There is a different type of tension when watching F1 at present. It is watching two great drivers battle it out and waiting to see if either of them make a mistake. One mistake can change the championship battle on its head.
The Syrian GP yesterday at the Red Bull Ring saw another fierce battle between the two best drivers on the F1 grid. Max Verstappen in his Red Bull was just too strong and held off Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes. Strategy was always going to be a one stopper due to no rain and low tyre degradation and Red Bull executed their stop for Max with their expected precision to maintain his track position and eventually coast to a comfortable win.
Just as we have seen in the past with Mercedes and their 2nd driver, it seems contagious, and Red Bull had a poor stop for Sergio Perez which undoubtedly cost the Mexican a podium. Perez would have been ahead of Bottas and not had to try and hunt him down. At the end, Perez was only a second behind 3rd place Valtteri Bottas. Bottas incurred a 3-place grid penalty and had to fight his way to get to 3rd and will be satisfied with the result even though he outqualified his teammate on the track.
Unfortunately, we still see this huge gap between Mercedes, Red Bull, and the rest. Yet again, Lando Norris and his Mclaren was the best of the rest with a great 5th place, but he too was lapped by winner Verstappen. Carlos Sainz for Ferrari drove solidly as did his teammate Charles Leclerc. Leclerc had to pit after the first lap after a coming together with Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly. This unfortunately ended Gasly’s afternoon but Leclerc fought back from the back of the pack to finish just behind his teammate Sainz. Ferrari compromised their qualifying set-up to have a stronger race day car and it paid off handsomely.
Lance Stroll had a great day for Aston Martin and his pass around Alpine's Alonso is one he will cherish. Alonso is getting to grips with his Alpine and yesterday was the best he could hope for. He finished in the points and left his teammate a long way down the track.
And, well done to Yuki Tsunoda finishing in the points. This kid is learning quickly, and he is growing in confidence. It is a pity Gasly had to retire as I believe we missed out on a possible great duel between him and Norris.
It was a desperate day for George Russell in his Williams. Why can’t this kid get a break? After a superb qualifying and being promoted to 10th after Tsunoda’s post qualifying penalty, Russel was running in 8th place on merit and was maintaining a very impressive pace until his Williams developed a pneumatic issue which meant when he pitted, they had to pump up the levels. This dropped him back a few positions and eventually he had to retire due to the same issue. He would surely have finished in the points. Desperate for him.
For the non-points finishers. Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen needs to qualify better as he showed again that in race conditions that he is still one of the best. Seb Vettel will be disappointed with the weekend, but I believe he will bounce back this weekend at the same circuit.
More of the same this weekend at the same track but with softer tyre compounds. Will it be the same? Do not discount it but also do not count on it. Anything can happen in F1.
Until next week, Let’s go Racing!