tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Tech-know-crat 2021-07-19T16:06:33Z Ankush Ahuja tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1714289 2021-07-19T14:12:17Z 2021-07-19T16:06:33Z 2021 British GP Race Recap : Hammer-ing a Dent on the Home Turf!

The penultimate round before the summer break of the 2021 F1 Season got held at the iconic circuit of Silverstone. Silverstone, the home of the British GP, had served up exciting races in the past and was the first venue to hold "the new format for a race weekend" that got announced by the FOM earlier in the season. A majority of the teams had the British GP as their home race. The stands were full of spectators for the second time in 2021.



So what were the changes in the new format?


Twelve sets of dry tyres were available for each driver - six softs, four mediums and two hards for the entire weekend.


The British GP would feature a revamped schedule with Friday featuring only one practice session, followed by Qualifying, which would decide the grid for the F1 Sprint on Saturday. Friday Practice would last for 60 minutes, while Qualifying would follow the same format as a regular race weekend. Parc-Ferme conditions would get imposed before Qualifying. Drivers had access to only the soft tyres ( four from their allocation ) for Qualifying, with those making it into Q3 getting an extra set. The timings for the sessions got pushed back to later in the day to accommodate more viewership.


The term "Pole Position" got replaced by "the Fastest Qualifier".


Saturday would feature another 60-minute Practice Session, followed by an F1 Sprint later in the day. The F1 Sprint was the star attraction from the weekend, with drivers lining up based on their Qualifying results from Friday. 


The F1 Sprint followed a shorter race format, a total distance of 100 km ( 17 laps ), lasting 25-30 minutes. Drivers had free tyre choice and were not obligated to make a pit stop. The Sprint Race winner would bag Pole Position, and the results of the Sprint would decide the grid for the main Grand Prix on Sunday. The winner of the Sprint would get 3 points, second and third would get two and one points respectively. There would be no podium celebrations after the F1 Sprint. If a driver failed to finish the Sprint due to an accidentthe teams could change parts ( different spec allowed ) for the Grand Prix.


Sunday would feature the main event - The British Grand Prix over 52 laps, with points getting awarded to the top 10 drivers ( regular format ). The intriguing aspect of the weekend was that all 20 drivers would have a free tyre choice at the start of both the F1 Sprint and the Grand Prix. 


More Details about the New Race Weekend are here:

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.f1-sprint-what-to-expect-on-each-day-of-formula-1s-new-race-weekend-format.4CMuJh8GGAvTXi7Cm1vKov.html



Leading up to the British GP, the Australian GP got called off due to restrictions and logistical challenges relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic. 


Carlos Reutemann, a leading F1 driver in the 1970s and 1980s, passed away aged 79. Lando Norris suffered from a traumatic experience, getting robbed of his Richard Mille McLaren watch after attending the Euro 2020 final, in which the English Football Team came up second-best. McLaren got hit with more bad news after Zak Brown, the CEO, and two other members tested positive for COVID-19 and underwent isolation.


Alfa Romeo announced a multi-year extension of its agreement with Sauber Engineering, with Team Principal Frederic Vasseur getting a free hand to choose his drivers for 2022. 


The FOM also unveiled their concept of the 2022 F1 Car under the new regulations.


In 2020, tyre delaminations in the final laps of the race threatened to change the result of the British GP. While Bottas lost a position to Verstappen, Hamilton limped home with three tyres to win the British GP in a dramatic climax.



Come 2021, Mercedes had been playing catchup since the past five races and needed a response at the home race. Hamilton was banking on home advantage and crowd support to get his Championship fight back on track. How did the title battle unfold, and was there another twist in the tale? Time for a recap of the British GP weekend!



Friday Practice :


Free Practice 1, the only Practice Session before Qualifying, and the teams had their work cut out for sixty minutes. Stroll quipped that he didn't feel confident at the wheel of his Aston Martin, while Russell had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. Sainz suffered a spin at the exit of turn three, and Verstappen reported a loss of power at the final two turns on one of his flying laps. 


Nevertheless, the Dutchman topped the timesheets at the end of FP1, seven-tenths clear of Norris and Hamilton. Bottas split the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz in 5th, while Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo and Ocon completed the top 10. 


The Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Tsunoda were P11 and P12, with Alonso splitting the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in P14. Latifi was 16th in his Williams, followed by Schumacher and Stroll. Mazepin and Russell completed the back of the field. 




Qualifying for F1 Sprint :


The soft tyres ( C3 ) were the only available choice for all the sessions of Qualifying. Red Bull carried out some setup changes on Verstappen's car before the start of Qualifying. The sun was shining, but the track temperatures were lower than those in FP1. 


Q1 got underway, and Ocon, Verstappen and the Aston Martin drivers decided to stay put in the early minutes. The track, however, saw the full quota of cars when ten minutes remained of Q1. Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Perez and Norris were the top 6, with Sainz, Raikkonen, Stroll, Schumacher and Mazepin facing elimination after the first runs.


The lap times started dropping as more rubber got laid on the track, and while Sainz improved to P5, Leclerc made a mistake on the penultimate corner on his flying lap.


For the final runs of Q1, Verstappen and Alonso chose to stay put while the rest of the field emerged with a fresh set of soft tyres. There was a rapid track evolution, and everyone improved on their final runs. Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Latifi and Schumacher got eliminated from Qualifying, while Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz ended as the top 6. Less than a second separated the top 14 drivers at the end of Q1.




Everyone bar Giovinazzi began their first attempt of Q2 on a fresh set of soft tyres. Nine-hundredths of a second separated Hamilton from Verstappen at the top, with Bottas, Perez and Vettel remaining in close contention. Gasly, Russell, Alonso, Stroll and Giovinazzi were in the drop zone at the end of the first runs. 


Perez and Vettel opted to not run again in Q2 while the rest of the field tried to better their attempts in the final minutes. 


Hamilton went the quickest, three-tenths clear of Verstappen. Russell produced a stellar lap to finish Q2 in P7! Bottas, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Vettel, Ricciardo and Norris were the others who got through to Q3, while Alonso, Gasly, Ocon, Giovinazzi and Stroll suffered elimination. Two-hundredths of a second separated Alonso from Q3, a matter of close margins again. 




The Ferrari drivers opted for a used set of soft tyres for their first attempts of Q3. Vettel had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, while Russell decided to go out-of-sync with the rest of the field.


Hamilton discovered newfound pace and went two-tenths clear of Verstappen, with Bottas and Perez a further two-tenths adrift. Verstappen wasn't pleased with the balance of his car and complained about understeer in the final sector. Meanwhile, Russell emerged from the pits on a clear track and set the 7th quickest time amongst loud cheers from his home crowd. 


The final minutes of Q3 saw all drivers ( bar Russell ) emerge for the final top-ten shootout with a fresh set of soft. 


Hamilton set purple sector times but made a mistake at the Vale chicane. The Briton failed to improve on his previous attempt. Meanwhile, Verstappen set personal best times in sectors one and three but couldn't pip Hamilton to become the Fastest Qualifier. Seven hundredths of a second separated the duo at the end of Q3. 


Bottas qualified P3 while Perez had set the 4th quickest time but had his lap deleted for exceeding track limits. The deletion promoted Leclerc to P4, with Perez getting accompanied by Norris on row three of the grid. Ricciardo was P7 in the other McLaren, followed by Russell, Sainz and Vettel, who completed the top 10.



It had been an intense Qualifying, but Hamilton, despite his error, emerged as the first "Fastest Qualifier" in the new format. He had the best opportunity of bagging "Pole Position" for the Grand Prix and three points from the F1 Sprint. As for Verstappen, he had suffered a psychological blow, and the setup changes before Qualifying proved detrimental. Mercedes had stepped up to the challenge and had both its cars in the top 3, while Perez's lap time deletion ( in the end ) compromised Red Bull's plans for the F1 Sprint. 


Leclerc had his Ferrari in the mix, but Russell was the star of Qualifying, having finished P8 in a Williams, only a tenth slower than Leclerc in P4. 



In a tightly contested midfield, there was no room for errors, and the F1 Sprint race would prove pivotal in "making or breaking" the prospects of a driver and his team on Grand Prix Sunday. However, before that, the drivers would get one more opportunity to practice on Saturday morning.




Saturday Practice :


Saturday Practice ( FP2 ) saw teams attempt race simulations, with tyre options split between their drivers. Tyre choice for the F1 Sprint later in the day was equally important, and some drivers reported blisters even on the medium tyres. Bottas suffered from a spin after the end of FP2 and flat-spotted his soft tyres. 


Verstappen topped the timesheets from Leclerc and Sainz. Ocon was P4 for Alpine, followed by Perez and the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo. Hamilton, Bottas and Gasly completed the top 10.


Russell was P11 in his Williams, while Alonso split the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in P13. Latifi set the 15th quickest time, from Tsunoda and the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll. The Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin brought up the rear of the field.


Sainz, Vettel and Mazepin got summoned to the stewards for failing to follow Race Director's instructions with practice starts during FP2. The trio got let off with formal warnings.




F1 Sprint :


The sun was beating down on Silverstone, and track temperatures hit 48 degrees C. It was time for the maiden F1 Sprint of the 2021 F1 Season. Seventeen laps separated the drivers from Pole Position for the British Grand Prix.


The drivers set out on the formation lap, and four drivers chose the aggressive approach by opting for the soft tyres - Bottas, Alonso, Ocon and Raikkonen. Bottas was on a used set of softs. The rest of the field persisted with the mediums, with the Aston Martins starting on previously used tyres. 


The drivers lined up on the grid, and smoke was billowing from Verstappen's front brakes. 



As the five red lights illuminated and went out, Hamilton was hesitant off the line, but Verstappen timed his launch correctly and took the lead into turn one! Bottas, with his gripper tyres, also had a good launch off the line and pressured Hamilton only to relent at turn one. Meanwhile, Alonso displayed stellar racecraft jumping six positions into P5. Raikkonen, the most experienced driver on the grid, made up four places to end up P13. 



Russell and Sainz banged wheels, which sent the latter wide, bumping him down to P18. The incident got flagged for investigation post-session. The Haas cars had a coming together, and Mazepin got spun around. Meanwhile, Perez got past Ricciardo for P7.



Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Alonso, Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Vettel and Russell were the top 10 at the end of lap 3.



Hamilton and Verstappen were trading the fastest laps at the front, while Sainz began his recovery with overtakes on Giovinazzi and Stroll for P14. Meanwhile, Norris, who had closed upon Alonso, couldn't get past due to the latter's tactics of "weaving while defending". Alonso's actions got reported to the stewards. Perez was also closing in on Ricciardo when an extra throttle input sent him spinning through the gravel at Maggotts-Becketts. The Mexican avoided hitting the barriers but fell to P19 and had massive flat spots and vibrations on his tyres. 



Norris finally got past Alonso for P5 on lap 6, while Verstappen extended his lead at the front to 1.7 seconds. Ricciardo honed in on Alonso and relegated him to P7 on lap 9. The latter tried to fight back using the slipstream, but Ricciardo rebuffed the challenge. Further down the field, Sainz got past Raikkonen for P12. Those who had started on the soft tyres were slowly losing grip and lap times.



Verstappen continued to stretch his lead, and Hamilton asked his team for options to maintain pressure. Both drivers had started to suffer from blistering on the right front tyres. Alonso had now fallen into the clutches of Vettel, who was pressuring him in the battle for P7. Alonso finally got warned by the stewards for "moving under braking". Meanwhile, Sainz overtook Gasly for P11.



Red Bull informed Verstappen that he had a comfortable lead of three seconds over Hamilton, asking him to avoid the kerbs as a fail-safe against tyre delamination. His teammate Perez, who had suffered a spin and had massive vibrations going through the car, got asked to retire. He would get the luxury of changing parts on his car but would start at the back of the grid on race day. 



Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and became F1's first sprint winner. The Dutchman scored three points, bagging Pole Position for the British GP. Hamilton was 2nd and scored two points, while Bottas was 3rd for Mercedes and had one point added to his Championship tally.



Leclerc was 4th for Ferrari and would start alongside Bottas. Row 3 was an all-McLaren lineup with Norris and Ricciardo, followed by Alonso and Vettel on row 4. Russell and Ocon completed the top 10.



Sainz qualified P11 in the other Ferrari, followed by Gasly and Raikkonen. Stroll was 14th for Aston Martin, from Giovinazzi and Tsunoda. Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin and Perez completed the back of the field. Whether Perez would start the race from the back of the grid or the pit lane remained to be seen. 



Alonso was the star of the F1 Sprint after his opening lap heroics. The top 3 finishers got onto a truck for a "Victory Lap Parade", and Verstappen had a wreath put around him. 



Red Bull had finally scored a Pole Position in Silverstone after nine years. Mark Webber was the last Red Bull driver to start on pole at the 2012 British GP. Although Verstappen struggled on Qualifying Friday, his Red Bull was set up better in race mode, and he was the favourite to take the win on Sunday. Hamilton and Bottas had no answer for Verstappen's pace. However, Mercedes had both its cars on the sharp end of the grid, while Perez, the other Red Bull driver, was at the back of the pack. 



Tyre wear would prove pivotal in the battle for victory, as seen from the blisters on all tyres at the end of the F1 Sprint.



Leclerc ensured that at least one Ferrari started ahead of both the McLarens, while Sainz hoped to recover more places with an aggressive strategy on Sunday. The battle for P3 in the Constructors' was a hotly contested one, and both McLaren and Ferrari needed their drivers to score big on Sunday. Alpine's decision to start both its drivers on the softs in the F1 Sprint paid dividends, and they hoped to reduce the deficit to Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin. As for Alpha Tauri, Gasly and Tsunoda were in the lower half of the field, the duo facing a long Sunday afternoon. While Vettel continued to go from strength to strength, Stroll failed to find confidence at the wheel of his Aston Martin. However, a lot could change come Sunday. 




Russell was the star on Qualifying Friday and remained in the top 10 for the start of the Grand Prix. While Russell got a summons for his clash with Sainz in the F1 Sprint, Sainz was under investigation for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner. Subsequently, Russell got penalized with a three-place grid drop for his coming together with Sainz, having locked up and pushed "another car off track". The resulting sentence demoted Russell to P12. Sainz escaped from a penalty. 



Latifi continued to get out-qualified by Russell but had the opportunity of turning things around in the race. Raikkonen, like Alonso, made up places at the start, which put him ahead of his teammate Giovinazzi. It was unlikely that Alfa Romeo would score points on the weekend. Haas F1 was going through a torrid time with its results, and the friction between its two young rookies wasn't helping matters. 




Race :


Red Bull gave Perez's car a new Energy Store, Control Electronics and Rear Wing Assembly. The replacements were in breach of the Parc Ferme regulations, which meant that Perez would start the race from the pit lane.


Alonso, on his sighting lap, spun out of Woodcote. Thankfully, his Alpine didn't suffer any damage.  


Raikkonen had 20 race starts at Silverstone, setting a new record for the most starts by a driver at any circuit.


C1, C2 and C3 were the tyres available for the race, and Pirelli predicted a two-stopper for those on an aggressive strategy. 



Everyone, bar Perez, opted to start the race on the medium tyres. The Mercedes, Aston Martin and Haas Cars were on a used set of mediums.

Track temperatures were at an all-time high at 52 degrees C, and teams were concerned with tyre wear.



The five red lights went out, and it was a clean getaway for Verstappen. Hamilton pressured him into turn one but slotted back into 2nd after minor contact. Leclerc jumped Bottas into 3rd. The battle for the lead was not over yet as Hamilton tried to get the tow off Verstappen and challenge him on the Wellington Straight. The duel continued, and they were almost side-by-side going into Copse. Hamilton's left front tyre clipped the right rear of Verstappen's car, leading to immediate suspension damage on the Red Bull and sending Verstappen flying off the track and into the barriers!



Verstappen was out of the race! 



Leclerc saw the opportunity and jumped Hamilton going into Maggotts-Becketts. The Safety Car got deployed, and Hamilton reported damage to his car. Meanwhile, Verstappen looked winded from the impact, and the medical car rushed to check on his wellbeing. The Dutchman had suffered a 51G crash, and the FIA medical team surmised that he needed a thorough check-up at a nearby hospital. 



Further down the field, the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had made up positions and were up into P9 and P13, respectively. Russell was down to 14th, while Perez stayed P19 and last at the end of the opening lap.



The impact from Verstappen's crashed had damaged the tyre barriers, and the race stewards decided to Red Flag the race, carry out repairs and safely extricate the stricken Red Bull. The collision got flagged for investigation by the stewards, and Hamilton, in his defence, said that Verstappen turned in on him.



There was a series of radio communications between the FIA Race Director Michael Masi and the two teams. The Race Director reiterated that the stewards, and not him, would give a resolution on the matter. In the pit lane, the Mercedes mechanics taped up the damaged components on the front wing and replaced a cracked wheel rim on Hamilton's car. As for Verstappen's car, the Red Bull Mechanics were at the crash site and inspecting the underside. The car was still "live", possibly leaking fluid, and after safety checks, it finally got pulled out of the barriers. The right side of Verstappen's Red Bull suffered damage beyond recognition as it made it's way back to the pits. 



The FIA announced a standing start for the restart of the race, and this time, Leclerc had a clean getaway from P1. Hamilton couldn't challenge for the lead, but Norris managed to jump Bottas for P3. Further down the field, Vettel and Alonso were sparring over P6 when Vettel gave too much throttle and spun by himself at Luffield. The German fell back to 19th and last. Meanwhile, Ocon got past Giovinazzi for P10 while Perez was already up to P16.  



The stewards decided to give Hamilton a ten-second time penalty for his collision with Verstappen. The Briton was due to serve it during his pitstop, which would compromise his race considerably. On the track, Ocon relegated Raikkonen to P10, and Sainz overtook Alonso for P6. Further down the field, Perez got past Latifi for P15 ( lap 5 ). Leclerc was the fastest man on track as Givoinazzi lost P11 to Gasly.



Vettel and Perez were making their way through the field, with overtakes on Mazepin and Russell for P18 and P13, respectively. Hamilton set the fastest lap as he reduced the deficit to Leclerc to 1.3 seconds. Meanwhile, Raikkonen got track limits warning on lap 8, while Perez got past Giovinazzi for P12. 



Leclerc, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Ocon and Raikkonen were the top 10 at the end of lap 10.



Ferrari informed Sainz that they would switch to either plan B or C, while Leclerc got instructions to switch to plan B ( lap 13 ). Hamilton struggled to stay in touch with Leclerc until the latter reported an engine cut and power loss on lap 15.  Ferrari guided Leclerc through some settings changes, but the issue returned a lap later. Bottas was setting blistering lap times as he tried to close in on Hamilton and Leclerc while Hamilton was within DRS range of Leclerc. The issue for Leclerc finally got resolved, and the Monegasque extended his lead at the front to 2 seconds again.



Meanwhile, Gasly got a Black & White Flag for exceeding track limits multiple times. The pit stop window for those on the medium tyres was now open, and Raikkonen, Russell and Vettel pitted for the hard tyres. Perez pitted as well but switched to the mediums. Leclerc set the fastest lap of the race, and Vettel got past Schumacher for P17. While Latifi and Ocon pitted for the hard tyres on lap 20, Perez finally managed to get past Raikkonen for P13. 



The McLaren drivers were next to pit for the hard tyres on laps 21 and 22. An issue on the right rear left Norris stationary for 6 seconds during his pit stop. 



At the front, Leclerc's engine woes continued with momentary losses of power. Bottas pitted for hard tyres on lap 23, with Mercedes pouncing on the slip up by McLaren with Norris' stop. Sure enough, Bottas emerged from the pits ahead of Norris. The Finn then relegated Alonso to P5, while Ocon lost P12 to Perez, who resumed his charge through the field. Alonso then lost another position to Norris on lap 24.


Giovinazzi and Stroll were the next to pit for the hard tyres on lap 24, rejoining in P15 and P10, respectively.  



Leclerc, who had a 2.5 seconds lead at the front, got instructions to not upshift during the engine power cuts. Alonso had run out of grip on his medium tyres and pitted for the hards on lap 25. However, he, too, had a slow stop due to issues on the right rear tyre. He lost a position to Stroll but immediately reclaimed it on track ( P9 ). 



Bottas was the fastest man on the track on lap 26, and Mercedes finally asked Hamilton to pit on lap 28 after he reported that his front left tyre had lost all grip. The Briton served his time penalty and exited the pits after having been stationary for 14.5 seconds. Hamilton was now P5 and needed to complete overtakes on track if he wished to take victory at his home race. 



A lap later, Sainz and Gasly pitted for the hard tyres. Sainz had an issue with his front left wheel, resulting in a slow stop. The Spaniard rejoined in P6. As for Gasly, his extended stint on the medium tyres helped him jump Raikkonen, and he quickly relegated Ocon to 12th.



Hamilton began his recovery with the fastest lap of the race on lap 30, while Leclerc got the call to pit and switch to the hard tyres. The Monegasque emerged from the pits, still in the race lead! Hamilton got past Norris for P3, while Tsunoda pitted for the hard tyres on lap 31. Hamilton was now catching Bottas while simultaneously eating into Leclerc's lead of 13 seconds.



Leclerc, Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll, Perez and Gasly were the top 10 on lap 35.



The battle for P5 was hotting up with Sainz closing in on Ricciardo. The Spaniard tried to pressure Ricciardo, but he rebuffed the challenge. Bottas reported to Mercedes that it was impossible to make it to the end on a one-stop strategy if he maintained his current pace. Meanwhile, his teammate was setting blistering lap times in his quest for victory. Further down the field, Perez pitted again for another set of mediums and relegated Vettel to P17 just after his stop ( lap 40 ). 



Hamilton was now within a second of Bottas, and team orders got enforced. The drivers swapped positions with minimal time loss on lap 41, freeing Hamilton to go for victory. Leclerc still enjoyed an 8.8 seconds cushion to Hamilton. Meanwhile, Perez got past Latifi for P15 and then Giovinazzi for P14. Vettel, who had spun around at the restart, got told to retire due to issues in his car ( lap 41 ). 



Leclerc's lead got cut to 6.5 seconds as Hamilton continued to set blistering lap times. Ferrari instructed Leclerc to switch to the highest engine mode available and go full throttle until the end. Further down the field, Perez completed overtakes on Russell and Tsunoda and was up to P12. He was now pressuring Raikkonen for P11, but the Finn used his experience to rebuff multiple challenges.



The battle for the lead was hotting up as Hamilton continued to lap almost a second quicker than Leclerc, bringing the gap down to 2.5 seconds on lap 47. Alpha Tauri detected a puncture on Gasly's car, and the Frenchman got forced to pit. Meanwhile, Perez seemed to have finally gotten past Raikkonen, but the Finn didn't relent and the two tangled at the penultimate turn. The resulting contact sent Raikkonen into a spin, bumping him down to P16 ( lap 48 ). The incident got flagged for investigation, but neither driver got penalized. 



The gap at the front was down to a second, and a victory for Hamilton seemed all but certain. The point for the fastest lap seemed destined to go to Hamilton. To counter this, Red Bull pitted Perez for a set of soft tyres, thus denying Hamilton of that point. 



Hamilton was now all over Leclerc, and the latter made a mistake going into Copse. Under pressure, Leclerc ran wide, ending up in the runoff and allowing Hamilton to take the lead of the race on lap 50!



Hamilton continued to push and opened up a lead of 2 seconds on Leclerc. Further down the field, Gasly got past Russell for P11, and Perez set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap. 



Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and Victory at the British Grand Prix. Leclerc came home in 2nd for Ferrari, while Bottas held onto third to complete a double podium for Mercedes.



Norris and Ricciardo were P4 and P5 for McLaren, the latter unrelenting in defence against Sainz, who finished P6 in the other Ferrari. Alonso was P7 for Alpine, followed by Stroll, Ocon and Tsunoda, who completed the top 10.



Gasly finished just outside the points in P11, with Russell only managing P12 after his heroics on Friday and Saturday. Giovinazzi was P13 for Alfa Romeo, followed by Latifi and teammate Raikkonen. It was a weekend to forget for Perez, who finished in P16, followed by the Haas cars of Mazepin and Schumacher, who completed the classified finishers. 



Hamilton won at Silverstone for the 8th time, and it was his 99th Career victory. Verstappen looked set for his 4th straight win, but the tangle with Hamilton on the opening lap wrecked his chances and cut his lead down to only 7 points in the Championship. The F1 World got split over the severity of Hamilton's punishment, considering that Verstappen needed medical assistance at a hospital to treat a possible concussion. Those at the helm in Red Bull even called for a race ban. Hamilton's celebrations post-race got seen as unsportsmanlike, attracting the ire of Verstappen's supporters. The Red Bull driver himself took to social media to make his displeasure known. While Verstappen got taken out on lap 1, Perez had a lacklustre day at the office and failed to score, leaving Red Bull with a cushion of only four points. As for Bottas, Hamilton's teammate, his drive helped Mercedes get a double podium. The Finn played the team game by complying with Mercedes' instructions to let Hamilton by. He jumped to 4th in the Championship, but his challenge for the title was all but over.



Leclerc led the Grand Prix for all laps but two. The Monegasque would have scored a famous victory and looked gutted after finishing P2. Nevertheless, it was his first podium finish of 2021 and a strong result for Ferrari. Sainz's finish in P6 helped Ferrari outscore McLaren by 4 points, reducing the deficit to 16 points in the battle for P3 in the Constructors' Championship. As for McLaren, Norris got denied a podium finish due to his botched pit stop, while Ricciardo managed to fend off Sainz at the end. Norris remains the only driver to score points in every race this season. The performance delta between the two teams seemed to be reducing, and neither team could afford a mediocre weekend from here on.



Alpine edged closer to Aston Martin and Alpha Tauri, with points finishes for both its drivers. Alonso produced a strong drive in P7 while Ocon recovered from his disappointments of Qualifying ( Friday ) to move into a position of contention on race day. Nine points separate three teams in the battle for P5, and like those placed above them, there remained no room for errors. A rare mistake by Vettel denied Aston Martin a double-point finish at Silverstone, but Stroll's P8 salvaged some pride at their home race. The team was able to make up places thanks to a good race strategy, and despite the result, the future looked bright. Meanwhile, Vettel got recognition and respect from the F1 world after he helped the Silverstone staff clear the litter from the stands post-race. 



Alpha Tauri had both its drivers in the points until they discovered a puncture on Gasly's car. The Frenchman pitted and charged back up the field to finish in 11th, just outside the points. The Italian outfit left Silverstone with only one point, thanks to Tsunoda. Aston Martin was out on the heels, and the possibility of losing P5 in the Championship looked real. 



Russell, after his heroics on Friday and Saturday, struggled to stay in the points on Sunday. However, he continued to outperform his teammate Latifi in the other Williams. A points-finish continued to elude the team as they struggled to find the ideal setups for the race. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen displayed a good race pace, but the latter's efforts got undone after an entanglement with Perez near the end of the race. The strategy adopted by Alfa Romeo remained questionable, and the team lacked outright pace. As for Haas F1, Mazepin outperformed his teammate Schumacher for the first time since the Monaco GP. Their travails at the back of the pack continued with no resolution in sight.



Hamilton and Mercedes reigned supreme on their home turf. The incident and penalty aside, the Briton dug deep to recover and take an unlikely victory against all odds. It was a Champion's drive from the reigning World Champion. However, his tactics and unwillingness to back out of a fight cost Verstappen a big shunt. Verstappen, thankfully, was unhurt from the crash and had two weeks to rest, recuperate and regroup before the next race. The Dutchman, like Hamilton, refused to yield and was on the received end. His lead of 32 points almost got wiped out, and from here on, he needed to play the long game. 



Verstappen would come back hard and leave no stone unturned in his quest for the crown. The gloves were off in the title fight, and we could see the tables turn in Hungary. 



Would Hamilton hit a century of wins, or would Verstappen return with a vengeance and flatten his opposition to victory?



Time will reveal all at the Hungarian GP!


]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1709904 2021-07-05T16:46:24Z 2021-07-16T06:55:22Z 2021 Austrian GP Race Recap : Max-imum Attack & No Second Chances

The Austrian GP served as the season opener for the 2020 F1 Season. The high-speed circuit, nestled in the town of Spielberg, and surrounded by the hills of Styria, produced a race of attrition that saw only 11 drivers complete the race in 2020. In 2021, the Austrian GP completed the first of the triple-headers of the season and the second of the two back-to-back weekends at the Red Bull Ring.



The week leading up to the Austrian GP weekend saw Andrew Alessi jump ship from Red Bull to Aston Martin to become the "Head of Technical Operations". Callum Ilott, reserve driver and part of the Sauber Junior Team ( Alfa Romeo ) and Guanyu Zhou, a member of the Alpine Driver Program, got the chance to drive for their respective teams in Free Practice 1. 


Hamilton renewed his contract at Mercedes, the reigning World Champion staying with the team till the 2023 season.


Pirelli opted for a more aggressive tyre choice that hinted at a two-stop race on Sunday. Pirelli also provided teams with a new version of rear tyres to try on Friday, which, if successful, would become a standard-issue from Silverstone. The prototype featured a "greater level of robustness and integrity".



Verstappen and Red Bull had extended their lead in the Championships, while Mercedes, for the first time, failed to win for four consecutive race weekends in the Turbo Era. They needed a quick turnaround of fortunes to reduce the deficit.



How did the teams fare in the second bout at the Red Bull Ring? Time for a recap!



Practice :


Williams Reserve Driver Roy Nissany, like Ilott and Zhou, got the chance to participate in FP1 instead of Russell.


FP1 got underway and cooler track temperatures made turn three a challenge as Ricciardo ran wide, and Mazepin inadvertently ended in Hamilton's path. While Tsunoda had a trip through the gravel at turn four, Stroll put a wheel wide at six, which sent him through the grass. The latter then suffered a spin at the final corner and narrowly avoided hitting the barriers. Turn one saw the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers and Norris have offtrack moments while the Alpha Tauris complained about traffic on their flying laps. 


Verstappen topped the timesheets from Leclerc and Sainz, followed by Bottas, Tsunoda and Raikkonen, who completed the top 6. 7th was the best that Hamilton could manage, with Perez, Norris and Gasly completing the top half of the field.


Ocon and Ricciardo were 11th and 12th, followed by Stroll and Zhou, who set their best times on medium tyres. Vettel was 15th in the other Aston Martin, with Ilott 16th for Alfa Romeo. The Williams of Nissany and Latifi split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin at the back of the field.



Traffic became the bone of contention during Free Practice 2. While Verstappen got held up at turn one, Alonso avoided rear-ending Schumacher at the pit entry. There was a train of cars forming up at the penultimate corner, which created a safety issue. Alonso suffered again, this time, due to Raikkonen and made his displeasure known over team radio. Meanwhile, Stroll had communication issues with his engineer while Norris suffered from a spin at T1 and flat-spotted his tyres. The Mercedes drivers and Leclerc had offtrack moments on their race simulation runs.


Nevertheless, Hamilton and Bottas were the quickest at the end of FP2, with Verstappen two tenths adrift. The Aston Martin duo of Stroll and Vettel was 4th and 5th, followed by Tsunoda and Gasly for Alpha Tauri. Alonso, Norris and Giovinazzi completed the top 10. 


Perez was P11 in the other Red Bull, with Ocon and Sainz a second slower than Hamilton's time. Raikkonen suffered from lap time deletions and had his best time set on medium tyres in P14. Ricciardo was 15th for McLaren, followed by Leclerc and Russell, while Latifi split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin at the back.




Less than a second separated the top 12 drivers in both the practice sessions. Mercedes seemed to have made progress with their setups, but Red Bull still looked the better car in race trim. Ferrari had a mixed showing on Friday while Alpha Tauri looked strong again. The threat of rain remained as seen in the drizzle during FP2. 




The Final Practice Session ( FP3 ) saw teams continue to sample the prototype tyres provided by Pirelli. Tsunoda suffered from a spin at turn nine while the Ferrari drivers had offtrack moments at five and ten. Mazepin, on the other hand, had a trip through the gravel trap at turn four.


It was Verstappen who went the quickest, from Bottas and Hamilton. Gasly and Giovinazzi were 4th and 5th, while Sainz went 6th fastest for the works Ferrari. Perez was P7 in the other Red Bull, followed by Alonso, Leclerc and Vettel, who completed the top 10. 


Stroll was P11 ahead of Tsunoda, Ocon and Russell. The McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo were P15 and P16, followed by Raikkonen, while Latifi split the Haas cars at the back.



Once again, less than a second separated the top 12 drivers in FP3 and with the track temperature rising, Qualifying promised to be an even closer affair.




Qualifying :


The stands had a sea of fans in orange cheering on Verstappen for Qualifying. 


