Early morning rise: check! Excited: check! Another team than Mercedes won: check! Am I satisfied: uhm… not so check..
And we are off for another season of Formula 1. “They” promised us bigger, better, stronger, faster. (Yes! The formula 1 version of the six million dollar man!) Engines, cars, drivers: everything was pushed to (and sometimes over?) the limits. Were we promised too much, or did we hype it ourselves? Fact is, that the race track received more visitors than last year: about a 25% increase. Some hyping translated into a higher number of visitors. But will that remain so during the season?
We were promised faster cars: well that was true. Kimi Räikkönen pushed out a 1:26.538 on lap 56, and comparing that to last year’s Daniel Ricciardo’s 1:28.997 (on lap 49), we find a 2.4 second difference. Not even close to Michael Schumacher’s 1:24.125 in 2004.
Top speeds were marginally less: Lance Stroll missed Williams’ last year’s top speed of 330,3 km/h with only 1.7 km/h. Daniil Kyvat topped Torro Rosso’s 2016 top speed by 5.2 km/h by pushing his car to 320.8 km/h. This was expected, since the cars create about 10% more drag. The difference was mostly in the cornering: Sebastian Vettel took the chicane at the end of the straight 23 km/h faster than last year. Sauber’s full-throttle stretch went from 635 to 710 metres. Since there is more aerodynamic grip, drivers can go all out earlier, and brake later.
And still I was bored. It didn’t make better racing. Pirelli was allowed to make better tires, so where most teams pitted twice last year, most only had to change their tires once this year. No improvement. Only made worse by the amount of overtaking: on track this was on absolute minimum. And I mostly missed them because in total boredom I was making breakfast.
Hell-raiser Verstappen could not get close to Kimi, who in turn kept distant to Bottas, who wasn’t a danger for Hamilton, who couldn’t put pressure on Vettel. …Fun… Would it be better if Ricciardo was still in the mix? I highly doubt it. The McLarens not up to par to make it difficult for the big 3: no surprise, but still disappointing. (allthough MattPt55 just explained to me Honda is picking up the pace “more errors in less time!”)
Things were made worse by the totally controlled problem of Hamilton. He seemed to have a tire-heating problem which forced him to take on new tires early, losing his first place in traffic.
Maybe I have seen too many movies, but I found it all a tad too convenient. Ferrari putting in a first win for a long time, Mercedes losing after having a long winning streak. Convenient for Ferrari, since HQ pressure was mounting, convenient for Mercedes since the negative sentiment about their domination is taking epic proportions.
Interesting was to follow the rookies: Vandoorne coped badly, and Alonso wiped his nose. Massa taught Stroll a lesson too. Giovinazzi handled himself well (I don’t want to badmouth Wehrlein, but couldn’t we keep Antonio?) This is the part that will keep me watching the upcoming China race: these guys are capable of more, but lack the of experience held them back. However they will mature rapidly, and will put some more pressure on their team-colleagues, then at least we will have some “in team” battles.
For the rest, my thoughts are what Kimi usually says: “bwoah”….