July 31, 2016
*LIGHTS OUT: If our opening sentence suggests to you a lack of enthusiasm for this race, you would be quite perceptive. At the start of the race, second-place starting Lewis Hamilton had a good start, but his teammate and primary threat Nico Rosberg did not. In fact, Rosberg's start was awful. The announcers said he had wheel spin off the line, and that's true... in the same way that a top fuel dragster has wheel spin on a burnout. That's right, Rosberg actually laid rubber for maybe 100 feet while the rest of the field stared in awe. We can't imagine that did good things for the tires, and he immediately fell to fourth behind the two Red Bulls.
*RACE OVER: That was all Hamilton needed. By the end of the first lap, he had a 1.5 second lead over Max Verstappen. By Lap 10, it was five seconds, and by Lap 15 it was six. At various points during the race, that lead would grow to 11 seconds but Hamilton would dial his engine back to protect it... he was never in any danger of being challenged.
*GUN, SHOOT FOOT: For all that, Rosberg in theory could have challenged his teammate, if only he could get clear of the Red Bulls. On Lap 28, he stopped for tires, and the following lap Verstappen did as well. The Red Bull driver came out just ahead of the Merc, but the already-warm tires on the German's car meant that he'd have the advantage under braking. In the hairpin, Rosberg made his move, diving inside of Verstappen... and then not bothering to turn until there was no more space available. The Red Bull pilot was forced to leave the track, ere he turn directly into the Mercedes. The track stewards took a dim view of these shenanigans and hit the German with a five second stop-and-go penalty; in this case, Rosberg would pit for new tires on Lap 45 and serve the penalty at the same time. So he came in, hit his spot perfectly... and the pit crew waited five seconds before doing the tire change. Except they didn't... they waited just over EIGHT seconds. It seems the pit wall neglected to start the stopwatch app on their iPhone. No, we're not kidding.
*RANT: This is friggin' ridiculous. Formula 1 has always been a case of one team dominating the rest, and what's going on is nothing out of the ordinary... except coming as it was on top of four dominating Red Bull seasons, three more Mercedes years have been agony. A return to 2009 would be welcome: BrawnGP's Jenson Button won six of the first seven races, but from then on five drivers split the remaining 10 wins... and none of them were named "Jenson Button"! Instead, we get a death march of inevitability, knowing another Mercedes win is just ahead. What's the darn point?
*SUMMER BREAK: The next race is August 28th, at Spa-Francopants. For two weeks, the teams are on complete shutdown: no work in the factories, no sim work, nothing at all. Drivers will go to far-flung locations around the planet, far far away from the races. And we here at F1U! envy and hate them for it. See you in a month, folks!
There are 8 more races and Mercedes is 159 points ahead of Red Bull. It's still mathematically possible for Mercedes to lose, but...
...Red Bull would have to make an average of 20 points more per race than Mercedes, and that's not going to happen. So for all practical purposes the Constructor championship is decided even though we're only half way through the season.
I keep saying: I don't blame Mercedes for this. They're doing what they're supposed to do, fielding the best car they can under the rules and letting the best drivers in the sport drive them. But it's a shame no one else can give them any kind of competition.
As to today's race, it's nice that Rosberg can't reasonably blame his loss on Hamilton. Hamilton did a good job and Rosberg didn't, and Rosberg certainly must know it.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 31, 2016 10:57 PM (+rSRq)
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