Well, we learned that Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) is still the quickest driver with his emphatic win in the Spa GP. Vettel (Ferrari) was always there, but always behind, showing that 2nd is the first of the losing place-getters.
Right from the start the casualties came with Wehrlein (Sauber) with suspension damage and then Max Verstappen (Red Bull), doyen of the orange hordes, sputtering to a stop on the 8th lap. One not very happy orange saying, “Of course, in the beginning, you say maybe it’s just bad luck or whatever, but I’m actually competing against Fernando in terms of retirements. I’m not happy at all. I am very disappointed for retiring and the fans who buy an expensive ticket to watch and I retire after eight laps. No words.”
Fernando? He managed 25 laps and gave up struggling with the underpowered Honda.
Trailing the sharp end of the proceedings, Bottas (Mercedes) and Raikkonen (Ferrari) found themselves together after a 10 second penalty for Raikkonen and got in each other’s way, allowing Ricciardo (Red Bull) to slip neatly past and claim third.
1 L Hamilton Mercedes
2 S Vettel Ferrari
3 D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 K Raikkonen Ferrari
5 V Bottas Mercedes
6 N Hulkenberg Renault
7 R Grosjean Haas
8 F Massa Williams
9 E Ocon Force India
10 C Sainz Toro Rosso
11 L Stroll Williams
12 D Kvyat Toro Rosso
13 J Palmer Renault
14 S Vandoorne McLaren
15 K Magnussen Haas
16 M Ericsson Sauber
R S Perez Force India
R F Alonso McLaren
R M Verstappen Red Bull
R P Wehrlein Sauber
However, Spa showed a guide to the likely driver line-up for next year. Alonso will not put up with the underpowered Honda engine for another year. Verstappen will not put up with an unreliable Red Bull for another year. Renault needs better results than Palmer can provide. Bottas is quick, but not in race trim. Ocon and Perez cannot live on the same team. Perez will lose his seat.
That is four slots with many combinations but think about Alonso to Renault, Verstappen to Mercedes as a swap for Bottas and up and coming Leclerc from F2 into Force India.
Now here’s the FIA nonsense. If you change any part of the car you will be given a grid penalty. Remembering that there are 20 grid positions, have a look at these penalties:
* Palmer was given a five-place grid penalty for a replacement gearbox
** Vandoorne was given 65-place grid penalties for additional power unit components and a gearbox, yes you read that correctly 65 places!
*** Massa was given a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags
**** Kvyat was given a 20-place grid penalty for additional power unit elements
***** Ericsson was given a five-place grid penalty for a replacement gearbox
****** Wehrlein was given a five-place grid penalty for a replacement gearbox
Has nobody in the FIA seen how ludicrous these penalties are that are meted out on the driver? Any penalty (if there has to be one) should be on the team, not the driver. And start 65 grid positions behind on a 20 position grid? Defies logic.
The next GP is the Italian GP this weekend September 3rd being held at Monza. I expect the Mercedes cars to do well at this high speed circuit.