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.

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Blog

Let’s start with the good things that came out of last weekend. Sergio Perez qualified on pole, the first of his career, with what was possibly his best-ever lap. Perez said afterwards: “I could do another 1,000 laps and I could never beat this lap time.” The race on Sunday was also a highly entertaining affair, which showcased ‘cat and mouse’ racing at its best.

Sadly though, the Grand Prix was overshadowed by a missile attack on an oil storage facility less than 10 miles from Jeddah Corniche Circuit during Friday’s Practice. At one stage it looked as if the drivers would boycott, but, following a four-hour consultation on Friday night they were persuaded to continue with the event. Even so, there has been a lot of negativity surrounding this race. F1 must now surely consider whether or not they should return to Saudi Arabia in 2023.

Right, politics over, let’s get back to the racing. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc stole the show. The Red Bull driver finally emerged on top, but it was very close! An interesting dimension which has emerged this year is we are seeing drivers manipulating their laps to try and take advantage of the DRS zones. Jeddah Corniche Circuit lends itself well to this and we saw drivers deliberately slowing down to try and not to be first going into the final corner, so they could take advantage of the DRS speed boost and overtake down the home straight. The purists amongst you may disagree but grandstand finishes like we saw on Sunday must help the overall appeal of the sport.

Verstappen was pleased with his performance anyway, saying after the race: “It was a tough and crazy race today. I had a lot of fun battling with Charles again, I really enjoyed it and it’s not easy to get past him, patience is always key, especially if you want to fight for the Championship.”

It was not all good news for Red Bull though and the hard luck story of the weekend must surely be Sergio Perez. Checo got the perfect start and was comfortably leading until the first round of pit stops. Ferrari seemed to have no answers and Red Bull, confident in the undercut strategy, pitted Perez first. With instructions to do the opposite, Charles Leclerc stayed out. There’s nothing wrong with any of that but during the interim Nicholas Latifi put his Williams into the wall at the final corner, bringing out the Safety Car…

As is often the case, this prompted a full round of pit stops. Ferrari must have been rubbing their hands together because Leclerc could pit without jeopardising his position and re-join as race leader. Hard to take for Perez, who saw his chances of winning snatched away in the blink of an eye. The Mexican was a little bit despondent, saying: “I think sometimes when you don’t have the right luck you cannot win the race, especially on crazy tracks like this, it knocks you down. I think I dominated the first stint and I was comfortably in the lead and had the race under control but unfortunately that wasn’t enough.”

George Russell delivered the best result Mercedes could have hoped for with a fifth-place finish. He should be pleased with his performance, but this is not where the 2021 Constructors Champions want, or thought, they would be. The truth, from what we’ve seen so far, is they can’t match Red Bull or Ferrari for pace. Toto Wolff described his team’s performance as an ‘exercise in humility’. With Lewis Hamilton qualifying P16, and finishing the race in P10, it was exactly that. Hamilton himself said: “Balance-wise, the car felt good, but just not fast enough.”

Alpine should be commended for livening up the early part of the race by allowing their drivers to fiercely race each other over the course of several laps. For neutral fans, it was exciting to watch and there seems to be no love lost between Alonso and Ocon. In the end, Fernando gained the upper hand and the team sensibly told them to hold their positions.

Otmar Szafnauer said of his drivers’ rivalry: “It’s what the fans want to see. And we told them at the beginning, we’ll allow them to race” However he also quantified that with: “We were losing a little bit more time than anticipated.” Reading between the lines, this may be the last time we see quite such an extended battle between two teammates.

One thing Alpine can be pleased with though is their cars performance. Alonso was having a great race until technical problems forced his retirement on lap 38. Ocon drove well too and brought his car home in P6. He said afterwards: “It’s some good points scored again for us and I’m happy overall with my race. The fight with Fernando was enjoyable. It was hard, fair, wheel to wheel racing, which reminded me of the karting days.”

We were critical of McLaren in last week’s blog. Their car is still not where they want it to be but looked better than in Bahrain. Lando Norris finishing in P7 is testimony to this. Andreas Seidl was concise in his summary, saying: “P7 today. Six points. We’ll take that.”

Aston Martin are another team who have not had the start to 2022 they wanted. Unlike McLaren though, there were no signs of improvement. We should point out that only 13 cars completed the race in Jeddah. Nico Hulkenberg was P12 and Lance Stroll P13… Mike Krack acknowledged their shortcomings, saying: “We will travel back to Silverstone, where we will work hard to improve our car for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.”

On the subject of Melbourne, the team at Edge are excited that F1 is heading back ’down under’. We’ll be there for our first live race of season, and it will be a pleasure to welcome guests back to a racetrack for what promises to be a fantastic event.

Tickets for the AusGP sold out quite some time ago, but we still have a good level of access for the majority of races on the 2022 calendar. If you would like to join us at any Grand Prix, please call +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email f1@edgeglobalevents.com.