The Morning After: Road rage, a headrest and happy podium

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“Happy go lucky” is a phrase usually thrown out to describe anyone with a consistently cheerful disposition, but in Daniel Ricciardo’s case, it’s simply the complete and utter truth.

Barring a situation where the rest of the field is wiped-out with shoey-induced gastro, Sunday’s race will probably go down as the most perfect alignment of the stars in Ricciardo’s career.

Starting tenth, finishing first, Ricciardo was somehow on the good side of a polluted brake duct, an oil leak for his teammate, two safety-car periods, a case of serious road rage, and a loose headrest. Add in one scintillating two-car pass at the restart and you’ve got a grand prix victory out of nowhere. What an insane race.

Stroll Comes Good with Maiden Podium

Similarly benefiting from the chaos around him, Lance Stroll somehow found his first career podium.

Having spent the majority of this season being (fairly) criticised for his pace and indeed, place, in Formula 1, Stroll now has more career podiums than Nico Hulkenberg. Let that one sink in.

The culmination of a promising weekend that saw him out-qualify his teammate for the first time, there’s no denying the part fortune played in this result, but you have to give him credit.

He didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend – possibly the only driver that can say that – and kept his head when the opportunity presented itself. Does this result discount his underperformances in previous races? No, but it shows there’s more to him than we’ve seen previously, and maybe, just maybe, he can prove worthy of his seat after all.

Hamilton-Vettel Gets Down and Dirty

R.I.P. the Hamilton-Vettel lovefest of March-June 2017, gone soon to be forgotten.

Enter phase two of their rivalry: handbags.

Did Lewis brake test Seb? Did Seb turn in on Lewis? Should they have both been penalised, and how much? Any way you slice it, there’s controversy for days.

Making things particularly tricky to assess is that while the FIA didn’t find evidence of Hamilton hitting the brakes in his telemetry, that fails to account for Hamilton’s well-known strategy of easing-off the throttle at the close of a safety-car period to back-up the field. Such a manoeuvre inevitably increases the risk of an incident exactly like Vettel’s – is that enough to brand it dangerous driving? There’s certainly a case.

Vettel’s culpability is more clear-cut, although he deserves plaudits for his post-race refusals to admit wrongdoing that bordered on the Trump-esque. The question for him is whether a penalty that allows him to end up ahead of the driver he intentionally ran into is harsh enough. The intent was obvious, and you would have to think disqualification was on the table for the German, mitigated perhaps only by his lack of damage to Hamilton’s car.

Whichever way you fall on each of these issues, you get the sense that on another day, with other stewards, it could have played out very differently. The bar for both the crime and the punishment is far from stable, such is the nature of F1 rule-enforcing, but in either case, the argument is sure to continue for a good time yet.

Quick Hits

  • You could list a good dozen examples of why this was the most bonkers race in recent memory, but both Sauber and McLaren in the points has to be close to the top.
  • Lance Stroll may have won the fan vote, but Valtteri Bottas’ drive from a lap down to second makes him the driver of the day.
  • The Force India boys aren’t exactly feeling the love, are they?
  • It doesn’t look like Azerbaijan will be challenging Monaco for the title of “best marshalls” any time soon
  • As Jean-Eric Vergne noted on twitter, maybe it’s time Max Verstappen goes back to the VES abbreviation – either that or make amends with the Indian tribe whose burial grounds he must’ve desecrated