Rate the race and driver of the weekend – Suzuka , Japan 2017
Mean reader score: 6.20
This year’s score was lower Than last year’s score of 6.97, which was the highest scoring race of the previous four years: way higher than 2015 (5.11), considerably higher than 2014 (5.42) and a bit higher than 2013 (6.01).
Last year this was one of the most popular races of the season as we had a scrap between Hamilton and Verstappen to keep us entertained, Mercedes secured the constructor’s championship, and Rosberg increased his lead in the WDC (which he went on to win) to 28 points.
Not so this year. Ferrari had masses of engineers trying to fix a spark plug on Vettel’s car a few minutes before lights out; Sainz said farewell to Toro Rosso by destroying his car; Hulkenberg retired due to a rear wing failure; Stroll had a puncture, cut a corner and nearly took out a Red Bull who had just lapped him; Alonso got in Verstappen’s way when he was trying to take the lead from Hamilton and of course there was the massive elephant in the room of Vettel retiring, scoring zero points, dropping 59 points behind Hamilton in the WDC standings, all due to the aforementioned spark plug.
Ocon had a great start though, and finished in P6 just ahead of team mate Perez and both Hass drivers scored points this race, delivered courtesy of a daring move by Magnussen on Massa on Lap 42, which also allowed Grosjean to get past, resulting in them being placed 8th and 9th at the chequered flag. This left the beleaguered Williams team having make do with a single point from Massa in P10. Hass are now ahead of Renault by a mere point in the constructor standings (presumably hoping Sainz can score a few points for them in the next race.)
A fond ‘f*ck off’ to Jolyon Palmer from Renault as he gallantly took a 20 place grid penalty in this his last race for the team (conveniently providing Sainz with a new engine for the rest of the season.)
Of course we can’t mention Suzuka without fondly remembering Jules Bianchi, who sadly lost his life as a result of a tragic accident at this track three years ago. Gone, but never forgotten: Forza Jules.
Driver of the Weekend: Max Verstappen 48.03% of reader vote
Qualifying in P5, Verstappen made short work of Bottas, Vettel and team mate Ricciardo on the first lap and with three virtual safety car periods and a couple of actual safety cars it was not until the end of the race that things started to get interesting for Max. However, making it two wins in a row was not to be, as in a not dissimilar scenario to the previous race, the outcome was heavily influenced by the reluctance of the backmarkers to get out of the way of those lapping them. This week the backmarkers favoured eventual winner, Hamilton and somewhat hindered young Max. Alonso was given a reprimand for his actions. Still, 18 points and the second step of the podium is better than none. Well done Max!!
Question: Is it beyond belief that Red Bull could consider allowing Max to go to Mercedes (2019) in return for Mercedes supplying their engines?
10/10/17 Happy Birthday to me!!