As much as people complain about grid penalties, it’s going to be interesting to see HAM fight his way up from P9. He qualified P4 but he was given a 5-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change following a hydraulic leak in the Melbourne race. Knowing the penalty was coming, he set his fastest Q2 time on soft tyres which suggests he’ll be on a 1-stop strategy whereas the rest of the top 10 will start on supersofts.
Grid: VET, RAI, BOT, RIC, GAS, MAG, HUL, OCO, HAM, SAI, HAR, PER, ALO, VAN, VER, GRO, ERI, SIR, LEC, STR.
If you didn’t see qualifying then you might be surprised to see VER down in P15 – that’s because he lost the tail and ended up in the tyre wall towards the end of Q1. I’m sure he’ll make some exciting overtakes to get back into the points.
VET is starting his 200th Grand Prix today.
It’s also 50 years since Jim Clark died
Drivers start to leave the pit lane and do a practice start before heading to the grid.
The wind has picked up compared to Quali yesterday, but maybe more importantly it’s changed direction – it’s now a headwind into Turn 1.
Air temperature 28°C; track 34°C; humidity 46%; wind 5.5km/h
The floodlights are on as the sun sets and the temperatures will drop a little
The sky is a strange grey – I wonder if that’s due to sand?
VET leads everyone away on the formation lap
Cars outside the top 10 have free choice of which tyre compounds to start on – looks like a lot of yellow softs
Radio for HAM discussing maybe moving the brake balance forward a fraction
Grid slowly forming up
01/57: HAM makes a good start but he’s struggling to find space
PER spins in the hairpin – he’s down to P20
BOT past RAI for P2
02: VET, BOT, RAI, RIC, GAS, MAG, OCO, HUL, ALO
VER makes a strong move on VER – contact?
VER has a puncture
RIC has pulled off track and parked his Red Bull
Virtual Safety Car deployed
03 [VSC]: VET fastest lap 1:40.505
VER still limping back to the pits
Marshals are removing RIC’s car
Replay shows HAR and PER collide
04 [VSC]: LEC pits
MAG makes a move on GAS but there’s contact
HUL around the outside of OCO
05/57: VET, BOT, RAI, GAS, MAG, HAM, ALO, OCO, HAR, SAI, ERI, STR, GRO, VAN, PER, SIR, LEC, VER
VER has parked off track – that’s both Red Bulls out
06: VET f/lap 1:35.721
HAM uses DRS to easily take P5 from MAG
07: VET f/lap 1:35.369
Incident involving PER and HAR is under investigation
08: HAM breezes past GAS for P4
Radio for ALO telling him HUL has an issue with his battery
Incident involving HAM and VER has been noted but won’t be investigated
09: Incident involving PER and HAR – HAR given a 10sec penalty
10/57: VET, BOT, RAI, HAM, GAS, MAG, HUL, ALO, OCO, HAR
PER pits; switched to medium compound tyres
11: VAN pits, followed by STR
New nose section for STR
Red Bull mechanics packing up already
12: Replay of RIC’s retirement shows his steering wheel went dark – no information displayed, not responding to his attempts to change gear
14: MAG pits; clean stop – must be a relief for the Haas team
15/57: ALO pits
Official FIA timing on TV feed shows the wrong lap info!
Incident involving cars 11 and 28 (PER and HAR) will be investigated after the race
16: GAS, HUL and OCO all pit
17: VET has a 2.8sec lead over BOT
ALO inside LEC for P13
SIR defends but HUL makes the pass stick to take P10
18: BOT pushing to close on VET, which might impact pit strategies
19: VET pits from P1; soft tyres; rejoins P4 in a lot of space
GRO pits; 2/2 clean stops for Haas
Radio for HAM – “we’re sticking to Plan A”
20/57: RAI pits from P2; softs; rejoins P4
21: BOT pits from P1; medium tyres, so has he switched to 1-stop?
