In racing terms, not a classic, though there were a few interesting moments. Of the three bets I contemplated, only the one I actually backed ended up coming off, so that was pleasing (short odds, mind).
The start took a while to get going. Hulkenberg was giving a hokey-cokey instruction by his team (pit/do not pit) and ended up signalling from the grid that his car had failed, necessitating a second formation lap. At the end of that lap Sainz also went into the pits (he didn’t start, but did later emerge only to be retired as he was two laps down).
There had been much talk of how the revised start procedure might affect things. Hamilton started well but Rosberg (and, further down the field, Raikkonen) started badly, getting passed by perhaps 3 cars early on. Perez had a storming start, was up to 2nd immediately and very nearly passed Hamilton on lap 1, although subsequently the Briton simply drove off.
Early on Maldonado retired. No exciting crash or comedy cock-up, his engine just died. And lo, did I fluke a green bet.
The Mercedes pitted a bit later for the initial stop (standard strategy was 2 stops) than other cars, and Rosberg emerged 2nd to his team mate, and not too far behind. The pit stops had also enabled Ricciardo to leapfrog Perez.
However, Ricciardo’s delight must have been short-lived, because his car also dropped dead.
Bottas’ race was compromised by the spectacle of his team managing to fit three soft and one medium tyres to his car (sets must be uniform) and earning him a drive-through penalty.
Meanwhile, the old Mercedes 1-2 was leading the way. Vettel was 3rd, but on old medium tyres (the only chap trying a 1 stop) and being hunted down by the surprisingly fast Lotus of Grosjean. With a lap or two to go the German’s right rear tyre burst to pieces and he ended up a paltry 12th. Bad luck for the German (and more questions will be raised following two such tyre incidents this race weekend), but a great first podium for Grosjean since America 2013.
So, Hamilton, Rosberg and Grosjean comprised the podium. Kvyat follows up his great 2nd in Hungary with 4th here, Perez got a good 5th for Force India, and Massa was 6th (Williams have been a bit lacklustre this weekend).
Raikkonen rose to 7th, and Verstappen got 8th (it could’ve been the other way around, the Dutchman passed the Finn late on but was over-ambitious on the brake and lost it again). Bottas and Ericsson were the final points scorers.
As for McLaren, whose engine supplier Honda had claimed would have ‘Ferrari’ levels of power: both were lapped and finished behind Vettel, out of the points.
Not over, but heading that way.
Constructors’ (3rd downwards):
Red Bull 108
Force India 49
Toro Rosso 35
I was surprised Lotus passed Force India, but suspect the latter team will nab 5th in the end. If William don’t improve then Red Bull might be able to catch them.
After the race, Vettel gave an interview in which he was quite furious with Pirelli. It’ll be interesting to see if changes are made in the light of the two tyre failures this weekend. Eddie Jordan said that Pirelli had claimed a 1 stop was impossible (or words to that effect), and that it was therefore Ferrari’s fault.
The next race is Italy (for the last time?), in a fortnight. Power is the order of the day around Monza.