Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Shanghai, 2018

Ricciardo denies Bottas a badly-needed win

2018 Chinese Grand Prix review

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Daniel Ricciardo won a classic ‘race of two halves’ in Shanghai on Sunday at the expense of the driver many expect he will replace at Mercedes next year.

The first half we are already starting to recognise as the 2018 formula. The front-runners pull clear, maintain safe gaps to each other, and play a game of strategic chicken to see who dares stretch their final stint the longest, and by doing so be the first to pit and gain the benefit of fresh tyres.

In the second half it all went a bit IndyCar. A Safety Car period for debris put the leaders on the back foot and set up a thrilling chase to the chequered flag.

Vettel loses out in the pits

The first half was brilliantly won by Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas who, flying under Ferrari’s radar, unexpectedly took the lead from Sebastian Vettel. Quick pit work played a role but stunning sector times by Bottas made the difference.

It also helped matters that Bottas had split the two Ferraris at the start. Here Vettel was partly the architect of his own demise. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen made a better start than his pole sitting team mate, and Vettel edged right to discourage him from trying to capitalise on it, opening the door for Bottas.

Ferrari left Raikkonen out at the head of the field long enough for the fresh-tyred Bottas and Vettel to catch him. If the intention of this was for Raikkonen to hold Bottas off to help Vettel someone should have mentioned it, as Raikkonen left Bottas all the space he needed and more on the outside of turn one to complete the move. Later in the race Fernando Alonso demonstrated an entirely different level of ruthlessness when dealing with Vettel at the same point on the track.

Bottas had grabbed the lead in superb style and survived Ferrari’s gamesmanship to keep hold of his advantage. With little difference in tyre life between him and Vettel the balance of probability was strongly on the side of Bottas winning the race.

Unfortunately for him, for reasons completely out of his control, his fine afternoon’s work was about to be overshadowed by the driver everyone is tipping to take his place in 2019.

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Red Bull capitalise on Safety Car

Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018
Vettel squeezed Raikkonen at the start
In Australia Ferrari got a lucky break on strategy thanks to a Virtual Safety Car period caused by one of their engine customers. In China it was Red Bull’s turn to benefit courtesy of their junior team Toro Rosso. Someone at Mercedes might want to have a word down at Force India or Williams…

Clearly the contact between the Toro Rosso drivers which caused the Safety Car period was not intentional (nor was it guaranteed to bring out a Safety Car – sorry, conspiracy fans!) It was mortifying for Pierre Gasly, who instead of being waved past team mate Brendon Hartley, drove into him. “I think on TV it looks really bad for myself,” Gasly admitted afterwards.

The risks teams are taking in the pits in pursuit of ever-faster tyre changes was a major talking point ahead of the race in the wake of the injury suffered by Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigliani during the Bahrain Grand Prix. McLaren became the latest team to commit an ‘unsafe release’ violation during practice on Friday.

During the Chinese Grand Prix Red Bull gave the pit lane a lesson in how it’s meant to be done. They pitted both drivers successfully on the same lap within seconds of each other – twice. The second time was crucial, as it meant they were best-placed to take advantage of the Safety Car’s appearance.

Bottas and Vettel had already passed the pit lane by the time the Safety Car came out – a fact which irked Vettel greatly. Max Verstappen, third, was told to come in as we was accelerating away from turn 14, and he made it just in time. Hamilton, next, stayed out.

“I was surprised they didn’t pit Hamilton,” said Horner afterwards. “I don’t know whether they told him to do the opposite to Max or not to maybe get the track position. But I was surprised he didn’t follow.”

According to Mercedes their calculations led them to believe their cars on older tyres would be too quick for Red Bull’s cars on fresh tyres to pass. Given the performance benefit from new tyres Bottas had exploited to take the lead in the first place, it’s surprising they came to this conclusion. Vettel claimed he would have pitted if he’d had the chance.