The FIA had communicated to all the drivers that they could get investigated if they went too slow on their out-laps at turns nine and ten.



The Haas cars were the first to set representative laps in Q1. The Alpines and the Williams stayed put until later in the session. Meanwhile, Gasly suffered a lap time deletion for exceeding track limits at turn nine. Everyone, bar the Aston Martins and the Alpha Tauris, chose the softs for their first runs. 


Verstappen, Norris, Alonso, Hamilton, Bottas and Sainz were the top 6, with Latifi, Ocon, Gasly, Schumacher and Mazepin in the drop zone with 6 minutes remaining. 1.1 seconds separated the top 17 drivers as Leclerc was the next driver to suffer from a lap time deletion for exceeding track limits. 


The top 5 drivers chose to stay put while the rest of the field exited the pits with soft tyres. Q1 ended with Verstappen, Norris, Alonso, Hamilton, Bottas and Sainz as the top 6 and Raikkonen, Ocon, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin getting eliminated. A lap time deletion for Ricciardo resulted in the Australian scraping through to Q2 by three-hundredths of a second.




Q2 got underway, and Perez was the first driver out on the track with medium tyres. The Mexican set a competitive banker lap but had fuel for another run. Meanwhile, his teammate Verstappen, the Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren drivers also opted for the mediums for their first runs of Q2. Verstappen, Norris, Perez, Vettel, Hamilton and Stroll were the top 6, with Bottas managing only the 8th quickest time at the end of the first runs. Sainz, Leclerc, Alonso, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi were facing elimination. 


The final minutes of Q2 saw Verstappen, Russell, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc and Sainz, choose a fresh set of medium tyres. Giovinazzi suffered a lap time deletion on his final attempt in Q2.  


Alonso ( on the soft tyres ) set personal best sector times when he got massively impeded by Vettel on the penultimate turn. Vettel, on the other hand, failed to cross the finish line before the end of Q2. 


Alonso was livid since his lap would have gotten him a place in Q3. The incident got flagged for investigation post-session, and Vettel got a three-place grid penalty for his infringement. Bottas and Sainz also got summoned to the stewards for allegedly going slowly between turns nine and ten. The duo, however, escaped penalties. 



Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Gasly, Norris, Perez, Vettel, Tsunoda, Stroll and Russell were through to Q3, while Sainz, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Alonso and Giovinazzi bowed out of Qualifying.


Less than a second separated the top 14 drivers at the end of Q2. Russell and Williams were into Q3 for the first time in 2021!




Softs were the tyre of choice for the ten drivers competing for pole position in Q3. Russell opted to limit his Q3 participation to a single lap, while Verstappen went the quickest, three-tenths clear of Norris and Hamilton on his first attempt. 


The final minutes of Qualifying saw everyone on a fresh set of softs in the quest for pole position for the Austrian GP. Norris went the quickest in sector one, while Verstappen went purple in three. Meanwhile, Hamilton and Bottas failed to improve on their final runs. 


Verstappen took pole position from Norris by four-hundredths of a second! Perez, in the other Red Bull, improved to P3, finishing two-tenths adrift. The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas were P4 and P5, followed by Gasly. Row four got taken up by Tsunoda and Vettel, but the latter's penalty dropped him out of the top 10 to P11. Russell got promoted to P8 with Sainz accompanying Stroll on row 5, albeit with a free tyre choice.



The orange brigade was overjoyed, and celebrations broke out in the stands after Verstappen bagged pole position for Sunday. The Dutchman had scored a hattrick in 2021! Red Bull had both its cars in the top 3 and could use Perez as a rear guard ( if needed ) in the race. It was "advantage Red Bull" on Sunday. Verstappen, however, felt that he could have gone faster had he had a tow like the others behind him. McLaren's front row start with Norris was the team's first since the Brazilian GP in 2012. Ricciardo, however, continued to struggle with balance issues, qualifying a second slower than Norris. Norris lost time to Verstappen at the final turn and could have bagged P1. Nevertheless, McLaren was in a better position than immediate rivals Ferrari for Sunday.



Hamilton admitted that it was damage limitation day on Sunday and didn't have an answer for Red Bull's newfound pace. Bottas had fallen away in the title fight, but Mercedes still needed him to bring home results for the Constructors'. The Mercedes were slower than Red Bull in straight-line speed and needed an aggressive strategy to make inroads. It was a great day for Honda power, with Alpha Tauri, Red Bull's sister team, having both its cars in the top 7. Gasly and Tsunoda needed to outscore the Aston Martins to extend their lead in the battle for P5. The Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel weren't far behind, and considering their superior race pace and better tyre management, it promised to be a close affair on Sunday. 



Russell continued to impress in his Williams, and his first Q3 appearance ensured that he had a great chance to score points on Sunday. Teammate Latifi's performance was mediocre, but the Canadian had the opportunity to turn it around on race day. Ferrari was going through a resurgence of sorts, but the choice of using medium tyres in Q2 was a questionable decision. Sainz and Leclerc had a free tyre choice for Sunday but needed a superior strategy to ensure a double-points finish in a tightly contested midfield. 



Alpine and Alonso got denied a Q3 appearance due to the impeding by Vettel. Alonso believed he had the pace to break into the top 6. The Spaniard remained the stronger of the two drivers at Alpine, with Ocon going through a lean phase and facing a long afternoon from P17. Alfa Romeo failed to replicate the form shown in Free Practice and seemed better than only the Haas cars. However, the car was better in race trim, as seen during the Styrian GP, and Alfa hoped to make it back into the top 10. The learning curve was steep for the Haas rookies, and the team seemed destined to remain at the back of the pack.




Race :


132,000 was the attendance on Sunday as the stands got packed to capacity for the race.


The track temperature was much lower than that on Saturday afternoon, with a slim chance of rain. C3, C4 and C5 were the tyres available for the race, with Pirelli going one step softer than those used for the Styrian GP weekend. 


Sainz and Raikkonen opted for the hard tyres, while the rest chose the mediums outside the top 10.


The five red lights went out, and Norris had a slightly better start than Verstappen. However, the Dutchman led into turn one. Meanwhile, Hamilton pressured Perez for P3, but the Mexican fended off the challenge. Further down the field, Ocon got sandwiched between Schumacher and Giovinazzi, and the latter clipped the right front tyre of his Alpine. The tie rod broke, and Ocon retired due to suspension damage. The Safety Car got deployed at the end of the opening lap. As a precaution, Alfa Romeo pitted Giovinazzi, switching him to the hard tyres.


Raikkonen and Schumacher had made up places into P14 and P16, respectively, while Russell fell back to P12, Alonso to P15 and Sainz to P13.



The Safety Car peeled into the pits on lap 4, and it was a clean getaway for Verstappen. Bottas got past teammate Hamilton only for him to reclaim the position a couple of corners later. The battle for P2 hotted up with Norris initially fending off Perez. The duo continued the squabble into turn four, and Perez tried an overtake on the outside. The Mexican ran out of space with Norris not yielding, ended up in the gravel trap and lost places in the process. Perez was down to 10th and complained over team radio about being pushed off track. The incident got flagged for investigation, and Norris got a five-second time penalty for forcing another driver off the track ( verdict on lap 20 ). Ricciardo got past Leclerc for P9, and further down the field, Alonso and Raikkonen were sparring over P14, only for the latter to retake the place after losing it on the restart. Meanwhile, Latifi got past Schumacher for P16.



Giovinazzi incurred a five-second time penalty for overtaking before the Safety Car line at the restart. Nevertheless, the Italian got past Mazepin and Schumacher and was up to P17. DRS got enabled on lap 7, and Verstappen went about setting blistering lap times as he extended his lead at the front.



Sainz got past Russell for P12 on lap 12, while Tsunoda was the first driver to pit for hard tyres on lap 14. His teammate Gasly followed suit a lap later, rejoining in P18. Stroll also pitted for the hard tyres on lap 15 while on the track, Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Perez and took P8 from the Mexican. In the battle for P2, Norris managed to rebuff Hamilton, and the latter asked the team for more engine power. While Gasly got past Mazepin for P16, Tsunoda got flagged for investigation for cutting the white line at pit entry on his way to the pit stop earlier. The Japanese rookie incurred a five-second time penalty for the infringement.



Ricciardo got past Vettel for P5, and the latter immediately pitted for hard tyres on lap 19. Gasly continued his charge up the field with an overtake on Schumacher for P14, while the Aston Martin cars of Stroll and Vettel got past Mazepin for P17 and P18, respectively. Tsunoda relegated Schumacher to P16, while Vettel got past Stroll for P17 on lap 20. 



Hamilton finally got past Norris for P2 on lap 20, but Verstappen had built a 9.5 seconds lead by then. Hamilton was appreciative of Norris' talent and his defensive skills up until the overtake. Further down the field, Vettel got past Schumacher for P16.



Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Russell and Raikkonen were the top 10 at the end of lap 21.



Stroll got past Schumacher for P17, while Gasly overtook Giovinazzi and Latifi to move up to P12. Verstappen was the fastest man on track on lap 26. It was time for those on the medium tyres to go through with their pit stops, and Ricciardo switched to the hard tyres on lap 30. The Australian rejoined in P12, behind Gasly. Giovinazzi also pitted, albeit for the 2nd time, for a fresh set of hard tyres.



Mercedes instructed Bottas to mirror Norris' strategy and pit at the same time as him. The duo pitted on lap 31, and Bottas jumped Norris for P3 after the latter served his time penalty in the pitstop. Russell also pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in 16th.



Hamilton and Verstappen pitted on laps 32 and 33, respectively, and Verstappen maintained his lead in the race. Perez and Alonso were the next to switch to hard tyres on lap 33, rejoining in P10 and P16. Meanwhile, on the track, Tsunoda got past Latifi for P11. Verstappen had built a lead of 14 seconds to Hamilton, and Mercedes discovered that Hamilton's car lost aero performance on the rear after going heavily over the kerbs and suffering damage. Leclerc pitted on lap 35 for hard tyres, but Perez managed to undercut him. Russell relegated Stroll to P14 on lap 38, while Raikkonen switched to the mediums and rejoined in P15. 



The battle for P6 was hotting up as a train of cars formed up behind Gasly. Ricciardo, Perez and Leclerc had closed in on the Frenchman for fresher tyres. Leclerc, who had lost track position to Perez, pressured him for P8, and Perez sent him through the gravel at turn four, much like the earlier incident with Norris. The clash got flagged for investigation, and Perez got a five-second time penalty for forcing another driver off the track. 



Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Norris, Sainz, Gasly, Ricciardo, Perez, Leclerc and Tsunoda were the top 10 at the end of lap 45.



Bottas was honing in on Hamilton in the battle for 2nd. Hamilton was losing lap time due to the loss of aero performance, and it soon became evident that the reigning World Champion wouldn't be able to hold onto the podium places. Gasly made his 2nd stop, switching to a fresh set of hard tyres and rejoining in P12 ( lap 47 ). Leclerc closed up on Perez in the battle for P7, getting pushed again onto the gravel, this time at turn six. The incident got flagged for investigation, and Perez was the driver at fault again. The Mexican got a 2nd five-second time penalty in the race. 



Alonso got past Stroll for P13 before the latter pitted for hard tyres again on lap 48. Bottas was within striking distance of P2, but Mercedes asked him to hold stations and not pressure Hamilton. Meanwhile, Hamilton didn't feel confident about the tyres making it to the end of the race. While Mercedes kept debating about allowing Bottas to race HamiltonNorris closed in and was a second adrift of the Mercedes duo.



Sainz, the only driver who was yet to stop, switched to a used set of medium tyres on lap 50 and rejoined in P9. The Spaniard quickly relegated Tsunoda to P9 on his out-lap and began his charge up the field. Meanwhile, Giovinazzi got past Gasly for P15, while Mazepin got a Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits multiple times. Vettel made his 2nd stop on lap 51, switching to a fresh set of hard tyres for his final stint.



Mercedes finally allowed Bottas to race Hamilton, and the Finn bagged P2 on lap 52. Verstappen and Bottas exchanged the fastest laps of the race as Tsunoda pitted for the second time, switching to the hards and rejoining in P14. The Alpha Tauri driver repeated his mistake of cutting across the white line at pit entry and incurred another five-second time penalty. Stroll was another driver to receive a similar punishment for speeding in the pit lane during his stop a few laps earlier!



Hamilton was unable to stay in touch with Bottas and fell into the clutches of Norris. The McLaren was past Hamilton for P3 on lap 54. Mercedes immediately pitted Hamilton, switching him to a fresh set of hard tyres to bag the point for the fastest lap. The plan seemed to have worked before Verstappen reclaimed the crown by setting blistering times on laps 57 and 58. 



Leclerc was pressuring Ricciardo for P6, and Alonso was closing in on Russell in the battle for P10. Raikkonen got a Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits at turn ten, and the Finn was livid with his team for not informing about the infringement sooner. Verstappen pitted again on lap 61 for a fresh set of hard tyres. Red Bull notified him that they had discovered a cut on his previous set and allowed him one chance to push for the fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile, his teammate Perez drove hard to extend the gap to Ricciardo to more than 10 seconds to cover off his time penalties. 



On lap 65, Alonso began to exert more pressure, but Russell rebuffed the challenge to hold onto P10. The battle for P6 saw Sainz close up on the duo of Ricciardo and Leclerc. Ferrari allowed Sainz to swap positions with Leclerc, and the Spaniard was P7 on lap 66, free to chase Ricciardo for P5. Despite his stoic defence, Russell failed to hold onto P10 as Alonso got past with the assistance of DRS. Perez extended the gap to Ricciardo to more than 9 seconds on the penultimate lap.



Sainz, with DRS assistance, got past Ricciardo for P6 on the final lap and was within 10 seconds of Perez. Meanwhile, Raikkonen had closed in on Russell in the battle for P11 but unable to overtake despite a few attempts. The Finn complained about Russell moving under braking, which got reported to the stewards. On the final lap, Vettel joined the fray. Raikkonen locked up at turn four, which opened the door for Vettel to make an overtake. The German got ahead, but Raikkonen failed to see him and cut across, which led to a collision and sent them both into the gravel. Raikkonen limped across the line, but Vettel returned to the pits and retired.



Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and Victory at the end of 71 laps. Bottas came home in 2nd for Mercedes, with Norris completing the podium places.



4th was the best that Hamilton could manage with the challenges he faced. Perez crossed the line in 5th but failed to build a gap of 10 seconds to Sainz, which relegated him to P6. Ricciardo was P7 in the other McLaren, followed by Leclerc, Gasly and Alonso, who completed the top 10.



Russell and Williams missed out on another points-scoring finish in 11th. Tsunoda was 12th, followed by Stroll and Giovinazzi. Latifi was 15th in the other Williams, followed by Raikkonen, who limped home in 16th. Vettel, despite the collision, got classified 17th, followed by Schumacher and Mazepin.



The results stayed provisional as Raikkonen and Vettel got summoned to the stewards for the collision. Shortly after, Russell got the call for allegedly moving under braking. The stewards then discovered that Sainz, Perez, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Gasly, Giovinazzi, Latifi and Mazepin had failed to adhere to double-waved yellows on the final lap.



Post investigations, Raikkonen got 20 seconds added to his race time besides getting two penalty points on his license. Russell got a let-off for his movement under braking. Latifi and Mazepin got 30 seconds added to their race time ( equating to a 10 seconds stop-go penalty ) and three penalty points each on their license for failing to obey double-yellow flag conditions. The other drivers in question got the "all clear". As a result of the penalty, Raikkonen and Latifi's positions got swapped in the final classification. Norris got two penalty points on his license, which took his tally to 10 in 12 months ( for the incident with Perez ). He was now two points away from a race ban. Meanwhile, Perez's tally went up to 8 after incurring two points each for his two incidents with Leclerc. 



In an incident-packed and penalty-strewn race, Verstappen remained flawless, comfortably taking the win and the maximum haul of points from the weekend. His lead at the front got extended to 32 points, while Red Bull outscored Mercedes for another weekend. The Dutchman could have won five consecutive races had it not been for the tyre delamination in Baku. Red Bull and Verstappen were the favourites for the crown. His teammate Perez got compromised after the incident with Norris, and in his quest to charge back up, got entangled with Leclerc and suffered punishments. Nevertheless, the Mexican finished in P5, which was enough to help Red Bull extend their lead to 44 points in the Constructors.



Hamilton and Mercedes had no answer, and the former struggled to stay in touch, especially after the damage on the rear of his car. Bottas was the stronger of the two teammates and bolstered his chances of retaining his drive for 2022. As for Mercedes, they have never had five race weekends without a victory in the Turbo Era. It was back to the drawing board before they line up for their home race in Silverstone.



Norris produced a stellar drive to take the final podium place, while teammate Ricciardo charged up the field to finish in P7 to ensure that McLaren outscores immediate rivals in Ferrari. Although Ricciardo couldn't hold off Sainz on the final lap, the Australian displayed a strong race pace and recovered well from the disappointments on Saturday. Norris remained the stronger of the two teammates, bagging his 3rd podium of 2021. Consistency was key for McLaren as they extended their lead to 19 points in the Constructors.



Ferrari had a double-points finish, with Sainz and Leclerc finishing in P5 and P8, respectively. Tyre management and an appropriate strategy call allowed Sainz to extract the maximum from the weekend. Leclerc got denied a better finish by Perez, who pushed him onto the gravel on two occasions. The Monegasque wasn't impressed by his tactics and had to settle for P8. Nevertheless, Ferrari stayed in touch with McLaren in the battle for P3.



Gasly ensured that Alpha Tauri outscored rivals Aston Martin and Alpine. Tsunoda made two rookie errors which cost him a shot for P10. The Japanese driver needed to iron out these mistakes if he wanted to justify his appointment and help Alpha Tauri stay P5 in the Championship. As for Aston Martin, Stroll finished in P12 while Vettel retired on the last lap after a clash with Raikkonen. The team didn't look as strong as they were on the previous two weekends but hoped to turn things around in the home race at Silverstone. 



Alonso was the saving grace for Alpine yet again. The Spaniard could have scored more points had it not been for the impeding by Vettel in Qualifying, which cost him a top 10 race start. Ocon, on the other hand, was the victim of an unfortunate accident. The Frenchman was in a lean patch and needed to step up his game. Alpine still trailed Aston Martin by 12 points, and it was yet another weekend of "what could have been". 



Alfa Romeo flattered to deceive again, and a rare mistake by Raikkonen on the final lap ended a disappointing race for the team. Giovinazzi was the stronger of the two on Saturday, but Raikkonen stepped up to the challenge on race day. The strategies adopted by the team were highly questionable, and they cannot afford slip-ups such as these in the face of a resurgent Williams.



Russell came very close to breaking his scoring duck with Williams. The Briton got denied by Alonso, who was appreciative of the talent that Russell possessed. The former F2 World Champion has been schooling his teammate Latifi, be it Qualifying or the Race. Latifi cannot afford mediocrity if he hopes to retain his drive for 2022. As for Haas, the rookies Schumacher and Mazepin remained at the back of the pack. It seems highly unlikely that Haas would manage to score any points in 2021.



The teams and drivers now get a two-week break before the battle resumes at the British GP in Silverstone. The circuit will also feature the new format of a race weekend as proposed by the FOM earlier in the year. The Grand Prix will also be the home race for seven teams, and they would be hoping for a strong showing in front of their supporters. 



Will Hamilton be able to use the home advantage to reduce Verstappen's lead at the front? Time will reveal all! Until then, Verstappen and Red Bull are on Maximum Attack and offering No Second Chances!

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1707237 2021-06-27T20:24:19Z 2021-06-27T20:38:45Z 2021 Styrian GP Race Recap : No Vers-Stopping the King of the Ring!

The Red Bull Ring was the season opener in the truncated 2020 F1 Season. The circuit in the hills of Styria and the town of Spielberg hosted back-to-back race weekends in the first triple-header of 2020. In 2021, the track returned to become the second and third races of the first triple-header. The first weekend got christened as "The Styrian GP" and the second "The Austrian GP".


The circuit had been a regular feature of the F1 calendar since 2014, and it also had the shortest lap time of the season. The track also has the second-highest elevation change on the F1 calendar. 



The Turkish GP, which got cancelled earlier in the year, made a return, getting hosted on the dates of Singapore GP weekend, bringing back the tally of 23 races in 2021. The FOM announced that the Russian GP would shift to Autodrom Igora Drive from 2023 onwards, a track to the north of St Petersberg. 

The FIA decided to slow down pitstops from the Hungarian GP, citing safety concerns. A "minimum reaction time got imposed, a move that invited mixed reactions from the F1 paddock. 

More details about the changes here : https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/fia-to-slow-down-formula-1-pitstops-from-hungarian-gp/6604158/



Dan Fallows, head of aerodynamics at Red Bull, jumped ship to become the Technical Director at Aston Martin Racing ( at the end of his contract ). 



In Austria, Mercedes enjoyed more success than Red Bull but were running 2nd best this year. The reigning World Champions got outfoxed and outpaced more often than not and needed to reduce the deficit to Red Bull. As for Red Bull, cooler track temperatures helped their car perform better, and in Perez, they had found an equally competitive driver to Verstappen. The weather forecast depicted thunderstorms for the weekend, which promised to add to the excitement and drama. Meanwhile, McLaren had extended their lead in the fight for 3rd, while Ferrari ate humble pie in France.



How did the teams fare in Styria? Did Hamilton reduce the deficit to Verstappen? Did Bottas reenergize his title aspirations? Time to revisit the events from the weekend!



Practice :


Track limits got enforced at turns 9 and 10, and there were a few lap time deletions on Friday.


Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo Reserve Driver, got the nod to take part in Free Practice 1, with Raikkonen sitting out the session.

FP1 got underway, with Sainz reporting throttle issues to his team. The Spaniard then suffered a spin at turn one, blocking the pit exit and holding up Bottas. Giovinazzi complained about Bottas on team radio for pushing him onto the grass, while Gasly expressed his displeasure after being held up by Sainz. Verstappen got held up by traffic on his flying lap, while Perez suffered a spin at turn four, which ruined his soft tyres. 


Verstappen topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 from Gasly and Hamilton. Bottas was 4th in the other Mercedes, followed by the Alpha Tauri of Tsunoda. The Alpines of Alonso and Ocon were 6th and 7th, with Stroll, Giovinazzi and Leclerc completing the top 10. 


Sainz was 11th quickest in the other Ferrari, followed by Ricciardo and Perez, who could only manage 13th. Vettel was 14th in the other Aston Martin, with Norris splitting the Williams of Russell and Latifi in 16th. Schumacher, Kubica and Mazepin completed the rear of the field.




A sensor issue on the Power unit denied Gasly participation in FP2. 

Rain clouds gathered over the circuit at the start of FP2, and there was an 80% chance of rain. The drivers quickly commenced their Qualifying and Race simulations. While Sainz and Mazepin suffered from spins at turn five after putting a wheel in the gravel, Hamilton managed to keep his Mercedes facing the right direction. Turn three saw Hamilton and Verstappen run wide, while Leclerc had to take correcting action after taking too much of the inside kerb. 


Latifi was yet another driver to suffer from a spin at turn 6, but the most shocking incident was in the pit lane. Bottas pitted for the hard tyres, and as he exited his box, he lost the rear of his car, resulting in a spin and going sideways through the pit lane. The McLaren mechanics helped the Finn in getting him turned around. Although Bottas laughed it off, McLaren reported it to the FIA, and consequently, post-session, Bottas suffered a three-place grid penalty for the race along with two penalty points. Hamilton went to the top of the timesheets, only to have his lap deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 10.


Verstappen was the fastest at the end of FP2 from Ricciardo. Hamilton split the Alpines of Ocon and Alonso in 4th, while Norris was in an Aston Martin sandwich of Vettel and Stroll in 7th. Perez was 9th in the other Red Bull, followed by Giovinazzi, who completed the top 10.  


Sainz was 11th for Ferrari, followed by Bottas and teammate Leclerc. Raikkonen was 14th in the other Alfa Romeo, with Tsunoda and Russell slotting in in P15 and P16, respectively. The Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin were 17th and 18th, with Latifi 19th and Gasly failing to set a time in FP2. 



Red Bull and Honda power seemed to have an edge at the end of Friday running, but Hamilton and Mercedes' lap time deletion due to track limits masked their actual pace. The penalty meted to Bottas didn't help matters, and the Finn continued to struggle with balance in both sessions. Alpine had a strong showing, and it seemed that they could bridge the gap to those ahead in the midfield battle. Less than a second separated the top 17 drivers in FP1 and 15 in FP2; this meant that Qualifying would be a close affair come Saturday afternoon. 



Alpha Tauri fitted a new MGU-K on Gasly's car after discovering a data anomaly that forced him to sit out FP2. 


FP3 got underway under clear skies, and the teams took their time before sending the drivers on track. Bottas exited the garage and had to take avoiding action from hitting Gasly, who got released into his path. Mazepin suffered a spin at turn one, while Russell was the fastest man on track early in the session, with Verstappen and Bottas taking over the reins after their low fuel runs. However, it was Hamilton who ended FP3 the fastest, two tenths clear of Verstappen and Bottas. Perez was 4th in the other Red Bull, followed by the Alpha Tauris of Tsunoda and Gasly. Leclerc was 7th for Ferrari, with Alonso, Stroll and Vettel completing the top 10. 


The Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi was P11. Ocon and Sainz slotted in in 12th and 13th, respectively. Russell was 14th, followed by Raikkonen and Schumacher. P17 was the best that Ricciardo could manage, with Latifi, Norris and Mazepin completing the back of the field. There were many lap time deletions in FP3 due to drivers exceeding track limits.




Qualifying :


The start of Q1 saw the Williams and Haas cars out on track. The rest of the field ( barring the Alpine drivers ) followed a few minutes after, everyone opting for the soft tyres. Some drivers opted for multiple runs with two cool-down laps instead of one. Mazepin and Gasly got their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 9. 


Verstappen, Bottas, Norris, Hamilton, Leclerc and Gasly were the top 6, with Giovinazzi, Russell, Raikkonen, Schumacher and Mazepin facing elimination with six minutes remaining of Q1. Less than a tenth of a second covered the top three. The final minutes of Q1 saw the top 4 drivers stay put while the rest of the field emerged from the pits with a fresh set of soft tyres. A traffic jam formed up in the final sector, but no impeding got reported, thankfully. 


The lap times came down, and the top 6 changed to Verstappen, Bottas, Norris, Tsunoda, Perez and Hamilton at the end of Q1. Ricciardo scraped through in 15th despite setting the fastest time in sector one. Less than a second separated 18 drivers as Latifi, Ocon, Raikkonen, Schumacher and Mazepin got eliminated. 



Tyre choice was paramount in Q2, and Red Bull decided to send Perez out on the soft tyres. Russell was another to do likewise, while the Mercedes drivers, Verstappen and Giovinazzi, opted for the mediums. The other drivers stayed put, waiting for more rubber to get laid on the track. Bottas managed to set a representative lap time, but Mercedes informed him that his time was unsafe. The Finn had to do another flying lap. Hamilton, on the other hand, locked up his tyres at turn three. The off-track moment cost him time and compromised his Qualifying and Race plans. The rest of the field joined the party ( on soft tyres ) with 9 minutes remaining in Q2. 


Gasly, Verstappen, Norris, Perez, Hamilton and Tsunoda were the top 6 with Leclerc, Vettel, Russell, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi in the drop zone with 6 minutes remaining. Bottas emerged from the pits with another set of mediums and went third quickest. Only twenty-four thousandths of a second separated the top 4 drivers. Hamilton was the next to do another run on a fresh set of mediums but could only manage P5. Gasly stayed put while the rest of the field switched to the soft tyres for the final minutes of Q2. Sainz, Stroll and Vettel had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits. 


Perez, Norris, Gasly, Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Alonso, Tsunoda, Leclerc and Stroll went through to Q3, while Russell, Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel and Giovinazzi got eliminated. It was a matter of close margins again as only half a second separated the top 11 drivers, Russell missing out on a Q3 appearance by eight-thousandths of a second!



Q3 got underway, with Hamilton heading out on track early to put in a banker lap. While Stroll decided to go out of sync with the rest, others emerged with soft tyres for their first runs of Q3. Verstappen went the quickest, two-tenths clear of Hamilton with Norris in 3rd and Bottas in 4th. Replays showed that Bottas got impeded by Tsunoda on his flying lap. The incident got flagged for investigation post Qualifying, and Tsunoda incurred a three-place grid penalty. Hamilton pushed for another lap and reduced the gap to Verstappen by another tenth. 


P8 was the best Stroll could manage on his only run of Q3, and as the Canadian returned to the pits, the others went out for one final push for pole position. Hamilton was concerned with track position and fast-tracked his out-lap, jumping a train of cars for his flying lap. The decision backfired as the Briton failed to improve in sectors one and two and eventually running wide at the penultimate turn. Bottas, however, jumped up to P2, but Verstappen's lap from earlier remained unchallenged.


The Dutchman took pole position from Bottas and Hamilton. Bottas' penalty pushed him down to 5th, promoting Norris to P3. Perez was 4th in the other Red Bull, with Gasly taking up P6 alongside Bottas. Leclerc and Tsunoda were on row 4, with Alonso and Stroll on row 5. However, Tsunoda's penalty bumped him down to P11, with Russell starting P10 with a free tyre choice.



Verstappen had been flawless in Qualifying and deservedly bagged pole position for the Styrian GP. Red Bull split the tyre strategy with Perez starting the race on soft tyres in P4. Having won twice in the past three years, Verstappen had a great opportunity to extend his lead in the Championship. Hamilton's performance was ragged, and the reigning World Champion quipped that he needed to bring his "A-game" to the race. Bottas' error in FP2 cost him dearly, but the Finn had the luxury of starting the race on the cleaner side. The duo, like Verstappen, would start the race on medium tyres. Mercedes lost out to Red Bull in straight-line speed, but Sunday promised fans an intriguing battle between these Turbo Era giants.



Norris produced a stellar lap to inherit 3rd. Meanwhile, his teammate Ricciardo struggled in the other McLaren, qualifying in 13th. Nevertheless, McLaren had the opportunity of extending their lead over Ferrari in the battle for 3rd. Gasly equalled his best starting position again, while Tsunoda, despite his heroics in Qualifying, got penalized for impeding, eventually starting the race in 11th. Alpha Tauri was locked in a heated battle with Aston Martin and needed a good haul of points to ensure that it stayed ahead in the Constructors. Leclerc remained the stronger of the two drivers at Ferrari, doing his best to qualify P7. Sainz, on the other hand, could manage only 12th. Ferrari was going backwards since the past two races and needed to iron out the flaws to stay in contention for P3.



Qualifying was a mixed bag for Alpine, with Alonso starting in P8 but Ocon a lowly 17th. The latter's performance was a disappointment considering that both cars had been in the top 10 on Friday. However, Sunday was the day that mattered, and fortunes could turn. Stroll looked more settled than Vettel at Aston Martin, but a free tyre choice coupled with a strong race pace could help Vettel break into the top 10 on race day. Russell was the star of Qualifying in his Williams. The Briton narrowly missed out on Q3 but got promoted to P10 and had the luxury of a free tyre choice. He hoped to score the first points of the season. His teammate Latifi could only manage 16th but had a comparable race pace. Giovinazzi out-qualified his more experienced teammate in Raikkonen, but Alfa Romeo lacked the pace to challenge those ahead. Haas, like Alfa Romeo, didn't have the speed due to the Ferrari PU faltering in straight-line speed and remained destined at the back of the field.



The Red Bull Ring's three DRS zones offered ample overtaking opportunities, and a lot could change come Sunday.



Race :


C2, C3 and C4 were the dry tyre compounds available for the race, and Pirelli predicted a one-stop race. The risk of rain was 40%, and a mammoth 71 laps awaited the 20 drivers fighting for supremacy at Red Bull Ring.


Raikkonen was the only driver to start on the hard tyres, while those outside the top 10 ( including Russell ) opted for the mediums. 


The five red lights went out, and it was a clean getaway for Verstappen and Hamilton. Perez jumped Norris for P3 only to lose the position a turn later. Further back, Alonso, Gasly and Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel, and Leclerc tried to get into the slipstream behind Gasly. The Monegasque made an error of judgement, his front wing clipping the rear left wheel of Gasly's car. Gasly got a puncture, and Leclerc damaged his front wing. As Gasly tried to tippy-toe his way at turn 3, he hit Giovinazzi, which spun the latter around and clipped Latifi's Williams too. It was race over for the Frenchman as he returned to the pits with suspension damage on the rear. 


Stroll made a bold overtake on Alonso for P7, while Russell was up to 8th. Ricciardo and Raikkonen were two other drivers who made up places on the opening lap, with Ricciardo in 9th and Raikkonen in 14th. 


