|F1 2022 Austria GP| race analysis:
Leclerc phenomenon, wins with open throttle: “I was afraid”
Race results. Austria GP F1 2022.
Leclerc: “Incredibly difficult final, but winning was necessary”
Charles Leclerc took his third win of the season at the Red Bull Ring, breaking an abstinence that lasted from the Australian GP on 10 April. For Ferrari it is the second consecutive victory after the one taken by Sainz seven days ago at Silverstone. In second place was Max Verstappen, who despite a virtual Safety Car and some problems in the final race for Leclerc was unable to mend the gap with the Monegasque. Third place instead for Lewis Hamilton, author of an extremely constant race and able to collect the third consecutive podium after Montreal and Silverstone. The first three at the finish were interviewed, here are their words:
“Today was a great race. The pace was there at the beginning, we had a good fight with Max. In the end it was incredibly difficult because I had a problem with the accelerator. It crashed at low speed at 20-30%. It was complicated, but I managed to get the car to the finish line and I’m very happy. Sainz Problems? Yes, I started having it at the same time, so I certainly had in mind what happened to him. I knew it wasn’t an engine problem, it was the pedal itself that gave me bizarre sensations. Before I couldn’t get it up, then it didn’t go back to zero. But luckily I was able to carry it until the end of the race. Fight for the title? It was a necessary victory, the last few races had been extremely difficult for me and for the team. To be able to show that the car has the pace and that we can win was incredible. We have to keep pushing until the end ”.
“Complicated day. We immediately started to suffer with the tires and this happened with every compound. Too much degradation to be able to attack Charles, but he is still good 2nd place. Positive result on a difficult day. Fans? Their orange smoke didn’t distract me. It is a beautiful color and I don’t mind driving through this scenario. Seeing so many fans here in Austria is great. Unfortunately I was unable to deliver a win today, but second place is a decent result. We’ve been fighting with Charles all year, it’s great to see these battles. “
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“Incredible audience this weekend. Yesterday I didn’t expect to be able to go to the podium, it was a pretty tough weekend for us. But I’m grateful because as a team we took home a third and fourth place, so many points. Now let’s look ahead and keep growing. Thanks to the boys and girls in the garage who worked to rebuild my car after Friday. I had a brand new car on Saturday morning. Unfortunately they couldn’t rest and I want to thank them for doing this job. We must keep alert “.
Leclerc: “It seemed that everything was against me”
A cure-all victory for Charles Leclerc in Austria. Not only for the result, which in itself alleviates the sporting suffering of the last five races, but also for the way: at home at Red Bull, the Ferrari driver dominated Max Verstappen, overcoming him three times (on two occasions facilitated from a more performing tire). Not even this victory came without thrills, given the throttle blocked in the final laps, but for a few hours Leclerc doesn’t want to hear about reliability and just wants to enjoy the moment.
“I definitely needed it. I mean, of course every time I get to a new race I smile and still be optimistic, but there have been only complicated grand prixes and it seemed like everything was against me. In the end, however, we had a good race and I feel really good about having won again. We had a great pace and I can’t fully explain the difference compared to yesterday, it was a surprise. Saturday night we only worked on my guide, ”Leclerc said at the press conference. When our Carlo Platella specifically asked what changes Ferrari made from Melbourne onwards, the Monegasque gave an interesting answer, stating that the Red, despite the problems, has almost never been inferior to Red Bull: “We have implemented a package of updates in Barcelona, then we brought others to Silverstone and everything always went in the right direction. I think the performances have been excellent from Australia onwards. Apart from maybe Miami, where we have been a bit lower than Red Bull, in the last five races we have been strong but we have not been able to put it all together. “
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Race results – after the race: Austria GP F1 2022
Accelerator Leclerc, Binotto: “Mechanical problem”
Mattia Binotto from an initial analysis of the problem that occurred on Ferrari F1-75 number # 16 stated that: “The first analysis reveals a mechanical problem, not an electronic one”, the words of the team principal of the Scuderia di Maranello reported by the German newspaper Auto Motor und Sport. A problem that, fortunately, did not prevent Charles Leclerc from taking his third win of the season after five races without podiums, a real liberation that further raises morale in view of the last two races before the summer break, races in which to go on the attack. in the hope that reliability will not return to presenting the ‘bill’ to Ferrari.
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Leclerc telemetry: the accelerator data in the last laps
The problem described in the radio teams is quite clear: the accelerator did not return to zero once the driver released the pedal and this brought with it a series of additional problems. The first, evident, is that the car under braking did not work as it should, with therefore a greater braking distance and a greater load on the brakes themselves, forced to fight with the Power Unit that tried, even if at low revs, to push. however the car forward. During the cornering phase, the rear of the car did not “neutralize” once the gas had been discharged, but somehow continued to remain more charged, forcing the Monegasque to somehow contain the oversteer of his F1-75. In addition, the electronic system of the car, when Leclerc was downshifting, refused the change to the driver, as he read a value of accelerator pressed too high, which would have jeopardized the synchronization system, the clutch and the integrity of the gearbox itself, for which the driver was forced to insist on the gear lever and at the same time to “play” with his feet in an attempt to get the gears to enter. These problems were obviously much more evident in the initial phase of the lap, as it included the slowest corners of the track and therefore those where the effects of the partial failure were more impactful.
However, Leclerc managed to control the situation in the final laps, even making his fastest lap of the race with 10 laps to go. We took a look at the Monegasque’s data to get a better idea of what was happening to his F1-75 and how the driver was trying to remedy it.
