Styrian Hysteria – Race weekend number 2

After another weekend watching 7+ hours of F1 coverage, I’d love to be able to say that I’ve grasped all of the rules and can understand the timings board which hovers on my TV screen, but unfortunately the stats of F1 still remain a cryptic code to me. I’ll admit that I was expecting there to be more retirements and crashes in this race (my first impression of F1 was just pure chaos), but that’s not to say there wasn’t enough drama.

It was terrifying watching the cars slide across lakes on track during the wet qualifying sessions. With such poor visibility and lack of traction at times, it’s a miracle they made it around for one lap. I don’t understand how it is physically possible for the drivers to be setting personal bests and I personally think that the racing should be called off when the conditions are so dangerous. I know that’s an unpopular opinion, and it reminds me of the scene in ‘Rush’ where Nikki Lauda tries to get a race cancelled but faces backlash for it. As Martin Brundle said:

“It is completely instinctive driving. The bravery you need to drive in these conditions shows whether you really want to be a racing driver or not.”

So, after Hamilton pulled off a god-like fastest lap to win P1, I would agree with Toto Wolff’s comment that it was like “seeing a unicorn”. I was also surprised to hear that Gasly enjoys
driving in the rain because of the added adrenaline rush and his experience with harsh weather during his karting days.

Thankfully the weather cleared up for race day, but that didn’t stop the two Ferrari boys having a clumsy accident which caused both of them to be out of the race. I can’t imagine how Ferrari are feeling to be losing out on so many points which they would usually be contending for, if not winning. I can’t comment on the engine issues because I’m not a mechanic, but I would like to offer my opinion that the rivalry between LeClerc and Vettel needs to be stamped out. Although Charles later apologised for his driving error and race control didn’t investigate the incident, I think that there is a bigger issue at play. How can you avoid aggressive driving from both drivers when one is dying to prove his worth as a fairly new member of Ferrari, and the other is fighting to show any prospective teams he’s worth signing in 2021 whilst trying to keep up with the young blood of LeClerc?

It’s not just these two drivers who were tangled up in a race between themselves, as I couldn’t help but notice at one point of the race there were five teams whose drivers were stuck with each other. Williams, HAAS, Alpha Tauri, Racing point and Renault all seem to have drivers which are fairly well-matched as teammates. This could potentially create less tension and room for errors like the ones seen with Ferrari (or maybe there is a different reason for this happening which I’m just not aware of as a newbie to the sport). Saying that, things did get a bit dicey towards the end with both Renault drivers trying to fend off Stroll’s advances.

My top two impressive drives were at the hands of Norris and Perez, who both pulled off some sleek overtakes and ended up in the top 6. Without providing too much race analysis, I do think that Max Verstappen missed out on the potential for a higher finish this weekend.

The spin on his last corner during qualifying, plus the damage sustained to his front wing during the race meant that he lost precious seconds, but he also did an incredible job of defending his position from Bottas for so long.

As of yet we don’t know how many total points are available because it’s unknown how many races there will be this season – how exciting! It is clear however, that Mercedes are currently dominating the grid and I’m sure they are loving the lack of pressure from Ferrari. I’m looking forward to seeing who can challenge them this year, as I think there are quite a few wild card drivers on the grid at the moment.

Things to research before next weekend:
Undercut
DRS zones
Trophy robots


Thanks for reading!

– Sophie Middleton @‪MotorsportSoph