Brought to you by TJ13 contributor @F1TheaJ
Rate the Race and Driver of the weekend – Round 17, Suzuka, Japan 2016
Rate the Race Reader Score: 6.97
This is the highest scoring race of the past four years way higher than 2015 (5.11), considerably higher than 2014 (5.42) and a bit higher than 2013 (6.01).
Hardly surprising as (unlike 2015) this year’s race wasn’t over by turn 2.
No aggressive start from Hamilton pushing Rosberg off the track this time. In fact this may have been Hamilton’s worst start of the year (so far) which is saying something as his starts have been pretty poor at times. Hamilton initiated a complaint from Ferrari before the race had even begun: an overnight downpour had left parts of the track damp and seeing as the teams are not allowed to dry off the starting box, Hamilton had the marshals doing it for him. So we could tell right away that Hamilton was not a happy bunny (but then, we kind of knew that from his antics in the run up to qualifying and the race.) Hamilton initially lost half a dozen or so places (and possibly the race and 2016 Driver Championship title?) after getting bogged down at the start. This affected the other drivers on that side of the track as many had to take evasive action to avoid him. He was lucky not to loose his front wing as Raikonnen came very close as he swooped past. He did make a brilliant recovery throughout the race, salvaging a podium finish and allowing Ferrari to highlight their strategy skills and Verstappen his prowess in defending (or was it blocking?).
Considering this track is narrow and twisty, there was a remarkable number of overtaking manoeuvres throughout the race, with Vettel, Raikonnen, Hamilton and Ricciardo all getting in on the action: BUT it was Hulkenberg who stole the show for quote of the race with a ‘see ya later’ as he left Bottas bobbing in his wake on L21. There may possibly have been an equal number of complaints about slower drivers ‘ignoring’ the blue flags throughout the race leaving quite a few drivers ‘singing the blues’.
Vettel put up a pretty good fight for P3, but, having been brought in (on L35) from the front of the race (to cover Hamilton) came out on medium tyres into P4. Was he ever going to overtake the Mercedes and then stay there for the rest of the race? With a scorching 1:35.118, Vettel won the DHL fastest Lap award. The spat between Hamilton and Vettel did get Hamilton closer to Verstappen who was running in P2.
Driver of the Weekend: Max Verstappen , 52.82 % of the reader vote.
Not for the first time this year (in fact it’s the eighth, if anyone’s counting) Verstappen has won this accolade. Also not for the first time it was in what may have been described as a ‘controversial’ fashion. It’s that old defending/blocking thing again. As in Spain, when a reasonable distance ahead of his rivals, Verstappen defends brilliantly.
It’s when they get up close and personal that the trouble starts.
Once again, for several (six) laps, Verstappen showed he was more than capable of giving a World Champion driver a run for their money: outwitting Hamilton at every turn (literally and metaphorically) until of course they arrived at the chicane on L52, when (on his own admission) Verstappen waited to see which way Hamilton moved before he came off the racing line to defend his position. This resulted in Hamilton swerving onto the escape road and out of contention for P2. Meanwhile ahead of both Verstappen and Hamilton, Rosberg comfortably won the race and secured the Constructors Championship for Mercedes. Mercedes launched and then withdrew a complaint about Verstappen’s move on Hamilton. So, is the Driver’s title all but won by Rosberg this year or can Lewis rise like a phoenix from the flames to snatch it back? We’ll just have to wait a little while longer to get an answer to that one.
p.s. seeing as there was a recent article on which tunes the drivers listen to I thought we could have a go at compiling F1 Greatest Hits Vol 1.
Here’s a few to get us started:
Kimi sings the blues.- Robin Trower (or if you prefer, Marty Robbins)
Silence is golden – The Tremeloes (drivers’ cool down room)
Storm in a teacup – The Fortunes (L52?)
I’m in love with my car- Queen (Rosberg, all weekend)