Verstappen Wins while Ferrari have more Strategy Problems

Max Verstappen wins from P10 with Hamilton finishing P2 from 7th and Russell rounding out the podium after getting pole in qualifying. Ferrari had another disastrous strategy resulting in them finishing off the podium in P4 and P6.

The weather looked like it could have played a part when it began to spit before the start of the race. Several cars locked up into turn 2 with the strong tailwind that was being created and could have affected them during the race.

Russell is ahead at the start of the GP. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

Lights out and George Russell gets a great start from pole but behind him, Sainz has kept up with him going side by side with Carlos on the outside of into turn 1. Russell closes the door and manages to stay ahead of both Ferraris. Leclerc got a slow start meaning Norris could pressure for P3 but with no success. Hamilton was the main mover at the start, making it to P5 before turn 1.

Bottas got a slow start so both RedBulls were able to jump ahead of him and begin to chase down the Alpines. On lap 7, with a much faster car, Verstappen was able to make a move down the inside of turn 1 and move past Alonso before chasing after and passing Ocon. Perez was not far behind and took both Alpines just the next lap.

Hamilton lining up a move on Norris. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

By lap 12 Verstappen had closed down the gap to Hamilton in P5 who was battling Norris for P4. Just as Verstappen reached within the DRS range of the Mercedes, Hamilton made a DRS move on Norris down the inside of turn 1. Verstappen took advantage of this as Norris went slightly wide to have a drag race into turn 2. Verstappen, still with DRS, was able to go around the outside of Norris meaning the McLaren lost two places within two corners.

Just before the first pitstops, Leclerc began to complain that he was faster than Sainz in front of him. To solve this they brought Sainz in leaving Leclerc out for a longer stint. However, this benefited Leclerc who came in for his stop on lap 22 and then came out behind Russell but ahead of his teammate.

With fresher tyres, Leclerc didn’t take long to catch and overtake the Mercedes for the lead. On lap 30 Leclerc used DRS down the main straight to make a move around the outside of turn 1 which this time he made stick. Sainz was not far behind so this was Ferrari’s race to control.

Russell made a move on Leclerc. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

10 laps later it was time for stop number two for Leclerc and Russell. In a bold move Ferrari but on the hard tyres, which no one had been able to make work in the cooler conditions. The pitstop hadn’t worked for Mercedes as Russell came out behind both RedBulls, with Leclerc out just in front of them.

The hard tyres would prove to be Leclerc’s undoing though. As he couldn’t get them to warm up and find pace, just one lap later Verstappen had DRS and passed him down the inside of turn 1. Just when we thought Verstappen had made the move stick for the net lead, he went for a spin, losing the back end of the car coming out of the penultimate corner.

This had a domino effect on Perez, who got caught up behind his teammate and now had to defend from Russell going down the main straight. Side by side, the Mercedes was able to make it around the outside of Perez in turn 1, nearly making it past the other RedBull before having to yield.

It wasn’t long before Verstappen caught up to Leclerc and overtook him in a similar fashion to before. This time though he was able to make it stick and create a gap to the Ferrari, which still had the hard tyres on.

On lap 54 Russell had now closed the gap on Leclerc as well and looked on for a move. Leclerc defended the inside of turn 1 but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep the Mercedes behind him. Moving Russell back into P2. Ferrari then decided enough was enough and pitted Leclerc for mediums one lap later. It was too late though as he came out behind Perez, who had struggled but was finding some good pace towards the end of the race.

At this point, Hamilton was back on a charge having made a late stop for soft tyres. Putting in fastest lap after fastest lap, he was able to make his way up to the podium places with ease. When he came across his teammate 5 laps from the end there appeared to be no team orders and they were allowed to race. However, Hamilton was just faster and after a clean battle, he did a switch back coming out of turn 1 on his teammate to take P2.

Verstappen took the chequered flag to win his 50th Grand Prix and be 80 points ahead in the drivers’ championship heading into the summer break. Mercedes got a second consecutive double podium, and it looks like they are on pace to compete for race wins if it weren’t for issues in qualifying. However, with the technical directive coming into play in Spa, this could affect the race pace of the top teams. Either way, Ferrari needs a flawless second half of the season to get back in the championship hunt.

Russell takes first F1 pole position ahead of Hungarian Grand Prix

George Russell has taken the first pole position of his Formula 1 career ahead of tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix, while championship leader Verstappen could only muster tenth owing to power issues.

Russell flew somewhat under the radar in Q3, setting no purple sectors but instead improving on his own personal best in each to take a surprise pole.  It follows what Russell himself referred to in the post-session interview as the ‘worst Friday of the season’ for his Mercedes team.  Indeed, after the rain in FP3 on Saturday morning there were some concerns that he and team-mate Hamilton were in danger of not even making it out of Q1.

