On the outskirts of Budapest, the Hungaroring hosted the third part of the opening triple-header to the much-changed 2020 F1 season. The rain has rarely had an impact on proceedings at the circuit at this time of year; given only two of the previous 35 Hungarian Grand Prix have been run in wet conditions.
Despite the possibility of rain most of the weekend, there was minimal running in the wet FP2 and while qualifying was dry, the threat of rain remained constant throughout the race. In the event, other than a tricky opening few laps on Intermediate tyres [shown above; Image from Reuters, Kamar], the track eventually dried up and we saw some good racing. Track records fell in both qualifying and the race, Red Bull showed some decent race pace on a disappointing weekend, Ferrari were expected to be stronger and the intrigue in the driver market keeps on coming.read more
For the first time in Formula One history, a circuit has held successive races in the dame season and the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian hills hosting the first-ever Styrian Grand Prix and it did not disappoint. We did not get a carbon copy of the previous weekend. Due to the weather Qualifying was in doubt so the second practice times could’ve been used to set the grid. The treacherously wet qualifying we did get was intense and mixed the grid up with a few drivers out of position setting up an intriguing race with multiple teammate squabbles which ended in tears for Ferrari.
While the ten F1 teams remained in Austria we did see some developments with the first regarding the addition of two more races to the already scheduled 8 and the surprise return of Fernando Alonso to the sport with Renault in 2021. I will pass comment on them later but first, for the reigning World Champion, racing at the Red Bull Ring in successive races represented a redemptive weekend.read more
Spa Francorchamps is a true racers circuit loved by both fans and drivers with challenging turns such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont but it also marks the beginning of the second half of the F1 season. Traditionally, the teams bring engine updates and all the manufacturers did in 2019 which resulted in several grid penalties. There were a few driver announcements as the 2020 grid behind to take shape (two of these I have already commented on) but there was also a tragedy.
The F2 feature race ended with a horrific incident on the second lap involving Guiliano Alesi, Anthoine Hubert and Juan Manuel Correa I did not watch the incident live but the clips I have seen of it; horrific does not do it justice. I will not be describing the incident though as I don’t feel it proper to describe it here. However, while Alesi was passed fit by the medical team, Correa is still in intensive care but tragically, Huber succumbed to his injuries at the age of 22.read more
After four weeks of no F1 racing, the action returns with the traditional starter for the second half of the campaign. Situated in the Ardennes Forest, it’s the true racers circuit; Spa-Francorchamps. With nine races to go between this weekend and the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, there is still a lot that can be decided but there are also interesting developments worth discussing. The first of those is the big development at Red Bull during the summer recess…
Gasly dropped, Albon promoted
The big news of the summer was Red Bull’s decision to demote Pierre Gasly to Toro Rosso with Alexander Albon being promoted the other way to the Red Bull team. Gasly has not had the best of seasons at Red Bull and his future has been the subject of speculation leading into the four-week break. The decision though came as a surprise considering what Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.read more
After a fantastic British Grad Prix at Silverstone, it was the turn of Hockenheim to host the German Grand Prix; round 11 and officially the halfway stage go the 2019 F1 Championship. Following on from the action-packed races of Austria and Britain, the 16 turn, 4.574 km circuit in the forest had a tough act to follow but delivered and then some through the weekend with many dramatic twists and turns.
It wasn’t just the race ether. There was the double heartache for Ferrari in Qualifying who first saw Sebastian Vettel not even register a lap in Q1 due to a turbo issue. Twelve months on from his season-defining error while in the lead at the same circuit, it looked like things could not get much worse for the four-time world champion. The setback was not his fault and it would be a heartless individual indeed not to have felt sorry for him; especially in front of his home crowd. That was compounded in Q3 as a similar fate befell Charles Leclerc. Given the blistering superior pace Ferrari had shown, it was cruel for Ferrari. Yes, it added to the spectacle of the race having the two Ferrari’s starting out of position; 10th and 20th respectively as just how fare could they go? However, it is not the first time they have been the quickest coming into Qualifying and the race for it to slip from their fingers like in Bahrain and Canada. It just isn’t coming together for them over the course of a full weekend.read more
I am now on the countdown to 100 of these posts. I never expected to still be doing this long enough to reach 100 but I have enjoyed doing this regardless of what anyone thinks. Needless to say, I will be marking that with a special post.Oh and for the record this is number 96.
The promised review of this doubleheader and including my driver ratings for during F1’s first ever tripleheader will be the next F1 post. Then, there will be none until the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August as the team and drivers go for their summer break; hence no Grand Prix to comment on.
