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2020 Styrian Grand Prix Blog

The teams have had a week to reflect on a chaotic season opener and it was perhaps not surprising that Round 2 at the Red Bull Ring, the Steiermark GP, was run at a more even tempo. That is not to say we didn’t see our fair share of drama over the weekend though.

Qualifying almost did not happen due to monsoon like conditions on Saturday. After a 45-minute delay the cars managed to get out on track but it was patently obvious that some coped with conditions better than others. The big losers from the session were Racing Point (P13 and P17) and Ferrari (P10 and P 11). Esteban Ocon on the other hand would have been very pleased with himself in P5. The good news was we had a mixed-up grid, so all the hallmarks for lots of overtaking in the race.

Sunday came around and conditions were much improved with dry and warm weather in Spielberg. “Lights Out” and the race appeared to be off with a clean start but that was all to change when the two Ferrari’s collided with each other at Turn 3. The blame this time lies with Charles Leclerc, who attempted to cut down the inside of his teammate but clipped the curb and was launched into Vettel’s rear wing. Seb retired immediately, Charles a lap later, both with irreparable car damage. To his credit, Leclerc has accepted responsibility for the incident, posting on social media: ‘I am disappointed in myself. I’m sorry but being sorry is not enough. Seb hasn’t got any faults today. I’ve let the team down after them working a whole week to bring the updates early. Too eager to gain those places in the first lap. I will learn from it.’

It is worth pointing out that neither Ferrari driver is used to starting in the bottom half of the grid. They have been scrapping for positions which they don’t normally need to worry about, and in doing so mistakes like this can happen. This won’t cheer up their bosses at Maranello though and Ferrari’s season looks doomed. David Coulthard commented afterwards: “Any doubt that Ferrari are out of this World Championship battle has been confirmed this weekend… The season is going to be too short and the deficit in both wet and dry conditions is too big… All they can do now is rebuilding for next year.” Bad times indeed for the Scuderia.

Mercedes do not have any such worries. Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in a race where he was never really challenged for the lead. Hamilton deserves credit though. His Q3 flying lap on Saturday was 1.2 seconds quicker than Max Verstappen and described afterwards as “not from this world”. Following the race on Sunday, Lewis said: “What a weird year it is. It’s great to be back out here and to be driving and driving with this kind of performance. The team did a fantastic job with the strategy and it was just up to me to keep it together, keep off the kerbs and bring it home.”

Many had expected Red Bull to be able to peg the Mercedes back during the race but this never transpired, with Max Verstappen commenting afterwards: “We are just too slow. I pushed as hard as I could to try and stay with Lewis but it’s not possible. We’ve got some work to do.”

Other notable performers were Sergio Perez, who managed to get his Racing Point classified in the top 6, despite starting in seventeenth. Lando Norris also had another fine afternoon, passing 3 cars in his final two laps to finish in fifth place. The young Brit was clearly delighted, stating: “It was a really good race for me, probably my best one I’ve done in Formula 1”.

Next up is the Hungaroring, a track which rewards strong downforce. Could this be Red Bull’s chance to get one back over Mercedes? Tune in next weekend to find out.