Ferrari is back on the podium thanks to a second place for Seb Vettel, who thus extends his lead over Hamilton to 20 points, while Kimi was fifth at the end of 71 very closely contested laps.
A start on the hats
All eyes were on the start lights, with Seb on the front row alongside Bottas, with Kimi right behind. The first two tore away while Kimi was immediately in a fight with Ricciardo which saw him go off track: time to get back on track in every sense of the word and that fight began with a nice passing move on Grosjean. The Stewards were investigating a possible jumped start from the poleman. The track surface was boiling hot, almost 50° and that was giving the tyres a harder time than expected. Kimi was fourth, coming under attack from Hamilton, but the Finn was doing well to hold him off.
A turn of events
Out in front, nothing much happened until lap 32, when Lewis pitted to take on Ultrasofts. Raikkonen stayed out, while Ricciardo pitted. Then, on lap 34, Seb came in and, as planned, switched to the red-banded tyres. Bottas’ Ultrasofts were done and he pitted on lap 42, coming out on track behind Kimi who, having yet to stop, was in the lead. The Iceman held him off until turn 4 and so it was time for him to come in for new tyres. Seb and Kimi were nibbling away at the gaps to their closest rivals. Vettel posted the race fastest lap on lap 50. Four laps later and Kimi did better, but the backmarkers didn’t help his cause and he repeatedly had to brake on the dirty part of the track. The final stages were very close with traffic typical of a short track like this one, as lap times tumbled and the leaders suffering from blistering on the tyres as did more and more of the pack. In the final two laps, Seb was within DRS distance of Bottas and Hamilton was in the same situation with Ricciardo, but that was the order at the flag, with Vettel coming home second to increase his lead by a further six points in the Drivers’ championship. “Guys, we really tried.” And Kimi brought home a further 10 points to add to the haul.
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