Round two at Austria – Sensational!

Qualifying:

Jorge Martin (Ducati) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) made the top ten and went through to FP2.

It looked like Quartararo had secured pole but Martin put in an all-time lap record (1:22.643) and stole pole in the last few seconds. Pushing Fabio to 2nd, Franceso Bagnaia (Ducati) went to 3rd and Johann Zarco (Ducati) 4th.

The big news that was announced was: Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) had been suspended from racing, due to last weekends antics on track. It was discovered that he had tried to blow up his Yamaha M1 engine, possibly causing serious danger to both himself and others. It is believed that he will not compete in any further races this year.

Race:

The weather was hot and humid in Austria, with massive black rain clouds looming above the track. The race was declared dry and would be a flag-to-flag affair. But, if hopes for a repeat of last weekend’s Austria race were anywhere near, they were soon to be dashed.

Martin sat in pole and got a fantastic launch, quickly leading Bagnaia, Zarco and Quartararo. Immediately, as all four riders went into turn one, the white flags started to wave signifying that bikes could then be swapped.

Bagnaia soon took the lead and Martin and Quartararo tussled for 2nd. Marc Marquez (Honda) was also battling at the front, gaining 4th and then 3rd place by lap 3. By lap 4, he had made it into 2nd. He was the only rider to have a soft (rear) tyre.

By lap 6 all top five riders kept swapping positions, none of them wanting to give an inch.

With the black clouds heavy with rain above them, a few rain drops suddenly started to appear and thunder rumbled in the distance. It was then the time for white and red flags to be waved on turn 2, meaning there was rain in that sector.

Rain clouds above. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 8 of 28, saw Quartararo take the lead, but it was quickly taken back by Bagnaia on the start-finish line. Bagnaia took his chance and soon started to gap from the pack. By the half-way point in the race, there were more gaps appearing between the riders.

Meanwhile the black clouds continued to gather and then drama ensued:

The start of the second part of the incredible entertainment came from Enea Bastianini’s Ducati. The fairing suddenly broke free and flew off onto the side of the track, causing him to have to retire.

Bastianini’s side exposed. Courtesy of: BT Sport Moto GP replay.

Zarco then crashed out of the race on turn 9. Marquez and Quartararo continued to fight with each-other for 2nd place, behind Bagnaia and in-front of last weekends winner in 4th. But an unusual mistake from Fabio meant Marquez was suddenly on the back of Pecco. On lap 22 he took the lead with a sensational maneuver, but Bagnaia was quick to respond and re-took first within seconds. That of course brought Quartararo back into play.

7 laps to go, the rain became heavier, causing Oliveira to crash on turn one. Everyone was becoming more and more tentative into the corners. Jack Miller (Ducati) and Alex Rins (Suzuki) decided that was their moment to enter the pits and swap their bikes. Would this prove to be effective, with very little race left?

Racing like they were on ice, all front five riders continued to circulate on slick tyres and not only that, they continued to fight for positions!

Marquez led Quartararo, Bagnaia, Martin and Binder. Incredible passes upon passes continued. Hands were being thrown in the air, regarding the poor weather conditions but the race was not going to be stopped as it was a flag-to-flag event.

Bagnaia leading Martin. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Then with no hesitation all 5 front leading riders went straight into the pits to change to their wet weather bikes, leaving the KTM rider, Brad Binder alone to lead the race from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Only nine riders remained on slick tyres, on a very wet track.

It was hard to believe that then there was only three laps remaining until the end. Binder was riding an incredibly brave race, skidding and sliding in ever-increasing hazardous conditions.

Marc Marquez crashed out on lap 26, turn 1. He had been riding all-in and unfortunately couldn’t quite pull it off. He managed to get back on the bike and later said “this is my best Sunday of the year”… “it’s only one championship point but I really enjoyed getting it”. Meanwhile, Binder was doing the unthinkable and started to break away from the rest of the riders, with only 2.6miles of track to the line. Could he hold on? Could he bring KTM’s first win at their home track in Moto GP?

