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Styrian Grand Prix: Five talking points

Styrian Grand Prix: Five talking points



Styrian Grand Prix: Five talking points

Styrian Grand Prix: Five talking points

The races are coming thick and fast, and the Styrian Grand Prix weekend was every bit as dramatic as the Formula 1 season opener.

And history was made at the Red Bull Ring as F1 completed two grands prix on the same circuit in the same season.

GPFans reflects upon the biggest talking points of the second weekend of the campaign.

Ferrari - Pace problems and that coming together

As evidenced from the opening race in Austria, Ferrari is in for a difficult year. The power unit lacks the oomph of its Mercedes counterpart, and a development freeze for the season means this situation will not change this year.

With no option but to focus on aerodynamic gains, Ferrari rushed developments scheduled for the Hungaroring into production, with the parts arriving a week early in time for the second race.

As qualifying took place in extreme wet conditions, it was difficult to judge the performance benefit of the new parts, although both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel suggested the improvements were focused more on improving the drivability of the SF1000 than adding performance.

What Ferrari needed, regardless of starting 10th and 14th, was a full grand prix distance to judge the full effect of the parts.

What was not required then, was Leclerc hopping the turn three kerb, and quite literally flying into the rear-ring of Vettel.

Both cars retired after four laps and, although Leclerc held his hands up and admitted being at fault, it was little consolation for team principal Mattia Binotto who now faces another lengthy inquest into what was the second clash between his drivers in four races.

Rain, rain and more rain

A common staple of an F1 weekend is the prediction of rain. Most of the time, the rain fails to materialise, but on this occasion, it most certainly showed up.

Despite fears qualifying would be moved to Sunday morning, or not even happen at all, FIA race director Michael Masi made the most of a gap in the weather to get it going.

The conditions improved steadily across Q1 and Q2, but the heavens opened for the top-10 shoot-out. The conditions were worse than F1 has run in for years, but Masi persisted, and the drivers repaid his faith.

Yes, there were a few slips and slides, but the session saw drivers overcome the difficulties to showcase their personal ability - George Russell qualifying 12th for Williams an incredible highlight.

It was, however, Lewis Hamilton that completely stole the show, blowing the field away to take pole by a whopping 1.2 seconds that led to team boss Toto Wolff to brand his performance as 'not of this world'.

Speaking of Hamilton...

Dominance and equality demonstrations

Clearly hurting after a difficult opening weekend to the season, Hamilton was in a class of his own when it came down to the serious business of qualifying and racing at the Styrian GP.

As said, Hamilton was at his memorising best during qualifying, and he displayed nothing short of excellence on Sunday also. Comfortable in the lead from lights out, Hamilton gapped Max Verstappen and never looked back.

He may not have won driver of the day, that honour going to Sergio Perez, but Hamilton's race-winning performance was every bit as impressive as the drive of the Mexican.

As brilliant as he was on track, Hamilton's weekend will likely not be remembered for this performance, as, when climbing out of his car victorious, Hamilton performed the 'black power' salute, something made famous by African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympic Games. He repeated the action on the podium.

Across the weekend Hamilton was active in reminding the F1 community that one weekend of anti-racism demonstrations is not enough. It is a start, but the end is far from close.

Red Bull cannot compete with Mercedes

One thing was very clear from the race - Red Bull cannot compete with Mercedes for pace at the moment..

After being passed by Bottas for second position, Verstappen pitted again for fresh tyres in a failed bid to bag the point for the fastest lap of the race, but it was evident that even an on-song Verstappen is no match for Mercedes at present.

Alex Albon offered no rear gunner defence for his Red Bull team-mate, with the Thai-British driver finishing three-quarters of a minute behind Hamilton.

Although its pace problem is far less acute than that of Ferrari, then unless major changes can be made to the RB16, it is unlikely the team will be able to prevent Mercedes from retaining the title for a seventh consecutive season.

The Pink Mercedes? Racing point under investigation

Racing Point put on a less than impressive display during the wet qualifying session, but the race was a completely different story.

Sergio Perez climbed from 17th to sixth, with the Mexican at one point challenging Albon for fourth before sustaining front-wing damage, while Lance Stroll finished seventh.

Just over two hours after the race finished, all hell broke loose as Renault launched an official protest against Racing Point for breaching regulations surrounding the use of listed parts. It later transpired the protest specifically refers to the RP20's brake ducts, parts that must be wholly designed and manufactured by each individual team.

Racing Point, which has freely admitted the car was designed using photographs of the 2019 Mercedes W10, has branded the protest "misconceived and poorly informed" and, as the FIA inspected the designs and design process ahead of the season start, the team is confident of a positive outcome.

Before you go...

"Off the pace" Ferrari "face a long road ahead" - Brawn

"Misconceived and poorly informed" - Racing Point rip into Renault protest


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