This is the classic dilemma teams face in Safety Car periods where they are able to make it to the end of the race but expect to be marginal on tyres. In the IndyCar race at Phoenix last week the same scenario played out. In that case race leader Josef Newgarden did pit for new tyres and was able to overtake those who stayed out on older rubber, but only got his lead back with a few laps to spare. It’s not a calculation which can necessarily produce a definitive correct answer, and a lot comes down to the skill of the driver making the passes.

Fortunately for Red Bull, they had Ricciardo. But as the race restarted he was still behind Verstappen.

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Ricciardo denies Bottas

Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018
Ricciardo dived past Hamilton
Red Bull’s strategic masterstroke should have netted them a one-two and it should have been led by Verstappen. But he blew his chance while trying a bold pass on Hamilton around the outside of turn seven.

Ricciardo was stalking the pair. “I could see it coming a few corners before,” he said afterwards. “He was close to Lewis out of [turn] three.”

“I saw he was trying on the outside of [turn] seven and I could see them both drift wide and I could see that one car was probably not going to make it.”

Hamilton and Verstappen crossed swords in Bahrain as well. This time the speeds were higher, Hamilton had the inside line and he didn’t have to move far from his usual line to make life hard for Verstappen. Carrying too much speed in, the Red Bull ran out of road.

“When Max went off track I wasn’t sure if he was going to slide back across, hold the line, so that was quite tricky initially,” said Ricciardo. “But then I could see he was coming on with quite a bit of speed so then it was quite easy in my mind to cut across the inside to let him go.”

Ricciardo then set about disproving the Mercedes pit wall’s calculations by passing both Hamilton and Bottas (and, between them, Vettel). On Thursday before the race Ricciardo had given his verdict on Bottas’s failure to put a move on Vettel for the win in Bahrain, saying he “wouldn’t be content” to sit behind: “if it was for a win, that’s not in me at least.” He proved as good as his word, leaping for the inside line at turn seven and holding his line even as Bottas jinked towards him.

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Mercedes win-less

Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Shanghai, International Circuit, 2018
Vettel’s perfect start to 2018 is over
Verstappen’s day went from bad to worse when he blundered into Vettel, collecting a penalty. The Ferrari driver picked up damage and limped in eighth. That served to close up the championship: the top five are covered by less than a win, from Vettel down to Riccairdo.

The Red Bull driver revelled in an astonishing reversal of fortunes from 24 hours earlier, when a power unit problem meant he almost missed out on qualifying. “We really thought we were going to start the race at the back,” he admitted.

“This sport’s crazy. A week ago I was with my head down after two laps on Sunday. Frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport. Sometimes I question why I chose this sport because there’s so many other things out of your control and it does get you down a lot.

“But then when you have a day like this it’s worth fifty of those bad ones.”

Mercedes have had plenty of good days in the past four seasons, but three races into 2018 they are yet to win. That’s an unprecedented development in the V6 hybrid turbo era, and one which points to a competitive season ahead.

In all three cases Mercedes know they had the potential to win. A miscalculation cost them in Australia; in Bahrain they were compromised by Hamilton’s gearbox change penalty; here it was an unfortunately-timed Safety Car.

But between their struggles with the 2018-specification tyres and the apparent step Ferrari has made with its power unit, it’s clear they are under pressure like never before in the current era of F1.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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62 comments on “Ricciardo denies Bottas a badly-needed win”

  1. I mean, so far Bottas has outperformed Hamilton in 2/3 races…

    1. … which leaves the question, is Bottas doing a great job, is Hamilton doing a bad job or is it a combination of the two?

      1. Is it possible that Hamilton is suffering from burn-out? I remember Mika Häkkinen saying that after three years of competing for the title, he definitely felt it.

      2. Well Hamilton told us earlier this year inconsistency is not one of his problems… therefore the only conclusion we can make is that Bottas when on form is faster than Hamilton….

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      16th April 2018, 20:31

      I wouldn’t go as far as saying Bottas outperformed Hamilton in the race during Bahrain. I would say they were very similar. Hamilton did have to start further back, but had the benefit of 2 Red Bulls and a Ferrari retire.

