It is safe to say that Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are back in business and that too with a big bang. The German driver cruised home 9 seconds ahead of pole sitter and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas rounded off the top 3 and took his 10th career podium, the first of many with Mercedes. Hamilton led in the early stages of the race but a poor strategy call from his team cost him the race.
Poor Strategy Call By Mercedes
Hamilton got called into the pit while leading on Lap 17 to try for the undercut but Vettel’s Ferrari was very gentle on the Ultrasoft tyres and he stayed out for 6 more laps. Hamilton found himself behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen when he came out of the pits and he couldn’t overtake the young Dutchman as the new 2017 cars are much tougher to pass. Verstappen crucially held up Hamilton and when Vettel returned from the pits on Lap 23, he effectively inherited the lead and never looked back.
Hamilton’s teammate Bottas ran a very solid race, finishing right where he started but he delivered a strong late challenge to Lewis which eventually couldn’t materialize.
I believe that the reason due to which Lewis Hamilton lost the race was that risky move to call him to the pits a little early. Mercedes did not accurately estimate how long the new Ultrasoft tyres would last and this gave Ferrari the edge. Now that the World Champions have gathered data about how long the tyres will last, they will definitely improve on the same.
Unlucky 13 for red bull?
Red Bull Racing’s new RB13 is proving to be unlucky for the team as they are far off from even challenging for the podium spots. Red Bull seem to be the clear 3rd fastest team and they will be consistent point scorers. The technical deficit of Red Bull to the top two teams is huge and the highest placed Red Bull of Max Verstappen finished approximately 6 seconds behind the lowest placed championship challenging car of Kimi Raikkonen!
One of the main reasons for the same is the new Renault power unit. Although the new engine has better performance than last year’s engine, the electronics of the power unit have not been updated due to which the highest potential of the engine is not being extracted.
The reliability of the RB13 is also in doubt after Daniel Ricciardo stopped during the race due to an issue with the car which is not yet identified. Since Ricciardo’s car was going through repairs at the start of the race, he had to start the race two laps down and with him not finishing in front of his home crowd, it must’ve been a shame for him but hopefully he will do better in China.
Strong midfield entertains crowd
Although overtaking has reduced significantly thanks to these new generation of cars, the close battles in the midfield between Force India, Toro Rosso, Renault and the others made the race pretty interesting. With the gap building up and the front, the Toro Rossos were consistently locked in a battle with each other and Sergio Perez of Force India, which the latter eventually won.
The battle between Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg for 10th place was also very entertaining as Fernando fended off Ocon for a long time. Soon, Hulkenberg joined the party and both Hulkenberg and Ocon teamed up and overtook Alonso on the main straight, showcasing the lack of power in the Honda engine used by McLaren. To make matters even worse, Alonso retired of issues 5 laps from the finish and his teammate Vandoorne was the last of the cars which completed the race.
Haas were looking very strong over the weekend but that strength could not materialize into a result as both of their cars had to be retired due to problems. Toro Rosso enjoyed a brilliant weekend with both of their cars finishing in the points with Force India also enjoying the same feat. Renault had a bad weekend as Nico Hulkenberg finished just out of the points in 11th and Jolyon Palmer retired.
Williams ran a fairly quiet race with Felipe Massa finishing a strong 6th and rookie teammate Lance Stroll retiring to to reliability issues. Sauber also had a bad weekend with Marcus Ericsson retiring from the race and debutant Antonio Giovinazzi finishing 12th overall.
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