The 2021 Styrian GP was Round 8 of this exciting and entertaining 2021 F1 season. It was a fairly memorable and exciting race, with some great overtaking action from the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. That action was pretty much the only main action from this race. And of course, there was Red Bull‘s attempt to get Sergio Perez back on the podium through an aggressive strategy. But most noticeable of all was Max Verstappen‘s dominance, as he took a lights-to-flag victory at Red Bull’s home race. Well, the first of their 2 home races.
Red Bull and Max Verstappen showed the kind of domination that we haven’t seen for 8 years from this team. We’ve gotten used to seeing Lewis Hamilton dominate races like this, but not Red Bull. Actually, Hamilton dominated the 2020 Styrian GP in a similar fashion, winning the race by 13 seconds from his teammate.
Although Verstappen did win the 2021 Styrian GP by 35 seconds because Hamilton made an extra pitstop to go for the fastest lap. If Hamilton hadn’t pit, he would’ve been 2nd by around 13-15 seconds. My point is, Verstappen is looking like he’s in a championship-winning position. He and his car have so much pace, it looks like Mercedes are going to have to make a major comeback during the rest of this season to win this constructor and/or drivers’ title.
In this Race Review, we’ll be looking at whether or not Charles Leclerc deserved Driver of the Day. He got the majority of the fans’ votes, which makes him the clear DOTD. But some think that after that silly Lap 1 incident, he shouldn’t have gotten DOTD. EVEN THOUGH he had his major comeback through the race. We’ll also be looking at George Russell‘s engine problem and his terrible luck. This problem cost him points and ended up continuing Russell’s bad luck. Since his F1 debut in 2019, Russell has never scored points with Williams. He scored 3 points when he raced with Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir GP, although he could’ve won the race if the team didn’t mess it up.
Did Charles Leclerc Really Deserve Driver Of The Day?
This is quite a major controversy. I really did have to wrack my brain to give my final verdict as to whether Leclerc deserved DOTD for the 2021 Styrian GP. And I think that he did deserve this title. True, his Lap 1 incident was very silly. Leclerc ran wide at Turn 1 while battling Pierre Gasly at the start of the race. Both him and Gasly went wide, actually, since they contact while coming through Turn 1. It was a small bit of contact and only happened because Gasly was stuck in a sandwich between Leclerc on the left, and Alonso on the right.
Leclerc rejoined the track, with Gasly leaving him plenty of space. But Leclerc veered to the right and hit Gasly’s rear-right tire. Leclerc damaged his front wing and gave Gasly a race-ending puncture. It was a silly racing incident, and Leclerc could easily have avoided it. Leclerc either wasn’t concentrating enough, or he simply misjudged how much space he had and how wide his car is. Granted – it’s impossible to see where your front wing is when sitting in the cockpit. Being in a small cockpit doesn’t allow much vision. But still, after racing in F1 for a full 3 years already, I would expect a little bit more awareness from Leclerc.
I’m being very critical of Leclerc, but I still think he deserves DOTD (Driver Of The Day). A comeback drive from 18th to 7th definitely deserves this title, and it explains why Leclerc had 15% more votes than Russell, who was in 2nd place for DOTD. You can’t help but applaud the man who’s overtaking his competitors left, right and centre and providing pretty much the only excitement in the Styrian GP. It takes so much courage to break as late as Leclerc was when he was overtaking all of these cars. A particularly fantastic move was the overtake on Esteban Ocon down into Turn 4. Fake to the right, go left and take the position around the outside. Brilliant.
He lost so much time because he had to pit on Lap 1 for a front wing change. And since he pitted on Lap 1, Leclerc had to pit for the 2nd time, since he can’t go 70 laps on one set of tires. But somehow, Leclerc made that tricky two-stop strategy work perfectly. I think more than physically being a good driver, this comeback came from Leclerc’s mentality. It’s far from easy to get your head down and put up a fantastic performance after a silly mistake that sends you to the back of the field. And on top of that, Leclerc got his overtaking tactics spot on, with unexpected dives down into Turns 3 and 4 catching other drivers out.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz had a fantastic race as well. Some people, like WTF1’s Matt Gallagher, thought that Sainz deserved Driver Of The Day, even though Sainz only got 7.2% of the votes for DOTD. Sainz could stretch his first stint to an INCREDIBLY long 41-lap stint, which put him in P6. Sainz started in P12 after a disappointing qualifying but certainly made up for it in the race. Ferrar’s pace was fantastic, and their car surprisingly didn’t kill their tires. In the 2021 French GP, Ferrari’s tires were falling off and wearing out like crazy, while they managed to sustain in Austria. If Ferrari can maintain this pace in the Austrian GP, they could seriously threaten their rivals.
What Is It With George Russell’s Bad Luck??
Seriously, George Russell just can’t get a break. I really hope that in the near future Russell’s luck turns around. For the past year and a half especially, Russell’s luck has just been TERRIBLE. Going to his debut season in F1 back in 2019, Russell got incredibly close to points in the German and Brazilian Grands Prix. Come to 2020, and Russell has some real pace. True, the Williams FW43 was no treat to drive, but Russell was really improving and showing that he could score points. But it just wasn’t meant to be. In races like the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, Russell was running in the points. But a sudden drop in pace meant he finished in P11.
In the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (The Imola GP), Russell was running in the points, but he crashed out under the Safety Car. That seemingly silly mistake must’ve hurt him A LOT. 3 races later, at the 2020 Sakhir GP, Russell got an unbelievable opportunity to race in place of Lewis Hamilton, as Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19. Russell was REALLY fast and was looking to take his maiden win in F1 in his first drive with Mercedes. It would’ve been a fairy tale victory. But Mercedes’ pitstop problems and a mysterious puncture meant that Russell would finish in P9. SO disappointing.
And now in 2021, at the Styrian GP, George Russell started the race in P10. He then made his way up to P8 in the opening laps of the race. But he pulled into the pits for the first time and sat there for a gruelling 18 seconds. This was due to the mechanics trying to work on the car’s right sidepod. More problems followed, as Russell’s race engineer came over the radio and told Russell that there were some Power Unit issues. And two laps after his first pitstop, Russell came into the pits again. It seems that he pitted to allow pneumatic cooling. Since Russell came out of the pits at the back of the field, and the PU issue was still unresolved, Williams told Russell to come into the pits and retire the car.
“It’s such a shame. Racing is never easy. It’s never… fair is not the right word. You make your own luck, and ultimately, something went wrong today. But for us, we’re not here consistently, and it’s just typical. I don’t really know what to think or to say to be honest. It’s such a shame for everybody in the team. They’ve worked so hard for this, and it’s been such a long time coming. These points today would have been massive, not just for the morale, but if I finished P8 or P7 – I think P7 was probably possible, I was quicker than Alonso – four or six points in the constructors’ would have been massive. Absolutely massive for us.”George Russell, speaking on Ziggo Sport after the 2021 Styrian GP.
There was a pneumatic pressure problem in Russell’s car that cost him his first points with Williams. It was a real shame because Williams and Russell had been working so hard. They had some true pace, their car was working perfectly, and points were exactly what Williams and Russell deserved. But there’s still something positive that comes from this race. It shows that Williams can try and get redemption at the upcoming Austrian GP. Same circuit, same car, and another chance to turn Russell’s luck around. Do you think Williams can score points in the Austrian GP? Let me know in the comments below! Stay safe, and enjoy F1ntastic!