We have lap 16 of the race at the top, a lap taken under absolutely normal conditions, in which we see how Leclerc totally lifts his foot from the gas at turn 1, turn 3 and turn 4, and partially raises it in the following ones (as is customary of his driving style). Even in these last phases of the lap, the trend of the figure is still very linear. In the lower part of the graph we have the last 3 laps of the race where we see the difference. First of all we see how the minimum is no longer at 0 but around 18% of the gas, however not uniformly. In the second part of the lap Leclerc still does not completely lift his foot from the accelerator, but in the last corner, which is also very complicated due to the track limits issue, the pedal still does not drop below 18%. If lap 69 does not actually seem too dramatic, with a light car that also helped Leclerc to drive with a more qualifying style, keeping the gas pressed for more traction response, in the data of the last 2 we see the problem emerge in a way important, as well as Leclerc’s attempts to stem it. The trend of the data at turn 3 in fact becomes highly irregular on lap 70 and the impression is that with his foot the Monegasque was somehow trying to pull up the pedal forcibly to lighten the gas. The fact that when physically pulling up the pedal the motor responded correctly indicates that there was no electronic problem but a physical problem with the position of the pedal. It would have been interesting to have last Sunday’s “pedal cam” because we would have probably seen Leclerc’s right foot making strange movements in order to raise the gas pedal while his left foot pressed hard on the brake. On the penultimate lap we see what happens at Turn 3, Turn 4 and Turn 9, indicating a problem that appeared to be getting worse and that in any case seemed to appear irregularly and unpredictably, becoming an unknown in every braking. On the last lap, below, we see this happening mainly at turn 3, with a highly irregular trend. In the next corner, 4 everything seems incredibly smooth and in the rest of the lap you can see how Leclerc literally stops pushing, keeping a large margin to avoid problems at the very end, so much so that in the last passage Verstappen will gain almost a second on him.
Verstappen consoles himself with Sainz’s retirement: “Better second than third”
As a true world champion in the last two years, Max Verstappen has repeatedly proven that he has learned a fundamental lesson for every driver who wants to fight consistently at the top of Formula 1: knowing how to maximize the result and – above all – knowing how to limit damage. This is what the Red Bull standard bearer did in the Austrian GP, his favorite hunting ground in the past, which turned into a tough beast to tame in Sunday’s race. Milton Keynes’s # 1 lost just five points to Charles Leclerc in a weekend in which the Ferrari seemed overall faster and more incisive than the RB18. The Hasselt native also had luck on his side, with the retirement of Carlos Sainz who took a possible double win from the hands of the Maranello team.
By radio, at the end of the Grand Prix, Verstappen had no problem admitting with his team that the Spaniard would probably have been able to pass him without too much difficulty on the track, exactly as he did on three occasions with Charles Leclerc. Again via radio, the reigning champion also confirmed to his team principal, Christian Horner, the enormous problems of degradation he had in the first half of the race, especially in the first stint with medium tires. Tire management was the main weapon with which Ferrari managed to defeat Red Bull on the home track of the Milton Keynes team.
The Dutchman believes that Brackley will soon compete for victories with Red Bull and Ferrari:
“They have improved compared to the beginning of the year, but they need something more. They are not bad on a single lap, but in Sunday’s race we saw that we also took off against them. I think a lot depends on the circuit, because at Silverstone they were very fast in the race. The same goes for us and for Ferrari. It’s the details that can make the difference in the end “, these are Verstappen’s words to ServusTV. The Dutchman also returned to the rivalry with Hamilton, explaining in detail the nature of their confrontation last year and when the two will be able to fight for the big target again: “We have a lot of respect for each other. If any of us have a great race, we will tell each other without problems. Last year the conflict was not so much between the drivers, but more between the teams. At the moment, of course, we are not in a fight with Mercedes. But I think it will be different if we fight again. Who knows, maybe at the end of the season it will happen “.
Sainz and the flames on the F1-75: “Rescue too slow”
The most iconic image of the Austrian GP weekend was certainly the one that saw Carlos Sainz as protagonist – despite himself – in the final part of Sunday’s race. The Spanish Ferrari driver was in fact the victim of a spectacular and dangerous breakdown of his power unit a few laps from the end of the race, while he was trying to attack Max Verstappen’s Red Bull on the track for second position. The F1-75 # 55 first showed an eloquent white smoke from its rear and then, as Sainz diligently took the escape route to park, the flames set in.
At first the situation seemed under control, with Sainz getting ready to get out of the car, but soon we realized a problem: since the escape route was sloping, in fact, the intervention of the stewards was needed to lock the car and allow the person from Madrid to get off safely. However, despite Sainz’s repeated hints, the marshals to work with fire extinguishers took a long time. The driver of the red car tried in every way to stop his car from the cockpit, to prevent it from slipping dangerously back towards the track, but in the end he had to jump from the vehicle already given the size that the fire was reaching behind him.
After the race, the winner of the British GP shared his feelings with reporters, underlining how – in his opinion – in similar situations a more timely intervention by the security men is necessary. “It was not an easy situation, because I saw in the mirrors that the car was catching fire – explained Sainz, at the second seasonal retirement caused by problems with his Ferrari – at the same time, however, I was pressing the brake and did not want to leave the car completely free, out of control, going backwards as I jumped out. I called the stewards to help me put something on the tires, to prevent the car from rolling down – added the former McLaren driver – but I think the whole process was a bit slow. There was so much fire that I had to get a move on and jump out on my own. It is certainly an aspect that we need to analyze, to understand what we could have done faster, because it was not an easy situation to find ourselves in ”.