The 2020 Styrian Grand Prix. It. Was. INSANE. There was action TILL THE LINE. Just like the last race, it is a pity that no one could watch it at the circuit; the race was more than interesting, especially in the first few and last few laps. In the end, Hamilton took his 85th victory and 152nd podium in F1, which now puts him another step closer to the records that Michael Schumacher holds in terms of podiums and wins. To learn more about that, check out the previous post, the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix Facts and Stats.
Bottas overtook Verstappen to take 2nd place and keep his lead in the championship, while McLaren’s Lando Norris remains in 3rd after taking 5th place at the last corner of the last lap from Sergio Perez. Speaking of McLaren, they are still in 2nd place in the constructors’ championship. But isn’t Ferrari usually in 2nd place? Well, after 2 tough weekends in Austria, the Prancing Horses are only in 5th in the constructors’ title. Let’s see what happened.
2020 Styrian Grand Prix
Ferrari’s Lap 1 Disaster
If you are a Ferrari fan and you didn’t watch the race, then this wasn’t the race for you. For the second time in 4 races, the Italian team have hit a double retirement, with their drivers colliding. After a dismal qualifying, with Vettel and Leclerc qualifying 10th and 11th respectively, although Leclerc started the race in 14th after receiving a grid penalty for impeding Daniil Kvyat during Qualifying. Vettel has a bad start, which sends him down to 12th place by Turn 1.
He was trying to get back up to 11th, but under braking for Turn 3, he was about to lose 12th to Magnussen, when Leclerc dived down the inside of his teammate. Magnussen squeezes Vettel a bit, but as the track narrows, Leclerc ends up with no space. His left-rear wheel mounts the right-rear wheel of Vettel, which destroyed the German’s rear wing, and considerably damages the left rear of Leclerc’s floor. It takes far too long to replace the rear wing, with 5-10 minutes being the approximate amount of time. Leclerc had floor damage, which is unrepairable, and was dragging across the floor, and subsequently, slowing the Monegasque down.
The Safety Car came out on Lap 1 itself, and both the Ferraris pulled into the pits. Leclerc for a new front wing and a set of Hard tyres, while Vettel retired from the race. As mentioned above, Leclerc had floor damage, which forced him to retire from the race on Lap 4. Ferrari had brought in a lot of upgrades for this race. They couldn’t get some raw data from the race, which harmed them. The data would tell them whether the upgrades did their job or not.
Vettel did say that the car felt better on Friday, but that isn’t enough to confirm if the upgrades went well, due to the wet qualifying. I’m sure back at Maranello they are facing a bit of confusion in terms of what to improve on for the Hungarian Grand Prix in terms of the car. We can tell when the cars are back on track on Friday.
“I apologised [to Vettel],” said Leclerc, taking full responsibility for a move that he agreed was too optimistic. “Obviously excuses are not enough in times like this. I am just disappointed in myself. I’ve done a very bad job today.’ The Monegasque driver said he ‘let the team down’.
“I can only be sorry, even though I know it’s not enough. I hope I will learn from this and we will come back stronger for the next races.”
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s Team Principal, said that it was not time to accuse people, but to ‘work united’, and to ‘progress as soon as possible.’
“It’s somehow a pain to conclude a race in such a way after only two laps,” said Binotto. “I think it’s the worst conclusion of a very bad weekend for us. I think it’s not time to look for responsibility or accuse, it’s time to work united. I’m pretty sure that back home we’ve got the right people to progress as soon as possible.”
The race stewards did not penalize any of the Ferrari drivers, which means that it was a racing incident. After Lap 1, there were 2 retirements. By the end of the race, there were 3 retirements. Let’s see what happened!
Renault’s Reliability Woes
The Styrian Grand Prix was a little bit cooler in comparison to the Austrian Grand Prix, with about 20 degrees Celsius being the temperature. Yet the Renault of Esteban Ocon had cooling issues, which resulted in him pulling into the garage on Lap 25. As a result, the race had now seen 3 retirements, and this was the final one. At the Austrian Grand Prix, Ocon’s teammate retired for the same reason. This proves that Renault has some major reliability issues to sort out, as they are sitting in 6th place in the constructors’ championship, with only 8 points from 2 races. Although the Renaults looked good in Qualifying, with both of them making it into Q3, the race proved that they had to work on something.
