F1 races, much like ODI cricket matches and films, have three acts. The first—the start of the race—is often action-packed, unpredictable and gives viewers an idea of how the conditions are, and what to expect. The second act is often the most boring and expository, the hard work for scriptwriters as well as athletes, where they must consolidate and bide their time, play strategic chess just to build up towards hopefully an explosive climax. The final act depends a lot on the second act—at times, it can be exciting and a race on its own, but it can also be anti-climatic and boring and entirely predictable, when you can see it coming from miles away.
The 2015 Chinese Grand Prix was just that. The leaders remained the leaders throughout the entire weekend. Hamilton was first in practice, qualifying (his 42nd pole), and led throughout an incident-free race to claim his 35th win of his career, 2nd of the season out of 3, now leading the championship standings again by 13 points to Ferrari’s Vettel. This battle may have to wait another season or two, considering Mercedes’ pace, despite Vettel’s skill and desperation to stay alive. He was never going to overtake even Rosberg in 2nd, forget Hamilton, and the race ended as it had begun. Even worse, a safety car took them home after young gun Max Verstappen’s unfortunate engine failure.
There’s not much to write home about except yet another verbal battle between intra-team rivals Hamilton and Rosberg after the race. Rosberg has blamed Hamilton for slowing down the race and being selfish while putting him in Vettel’s clutches, and Hamilton has responded by claiming he was only interested in controlling his own race, and Rosberg could have overtaken him if that was the case. This will go on till the end of the season, and to their team’s utter glee, these words will probably only spur them on to better performances. Vettel will think otherwise, and hope to capitalize on the negativity, but he doesn’t have the car to go the distance.
The race was perhaps a bit more exciting down the order, with Button taking out Maldanado (again), but as far as a new, renewed challenge from Ferrari goes—not much seems to have changed. Vettel’s win in Malaysia seems to be an aberration, and one only hopes that Hamilton implodes in the middle overs, if only to make the sport more watchable.
For now, get ready for a slew of Silver one-twos for a while, with a dash of red thrown in every now and then.