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  • Sasha Martinengo

Bottas wins in Austria and Christmas in July for Ferrari






F1pitbox.com It was a typical 1st race of the season. A race of attrition and some very surprising results. Welcome back F1.


What a drive from Valtteri Bottas in Austria on Sunday to win the opening round of the 2020 season.



I don’t think many appreciate how difficult it is to out qualify and out race Lewis Hamilton. A superb drive from Bottas to win the first race of the season. Only 11 cars finished the race yesterday whereas one year ago in Austria every car finished. This was because it is the first race of the season and new systems need to be tested.


Ferrari were given an early Christmas present with Charles Leclerc driving superbly to manage to finish 2nd. Considering that the 2020 Ferrari is about the 5th fastest team on the grid at present this result will be very surprising but much needed for a team suffering from much needed motivation. The politics between Mattia Binotto and Sebastien Vettel is disturbingly evident. It is not healthy for the team and it is very worrying for the fans. Vettel salvaged a point after a below average performance. Has Vettel checked out from Ferrari and could we see Vettel just leaving the team? It’s possible.




One of the performances of the day was by Lando Norris in his Mclaren and his final lap was mega which secured him a podium position due to Lewis Hamilton receiving a 5 second penalty for shoving Alex Albon into the kitty litter. That’s twice he has destroyed the Red Bull Racing driver’s chances of getting on the podium. If anything, Albon could well have won yesterday.




Electrical and mechanical gremlins put paid to many drivers yesterday including Max Verstappen whose alternate strategy could have seen him win as well but the gremlins got the better of his car. A Very disappointing day for RBR.


It was a race of attrition and after having reduced the severity of the kerbs in Austria for this past weekend’s race, the kerbs 1 – F1 teams 0

Not all the retirements were due to drivers riding the kerbs too heavily, but a lot of gremlins were caused from machinery moving around in the respective cars due to riding the kerbs. You know what I mean.


The race started with the news that Lewis Hamilton would start from 5th on the grid as opposed to 2nd because of him ignoring a yellow flag during qualifying. Listen, had he not gone fastest of all the drivers in sector 2 on that lap he would not have been given the penalty.


The start was great by Bottas and Max used every bit of talent and grit to keep the Mclaren of Norris behind him for the opening lap. Max was on the medium compound tyre and he needed track position if he was going to be able to challenge the might of Mercedes. Vertsappen managed to eventually shake the young Norris off his tail and maintain a decent pace while trying to chase Bottas in the front.


On Lap 11 it all went wrong for Max and his car suffered a whole host of electrical issues and eventually stopped. In 2019 all 20 cars finished in Austria, in 2020 11 cars finished. First race issues. It’s that simple.


I’m not going to review the whole race for you as I’m sure you watched it. Let me give my thoughts on the teams and drivers from yesterday’s F1 race:


Ferrari Pace: There is none. If you believe the commentators that Ferrari looked better on the harder compound tyre, then you should have just watched the timing screens to get the real story. Leclerc drove an outstanding race and had his Ferrari on the edge for the entire race. It was a start drive from the young man. Ferrari are on average 0.7 of a second per lap slower than the Mercedes and 0.5 off Red Bull. Sadly, Ferrari will hoping for other cars to have issues this coming weekend for them to get a similar result. I’m a massive Sebastien Vettel fan but his performance yesterday was far from stellar. Spinning while trying an audacious move on Sainz and then losing 2 more position





Renault : Renault will be delighted that Norris in his Mclaren scored so well and that Ocon finished in the points on his return to F1. Norris was just brilliant but Ocon’s pace was average. He needs to up it this weekend, but he got points and that’s important. His dice with Kyvat was cool to watch but Renault should be quicker than that. Daniel Ricciardo suffered an engine issue and Renault will have to address that this week. There is rumour that their 2021 line-up could be announced this weekend as well. We know that Ricciardo will go to Mclaren from 2021

Racing Point : I did expect more from RP in Austria even though Sergio Perez finished a credible 6th despite his 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Lance Stroll was doing a great job until a gearbox sensor issue left him without power and he retired on Lap 19. That issue went on to plague the Mercedes team, but they had no failures.