Away from the F1 posts and the next football post will be a review of the World Cup in Russia while there will be a preview of the upcoming Premier League season published before the opening weekend of the new season.
As for the sharing of my political opinions, there are a few in the pipeline so watch this space…
A week on from the rain impacting upon the race at Hockenheim, the rain impacted upon Qualifying at the Hungaroring. That meant there were surprises to be had in the Qualifying hour as whoever had the best tyre at the right time would do well. Daniel Ricciardo was one of those caught out by the conditions in Q2 as he failed to get into the top 10 while both Toro Rosso’s did with Pierre Gasly out-qualifying even Max Verstappen in Q3. However, it was Lewis Hamilton who mastered the tricky conditions to deliver pole position and lead a Mercedes one-two despite Ferrari being the pacesetters up to that point.
For the race, Ferrari split their strategies with Raikkonen starting on the ultra-soft tyre and Vettel on the soft tyre. That did not go to plan as Raikkonen did not pass ether Mercedes but instead found himself passed by his teammate around the outside of turn two. Elsewhere through the grid, Ricciardo did not have a great start and was down to 16th after contact with his front left tyre at turn 1 while Charles Leclerc’s race ended after contact of his own on the opening lap. Hamilton led away from Bottas.read more
As part of Formula One’s first ever tripleheader, I planned to do three posts similar to this; discussing the talking points from the Grand Prix weekends before producing a team by team review. The first of those was published and shared around while the latter two took more time as I balanced a couple of job applications. The posts on Austria and Britain were published and are available on the links.
The team by team review post was held back and became quite an overwhelming task. Unfortunately, that had to be shelved however my ratings of both the teams and drivers will be made available in a link in my next Review Post. With F1 having a doubleheader before the big summer break (Germany and Hungary), I aim to do the same format as I did for those three races and this time follow through with the team by team review post.
So without further ado, let's get into my discussion of the German Grand Prix.
The German Grand Prix was probably always going to throw up some entertaining racing with Daniel Ricciardo set to start at the back of the grid after taking a number of grid place penalties for engine component changes. That was added to even further when Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes came to a halt in Q1. He would start 14th while the home favourite and Championship leader, Sebastian Vettel claimed a record-breaking pole position.
From the start, Vettel was in control of the race as he led from Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen. Meanwhile, Hamilton began his charge through the field and had made 10 positions to 5th by lap 14. Ricciardo’s charge took a bit longer having started 19th on the grid but came to a premature end when his Red Bull pulled up on lap 27 running in 6th with an engine issue.read more
It was the final part of Formula One’s first ever triple header and after all the energy put into travelling approximately 2,500km to drive these races, the action and adrenaline did not let off as the British Grand Prix did not disappoint.
Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole after a sensational effort in Q3 but that was undone at the start as wheelspin meant Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas stole a march on him at turn 1. Vettel led away as Sergio Perez was forced wide and across the circuit in front of the Williams coming from the pitlane start. At turn three, the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen locked up into Hamilton, spinning his Mercedes. It was a chaotic but nightmare start for the Mercedes man.read more
Yes, it is yet another post previewing a Formula One Grand Prix without actually reviewing one. Due to time constraints, I have been unable to review the three last Grand Prix (Hungary, Belgium and Italy) so will provide a brief outline of what happened in these race weekends.
• Sebastian Vettel won the final race before the summer break from pole position despite suffering from a steering issue in the race. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen could not get close enough to pass or was not allowed to by the pit wall (decide for yourselves) as they secured their first 1-2 race result in Hungary since 2004. • Mercedes had no answer for Ferrari at the Hungaroring. The team’s pit wall allowed Lewis Hamilton to pass Valtteri Bottas in the second stint of the race as he was faster. He could not pass the Ferrari’s and subsequently and admirably handed the place back to the Finnish driver at the final turn of the race. • The Red Bull drivers came to blows on the opening lap as Max Verstappen understeered into his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at turn 3 of the opening lap. Ricciardo’s race ended there while Verstappen climbed all the way up to 5th and close to the podium despite serving a penalty. • On a track where power and straight line speed is not everything, Fernando Alonso was eventually able to showcase his abilities in the McLaren-Honda as he got the better of Carlos Sainz in a race-long duel for 6th. Stoffel Vandoorne finished 10th for his first point of the season and first double points finish for the team. • Hungary also saw the very brief return of Paul Di Resta to the cockpit of a Formula One car as he filled in for the unwell Felipe Massa. Despite not driving the 2017 Williams car in vein prior to Qualifying, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the race all considering before he was forced to retire from the race ten laps from the end.
