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 firstname.lastname@example.org.