Must admit, not my favourite race of the year. The first lap or two was dramatic, the final few were tense, the intervening fifty were tedious. And the tip I offered failed (particularly irksome given the other two I was contemplating, at longer odds, both came off). Still, that’s why it’s called gambling rather than incredibly safe investment planning.
Alonso saved time by having his car break down before the race began. This led to a second formation lap.
Off the line, the Ferraris were slow. Bottas passed both of them and Hamilton nearly got past Raikkonen, who fought back well.
Grosjean knocked into Palmer, who spun, taking out both cars. A safety car emerged, and a few backmarkers (I think Vandoorne and Wehrlein) came in for a lap one pit stop, so they could run ultrasofts for the rest of the race, but everyone else stayed out.
A few laps after the safety car came back in, Ricciardo’s brakes failed. He was able to return to the pits, but his race was done. With four chaps out within five laps, I only needed one more for the tip to come off.
It never happened. But then, not much of anything happened. On the supersofts, after the pit stops, Vettel was clearly faster than Bottas but the nature of the circuit (tedious) made it difficult for him to get close enough to even attempt a pass, although the last few laps were quite tense. The Finn held on for his maiden triumph. Hamilton was off the pace and miles behind 3rd-placed Raikkonen. The Englishman will be pleased his title rival didn’t get the full 25 points, but Vettel still extended his lead.
Verstappen was 5th. Massa had to have a second pit stop due to a slow puncture. This elevated Perez and Ocon to 6th and 7th respectively and put Massa behind Hulkenberg (8th). Nice to see the Renault be ok, if not stellar, on race pace. Still a deficit from qualifying, I think.
Sainz got the last point, Stroll finishing 11th (probably pleased just to finish).
So, a mostly boring race that was also red. Humbug. Kudos to whoever it was (perhaps Mr. B?) who suggested Bottas for the win each way. I did give it serious thought, but my judgement betrayed me. With the short odds pole tip coming off, the weekend as a whole has been mildly red. More Chinese burn than shark attack.
We did learn that the Mercedes may be better on the ultrasoft, and have confirmed the excellence of the Ferrari on the supersoft.
Not ideal for Vettel but he stretches his lead. Hamilton will be disappointed to have been lacklustre all weekend, but to only lose six points to his title rival, rather than 13, may perk him up a little.
Although the drivers’ points tallies have spread a bit, the teams remain locked together. The next race is in a fortnight, in Spain.