The Japan GP at Suzuka wasn't much of a race. Lewis Hamilton didn't really have any competition. Ferrari is imploding as Sebastian Vettel's car had engine trouble again. This time, a faulty spark plug started showing symptoms in the warm up lap and the car was noticeably under powered right from the start.
Max Verstappen's Red Bull looked competitive but I think it was the Mercedes managing the pace than the Red Bull being particularly fast.
This race was not broadcast in my area so I did not get to see it. Just watching the highlights.
As I thought from the beginning of the season, it looked to me like Mercedes was sandbagging at the beginning. Ferrari looks like they have caught up in engine power but at great expense of reliability. I think Ferrari probably has a better chassis than Mercedes at this time. The shorter wheelbase makes changing direction (at the expense of straight line stability) quicker for the Ferrari, but the Mercedes seems to have the better straight line speed. This is the type of car Vettel likes to drive (a bit under powered but great handling) as his 4 championship title were won with slightly underpowered Red Bull cars.
I think we are watching the two best drivers in a long time at the top this year. They are noticeably a level above their team mates in equivalent cars. I think Max Verstappen has that potential to be at that level also, but he isn't there yet.
It will be interesting to see how Sauber does with Ferrari motors next year. I expect to see McLaren do better with Renault "power units" next year and if Honda gets their act together, Toro Rosso might do okay in preparation of possibly Red Bull getting Honda power units in 2019. Engine and chassis formulas will change in 2020 so we expect the deck to shuffle in 2020. But the current formula certainly was designed to suit Mercedes.
The season has become so anti climactic now, the official Formula 1 website has refocused their attention to eFormula 1. Online racing between fans on the official formula 1 racing game.
Next up, the USGP in Austin TX.
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