I’ve been kind of light on the state of play so let’s catch up a little.
During Test Season Maranello looked unbeatable. New Aero, new engine, for the most part they were a half second a Lap faster than Mercedes who has dominated the last 5 Seasons. They were especially quick in the straights (quicker in the corners is a loser’s excuse) which led many to believe this was the year of Scuderia Marlboro.
Except not so much. Albert Park? Tight corners, Street Circuit, no surprise then that Mercedes Qualified 1st and 2nd. Maranello was split by Red Bull, Haas a surprise 6th and 7th. Finish? Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen. LeClerc kind of backed off Vettel but was half a second faster before he did. Hamilton was, no suprize, slower off the start and that was it. Haas finished 6th and not at all.
Haas is the United States Team sponsored by Haas Motorsports who I’m given to believe participates in Flaming Chunks of Twisted Metal Bumper Cars. Couldn’t prove it by me, I don’t follow that kind of crap.
Anyway, USA! USA! and stuff like that.
In Sakhir I was a little too outraged and otherwise busy to pay much attention but it was supposed to be the day when the Scuderia would strut their stuff, except, not so much.
It didn’t start so bad, Pole and 2nd, Mercedes behind, Verstappen (who seems to have the full Red Bull effort at this point) and Haas making the 3rd Row on the Grid.
It ended up Hamilton, Bottas, LeClerc. Vettel salvaged a 5th, Verstappen kind of convincingly notched 4th. Haas performance was incredibly off (using Scuderia engines) and they could only manage 13th and a DNF. Maybe it was an Omen.
Truth told LeClerc drove away in this one and then in the last stages of the race suffered a notable power dropoff and fell from Lead to 3rd. Vettel spun out while being passed by Hamilton for 3rd. So it was LeClerc, Bottas, Hamilton for a bit then Team Orders for Bottas as LeClerc coasted home.
Bottas is a point ahead in the Driver’s Championship because he won a fastest Lap, so maybe I was wrong and it makes a difference.
In Shanghai we will Start Mercedes, Maranello, Red Bull. Everything old is new again. Mercedes was about 3 tenths faster than the Scuderia, 23 hundredths separate Bottas and Hamilton. Haas has again Qualified Top Ten, but all that really means for them is that they’ll Start the Compound they used for their fastest Lap in Q2. Compounds range from C1 (Very Hard) to C5 (Super Soft). This race will use a range from C2 Hard to C4 Soft. People seem to be planning for 2 stops and have overloaded with the C4s. Most of the first 5 Rows will be using Mediums at the lights.
So, next race.