Lining up behind Russell on the grid will be Sainz and Leclerc, the former having looked to be the favoured driver to take pole until the final moments of the session.

2022 Hungary Grand Prix – Wolfgang Wilhelm

Further down the order, Hamilton could only manage P7 owing to a DRS issue that forced him to abandon his final run in Q3.

It was not a good day for championship leaders Red Bull. Verstappen had looked competitive, but as he left the garage for his final run and started his out lap he warned his engineer over the radio that he had ‘no power’. He was given a couple of potential solutions but it was to no avail. The Dutchman starts tomorrow’s race in P10.

Things weren’t much better for his team-mate, Sergio Perez. Perez had had a lap deleted in Q2 due to an alleged track limits breach at Turn 5, only for replays to show he hadn’t actually crossed the white line at all. His time was reinstated and he looked to be safe. However, in the closing moments of the session he was pushed into the drop zone. In a case of bad timing from Red Bull, rather than being out on track and able to respond, Perez was instead being wheeled back into the garage. He starts P11.

With a few drivers relatively out of position compared to a ‘normal’ qualifying session, tomorrow’s race promises to be a very intriguing one.

Leclerc loses out again as Verstappen wins French GP

Max Verstappen took a giant step towards retaining the world championship with his seventh victory of the season at Paul Ricard, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed out from the lead.

The Monegasque driver looked to be controlling the race before losing the rear at turn 11, hitting the barriers and retiring from the lead for the third time this season. This handed the race to Verstappen, who never looked like losing after that, and now has a sixty-three-point lead over Leclerc in the championship.

It was a great day for Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton coming home second with George Russell in third, securing the Brackley-based team’s first double podium in 2022. Sergio Perez was fourth for Red Bull after a disappointing weekend for the Mexican.

Hamilton’s great start. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

In a race where track temperatures reached upwards of 50°C, tyre management was crucial, and the opening stages resembled Friday practice, with Verstappen looking to have the pace over Leclerc. Both were pulling away from the rest of the pack, which was being led by Hamilton after a brilliant start from the Brit, who was celebrating his 300th race in Formula One.

Despite this apparent pace advantage, Verstappen could only get alongside the Ferrari once, as overtaking opportunities were once again at a premium. This would prove to be his one and only chance to make the move on track, as the pace pendulum swung towards Leclerc. Being able to manage his tyres in clean air (and keep Max behind where it mattered), meant that Charles was in a better position as the laps ticked by, and was eventually able to pull a two-second gap before Verstappen pitted on lap 16.

Ferrari chose not to react instantly, with Leclerc’s tyres seemingly in a good condition. The car had looked unstable at the rear on a few occasions in the race, and it was that instability that proved to be fatal to their chances of a race victory. Leclerc lost the rear coming through turn 11, and his race ended in the barriers on lap 18. This handed the lead to Verstappen, who was able to control the race from the front, with Lewis Hamilton coming home in second, despite having a faulty drinks bottle throughout the race.

The safety car was brought out by Leclerc early on. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

The ensuing Safety Car did allow the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz to close up to the front of the field, but the timing was less than ideal. The Spaniard had to remove his hards earlier than planned, and things got worse for him as an unsafe release led to a five-second penalty. The medium tyres though were working well for Sainz, as he effortlessly dispatched of Ricciardo and Norris after the safety car ended, and soon found himself on the back of Russell after overtaking Alonso.

Unsurprisingly, this was a lot less straightforward for the Spaniard, but he was able to force Russell off-line into the Mistral chicane on lap 30, before sweeping around the outside of Signes to claim fourth, and was soon on the back of Perez. It was here where Ferrari’s strategical indecision reared its ugly head once more. Aware that a pit stop would cost them over half a minute (due to the penalty and an unusually long pit lane at Paul Ricard), Ferrari seemed in two minds as to whether to bring Sainz in and guarantee fifth, or keep him out and risk a podium. In the end, after a brilliant battle between the Ferrari and the Red Bull of Perez, which cost them both time, Ferrari brought in Sainz with only ten laps to go. He was able to recover to fifth and secured the fastest lap but was left wondering what might have been.

Perez’s prolonged battle with Sainz brought Russell into play, and the Brit was determined to take advantage. Russell attempted a move into the Mistral chicane, making slight contact with Perez who was forced to skip the chicane. This infuriated the Mercedes man, who felt he was squeezed onto the kerb, with team principal Toto Wolff having to come onto the radio to calm the 24-year-old down.

It looked like Perez was going to hang-on, until a virtual safety car was deployed as Zhou Guanyu retired from the race with mechanical issues. As this VSC ended, Perez was caught napping in the final sector, allowing Russell to sweep past at turn 13 and secure his fourth podium of the season.

