Rate the race and driver of the weekend, 2018
Round 1 Melbourne Australia
Mean reader score: 4.59
Well, if you thought last year’s score of 5.6 paled against 2016’s score of 7.26, then this year’s score of 4.59 was poor indeed. Not the best start for the new season (wonder how Liberty feel about that?). Rain in FP3 washed the track clean but qualifying itself was dry. Hamilton pulled out a great final lap in Q3 prompting him to tell Vettel he ‘wanted to wipe the smile off his face’ (ouch….how that would come back to haunt him come race day).
The start was pretty clean, with the top three (Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel) maintaining position. Verstappen took his Red Bull for an unscheduled spin on lap 10. Lap 22 saw the first of two Haas retirements with similar (wobbly wheels) problems as first Magnussen, then two laps later, Grosjean retired. Grosjean’s retirement caused quite a lot of controversy as it caused a virtual safety car (VSC) to be deployed. Under the VSC rules the cars on track have to stay within a given speed limit. This, however, (as well Vettel knew) does not apply to the pit lane. Vettel took full advantage of this and pitted and came back onto the track ahead of Hamilton, who could not attempt to overtake as they were still under VSC rules. (Where did all the time go? Was there really a ‘temporary electronic glitch’ on the Mercedes car, or was Hamilton caught napping i.e. not driving to the limit of the allowed VSC speed?). Then came an actual safety car, which meant any advantage the front runners had over their rivals was gone, as the cars bunched up behind it. Vettel timed the restart perfectly and left an unsuspecting Hamilton bobbing in his wake, unable to catch or overtake him for the remainder of the race. (Deja-vu, similar to last year’s race). First blood to Vettel then (although some say Vettel has already gained a significant psychological advantage over Hamilton by stealing the lion’s share of publicity due to his new haircut). Would it be terribly unkind to say Vettel wiped the smile of Hamilton’s face? Vettel certainly didn’t say it (although I assume he may have thought it).
Driver of the Weekend: Kevin Magnussen, 36.09% of Reader Vote
How so? Didn’t he retire on Lap 22? Well, yes he did, but he did enough in those few laps to win our coveted Driver of the Weekend title. Having qualified in P6 (yes P6) due to Ricciardo’s grid penalty, he started from P5, directly behind (the possibly over hyped/rated? wunderkid) Max Verstappen (although he’s not the youngest driver on the grid any more). Magnussen made a pretty nifty overtake at the beginning of the race, relegating Verstappen to P5 and promoting himself to P4. Holding position nicely, all seemed to be doing well until his one and only pitstop, and the rest, as they say is history.
Well done KMag!!