      I personally think that Bottas has more than made up for his bad first weekend. He’s only 1 point behind where he was last year by the 3rd race. Not bad given that many were suggesting that his terrible start suggested he just wasn’t good enough for the team. He didn’t really have much of a chance in Bahrain. He got incredibly close and beat Hamilton in qualifying and the race. Then just about beat Hamilton in qualifying here in China but actually looked significantly better in the race. While many others may disagree, I still predict that Bottas will be good enough for Mercedes to want to keep him. When Hamilton has an off race, he is almost always at the top or very close. Was a bit unlucky with the timing of when the team told him to push in Bahrian and last race and very unlucky indeed. But it doesn’t take away the fact that he looked strong two weekends in a row.
      I don’t think Hamilton was bad at all in the first 2 races. Nor was he bad in qualifying in China. But the his start to the race wasn’t good and his pace was quite far off Bottas too during the race.

      1. Clearly it’s Hamilton underperforming….

        That’s the nonsense line we hear any time a team mate get’s the better of Hamilton.

        Bottas is simply better at the moment.

      2. Yes, I agree, ben, there’s some excessive criticism towards bottas in here and other websites, I don’t think he’s a top driver like ricciardo and the other 4, but he’s at the same or higher level than raikkonen and any other midfield driver.

        Last season he was really good at start, didn’t expect anything like it from him, then lost it as the season progressed, his start of season wasn’t that far from rosberg, and rosberg even had less competition.

        1. @esplatore

          and any other midfield driver.

          I’m not sure about that. Bottas gets a better chance to show his talent in a top team(Mercedes), and his success in Williams came when it was clearly the third best team on the grid. I think you’ll find at least two or three midfield drivers more than capable of matching and maybe even beating Bottas. I rate Hulk and Perez on the same level as him.

          1. Yes, don’t think we’re saying different stuff really, hulkenberg, perez, ocon, sainz should be more or less bottas level, and true that they never got a chance on a good car, I’m especially surprised hulkenberg is destroying sainz, thought they’d have been equally matched.

    3. I would say 1/3 races Bottas has out performed Lewis. Hamilton was outperformed in China for sure but last race he had a gearbox penalty and argubly could of won had he knuckled down and got on with it, instead of complaining all through the race.

  2. It is slowly getting better. 2014-2016 were three absolutely terrible years when Mercedes trashed everyone and lost a total of eight races (roughly the number lost by Red Bull in 2011 or 2013 alone) and the cars were so slow on the racetrack.

    Last year also a big improvement in how cars looked, Ferrari threw a serious title challenge that saw Vettel leading as late as September and despite starting the season 1s off the pace, Red Bull made big inroads into the leaders and also won three races, Mexico certainly on merit.

    This year Red Bull is competitive from the outset, Mercedes’ domination isn’t happening and Ferrari kept up the pressure. If Mercedes don’t suddenly find half a second then we can witness a real three-way fight. Silver and red cars should be close and judging by Red Bull’s last season development they can be a big threat. Ricciardo is only 17 points off Vettel despite all the trouble he had. And it’s not as if Vettel, Hamilton and Verstappen are massively faster of their team-mates. I certainly hope it will be more than straightforward Hamilton vs. Vettel.

    1. @michal2009b In 2016 the cars weren’t that slow anymore, though. Yes, in 2014 and ’15 the cars were pathetically slow lap time-wise for F1’s standards, but by 2016 the lap times had already improved significantly from what they were at the beginning of the current engine formula era despite stable technical regulations between the three seasons mentioned above.

      1. @jerejj Yes, but even in 2016 corners speeds were pretty slow. I agree it was not that bad as 2014 or 2015 but V6 cars have tremendous acceleration and power performance while in the corners they aren’t fastest-ever even right now (though they are not far behind), despite overall being easily the quickest. 2014 they were just so slow cornering, where we can see a speed difference. We can’t see the difference on the straight where V6 cars are phenomenal.

