2022 Austrian Grand Prix Blog

Who is the unluckiest man in F1 so far this season? Few would argue that Charles Leclerc tops the list. Prior to Austria, Leclerc has lost a winning position four times out of the previous five races (all through no fault of his own). In the fifth race, the Canadian GP, Leclerc started at the back of the grid (again due to engine problems).

The Monegasque driver would be forgiven for thinking it was not going to happen for him this year, but the stars aligned at Spielberg and he came home with a dominant and much needed victory. But even the final few laps of this race caused undue worry for the Scuderia. A sticking throttle on Leclerc’s car allowed Max Verstappen to close the gap and put pressure on, when up until that point the Red Bull looked soundly beaten. That’s the thing about Ferrari isn’t it? They have a very quick car, but reliability and/or strategy calls are becoming a concern at every race.

Credit where it’s due though, Leclerc put in a sterling display and absolutely deserved this victory. He said afterwards: “Every win is special, but this one feels just amazing. The last 15 laps were on the limit with the issue we had, but we brought it home.”

The powers that be at Marenello must still be scratching their heads though, not least because of Carlos Sainz’ dramatic retirement from the race with his car bursting into a ball of flames. The Spaniard was as perplexed as anyone in his race summary, saying: “It’s difficult to find the right words today, as it was clear that a one-two was pretty straightforward… The car felt really good on track until we obviously had the issue and we had to retire.”

Red Bull had a quiet race (for them), which was not helped by Sergio Perez’ retirement following a collision with George Russell on lap 1. Try as he might, Checo’s car sustained too much damage for him to be competitive. Max Verstappen would surely have been giving it his all with thousands of his fans packed into the circuit, but he was never able to mount a serious challenge to Leclerc and he had to settle for second place. Verstappen was honest with his race assessment, he said: “We were just a bit too slow today, we were doing the best we could with the strategy but the Ferraris were extremely fast.”

Step by step, Mercedes have been creeping back to where they believe they should be. It was a disastrous start to the weekend for the Silver Arrows in Austria, with both cars sustaining heavy damage during Qualifying. They persevered though and can be proud of their points haul from the weekend. Andrew Shovlin summed up the teams’ feelings, commenting: “It’s been a very tough weekend in the garage but very satisfying to come away with third and fourth positions.”

Haas seem to be consistently punching above their weight these days and the same was true at Red Bull Ring. Few would have predicted a P6 finish for Mick Schumacher with Kevin Magnussen not far behind in P8. This was an amazing effort and even had Gunther Steiner smiling. He said afterwards: “A fantastic result for the team today with a double-points finish and back in P7 in the championship. There was one little issue with Kevin’s engine, but everything went as perfect as it can be. Thanks to the whole team for a big effort.”

The pecking order between the middle order teams will have taken a few people by surprise this year. Alfa Romeo started strongly but had a disappointing weekend. They have lost ground on McLaren and Alpine. The pressure is now mounting on Alfa with Haas now only 17 points behind. Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin will be looking to have their say too and we anticipate some stellar racing as we near the halfway point of the season.

Next up on the F1 roadshow is France. Le Castellet is renowned for being long, hot and unforgiving. In theory this is a track which should play to Ferrari’s strengths, but will they suffer more reliability issues? If you would like to join us at a race later this year, please call +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email f1@edgeglobalevents.com.

2022 British Grand Prix Blog

It’s been a while since we wrote a blog. The team here have been busy with F1 Races have been coming thick and fast with perhaps the biggest of them all taking place at Silverstone. More than 400,000 fans visited the Northamptonshire circuit over the course of the weekend and this year’s renewal certainly wasn’t short on drama. Track invasions, strategy dilemmas, wheel to wheel action, sun, wind, rain… the British Grand Prix had them all.

All this pales into insignificance though when you watch the reply of Zhou Guanyu’s crash at the start of the race. Zhou’s Alfa Romeo was flipped upside down, sliding across the gravel before vaulting the barriers at the first corner. It is a miracle he was freed from the car and declared uninjured shortly afterwards. Further proof, if any were needed, as to the value of the halo device.