Leclerc pitted on lap 2, taking on a new front wing and switching to the hard tyres. Latifi suffered a puncture from the contact made with Gasly and switched to the soft tyres after his pit stop on the same lap. 


Verstappen was the fastest man on track and was 1.5 seconds clear at the front. Meanwhile, Giovinazzi started his recovery with a move on Schumacher for P16. 


Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris, Perez, Bottas, Stroll, Alonso, Russell, Ricciardo and Tsunoda were the top 6 at the end of lap 5.


Ricciardo, who made up four places at the start of the race, fell back to 13th after he suffered a power drop off in his McLaren. Thankfully, the team addressed the issue through changes in the settings, but the Australian's race got compromised. Meanwhile, Perez had been pressuring Norris for P3 and finally got past him on lap 10. Norris then lost another position to Bottas a lap later. McLaren informed Norris that they were sticking to plan A and extending his stint on the soft tyres.


At the front, Verstappen had opened up a three seconds lead. Leclerc got past Schumacher and Mazepin and was upto P16 on lap 15. A train of cars was forming up behind Alonso, who was running in 7th. Six drivers were vying for P7, but DRS access for all denied them the chance of making an overtake. Williams discovered a reliability issue on Russell's car and told him that they were shifting to "Plan B".


Verstappen was the fastest man on track when Leclerc got past Giovinazzi for P15 ( lap 23 ). The pit stop window had opened for those who had started the race on soft tyres, but Mazepin ( on the mediums ) was the first driver to switch to the hard tyres, rejoining in 18th.


The battle for P3 was hotting up with Bottas closing in on Perez. Leclerc got past Ocon for P14, while Giovinazzi pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in P17 ( lap 25 ). Hamilton put a wheel in the gravel at turn four while pushing hard but fortunately prevented his Mercedes from spinning. Russell pitted for the hard tyres on lap 27, but it was a slow stop as the Williams mechanics cleared debris from the side-pod and tried to address the pneumatic pressure. The Briton rejoined in 17th but had to pit again, a lap later, for pressure refilling. 


Red Bull called Perez in for a pit stop on lap 27 since the Mexican had started the race on soft tyres. However, the rear left tyre got stuck, leading to a 4.8 seconds stop. The slow pit stop offered Mercedes the opportunity to help Bottas jump Perez, and it was job done on lap 28. Tsunoda, Alonso and Vettel pitted for hard tyres on laps 27 and 28 as well. 


Lap 29 saw Hamilton and Stroll switch to the hard tyres, with Verstappen pitting a lap later and maintaining his lead of 4.5 seconds at the front. Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen exchanged fastest laps while Norris pitted for the hard tyres on lap 32. The Briton rejoined in P7 but quickly relegated Raikkonen at turn three. 


Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Perez, Sainz, Norris, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of lap 36.


Raikkonen, who had started the race on hard tyres, switched to the mediums while Ocon did the opposite on lap 38, the duo rejoining in P14 and P15, respectively. Leclerc pitted for mediums a lap later, while Williams couldn't address the PU issues on Russell's car and retired him on lap 39. Sainz and Ricciardo pitted for hard tyres on lap 43, while Leclerc got past Raikkonen for P13. The Ferrari driver cut across Raikkonen, which damaged his front wing, and the Finn made his displeasure known over team radio. Meanwhile, his teammate Sainz relegated Stroll to P7 on lap 45. 


Leclerc continued his charge up the field with a move on Giovinazzi for P11 on lap 46. He then pushed Vettel out of the points on lap 51. At the front, Verstappen extended his lead to 7 seconds. 


Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Perez, Norris, Sainz, Stroll, Alonso, Tsunoda and Leclerc were in the top 10 at the end of lap 53. 


Ricciardo got past ex-teammate Ocon for P14 on lap 55, while Hamilton reported blistering on his front tyres. Red Bull sprung a surprise on lap 56 as they pitted Perez for medium tyres, giving him the chance of getting the point for the fastest lap. Perez obliged on lap 58. Meanwhile, Leclerc had been pressuring Tsunoda for P9, and it was job done for the Monegasque on lap 55. He then relegated Alonso to 9th a lap later. Raikkonen got past teammate Giovinazzi for P12, while Hamilton received a track-limits warning for abusing the limits at turn 10. 


Perez was setting blistering lap times and closing in on Bottas at a rate of knots. Further down the field, Leclerc got past Stroll for P7, while Ricciardo relegated Giovinazzi to P14. Giovinazzi then lost another position to Ocon on lap 64. Dark clouds were hovering over the circuit, and the risk of rain intensified. Sainz, who was on fresher tyres, got the nod to un-lap himself from Hamilton, while Perez reduced the deficit to Bottas to 6.5 seconds ( lap 66 ). 


Raikkonen overtook Vettel for P11 on lap 69, while Mercedes decided to pit Hamilton for a set of soft tyres on lap 70. Hamilton then pushed for the point for the fastest lap. Perez was within DRS range of Bottas on the final lap of the race in the battle for P3. 


Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and Victory at the Styrian GP. Hamilton crossed the finish line in 2nd and also took the point for the fastest lap. Bottas managed to fend off Perez, and half a second separated them at the end. 


Norris came home in 5th, with the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc in 6th and 7th, respectively. Stroll was 8th for Aston Martin, followed by Alonso and Tsunoda, who completed the top 10.


Raikkonen was 11th in his Alfa Romeo, ahead of Vettel and Ricciardo. Ocon could only manage P14, with Giovinazzi and Schumacher coming home in P15 and P16. Latifi and Mazepin completed the classified finishers.



Two new records got set in the sport's history: Car with number 7 completed the most race starts, and Hamilton equalled Schumacher's record of second-place finishes.



Records aside, Mercedes failed to win for four consecutive race weekends. Verstappen extended his lead to 18 points while Red Bull was 40 clear off Mercedes in the Constructors'. Bottas returned to the podium after three races and could have finished higher had it not been for the penalty. Mercedes had a double podium finish, yet Red Bull outscored their rivals by three points. Such had been Verstappen's dominance that he lapped everyone up to Norris in P4. Mercedes couldn't match Red Bull's pace despite extracting the maximum out of their W12. 



McLaren stayed in 3rd but had its lead cut short due to both the Ferraris finishing in 6th and 7th. Ricciardo's engine issue cost them dearly, but Norris was the saving grace for the Woking-based outfit. Stellar drives by Sainz and Leclerc saw Ferrari reduce the deficit in the battle for 3rd to 12 points. Leclerc's race got compromised after his coming together on lap one, and a finish higher up could have been on the cards. He got awarded the "Driver of the Day".



Gasly's retirement dealt a blow to Alpha Tauri's lead over Aston Martin. The Frenchman was unfortunate to be on the receiving end at the start of the race, but thankfully, his teammate Tsunoda ensured that the team didn't end the weekend empty-handed. However, it was a "what could have been" weekend for the Italian outfit. Stroll produced a strong drive for Aston Martin, but Vettel was in no man's land in terms of his strategy. The team managed four points, and only two separated them from Alpha Tauri in the battle for P5 in the Constructors. 



Alonso was slowly getting to grips with his Alpine and was the more successful of the two teammates in 9th. Alpine remained in touch with their immediate rivals but needed Ocon to step up his performances too. The Frenchman had a mercurial weekend, managing only P14. It was a case of "so near yet so far" for Raikkonen and Alfa Romeo as they finished one position shy of the points. The Finn put in a stellar drive to make up seven places, but Qualifying and a questionable race strategy denied him a higher finish. As for teammate Giovinazzi, who got spun on the opening lap, got damage on his car that cost him places and compromised the Italian's race. It was a day of damage limitation for him. 



Russell had done everything possible to finish in the points, but a problem with the PU and the pneumatic pressure denied the Briton a points-finish in 2021. P17 was the best that Latifi could achieve, and the team needed to be careful to not miss out on points scoring opportunities when they come their way. The Haas drivers were in a contest of their own, and Schumacher remained the more successful of the two teammates. 



Verstappen had been flawless all weekend, not giving an inkling of a chance to Hamilton. Mercedes and co. have less than a week to turn it around. Thankfully, they will have data to work with and hope to minimize the deficit to the new leaders of the Turbo Era. There was no stopping Verstappen in the Styrian GP, the King of the Red Bull Ring.



Would he repeat the feat a week later, or would Hamilton, Bottas and Co turn the tables? Bring on the Austrian Grand Prix!

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1705470 2021-06-20T20:59:11Z 2021-06-20T21:16:12Z 2021 French GP Race Recap : Bull-ish Undercuts on Strategy Sunday!


The 2021 F1 Season returned to the heart of Europe to the southeastern part of France for the French Grand Prix. Circuit Paul Ricard was the first race of the first triple-header of the season. The circuit, constructed in 1969, offered multiple configurations with the current layout spanning 5.842 km. The track returned to the F1 calendar in 2018 but got cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic COVID-19. The circuit is distinctive for its Blue and Red run-off areas, the latter having a more abrasive surface to bring cars to a stop and prevent them from hitting the Tecpro barriers. The 1800m long Mistral Straight is another highlight of this track.



Baku had seen a topsy turvy contest with Perez and Red Bull coming out on top, but Verstappen failing to finish a race due to tyre delamination. Hamilton's record streak of consecutive points finishes came to an end after a mistake at the restart in Baku. Although the status quo got maintained in the Drivers' Championship, Red Bull extended their lead in the Constructors'. 



The two tyre delaminations in Baku ( Stroll and Verstappen ) brought about an investigation by Pirelli to ascertain the cause. Their findings revealed: "the failures were down to a circumferential break on the inner sidewall, which can be related to the running conditions of the tyre despite the prescribed starting parameters getting followed". Red Bull and Aston Martin shared statements, claiming that their cars were in adherence with the recommended tyre pressures, as provided by Pirelli.


More details shared here: https://racer.com/2021/06/15/pirelli-identifies-cause-of-baku-failures/



Post investigation, a new set of technical directives and protocols got agreed upon between Pirelli and the FIA, and the same got distributed to the teams. However, the teams desired to seek more clarity on the issue.



Leading up to the French GP weekend, Williams underwent an internal restructuring, with Jost Capito taking on the responsibilities of Team Principal from Simon Roberts and FX Demaison becoming the technical chief. 


Esteban Ocon signed a three year deal with Alpine Racing, which would keep him with the French outfit until the end of 2024. Mercedes had planned to give Grosjean a farewell test in their W10 on the French GP weekend. However, Grosjean was in the US with Indycar and citing travel and quarantine restrictions, Mercedes got forced to delay the test to later in the summer.



Honda's power units on Red Bull and Alpha Tauri sported the "e: Technology" badge, the name given to Honda's concept of high-efficiency electrification technology. Meanwhile, Mercedes swapped the chassis between its drivers, calling it "standard procedure".



McLaren was running a special tribute to the late Mansour Ojjeh (who passed away on 6th June ), a shareholder and a significant figure in the team. The team had new helmet designs, car livery, uniforms and garage decor in his honour.



So how did the contenders to the crown fair in Le Castellet? Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Roy Nissany got the chance to participate in FP1 in place of Russell. Free Practice 1 got underway, and gusty conditions at turn eleven claimed the first victim in Vettel, who got spun around and hit the barriers. The abrasive tarmac in the Red run-off zone was instrumental in slowing his Aston Martin, however. Verstappen ran wide over the kerbs at the same turn and damaged his Red Bull's floor. Sainz got spun around at turns two and three, his soft tyres destroyed due to the abrasive run-off areas. Bottas suffered damage on his front wing after he went over the yellow kerbs, while Schumacher hit the barriers but managed to continue his run. The rookie Tsunoda suffered a slow spin at the last corner.


The Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton topped the timesheets, followed by the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez. Ricciardo split the Alpines of Ocon and Alonso in 6th, while teammate Norris split the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Tsunoda in 9th. 


Leclerc could manage only 11th in his Ferrari, followed by Giovinazzi and Raikkonen. The Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel were 14th and 15th, and Sainz 16th in the other Ferrari. Latifi, Mazepin, Schumacher and Nissany brought up the rear of the field.



It was time for FP2, and the teams began their Qualifying and Race simulations with earnestness. Verstappen suffered front wing damage after going over the kerbs at turn two, while Mazepin complained about seat discomfort. Leclerc had to run wide to avoid hitting Ocon while Perez got held up by a Haas on his flying lap. Sainz had an offtrack moment at turn three while Mazepin suffered a spin but continued with his program.


Verstappen was the quickest at the end of FP2, eight-thousandths of a second clear of Bottas with Hamilton a further two-tenths adrift. Leclerc split the Alpines of Alonso and Ocon in 5th, while Gasly, Sainz, Raikkonen and Norris completed the top 10.


Giovinazzi was 11th in the other Alfa Romeo, followed by Tsunoda, a second slower than Verstappen's best time. Ricciardo was 14th, with the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll in 15th and 16th. Russell led Latifi, while Schumacher got the better of Mazepin at the back of the field.



The Mercedes seemed to have the edge over Red Bull, be it in Qualifying or Race-Trim. Bottas was the more settled of the two Mercedes drivers. The Alpines also displayed a competitive race pace, closely followed by McLaren and Alpha Tauri. The Ferrari powered cars seemed to struggle from balance issues while Aston Martin was nowhere close to other midfield contenders. 


McLaren detected a sensor issue on Ricciardo's gearbox and got forced to break the curfew restrictions by the FIA. No penalty incurred. 



The lights went green for the start of FP3, but no driver emerged from the pits in the first seven minutes. Mazepin was the first driver out on the circuit and suffered a spin at turn two. The abrasive run-off area destroyed his tyres, and the Russian had to tip-toe his Haas back to the pits. Soon enough, the track became a busy place with all drivers running their qualifying simulation programs with fresh sets of soft tyres. Verstappen was the quickest at the end of FP3, more than seven-tenths clear of Bottas and Sainz. Perez was 4th in the other Red Bull, followed by Hamilton and Norris. The Alpines of Alonso and Ocon were 7th and 8th, with Gasly and Ricciardo completing the top 10.


Leclerc was P11, followed by Giovinazzi and the Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel. Raikkonen was 15th in the other Alfa Romeo, with Tsunoda splitting the Williams of Russell and Latifi in P17. Schumacher and Mazepin were at the back of the field for Haas.


Track limits got enforced at turn six on Saturday morning, and Sainz and Norris were two drivers who suffered from lap time deletions in FP3.



Qualifying :


Mercedes executed setup changes on Hamilton's car before the start of Qualifying in a bid to make the car more "driveable" for the Briton. 


Q1 got underway, and softs were the tyre of choice for everyone. The drivers had just begun their first runs when Tsunoda lost control of his Alpha Tauri at turn two and ended up hitting the barriers rearwards. The rookie couldn't get going again, and the session got red-flagged.


The session restarted with most of the drivers opting to do two runs in the first stint. Everyone was out on track with 11 minutes left on the clock. Stroll suffered from a lap time deletion for exceeding track limits at turn six.


Verstappen, Perez, Bottas, Hamilton, Gasly and Norris were the top six with Leclerc, Raikkonen, Mazepin, Stroll and Tsunoda in the drop zone at the end of the first runs. Leclerc went for another flying lap and improved to 11th, dropping Latifi down to 16th. Hamilton did likewise and improved to 2nd. The Red Bulls, Mercedes and Norris decided to stay put for the final minutes of Q1. The other drivers vying for a place in Q2 were setting personal best sector times when Schumacher got spun around and hit the barriers at turn six. The German's Haas got wrecked, and only 22 seconds remained of Q1. The stewards red-flagged the session again with the notification that Q1 wouldn't restart.


Latifi, Raikkonen, Mazepin, Stroll and Tsunoda got eliminated. Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Bottas, Norris and Gasly were the top six at the end of Q1, with Russell getting through to Q2 by a mere two-thousandths of a second. Schumacher was through to Q2 as well but couldn't take any further part due to his accident.



The Qualifying simulations from the practice sessions had revealed that the soft tyres had a small shelf life. Barring Russell, the other 13 drivers opted for the medium tyres for their first runs. All drivers were out on track with 11 minutes left on the clock. Norris suffered a lap time deletion for exceeding track limits at turn six. The Alpine drivers decided to go out of sync with the others, and at the end of the first runs, Perez, Verstappen, Sainz, Bottas, Gasly and Hamilton were the top 6. Norris went for another flying lap and managed to complete a legitimate round, ending 7th quickest. Hamilton chose to do the same and went to the top of the timesheets. The drivers in the drop zone were: Ocon, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Schumacher. 


Perez, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi switched to the soft tyres for their final runs. Norris was on his out lap when McLaren asked him to return to the pits. It got revealed later that McLaren was facing fueling issues in Qualifying. Gasly was on a blistering lap but exceeded track limits at turn six, resulting in his lap deletion. Perez and Ricciardo's times remained unchallenged, and the duo slowed enough to ensure that their fastest laps of Q2 were on the medium tyres.


Bottas, Hamilton, Perez, Verstappen, Sainz, Gasly, Norris, Alonso, Leclerc and Ricciardo got through to Q3 with Ocon, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Schumacher suffering elimination.



Q3 got underway, and except for Ricciardo and Alonso, the rest opted for the soft tyres. Gasly suffered from a lap time deletion again for exceeding track limits at turn six. Verstappen was on "provisional pole", almost four-tenths clear of Hamilton in 2nd. Perez was half a second adrift in 3rd, with Bottas setting the 4th quickest time after the first runs. 


The final minutes of Q3 saw all ten drivers get a fresh set of soft tyres, and the battle for pole position was hotting up. 


Hamilton went purple in sector one, but Verstappen went the quickest in sectors two and three to bag pole position! Hamilton qualified 2nd, two and a half tenths shy of Verstappen's time. Bottas improved to 3rd, with Perez taking 4th in the other Red Bull. Less than half a second separated the top four qualifiers. 


Row 3 got taken up by Sainz and Gasly, while Leclerc and Norris were 7th and 8th, respectively. Alonso and Ricciardo completed the top 10.



France had been Mercedes' fortress, but Red Bull broke the dominance on Saturday. Verstappen finally managed to land his first pole position of 2021, carrying on the form exhibited by him since Friday. Red Bull was glad to have Perez on the sharp end of the grid, and they hoped to outscore Mercedes and extend their lead in the Constructors' come Sunday. As for Hamilton, who was playing catch up, a setup change before Qualifying got him closer to his competitor. Bottas had a lacklustre weekend in Baku and needed a stellar performance to bring his title challenge back on track. 


Sainz converted his practice sessions form into Qualifying, becoming the best of the rest, and the Ferrari man had a chance to score a decent haul of points. His teammate Leclerc wasn't far behind in 7th. In a tightly contested midfield, Gasly remained the shining light for Alpha Tauri. The Frenchman qualified a commendable 6th at his home race. Another mistake by rookie Tsunoda invited scrutiny over his worthiness of an F1 drive. McLaren and Alpine were in the mix, too, with Ocon having the luxury of a free tyre choice come Sunday. 


It was a bitter-sweet day for Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo. While Vettel and Giovinazzi made it into Q2, Stroll and Raikkonen got caught out due to Schumacher's accident near the end of Q1, jeopardizing their chances of starting higher up for the race. Williams and Haas had a car each in Q2, but holding off those behind them on race day was a different challenge altogether.




Race :


C2, C3 and C4 were the tyre compounds available for the 53 laps race. The track had been wet in the morning during the F3 race but dried for the F1 race. Conditions were gusty, and the risk of rain was 10 %.


Tsunoda had a pitlane start after Alpha Tauri switched his car's floor to a different specification besides changing the suspension and gearbox post his crash on Sunday.


Russell, Schumacher, Latifi and Tsunoda chose the medium tyres, while the rest chose the hards ( outside the top 10 ). Pirelli predicted a one-stop strategy, but there was the option of a two-stopper as well ( should a team opt to go aggressive ). 



The five red lights went out, and it was time to go racing! Verstappen and Hamilton had great starts off the line, and Verstappen led the field going into turn one. However, the Dutchman lost the rear-end of his car due to the gusty winds and ended up going wide at turn two. Hamilton inherited the lead of the race, while Verstappen slotted back into 2nd. Bottas and Perez remained 3rd and 4th while Norris lost two positions and fell back to P9. Further down the field, Schumacher went backwards and was down in P18, while Raikkonen made up three places ending up in P14. 


Hamilton started building a lead at the front and was 1.5 seconds clear of Verstappen. Meanwhile, Norris went wide at turn one, which allowed teammate Ricciardo to snatch P9. Vettel got past Ocon for P11, while Stroll overtook Latifi for P15 ( lap 2 ). 


Verstappen was the fastest man on track while Schumacher lost two positions to Russell and Mazepin at the back of the field. Tsunoda, who had started from the pit lane, was up to P16 with an overtake on Latifi ( lap 4 ). Bottas began to hone in on Verstappen as he went about setting blistering laps. Ricciardo began to pressure Alonso for P8, while Stroll got past Raikkonen for P14 ( lap 9 ).



Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Perez, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc, Alonso, Ricciardo, Norris were the top 10 at the end of lap 10. 



The Mercedes drivers began to report graining on their medium tyres, and some drivers reported a loss of tyre performance. Alonso was one such driver and ended up losing three places to Ricciardo, Norris and Vettel in the space of three laps. Meanwhile, Russell got past teammate Latifi for P17. A lock-up by Bottas at turn three allowed Verstappen to build a gap to the Finn. Stroll got past Giovinazzi for P13 and Ricciardo overtook Leclerc for P7 on lap 14.


Leclerc was the first from the top 10 to pit for hard tyres on lap 15, emerging in P19. Soon after, he got past Mazepin for P18. Tsunoda did likewise, a lap later, and rejoined P20 and last. A slew of pit stops followed, with every driver switching to the hard tyres. The undercut worked for Leclerc and Ricciardo, who managed to jump Sainz and Gasly after their round of pit stops. 


Mercedes decided to pit Bottas on lap 18, but the Finn failed to jump Verstappen when he completed his stop a lap later. The gap, however, had reduced to a second. Alonso and Latifi also pitted for the hard tyres on lap 19, rejoining in P15 and P18, respectively. Mercedes asked Hamilton to "use all the grip left" as he pitted on lap 20. The team believed they had built a gap big enough to emerge ahead of Verstappen. Hamilton's stop for hard tyres was a tenth quicker than Verstappen's, but as he exited the pits, the Briton got overtaken by the Dutchman going into turn one. Verstappen had taken the effective lead of the race! Further up the field, his teammate Perez got asked to extend his stint on the medium tyres. 


Bottas was the fastest man on track as both Mercedes cars stayed within the DRS range of Verstappen, who managed to fend off the challenge. Raikkonen, who had started the race on hards, lost performance on his tyres and relinquished P10 and P11 to Leclerc and Ricciardo. He then dropped back to P14, with Sainz and Gasly getting the better of him too. Leclerc continued his charge up the field with a move on Giovinazzi for P9 on lap 24. 


Red Bull finally pitted Perez for hard tyres on lap 25, the Mexican rejoining in P4. Norris did likewise and rejoined in P14. The drivers who had pitted caught up to those who had started their race on the hard tyres. A slew of overtakes followed over the next three laps. Giovinazzi got relegated to P12 by Ricciado, Sainz and Gasly; Norris and Alonso got past Raikkonen for P13 and P14, while Ocon got bumped down to P12 by Leclerc, Ricciardo, Gasly and Norris. 


The midfield battle was hotting up, and Ricciardo got the better of Leclerc for P7 on lap 29, while Norris pressured Gasly for P10, the duo making contact at turn 11. Ocon and Giovinazzi finally pitted for the medium tyres on lap 29, rejoining in 17th and 18th. Meanwhile, in the battle for P10, Norris managed to get past Gasly, and the duo relegated Leclerc to P11. The Monegasque was the first to pit for hard tyres, and his tyres had fallen off the cliff. Norris then got past ex-teammate Sainz for P8, while Leclerc lost P11 to Alonso on lap 32.


The front runners complained about tyre graining, and Verstappen quipped that he couldn't maintain the current pace if he were to finish the race with a one-stop strategy. Bottas too hinted at changing to a two-stopper. The gap between the top three began to open up, and Red Bull decided to switch Verstappen to the medium tyres on lap 33. The Dutchman pitted for a set of mediums and emerged P4 behind teammate Perez. He had an 18 seconds deficit to cover to Hamilton.  Meanwhile, Raikkonen lost two positions to Tsunoda and Russell before making his only pit stop on lap 35 for medium tyres. 


McLaren asked Ricciardo and Norris to swap places to allow the latter to attack those ahead with fresher tyres. The move paid dividends when Norris got past Stroll ( who was yet to pit ) for P6 on lap 35. Stroll pitted for soft tyres on lap 35, rejoining in 14th. Meanwhile, Perez let Verstappen by on lap 36, and the duo began to hunt down the Mercedes drivers together. Verstappen was the fastest man on track, lapping 2 seconds quicker than Hamilton at the front. The gap was down to 12 seconds with 17 laps remaining.


Gasly and Alonso got past Sainz, relegating him to P10. Vettel, the only driver yet to stop, pitted for mediums on lap 39 and rejoined in 11th. Leclerc made another stop in the race, switching to the mediums and rejoining in P16. Raikkonen got past Latifi for P17 while Stroll relegated Tsunoda to P12. Meanwhile, Verstappen continued his charge to the front and reduced the deficit to Hamilton to 6.5 seconds.


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Norris, Ricciardo, Gasly, Alonso, Sainz and Vettel were the top 10 at the end of lap 43.


Verstappen had honed in on Bottas and was within the DRS range. The Dutchman pressured Bottas, who out-braked himself going into turn one. The mistake allowed Verstappen to close up and get past him for P2 on lap 45! It wasn't the defence that Mercedes were hoping for from Bottas, but he was out of tyre life. Only 4.5 seconds separated Verstappen from Hamilton, and the final few laps promised to be a tense affair. Meanwhile, Bottas didn't mince his words on team radio as he expressed his displeasure with the team for not heeding his advice of switching to a two-stop strategy. 


Hamilton tried his best to maintain a 4 seconds lead over Verstappen, but the battle for P3 hotted up as Perez closed in on Bottas. It was job done for Perez on lap 49, and Red Bull was looking at a double podium finish. Verstappen kept eating away into Hamilton's lead, bringing it down to 2 seconds by lap 50, and on lap 51, the Dutchman got within the DRS range. 


Verstappen made a comfortable pass on Hamilton ( with DRS ) to take the lead on the penultimate lap! The reigning World Champion could offer little resistance.


Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and victory at the French GP! Hamilton came home in 2nd, with Perez completing a double podium for Red Bull in 3rd. 4th was the best that Bottas could achieve, followed by the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo. Gasly finished a commendable 7th, with Alonso, Vettel and Stroll completing the top 10.


Sainz finished in P11 for Ferrari, with Russell and Tsunoda 12th and 13th, respectively. Ocon was 14th in the other Alpine, and Leclerc split the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in 16th. Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin completed the rear of the field.


Interestingly, all 20 drivers finished the race, and there was no VSC or Safety Car incident the entire race. 



Verstappen got the "Driver of the Day" and scored his first hattrick of 2021 - Pole, Fastest Lap and Race Victory. The win helped him extend his lead to 12 points in the Drivers' Championship. As for Red Bull, they outscored Mercedes and led the Constructors' Championship by 37 points. 



Red Bull had come up second best in Spain and was on the receiving end when Mercedes had adopted the same strategy then. It was payback time in France. Meanwhile, Perez, in the other Red Bull, had driven a stellar race to 3rd. Red Bull's search for a driver who would deliver the goods like Verstappen was finally over. 



Mercedes and Hamilton were bewildered by the effectiveness of the undercut. The team apologized to Hamilton for the strategy gaffe. While Hamilton managed to exact the maximum out of his car, Bottas was left disgruntled with the one-stop strategy. The Finn returned to a points finish, but his title challenge seemed all but over now. 



McLaren emerged victorious in the "best of the rest" battle and cemented P3 in the Constructors with P5 and P6. Norris led the charge again while Ricciardo seemed more settled with life in the new team. The Australian made some stunning passes along the way. 



Ferrari, McLaren's immediate competitor, failed to score and now trailed them by 16 points. It was back to the drawing board for the Italian marquee. Sainz and Leclerc had done well to qualify in the top 10 but went backwards in the race. Ferrari has limited time to turn things around with back-to-back race weekends in Austria. Alpha Tauri managed to hold onto 5th in the Constructors', thanks to a P7 finish by Gasly. The team need Tsunoda to step up as his drive is coming under intense scrutiny. The rookie cannot afford many mistakes in the unforgiving world of F1. 



Vettel and Stroll did a stellar job with the alternate strategy, making the one-stopper work for Aston Martin and getting them 3 points from the weekend. Aston Martin seems capable of usurping 5th from Alpa Tauri if its drivers continue to perform in the same vein. Alonso ensured that Alpine didn't go pointless from their home race. Ocon had a poor showing in P14. Alpine cannot afford mediocre days such as these if they want to stay in touch with the rest of the midfield.



Russell had a great race, finishing in P12, but a points-finish still eludes Williams and him. His teammate Latifi came up second best again. Nevertheless, the results served as a good platform for the team to build on. Alfa Romeo had a lacklustre day at the office with Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in P15 and P17, respectively. The team ended nowhere with the strategies it had adopted. Ferrari powered cars struggled with outright pace in France, and like Alfa Romeo, Haas would be hoping to have a better showing in Austria.



Verstappen and Red Bull had broken Hamilton and Mercedes dominance in France. Mercedes had begun to exhibit chinks in the armour, and tactical errors were costing them in the title fight, something unheard of in the turbo era. An undercut combined with an aggressive strategy proved pivotal in the quest for victory. 



The battle now resumes in the hills of Styria, with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring, Red Bull's home race. There is little time for Mercedes and Co to set things right, and Red Bull has enjoyed a fair share of success in Austria. Who will emerge the victor? Time will reveal all!



Bring on the Styrian GP!  



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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1699643 2021-06-07T19:19:47Z 2021-06-07T19:37:28Z 2021 Azerbaijan GP Race Recap : A Mexican Standoff near the Caspian Coast!

The 2021 Monaco GP saw the tables turn in the battle for the title in 2021. Verstappen and Red Bull reigned supreme in the streets of Monaco, while Hamilton and Mercedes stuttered. Two weeks later, the battle resumed at another street circuit, through the heart of Baku, Azerbaijan!



The Baku International Circuit is one of its kind, with two long straights coupled with the tight and twisty second sector. There are overtaking opportunities, with the circuit producing incident-packed races in the past. Straight-line speed and "getting a tow" was pivotal, be it in Qualifying or the Race. The track, which made its debut in 2017, tops the list with 70 gear changes over one lap.



Leading up to the Grand Prix, the F1 world got hit with the news of Max Mosley passing away at the age of 81. The former FIA President was responsible for improving safety standards in motorsports.


The Singapore GP also got called off due to COVID-19, and the FOM were yet to announce a replacement.


Mercedes had been critical and questioned the legality of Red Bull's "Flexi rear wing". The opposition gained momentum going into the Azerbaijan GP weekend. 



Mercedes and Ferrari took up new power units for the weekend to extract the best results possible. As for Red Bull, the "skinny rear wing" made a return. 



Who reigned supreme in the streets of Azerbaijan? Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


The tarmac was dusty as FP1 got underway. However, the drivers were able to push as the track got more rubbered in. Hamilton had an off-track moment at turn 15, while Norris suffered from a spin while setting purple sector times ( turn 16 ). The Briton then joined Bottas in the run-off area at turn three, while rookie Tsunoda clipped the wall at turn four, struggling to manoeuvre his Alpha Tauri out of trouble due to reverse gear issues. The windy conditions caused Mazepin to spin and hit the barriers at turn 16, while Schumacher and Sainz ended up in the run-off area at T15


Verstappen topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 from Leclerc and Sainz. His teammate Perez was 4th, followed by Ricciardo and Gasly. Hamilton got hampered on all his runs and ended FP1 in P7. Norris, Alonso and Bottas completed the top 10.


The Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were 11th and 12th, respectively, with Tsunoda splitting the Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel in 14th. Ocon was 16th, followed by the Williams of Russell and Latifi, with Schumacher and Mazepin completing the rear of the field.




Turn 15 claimed its first victim of the weekend, with Leclerc hitting the barriers and losing the front wing. The Monegasque limped back to the pits for a new nose cone and front wing. Gasly and Norris, meanwhile, ventured into the run-off area at the same turn, while Bottas missed his braking into turn one twice in FP2. A charging issue on his Haas forced Schumacher to return to the pits, while a power loss on Latifi's car caused him to stop on track, bringing out the Red Flags. Meanwhile, Sainz and Mazepin made their displeasure known on the respective radios, the duo unhappy about getting impeded by the other. 

