What a difference a day made to Lewis Hamilton. Markedly off the pace for qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton was resigned to his P5 start and having to bring race craft to bear to challenge the two Ferraris on pole and in row 2. But it was almost as if the race gods were smiling on him as the race set off, with a huge crash on turn 1 that involved both the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen sandwiching the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, all three of whom were immediately out of the race and allowing Hamilton to thread his way to the head of the field.
This marks Lewis Hamilton’s 60th F1 victory and boosts his lead over Sebastian Vettel to 28 points with only six races to go this season.
The race also had two more safety car incidents brought about by the wet conditions when Daniil Kvyat crashed his Toro Rosso on the 11th pay and Marcus Ericsson crashed his Sauber on the 37th lap.
Daniel Ricciardo brought up the second spot on the podium ahead of Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas and some drivers in the news scored some useful points, with Carlos Sainz in fourth for Toro Rosso, followed by Force India’s Sergio Perez, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer (who should be vacating his spot next year for Sainz) and Stoffel Vandoorne in seventh for McLaren. The remaining points were taken up by William’s Lance Stroll, Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
In the meantime the stewards have decided to take no action over the crash, ruling it as a racing incident. Ferrari have been pushing to blame Verstappen but he hit back at Vettel,
“He started squeezing me – maybe he didn’t see Kimi on the left, but you know, that is not an excuse,” said Verstappen. “If you are fighting for the world championship you shouldn’t take those risks to squeeze someone that much. I tried to back out of it because I could see it coming, but the rear tyres are wider than the front so I couldn’t back out of it anymore. I don’t think it was a racing incident. At the end of the day he takes in total three cars out and I was in the middle without doing anything wrong. I was just trying to have a clean start.”
Perhaps Valtteri Bottas said it best, “Today shows that anything is possible – that is racing! I think under normal circumstances it would have been extremely difficult for us to be on the podium. But today, everything really came to us, and we got very lucky.”
And Mercedes-AMG Petronas team principal was very pragmatic with his statements. “This result doesn’t change a thing in the big picture. If anything, it’s a stark reminder that there are six more opportunities for the luck to go against us this season, just as it happened to Ferrari today.”