Red race, and one that sounded criminally boring.
The start was textbook. In fact, the first seven held their positions. Sutil lost his nose and Button correspondingly got promoted to eighth. Perez cut the chicane to keep his position, and was told by the team to give it up (perhaps pre-empting a penalty), which put Button up to seventh.
Di Resta was pitted early when Pic’s car stopped (and then burst into flames) near the pit entry, but no safety car came out, and he was dropped back down the grid (although he did benefit when it came out later).
On lap 30 Massa had a crash very similar to that he had in practice. The safety car emerged, at which point Mercedes were slightly compromised as they had to pit, which meant Hamilton losing a few seconds (and then places) because Rosberg was still in the lead. Sheer bad luck for Hamilton, who dropped from second to fourth.
The safety car stayed out for quite a few laps, which was perplexing. At this stage it was unclear whether another stop would be necessary.
On lap 46 there was a crash involving Maldonado and Chilton which tore into the softer barriers, so that the barrier material largely obscured the track. This prompted a red flag.
This enabled the drivers to change for fresh tyres whilst waiting on the grid for the race to restart, unfortunately.
Red Bull were tremendously lucky with both incidents. The safety car allowed them to pass Hamilton, and the red flag gave them a much needed tyre change, whereas the Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari *may* have been able to get to the end without another stop.
The race resumed at 2.35pm behind the safety car, with most cars on the supersoft.
Anderson reckoned Alonso was competitive on softs, but very poor on the supersoft tyre.
Ricciardo and Grosjean collided, creating much debris on the track and prompting another safety car.
Perez was doing many slightly dodgy passes. He tried one on Raikkonen, the Finn had none of it and blocked him, damaging Perez’s front wing. However, Raikkonen then suffered a puncture and had to pit.
In the end, Perez had to retire and Raikkonen scraped into the final points position, having previously been in fifth.
Perfect race from Rosberg who secures a deserved win, Vettel and Webber were fast but also benefited enormously from the various incidents.
Hamilton was unlucky due to the safety car timing (not unlike Australia in 2012, actually) to be down in fourth. Sutil’s fifth was brilliant. Unlike Perez, his passing was rather more considered. Button will be pleased with sixth (and that Perez got nothing) and Alonso will be disappointed with a surprisingly poor race pace to finish seventh.
Vergne got a solid eighth, and Di Resta, having qualified only seventeenth, got ninth. Raikkonen fought back to gain but a single point.
I’m posting this prior to the highlights (I may watch them just to see what I make of Perez’s passing and the various other incidents), but from the radio it sounded as exciting as watching beige paint dry in an old people’s home. With a few exceptions (Force India, Raikkonen) there was sod all passing, a procession of a race and the safety cars/red flags even robbed us of any tactical cunning which could’ve seen varying pit stop strategies shuffle the pack a bit.
The Raikkonen bet may’ve stood a chance but for the red flag. Vettel was told by his engineer that it was touch and go regarding another stop, but the red flag allowed an extra free change. It’s a bit frustrating, not only because the bet lost (hedge was unmatched) but also because I don’t know what would’ve happened. It’s a coin toss situation: either Raikkonen would’ve easily passed the Red Bulls or he wouldn’t, but we’ll never know now.
In terms of performance, Ferrari had a shocker. Alonso had poor pace throughout and actually went backwards (despite Perez retiring and Raikkonen pitting late on) from his grid slot. Meanwhile Massa retired with another crash.
Force India should be chuffed. Sutil’s been very fast during his comeback but dogged by rotten luck. Bad luck was absent today for him and he made the most of it to achieve a great fifth. Di Resta also put in a good performance after a very poor qualifying.
Mercedes will be happiest, though. Not only did they get the win, their pace looked good. Rosberg was peerless all weekend, and thoroughly deserved the victory.
In title terms Vettel stole a march on his rivals. Throughout the race (excepting the possibility of a pit stop pass that never happened for Raikkonen) he was ahead of the Finn and Alonso. The Spaniard’s poor pace and the Finn’s ill fortune meant that Vettel significantly extended his lead at the top of the table, and Red Bull did likewise for the Constructors’.
Red Bull 164
Thankfully, the Canadian Grand Prix, which tends to be rather more interesting, is in a fortnight. The BBC coverage even involves fancy moving pictures as well as sound.