Drivers complained about the lack of grip towards the end of their race simulation runs, hinting that the soft wouldn't be the optimum choice for Sunday. 


Perez was the quickest at the end of FP2 from Verstappen and Sainz. Leclerc was three-tenths adrift, followed by Gasly and Alonso. Giovinazzi was 7th in his Alfa Romeo, while Norris, Ocon and Tsunoda completed the top 10.

Hamilton could only manage 11th, followed by Raikkonen, Ricciardo and the Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel. His teammate Bottas was down in 16th, with Mazepin and Schumacher separating the Williams of Russell and Latifi.



Red Bull seemed to hold the upper hand, with Ferrari in close contention. Mercedes was more focused on race simulation, and its drivers got denied the chance of having clean laps on low fuel. Saturday promised to be an intriguing day.



The conditions were dusty at the start of FP3, and turn 15 claimed its second victim of the weekend in Max Verstappen. The Dutchman careered into the barriers, breaking the front right wishbone of his car, which prematurely ended his session. Bottas had an offtrack moment at turn 3, while Hamilton narrowly avoided rear-ending Stroll's Aston Martin at turn 16. Mazepin was another driver to suffer the wrath of turn 15 when he carried too much speed on exit and his car suffered from a heavy hit on the right-hand side. A loss of power cut short Russell's FP3 session, the Williams leaking fluids at the rear. 


Track evolution was rapid, and the lap times started tumbling as the drivers went about their Qualifying simulations. Gasly was the surprise of FP3, topping the timesheets, three-tenths clear of Perez and Hamilton. Hamilton, who struggled in all three sessions, benefitted from a tow ( by Perez ) that helped him gain six-tenths before the timing beam. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz were 4th and 5th, followed by Norris and Alonso. Tsunoda was 8th in the other Alpha Tauri, with Ocon and Ricciardo completing the top 10.


The Aston Martins were 11th and 12th, followed by the Finns ( Bottas and Raikkonen ). Verstappen's curtailed participation left him with the 15th quickest time, with Giovinazzi splitting the Williams of Latifi and Russell. The Haas cars completed the rear of the field.



Ensuring a clean lap with a decent tow promised to work wonders for those fighting for pole in Qualifying. 



Qualifying :


Williams discovered that a water pump leak caused Russell's retirement in FP3. The team had to change the power unit, and it was a race against time to help Russell participate in Q1. A host of mechanics were frantically working on his car as the lights went green for the start of Q1.


Mercedes chose the medium tyres ( hinting at multiple runs ) while the rest of the field persisted with the softs. However, all the plans went down the drain when Stroll crashed heavily into the barriers. Turn 15 had claimed its 3rd victim of the weekend, and the session got Red Flagged. Replays showed that the Canadian's car had gotten out of shape at the corner exit. The stoppage gave the mechanics at Williams some respite, and Russell's car was ready for battle when the session restarted!


Barring Latifi, everyone else was out on track with 14 minutes left on the clock. Ten drivers were able to set representative lap times before disaster struck, once again at turn 15. Giovinazzi, like Stroll, ended up wrecking his Alfa Romeo in the barriers. Another Red Flag followed with 9 minutes remaining in Q1.


Norris got flagged for investigation for failing to adhere to Red Flag Procedures. Replays showed that Norris didn't enter the pit lane despite seeing the red light flashing on the signalling system on track. The stewards decided to investigate the same post-session. 


Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Hamilton, Leclerc and Ricciardo were the top 6 with Russell, Mazepin, Schumacher, Stroll and Giovinazzi facing elimination with 5 minutes remaining of Q1.


Lap times kept getting quicker with track evolution, and by the end of Q1, the top 6 had changed to - Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Norris and Leclerc. Bottas managed only the 12th quickest time while Alonso scraped through in 15th. Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin, Stroll and Giovinazzi got eliminated in Q1.




Q2 got underway, and despite the high degradation of the soft tyre, everyone chose to set their lap times with it. Ocon had a brush with the wall at turn two but was able to continue. Perez, Hamilton, Leclerc, Sainz, Verstappen and Norris were the top 6, with Ocon, Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Russell in the drop zone, halfway through the session. Only three hundredths of a second covered the top 5 as everyone headed out for their final runs of Q2.


Multiple drivers were on quick laps with 90 seconds remaining on the clock when Ricciardo made a mistake at turn three and ended up in the barriers. His McLaren was a wreck, and it was the 3rd Red Flag of Qualifying! The stewards decided against resuming Q2, and the drivers that made it into the top-ten-shootout were - Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Gasly, Bottas and Alonso.


Vettel got denied a Q3 appearance by three hundredths of a second. Ocon, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Russell were the others who suffered elimination.




The Alpha Tauri drivers decided to stay put while the other eight drivers put on a set of soft tyres and attempted to put in banker laps. Hamilton aborted his first attempt and continued to warm his tyres for another lap. The Briton's decision caused him to give Leclerc a lucky tow up to the finish line, bumping the latter to provisional pole and three-tenths clear of Verstappen and Sainz. Norris was 4th, half a second adrift, while Perez and Alonso completed the top 6. The Mercedes drivers were yet to set a time, but Bottas could only manage 7th while Hamilton bumped himself up into 2nd! The reigning World Champion was only a couple of tenths shy of Leclerc's time.


While the others returned to the pits to refuel and switch to new tyres, the Alpha Tauri drivers decided to go out-of-sync to the rest. Tsunoda set the 8th quickest time, but Gasly went the fastest of all in sector one, eventually ending up 4th at the end of his lap. The Frenchman missed 3rd by two-thousandths of a second. However, everyone had time for one last attempt in Q3. The drivers exited the pits, and Bottas was leading the train of cars on their out lap. However, the Finn realised that he would be without a "tow" and almost grounded to a halt to allow Leclerc past him. Hamilton was the last to cross the line, losing track position to both the Red Bulls


The drivers had begun their charge for pole position when Yellow Flags came out in sector one. Tsunoda, like Ricciardo, had gone into the barriers at turn three, while Sainz got spun around and was without his front wing at the same spot. The two accidents caused another Red Flag, and Qualifying was over. Replays showed that Tsunoda locked up his brakes and ended up hitting the barriers. Sainz, a couple of seconds behind, got distracted by the incident and suffered a lock-up himself. The Spaniard tried to take avoiding action but ended up hitting the wall and losing his front wing. His Ferrari also hit the barriers rearwards, possibly causing damage to his gearbox. 


The curtailment of Q3 meant that Leclerc inherited pole position from his first attempt, with Hamilton slotting into 2nd. Verstappen got denied a shot at pole position and was frustrated about starting from row two, alongside Gasly, who produced a stellar lap to set the 4th quickest time. Sainz and Norris occupied row three, but Norris got a three-place grid drop for his earlier infringement from Q1. The Briton also got three penalty points on his licence. As a result, Perez got promoted to 6th for the race start. Tsunoda and Alonso were on row four, with Norris and Bottas completing the top 10 on five.



2016 Hungarian GP was the last time the sport saw four Red Flags in Qualifying. The stoppages wrecked the strategies and chances of a better showing for a lot of drivers.



Leclerc bagged pole position for the 9th time in his career, and the Monegasque had a chance at redemption after suffering from the pain of a DNS in Monaco. Ferrari was going through a resurgence of sorts, and despite lacking outright pace, Leclerc was able to bag pole position. He also had his teammate to thank, whose incident brought out the red flags and denied anyone else the chance to go faster. Sainz wasn't too far behind in 5th, but the fitness of his gearbox was a concern. 


Mercedes and Hamilton had been a second slower throughout the three practice sessions, but they managed to eke out every ounce of performance come Qualifying. Hamilton faced the uphill task of holding off a disgruntled Verstappen. Bottas had been off-colour and seemed destined for a long afternoon.


Verstappen made his displeasure known with the frequent stoppages, especially the one in Q3, which cost him a shot at pole position. Nevertheless, the Dutchman had a car capable of victory on Sunday and outperforming Hamilton was paramount. His teammate Perez was improving with each weekend, and race simulations suggested that he would be a threat on Sunday as well. Red Bull had the luxury of having both its cars in the top six, pivotal in the Constructors' battle. 


Gasly continued to impress, going from strength to strength, and Tsunoda had an opportunity to help  Alpha Tauri get a sizeable double-points haul. 


The midfield battle between Alpine, McLaren and Aston Martin promised to be a close affair, and neither could afford a slip-up on Sunday. The upgrades were working for Alpine, while McLaren and Aston Martin aimed for damage limitation. A rare error by Giovinazzi cost Alfa Romeo a possible Q3 appearance, but the Italian had a chance to make amends on Sunday. Raikkonen, his teammate, got caught out at the wrong time with the Red Flags and could have qualified higher. The struggles for Williams and Haas continued.



A lot could happen on race day, as seen in the F2 races held over the weekend. The Azerbaijan GP never was a procession, nor a race without any dramas.



Race :


The F1 world suffered another loss on Sunday morning. Mr Mansour Ojjeh, McLaren shareholder and an influential figure in the team's history, passed away. The 68-year-old tycoon was a well-known face in the F1 paddock, and tributes poured in from all across the world. 



Conditions were windy, and the track was notorious for getting debris strewn over the racing line sometimes.


Red Bull changed the brake-by-wire system on Verstappen's car, and the Dutchman also got permission to start the race on a different set of soft tyres rather than the ones used in Q2. Paint from the pit lane tarmac was pulled onto the tyres when Verstappen got called to the FIA weighbridge during Qualifying, and this would reduce the grip ( on the grid ) hence the permission granted.



Fifty-one laps separated the likes of Verstappen, Hamilton and possibly a Leclerc from victory. Pirelli had provided the C3, C4 and C5 compounds for the race weekend, and teams planned to execute a one-stop strategy.



While Raikkonen, Russell and Latifi chose the medium tyres, Stroll opted for the hards and the rest the softs ( outside the top 10 ). 



The five red lights went out, and it was a clean getaway for Leclerc, Hamilton and Verstappen ( in that order ). Perez completed overtakes on Sainz and Gasly to move up into 4th, while Alonso was up to P7. Further down the field, Giovinazzi gained five positions to end up P15, while Stroll made up three places to 17th. Meanwhile, Norris went backwards, falling to P12. Russell pitted for hard tyres on lap 2, while Ricciardo got past Norris, only to lose the position again a few corners later. It was a strategic decision by Williams to pit Russell after just one lap on the soft tyres.



Gasly was the fastest man on track, but the battle for the lead hotted up after Leclerc made an error at turn 15. Hamilton closed up on the Monegasque, got into the tow, and took the lead on lap 3. Giovinazzi, like Russell, pitted for the hard tyres as well, rejoining in 19th ( lap 3 ). The race ended prematurely for Ocon when he reported a power loss on lap four and returned to the pits. Ontrack, Stroll, got past Raikkonen for P13.



Verstappen and Hamilton were trading fastest laps, and there was a DRS train forming up behind Leclerc. Verstappen relegated Leclerc to 3rd while Tsunoda got past Alonso for P7 ( lap 7 ). A lap later, Leclerc lost another position to Perez, while Alonso and Norris pitted for the hard tyres, rejoining in 16th and 17th, respectively. Schumacher followed suit on lap 9.



Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Gasly, Sainz, Tsunoda, Vettel, Bottas and Ricciardo were the top 10 at the end of lap 9.



A slew of pits stops followed on laps 10 and 11 with Leclerc, Tsunoda, Latifi, Mazepin and Sainz switching to the hard tyres. Perez, in clean air, was now the fastest man on track. Norris got past Alonso for P13, while Sainz missed his braking on cold tyres, ending up in the run-off area after a lock-up. The Spaniard had to reverse back on track and lost four places with the mistake. 



Mercedes decided to double stack its cars on lap 12, and Hamilton was the first to be serviced. The team had to hold up Hamilton to avoid an unsafe release into the path of Gasly, who was also pitting on the same lap. The delay meant that Hamilton was stationary for 4.6 seconds, which turned the tables in the battle for victory. The trio of Hamilton, Gasly and Bottas switched to the hard tyres for their second stint.



Red Bull called Verstappen in a lap later and a seamless 1.9 seconds stop allowed him to emerge onto the racetrack comfortably ahead of Hamilton. It was now Perez's turn to make it into the pits, and the Mexican had been setting blistering lap times. Statistics suggested that he would be the race leader if Red Bull were to execute another sub-two second stop. However, the plan failed as Perez was stationary for 4.3 seconds. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race but couldn't prevent Perez from gaining track position on him. Raikkonen too pitted for hard tyres on lap 14, rejoining in P15.



Hamilton was pressuring Perez for 3rd, but the Mexican was able to fend off the challenge. Soon enough, the hard tyres reached their optimal temperature range, and Perez set the fastest lap of the race. Further down the field, Ricciardo got past Alonso for P11.



The Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll were yet to pit. Vettel was extending his stint on the soft tyres, while Stroll was on the alternate strategy, having started the race on hard tyres. Vettel was gaining time on Tsunoda, Norris and Bottas and seemed destined for a good points haul. Verstappen, Perez and Hamilton were trading fastest laps, and Verstappen got told to take care of his right rear tyre.



Verstappen was closing in on Vettel, who had inherited the lead after the round of pit stops. Aston Martin finally asked Vettel to pit for hard tyres on lap 19. The German driver rejoined the race in P7, having jumped Tsunoda thanks to the "overcut". 



Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Stroll, Gasly, Leclerc, Vettel, Tsunoda, Norris and Bottas were the top 10 at the end of lap 20.



Bottas tried to attack Norris for 9th, but the Briton fended off the challenge. Meanwhile, Sainz got past Giovinazzi for P13 ( lap 23 ). Perez and Verstappen continued to set blistering lap times at the front as Hamilton struggled to keep up with the Red Bulls. Sainz continued his recovery by relegating Alonso to 13th. Mercedes informed Bottas that it was critical to get past Norris if he wanted a top-six finish. 



Meanwhile, Vettel, on his new tyres, was honing in on Gasly and Leclerc. He was in contention for a 5th place finish. Baku is known for Safety Car periods, and disaster struck Stroll in the other Aston Martin on lap 31The Canadian, the only driver left to pit, suffered delamination on the left rear tyre. The tyre blew up at high speed, on the main straight, and Stroll was a passenger as his Aston Martin rammed into the wall. He was able to bring his wrecked car to a stop by the side of the road, but the stewards immediately deployed the Safety Car. The pit lane remained closed up until lap 34 as the marshalls cleared the stricken car. 



Alonso, Giovinazzi, Russell and Schumacher dived into the pits on lap 35. Alonso and Schumacher opted for the soft tyres while the other two the hards. However, Schumacher stopped in the pit lane after the team realised that the front left tyre was loose. Thankfully, the Haas mechanics rolled him back into the pit box and addressed the issue. 



The Safety Car pulled into the pits, and racing resumed on lap 36. Verstappen had a clean getaway, but Perez had to defend P2 from Hamilton. Vettel, who was on fresh hard tyres and got past Leclerc for P5, while Bottas lost four places to Sainz, Ricciardo, Alonso and Raikkonen. The Finn was down to P13 and out of contention for a finish in the points. Vettel continued his charge up the field and got past Gasly for P4 a lap later. DRS got enabled on lap 39, and Russell overtook Latfifi for P15, while Giovinazzi relegated Bottas to 14th. Verstappen was the fastest man on track and began to extend his lead at the front.



Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Vettel, Gasly, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Norris, Sainz and Ricciardo were the top 10 on lap 41.



Hamilton and Verstappen were exchanging fastest laps when Norris reported excessive vibrations in his tyres. The team checked the data and reverted that all was "ok". Meanwhile, Giovinazzi had caught up to his teammate Raikkonen, who was pressuring Alonso for P11.



Lap 47 saw the race turn on its head. Verstappen comfortably in the lead, suffered tyre delamination ( left rear ), like Stroll, on the main straight and ended up hitting the barriers. The Dutchman was out of the race! While Perez and Hamilton took avoiding action from hitting any debris strewn on the track, Verstappen was distraught looking at his stricken Red Bull, a win robbed by a tyre blowout. The stewards deployed the Safety Car again, and the drivers got asked to go through the pit lane as the marshalls went about clearing the debris.



The FIA saw it prudent to Red Flag the race on lap 48, and the drivers returned to the pits, awaiting further updates. Pirelli was left red-faced after the two tyre blowouts and went about collecting data from the teams. The stewards announced that the race would get restarted to complete the full quota of 51 laps. Hamilton and Mercedes proceeded with a front wing change ( damage suffered as per them ) under the watchful eyes of Jo Bauer, the FIA Technical Delegate. 



Latifi got handed a ten-second stop-go penalty for not using the pit lane during the Safety Car period. Replays showed that a communication mixup left Latifi stranded on the main straight while the rest of the field went through the pit lane a few laps earlier. 



The stewards announced that the race would resume with a standing start. The drivers were free to swap to another set of tyres, but barring Vettel, no one had a fresh set of softs. Scrubbed softs were the unanimous choice. 



Russell suffered a gearbox failure on the "formation lap" and returned to the pits and into retirement. The drivers drove into the grid slots and waited for the race to restart. Hamilton's brakes were smoking as the five red lights went out! Hamilton had a better getaway than Perez and got the jump on him. However, he suffered a massive lock-up going into turn one and ended up in the run-off area! The reigning World Champions was down in 15th and out of the points! Meanwhile, Tsunoda lost two places to Norris and Alonso and was down to P7. Giovinazzi had a good start but lost momentum behind Ricciardo, relinquishing P10 to teammate Raikkonen. Perez led the field and was comfortably ahead of Vettel, who had inherited P2 after Hamilton's mistake.



Perez, Vettel, Gasly, Leclerc, Norris, Alonso, Tsunoda, Sainz, Ricciardo and Raikkonen were the top 10 on lap 50.



The battle for the final podium position was still underway, with Leclerc getting past Gasly, only for the latter to fight back a couple of corners later. The sparring duo fell into the clutches of Norris, who also tried to benefit, but got rebuffed.




Perez took the Chequered Flag and Victory at the Azerbaijan GP! Vettel came home in 2nd, and Gasly managed to hold onto 3rd from Leclerc and Norris. Alonso, who had had a mega restart, finished in P6, followed by Tsunoda and Sainz. Ricciardo and Raikkonen completed the top 10.


Giovinazzi was P11 in the other Alfa Romeo, from Bottas and Latifi. Schumacher, Mazepin and Hamilton completed the classified finishers. 



Perez got asked to stop the car just after the finish, which revealed that Red Bull was managing an issue on his car. There were celebrations throughout the paddock, with Perez having scored his first victory with Red Bull. The Mexican was equally happy with his ex-team Aston Martin and Vettel's 2nd place, while Gasly proved his worth with another fine finish in Red Bull's B-team. Verstappen too joined the celebrations, congratulating his teammate on his first victory.




It was a bitter-sweet day for Red Bull, with Verstappen losing the chance of extending his lead in the Championship. Verstappen had not put a foot/wheel wrong the entire weekend but lost it all due to Pirelli and the hard tyre. As for Perez, it was his maiden victory and podium with Red Bull. The team had been searching for a driver who would deliver at the same levels as a Verstappen. The search was now over. Perez jumped to 3rd in the Drivers' standings while Red Bull extended its lead to 26 points in the Constructors. The team would have loved a 1-2, something that they hadn't achieved since 2016.



Hamilton's consecutive points finishes came to an end after a record 54 races. The reigning World Champion faced an uphill task all weekend, and despite the odds, made it to the front row of the grid. While he led the race up until the pit stop, his car lacked the pace and balance that the Red Bulls enjoyed through the streets of Baku. Hamilton had been driving on the limit and had a shot at victory at the restart. Toto Wolff, the Team Principal, revealed that Hamilton had forgotten to switch off the "Brake Magic" button, which caused his brakes to smoke, and he accidentally flipped a switch that transferred the brake bias to the front, causing him to lock up into turn one at the restart. It was a rare mistake by the veteran but a costly one too. He blew the chance of retaking the lead in the Championship, and as he said in the post-race interview - "it was a humbling experience". 


Bottas, in the other Mercedes, had a horrid weekend. He struggled with setup issues, and the high downforce rear wing made him a sitting duck on the long straight. The team's strategy calls didn't help either, and Bottas' challenge in 2021 was fading fast.



Ferrari had been going through a resurgence of sorts since the Monaco GP weekend, and despite Leclerc's pole lap, it was too much to ask on race day. Nevertheless, Leclerc managed to finish a commendable 4th, while Sainz, despite his error after the pit stop, recovered to 8th. Sainz needs to iron out these errors, which cost him at pivotal moments of a race weekend. Ferrari managed to surpass McLaren in the Constructors' standings but face a challenge in maintaining the status quo for the rest of the year. 



It was damage limitation day for McLaren, and although they got outscored by Ferrari, the deficit wasn't too big. Norris led the charge and almost pipped Leclerc to 4th, while Ricciardo's struggles at McLaren continued. The Australian is in desperate need of a podium or a top-six to get his maiden season at McLaren back on track. 



Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin enjoyed a fruitful day at the office. Vettel's brilliant race strategy and racecraft showed that the German still hadn't lost his fighting edge. Vettel also bagged the "The Driver of the Day" award for his opportunistic overtakes throughout the race. His teammate Stroll was doing a fine job himself until he got denied by the tyre blowout on lap 31. Aston Martin, however, got outscored by Alpha Tauri ( 3 points ). Red Bull's sister team saw Gasly bag his first podium of 2021, while Tsunoda finished in the points for the 2nd time this season. Gasly had emerged as a true leader and made a strong case for himself with his performances. As for Tsunoda, his radio communications with the team need to be toned down. The lack of respect by the rookie towards his team could cost him dearly in the long run.



Alonso had a mega restart and finished a commendable 6th, ensuring that Alpine didn't leave Baku empty-handed. Reliability remains a concern for the team, as seen with Ocon's retirement early in the race. They are 12 points shy of Aston Martin and need strong results in the upcoming rounds to stay in touch with the midfield.



Raikkonen scored the first point of 2021, with Giovinazzi narrowly missing the same in 11th. The 2007 World Champion was setting competitive lap times and drove consistently. Giovinazzi, whose confidence got dented on Saturday with the crash, was motivated and displayed no inhibitions, making up nine positions at the end. The Italian could have finished in the points but for his mistake on the restart.



Haas and Williams had races of their own between the teammates. Schumacher came out on top at Haas, while a gearbox issue for Russell denied him a result at the restart. Schumacher wasn't pleased with the tactics adopted in defence by Mazepin, and the team acknowledged that it would be discussed in their post-race debrief. 




Pirelli needs to investigate the cause of the tyre blow ups since the teams ( Aston Martin and Red Bull ) reiterated that they had no prior warning or anomaly in the data before the mishaps occurred. The incidents could have proved pivotal in the title fight, but thankfully status quo remained between the top two.



In a faceoff between Verstappen and Hamilton, the wild card Sergio Perez got top honours! Mercedes will be hurting after the disappointments from the two street circuits. They will hit hard. Will the Bull be able to stand firm in France?



We shall know at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet!
]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1694078 2021-05-24T07:15:23Z 2021-05-24T07:49:40Z 2021 Monaco GP Race Recap : A Bullish Performance & the Tables Turn!

F1, the Pinnacle of Motorsport, has produced some iconic races throughout its history. Many circuits of the world vie for a place on the F1 calendar. Some bow out to make way for new venues in countries that have never hosted a race before. However, certain tracks gain legendary status, and the most iconic of them all is Monaco!



Monaco is a race that tops the list for every team and driver. The Principality, home to many on the F1 grid, returned after two years, the pandemic COVID-19 hindering its participation in 2020. It is also the most prestigious race on the calendar, with celebrities and billionaires flocking to various parties and events held over the weekend. The street circuit also has a unique schedule for the race weekend, with practice sessions held on Thursdays and Fridays being a "day of rest".



To add more glitter to the already glamorous Monaco GP, designer Louis Vuitton had created a bespoke trophy housed in an elegant trophy trunk, besides announcing a multi-year partnership with the Grand Prix!



There was no lull in the world of F1 leading up to Monaco, and right after the strategy masterclass of Hamilton and Mercedes in Spain, Pirrelli invited Red Bull, Alfa Romeo and Alpine for a 2-day test in Barcelona to try their prototype 18" tyres ( regulation change for 2022 ).


 

Citing COVID-19 restrictions in the country, the Turkish GP got removed from the 2021 calendar. Subsequently, the French GP got preponed by a week, and Austria got to host races on two back-to-back weekends like in 2020.



McLaren unveiled a special Gulf Livery for the Monaco GP weekend, offering a tribute to the McLaren F1 GTR ( which sported similar colours ) at Le Mans in the 1990s. Lando Norris also extended his association with McLaren with a new multi-year contract alongside Ricciardo. 


Williams Racing was celebrating a milestone of 750 races in F1 on the Monaco GP weekend.



Monaco, being a street circuit, tests the reliability and focus of man and machine. The margin for error is minimal, and the track is riddled with barriers and walls throughout. Track position is all that matters, as seen in the battle for victory between Hamilton and Verstappen in 2019. The Briton positioned his car and fended off the challenge for the win despite having tyres that had worn out completely. The track's narrow nature leaves drivers with limited overtaking opportunities, Nouvelle Chicane being one of them. Balance, and not straight-line speed, is the recipe for success in the streets of Monaco. 



So how did the teams fare through the tight and twisty turns of Monaco? Who took top honours at the most prestigious event on the calendar?


Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


FP1 got underway under sunny skies on Thursday morning.

Fernando Alonso hit the wall at the final turn early in the session and damaged his front wing. He had another off-track moment at turn one. Raikkonen was another to miss his braking going into turn one. Ferrari had an eventful FP1 with Sainz hitting the wall at the Swimming Pool Complex and Leclerc suffering from gearbox issues which ended his participation. However, teammate Sainz managed to split the Red Bulls of Perez and Verstappen at the end of the session, followed by Gasly, Hamilton and Bottas. Norris was 7th in his McLaren, with Vettel, Tsunoda and Raikkonen completing the top 10.


Stroll was 11th in the other Aston Martin, from Giovinazzi and Alonso. It was an impressive performance by Latifi in his Williams, the Canadian setting the 14th quickest time. Meanwhile, Ricciardo could only manage 15th, followed by Ocon and the Haas cars of Mazepin and Schumacher. Russell was 19th in the other Williams, with Leclerc last, thanks to his gearbox gremlins. 



Ferrari changed the gearbox on Leclerc's car, and the Monegasque was ready for the start of FP2. While Leclerc managed to avoid the barriers at Rascasse, Tsunoda gave his Alpha Tauri a whack at the Swimming Pool Complex. Schumacher's session ended prematurely after the German clipped the wall at Massenet, puncturing the right rear tyre of his Haas. The session was subsequently red-flagged, and the FIA decided against resuming FP2. Ferrari was the biggest surprise of FP2, with Leclerc leading Sainz at the top, almost four-tenths clear of Hamilton in 3rd. Verstappen was 4th for Red Bull, followed by Bottas and Norris. Gasly continued to impress in his Alpa Tauri with the 7th quickest time, from Perez, Giovinazzi and Vettel, who completed the top 10. 


Raikkonen was 11th in the other Alfa Romeo, with Stroll splitting the Alpines of Alonso and Ocon in P13. It was yet another challenging session for Ricciardo in P15, followed by the Williams of Russell and Latifi. The Haas cars of Mazepin and Schumacher along with Tsunoda completed the rear of the field.




Ferrari turned out to be the surprise package from the two practice sessions. The race pace of the Scuderia was also comparable with the table-toppers Mercedes. Red Bull was in the mix as well, with Perez seemingly more settled in his new drive. The midfield battle seemed to be an even tighter affair, with Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo joining McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin to be the best amongst the rest.   




The track was damp on Saturday morning, but the conditions improved at the start of FP3. There were two Red Flags in the sessionwith Latifi destroying his Williams at the Swimming Pool Complex and Schumacher wrecking his Haas at Casino Square. Mercedes struggled to find the right balance, with Hamilton and Bottas having off-track moments, while Norris narrowly avoided an incident with ex-teammate Sainz at Rascasse. Verstappen topped the timesheets at the end of FP3 from Sainz and Leclerc. Bottas was 4th for Mercedes, followed by Perez and Norris. Hamilton's best attempt got him P7, with Raikkonen, Gasly and Vettel completing the top 10, one second slower than Verstappen's attempt. 


Giovinazzi was 11th in the other Alfa Romeo, followed by Stroll and Ricciardo. Alonso split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin in 15th, while Russell and Latifi managed to go quicker than Tsunoda and Ocon in 17th and 18th, respectively. 


There had been 32 lap time deletions in FP3, a rarity considering the narrow nature of the circuit.



Qualifying promised to be a closely contested affair, and Mercedes seemed to be on the back foot after a very long time.



Qualifying :


Schumacher's shunt in FP3 denied him the chance of competing in Qualifying, and Haas had to change the gearbox on his stricken car as well. 


Mercedes made some last-minute setup changes on Bottas' car before the start of Qualifying.



There was a 30% chance of rain in Qualifying, and the teams decided to send their drivers out as soon as Q1 went green. Vettel was the last to join the other 19 drivers as they went about setting a series of flying laps. Everyone chose the soft tyres, and the grip levels increased with each passing minute. Raikkonen locked up his tyres at turn one but managed to continue without any drama.


Sainz, Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas, Stroll and Norris were the top 6, with Latifi, Russell, Mazepin, Vettel and Schumacher in the drop zone with 9 minutes remaining of Q1. 


The order at the front changed again, with Bottas and Leclerc finding more lap time. While some drivers chose to continue on their current set of soft tyres, those lower down the order switched to fresh tyres for the final minutes of Q1.


In a closely contested midfield, Tsunoda, Alonso, Latifi, Mazepin and Schumacher ( who didn't participate ) failed to make it into Q2, and Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc topped the timesheets at the end of Q1.



Monaco, a street circuit, is low on abrasion, so soft tyres was the obvious choice for all the drivers competing in Q2. Only four-tenths separated the top 5 drivers midway through Q2. Verstappen went the quickest from Sainz and Norris, while Ocon, Raikkonen, Gasly, Russell and Ricciardo were facing elimination before the final runs of Q2. 


Stroll brushed the wall but managed to continue his final flying lap of the session. Q2 came to an end, and only a second separated the top 13 drivers. Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll, Raikkonen and Russell got eliminated at the end of Q2, while Leclerc, Verstappen, Bottas, Sainz, Norris, Hamilton, Gasly, Perez, Vettel and Giovinazzi got through to Q3. 




Q3 got underway with the threat of rain lurking around the circuit vicinity. The drivers were fueled for multiple runs again, except for Norris, who decided to go out-of-sync with the rest. Leclerc was on provisional pole, two-tenths clear of Verstappen and Bottas, followed by Sainz and Norris. Hamilton, despite his best efforts, managed only the 7th quickest time. The drivers returned to the pits and put on a new set of soft tyres for the grand finale of Qualifying. 


Mistakes by Verstappen and Hamilton forced them to ditch their first flying lap attempts ( on the final runs ), while Perez got stuck behind Ocon in the last sector. The drivers still had another opportunity to set things right, and the trio of Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz went about setting blistering sector times as the clock ran down in Q3. 


However, there was drama with 18 seconds left of Q3. Leclerc clipped the Armco barrier coming out of the Swimming Pool Complex, breaking the front right wishbone of his Ferrari. The Monegasque was a passenger as he went over the kerbs and hit the barriers heavily, bringing out the red flags and subsequently ending the session!

The incident was a repeat of Latifi's ( 2021 ) and Verstappen's ( 2018 ) accidents from FP3. The accident wrecked the chances of all others challenging for pole position.


Leclerc bagged pole position in a bizarre turn of events from Verstappen and Bottas. 

Sainz was 4th and Norris 5th with three-tenths separating the top 5. A stellar lap by Gasly got him P6 while Hamilton ended up in 7th, seven-tenths adrift. Vettel qualified 8th with row 5 getting taken up by Perez and Giovinazzi.



Initial checks on Leclerc's stricken Ferrari suggested that there was no damage to the gearbox. However, the final decision was on race day, and if Ferrari chose a gearbox change, Leclerc would suffer a five-place grid drop.



Leclerc was the first Monegasque, after Louis Chiron in 1936, to get pole position in Monaco. As a tribute to Chiron, who had won the Grand Prix in 1931, Leclerc was also sporting a special helmet. It was Ferrari's first pole position since Mexico 2019. Ferrari was still lacking outright pace but was on par with the leaders in terms of aerodynamic capabilities. Sainz rued the missed opportunity ( for pole position ) but had a great chance to fight for a podium on Sunday. 


