Well, the headlights the past weeks in the big break between Russia and the States have all been focussed on non-championship contender related issues.
First there is the forfait by both Caterham and Marussia. Neither has made the trip to the States, and it is doubtfull either will be seen again this year, let alone next season.
At least Bernie has sort off admitted the financial scale in F1 might be his mistake, but he has no solution at hand. hey Mr Ecclestone, how about that 40 million operating cap spoken about 5 years ago...
There has been even a thread of a boycot of the GP by Force India, Sauber and Lotus, but that was blown off at the very last moment, or we would have had another Staeside debacle like the Indianapolis tyre incident a decade ago.
In the silly season, Sauber confirmed that it will have Ericsson driving for them next year, and they didn`t even deny it it was for his baggage of 18 million and not for his talent... but the big transfer news are still the rumours around Alonso, who seems to have the key to open the carroussel at large. You know, I`m convinced he has signed with Mercedes, but considering how Lewis is faring at the moment, they aren`t going to be announcing it until the champion has been crowned...
With only 18 cars on the grid (oh, I so linger for the fields of 30+ cars, pre-qs, entrepreneur and amateur teams, and the likes), qualifying rules where a bit overhauled in the number of eliminations by session, but in the end it was Rosberg who took the pole before Hamilton and the Williams cars. Vettel would be starting from the pit for an engine change, and Kvyat and Button had grid drops.
But Sutil managed to put his Sauber on 9th and had made it to Q3, next alongside Maldonado. Could any of them finally wipe that 0 of their tally?
Start: although everyone gets away cleanly with barely any position changes, a collision occurs at the end of the last turn and bringing out the safety car. Perez touches the rear of Raikonnen, bumps sideways and rams Sutil out of the race together with himself. There goes Sauber`s chance on points. The rest of the field mostly come in for tyres already, and it is estimated 3 stops are going to be the strategy of the day.
5: Of we go again, but Rosberg can`t shoot away and Hamilton hangs on his tale like a bloodhound. Ricciardo goes by Alonso and both Lotus cars currently are in the points, that must have been ages.
7: Fastest Lap Rosberg, but Hamilton improves it a fraction later. Button, Vergne, Gutteriez and Maldonado are under investigation for speeding behind the Safety Car.
9: New fastest lap for Rosberg
10: Button won`t get a penalty, but the other three all get 5 second penalties. vettel is calling in a severe lack of grip.
13: Hamilton closes in on Rosberg, who is stating issues with his front left tyre.
15: With Massa and Ricciardo opening the dance, the first round of dedicated pit stops has started (not counting the opportunity at the start to get rid of quali tyres)
16: Rosberg now pits together with Bottas, and allowing Ricciardo to get by the fin that way.
17: As Hamilton now pits, Rosberg retakes the lead but the briton is within 2 seconds of him afterwards and closing.
18: Hulkenberg`s car comes to a stop, ending the weekend for Force India. This means that only 1/3rd of the cars still on track at the moment wouldn`t be scoring points...
21: Button and Alonso are duelling for place 7 as hamilton comes really close to Rosberg now.
24: Alonso goes by Button, but at the front Lewis is placing his attack on Nico, and goes by smoothly at yet another spot no-one would expect it. Hamilton deals another mental punch to the german, as he keeps getting past him when Rosberg is on pole. It really looks since the Belgium incident, Hamilton has upped his game and is sparing his team mate not for a moment to keep gutpunching him...
26: Down in 9th, Grosjean passes Vettel, who`s mood keeps dropping... and then he sees Vergne get by as well.
27: Alonso now passes Magnussen as Vettel goes in for fresh tyres. A couple of drivers depending their Soft vs Medium sequence follow suit.
33: Hamilton pits from the lead for his final stop, as Ricciardo is putting in the fastest lap.
35: Rosberg yields the lead again to Hamilton as he also needs to come in for fresh rubbers.
37: Bending without breaking just yet, Rosberg puts in the fastest lap.
40: Maldonado gets his second 5 second penalty of the day, this time for speeding in the pitlane. This will be added to his race completed time afterwards.
42: Hamilton puts in another fastest lap as Vettel in the meantime has returned to 8th position, going up to 6th two laps later as both Ferrari`s come in for late stops.
46: Alonso swiftly retakes Vettel on his newer tyres and DRS, then goes to put in the fastest lap a round later.
49: Vettel comes in for his 5th stop, dropping back to 14th but with fresh rubber might get back to the points.
51: Vergne literally pushes Grosjean out of the points, and it will be investigated after the race. Howver, something got slightly damaged on the Lotus in this incident, and Romain is having all the trouble of the world to keep the car on track.
52: Fastest lap Vettel.
54: Both Maldonado and Vettel now go by a stricken Button, who is struggling hard now with his tyres, as Vettel aslo goes by Maldonado and Vergne moments later.
56: Hamilton takes his 5th win in a row, becoming the best british gp driver ever by eclipsing Mansell in GP wins. In the final corner, Maldonado goes by Vergne and deals him a bump, but the 5 second penalty will mean he will drop back to 10th none the less.
Another rather boring Grand Prix after Russia last week, and it is clearly showing more and more some things need to be undertaken for the sport to be enjoyable. Sure, we can`t have all top teams, but perhaps it wouldn`t be bad to lower the costs and get back to a sport with three divisions: the top teams, the midfielders and the privateers.
There has always been something romantic in small teams, who often employed pay drivers to just gather the funds the to make the grid, but every so often also are a discover of pure talent. Minardi in it`s dying years for one employed a certain young spaniard. That guy now holds the whole F1 transfer circuit in his grip...
Driver of the Race: Hamilton did definitly deal out yet another punch to Rosberg, while the podium was filled with the sneaky smart Ricciardo who in his far slower straight line speed Red Bull managed to get by both Williams cars in the pitlane.
1. Hamilton - Mercedes
2. Rosberg - Mercedes
3. Ricciardo - Red Bull Renault
4. Massa - Williams Mercedes
5. Bottas - Williams Mercedes
6. Alonso - Ferrari
7. Vettel - Red Bull Renault
8. Magnussen - McLaren Mercedes
9. Vergne - Toro Rosso Renault
10. Maldonado - Lotus Renault
11. Grosjean - Lotus Renault
12. Button - McLaren Mercedes
13. Raikonnen - Ferrari
14. Gutteriez - Sauber Ferrari
15. Kvyat - Toro Rosso Renault
Blast of the Past: HRT
Perhaps not known to recent followers of the sport, but when Caterham and Marussia entered the grid in 2010 (then respectively known as Lotus and Virgin), there was a third team along them, Manor GP, which would become Hispanic Racing Team before the start of the first grand prix they participated in.
Of those three teams, HRT was the one to go first, lasting only 3 seasons in formula one and ending the last in the constructors chanpionship. Especially year 1 was the typical driver carroussel of a team in heavy waters, and though the second year saw mild improvement, launching a young driver with support from Red Bull, a certain aussie called Ricciardo.
By their third season, they where on par with Marussia (back then, Caterham was definitly the better of the new teams, close to the lower midfield) but as financial struggles like payments to Dallara for designing their first chasis and such dragged on, the team came on sale and as no buyer was found for the deadline of the 2013 entries, the team closed it`s operations and the hammer fell.
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