European Grand Prix: Rosberg extends lead with convincing win

By winning the European Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg extended his championship lead to 24 points. Sebastian Vettel claims a well-driven second, whilst Sergio Perez hands Force India yet another podium. Lewis Hamilton fifth.

European Grand Prix: Rosberg extends lead with convincing win
After a 4 year hiatus, the European Grand Prix failed to live up to expectations - but not for the top 3. (Image credit: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

In all reality, the European Grand Prix in Baku failed to live up to expectations. Safety Cars, virtual safety cars, and maybe a red flag were expected, but when it came down to it, the only thing that came to fruition was Nico Rosberg's​ winning his fifth Formula One race of the season - espically after Saturday's qualifying session.

In a rather uneventful race, it was a cruise from lights to flag for Rosberg who completed his second career grand slam - Pole, leading every lap, the win and fastest lap.

​After a dissapointing Friday, Ferrari​ were the team who took the challenge to the W07 of Rosberg, with Sebastian Vettel ​a well-driven second. For the second time in three races, ​Sergio Perez ​claimed another podium. Kimi Raikkonen​ was given a rather harsh 5s penalty for going over the pit entry line, he finished fourth. A troubled weekend, saw ​Lewis Hamilton claim fifth. ​Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa ​rounded out the points paying positions.

​Rosberg's stroll in the streets

​Untroubled, and executing a one-stop strategy, Rosberg calmly led into T1 and didn't look back, a margain of 16.6s evantually separated him from Vettel. A fifth win of the season, and 19th in his career, means that the championship lead is now 24 points to Hamilton.

If his race was comfortable, Hamilton's was anything but. After his mistake in qualifying, mid way thorugh the race, a ERS problem struck the Brit. Getting agitated over team radio, the World Champion was becoming fustrated that his race engineer Peter Bonnington, couldn't tell him what to fix, as that would've broken team radio restrictions - something Raikkonen fell victim to late on.

After the GP2 Feature race yesterday and the carnege of T1, it was a cautious start with only ​Esteban Gutierrez making contact - whilst trying to go up the inside of Hulkenberg. A tight opening lap concluded with Rosberg 1.2 ahead of Ricciardo and the pack trying to find its place. ​Most of the overtaking came at the end of the 1.2 mile long main straight and into T1, with the massive slipaffect leading to many overtakes into that turn and on then on the run down to T3, using DRS.

The pit-stop sequence was triggered by the Red Bull ​of Verstappen pitting first. However, they committed to the two-stop too early and with no more soft tyres available, he was forced onto the Medium tyres. Undercuts were performed with most not coming off, with Vettel's comments of "​Are you sure, Pace is looking good?​" meaning he was kept out whilst Raikkonen jumped him in the stops. On Lap 28, that was changed with a team order.

Perez and Hamilton were close on track and provided some good overtaking moves between them before the Brit's ERS problems dropped him around 12s behind. With Raikkonen's penalty, all Pere had to do was keep the car ahead, within 5s, but he deicded he would take a podium on merit, and on the penaultimate lap, he did just that.

​Mid-field

​Hulkenberg ran out of tyres a few laps from the end, meaning that both Red Bull's were able to demote him from seventh to ninth in the closing stages. ​McLaren ​had a difficult afternoon once again, with Jenson Button ​finishing just outside the points in P11 and Fernando Alonso ​a late retiree with a downshift issue with his gearbox. ​​Romain Grosjean​ was flying on the soft tyre for ​Haas, ​but he couldn't make use of this pace, with him being well down the field.

It was a quiet race for Renault and Sauber ​with yet another pointless and limited TV coverage afternoon, although the latter's ​Felipe Nasr ​was a credible P12 at the flag.

Manor would be dissapointed with their result, as ​Rio Haryanto's ​strong qualifying performance was rendered irrelevant at the first turn with contact, and Pascal Wehrlein​ suffering from mid-race brake failure.

Retirements

​In addition to Alonso and Wehrlein, it was a double DNF for Toro Rosso ​with suspension failure being repsonsible for both cars being retired.

Conclusions

​Sergio Perez is a man in demand. After his Monaco podium, and other strong 2016 performances, he is in prime position to replace Kimi Raikkonen, if Ferrari decide to replace the Finn.

Lewis Hamilton will be dissapointed with his result, haivng dominated practice, but his qualifying crash led to a weekend that went downhill from when he stepped in on Saturday afternoon.

But the last word must go to Nico Rosberg. After a difficult two races that saw his championship lead cut from 43 to nine points, he was a man under pressure. But, cometh pressure, cometh the man. It was a faultless weekend from the German and as F1 heads to Austria next, a track where he has won both years the sport has been there since its return in 2014, ahead of Hamilton - he will be feeling increaisngly confident that 2016 is his year.