Apart from Ocon’s retirement, Ricciardo was looking at some problems as well. He was in a very good position in his first stint on the mediums. In the 2nd stint, which Ricciardo did on the Soft tyres, Racing Point was much faster, and they both just beat him to the line. Sergio Perez by 0.138s, and Lance Stroll by 0.072s. Even if the finish was close, it was clear that something was wrong. After Ricciardo’s retirement at the Austrian Grand Prix, the parts that failed must have been examined back at Enstone. Enstone is the place where all the Renault F1 cars are born. However, Renault has missed something, seeing that Ocon retired with the same issue at the Styrian Grand Prix. Hopefully, the reliability issues will not present themselves at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Racing Point’s Impressive Charge
The RP20 is dubbed as the ‘Pink Mercedes’ because it looks incredibly similar to the 2019 Mercedes Car, the W10. At the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix, the Racing Points started in 13th and 17th, with Stroll the leading Racing Point. While that is a pretty bad qualifying for the team, the fact that there was heavy rain in qualifying changed things. We know this because in the race they were much faster. By the time the Safety Car came out on Lap 1, Stroll was up into 10th place, and Perez was in 15th. By Lap 5, Stroll was in 9th and Perez was in 12th. On Lap 19, the Racing Points were in P8 and P9 and were catching up to the Renaults, their main midfield competitors along with McLaren.
They all gained another free position when Ocon retired, and they were looking quick. Then in the 2nd stint, Perez showed how quick he was. He passed Ricciardo, and he was putting in fastest laps all the time, really bossing it out on the track. But when he collided with Albon in a Hamilton-like manner, he faced the consequences and lost his front wing. After losing P5 on the final corner to Lando Norris, Perez finished in P6, just 0.066s ahead of his teammate, and 0.138s ahead of Ricciardo.
Things were looking fairly good for Racing Point after the Styrian Grand Prix. But then, Renault protested the legality of the RP20. Things like this have happened before, like when Red Bull protested against Mercedes’ DAS System. But Renault has protested the legality of the car itself.
Racing Point defended themselves a lot at winter testing.“I think [complaints from other teams] boil down to the fact that some of the teams may not have done as good a job as they should have done, and I think we’re probably seeing that,” said Racing Point Technical Director Andrew Green.
“So I think a lot of their frustration is looking inwards: ‘Crikey, we haven’t done a very good job’ – that’s what I’d be I’d be thinking if I was looking from the outside in. I’d be looking at my own department: ‘C’mon guys what on earth have you been playing at?’,” he added.
Renault believes that the RP20 does not comply with 4 articles in the Sporting Regulation, critically Appendix 6, which is about listed parts.
Paragraph 1, article 2 (a) says: “A competitor shall, in respect of the Listed Parts to be used in its cars in Formula One, only use Listed Parts which are designed by it.” Article 2 (c) adds: “In the case of the Outsourcing of design, such third party shall not be a competitor or a party that directly or indirectly designs Listed Parts for any competitor.”
What Renault is suggesting is that Racing Point is using a design that has elements that are not designed by themselves. This is against the regulations. The Race Stewards ruled the protest as admissible, meaning that it is valid. They are now investigating certain parts of the car (the front and rear brake ducts, to be precise). The Stewards impounded the parts from Perez and Stroll’s cars to analyse them. At the same time, Mercedes had to provide the same parts from the 2019 Mercedes F1 car, the W10. The Stewards need to compare the parts to see if the RP20’s parts are the same as the W10’s. If the Race Stewards decide that the RP20 isn’t legal, Racing Point will be in big trouble. It will turn from a Winner to a Loser against Renault. And pretty much everybody else.
Let me know in the comments below, will the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix become even more exciting than it was before?
One thing to note is that Red Bull wasn’t doing very well. Although they finished in a solid 3rd and 4th place, they could’ve finished in 2nd and 4th place, but Verstappen just didn’t have the pace to stay ahead of Bottas, while Albon was a long way away from the top 3 runners.
“We’ll obviously keep on working, keep on improving the car, but also the engine, because we are clearly too slow on the straights as well,” said Verstappen. “I think it’s a bit of both where we just need to work.”. Albon was happy to finish in 4th, however, especially after what happened last race.
Sainz Unsatisfied with 9th Place Finish
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz lined up in 3rd on the grid, but unlike his teammate at the Austrian Grand Prix, he couldn’t convert that into a good result in the race. In the early parts of the race Sainz was looking strong against his competitors. Bottas and Albon had passed him already since they are in faster cars, so he was looking towards a solid 5th place. But a sticking wheel nut for left-rear tyre cost him dearly.
“We exited after the pit stop in a lot of traffic; trying to overtake all that traffic and trying to overtake the Racing Points I destroyed my tyres. It was a very long race from there, and I could not really do much.”
Sainz’s teammate Norris got all the attention once again after finishing in P5 and being the best of the rest, behind the 2 Mercedes cars and the 2 Red Bull cars. In the last laps of the race, Sainz grabbed the fastest lap after an extra pitstop for the Softs, without losing any positions. He managed a 1:05.619, the fastest lap ever to be put in during a race at the Red Bull Ring. In the end, Sainz finished in P9, which is less than what he expected.
