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Ferrari come up trumps as Mercedes escape dire straits - What we learned at the Austrian GP
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Ferrari come up trumps as Mercedes escape dire straits - What we learned at the Austrian GP

Ferrari come up trumps as Mercedes escape dire straits - What we learned at the Austrian GP

F1 News

Ferrari come up trumps as Mercedes escape dire straits - What we learned at the Austrian GP

Ferrari come up trumps as Mercedes escape dire straits - What we learned at the Austrian GP

A dramatic Austrian Grand Prix saw Charles Leclerc notch up his first win since Australia to reignite his title fight.

Unfortunately for Ferrari, Carlos Sainz's power unit ignited to take away a certain one-two for the Scuderia.

Max Verstappen finished second ahead of Lewis Hamilton in a race full of racing excitement.

So what did we learn from a sprint weekend that ended up being overshadowed by events off-track?

Ferrari finally crack strategy

We have spent weeks, even years, maligning Ferrari's strategic efforts given the number of races the team has thrown away due to slowness on the pit wall or just weird tactical choices.

But on Sunday the Scuderia played the race to absolute perfection. Verstappen was forced to make an early commitment to a two-stop plan on lap 14 whilst Ferrari kept Leclerc and Sainz's options open with stops some 12 laps later.

It proved crucial as when Leclerc did pit - and again for his second stop - the tyre offset to the Dutchman was such that the overtaking manoeuvres to retake the lead were as simple as reciting your ABC.

Sainz's power unit fire cruelly took away a nailed-on one-two finish but that doesn't gloss over the fact that it felt a significant day in the championship race, the day Ferrari remembered how to make strategic decisions.

Mercedes salvage job after disastrous start

If you had told Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff at the end of the first racing lap that his team would leave Austria with a third and fourth, he would have bitten your arm off.

Both Hamilton and George Russell had crashed in Friday's qualifying whilst in the Sprint, Hamilton failed to reach higher than eighth.

After the start in the grand prix, Hamilton was still behind two Haas cars whilst Russell was earning himself a penalty - contentiously - for punting Sergio Perez off the road at turn four.

But Hamilton's pace was on par with the leaders for much of the race after he had cleared the midfield pack, whilst Russell managed to recover from the penalty and wing change to cement fourth.

There is pace in that W13, but will it be enough to fight for wins soon?

Schumacher proving F1 worth

The pressure young Mick Schumacher was under at the start of the season with his surname, Kevin Magnussen coming in and performing to a high level and the fact he had remained scoreless in F1 was clearly mounting.

Guenther Steiner had even started to hint that Schumacher's performances needed to improve or he could be out of a drive.

If the points in Silverstone were a catalyst for the German to prove his worth then Austria was a promising sign.

The former F2 champion was unhappy at not being allowed to overtake Magnussen in the sprint - a fierce competitiveness present in the glint of his eyes post-sprint that we have not seen so far.

His racecraft throughout the weekend was second to none and his pace was bettered only by Alpine's Esteban Ocon in the midfield.

To finish sixth in a car that remains untouched from its early-season guise is quite an achievement. Schumacher and Haas will be hoping to ride this wave for races to come.

Sprint exciting but does it add to weekend?

We are now enough sprint events into the initiative to give a well-rounded view of the idea, and for the most part, there are only positives.

There is action on the Friday and Saturday with qualifying bumped forward in the schedule and as for the sprint itself, the action was thrilling.

But after the troubles and penalties on Friday, the mixed-up grid that we so often beg for on a normal race weekend was present for the sprint.

By the end of the 23 laps, Perez's Red Bull had recovered from 13th to fifth and taken away that excitement of a frontrunner bursting through the pack in the grand prix.

The main goal of the sprint should be to enhance the grand prix and at the moment, it is not achieving that. It should be a standalone event on the Saturday with both grids taken from qualifying.

F1 has major issue to tackle

The Austrian GP was overshadowed by the horrific abuse some supporters were subjected to by sections of the crowd.

Whilst the abuse suffered by drivers is one problem F1 must stamp out, racegoers who have spent money and taken time off work in the current climate just to have a good time watching the best sport in the world only to be tormented is the priority.

Some of the stories that were revealed on social media were wholly unacceptable no matter where they took place, with racist, misogynistic and homophobic behaviour marring the experience for some.

But reports of sexual harassment were the most alarming and F1 must come down hard on those who deem such behaviour acceptable.

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