Further back, Alpine and McLaren had an interesting battle for the best-of-the-rest crown, with Fernando Alonso coming home in sixth, ahead of Lando Norris in seventh. Norris’ teammate Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, with Esteban Ocon recovering to ninth, after a five-second penalty for a first-lap collision with Yuki Tsunoda, which ultimately led to the Japanese driver’s retirement.

Aston Martin provided some action in the final laps, as Sebastian Vettel was all over the back of Lance Stroll for the last point. Stroll smartly parked his car on the apex of the final corner on the final lap to prevent the German from getting ahead, coming home tenth for the fourth time this season.

Gasly trying to get past the Aston Martin. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

Pierre Gasly was twelfth as Alpha Tauri’s pace woes continue, with the Italian team failing to score in four consecutive races for the first time since the Toro Rosso days of 2018. Alex Albon was 13th for Williams, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher. It was a disappointing day for Haas, who lost out in the safety car period, with both cars also making contact with others during the race. Schumacher collided with Zhou after the safety car restart, with Kevin Magnussen and Nicolas Latifi colliding later at turn one. Both the Dane and the Canadian later retired in the pits, in order to save the car.

Verstappen knows from last year just how quickly a championship lead can evaporate, but the Dutchman has never previously led by such a margin in Formula One. Leclerc holds on to second by just seven points from Perez, with Sainz, Russell and Hamilton rounding out the top six. In the constructors, Red Bull has an eighty-two-point lead over Ferrari, despite having their own reliability woes earlier in the season.

The F1 paddock moves to Budapest next weekend, for the Hungarian GP, and it is expected that this track will suit Ferrari thanks to its twisty nature. If Leclerc is to remain in the championship challenge, he can not afford to leave empty-handed.

Leclerc Wins whilst there’s Heartbreak for his Teammate

Charles Leclerc nurses the car to victory in a dramatic Austrian Grand Prix which saw his main championship rival have grip issues and his teammate retire when his car caught fire.

The race start. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Lights out and Max Verstappen gets a great start to start ahead of Leclerc. Behind them, George Russell was alongside Sainz heading into turn one after getting a good start himself. Through the orange smoke, the two were alongside each other all the way down to turn three, Sainz narrowly getting ahead while Perez had joined in, battling Russell.

On the run down to turn four, the Mercedes was slightly ahead but the pace of the RedBull meant Perez would have to try around the outside of turn four. This didn’t work in RedBull’s favour as they touch, spinning Perez into the gravel trap. Like a copy of the Hamilton/Albon incident a few years ago, Russell tapped the inside back wheel of Perez. He was given a five-second time penalty which he served at his first stop.

Unlike the Sprint, the Ferrari’s didn’t battle each other, meaning Leclerc could catch up to Verstappen after he had pulled a gap early on. By lap 12 Leclerc was within DRS range of the RedBull and into turn four the Monegasque made a late move down the inside, clipping the curb on the way out. An excellent move by him and great driving from both drivers. Just a couple of laps later and RedBull decided to pit Verstappen. It appeared tyre degradation would be a problem for RedBull throughout the race.

While that was happening Lewis Hamilton was battling the Haas of Mick Schumacher who had overtaken the Merc at the start. Hamilton made a brilliant move down the inside of turn eight, carrying more speed in the car. One lap later the other Haas came into view but this time it would prove to be an easier overtake down the inside of turn four with DRS help.

Further down the field on lap 24 an epic battle commenced. Having slightly more pace than Zhou, Alonso looked down the inside of turn nine but thought better of it and backed out. This left him vulnerable to Magnussen behind him who was on good pace. The Haas and the Alpine were both catching the Alfa and ended up going three-wide into turn one. Everyone made it through with Magnussen coming out on top and Zhou coming down the inside of Alonso.

The epic five car battle into turn three. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

This battle meant that the two cars behind of Norris and Schumacher had caught up and a three-car battle became a five-car battle into turn three. Alonso slots in behind Magnussen but Norris comes from behind to go around the outside and takes the place off of Alonso. Schumacher also managed to get around Zhou as they headed down to turn four. Norris, with more speed, goes around the outside again of Magnussen but goes too wide so has to yield to the Haas.

On lap 27 Ferrari finally decided to pit both their cars, coming out behind Verstappen but importantly having fresher tyres. At this point, it looked like Verstappen would have to make a second stop to keep up with Ferrari.

Hamilton meanwhile was making great use of the newly found pace in his car from Silverstone. On lap 30 he made a great move on Ocon before turn three, showing that even though the Merc isn’t as powerful as RedBull and Ferrari, it is definitely quicker than the rest of the midfield.

