September 04, 2017

F1 Update!: Italy 2017

The weather had made a stunning recovery after Saturday's deluge, the skies bright and clear as the F1 Circus took its positions on the grid.  The combination of rain and engine penalties left the starting lineup a jumbled mess, which had to make polesitter Lewis Hamilton feel quite confident.  His teammate, Valterri Bottas was fourth, while championship points leader Seb Vettel was starting from sixth.  Even the Red Bulls had been shuffled backwards, with Embryo Verstappen in 13th, and Smiley Ricciardo lounging in 16th.  So would the youngest driver ever to be on the first row of the grid, Pleasant Stroll, be able to challenge Hamilton?  Or would False Esteban! be able to throw his Force India into the mix from third?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Italy!

*LIGHTS OUT:  Hamilton's getaway wasn't the greatest of all time, but it was good enough to keep in front of the two kids as they went into the stupidly tight chicane at the end of the front straight.  It's common enough to see huge clouds of smoke billowing from tortured tires at this point, and one could only imagine the youthful aggression of Stroll and False Esteban! taking over as they tried to get through first.  As it was, pretty much the entire field made it through with only a small amount of carbon fiber flying.  For much of the first lap, the two young'uns were able to hang with the Mercedes on this, the fastest track on the calendar, but it was just a matter of time before the superior vehicle would step up.  This it did, with Hamilton opening his lead and Bottas moving into second by the end of Lap 3.  Behind that, Vettel moved past both kids and into third by the end of Lap 5.  After that, it became a simple question: could the Ferrari race with the Mercedes on the track that most favored the silver cars?  Pretty quickly we knew the answer: no.

*KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON:  By Lap 10, Hamilton's lead over Vettel was up to 10 seconds, and the gap would just continue to scroll upwards.  By Lap 20, it was 17 seconds, and people began to wonder if the silver car would be able to open up a big enough lead that he could pit and come out ahead of the red one.  We never found out, though on Lap 30 Vettel was 23 seconds behind, and the pit delta was... 23 seconds.  Ferrari pitted their man shortly after that, with Hamilton coming in three laps later.  He would be clear of Vettel, and indeed, when Bottas pitted the lap after Hamilton, he too was able to keep his position ahead of Vettel.  At that point, it was just a matter of keeping the Mercs running and on the racing surface.  On Lap 40, the gap back to Vettel was 31 seconds.

*SMILE AND THE WORLD SMILES WITH YOU:  Back at the back of the horde, Smiley Ricciardo knew he had an interesting day ahead of him.  He had a good car in his hands, he was at the back of the grid only because of power unit changes, and a lot of mediocre carbon fiber lined up ahead of him.  Once the lights went out and the race began, he immediately started working his way up the field.  Starting on the hardest compound available for the weekend, the Soft rubber, Smiley cajoled, weaved, and jogged his way around traffic for 37 laps (of 53!), pulling himself all the way up to fifth spot before his only pit stop.  Rejoining the race on the Supersoft tires, he found himself closing in on the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in fourth place.  A couple of tours around the circuit later, he managed to get to within a second of the Finn as they reached the second DRS detection zones... meaning that he'd get the speed boost provided by the drag reduction system down the ridiculously fast pit straight.  More importantly, Raikkonen, who had nobody immediately in front of him, wouldn't.  And then it happened.  Smiley came from roughly two miles back as Raikkonen began to slow for the chicane and just blew right by the Ferrari in what may very well be the pass of the season so far.

*THIS IS THE END:  At about the same time that the Australian Red Bull driver was making the Finnish Ferrari driver look silly, the German Ferrari driver had something go wonky on his car.  Vettel missed the first chicane on Lap 40 and damaged something during his excursion through the sleeping policemen.  After the race, he said that from then on the car's steering was pulling to one side, particularly under braking.  This had the dual effect of giving him zero chance of catching up to the Mercedes duo... to be fair, he had as close to zero chance before that as makes no difference... while giving Smiley Ricciardo a target that was, comparatively, limping around Monza.  After passing Raikkonen, he was almost 12 seconds back from Vettel.  For the next 13 laps, the Aussie reeled him in at well over a half-second per lap.  With four seconds separating them, Vettel managed to get home ahead of the Red Bull... while being over thirty seconds behind Hamilton and Bottas.  It was a fantastic drive for Riccardio, a disappointing one for Vettel, and a casual Sunday drive for the two Mercedes boys who looked like they didn't break a sweat as they stood on the final podium.

*OH, AND...:  With his victory and Vettel's third place, Hamilton takes the lead in the championship race with seven to go.  The next one is the night race in Singapore in two weeks... we'll see you there!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:58 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 I don't even watch this stuff much but damn that was a helluva pass. "Zooop! Hi there, neighbor!"

Posted by: GreyDuck at September 05, 2017 07:44 AM (rKFiU)

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