The stage was set. The teams discovered that Mercedes is still the team to beat and Ferrari, as well as Red Bull, were ready to try. Lewis Hamilton on pole, Kimi Raikkonen in second and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third. Once single wheel spin or dodgy start by and any one of the top three could be passed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from 4th.
Sunny weather and warm temperatures we a welcome friend compared to the damp Free Practice session on Friday. There was little question that Lewis threw down a cracking lap for pole but just a little over seven tenths of a second separated the top four cars and Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, said during testing that he felt the team may only have .500s on the competition. He may have been right.
A big win for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel who claimed victory over Lewis Hamilton. The question of whether anyone could challenge Lewis was answered but not in a manner Lewis would want. Vettel and Ferrari took advantage of the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period to leap-frog Hamilton in the pits. Vettel ran a much longer first stint and luck was on his side with the timing of the VSC. He made no mistakes when he was out front and pressured by the Mercedes driver and it was certainly Vettel’s turn to wipe the smile off Lewis’s face. .
A win also for Kimi Raikkonen who out qualified his teammate and made the podium in third place. Ferrari’s strategy was spot on and is now causing a Twitter storm about the VSC rules with Sky Sports commentators weighing in suggesting it may be time to review those rules.
A win for Fernando Alonso and McLaren to leave the back of the grid and finish 5th. His teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, was also in the points in 9th. McLaren struggled in testing and this weekend but did seem to get on top of their heating issues and managed to be best of the rest after Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. The team is moving in the right direction and it’s yet another testament to Alonso’s skills to hold off Verstappen’s Red Bull for 5th.
A win for Renault who managed both cars in the points and that’s something they weren’t doing last year with Jolyon Palmer at the wheel. The team is fighting for the best of the rest title over Force India and now it seems they have a lot of work to do to keep McLaren and Haas behind them. Also a win for Carlos Sainz who managed to finish the race despite dealing with serious nausea.
A fail for Haas F1 who managed to have wheel nut issues on both their cars forcing them both to retire from the race with Grosjean’s car prompting the VSC. The team were set to be the best of the rest. They had aggressive pace and looked terrific. Such a shame to lose a massive points haul but perhaps Australia was no fluke and Bahrain will also see them up front.
A fail for Mercedes that saw Valtteri Bottas start in 15th after a crash in qualifying only to manage 8th during the race. For Lewis Hamilton, he had this race done and dusted and had the pace to manage a win but the team got caught out by the VSC period strategy of Ferrari’s and lost the win. Not Lewis’s fault and you could see how hard he was trying but just ran out of laps and tires. Prudent to wave the white flag and save the engine in the final laps.
A fail for Force India who secured 4th in the title last year but now seem to be markedly off the pace from Renault and McLaren. Also a fail for Williams who could manage no better than 14th and behind the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.
Not quite sure what happened to Sergey Sirtokin’s Williams or Marcus Ericsson’s Alfa Romeo Sauber as the US coverage was at commercial break during those periods.
What are we going to do about ESPN’s re-feed of Sky Sports F1’s coverage? No in-studio commentator to manage commercial breaks with a soft landing to recap what we missed during break. Had no idea what happened to Sirotkin or what Ricciardo said on the radio or any discussion from Sky’s team on race strategy or Gasly’s car issues.
If you’re going to do hard breaks, which we predicted, you need closed captioning on for your split screen so we can at least understand what’s happening. F1 fans take their racing too seriously to be left out in the cold during ad breaks. A transition and recap is a must or a way that split screen can still be inclusive of audio content. Sorry but F1 is too fast to always plan on a silly two-screen experience having to read Twitter feeds to figure out what’s going on during an ESPN broadcast.
The commercial breaks seemed completely random with little or no care as to the on-track action and slightest predictive nature of producing the broadcast. We were at an ad break during the re-start. Very unfortunate.
The F1 world feed seems to be under new direction too as it focused on the wrong battles at the wrong time. Most notably focusing on Alonso and Verstappen when the real battle was Ricciardo and Raikkonen for the last podium position. There was on 1s between them.
F1 world feed graphics may have been easier on the eyes but seemed terribly dumbed down. I didn’t want to see which driver raced for which team, I wanted to see time gaps between positions. The graphics had a few issues that seemed like a junior league move such as listing the time gaps between “Last Name” and Last Name”. #TeamLastName will be happy with that.
I am glad the changed the camera angles on the HALO so we could see the hands and the track.
In the end, a good race and it did seem to show us a bit of a mixed up grid from last year in the mid-field which may be the best battles all season. Ok, back to reading the “outrage” of the Mobocracy over #VSCRules.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||58|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||58|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||58|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||58|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||57|
|–||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||13|