The start of the Grand Prix was carnage. Alex Albon got flown to hospital for checks after his Williams was shunted into the wall of the pit lane by Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin. George Russell and Pierre Gasly also collided, which is what triggered Zhou’s accident as Russell’s Mercedes span into the side of him.

The race was delayed by an hour to sort out the considerable amount of damage but there was one positive note from all of this – a track invasion by environmental protesters who sat themselves down on the Wellington straight had minimal impact because the race had already been red flagged. Six people have subsequently been charged. Good, is what we say.

Eventually the race got restarted and it transpired that Max Verstappen was struggling, the floor of his Red Bull having sustained damage by running over debris on track. This was a gilt-edged opportunity for Charles Leclerc to close the gap then? Wrong! It seems like nearly every race now we see a questionable strategy call from Ferrari. Towards the end of the race Leclerc was leading and pulling clear of teammate, Carlos Sainz. Victory for looked a formality until a late safety car… and Ferrari opted to leave Leclerc out on used hard tyres whilst they pitted Sainz for softs.

The other leading drivers also took the opportunity to stop, including the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Leclerc’s response when he learned the news was ominous. He simply said: “That will be hard.” It was made harder still by Carlos Sainz, who refused Ferrari’s request to give his teammate extra space at the restart. Instead, the Spaniard choose to overtake on the run down Wellington straight and into Brooklands.

What followed was a frenetic final few laps and a treat for the fans. Leclerc should be commended in how he defended first against Sergio Perez and then against Lewis Hamilton but in the end his tyres simply weren’t up to the job. He finished a credible fourth place but must have been seething on the inside.

Many congratulations though to Carlos Sainz on his maiden F1 victory, he deserves it. But perhaps the biggest cheer came when Lewis Hamilton took the final place on the podium. 142,000, mainly British fans we delighted with that result. Lewis equally thrilled, saying: “I gave it everything today! I was chasing, trying to get those Ferraris, but congratulations to Carlos. They were just too quick today for us.”

Ferrari may be very quick, but this hasn’t manifested itself into points scored and they are currently 63 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors standings. Mattia Binotto did acknowledge their mistake this time, saying: “It’s a shame we scored fewer points than we could have done with Charles who, when the Safety Car came out, was comfortably in the lead. Pitting Charles at that moment, which would have put him behind Hamilton, who at that point would have stayed out on fresh Hard tyres, did not seem the right choice, so we therefore decided to leave him out on track.”

Mick Schumacher has come under a fair amount of criticism this year but he drove a great race here, bringing his Haas home in 8th place, particularly given the fact that he started down in P19. Kevin Magnussen put in a decent shift too. Well done to all the team at Haas, a double points finish is a fantastic result.

We’ll end with the best news of the weekend though and the words of Zhou Guanyu, who said: “The Halo saved me today, and it goes to show that every step we take in improving our cars has real, valuable results. I’m keener than ever to get back on track and do what I love: I’m fit and I’m looking forward to Austria next week.”

The F1 season continues at pace with a further three races over the next four weekends before the summer break. If you would like to join us at a race later this year, please call +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email f1@edgeglobalevents.com.

2022 Monaco Grand Prix Blog

It was great to be back in Monaco with capacity crowds for the weekend. The 2022 renewal was a complete sell out and the Principality was buzzing. This may be as much to do with two years of covid and lockdowns as anything else, but it really did feel like people were finally free to celebrate and enjoy themselves. The parties on the yachts and at La Rascasse went on long into the night…

Let’s get to the action on track and everyone was excited for Qualifying. Charles Leclerc fans were packed in everywhere around the tight circuit and their local hero did not let them down, recording a time of 1:11.376 on Saturday to take pole position. Ferrari looked firmly in control as Carlos Sainz filled 2nd spot. A 1-2 grid position in Monaco and you are pretty much guaranteed to win the race aren’t you?

