Firstly, I would like to apologise for missing the race last week, but I had a Pol Espargaro to support at Silverstone instead! I am back, and 57% more sarcastic than before!
Qualifying was a farce of monumental proportions, delayed by several hours because of rain and when it was completed, with the number of grid penalties applied, only pole sitter Lewis Hamilton actually started in the position he qualified! Sergio Perez was given a 5-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox but actually gained a place! In total 9 drivers were hit with 150 places worth of grid penalties for various offences, making qualifying almost completely redundant.
Romain Grosjean crashed in qualifying without setting a lap time and had to get the stewards permission to start the race from the back of the grid. He too took a 5-place grid penalty which relegated him from 20th and last to 20th and… oh hang on a second!
Other news following yet another collision between Perez and Ocon, after Perez was given a 10 second stop/go penalty and Ocon accused Perez of trying to kill him… twice. The Force India team have banned their drivers from racing each other, I give them 5 laps before they are at each other’s throats again!
Luckily Sunday was a much nicer day weather wise, which must have brought some relief to Ferrari who struggled a lot in the rain.
Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off, complaining on the warm up lap – this time about a lack of grip. What was he expecting? This is the first time since yesterday the cars have been out on track, and what rubber had been laid down on Friday would have all washed away!
As soon as the lights turned green, Hamilton jumped into the lead and settled in for a pleasant afternoon walk in the park, while his title rival Vettel, had to fight his way through the field from 6th. Further down the field, Raikkonen got Bottas, Ocon got Stroll and Felipe Massa fought off Sergio Perez. Bottas took Raikkonen back again and started to pull away and close down Stroll for third.
At this point, the Ferraris were 5th and 6th and Raikkonen was putting up more resistance than everyone was expecting, as it took 3 laps for the championship leader to get past his teammate.
Bottas passed Stroll for third. The passes were a combination of DRS and the superior Mercedes engine, and were all a little too easy, as he also caught up and breezed past Ocon, to sit behind Hamilton in a Mercedes 1-2.
Grosjean came onto the team radio to advise: “I think it’s dead”. Once asked for further clarification about what is dead, he replied “the front wing”.
Max Verstappen hit Felipe Massa, and got a puncture. While limping back to the pits he was furiously berating the Williams driver, mainly for the benefit of race direction, so they could investigate the incident.
The stewards must be awake and kind of paying attention as they announced they were investigating Max Verstappen… and… Lance Stroll! Close enough Stewards! Right team. This was corrected moments later, so innocent Stroll could go back to fighting Vettel, which turned out to be a losing battle, as Vettel got past him and up into 4th place.
Grosjean was told he was right to pit, as his front-end plate was indeed dead.
Estaban Ocon was third and with Perez still down in 8th it was going to be hard for them to hit each other!
Vettel overtook Ocon for third, moving the Force India down a spot and back into the clutches of Perez. Nico Hulkenberg pitted, and the stewards announced no further action between Massa and Verstsppen, and even Stroll.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault team told him his radio is still on – maybe they should’ve played him some tunes? SWEEEEEEEET CAROLINE…… anyone? Sorry wrong sport! Maybe “shut up and drive” would’ve been more appropriate. Or “Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz”. Or “Mustang Sally”
Palmer overtook Alonso by running off the road and Alonso believed Palmer needed to give him the place back, as he clearly gained an advantage. The stewards agreed and hit Palmer with a 5 second time penalty, which he served in his pitstop.
The only pitstops of the race began, and Stroll’s slow stop caused him to lose a place to Raikkonen. Ocon came back out in front of Raikkonen, and Ricciardo overtook Perez. Hamilton pitted and lost the lead to Bottas, getting it back during the following lap after Bottas pitted.
Ricciardo was told that his next target was Felipe Massa who “is alone”. “Good, I like them vulnerable,” was Ricciardo’s response!
Alonso was informed that Palmer was given a 5 second penalty for gaining an advantage, which Alonso claimed was a joke. Given that Palmer was now more than 5 seconds in front of Alonso, he was always going to get past him. The Renault is clearly the faster car. Maybe McLaren can play the Dizzee Rascal song, Road Rage on his team radio!
Palmer pitted to serve his penalty, and shortly after was forced to retire with a mechanical problem.
Massa was starting to catch the fight between teammate Stroll and Ocon.
Vandoorne retired with a power unit failure. With McLaren on the verge of announcing a deal with Renault for engines for next season, that announcement can’t come soon enough for their luckless drivers.
An incident between Magnussen and Grosjean was noted and investigated by the stewards, as Magnussen believed he was left with no room and forced off the track by the Frenchman. The stewards didn’t agree, and announced that no further action was required.
Ricciardo finally pit, coming out in front of the fight for 6th place between Ocon, Stroll and Massa, to set his sights on the podium. First, he had to catch and pass both Ferraris. He picked off Raikkonen into turn one, and set his sights on Vettel.
Alonso, who was clearly not over the incident with Jolyon Palmer, asked his engineer where Palmer was. “Palmer has retired” was the reply. To which Alonso responds, “Karma.” Is it any wonder none of the top teams will look at Alonso? That is the kind of comment he makes about another driver (who was penalised and served the penalty), showing once again just how little respect he has for the other drivers!
Perez was catching Massa, Stroll and Ocon in what could’ve been a thrilling finish over the battle for 6th place, and luckily for Force India there were two cars in between theirs!
Marcus Ericsson and Alonso both retired with two laps to go, possibly prompting the McLaren team to change Alonso’s team radio song to “Karma Chameleon!”
Hamilton took the victory and the championship lead in a comfortable Mercedes 1-2 backed up by Bottas. Vettel kept third from Ricciardo who just ran out of laps. Raikkonen was 5th, Ocon 6th, Stroll 7th, Massa 8th, Perez 9th and Verstappen completed the points in 10th, which considering he was last after lap 1 is a good fight back.
Drive of the day: Fan Vote: Ricciardo
Drive of the day: Fiona’s Vote: Sergio Perez/Estaban Ocon. They finally managed a race where they did not hit each other! I know they didn’t get close on track, but it is a start!
Conclusions from Italy:
- The Ferrari Is not a good car in the wet
- Fernando Alonso needs to either retire with some dignity or grow up. Calling another drivers retirement ‘karma’, demanding the stewards give him a penalty and moaning when the stewards give him the actual penalty, saying it is ‘too soft’, you are not exactly making yourself employable to teams that can win the championship!
- Lance Stroll’s qualifying performance was incredible, and he has justified his place on the grid this season.
- Vettel needs a strong race in Singapore to regain some championship momentum.
- The grid penalty system is a joke and in serious need of a complete overhaul
I think that is everything, see you in two weeks for the Singapore GP.