Three laps later and the inevitable happened. On tyres that were 12 laps fresher, Leclerc overtook Verstappen into the braking zone of turn three. Verstappen didn’t really fight it, knowing that he didn’t have the pace or the grip at that point. As a result, RedBull brought him in on lap 37 for more fresh hard tyres.

Lap 40, and just as things had started to settle again Vettel and Gasly had contact at turn four, almost a carbon copy of the Russell/Perez incident earlier with Vettel in the gravel. Gasly ended up getting the time penalty to add to the one he got for track limits. Luckily he had already served that penalty, so only five seconds would be added to his time at the end.

Lots of drivers got black and white flag warnings during the Grand Prix, as was the theme throughout the whole weekend. Many drivers, like Lewis Hamilton, came onto the radio to complain but only Gasly and Norris got time penalties.

On lap 50 Ferrari brought in both their drivers again to put on more hard tyres. It looked like the two stops would be the quickest with RedBull not having an answer to the Ferrari pace throughout the race. It only took three laps for Leclerc to catch up and re-take the lead from Verstappen.

However, unfortunately for Ferrari, their reliability issues came back. For Sainz, who had an amazing weekend in Silverstone, his engine actually appeared to explode before catching fire on lap 57. In replays, the bodywork actually shook as the car came to a stop on the hill of turn three. In some scary scenes, the car was in flames quite quickly, and with no handbrake, it was proving difficult for Sainz to get out of the car.

A brave marshal came in with a block and Sainz was able to get out safely. The car was engulfed in flames, but the marshals were able to put it out. This brought out the virtual safety car, meaning both Leclerc and Verstappen pitted for new mediums to take them to the end of the race.

Russell putting the moves on Ocon. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

As we went green again Russell was making great moves to bring himself up towards his teammate, now in a podium position. He made a great switch-back move on Ocon heading out of turn three to put himself in fourth place.

It was a tense last few laps for Ferrari fans though as Leclerc came on the radio to say his throttle was sticking. Verstappen was catching him but the degradation was too high so he couldn’t make it work and Leclerc was able to nurse the came home to take the victory.

Leclerc needed that victory after the last few races of unsuccessful running and to keep himself in the championship fight. This has now put him back to second in the championship but still 38 points off of Verstappen. Ferrari will be going back to Maranello to investigate their problems and try to resolve them quickly if they want to fight for this championship.

F1 Weekend Preview: The Hills are alive with F1 cars

Britain brought drama and a three-team battle for the podium places. We now move to Austria where Mercedes have traditionally gone well but this year they have been having unpredictable weekends. It’s a home race for RedBull but Ferrari will want to spoil the party if they can get on form.

Ferrari is at it again

Carlos Sainz finally got his first win in Formula 1 after taking his first F1 pole position on Saturday. He fought hard through the drama and mostly kept his cool under the building pressure from the previous 9 races. For him, the strategy worked in his favour and the battle behind him on the safety car restart meant he could get a gap and stay out of trouble.

Ferrari team orders before strategy nightmare for Leclerc. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

His teammate was not so lucky though. Leclerc picked up damage in the restart of the race but, unlike RedBull with Perez, he didn’t repair his damage or change tyres early in the race. Initially, he was faster than his teammate, taking the lead, and didn’t look to affect him during the race. However, during the safety car Hamilton, Perez and Sainz were all pitted for softs, but Leclerc was left out on old hard tyres.

This would turn out to be a poor decision for Leclerc’s race. He lost out to his teammate on the restart and then entered into a great battle but came out the loser between himself, Perez and Hamilton. For the championship battle, this means Leclerc is 43 points behind Verstappen. Ferrari needs to close this gap and bring a strong strategy to Austria.

Have Mercedes found form?

All weekend at Silverstone Mercedes looked quick and like they could actually trouble RedBull and Ferrari. Whilst they qualified in P5 and P8, their race pace was much better than their one-lap speed. Lewis Hamilton in particular really triumphed in the wet session before RedBull and Ferrari took over in Q3.

Lewis Hamilton after the restart. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

During the race Lewis Hamilton was undeniably quick, putting in fastest laps throughout the race and closing the gap to the Ferrari’s in front. It looked like a very real possibility that he could have won the race.

However, without George Russell competing in the race it was hard to tell the overall pace of the team. Moving forward to Austria, Mercedes will want to bring the improvements they made at Silverstone to the RedBull Ring and put in another solid performance.

British GP: Carlos Sainz finally wins in Formula 1 amidst Drama

Carlos Sainz finally got his first win at the weekend with a fantastic drive amidst the drama of the British Grand Prix. Perez and Hamilton rounded out the podium with all three giving the passionate crowd plenty to cheer about.

