F1

Vroom.

Hungarian Grand Prix 2015

I haven’t posted anything about F1 for a while. This is probably the most apt race to discuss after that hiatus.

And what a race. They talked about the problems facing F1, how it was getting boring and stuff, then Silverstone and the Hungaroring threw the F1 self-deprecating rhetoric right out of the car.

Also, this makes for a perfectly fitting tribute for Jules Bianchi. I remember his really great fighting race to P9 in Monaco, and a chaotic, topsy-turvy race with plenty of overtaking and a track described as Monaco without walls? I’ll take it.

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Malaysian Grand Prix 2015

After the “humdinger” that was the Australian Grand Prix, people thought rather prematurely that this might be a season of crazy dominance by Mercedes.

They thought wrong.

As a viewer, I thought Mercedes had a chance when they dived into the pits with the safety car and ended up a good 10s behind Vettel, who raced away in clear air. But as much as Hamilton and Rosberg huffed and puffed, they just couldn’t keep the tires going for as long as the sleek Ferrari did. If they had stayed out, they may have kept the margins down, but Vettel had pace to match the Mercs all weekend.

As a Hamilton fan, I have to admit to being quite annoyed, especially since Vettel isn’t a driver I particularly like either. But kudos to Ferrari for sticking to their strategy, and for their pace. Pundits say that China might be a different story, but this could really unfold into a thrilling season between a couple of championship contenders.

Behind the podium finishers, Raikkonen ran a pretty crazy race, dealing a puncture that was thankfully equalised due to the safety car. Fourth was about the best Ferrari could expect of him, and he did well to get there from 11th on the grid. Williams trudged to 5th and 6th in Bottas and Massa, the white cars unable to keep up with the massive improvements James Allison has brought to Ferrari.

Well done to Verstappen and Sainz, who took a fantastic 7th and 8th for Toro Rosso. Sainz had trouble in qualifying, and to make 8th is quite the achievement. But Verstappen was amazing in the face of pressure from the sister Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Kvyat, and eventually overtook them all.

The Red Bulls had to come home a pretty dismal 9th and 10th, unable to match even their junior team with brake overheating that threw out black plumes of brake dust at the end of each straight. Grosjean was right behind, apparently with turbo problems that meant he was down on power. Lotus have had better days, but they clearly have a bit of pace if everything came together. Maldonado wouldn’t want that though; a coming together left him with a puncture and had to retire later on.

Nasr came home 12th for Sauber, and Raikkonen might feel a little aggrieved with Sauber given the customer of Ferrari gave him that puncture after getting held up by Ericsson in Q2. Ericsson beached himself in gravel braking too late into Turn 1, which was what prompted the safety car. Behind them were the two Force Indias, still struggling to get anywhere without the aero upgrades from their new wind tunnel. Finally, Merhi completed a race distance for Manor Marussia, which is quite the achievement for a team with zero testing and no running at all in the Australian GP.

And McLaren, well, they’ve had MUCH better days before. Alonso’s car overheated, Button’s had a failure of some sort, and both had to retire. Still, they were much better on pace than in Australia, and things might be looking up for them.

Vettel is now 3 points behind Hamilton after a most thrilling Malaysian GP. This championship could yet turn out to be nail-bitingly good.

The F1 Season 2014

…and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, of course.

I had intended to study the entire day for my exam, but revision ended much earlier than expected. There was also a football game at the same time as the season-ending GP, but given Liverpool’s woes, I didn’t exactly want to watch a terrible performance and take a negative mood into my exams. So it was the Abu Dhabi GP that I watched, and it was a race full of drama and emotion.

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Russian Grand Prix 2014

After Bianchi’s incident, there was a sombre mood around the paddock. But the track seemed to be a good challenge for the drivers, likened to a combination of Valencia and Mokpo, and with long curved straights (a bit of an oxymoron) that are off-camber and really test car and driver. However, all it really tested for us viewers was our patience, as the race turned out to be a lot less exciting than we hoped it would be.

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Japanese Grand Prix 2014

Qualifying

Well, I didn’t watch all of qualifying, only catching the latter half of Q2 and Q3, but the dominating news of the weekend overshadowed any qualifying results. Vettel is headed to Ferrari, possibly to emulate Schumacher, or possibly to escape the scrutiny he’s been under ever since Ricciardo arrived at the senior team and made him look ordinary. He could be trying to prove that he’s deserving of that world championships; we’ll see about that.