        1. @michal2009b ”while in the corners they aren’t fastest-ever even right now (though they are not far behind), despite overall being easily the quickest.”
          – Incorrect, the current aero-reg f1 cars (2017-present) indeed are the fastest ever in the corners as well as in overall lap time especially at high and medium-speed corners, but slow-speed as well although not to the same extent as the two former types of corners, but still.

          1. @jerejj
            I checked Copse speeds and they look very similar 2013 vs. 2017 so they are probably right there. In 2015 they were 40kph down so no wonder they complained about having it too easy. Having ever grippier tyres this year, they may well be fastest-ever in corners :)

        2. @michal2009b ”I checked Copse speeds and they look very similar 2013 vs. 2017 so they are probably right there.”
          – I’m not sure where you’ve got that info, but when I watched a side-by-side comparison between the 2013 and ’17 pole laps around Silverstone on Youtube (I haven’t found it lately as the channel in which this particular comparison video was uploaded got terminated for some reason) shortly after last season’s British GP weekend the difference in Copse corner-speeds was rather significant in favor of the W08. At the slow-speed corners, the W04 could keep up better as it only lost to W08 by something around ten kph or less IIRC, but at the high-speed corners including Copse, the difference in cornering-speeds definitely was rather significant.

  3. Not sure Ricciardo would be better off at Mercedes based upon the rate of improvement in the Red Bull, he might regret moving at the wrong time? It seems like Renault’s engine power is a lot closer to Merc / Ferrari than it has been. The other factor nobody has mentioned is Dan is probably safer having Max in the same team where he is less likely to take him out?

    1. I think there are too many variables currently for Dan or Mercedes/Ferrari to make a decision regarding their 2nd driver. Renault mentioned that their engine spec at the start of the season is focused on reliability instead of performance. Their engine upgrades post Barcelona that should see a slight performance benefit. If Renault finally deliver on their promise, Red Bull could be the best option for Dan.
      Mercedes also might not want to make the decision to hire Dan straight away. Bottas has done a really solid job so far, and Valterri’s work ethic and team loyalty avoids the problems they had during the Rosberg-Hamilton era. There’s a strong chance that Hamilton and Ricciardo would both go guns blazing for the title, and that could upset the harmony within the team. Again, the decision to hire two strong drivers for next year will depend on the performance advantage Mercedes has this year. If they fail to win the WDC or WCC, I could see them being more interested in Dan.
      Ferrari are the team that seem more certain to replace Kimi with Dan, but then again, I’m not sure if Ferrari is the best place for Ricciardo. The way they’ve been sabotaging Kimi’s races, should send a signal to Dan that Ferrari, either needs to change how they operate or look for another driver.

      1. Regarding the treatment Kimi has received at Ferrari – it is unlikely to happen to Dan. The reason being, Dan is better than Vettel and as soon as he starts out performing Vettel (again) Ferrari will give him No.1 status. Dan is simply much better than Kimi. It won’t be a problem.

        1. “Dan is better than Vettel”
          As evidenced by the fact that Vettel has 49 wins, 101 podiums, 2,479 careerpoints, 52 pole positions, and 4 world driver’s championships. As opposed Ricciardo who has 6 wins, 28 podiums, 853 careerpoints, 1 pole position and 0 world driver’s championships.

          Don’t get me wrong, I really like Danny Ric, and Vettel as well, and yes, there are “reasons” why Vettel has more impressive stats, and yes RIC “beat” VET in 2014. But the weight of evidence does not support that “Dan is better than Vettel”

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            17th April 2018, 9:22

            Yes, I find it a bit much saying a driver is clearly better basically basing it on one season. In this case, we could mess around with statistics and come up with something nobody would agree with. Kvyat beat Ricciardo in 2015. Ricciardo beat Vettel the year before. Kvyat must be better than Vettel!

            Don’t anybody overreact to this. I don’t really mean it!

