SEBASTIAN Vettel was all class in winning the Canadian Grand Prix on the weekend and Max Verstappen bounced back from a series of disappointments.
Here’s how the first 10 drivers to cross the finish line performed (all ratings are out of 10).
A drive so impressive, he passed the chequered flag twice. This was a sublime, flawless performance from Sebastian Vettel, a lights-to-flag domination that even an early flag mix-up could not spoil. An impressive getaway set the tone after his fine qualifying, and he then used all his experience and nous to navigate the Safety Car restart. Once that had been dealt with, there only ever looked like being one winner in Canada. More importantly, he now holds a world championship lead and suddenly looks like the driver in form. We have quite the title fight on our hands, folks.
Still no wins for Valtteri Bottas in 2018 but four second-place finishes in seven races underline his consistency and dependability — qualities which now look likely to earn Valtteri at least a one-year contract extension with Mercedes. Advised to “get his elbows out” more often by the Sky F1 pundits pre-race, Bottas did exactly that on the first lap to hold off Max Verstappen. Just a shame about the mistake late on when he ran wide at the first corner lapping a backmarker Renault, although Vettel had it all under control up front in any case.
That’s more like it, Max Verstappen. After butting heads with the media on Thursday, the youngster was as outstanding in Montreal as he had been careless in Monaco, delivering his joint-best result of the season but very much his best all-round performance. On Sky F1, Nico Rosberg suggested that Verstappen has a Hamilton-like tendency to excel when he’s “angry”; Max denied as much afterwards but it certainly felt as though he was making his response to the critics — and with his eloquent talking on the track, he did so in the best possible way.
Even when not quite at his best, Daniel Ricciardo still ended the Montreal week in credit, delivering a strong race-day performance — and a super in-lap to get the jump on Lewis Hamilton — to land fourth place. As he said afterwards, “I don’t think I could have done much more. I know it’s fourth but I’m actually happy.” Anything else? “Last thing, it’s my mum’s birthday, so happy birthday mum.” Just don’t talk about the fastest lap award …
He came into the weekend as the Montreal master, but Lewis Hamilton simply never got going here. The wrong set-up in qualifying followed by an engine problem in the race may have accounted for part of that — and Hamilton was grateful for simply finishing the grand prix at all — but this was supposed to be his track, and his time to open up a lengthy lead over Vettel. Instead, he goes into a triple header with an unexpected points deficit, and suddenly doesn’t look at ease.
Three tenths of a second behind in qualifying, almost 30 seconds behind in the race. These are uncomfortable numbers for Kimi Raikkonen who, after a strong start to the season, is now really being shown up by Vettel. The championship leader has beaten Raikkonen in the last six qualifying sessions. The Finn paid dearly for his Saturday mistake in the race — he could not quite get close enough to Hamilton for fifth — and, after so many years at the top, is it starting to look like the beginning of the end for F1’s Iceman?
“Mr Consistent” Nico Hulkenberg has pretty much spent the entirety of 2018 in seventh place and Montreal barely deviated from established practice — seventh in qualifying, Nico was still in seventh when both chequered flag fell. Bit of a difficult one, isn’t it, to explain why Nico is so rarely talked about as a candidate for a top seat?
Eighth place may look like a good return for Carlos Sainz, especially after making contact with Sergio Perez, but that does not take his teammate’s performances into his account. While Hulkenberg continues to extract the maximum out of the Renault, Sainz is consistently a tenth slower in qualifying, and a tenth slower in the race. He is surely still a contender for a possible seat at Red Bull next year, but this loan is not quite going to plan for him at the moment.
He’s been under the radar slightly this season and doesn’t have the points some of his drives have deserved but Esteban Ocon is enjoying a really quite impressive run of form. He now leads Perez 5-2 in qualifying and, though he will be disappointed not to have got past a Renault or two, he couldn’t have done too much more in the race. Mercedes say they will look internally first should they have a 2019 seat available, and Ocon is doing his chances no harm.
Is Charles Leclerc the in-form driver on the grid? Quite possibly. The F1 rookie endured a shaky start to the season but his last four grands prix have been quite exceptional. Making it into Q2 in Montreal and out-qualifying both McLarens, Leclerc backed that up with a consistent and experienced drive — holding off a quicker Toro Rosso to take a point. Ferrari will be quite rightly impressed by their protege.
WELCOME to our live coverage of all the action from qualifying for the Formula 1 2018 Singapore Grand Prix.
It was soon to be ex-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen who led the way on Friday, edging championship leader Lewis Hamilton, while Sebastian Vettel’s practice came to an abrupt halt after hitting the wall during his qualifying simulation run in Practice 2.