Verstappen was frustrated at being denied a chance for pole position since he believed he would have aced it on his final run. Nevertheless, the Dutchman was on the front row while his championship rival was down in 7th. Perez, his teammate, got compromised with traffic on his final run and faced a challenging Sunday afternoon.


Bottas was Mercedes' best hope on race day, with Hamilton struggling with balance issues throughout the weekend. The Finn, like Verstappen, had a great chance of reducing the deficit to Hamilton in the Championship battle. As for Hamilton, the priority was to come out unscathed on the opening lap and use an aggressive strategy to make up positions to limit the blow from his title contenders. Norris and Gasly produced stellar drives and had the opportunity of bringing home sizeable points haul for their respective teams. Ricciardo's struggles to get it right at McLaren continued while Tsunoda was still finding his feet as a rookie. 


Vettel was quickly settling into life at Aston Martin, and his appearance in Q3 proved that the German hadn't lost his edge yet. Stroll had a mercurial Saturday, and getting into the points on Sunday was a tough ask. It was Alfa Romeo's first Q3 appearance in 2021 with Giovinazzi. The Italian led the intra-team battle in Qualifying and was gaining confidence with each passing race. 


Alpine had been on the back foot all weekend, but Ocon managed to start P11. However, Alonso's Qualifying performance was a disappointment. Williams and Haas' aerodynamic deficiencies came to the fore in Qualifying, and they seemed destined to remain at the back of the pack.



Track position was all that mattered in Monaco, with many races turning out as processions. Race Strategy was one aspect that could turn the battle in a driver's favour, and there had been no shortage of drama with this in the past. A one-stop strategy seemed the best bet for an optimum race.




Race :


Seventy-Eight laps awaited the 20 drivers competing for victory at the Monaco GP. All eyes were on Leclerc and Ferrari, where the team reaffirmed that the gearbox was fit for the race, allowing him to keep pole position.



It was time for drivers to leave for their sighting laps, and Leclerc exited the pits only to discover that the shifts weren't working correctly! The team immediately asked him to return to the garage as they tried to address the issue. The warning signal got sounded, and Ferrari was still working on Leclerc's car, which confirmed that Leclerc would be unable to start from pole position. 



Ferrari discovered a driveshaft failure ( left side ) a few minutes later, a terminal issue. Leclerc would not start the race! A chance for victory and glory at his home race, gone!



C3, C4 and C5 were the tyres available for the race, and those outside the top 10 adopted different strategies. While Stroll and Tsunoda started on the hard tyres, Ocon, Mazepin, and Schumacher chose the softs. The Williams drivers, Ricciardo, Alonso and Raikkonen, cited the mediums as the better tyre for the race start.



The cars rolled out for their formation lap, and Raikkonen stopped at the final corner. Thankfully, he got going, but Verstappen had to wait in his grid slot longer than he had planned. 



The five red lights went out, and Bottas had a better getaway than Verstappen. The Dutchman, however, cut across to block his path and lead into turn one. Sainz slotted into 3rd, followed by Norris and Gasly. Giovinazzi got up to 9th, while Raikkonen and Alonso were up into 12th and 14th, respectively. Schumacher got past Mazepin for P18 at the hairpin with an opportunistic move.



The drivers began to settle into a rhythm, and Verstappen was the fastest man on track. Meanwhile, his teammate Perez started pressuring Vettel for 7th. Bottas, Verstappen and Norris traded fastest laps, with Perez joining the party a few laps later.



Verstappen, Bottas, Sainz, Norris, Gasly, Hamilton, Vettel, Perez, Giovinazzi and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of lap 10.



The field started to spread out, and Mazepin got served a Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits on lap 14. The pit window for the soft tyre runners was nearing, and Red Bull asked Verstappen about the state of his tyres. The Dutchman reiterated that his tyres were ok, but Bottas complained to Mercedes about losing performance on his left front. Norris was the next driver to get a Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits at turn 10, while Hamilton started to close the gap to Gasly for P5. The battle between the Haas cars continued, and Mazepin got the better of Schumacher on lap 30.



Hamilton was the first of the front runners to pit for hard tyres on lap 30 and rejoined in 8th. Bottas, Norris and Gasly followed suit a lap later, but Bottas got stuck in the pits. The Mercedes crew were unable to remove the right front tyre. Multiple attempts were made with different wheel guns to yank out the troublesome tyre but to no avail. It was a cross-threaded nut that wrecked Bottas' race. The Finn's race met a premature end.



His teammate Hamilton failed to jump Gasly after the round of pitstops, and the Briton sounded frustrated. Vettel was the next to pit on lap 32 for hard tyres. He exited the pits and ended up side-by-side with Gasly, managing to rebuff the challenge and hold onto 5th. Hamilton was livid with the team for having lost another position ( to Vettel ). He believed he had life left on his soft tyres and could have extended his first stint like those around him. 



Russell was the next to pit for hard tyres, rejoining in 16th ( lap 33 ), with Sainz doing the same and staying 3rd. Perez, meanwhile, had moved up to 2nd and was setting blistering lap times on his worn-out soft tyres. The Mexican was going faster than those behind him, and the possibility of making positions with the overcut seemed possible. Giovinazzi ditched his soft tyres for a fresh set of hards on lap 34, rejoining in 12th.



On lap 35, Verstappen peeled into the pits for his only stop. The Dutchman had a drama-free tyre swap and rejoined in 2nd with a fresh set of hards. Perez, now in the lead, continued to go faster than the rest of the field, and Mercedes informed Hamilton that they were under the threat of losing another place to Perez. It was job done for Perez on lap 36, with the Mexican pitting for hard tyres and comfortably jumping Vettel, Gasly and Hamilton to take 4th.



Meanwhile, at the back of the field, Ricciardo and Mazepin also switched to the hard tyres. Ricciardo was the first of those on the alternate strategy to make a pit stop. Ocon was another driver to pit on lap 38, with Alpine taking a more aggressive approach and putting him on medium tyres. The Frenchman rejoined in 10th. 



Sainz started to close the gap to Verstappen at the front, and the deficit was down to 3.5 seconds on lap 41. Meanwhile, the stewards served a Black and White Flag to Schumacher for exceeding track limits. Raikkonen, another driver who started the race on medium tyres, pitted on lap 44 and rejoined in 12th, just ahead of Ricciardo. Alfa Romeo was relieved to have not delayed the call, or else Raikkonen could have lost a position. While Latifi pitted for hard tyres in his Williams, Alpine decided to go aggressive with Alonso, switching him to the soft tyres with 32 laps remaining.



Verstappen, Sainz, Norris, Perez, Vettel, Gasly, Hamilton, Stroll, Ocon and Giovinazzi were the top 10 at the end of lap 50.



Sainz continued to close in on Verstappen, with the gap reducing to 2.5 seconds. Ricciardo, stuck behind Raikkonen in 12th, had an embarrassing moment when teammate Norris lapped him on lap 53. However, all was not well in the other McLaren, and Norris complained about the car being undrivable on the hard tyres ( lap 58 ). Stroll, who had started the race on the hard tyres, finally pitted on lap 59 for softs and rejoined in 8th. The battles for P3 and P9 were hotting up, with Perez closing in on Norris and Giovinazzi pressuring Ocon while being lapped by the leaders. The FIA flagged Stroll for failing to keep to the right of the pit lane line while exiting the pits after his stop, but replays showed that he hadn't breached the limit, and it invited "no further action".



Raikkonen, in clear air, had caught up to Ocon and Giovinazzi in the battle for P9, while Perez was within the DRS range of Norris. Tsunoda, the other driver to start the race on hard tyres, was the last driver to pit for a fresh set of soft tyres and rejoined in 16th ( lap 67 ). The rookie then set the fastest lap of the race.



Hamilton, who was stuck in 7th behind Gasly and unable to make inroads, had built a gap large enough to Stroll behind and allow a free stop. Mercedes called him in on lap 69, and the Briton set the fastest lap of the race besides smashing the track record set a couple of laps earlier by Tsunoda. 



Verstappen, Sainz, Norris, Perez, Vettel, Gasly, Hamilton, Stroll, Ocon and Giovinazzi were the top 10 at the end of lap 73.



Norris responded to the pressure by Perez and opened up a 2 seconds gap. Meanwhile, Tsunoda got a Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits ( lap 77 ).



Tennis Champion Serena Williams had the privilege of waving the Chequered Flag as the race ended.



Verstappen claimed top honours at the Monaco GP! Sainz came home in 2nd for Ferrari, followed by Norris, who fended off a late challenge by Perez to take up the final podium spot.



Perez put in a stellar drive for Red Bull in 4th, followed by Vettel, who had his best finish for Aston Martin in 5th. A mature drive by Gasly got the Frenchman 6th, followed by Hamilton in 7th, who relinquished his lead in the Championship. Stroll was 8th in the other Aston Martin, followed by another train of cars fighting for P9. Ocon managed to hold onto 9th from Giovinazzi, who took the final points-scoring position in his Alfa Romeo.



Raikkonen pressed hard but finished in 11th, just outside the points, closely followed by Ricciardo and Alonso. Russell and Latifi were 14th and 15th for Williams, followed by Tsunoda, Mazepin and Schumacher, who completed the classified finishers.




The entire paddock felt sad about Leclerc and his inability to start the race due to the mechanical issue. It was a case of "what could have been" and robbed us of a battle between two very talented racers. Sainz, his teammate, gave Ferrari some consolation with a fine second place. It had been a trying time for the Italian marquee, but their season was on the mend, it seemed.



Verstappen, on the other hand, made the most of the opportunity. Perez, who had qualified a lowly 9th, produced a stellar drive to end up 4th, giving Red Bull a memorable Sunday and turning the tables in the title battle. Verstappen now leads Hamilton by 4 points, while a point separates Red Bull and Mercedes at the top. 


Bottas' wretched luck continued, and the Finn, despite being the "lead Mercedes", got denied a good result, leaving him further adrift from the top. Hamilton had a humbling experience, a strategic error by the team costing him positions and points in the race. The result served as a wake-up call and Toto Wolff, the boss, vowed to diagnose what went wrong ( personally ) and set things right. 


While Ricciardo continued to find his feet at McLaren, his teammate Norris bagged his second podium of the season. It is never a pleasant sight to get lapped by your teammate, and Ricciardo needed to spend more time in the simulator to understand and iron out the issues he faced in his car. As for Norris, his third-place finish helped McLaren stay 3rd in the Constructors' standings. The battle for third in the Constructors' was turning into a two-horse race between McLaren and Ferrari.



A double-points finish helped Aston Martin jump Alpha Tauri. Vettel had his best finish for the team, and his 5th place also earned him the "Driver of the Day" title. Stroll's alternate strategy to start on hard tyres paid dividends as the Canadian went deep into the race and made up places after his pitstop. Gasly continued to impress in the Alpha Tauri, while Tsunoda's first experience in Monaco was a baptism by fire. The Italian outfit is locked in an intense battle with Aston Martin and Alpine in the lower half of the midfield and cannot afford any slip-ups in the remaining races. 



Alpine went aggressive with both its cars and, although it helped Ocon score a couple of points for the team, Alonso was too far back to make an impact. The team's performances have been mercurial so far, and they are going backwards this year. Giovinazzi produced a fine drive to take 10th and bagged the first points of the season for the team. The Italian was performing well on Saturday and finally came good on race day too! Raikkonen, his teammate, came close to opening his account for the season too. The Finn, however, had trouble with his drinks bottle pipe which got undone and was leaking throughout the race. Alfa Romeo was improving with each passing race, and if the trend continued, they could join the likes of Alpha Tauri and Alpine in the battle for 7th in the Constructors'. 


Williams and Haas had a tough weekend, but thankfully all four drivers completed the race. Mazepin outperformed Schumacher for the first time this season and showed that the Russian was settling into life in F1. 




Verstappen and Red Bull landed a big blow to Hamilton and Mercedes in Monaco. It was a great response after the strategic bungle in Catalunya. Hamilton and Mercedes now become the chasers, a position they haven't been in a long time.



On a day when the Silver Arrows missed the mark, and the Prancing Horse faltered, the Bulls charged through to victory and tipped the scales in their favour!



Baku beckons in a fortnight, and it could change all over again! The battle for supremacy in 2021 is well and truly on!


]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1688588 2021-05-09T21:05:58Z 2021-05-09T21:05:58Z 2021 Spanish GP Race Recap : Strategy is King in the Clash of the Centurions!

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the home of the Spanish GP, has been a regular feature on the F1 calendar. The circuit returned to its original hosting date in May ( 1st week ) in 2021. It completed the first of double-headers of the European leg, the track hosting an F1 race just a weekend after entertaining bikes from the Moto GP world. 



The Hamilton-Verstappen and Mercedes-Red Bull tussles promised to be a feature throughout 2021, and fans hoped to see these giants exchange blows in Spain again. It was Red Bull who struck the first blow before the start of the race weekend. Honda, the engine supplier for Red Bull, leaves the sport at the end of 2021. Red Bull has taken steps since the winter break to become a full-works team, adding powertrain manufacturing and development besides chassis designing. Their quest to strengthen the powertrain department led them to poach another five senior members from the Mercedes HPP team in the week leading into the Spanish GP. It will be interesting to see how big a difference these moves would make.



Ferrari and McLaren, like the leaders, also had a strong start in the battle for 3rd in the Constructors. The two most iconic teams in F1 hoped to continue their journey of returning to the sharp end of the grid, bringing back the glory years of the 1990s and the 2000s.




Circuit de Catalunya is a track that can amplify weaknesses in a car if any. Overtaking opportunities aren't many, which meant that strategies would play a part in the race. 

The circuit organisers had revamped the off-camber turn 10 for a more streamlined one for 2021, so there were reservations about grip levels on the new asphalt. The FIA also introduced a new procedure of rejoining the track ( after passing two bollards ) for those who exceeded track limits at turns one and two.



So who took the Chequered Flag and victory on Sunday in Catalunya? 


Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Robert Kubica got the opportunity to participate in FP1 for Alfa Romeo. This time, it was Kimi Raikkonen who sat out of FP1. Williams did the same with George Russell, reserve driver Roy Nissany stepping in for FP1 duty. Nikita Mazepin suffered a spin and had a trip through the gravel early on in the session, while Vettel lost a piece of his front wing while going over the kerbs at turn seven. The new turn 10 claimed its first victim in Kubica, who got spun around and beached in the gravel. The Polish driver didn't take further part in the session and brought out the red flags. 


Bottas topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 and could have gone faster had it not been for a Ferrari getting in the crosshairs on his flying lap ( with soft tyres ). Verstappen was three-hundredths shy of Bottas' time with Hamilton a further tenth adrift. Only half a second separated the top 6, with Norris setting the 4th quickest time, followed by the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz. Gasly was 7th in his Alpha Tauri while Perez separated the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll in 9th.


Tsunoda set the 11th quickest time in the other Alpha Tauri while Ocon was the faster of the two Alpines in P12. Giovinazzi continued to impress in the Alfa Romeo with 13th, while Ricciardo and Alonso managed 14th and 15th. Four-tenths separated Nissany from Latifi in P17, while Kubica split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin.




The kerbs at the circuit are unforgiving, as experienced by Sainz, Tsunoda and Verstappen, who suffered bodywork damage or electronic hiccups during FP2. Meanwhile, in the pits, Raikkonen averted Mazepin, who got released out of the garage into his path. The Finn overtook the Russian at the pit exit, not too pleased with the incident. It was Hamilton who set the quickest time of FP2 from Bottas and Leclerc. The Alpine cars had a productive FP2, with Ocon and Alonso going 4th and 5th fastest, followed by the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Tsunoda. Sainz was 8th in the other Ferrari, followed by the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez. 


Vettel managed 11th in the Aston Martin, while Norris and Giovinazzi led the team-mate battle at McLaren and Alfa Romeo in 12th and 13th. Stroll was 14th in the other Aston Martin, followed by Ricciardo and Raikkonen, who were more than a second slower than Hamilton's time. The Williams of Russell and Latifi 17th and 18th, followed by the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin.




Mercedes ruled the roost at the end of Friday, but Red Bull wasn't far behind in race simulation pace. Perez was struggling to find his feet, and that remained a cause for concern at Red Bull. Ferrari and Alpine also had a productive Friday. Aston Martin had brought in upgrades, and they were bullish about their chances of making it into Q3 on Saturday. The presence of support races meant that track would evolve as more rubber got laid, making Qualifying a closely contested affair.




The Alpine drivers opted for new exhaust units ( out of the allocation of eight ) on Saturday. FP3 got underway with the Ferraris topping the timesheets early on in the session. Norris had a trip across the gravel at turn ten while Raikkonen suffered a rear right puncture after a kerb camera got undone from its housing. 


Verstappen went the quickest, more than two-tenths clear of Hamilton at the end of FP3. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz managed to bag 3rd and 4th ahead of Bottas. Gasly split the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo in 7th while Raikkonen jumped into the top 10 ( 9th ) in his Alfa Romeo, ahead of Perez. 


The Alpines of Alonso and Ocon were P11 and P13, with Tsunoda splitting the duo in his Alpha Tauri. Stroll was 14th for Aston Martin, followed by Russell, Giovinazzi and Stroll's teammate Vettel. Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin completed the rear of the field.



Less than a second separated the top 13 drivers at the end of FP3. Clean air and a clear track would prove pivotal come Qualifying.



Qualifying :


Qualifying got delayed by 10 minutes due to barrier work repair at turn nine caused by a crash from one of the support races. 



The lights went green for the start of Q1, and the Williams and Haas cars were the first ones out on track. The others followed suit a few minutes later. Everyone barring the Mercedes drivers ( on mediums ), chose the soft tyres. Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Sainz, Hamilton and Ricciardo were the top 6 at the end of the first runs, with Raikkonen, Stroll, Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin being in the drop zone. The left rearview mirror on Latifi's car cracked when his Williams went over the kerbs at turn nine, while Norris, who was on a quick lap, got held up by Mazepin and other cars in the final sector. The incident got flagged for investigation post-session.  


Perez improved to 4th in the final minutes of Q1. The top 8 eight drivers, except for Hamilton, decided to stay put in the pits while the rest sparred for a place in Q2. The lap times improved with the track getting rubbered in, and the top 6 changed to Norris, Bottas, Leclerc, Verstappen, Gasly and Perez. Less than eight-tenths of a second separated the top 16 as Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin got eliminated at the end of Q1.




The Ferraris, Alpines, Ricciardo and Russell decided to stay put, while Giovinazzi and the rest exited the pits at the start of Q2. Giovinazzi chose the medium tyres to set a banker lap, while the other drivers opted for the softs. Russell decided to stay longer, going out of sync with the rest.


Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Sainz and Leclerc were the top 6 with Ocon, Perez, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Russell facing elimination after the first runs. Verstappen was half a second clear at the front while two-tenths separated P5 from P13. Ocon reported about understeer on his car and asked the team for changes in car balance.


Russell finally emerged from the pits for his one run of Q2 and set the 14th quickest time. 


While Verstappen stayed in the pits for the final minutes of Q2, others emerged with a set of soft tyres. Hamilton was on scrubbed tyres while Bottas on new ones. The duo went faster and reduced the deficit to Verstappen to only two-tenths. Sainz, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Ocon and Alonso went through to Q3 with Stroll, Gasly, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Russell getting eliminated.




It was time for the battle for pole position, and the final ten drivers came out to set their banker laps of Q3. Perez, unfortunately, suffered a spin at turn 13, which briefly brought out the yellow flags and left the Red Bull driver with a compromised session. He limped back to the pits, unable to set a lap time on his first run.


Hamilton was on a flying lap when the incident occurred but avoided the yellow flags in the final sector. He was on provisional pole, three-hundredths clear of Verstappen with Bottas another tenth adrift. Ocon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Norris were separated by four-tenths with Alonso down in 9th and Perez yet to post a time.


The final minutes of Q3 were frenetic as Verstappen jostled for clear air and track position, overtaking Perez, Ocon and the Ferrari cars on his out-lap. Ricciardo got held up, missed the flag and was unable to do his final run of Q3.


Hamilton went quicker in sector one but failed to improve in sectors two and three. Bottas and Verstappen didn't improve on their final runs either. Perez, in the other Red Bull, could only manage 8th.



Hamilton took pole position for the race on Sunday from Verstappen and Bottas. Leclerc produced yet another stellar lap to put his Ferrari on the 2nd row of the grid in 4th. Row 3 got taken up by Ocon and Sainz, while Ricciardo and Perez occupied row 4. Norris and Alonso completed the top 10.




Hamilton had achieved a century of pole positions, a feat unthinkable for anyone in the sport. The Briton produced a stonking lap when it mattered and eyed his 98th win on Sunday. Verstappen and Red Bull weren't far behind in 2nd, but like in the past, they had only one car on the sharp end of the grid to fight the two Mercedes. Perez had a long Sunday afternoon in front of him, while Bottas, in 3rd, hoped to make the most from starting on the cleaner side of the grid. Ferrari's pace from the practice sessions was genuine, and the team had the opportunity for a possible podium or a good haul of points on Sunday. Ocon produced a stellar lap in his Alpine and would lead the charge for them on Sunday. McLaren's tactical error with Ricciardo cost them dearly on Saturday, but Sunday was what counted, and they hoped to turn things around for both Ricciardo and Norris.



Aston Martin had hopes of making it into Q3 with the upgrades they brought in for the weekend. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Alpha Tauri failed to impress as well, with Tsunoda being the big casualty from Q1. While Giovinazzi continued to be the leader on Saturday for Alfa Romeo, Raikkonen couldn't break out of Q1, the dirty air from Latifi's car unsettling him on his final run. Russell, meanwhile, continued to extract the maximum out of Williams while Schumacher got better with each passing weekend.


Mazepin 
had caused a lot of grief to other drivers over Friday and Saturday and got penalised for impeding Norris in Q1. The Russian got one penalty point on his super licence along with a three-place grid drop, which had no implications since he had qualified 20th and last.




Race :


The skies were overcast, and drivers spotted drops of rain on their way to the grid. The clouds slowly pushed away, and the risk of rain dropped to 20%. A two-stops strategy was optimal, but the paddock was abuzz with talks that some drivers would attempt a one-stopper.


C1, C2 and C3 were the dry tyre compounds available for the race, and Raikkonen was the only driver to start on the mediums. 


The drivers pulled into their grid slots for the race start, but Gasly overshot his spot, getting flagged for investigation four laps later. The Frenchman would then get a five seconds time penalty for this infringement.




The race got underway, and Hamilton and Verstappen had great starts off the line. However, Verstappen hit the apex at turn one, taking the lead and compromising Hamilton's corner exit, who got had to take avoiding action from hitting the Dutchman. Bottas, who had followed Hamilton into the first couple of turns, got overtaken by Leclerc on the outside. Further down the field, Perez, Ricciardo and Schumacher made up two positions each, while Raikkonen was up by three. Verstappen, meanwhile, had extended his lead to 1.5 seconds at the end of the opening lap. 



Verstappen and Hamilton were setting blistering lap times, and the duo was pulling away from the rest of the field. Tsunoda, who had a disappointing Qualifying, began his recovery drive by overtakes on Russell and Schumacher, moving up to P16 by lap 5. However, disaster struck the rookie on lap 8 when his Alpa Tauri ground to a halt at turn 10. It turned out to be an engine issue, and the stewards had to deploy a Safety Car for the safe extrication of the vehicle. Meanwhile, Russell had overtaken Schumacher for P16.



The Safety Car got deployed, and Giovinazzi pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres. The Italian was stationary for 35 seconds, which is an eternity in the world of F1, before rejoining the race in P19. He had a big gap to bridge to the other cars. The stop looked like a disaster with mechanics running around with multiple tyres. However, replays showed that on timely inspection by a mechanic, there was a puncture on the front left, resulting in the entire set getting changed as per the FIA directive. Williams decided to do a double stack, switching both its drivers to the medium tyres. Russell had issues on his right rear tyre, and it was a slower stop for the Briton. The Safety Car period didn't last long, and racing resumed on lap 11. 



Verstappen had a clean getaway, but a wobble for Hamilton on the final turn denied him the opportunity of contesting for the lead. Russell and Latifi relegated Mazepin to P18, while Stroll got past Alonso for 10th. Russell then got past Schumacher for P15, and Alonso got a track limits violation at turn 2 ( lap 12 ).



DRS got enabled at lap 13, and Latifi dispatched Schumacher for 15th, two laps later. Sainz pressured Ocon for P7, but the Frenchman held on. Mazepin lost another position to Giovinazzi ( P18 ), while Ferrari told Sainz that they were switching to "Plan C". Meanwhile, his teammate Leclerc got shifted to "Plan B". 



Verstappen and Hamilton were lapping a lot quicker than the rest of the field, and blisters started appearing on the rear right tyres of both their cars. Gasly pitted for the medium tyres on lap 19, serving his time penalty during the stop, and rejoining in 19th and last. 



Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez, Ocon, Sainz, Norris and Stroll were the top 10 at the end of lap 21.



Alonso and Vettel pitted for medium tyres on lap 22, rejoining in 17th and 19th, respectively. Vettel's slower stop of 4 seconds costed the German track position to Gasly. The German got past him a lap later, though. While Sainz and Stroll pitted for the medium tyres on lap 23, Alonso overtook Mazepin for P16. The first round of pit stops continued for the teams, with Bottas, Norris and Ocon pitting for the medium tyres on lap 24. Bottas rejoined in 6th, having seen that the undercut was working for others in the race. Schumacher pitted for the medium tyres on lap 25, rejoining in 18th.



The battle at the front was hotting up with Hamilton catching Verstappen and now only half a second behind the Dutchman. A miscommunication between Verstappen and his race engineer led him to stop for new tyres, sooner than he was supposed to. The crew got delayed on putting the front and rear left tyres, and it was a 4.2 seconds stop. Verstappen rejoined in 5th but quickly got past Perez, who made way without any hesitation. Ironically, Mercedes and Hamilton didn't follow suit and decided to go longer. Ricciardo pitted for the medium tyres, rejoining in 8th ( lap 26 ).



Sainz got past Giovinazzi for P10, while Hamilton, who had caught up to backmarker Mazepin, couldn't get past. The Haas driver's antics frustrated Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, and he contacted the FIA to make his displeasure known. Ricciardo got past Russell for P7, while Perez and Latifi pitted for medium tyres, rejoining in 7th and 17th, respectively. Alonso reported power loss, and Alpine acknowledged that they were managing an issue. Raikkonen, who had taken the alternate strategy and yet to make a stop, got relegated to 6th by Ricciardo.



Hamilton finally pitted on lap 29, switching to the mediums and rejoining in 2nd, 6 seconds adrift of Verstappen. Leclerc and Russell also followed suit on the same lap, rejoining in P4 and P16, respectively. Both Alfa Romeo drivers were going backwards, with Giovinazzi losing two places to Alonso and Vettel, falling back to P14, and Raikkonen getting overtaken by Perez for P6. The duo then lost a position each to Sainz and Gasly on lap 31.



At the front, Hamilton was the fastest man on track, eating into Verstappen's lead and bringing the gap down to 2.5 seconds. The Briton was back in DRS range on lap 34, and the battle for victory was well and truly alive! Meanwhile, Raikkonen, who was in a tyre management phase, fell back to 10th after getting overtaken by Ocon and Norris. The Finn finally pitted on lap 39 for soft tyres, rejoining in 17th. He was on a one-stop strategy. Vettel, in his Aston Martin, followed suit on lap 40, rejoining in 17th behind Raikkonen. 



On the track, Perez was pressuring Ricciardo for P5, but the latter held the fort. The pit stop window for those on a two-stop strategy was now open, and Stroll and Giovinazzi were the first to switch to soft tyres, rejoining in 14th and 18th, respectively ( lap 41 ). Race Control issued a warning to Ricciardo for weaving on the pit straight, while Perez, who was chasing him down, ran wide and fell back by 1.5 seconds. 



Hamilton had closed up on Verstappen but was unable to get side-by-side and challenge for the lead. Mercedes made a bold decision and called Hamilton into the pits on lap 42, switching him to another set of medium tyres! Hamilton rejoined the race in 3rd, behind Bottas, and had to reduce the deficit to Verstappen, who decided to nurse his tyres to the end. And so the charge began for Hamilton and Mercedes, their quest for victory!



Hamilton went about setting blistering lap times again while Perez got past Ricciardo for P5. Ricciardo and Sainz pitted for the soft tyres on lap 47, rejoining in P8 and P9. A slow switch on the right rear tyres cost Gasly time in his pit stop, the Frenchman rejoining in 16th on lap 49. Ex-teammates Sainz and Norris got reunited on track, with the former bagging P8 on lap 51. Norris, trying to defend his position, got caught weaving, and Race Control served him a Black and White flag. The McLaren switched to a new set of soft tyres, rejoining in 11th, a lap later. 



Meanwhile, Hamilton had caught up to Bottas, and the team informed Bottas not to hold Hamilton up since he was on a different strategy. The Finn didn't seem too keen on relinquishing track position but left a gap big enough for Hamilton to complete an overtake on him at turn 10 ( lap 53 ). Further down the field, Ricciardo got past Ocon for P6, with Sainz relegating the Frenchman by another position. Mercedes decided to pit Bottas on lap 54, switching him to the soft tyres. He rejoined in 4th, behind Leclerc.  



Gasly got past Vettel for P14, while Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest laps on their new soft tyres. Bottas was back into P3 with a move on Leclerc on lap 57, the Monegasque putting up a weak fight. Meanwhile, Norris got past Alonso for P9. The gap at the front kept reducing, and Hamilton said that he might run out of grip towards the end. The team responded by saying that Verstappen was in a worse situation than him. Perez and Leclerc pitted for soft tyres on lap 59, rejoining in 3rd and 4th, respectively.



Hamilton was now within DRS deployment of Verstappen and was closing in on the pit straight. Verstappen took to the right, trying to break the tow and spewing pieces of discarded rubber onto Hamilton. The Briton had more traction and grip and took the lead on lap 60, overtaking Verstappen on the outside into turn one. 



Further down the field, Rusell lost three positions to Stroll, Raikkonen and Gasly while pressuring Alonso for P10. There was a train of cars forming up behind Alonso, whose tyres were on last legs. 


Meanwhile, Red Bull knew that their chances of victory were done and dusted. The team pitted Verstappen for soft tyres to grab the extra point for the fastest lap of the race ( lap 61 ). Bottas, who was also closing in on Verstappen before his stop, was still 5 seconds adrift when the latter rejoined the track in 2nd. Bottas also got stuck in the train of cars behind Alonso as he tried to lap the quintet of Alonso, Stroll, Raikkonen, Gasly and Vettel. 



Stroll attempted a pass on Alonso on lap 62 but was unable to brake in time, going wide into the run-off area and not rejoining as per the protocol set by the FIA. The Canadian backed off to let Alonso through, followed by Bottas, who was lapping him, only to have Raikkonen pressure him a couple of corners later. Raikkonen himself was under pressure from Gasly, who relegated him to 13th in the latter half of the lap. The incident between Stroll and Alonso got flagged for investigation, but the stewards deemed it a racing incident post-race. It was job done for Stroll a lap later, and Alonso's tyres fell off the cliff as he rapidly lost two more positions to Gasly and Raikkonen. Alonso finally pitted for new soft tyres, rejoining in P17.



Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race on lap 63, thus bagging the extra point on offer. The battle for the final point-scoring position wasn't over yet. Gasly got the better of Stroll on lap 64 and had Ocon, who was 12 seconds ahead, in his sights. Ocon, like Raikkonen, had adopted a one-stop strategy.




Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and the Win at the Spanish GP. Verstappen came home in 2nd, having tried his best, followed by Bottas in 3rd in the other Mercedes. Another strong performance saw Leclerc finish in 4th for Ferrari, followed by Perez and Ricciardo. Sainz was 7th in the other Ferrari, followed by Norris in 8th. The cushion of 12 seconds disappeared for Ocon, who just managed to hold off Gasly in the race to the line for 9th. Gasly completed the top 10, scoring a point for Alpha Tauri.



Stroll was 11th for Aston Martin, followed by Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo. P13 was the best that Vettel could achieve, followed by Russell and Giovinazzi, who was unlucky at the start of the race. Latifi was 16th in the other Williams, fending off a late challenge by Alonso in 17th. The Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin completed the classified finishers.