The Rest of the Grid
AlphaTauri was lacking pace in the Styrian Grand Prix, with Pierre Gasly finishing in P15. He made contact with Ricciardo at the start of the race, which damaged the car. He was then forced to come in for a pitstop. His teammate Daniil Kvyat was happy with the hard-fought point he scored after he finished in P10. This means there is a positive aspect of the race for the team. However, AlphaTauri Technical Director Jody Egginton still thinks the cars lacked pace.
“We came away with a P10 but to be honest our cars lacked race pace and we have not been as competitive as we should have been,” Egginton said. “Pierre’s car took a hit on the right rear at the start of the race and there are some signs we have suffered some damage as a result, so we now need to investigate this.
“Dany had a cleaner race and worked hard to finish 10th making no mistakes. We should be pleased with finishing in the points, but overall we expected more from our package today and a detailed analysis will be conducted to ensure we understand all the factors behind today’s performance and address the key points ahead of the next race.”
Alfa Romeo is in 8th in the constructors’ championship, as they only have 2 points. Those 2 points came from Antonio Giovinazzi’s 9th place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix. While a wet qualifying saw both the cars stuck in Q1, Kimi Raikkonen said that he could’ve brought points in the race. However, he got seriously held when the 2 Ferraris collided at the start of the race. Despite that, the Iceman was recovering and was looking towards a points finish, but then fuel issues didn’t allow him to beat his rivals.
“I basically had to stop, the anti-stall came in, and I couldn’t get it out fast enough,” Raikkonen said. “Then, in the last 20 laps we had to do fuel saving – without that we could have challenged for 10th, but with the fuel saving that was not possible. It’s frustrating, of course, but it is what it is.
“We had pretty decent speed in the end, with the soft tyres, but even with the mediums we were OK too. Sometimes I really feel we don’t get the most out of our car in the races, [on Sunday] it was with fuel saving, but that’s how it is. We’ll try next week again.”
Hopefully, the Alfa Romeos will make it to the points, and it seems that they will. This is mainly because they know what to work on for the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix.
“Hungary is very different from Spielberg, the layout requires a lot of downforce and it’s less about straight-line speed, so we will need to focus on trying new things to extract the most from our car,” said Giovinazzi.
Haas is towards the back of the grid, a place where they definitely wouldn’t want to be. They were fighting for the ‘best of the rest’ in the constructors’ championship 2 years ago. The 2020 Styrian Grand Prix was much better than the Austrian Grand Prix for them because they didn’t face the brake failures that they faced in the former race. Despite Grosjean having to start the race from the pitlane, he managed to finish in P13, while his teammate Magnussen finished in P12. However, the car was fear off in terms of raw pace from the midfield cars, so there is room for improvement.
“Today the car was much better. It obviously wasn’t fast enough, but much better, so we’ll keep working from there. It’s important to feel good in the car, to feel confident. I had to keep pushing. Obviously, things were better than Friday and Saturday. That’s the positive to take from here,” said Grosjean.
Another positive for the Haas team is the fact that their drivers are cooperating; team orders told them to swap positions multiple times, and to their surprise, they happily cooperated. This is one of the factors that allowed the Haas team to get a solid finish.
“It was about time! It took a few years too long and a few crashes too many! I think what was said last year worked. They were well behaved. For sure they are never happy but it’s actually very difficult on the pit wall to manage it because we do not really see what’s going on. You see it from the onboard camera but we don’t see how much they push and how much they don’t push,” said Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner.
“If you have got two very equal drivers in two very equal cars it’s always very difficult, because the guy in the slipstream on the long straights will always catch up. So if you swap too much then you lose too much time to the opposition and waste time between us. It isn’t easy for us to make the calls, but at least they were well behaved. We didn’t have too many arguments, hopefully it stays like this!”
Things were looking positive at Williams after Qualifying. George Russell qualified in a career-best 12th, which turned into 11th after Leclerc’s grid penalty. But then the race went from good to bad when Russell lost the car at the exit of Turn 6 on Lap 4 while defending from Kevin Magnussen in his Haas.
“Firstly, I need to say sorry to the team. I completely messed it up in the early stage of the race. I made a good start and maintained the position and was trying to hold it on the outside of Turn 6 and just completely lost it. There was no grip out there and I need to say my apologies to the team. Who knows what today could have been, but I’ll bounce back next week.” apologised Russell.
Russell’s rookie teammate Nicholas Latifi was still trying to gain knowledge and experience behind the wheel of the FW43.
“It was a tough one, but overall, I thought I did a much better job in terms of the driving and I felt more comfortable behind the wheel. Today I had to fight a few cars, most of the fighting was with George, but that was nice to experience a bit of that consistently. We were lacking more pace than we thought coming into the race, so it was a shame we couldn’t fight more. We have some homework to do, but we still learned a lot which is the main thing.”
This is the end of the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix Race Review. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable race. Be sure to let me know in the comments below how you think the teams will do at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Don’t forget to check out the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix Facts & Stats. Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts!