Seven places may not sound all that impressive to some, but in an F1 midfield tighter than a gnat’s proverbial, the ‘Honey Badger’ had to both pull off some accomplished overtaking moves and show some real Pirelli Preservation Prowess (™) to make his long stint work.
Down the inside of Tsunoda, round the outside of Alonso, almost over the top of Räikkönen, an exciting opening first lap was followed by some typical Ricciardo late-braking overtakes later on in the race to bring home some well-deserved points.
Yuki’s scary radio
— ari || struggke era (@arisandfoxes) April 17, 2021
We all thought Günther Steiner was the sweariest man in F1, but he might just have a challenger to his throne.
Apparently Yuki Tsunoda learnt the ways of the English expletive whilst in his F2 year with Carlin, and he sounds like the most threatening cute person ever when he demands over the radio that yet another dawdling Aston Martin gets out of his way.
It’s almost as entertaining as his driving – better than hearing the usual bland “good job man” etc. Yuki’s episode in Netflix Drive to Survive series 4 should be a laugh.
Nikita ‘I spin, therefore I am’ Mazepin
‘Mazespin’ was up to his usual tricks at Portimao, continuing the ‘Bolshoi-on-wheels’ tribute as he twirls and twists his way through the season – funded by his oligarch-turned-impresario father’s ural-billions.
If Daddy Dmitri does have so many roubles lying around though, maybe he should invest in some stabilisers for the not-so-racy Russian?
He could do endless tests round and round an Oxfordshire airstrip until he learns how drive a car round corners.
Mazepin also did a good job of getting in other cars’ way in Portugal, making Ricardo Rosset look half-decent.
F1 Old Boy’s Club
Alonso might have provided a bit of a turnaround, but that was in rectifying a pretty lacklustre qualifying performance.
The ‘Vettel Fanclub’ rejoiced at a marvellous 10th position for ‘Super Seb’ in qualifying, who presumably had to have a bit of a sit down after reaching such heady heights in the Aston Martin – he hadn’t reached Q3 since Silverstone last year, nine months ago.
His defence in the race though was predictably toothless, eventually finishing 13th with team-mate Lance Stroll just behind – at least he didn’t crash into anyone. Maybe Seb’ll have to watch some more of those inspiring ‘IAMF1’ videos his employers keep putting out to find some motivation.
Räikkönen wasn’t much better, encouraging his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi to go a bit faster by ramming him from behind, thus removing his Alfa Romeo’s front wing and ending up in the gravel as a result.
Never one to suffer in silence Red Bull oozed charm by whining about Max Verstappen’s fastest lap being deleted.
“Now we’ve lost the victory, fastest lap, and pole position,” cried Helmut Marko, no doubt to coos of sympathy up and down the F1 paddock.
Maybe he has a point – why can’t someone keep their lap time, even if they go off-track when setting it?
I mean, who needs rules like track limits? Or even corners? Or tracks? Tell you what, why don’t we just make each race a straight charge from Milton Keynes to Vienna and back? Sorted.
It’s difficult for Pirelli. We know that. It can never seem right for doing wrong. Whatever it does, Pirelli gets panned. Go too soft on tyre choices, everyone moans about them falling apart. Go too hard, and we end up with boring one-stop races.
Still though, F1 has been to Portimao before, and the tyres have been made more durable this season. Pirelli went with the hardest tyre choices it could, and although it made for some entertaining viewing as drivers struggled for grip, it still brought about a pretty boring one-stop strategy, harking back to some of those mid-2000 classic GPs where almost nothing happened at 200mph.
Oh Valtteri. Celebrated his pole as if he hadn’t just inherited it from a ‘backspaced’ Max Verstappen, who would’ve still trounced the Finn if only he’d managed to keep his Milton Keynes machine on track.
It all went a bit predictably south in the race, as both Hamilton and Verstappen made short work of the Finn. Maybe he should try something else – Rallying? Ice hockey? Fixing his girlfriend’s bikes?
That said, if he keeps trundling round in third, it will probably be good enough for Merc to take the Constructors’ and potentially keep the not-so-flying-Finn in a job.