A very strange thing happened today at the Indian Formula One Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was involved in a collision—again with Felipe Massa—but didn’t get penalised.
Stranger still, it was Massa who received the penalty.
On lap 24, Hamilton made a move up the inside of Massa heading in to Turn 5, only to have the Brazilian turn in on him, punting both drivers off the track and breaking Hamilton’s front wing in the process.
Massa received a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable accident, but, as luck would have it, Hamilton still lost out by losing time with the broken wing and having a long pit-stop to change it.
At least it’s a moral victory for Hamilton.
Massa’s day just got worse from there. He was revisited by the amusing and quite strange oscillating front wing that dogged his Friday practice.
That’s what you get for trying to adopt a wing designed for the Red Bull car to the Ferrari chassis—the whereabouts of Mark Webber’s front wing that was lost at Monza has never been explained.
After changing the wing to avoid unwelcome scrutiny by the FIA, Massa finished off a woeful day by proving that he’s also a slow learner.
In qualifying, Massa hit an extra—higher—kerb, placed on the inside of the regular kerb, destroying his right front suspension and causing himself to crash.
Who was in the wrong this time?
He was doing exactly what the extra curbing was there to stop—he was cutting corners.
Incredibly, Massa tried the same trick again. This time, it was in Turn 9, one corner past his qualifying effort, but the result was, again, destroyed suspension and the end of his race.
The incidents between Hamilton and Massa are disturbing on a number of levels. This is the fourth time that the pair have come together this season. They have preciously touched in Monaco, Singapore and Japan and a few other incidents as well.
Obviously, the stewards need to keep an eye on that.
The really odd thing is that Hamilton and Massa are close to each other on the race track.
Hamilton is clearly the faster of the two. He has a faster car and is, without doubt, a far superior driver.
They shouldn’t be racing each other, but again, a moment's carelessness—this time in practice—has seen Hamilton penalised and starting from fifth on the grid rather than the front row where he belonged.
It’s not the first time, either.
Hopefully, the fact that he wasn’t penalised will be a turning point for Hamilton, and he can return to the pointy end of the field to Sebastian Vettel honest.
Vettel’s stellar season continued, securing himself a grand slam—pole, fastest lap, race win and race leader for every lap of the race. He also surpassed Nigel Mansell’s record for most laps lead for a season (over 700!).
As an interesting aside, Mansell’s record was also set in an Adrian Newey designed car.
The real star of the Indian Grand Prix, however, was the Buddh International Circuit.
Although there was still work going on around the track as late as Thursday before free practice, the track showed lots of promise. There was sufficient overtaking further down the order, and as the track gets cleaned up, it could prove to be a rare exciting Hermann Tilke track.
It should be even better next year.