Sunday, 27 August 2017

Belgium: post-race analysis/mortem 2017

This morning I mentioned elsewhere the Ladbrokes (exchange) odds of 2.2 on both Force Indias to score. Naturally, this led the gods to show ill-favour to them, causing a collision and preventing an otherwise certain win. As for the Vettel bet, he came close, but no cigar. I’m a little surprised the hedge at evens wasn’t matched, to be honest.

Off the line it was formation flying at the sharp end. Alonso made many passes (a feat not to be repeated due to a farcical power difference between the McLaren and every other car) and the Force Indias slid back a little. Ocon also made contact with Perez here, in the chaos and tumult of the start, just before Eau Rouge.

The top two appeared to be in a league of their own, and the Force Indias started making up a little ground. Verstappen was going well, and then his engine conked out.

All the top chaps changed to soft tyres for the second stint, and about two-thirds into the race commentary suggested Hamilton’s rear right tyre had a blister, which sounded ominous. Meanwhile, Perez, who had passed Grosjean and someone else on the straight but then failed to make the corner and rejoined ahead, was given a 5s penalty. When the Force Indias (on supersofts, unlike most others) came in for their second pit stops, Perez was brought in first despite being behind Ocon. This brought them together on the track, and the two stupidly collided again just before Eau Rouge. It was a low odds chance by Ocon (then behind) and Perez closed the door with his team mate facing a concrete barrier. Dumb, and dangerous.

It also gave Perez a puncture, knocked off part of Ocon’s front wing, scattered debris across the track and brought out a safety car.

Ricciardo and the Ferraris switched to fresh ultrasofts, the Mercedes going for softs, and practically everyone pitted. On the restart Vettel got very close, but perhaps exited the slipstream a little too early. I am mildly surprised the hedge at evens wasn’t matched at this point. Behind, Ricciardo brilliantly passed both Bottas and Raikkonen on the straight, and Raikkonen (at the same time) passed Bottas.

Perez did manage to emerge having crawled back to the pits with a rubber flail for a tyre but had to retire (presume the lashing of his shredded rubber buggered the suspension). Alonso and Wehrlein also retired (the Spaniard fairly late on, the German early after detecting some sort of problem).

Intriguing to consider what would’ve happened had the safety car not emerged. If Hamilton had had to pit then it could’ve been rather good for Vettel. Interesting that the Mercedes was showing worse tyre wear on the soft when, on the supersoft, it was Ferrari that suffered woe at Silverstone.

Hamilton got the win, Vettel right behind him and an impressive podium for Ricciardo in 3rd. Raikkonen and Bottas were next, with a good 6th for Hulkenberg.

Grosjean and Massa were next, benefiting from the civil war in Force India, then came Ocon and Sainz.

Vettel 220
Hamilton 213
Bottas 179

I expect Mercedes to do best at Monza, but the race after that is Singapore where Ferrari should be strong and there may be a danger for the Silver Arrows of being behind the Red Bulls as well. Finishing 5th today hasn’t ended Bottas’ hopes but has reduced them drastically.

Mercedes 392
Ferrari 348
Red Bull 199
Force India 103
Williams 45
Toro Rosso 40
Haas 35
Renault 34
McLaren 11
Sauber 5

I think the top four are sorted but it’s very tight from 5th to 8th, who are covered by just 11 points. I think Renault will climb up, the question is how far.

An utterly red weekend. The Vettel bet was ill-judged, the others were struck down by misfortune. Perhaps I’ll manage to appease the gods for the Italian Grand Prix, but I’ll have to sacrifice to them during a weekday, because we’re off to Monza in just a week.

I do like Monza. A proper, old school, fast circuit.

Morris Dancer

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