The riders behind Binder were racing incredibly slowly – most of them having stayed out on slick tyres. A. Espagaro and Iker Lecuona (KTM) battled for 2nd. Luca Marini (Ducati) passed his brother (46) and Espargaro. But it was the ‘Bagnaia Bullet’ that came from no-where and passed everyone to gain 2nd place! Following close behind were Martin and Mir. Leaving Binder to get his second victory in the premier class. He was given a 3-second penalty for exceeding track limits on the last lap, but he had hardly any control over his bike in the treacherous conditions. The penalty didn’t effect the result though, in the end he managed to gain 12 seconds from his nearest rival, even with Bagania racing through to gain 2nd. Brad’s gamble had indeed paid off!

Podium finishers. Courtesy of: Moto GP (Twitter Account).

The number 33 became the 7th different winner in 2021 and the rookie Martin secured not only his 2nd pole in a row but his 2nd race podium as well.

Top Ten Race Results:

1

Binder

2

Bagnaia

3

Martin

4

Mir

5

Marini

6

Lecuona

7

Quartararo

8

Rossi

9

A. Marquez

10

A. Espargaro

Updated Championship Reults:

1st

Quartararo

181 points

2nd

Bagnaia

134 points

3rd

Mir

134 points

4th

Zarco

132 points

What a race?! The championship hunt is hotting up once again, with Quartararo’s lead now less and Zarco unfortunately dropping to fourth. Bagnaia and Mir are now on equal points. Could we see Mr. Consistency rise in the ranks once again and fight to remain World Number One?

What will we witness next round at Silverstone in two weeks time?

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website).

The Red Bull-Honda collaboration could become the new F1 powerhouse

Max Verstappen showcased that a Honda-powered Red Bull is capable of winning, even in the 9th race of their collaboration.

Honda is a colossal company, an immensely powerful player in the automotive industry, immune to the ‘group trend’ that other manufacturers have gone into. Since its return in F1, though, back in 2015, it has been hit year with multiple reliability problems, publicly blamed for the misfortunes of the McLaren collaboration, to the point that nobody thought it could be able to stand back on its feet and rise to the challenge in this hybrid era.

The move to Toro Rosso in 2018 was a crucial one for Honda and its F1 plans, because it gave them the opportunity to make a fresh start, with a team that has minimal aspirations, fighting for the best possible result in the midfield battles. McLaren is a team that is used to be a front-runner, Fernando Alonso is a driver who wants to be the protagonist, not a bystander, and that played a huge role in the McLaren-Honda relationship through that 3-year spell. Toro Rosso, on the other hand, have been just the sister team of Red Bull, the first step for young Red Bull Academy drivers to make their way into F1.

Now, Honda had its chance to make everything the way it wanted it to be. No pressure, no strings attached.

Effort and grind run in the Japanese people’s blood. Japan is known for its commitment to work hard, trying and succeeding. And Honda does represent that mindset in the best of ways.

When the Red Bull-Honda collaboration was announced during last year’s French Grand Prix, it became apparent almost immediately that this is not a project that could give a championship in its first year – not even in its second.

Even though RB had all the essential data regarding the Japanese power unit from Toro Rosso, it was crystal clear that this is a long-term relationship, planned out thoroughly, with patience and determination to succeed.

“When they came back into the sport they had a very tough time in the years that they were with McLaren,” said Christian Horner.

“They then moved to Toro Rosso last year and they had some time to get their house in order and start to progress.

“All we have seen is a real dedication and determination, and that is why having won that race, Tanabe-san went to collect the trophy for the constructor.

“After all the effort that they have put in, it is great to see Japan represented up there and Honda picking up the constructors’ trophy.”

This has always been the right path for Honda in this era of F1, with the complexity of the engines playing a big part in a team’s success. McLaren didn’t realise that when it mattered, and the rest is history. Red Bull did understand that time would be needed for Honda to make the difference and bring back the championship to Milton Keynes.