          2. I don’t see how you find that statement untrue. When they were in equal machinery Daniel was a far superior driver. Simple as that.. simple and factual. I don’t see how quoting Vettel’s stats from when he had a New rocketship for 5 years makes any claim in your support.

            @nick101 made a statement based on facts, you’re basing yours on preference. Maybe you should provide facts to show that Vettel is a better driver than Dan.

        2. @nick101 To say Ricciardo is better than Vettel is an opinion without merit or data – other than Vettel’s spurious 2014 Season. Does Riccardo have the POTENTIAL to challenge Vettel at Ferrari? possibly but Vettel is the better qualifier and capable of astonishing pace in the race.

          I would love to see Ricciardo at Ferrari, but the terms of engagement would have to change as Kimi is being payed to roll over on his back for Vettel in the team pecking order.

      2. @todfod I take your point about Mercedes staying with VB if they win both Championships this season, but something tells me that won’t be good enough for them to keep him. I think he is gone no matter what.

        It is definitely early in the season, and no decisions are being made today by any teams, but that is not to say they aren’t starting to formulate their leanings. And I think TW would rather have two strong drivers at Mercedes and VB isn’t strong enough for his liking, imho. I think that they are now experiencing closer competition than ever in this gen of cars, and even if somehow (just based on the first three races) Mercedes pulls off the Championships (they may be solidly on it by half way as far as we know) I think TW et al at Mercedes don’t like pulling their hair out over it if they can help it.

        I think the LH/NR rivalry was unique, and we all know it. Their relationship goes way back to their childhoods, and they found themselves in the dominant cars with nobody anywhere near them, so it was all about them. And it was really tough and tense at times. And Merc had signed Nico up for two more years of it, namely last year and this, had he not retired. In other words, TW et al are not afraid of even a unique and strongly emotional rivalry such as they had. They survived it, wanted more of it, and since then have not held the competition at bay nearly as well, of course credit as well to Ferrari and RBR for raising their games last year, and seemingly even moreso this year. But last year and this, the LH/NR rivalry would have kept the competition more at bay.

        So I don’t buy into the notion that just because things are naturally more peaceful at Mercedes without the LH/NR rivalry, that is the way they prefer it. I think they would prefer a strong rivalry to keep the competition at bay, and any issues with the rivalry are natural, are expected, and would pale compared to LH/NR anyway. I still believe that TW et al are racers at heart, and just because their hand was forced to end up with VB, in no way means that they are now happy with more of a 1 and 2 driver setup. LH has already spoken of needing VB’s help, meaning just as I have pointed out, someone to take points away from SV and anyone else that might be knocking on the door of taking away points from him (LH).

        I am convinced TW still wants a stronger pairing than he has right now, and has no concerns that the gloves will have to come off between whoever his two drivers are. If the gloves aren’t off then he could have done a better job putting together a pairing worthy of those cars. The gloves must come off and there must be some degree of rivalry that should ideally result in 1-2’s, if they are to keep themselves ahead of the competition that is coming on strong.

        1. @robbie

          Fair points. I agree that they had signed Nico up until 2018 up until he decided to retire. But I also remember that while deciding the number 2 driver at Mercedes, they were looking at avoiding the mistakes during the Lewis-Nico years. Which is why everyone was a little underwhelmed when they chose Bottas.

          It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on through Toto and Niki’s mind right now, especially considering that 2018 might not be as smooth sailing for them as anticipated. Maybe Lewis can be kept more honest with a teammate like Ricciardo, or maybe it can derail him to a certain extent. I think they would need to assess the championship situation, and Bottas, somewhere mid point though the season and make up their minds. But you’re right, Dan might be their preference for 2019 if they don’t find themselves comfortably ahead.

