2019 Hungarian Grand Prix Blog

A ‘Duel on the Danube’ is what we were treated to on Sunday with F1 heavyweights Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen trading blows in an enthralling Hungarian GP. Fans have been waiting for years to see these two drivers go head to head, and finally got what they wanted, with Max holding track position in the slower Red Bull trying to fend off Lewis in the faster Mercedes.

Tactics played a crucial part in how this Grand Prix unfolded. Mercedes took the bold step to put Lewis on a two-stop strategy and on lap 49 pitted him again to switch from hard to medium tyres. They lost 20 seconds or so in doing so, but with fresh tyres and a faster car, they still had 21 laps to chase down their target.

Hamilton was unsure about the move at the time. “I definitely was not thinking: ‘Genius,’ he said afterwards, “They told me we were going two-stop and I couldn’t compute how it would work.” But it did work, and this proved to be an inspired move from the Mercedes strategists. Red Bull were clearly taken by surprise and could not react quick enough. To pit Verstappen over the coming laps, would have given track position to Hamilton.

Christian Horner acknowledged the move afterwards and said his team were left in an: “All to lose” situation, trying to defend against a Mercedes which was simply a quicker car, on fresher tyres. Horner also praised Verstappen, saying: “He has driven with great maturity… To lose a race with four laps to go is hugely frustrating, but he gets the bigger picture. He knew the situation we were in and he understood how the race was being read.”

The big disappointment of the weekend was Ferrari. Yes, they finished in third and fourth, with Sebastian Vettel taking the last spot on the podium, but he was over a minute slower than the race winner. Vettel was open about his team’s shortcomings, Saying: “Obviously I can’t be happy because we were not fast today… Losing 60 seconds in 70 laps is probably fair – that’s what we were missing. Maybe we didn’t pick the absolute fastest strategy but overall we’re just not quick enough today so lots of homework for us.”

Homework is definitely what is required for the Scuderia. Spa and Monza are up next, both circuits which should play to Ferrari’s strengths, and wouldn’t it be great to see a three-way battle between the top teams.

A driver who needs to be involved in any such showdown is Valterri Bottas. He looked a reformed character at the start of the year, but his season has tailed off. A good showing round Hungaroring was needed but Bottas fluffed his lines. Starting in P2, he was P4 by the fourth corner and with a broken front wing to boot, he eventually finishing the race in P8.

Bottas knows his future hangs in the balance. Mercedes are set to decide between him and Estaban Ocon, as to who gets the seat next year. Toto Wolff explained their thinking, saying: “We will not be letting one race result influence our decision… It is more about compounding all data and then making a decision on stability and great personality and a very good driver, versus giving youth a chance with all the reward and risk it can bring and we haven’t done that yet… We will start the process tomorrow and it will not be an easy one.”

F1 heads into the traditional Summer Break now, with four weeks off before we return for the final nine races of the season. Verstappen is 69 points behind Hamilton in the title race. The gap looks big but if he can win another couple of races he’s sure to have Lewis looking nervously over his shoulder.

If you would like the chance to experience the F1 Paddock Club at Hungary in 2020, then Club Suite prices are currently held & can be booked for next years race.

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2019 German Grand Prix Blog

‘It was a horror movie, with a bit of black comedy.’ That’s how Daniil Kvyat summed up the German GP in his post-race interview.

But we didn’t think so. For neutral fans, Hockenheimring served up the most dramatic, unpredictable and exciting race in a long time. It represented everything that’s great about Formula 1. And if, as seems likely, Germany is not on the calendar in 2020 then it will be a sad loss for the sport.

So much happened over the weekend it’s difficult to know where to start. The weather was the main catalyst. Friday was baking in Southern Germany. The red Ferrari’s excelled in the red-hot conditions and looked likely to claim a 1-2 in Qualifying. But disaster struck for the Scuderia on Saturday when both cars suffered reliability issues. Charles Leclerc qualified in tenth place, whilst his team-mate Sebastian Vettel would be starting from last on the grid, which left an unwell Lewis Hamilton to claim an unlikely pole.

Come Sunday morning and the heavens opened. By 2pm there were still large puddles of standing water around the track but after three formation laps (which were subsequently deducted from the race length) fans were delighted to see a standing start. It’s fair to say some cars coped better than others. The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton flew off the line but both Red Bulls looked like they were starting in slow motion. No grip and with cars flying past on either side. Christian Horner looked worried, but his concern was ill founded as ‘Rain Man’ Max Verstappen eventually steered his car home in front. It wasn’t easy though, with a spin thrown in for good measure, which Verstappen joked afterwards he: “did that 360 for the crowd”.

