Text: Anton Andres / Photos: Mercedes-AMG F1, Lotus F1 | posted August 24, 2015 11:17
Ferrari out of podium after failed tire strategy
After a month-long break, Formula One returns with yet another Mercedes-AMG 1-2 finish led by Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton ran a dominating race, leading from start to end.
Finishing second was Nico Rosberg but it wasn't an easy race for the German. Whereas Hamilton had a rocket start, Rosberg suffered from too much wheelspin at the start and dropped to fourth by the first turn. Taking advantage of the botched start were Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo.
By the second lap, Hamilton was opening up a gap between him and Perez. Pastor Maldonado retires with mechanical problems. As Hamilton pulled away, Rosberg was catching up to Ricciardo with Sebastian Vettel in tow. On lap eight, Romain Grosjean had caught up to the top five.
The rush of pitstops on lap nine had cost Valtteri Bottas dearly. The pit crew had mistakenly put one medium compound tire out of the set of soft tires. Bottas was forced to serve a drive through penalty for the tire change error and a pit stop to change the set of tires. By this time, Rosberg had recovered from the slow start and was now behind team mate, Hamilton. On lap 21 however, Ricciardo's car had lost power after the hydraulics failed, bringing out the virtual safety car. Racing resumed on lap 23.
Ferrari made a bold decision for a one stop strategy for Vettel. Vettel was running a steady third until his right rear tire blew two laps from the finish. He eventually finished a lap down in twelfth.
With Ferrari's risky pit strategy failed, Lotus' Romain Grosjean was on the way to his tenth podium finish of his career. The Frenchman had to start the race in ninth as a penalty for a gearbox change. He drove a quiet and strong race, picking up the pace as Perez's car faded and Ricciardo suffering mechanical failure. As Vettel's tires degraded, Grosjean had stayed behind the four time champion until the tires on the Ferrari gave up exiting Eau Rouge. Commentators noted that had the tire blown on Eau Rouge, the outcome may have been much worse.
Finishing fourth was Red Bull Racing's Daniil Kvyat. The Russian took full advantage of DRS and the track limits as he overtook Perez on the outside and nearly going off course. Perez was also set for a podium finish but an early pit stop stretched too much of the tire's life, dropping him to fifth.
Rounding up those who finished in the points are Felipe Massa in sixth and Kimi Raikkonen in seventh. Max Verstappen was the top finishing Toro Rosso finishing eighth. After the pit stop blunder, Valtteri Bottas finished ninth and Marcus Ericsson gets a point for finishing tenth.
As the drivers enter the next round in Monza, Lewis Hamilton continues leading the championship standings with 227 points. Team mate Nico Rosberg is in second with 199 points, 28 behind Hamilton.