This particular bombshell also means that Alonso is off to pastures new, with most speculating that he’s going to McLaren-Honda. Is it a gamble? Probably, but it can’t be any bigger than Hamilton’s move to Mercedes. Should Alonso have stayed to see what a James Allison Ferrari can do? Maybe, but he’s been at Ferrari for years and they haven’t delivered at all.

Meanwhile, Rosberg out-qualified Hamilton by nearly 2 tenths of a second, which is a pretty huge margin despite Hamilton edging his teammate out in FP1 and FP2. Of course, he did have the crash in FP3, which would have affected set-up work. But even if Hamilton can try and win tomorrow from the front row, the typhoon might make things difficult, especially if Rosberg is handed the win due to a race cancellation.

Let’s hope the typhoon stays away from the start of the race, and we can have a thrilling Grand Prix tomorrow.

Race

Well, it was a great race in between the start and the finish, but no one would care about any of that as Bianchi was rendered unconscious and rushed to the hospital as he crashed into a recovery vehicle near the end of the Grand Prix. It was already under yellow flags for Sutil’s spin off the track, which the recovery vehicle was there for, but with the rain pelting down once more, it was not much of a surprise to have drivers going off track. All thoughts with Bianchi.

But before the terrible incident, there was plenty of great racing on show. The race started inauspiciously, with cars trundling along behind the safety car for 2 laps, then red-flagged as the rain slowly eased. But as the race restarted under the safety car, conditions improved to the point of changing to intermediates from full wets.

Button was first to jump on it, and he immediately set lap times comparable to the Mercedes. In front, Williams were struggling to keep the Red Bulls back, since they were fundamentally a slippery car while the Red Bulls had a great chassis, downforce and a wet set-up just for the race.

A flurry of pit-stops then occurred as the track dried out even more, with only the Mercedes staying out longer than anyone else. Ricciardo lost out to Vettel during the stops, and Hamilton went wide on the lap going into the stop. Courtesy of his earlier stop, Button was up in 3rd, ahead of the Williams being hunted by the Red Bulls.

Vettel and Ricciardo quickly made mincemeat of both Williams, with Vettel doing them at the hairpin on the outside and inside of Bottas and Massa respectively, while Ricciardo was even more impressive, going on the outside at the end of the Esses for both Williams. Soon, the Red Bulls were free to chase Button, although not at a very fast pace.

However, they were slowly reeling in the Mercedes, who had blinding pace at the start of the race and eked out nearly a pit-stop’s worth in time. Then they had more problems, as DRS was enabled, and Hamilton was suddenly all over Rosberg in these tricky conditions. Rosberg was struggling with oversteer and his rear tires going off, while Hamilton had preserved his tires better. Despite being told to conserve them as it could turn into a dry race later, Hamilton ignored his race engineer again and eventually overtook Rosberg around the outside of Turn 1, after Rosberg went too wide on the defensive.

Rosberg’s car problems were evidently huge, as Hamilton proceeded to carve out big chunks of time on Rosberg. Despite this, Vettel was still going quick, and with a fresh set of tires was reeling in Rosberg. Mercedes had to pit him to keep Vettel from closing in, and thereafter it was practically no contest.

Plenty of cars had issues, both mechanical and from the conditions. Both McLarens suffered from an electronics problem that necessitated a change in steering wheel. Raikkonen had a long pit-stop, and Vettel went too deep into Turn 1 and lost time to a chasing Button and Ricciardo. Alonso never even got to race, as his car stopped from the very first lap.

As the race progressed, Hamilton managed a big 10s lead on Rosberg, who had a similar advantage over Vettel. Ricciardo was harassing Button all the way, and while the Briton put up a great fight in some fantastic wheel-to-wheel battles, eventually Ricciardo got past at the hairpin.

Then, DRS was disabled as the rain started to come down again, and Sutil’s crash happened. Button had pitted for full wets earlier in anticipation of the rain, but the safety car’s arrival ruined his plan, and then the race was quickly red-flagged with Bianchi’s crash.

The count-back due to the red flag meant that even though Vettel pitted under the safety car and came out behind Ricciardo, he was classified 3rd and went on the podium. Hulkenberg stopped at the end of the pitlane too, stranded during this period, but was also classified due to the count-back. But Hamilton finally got his win at Suzuka, and increased his lead over Rosberg to 10 points with 4 races to go.

But no one really paid much heed to the race anymore, as news travelled of the FIA press officer having to force the medical centre’s doors open to let the Marussia team members through. Bianchi was unconscious from the crash, and had to take an ambulance to the nearest hospital as the medical helicopter couldn’t fly in these conditions.

Would it have been better to race earlier? No doubt. But the FIA asked Honda twice about shifting the race up, and the race organisers said no, as they wanted to keep the programme on schedule to avoid disappointing fans. Fair enough, and there was that relatively okay window during which they raced hard and well, but surely, surely it would have been better to start the race earlier.

But what’s done is done, and hopefully Bianchi will be alright.

Singapore Grand Prix 2014

My home GP! Well, if I were a racer…

Qualifying

This was a pretty darn exciting qualifying, with the low-power, high-downforce circuit giving Ferrari and Red Bull hopes of reining in Mercedes. And so it proved in Q1. Lots of cars went out on track with soft tires, but had to move on to the supersofts due to a 2.5s difference per lap between the primes and options. Rosberg out-braked himself in his installation lap, and had to go into the escape road, luckily avoiding any damage or lock-ups; it could possibly be due to his new brake material.

Red Bull was the one team that stayed in, preferring to just go straight onto the options at the end of the session. Ferrari put up some impressive times, and Force India even had a go at the top with Hulkenberg, before Raikkonen took P1 ahead of the Mercs in Q1.

In Q2, the green track started to rubber in a little, but the little mistakes continued to happen. Hamilton only managed to get four hundredths of a second ahead of Raikkonen, and seven hundredths ahead of Alonso. With Ricciardo about two tenths behind in P4, the Top 4 all decided not to go out on runs again. Rosberg was surprisingly P5, and went out again as times tumbled further. But while he didn’t need to, he managed to usurp Hamilton by a huge 0.46s on fresh tires.

Button just missed Q3 by two hundredths of a second, having locked up a little apparently, while Magnussen crept into Q3. Force India, despite a decent showing in Q1, were nowhere in Q2.

Finally, in Q3, the initial runs from the Mercs were terrible, as Rosberg was on scrubbed options and Hamilton had a bad middle sector. Massa was on provisional pole, while the Mercedes were 6th and 7th. In the final runs however, they struck back, as first Ricciardo took provisional pole, then Rosberg, then Hamilton snatched it by 0.007s despite locking up into Turn 1 with a barnstorming lap.

Meanwhile, Vettel had to settle for 4th, out-qualified by Ricciardo again, while Alonso nabbed 5th ahead of Massa, who couldn’t improve much. Raikkonen suffered a lack of power, and had to rely on the times from his first run for 6th ahead of Bottas.

But in any case, the times between the drivers were all minuscule compared to the advantage Mercedes has had over the field for the past year, and with rain possibly coming tomorrow (for the first wet race in tropical Singapore ever, imagine that!), it could be a massively entertaining race.

Race

Drama, drama, drama. It never stays far away from Singapore, and yet again it was a dramatic race.

Right from the off, Rosberg had a wiring loom issue in his steering column, which meant that his steering wheel wasn’t working properly. Despite trying to find the problem and changing steering wheels, he was stuck in neutral as cars went off on the formation lap, and Rosberg was forced to do a pitlane start.

That was not his only worry, as he only had clutch controls on his steering wheel, and no pit limiter. He had to get into 1st gear and drop to 6,500rpm in order to keep below limits, and had to rev the car up on jacks before getting dropped. Not to mention he was having gear shift issues during his laps, with his shifts jumping up by 2 gears at a time.

It was no wonder that he struggled to even overtake Caterham, and when he came into the pits, he couldn’t restart the car and had to retire. He wasn’t the only one who saw issues on lap 0, as Kobayashi had to stop at a run-off area with a loss of oil pressure. But Rosberg’s retirement meant that if Hamilton won the race, he would take the Drivers’ Championship lead by 3 points.