Daniel Ricciardo was quickest of all in the early session, but was pipped in the evening by Max Verstappen at a race where the Red Bull’s race pace is tipped to put them into the fight for victory on Sunday night.
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The team had replaced the transaxle in McLaughlin’s car overnight after reporting problems during Saturday’s race, but the spare unit was mis-labelled with the wrong drop gear ratio.
McLaughlin qualified 10th for the race in question before the team realised the mistake, the team estimating that the wrong drop gear cost made the car 0.7s down the long front straight. McLaughlin finishing Race 23 in the same position with the correct drop gear fitted.
“Stewards found the breach, which was admitted by the team, was not deliberate and did not result in any performance gain,” read a statement from Supercars.
Half of the fine has been suspended until the end of the year, the penalty handed down after a CAMS Stewards’ hearing on Saturday morning at the Sandown 500.
Ordinarily, the penalty for such a breach would be to disqualify McLaughlin from the qualifying session and force him to start from the rear of the grid of the subsequent race.
However, Supercars technical staff were unaware of the breach prior to Race 23, instead identifying it after reviewing the telemetry data from McLaughlin’s car in the week after the event.
“The Stewards convened the Hearing because they were and remain concerned that an undetected breach of this nature potentially prejudices the integrity of the Championship,” the CAMS Stewards report read.
“The Respondent was under no obligation under the Rules to have brought the breach to the attention of Supercars Officials on their own initiative but, of course, by not doing so they took a risk that the breach might be detected later.
“At the same time, Supercars Technical staff cannot be expected to audit every Team’s data following every session to detect a breach such as this.
“It is nonetheless regrettable that the issue did not come to the attention of the Stewards prior to the start of Race 23. Whether Car #17 achieved a better result in Race 23 than it would have done had it started rear of grid is incapable of determination now.
“For these reasons we considered that a severe monetary Penalty is required to deter competitors from infringements of this kind, notwithstanding that in this case we have found the breach was not deliberate and did not result in any performance gain. Were the circumstances to have been different, we would not have suspended any part of the Fine and have contemplated additional Penalties.”
The story has been the focus of much debate in the paddock at the Sandown 500, with the first public reports of the infraction only emerging during Friday practice.
“At no point during the qualifying session or during post qualifying parc ferme did any team allege a breach or protest the results of qualifying,” the Supercars statement continued.
“As is standard procedure for technical matters and alleged breaches found away from a race meeting, it was referred to the Stewards the next time they convene, which in this case is this weekend’s Sandown 500 in Melbourne.”
The stewards’ verdict has no impact on the No.17 car for results of the Sandown 500 weekend.
STATEMENT FROM DJR TEAM PENSKE
We accept the penalty issued by the stewards for a technical infringement with car #17 during qualifying at the Bend, Sunday 26 August 2018.
The infringement was for use of an incorrect drop gear ratio in a replacement gearbox installed Saturday evening, which was corrected immediately once identified, before that day’s race.
This was a mistake made in error and, as acknowledged by Supercars and the stewards, in no way advantaged car #17 over its competitors.
THE FULL CAMS STEWARDS STATEMENT
HEARING (B 3.1)
On 14 September 2018, Mr Masi, the Deputy Race Director informed the Stewards that he had determined to charge Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd with a breach of the Rules following an investigation he had conducted following his receipt of a report from the Supercars Sporting & Technical Director that the Drop Gear Ratio in the transaxle used in Car #17 in the Qualifying session for Race 23 at the OTR Tailem Bend Supersprint on 26 August 2018 (the Event) did not comply with the mandated ratio for that Circuit.
The Stewards determined to convene a Hearing at 0830hrs on 15 September 2018 to consider that charge and summonsed the Respondent to attend.
The charge concerned an alleged breach of Rule C10.4.1 of the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Rules as varied by the Further Supplementary Regulations for Races 22 and 23.
It was alleged that Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd had contravened that Rule in that the mandated Drop Gear Ratio for the OTR Tailem Bend Supersprint was 1.00 but in the Qualifying session for Race 23 the Drop Gear Ratio in the transaxle in Car #17 had been 1.07.
The Respondent’s Team Manager, Ryan Story, stated that he understood the nature of the charge and was ready to proceed.
The breach was admitted. We therefore find the charge proven.
DRD Submissions on Penalty
The DRD tabled a report from the Supercars Sporting & Technical Director which explained the discovery of an apparent breach following a review of data from Car #17 in the week following the Event.
He explained that Supercars Technical staff had contacted the Respondent’s representatives after that discovery who admitted that the transaxle installed in Car #17 on the evening prior to the relevant session had a Drop Gear Ratio of 1.07, said that the wrong transaxle had been installed by mistake and that the error had been rectified prior to Race 23.
