After the champagne spray and the anthems, the giant red Gorilla sculpture beside the driver’s podium waved its hands up and down robotically as the planes flew past information.
Whether the art installation was actually signalling the end of a professional French Grand Prix or acknowledging in awe the crushing performance of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, depends on how you’d like to interpret it.
Maybe it was both. What made the 53 lap race at the Circuit Paul Ricard a bit of a snooze fest was the fact that Hamilton established a comfortable lead from team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc right from the lights. And maintained the gap, setting fastest lap times from lap 17 onwards until the flag.
Max Verstappen’s pace proved too hard for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to overcome in P4 and they settled for P5 despondently after a great show in the previous round in Canada.
Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris brought home their McLarens in P6 and P9 respectively with a fighting Kimi Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo in P7 followed by the lone Renault of Hulkenberg in P8. Pierre Gasly came home in tenth.
The Frenchman would not have scored any points at his home grand prix if it were not for Daniel Ricciardo’s post-race penalties handed to him by race stewards for out-of-track-limit advantages.
The trouble with Hamilton’s unbelievable pace out in the front was that you hardly saw him. And when the producer eventually chose to show the silver arrows number 44, it looked like it were in a race of its own with no competitors.
Ferrari has led and dominated twice this season and though Mercedes genuinely had no answer on both occasions, bad luck and mistakes handed the German champions both victories at Bahrain and Canada. The Red Bull Ring’s long straights will see Ferrari fighting for top spot again in Austria, this weekend.
“I really hope Ferrari brings some extra downforce rather than keeping the straights fast, get some speed through the corners so we can start racing each other,” remarked Hamilton. Enroute what is bound to be an epic record-breaking journey for him this year it’s great to see that he’s keen to give the fans what they want.
The writer is a motorsports enthusiast who will cover the 2019 FIA Formula One™ season exclusively for The New Indian Express Group.