Sunday, we learned Mercedes loves their penalties and Lewis Hamilton still has that winning spark in him. It’s not to say we haven’t seen this before–especially with Hamilton winning his home grand prix now for the third year in a row. There’s also the almost painful deja-vu of Mercedes’ actions coming into question. Thankfully, at least this time the latter was due to the team efforts from the garage, and not the drivers.
Hamilton had a fairly easy race with little to worry about behind him, especially after a tricky start on the grid. A downpour of rain at the start of the race forced cars to start under a safety car for the first five laps, which set up what looked to be a slip-and-slide for the next 15.
Between the cooler air and the rain, it was incredibly difficult for the cars to get the tires to temp to help their cars stay on the road. Those follies were demonstrated in early laps with drivers losing the back ends of cars, or suddenly spinning like Manor driver, Pascal Wehrlein, whose car sunk into the gravel and retired him far too early in the race.
The cars were able to make it onto a dry set of tires and order was about restored on the track before the halfway point of the race. There, the excitement rather died down as the slippery action ceased.
It was still a good race, even if it didn’t end with a dramatic finish like last week in Austria (Google search “Hamilton Rosberg Austria” and you should be caught up). Hamilton wanted a win at home, and well, the man earned it, almost flawlessly.
Hamilton’s win wasn’t that exciting. That’s a given. The actual more surprising point of the race was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finishing third, and then receiving a bump to second after the Mercedes penalty was issued, resulted from the team giving Nico Rosberg advice in the last stint of the race (a no-no this year).
The whole situation was not entirely fair for Rosberg and the FIA’s rules go back and forth enough that it’s difficult to discern if the ruling was just their enforcing the rules, or a little blow back from last week’s escapade. As unfortunate the ruling for Mercedes, Rosberg still received points and a podium finish, so not all is lost for Nico or the team.
Another talking point is Ferrari’s not so great luck these last couple of races, especially Sunday’s race with Sebastian Vettel’s needed gearbox change, resulting in a penalty with a 5-grid spots loss on the starting grid. More unfortunate, was he just couldn’t make the difference in distance and finished ninth overall.
Teammate Kimi Raikonnen, however, proved he deserved to keep his spot at Ferrari taking fifth, a vast improvement in comparison to the majority of his finishes this season.
And if there is one more thing to keep an eye out for, it’s definitely on the Red Bull and Force India teams. The last few years of F1 have been rather dull watching Ferrari almost win, or sometimes actually win, and Mercedes just owning the field race, after race, after race.
With Red Bull’s Verstappen’s third podium finish of the season and teammate Daniel Riccardio never too far behind, followed by Force India’s Sergio Perez’s podium finish at Baku, it looks as if the playing field in F1 is actually starting to even out and make the races a little more fun to watch again. There’s a mix of teams starting to show up on the podium, and it may be time for Mercedes to have to work a little harder for those wins. Honestly, I don’t think too many people mind that change.
As for the other teams, they too are showing tremendous progress comparatively, especially with Manor and Haas already earning points six races into the season . And there are still many more months of the season to go. So now we just have to watch as things heat up at the finish this year.
Congrats to Hamilton for his win. You can tell he’s a happy man when he wins, evident in his frolicking about the track and crowdsurfing adventure.
And now, we’ll all have to eagerly wait another two weeks until we can get our fix with the Hungarian Grand Prix.