For the first time ever at Formula 1’s annual night race, the heavens opened, and the green and blue tyres were the order of the day. In a wet-dry race where he always excels, Lewis Hamilton produced a brilliant drive to extend his lead in the driver’s Championship. As it was, though, the race–and possibly the championship–was sorted on lap 1.
Sebastian Vettel was the man in form heading into the race having produced a stunning lap to snare pole position on Saturday, with Max Verstappen next to him and Danny Ric and Kimi Raikkonen just behind him.
As rain poured down a minute before the race, an exciting start was expected. However, no one saw what came to pass.
Sebastian made a decent start, but Max’s was better, and Kimi’s was better still. Kimi’s was so good that he was on the inside and up level with the Red Bull very quickly. Max was on the inside of Vettel, and as a response Sebastian lunged to his left to squeeze the Red Bull, leaving Max with nowhere to go. He twitched left but hit Raikkonen who careered into his teammate before collecting the Red Bull for a second time and the totally innocent Fernando Alonso.
Kimi and Max were out on the spot, but Sebastian managed to get to turn three. However, with his sidepod badly damaged and fluid leaking everywhere, the Ferrari spun, hit the wall, and that was that for his race.
All this chaos left Vettel’s title rival, Lewis Hamilton, in the lead ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. From there, Lewis drove magnificently. He set fastest laps and controlled the pace in a race that saw wet-dry conditions and three safety cars. Going into the race firmly in damage limitation mode and to come out with a win and a 28 point gap will feel like Christmas come early for the Briton. The Championship is firmly in his own hands at this stage.
WHAT ABOUT RED BULL?
It was expected all weekend that Red Bull had the pace to challenge both the Mercedes’ and the Ferrari’s. However, even though Danny Ric finished a respectable second, the pace they showed on Friday and Saturday didn’t really materialise which will upset the team, who before the race thought they had an excellent chance of nabbing a win–ala Azerbaijan.
Interestingly, most of the Red Bull plaudits will head to Torro Rosso and in particular, Carlos Sainz. Down in ninth after the first lap, he drove a storming race, helped by the misfortune of Renault in the form of Nico Hulkenberg, and ended it in fourth place.
With Verstappen, Raikkonen and Vettel out of the race, there was a chance for the midfield teams to score some good points and possibly a podium. Perez took fifth place, Palmer took a career-best sixth on a bittersweet weekend, and Stoffel Vandorne took a very good eighth for McLaren.
DRIVER OF THE DAY
Tough to decide between Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz. However, considering the context of the race with regards to the Championship and the fact it was a wet-dry race with three safety cars, It has to be Lewis Hamilton.
MOMENT OF THE GP
Obvious, this one. A race deciding and title damaging crash between two Ferrari’s and the Red Bull. Each man had different views. But for what it is worth, we agree with Max Verstappen. Sebastian took a risk squeezing Verstappen, and it cost him. Dear.