Well, we learned that the FIA are the number 1 arranger of deck chairs on the Titanic. In the face of dwindling spectator numbers the FIA boffins dream up all kinds of new rules to “improve” the racing. These include such things as penalizing teams/drivers for engine and/or gearbox changes. This rule saw the relegation of Jenson Button (McLaren) to the rear of the grid for ditching his Honda boat anchor for another one, and Ferrari losing their second row with penalties after Qualifying with a gearbox change for Raikkonen. Who cares how many gearboxes he has? I certainly don’t. And let’s forget about the fact that drivers have to apply to the FIA for permission to (slightly) change their helmet design. Why? Because that is the only way Joe Bloggs can tell who is who. Perhaps if the cars had nice big numbers (like the Americans) drivers could wear a potty if they wanted to.
However, back to the race and the two Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton on grids one and two, with Rosberg getting the start right and streaking off into the distance, and Hamilton getting it all wrong and falling back to eighth in the first 100 meters. No mention of whether this was a deliberate ploy from the pit wall.
After lap 10 with most drivers in for a new set of tyres, places change again as Verstappen (Red Bull) goes from second to seventh and team mate Ricciardo right behind him entering the pits from fifth to fourteenth!
By the fifteenth lap, the order has settled again with Rosberg comfortably in front of wonder-clog Verstappen and Vettel (Ferrari), with Hamilton catching them very easily, the Mercedes being so much faster down the straight than the others.
Getting up to half way, Alonso receives a message from his pit “We need to push now,” the Spaniard replying “I wish! Which tyres do we push on?” In front of their national Japanese sponsors, the Honda-engined McLarens are just embarrassingly slow, with Button driving his nutzov and remaining 22nd.
Blue flag blindness seems to be evident with both the Ferrari drivers complaining over team radio. “Come on! Move out of the way,” shouts Raikkonen. “They’re seriously slowing me down now!” Vettel cursing and hand waving. “It’s ridiculous, I mean it’s ridiculous, I lost a second for nothing. ****!” And whilst Vettel may be correct, I would not limit this to color blue, as all the drivers these days do not know what a yellow flag means, and a double yellow in particular. (The Aussie Bathurst 1000 held on the same day showed several examples of this.)
So the race continued, with much dicing all the way down the field, making it an entertaining spectacle for everyone. Imagine how it would be if the spectators could identify the cars by their numbers? However, don’t expect much from the FIA other than regulation grey sox to be worn and drinking out of shoes banned as a dangerous practice. After all, what happens if Ricciardo gets tinea?
A good race on a great track.
1 Rosberg Mercedes
2 Verstappen Red Bull
3 Hamilton Mercedes
4 Vettel Ferrari
5 Raikkonen Ferrari
6 Ricciardo Red Bull
7 Perez Force India
8 Hulkenberg Force India
9 Massa Williams
10 Bottas Williams