The Fin got his best result of the season and his first podium since Korea 2013 and his first for Ferrari since Italy 2009! Raikkonen had driven well all weekend and a different strategy allowed him to attack the Mercedes at the end of the race.
Raikkonen’s team mate Sebastian Vettel had a scruffy afternoon with 4 unforced errors which ultimately ruined his race. The first of which was when he out braked himself into T1 on lap 8 allowing Rosberg to close up and pass his fellow countryman one lap later.
Vettel had another off track excursion before deciding to pit on lap 14 for the option tyres and the undercut on the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. With Rosberg pitting a lap later the Mercedes driver saw that Vettel’s undercut had worked a treat as he swooped past the Mercedes at the pit exit.
Hamilton pitted on lap 16 and although he had, had a 5 second gap a poor pit stop and the undercut of Vettel and Rosberg meant that on the pit exit Hamilton exited the pits with Vettel and Rosberg about half a second behind the Brit at the first corner with huge sparks being flung into the air as the trio went into the braking zone with the two Mercedes coming out on top.
At the end of the same lap Nasr, Massa and Maldonado entered the pits together band a great pit stop from Lotus left the trio in a different order as Maldonado jumped both Massa and Nasr while Massa jumped Nasr.
Another undercut had allowed Vettel to get ahead of Nico Rosberg once again but at the end of lap 36 unforced error number 3 from Vettel saw the German run wide at the final corner and as he rejoined the track the Ferrari damaged the front wing on a gully. This resulted in another stop for Vettel who dropped to 5th behind Valtteri Bottas.
Kimi Raikkonen had only stopped once and had decided to put the prime tyres on over the options as to go long in the middle stint. Meaning on lap 40 Raikkonen was passed by Hamilton who retook the race lead.
Raikkonen soon pitted for the option tyres and lit them up and was expected to catch Rosberg before the end of the race. Mean while Vettel had his 4th unforced error as he was stuck behind Bottas as the 4 time champion out broke himself into the first corner again nearly hitting the Williams.
Williams had a mixed day as Bottas showed how he is unfazed under pressure after having Vettel behind for at least 20 laps. Whereas Massa converted from a 3 to a 2 stop race meaning he fell to 10th after a horrible race.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo’s 3rd engine of 2015 went up in smoke as he crossed the line but still managed to get 6th. His team mate Daniil Kvyat recovered from a poor qualifying and race to finish 9th.
Lotus had another mixed day as Romain Grosjean drove another faultless race to finish 7th and in the points again. Whereas Pastor Maldonado stalled in the pit lane and as a result cooked his brakes and had to retire for the 4th race in a row. The Venezuelan also received a penalty for starting in the wrong grid slot as he lined up in 18th instead of 16th.
Sergio Perez scored his first points since Australia as a 3 stop strategy took him to 8th at the circuit he took third at 12 months ago. Whereas team mate Hulkenberg struggled on a 2 stop complaining with under steer. The German said that he didn’t have the pace for a 3 stop but didn’t have the tyre wear for a 2 stop leaving him in no man’s land.
Toro Rosso had their first double DNF of 2015 after an engine problem once again hampered Max Verstappen. Carlos Sainz also didn’t see the chequered flag after the Spaniard had a suspected brake failure.
Sauber had a disappointing day as they finished outside of the points with both cars after Nasr had showed good pace early on. In addition both Manor cars saw the flag as Will Stevens again beat his team mate Roberto Merhi.
But Hamilton is the man to beat going into the European Season and Nico Rosberg has to win at least 1 of the next 2 races if he is to have a chance in this year’s championship. Plus with more upgrades coming very soon can Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes?
1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Kimi Raikkonen
3. Nico Rosberg
4. Valtteri Bottas
5. Sebastian Vettel
6. Daniel Ricciardo
7. Romain Grosjean
8. Sergio Perez
9. Daniil Kvyat
10. Felipe Massa
11. Fernando Alonso
12. Felipe Nasr
13. Nico Hulkenberg
14. Marcus Ericsson
Pastor Maldonado DNF
16. Will Stevens
17. Roberto Merhi
Max Verstappen DNF
Carlos Sainz DNF
Jenson Button DNS