HAAS : A weekend to forget unfortunately. The race pace of Grosjean and Magnussen was actually quite respectable but both drivers suffered with massive brake issues and both retired because of this. I sincerely hope Steiner and company have the resources to fix these problems. Having a slow Ferrari engine pushing them does not help their cause either. Also, I’m getting very annoyed at the amount of people who think that making fun of Grosjean is cool. It is not and some respect should be shown to this guy. He is bloody good.




Alfa Romeo : After a miserable qualifying, Alfa Romeo must also be thinking it’s Christmas. They have no power (Ferrari) and the car just looks peculiar. In racing condition they seemed to have found something and both Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were really on it. Kimi was desperately unluck on two occasions yesterday. One when he pitted just before the first SC and this allowed all the guys, he passed to jump ahead of him again and then after his 2nd stop his mechanics didn’t secure his front right wheel. He had to retire the car and the team got fined Euro 5000 for their efforts. Giovinazzi drove excellently. It was mature and what he and the team needed. To secure two points in the race after starting 18th and 19th will make the team very happy and motivated.




Williams : Just when we though Williams had turned a corner we find that they are still off the pace by quite a margin unfortunately. How can you say that Sasha? They were fighting with HAAS and Alfa Romeo? Agreed but once Ferrari find some power for themselves and their customer teams the gap will widen significantly between Williams and the rest. Russell drove his heart out and even had a bit of a tussle with Vettel but Russell’s Williams suffered some mechanical issues and he retired with 20 laps to go. Well done to Nicholas Latifi for finishing his first F1 race and wow it was so close to scoring.




Alpha Tauri: What a drive from Pierre Gasly. This guy is great, and his team will be extremely happy with his performance and his 7th place finish yesterday. The Alpha Tauri was not as good as I expected but I’m sure with some updates they will be improve significantly. Kyvat had a rear tyre failure which was very unfortunate as he would have also finished in the points.




Mclaren : Zak Brown was beaming like a Cheshire cat yesterday after his Mclaren team’s performance in Austria. Both cars were great in qualifying and both cars scored points on Sunday. As much as Sainz tried he could not get passed his young teammate Lando Norris. Admit it, you must have had a chuckle and though that perhaps Ferrari have signed the wrong Mclaren driver? Don’t discount Sainz BUT Lando Norris will be feeling as though he can conquer anything. His performance and fight back in an under-powered car were mature beyond his years and that final lap where he managed to mitigate the 5 second gap to Hamilton was as special as special gets. A first podium for Norris and his first fastest lap as well. For a team that was on the brink of bankruptcy before the season began I can only compliment the way Brown is managing this organisation as well as Andreas Seidl who has turned the racing team around.





Red Bull Racing: A weekend to forget for Red Bull Racing but promising on many levels. After protesting about DAS and then about Lewis’s qualifying some would argue that it was karma. Bullshit. I am thankful that RBR are keeping things in check. We need that and it should be vigorous.

Max was unfortunate that his Red Bull just gave up after only 11 laps. His alternate strategy against the mercedes cars was something that could have been excellent to see but perhaps we will see it this weekend. And then poor Alexander Albon; wow in the past 3 races Lewis Hamilton has stuffed up his race. It’s epic that he is fighting with people like Lewis on the one side but on the flipside Albon could have won in Austria yesterday and yet he came home with zero points after been taken out by Lewis Hamilton at Turn 4. It was Lewis’s fault.





Mercedes: By far the most professional team F1 has seen perhaps ever. Even with their sensor issues Mercedes still managed to win the race with Valtteri Bottas winning. He drove superbly well and even when Lewis got close to him Bottas knew where he needed to be quicker than Lewis to not allow the 6-time WC to attack. Lewis will be angry about losing his position because of the penalty he received for the Albon incident and it will fire him up even more. There is one thing that irritates me about Lewis though and it is his constant whining over the radio about things. The fact that he complained that bottas wasn’t riding the kerbs the way he was is just juvenile. Come on Lewis, you are perhaps the greatest driver in this sport, and you carry on like that? I say watch out for the injured Hamilton this weekend.




Bring on Austria 2.0 this weekend.




Sasha

Most images compliments of motorsport.com

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