Formula One

Interesting times for F1. Malaysia will host their last Grand Prix race this 2017. After Eddie Irvine won the inaugural event at Sepang in 1999, this October will be the final race. The reason? According to BBC: “Malaysia had struggled in recent years to attract a significant crowd, its appeal damaged by the more glamorous night-time event on a street track in Singapore.”

Speaking of Singapore, they’re not sure yet of being part of the 2018 calendar. When next year’s schedule was announced, Malaysia was deleted and asterisks were attached beside the names “China” and “Singapore.”

April 8, 2018 is the Shanghai F1 race but that’s uncertain. Same with Singapore, which has hosted the night party since 2008. Will racing aficionados witness three Asian countries doing a pit stop (stopping) next year? Let’s see. As to the 2017 season, it can’t get any more thrilling.

Justin Alfafara, a long time F1 fanatic, commented on the eight races thus far this season.

“It’s been more exciting compared to the previous Mercedes dominant era and the Red Bull dominant era prior to that,” Justin said. “Although Mercedes is still the team to beat, Ferrari are not far behind and are leading in the championship.”

Sebastian Vettel is leading with 153 points followed by Lewis Hamilton’s 139. There are still 12 races to go so plenty of fight. Talking of fights, one erupted last Sunday during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and it was a spectacle. Vettel bumped Hamilton’s rear and side. Are we watching a game of bump-cars?

“Hamilton was just doing what any driver up front would do,” Justin said. “The Safety Car was exiting at the end of that lap and ANY driver leading the pack would always slow down and bunch up the rest of the pack so that the Safety Car can exit in a clean manner and not get in his way when normal race speed resumes; he did that also during the previous Safety Car session.”

“Based on the footage, Vettel was following way too close to begin with so naturally, when Hamilton slowed down at that corner, Vettel collided with him. In the heat of the moment, Vettel (usually one who does not man up to his mistakes) took that as a sign of aggression and went alongside Hamilton, raised his hand in anger and turned into Hamilton in retaliation. Now, the FIA stewards have access to the telemetry data on all the cars and it did show that Hamilton DID NOT brake test Vettel at all. So simply put, Vettel was at fault.”

I don’t follow every F1 race but that video footage got me awakened. Justin continues his commentary for this season: “What surprised me is the rest of the mid field teams and the backmarker teams are also in a position to challenge each other. With the exception of the Baku Grand Prix (a fluke and the season’s craziest race), the win is just between Mercedes and Ferrari; but the midfield racing is intense.

“A lot of younger drivers on the same grid with seasoned veterans, throw into the mix team orders, off track politics, engines blowing up constantly, inconsistent steward penalties; we’ve got teammate wars in Red Bull, Force India and Sauber, the ever present Bottas-Raikonnen collisions, and the Hamilton-Vettel rivalry.. these have spiced up the racing.” 

In addition, Justin is hoping that Max Verstappen is given a reliable car and can win some races. “Force India has been strong lately and have their own war between their drivers,” he said. “I hope their in-team rivalry will also get in the way of Lewis and Vettel like they have the past few races and make the racing upfront more unpredictable.” 

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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