The Supercars Sporting & Technical Director’s report confirmed that the correct Drop Gear Ratio had been used in Car #17 in Race 23. It also observed that the use of a 1.07 Drop Gear Ratio at that Circuit was unlikely to have given a performance advantage. Indeed, it would most likely have been a performance handicap.
The DRD told the Stewards that throughout his investigation the Respondent’s representatives had been frank and co-operative. He emphasised, however, that the question whether the technical contravention arguably may have disadvantaged Car #17 was not to the point. Had the breach been established prior to the start of Race 23, the only appropriate Penalty would have been Disqualification of Car #17 from the Qualifying session with the result that Car #17 would have started rear of grid. Because that Penalty was not applied as the breach was only discovered after the Race, Car #17 potentially benefitted from a better finishing position in Race 23 than it would otherwise have achieved. He submitted that regardless of whether Car #17 was disadvantaged by the use of the wrong Drop Gear Ratio, the undetected breach is serious and warrants an appropriate Penalty as a deterrent to other competitors.
He recommended to the Stewards that a Fine be imposed and that Car #17 be Disqualified from the Qualifying session for Race 23 notwithstanding that the resultant Penalty that Car #17 start from rear of grid in that Race cannot now be applied.
The Stewards requested that Mr Story explain how a transaxle with the wrong Drop Gear Ratio came to be used in Car #17. He explained that the Team had built a transaxle with a 1.07 Drop Gear Ratio for intended testing at Ipswich as part of its development of the new Mustang but the box in which it had been stored had been incorrectly labelled as a 1.00 transaxle. As a result, when the truck came to be packed for the Tailem Bend Event that box had been loaded in the belief that the transaxle in it was consistent with the label on it.
He further explained that throughout the 2018 Championship the Drivers of both their Cars have repeatedly reported ‘notching’ on downshifts as a result of which it has been their practice to change the transaxle as a preventative measure. The Driver of Car #17 had reported such an issue in Race 22 as a consequence the Team determined the swap out the transaxle that evening and selected the spare transaxle that had been incorrectly labelled in the genuine belief that it had the correct Drop Gear Ratio.
During the Qualifying session the Driver of Car #17 reported to the Team that there seemed something wrong with the gearbox. After analysing their data from the session they suspected that the wrong ratio was in the transaxle and changed the driveshafts and dogs before Race 23. He said that the use of the shorter ratio meant that Car #17 lost 0.7s on the main straight and agreed with the Sporting & Technical Director’s opinion that the inadvertent use of the shorter ratio had prejudiced Car #17 in the Qualifying session.
He said that the issue was the result of a genuine mistake. He acknowledged that had the breach been established before Race 23, Car #17 would have been Disqualified from Qualifying for Race 23 with the result that it would have started rear of grid. He did not take issue with the DRD’s recommendation to the Stewards that a Fine is an appropriate Penalty but argued that it should be a lesser Fine in all of the circumstances.
The Hearing adjourned at 0905hrs for the Stewards to deliberate.
The Hearing reconvened at 1230hrs on 15 September 2018.
After hearing submissions on penalty and considering all relevant matters we Disqualify Car #17 from the Qualifying session for Race 23 and impose a Fine of $30,000 on Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd of which $15,000 is suspended until 31 December 2018 and will become immediately payable in the event that the Respondent commits any other breach of Division C of the Rules before that date.
In imposing this Penalty the Stewards accept the Respondent’s explanation that the breach was not deliberate. They also accept that in this instance the breach did not result in a performance advantage for Car #17 in the relevant session. However, Rule A3.3 makes clear that if a Team is found not to comply with any Rule it shall be no defence to claim that no sporting or performance advantage was obtained.
The Stewards convened the Hearing because they were and remain concerned that an undetected breach of this nature potentially prejudices the integrity of the Championship. The Respondent was under no obligation under the Rules to have brought the breach to the attention of Supercars Officials on their own initiative but, of course, by not doing so they took a risk that the breach might be detected later.
At the same time, Supercars Technical staff cannot be expected to audit every Team’s data following every session to detect a breach such as this. It is nonetheless regrettable that the issue did not come to the attention of the Stewards prior to the start of Race 23. Whether Car #17 achieved a better result in Race 23 than it would have done had it started rear of grid is incapable of determination now.
For these reasons we considered that a severe monetary Penalty is required to deter competitors from infringements of this kind, notwithstanding that in this case we have found the breach was not deliberate and did not result in any performance gain. Were the circumstances to have been different, we would not have suspended any part of the Fine and have contemplated additional Penalties.
The parties were reminded of their right to appeal.