With just two more races to go into this season, on race day the horrible news arrived in the paddock that championship leader Jari had injured himself severely while playing with balls. A return to the track this season seems very unlikely and that really changed the perspective of the championship outcome. For long it had been a five man fight, but both AlphaTauri drivers seemed out of that given their lack of big points finishes in the last few races. This basically leaves us with Shaby and Prins fighting for the crown, but there’s also another scenario where both remaining contenders don’t score points and Jari still wins it. It may sound unlikely with Shaby just a few points behind, but you are never certain until the final chequered flag has been waved.
Qualifying would give us a different name on the front row with Jari missing as he and Chalkers had been on the front row together for 7 out of 10 races. Chalkers did get pole, taking his third of the season and shared that front row with De_Rooij, with both Ferrari’s taking the second row. The Scuderia drivers are hoping a late surge will not only get them the driver championship, but also a repeat of winning the Constructors title.
When the red lights went out Wesley had a phenomenal start taking second position, while Lynxx moved up to third, dropping de Rooij to fifth. During the opening laps we witnessed some great battles on track, between nearly everyone. Right behind leading driver Chalkers the amount of position changes were so many that keeping count was undoable. It resulted in the order as shown in the picture below:
Both Ferrari’s on a podium position, with Prins just behind his championship rival Shaby, while his team mate Invisible retired and caused the ssafety car. And what happened under that safety car period was the talk of the week after this race and got the stewards working overtime.
To prevent a double stack in the Ferrari garage, Shaby dropped a gap to his team mate in front of him. This was done in a matter that the drivers right behind Shaby thought the gap would become too big and Prins overtook Shaby. Lynxx drove side by side with Shaby to see what was going on, but decided to stay behind him until they entered the pitlane. Of course a driver should stay within the right amount of car lengths of the car ahead under the SC and never drop a gap that’s too big, but unless a car is off track the driver behind is never allowed to overtake the car ahead under yellow. Imagine the scenes if every driver that has the opinion that the car ahead is slowing down too much would start overtaking cars, it would become absolute madness on track. The stewards will without any doubt hand out a penalty for Prins, but the main question is if they will hand out a penalty for Shaby as well for unnecessary slow driving. The impact on the championship outcome can be huge.
After the safety car restart, lead by iiBbEeNnii, the phenomenal battling we had seen earlier in the race continued. Ben (iiBbENnii), Prins, Chalkers, Lynxx, Wesley and Shaby treated every race fan on a great show with overtake after overtake. It was in lap 12 when we had another huge moment that impacted the race. At the end of turn 11 Shaby had a massive oversteer moment and just barely kept his car out of the wall. Unfortunately for Chalkers, he was unable to avoid the sliding Ferrari and drove right into him, causing major damage and a retirement not much later. It showed once again that you can be very quick, but the staying-out-of-trouble-factor is just as important.
Later on in the race another safety car was called upon when debutant Jam1eAG retired. When they restarted with 7 laps to go, this was the race order:
Even though Shaby and Lynxx were leading, they were not on the best tyres compared to the rest of the field. Wesley soon took advantage of his fresh softs and took second place and much later even moved up to first place. With 3 laps to go it seemed like a Ferrari 1-2.
Well at least on track that is. The time penalties for the drivers (shown in the above picture) would certainly change the race outcome. That wasn’t the only thing killing the Ferrari party. Shaby’s tyres seemed to fall off a cliff and got overtaken by several cars. Prins and Marcel seemed to have managed their tyres the best of all as they finished in 1st and 3rd, but given their time penalties they would probably not keep their win. This is how they crossed the line:
Only two drivers didn’t have any time penalties and that would help them get on the podium and even the win for Lynxx, who took his second win of the season after a tumultues race. Prins still got the final podium spot, but with the stewards most likely to hand out one or more penalties after the race for the actions uder the safety car in lap 4 it’s very unlikely this result will stay the same as it is now:
The unofficial results:
When the stewards have made their decisions we will know the actual standings in the championship.
The battle will continue next week at Interlagos, Brazil. There the champions of season 3 will be crowned.