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.

2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Blog

Excitement reached fever pitch in Italy last week. On all known evidence, Ferrari have the best car this season and they looked set to claim a historic victory in front of home fans at Imola.

That was the plan anyway…

Perhaps it was the weather which conspired against them but after a dramatic wet-dry Qualifying session on Friday, it was Max Verstappen’s Red Bull that topped the leader board. Saturday saw the first of this season’s ‘Sprint Races’ and in much improved conditions the tifosi were cheering when the Dutchman lost the lead to Charles Leclerc after a poor start. Their joy was short lived however, as Verstappen swept past the Ferrari again on the penultimate lap to claim a well-deserved victory.

The Scuderia must already have had niggling doubts going into Sunday’s Grand Prix, and in wet conditions their race got off to the worst possible start. Daniel Ricciardo tagged Carlos Sainz and sent him spinning into a gravel trap on the first lap. The Spaniard is surely the unluckiest driver in F1 so far this season. In the past two races he has completed a total of just three laps.

With his teammate out of the race there was even more pressure on Leclerc, but the simple fact is, Red Bull had the better package. They took full advantage of this with Verstappen first, Perez second, and the fastest lap to boot. Max was clearly thrilled with his team’s progress, saying: “To have a weekend like this for both of us with a one-two for the Team is just incredible. It was a very lovely Sunday!”

McLaren had a lovely Sunday too! Lando Norris drove a solitary race but steered his MCL36 home in third spot to take the final place on the podium. This is a massive improvement on what we saw early in the season. Well done to all concerned.

What happened to Leclerc? He should, unquestionably, have finished in third place but lost control of his car at the Variante Alta chicane whilst trying to put pressure on second placed Sergio Perez. The Ferrari spun and sustained front wing damage, forcing a pit stop. Leclerc re-joined the race in P9 and whilst he was able to climb back up to P6 come the chequered flag, this was a case of seven points thrown away. In his post-race analysis, the Monegasque driver admitted he was: “disappointed in myself” before adding: “I tried too much. On that lap, I obviously wanted to give it all but I gave too much and finished into the wall.”

So, a bad weekend for the team in Red, but that was nothing compared to the position that the Silver Arrows find themselves in. Lewis Hamilton was lapped by Max Verstappen during Sunday’s Grand Prix. A scenario which would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Hamilton didn’t hold back, saying the race result: “shows how wrong” Mercedes have got it with their 2022 car.

Despite this, Hamilton’s teammate George Russell, put in a decent shift to bring his car home in fifth place. Russell was pleased, and said: “It was a strong race in terms of maximising our potential points today, the car felt good but we’re just lacking downforce because we can’t get the car to run close to the ground.”

Running close to the ground is their aim but “porpoising” is the reality that the Mercedes team are faced with. This bouncing phenomenon is becoming a serious concern, so much so that Russell admitted he has been struggling with back and chest pains post-race.

We are only four races into a twenty-three-race season and a solution must be found quickly. F1 drivers are a tough breed but nobody should be asked to put their health on the line in the name of sport.

Valtteri Bottas is not a vindictive character but Mercedes performance at Emilia Romagna must surely have put a smile on his face. The Finn had a stellar weekend and brought his Alfa Romeo home in fifth place. A hugely valuable points haul for the team and, but for a slow pit stop, he would have most likely have finished ahead of his Mercedes replacement, George Russell. It seems Bottas had a case of tunnel vision, saying afterwards: “Mercedes and George, that was my motivation throughout the race, to push every lap and to hopefully get a chance towards the end. I just couldn’t quite get him but maybe next time.”

Alfa Romeo currently sit fifth in the Constructors Championship with 25 points. Mercedes are clear of them at the moment with 77 points but unless they find significant improvement soon, there is a real chance that gap could close.

Next up, the F1 roadshow rolls into Miami. The team at Edge are hugely excited about this race. We can’t wait to welcome our guests here for what will surely be one of the flagship events on the calendar. 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 Australian Grand Prix Blog

Our very own Tim Chambers was hosting in Melbourne this year. This is the first time that Tim has been able to return to his homeland since before the pandemic, and what an occasion it was! 419,114 fans entered the gates at Albert Park over the course of the weekend, eclipsing the previous record attendance of 401,000 (set way back in 1996 at the first F1 event ever held in Melbourne).

It’s clear to see the Aussie’s still love their motorsport and fans were treated to a thrilling Grand Prix with two safety cars and plenty of overtaking throughout the field. But what’s even clearer is that Ferrari are a force to be reckoned with this season. Charles Leclerc took a dominant victory in the race and is already 38 points of his nearest rival in the Drivers’ standings.

By their own admission, Mercedes have had a troubled start to the season, and so it’s remarkable that George Russell is Leclerc’s closest pursuer. This tells its own story because a technical failure caused Max Verstappen’s race to end early. Two DNFs in three races is not what anyone needs when they are trying to defend a Drivers’ title. The point was not lost on Verstappen who said afterwards: “It’s of course very disappointing to not finish today’s race, I don’t really know what happened to the car yet, we’ll take it back to the factory and regroup. I already knew there was a possibility ahead of the race that we might not finish but I tried not to think about it. This is not what you need when you want to fight for the Championship.”

Verstappen may feel disheartened right now but if Red Bull can get to grips with their reliability issues, then the car should have the pace to challenge. Mercedes are not in such a good position. At the moment they are a distinct third best. Toto Wolff acknowledged their shortcomings, saying: “We are leaving Melbourne in a better state than when we arrived– more lessons learned, more data to analyse and more points on the board. Clearly we haven’t got the pace yet to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull but we know where we need to seek performance.”

We were worried for McLaren after a dismal showing in Bahrain, but they seem much better placed now we are three races in. Lando Norris drove well for a fifth-place finish with his teammate, and local hero, Daniel Ricciardo just behind him in sixth. Albert Park has not been a happy hunting ground for Ricciardo in the past and he summed up his own and McLaren’s feelings by saying: “We leave Melbourne in good spirits, which feels nice as it’s probably been four years since I left here in good spirits.”

The hard luck story of the weekend must go to Fernando Alonso. “I’m speechless” was the Spaniard’s summary of how events panned out to leave him with a 17th place finish. Things started to go wrong during Qualifying. Alonso was on an unbelievably quick lap, and on course to challenge Charles Leclerc for provisional pole, when his Alpine spun at Turn 11. Not Fernando’s fault at all, the car had developed a hydraulic issue. Sunday’s race didn’t go much better. A points finish looked on the cards, but an untimely safety car ruined the team’s hard tyre strategy. To rub salt in the wound, Alonso was then forced to stop again due to tyre blistering and that is what dropped him down to such a lowly finishing position.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain as they say, and it was Valtteri Bottas who was in the thick of things from the word go. The track layout here seems to suit the Finn and he put in some great moves to climb his Alfa Romeo up to an eighth-place finish. Bottas was pleased with his work, saying afterwards: “I really enjoyed the race today, it was a good performance with close racing and battles from beginning to end.”

But the star of the show was Charles Leclerc. Voted ‘Driver of the Day’, and deservedly so, he did not put a foot wrong all weekend. Ferrari seem to have a great package this year, but you need a driver with raw talent and a cool head to translate this into race victories, and that is exactly what they’ve got in the young Monégasque. No doubt Max Verstappen will come back at him strongly in the next few rounds, but Leclerc has the right temperament to deal with such pressure.

Ferrari must be rubbing their hands together with how the first few races have played out. Next stop it’s a home race with a visit to Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Fans from around the globe will be tuning in for another action-packed weekend. Better than watching on TV though is to see it in the flesh. 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.