VET f/lap 1:34.696
HAR pits; serves his 10sec penalty
22: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, GAS, ERI, MAG, HUL, ALO, VAN, OCO, PER, SAI, GRO, SIR, LEC, STR, HAR; retirements: VER, RIC
RAI f/lap 1:34.411
23: BOT f/lap 1:33.740 and he’s on medium tyres
MAG takes P6 from ERI
24: ERI keeping HUL at bay despite ERI running on older tyres
25/57: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, GAS, MAG, HUL, ALO, VAN, OCO, PER, SAI, GRO, LEC, ERI, HAR, STR, SIR
Radio for BOT reminding him “we’re on Plan B” – presumably meaning save your tyres because you’re not stopping again
26: VET closing on HAM – remember HAM is on the soft tyres he used in Q2
VET takes P1
Mercedes team get ready for a pit stop – getting medium tyres ready for HAM
27: HAM pits from P2; clean stop; mediums go on, so definitely 1-stopping; rejoins P4
28: MAG pits
29: VAN pits
ERI attacking PER – takes P11
Was that bodywork coming off GRO’s Haas?
30/57: VET, BOT, RAI, HAM, GAS, HUL, ALO, OCO, GRO, MAG, ERI, PER, HAR, LEC, VAN, SAI, STR, SIR; retirements: VER, RIC
31: MAG attacks teammate GRO – that was a bit close
MAG on the radio expecting the team to tell GRO to get out of his way
32: STR pits
MAG has DRS to help him close on OCO; passes the Force India for P8
35/57: VET, BOT, RAI, HAM, GAS, HUL, ALO, MAG, OCO, ERI
GAS pits; rejoins P7
36: LEC pits just in front of RAI
RAI leaves the box but hits a mechanic!
37: OCO pits despite RAI’s car being in the way
Ferrari mechanic is still on the ground in the Ferrari box 🙁
38: No replay of the RAI pit incident but his car still has the original rear left wheel on it
Did the mechanic still have the wheel gun engaged when RAI set off?
39: Incident involving RAI for an unsafe release
Radio for VET – “Plan B” – are they trying to go to the end without stopping?
Apparently the Ferrari mechanic has been taken to the medical centre on a stretcher
40/57: VET, BOT, HAM, HUL, ALO, GAS, MAG, ERI, HAR, HAR, VAN
HUL and ALO pit
41: HUL pits
42: Radio for HAM confirming he’s on the target time, asking how hard he’s pushing
ERI holding off HUL again
44: More bodywork flying off GRO’s car
45/57: ALO takes P7 from ERI, just before VET closes in to lap them
46: OCO attacking GRO – takes P11
HAM locks up as PER doesn’t make room to be lapped
47: GRO pits; slow stop as they check the bodywork
48: Radio for HAM again as they try to clarify what’s needed to challenge VET
Radio from VET complaining about the lack of blue flags for ALO
50/57: VET, BOT, HAM, GAS, MAG, HUL, ALO, ERI, VAN, SAI, OCO, PER, HAR, LEC, GRO, STR, SIR; retirements: RAI, VER, RIC
51: HAM laps SAI but gets on the radio to ask why there aren’t any blue flags (There was one further down the road)
52: VET 3.2sec ahead of BOT; BOT is lapping ~1sec/lap faster
53: BOT visibly closing on VET
54: BOT starts the lap 1.7sec behind VET
Ends the lap 1.4sec behind
55/57: HAM is still clearing lapped cars; GAS is 53secs behind
56: BOT is within DRS range, but there’s only 2 laps left
57 = final lap: BOT dives out into Turn 1 but VET isn’t phased
VET takes the chequered flag
Provisional result: VET, BOT, HAM, GAS, MAG, HUL, ALO, VAN, ERI, OCO; SAI, PER, HAR, LEC, GRO, STR, SIR
DNF: RAI, VER, RIC
Toro Rosso team celebrating GAS’ 4th place
VET said his tyres were done about 10 laps before the end
Reminder from lap 15: Incident involving cars 11 and 28 (PER and HAR) will be investigated after the race
ALO’s P7 finish means he’s 4th in the World Championship standings, and GAS is equal 7th with RIC!