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Hamilton win overshadowed by Grosjean horror crash

NEWS STORY
29/11/2020

Sadly, despite the anticipation, qualifying was a bit of a let-down, for once again we have a Mercedes front-row lock-out.

Max was up there, just 0.414s off Lewis' pace, but as we have seen so many times this season the Red Bull-Honda is no match for the Black Arrow over a single lap.

However, there is no disputing the fact that Max has been there or thereabouts all weekend, and consequently we head into today's race with high hopes.

The Dutchman's pace was good in FP3, and we also saw that, unlike the Mercedes pair, his tyre management is such that he can get more than one good lap from his rubber.

Starting, like Lewis, on the clean side of the grid, is an added bonus.

Teammate Alex Albon is up there to lend a hand, and though still off the Dutchman's pace, shows no after effects following his huge crash on Friday. What better way to make up for that mistake, and silence the Sky F1 and social media critics, than a strong performance today.

Starting right behind Alex is the man many want to see taking the cat-loving Thai's seat next season, Sergio, and as much as this is an opportunity for the Red Bull youngster to show his bosses what he's made of, so too this is the perfect 'job interview' for his would-be successor.

Currently fourth in the standings, this is a perfect opportunity for the Mexican to show would-be employers what they are missing.

Having slipped to fifth in the standings following a miserable weekend in Turkey, today is also a good opportunity for Renault to re-establish itself, Daniel, in particular, keen to leave the French team on a high.

Currently sixth in the driver standings, the Australian could yet snatch fourth, essentially best of the rest, from Sergio or Charles.

The AlphaTauris have looked strong all weekend and a good performance today could see the Faenza outfit close on the battle for fourth. It's a huge ask, but so was winning at Monza.

It was a hugely disappointing Saturday for McLaren, especially Carlos, and the Woking outfit will have its work cut out in its efforts to hold on to the shirttails of Racing Point in the standings.

That said, with only one of the pink cars starting in the top ten - all of whom start on the mediums - the Silverstone outfit will be hard-pressed to hold off Renault.

For Ferrari it looks likely to be about damage limitation, the third and fourth of Istanbul seemingly a lifetime ago for a team that has failed to convince since the start of the weekend. Interesting also that Seb has had the better of Charles for much of the weekend. How things have changed for the Maranello outfit since its last appearance here.

Other than that we have the continuing scrap at the back, Alfa snapping at the heels of the midfield whilst doing its damnedest not to slip into the no-man's land inhabited by Haas and Williams.

While the drivers and Pirelli trade suggestions over the 2021 tyres, today's race is very much likely to be about the 2020 versions, which are in fact the 2019 versions.

Throughout the weekend we have seen drivers suffer with degradation, and that is likely to be a factor again today.

Another factor spicing up the grid today is the fact that a number of drivers are out of position, most notably Sainz, Norris and Stroll.

"With the top ten all starting on the medium tyre, they have some options as to which compound to run during the second stint," says Pirelli's Mario Isola. "We saw in qualifying that the pace of the soft and the medium is closely matched, however the medium is easier to manage in terms of rear overheating, which is why it was selected in Q2."

A two-stop strategy looks set to be the quickest today, the fastest strategy involving one stint on the mediums for 21 laps, plus two stints on the softs of 18 laps each.

The second-quickest two-stopper instead uses the mediums for two 21-lap stints and then softs for 15 laps.

A medium-hard one stopper is slower and would use the mediums for 27 laps and the hards for 30 laps.

Alternatively, there's the slowest two-stopper: two stints on the mediums of 18 laps with one stint on the hards of 21 laps (probably the middle stint).

There's no real point in going for a three-stopper, as this costs too much time in the pits.

The pitlane opens and the drivers start to head out, Verstappen concerned at some errant lights on his dash.

Following the national anthem the drivers head back to their cars, ahead of the warm-up lap, other than the men on the first five rows, Vettel, Stroll, Russell, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Magnussen start on the mediums. Leclerc, Grosjean and Latifi are on hards, while Sainz is on softs.

Air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 29 degrees. According to race control there is a 20% chance of rain.

The field heads off on the warm-up lap, the circuit an oasis of light in the desert.

"Let's give them a fight today," Ricciardo is told. "Yep," he replies.

The grid forms.

They're away. While Hamilton gets away well, as do Verstappen, Perez and Ricciardo, Bottas has a dreadful start and heading into Turn 1 has Albon and Ricciardo on either side.

Out of Turn 1 it's Hamilton, Verstappen and Perez, Albon and Ricciardo, as Bottas drops to sixth.

Further on however there is carnage, as a car runs wide on one side of the track another has gone off into the barriers on the other. Sparks fly from Norris' McLaren, whilst the car in the barriers has burst into flames and a wheel bounces across the track.

The session is red flagged. Grosjean is the driver who has gone off and into the barriers just after Turn 3.

Hamilton leads Verstappen, Perez, Albon, Ricciardo, Bottas, Gasly, Ocon, Norris and Leclerc.

Hamilton leads the field into the pitlane. Norris has damage, following contact with Ocon, and will require a front wing change.

While there are no immediate replays of the incident, the cameras pick up on Grosjean who is out of the car and appears to be okay.

It is a long, long time since we've seen an F1 car on fire during a race, the last one that comes to mind is Gerhard Berger at Imola in 1988.

More shots of Grosjean, who is walking but with the support of two marshals.

It is still unclear what happened.

Finally the incident is shown and it is horrific, having lost control Grosjean spears into the barriers and the car is torn in half and bursts into flames. That was utterly horrific.

It is initially unclear what caused the car to veer across the track, first into the path of Kvyat and then into the barriers.

Out of their cars, the drivers are visibly shocked as they watch the replay on the screens.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 30/11/2020 11:01

""...These guys are heroes and every single one of them deserves our respect..."

Exactly!"

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