Fair to say a tip that was plain wrong (whilst Hulkenberg did receive a minor grid penalty after I bet, this did not affect things substantially) and a race that had some interesting moments but was not a classic.
The first lap was frantic and exciting. Rosberg had an atrocious start, slipping to 4th, and Verstappen had a tasty getaway, rising to 2nd behind Hamilton.
Hamilton spent the rest of the race cruising to victory and contemplating what to do on his summer holiday.
Gutierrez started 11th and was the only man on the soft (all others on supersoft). The potential strategic advantage was lost somewhat when he left the handbrake on at the start and fell down to around 16th.
As Rosberg fought back he passed Verstappen after a round of pit stops with an aggressive overtake, very late braking into the hairpin. This level of excitement was clearly contrary to the principles of modern F1 and the German was duly penalised with a 5s penalty [which he took at his next pit stop]. That’ll teach him to be interesting. (Also worth noting Verstappen’s late move in Hungary got no penalty).
Hamilton got the victory. Ricciardo appeared to find the tyres easier to handle than his team mate, and ended up 2nd with Verstappen having to settle for 3rd. In the final stint, Rosberg made up no time whatsoever on the Red Bulls. Not sure why, but it meant he finished a dreary 4th.
The Ferraris trundled about in a race of their own. Vettel was called into the pits and declined. The team radioed again saying they’d try an undercut and he, quite reasonably, pointed out the next car was miles ahead. Vettel was 5th, Raikkonen 6th.
It had been assumed everyone would try two stopping but three seemed to be the way to go. Bottas attempted a two stop but his tyres fell off the cliff. He was gobbled up by Hulkenberg and Button. Button and Alonso both appeared to have fuel-saving issues (the Honda is a thirsty beast) but it was worse for the Spaniard who slipped out of the points altogether (to the benefit of Perez).
Massa had to retire after an early contact with Palmer appeared to damage his car (pace was dire and he got passed left, right and centre).
A dreadful result for Rosberg. He’s had two poles in the last two races, and started abysmally. The mid-season break is an opportunity for him to pull himself together (and perhaps enjoy watching the Olympics). Hamilton must feel great, but if his reliability starts failing his lead could vanish overnight. That said, Hamilton is psychologically stronger than Rosberg. The Briton is in with a great chance of a third consecutive title.
The title is, of course, a two horse race. Hamilton is favourite, and rightly so. He has the pace, track record (as it were) and mental strength. On Rosberg’s side is a summer break to pick himself up, historically performing well in the latter half of the season (particularly last year) and Hamilton’s impending penalties. If you believe Rosberg can do it, or get close, now is likely the optimum time to back him.
Also worth noting I mentioned in the mid-season review some thoughts on how I might spread-bet, hence the inclusion of the latter three drivers’ points. Buying Bottas at 93 and Verstappen at 206 are looking so-so and pretty good respectively, I think. Selling Magnussen at 11 and Alonso at 53 is looking promising.
Red Bull 256
Force India 81
Toro Rosso 45
Red Bull and Ferrari should have a good fight for 2nd, although the title is sewn up. Behind them, I think Force India may overtake Williams (it’ll be close). I think McLaren will pass Toro Rosso. Not only does the McLaren have a nice chassis, Kvyat seems mentally destroyed right now. The lower four will, I think, finish in their current order.
So, the bet didn’t come off. Not delighted, but it was one of those weekends when I didn’t have a clue what would happen. Kudos to Mr. Putney, who got his Hamilton-win bet right and was a shade unfortunate the time margin wasn’t a little larger.
As I said, there’s a four week break until Spa. Hamilton, I understand, will have a new engine for that so Rosberg should (indeed, must) claw back some relative points. A mere week after that is Monza (for the final time?). Ferrari must beat Red Bull at those types of circuits, especially Monza, if they want to finish 2nd.