It was Win Number 98 for Hamilton and the 50th Podium for Bottas in his time at Mercedes. The trio of Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas shared the podium at the Spanish GP for the 4th consecutive season. Mercedes was able to outsmart Red Bull once again. It was a repeat of the 2019 Hungarian GP. Should Red Bull have pitted Verstappen a lap after Hamilton? Could he have kept the lead on rejoining? It was a hard nut to crack. Spain wasn't the easiest of tracks to overtake on, considering its aero sensitive characteristics. Track position was more important for Red Bull, but tyre life caused their undoing. The absence of the second car in the battle at the top left Red Bull with a handicap again. These issues need addressing. The curse of poor results from the 2nd car at Red Bull never seems to go away, even with a Perez at the wheel. It is back to the drawing board for the Milton Keynes outfit. Bottas has scored half of Hamilton's tally in 2021 to date. The Finn needs to step up his game if he wants to stake a claim on the title. The Drivers' Title is quickly becoming a two-horse race between Hamilton and Verstappen.



Ferrari outscored McLaren with stellar drives from Leclerc and Sainz. Only 5 points separate McLaren from Ferrari, and this battle also promises to go down to the wire. Ocon holding off Gasly at the end was pivotal in the Constructors' battle for Alpine. Stopping only once was a bold call to make, and it paid dividends ( for Ocon ). Alonso wasn't as fortunate in the other Alpine, with reliability issues costing him positions in the race. Alpha Tauri had another breakdown with Tsunoda but was able to salvage a point through Gasly. Every point matters. 



Aston Martin came close to scoring a point with Stroll, only to be pipped by Gasly with three laps left. Vettel, too, failed to impress. The new regulations are wrecking the team's chances, and some desperate steps are needed for fortunes to change. Raikkonen was the last driver to pit in the first round of pit stops and spent most of his race in tyre management. If the team had adopted a more aggressive approach, they could have scored their first points of 2021. Giovinazzi, on the other hand, got undone by poor strategic calls, something that Alfa Romeo need to iron out. He has been delivering the goods on Saturday, but unfortunate incidents are costing him and the team on race day. Williams has been strong on Saturdays but keeps falling backwards on Sundays with both its drivers. The chances of the team scoring a point seem bleak. While Schumacher continues to grow as an F1 racer, Mazepin remains the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons, finding new drivers and personnel to displease every weekend. The Russian had a clean race, so that is a positive, but the pace deficit to Schumacher remains. Haas' performances don't augur well for their future.




While Hamilton completed a century of Poles in Spain, Verstappen completed 100 race starts with Red Bull! In the Clash of these Centurions, Race Strategy chose the Victor! 




The drivers will lock horns again, in two weeks, at the most glamorous race on the calendar! It is time for the Monaco GP in the Principality!


Track position will be paramount, considering the narrow nature of the oldest street circuit on the calendar. The honour of winning at Monaco is unmatched, something which few have experienced from the current grid.




So who will reign supreme in the streets of Monaco? We shall know soon enough! 
]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1685819 2021-05-03T06:29:36Z 2021-05-03T06:29:36Z 2021 Portuguese GP Race Recap : Hammering through the Challenges!

The 2021 F1 Season kicked off in Bahrain, followed by the Emilia Romagna GP held at Imola three weeks later. Only a point separated Hamilton from Verstappen at the top of the standings ( after two races ), while Mercedes were seven points clear of Red Bull. 



Round 3 of the Championship got held at Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal. Portimao made its debut on the F1 calendar for the first time in 2020 and is the first race of the first double-header of 2021. The circuit with its undulations and off-camber corners made racing a challenge for drivers in 2020, becoming an instant hit with the fans. The overtaking opportunities were many despite the grip levels being one of the lowest on the calendar.



While the teams made the journey from Imola to Portimao, the world was abuzz with news of the dawn of a new format of racing in F1. The FOM ( with the approval of all teams ) decided to give three race weekends a new look, beginning with Silverstone and Monza. 


The changes were as under :

1) Friday would feature Free Practice 1 followed by Qualifying in the afternoon. Qualifying would follow the standard format and decide the grid for Sprint Qualifying ( Sprint Race ) that would take place on Saturday afternoon.

2) Saturday would feature Free Practice 2 in the morning, followed by Sprint Qualifying.

Sprint Qualifying, also known as Sprint Race ( unofficially ), will be a race spanning 100 km with a time duration of 30 minutes approximately. Depending on circuit length, the race would average out at 20 / 21 laps. Pit stops would be optional. The results of Sprint Qualifying would determine the grid for the race on Sunday. The top 3 finishers from Sprint Qualifying would get points ( 3, 2 and 1 ).

3) Parc Ferme conditions imposition would happen after both practice sessions.



More details on the official website :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.everything-you-need-to-know-about-f1s-new-sprint-qualifying-format-including.1Lawf6r6Ab0y8ha0satSjx.html



The new format attracted mixed reactions from the fans, and it will be interesting to see whether the FOM achieve the desired results from the three trial race weekends. 


In other developments, Turkey got announced as the replacement for the Canadian Grand Prix ( this year ), while Miami would host a Grand Prix from the 2022 season. Red Bull roped in the services of Ben Hodgkinson, who was previously technical head of Mercedes High-Performance Powertrains, appointing him as technical director.


Russell issued an apology following his coming together with Bottas at the Emilia Romagna GP, a crash that cost both teams an excess of 2 million pounds in replacement parts. 



The entire F1 paddock gathered for a moment of silence to honour Martin Shepherd, an employee of Haas F1 who had also handled logistics in the past for Mercedes Petronas AMG. The Briton had met with a motorcycle accident in July 2019, resulting in multiple injuries and trauma to his brain. He breathed his last on 20th April, gone at the tender age of 25. Haas carried his name on the nose of both its cars as a tribute.




Hamilton would hit a century of pole positions if he came out on top on Saturday. Were Verstappen and Red Bull able to turn the tide and take the lead in the Championship, or did Hamilton and Mercedes ace it on race day? Bottas needed to get his title challenge back on track, and despite his strong showing in Portimao, the Finn finished second-best in 2020. Was he able to reduce the deficit to the early chargers?



Time for a quick recap of the Portuguese GP weekend!




Practice :


Alfa Romeo announced the 2020 F2 Runner-up Callum Illot as their Reserve Driver for the season, and the Briton got the chance to participate in Free Practice 1, replacing Antonio Giovinazzi. 


The driver-step on Sainz's car got dislodged at the exit of the Pit Lane at the start of FP1. The lack of grip on the circuit caused many drivers to run wide at various corners, resulting in a host of lap time deletions ( 35 in total ).


Hamilton complained about the lack of balance, with the team acknowledging that it was surface temperature related. Vettel mistakenly stopped in McLaren's garage, while Verstappen complained about vibrations from a fresh set of soft tyres on his Red Bull. It was Bottas who topped the timesheets, two-hundredths clear of Verstappen and Perez. Leclerc was 4th for Ferrari, followed by Hamilton and Gasly. 7th quickest for Russell proved that Williams was getting better with each passing day. Norris was the fastest McLaren in 8th, with Sainz and Ocon in 9th and 10th going a second slower than Bottas' time. 


Stroll was 11th quickest, followed by Ricciardo and Tsunoda. Alonso managed 14th in the other Alpine, the Spaniard's representative lap time set with the hard tyres. The Aston Martin of Vettel split the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Illot in 16th, while Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin brought up the rear of the field. It was a productive FP1 for Illot, the reserve driver going 2.4 seconds than rookie Mazepin.




The start of FP2 got delayed due to a loose drain cover at turn 11. Verstappen suffered from a brake-by-wire failure early on in the session, while Latifi had an off-track excursion at turns 7 and 8. There were 30 lap time deletions in FP2, with drivers still struggling to find the limits of their cars. Mazepin's baptism by fire continued as he struggled to find his braking points and then got in the way of Perez, who was on a flying lap with soft tyres. His teammate Schumacher suffered from an engine issue but was able to continue after a change in the settings instructed by his engineer. 


Hamilton was the quickest at the end of FP2, with Verstappen and Bottas a tenth and three-tenths off his pace, respectively. The Alpine cars of Alonso and Ocon split the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc, only two-tenths separating the quartet. Ricciardo and Stroll were 8th and 9th, more than half a second shy of Hamilton's time, while Perez completed the top 10 in the other Red Bull. 


The fastest Alpha Tauri was Gasly in 11th, followed by Norris in the second McLaren. Russell was 13th for Williams, over a second slower than Hamilton's lap time.  Tsunoda was 14th, Vettel 15th, followed by the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin remained at the back of the pack.




Friday running suggested that Mercedes had found the optimum balance and looked competitive over one lap. However, it was Red Bull who exhibited better race pace. Ferrari and Alpine continued their resurgence, but in hotly contested midfield with a few tenths separating several drivers, anything could happen on Qualifying day. There were a total of 65 lap time deletions on Friday. Track limits were something that the teams and drivers needed to be wary of in Qualifying.




FP3 got underway with the track temperature being 10 degrees cooler than that from Friday. While Alonso had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, Norris suffered a spin, briefly bringing out the yellow flags in sector three. Raikkonen did a complete 360 at turn 8, managing to keep his Alfa Romeo on track, but Mazepin failed to control his Haas and had a trip over the gravel. Seven different teams made up the top 10, with Verstappen topping the charts, more than two-tenths clear of Hamilton, Bottas and Perez. Ocon was 5th for Alpine, followed by the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz. Norris, Gasly and Raikkonen completed the top 10. 


The Alpha Tauri of Tsunoda bagged 11th, while Ricciardo set the 12th quickest time, a second slower than Verstappen. Giovinazzi was 13th in the other Alfa Romeo, while Alonso's P14 wasn't indicative of his actual pace. The Spaniard, like Stroll and Vettel, set this representative lap time on the medium tyres. Schumacher was 15th for Haas, while Russell split the Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel in 17th. Latifi and Mazepin remained two seconds off the pace in P19 and P20.




Qualifying :


Mercedes mechanics worked frantically on Bottas' car to get it ready for QualifyingMcLaren, on the other hand, had to address an ECU issue on Norris' vehicle.



Q1 got underway with the McLaren drivers opting for medium tyres, while the rest, the softs. The drivers were fueled for multiple runs, gaining time as rubber got laid on the track. Hamilton, Leclerc, Mazepin and Raikkonen suffered from lap time deletions for exceeding track limits. 


Bottas, Sainz, Perez, Verstappen, Alonso and Ocon were the top 6 while Russell, Schumacher, Latifi, Mazepin and Hamilton were in the drop zone, with nine minutes remaining. Hamilton improved to 5th, while Perez made a trip through the gravel trap at turn 4.


Sainz, Verstappen and Perez decided to stay put while the rest of the field emerged with soft tyres in the final minutes of Q1. 


Bottas, Norris, Hamilton, Ocon, Sainz and Perez became the top 6 at the end of Q1 with Ricciardo, Stroll, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin getting eliminated.




The start of Q2 saw drivers adopting different tyre strategies. The Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, Alfa Romeo drivers and Russell chose the medium tyres at the start of Q2 while the rest opted for the softs. Once again, drivers had fuel for multiple runs. Hamilton, Bottas, Norris, Ocon, Perez and Vettel were the top 6 with Russell, Tsunoda, Sainz, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen in the drop zone halfway through the session. 


Ocon, Verstappen and Perez decided to not run again in Q2, while except Leclerc, everyone else switched to the soft tyres. The lap times kept improving with track evolution, and at the end of Q2, the following drivers went through to Q3 - Hamilton, Bottas, Norris, Ocon, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Perez, Vettel and Gasly.


Russell, Giovinazzi, Alonso, Tsunoda and Raikkonen got eliminated.




It was time for the top-ten shootout, and barring Vettel, the rest emerged from the pits on soft tyres for their first runs of Q3. Verstappen was pushing hard on his first attempt and exceeded track limits at turn 4, resulting in a lap time deletion. Bottas was seven thousandths clear of Hamilton at the top, followed by Perez half a second adrift in 3rd at the end of the first runs. While Norris split the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc in 5th, Gasly and Ocon got the better of Vettel, who did a solitary run, out of sync with the rest of the front runners. Verstappen would get only one shot in the final minutes of Q3.


The Mercedes duo believed that they had more pace on the medium tyres, opting for those in their final run for pole position. The others persisted with the soft tyres. Verstappen kept pushing but could only manage P3, ending up four-tenths off of Bottas' first attempt. The Dutchman wasn't pleased with the way other drivers hampered his run on the flying lap. He made his displeasure known over team radio. Sainz improved to 5th, while Ocon went 6th fastest, despite hitting the kerbs. The battle for pole was now between Bottas and Hamilton, and neither improved on their final runs. Bottas grabbed pole position, seven-thousandths clear of Hamilton from his run earlier. Verstappen hung onto 3rd, with teammate Perez slotting into P4. 


Sainz was 5th for Ferrari, with Ocon bagging 6th. Row 4 got occupied by Norris and Leclerc while Gasly and Vettel completed row 5.




Bottas finally stepped up on Saturday, pipping Hamilton by the slightest of margins. However, Sunday is what mattered for the Finn. Hamilton's pace on the medium tyres based on the data from Q2 was eye-opening. The upgrades brought in by Mercedes were bringing home the desired results. Red Bull had both its cars right behind Mercedes, but Verstappen rued the missed opportunity for pole position. A stellar qualifying lap by Sainz gave Ferrari the best launchpad for a good race result, while Alpine and McLaren were on the backfoot by having only a car each in the top 10. Vettel had a resurgence of sorts and hoped for a decent points haul on Sunday.



Russell 
produced a stellar performance for Williams, narrowly missing an appearance in Q3. Free tyre choice for the race coupled with a good strategy could help them score their first points of 2021. Giovinazzi managed to outqualify his more experienced teammate in Raikkonen, the latter making back-to-back mistakes on his flying laps. Tsunoda and Alonso had never raced in Portimao, and the duo had work to do on race day. Ricciardo had a disappointing showing in Qualifying, with McLaren being in damage limitation mode this weekend. Stroll, like Ricciardo, had a disappointing day at the office and needed to set things right on race day. The travails for Haas F1 continued.





Race :


Pirelli provided C1, C2 and C3 compounds for the race. Raikkonen and Stroll chose the softs while the rest chose the mediums, outside the top 10.



The five lights went out, and it was a clean start by Bottas. Verstappen got the tow from Bottas and pressured Hamilton into turn 1, but the Briton held onto P2. Perez lost 4th to Sainz while Norris got past Ocon for 6th. Raikkonen was up two positions at the end of lap one and challenging his teammate Giovinazzi on the start-finish straight. The Finn got distracted while making a settings change and rear-ended the other Alfa Romeo, damaging the front wing, which got lodged under his car. Raikkonen was a passenger into turn one as he limped through the gravel and into retirement. The resulting debris on track forced the stewards to deploy the Safety Car.  



The Safety Car pulled into the pits at the end of lap 6. Bottas had a clean getaway but delayed his restart, which allowed Verstappen to get into Hamilton's tow and past him for 2nd. Perez and Norris got past Sainz before Norris took 5th from Perez. The Mexican was once again on the back foot on the restart, which compromised his race. He reported to the team that Norris had completed an illegal overtake and requested them to report it to the race stewards. Further down the field, Russell lost three places and was down in 14th, while Stroll got past Tsunoda for 15th.



Bottas was the fastest man on track but unable to shake off Verstappen. Schumacher got past teammate Mazepin for 18th while Stroll relegated Russell to 15th. DRS got enabled on lap nine as Hamilton went the quickest and started to reduce the deficit to Verstappen. A rare error by Verstappen at turn 14 put him out of DRS, allowing Hamilton to close upon him and get past into turn one on lap 12. The Dutchman complained about the lack of straight-line speed, calling himself "a sitting duck".



Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Norris, Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon, Gasly and Vettel were the top 10 at the end of lap 13. 



Tsunoda got a warning for exceeding track limits at turn one before getting past Russell for P15 ( lap 14 ). Perez got past Norris for 4th ( lap 15 ), while Hamilton got within the DRS range of Bottas. The Briton then missed his braking point at turn 13, putting him outside DRS detection, which gave Bottas some respite at the front on lap 17. Vettel lost 10th to Ricciardo on lap 18 while the battle for the lead started hotting up again. 



Hamilton had a better exit out of the final corner on lap 20, and with the assistance of DRS, took the lead of the Grand Prix! 



Sainz was the first of the front runners to pit for a set of medium tyres on lap 22, rejoining in 15th. Tsunoda followed suit a lap later, opting for hard tyres and rejoining in P19. Norris, Ocon, Vettel and Giovinazzi were the next to pit on lap 23, with Ocon and Giovinazzi opting for the hards and Vettel and Norris choosing the softs. 



Hamilton complained about tyre wear but extended his lead to 2 seconds at the front. Gasly and Latifi pitted on lap 25 for the medium and hard tyres, respectively. Meanwhile, on track, Vettel got past Schumacher for 14th. Hard tyres were the tyres of choice for Leclerc, who rejoined in 10th after his pit stop on lap 26. Ocon got past Russell for 12th, while Hamilton was the fastest man on track again. Russell lost another position to Vettel, getting relegated to 14th on lap 28. The Williams driver complained to the team that the car was undrivable. He pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in 18th on lap 29. 



Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Ricciardo, Alonso, Stroll, Norris, Sainz, Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 33.


Schumacher lost two positions to Latifi and Russell after his switch to the hard tyres on lap 34. Ocon got past Gasly for P11 while the time for the top three to have their mandatory pit stops neared. The undercut had worked for those who had pitted earlier, and Red Bull was the first to call Verstappen in on lap 36. The Dutchman switched to hard tyres, rejoining in 4th behind his teammate Perez. It was a 2.3 seconds stop by the team. Mercedes instructed Bottas to push as they pitted a lap later to cover off the undercut. The pit stop was slower by a second, and when Bottas emerged from the pits, Verstappen was agonisingly close to overtaking him. Verstappen had his tyres up to temperature, while Bottas needed a few corners to do the same. Bottas gave too much throttle at the exit of turn 4, losing momentum out of the corner, which allowed Verstappen to get side-by-side and go past him at turn 5. Verstappen had bagged P2 for Red Bull!



Hamilton pitted on lap 38 and had a drama-free pitstop, switching to hard tyres and emerging comfortably ahead of Verstappen. Leclerc had caught up to Sainz, who was in a tyre management phase, and Ferrari decided to swap positions at turn 5. Meanwhile, at the front, Perez, who was leading the race, reported vibrations on his 43 laps old mediums. Stroll switched to the medium tyres after pitting on lap 41, while Alonso chose the hards a lap later, rejoining in 11th. Ricciardo, another driver who had a long first stint, pitted on lap 43 for hard tyres, but the Australian had missed the marker in the pit box leading to a slow stop of 4.8 seconds. He rejoined in 10th.



Hamilton started to eat into Perez's lead and was the fastest man on track. Sainz was struggling with his medium tyres and fell back into the clutches of Ocon. The Spaniard was able to rebuff the challenge for P7. Bottas had gotten his hard tyres into the operating range and was closing down the gap to Verstappen. Toto Wolff, the Mercedes Team Principal, encouraged him to keep pushing. The Finn reduced the deficit to Verstappen to 2 seconds.



The battle for P7 intensified, and Ocon finally got the job done on lap 44. Red Bull notified Perez that they wanted him to extend "Plan A" by another ten laps. The Mexican's plans almost took a hit when he closed up on Mazepin to lap him. The Russian rookie didn't oblige with the blue flags, and Perez suffered from a lock-up to avoid hitting the Haas car. The FIA flagged the incident for investigation, and Mazepin got a 5 seconds time penalty. Hamilton and Bottas continued to trade fast laps as the duo honed in on the Red Bull drivers. 



Ricciardo relegated Gasly to 10th on lap 49 while Hamilton was now only 1.8 seconds behind Perez. The Briton, on his fresher tyres, made light work of Perez and retook the lead on lap 51. Alonso was setting competitive lap times further down the field in his Alpine and got past Ricciardo for P9. Perez finally pitted on lap 52, swapping to a used set of soft tyres for his final stint. 



The battle for P10 was hotting up, with Ricciardo going backwards and falling into the hands of Gasly. Gasly requested Alpha Tauri to give him more power if they wanted the final points-scoring position. Meanwhile, Bottas, who had reduced the gap to Verstappen, started losing time as he lapped the backmarkers. He then lost more time on the next lap in clear air and reported power loss over team radio. Mercedes investigated the issue, and it was due to a faulty exhaust temperature sensor. 



Giovinazzi got past Vettel for P12 on lap 56, while Perez was the fastest man on track. Alonso continued his charge up the field and caught up to Sainz in the battle for P8. It was job done for the former double World Champion on lap 58. At the back of the pack, Latifi was fending off a challenge by Schumacher for P17. The Aston Martin cars were sparring for 13th, and Stroll got past Vettel on lap 60. The battle for P17 was relentless as Schumacher stayed in the DRS range. However, a mistake by Latifi at turn 3 allowed the German to get ahead on lap 63. 



The point for the fastest lap rested with Perez, and since Bottas had given up on challenging Verstappen for 2nd, Mercedes decided to pit him on lap 64 to regain the point. It was a free stop for Bottas, and he retained 3rd. Red Bull did the same with Verstappen a lap later, switching him to the soft tyres like Bottas. It was a record-equalling stop of 1.9 seconds. Mercedes informed Hamilton about the two pit stops behind him, but he decided against adopting the same strategy.



Sainz lost performance on his worn-out medium tyres and lost two positions to Ricciardo and Ocon, dropping out of the points on the final lap. Bottas was the fastest driver on track, and it seemed like Mercedes had succeeded in its plans. However, Verstappen went even quicker to give himself and Red Bull the extra point for the fastest lap. However, replays showed that Verstappen had exceeded track limits at turn 14, which resulted in his lap time getting deleted. 



Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and his 97th Career Victory! It was also his 50th consecutive points finish. Verstappen came home in 2nd for Red Bull, with Bottas finishing in 3rd with the extra point for the fastest lap.



Perez had his best finish with Red Bull in 4th, followed by Norris in his McLaren. Leclerc was 6th for Ferrari, closely followed by the Alpines of Ocon and Alonso. An eventful weekend for Ricciardo saw him finish 9th, ahead of Gasly, who completed the top 10.



Sainz finished 11th in the other Ferrari, having gone backwards from his starting position of 5th, followed by Giovinazzi in the solitary Alfa Romeo. Vettel got past Stroll on the last lap, thanks to another mistake by Mazepin, which compromised Stroll. Vettel and Stroll finished 13th and 14th, respectively, for Aston Martin. 15th was the best that Tsunoda could manage after racing for the first time in Portugal, followed by Russell and Schumacher. Latifi was 18th in the other Williams, with Mazepin finishing in 19th and last, 72 seconds behind his teammate Schumacher ( after applying the time penalty ).



It hadn't been smooth sailing for Hamilton. Verstappen was the favourite for pole position but failed on Saturday. Hamilton then got relegated to 3rd at the Safety Car restart and had to fight his way to victory by scintillating overtakes on Verstappen and Bottas. The Briton proved why he is a seven-time World Champion. Verstappen and Red Bull huffed and puffed but fell short on race day. 



There are days in a Championship when a driver has an opportunity to show his team the calibre he possesses and the hunger he has for victories and success. Bottas had that opportunity in Portugal and failed to capitalise on it. The faulty exhaust sensor also cost him a shot at 2nd in the race, causing further damage to his title aspirations. He has limited time to turn things around and hasn't won in the past 19 races. Perez is slowly getting to grips with life at Red Bull and would be pivotal, not just in the upcoming races but also in the title battle. The Mexican put in a commendable stint of 53 laps on the medium tyres, the longest by any driver in the race. 



McLaren didn't have high expectations from the Portuguese GP, but they would be glad about a double-points finish, something their competitor Ferrari wasn't able to achieve. Norris sits 3rd in the Championship, having made a good start in 2021, but Ricciardo is yet to find his feet. Leclerc was efficient in Portugal, but a strategy howler cost Sainz and Ferrari dearly. The Italian marquee must iron out these mistakes if they yearn to be the third-best team on the grid. Alpine had a bitter-sweet Saturday, but its drivers more than made up for it on Sunday. Ocon and Alonso's double-points finish promoted them to 5th in the Constructors' Championship. Alpha Tauri, thanks to Gasly, didn't leave Portugal empty-handed. They are locked in an intense battle with Alpine and Aston Martin and need Tsunoda to step up as well.



Aston Martin continues to struggle with the new regulations, and despite Vettel's heroics on Saturday, they left Portimao with both cars outside the points. Giovinazzi carried the burdens of Alfa Romeo single-handedly after a rare mistake by Raikkonen at the end of the opening lap. Thankfully, for the Italian, he didn't suffer damage from the contact, but it had been a weekend full of struggles for the team. Alfa Romeo won the right to review Raikkonen's penalty from Imola ( previous race ), but the decision got upheld, and they are yet to score a point in 2021. Russell has been brilliant on Saturdays but fades away in races. Despite qualifying 11th, the Williams driver kept falling backwards, complaining that the car was undrivable, something that the team needs to address at the earliest. Schumacher's calibre in wheel-to-wheel racing was on full display, and the F2 Champion came out on top against Latifi. He is slowly coming up to speed, and this augurs well for Haas F1. Mazepin failed to have an incident-free race, and the penalty for ignoring blue flags added to his woes. The concerns surrounding his racing ethics remain, but he has the team's backing for now.



The F1 circus now travels east, to Barcelona, for the Catalunya GP, which will complete the first double-header of the season. The track, which has played host to pre-season tests and races every year, is one of the most challenging on the calendar, amplifying weaknesses, if any, in a car. Only 8 points separate Hamilton and Verstappen in the standings, and it could soon become a two-horse race.



Who will reign supreme in Spain? We shall know next weekend!
]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1680074 2021-04-19T16:03:13Z 2021-04-22T04:56:45Z 2021 Emilia Romagna GP Race Recap : Dutch Perfection in Inclement Weather

The 2021 season kicked off in Bahrain, and Red Bull and Verstappen looked firm favourites for victory on Sunday. However, Mercedes and Hamilton, thanks to a bold strategy, denied them the win. Three weeks have passed since, and the teams returned to Europe to regroup and rejoin the battle with reinforcements and upgrades on their cars. 



There were some developments over the break, off-track. Nico Hulkenberg got awarded the Reserve Driver Role at Cognizant Aston Martin Racing while Mercedes announced Mike Elliott as Technical Director, replacing James Allison, who became the Chief Technical Officer. The rising number of COVID cases led organisers to cancel the Canadian GP. The FOM is yet to announce a replacement.



Round 2 of the 2021 Formula One season got held at the "Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit" in Imola, Italy. The circuit, which made an unlikely return in the pandemic-hit 2020 F1 season, saw Lewis Hamilton take victory from Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo last year.



While Mercedes and Hamilton hoped to emulate the success of 2020, Red Bull looked to bounce back from the disappointments of Bahrain. Ferrari and McLaren were confident of an improved showing, while Alpine brought in a few upgrades in their quest to return to the sharp end of the grid.



The narrow nature of the circuit meant overtaking was a task. However, the extension of the DRS zone at the start-finish straight promised to add some respite.



So who came out on top at the end of Race day?

Time for a recap of the Emilia Romagna GP weekend!



Practice :


There were technical difficulties at the start of FP1 with teams getting access to a limited amount of data from their cars. The lack of communication resulted in a coming together between Ocon and Perez, with the latter's rear left tyre clipping the right front tyre of Ocon's car. The contact ended FP1 for both drivers due to suspension damage. Mazepin's struggles in F1 continued with the Russian suffering from an off-track excursion and then a crash just before the pit lane entry. 


Drivers were exploring the limits of the track, with Verstappen, Tsunoda, Latifi and Hamilton going off in FP1. It was Bottas who topped the timesheets, less than a tenth clear of Hamilton and Verstappen. Gasly was 5th, splitting the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz. Alonso, Stroll, Latifi and Ricciardo completed the top 10. It was a productive session for Williams, with Russell setting the 11th quickest time, followed by Raikkonen, Norris and Vettel in the other Aston Martin. Giovinazzi was 16th in the other Alfa Romeo, ahead of Perez and Ocon. Mazepin, Schumacher and Tsunoda rounded off the table.



FP2 got underway, with Verstappen suffering from a driveshaft failure, having taken too much kerb on one of his flying laps. Nikita Mazepin had two more off-track excursions and hit the wall in the second incident. Russell, Norris and Alonso were some of the other drivers who got undone by the kerbs and gravel traps around the circuit. Leclerc crashed into the barriers, the stewards having to red flag the session. The Mercedes duo of Bottas and Hamilton topped the timesheets again, with Bottas being one-hundredth of a second clear. He set his quickest time on the medium tyres. The surprise of FP2 was Gasly, who got his Alpha Tauri up into 3rd, only seven-hundredths slower than Bottas' time. Sainz, Leclerc and Perez completed the top 6. Tsunoda was 7th in the other Alpha Tauri, followed by Norris, Giovinazzi and Stroll. 


The Alpine cars were in the thick of the midfield battle, with Latifi splitting them. The mechanical failure restricted Verstappen's running, and 14th was the best he could achieve on Friday afternoon. Vettel was 15th in the other Aston Martin, followed by Russell. Frequent incidents and the subsequent red flag denied Raikkonen the chance of setting a proper lap time on the soft tyres. The 2007 World Champion set the 17th fastest time, followed by Ricciardo, who struggled to find the right balance throughout. The Haas cars were 19th and 20th.



The running from Friday suggested that Mercedes had found a sweet spot in terms of balance, be it for Qualifying or the Race. Valtteri Bottas, the pole-sitter from last year, had a productive Friday while the Red Bull drivers had compromised sessions. The midfield battle was close as ever, with Ferrari discovering newfound pace. Williams looked to have better balance than its rivals Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen.



It was a chilly Saturday morning, and the teams waited for track temperatures to improve before venturing out for some laps. Latifi lost control of the rear of his Williams, hitting the barriers and damaging his front wing in the process. The session got red-flagged, albeit for a short period. The drivers were pushing on their Qualifying simulation runs, and several drivers went off-track or went over the kerbs. While Tsunoda complained about traffic while jostling for track position, Raikkonen had a trip through the gravel, and Giovinazzi got spun around after exiting the pits, cold tyres to blame. 


Verstappen was the quickest at the end of FP3 from Norris and Hamilton. Perez was 4th in the other Red Bull, followed by Leclerc and Gasly. Sainz and Bottas were 7th and 8th, within a second of Verstappen's lap time, and the Alpines of Alonso and Ocon completed the top 10. 


The Alpha Tauri of Tsunoda was in P11, with Ricciardo splitting the Aston Martins of Stroll and Vettel in 13th. Russell was 15th in the Williams, followed by Schumacher and Latifi. Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Mazepin completed the rear of the field. 



Track limits at turns 9, 14 and 15 were the bone of contention for several drivers, with FP3 seeing 18 lap time deletions. The FIA was unforgiving, and the slightest infringement could tip the battle for pole position come Qualifying. Qualifying promised to be a tight affair, with many drivers being within a second of the fastest time as seen in all three practice sessions.




Qualifying :


Haas was the first team out of the pits at the start of Q1. While Verstappen, Latifi and Perez chose to stay put, the rest of the field headed out with 12 minutes left on the clock. Several drivers had just begun their first runs when Tsunoda lost control of his Alpha Tauri and went into the barriers at Variante Alta ( turn 15 ). There was considerable damage to the rear of the car, and the session got red-flagged. The Japanese driver's Qualifying was over.

A brief lull followed before the session restarted, and everyone was out on track with 10 minutes remaining of Q1. 


Lap time deletions returned with Giovinazzi and Perez suffering from exceeding track limits at turn 9, while Gasly and Latifi committed infringements at Variante Alta


Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc were the top 6, with Schumacher, Latifi, Mazepin, Russell and Tsunoda facing the threat of elimination at the end of the first runs. The Red Bull drivers, Norris, Leclerc and Gasly, chose to not run again in Q1.


Mazepin had yet another off-track excursion while Schumacher had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. Russell improved to 14th, which pushed the Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi into the drop zone. Traffic and "a lack of racing etiquette" from Mazepin, as Giovinazzi put it, cost him the chance of a final run. 


Ocon got into the top 6 at the end of Q1 while his team-mate Alonso scraped through to Q2 in 15th. Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Schumacher, Mazepin and Tsunoda got eliminated at the end of Q1.



Tyre choice has always been critical for the front runners in Q2, and Red Bull decided to split the strategies with Perez opting for the soft tyres and Verstappen the mediums. Mercedes and Williams were the other teams to opt for the mediums at the start of Q2. 


Vettel and Gasly had their lap times deleted after they exceeded track limits. Norris was the quickest from Hamilton and Verstappen at the end of the first runs. Leclerc, Bottas and Perez completed the top 6 with Ricciardo, Alonso, Ocon, Latifi and Vettel facing potential elimination. The Aston Martin drivers decided to complete their final runs of Q2 early, with Vettel ending up out of sync due to the lap time deletion suffered earlier in the session. Stroll and Vettel improved to 7th and 8th, respectively.