After a wet qualifying, all eyes were on Sainz to see if he could convert his long-awaited pole into a win to take the pressure off him. Verstappen was poised to take the fight to both Ferrari’s with Leclerc in P3 while RedBull looked to use Perez in P4 to keep the championship battle very much alive.

The first race start. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

Lights out and Verstappen got a better start than Sainz and was leading him into turn 1. Behind them Hamilton had a lighting start putting himself up to P3 ahead of Leclerc and Perez, making the crowd roar with approval. That was short-lived as further back there was a major crash.

George Russell bogged down on the start and fell back, as he moved forward he moved across to the left for the racing line. Next to him, Zhou was moving towards Russell however between their rear wheels Gasly was moving forward.

Russell checking on Zhou. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

This pincer move meant that Russell hit Gasly who in turn then hit Zhou. This flipped the Alfa Romeo onto the halo for 150 metres before hitting the gravel at speed. It flipped over and eventually rolled over the tyre barrier into the catch fencing, landing in the gap between the tyres and the fence. Russell immediately ran over to check he was ok and helped the marshals and medical team who did a great job. Luckily Zhou was ok after a check at the medical centre.

While that was going on Albon was tapped from behind by Sebastian Vettel. This dramatically flicked him right, hitting the pitwall and back out onto the track. As he headed across he collected Ocon and was pinged back, hitting Tsunoda before coming to a stop. Ocon suffered some suspension damage and Tsunoda lost his front wing. Albon was transferred to the hospital because the incident had triggered his G-Force sensor but he was ok and released on the same day.

After all of that, the red flag was brought out as they exited turn 3 and were brought back into the pits while they repaired the barrier. There was debate from the crowd but because they hadn’t completed an entire lap under the green flag, the standing start would go back to the qualifying grid formation.

As everyone waited for the restart we lost Russell, Albon and Zhou. The others were able to repair the cars during the red flag. This would also give Sainz the chance to re-do his start, hoping to stay in front of Verstappen.

The standing restart. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

On the restart, Sainz got a much better start but was on the outside of Verstappen heading into Abbey. He had the inside line for farm and pushed Verstappen wide taking the place. As Verstappen fought back Perez and Leclerc were having their own fight behind them and going into the loop they were four wide. This meant Leclerc (who was on the inside) hit the sausage curb and picked up damage to his front wing. Perez didn’t come away unscathed either, he also had damage on his front wing.

Coming onto the wellington straight Sainz was ahead, then Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez. The remaining brits in P5 and P6 were alongside each other all the way down to Brooklands. Hamilton on the outside and Norris on the inside. Both were evenly matched and the battle continued with Hamilton on the inside all the way around Luffield. Eventually, Hamilton yielded before heading into Copse corner.

Lap 6 and Perez went in early for a new set of mediums while repairing his front wing damage. This left the McLaren of Norris a sitting duck on the wellington straight without DRS to defend against Hamilton. The Mercedes used this to his advantage and makes the move down the inside of Brooklands. Hamilton could then stretch his legs and become the driver of last year, setting a new fastest lap almost every time he passed the finish line, catching the leaders.

A few laps later Verstappen was pressuring Sainz for the lead. Sainz made a mistake and went wide out of Becketts, leaving the door wide open for Verstappen, who took full advantage. However, it wasn’t too last. On lap 12 Verstappen appeared to be slowing down and both Ferrari’s overtook him before he divided in the pits.

Max Verstappen pitting. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool.

Sent back out on fresh tyres, the RedBull engineers confirmed it was body damage but was not critical. This did affect his performance though. After some encouragement from JP, Verstappen carried on in the race. He couldn’t keep up with the leaders and fell back into the midfield.

With Verstappen gone, the Ferrari’s were left to battle and keep Hamilton at bay, but with the Merc closing the gap rapidly it became clear that Leclerc was faster than Sainz in front. By lap 31 the team order came, and they swapped positions.

Eight laps later Ocon stops on the national pit straight with engine problems, bringing out the safety car.  Hamilton, Perez and Sainz all pitted for new soft tyres, but Ferrari left Leclerc out on his old tyres. This looked like another unusual strategy call from Ferrari.

At the restart, Leclerc was P1, Sainz P2, Hamilton P3 and Perez P4 with Alonso and Norris behind. Hamilton was caught napping a little and down the main straight Perez was all over the back of the Mercedes, trying to find a way past.

As they all rounded onto the wellington straight Sainz had better traction at the exit of the loop with newer tyres and was alongside his teammate into Brooklands. Leclerc eventually had to yield to Sainz before Luffield. Meanwhile, Perez was alongside Hamilton but was ahead before Brooklands.

