Morning After: Ferrari’s comedy of errors continues

From a stroll in the park to a fight to the finish, Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix was a weird one for Lewis Hamilton.

In complete control for 46 laps, Lance Stroll’s puncture brought the virtual safety car out and suddenly he wasn’t. Indeed if it weren’t for the helpfully unhelpful Fernando Alonso, he may very well have lost the race to Max Verstappen.

In the grand scheme of things, those final seven laps will be lucky to earn a footnote, but considering Verstappen was at one point just 0.320s off the Brit with better tyres, there was no denying the scare was legitimate.

Few races in recent memory have seen a driver so rapidly go from one end of the difficulty spectrum to the other as Hamilton did on Sunday. Still they count all the same, and with that win, he took one gargantuan leap towards the 2017 Driver’s World Championship.

Ferrari’s Comedy of Errors Continues

It’s safe to say that for Scuderia Ferrari, their 2017 Asian vacation won’t be one to remember.

In Singapore, a first-lap incident doomed both drivers. In Malaysia, Sebastian Vettel missed qualifying with a faulty inlet manifold on the engine, with Kimi Raikkonen falling victim to the same issue a day later. In Japan, a lowly spark plug cost Vettel and with it, all but extinguished his chances in the driver’s championship.

However you cut it, it’s a sorry end to a campaign that began so well for the Scuderia. They started off more-or-less on par with Mercedes, and especially after Monaco seemed to have the advantage. A lot can change in four months, and as the cliché goes, it’s not how you start, but how you finish – they could hardly have finished worse.

Maybe it’s poetic that a team with more money than God couldn’t escape the most basic of automotive gremlins, maybe it’s just plain bad luck. In either case, you’d have to think Lewis Hamilton’s 59-point lead is unassailable. Nevertheless, there’s certainly no shortage of motivation for the final four races, if for morale than nothing else, a win would go a long way.

Quick Hits

  • Whether on-track or off, the Red Bull boys continue to be the most entertaining driver partnership.
  • Who wouldn’t want to see Lewis Hamilton in the Indy 500?
  • Amidst a relatively ho-hum season, Haas were given something to celebrate with just their second double-points finish in team history
  • Jolyon Palmer’s career stats: 37 races. 9 points. His teammates over that span? 41 points.