Up until yesterday, Red Bull had never won at Hockenheim, and it was to the delight of the mostly orange crowd that they could buck that trend. A great weekend for Honda too, their second victory in three races and two different Honda powered teams on the podium with Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso taking third place. It looked likely that Honda may claim a one-two finish but for the sustained charge of Sebastian Vettel. The German started 20th on the grid but came home an impressive second place.

Vettel has had a tough time over the past few weeks and whilst he said afterwards: ‘I know that Max finished first so it’s not a victory’, this will have done a lot to restore his confidence.
It also makes you wonder what could have been for Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver was closing in on the then-race leader Lewis Hamilton when a mistake at the final corner saw him skid into the barriers. A momentary lapse of concentration but, given how Vettel finished, an extremely costly one. “I feel very bad for the team, for the fans, for everyone that has been working also to put the car back together for today,” Leclerc said afterwards. “I take full responsibility for it.”

The Silver Arrows also had a day to forget when they were supposed to be celebrating 125 years of Mercedes-Benz in motorsport. A lap after Leclerc shunted the barriers, Lewis repeated the feat but managed to get away with just a damaged front wing. From his stopping position Hamilton drove across the grass to the pit lane, however he incurred a 5-second time penalty for going on the wrong side of the pit entry bollard. Anyway, Hamilton made it to his garage, but Mercedes weren’t ready for him. They managed to fit tyres and a new front wing, but it took nearly a minute to do so. When Lewis re-joined, he found himself down the pecking order but still in contention. A series of Mercedes strategy errors put paid to that. Nico Hulkenberg crashed out prompting another safety car. Red Bull took advantage of the ‘cheap’ pit stop for Verstappen. Mercedes did not. When they eventually pitted Hamilton for slicks on lap 47 he emerged down in 12th place. “How has it gone this bad?” Was Lewis’ question over the radio.

Not all was lost for Mercedes as Valterri Bottas still had a chance to challenge, that is until he spun and crashed out at turn 1… Bottas hinted afterwards that maybe the team had been a bit overzealous, saying: “I made a mistake myself but the team also told me to push hard to get to the podium. Obviously I pushed a bit too much in that corner and lost the rear-end.”

Toto Wolff did not share his views, saying: “I think in his championship battle he could have had a decent amount of points today to catch up to Lewis,” Wolff said. “Whether it was 12, 15 or 18 points but I think it should have been 18 points and I think that would have been a jump but it did not happen. A disappointing result for Valterri, just when he needed a good performance to improve his chances of a seat for next season.

It would be amiss of us not to mention Lance Stroll (4th), Carlos Sainz (5th) and Alex Albon (6th). The German GP was a race where the smaller teams needed to take advantage of a unique situation to score points. All three of the above were punching above their weight and should be praised for keeping their heads in chaotic circumstances.

There’s no time to rest now as the F1 roadshow moves onto Budapest this weekend. If the Hungaroring proves to be anywhere near as exciting as Hockenheimring, we’re in for a treat!

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2019 British Grand Prix Blog

It’s not called the ‘home of motorsport’ for nothing. Silverstone served up a cracker this weekend. Easily the best race of the season so far and exactly what the fans want to see.

This year the British Grand Prix faced some stiff competition with both the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Finals taking place on the same day. That didn’t stop 140,000+ people turning up on Sunday to watch the race. Most were Lewis supporters and he did them proud claiming his sixth race win at Silverstone, the most of any F1 driver in history.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Hamilton though. On Saturday teammate, Valterri Bottas, pipped him to pole by 0.006 of a second. Bottas knows he needs to get his season back on track and this was a perfect opportunity to close the gap.

Come ‘Lights Out’ and the two Mercedes scooted clear, however it was refreshing to see them be allowed to just race each other. Hamilton briefly passed only for Bottas to retake the lead, and the Finn stayed in front until an untimely safety car (for Bottas) put Hamilton in first place. Once in the lead he wasn’t going to slip up and steered his car to victory.

There was plenty of drama behind as well. Ferrari and Red Bull found themselves in a ding-dong battle, all 4 cars within a whisker of each other at times. It was entertaining to watch until the safety car, after which Vettel found himself in third place with Gasly fourth, Verstappen fifth and the perpetually unlucky Charles Leclerc in sixth.

Max took this as a cue to start his charge and quickly passed his teammate before bearing down on the Ferrari. The Dutchman made his move on lap 37, passing Vettel around the outside of Stowe corner. He ran a little wide allowing the German to come back at him but unfortunately when Verstappen braked, Vettel could not, ramming into the back of the Red Bull. Both cars spun off into the gravel. Given the force of the shunt it was amazing either could continue the race, but they did.

Afterwards Vettel took responsibility for the collision saying: “Well it was my mistake so obviously he passed me and then ran a bit wide which gave me the chance to come back then I looked for a second that he was going to the right and there would be a gap of the left which didn’t open and by that time it was too late and I crashed.” The stewards agreed, handing him a 10-second time penalty and 2 points on his licence.

