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Talking points from the F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Talking points from the F1 Austrian Grand Prix

F1 News

Talking points from the F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Talking points from the F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Formula 1 was back with a bang in the Austrian Grand Prix, and although Mercedes topped every session of the weekend, there was so much more to talk about.

Taking a step back, GPFans reflects on the events at the Red Bull Ring to bring you the main talking points to come out of the F1 season opener.

#WeRaceAsOne - Formula 1 campaigns to end racism

Across the weekend, driver press conferences all featured similar questions - would the driver take the knee to show unity against racism?

Some drivers had no hesitation in answering they would do so, but with the action taking on other political meanings in certain countries, not all drivers were keen to follow suit.

Just minutes before the drivers walked onto the grid, both Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc explained via social media why they would not be kneeling.

In the end, a total of 13 drivers made what is viewed as a symbolic gesture, although all drivers - except Lewis Hamilton who wore a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt - were pictured wearing 'End Racism' t-shirts.

The important takeaway from the weekend is that F1 has now committed to make a change. Whether drivers knelt or not is now irrelevant, as all have voiced anti-racism beliefs and support for the 'We Race as One' initiative.

'Harsh' Austrian kerbs almost end Mercedes charge

Ahead of the race, F1 officials had acted on the concerns of teams and removed the majority of the harsh Red Bull Ring kerbs. These kerbs were extensions to the regular red and white kerbing, and were designed to prevent the abuse of track limits.

Across the free practice sessions, however, numerous teams suffered breakages from those kerbs that remained - most notably McLaren, who endured problems on both cars.

As it happened, cars running the Mercedes power units, and specifically the factory team itself, suffered more than anyone during the race.

George Russell [Williams] and Lance Stroll [Racing Point] both retired with sensor problems, while Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton were given 'emergency' warnings to steer clear of the kerbs at all costs.

In racing at the Red Bull Ring again in a few days' time, it remains to be seen whether Mercedes can find a fix for the problem.

The new normal - F1 Covid-secure working

F1 became the first international sport to return to action, and because of this, the secure working practices were under close scrutiny.

All team personnel were subjected to multiple Covid-19 tests before attending the Red Bull Ring, while hand sanitiser stations were placed at entry points to the paddock as well as at regular intervals inside the arena, and face masks were mandatory.

Teams were placed in their own social bubbles and were unable to mix with other 'bubbles', but, from the outside, it all seemed strangely normal.

Even the socially distanced podium ceremony held on the grid was...normal.

The only difference clearly visible across the duration, were the empty grandstands. That will still take some time to grow accustomed to.

Red Bull versus Mercedes - Protests, penalties and collisions

When Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told his Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff, on Friday that he intended to seek "clarifications" over the legality of DAS, Wolff accepted this challenge.

The timing would not affect the rest of the weekend, steering clear of tarnishing the qualifying or race result, and there was an amicable atmosphere between the pair.

What a difference a few days can make.

After Lewis Hamilton escaped punishment from the FIA for appearing to ignore yellow flags during qualifying, Red Bull appealed the decision with only 90 minutes remaining before the race start.

The review resulted in a three-place grid penalty for Hamilton, but things were far from over.

In the closing stages of the race, with Hamilton hampered by a sensor problem in his gearbox, Alex Albon attempted to pass the six-time F1 champion for second place when, for the second time in three races, the Red Bull driver was turned into a spin.

Hamilton received a five-second penalty, dropping him from second to fourth, leaving Wolff to concede the "gloves are off".

The podium no one predicted

Clearly, Ferrari lacked pace across the weekend. Sebastian Vettel had struggled in qualifying, failing to escape Q2, and Charles Leclerc had only been fast enough for P7. No chance of a podium then? Well...

Leclerc drove what is arguably the race of his life, to drag his Ferrari into second position. Granted, he crossed the line behind both Mercedes and it was only Hamilton's penalty that put him P2, but any podium result would have been an achievement in the SF1000.

In a similar vein, Lando Norris, the star of qualifying, capitalised on Hamilton's penalty to score his maiden F1 podium.

It would be unfair to Norris to suggest that Hamilton's penalty gifted him third place as the McLaren driver needed to set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to narrowly pip his fellow Briton.

Before you go...

Jack Aitken set for Williams FP1 appearance

Distracted Vettel's head must be spinning following Ferrari axe - Brawn

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