Lap 45, Leclerc on the older tyres struggled to keep up with his teammate and now had Perez to defend from. An epic battle began down the Hangar straight as Perez had the inside line around Stowe, but Leclerc held on down towards the Vale chicane.

Leclerc had the inside line in the first corner and slightly ahead, Perez went off the track at the second corner pushing them wide at Club leaving the door wide open for Hamilton to steam past them both causing the crowd to erupt.

Perez went ahead of Leclerc and had good pace down the main straight. Into the braking zone of turn, 3 Perez was up the inside of Hamilton and took the P2 back, leaving Hamilton to defend off Leclerc who went around the outside of the Loop onto the Wellington straight.

Leclerc had more speed than Hamilton and into Brooklands Hamilton was looking behind at Alonso before trying again around the outside of Leclerc at Luffield. Eventually, they all had to back out before Copse but giving Sainz the chance to create a gap.

Hamilton making a move on Leclerc. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

On lap 48 Hamilton had DRS down the Wellington straight on Leclerc. He made a move around the outside of Luffield but came out ahead this time. However, Leclerc was with him all the way and went around the outside at Copse to take the place back. This wasn’t to last as with DRS again Hamilton took Leclerc down the Hangar straight before Stowe and made the move stick.

As the final lap approached Mick Schumacher had been making his way quietly into the points and was now P8. Verstappen was the car ahead and with performance problems, Schumacher had pace on the RedBull. On lap 51 Schumacher attempted to get past down the Wellington straight but unfortunately couldn’t make anything of it. So, on lap 52 of 52 he made one last attempt heading into Vale and around Club, almost alongside the RedBull but the finish line came too quickly for him to make it P7.

Carlos Sainz crossed the line to make it his first victory in Formula 1 and finally getting the pressure off his back about his performance. Perez was in P2 with Hamilton in P3 in what seemed to be a much improved Mercedes. A huge shoutout to Schumacher who finally got his first points finish and Haas got a double points finish with Magnussen in P8.

F1 Weekend Preview: The British are coming

We are in the UK at Silverstone for the 10th round of the Formula 1 calendar where another sell-out crowd lines this high-speed track. Leclerc will be looking to attack after the fight from the back of the grid in Montreal. Mercedes have also promised good things for Silverstone while the midfield battle is spicing up.

Can Leclerc recover?

It’s been a roller-coaster of a first half of the season for Leclerc. He started off on top, but reliability issues have meant that is now looking for a recovery to get himself back in the championship fight.

Charles Leclerc fighting his way back to P5. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Despite staring from the back of the grid in Canada he did have a strong performance to finish P5 by the end of the race. This does also mean though that Leclerc has a fresh engine for the British GP where the track is high speed and about power.

That might be some good news for Ferrari fans, along with the fact that he always goes well at Silverstone. He almost won in 2021 if not for a great Mercedes strategy and power. For him and Ferrari, he will be hoping to make his way back to the top.

Mercedes bringing the brits performance

With Mercedes all British driver line-up they want to improve on the success in Canada in front of their home crowd. They have appeared to have learned some lessons from a not-so-great Baku to finish a strong P3 and P4 in Montreal.

Hamilton finishing P3 in Canada. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

There were some off-track technical distractions in Canada, but Toto Wolff believes they have the opportunity in Silverstone to win the race now that they seem to have learned some lessons. They also have drivers which love this circuit and go well here, Hamilton with the most British GP wins ever (eight) and Russell having a great qualifying and weekend performance last year.

Hamilton has also won the 10th round in 2009 and 2013, years he didn’t have a championship-winning car. However, with the unpredictability of the performance window for Mercedes, they will want to have a more constantly positive weekend.

The History of Silverstone

In 1950 the first-ever Formula 1 World Championship race was held at Silverstone and has been a popular track ever since. Whilst it has held the Formula 1 British GP every year of the championship, it is often in the same conversations as Spa, Monza, and Monaco when it comes to history.

Sell-out crowds at Silverstone. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Over the years it has many track changes, but the current layout is high-speed corners and straights so favours those cars with good engine power. The atmosphere is like no other circuit and is often a highlight for drivers. With three brits on the grid, the home fans have plenty to shout about.

Canadian GP: Verstappen holds off Sainz to take victory at Montreal

Max Verstappen drove yet another beautiful race on Sunday afternoon in Canada despite late pressure from Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari. Multiple VSCs and a safety car in Montreal meant that victory was not going to be straightforward for the reigning world champion who was in control during the entire weekend. His teammate Sergio Perez had a entirely different story after the Mexican driver’s gearbox failed during the race and he was forced to retire.

Fernando Alonso was the talk of the town for starting from P2 but the Spanish driver ultimately could not keep up with the faster cars behind him and ended up in P7.  The Spaniard was grumpy towards the end of the race and a minor issue with the engine did not help the cause. His teammate Ocon finished just ahead of him in P6 after battling the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc for the most parts of the race.

