This was a much more exciting race than Melbourne in my opinion. There was lots more overtaking and tense moments (especially for us vettel fans). This was bound to be a more entertaining race with both Hamilton and verstappen out of their expected position in qualifying, so with all that happened these are my 5 points on this race…
5. The Red Bulls
We very quickly lost both red bulls in this race. It started with Verstappen battling Hamilton through the opening corners of the race. As the went wheel to wheel (literally) he received a puncture and was forced to limp the car around most of the track to get back to the pits. He managed to get his tyre changed but he soon pulled off the side of the track.
We then lost Riccardo due to a technical fault in the first lap of the race, after losing all power he left his car at the side of the track. This race didn’t really start for the red bull team who began packing up while the race was still running.
4. The mechanic
It’s not often that in the modern world of racing F1 has an Injury and it’s even rarer that it’s not one of the drivers, but on this occasion it was a mechanic for Ferrari who has had to be taken to hospital.
It was during a pit stop for Raikkonen, whilst trying to beat the strategies of the Mercedes he was bought in to have a tyre change. They couldn’t remove the left rear tyre but the driver was given the green light to go, unfortunately because the tyre wasn’t swapped the mechanic stood in front ready to put the new one on was hit by the car. Medics and the Ferrari team immediately rushed to his aid, he was taken to hospital and it was confirmed that he had a broken leg. It is a shame when things like this happen but it is a high pressure and high speed sport and incidents are bound to happen from time to time.
3. The finish
Now as a Vettel fan I have never been taken closer to the brink of having a meltdown than watching his tyres slowly diminish with the 2 Mercedes drivers behind him. He had a 7 second advantage to Bottas and a further 11 seconds to Hamilton. It was at about lap 51 that I began to panic, with only 6 laps to go his tyres had lost nearly all their grip and Bottas was catching at over a second each lap meaning that by the last couple laps he was staring down Vettel’s gear box. The Ferrari had just enough grip left to keep him outside of the DRS activation time for a small amount of time, but it was not long before Bottas was within the activation zone which gave him the speed boost gifted by DRS.
It looked like Vettel was going to lose the race that he had been so dominant in up to that point, but just as Bottas got closer than he had before he locked up his front left and dropped back a few tenths of a second, but it was enough of a gap for Vettel to push to the end of the race in a dramatic style and come through as the winner. One of his hardest fights in recent years and it was with his tyres, but having come out on top that puts him on 2 wins out of 2 races.
Now he did not feature very heavily during the race, he didn’t do a lot of overtaking or fighting for position. He just drove a very controlled and well paced race and kept himself in 4th position, helped by Raikennon not finishing the race gifting him an extra position. This is a particularly special achievement for Toro rosso as they have taken the plunge this year to use Honda’s engine which has proven to underperform in recent years in the McLaren car. This result proves that the engine has improved massively and is in contention with their rival manufacturers as it outperformed the McLaren’s that ditched the engine in favour of the Renault engine.
We are only 2 races into the season but with drivers championship shaping up as it is with Vettel having 2 wins under his belt is on the maximum of 50 points. He is then followed by Hamilton on 27 points, nearly a whole race win behind. As the last season went I am predicting the title fight to be between Hamilton and Vettel. The Ferrari driver is certainly setting a precedent and has shown that the car is very competitive against the Mercedes. This will be a very exciting fight to watch unfold, especially as I believe it was only due to Ferrari’s lack of reliability last year that meant Hamilton won it.
It is only one week until the next race in China and I think that this is Hamilton’s race to win, if he still doesn’t beat vettel by the third race into the season he will have handed a huge advantage away and will make his own championship hopes smaller than they are now. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in one week.