As the race started, Hamilton got away cleanly as Alonso had a blinding start, as did Vettel, who took Ricciardo at Turn 1. Alonso took too much speed into the chicane though, and cut it. He gave a place back to Vettel, but held firm ahead of Ricciardo which kept him from getting a penalty.

Raikkonen was doing well at this stage, while the two McLarens had a bit of a squabble and let the Williams past. Magnussen got into a bit of trouble for exceeding track limits when fighting Bottas, but as the Williams got ahead later, he didn’t get a penalty. Meanwhile, out in front, Hamilton started to pull away from Vettel slowly as the field spread out.

As the first round of pitstops came and went, Alonso started to reel in Vettel, who was told to ignore the beeps, signals for gear changing that would give optimal fuel consumption. He was possibly already saving fuel and tires when he pitted, as the pitwall told him he couldn’t make the undercut on Hamilton.

Massa then tried the undercut with the 2nd set of pitstops, and Ferrari did the same. Red Bull went with primes instead of options like Alonso did, and Alonso’s undercut worked as he got past the two Red Bulls and was right behind Hamilton. But Red Bull were saving their powder for a end-of-the-race run at Alonso.

Lewis then had a slow stop, as the mechanics tried to clear debris from his front wing, and put on options again. Next came the inevitable at Singapore, as Perez had contact with Sutil ahead of him, and his wing collapsed, flying underneath his car and scattering debris everywhere. The safety car naturally came out, and both Ferraris pitted quickly, as did Button who had to switch strategies. Alonso ended up behind both Red Bulls, and all three and many more behind them were all on primes, and thinking of going to the end, afraid that if they pitted, then overtaking could be difficult in a street circuit.

During the safety car, we heard some interesting radio calls, such as Ricciardo’s car problem since before Perez’s problem, and Magnussen’s water too hot to drink. Maldonado also had to pit again after the wrong tires were put on his car, and that was after he ripped a wheel gun off when he drove away too quickly. Sutil didn’t get a penalty for causing a collision with Perez, but got a 5s stop-go for overtaking Bianchi off track. Not that it mattered, as he retired later in the race, joining his teammate Gutierrez who also retired earlier with an ERS problem.

With Hamilton having not put on the primes yet, he had to make another pitstop. This meant that he had to smash out a humongous gap on everyone else while on the faster supersofts, before pitting and hopefully not having to overtake anyone. He did so with much frustration,worried about his tires falling off even as he managed to get 25s on Vettel behind him in what was about 15 laps on not-so-fresh tires. Granted, there was about 2.5s difference in compounds, but it was still a mighty effort.

As he pitted, he came out just ahead of Ricciardo, and quickly hunted down and took Vettel within the lap with his fresh tires. And then he disappeared off into the darkness as the fights hotted up behind him. Kvyat was apparently struggling with the heat and dehydration, with no water from the out lap as he fought with Ericsson for position. Perez managed to overtake both in one swift move as Kvyat pulled one on Ericsson, having had to pit for a new wing.

Further ahead, Button was catching Bottas, but couldn’t overtake as the Williams was too fast on the straights despite doing a 2-stop strategy with seriously old primes. Then, unfortunately, Button’s car reset itself, and he had to stop, bringing an end to his race. Bottas was then set upon by Raikkonen, and just kept the Ferrari at bay. This only meant that he started to hold up other cars, forming a long train.

Vergne, earlier having exceeded track limits when overtaking Maldonado, had to endure a 5s penalty. Pitting much later than everyone, he quickly set about overtaking people, with both Force Indias, Raikkonen and Bottas all settled within a lap. Then he tried to push out a 5s gap on P7, which he managed and so kept his 6th place, a fine showing from him.

Perez, also with fresh tires, took his teammate, then got Raikkonen, and Bottas, and managed P7. Bottas had really no grip at the end of the race, and skated on the track like it was raining, letting Raikkonen and Hulkenberg past him.

The battle behind was fascinating, but the tension in front was mad, as Alonso bore down on Ricciardo, while Ricciardo sniffed around Vettel. The trio ran around the circuit with old tires, each trying to keep their position or overtake, but in the end, they came home in that order, with less than 2s separating all three.

