Wrestling with the brakes
The rest of the pack steadily continued to gain on the remaining Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. Perez of the Force India team, now in second (!), began to gain on leader Rosberg. Hotly chasing him were Red Bull's Ricciardo and Vettel. Felipe Massa of the Williams then started a blistering charge from seventh, setting the fastest lap of the race and eventually working his way up to 5th, with only ten laps left in the race. The top five cars were now practically all nose-to-tail with each other. In fact, by lap 63, there was only 1.6 seconds separating the top five positions. This had turned into an exciting nail-biter!
Then, on lap 66, just four laps before the end, Red Bull's Ricciardo squeezed past Force India's Perez for second. Would Ricciardo be able to cover the short gap to Rosberg and pass the Mercedes before the end of the race? If so, it would result in his first ever Formula One victory...
Tight battle for 2nd
On Lap 69, Daniel Ricciardo managed to do it, and passed the Rosberg's troubled Mercedes for first. Fantastic! Now, what about the others?
Behind the leaders, a fierce battle for third continued right to the end. On the final lap, though, disaster: Both Sebastian Vettel and a hard-charging Felipe Massa tried to pass the Force India of Sergio Perez. Only Vettel got past. Massa's car contacted the Force India and both went off the track at extremely high speed right in front of us at turn 1.
Massa's crash seemed especially heavy. It was all quite shocking to see live right in front of us (Note picture taken between the waving arms of spectators of Massa mid-crash). Looking at the replay, Vettel was extremely lucky to have avoided being hit by the two out-of-control cars. This allowed him to continue on in third place.
Are you ok?
There were a few seconds of silence as we waited to see if the drivers - especially Massa - were ok. A track worker sprinted up to the wrecked Williams and attempted to make contact with what appeared to be a completely motionless helmet. In a few seconds, though, Massa seemed to respond with some movement.
Perez in the barriers
Soon the track doctor arrived. By that time, however, Massa had fully stirred and was getting himself out of the cockpit - likely meaning he was ok. Perez, too, looked to have survived the dramatic crash unscathed.
So, the race finished under an anti-climactic yellow flag. Even so, what a race it had been! For the first time this season, the Mercedes team did not win. And, a first F1-win ever for Daniel Ricciardo of Australia! Second for Rosberg, then third for Vettel. An excellent fourth place for Jenson Button, too. Williams had definitely picked up the pace in this race. Too bad about Massa's crash - who knows what they could have managed otherwise. In all, Red Bull benefited the most today - 1st and 3rd. A good boost to the team's constructors points.
Cleaning up after Massa's Crash
The excitement level began to wind down. Some fans were now streaming out of their seats, gathering at the corner of the fenced area in front of us. After the F1 race, officials would be opening up the track to the general public, and many wanted to get out first to get a good viewing of the podium ceremony. We weren't all that prepared or fast enough, so we decided to wait out the first pulse of people through the opening.
Stay back or be extinguished
Eventually we worked our way onto the track; unfortunately, I arrived just moments after Daniel Ricciardo, Rosberg, and Vettel had left the podium, so I have no shots of them. We slowly made our way down the main straight, stopping to take pictures of the pits and the famous people therein.
Closeup of a high-speed turn
Many bottlenecks filled with departing race fans meant a slow walk back from the track. When we finally arrived at the metro station, the entrace was so packed with people that we decided to just sit in the shade and wait for things to drain before proceeding. By about 5:30pm, things had cleared enough for us to continue in a relaxed manner.
So, we reach the end of the story. It had been a great race weekend: perfect weather, close racing - even in the Formula 1 race. I'd like to thank Luke for pushing and prodding and making it happen for us in 2014. I'm already tempted to purchase our 2015 tickets....
If you'd like to see more pictures from our race weekend, click here
. That link takes you to another bunch of decent pictures that didn't make it into this main narrative.