A disappointing race from both a spectator’s and a bettor’s perspective. Not dire, just a bit ho-hum. Raikkonen had a horrendous start. If he’d started as well as Vettel, who nearly passed Hamilton before the first corner, or if Hamilton had had such a bad start it would’ve been green. Or, to rephrase, if I were better at betting, I’d win more often. Vettel did get 2nd but the way the numbers stacked up that meant that particular bet was only slightly red (however, I counted it as ‘right’ in the records on the basis a part of a split bet came back green).
At the start the Williams leapt ahead of Rosberg and Raikkonen. The Finn had the worst start I think I’ve seen (without crash or technical woe), dropping from 2nd to 20th (last). Perez also managed to pass Rosberg, although the German soon passed the Mexican to reclaim the position.
Neither Lotus lasted through lap 1. Maldonado retired with a broken floor. Unsure of Grosjean’s woe, I think it was a technical failure. More bad news for the beleaguered team, and a far cry from the Belgian podium they enjoyed.
Raikkonen soon dispatched the backmarkers and set about climbing through the field. Interestingly, Ericsson’s Sauber was tricky to catch (at other power circuits that may be a car to watch for points).
The undercut worked splendidly for Rosberg, who leapfrogged both Williams. Once Raikkonen finally pitted, Rosberg started hunting down Vettel.
Alas, it was not to be. Rosberg’s car burst into flames and he was forced to retire, just as he was about to get within a second of Vettel. I suspect he would’ve passed the Ferrari, but we’ll never know.
Hamilton, meanwhile, spent most of the race cruising about, filling in a crossword and completing his tax returns. A few laps from the end he was suddenly told not to ask questions and to start driving very quickly. The rumour moments after the race was that they needed a 25 second gap in case they got a 25s time penalty for failing to implement minimum tyre pressures (a new rule after the tyre woe at Spa last race). He finished 25.042s ahead of Vettel. In 2014, Ricciardo was disqualified from Australia (he finished 2nd) for a technical infringement (breaking the fuel-flow limits).
Bottas was very very close to Massa at the end, but the wily Brazilian held back the Finn to claim his first (I think) podium of the year. Lots of juicy points for Williams, after a few tricky races.
After being 20th, Raikkonen did well to get 5th. That also means Ferrari top scored (so, if I’d gone for that instead of the winner each way bets, the race would’ve been green).
Force India also had another strong race. Perez finished 6th, and Hulkenberg 7th. That said, the Mexican was a cut above his team mate today, with the German struggling on tyres at times (but still doing well to keep his place). With both Lotuses failing to finish this also means the team returns to 5th in the title race.
After starting at the back, Ricciardo’s 8th and Kvyat’s 10th will be a small consolation for Red Bull, perhaps especially given Monza was never going to be a strong circuit for them.
Last but not least, Ericsson finished 9th, after qualifying in that position and subsequently being demoted 3 places for impeding Hulkenberg. A good solid weekend by the Swede, outpacing his team mate on Saturday and Sunday and picking up a few more points to provide a bit of a cushion to McLaren.
Speaking of them, Alonso had to retire as his car broke. Bloody dire season, and it continues. The car’s reportedly 160-180bhp off the Mercedes. And it’s unreliable.
The Toro Rossos were 11th and 12th, Sainz ahead, with Nasr unlucky in 13th.
After the race Hamilton (and, reportedly, the Ferraris) was under investigation by the stewards for reportedly failing to have correctly pressurised tyres. We’ll see if anything happens there.
Otherwise, a lovely day for Hamilton, decent for Ferrari and very nice for Williams and Force India, both of whom bolster their positions in the Constructors’ title race.
Force India are now on 63 points, with Lotus on 50. Toro Rosso are on 35, and Sauber on 25.
Next up, in a fortnight, is Singapore. Japan follows just a week later.
If Hamilton (or others) gets a penalty, I’ll add a comment to this piece to that effect, as it would substantially alter the green/red situation.
Whilst it would be very nice, assuming Vettel wins, for the balance sheet, the avalanche of qualifying penalties and having a race decided on a technicality is perhaps not the best image for the sport.