Lewis Hamilton has won a major mental battle this weekend, and it was spectacular to watch. Hamilton looked strong all weekend, especially in qualifying where he was clocked an amazing 15km/h faster than his teammate through the Lesmo’s, but it was his tenacity on race day that makes it a special victory.
Lining up on pole, Hamilton had a disastrous start, dropping down to fourth after his starting mechanics failed. He proceeded to storm back to the front of the race, after Rosberg misjudged a corner (conspiracy theorists pulled out their tinfoil hats en masse), leaving the space free for Hamilton to take the lead again. He stayed out in front for the remainder of the race, taking the win in an easy fashion.
Rosberg came home in second, and despite having driven well throughout the race, it is obvious that there are some cracks in his mental shield, not helped by the loud booing of the crowd (on a sidenote, I do not agree with the booing at all, and cant help but wonder if people would be as quick to boo someone to their face, as they are in a nameless crowd), which even his Italian speech failed to calm. It is clear that Rosberg is feeling a bit ruffled by all of the goings on at the moment, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure under the lights of Singapore.
Felipe Massa finished in third, his first podium of the season, having driven a lonely, incident-free race behind the two dueling Mercedes. His podium finish was further bolstered by Williams confirming that it would be keeping both current drivers for next season. Bottas finished in fourth, but endured a rather more eventful race, even dropping as low as eleventh at one stage. He escaped unscathed from a clash with Magnussen, and stormed through the field, taking on everyone in his path.
Daniel Ricciardo (the honey badger) had a brilliant race as well, outclassing his teammate and his car for most of the race to finish in fifth behind the Williams team. Sebastian Vettel has been having a quieter season than he is used to, but still drove a good race to finish in sixth. Sergio Perez had a stonker of a race, completing some brilliant over-taking maneuvers, taking on some experienced racers, and just generally racing his heart out to finish in seventh. Jenson Button enjoyed a resurgent McLaren race this weekend as well, and came home in eighth. His teammate was not so lucky, and despite finishing in ninth, was handed a five-second penalty for a dangerous maneuver on Bottas, putting him just outside of the top ten.
Ferrari had a disgusting weekend. I have no words. From Fernando Alonso’s first DNF in over 80 races, to Kimi languishing down in the midfield, I am filled with sadness to watch them. It has been a very disappointing season for the drivers and fans of the marquee, and I can only hope that next year is better.
Danil Kvyat had a bit of a scare late in the race, almost taking out the lone Ferrari (the horror!), and himself in the process, but he showed nerves of steel, ability greater than his years, and slid sideways down the runoff, coming safely back onto track without too much damage to finish just outside the top 10. Perez’s teammate Hulkenberg has not set the track on fire as much so far in the second part of the season, and finished a quiet race down in twelfth. The first of the languishing Lotus’s came in behind him, driven by Maldonado, followed by Adrian Sutil of Sauber.
Grosjean continued a disappointing season by finishing in sixteenth, with the Caterham on-again off-again driver Kobayashi coming home in seventeenth. Jules Bianchi of Marussia finished in eighteenth, and Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber and Marcus Ericsson of Caterham rounded out the finishers. Max Chilton suffered his second race exit of his career, and joined Alonso in the DNF lot.
There is still much to come in this season, and lots more to play for within the Championship as we head to Singapore. It will be interesting to see if Rosberg can bounce back, and if Hamilton will remain resurgent, as well as where the honey badger plays in the field. Looking forward to racing under the lights in two weeks!
Driver of the Day: Sergio Perez
Team of the Day: Mercedes (despite the lingering tensions making everything awkward)
Fail of the Day: Ferrari (I have no words still)