What a race that was, It had everything, inter team rivalry, one stoppers getting in the way, Power failures and a brand new winner of a Formula one Grand Prix. What’s not to like about that?
But I’ve said it before and I'm going to say it again, World championships are won on pure luck and consistency. Right now Rosberg is cruising along with Lady Luck riding on his shoulder, waving to the crowds and sipping champagne with a starry smile, occasionally she’ll nudge Nico away from the wall or wrinkle her nose up and Hamilton’s’ brakes will explode. Its simple things like that, nothing more.
|Lady luck and her friend the Goddess of rear wheel brake hubs earlier today!|
Right, qualifying wasn’t all that exciting, everyone thought Lewis was going to walk Q3 and start at the front. But as I predicted, Nico turned up with a new found confidence and self belief and pinched the spoils from under the plucky Brits nose with the last role of the dice. Hamilton made light of the matter in the post qualifying interviews, “oh it doesn’t mean so much here”, “I think I can sort this out pretty easily”, etc. The most interesting thing about Saturday was Vettel sneaking into third with a car that isn’t supposed to have the grunt to stay with the Merc. Yeah he was a second or two behind, but he was ahead of the other Merc engine cars. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
Also slightly odd was the appearance of the Williams at the front of the grid. Both cars were going really well, something I wasn’t expecting at all. The Force India’s, my tip for the top, had a torrid time as both cars failed to make Q3, which wasn’t in my script!
So to the race on Sunday and off the line, Lewis was away just a tad faster, but Nico held his line and pushed Hamilton wide, allowing Vettel to sneak through to second. As the cars streamed up the track into the first chicane, it looked like Lewis would have the position back within a matter of metres. But the Marussia’s collided as Max got it all crossed up into the braking zone and collected his team mate into the wall and the first safety car came out to clean up the mess. Max later claimed it wasn’t his fault, but only a big paycheck is going to save his sorry ass this time, he was sideways way before the apex, even the turn in point. So it was well and truly his fault whatever he says.
Once all the bits of carbon fibre had been cleared away the safety car peeled off and Lewis breezed pasted Vettel after a few laps and got on with the business of passing Nico, except he didn't. He was almost there, but the his team mate was always just a little bit quicker out of the corners or later on the brakes and try as he might he couldn’t quite get that break to make the pass.
Behind them, the Force India’s were holding various people up as they tried to one stop the race and leap frog the faster cars. Vettel, Ricciardo, Bottas and Alonso all took turns being stuck behind Perez and Hulkenberg in the race to be the best of the rest.
Lewis and Nico were giving it the full beans, miles ahead of everyone else. Then suddenly ... Lewis was dropping back, the car sounded as rough as a bag of spanners on the fast bits. Then Nico started to slow. Where was that script, we were all expecting Mercedes to win every race this year. Suddenly Massa in third looks like he could be on for a nose bleed up the top step. Both Merc drivers are complaining that the powers gone from the cars. Apexes are being missed and the cars sound awful on the straight bits. The technicians are running diagnostics and trying to figure out what’s gone wrong. It looks like the energy recovery systems have been fried on exactly the same lap for each car.
Well this is interesting. Massa has 20 odd laps to catch the two hobbled Merc 10 seconds up the road, who else can catch them? Perez has Danny boy and Vettel up his chuff. Rosberg dips into the pits for new boots and rejoins behind Massa, and then Hamilton is in the pits for his last stop, he rejoins behind Massa but ahead of Nico. Even under powered they could still get points.
The order is Massa, Hamilton, Rosberg, Perez, Ricciardo and Vettel. Then Massa has to make a stop and he drops back behind Vettel, a final run in to the line of super soft rubber, it could be close!
But then suddenly Hamilton’s rear brakes start smoking horribly and he can’t get the car stopped for love nor money. Rosberg is back in the lead with Perez and co right behind him, he’s a sitting duck his brakes are kyboshed and it’s just a matter of time before he’s out. But with the brake bias rammed hard into front only he’s just about making things work for him a he’s staying ahead of Perez.
For lap after lap, Perez holds up Danny and Vettel with Massa closing fast. With seven laps to go the Brazilian has caught up to the Redbulls and you thinks it’s just a matter of cruising past with his fresh tyres. But Massa ... well he’s just Massa and doesn’t seem to have the race craft to pick the slower cars off.
With a handful of laps left Danny dives past Perez into turn one and it looks like he’s just shed 20lbs, he’s off up the road catching Rosberg in a flash, Vettel still can’t quite pass Perez and Massa is sort of climbing all over the back of the Redbull like he’s got 20 laps left or something. Ricciardo reels in the Merc like its standing still and just blows past Rosberg with chequered flag in sight. Vettel finally jinx’s past Perez for third as the Mexican drivers brakes begin to fail which, I think, catches Massa out and he ploughs into the back of the Force India at full tilt into turn one. Both cars end up in the wall and a trip to the medical facility for both drivers. The safety car is called out again and Danny finally get’s the win he has so richly deserved all year.
What a race !
Ricciardo wins and he absolutely deserves the victory, he kept his cool, passed Perez when the opportunity presented itself and then caught Rosberg. He’s been knocking on the door marked win since the start of the season and as soon as the Mrec have a problem he’s right there to collect the reward. Well done to him. I, along with pretty much everyone, said he was going to get blown away by Vettel this year and it was just a matter of time before he got fired. Well I was wrong, he’s showing Vettel the way home and doing it with a bloody great big smile. Good on him, he’s the Redbull driver it’s okay to like.
Rosberg was second eventually and that it one hell of a save, By rights he should have been parted up with Lewis with 10 laps to go, but he drove around the problem and picked up vital points. It is possible to look at this result and claim he has the championship in the bag now. He’s got the luck, he’s two races up on his team mate who now needs Nico to DNF if he wants to take the title. I can’t imagine they’ll have the same problem with the brakes again, so I think this is now Nico championship to lose. Even this far out, even with the double points at the final race, Rosberg is firmly in the box seat.
Vettel was third and quite magnanimous about his team mate at the end.
Button, unseen by the camera had a bit of a stormer in the last 10 laps with passes on Hulkenberg and Alonso for fourth place, given how bad the weekend had been up to that point this is a cracking result for McLaren and its driver. A season that promised so much is slowly falling apart and i suspect they’ve started work full time on next year’s Honda now, so result like today give the boys and girls a bit of a lift as the go to work on Monday morning.
Hulkenberg, got shown up by his less fancied team mate again. Even though Perez didn’t finish he was almost on for the win there, whilst the Hulk scrapped around for pride. Picking up point’s race after race is one thing, but a team in financial trouble needs headlines for sponsors to see.
Alonso with another race to forget, even the team massaging his ego in the press didn’t help make the car any faster. He still talking up his chances, but it’s just for pride and column inches now.
Bottas ... well he didn't crash into Perez i suppose, but the promise was just not delivered today for Williams. Okay it’s not as bad as last year, but it should be so much better.
Vergne, eighth, errrrrr I’ve got nothing.
Magnussen ninth, see Button above.
Kimi was tenth and still doesn’t look like he’s mastered KERS braking.
Right last place this week it Sutil who was still behind the crashed cars of Massa and Perez, but he has all four wheels still attached to the car and was moving as fasted as that Sauber can go. Which is quite slowly.
Massa on fresh rubber and with a dim memory of past glories burning through the fog of a blunt head trauma got the fastest lap on lap 58. So that’s something I suppose.
Okay, its Le Mans next weekend. So be prepared to be amazed by that .. details to follow soon.