ANOTHER VICTORY: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg claimed a third win in 2016 at the Chinese GP. Image: AFP / Andrej Isakovic
Cape Town - China 2016 was only the sixth time in Formula 1 history that every single starter went on to be classified as a finisher - one of the previous occasions being the 2005 USGP debacle when Michelin runners peeled into the pits after the formation lap, which left six cars, all Bridgestone-shod, lined up at the Brickyard.
And yes, you’ve got it: six cars on the grid. Half a dozen. What a farce!
As it happened: 2016 Chinese GP
Shanghai 2016 was a proper race, though, with Nico Rosberg romping away to record a sixth successive victory (last year’s closing trio, this year’s opening trio) after a technical problem for Lewis Hamilton in Q1 had condemned the reigning world champion to stone dead last on the grid.
Lots of traffic then, on the opening lap for Lewis. Again.
First lap incidents
Off the line and Daniel Ricciardo smoked Rosberg into Turn One. The Flying Finn, Kimi Raikkonen, went flying wide whilst trying to position himself behind the Flying Aussie.
Not of a desire to clip his team mate’s rear, Sebastian Vettel lifted momentarily, only for the Flying Russian, Daniil Kvyat, to slice up his inside, hugging the kerb like a piece of velvet stuck to velcro.
Vettel, clearly stunned by the Red Bull snorting past on such a tight radius, instinctively straightened out his line at the exact same moment Raikkonen tightened his from the outside. The two Ferraris touched, flipping Raikkonen’s tail outwards and whiplashing his nose inwards to make contact with Kvyat’s car.
READ: 2016 Chinese GP - 5 things to lookout for in Shanghai
In trying to avoid some of the debris, Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez then swerved violently to his left, forcing Felipe Nasr in a Sauber to do likewise to avoid the Haas.
But Raikkonen it was, yet again, who popped up as the centre up of attention by rejoining the track at the very same spot Nasr’s Sauber was aiming for. To avoid contact, Nasr now had to viciously reverse his initial jink to the left. By that time, Hamilton had his nose in there. Lewis lost his front wing, which then lodged under his car as he trundled back to the pits.
Not close, even, to Spa 2012 (where Grosjean went flying over Alonso) or Spa 1998 (when a coordinated ballet of destruction involving 13 cars stopped the race on Lap One).
Yet, in blaming Kvyat, Vettel called him a madman.
Ironically, the whole chain of events was initiated by the two Ferraris, of course. Later on, with his mind properly in gear, Seb made slight amends by jumping a slow-moving Hulkenberg and Sainz in the pit entry.
But the ghost of the Flying Russian hovered, whilst Rosberg’s streak remained intact. After Daniel Ricciardo’s left rear tyre disintegrated, the son of Keke Rosberg sailed serenely on to victory.
How else? He was driving car no. 6 - as did dad, all those years ago when he won the world title.