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Formula One

Impressions After Styrian GP

Alexander Albon. Photo by Joe Klamar // Red Bull Content Pool

It looks like racing in Austria is pretty much wrapped up for his year. But before we move on to Hungary, it would be fair to reflect on some of our observations after the Styrian Grand Prix. Apart from the obvious, such as, Mercedes’ dominating car or Haas’ continuous brake issues, here are some alternative discussion topics:

A MORE RECOGNIZABLE HAMILTON – The Styrian Grand Prix was a rather entertaining Formula One event to many. But to others, Lewis Hamilton just won another race – something, which he had done 84 other times before in his career. Hamilton (35) is currently only 6 race wins short of matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 victories. And as they say, “records are made to be broken”. Lewis did not encounter any real challenge from the other drivers that day. Even though his teammate in Mercedes Valteri Bottas is still the current championship leader, Hamilton might not wait for too long before he regains it back. He is also close to matching another great record, Schumacher’s 7 total championships. Although the season just started, one could see where things are going… And nothing seems to be going away from Hamilton and his determination to stay on the top.

RACING POINT CHALLENGE RED BULL – Racing Point appeared to be much quicker in this race than most of their performance abilities in the past several years. A crucial mistake in the final stages of the GP jeopardized Sergio Perez’ chances to steal P4 from Alex Albon’s Red Bull. The Mexican was all over Albon’s rear wing, until the two of them collided and damaged Sergio’s front wing. In general, no other teams besides Mercedes and Ferrari are expected to cause the Red Bulls any serious headaches on the track. But Racing Point did. It is fair to say, though, that Max Verstappen did not experience the same challenge from them, as his teammate Albon did. It seems like that either the car fits Max’ style better, or the Dutch is performing miracles with his driving. Furthermore, Red Bull is not the only team with headaches caused by Racing Point. Renault, for good measure, filled an official compliant in protesting the legality of Racing Point’s car. The team has already been heavily criticized for using a car, which is undoubtedly similar to Mercedes’ 2019 championship-winning machine. Nonetheless, it is an interesting debate to follow.

MCLAREN RESURRECTED – Now, we are aware that it has only been two races so far, but McLaren are second in the current championship standings. Second! The last time McLaren finished second in the championship was back in 2011, when Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button each scored 3 wins for the team. Although it would be rather optimistic to expect a similar result, it is fair to admit that the guys from Woking have done a great job with their 2020 machines. Last season the team finished 4th, which was their best result since their 2012 third place. This success, however, is also greatly helped by McLaren’s drivers. Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz each set a fastest lap of the race in Austria, snatching two additional points for the team. Moreover, Norris’ last-lap performance was phenomenal in both races, with positions gained and setting the quickest lap overall. Both drivers also took their maiden podiums in the last four races with McLaren. It is important to note that Carlos Sainz will be leaving for a seat with Ferrari at the and of this season, but he will be replaced by another experienced driver – Daniel Ricciardo. After a series of difficult and unsuccessful seasons, McLaren fans can take a glimpse of some flickering light at the end of the “tunnel”. Only time will tell how vivid this light would be in December.

HOPELESS FERRARI – Not much to elaborate on here, rather than the obvious – 2020 is a disaster for Ferrari. Yes, people have been saying that about them every year since 2009, and in many cases, rightfully so. But this time it is embarrassing. Sebastian Vettel’s and Charles Leclerc’s lap-one collision was more than just a double retirement for the team. The two of them had crucial car upgrades, which were being tested for future races. And since none of them could actually do any racing on Sunday, Ferrari collected no valuable data. In recent years, the Italians have been championship contenders since 2017, and have seriously challenged Mercedes and Hamilton. Unfortunately for them it does not look like this will be happening this season. Not with this car. Not with such driver’s mistakes. In 2022 we should see drastically new regulations and changes, as well as, budget limits implemented. At this point, Ferrari might safely focus on development for 2022, as 2021 season is expected to run with similar to this year car specs. Many teams are doing it. Is it embarrassing? For Ferrari, yes. Is it an open door for future domination? It sure is.

RENAULT GETTING READY FOR ALONSO – Renault is another Formula One team that is making steps forward. The French team finished 5th last year, right behind McLaren. Although this is generally a good result, Renault have something else to keep in mind – Fernando Alonso’s return with the team. The Spaniard, who joined the team for the first time in 2002, is also a double world champion with them (2005-2006). Alonso will be replacing Daniel Ricciardo for 2021 season, and he expects a competitive enough car. Objectively, they seem strong in 2020 with race pace and qualifying results, but the reliability is lacking. Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon had one retirement each in Austria, due to overheating issues. Nevertheless, the potential is there. Podiums might be rather ambitious for this season, but solid points finishes seem more than feasible. Alonso suggested that the better part of his higher expectations are for 2022, which gives the team more time for preparation.

Check out this LINK for more details on the race itself.

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