You Can’t Kill a Bull with a Silver Arrow…
The chequered flag dropped on the Styrian GP a couple of days ago with another Redbull victory (4 in 4) Max Verstappen increased his lead at the top of the Championship to 18 points with Mercedes closing the gap in the Constructors this is the title fight we have been longing for in Formula 1.
The Race Weekend
The race weekend was its usual set up with three practice sessions, qualifying and the race. As usual Qualifying had a couple of interesting moments.
Qualifying 1 had the usual backmarkers, the HAAS boys taking up the back row of the grid, Kimi Raikkonen took 18th place in the Alfa Romeo. The next place is somewhat of a surprise, Esteban Ocon, who secured his long-term future with Alpine could only manage 17th on the grid, out qualified by Latifi in the Williams.
Qualifying 2 took even more high-profile casualties with Vettel, Ricciardo and Sainz all failing to get into the top 10 shootout. George Russell shows again why we are all expecting to see him in the Mercedes, with an exceptional drive to put the Williams into 11th on the grid, missing out on a top ten battle by 0.008 of a second.
Qualifying 3 took on its now usual form with Verstappen taking pole over Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas taking third. Bottas would drop three places to 5th after a pit lane spin caused him to get a penalty.
Lando Norris continues to impress with a great “best of the rest” performance to take 4th. The Alpha Tauri of Gasly and Tsunoda had a great session taking 6th and 8th respectively.
The race was a strange one, for the neutral it was boring, after the first lap shenanigans, not too much happened. Verstappen controlled the race from the front with Hamilton was unable to match the Redbull’s pace. Verstappen took the race win with relative ease to increase the lead at the top of the Championship.
Charles Leclerc showed his skills again, getting his Ferrari into 7th is a great result for the Ferrari driver. He had to pit at the end of lap one after a mistake lead to the end of Pierre Gasly’s race with a puncture and suspension damage and the Ferrari with a broken front wing. It was a quietly brilliant performance.
“We have stopped developing for this year because we believe the next years are so important to get right, and they keep adding bits. There are tracks coming with the aero parts and all credit to this strategy”.Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principle.
In one way there was a lot of quietly brilliant performances, Verstappen taking the win with an almost Hamilton-esque performance, Leclerc’s drive through the field, Stroll’s pass on Fernando Alonso around the outside of turn 6 where only some of the interesting parts of the race. weirdly I did not notice any of it. It’s not that I didn’t pay attention to the race or missed the action due to an ill timed trip to make a cuppa, it was more that these interesting moments were all slow burners (with the exception of the Stroll pass) after Leclerc dived into the pits at the end of the first lap, I forgot all about him, until the last could of laps when I noticed he was sitting in 7th, when did that happen??
The 2021 season is a strange beast, even after a standard race, it still gives us talking points, mostly due to the dominance of Max and Redbull. Every race has a significant bearing on the Championship.
We return to the Styrian Mountains for the Austrian GP, what can Mercedes do? On this evidence not too much.
The Championship is far from over, there will be more twists and turns, however the ball is in Verstappen/Redbull’s court.