Lewis Hamilton back on the podium in 2022. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Mercedes had a perfect Sunday with Lewis Hamilton taking the last spot on the podium and with George Russell finishing in P4. Coming to Canada on the back of a painful week in Baku, the team will take heart with the result and look to push on with Silverstone coming on next, a track where they have been traditionally strong.

Charles Leclerc drove a solid recovery drive from P19 all the way to P5, pulling off quite a few moves on the way. The Monegasque driver had his work cut out but he executed overtakes one after the other in fine fashion and reached his target of P5 that Ferrari aimed for on Saturday. This however leaves him with a lot more to do in his quest for the championship as his rival Verstappen extended his lead to 49 points at the top.

Zhou making good progress. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

It was a good weekend for Alfa Romeo with both their drivers finishing in the points. Zhou finally picked up points after the first race of the season after finishing P9 and Valtteri Bottas kept up his good form for this season and  finished in P8. Lance Stroll made up the final points scoring position at P10 after the safety car stoppages worked out for him and the Canadian driver will be happy to pick up a point in his home race. His teammate Sebastian Vettel could only manage a P12 finish after he had issues with his tyres during all the stints.

It was a Sunday to forget for McLaren after an ambitious double stack under a safety car went terribly wrong for the British team. A slow stop for Ricciardo meant that Norris was held up and then was subjected to an extremely slow stop for himself. Ricciardo finished the race at P11 but Norris could only manage a lowly P15 and the English driver will look to put this entire weekend out of his mind and go on to his home race with a fresh mind.

Verstappen with a great start but Magnussen and Hamilton come together behind him. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

It was a disastrous weekend for the Haas team after Mick Schumacher dropped out of a points scoring position owing to a mechanical failure. Kevin Magnussen in the other Haas tangled with Hamilton on the very first lap and had to come in for a front wing change. Haas will be furious with the way their weekend turned out especially after their strong qualifying on Saturday.

Alpha Tauri also had a dismal weekend with Gasly finishing at P14 and Yuki Tsunoda crashing on his way out of the pits. It was a mixed Sunday for Williams after Albon finished P13 and Latifi finished P16. It was a case of what if for Williams after Albon looked closer to the top 10 during the beginning stages of the race but could not capitalize on the safety car periods.

A fantastic drive for Max Verstappen handed him his 6th win for the 2022 season and a solid lead in his bid for chasing the WDC. With his teammate retiring and Charles Leclerc forced to do a recovery drive, Verstappen comes out as the ultimate winner from the Canadian GP weekend. With a handful of races to go before the summer break, Silverstone is up next and promises to be a thriller with the teams looking to bounce back from this weekend.

 

Verstappen dominates wet Canadian GP qualifying

Max Verstappen was fastest in all three parts of qualifying as he took his second pole position of the season at the Canadian GP, as his teammate Sergio Perez crashed out in qualifying.

The Mexican driver will have to fight his way up from thirteenth on the grid, as will Charles Leclerc, who starts nineteenth after power unit penalties. Towards the front, it was Verstappen who adapted best to the changeable conditions, as he took pole position by seven tenths of a second from Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, with Carlos Sainz putting his Ferrari third on the grid.

George Russell setting early pace in the wet. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

Conditions at the start of qualifying were similar to the morning’s free practice session, with visibility extremely limited in the full wet conditions. George Russell set the early pace with a 1:36, over 20 seconds slower than what the cars managed in Friday’s dry running. Impressively, there were no major incidents in the first part of qualifying, but turn one proved to be particularly tricky thanks to a massive puddle on the apex, which stubbornly remained throughout the entirety of qualifying.

Leclerc did get through to the second part of qualifying, which will allow him to start ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who also has multiple penalties for exceeding his power unit allowance. The biggest shock of the first qualifying stage was the lack of pace from the Aston Martins, especially given that Sebastian Vettel was third in FP3. Both him and Lance Stroll failed to make Q2, along with the two Alpha Tauris and Nicolas Latifi, in his first home race since joining Williams in 2020.

Strategies were mixed at the start of Q2, with the inters proving to be faster, but only if you could keep it on the drying line. Alexander Albon failed to do this into turn six, sliding slowly towards the barrier, but was able to escape with only a broken front wing. Perez, on the other hand, was less lucky. A much harder hit into turn four wedged the Mexican’s wing under the TecPro barrier, bringing out the only red flag of the session, meaning Perez missed out on the top 10 for the first time since the Qatar GP last November.