Wrong! A torrential downpour on Sunday delayed the start of the race by 15 minutes. The teams were not helped at this time by some confusing messages from race control. But even so the two Ferrari’s still got away in the lead, and as the track dried Leclerc started to put distance between himself and the chasing pack. It looked like there could only be one winner.

Tactical mistakes by Ferrari are not a new phenomenon though and, on this occasion, it cost them the race. The teams know it is pretty much impossible to overtake in Monaco. Therefore, the sensible play for anyone in Ferrari’s position would have been to stick with extreme wet tyres until it was time to switch to slicks. What happened in practice was Red Bull started to put pressure on when they pitted Perez for Intermediate tyres. Checo set some impressive lap times and it seems Ferrari panicked and pitted Leclerc two laps later. The problem with this is they were too late! Leclerc emerged from the pit lane behind the Red Bull.

What about Carlos Sainz? The Spaniard was now leading the race and, with a different race strategy to his teammate, looked to have an excellent chance of taking the chequered flag. This time simple bad luck was Ferrari’s undoing. Sainz pitted for slick tyres five laps after Perez had opted for inters but he re-joined the race behind Nicholas Latifi, who slowed the Ferrari down to the tune of 1.5 seconds before Sainz could get past. Fine margins are what can win and lose a race, and so it proved on this occasion because when Perez stopped again on the next lap, he came out of the pits leading the race by just 0.8 seconds.

And that was pretty much that. Try as they might, Ferrari could not regain the lead and the race finished: 1) Perez; 2) Sainz; 3) Verstappen; 4) Leclerc, with a gap back to George Russell (P5) and Lando Norris (P6).

Leclerc was blunt when asked to summarise his team’s performance: “Let down is not the word,” he said. “Sometimes mistakes can happen – but there have been too many mistakes today. I’m used to getting back home disappointed but we cannot do that, especially in a moment now where we are extremely strong… We cannot afford to lose so many points like this. It’s not even from first to second, it’s from first to fourth because after the first mistakes we’ve done another one.”

One man’s loss is another man’s gain though and nobody (aside from Ferrari) would begrudge Perez’s victory. The Mexican was understandably delighted, saying: “Once I heard my national anthem on the podium here it hit me, it is a dream come true for any driver in the world to tick that box in Monaco and I can just be extremely happy.”

Mercedes had another lacklustre weekend. Perhaps it was sour grapes, but Toto Wolff was less than complimentary about how the race panned out. He said afterwards: “That was the usual chaotic race in Monaco – and once again, a lesson that we need to look at this circuit layout, so people can’t drive round five seconds off the pace in a procession.” He has a point but with the size of modern F1 cars it is difficult to imagine where more overtaking opportunities could be implemented.

This was a race to forget for Haas. Kevin Magnussen retired early with a PU issue. Worse was to come though when Mich Schumacher crashed at the Swimming Pool complex. The German’s car was torn in half and it was a relief for everyone to see him walk away. Schumacher said afterwards: “I’m feeling alright, it’s very annoying. In terms of pace, we were definitely there and it’s just a matter of keeping it on track – unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that. The pace felt strong and it felt like we were able to attack and push. Unfortunately, I went a bit too wide, probably about 10cm at the end, and that’s enough to lose all grip that you thought you had and the result is what happened.” If anyone needed it, this is a perfect reminder of how tight Monaco circuit is and the level of concentration required from the drivers over the course of 78 laps.

Finally, Fernando Alonso deserves credit for driving a solid race which saw his Alpine come home in seventh place. He said of his performance: “It was a very difficult race today with the conditions, so we can be pleased with a seventh-place finish and more points added to the championship.” Fernando has had a quiet start to the season, but he utilised all his experience to finish where he did.

We have a double header of races coming up with first Azerbaijan and then the Canadian Grand Prix. These are two notoriously tough circuits, and at a distance of 8,924km apart, there will be little rest bite for the teams.