          1. @todfod I don’t recall anything that would support that they were ‘looking at avoiding the mistakes during the Lewis-Nico years.’ I don’t recall them saying that anything about that rivalry was a mistake. They were romping away with 1-2’s in races and in Championships, and but for a few headaches that were really moreso between the two drivers than anything, they were completely happy to carry on taking 1-2’s in races and Championships. I think they only went for VB because it was the best deal they could come up with in short notice, taking all aspects of it into consideration. We were underwhelmed, but that is because nobody else better was available, same with last year ahead of the re-signing of VB for just this year. They would have far preferred to have Nico there still…and had re-signed him…no mistaking that…no consideration that that rivalry was a mistake whatsoever.

    2. Red bull is looking to switch to Honda as soon as they can product a competitive engine in the Toro Rosso. If I were Dan I’d jump ship before RBR take on Honda.

      1. Why would you jump ship just before getting a competitive engine? That’s RBR only fault….

    3. Hungary 2017 comes to mind

  4. Vettel did hand P2 to Bottas at the start with his Schumacher like chop on his teammate Kimi. It seems unlikely Bottas would have been that close at the pitstops if not for that move by Vettel.

    Hats off to Danny Ricciardo for his excellent drive all the way to the front for the win. Patience and gutsy moves at the right times showed why he really is one of the best on the grid right now.

  5. Just bear in mind that Bottas has won a race more recently than Hamilton, and is 2-1 up in qualifying and the races so far this season

  6. In all honesty I think Ferrari threw away a RAI victory in China. RAI not only had a fresh set of softs (HAM had a used set of softs – probably the likely reason Merc didn’t want to pit him), but also had enough gap to pit and come out in front of HULK during SC. Looking at the race pace I think w/ fresh softs he would have been pushing those Redbulls all the way.

    What’s irritating is Ferrari saw how much of a significant advantage fresher tires can give you in this track (BOT vs SEB) and still didn’t pit RAI in.

    1. Almost the entire Ferrari pitwall is focused on one driver. The people who are focused on Kimi are trying their best to make sure he finishes behind Seb. Honestly, if Kimi goes back to his demotivated style of racing, and doesn’t take any points off Seb’s rivals, then Ferrari have no one but themselves to blame.

      1. as far as im concerned kimi is the team bitch. that will get screwed at every opportunity that may even remotely help their #1 driver. sad but true..

        and btw, i think he was also not able to overtake bottas with relatively newer set of tyres (hope m correct on this one)

      2. While I agree they’re not being fair to him, for once he has a competitive season, it would’ve been silly to pit him with SC given the circumstances, he had pitted 3 laps earlier!

        If anything, a bit more luck and a SC just before pitting would’ve given him more chance.

        1. If the saftey car had not come out all those going for a one stop would have struggled that much more (Extra laps) – it would have been intresting to see how Kimi’s statergy would have played out being the only driver on fresher tyres – and perhaps the optimium 2 stop stratergy… Perhaps Ferrari didn’t screw him over as badly as it looks?

        2. I don’t know about that strategy being silly. The difference in performance between the Softs and Mediums were significant. RIC had no issue passing RAI in the back straight. Sure, if SC happened just before RAI pitted it would’ve made sure he’d be infront of BOT, but RAI would still be on mediums (need to use 2 different sets of compounds), thus very likely would’ve gotten overtaken by RIC anyways (he had phenomenal speed on those softs) . But by pitting RAI he would have been right behind the Redbulls with the same tyre compounds. At worst he would have been 2nd or 3rd.

  7. here it was an unfortunately-timed Safety Car.

    Not quite, it was ill-timed for Valtteri Bottas and for both Ferrari drivers, but perfectly timed for the other Merc chauffeur, who chose not to take advantage of it.

  8. Sometimes it’s so close between winning or losing. Bottas really avoided a collision with RIC when the latter overtook him. I didn’t realize how close it was until I watch a race summary tonight.

    1. That’s racing. Vers action on VET could have worked if VET was as chicken as Bottas.
      From hero tot zero is standard in F1 for some.