Behind them, for a lonely 5th, was Massa, who was out of the action most of the time. After him came Vergne, Perez, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, and Magnussen, who got ahead of Bottas in the closing stages as well. The Lotuses trudged home after them, then Kvyat, who apparently was so dehydrated he had to be half-pulled out of his car. Ericsson did well to come home ahead of the Marussias, although Chilton had a litany of pitstop problems and Bianchi was nursing his car too.

So all in all, a massively dramatic race, and Hamilton has a slender 3 point lead for the final 5 GPs. Anything can happen, it seems, in Formula 1, and I can’t wait for Suzuka.

Italian Grand Prix 2014

Qualifying

Ah, Monza. The Cathedral of Speed. The place where everyone wants a Mercedes engine more than anything, the track where they get those skinny wings out.

And of course, as expected, we saw Williams and Mercedes slugging it out in Q1 at the top, trading fastest times on hard tires. McLaren was just behind them, while Force India, despite their Mercedes power, were a long way behind and had to resort to medium tires when everyone else was on hards.

More trouble for Lotus, as Grosjean’s car sprung a leak and he only had 5 minutes of the session, while Maldonado had to end his run and couldn’t get out of Q1. This meant that both Saubers got into Q2, but that’s as far as they went.

Raikkonen and Hulkenberg were the surprise dropouts of Q2, while Perez did well to sneak into Q3. Kvyat managed 11th, which was enough for him to clear his 10-place grid penalty for a 6th engine; he doesn’t have to worry about a grid penalty for the next race in Singapore.

Q3 then came and went, ending rather anticlimactically as Hamilton did a smashing lap in their first runs to pull nearly 0.5s out on Rosberg. Rosberg managed to eke out more time in the final run, but he was still about 0.3s off the pace and in P2. The Williams couldn’t hang with the Mercedes in the end, and had to make do with the 2nd row. McLaren capped off the Mercedes-powered domination with 3rd row, leaving Alonso to muscle his way into 7th ahead of the Red Bulls and Perez.

With the mega-long run-up to the first chicane and a one-stop strategy the preferred one, the start is going to be very important. With Rosberg running a little less downforce than Hamilton, it’s going to be very interesting indeed.

Race

As much talked about as that long run down to Turn 1, in the end, it was a software issue that caused problems for Hamilton at race start. Unable to get into his race-start mode or something, he ended up getting overtaken by Rosberg, Magnussen and Massa, dropping into P4.

Then, as he finally got his car back where he wanted it, he quickly made mincemeat of Magnussen, overtaken in quick succession by Massa and Lewis. Rosberg built up a 4s gap at the start, but without any pressure from Massa or Hamilton, out-braked himself and went straight towards the zigzag bollards at the end of the pit straight, losing a chunk of time.

Then, Hamilton went along the outside of Massa into Turn 1, before sweeping around and taking him at Turn 2, with a 2.7s deficit he slowly chipped away down to 1.4s before the first round of pit-stops. Behind, Bottas had a horrible start and had to weave his way through a bunch of squabbling drivers, the straight-line speed of the Williams making the pit straight the best place to overtake. And so it proved, as Bottas picked off one driver after another at Turn 1.

Vettel elected to jump into the pits earlier, forcing a whole series of pit-stops from everyone as they tried to prevent the undercut. Vettel did make it work though, as he got ahead of Magnussen, while Perez, another early pitter, jumped Button and Alonso. Bottas lost out at the pits though, with his cold tires and the other cars taking a lot more speed into Turn 1; he ended up behind Perez, and had to pick his way through the field again.
Rosberg and Hamilton then pitted in successive laps, and Lewis was told to be patient and pick up Rosberg’s tow, saving the tires for the end of the race. Hamilton promptly ignored his engineer’s advice, ripping 0.4s out of Rosberg’s time in that very lap, before taking another chunk in the next and moving into DRS zone.All this while, Rosberg was also told to save fuel, while Hamilton had no such troubles (often using less despite his aggressive driving). Then, Rosberg goes way too deep into Turn 1 again, and had to weave through the bollards. This effectively lost him the lead to Hamilton, who then quickly bangs out a gap of 4s that never closed beyond 3s. With both drivers having to manage their cars near the end, the fight was over.