The race in Montreal has proved particularly popular this year and the team at Edge are looking forward to welcoming our guests in Canada. If you would like to join us at a race later this year, please call +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email f1@edgeglobalevents.com.

2022 Miami Grand Prix Blog

The Miami International Autodrome hosted its inaugural Grand Prix over the weekend and there was no mistaking whereabouts in the world we were. From Martin Brundle’s hilarious grid walk to the police escort which lead the drivers on a 10-minute journey to the podium ceremony. This race had an unmistakably American feel about it.

The jury is out as to whether these changes were an improvement but, in front of a sell-out crowd and with millions more tuning in from around the globe, right now F1 is the hottest sport on the planet. And that is exactly where owners Liberty Media want it to be.

Let’s focus on the Grand Prix itself. Red Bull will be most pleased with the outcome as Max Verstappen fended off a late challenge from title rival Charles Leclerc to take victory in the race. Qualifying ended with a Ferrari front row lock out, and the Dutchman showed tremendous resilience to pass both of the red cars and then doggedly hold his position until the chequered flag. “I think I need a drink, and I think you also need a drink,” Verstappen said over the radio as he crossed the line. It turned out he meant this literally and Max looked exhausted from what must have been a physically gruelling race for all the drivers.

Ferrari will come away from the weekend scratching their heads a little bit. They hold a 6-point lead in the Constructors Standings but there is mounting evidence that Red Bull have the faster race car. “Yes, I’m disappointed,” said Leclerc after the race. “We are very strong in terms of tyre warm up so at the beginning of every run we are strong. But after four, five laps they [Red Bull] seem to stabilise the tyres in a better window and there they are just quicker than us and it’s very difficult for us to do anything.”

If Ferrari are scratching their heads a little, then Mercedes must be scratching theirs a lot. George Russell outscored his teammate Lewis Hamilton again, but the Silver Arrows will be disappointed with how their weekend played out. Russell summed things up, saying: “I think it is mixed feelings to be honest because based on where we were yesterday it is a good result… But if you had told me after Friday we would finish P5 and P6 that far behind P1 I would have been disappointed so we have a fast race car in there we just don’t have the key to unlock the performance.”

As a side note, are cracks starting to appear in Lewis Hamilton’s relationship with Mercedes? During the race the team told him to decide his own pit stop strategy. Hamilton was evidently less than impressed at being asked to do this and said in his post-race interview:

“In that scenario I have no clue where everyone is so when the team say it’s your choice, I don’t have the information to make the decision… “That’s what your job is, make the decision for me. You have all the details. I don’t!”

One man who is showing no signs of pressure is Valtteri Bottas. The Finn was punching above his weight all weekend. Having Qualified in P5, Bottas looked set to finish the race in the same position until he brushed a wall in the closing stages, a mistake which allowed the two Mercedes to get past him. Nonetheless, Bottas was pleased with performance, saying:  ”The race pace was very close to Mercedes so it is good to see that we can really fight with them. It’s a shame we didn’t get P5 but, still, P7 is good.”

As with any new track, there were a lot of unknowns going into this Grand Prix, which presented an opportunity for the smaller teams to score points. Step forward Alex Albon (P9) and Lance Stroll (P10). Both drove excellent races. Albon gave one of the strangest explanations we’ve heard for his improved performance and suggested it was linked to his bright red hair, saying: “I got it dyed before Melbourne and we finished 10th. Then, as the dye faded away, we finished 11th in Imola. So, it started to affect the performance, so we re-dyed it, hoping for more points.”

We’re pretty sure the two aren’t linked, but if he keeps finishing in the points then the red dye is sure to stay.

Spain is the next stop on the F1 roadshow and Circuit de Catalunya is a track that the teams maybe know better than any other. It will be interesting to see how this translates into performance. Ferrari could ace Qualifying again but will they be able to hold Red Bull off during the race?

We’ll be there to find out and are looking forward to welcoming all our guests in Barcelona. If you would like to join us at a race later this year, please call +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email f1@edgeglobalevents.com.