Was that technically a race?
3 Safety Cars, 2 Race Restarts, Mercedes 1&2 and Albon Podium
After the back of Monza and a second Italian race at Mugello, I knew one thing i.e. Mercedes 1 and 2. Well, that happened and not without some formidable action. Bottas had everything coming for him on the first start and he had given his everything to be at the front. He was like a tiger ready to win but alas, like the yellow flag, the red flag ruined his 'race'. I am highly skeptical of a person like Bottas who's looking at a bigger picture than immediate action. A person who's proven they can drive well, need to push their weight over Hamilton regardless of how many times they've been world champion. This brings me to Nico Rosberg who did the same thing and was able to beat Hamilton. With Bottas being part of the team for over 4 years where the team has utterly dominated the field, it's a melancholy to see him not win 'enough' to deserve his position as a runner up. He's busy fighting Max Verstappen who has more or less no relevance in his title fight with Lewis Hamilton. Let's pray and hope Bottas no longer plays second fiddle and punches above his weight to prove he's the best.
The pitstops and red flags were a hot mess!
Let's talk about the 'Red Flag'. It seems like it has had a more successful outing than both Ferraris. At least the Tifosi won't complain there was nothing red that wasn't successful. With two red flags, it just changed the last step on the podium. For a moment it was Stroll, whose car decided that it would lose some weight at the Arribiata corners. Lance was sent spinning into the tire barriers which btw seemed so far away until it hit the side-pod and created a mess. The marshalls were truly struggling to get the shit done properly without starting a fire. The news of Sergio Perez losing his seat shouldn't have made Lance this happy as it was his turn to bear a shunt in his cranium.
When it's Italy, we cannot stop thinking about Ferrari. What a glory it would have been to see Charles on the podium. While Austria was a combination of flat out straights and slow corners, Mugello isn't. The brief moment he spent in third was soon taken over by Lance Stroll. Ferrari has not delivered a car that is in sync with Leclerc's expectations. Neither they did any favor to their exit driver who had to contend himself with a 10th place ahead of George Russell, who seemed to have kept his nose clean from all those incidents.
Now, let's talk about those retirements. That first turn into the first chicane was bloody carnage. Pierre Gasly, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Sainz, Magnussen, Grosjean, Latifi, Russell, etc. were all present to watch that in front of their eyes. Poor Sebastian who had to contend with a 10th place had to take a shunt, that too from Carlos Sainz, who replaces him in that no.5 Ferrari next year. Let's say this is not going to rub well with the Aston Martin driver. The first set of retirements were last week's winner Piere Gasly and the second week in a row Mr. Verstappen had to retire making it third retirement this season.
The carnage left a slew of debris and also the two sister cars in the gravel, prompting a safety car. Something Raikkonen might have to discuss with the boys. And what next, yes the safety car. All was going well when the second safety car had been around, but as soon as it was in the pits, things went wry. It was a bloody rendition of how to crash on a highway and it took out pretty much everyone we expected to finish. Sainz, K-Mag, the human horse-mane Antonio Giovanazzi, and the good ole' Canadian, Latifi. Ocon retired a few laps later due to some technical issues.
Ok, so after the red flag, I hoped Bottas will win, but nope, the Mr.Perfect Hamilton is, slapped us in the face for having any such ambition. With Hamilton comfortably leading and Bottas being absurdly stupid, Lance Stroll decided he will be the sacrificial goat and took the bait. After completely sending it to the tire barriers he gave the OG Mercedes a chance to redeem itself. And also at the same time, David Croft decided to jinx Ricciardo's podium position (Not that I complain, because of Albon!). The race restarted after Stroll Jr's car sent to the scrapyard, and we saw nothing but a redeemed Albon who finished on the podium with both the Mercedes.
While it was fun to watch, in certain parts, I still felt there was the soul of the race that was missing. Hope, Sochi gets better than those 8 retirements.