Massa, far behind them, drove a lonely race on his own, while from 4th to 8th, there was a rip-roaring battle that lasted to the end of the race. Alonso, fighting hard with Button, had his first mechanical failure since Malaysia 2010, and ended his record of scoring points in every single race this season as he rolled to a stop at Turn 1. It was also the first time he was not on the podium for Ferrari at Monza.

Vettel led the train from 4th, ahead of Magnussen and Bottas. Magnussen was deemed to have forced Bottas off the track as the Williams tried the tried-and-true overtake at Turn 1, and had to get a 5s penalty. But Bottas eventually made it past him, and subsequently Vettel, before getting into his own boring race in 4th.

Ricciardo, having disappeared in the race for a while, had pitted the last, and with his fresher tires, started to claw back time at an impressive race. Before long, he had overtaken Raikkonen for 9th, and caught up with Button at the back of the train. Despite the power deficit his car had on the Mercedes engines, he took care of Button, Perez, and Magnussen, leaving him to chase after Vettel, who had been pulling away from Magnussen slowly.

Eventually, Ricciardo with his fresher tires took Vettel out for 5th, and slowly but surely, his teammate was falling into the grasp of those behind. Vettel managed to keep ahead of Magnussen, who was benefiting from the huge fight between Perez and Button who traded places to and fro. But eventually, Perez managed to keep hold of 8th, and was even catching Magnussen at the end of the race despite plumes of brake dust flying off his car every time he braked.

But Magnussen, despite his decent result of 7th at the end, would end up behind Raikkonen thanks to his 5s penalty, the Ferrari driver plodding along but managing to keep the Ferrari point-scoring record intact for another race. He was lucky in a way, as Kvyat, out of position thanks to his grid penalty, had ripped through the field, overtook Hulkenberg for 11th, and had been hounding Raikkonen near the end when he had brake issues, causing him to fly straight at the bollards in Turn 1. Kvyat somehow managed to keep the car under control, but he couldn’t really gun for Raikkonen anymore.

With those results, Williams overtook Ferrari in the championship at Ferrari’s home race. Hamilton reduced his deficit to 22 points, and with only so many races left, he would have to win most of them to win the Drivers’ Championship. For all the excitement we thought the Mercedes cars would bring, it ended up being the cars further back that gave us today’s entertainment. But hey, I can’t complain. Good racing, a win for Hamilton, and even more booing for Rosberg. It must sting.

Belgian Grand Prix 2014

Qualifying

Well, it wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as some other qualifying sessions we’ve had so far this season. The rain poured down heavily before the session, and even during the session there was light rain. But even in those treacherous conditions, and drivers having problems controlling their cars and going off track, no one crashed despite the high speed nature of the track. Hats off!

The only retirement from the session was Gutierrez, who stalled on track in Q1. Bianchi made it into Q2 again, continuing to prove his talent, while Lotterer, the man who replaced Kobayashi for this race, out-qualified Ericsson. Hulkenberg was the big casualty from Q1.

Q2 was business as usual for the bigger teams, as Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and McLaren made it into Q3, with Kvyat out-qualifying Vergne. That doesn’t help Vergne’s search for a new team now that he’s going to be kicked out of Toro Rosso. Finally, into Q3 and Hamilton made a mistake on his first lap, and he was trying to catch up to Rosberg all the way through the session, eventually getting only P2.

Vettel made a huge effort with the skinny rear wing RB10 to get P3, ahead of Alonso and Ricciardo. Williams must think it’s a wasted opportunity as they were likely the biggest contenders to Mercedes if the rain hadn’t come down. But with their speed, they could still be in a shout for podiums.

With a Merc front-row, we could be in for a massive battle tomorrow.

Race

Well, the massive battle between Hamilton and Rosberg did materialise, but only lasted for all of 2 laps.

Hamilton had been optimistic about his chances from 2nd on the grid, and he was clearly on to something as he made a brilliant start to snatch first place. Vettel took advantage of Rosberg’s poor start, slotting into 2nd and went after Hamilton, only to go off track and lose the place to Rosberg.

Then came the incident.