• Lewis Hamilton marked his 200th Grand Prix by matching Michael Schumacher’s pole position record of 68 with an incredible qualifying performance in which he was in a league of his own. He set the new track record at Spa-Francorchamps three times on his way to pole. Then, after some great defensive driving to hold off the Ferrari of Vettel on the opening lap and then again after the restart, he went on to win the race becoming only the fourth man to win his 200th Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg are the other three. • The Safety Car was brought out by a collision between the two Force India drivers on the run down to Eau Rouge on lap 29. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had already come to blows on the opening lap but did so again. On the second occasion, Perez seemed to cut in front of Ocon and suffered a rear right tyre puncture. Ocon suffered front wing damage but managed to recover and finish the race 9th. Perez failed to finish. Post-race, Vijay Malaya spoke of introducing team orders to avoid a repeat having previously allowing his drivers to race freely. • Daniel Ricciardo secured his 6th podium of the season in opportunistic fashion with a daring move on the restart from the Safety Car. On the climb up to Las Combes, the Australian made a double move to pass Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to claim third place. He was able to hold on to that position until the end with Raikkonen finishing 4th and Bottas 5th. • Max Verstappen however, experienced the all too familiar sinking feeling as he pulled up on lap 7 having lost power in his car. This was his 6th retirement of the season and all of them have been due to mechanical issues. • The Haas F1 team could have been on for their second double points finish with both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the top 10 during the Safety Car period. However, Magnussen braked too heavily at the final turn upon the race restart and required a fresh set of tyres which dropped him down to 15th.The main beneficiary was Carlos Sainz who finished 10th and scored 1 point.It proved more painful for Haas as the two sets of points would have made their Championship position stronger.Nico Hulkenberg finishing 6th for Renault meant the French they closed the gap to them in the battle for 7th in the Constructors Championship to one point.read more
It has been four weeks since we last saw some F1 racing with the incident filled race at the Hungaroring. The drivers have had their summer holidays, a number of them spending a significant amount of time on the water, others did Charity work and spent time with their dogs (Lewis Hamilton did some work in Cuba with UNICEF). Valtteri Bottas amongst others just enjoyed some home comforts, Fernando Alonso did some training in Mikenos while some of the younger drivers had time partying with friends (Lance Stroll spent time in Ibiza). The Red Bull drivers took time out for some adverting with Ricciardo biking in his native Australia and Max Verstappen having a go at Quad biking while Jolyon Palmer found time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro!
Four weeks ago…
Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for Ferrari four weeks ago in Hungary and went on to claim his fourth race victory of the season. It was not all plain sailing for the four-time world champion as a steering issue made it a difficult race for him. His teammate, Kimi Raikkonen was quicker at times in the race but could not get close enough to pass. Whether or not Ferrari told him not to is up for debate and he could well be cemented in now as a number two driver. They managed to hold off an aggressive looking Lewis Hamilton in the second half of the race to secure their first 1-2 race result since another team-order controlled race in Germany; 2010. Mercedes had allowed Hamilton to pass Bottas on the understanding if he could not get past the Ferrari he would give the place back to Bottas. Hamilton and Mercedes kept to their word with the English driver letting the Finn through at the final turn of the race for 3rd. Three points dropped for Hamilton in the Championship which could prove crucial to all three drivers involved in the battle. Behind them, Max Verstappen finished 5th though it could easily have been much more. Red Bull had been the surprise pace setters in Friday practice and although they qualified on the third row, they still had a chance of a surprise. However, Verstappen understeered into his teammate at turn 2 which earned him a 10 second time penalty which cost him a realistic chance of competing for the win. Fernando Alonso rolled back the years with a race long duel with compatriot Carlos Sainz for 6th and Stoffel Vandoorne scored his first points of the season as McLaren scored their first double points finish of the season. It was no fluke and thoroughly deserved as even with the weaker Honda engine in their car, the McLaren looked strong all weekend and afterwards, Alonso took a well earned pre-holiday rest in a deck chair. Force India also maintained their consistency in 2017 with a 9th double point finish. The race was also notable for the deputy appearance of Williams reserve driver Paul Di Resta. The Scottish driver had not expected to take part in the Grand Prix weekend but Felipe Massa’s illness gave him a way in. Despite not having driven the car in vain, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the car before eventually having to retire due to mechanical issues.read more