The story of qualifying was those yellow curbs–they destroyed the suspension of 4 constructor cars; Rosberg and Kvyat’s being by far the worst. FIA’s response? Don’t go over them. Because that’s SO easy to do in race conditions. Which, of course, makes for a bit of tension before the race starts.
First, Button did a great job jumping up to second and staying there for a few laps before Raikkonen finally got around him. Then Hamilton made me incredibly nervous staying out for over 20 laps on the ultra-soft tires, following by immediate frustration with the left rear tire coming off too slow and allowing Rosberg to just near by on pit exit.
Then lap 27, Vettel loses the right rear tire and the car. Safety car out and cars dive into the pits. The shreds were spectacular and right in front of Rosberg–did the Mercedes sustain any damage during that episode? Vettel needed that tire to hold just a few minutes longer to put some space between him and Rosberg before he pitted. A gamble, for sure, and this time it didn’t pay off for Ferrari. Vettel had some pretty harsh words and non-words for Pirelli about the tire letting go in his short interview around lap 50.
And it looked like several bits of tire and tire cord ended up in Rosberg’s front end. There was definitely damage to at least one side plate–completely sheered. Hamilton came in on lap 54–just after his engineer to close the gap on Rosberg. Was that planned? And then Rosberg came in the lap after–for a set of super softs instead of Hamilton’s softs. Hamilton specifically commented on it over the radio, which can’t be good.
That left Verstappen as the race leader with Rosberg and Hamilton to fight behind him. And with Rosberg’s first attempt at passing him, Verstappen denied him. It happened on the next corner, but still, he’s there to let the big boys know he’s fighting for wins. It took Hamilton a couple more laps to get around him–which worked to Rosberg’s advantage.
Bummer to see Alonso and Hulkenberg have to retire their cars so close to the end of the race. Both drivers’ talents are being wasted in different ways. It’s frustrating to watch.
Those final few laps of the race were incredibly tense. On the final lap, Hamilton had the advantage with DRS, took the outside line and ahead of Rosberg into the corner, but Rosberg pushed him out and it bit him in the ass. Rosberg’s front wing was destroyed and it cost him not just the win, but he couldn’t even salvage a podium.
Poor Checo’s off in the final lap was terrible luck, but Verstappen and Raikkonen rounded out the podium.
Mostly I wish I could listen in on Mercedes meetings. Those two can’t remain teammates like this much longer–so who will be the one to break and who will be the one to leave? And when? Add to it Rosberg was investigated after the race for failing to stop a damaged car plus a 10 second penalty (that didn’t change anything) for causing the collision. Drama, drama, drama.