      1. Verstappen was further behind.

        1. Who’s talking about max here?

  9. Mercedes calculations again. It feels like they are kids that cannot take their eyes out of the smartphone. Why don’t they look at the race? They are right beside the race track

  10. According to Mercedes their calculations led them to believe their cars on older tyres would be too quick for Red Bull’s cars on fresh tyres to pass

    Twice in 3 races Mercedes get it wrong with their simulations. Time to hire someone else…

    1. 3 times in 3 races:
      1. Safety car window
      2. Driver in front will have to pit again
      3. Will be too quick for the fresh tyres to pass

    2. Merc has been unlucky. Safety cars are always unpredictable and can create situations where there are clear winners and losers and depending into which group you fall is mostly down to luck. And it still could be worse for mercedes. In china it was possible that bottas finish p3 and not p2 if verstappen had kept it on the road. P4 if ferrari had not sacrificed kimi’s race for vettel. But at the same time if the toro rosso’s had not collided it would have been easy win.

      1. No luck involved. They have scenarios for every possible outcome with a SC or VSC. But it seems the Merc scenarios don’t compute.

  11. RIC and MAX were benefited from the tyre strategy. Soft tyres vs Medium tyres – there was no question to be asked to know the speed difference. MAX lost his chance by misjudging the overtaking moves. RIC almost lost it while passing BOTTAS.
    What makes me sad is why Ferrari didn’t react to the strategy with RAI as he was already in 5th position nothing to lose. That was a missed opportunity of a potential win.

  12. I disagree with the title.

    Bottas did an outstanding job. Beating Lewis in quali and race. This is what he baddly needs. If he can do that, he is in good spot for contract renewal.

    1. @jureo Yeh Bottas is impressive in the past two races, Something i rarely can say. Sadly it is as always the black and white race results that judge the drivers in media. How they actually perform in their given spot is never aknowledged, unless its one of the three top drivers that is.

    2. @ jureo
      I agree with you. Mercedes can see more than just the final standings (even if the media can’t) and Bottas was flawless in China. If he keeps performing like that, there is no way they are going to replace him even if he fails to win any races this season (of course he’ll most likely win several races with performances like that).

      Also, I don’t see why Mercedes would hire Ricciardo. He’s done brilliant job last season and at the start of this season, but let’s face it: he’s not as fast as Max is. Ricciardo has beaten Max only because of Verstappen’s bad luck (last season) and stupid moves (this season). He’s gotten good results when Max has failed and hats off to him for that, but I don’t see why the best team in Formula One would hire someone who is slower than his current team mate. If Mercedes was to replace Bottas, I think they’d take either Vettel or Verstappen.

  13. One things for almost certain, if Hamilton is struggling to match Botas at the moment, Dan would completely destroy him as a teammate.

    1. “Nico” would love it if RIC came to Mercedes and destroyed HAM

    2. :D I don’t think anyone can completely destroy Hamilton… But Hamilton does have these bad weekends, and they happen 3-4 times per year and with some unreliability a decent teammate can win over a season, like Button did and Rosberg..

      It is his only weakness. Sometimes he is just not on it.

  14. I think we need to see what happens over the first half of the season. Three races that have all presented themselves with something unique that altered the results from what was expected, are not three races to make any judgements over. Let’s see once they do more races and the circumstances even themselves out amongst the teams. Let’s see once the teams have made some upgrades after these flyaway races.

    I predict by half way it will be a neck and neck back and forth between Merc and Ferrari, namely LH and SV, and RBR will be a solid third with Max generally outperforming DR, just as he was in China before the safety car. That start by Max was stunning. And without a skewed tire advantage.

    I think DR should consider Mercedes if they’ll have him. I’d be worried about RBR switching to Honda, and I’d be worried about the second hand treatment at Ferrari, but at Mercedes he’d have an equal chance at what is the defending Championships winning car, which is something we may still be able to say at this season’s half way point.

    1. I think DR should consider Mercedes if they’ll have him

      Nice back hander, but like you said lets see what happens.

      1. Not meant as a backhander, I just meant that it is not just up to DR. He doesn’t just get to go wherever he pleases. If Mercedes are interested in DR then I think we will see him there replacing VB because I don’t see them keeping VB. So it’s just a matter of whether or not Merc has someone else in mind.

