What did we see during Saturday qualifying?
Mercedes has confirmed itself as the favourite team. The DAS system (explained in this article) has been used also in the so-called phase 2. In fact, the toe was changed also turn by turn in order to get the most appropriate setup also in the slowest sectors of the track. Bottas took the pole position at the expense of Hamilton who was probably influenced by the off-track excursion of his teammate.
Verstappen (Red Bull) showed a very competitive and consistent pace during the free-practises but the gap with Mercedes in Qualifying was about +0.500. The Red Bull driver said that most of the gap was due to a non ideal setup for the fast qualifying lap.
A day to be forgotten for Ferrari, 11th and 7th in the starting grid. Lack of top speed for a car that didn’t manage to close the gap also in the turns. We deeply analysed the performance of the Prancing Horse in this article Why was SF1000 so slow in Austria GP?
Very good improvements from the Renault engine powered McLaren and Renault itself. Their improvements and the step back of Ferrari created a very dense middle-field group where the Scuderia fell into.
Super step forward for the Racing Point, but nothing to be surprised for. In fact, Racing Point is very similar to the 2019 Mercedes (last evolution). Very performing and well-balanced car.
A race in the sign of DNF.
The mechanical failures have deeply changed the history of the Austria GP, the first of the season. All the engine supplier have seen problems except for the Ferrari powered. Mercedes had some critical issues with sensors which have slowed down Bottas and Hamilton. In fact, the two silver arrows driver gained anaverage of +1.000 sec/lap during the first phases of the race.
The performance of Mercedes overwhelmed the other teams till the first safety car. Ferrari didn’t manage to defense itself in the straights making it impossible for the Scuderia to gain position. The only shifts in the classification were related to the electrical problems of Max Verstappen and reliability issues of Lance Stroll. Racing Point showed very strong pace at the beginning of each stint while suffering a bit the tyre decay.
On the contrary, Ferrari had to take a more defensive approach when new tyres where mounted while exploiting most the car in the second half of the stint. This behaviour is a symptom of a balanced car with good downforce (the tyre tends to slip less). On the whole, Mclaren was the car which had the more consistent pace during an entire stint.
Post – race, the drivers.
“Happy to have spun only one time during the race”.
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
“I had a negative weekend”.
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
“Unexpected result. Possible some upgrades in the next GP”.
Mattia Binotto (Ferrari)
“Hamilton should apologize”.
Chris Horner (Red Bull)
The 5-sec penalty to Hamilton (Albon-Hamilton crash).
For sure not the most shining race weekend for L. Hamilton. After the 3-position grid penalty (for not slowing down during the yellow-flag in Quali) also the 5-sec penalty for the crash with Albon. A more focused Bottas has beaten the 6 times world champion, in a circuit not ideal for the English driver. The penalty may appear at the edge: the steering wheel of the Mercedes never changes direction. However, Hamilton may not have left enough space to Albon during his trajectory. Albon, on his side may have accomplished a more “clean” overtake, maybe using a little more the extra curb.
Race results. Our marks to the drivers.
C. Leclerc: He takes the chance when it happens. He literally fabricates awesome overtakes inside a Ferrari that cannot match the top speed of the competitors. Final Mark: 8/10.
L. Hamilton: Not the best Hamilton. He misses the pole position and makes a mistake in the final stage of the race. However, his pace seemed to be a little be better than Bottas in some circumstances. Final Mark: 5.5/10
V. Bottas: very good drive for the entire weekend. He hides untile the qualifying session and he greatly manages the race with 3 safety cars. Final Mark: 8/10. Final Mark: 7.5/10
Norris: He starts 3rd and finish in the podium. Very strong race by the young guy who steals the third place to Hamilton with the fastest lap at the end of the race. Final Mark: 7/10
S. Vettel: Ferrari doesn’t fit his driving style. And we sees it. Stop to spin, please. As seen in recent years, he has difficulties in a race of comeback. Final Mark: 5/10.
S. Perez: he was probably surprised by the speed of his car. Together with the team, they could have grabben even a better place for the potential of the single-seat. Final Mark: 6.5/10.