The Austrians have built a well-run organisation, where people understand their role in the company, and fully commit to the goal, whichever that is. It is no coincidence that, even during the adversity with Renault over the last 5 years, they were able to win races and fight for podiums consistently.

This is the case in 2019, too. Honda has started a new cooperation with a team that can really help them propel their growth and get the coveted land as soon as possible.

Winning in Austria, in their home race, with hundreds of thousands of Verstappen fans cheering for him, is really the stuff of dreams. It is certain that Red Bull targeted that race, and took all the necessary measures to be able to fight for the victory in Red Bull Ring – the first with Honda.

Verstappen himself stressed the importance of the timing of this win:

“I’m just very happy that it happened today and it just gives us a lot of confidence as well to the boys and maybe a few doubts are going away because of it.”

The Dutch driver is the noncontroversial leader of this outfit, and that’s very positive for them. Last time there was an alpha-dog in that team was the Sebastian Vettel era and they won 4 consecutive world titles.

They have a clear path if Max decides to continue believing in this team and this project, because he is a driver that can be the star of this sport for the next 15 years. He is a talented young driver, a proven winner, and having him as their leader, it just makes everything easier for them and their road to a title.

It is really fortunate for Red Bull (and Honda, subsequently) that Verstappen does support this collaboration, despite his comments about the power of the engine, or his surprise that he was able to win in Austria. He just puts pressure on them, but not in a negative way.

Having said that, it’s necessary to remember that this project is not short-term. It’s a five year planned out cooperation, and no one stops either side to extend that contract and 2021 is going to be their breakthrough year.

Even if the new regulations don’t provide many changes to the technical side of the sport, Red Bull and Honda understand that this is the best timing for their push to a championship-winning campaign. They will try their hardest to keep Verstappen, and if they do, they will have all the ingredients to get to that trophy.

Red Bull has that reputation of a team that can exploit every change in the regulations every time they change drastically (namely, 2009), and Honda will by then have an even better PU to provide to them, better suited to their needs.

F1 is all about long term commitments, plans that run through the next 4 or 5 seasons – it’s the only way a team can reach the top.

Honda understands that, Red Bull does, too. No one can guarantee that they will get their chip fast or easy, but they will be contending.

Austrian Grand Prix Review, Valtteri Bottas wins like a Bull

Bull Sculpture at Formula One World Championship, Rd9, Austrian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spielberg, Austria, Thursday 6 July 2017.

Valtteri Bottas secured his second victory in his Formula 1 career and he achieved it with the same way as he won his first Grand Prix, by starting from the pole and defending his position from Sebastian Vettel, who finished second.

A perfect start allowed to the Finn to remain first and despite Ferrari’s and Vettel’s acquisitions for a jump start, the stewards didn’t take any further action. After lights out, Kimi Raikkonen had a poor start which cost him two positions, the Finn dropped down to fifth and both Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean moved up one place. Ricciardo had a great pace during the race and scored another podium which gave points for his team.

Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso retired after the start of the race after a collision with the Toro Rosso. Kvyat lost his breaks and collided on Alonso which cost the race to the Spaniard and Daniil had to pit for a new nose.

Lewis Hamilton started eighth, after the five-place grid penalty who received because his mechanics had to change his gearbox on Saturday. The Britt, had a good start and moved up to the fifth position behind Kimi Raikkonen. Lewis was struggling to pass Kimi and remained behind him until the 45th lap, Kimi pitted and re-joined behind Hamilton.

The three-time world champion lost time behind Raikkonen, Ferrari decided to waste Raikkonen’s chances for a place on the podium as they were seeing that it was very difficult to close to Red Bull for the third place. Raikkonen’s excellent drive didn’t allow to Hamilton to take advantage of his super-softs tyres and forced the Brit to pit on lap 33.

When Hamilton re-joined with the ultra-softs he was struggling with his tyres and could not follow the leaders. Mainly he was unable to close the gap with Ricciardo.

Everything changed during the final laps, Lewis Hamilton closed with Daniel Ricciardo and was looking for a space to make his move. At the same time, Sebastian Vettel with the super-softs was less than a second behind Bottas.