Bottas and Norris chose to stay in the pits while the rest of the field came out on the soft tyres. Perez ended Q2 with the quickest time, beating Norris' attempt by two-thousandths of a second. Leclerc, Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Gasly, Ricciardo, Ocon and Stroll were the others who got into Q3, while Sainz, Russell, Vettel, Latifi and Alonso got eliminated.




The final part of Qualifying ( Q3 ) got underway, with all drivers opting for the soft tyres for their first runs. Less than a second covered the top 7, with Hamilton setting the fastest time at the end of the banker laps, nine-hundredths clear of Verstappen with Perez two-tenths further away. Norris, Leclerc, Bottas and Gasly were also in the mix. Stroll opted to run only once in the session and stayed in the pits.


It was now time for the final shootout! The drivers put on a fresh set of soft tyres and emerged from the pits for the battle for pole position. Bottas was the first to start his lap, but a mistake in sector one put him out of the reckoning for pole. The Finn improved to 5th ( provisionally ). 



Further back, Hamilton also wasn't able to improve on the time from his first run. He was on provisional pole, however. Norris was the driver on fire, going the fastest in sectors 1 and 2, and crossing the line to take P2, four-hundredths shy of Hamilton's time. However, his joy was short-lived as the FIA surmised that the Briton had exceeded track limits turn 9. The lap-time deletion dropped him down to 6th. The Red Bull drivers were the only challengers left for pole. Perez set personal best times in sectors 1 and 2 but made an error at the final turn. Verstappen, meanwhile, went the quickest of everyone in sector 2, but neither was able to pip Hamilton to pole! 


Perez, however, out-qualified Verstappen, falling short of pole position by three-hundredths of a second. Verstappen was eight-hundredths shy of Hamilton's time in 3rd. Leclerc put in a stellar lap to put his Ferrari on row 2 of the grid. Gasly and Ricciardo were 5th and 6th, followed by Norris and Bottas on the 4th row. Ocon was 9th in his Alpine with Stroll in 10th, having failed to set a representative lap time in Q3.



Only eight-tenths of a second separated the top 9, a feat never repeated since 2012. Hamilton and Mercedes managed to hold onto pole position despite Red Bull's best efforts. It was the 99th Pole Position for Hamilton. The Briton would have the best place on the grid come Sunday. However, Mercedes were in a spot of bother with Bottas having a lacklustre showing in Qualifying. The Finn had been exceptional on Friday but came up short on Saturday, starting the race down in 8th. Red Bull had both its cars in the top 3, with Perez starting on the softer tyres. It was an opportunity for the team to put pressure on the reigning champions. 


Norris was gutted with his mistake but hoped to make amends on Raceday. McLaren seemed to be the best of the rest and held the advantage going into race day by having both its cars in the top 10. It was a bitter-sweet day for Ferrari, with Leclerc qualifying 4th, but Sainz becoming a casualty in Q2 and starting only 11th. Alpha Tauri was another team that had a mixed day, with Gasly making it to the 3rd row but Tsunoda crashing out of Qualifying and starting at the back of the grid. Sunday was the day that mattered, though. 


Alpine and Aston Martin were further back in the midfield battle, the upgrades not bringing the desired effect in Qualifying. The Williams drivers had been performing well in the Practice sessions and translated that form into Qualifying. The Alfa Romeo drivers struggled from balance issues but hoped to make up some positions on race day.  Haas seemed destined to remain at the back of the pack but were relieved to see Mazepin have a trouble-free session. Schumacher, the other rookie, was also finding his feet and getting quicker with each weekend. 



Race :


Alpha Tauri replaced the Power Unit, Exhaust System and Gearbox on Tsunoda's car for the race. 


The heavens opened, and there was rain an hour before the race start. The drivers on their sighting laps discovered that some parts of the circuit were bone dry and some wet. The sighting laps had a bit of drama, with Alonso running wide and damaging his front wing after hitting the barriers. The Spaniard was able to continue and limped to the grid. Mercedes suspected a puncture on the rear-left tyre of Bottas' car. Aston Martin discovered that the brakes were on fire on Stroll's car. He drove through the pits, with smoke billowing from his rear brakes. The Canadian made it to the grid, and it was a race against time for the mechanics to get the car ready for the start.


There was more trouble for Aston Martin when Vettel discovered a brake-by-wire failure on his car and had to be wheeled back into the garage for repairs. The German had to start the race from the pit lane. 



C2, C3 and C4 were the dry tyre compounds available for the race, but citing track conditions, drivers faced a tough choice between "intermediates" and "full wet" tyres. There was still a lot of standing water along with a drizzle across the track.


Gasly, Ocon, Schumacher and Mazepin opted for the wet tyres while the rest chose the intermediates for the race start. 



The cars set out for the formation lap, which saw more drama with Leclerc getting spun around. Luckily, the Monegasque was able to continue and regained his position for the race start.



The five red lights went out, and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix got underway! Hamilton had a good start off the line but got swamped by both the Red BullsVerstappen had the best start of the top 3 and pressured Hamilton into turn 1. Hamilton defended tooth and nail, but Verstappen barged through into the lead. The battle led to contact between their cars, and Hamilton went over the yellow kerbs, getting a damaged endplate on his front wing in the process. 


Perez then tried to get past Hamilton, but the Briton recovered and held onto P2. Leclerc, who was P4 in his Ferrari, took 3rd from Perez thanks to a mistake made by him. His teammate Sainz went off track but didn't lose places. 


Norris made contact with Stroll and lost three positions while Bottas dropped down to 10th. Latifi also suffered a spin at the same place as Sainz ( turn Acque Minerali ). The Canadian tried to defend himself from losing more positions. He made contact with Mazepin and hit the barriers at Variante Alta, bringing out the Safety Car. 


The Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were up into 12th and 13th, and Tsunoda had made up six positions on the opening lap. 


It had been an eventful opening lap, and the Safety Car got sent to the track to ensure the safe extrication of Latifi's car.


Ocon decided to switch to intermediates immediately and pitted at the end of the opening lap. The Frenchman rejoined in P19. Alpha Tauri informed Gasly that there was more rain in the pit lane while Vettel too decided to switch to the intermediates on lap 4.  


Schumacher was warming the tyres on the start-finish straight and lost control of his car. The German careered into the wall and lost the front wing in the process. The stewards had to close the pit lane entry to allow the marshalls to clear the debris, and this forced Schumacher to complete another lap of the circuit bar the front wing. 


Perez had a big snap of oversteer at Piratella, ran wide, but managed to regain 4th from Gasly and Ricciardo, behind the Safety Car. This move got flagged for investigation, and the Mexican got a 10 seconds stop-go penalty. Schumacher finally got the chance to pit for a new front wing besides switching to intermediate tyres on lap 6.



The Safety Car peeled into the pits, and the race got underway on lap 7. Verstappen had a clean getaway, but Hamilton got into his slipstream and tried to challenge him into turn one. Verstappen held onto the lead. Further down the field, Mazepin lost two positions to Ocon and Vettel while Sainz got past Stroll and Gasly for 6th. 


Verstappen wasted no time and built a lead of 3 seconds at the front. He also set the fastest lap on lap 8. The midfield battle intensified with Gasly, Norris and Sainz going wheel-to-wheel for 6th. Gasly regained 6th, Norris got up into P7 while Sainz dropped back to 8th. The order changed again, a lap later, with Gasly losing two positions to Norris and Sainz. Verstappen continued to be the fastest man on track while Perez reported issues with his steering wheel on lap 10. Gasly, who was still on the wet tyres, fought off a challenge by Stroll for 8th while Ocon got past Alonso for P15 ( lap 10 ). It was job done for Stroll a lap later, however. 


The track was still treacherous in places, and Sainz ran wide in 7th, losing time to Norris ahead. Further up the field, Norris had settled into a groove and started to challenge Ricciardo in the other McLaren for 5th. Track conditions worsened for those still on the wet tyres, and there was a train of cars stuck behind Gasly. The drivers were losing 8 seconds worth of lap time behind him. Finally, Bottas kicked off a series of overtakes, with Gasly dropping from 9th to 14th in the space of 3 laps. Vettel was the next driver in the queue and overtook Ocon and Gasly for P14. Sainz had another off-track excursion through the gravel at Tosa, while Gasly finally pitted for a set of intermediate tyres, rejoining in 18th ( lap 16 ).


Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Stroll, Bottas and Russell were the top 10 at the end of lap 16.



Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 17, while Norris requested the team for clear air and believed that he could go much quicker. The team obliged his request, and Ricciardo got instructed to give his place up. Norris wasted no time in building a gap and was 5 seconds clear after three laps. Leclerc reported that his tyres were losing performance, while Perez became the fastest man on track.


The teams were monitoring track conditions and asking their drivers if the track was ready for dry tyres. Vettel was the first driver to take the risk on lap 22 and switched to the medium tyres. The German rejoined in 16th and struggled for traction out of some corners. He got relegated to 17th by Gasly on his out-lap. To add insult to injury, the stewards issued a 10 seconds stop-go penalty for not having his tyres fitted at the "5 minutes" signal before the race start. Vettel served it on lap 24. Schumacher was another driver to switch to dry tyres ( softs ) on lap 24. 


Meanwhile, on track, Hamilton informed Mercedes that the grip was improving on his tyres, and the Briton was able to reduce the gap at the front to 2 seconds. Ricciardo, who had relented P5 to Norris, kept falling backwards and into the clutches of Sainz. The Australian then lost 6th on lap 26.


The teams surmised that the "crossover" point had reached, and it was time to switch to the slick tyres. A slew of pit stops followed with Tsunoda, Verstappen, Russell, Raikkonen, Gasly, Sainz and Ricciardo pitting for the mediums ( laps 27 and 28 ). 



Verstappen relinquished the lead when he pitted for dry tyres on lap 28, but Hamilton and Mercedes decided to use the clear air, going a lap longer on the intermediate tyres. Hamilton came into the pits on lap 29 for medium tyres, but a slow stop on the right front tyre negated the advantage he had gained. Leclerc, Stroll, Ocon, Bottas and Giovinazzi followed suit on the same lap. Perez served the penalty incurred on lap 29, switched to the mediums and had a steering wheel swap. 



Norris got ahead of Perez for 4th, while Tsunoda jumped Giovinazzi for P12 after their pitstops. Verstappen and Hamilton came upon a train of cars, and Bottas was one of the drivers to get lapped. Stroll, citing an opportunity, followed the leaders and relegated Bottas to P9. 



Lap 31 saw more drama unfold. Hamilton, while lapping Russell, ran wide at Tosa and hit the barriers. He got stuck and was unable to make a turn. As a last resort to escape retirement, he reversed his way out of the gravel trap and was able to rejoin in 7th, having lapped everyone up to P8 before his crash. The Briton had damaged his front wing and limped back to the pits. There was more chaos on track, with Russell and Bottas colliding at high speed in the DRS zone, which wrecked both cars and left debris strewn all over. Alonso also ran wide but was able to continue at the same place. The Safety Car got deployed by the Race Director. Hamilton pitted for a new front wing and rejoined in 9th. There was too much debris on track for the marshalls, and the stewards decided to Red Flag the race ( lap 34 ).



The stewards decided to have a rolling start behind the Safety Car, and the lapped cars got instructed to complete a lap and rejoin in the order they were on lap 34 for the restart. Kimi Raikkonen, in 8th, suffered a spin but was able to rejoin and made it back to the pits. The Safety Car led the field out for the de facto formation lap, and Alfa Romeo instructed Raikkonen to give up two places. The Finn had dropped down to 10th after his spin but regained 8th on entry into the pit lane. The team wasn't sure about the new regulations and hence asked him to drop back two places as a precaution to escape infringement. The stewards, however, flagged this for investigation after the race. 



Norris, Ricciardo, Perez, Tsunoda and Vettel opted for the soft tyres while the rest persisted with the mediums for the remaining laps.



The Safety Car returned into the pits, and as Verstappen led the field for the restart, he suffered a slide at Rivazza but managed to hold onto P1. The race restarted, and Verstappen pulled away from the chasing pack. Norris overtook Leclerc for 2nd while Tsunoda suffered a spin and fell to the back of the field. 



Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were the top 10 at the end of lap 37.



Verstappen went to set blistering lap times, pulling away from the rest comfortably. His teammate Perez lost control and got spun around at Villeneuve chicane. The Mexican fell to 14th, promoting Alonso to 10th and into the points. Meanwhile, Hamilton began his recovery and got past Stroll for P6 on lap 39. He then went on to set the fastest lap of the race on lap 40. The Aston Martin drivers, Stroll and Vettel, reported shifting issues, and the team acknowledged that they were having problems with the gear sync. Alfa Romeo had both its cars in the points when Giovinazzi got instructed to come into the pits to remove a visor tear-off which had gotten lodged into his car's brake ducts. The resulting stop dropped him out of the points into 15th. 



Hamilton relegated Ricciardo to 6th and set another fastest lap of the race ( lap 43 ). Alpha Tauri informed Tsunoda that he had received a track-limits warning for abusing the restrictions set at turn 9 ( lap 45 ). He then got served a Black and White Flag. Gasly got past Raikkonen for P8 while Verstappen retook the fastest lap from Hamilton on lap 46. Perez and Vettel went wheel-to-wheel in the battle for 12th. Perez completed the overtake but overcooked turn one allowing Vettel to regain the position. It was job done for Perez a lap later ( lap 48 ). 



Hamilton had caught up to Sainz in the battle for P4, and despite Sainz's best efforts, the Briton took 4th on lap 50. He set the fastest lap of the race again on lap 51 and started to close the gap to Leclerc in 3rd. Tsunoda got past Vettel for P13 while Verstappen had built a lead of 15 seconds at the front. Hamilton overtook Leclerc on lap 55, gaining P3 in the process. The team encouraged him to keep pushing and notified him that P2 was possible. 



Tsunoda didn't heed the warnings by the stewards and copped a five-second time penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits at turn 9. Gasly, in his quest for P7, ran wide at Rivazza, easing the pressure on Stroll for the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, in the battle for P2, Hamilton had closed upon Norris and was within the DRS Range ( lap 58 ). Norris had restarted the race on soft tyres and had preserved some life on them to defend from a charging Hamilton. The defence lasted for three laps as Hamilton made use of DRS to get past him at Tamburello. Norris had fought valiantly but couldn't match the pace of the Mercedes. 



Hamilton, now in clear air, put in the fastest lap of the race and bagged the point that comes with it ( lap 61 ). Mazepin added another spin to his total tally on the penultimate lap while Aston Martin asked Vettel to return to the pits and retire the car. The German had to limit gear shifting to prevent further damage to the gearbox. 



Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and victory from Hamilton and Norris. Leclerc and Sainz were 4th and 5th for Ferrari, followed by Ricciardo in the other McLaren. Stroll was 7th, from Gasly, Raikkonen and Ocon, who completed the top 10.



Alonso finished just outside the points in 11th, while Perez had an eventful but forgettable race in 12th. 13th was the best Tsunoda could manage at Alpha Tauri's home Grand Prix, followed by Giovinazzi and Vettel, who was classified 15th despite retiring from the race. The Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin were the final classified finishers.



The results didn't stand for long, as Stroll and Gasly got called to the stewards for an incident at turn two on lap 11. Stroll passed Gasly but cut across the chicane, gaining an advantage and not handing the place back. The stewards added five seconds to Stroll's time for the infringement, dropping him down to 8th and promoting Gasly to 7th. Raikkonen also got called to the stewards for the incident during the rolling start. After publishing a long explanation, the stewards gave him a 10 seconds stop-go penalty, applied retrospectively, which equated to an additional 30 seconds on his race time. The addition put him out of the points, promoting Ocon to 9th and Alonso to 10th.



The talking point from the race was the incident between Bottas and Russell. The high-speed crash ended their race, and Bottas was a bit winded after the incident. Although the stewards deemed the accident as "a Racing Incident" after their investigation, tension brewed between the drivers as perceived from the post-race interviews. Hopefully, Toto Wolff and Mercedes were able to play peacemaker after.



Verstappen drove a flawless race ( bar the hiccup at the restart ), making amends for the disappointment in Bahrain. Red Bull had both its cars in the top 3 at the race start, but Perez made a host of errors, something he needs to iron out at the earliest. He was apologetic to the team and would hope to make things right in Portimao in two weeks. Hamilton made a rare error but produced a stellar drive to extract the maximum out of a compromised weekend. Bottas had another poor showing up until his crash with Russell. The Finn's title challenge is off to a stuttering start. 



McLaren made the right call to swap positions, and Norris bagged the 2nd podium of his career. Ricciardo is still finding his feet in the new team, but it was a memorable weekend for the third-fastest team on the grid. Leclerc and Sainz drove a stellar race to give Ferrari a double-points finish, that also in the top 6. The only way is upwards for the Italian marquee. 



It was a weekend of "what could have been" for Alpha Tauri, with Tsunoda crashing early on in Qualifying and Gasly having an extended stint on the wet tyres at the start of the race. Nevertheless, they take away 6 points from the weekend. Aston Martin's travails with the new regulations continue. Stroll and Vettel suffered from gear sync issues, but the team is nowhere close to the level of performance they enjoyed in 2020. The rule changes in 2021 have cost them dearly, and the team has been exploring options to have their concerns addressed. Alpine scored their first points of the season, with both their drivers getting into the top 10 thanks to Raikkonen's penalty. They have had a slow start to the season and would hope to fare better in Portimao. 



Alfa Romeo had a strong showing and seemed destined for a double-points finish before Giovinazzi had to pit due to an issue with the tear-off visor. Raikkonen, who initially finished 9th, got bumped down to 13th after getting a time penalty post-race. Alfa Romeo isn't far from the midfield battle, and if they can have a good run in the next few races, they shall be back in the reckoning. Haas has two rookies in its lineup, and there were rookie errors by both its drivers. Mazepin's spins continued, but thankfully he has a race finish under his belt. Schumacher, on the other hand, kept it clean after his mistake under the Safety Car. 



Williams was set for a good weekend with a possible points finish, but Latifi's crash on the opening lap followed by Russell's highspeed collision with Bottas denied them the opportunity. The team has the pace that can easily match that of the Alfa Romeos; it needs an incident-free weekend from both its drivers. 



Hamilton is currently one point clear of Verstappen in the title battle. Round 3 is just a fortnight away, and it seems that this year won't be a walk in the park for Hamilton and Mercedes.



We can't wait for Portimao!!]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1671934 2021-03-29T09:14:12Z 2021-03-29T09:50:00Z 2021 Bahrain GP Race Recap : The Race is Not Always to the Swift!

The 2021 F1 Season began in full earnest with the opening round at the Bahrain International Circuit. The season, with 23 races, would become the longest ever in the history of F1. Bahrain was the first night race of the year, and the teams had gathered a good amount of data from the three days of testing the previous week. The pre-season tests suggested a change in the pecking order, but would the results at the end of the race authenticate the claim?


Was Red Bull able to start their season on a high? Was Mercedes able to iron out their travails from the pre-season tests? How did the rechristened teams like Aston Martin and Alpine fare? Did Ferrari begin their 2021 campaign on a more positive note? How did the rookies like Tsunoda, Mazepin and a certain Schumacher perform at their maiden F1 GP?


Time for a recap of the Bahrain GP weekend!



Practice :


The FIA reduced the practice sessions in 2021 from 90 minutes to 60 to accommodate the shifting of media interviews held earlier on Thursdays. 


FP1 got underway with Mercedes and Red Bull trading the quickest lap times. Alpine Racing carried out aerodynamic tests with its drivers while the rookies continued to add more mileage and gain experience in F1. A lot of teams ran the soft compound tyres, something that is uncharacteristic during FP1. Verstappen topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 ahead of Bottas and Norris, with Hamilton, Leclerc and Perez completing the top 6. Gasly was the quickest Alpha Tauri in 7th, followed by Sainz, who had a productive FP1 with his new team, Ferrari. Ricciardo was 9th in the other McLaren, with Giovinazzi completing the top 10 in his Alfa Romeo. His team-mate Raikkonen was 11th, followed by the Aston Martin cars of Vettel and Stroll. The rookie Tsunoda finished FP1 14th, followed by the Alpine cars. Russell, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin were more than 2.5 seconds slower than Verstappen's time.



Kimi Raikkonen was the first victim of the weekend when his car hit the barriers at turn two, ripping off his front wing in FP2. The Finn limped back to the pits, his session compromised with limited running. The FIA introduced track limits at turn 4, and the Mercedes duo had their lap times deleted. Sainz, Norris, Bottas and Ocon had off-track moments, and Mazepin suffered a spin in sector 3. The teams shifted their focus to race-simulation runs in the second half of the session, and data suggested close battles would unfold come Sunday.

It was Verstappen who set the quickest time of the session, followed by Norris and Hamilton. Sainz was 4th in the other McLaren, followed by Bottas, Ricciardo and Tsunoda. Only six-tenths of a second separated the top 10, with Stroll, Gasly and Perez completing the first half of the field. 

Ocon was 11th in the Alpine from Leclerc and Giovinazzi. The veterans Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen were only a second slower than Verstappen's best effort. Schumacher split the two Williams, followed by Mazepin, who was the slowest.



There was a lot of data gathering completed by the teams on Friday. The midfield battle now featured more players, and with FP3 being the final session before parc ferme conditions got imposed, Saturday was to be yet another busy day for the teams and drivers.



The teams and drivers faced a hot afternoon during FP3Mazepin and Leclerc suffered from spins at turn six and two, respectively. Vettel got forced to return to the pits after a piece of bodywork from his car got dislodged. Thankfully, there was no damage done. Eight different teams featured in the top ten at the end of FP3, which underlined how close the contest could be. 

Verstappen again bagged the quickest time at the end of FP3, seven-tenths clear of Hamilton and Gasly. Bottas and Perez were 4th and 5th in the other Mercedes and Red Bull cars, followed by Sainz, who posted his best lap on the medium tyres. Raikkonen, Ocon, Stroll and Ricciardo completed the top 10. 

Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, also set his quickest time on the medium tyres in 11th. Giovinazzi was 12th in his Alfa Romeo while Tsunoda and Vettel ended FP3 more than two seconds slower than Verstappen in 13th and 14th. The struggle to find the right balance continued for Alonso, who was 15th, followed by Norris, who ended the session a disappointing 16th. Schumacher and Mazepin split the Williams of Russell and Latifi at the back of the field.



Verstappen and Red Bull had dominated the practice sessions, but would they grab pole in Qualifying? The battleground was ready for a great tussle!



Qualifying :


Alpha Tauri detected an anomaly and replaced Gasly's Energy Store and Control Electronics before Qualifying. No penalty received since it was within the allocation of units for the season.



The first Qualifying session of 2021 ( Q1 ) got underway, with Williams and Haas being the first teams to send their cars out on track. Mazepin suffered from a spin at turn 13 and had to abort his first attempt. The rest of the field emerged from the pits for their first runs, with 11 minutes left, everyone opting for the soft tyres. Verstappen, Tsunoda, Hamilton, Gasly, Perez and Bottas were the top 6 at the end of the first runs, with Ocon, Latifi, Russell, Mazepin and Schumacher in the drop zone. The Honda-powered cars ( bar Perez ) chose not to run again in Q1. It was frantic at the end of Q1, with drivers jostling for track position. As drivers began their final runs, Mazepin spun again, this time at turn 1, bringing out the double-yellow flags.

The incident compromised the final runs of several drivers. The stewards flagged Ocon, Stroll, Vettel and Russell for an investigation to ascertain whether they slowed enough under yellow flag conditions. Verstappen, Tsunoda, Hamilton, Leclerc, Riccardo and Gasly were the top 6 at the end of Q1. Sainz escaped elimination in 15th, the Spaniard's Ferrari going into a stall after it clipped the kerbs. The drivers eliminated were - Ocon, Latifi, Vettel, Schumacher and Mazepin. 

Ocon and Vettel were the surprise casualties, the latter not having the best qualifying debut with his new team. To add insult to injury, the stewards decided to penalize Vettel ( in the Mazepin incident ) with a five-place grid drop, relegating him to the back of the field, besides adding three penalty-points to his licence for not "slowing down enough".  



Red Bull, Alpha Tauri, Mercedes and McLaren chose the medium tyres at the start of Q2 while the rest persisted with the softs. Russell stayed in the pits, opting to go out of sync. Perez and Ricciardo had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4. Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Norris, Sainz, Alonso were the top 6 with Stroll under threat in 10th. The drivers in the drop zone were Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Perez and Russell. Russell emerged from the pits on soft tyres for his only run in Q2, improving to 13th.

Red Bull debated about the tyre choice for Perez but persisted with the medium tyres again. His team-mate Verstappen, Mercedes and Alpha Tauri were confident and remained on medium tyres for their final runs of Q2. The end of Q2 sprung a few surprises as the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc went the quickest ( albeit on the soft tyres ), followed by Hamilton, Norris and Bottas. Riccardo was 6th in the McLaren, Verstappen in 7th, with Gasly, Alonso and Stroll completing the 10 for Q3. 

Perez didn't make it into Q3, another upset amongst the top-running teams, with Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Raikkonen and Russell being the others.



"The battle" for pole position began with Leclerc and Alonso staying put and the remaining drivers exiting the pits with a fresh set of soft tyres. It was Verstappen on provisional pole, two-hundredths of a second clear of Hamilton. Meanwhile, Stroll went out of sync with the rest and posted the 5th quickest time. Bottas and Sainz were 3rd and 4th, while Ricciardo and Norris completed the top 6. 

It was time to put a fresh set of soft tyres and get ready for the final dash to pole! Hamilton and Bottas were setting purple sectors, and it looked like Hamilton had taken pole position. Verstappen, further back, had other plans. The Dutchman smashed the sector times to take pole position, four-tenths clear of Hamilton and Bottas!

Leclerc qualified 4th for Ferrari, with Gasly and Ricciardo taking up the third row on the grid. Norris and Sainz were 7th and 8th, followed by Alonso and Stroll, who occupied row five. 



Verstappen and Red Bull had been the quickest at pre-season testing and carried the momentum into Qualifying. There was some floor damage on Verstappen's car after taking too much kerb during Q1, but that didn't deter the Dutchman from taking pole position at the opening race. Mercedes pushed hard, but they were in a stronger position considering they had both cars in the sharp end of the grid. Perez needed an optimum strategy if he was to take the fight to the Mercedes on Sunday. Ferrari had worked hard over the winter to set things right, and it seemed Leclerc's effort was the fruit of their labour. McLaren, Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin and Alpine weren't far behind, and with Alfa Romeo ready to pounce at any slip-ups by the rest, the midfield battle promised to be a blockbuster come Sunday. It was intriguing to see what Ocon and Vettel could accomplish from further down the grid. As for Williams, they seemed closer to the rest, while Haas remained well off the pace in its all-rookie lineup.



So who won the Season-opener at the Bahrain International Circuit?



Race :


Perez, like Gasly, got a new Energy Store and Control Electronics unit before the race as a precautionary measure. Since it was within the allocation, Perez didn't incur a grid penalty.


C2, C3 and C4 were the tyre compounds available for the Bahrain GP. Russell, Ocon and Latifi were the only drivers outside the top 10 to choose the soft tyres, while the rest opted for the mediums. Pirelli predicted a two-stop race, making tyre management important. 


The drivers began the first formation lap of 2021, and there was drama at turn 12. Perez suffered from a complete shutdown on his car, the steering wheel display going blank, and his RB16B coming to a stop. The Mexican seemed to have had a horrid start to his career at Red Bull. The rest of the field made it back to the grid, but the stewards needed time to clear the stricken car. As a result, the drivers got sent on a second formation lap. While Perez contemplated climbing out of his car, his engineer, over the radio, passed on some instructions for a reset, and thankfully, his car roared back to life! Perez, however, would now start from the pitlane instead of 11th, his qualifying position. 



There was no further drama on the 2nd formation lap, and the five red lights went out to signal the start of the Bahrain GP! 



Verstappen had a clean getaway, fending off a challenge by Hamilton into turn one. Leclerc was pressuring Bottas and got past him to move up to 3rd. Further down the field, Raikkonen moved up three positions while Vettel made up five, the duo up to 11th and 14th. Mazepin, the rookie, was too enthusiastic on the throttle out of turn three, sending him into a spin and the barriers. The stewards deployed the Safety Car to ensure the safe removal of the stricken Haas.



Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Bottas, Gasly, Norris, Ricciardo, Alonso, Stroll and Sainz were the top 10 at the end of the opening lap.


Perez, who had started on the medium tyres, had a white patch on his right front tyre after his drama on the formation lap. The team decided to switch him to another set of used medium tyres behind the Safety Car, pitting him on lap 3. 


The race got underway again on lap 4, and Verstappen had a clean getaway, weaving to avoid giving a tow to Hamilton behind. Norris got past Gasly for 5th while Gasly ran wide, having lost his front wing after tangling with Norris. The Frenchman got relegated rapidly to 12th. Schumacher suffered a spin at turn four at the back of the field. Giovinazzi got past Raikkonen for P10 while Perez overtook Tsunoda for 16th. Sainz and Stroll also had a coming together, but neither got any damage.


The stewards enforced a Virtual Safety Car period to remove the debris left behind by Gasly's front wing. The VSC didn't last long, and racing resumed in full earnest. DRS got enabled on lap five, and Bottas wasted no time and reclaimed 3rd from Leclerc a lap later. Russell lost two positions to Vettel and Perez and got relegated to 15th. 



Meanwhile, at the front, Verstappen reported a differential setting issue to Red Bull. Red Bull affirmed that they were monitoring it. Vettel and Perez sparred over 13th, but the former managed to hold stations. Tsunoda overtook Russell for 15th ( lap 7 ) while Verstappen set two fastest laps back-to-back. Raikkonen reported over the radio that Giovinazzi, his team-mate, was slowing him down, and he could go faster if the team allowed a position swap. Norris tried to get past Leclerc, but the Monegasque didn't budge in his defence of P4. It was job done, however, on lap nine. Stroll overtook Alonso for P7 while Tsunoda got past Vettel for P14 on lap nine. Ocon got relegated to 13th on lap ten as Perez continued his charge up the field.



Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Norris, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Stroll, Alonso, Sainz and Giovinazzi were the top 10 at the end of lap 11.



There was a slew of pit stops from the 12th lap. Alonso pitted for mediums, rejoining in 17th, while Norris, Leclerc and Stroll pitted for medium tyres, along with Giovinazzi, who switched to the hards, a lap later. Alonso's early stop allowed him to undercut Stroll. Hamilton, Ricciardo, Ocon and Raikkonen pitted on lap 14, Hamilton and Raikkonen switching to the hards and Ricciardo and Ocon choosing the medium tyres. The overcut worked for Raikkonen while Ricciardo rejoined behind Alonso but ahead of Stroll. 



Ocon got past Schumacher for 15th ( lap 15 ) while Hamilton started to eek into Verstappen's lead, Red Bull opting to go longer with its driver. Latifi pitted for mediums, rejoining in last while Norris set the fastest lap of the race. Hamilton got past Sainz for 3rd while Schumacher pitted for mediums, rejoining in 19th. Hamilton went the quickest, while Sainz and Tsunoda switched to the medium and hard tyres, respectively. Bottas, who was also in contention for victory, pitted for the hard tyres, relinquishing P3 to Perez.



Leclerc got past Vettel for 6th, while Stroll overtook Alonso for 9th on lap 17. Verstappen finally pitted on the 18th lap, switching to another set of medium tyres. Bottas reclaimed P3 from Perez, Latifi got past Gasly for 17th, while Ricciardo overtook Vettel for 7th. Perez made his 2nd stop of the day, switching to the hard tyres, and rejoined in P12. Vettel lost another position to Stroll ( lap 20 ) but managed to fend off Alonso, holding onto P8. Ocon and Tsunoda were involved in an intense fight for P13, while Perez got past Raikkonen for P11.



Tsunoda finally got past Ocon for P13 on lap 21. Alonso challenged Vettel for P8, but Sainz managed to jump them both. Alonso couldn't get past Vettel and fell back to 10th ( lap 21 ). It got worse for the Spaniard, who lost another place to Perez on lap 22, the Mexican then relegating Vettel to P10. Vettel was running out of grip on his medium tyres and ran wide at turn 1, dropping down to P12. Raikkonen was into the points with a move on Alonso on lap 23.



The battle at the front was hotting up, with Hamilton's lead getting cut down to 4 seconds. Vettel finally pitted for hard tyres, having lost another place to Tsunoda before his pit-stop. The German rejoined in 17th ( lap 25 ). Perez overtook Sainz and then Stroll for P7 while Tsunoda got past Alonso for P11. Further down the field, Gasly got past Schumacher for a lowly P18, the Frenchman having a wretched race after the Safety Car restart. 



