I also was a bit sceptical about Wehrlein, but he came through.

    4. First Verstappen gets robbed of his pit stop by Sainz. Then he loses time in the pits. He caught up quickly but Sainz took FOREVER to overtake Palmer the rookie, while Verstappen positioned his car perfectly (like he always does) to overtake Palmer straight away.

      Then Sainz can’t pass Bottas because he’s so bad at overtaking. Max get’s frustrated, touches Sainz’ rear and spins out. Then he quickly caught up again on his destroyed tyres.

      Yes, Verstappen lacks maturity and sounds like a crybaby. But all his criticism of how the team managed the whole situation is completely justified. They could have finished way higher than 9 and 10th this race.

      1. “robbed of his pit stop by Sainz”

        What does that even mean? The general rule of thumb is that if leading your team mate you have first choice of when to pit, it doesn’t mean the team will stop the other driver from pitting until you decide to. VES could have pitted when he wanted to, end of story… How someone can be robbed of a pit stop is nonsensical.

        1. Max asked repeatedly if he could come in, but the team wanted him to stay out.

          Sainz didn’t listen to his team and just reported “I’m coming in” on the radio and pitted.

          1. @paeschli

            Arguably it would have been better for Verstappen to stay out circa 5 more laps rather than pitting the next lap, as they needed to clear the group of cars which they now ended the race behind, or if that wasn´t possible at least to go soft again instead of medium.

          2. I still don’t understand how that means Sainz “robbed” Verstappen of his stop. Verstappen could have pitted whenever he wanted, just like Sainz did, but chose to listen to the teams advice.

            Until Sainz pitted, then Verstappen stopped listening to the team entirely and felt he was robbed and just went on tilt. It was a master-stroke by Sainz really in the inter-team battle and showcased clearly that Verstappen while talented, does not have the mental ability to be a top driver yet.

        2. @addvariety @skipgamer There are no hard rules or even tradition that the one ahead on the track comes to pit first. It was the “rules of engagement” so to speak at Mercedes to keep their driving accusing the team prefer one over the other. So it was wrong for Verstappen to expect that he’s entitled to come in first because he’s ahead unless STR also have same internal agreement as Mercedes. And it was wrong for him to lash out like he did, but eh, he’s still a teenager and that what normal teens do nowadays. The team and Sainz also have their own mistakes but it doesn’t mean Verstappen can act like he did. Seeing of the TV shots where Franz Tost shaking his head multiple times, I assume at final part of the race the team lost control of their 2 drivers and I expect there will be some stern debrief after.

          1. @sonicslv It’s usually the logical agreement across all teams, not just at Mercedes, that the driver with track position gets preference when to pit, unless one driver is no longer eligible to push for the drivers championship and the other is. But regardless that only matters when they both want to pit on the exact same lap anyway to prevent stacking and the 2nd driver waiting. That was not the case here so there was nothing at all wrong with Sainz pitting when he did.

      2. Max could only catch Palmer immediately because Palmer was slowed down in 1st corner by Sainz.

        1. Have you seen that overtake? Max was on the outside and only had his front wing in front of Palmer.

          It’s not only opportunism, it also involves a lot of skill.

      3. @paeschli That is a very pro-Max version (read: ‘nonsense’) of what actually happened…, perception I guess.

        1. @xtwl Please enlighten me how you ‘percepted’ what happened then.

          1. @paeschli Franz Tost (Team Principal): “Both drivers did a good start. Max came back from the first lap in 4th position, Carlos was 7th. We kept a fast pace in this first stint. Carlos’ pit-stop went well, by undercutting Massa. After the red flag, when the race was restarted, Max was 5th and Carlos 6th. But in the following laps we lost the pace. Carlos had a lot of front locking. Therefore we called him for an early pit stop. We changed our strategy and sent him out on medium tires. Within the next three laps also Max came into the pits, but the team was not prepared for this stop, as we did not call him. Therefore he lost 7 seconds, which put him in 12th position. This result is very disappointing for us, as we had the speed to finish in a much better position. The only positive aspect is the knowledge that the STR11 is very competitive.”

    5. I think it provided a lot of entertainment really @mattypf1. Good on Sainz not to give in too.

  9. To the Max !
    20th March 2016, 8:49

    Losing your team points isn’t the way to impress your bosses Carlos (if Toro Rosso again will lose by a small margin, this was costly).

    The race itself was very entertaining though, much better as last year, enough classic F1 drama this time around.

    1. How did Sainz lose the team points? If anything he made it easier for Verstappen to pass Palmer and brought him into the top 10. Neither of them was ever going to pass the much faster Force India or Williams.

  10. I’m going to graciously admit I think I was wrong about Palmer, he was quite handy wheel to wheel and out qualified Magnussen so a pretty impressive debut.

    But what a drive from Grosjean! I struggle to believe that Haas is much quicker than the Manor car and putting it up ahead of Force India, a Williams, Sauber, Renault and a Mclaren is insane! By rights that’s the 10th fastest car, 9th at best. Even without the 2 places he inherited from retirements and the place from Bottas grid penalty he’d still have been 9th purely on merit.

    1. @philipgb I disagree. I think Haas is the 10th fastest car only above Manor. However the difference between the 3rd fastest car (STR maybe at the moment) to the 10th is significantly closer than last year so when the slower car has track position, it’s still possible to defend without being sitting duck. Remember Grosjean got into 6th without passing anyone but because he the only one that haven’t stopped yet until the red flag and many cars just pitted shortly before.

      Doesn’t mean what Grosjean and Haas achieved is not great though, I do feel happy for their results.

  11. Rosberg literally crisued to a win without effort. Everyone around him fought for position. It felt like he was ready to accept whatever position he found himself in.

    1. I disagree. ‘Without effort’ is unfair, as is the suggestion he was just accepting whatever place. He ran an excellent mistake free race with his team, whose strategy saw him take a win, in spite of him having to concern himself with a Ferrari in front, and a red flag bunching up the field. Ie. it’s not like he won from pole and never trailed.

    2. Hamilton seemingly cruised to 2nd from 6thwith no effort also… at the end of the day, the drivers drove as quick as they can, and finish where they finish.

    3. James Whiteley
      20th March 2016, 17:16

      That’s what they used to say about Prost…

      Why make it look difficult when it doesn’t need to be? ;)

  12. The start was what set up the race…. amazing starts by the Ferraris! new single clutch start system did the job perfect… probably because of radio ban talk about clutch points making it harder for Mercedes??? Ferrari would likely have won the race had the red flag not come out.. they raced Mercedes today… ok maybe not in overall speed, but the start created the tempo of the race at the start which might have had them win at the end not for the red flag.

    1. Would of been tight at the end had the Red flag not come out. Still would of thought Rosberg had it in the bag sitting behind the Ferraris as they weren’t really pulling away that much. Ferrari are lucky the Mercedes are rubbish off the line or the Mercs would of bolted

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