Welcome to F1ntastic 2020 Austrian Grand Prix Review! This is the first Review on F1ntastic.com since this is the first race of 2020! Grand Prix Reviews talk about the performances of some drivers/teams in the race. Important things such as penalties and first podiums are highlighted and elaborated on, and so are things like performance issues. Let’s get into it!
Throughout the whole Grand Prix weekend, Mercedes had a clear pace advantage. They dominated all 3 practise sessions, with Hamilton leading the 1-2 each time. In qualifying, Bottas secured pole, and Hamilton qualified in 2nd, however, that changed. In the race, Mercedes had both of their drivers doing very well, but they were still having some issues. They have had issues in the previous Austrian Grands Prix as well. In 2018, Bottas retired because of a gearbox failure caused by hydraulic problems. Hamilton retired due to fuel pressure problems. Last year, there were cooling issues in the W10. Some believed that the Black Arrows would have heat issues due to the black livery, and the colour black absorbing heat. What happened was both the Mercedes cars had to stay off the kerbs due to sensory issues in the gearbox.
However, the Safety Car coming out also played a big role in that. But the Safety Car wouldn’t have come out if George Russell’s Williams hadn’t pulled over with engine reliability issues. Mercedes brought engine reliability upgrades to this race, but their customers still had problems. Apart from George Russell retiring in the race, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez had smoke coming out of his engine in FP1 and FP2.
Hamilton & His Penalties
Hamilton has a weekend to forget. In the practice sessions, he did very well, but it all went down from there. The Briton was looking towards a pole position, but he missed out on it by 0.087s. After that, he took a 3-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags, less than half an hour before the race start. Although he was doing well in the race after the pit stops, mechanical issues and a safety car brought the pack together. On lap 61, Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was trying to overtake Hamilton, when Hamilton similarly collided with him to how he collided with him in Brazil last year, just 2 races ago.
“Obviously I had great pace to catch up with Valtteri and then a really unfortunate situation with Alex. I can’t believe we came together again. It really felt like a racing incident. But either way I’ll take whatever penalty they feel I deserve and move forward.” said Hamilton.
Hamilton took a 5-second time penalty, which demoted him to 4th, promoting Leclerc to 2nd, and Norris to 3rd. Hamilton was also given 2 penalty points on his Super License, because, as per the stewards, he was “predominantly to blame for the collision”. He has 7 penalty points, meaning he is 5 away from a ban. Hamilton accepted the penalties and has decided to move forward.
All in all, Mercedes did very well at this Austrian Grand Prix, especially with Valterri Bottas winning the race from pole position. They now have 37 points and are leading the constructors’ championship. However, they could have done better, if they didn’t have those gearbox issues, and if Hamilton would have played it safer. Let’s see, will Mercedes learn from their mistakes, and dominate the Styrian Grand Prix even more?
McLaren are 2nd in the constructors’ championship! They hailed 26 points at the first race of the season after Lando Norris came home in 3rd and teammate Carlos Sainz finished in 5th. Normally that would add up to 25 points, but Norris set the fastest lap at the last lap and grabbed that extra point. They started the weekend strong, placing in 4th and 6th in FP1. However, things weren’t looking so good in FP2 and FP3. Nevertheless, they showed their strength when it mattered, in qualifying, by placing 4th and 8th, which turned to 3rd and 8th, after Lewis Hamilton’s penalty. Sainz finished qualifying behind the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, which wasn’t so surprising because the Pink Mercedes was looking strong. But McLaren was improving throughout the weekend, as in planning for qualifying and the race.
In the race, McLaren did well. I feel that they did pretty much everything right, from the strategy to the overtakes, they did much better than rivals Racing Point. One of the most important things is that they got the last few laps just right. After the final Safety Car period, Norris went for an overtake on Sergio Perez. On top of that, McLaren informed him at the right time to push on and get within 5 seconds of Lewis Hamilton, which allowed Norris to get his maiden podium. I think that if Norris and McLaren hadn’t made those quick on-the-spot decisions, they wouldn’t have walked away from the Austrian Grand Prix so successful.
At the Styrian Grand Prix at the same venue on the 12th of July, watch out for McLaren, because I feel they will be looking for more, and want to continue their streak of performing in races.
The Prancing Horses are in 3rd in the constructors’ championship, with 19 points. Leclerc surprisingly placed 2nd in the race, bringing 18 points, but his teammate Vettel only scored 1 point, after finishing in 10th place. For the first time in 241 Grands Prix, Sebastian Vettel has finished in 10th place. Want to read more stats? Check out our previous post! Leclerc is very proud of the 2nd place, which is a major positive for Ferrari since they weren’t exactly performing as expected.
Ferrari didn’t have the best weekend. They were behind their competitors in all 3 practice sessions and had a dismal qualifying. Charles Leclerc started his sophomore year with Ferrari in 7th, while Sebastian Vettel started his final year with Ferrari in 11th. It was unbelievable. Instead of challenging for pole, the 4-time World Champion didn’t get past Q2. On top of that, his teammate made it into Q3 by the skin of his teeth.
Ferrari had some problem with their cars. They just didn’t have the pace. In Q3, Leclerc was 0.924s off pole position, which shows how much pace Ferrari was lacking. Team Principal Mattia Binotto did say that Ferrari was taking a significantly different direction in terms of development and are not upgrading their power unit, as mentioned in one of our previous posts. Binotto said the car will be fully ready by Round 3, in Hungary. However, nobody expected that the Ferraris would be lacking this much pace.
“Unfortunately this is where we are at the moment, so we need to work and start building a better car for the future,” said Leclerc. “We cannot get demoralised by today’s result but today’s result is not what we were expecting, we’re not even close to where we expected to be.
Thankfully, things weren’t as bad in the race. At least one of the Ferrari drivers was happy with his race.
“I’m extremely happy, to be honest,” said Leclerc. “It feels like a victory today. We have been struggling from the beginning of the weekend. We had luck in this race with the Safety Cars, crashes, penalties but at the end we stayed on track. I gave my maximum and I think we managed the race perfectly with the package we have for the moment. To have a second place with the performance we had all weekend is something I would never have expected.”
Leclerc said that this race was one of his best in Formula 1 because he managed to bring an under-performing car from P7 on the grid to 2nd place on the podium, which is much better than him and his team would expect after what happened in qualifying.
“In all the high speed we were very quick, but then in the whole first sector we were struggling a lot,” said Leclerc. “We’ll have a new package in Hungary to try and fix a little bit more this issue, but we’ll see. But it has been a very, very difficult race today, struggling to overtake.”
However, Vettel was extremely disappointed. He described the SF1000 as ‘undrivable’, and in the race ended up spinning while trying to overtake Carlos Sainz at the hairpin of Turn 3. It was a driver error, with Vettel locking up and already going into a half spin before making contact with Sainz. But Vettel did say that it was difficult to keep the car under control.
“Well, to be honest, I’m happy that I spun only once,” surmised Vettel after the race, “it was very difficult. It got very tight and I think Carlos, I think it was Carlos – I don’t know, one of the McLarens – turned in and I was just on the edge because I wanted to be as close as possible and lost the rear.
“To be honest I lost the rear a couple of times today so yeah, as I said, I’m happy that it happened only once…”
Leclerc says the car needs to be better in the corners. Vettel says that the car is undrivable. This means Ferrari will be spending a lot more time on the drawing board than they expected. This is the end of the post; the Austrian Grand Prix was more than interesting, but there is still more to come. Stay on the lookout for new posts.