After every Grand Prix, Nextgen-Auto.com invites you to find the peaks and tumbles set by the editorial team. Who is worthy of praise? Who, on the contrary, should be criticized? Finally, what question marks or ambiguities should be followed with interest during the upcoming Grand Prix? Check it out below!
Top No. 1: Leclerc’s composure, Ferrari’s pace
After 5 races without a podium, Charles Leclerc secured on Sunday around 4:30 pm, not only a victory, but also a massive relief. Monaco have looked almost damned since their Melbourne win, tying strategic setbacks to reliability problems. This weekend at the Red Bull Ring, he set the record straight by showing off several of his particular qualities.
Of course, his first attribute was speed. Charles Leclerc finished only 29th from pole Max Verstappen, due to a lack of attention in particular. But in the race, he was much faster than the Dutchman and also faster than his teammate. The second quality was his composure. Cold-blooded over three times, sorry a little, Max Verstappen during the race, including twice for sure with the tire advantage. We can then see the respect of the two men on the ring (but for how long?). Also in cold blood at the end of the test, when this throttle problem had to be dealt with with the enormous difficulties one can guess in Charles Leclerc’s tone of voice and pain. His third trait was finally managing the rubber, both during the Sprint and in the race.
Charles Leclerc certainly helped with that with his mountain qualities: it has to be said, the Scuderia reversed the trend in Austria in the previous Grand Prix, and seemed to be regaining the upper hand over Red Bull, especially in the racing rhythm. In addition, Ferrari used its tires much less, thus allowing the individual seats to spread a strategy of 13 laps more balanced than those of Red Bull, and thus a good recovery for the rubber. It’s very simple, whatever strategy was used, Max Verstappen seemed powerless to prevent Ferrari’s doubling. All this could, of course, make Charles Leclerc optimistic about the future. Even if he only got 5 points from Max Verstappen in one weekend. It would take 6 or 7 more of this kind to get back to equality…
Top #2: Ocon is hard as a rock
The boss is in the middle of Grid, it was him! Ocon led the group this weekend in Austria. He couldn’t have done better after the end and he knew about it on the radio, with a smile under his helmet. Fifth in qualifying on Friday, sixth in sprint after Sergio Perez and George Russell return, fifth on Sunday: Ocon made the most of it. At a very satisfactory pace, he made no mistakes either, not fighting unnecessarily against Sergio Perez in the sprint or against Lewis Hamilton or George Russell in the race.
His race was certainly as conservative as it was excellent, but that estimate in efficiency is exactly what Ocon is looking for with Alpine, as he was roughly where Lando Norris was last year: ahead of the middle of the grid, behind the upper stables. Lonely on his island, happy to be.
If Ocon was also able to dominate the peloton, it was also thanks to developments in the Alps that are proving its effectiveness. The downside is always the same in the French team: reliability. Problems affected Fernando Alonso during the Sprint race, and Ocon also fell within a few meters of a serious fuel pump failure on Saturday… But finally, Alpine has always prioritized performance over reliability this year: it pays off; But it shows.
Top #3: Mick Schumacher and Haas turn top speed
What he thought was a coincidence has become a law of nature: After a season and a half of suffering and learning in a system, Mick Schumacher, suddenly under pressure, jumps to high speed and gives clear and visible signs of improvement. It appears again this year.
After demolishing cars during the first 8-9 Grand Prix, and re-framing them by Gunther Steiner who questioned his future, Mick Schumacher began tearing down the clock in the middle of the grid, by creating a real chasm with cars like the Aston Martin F1 or AlphaTauri, which wasn’t clear From before. Third quarter, good resistance against Lewis Hamilton during the Sprint, explosion of pride after what he felt was unjustified treatment by his team compared to his teammates (Kevin Magnussen wanted him to give DRS defense), quick, and above all irreparable. On the track, Mick Schumacher delivered his best self-portrait this weekend. He is an F3 and F2 champion. He hasn’t quite held his place for next year yet, but with these weekends…
The weekend at the Red Bull Ring, which allows Haas to reclaim seventh place in the constructors’ standings, also validates the team’s development strategy: Günther Steiner has assumed he will only make some changes to F1, to focus on next year’s development. It was about maximizing the current package, by playing to the right settings and circuits for the team, as in Austria (before Silverstone, Haas scored 15 points in nine races; the US team just scored 19 points in two including 14 races in Austria) . Moreover, Haas has not reaped such a harvest since the 22 points scored here in 2018 by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Flip #1: Even with a win, Ferrari is worried
This weekend has been bittersweet for Ferrari. Can we even talk about an expensive victory for Charles Leclerc? Indeed, on Saturday as on Sunday, the chronic problems in Scuderia were repeated. On Saturday, it was about the reluctance of senior management, whose first name is Mattia and last name Binotto, to have a clear hierarchy at the top of the team. We at Red Bull know that Sergio Perez is working for Max Verstappen. At Mercedes, we also knew how Toto Wolff qualified for Valtteri Bottas. At Ferrari, on the other hand, we don’t know. And so we messed up. Sprint saw this: Carlos Sainz wanted to overtake Charles Leclerc, while Monaco rescued his mediators to attack 90 kilometers away. The result: the two Ferraris lost some time, came close to colliding, and allowed Max Verstappen to build his little mattress. Grazie A.
