A comment on some of the races I’ve been watching. A return to an occasional and hopefully now regular series with the Calendars all updated.
I usually catch one or two live races per weekend and spend time in the week catching up on other things. This time I didn’t see anything live – I had other plans – but I did focus on two events. I’ll be catching up with “Super Sebring” WEC & IMSA another time.
Week 11: 11-17 March 2019
Formula E – R5 – Hong Kong ePrix
A lot of cars in a narrow, tight space led to contact and red flags and safety cars. It wasn’t the cleanest race in the world.
At least it was close for the race lead. Bird and Lotterer went flat out all the way. Bird made a lot of stout attacks, Lotterer repelled them with a lot of stout defences. For the most part this was close, hard street racing. Possibly an argument that FE ought to have been a silhouette touring car series so they could have a bit of contact! These two were the class of the field and pulled away from the rest.
Sadly right near the end there was contact between them, which put Lotterer out. He was angry, he was right to be angry. He even dragged the damage car around until it went no further. There was obviously no malice involved, Bird didn’t plan to drive Lotterer out of the race, he just misjudged his braking – or his aim – and his car’s nose punctured Lotterer’s tyre. It was marginal, very marginal. But he took out the race leader and that’s a penalty. Sure enough, though it took several hours, Bird was later penalised enough time to lose the win.
That gave the win to street-specialist Edo Mortara, which leaves him tied with Lucas di Grassi for 3rd in points with the top four covered by 2 points. It also gave the Venturi team their first ever FE win.
Must mention Oliver Rowland who took the lead at the start and was fast until he hit the FCY limiter button accidentally around the tight hairpin, losing him many places.
A heck of a lot else happened, a mix of contact retirements and good old-fashioned reliability problems knocked some out of the race too. Some tight battles at the hairpin. I don’t have space to mention it all.
Attack Mode didn’t seem to do anything at this track, perhaps drivers lost a lot of time activating it.
Next up is a new race in Sanya, China on 23rd March. You’ll have seen it by the time this piece is published.
Highlights are embedded above or you can watch the full race HERE on YouTube.
||Lucas di Grassi
||Ant Felix da Costa
Formula 1 – R1 – Australian GP
As ever a promising build-up lead to a slightly underwhelming Australian Grand Prix. The track just isn’t very good for close racing with cars this fast. At least it was better than the turgid ‘race’ served up last year. The atmosphere looked as good as ever though and it seems a great relaxed place for a season opener.
Okay it was mostly because Giovanazzi stayed out on worn tyres too long, but passes were made. Like I said in the F1 Preview the middle of the pack is going to be something special this year, especially when we get to more open tracks. Norris in particular had a good debut though not the end result to show for it.
And Kvyat really showed up an underperforming Gasly, who shouldn’t have failed to make it out of Q1 qualifying thus totally screwing up his Sunday, at a track where you can hardly pass.
Bottas really laid down a marker, taking Hamilton at the first corner and going on to dominate the race. There was damage to Hamilton’s floor. But I got the feeling Hamilton, being older and wiser these days, decided to bank the points for 2nd. He still beat Vettel and Verstappen and he knows – he thinks – he can handle Bottas later. I also think this is the case, but I also think Bottas won’t quite be the pushover of last year.
Ricciardo screwed his day by driving on the grass and hitting an access road, very unlucky that was there, he’d probably have got away with it otherwise. I’m sure if he’d held to the edge of the tarmac Perez would’ve given him space but it’s all very tight.
I was surprised how seriously the teams took the new point for Fastest Lap. I thought the drivers would like it and the teams would reign them in, but Mercedes encouraged Bottas to go for it while leading. Interesting!
Summary: Decent first third of the race, then fizzled out as the midfield traffic got in a line and couldn’t race, then it got a bit boring.
On to Bahrain on 31st March. It should be more representative for the rest of the year, both in pace and race-ability of the 2019 cars.
I’ve been been binge-watching recordings of last year’s MotoGP. I did a terrible job keeping up with it. After Jerez I stopped. I’m not sure why, since it is one of my favourite series. Maybe just overwhelmed with live stuff.
Anyway I made the choice to drop BT TV in favour of Sky (see my previous post), partly because I wasn’t using it to watch MotoGP live any more, which means I need to delete everything on my BT Youview box before Monday 25th March.
Of course after I made that decision the highlights rights got moved. Instead of BT Sport’s excellent highlights on Channel 5, we now get generic Dorna highlights on Quest. I haven’t seen it yet but reports suggest it isn’t as good. I have feelings of regret. However there is talk of a BT Sport deal on Sky coming this summer.
Due to the box filling up – the stupid series link recorded endless hours of free practice and started deleting old stuff and I didn’t notice – I had to go to the YouTube highlights for Le Mans, Mugello and Catalunya.
During this week I watched the following:
Assen, Sachsenring, Brno, Spielberg.
Assen’s Dutch GP (July) was magic, such a great race, really close all the way between Lorenzo and Marquez and then Rossi and Dovizioso rode their way through and Rins got in there too. This lot battling was just outstanding.
Sachsenring’s German GP (July) a bit less interesting, Dovi dropped back leaving Marquez to win with a gap over Rossi and Vinales, a slightly better result for Yamaha this time.
Brno’s Czech GP (August) was all about saving your tyres until the last few laps. That meant a big group circulated together but they weren’t going flat out, although it still looked pretty quick to me. When they pulled the pin it was Dovizioso on the Ducati and Marquez on the Honda, with Lorenzo on Ducati close behind, who made the gap. It would be Dovi, Lorenzo, Marquez to give the red team their second 1-2 of the year, Dovi’s 2nd win.
Spielberg’s Austrian GP (August) had a fun start with a big pack. Marquez pulled into a lead with the Ducatis chasing. This is a power track and the Ducatis have it, but the Honda isn’t far off. The was a duel. Marquez and Lorenzo trading blows with Dovi not able to stay with them. Another outstanding battle! Lorenzo took his 3rd win of the year.
And of course Silverstone (August) was cancelled due to torrential rain and a track that didn’t clear water.
Check out these short highlights videos. They aren’t like the F1 and FE videos, they don’t cover as much on track and the edits are a bit jarring, but if racing is most of all about the people, these clips get that across really well.
Monday 18th to Sunday 24th March, I’ll be watching the rest of last year’s MotoGP and the Sanya E-Prix.
My plan is to publish these weekly recaps every Tuesday so you can expect this on the 26th, but they may jump around until I find the right day.