June 25, 2018

F1 Update!: France 2018, The First Person Edition

For this I hurried home from work?  THIS?  This is your F1 Update! for the 2018 Ball Of Dreck Grand Prix of France.


*LIGHTS OUT MEANS RACE OVER:  I had hope.  Sure, Lewis Hamilton was on pole and the Mercedes was looking like the mean machine of old.  But his teammate Valterri Bottas was next to him, and his main rival for the driver's championship, Ferrari's Seb Vettel was right behind.  It shouldn't be a runaway I thought.  Either should be able to challenge Hamilton, either at the start or as the race went on... the Merc isn't that much better than the Ferrari, after all.  And then the race began and as they came into Turn 1, Vettel and Bottas got tangled up with each other.  The Ferrari needed a new nose (and was hit with a five second time penalty for causing an accident), the Merc needed... well, it needed the sort of repairs you can do at a six-hour long World Endurance Championship race, but is hard to pull of in a 90-minute F1 race... so he had to do without, and the car was limping all day because of it. 

Meanwhile, in a frantic bid to escape the carnage DH Verstappen went running off towards Paris on the huge expanse of runoff area that is Circuit Paul Ricard, only to rejoin in second place.  Now I'm no expert on F1 or anything... I'm just a hyperintelligent duck that can type... but I thought if you gained an advantage by going off-track, you're supposed to return the positions.  Verstappen probably shouldn't have been in second at this point, but hey, what do I know?  Another few turns later saw another schmozzle, this time hilariously between False Esteban! and Pierre Ghastly, two Frenchmen in their home race.  Both were out on the spot, mon dieu, and the dark form of Berndt Maylander was summoned to add to his total of more than 700 Formula 1 laps led.

And thus ended the race.

*OH YOU WANT DETAILS?:  Hamilton nailed the restart and thenceforth was never threatened.  What excitement there was came from Seb Vettel's fight from the rear.  He clawed his way up the field, getting as high as third before his tires began to give up the ghost.  A late pitstop saw him end up in fifth, not horrible, but still surrendering a metric ton of points to his Mercedes rival.

Really, the only question was if Smiley Ricciardio would manage to usurp Kimi Raikkonen for third, while DH Verstappen held in an iron grip.  As has been the norm for quite a few years now, the Ferrari Finn managed to get on the podium... for what turned out to be the 25th time without a victory, a new F1 record.  Which makes one wonder, is he still really good?  Or is he okay, and will never win again?  Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen!

Oh, and Verstappen finished in second.  Yay, I guess.

*FRANCE, WHICH IS FRENCH FOR "BAD F1 TRACKS.":  In the... what, 14 or 15 seasons I've been an "adult" Formula 1 fan (as opposed to those years back in the 70s and early 80s when I'd see the Monaco GP on ABC's Wide World Of Sports a few weeks after it actually happened), they've raced on two circuits in France.  The first was Mangy-Curs, the only circuit that I dislike more than Hungary.  They stopped racing there in 2008, and a better decision has never been made.  And now they've returned to France, with Paul Ricard.  Interestingly enough, Paul Ricard was NOT constructed as a racing circuit, but as a test track.  There's something like 170 different configurations available at the place, and there's even sprinklers built in if you want to test in the wet.  But it's an awful, awful place to race... it's DULL.  AND it's owned by Bernie Ecclestone.

That should tell you everything you need to know about the place.

Next up, we go to the Red Bull Ring in Austria.  I'm not sure why.  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:59 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 I was wondering about Max's little excursion myself, but additional replays showed that about 3/4 of the field went off track at some point in Lap 1. (Amusingly, the only person who actually got investigated for it was the only French driver remaining at that point.) My guess is that it was clear that Verstappen (and the others who went off track) was just trying to avoid the carnage, so there was a general...amnesty, I guess...for Lap 1 chaos. Also, it looked to me like he deliberately slowed to drop in behind Hamilton, as opposed to deliberately driving as fast as possible while off-track. So one could argue he gained an advantage over Sainz, but (a) he would have passed Sainz anyway, and he finished well clear of third, so I don't think a penalty for that would have made a difference to the final result, and (b) he did get tire damage doing that, which is why he had to pit earlier than the other drivers - his tires started giving up, and he had to pit while he would still come out ahead of Vettel and before Daniel caught him. 

But I was surprised only Grosjean got singled out for going off track. It was quite a few laps later when they announced that investigation, too. Maybe only whichever team suffered from Gro doing that bothered to complain to the stewards, and Renault did not bother to complain about the disadvantage to Sainz, so the stewards didn't choose to investigate? I dunno. 

Posted by: Mrs. Will (Kathryn) at June 26, 2018 04:58 AM (JPRju)

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