David Croft, the Sky commentator on Sunday’s race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, was caught out by the chequered flag. While at the front, the race had been easy, almost boring, for Lewis Hamilton, the battle for the third podium position had taken everyone’s attention, to the point that when Lewis did serene over the line it felt like a shock.
Sunday’s race was a walk in the park for Hamilton. The Mercedes driver got a good start and drove off into the distance to the chequered flag without even a murmur of competition. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished second, nearly twenty seconds behind him. For Lewis, this was a shot fired at Ferrari. By getting pole, the race win and setting the fastest lap, Lewis was pointing out that this championship is not over, not by a long shot.
EASY PICKINGS FOR LEWIS.
Realistically, Lewis Hamilton won the race on Saturday. By putting together a quite incredible pole position lap, he laid down the gauntlet to Ferrari and Sebastion Vettel and they couldn’t match it. His confidence was heightened by the lap, especially after a dismal Monaco Grand Prix two weeks before, and by matching Ayrton Senna’s 65 pole positions, Lewis was quite clearly on cloud nine and nothing was going to bring him down.
It was the perfect weekend for Lewis and underlined why, when on form, he is almost untouchable in an F1 car. As soon as he got away from the grid on Sunday, it was clear no one was catching him.
We’ll never know if Sebastion Vettel would have been able to take the fight to a resurgent Hamilton, as after a first corner collision with Max Verstappen, the Ferrari driver lost part of his front wing and curiously Ferrari decided not to pit him during the safety car period. Instead, they waited and Vettel pitted and rejoined almost at the back, before embarking on a superb recovery drive to finish fourth.
However, even without Vettel’s issues, the form Hamilton and Mercedes were in, it looked unlikely Vettel would have caused them too much trouble.
NEGOTIATIONS AT FORCE INDIA.
The two Force India drivers both drove superbly to finish fifth and sixth to firm up the team’s fourth position in the constructor’s championship. Yet, they could have had a podium, or at least a fourth and sixth finish.
With Esteban Ocon on fresher tires and right up his teammate’s backside, who was in-turn up third placed man, Daniel Ricciardo’s, backside, there was a possibility of a third-placed finish. Due to dithering and a lack of authority from the pit wall, negotiations on team orders were used rather than orders themselves. As a result, Ocon was stuck behind teammate, Sergio Perez, and both were eventually overtaken by a roaring Sebastion Vettel.
Both drivers thought they were in the right, yet through a lack of authority on the part of the team, the Pink Panthers not only lost a possible podium, but also a fourth-placed finish because Ocon would have been in a better position, tire wise, to hold off Sebastion Vettel so late in the Grand Prix.
An argument could be made that in keeping Ocon, the less experienced driver, behind Perez was an exercise in man management, after all, it’s easier to explain the decision to the younger, less experienced driver than it is the older, team leader. Still, either Perez outright refused team orders or cleverly negotiated his position at 200 miles an hour. Either way, it cost the team points. Formula One is a unique sport in that it is an individual and team sport, as such man management and authority become key, Force India should have put the team first by quickly and authoritatively ordering Perez out of the way on the proviso that the place would have been returned had Ocon not got past Ricciardo. The only possible explanation on why Force India did not do this was contractual. Does Perez have a clandestine first-driver clause? That seems unfeasible. Like Vettel and Raikkonen two weeks ago, team orders has reared its ugly head. But while Ferrari was authoritative and clever, Force India was not, and it cost them.
HONDA ENGINE FAILURE: BIG SHOCK!
Once again, Fernando Alonso showed he is a brilliant racing driver. Comfortably in 10th place and on course to score his and McLaren’s first points of the season, his Honda engine failed with two laps to go. So what did the Spaniard do? He got out of his car and went up into the grandstand to pose for pictures with the fans. A nice gesture, but it is little consolation for the disgruntled Alonso. Quite simply, unless McLaren gets Mercedes engines in the back of that car for next season, then Alonso, as he has intimated, has to walk. Where he could end up is anyone’s guess, but as the Canadian Grand Prix showed, Alonso still has the ability to be driving for wins, it just looks unlikely at McLaren.
MOMENT OF THE GP?
Apart from Sir Patrick Stewart doing a ‘shoey’ from Daniel Ricciardo’s used racing shoe? Then it has to go the foul-mouthed, Daniil Kvyat, being told by the team to curb his language.
DRIVER OF THE RACE?
Esteban Ocon. He drove really well and should have been allowed to have a go at Ricciardo for third place.