We can remember a year ago when Sebastian Vettel was celebrating the race victory at Silverstone. At the time he held an 8-point lead in the title race. It’s fair to say the last 12 months have not been his finest.

Let’s take nothing aware from Lewis Hamilton though, he deserved to win on Sunday, and it meant a lot. Hamilton said afterwards: “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today in front of my home crowd. There’s so many British flags out there and every year I see it and you think you get used to it but it feels like the first time.”

It would be amiss of us not to mention Carlos Sainz (sixth), Daniel Ricciardo (seventh), Kimi Raikkonen (eighth) and Daniil Kvyat (ninth). All drove excellent races, finishing in close to each other and scoring valuable points. The same cannot be said for Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean. Gunther Steiner was less than impressed with the pair saying: “It was a very disappointing race for us… The best that our drivers could bring to the battle was a shovel – to dig the hole we’re in even deeper. We need to go back, regroup, and see what we do in future.”

Haas won’t have long to regroup as Hockenheim is next up. That track should play to Ferrari’s strengths but given the form they are in you can’t bet against Mercedes notching up another victory in two weeks’ time.

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2019 Austrian Grand Prix Blog

What a difference a week makes. The French GP was, to put it politely, not the most exciting Grand Prix we have ever witnessed. This weekend the F1 roadshow moved onto the Austrian mountains and we were treated to the best race of the season so far. That’s sport for you…

What made the Austrian Grand Prix so good? Qualifying was genuinely close. For the past few events one got the impression Mercedes could turn up the heat when they needed and that they were quite comfortable. Not at Spielberg! In the end none of the drivers had an answer to Charles Leclerc’s 1:03.003. Lewis Hamilton did well to snatch second spot from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the dying seconds, but he was subsequently demoted to fourth when he was deemed to have impeded Kimi Raikkonen. His teammate Valterri Bottas therefore took third spot on the grid. And where was Sebastian Vettel? A problem with his air pressure line ruled him out of Q3 and he started ninth on the grid.

So, onto race day and nearly everyone was pleased to see a different order at the front of the grid. At only 21, Leclerc must have felt huge pressure on his shoulders in the build-up, but he didn’t fluff his lines and the Ferrari got off to a flying start. The same can’t be said for Max Verstappen whose anti-stall kicked in as he crawled off the line. Cars swerved round the Red Bull, and audible groans could be heard from the Orange section of the crowd as their hero found himself down in seventh spot at the end of lap one.

The early laps of the race were entertaining as drivers jostled for position. Leclerc held onto first place convincingly but behind him Kimi Raikkonen found himself in forth spot with McLaren’s Lando Norris in fifth. Both drivers did well to defend their positions however in the end the superior speed of Verstappen and Vettel saw them force past the slower cars.

More drama at lap 20 as Mercedes decided to pit second placed Valterri Bottas. Ferrari immediately called in Sebastian Vettel, who was in fourth, to cover the move. The problem? Nobody told the Ferrari mechanics who weren’t ready when Vettel came to a standstill, resulting in a 6.6 second pit stop. Vettel was rightly furious as he re-joined in eighth place. These schoolboy errors need to stop if Ferrari have serious aspirations about regaining the Constructors Title.

The race built to a riveting conclusion as Verstappen began one of his trademark charges. On lap 50 the Dutchman passed Vettel to take third spot, then he passed Valtteri Bottas on lap 56. Now in second place, Verstappen had about 5 seconds to make up on Charles Leclerc and 15 laps to do it. It was edge of seat stuff and by lap 68 the Red Bull had caught the Ferrari, they jostled for a lap or so with Leclerc defending brilliantly, but on the following lap Verstappen forced his way past at turn 4. The Red Bull went on to claim victory amid wild celebrations from fans, the team, and Honda for whom it was a first race win since 2006!

Verstappen said afterwards: “Wow! After that start I thought the race was over but we just kept pushing hard, I was quite quick so the pace was actually not too bad but I had quite a bad flat spot on my first tyre, and then after the pit stop we were flying… Of course extremely happy for the whole team and also for Honda – we just started working together this year but to win here is incredible.”

Was his overtake on Charles Leclerc unfair? The stewards looked long and hard, deliberating for over 2 hours, before ruling that the coming together of the two cars was a racing incident and didn’t deserve a penalty. We’re not completely sure on this, but if Verstappen hadn’t passed where he did, the Red Bull would surely have overtaken the Ferrari before the end of the race. It was rough on Leclerc, who could do nothing more, but the right result.

Silverstone is up next, which is always a highlight. Let’s hope Red Bull and Ferrari can keep the pressure on Mercedes and for another race like this one.

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com