Hamilton Finally Gets A Penalty For Driving Slow


Lewis Hamilton – he was the fastest and the slowest driver of the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix! WHAT IF Hamilton hadn’t slowed down in the pit lane and not picked up the 5 second penalty? WHAT IF Mercedes would’ve swapped their drivers earlier than they did? These WHAT IFs are good suspense to maintain and hopefully will get more fans to tune in to the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.
But Mercedes resorted to team orders in the third race of the season already. Bottas’ confidence must’ve swung like a pendulum after the pole position high on Saturday followed by being ordered to let Hamilton through on Sunday. But were Mercedes taking the blame (generator fault) to protect Bottas? Teams do offer such excuses to save their drivers’ confidence, at times. (Have Ferrari Forgotten Team Orders?)

The Mercedes Swap That Wasn’t

Hamilton was vocal on the radio. He was open to a swap of positions and then hand it back to Bottas should he not be successful in chasing down Vettel. However, the swap back never came, but it seems clear that like Ferrari, Mercedes will sooner or later need to back one driver as their number one driver and there’s little doubt who it may be. (Bottas Making Us Miss Rosberg?)


Pit Lane Rules & Math

The ‘slowing down’ moment is basically Motorsport karma coming back to bite Hamilton? I had memories from the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and I am surprised that a certain Nico Rosberg didn’t tweet about this moment. However, full marks to Hamilton for being at his cheekiest best to gain whatever advantage possible. (Was Hamilton Fair?)
There was an interesting debate I had with Mithila with regards to Hamilton’s penalty. Basically, the pit lane is where being slower or faster could earn you a penalty – you ought to be on the limit! Also, Hamilton slowed Ricciardo down to avoid losing track position to him by having to double stack in the Mercedes bay. But maybe continuing at his regular pace would’ve anyway cost him position? Ferrari and Red Bull Racing did outthink Mercedes on tyre strategy.

Mercedes Engine, Start & Re-start

We’ve been hearing and reading about Mercedes’ engine mode and how when they turn it up, a clear advantage still remains despite Ferrari having caught up. At the re-start, this advantage was most evident when Hamilton overtook Ricciardo and Vettel was being hunted down by Bottas. This is also the reason why the Mercedes cars were way ahead of the competition in qualifying. (Give Everyone Mercedes Engines)
Sebastian Vettel’s top form was visible from the start itself. He darted ahead of Hamilton – a key moment of the race and then defended well against an aggressive Bottas at the restart – the second key moment. Vettel’s form was complimented well by Ferrari’s bold tyre strategy to pit when Bottas was both slow and leading a train.

A Game Of Strategy

Mercedes would’ve realized by now that Ferrari beat them on strategy in a race where the pace between the two teams was evenly matched. After years of in-fighting, Mercedes evidently need to sharpen their form to be able to thwart Ferrari’s challenge. In fact, I wonder if Ferrari is challenging or leading the challenge! In Bahrain, Red Bull Racing’s tyre strategy did see both their cars undercut Hamilton just before the Safety Car was deployed.
By the way, it seems clear that Ferrari are forgetting that they’ve a second racing car being driven by Kimi Raikkonen. Is it just me or do you also feel that Raikkonen’s strategy is being left ignored?

The Top 10

Esteban Ocon has blocked 10th place for himself, much like 6th has been blocked off by Felipe Massa. By this logic, if we were to block 1st and 2nd places for Hamilton / Vettel and 3rd for Bottas / Raikkonen, then there are very few positions left to fight for in the top 10! But in Bahrain, Grosjean and Hulkenberg scored their first points for the season. Kudos! (Hulkenberg’s Interview On The Inside Line)

Mclaren-Honda, Alonso, Indy 500, DNFs, DNS!

What do you do if you’re tired of your DNFs? You lodge a DNS! That’s what Mclaren-Honda did in Bahrain with Vandoorne’s car. Must’ve been a bigger embarrassment in front of the team’s Bahraini owners. (The Joke’s On Mclaren)
The dismal form took away from the Alonso to Indy 500 news that broke mid-week. In fact, Ecclestone, who was there in Bahrain, publicly admitted that had he been in power, he would’ve blocked Alonso’s move. If you’re keen to know more about this story, do read ‘Forget Button, Mclaren Should Hire Maldonado’. And on that note, I am still wondering if Button is ‘bold’ or ‘dumb’ for making a comeback in Monaco in these new cars without any testing whatsoever!
There’s rumours that Alonso is purposely retiring his cars at the end of each race. He’s told his Spanish media colleagues that he would give his 100% every race but would retire the car if points weren’t in sight! I wonder what the shrewd Alonso brain is trying to cook up here!
Also, if you wish to know why Kimi Raikkonen would never race in the Indy 500, you need to tune in!

Hello Turkey, Hello Turn 8

Turn 8 of Turkey should be back soon. The new owners have signed a deal with the Turkish administration. The 2010 Turkish Grand Prix was my first race for the Force India Formula 1 Team and was also my first meeting with Michael Schumacher, so this is exciting news!
Here’s also the Firstpost Pole Position review video of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Co-hosted by Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah, the Inside Line F1 Podcast is a weekly show on Formula 1 that attempts to simplify the sport and business of Formula 1. This show also aims to add some much needed humour to the otherwise serious sport of Formula 1. In 2016, the show has crossed 150,000 listens and is top-rated on iTunes and Audio Boom. The show is available on Kunal’s F1 Blog and partner websites such as Motorsport, Firstpost, NDTVAuto, Sport360, Sportskeeda, Scroll, Talking About F1, Motor Octane and others.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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