Lewis Hamilton capitalized on excellent tyre management and a virtual safety car to cruise to victory by the end of a race that had enough twists and turns to ensure it kept viewers on the edge of their seats, here are our top five talking points.
- Nightmare for Red Bull
It became a story of what could have been for Red Bull today, however the team failed to score any points after Max Vertsappen crashed out and Alex Albon dropped down to 15th towards the back end of the race.
Max Verstappen was ready to fight with the Mercedes duo in today’s race, posting an Instagram picture before lights-out captioned, ‘FULLSENDDAY’. He definitely proved it was, he pipped Lewis Hamilton at the start and continued to be on Valtteri Bottas’ heels all the way through the first stint.
Hamilton gained the lead after the first set of pitstops but Verstappen was pushing Bottas hard for second, causing the Fin to make continuous errors until the Dutchman was close enough to strike into Tamburello. He made no mistake and came out of the corner ahead, leaving a bewildered Bottas in his wing mirrors.
Shockingly, this would all come undone only a few laps later when, out of nowhere, Verstappen’s right rear tyre failed and he crashed out of the race, handing Mercedes the 1-2.
Post-race Vertsappen stated his disappointment to SKY Sports F1:
“The pace was good, the car was feeling quite good but then suddenly there was a tyre blow out. I looked at the car and nothing was broken so I’m not sure what caused it.
“We were much closer to the Mercedes today so it’s such a shame to miss out not just on a podium but a possible second place.”
Team boss Christian Horner gave more insight post-race to Sky;
“We think Max may have run over some debris which caused his tyre to suddenly explode.”
Verstappen’s incident brought out the safety car and once the race restarted, things went from bad to worse for Red Bull. All their hope for a decent points finished rested on Alexander Albon but unfortunately, disaster struck as he dropped his rear-end defending from Sergio Perez and spun off track. He re-joined in 15th, where he remained until the chequered flag, a day to forget for Red Bull.
- George Russell blows it
Red Bull weren’t the only ones left frustrated with today’s result, during the safety car George Russell was sat in the top ten and was looking set to once again challenge for his first career point. Anticipation soon turned to despair as Russell spun his car and smashed into the barriers, crashing out of the race.
It appeared that he’d hit a bump in the road and spun the back wheels after pushing too hard on the accelerator, spinning his rear end round and pushing him off track towards the wall.
Clearly livid with himself, the young Brit sat down by his stricken car hitting himself on the leg and shaking his head.
“I don’t know what to say to be honest,” Russell exclaimed to Sky post-race. “I had good pace all weekend and I just pushed it too far trying to warm the tyres under the safety car.”
He went on to apologise to his team, saying he will go away and learn from this experience in order to come back stronger.
- Another podium for Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo inherited third position after Verstappen’s crash and managed come home to claim his second podium in three races, the same as Bottas.
The Australian had to hold off a flying Daniil Kvyat who had an excellent restart after the safety car, going past both Albon and Charles Leclerc in one corner. The Russian’s advances were not enough to crack a calm and composed Ricciardo, who drove home faultlessly to get Renault’s second podium of the season.
There was sheer delight at the chequered flag and Ricciardo expressed his joy post-race, as eccentric as ever;
“YES, holy mac and cheese balls, that’s another podium!
“It was a bizarre one, I had fun out there, [Team Boss] Cyril [Abiteboul] will not be getting another tattoo though.”
The famous Shoey made a return on the podium, with Hamilton even joining Ricciardo in drinking champagne from his race boot.
- Mercedes make history
After Hamilton’s record-breaking victory last week, today it was time for Mercedes to make history of their own, claiming a record seventh Constructors Championship, marking the most dominant era in Formula 1 history.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolf spoke in length about the incredible achievement post-race to Sky;
“This is something to be really proud of, we have a team of people who have stayed together, worked together and have pushed the boundary for so long.
“It’s the culmination of lots of blood sweat and tears behind closed doors that goes into this.
“I think if we stay motivated and work hard, we can push the boundary even further in the future.”
Race winner Hamilton added; “It’s not easy to continue to deliver but wow, seven times world champions, that’s something to tell my grandkids.”
- Hamilton heading for the Championship
Hamilton once again bettered his teammate and goes into the next race at Istanbul with a huge chance of winning his seventh Driver’s World Title.
Hamilton’s win today came after he profited from a virtual safety car after gambling with the overcut on his first set of tyres. When Bottas and Vertsappen pitted, he stayed out and pushed hard to extend a lead large enough to exceed the 27 seconds lost during a pitstop, in order to come back out in the lead.
The virtual safety car was announced when Esteban Ocon pulled over and retired with a gearbox issue meaning that when Hamilton pitted, he only lost 17 seconds to his rivals, giving him a ten second cushion once he re-joined the race.
The safety car following Verstappen’s crash brought everyone closer together but Hamilton remained focused and stormed to victory once the race restarted. He extended his lead to five seconds in the final three laps, claiming the fastest lap of the race and leaving his teammate behind.
Verstappen’s DNF means that only Bottas can now challenge Hamilton for the championship and must outscore his teammate by eight points next time out to stop him from winning a record equaling championship.
Either way, with only four races left, it’s looking very promising for Hamilton to match the great Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Driver’s Championships before the season comes to a close.
See you next time out in Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix!