What a dramatic race!
Vettel drove a faultless race from start to finish, his Ferrari always keeping a gap to the Red Bull of Ricciardo. All Ricciardo could do was to stare at the gearbox of Vettel as he pulled away when he needed to, and slowed down when he could afford to.
Behind them was Raikkonen, who just couldn’t match the pace of the front two despite being in theoretically the same car as Vettel. Rosberg trudged home fourth for Mercedes, a long long way behind Vettel. Mercedes will hope it’s a one off, and Rosberg’s only consolation is that Hamilton retired with a loss of power. But if there was one race Hamilton would have wanted to retire at, it’s the one where Mercedes seemed to struggle really badly.
Bottas came home a quiet 5th, earning some good points for Williams to keep them ahead of Red Bull. Kvyat, unlucky to have pitted before the safety cars twice, could only finished 6th despite a good grid slot. Perez made it a very good 7th for Force India, having fended off a very quick Max Verstappen who couldn’t get off the grid at the start and was a lap down at the early stages.
Verstappen was brilliant throughout the race, making some really bold manoeuvres in the latter stages of the race with his supersofts against the ageing soft tires of those ahead of him. Sainz, just behind him after having some trouble during a safety car period, was just as aggressive, even shoving Grosjean off the track at one stage. Strangely enough, Verstappen was asked to move over for Sainz at the end of the race, with the Dutchman replying in the negative quite emphatically. Just why the team asked him to do that is unclear, but Sainz probably moved over earlier to let him attack others, just like sister team Red Bull did with Kvyat and Ricciardo before.
Nasr and Ericsson came home behind them in 10th and 11th, managing to overtake the two struggling Lotuses of Grosjean of Maldonado. The Lotuses, on really old tires, just couldn’t keep up, and Grosjean had to retire as a precaution. Alexander Rossi finished ahead of Will Stevens in his first ever F1 race, which bodes well. He did have a bit of an issue earlier during the safety car period when he didn’t respond to instructions to overtake the safety car, but that was down to a radio problem.
Twin McLaren retirements sums up their season, both cars running in the points at various stages in the race. Button did have a coming-together with Maldonado, but it was his gearbox that failed in the end. As mentioned previously, Hamilton had to retire due to a power issue, and Massa retired as well. It could have been related to the collision with Hulkenberg, who caused the first safety car to come out when he didn’t give space to Massa coming out of the pits and promptly ran into the Brazilian, ending his own race prematurely.
Oddly enough, the second safety car was caused by a track invader, which will probably be thoroughly investigated. So thrills, spills, and a strange reason for the safety car’s appearance. Pity about the fireworks not coming when Vettel crossed the line, instead happening only when he’s parked and celebrating. The sheer amount of fireworks (even more than usual) was also pretty excessive in my opinion, but who am I to argue against spending for the crown jewel in our sporting calendar?
So after this comes Suzuka, where Mercedes will be hoping Singapore was a weird dip. The championship is getting tasty, with Vettel right on Rosberg’s tail and Hamilton not that far ahead either. This could be a brilliant end to the season. Who said it’s going to be sterile domination?