Once the car had been removed (and the barriers repaired), everyone was out on the intermediates. It was Verstappen who found pace instantly, going 1.3s faster than the field on his first run. As the track continued to dry, and the drivers gained confidence, the lap times plummeted, and it was clear that whoever was the last car across the line would have the best conditions. Unfortunately for Lando Norris, a power unit issue meant he spent most of the session in the pitlane, and once he was out on track all was still not well with the McLaren, meaning the Brit starts in fourteenth. Joining him and Perez on the sidelines for Q3 were Valtteri Bottas, Albon, Perez and Leclerc (who stayed in the pits for the whole of Q2).

Verstappen was fastest out of the blocks again in the top-10 shootout, going more than a second faster than the Spanish duo of Sainz and Alonso, and remaining ahead even after huge improvements on their second laps. Most of the track was dry at this point, apart from the aforementioned standing water into turn one, which discouraged all drivers but one from choosing slick tyres for their final run.  George Russell was the brave individual who went for the soft tyres, but it was clear that the first few corners were just too wet, as his Mercedes slid into the wall at turn two. He was able to continue, but could not improve on his first intermediate run.

The top three on Saturday. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

The final laps looked like being a Red Bull-Ferrari shootout, with Verstappen and Sainz separated by hundredths in the first two sectors. One slight mistake out of the final chicane by Sainz proved to be costly, and allowed Alonso to jump onto the front row for the first time since the German GP in 2012, 3,619 days ago.

Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes in fourth position, but the surprise package of qualifying was the Haas team, with Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher looking quick throughout, and they shared the third row of the grid, with sixth for Schumacher being a career best. Esteban Ocon was seventh in his Alpine, ahead of Russell, Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu, who was delighted to secure his first Q3 appearance in Formula One.

The race is expected to start in dry conditions, but the track may still be ‘green’ given the lack of dry running on Saturday. Verstappen is in the ideal position to extend his championship lead given that his two closest rivals are outside the top 10, and he will certainly be expecting to see the chequered flag first for the fifth time in six races.

F1 Weekend Preview: Montreal is back!

After the inevitable drama in Baku, we move on to Canada for the first time since 2019. RedBull look to keep up momentum while Ferrari will need to investigate power unit issues. Mercedes had serious problems with porpoising on the long straights and want to change that for Montreal.

Ferrari’s Reliability Issues

Baku produced its normally unpredictability this year but this time with less safety cars and more reliability issues. We only had two Virtual Safety Cars for the entire race, but each was caused by what looked like a failing Ferrari engine.

It was a Sunday to forget for the team in red when both cars DNF’d with engine issues. Carlos Sainz had technical issues in lap 16 but his teammate had an engine blow up about 20 laps in. This was the second time that Charles Leclerc had been leading the race comfortably this season when reliability became a problem.

For Ferrari though this wasn’t just isolated to their own cars, other Ferrari powered cars had to retire with similar issues to the factory team. Magnussen and Zhou both appeared to have engine problems, forcing them to retire from the race. For Haas in particular this was a loss of any points from the race with Schumacher not able to push the car forward.

Ferrari will look to bounce back with extra strength if they want to outperform RedBull, who have a very strong car for the rest of the season. Ferrari have good one lap pace with Leclerc taking pole at six of the eight races this year, but on race pace RedBull have the edge. Ferrari need this to change.

Mercedes Bouncing into Canada

Lewis Hamilton telling his team he was OK despite physical back pain from the race. Image courtesy of Mercedes Media

It was obvious that down the main straights Mercedes had the worst of the porpoising in Baku. The set up wasn’t right and after the race Lewis Hamilton had to exit his car very carefully with what looked like serious back pain.

Despite a podium, Mercedes and many drivers have spoken about getting the FIA involved with the issue which is now causing a safety concern for the drivers. However, those teams who haven’t been as badly effected suggest it’s a design flaw which can be dsigned out of the car.

Regardless of what happens with the FIA, Mercedes now have to tackle Canada, with the long straights towards the end of the lap we could see a repeat of the extreme bouncing and bottoming out of the cars. For them they will want to set the car up to get rid of the problem as much as possible without affecting performance.

The Midfield Battle Getting Tasty

It’s no secret that the most exiting battles between cars often happens in the midfield where everyone is fighting for the same 5 positions. This year the teams race much closer together with different cars performing well at different tracks.

In Baku Alpine seemed to be the midfield team everyone had to get past. They had impressive race pace, particularly down the straights where they seemed to be able to use DRS to pass cars with ease. Vettel often found himself behind Ocon trying to overtake and had a great, race long, battle with him.

Canada is normally needing a lower downforce set up to have maximum performance, testing the driver’s precision around some of the tight walls and corners. This could play nicely into Alpine’s hands where we could see them walk away with a large haul of points.

Qualifying starts at 9pm BST on Saturday and the race starts at 7pm BST on Sunday.

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