F1 MADNESS TAKES ITS TOLL
SEBASTIAN VETTEL LAPSED INTO ANOTHER MOMENT OF ILL-JUDGED OVERAGGRESSION WHEN HE TRIED TO BLOCK MAX VERSTAPPEN OFF THE LINE IN SINGAPORE. GAME OVER? EGMONT SIPPEL TAKES A LOOK.
BOOM-SHAKALAKA! That now, from race-engineer Marco Matassa to Carlos Sainz when the latter’s Toro Rosso crossed the finishing line in Singapore just one step away from the podium, Sainz’s best F1 result to date.
“Vai, vai Carlos! P4! Boom-shakalaka!” At the opposite end of the Singaporian spectrum, both in terms of time line and emotion, Sebastian Vettel also heard a boom. Yet, sadly for the Italian team, Seb’s “boom!” was nowhere near as “shakalaka!” as Sainz’s P4 or Daniel Ricciardo’s P2 which, without a race long gearbox problem, might have been P1.
He loves this track, after all, does the Aussie. He’s a Marina Bay expert. Second in Singapore he was in 2016. Second in 2015. And second it would have been in 2014, if not for the only guy in the field who is an even bigger shave-it-right-upto-the-Singaporian-walls expert than The Honey Badger himself.
Sebastian Vettel is that man. In a year when Danni Ricc (as the ever-smiling Aussie is also referred to in the paddock) outdrove and outclassed Vettel at Red Bull, Seb still beat him in Singapore. Second and third they finished in 2014, behind Hamilton.
“F1 IS A DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP, FAR MORE THAN A CONSTRUCTOR’S
CHAMPIONSHIP. SO WHY NOT PUNISH THE TEAMS FOR TECHNICAL SHORTCOMINGS, BUT LET THE DRIVERS KEEP THEIR HARD-WON GRID SLOTS?”
Which was the one outcome Vettel was desperate to keep off the scoreboard in Singapore 2017: another Hamilton victory. F1’s annual summer break had come and gone and, in the opening salvos thereafter, Mercedes had been running amok on the high-speed circuits at Spa and Monza.
Hammer Time it was then, with Lewis equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 68 poles when he blitzed the field with a couple of mesmerising quali laps in Belgium.
Vettel pushed to the very edge as well, running The Hammer closer than we thought a Ferrari could, whilst the race produced more of the same, the two title protagonists not only dicing nose to tail for most of the Grand Prix, but even side by side at times.
It was well within expectations, of course, for Mercedes to win on the power tracks, although Ferrari had been confident – given the Spa outing – that some of their car’s high-speed weaknesses had been eradicated since the walloping they received at Silverstone.
The Scuderia therefore turned up at Monza harbouring a cautious measure of optimism.
Yet, the red challenge faded alarmingly during a wet Q3 session, Räikkönen and Vettel languishing in seventh and eighth, Hamilton again stealing the show by clinching pole with a lap in excess of a second quicker than young rain master, Verstappen.
So, was the Brit’s superiority down to his car?
A bit of it, of course. But how to explain then, the 2.3-second advantage Lewis enjoyed over the other Merc, in Q3?
Valtteri Bottas must have realised at that point that his title challenge for 2017 was over and Ferrari would again have been reminded about the critical importance of a victory, once the high speed circuits had been dealt with and the F1 circus moved on to Singapore, commonly regarded as prime Vettel and SF70H territory.
Counting on Red Bull to also perform better in Singapore than what already turned out to be an excellent showing in Italy, Maranello’s hope was that Danni Ricc and Max Verstappen could create a
Above Vettel clips his own wings as sparks fly from Räikkönen’s Ferrari.
Top Right Hamilton in high spirits in Singapore as he takes his 7th Grand Prix win of the season thus far, and his third in a row, after Belgium and Italy. That makes it four wins out of the last five races for The Hammer.