After a slow start to account for post-St. Patrick’s Day hangovers, the official 2016 AutoSportsNation Driver Rankings have finally been updated to reflect the 2016 season-opening Formula One race in Melbourne which we have dubbed the Gizzard of Oz Grand Prix [for no good reason whatsoever other than we like the sound of it – so there].
2016 began as many of the 2015 races ended – with a pair of Mercedes in the top two spots and Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari in the third spot. How they all got there in this race was somewhat more exciting than how they got there in the 2015 races – but it was all the same in the end. Whereas in 2015, Formula One racing fans were served a steady diet of one or both Mercedes racing off from the first lap never to be seen again, this time, the twin Ferraris of Vettel and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, both jumped the Mercedes at the beginning of the race. It was literally the best-case scenario for F1 fans and the worst-case scenario for Mercedes as a one-two Ferrari blockade consisting of Vettel and Raikkonen would surely be daunting for either of the Mercedes boys – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – to pass if everything went according to plan.
Everything most assuredly did not go according to plan, however, for the Ferraris as Raikkonen’s red beast broke down a third of the way into the race, leaving Vettel the pressure of holding off both Mercedes for the remainder of the race. But a poor pit stop combined with a minor driving error on one of the corners cost Vettel the lead and the second podium position as Rosberg won by eight seconds over his teammate Hamilton and nine seconds over Vettel.
As for the driver standings, the top points go to Rosberg for a solid win and the runner-up points go to defending ASN champion Vettel for being the lone non-Mercedes on the podium while the final point must go to Romain Grosjean, who came in an impressive sixth place and earned points for the new American-funded Haas team in their F1 debut.
Despite the fact that Pastor Maldonado was finally booted from the circuit, ASN has decided to keep his signature award intact and for the coveted Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award, it was no contest – as McLaren’s Fernando Alonso claims the trophy after giving it good to Grosjean’s Haas teammate, Esteban Gutierrez, from behind.
The inaugural 2016 Kimi Raikkonen “Leave Me Alone, I Know What I’m Doing!” Award category goes to its namesake and is more of indicative of the sad state of reliability affairs for Ferrari and Raikkonen as he announces “something’s broken” as he comes into the pits for good on Lap 22.
Finally, the Lewis Hamilton Doofus Moment Award for the 2016 Gizzard of Oz Grand Prix goes to Hamilton as he half-heartedly trickles celebratory champagne over his teammate Rosberg’s head while Vettel shows how it’s done and goes after his former teammate, Mark Webber, with a proper effort.
The 2016 Formula One season continues with the Bahrain Grand Prix at 8 a.m. [PDT] on NBCSN on April 3, 2016.
The 2016 ASN Formula One Driver Standings [after the Australian Grand Prix]
1] Nico Rosberg – Three points
2] Sebastian Vettel – two points
3] Romain Grosjean – One point
The 2016 Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award Standings [after the Australian Grand Prix]
1] Alonso – One point
The 2016 Kimi Raikkonen Leave Me Alone I Know What I’m Doing Award Standings [after the Australian Grand Prix]
1] Kimi Raikkonen – One point
The 2016 Lewis Hamilton Doofus Moment Award [after the Australian Grand Prix]
1] Hamilton – one point