Red Bull masterclass outshining Mercedes’ blushes
In other races this season, we’ve seen that F1.5 have been edging closer to the front of the grid. However, this race really showed that both Red Bull and Mercedes clearly have much more pace than the other teams. Evidence of this is that Lando in 5th finished a whole 64 seconds behind the winner, Verstappen. Bottas in 4th only finished 14 seconds adrift, which was hindered by what you could call tyres, but were actually more like wagon wheels by the time he crossed the finishing line. These two teams were so far ahead, and it was an interesting dynamic having all 4 drivers up at the front of the grid.
It was a day to forget for the current world champions. Completely outsmarted on strategy, normally a strong point for the Silver Arrows, Red Bull took a pretty dominant P1 and P3 to extend their lead in the championship by 37 points. Verstappen did the risky two stop strategy but had good race pace to catch Bottas in P2, then catch and pass Lewis for the win on lap 52. Perez did his usual Perez things and made his first set of medium tyres last forever, do a late pitstop and ultimately have more pace to get past Bottas for the final podium spot.
Mercedes just got their strategy wrong all race. Firstly, they pitted Hamilton a lap too late, meaning that Max could easily come out in front after the first round of pitstops. After that, Mercedes were left in the dark when Red Bull pitted Max Verstappen again. If they pitted Hamilton, he would have just come out behind Max and wouldn’t have been able to pass him again. So he had to stay out. And my word did it nearly work for him. It could have been Bahrain all over again, but Max flew past Lewis with a lap to spare, to claim his 3rd victory of the season.
Mercedes completely screwed Bottas and it’s clear to see that that relationship has turned sour. They decided to not cover off Max with Bottas and do a two-stop race, something he was really not pleased about after the race. Bottas came over the radio shouting and swearing at his time, and you can see he clearly doesn’t give a f**k about keeping the peace at Mercedes anymore. I think we will soon see Bottas out of that second seat at Mercedes, and hopefully see Russell shine in that Mercedes. Can he bring the fight to Lewis though? We can only hope.
McLaren take a huge chunk of points from Ferrari
This weekend, McLaren took a big step forward in claiming their stake in being the third fastest team on the grid. Finishing 5th and 6th is really the best they could do and shows that they are making their way slowly back up to the front of the gird. Both drivers had different strategies, with Danny going for the undercut and Lando doing a Perez style strategy and doing the long overcut. It worked well for both drivers, and got McLaren some hefty points, with them now leading Ferrari by 16 points.
Ferrari were absolutely nowhere this weekend, scoring no points for the first time this season. Leclerc (who was my turbo driver ffs) finished in a measly P16 and couldn’t even get past the Alfa Romeos. Ferrari (unsurprisingly) got their strategy all wrong and pitted both their drivers too early, meaning they had no tyres let at the end of the race. If Ferrari don’t improve their strategy soon, they could be at threat for P4 from AlphaTauri.
Gasly had another decent race, really showing that he is at peace with that AlphaTauri car and can drive the socks off it. Yuki needs to improve his race pace and stop making these little mistakes, so AlphaTauri can score good points with both drivers and bring the challenge to Ferrari. But that car looks nimble and fast, so don’t be surprised to see it get a few podiums this season.
Alonso had a good race finishing in P8 and showing that he’s still got some fight left in him. And Aston Martin got a double points finish. It was only P9 and P10, but their drivers drove fantastic races and they had decent strategies to earn them some points. Lance Stroll was particularly impressive, starting on the back row of the grid and finishing in P10 to score a point for the AM team.
Very impressive George Russell
I had to give a special shoutout to George Russell, finishing in P12 and scoring his best finish for the Williams team. He drove an absolutely phenomenal race, to finish only two places away from the points positions. With no drivers retiring from the race (only the 10th time that’s ever happened in Formula 1) Russell was in P12 on merit and really outdrove that Williams car, particularly with Latifi back in P18.
He’s starting today’s race in P10 (I know this is v late, as I’m writing it on Styria’s race day) and hopefully he can maintain his position. He’s got a few quick cars behind him however, but let’s hope he can hold P10 and score his first points for Williams.
Today is the first of our Austrian double header, the Styrian Grand Prix. We have the title rivals starting on the front row of the grid, and Scenario 7 man himself Lando starting in P3. With the threat of rain looming over the race, it’s looking likely that it’s going to be a spicy one.