The next day, even with the fastest Ferrari, and while the duo could and should have been quiet, the Ferrari made teeth of the Tiffusi chatter. First with the explosion of Carlos Sainz’s engine, and the serious fire that followed. This new failure causes valuable points to be lost in the Creators Ranking; Carlos Sainz will undoubtedly award a penalty later in the year. Nothing reassures Ferrari’s reliability since Valtteri Bottas also started in the back of the grid due to exhausted engine stock; While Kevin Magnussen also faced an engine warning in the race at Haas.
As for Charles Leclerc’s victory, it should have been simpler and less interesting… However! Tifusi hearts won a thousand hours at the end of the race – Mattia Binotto himself admitted that he had not seen the last three laps of the race, due to a mysterious pedal problem. When it’s not the brakes or the engine, it’s the pedal: With more than 15,000 parts in an F1 car and only 22 Grands Prix, Ferrari shouldn’t have too much trouble in the following races to find reasons to worry. And besides, Binotto has already warned: there will be no panacea before the long races …
Flip #2: Depression in AlphaTauri
This might not be the worst weekend of his career, but it’s not far off. Pierre Gasly and the AlphaTauri in general were the chief of bad days, every day in Austria. Underperforming in qualifying, AlphaTauri disappointed during the Sprint. In particular, Pierre, the Damned of the Sprints, who was the victim (but perhaps more guilty than the victim) of an accident on the first corner on Saturday. The next day, while Yuki Tsunoda had no rhythm at all, Pierre Gasly was guilty of the other balls: a 5 second penalty for crossing the track boundary, and another 5 for sending Sebastian Vettel to the gravel. Normandy assumed his mistakes besides 100%.
Is the light at the end of the tunnel? Perhaps: AlphaTauri developments, the first, finally, should make it to France … or the promised, for the next Grand Prix. These long-announced, and long-awaited developments should allow AlphaTauri to raise the bar: otherwise, the end of the season could be too long.
Mistake #3: Harassment, insults and racism in the stands of the Red Bull Arena
Not only will this weekend at the Red Bull Ring leave fond memories – it’s a far cry from that. Indeed, in the stands, or around the ring, many acts of harassment were reported: sexual insults, anti-gay insults, racist remarks… Testimonials were numerous on Twitter and prompted F1 to respond (see our article). It is even permissible to ask whether it is time to act, in Austria as elsewhere, by going forward: whether it is possible to determine every truth in the mass of 300,000 spectators, perhaps we can, should we, at least offer some Examples…
F1 can also pressure all the promoters to do more in this direction – FOM is already doing this well for eg traffic jams in Barcelona. More broadly, the issue of continued commitment from F1 also arises for the sake of inclusivity, as Lewis Hamilton noted at a press conference: “Time for action. ‘We race as one’ was all well and good, but it was just words. There was no funding for anything, there was no program to create change and nurture that conversation. So we definitely need to use our platforms, but we really need to hurry. And really starting to take action on some of the things we say. Just saying a few words… isn’t enough. It’s not acceptable. It’s not enough.”
Finally, let’s deplore a section of the crowd’s whistles against Lewis Hamilton, after the Briton’s violent exit from the track in qualifying. Of course, those whistles were only a fact for a small part of the audience – and the fact remains that it’s a very bad picture that F1 has sent back.
we want to see…
Williams is back in Peloton?
Williams was finally able to gauge the value of the upgrade package that she brought to Silverstone at Red Bull (but with Alexander Albon’s big crash early in the race, he couldn’t be calmly assessed, as the Thai was the only one to get it, and also in Austria for that matter).
And one thing is good, even very good: with this package, Alexander Albon achieved his best qualification of the season (12th place). While in the race, he was able to peek into the top ten for a long time, and was only surpassed by Valtteri Bottas at the end of the race. Above all, the Williams driver, with his aerodynamic package, emphasized the cadence of the McLaren cars in the race. Bottas was also worried about seeing Williams faster than him… troublemakers Williams in the top 10 and broke away from Aston Martin F1 (and Alpha Tauri…) in the back of the pack? why not ?