Rosberg tried to take Hamilton on the outside, but even as he was getting squeezed out, he turned in on Hamilton instead of backing out. With Lewis rightly on the racing line, Rosberg’s clumsy move took out his front-wing endplate, but crucially caused a puncture in Hamilton’s left rear. So yet another mistake from Rosberg benefited him, as Hamilton suffered massive floor damage from his disintegrating wheel, and cajoled his team to retire him until they made up some excuse about cooling the car in order to pull it back into the garage.

With Rosberg’s front wing damaged, he was under pressure from Vettel all the way, while behind them, Ricciardo started to snipe drivers off, even overtaking his teammate for 2nd. Eventually, Rosberg had to pit and did a front wing change, which left Ricciardo inheriting the lead of the race. He never really let go of the race from that point on, and managed to come through for his 3rd race victory in F1, at a track where no one expected Red Bull to be doing that well.

Rosberg took the 7s penalty with his wing change, had to make up plenty of ground, which he did so with his superior car. During this period, he also had bits of tire carcass (likely from Hamilton) hooking onto his radio antenna, and flapping about in front of his helmet. When he eventually reached P3, the Mercedes team told him to keep pushing as Bottas ahead still had to pit, and they wanted to ‘try something different’ and ‘force Ricciardo to pit’. It was all over TV however, and sounded like it could be a bluff.

As Rosberg inherited 2nd from Bottas after the Finn pitted, it was clear that with older tires, he wasn’t going to catch Ricciardo that easily. So he did his 3rd pit stop and smashed the 20s gap from the pit stop, but it was just not enough to catch the Australian in the end.

Behind them, Bottas managed to get 3rd with a very credible race, overtaking Alonso early on for 4th place, clinging on to 2nd as everyone else pitted, and eventually overtook Raikkonen (who had stopped earlier) for the last podium slot. Speaking of Raikkonen, he had his best race for Ferrari this season as he managed to stay in 4th, at a track where he has won 4 times.

Vettel seemed to be a little off the pace after he had been overtaken by Ricciardo, losing quite a bit of time to his teammate. But he drove a feisty race, managing to finally get ahead of the huge 4 car scrap between him, Magnussen, Button and Alonso (who finished in that order). Magnussen had a very good race, and although he did push Alonso onto the grass, he otherwise drove a brilliant defensive race to just about hold his teammate behind. Button had a quiet middle stint, but managed to come alive at the end, and take Alonso who lost his front wing in a collision with Vettel as he tried to get into the Red Bull’s fight with Magnussen.

Alonso was probably one of the unluckier drivers of the day, with his car needing a jump-start due to some problems. This led to mechanics being on track after they were supposed to clear it, and the unsafe nature of that work meant he had a 5s stop-go penalty. But he fought quite well, and it was just the nature of racing that he ended up 8th this time around.

The action behind wasn’t as intense as that at the front, and so I never really saw the action that brought Perez 9th place, and Kvyat in the points again in 10th. Hulkenberg recovered from his bad qualifying to net 11th, with Vergne behind in 12th, perhaps showing why Red Bull were willing to let him go. Massa limped home in 13th after getting something stuck in his car and affecting downforce.

Sutil, Gutierrez, Chilton and Ericsson made up the final finishing spots, with a double retirement for Lotus (early on with engine problems for Maldonado and later for Grosjean), and Bianchi/Lotterer both retiring with car issues as well.

At the end of the race, the fans decided to boo Rosberg as he came on the podium, and reactions from Mercedes team bosses is that it’s Rosberg’s fault. Yet, he has defended his position and has not apologised, which is a little understandable from his position where he might feel a little boxed in. But it’s clearly his fault, and tensions have surely risen even more after this.

As a Hamilton fan, I don’t think I can be objective about this, but Rosberg’s definitely had the better luck both in terms of driving and in reliability. Even his mistakes seem to benefit him and cost Hamilton, which has happened 3-4 times this season already. Frankly, that 29 point gap wouldn’t be around if all was equal. But nothing in life is ever fair, and it’s Hamilton who has to make up ground again.

But beyond the incident that will dominate headlines for a while yet, spare some thought for Ricciardo. He drove a brilliant race to capitalise on yet more Mercedes problems, and is beating his 4-time world champion teammate handily. Future world champion himself? With the right car, definitely. And that’s a winner I don’t think anyone will boo.