Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has taken the chequered flag after a spectacular start line crash took out three drivers and proved conclusively the divisive Halo works. The win narrows the gap between he and second placed Lewis Hamilton to 17 points. The win was the German’s 52nd in Formula One, the third most victories for a driver in the sport.
Vettel also made a pass on pole sitter Hamilton in the first lap after the restart. With the rest of the surviving field nipping at his heels, Vettel found space to the left of Hamilton’s Mercedes on the long straight and in a clean move, leaving plenty of air between the two cars, drove himself into first place.
Nico Hulkenburg was the catalyst for the first turn crash. Brakes locked and with no control, Hulkenburg’s car smashed into the unlucky Fernando Alonso, lifting his car up and over the top of young Charles Leclerc. Tyre marks on the halo of Leclerc’s car show terrifying evidence of what may have been a tragic end. Kimi Raikonnen was also affected with his Ferrari copping a puncture.
Max Verstappen managed to escape the carnage and took full advantage of that. In a stunning display of driving the Red Bull driver cut his way through the field and passed the Force India duo of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez to finish third after the 44 lap race.
Vettel pitted on lap 24, however his lead was such that it was enough to see him emerge in front of the pack, albeit by a mere two seconds. Tactics from Red Bull, knowing that Ricciardo was dead in the water had Verstappen held on circuit ahead of Valterri Bottas. Brought in on lap 25 the swap to fresh rubber saw the Dutchman lay down the fastest lap of the race. Verstappen had already shown his class by making a slick move on Ocon on lap 8. In a well planned feint, Verstappen overtook Ocon leaving the Force India driver wondering what had happened, with Sergio Perez getting the same treatment on the same corner just a lap later.
Hulkenburg was philosophic after the race. The stewards handed him a ten grid spot penalty, with Hulkenburg saying: “”It was nasty, it doesn’t look great. It’s my bad, my mistake. Today it went wrong quite badly. I’ll accept it and move on.
Although also copping a time penalty, of five seconds for tagging another driver, Valterri Bottas finished fourth. Force India gained valuable points with Perez and Ocon claiming fifth and sixth. Haas locked out seventh and eighth with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen ahead of Pierre Gasly who finished almost a lap shy of the leaders. Marcus Ericsson in the Saubder rounded out the top ten.
Formula 1 heads to Italy this weekend and with the incremental power gains the Ferrari team has made in2018 things are looking rosy for the Italian marque.