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria.
Friday 07 July 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY0445

Hamilton made his move, took the outside, but Ricciardo defended his place and remained third, it was Ricciardo’s fifth consecutive podium. Sebastian Vettel was on Botta’s tail, but didn’t have the chance to attack.

After 71 laps Valtteri Bottas took the second chequered flag of his F1 career, and scored 25 points. Whilst, Vettel scored six more points than Hamilton and increased his leading on the drivers’ championship to 20 points from Lewis Hamilton.

Very good race for Romain Grosjean, the French passed Raikkonen in the beginning but lost the fifth place a few laps later, at the end he finished sixth and scored crucial points for Haas.

Williams, despite their poor qualification, managed to finish in the top 10, Felipe Massa finished ninth, while his team-mate finished tenth and scored one point.

The next race will take place at Silverstone in one week.

Twitter: @FP_Passion

(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)

 

 

Austrian Grand Prix Preview, the Battle Continues

GP AUSTRIA F1/2016 – SPIELBERG (AUSTRIA) 03/07/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Formula One world is still focused on the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, a battle which started in Azerbaijan and finished on the 3rd of July. The four time world champion apologised for his behaviour, and FIA didn’t take any further action for the incident between the two drivers.

The clock is ticking and it is almost time for the Austrian Grand Prix the title competitors must concentrate on the race and remain in the limits of the fair play game.

Sebastian Vettel is leading in the drivers’ standings by 14 points, followed by the two Mercedes’ drivers who are willing to fight till the end and secure one more title for their team. Lewis Hamilton wants to remain close or even pass Sebastian before the summer break.

Daniel Ricciardo, after an unexpected race, won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. It was the first victory for Red Bull Racing and for Ricciardo in 2017. That victory gave a psychological boost to the Australian and that might play a crucial to the championship.

Red Bull Ring

Laps: 71

Circuit Length: 4.318 km

Race Distance: 306.452 km

Lap Record: 1:08.337 (Michael Schumacher – 2003)

Tyre compounds: Ultrasoft (Purple), Supersoft (Red), Soft (Yellow)

The Austrian Grand Prix is a historical circuit which is held in Spielberg, the first Formula 1 race took place in 1970. There were two places which drivers had to race, the first was the Zeltweg Airfield circuit and the second one was the Österreichring. Another interesting fact about the Austrian Grand Prix is that in 1975 the race was designated as the European Grand Prix. The top speed of the F1 cars, in those years, was increasing and that caused problems with the authorities, because the track was not safe for the drivers. Hence, the race disappeared for almost a decade.

In 1997, the track renamed to A1-Ring and returned to the Formula 1 calendar. The circuit was re-designed by Hermann Tilke, the majority of the track changed, the long straights and the sweeping corners disappeared and were replaced by safer options, the final race in A1-Ring was held in 2003.

About ten years later, Red Bull made a deal with Bernie Ecclestone and the Austrian Grand Prix returned, once again, in Formula One. The circuit was renamed to Red Bull Ring, after the new owners.

Alain Prost is holding the record of the most victories (3) in Austrian GP, whilst McLaren is the only team who has won six times in Austria. Ferrari is holding the record of the most podiums, points and poles.

Toto Wolff – “It is always special to return to Spielberg and my racing roots. As a young racing driver, I did my first laps at the old Oesterreichring, so the circuit will always be close to my heart. Since those days, Dietrich Mateschitz has invested impressively into the facility and the region and it’s a source of pride for Austria to have this world class circuit in our country. Happily, it has been positive ground for Mercedes over the last three years. But we cannot rely on our historic success rate in Spielberg because the regulations are brand new. We start again from the ground up on Friday morning and will aim to come out of the blocks well in FP1. In a season as close as this, we have to if we are going to be on the top step at the end of the year.”

Austrian Grand Prix will be an interesting race, a race which will give the chance to Vettel to remain on the top of the championship and will allow to Lewis Hamilton to defend his world title.

On Twitter – @FP_Passion