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Danke Niki and a bigger thank you to Ferrari

The weekend where the whole paddock paid their respects to the late Niki Lauda, a legend and the original nerd of racing, Ferrari decided to mess up the qualifying for Charles Leclerc and as a result, give us an interesting race.

So Ferrari totally misjudged the Q1 qualifying times. They didn't send Leclerc out for a second run and as a result, poor Charles, for no fault of his own, was pushed back to P16 on the starting grid, even after showing fabulous pace in the third practise session and topping the leaderboard. In my opionion, he missed out on a front-row start and a podium finish. 

As the Mercs got a good start from the front row, Verstappen and Vettel followed at P3 and P4. The race was looking predictable and that's exactly when the plot thickened. Leclerc, desperate to gain positions, made a lunge on the inside of Hulkenberg, spinning both their cars and as a consequence, blocked the last two corners of the track and brought out the safety car as everyone dashed for the pitlane. 

Hamilton had a clean stop, Bottas was running 2nd and had backed the field up so that the Mercedes team could pull off a double-stack pit stop. Redbull, however, had other plans. As Bottas, Verstappen and Vettel finished their stops, Max was released unsafely just alongside Valterri. The two cars collided, losing some body work and leaving Bottas with the fear of having a puncture. The Mercs had to pit their driver once again, thus ending his chances of being on the podium and pushing him back to fourth place. Redbull didn't get away with their unsafe release as the FIA handed Max with a five second time penalty. So If Vettel and Valterri stayed close to Max, they would have ended up on the podium.

Mercedes, in the wake of expecting rain, had put Hamilton on a soft tyre that was deteriorating fast. And Hamilton had three-quarters of the race to finish on those. With a fast approaching Max Verstappen, determined to get in the lead and pull out five seconds to nullify his penalty, there were some nail-biting, edge of the seat laps. 

In the end, however, Hamilton came out on top. Vettel and Bottas got their podium finishes. But my heart goes out to Max, who drove like a rockstar and to Leclerc who missed out on a strong debut at his home race. 

It's now over to Canada, where the Mercedes team is expected to bring a significant engine upgrade. Could this make the other teams cry in the rain?

Time will tell. 

Written by: RJ Rishi Kapoor

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author's alone.
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