Note from the Ed. Apologies to regular TJ13 readers who were expecting to see Thea’s Poll a couple days ago. Unforseen circumstances mean our team has only been able to publish her work tonight.
Rate the Race and Driver of the Weekend, Round 2 , China, 2017
Mean Reader Score: 7.31
This year’s mean race score of 7.31 was lower than the 8.16 from last year, even though Mercedes’ drivers won both races. Last year Rosberg lifted the trophy ahead of Vettel in P2 and Kvyat in P3 (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull): this year it was Hamilton ahead of Vettel and Verstappen (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull). 2016, however saw a much more dramatic start with the two Ferrari’s colliding and the air turning blue as Vettel was furious with Kvyat for attempting a move that was ‘never going to work’. Public opinion was with Kvyat as Vettel berated him after the race, but unfortunately it was the beginning of Kvyat’s demise as he found himself back racing for Toro Rodso a couple of races later.
As with last year, the weather played a significant part in this year’s race. Low level cloud prevented the emergency helicopter being able to take off/land safely and so very little running took place in the three free practice sessions. All was sorted, however, ahead of the race but the track was wet(ish) in parts, so everyone (except Sainz) started on Inters. A minor incident in the early part of the race proved to be Vettel’s downfall as he ‘took advantage’ of the virtual safety car to change onto slicks,only to have an actual safety car deployed almost immediately afterwards as Giovinazzi had a major crash on Lap 4 saw the safety car bringing the drivers through the pit lane whilst the carbon fibre was cleared from the track. Vettel was stuck for 15(ish) laps behind his team mate Raikkonen who was having some engine problems. Vettel pulled off three ‘proper’ (organic, according to Martin Brundle) overtakes on Raikkonnen, Ricciardo and Verstappen to finish in second place behind Hamilton and ahead of Verstappen, who managed to win (again) our Driver of the Weekend award.
Driver of The Weekend: Max Verstappen: 55.47% of reader vote.
An engine software problem prevented Verstappen progressing beyond Q1 so he started the race woefully out of position, qualifying in P19, but starting the race in P16. (due to Palmer and Grosjean receiving grid penalties.) Luckily this track is pretty good for overtaking and Verstappen took full advantage of the prevailing circumstances to cut a swathe through the field, moving up to P7 in the twinkling of an eye. He also displayed excellent defending tactics towards the end of the race as he managed to keep his team mate (Ricciardo, who won Driver of the Weekend last year for this race) behind him. Verstappen took his first (of many?) podium position and his first (of many?) Driver of the Weekend awards for this season.
Was he the best driver this weekend? Please leave your comments below.