HAMILTON’S MIRACLE, FERRARI’S MAYHEM
Hamilton hat-trick takes big points lead as Ferraris self-destruct
1st LEWIS HAMILTON Mercedes
2nd DANIEL RICCIARDO Red Bull-TAG Heuer
3rd VALTTERI BOTTAS Mercedes
While Vettel’s full-on-barrier-skimming lap took a scintillating pole, Mercedes languished on row three. Starting behind both the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, Lewis felt Sunday would need a miracle. Rain improved race-day prospects yet the divine intervention he sought came at the start. Vettel’s sluggish launch together with Räikkönen’s lighting getaway from P4 squeezed front-row-sitter Verstappen into a Ferrari sandwich. As Vettel assertively came across to block, Max had nowhere to go, a pile-up inescapable. In the resultant turn 1 mêlée, all three were eliminated – Max and Kimi on the spot – plus fast starting Alonso, who was totally blameless. So miraculously, Hamilton led lap 1. His fast start and wide line through turn 1 avoided the chaos and also overtook Ricciardo, starting P3. But the hoped for duel between Lewis and Daniel never materialised. The Mercedes could pull away at will, initially in the wet, later in the dry, as well as after each of the three SC restarts. Later it transpired that Ricciardo had a gearbox issue, but in the tricky and cooler conditions Hamilton was simply unbeatable, driving flawlessly to a hat-trick victory – his 60th overall – and a 28-point lead in his title-fight with Vettel. A lacklustre Bottas completed the podium while the turn 1 chaos enabled lesser teams to prosper. Best-ever finishes came for Sainz (P4), Palmer (P6) and Vandoorne (P7). Prior to his lap 48 retirement for technical issues, Hülkenberg looked good for big points, running P3 for the opening 11 laps.
Under the rainswept floodlighting, the Scuderia’s self-inflicted disaster created spectacular imagery. The Stewards let it go, but pundits largely blamed Vettel for an excessive display of aggression and risk vis-à-vis his championship situation. Pre-race announcements for 2018 had McLaren ditching Honda for Renault, Toro Rosso switching the other way, and despite Jo’s first points of the season, Sainz will fill Palmer’s seat at Renault.
The Championship Chase
Hamilton 263, Vettel 235, Bottas 212, Ricciardo 162, Räikkönen 138
Mercedes 475, Ferrari 373, Red Bull 230, Force India 124, Williams 59
Formula 1 All the Races