Sebastian Vettel

Japanese GP power rankings

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Although the frontrunners didn’t deliver anything like the head-to-head between Vettel and Hamilton that we’ve been waiting all year for, there was plenty of action up and down the rest of the field, with plenty of activity and lots to consider in this week’s power rankings.

Moving on up

Daniel Ricciardo gave his fans something to cheer about after a maddening technical issue hampered his qualifying. Starting P15 he finished P4, and although he was never within striking distance of his teammate, but to be one mechanical failure away from finishing on the podium redeemed the weekend for the Australian.

Sergio Perez negotiated a hectic midfield that, thanks to a mix of strategies and safety cars early in the race, was a hive of activity throughout the race. Now equal with Hulkenberg and Magnussen on points, the sins of Singapore were erased with another best of the rest performance.

Lewis Hamilton now needs only to win in the United States, and should Vettel finish P3 or lower, Lewis will claim his 5th World Championship. If Verstappen’s declaration post-qualifying that there wasn’t really any competition left in the title battle wasn’t confirmation enough, the effortless victory this week certainly was.

Backsliding

Sebastian Vettel backed up his team’s regrettable error in qualifying with a sterling assault on the top 6, making short work of the gap between himself and the top 3. In the run up to Spoon, Vettel carried a huge pace advantage and with more patience should have passed Verstappen with ease later on the lap. It’s not that he wasn’t patient enough to wait until Max stopped to serve his 5-second penalty (the win would have been well off-the-cards by then), it’s that after a year of continual unforced errors, Sebastian again got himself into a position where his competitiveness was sacrificed unnecessarily.

Stewards had a busy one ruling on a number of incidents, none more curious than the opening lap contact between Alonso and Stroll. Despite agreeing that Stroll had unreasonably forced Alonso off the track, they also deemed that Alonso had gained an unfair advantage by leaving the track and cutting across the chicane. Both drivers were penalised, including receiving penalty points.

Suzuka’s trophy design…. I mean, I thought the Gorilla one in Italy was bad, but this takes the cake.

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Canadian GP power rankings

Everyone: Monaco was so boring! Canada: Hold my beer...

Everyone: Monaco was so boring! Canada: Hold my beer...

After Monaco numerous drivers were noticeably vocal about the lack of action. Despite that, there was a non-dominant race winner, and another driver charging from the back of the pack. Canada didn't even offer that, with little to write home about after the first few laps. You know it's a slow race when the podium drivers are the three singled out for putting in a good drive, and so it goes.

Moving on up

Sebastian Vettel delivered Ferrari their first win in Canada since the all-conquering Michael Schumacher days. Not only that, but with his closest title competitor absent from the podium, he sits 1 point clear in the drivers' championship. This kind of result was unthinkable just a few weeks ago, when Hamilton seemed to be turning his season around. 

Valtteri Bottas wasn't quick enough to win after starting from P2, but the fact that he hung on to the leader will hurt Hamilton, who it seems just didn't show up this weekend. The result puts him back into 3rd in the standings ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, and keeps his slim championship hopes alive (how's THAT for optimism!).

Max Verstappen FINALLY delivered the race for which we've all been waiting. Not tempted with the early aggression of Valtteri Bottas (the two made slight contact but nothing race-ending), Verstappen kept his head and delivered a podium result. It's notable because he has copped so much criticism for not delivering solid, Ricciardo-esque finishes, that questions about his lack of form lead to him threatening to head-butt the next journalist to bring it up. At least he'll silence the critics, and shooed away the monkey that had clung to his back since the start of the season. 

Back-sliding

Sergio Perez made light contact with Carlos Sainz and lost a handful of places, which triggered a fall down the grid that left him well-behind his teammate and the equally paced Renault drivers. His radio outburst that Sainz should be "black-flagged" (disqualified) is perhaps the most ludicrous examples of a driver blurting things out in the heat of the moment that we've had all year. 

Lance Stroll lost control of his Williams (assuming he had it in the first place) on the opening lap and sent both himself and Brendon "Big Heart" Hartley out of the race. It not only wrecked his chances of a good result at home, where he scored his first points in F1 last year, but ruined any hope that Hartley had of impressing his team amidst rumours he could soon be replaced. 

Chequered flag officials (hint, not the person holding the flag) who had trouble remembering the correct protocol, and officially ended the race early. Although the drivers continued on and finished the designated number of laps, it cost Daniel Ricciardo the fastest lap honours, with the spoils officially going to his teammate.

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Vettel claims Australian victory after Mercedes pitstop bungle

Sebastian Vettel has claimed a upset victory in Melbourne after a strategy blunder from Mercedes have him the lead, and Lewis Hamilton was unable to chase down the Ferrari while managing a slight performance issue. Valtteri Bottas held off a distant Kimi Raikkonen who was a distant 4th. 

The battle for the lead remained close in the opening laps, but by the end it was the gap to the rest of the field was more than 10 seconds. 

The highlight of the race came in the dying laps when Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg both caught an ailing Fernando Alonso at the end of Turn 1 with the cars approaching the corner three abreast. Alonso retired shortly after, but Nico and Esteban continued fighting for the final championship point on offer right the chequered flag.

Daniel Ricciardo’s race was over before it began with the Australian breaking down on his way to the track, beginning the race from the pitlane and eventually starting two laps in arrears of the leaders. Red Bull’s deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari was evident in qualifying, and with the race a total write-off he put on the most crowd-pleasing testing session of all time.

Haas were unable to deliver another fairytale for Romain Grosjean following an admirable qualifying performance. It's clear Haas will be mixing it with the midfield of Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso throughout the season.

 

Rosberg wins as the Seb of old causes friction on the podium

It was a predictable victory but the race was anything but, as Nico Rosberg cruised to the flag collecting his sixth victory and extending his 34 point advantage in the drivers' championship. His main rival Lewis Hamilton started from pit lane and encountered trouble in the opening corners, pitting to replace his front-wing in the first of his five pit stops for the day.

With a flight back to his family booked for directly after the race, Rosberg said he was planning to get the celebrations started early.

"We're going to have a party now in the garage. The whole team deserves it," said the winner.

Although he was scrapping with Ricciardo, Massa and Raikkonen for P5 in the final phases of the race, Hamilton had spent his tyres while chasing them down and was easy pickings by the end for the top six finishers.

"I tried to avoid whatever was happening in front of me but got tangled up in it," said Hamilton. "Not a great finish for us this weekend, but hopefully onward and upwards."

After leading the race from the first corner, Daniel Ricciardo encountered a puncture and recovered to finish fourth behind his teammate Kvyat who rounded out the podium.

At the start Vettel was squeezed by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Kvyat before making steady progress through the field to collect a second place - closing the gap to Hamilton but failing to take the challenge to the leader.

During the post-race cool down Vettel accused Kvyat of making a selfish move that caused his contact with Raikkonen at turn 2 by coming up the inside "like a torpedo."

Kvyat shrugged off the challenge saying, "That's racing, and I'm on the podium!" Most pundits agree Kvyat did nothing wrong, and was not even investigated by the stewards.

Vettel has a spotted history with dramatic podium ceremonies, having finished a number of races under sketchy circumstances with old teammate Mark Webber. At least this time if Kimi decided to give someone the silent treatment they probably wouldn't even realise.

 

Update: lol

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