The 2014 Formula 1 season heads to round seven, the Canadian Grand Prix, in Montreal and although up to now the first six races have been dominated by Mercedes a lot has happened in the battle of the best of the rest. Here is a synopsis of the first half dozen races.
Australian Grand Prix – 16 March
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg led from start to finish as rivals dropped out with mechanical problems in a race that saw Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo controversially disqualified from second place over new fuel flow rate rules. As teams grappled with widespread technical changes, pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and world champion Sebastian Vettel both retired early, leaving Rosberg victorious by a wide margin ahead of Ricciardo and McLaren’s Danish debutant Kevin Magnussen. Ricciardo, newly arrived at Red Bull, was later stripped of the first podium finish of his career for a technical infringement, prompting an appeal from his team.
Standings: 1. Nico Rosberg 25 points, 2. Kevin Magnussen 18, 3. Jenson Button 15
Malaysian Grand Prix – 30 March
Hamilton led the first Mercedes one-two in 59 years. He streaked away from pole position and was never pressured as he finished ahead of teammate Rosberg with Vettel third for Red Bull. It was the first time that two Mercedes drivers have led the field since 1955, when the German marque departed the sport, before returning in 2010, and now confirming themselves as the team to beat in F1’s new era. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fourth and Nico Hulkenberg placed a creditable fifth for Force India. The win was Hamilton’s first since Hungary last July. Afterwards, Hamilton paid tribute to the victims of the MH370 plane disappearance, which cast a shadow over the race.
Standings: 1. Nico Rosberg 43, 2. Lewis Hamilton 25, 3. Fernando Alonso 24
Bahrain Grand Prix – 6 April
Hamilton and Rosberg repeated their one-two in Malaysia after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel as Hamilton equaled the legendary Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of 24 grand prix victories. Sergio Perez gave Force India just their second ever podium finish in third. Ricciardo, 13th on the grid, continued his impressive start for Red Bull with fourth, followed by Hulkenberg in the second Force India and Vettel in the second Red Bull completing the top six. Hamilton had been cruising with a lead of more than nine seconds when the Safety Car was called out on lap 42 of the 57-lap floodlit race. Rosberg, on faster tyres, quickly closed the gap after the restart but Hamilton held off his teammate’s charge in a frantic finale.
Standings: 1. Nico Rosberg 61, 2. Lewis Hamilton 50, 3. Nico Hulkenberg 28
Chinese Grand Prix – 20 April
Lewis Hamilton sealed his first hat-trick of Formula One wins and led Mercedes to their third straight one-two finish. The former world champion got away smoothly from pole and was rarely troubled as he finished 18 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg, with Fernando Alonso third. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo outran his teammate, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, for fourth spot, with the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg coming home in sixth. But there was a bizarre finish when Hamilton was inadvertently shown the chequered flag early, meaning that the race was later declared over after 54 laps instead of the 56 completed.
Standings: 1. Nico Rosberg 79, 2. Lewis Hamilton 75, 3. Fernando Alonso 41
Spanish Grand Prix – 11 May
Lewis Hamilton took over the leadership of the drivers championship when he made it four wins in a row by grabbing a heart-stopping victory at the Circuit de Catalunya. He finished just 0.6 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to move on to 100 points for the season and into the lead of the title race ahead of Rosberg, on 97. Australian Daniel Ricciardo came home third for Red Bull ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had started from 15th on the grid. The win was Hamilton’s first in Spain and the 26th of his career. Finn Valtteri Bottas finished fifth for the resurgent Williams team, ahead of local hero and two-time champion Fernando Alonso.
Monaco Grand Prix – 25 May
Nico Rosberg started on pole in Monaco and claimed a faultless victory for Mercedes to regain the lead in the drivers’ world championship. The 28-year-old German came home 9.2 seconds clear of nearest rival and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who coped with a brief loss of vision in one eye as he held off Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull in the closing laps to take second. It was Rosberg’s second consecutive victory in his home event, his second win of the 2014 season and the fifth win of his career. Fernando Alonso finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Force India and Jenson Button, who finished sixth for McLaren.
Standings: 1. Nico Rosberg 122, 2. Lewis Hamilton 118, 3. Fernando Alonso 61. (AFP)