  15. It is interesting to note Christian Horner’s comments and interviews, he obviously wants to keep RIC because he is a great driver, and picks up the pieces when Verstappen cannot.

    But I don’t think it plays with the RBR long game. We were told Verstappen was getting the team built around him, now how much of that is fact and fiction we do not know. What we do know is that RBR are desperate to be fighting for wins and maybe more importantly mindshare (advertising ;) ) because the main reason they are here is to peddle overly toxic drinks to people.

    Questions we should consider:
    1. Is Ricciardo content to be potential second driver at RBR? I do not think he would be primary if he stays as Verstappen will get his issues under control a bit more as time goes on.
    2. Is Raikkonnen calling time at Ferrari? Would Vettel want RIC as team mate? I do not know how well they ot on first time around. Would Ferrari still be Ferrari and sacrifice one driver for the other?
    3. Everyone is talking about Bottas being replaced. I think if he keeps form there is very low chance of that happening. If he does get replaced, would Ricciardo be the man?

  16. @captainpie

    1) No DR wouldn’t be content to be potential second driver at RBR, and I think that is the way it will be there. Sure Max has had some ragged events so far this season, but he has also started to pick up where he left off last year, so far up 2-1 in qualifying ahead of DR. I think over a season MV will be the natural number one on the team, and yes upon re-signing with RBR last year Horner did make a comment about Max making the team his. Of course that is not to say Horner wouldn’t say that all drivers can make their team their’s by outperforming the other driver. I don’t believe RBR are tailoring things for Max, but Max, imho, is going to continue to outperform DR and make the team his that way.

    2) I think SV would have no issues with DR beside him at Ferrari, but yes one must always be suspect of Ferrari’s one-rooster leanings.

    3) I think VB will be replaced no matter what happens this season. I think Toto et al at Mercedes are going to have to assume that if the competition has gotten stiffer this season, then it best be safe to assume they’ll (Ferrari and RBR) be even stronger again next season. I can’t of course speak for if Mercedes wants DR, but I do believe wholeheartedly that good enough (with VB) is not good enough for TW, nor will it be good enough next year. I think they should and likely are considering DR, and I think DR should consider them. Mercedes are still currently the defending Champions, and will be until the math dictates that someone else might win one or both Championships this season, and at Mercedes DR will be more assured he’ll get equal opportunity compared to at Ferrari.

    1. @robbie
      I think everyone agrees Daniel does not want to be 2nd driver in any team, in my view least of all in RBR where he has the experience and tenure. That would be a slap in the face.
      The Ferrari question is a difficult one and possible only RIC would be able to say if he is happy with what they could offer him.
      I like Bottas, maybe that is why I am hoping that Mercedes won;t be ruthless and dispose of him even if he performs well. I agree that Merc are much better at having equal rights between drivers, although as the competition closes in and the field becomes tighter, do Mercedes feel they can keep that mentality up? If it comes down to it and it was between winning or losing the WCC I have no allusion that they would play the game. Maybe not in the same way we see from Ferrari and historically with Red Bull.

      The final area is, where will Renault and Mclaren be next year? If any teams are going to be consistently growing and able to challenge the leaders in the coming years, I see it from one of these 2.

      1. @captainpie Well said and I agree about Renault and McLaren. I do wonder if DR might be looking at Renault, for at least they are a factory team who have been pumping their team up of late in terms of staff and resources. He could make that team ‘his.’ And yes I would never count Mac out from progressing big time, just not sure if they’re looking for a driver change next year. Same with Renault but I see change there more than at Mac.

        Wrt Mercedes and their two drivers, for sure you are right and we have seen team orders there before, and absolutely circumstances can dictate that if one team (e.g. Ferrari) is putting everything behind one driver, then the only way to compete against that, again depending on the math, is to also designate a number one on the team in order to not rob points from the driver with the more potential to win.

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