Not a classic, either as spectacle or bet. The bet narrowly failed, making it two red results this weekend. It’s particularly disappointing as both were very close, but losing’s losing whether it’s by an inch or a mile.
GeoffM’s bets (posted on previous article) were sound, excepting the Massa bet. Good spot on Sainz for points, which I would not have backed [being honest].
Off the start, Rosberg cocked up and slipped back to 4th. The rest of the top five flew in formation, but the Lotuses and Hulkenberg had decent starts. There was woe further back, with a tiny collision [so small it was barely perceptible] between Ricciardo and Massa giving both punctures on the starting straight, and put them both a minute and a half back by the time they trundled into the pits.
Perez also got a puncture on lap one, but later in the lap, and he lost 40-50s or so.
Gaps opened up, except between Bottas and Rosberg. The German closed on the Finn but was unable to pass and eventually dropped back a little due to some overheating. At the time, things were looking good, with Bottas 3rd, Rosberg 4th and Raikkonen 4s off his compatriot in 5th. I should’ve had a hedge on the bet, and suspect it would’ve paid off here.
Hamilton sailed around the track. It was rather dull at the sharp end. Nobody challenged him in any way. Rosberg got past first Bottas and then Vettel, because the Mercedes advantage, having vanished last week, has returned to ridiculously enormous (and, unlike last season, there’s no duel between team mates).
In the middle stint Bottas was on the medium tyre and Raikkonen on the hard, yet the latter seemed faster. This may have been due to higher temperatures favouring the otherwise slower hard compound. Lap after lap, Raikkonen was within a second, but Bottas drove calmly to stay ahead. Until Raikkonen pitted. He emerged right behind the two Lotuses (Loti?). Williams immediately reacted, pitting Bottas, who came out behind both Loti, and Raikkonen.
The top five were Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen and Bottas. Hulkenberg had a very good finish in 6th (having started 13th) and the Lotuses, Grosjean leading Maldonado, secured a double points finish, which was good to see. Toro Rosso also had a lovely day, with Verstappen and Sainz rounding out the top 10.
Alonso just missed out in 11th (and complained on the radio of having a GP2 engine), and Perez recovered pretty well from his early puncture to end up 12th.
So, not a classic. Bet may have been green if I’d hedged, which is something to remember.
The result means Williams consolidate their 3rd position in the Constructors’, having recently lost ground to Red Bull. Lotus closed the gap to Force India (who hold 5th), but Hulkenberg’s strong finish mitigates that damage. Toro Rosso look highly likely to get 7th now.
The 17 point gap from Force India back to Lotus is the only gap I think might be closed. Sauber have a 9 point lead over McLaren, and seem likely to remain ahead. McLaren’s tribulations present an opportunity for much needed Constructors’ cash for the Sauber team.
Hamilton has a 48 point lead over Rosberg. The fat lady is not yet singing, but she’s waiting in the wings.
The next race is Russia, in a fortnight. Last year, I think I remember it being compared to Australia, so that may be a useful reference point.