The pit window for the second pit stop was open, and Hamilton and Stroll pitted for hard tyres on lap 29, rejoining the race in 3rd and 15th, respectively. A lap later, Raikkonen and Alonso pitted for the mediums and the hard tyres. Mercedes initially decided to split the strategies with its drivers, opting for Bottas to go longer. However, it wasn't going to plan, and Bottas got called in on lap 31 for a fresh set of hard tyres. Disaster struck as the right front tyre got stuck, and Bottas was stationary for 10 seconds! The Finn rejoined the race in 5th, ruling him out of contention for victory. Giovinazzi also pitted on lap 31 for a fresh set of medium tyres, followed by Ocon ( lap 32 ), Leclerc and Ricciardo ( lap 33 ), who all switched to the hard tyres. 



Alonso's race came to a premature end after he suffered rear brake failure on lap 34. Latifi pitted for the mediums, while Norris and Tsunoda pitted for the hard tyres, rejoining in 6th and 13th, respectively. Tsunoda, after his stop, got past Vettel and Russell and moved up into P11 while Russell lost three places in one lap to Raikkonen, Tsunoda and Vettel. The Briton pitted immediately after ( lap 38 ) for a set of medium tyres, rejoining in 16th. Sainz also pitted, emerging in 9th with a fresh set of hard tyres, while Tsunoda got back into the points with a move on Raikkonen for P10. 



The midfield battle was intense as ever, with drivers opting for different strategies to gain an advantage. Perez pitted for medium tyres on lap 39 but got overtaken by Stroll at the pit exit, relegating him to P8. While Mercedes had opted to pit Hamilton earlier, Red Bull decided to extend Verstappen's middle stint, giving him a tyre advantage towards the end. Verstappen finally pitted for the hard tyres on lap 40, rejoining the race 8.5 seconds behind Hamilton with 16 laps remaining. Meanwhile, on track, Perez overtook Stroll to take P7.



Mercedes, on lap 41, informed Hamilton that Verstappen would catch up to him in 10 laps. Verstappen began his chase in earnest by setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 42.



The top 10 at the end of lap 43 - Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Norris, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Perez, Stroll, Sainz and Tsunoda.



Perez overtook Ricciardo for P6 on lap 45, while Ocon and Vettel sparred for P12, going into turn one. Vettel missed his braking point and rear-ended Ocon's Alpine, sending the duo into a spin. Giovinazzi was able to jump them both for P12. Vettel suffered from front wing damage, and the incident got flagged for investigation by the stewards. Subsequently, Vettel got a ten-second time penalty and two more penalty points added to his licence, taking his total tally to 5 in one weekend.



Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton's lead got cut down to 3.7 seconds as Verstappen kept pushing his tyres with minimal management. The gap was further down to 1.4 seconds four laps later ( lap 50 ), and Hamilton informed his team that he couldn't go any faster. A rare mistake at turn 10 caused Hamilton to run wide, bringing Verstappen within DRS Range. The race for victory was well and truly on. There were overtakes at the back of the field, with Schumacher getting past Latifi for P17 and Russell overtaking Vettel for P14. Perez continued with his recovery drive with a move on Leclerc for P5, having overtaken Ricciardo a few laps earlier. 



All eyes were now on the battle at the front, with Verstappen making full use of the DRS to close up on Hamilton. The duo was side-by-side going into turn 4 ( lap 53 ), and it seemed Verstappen had made a successful overtake. However, replays showed that he had all four wheels off the racing track, and Red Bull got asked to instruct Verstappen to hand the position back, else face the possibility of a time penalty. Verstappen relented ( at turn 10 ), pulling off the racing line to hand the lead back to Hamilton and try once again. Verstappen then suffered from a slide at the penultimate turn, ruining his chances of an overtake on the next lap. 



Verstappen was pushing hard, but Hamilton was using his battery power at the right places to stay just out of reach of the Red Bull. The tyres on Verstappen's car were slowly losing performance, and he fell out of DRS range. Meanwhile, Mercedes decided to pit Bottas, putting on a new set of medium tyres, allowing him to gain the point for "the fastest lap of the race". It was a free stop, and Bottas kept his P3 on exiting the pits. 



The final lap got underway, and Verstappen was back in DRS Range, getting two opportunities of closing up and trying an overtake ( turns one and four ). The Dutchman tried hard but couldn't close up enough, and it was Hamilton who took the chequered flag and victory at the season opener in Bahrain! Verstappen came home in 2nd, only seven-tenths behind Hamilton. Bottas was 3rd, getting the point for the fastest lap of the race on the final lap. Norris drove a strong race for McLaren, crossing the finish line in 4th, followed by Perez in the other Red Bull. 6th was the best that Leclerc could achieve in his Ferrari, followed by Ricciardo and team-mate Sainz. A see-saw battle for 9th saw Tsunoda emerge victorious, the rookie scoring two points on his F1 debut, followed by Stroll, who was 10th in his Aston Martin.


The Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi finished just outside the points. Ocon was 13th in his Alpine, followed by Russell and Vettel. Mick Schumacher finished his debut race, coming home in 16th, and Gasly had a forgettable Sunday in 17th and last.



Hamilton also set a new record in F1 for "the most number of race laps led", earlier held by Michael Schumacher.



Mercedes had struggled throughout the pre-season tests, suffering from limited running in the process. They lacked the pace shown by the Red Bulls on Friday. However, Mercedes managed to tip the scales, thanks to its race strategy and good tyre management by Hamilton. There was a lot of controversy surrounding track limits at turn four since Red Bull found the Mercedes cars flouting it during the race and not receiving a penalty. The FIA did notify Mercedes about the infringement later in the race, much to Hamilton's displeasure. The question remains as to why Verstappen handed the lead back to Hamilton, having overtaken him at the turn where track limits became a grey area, inviting intense discussions between both experts and fans. Only the FIA can clarify the concerns surrounding the track limits regulation. If Verstappen hadn't, could he have built a gap of five seconds to escape the time penalty associated with that infringement? We shall never know.

 

Bottas could have been in contention had it not been for his slow stop while Red Bull rued "what could have been" had Perez not suffered from an electronics failure and started 11th instead of last at the start of the race. Nevertheless, the Mexican drove a stellar race, winning the "Driver of the Day Award" from the fans. 


McLaren had another strong showing while Ferrari would be encouraged to see both its cars in the top 10. Alpha Tauri could have had a strong weekend, but for the unfortunate incident with Gasly at the Safety Car restart. Nonetheless, they would be pleased with the showing that Tsunoda had on his debut.


The Alfa Romeo drivers struggled with tyre management issues in their final stint, which denied them the chance of pushing harder and possibly grabbing a point. It is back to the drawing board for Aston Martin and Alpine, who failed to inspire on Sunday - Alonso's brake failure and Vettel's mistakes costing them dearly. Williams and Haas had a bitter-sweet race, with Russell and Schumacher doing well but Latifi and Mazepin coming up short.



Verstappen and Red Bull were the favourites and yet got pipped to victory by Hamilton and Mercedes. 



The Race is Not Always to the Swift, Nor the Battle to the Strong.



The season is long, and Red Bull will come back hard. This title fight is not going to be a "walk in the park".



Bring on Imola!


]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1668837 2021-03-21T20:15:33Z 2021-03-23T16:23:54Z 2021 F1 Season Preview - New Circuits, New Lineups, but the Same Goal!

2020 was the "Year of the Pandemic". The entire world went into a state of lockdown, and the Formula 1 season, which was due to kick off in Australia in March, got pushed back to July. The pandemic intensified, and more races got postponed or cancelled altogether. The FOM worked tirelessly, and new tracks got added to the revised calendar. The majority of the season got held in Europe with many double-headers and triple headers. Eventually, the 2020 season featured 17 races over six months.


Come 2021, and the pandemic still threatens the world, but the world is fighting back! Vaccination programmes have gotten underway, and even though certain regions have gone back into lockdown, humanity is pushing on to bring normalcy back again. 


The FIA and FOM have left no stone unturned in ensuring that nothing hampers the start of the 2021 season.


The calendar for the 2021 season would feature a record-breaking 23 races, with the season kicking off at Bahrain and ending in Abu Dhabi and the Australian GP getting rescheduled to November. Imola ( Emilia Romagna GP ) and Portimao ( Portuguese GP ) are retained from the previous season, while Zandvoort ( Dutch GP ) and Jeddah ( Saudi Arabian GP ) make their debuts in 2021. The technical regulations overhaul got pushed back by another year, and teams had a small window to ready their 2021 challengers.



Two teams went through a rechristening - Renault F1 changing to Alpine Racing F1 and Racing Point becoming Aston Martin Racing F1, switching from pink to green livery! Aston Martin has joined Mercedes in sharing Safety Car duties at races. 



There were personnel changes up and down the grid - Ferrari hired the services of Sainz to partner Leclerc, Ricciardo took the Spaniard's seat at McLaren. Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine Racing while Perez made the jump to Red Bull Racing, relegating Albon to a reserve driver role. Vettel joined Stroll in the newly inducted Aston Martin Racing F1 Team. Kvyat lost his Alpha Tauri seat to Honda protegee Yuki Tsunoda. 


Haas F1 introduced an all-new lineup in Nikita Mazepin and current F2 Champion and son of the legendary Michael Schumacher, Mick Schumacher!



There have been changes in the regulations, and here are some of them :


1) The maximum spending limit for teams is reduced to $145 million. 

2) Teams will be limited in the modification of the components in the season. McLaren gets special dispensation to accommodate the switch from Renault to Mercedes power. Teams get a series of tokens that allow them to introduce specific component upgrades.

3) The DAS System designed by Mercedes is banned for 2021. 

4) The race time limit ( with the inclusion of Red Flags, if any ) reduced to three hours from four.

5) Reduction in the duration of a race weekend from four to three days with media events and interview formalities from Thursday getting shifted to Friday morning. FP1 and FP2 will be 60 minutes long ( instead of 90 ), and FIA will enforce parc-ferme conditions at the end of FP3 instead of after Qualifying.


The pre-season test got held in Bahrain instead of Catalunya, with only three days of running for the teams. How did the teams fare, and how do they stack up going into the season? 


Time for an assessment before the bout begins!



Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :


Mercedes, the most successful team in the Turbo Era, has been setting new records each year. Mercedes has also been the pioneer of innovation, as seen in the DAS system, which unfortunately got banned for 2021. They are known to mask their pace at the pre-season tests, but this year they have had one of the most disappointing and underwhelming displays. Mercedes managed only 304 laps over three days as they tackled reliability issues and a problematic rear end on the W12. Bottas wasn't pleased with the overall balance and quipped that "they had work to do". Mercedes, by their admission, believe they can't match Red Bull in terms of race pace, but only an amateur would write off their chances before the season has even commenced. They might not be "sandbagging" like the earlier seasons, but the divide is not as big as it used to be.


Mercedes have persisted with their lineup of Hamilton and Bottas. Hamilton took his time in renewing his contract, albeit only for another year. Bottas, on the other hand, knows that his chances of winning a title are dwindling with each passing year. Hamilton has been flawless in his title defence, Bottas has been inconsistent with his results but done enough in helping Mercedes retain the Constructors' Championship every year. Mercedes protegee Russell is waiting for his chance at Williams, so Bottas can't afford any slip-ups. Lewis Hamilton will become the most successful driver of all time if he wins the title in 2021. Will Bottas be able to dethrone the reigning Champion? Highly doubtful!



Red Bull Racing F1 Team :


Red Bull Racing F1, the best of the rest, lost their title sponsor in Aston Martin ( for 2021 ). They are also going to lose the company of Honda at the end of 2021. However, this hasn't dampened their resolve to win. Verstappen led the charge in 2020 and was left fighting both Mercedes cars more often than not. Albon's performances came up short, and Red Bull announced their decision to assign him a Reserve Driver role for 2021. Sergio Perez, whose contract didn't get renewed at Racing Point ( now Aston Martin ), landed the drive. 


Verstappen will look to get even closer to Hamilton and Bottas, hopefully having fewer reliability issues. Perez's performances in 2020 justify him a seat at Red Bull, and he will be more than a handful once he gets up to speed. Will he able to challenge Verstappen for number one at Red Bull? Time will tell, but the team will have both their cars sparring for wins regularly. 


The RB16B has been a revelation at the pre-season tests. Red Bull seem to be in the class of their own, with no reliability issues whatsoever. Perez is also progressing well with his new ride. Mercedes is known to mask their pace until the appropriate time, but the battle looks closer than ever at the top. Red Bull is serious about winning titles again, and Verstappen and Perez might bring their hard work to fruition.



McLaren F1 Team :


McLaren won the midfield battle in 2020 but was 117 points adrift of Red Bull, who finished 2nd. The Woking-based outfit decided to switch back to Mercedes power from Renault from 2021. The iconic partnership of "McLaren Mercedes" is back! 


Lando Norris gets a new partner in Daniel Ricciardo, making this one of the strongest pairings in F1. Ricciardo is an accomplished racer with race wins to his name and is the right man to help get McLaren back to winning ways. The Australian himself yearns to be a World Champion, and McLaren might be the answer to his prayers. 


Norris is a talented racer and has been improving since his debut in 2019. The Briton bagged his first podium at the season-opener in 2020 and will be hoping to repeat this feat more often with a more potent engine at the back of his car. The intra-team battle will be a close affair.


The MCL25M, McLaren's challenger for the 2021 title, had a decent outing at the pre-season tests. While Ricciardo used testing to familiarize himself with his new car, Norris carried on with the job of providing feedback to the team, highlighting the strengths and flaws. Reliability has been McLaren's forte, and it will prove pivotal in close battles. McLaren might not be able to dethrone the top two teams but have the knowledge and resources to cement 3rd place in the Constructors' again.



Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team :


Racing Point F1 changed its name to Aston Martin Cognizant F1 and its livery from pink to green for 2021. Team owner Lawrence Stroll acquired the brand, ensuring its return to "the pinnacle of motorsport" after a gap of 51 years. The team roped in the services of Sebastian Vettel, who would partner Lance Stroll. The brand further increased its presence in F1 by introducing the New Vantage as the safety car for many races. 


The team had a fantastic 2020 with one victory and three podium finishes. They came up short in the final race, which robbed them of the chance of finishing third in the Constructors'. 


However, their 2021 campaign seemed to have made a stuttering start. The pre-season test got hampered by problems ( gearbox and loss of boost pressure ) with the drivers stuck in the garage for extended periods. The limited running means that there will be a lot of learning happening going into the early rounds of the season. Vettel would need to settle in quickly since the team can't afford slip-ups in a hotly contested midfield. Stroll has a great mentor in Vettel, and the Canadian is building a reputation for himself with his consistent drivers. Aston Martin should be able to replicate the form of 2020, if not better it.



Alpine Racing F1 Team :


Alpine Racing, formerly known as Renault Sport F1, begin their challenge in 2021, with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon taking the wheel of the A521. They will sport a striking blue livery with dashes of red and white. The performance division of the French marquee, Alpine Racing, had a decent showing in 2020, finishing 5th in the Constructors' Standings. 


Ricciardo left Alpine for McLaren in 2021 and got replaced by Fernando Alonso, the former Double World Champion. Alonso is well-versed with how the team operates and spent his most successful days in F1 here, so it is a win-win for both. Alonso's racecraft is hard to match, and the Spaniard can bring home unlikely results. 


Ocon continues with Alpine for the second year and will only become better. The Frenchman is an exciting prospect and will capitalize when an opportunity comes. Team chemistry will be pivotal if Alpine desires to come out on top in the midfield battle. The A521 didn't have a great outing at the pre-season tests, with the team trying multiple things over the three days. They are yet to find the perfect setup and balance, and this will continue going into Practice for the Bahrain GP. Nevertheless, as a works team, they have the resources to fund their quest to make it back to the top. 



Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :


Ferrari had a torrid 2020, the team failing to win a race for the first time since 2014. The ban of their fuel flow sensor meant the engine was down on power. The team's focus was on improving downforce, and that added to their troubles. Vettel, who got replaced by Sainz, had a forgettable final year, a year mired with controversies and friction with the Team Principal. 


2021 is a new beginning for the Maranello-based outfit as they try to make amends for the disappointments of 2020. They looked like the third-best team at the end of testing, the upgraded power unit reducing the straight-line speed deficit. The amount of mileage clocked by the drivers was also commendable. 


Sainz joins forces with Leclerc in 2021. The Spaniard is one of the top drivers of the sport and will play a pivotal role in getting Ferrari back up. Leclerc, Ferrari's protegee, has already proved his worth and will enjoy preference at the start of the season. The Monegasque produced some unbelievable results in 2020 and will continue to build on those this year. Both Leclerc and Sainz are ambitious, and how the team manages the duo remains to be seen. Qualifying is one area that Ferrari will hope to address this year.


Victories might still be a challenge, but Ferrari should be a lot closer to those at the sharp end of the grid.



Scuderia Alpha Tauri F1 Team :


Alpha Tauri, Red Bull's sister team, had an exciting 2020 with a win for Pierre Gasly in Italy. Daniil Kvyat hadn't done enough to warrant him a drive, and the Russian got replaced by Honda protegee and F2 runner-up Yuki Tsunoda. The team's 2021 challenger AT02 clocked the same amount of mileage as the Alfa Romeo, and Gasly was ecstatic with the progress made. The Frenchman, who is now the team leader, had a trouble-free pre-season test. His younger team-mate Tsunoda suffered from multiple issues. The height differential between the two drivers led to problems with the pedals too. Nevertheless, the rookie was able to get up to speed quickly and was setting competitive lap times. Tsunoda has shown his calibre, rising rapidly from F4 to F1 in just four years.


Alpha Tauri has been going from strength to strength, and the data collected from the tests suggests that they could feature in the upper half of the field more often than not. The intra-team battle will also be a close affair, although I believe that Gasly will prevail, eventually.



Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Team :


Alfa Romeo had a disappointing 2020, the turned-down Ferrari power unit being the primary cause of their lack of performance. Fredric Vasseur, the team principal, tested positive for COVID-19 before the pre-season test, but that did not hamper the team's programs. They racked up a tally of 422 laps over three days, a sign of encouragement for them going into the opening round. The midfield was a tightly contested affair in 2020, and it seems like Alfa Romeo will be a part of that mix this year. 


The team persisted with its lineup of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi. The latter won the intra-team qualifying battle and scored the same number of points as Raikkonen. Raikkonen was more consistent at finishing races, and Giovinazzi would aim to do the same in 2021. The duo enjoys a healthy relationship, and this augurs well for the team. The team needs its drivers to qualify higher to better their chances on race day. The upgraded Ferrari power unit should add more substance to Alfa Romeo's challenge in 2021. 



Haas F1 Team :


Haas F1 has been going backwards since the past few seasons and had a forgettable 2020. Haas bid goodbye to Magnussen and Grosjean, opting for an all-young lineup in Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. 


Mick Schumacher, the son of the legendary Michael Schumacher, won the F2 Championship last season. Mazepin, who was brilliant in parts in F2, brings in the financial influx that the team so desperately needs. His inclusion attracted a lot of criticism from the fans, especially after a controversial incident that happened over the winter. Nevertheless, the Russian would be hoping to correct the wrongs on track and help the team get further up the grid. Schumacher takes a couple of races to find his feet, but once he settles in, he is unstoppable, just as his father.


Haas' 2021 challenger faced a few gremlins on Friday but racked up some mileage on Saturday. However, based on the data collected from the tests, Haas was the slowest team and will remain a backmarker in 2021. Gaining experience is paramount for Haas' rookies. They need clean races, and slowly but surely, the team will make gains in 2021. 



Williams Racing F1 Team :


Williams F1, under its new owners Dorilton Capital, will be looking to offload the tag of "backmarker" in 2021. The lack of sponsorships for the team means that the new owners need to be wise with their investments and set realistic targets. 


The team has developed their 2021 challenger, the FW43B, with improved downforce, but its sensitivity to the wind can make or break their plans. George Russell and Nicolas Latifi renew their partnership for 2021, and Williams would be hoping to see them finish in the points more often, thanks to the improvements made in the car over the winter. Russell had an eventful 2020 and would hope to iron out the errors that cost him some valuable points. Latifi will aim for more consistency in 2021. The Bahrain GP would be a good indicator of their fortunes for 2021. 



An exciting season awaits us in F1. The divide between Mercedes and Red Bull has reduced, and we could see a new champion at the end of 23 races. Iconic names like Aston Martin and Alpine will feature on the grid, and the midfield will feature a close contest again. It will be hard to predict who will win the "B" Championship. 


Who can forget the return of a "Schumacher" to the grid! All eyes will be on young Mick to see how he matures and what he can accomplish in a Haas. 


The pecking order will be clear after three or four races, but whatever that may be, we are just glad to have F1 return and return with a bang!


The battlegrounds change, the contenders change, but the goal remains the same - to Win and Lift the Crown!



Bring on 2021!

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1642538 2021-01-20T09:31:00Z 2021-01-31T16:17:52Z 2020 F1 Season Review - Still they Rise, for the Seventh Time!

Formula 1 celebrated its 70th Anniversary in 2020. The pinnacle of motorsport had elaborate plans for the 2020 season with a record 22 races in 22 different countries, promising a memorable experience for the fans. Vietnam and Zandvoort were the newest entrants with the season kicking off in March and ending in November. 


However, the news of a new virus called COVID-19 threatened to put the schedule in disarray. The new virus eventually became a pandemic and hit some in the F1 fraternity on the Australian GP weekend. The start of the season got postponed, and soon enough, the world went into a state of lockdown. 13 races got subsequently cancelled.


The pandemic intensified, and there were doubts about whether the season would get underway, but the FOM had worked hard to ensure a sizeable season. The revised calendar got announced, featuring 17 races, majority of which were in Europe. Many venues hosted two race weekends, and there were double-headers and triple-headers in the revised calendar. It was a hectic schedule for the teams and their members. Classic tracks like Nurburgring, Imola and Istanbul got added while Mugello and Portimao ( Portugal ) hosted an F1 Grand Prix for the first time. A couple of races saw fans ( in limited attendance ), but the FOM ensured that fan engagement was at its best throughout the season.


How did the teams and drivers fare in this season like no other? Time for a recap!



Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :


Mercedes, the kings of the Turbo Era, were untouchable in 2020 too. The team sported an "All Black Livery" to support their fight against racism with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas leading the charge. There were some challenges along the way, but none caused concern as Hamilton romped to his 7th World Title. Hamilton broke the record for the maximum number of poles and victories with 11 wins and three podiums in 2020. The only blip he suffered was when he contracted COVID-19 and missed the Sakhir GP weekend. George Russell, his replacement, was winner elect but for some misfortune that left him languishing down in 9th. Valtteri Bottas began his challenge in 2020 on the right note with a win in Austria. However, he had no answer to Hamilton, who found a new gear every time Bottas tried to bridge the deficit. His second win was at Russia besides eight podium finishes. The Finn ended the season second best, once again and would need to dig deeper to give Hamilton a semblance of a challenge.

Mercedes were relentless in their quest for the 7th title and amassed 573 points, comfortably clear of Red Bull in 2nd. 

Hamilton is yet to renew his contract for 2021, and this remains a concern for Mercedes. 



Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Red Bull Racing has been going from strength to strength after switching to Honda Power. The power unit was one of their biggest forte in 2020. Max Verstappen had a brilliant 2020, taking the fight to the Mercedes duo. The Dutchman won 2 races ( 70th Anniversary GP and Abu Dhabi ) and was on the podium on nine other occasions. Albon, meanwhile, managed only two podium finishes in Tuscany and Bahrain. Verstappen finished the season 3rd in the standings while Albon was 7th having scored less than half of Verstappen's haul. 

The absence of both their drivers at the sharp end of the grid ( regularly ) cost Red Bull dearly. There were a few gremlins and a couple of incidents which cost the team and drivers points, but Red Bull was the only challenger to Mercedes all season long. 

Red Bull finished the season with 319 points, well off the leaders Mercedes. 2021 is the final year for Honda and where Red Bull goes for their power unit needs will be interesting. The arrival of Sergio Perez to partner Verstappen for 2021 will help the team bring home consistent results.

 


McLaren F1 Team :

McLaren has been on a resurgence since the past couple of seasons. The partnership of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr has augured well for the Woking-based outfit. The team was involved in an intense midfield battle throughout the 2020 season but emerged victorious thanks to its excellent chassis and parts reliability. They ended the season 3rd in the Constructors' Championship with 202 points, seven clear of Racing Point in 4th. 

Sainz won the intra-team battle. The Spaniard secured a podium ( 2nd ) in Monza besides 11 points finishes. Norris scored the first podium of his career at the opening race in Austria and finished in the points on 12 occasions. Sainz finished the season tied on points ( but ahead ) with Albon in 6th while Norris was 9th. 

Despite having a long term contract with McLaren, Sainz decided to switch to Ferrari to replace Vettel. Time will tell if it was the right decision or not. As for McLaren, they were delighted to have landed the services of Ricciardo for 2021 besides switching to Mercedes power. 2020 has given them the perfect launchpad to push for the sharp end of the grid in 2021.



Racing Point F1 Team :

Racing Point began its charge in 2020 by retaining its driver pairing in Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. While all was calm in the driver lineup, Racing Point's 2020 challenger, RP20 attracted the attention of one and all at the pre-season tests. The car had a striking resemblance to the Championship winning 2019 Mercedes and got named the "Pink Mercedes". The competition wasn't pleased with the designs and data getting shared between the Mercedes works team and its customer and a protest got lodged against Racing Point over the legality of its brake duct design. Subsequently, the team got fined 400,000 Euros besides the docking of 15 Constructors' Points before the 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone. 

Nevertheless, they had their best season in F1 finishing 4th with 195 points in a hotly contested midfield. They were only 7 points shy of McLaren in 3rd and got relegated to 4th after a disappointing final race.

Perez had a strong start to the season but contracted COVID-19 before the British GP ruling him out of the double-header. Nico Hulkenberg got the call to replace Perez but didn't start the race due to a mechanical issue on his RP20. He got another shot at it a week later and finished a commendable 7th. 

Lance Stroll also caught the virus at the Eifel GP weekend, and Hulkenberg got called in again, coming home in 8th. 

Perez was a revelation in 2020 having finished 4th in the Drivers' Standings with 125 points to his name. The Mexican helped the team register their first win at the Sakhir GP with great racecraft. He also secured 2nd at Turkey besides points finishes in 11 other races. 

Perez had a contract till 2022, but the team decided to replace him with Vettel for 2021. The Mexican was without a drive until Red Bull came calling after the season ended. 

Stroll, his team-mate, also bagged two 3rd place finishes in Monza and Sakhir, but five retirements along the way cost him valuable points. The Canadian finished the season in 11th, tied with Gasly on 75 points. 

The team undergoes a makeover for 2021, becoming Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team, and with a four-time World Champion in Vettel coming in, the sky is the limit!



Renault Sport F1 Team :

Renault has been an integral part of F1 for many years. The French marque returned to being a full works team in 2016 and have striven to return to winning ways in the Turbo era. The fight has been uphill with little to celebrate along the way. Daniel Ricciardo got a new team-mate in Esteban Ocon for 2020. The Frenchman who was the reserve driver for Mercedes in 2019 made a return to F1. 

Renault was involved in an intense midfield battle which saw them finish 5th in the Constructors' Standings, but they had moments to cheer about in 2020. 

Ricciardo scored two 3rd place finishes at Nurburgring and Imola while Ocon came home in 2nd at the Sakhir GP. Ricciardo was the more consistent of the two team-mates with points finishes in 12 ( other ) races to Ocon's 9. The Australian finished the season in 5th with 119 points while Ocon managed 62 and 12th place. The team suffered retirements at pivotal moments in the season, costing it the chance to finish higher in the Constructors'. 

Reliability remains the biggest chink in Renault's armour. They would be disappointed about losing to a customer team in McLaren.

Despite the improvements seen in 2020, Ricciardo announced that he would switch to McLaren for 2021. Fernando Alonso, the Double World Champion who had retired in 2018 ( apparently ) makes a return with a two-year contract. The absence of a customer team in 2021 will pose an added challenge. Renault will become Alpine Racing F1 ( named after the brand's racing division ). Hopefully, the future is bright and blue!



Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

The Ferrari works team had an interesting 2020. It wasn't smooth sailing between the new team-mates ( Vettel and Leclerc ) in 2019, but fans hoped to see one of them take the fight to Hamilton for the title in 2020. Ferrari worked hard over the winter to improve the downforce on their car. They had the most powerful engine on the grid which came under the scanner due to a dodgy fuel flow sensor. The FIA findings forced Ferrari to dial down the engine power. The result was devastating, and all Ferrari powered cars suffered from a lack of straight-line speed. 

There was more drama over the winter when an announcement broke out that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the season with Carlos Sainz taking his place. Vettel later revealed that the team did not attempt to renew his contract, an experience that left him with a sour taste. The lack of trust set the tone for Vettel's season as the four-time World Champion struggled with multiple issues ( balance ) on his car. The 3rd place in Turkey was his best finish besides points finishes in 6 other races. He ended the season a lowly 13th with a mere 33 points to his name. 

Leclerc, on the other hand, yielded better results with two podiums in Austria and Silverstone. The Monegasque scored points in 8 more races, but the team failed to score a win for the first time since 2014. Leclerc finished the season in 8th with 98 points.

"Oh, how the mighty have fallen" is synonymous with Ferrari's performance in 2020. Change is needed at multiple levels to stem the downturn, and 2021 is where the journey begins.



Scuderia Alpha Tauri F1 Team :

Red Bull's B-team, formerly known as Scuderia Toro Rosso got a new name for 2020. Named after Red Bull's fashion line, the Italian outfit got rechristened as Scuderia Alpha Tauri. 

The team had one of its best seasons in the sport. 

Pierre Gasly led the charge with an unlike victory at Monza, amassing 75 points and bagging 10th place in the Drivers' Standings. He scored points finishes in 9 other races while his team-mate Daniil Kvyat was able to bag only 32 points. Kvyat's best finish was 4th at Imola with points finishes in six more races. 

Alpha Tauri finished the season in 7th in the Constructors' Standings, only 24 points shy of the mighty Scuderia Ferrari. Honda Power was one of the reasons for its success in 2020. The Red Bull and Honda Protegee Yuki Tsunoda landed a drive alongside Gasly for 2021 and the only way forward is upwards for Alpha Tauri. 



Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Team :

Alfa Romeo Racing had a great 2019 and hoped for an even better showing in 2020. Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi renewed their partnership with Robert Kubica joining them from Williams as a reserve driver. However, like the Ferrari works team, Alfa Romeo too struggled with straight-line speed, unable to replicate their successes from 2019. They finished 8th in the Constructors' Championship with their drivers scoring 4 points apiece. Raikkonen's best finish was 9th at Mugello and Imola while Giovinazzi bagged 9th place at the season-opener in Austria and 10th in Nurburgring and Imola. Giovinazzi won the intra-team battle in Qualifying, but Raikkonen was more consistent on race day. 

Some race strategies adopted by the team were questionable and cost them more points finishes. 

The goal for 2021 would be to bridge the points gap to Alpha Tauri and build a car to counter the lack of outright speed from the Ferrari Power Unit.



Haas F1 Team :

Haas F1 persisted with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean for the 2020 season, a decision that attracted mixed reactions from the fans and experts. The Ferrari-powered Haas cars had a torrid 2020, the lack of straight-line speed combined with braking issues costing them dear in close racing. The team managed to score only 3 points over the year with Grojean's 9th place finish at the Eifel GP and Magnussen's 10th at Hungaroring. Gene Haas, the team owner, re-considered Haas' commitment to the sport citing its poor run over the recent years. However, the team decided to persist with this venture until 2025. 

Grosjean had a near-death experience when he collided with the barriers at the start of the Bahrain GP, emerging from a rising inferno, an image which became the flag-bearer for safety in the sport. The Frenchman who eventually won the intra-team battle was unfit for the final two rounds of the season. Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of the legendary Emerson Fittipaldi, got the nod to take his seat. 17th was the best that Fittipaldi Jr could manage at the Sakhir GP. 

Haas needed to bring a change if they were to better their results in 2021, and announced an all-new driver lineup with Mick Schumacher ( Michael Schumacher's son ) teaming up with Nikita Mazepin ( F2 Driver ) for 2021. Returning to more points-scoring finishes is a priority, and it was time to choose youth over experience. 



Williams Racing F1 Team :

Williams began its 2021 campaign with George Russell and rookie Nicolas Latifi with the hopes of reducing the deficit to the rest of the field. However, 2020 was another challenging year for the team. They failed to score a point despite coming close on a few occasions. The recurring costs and the challenges associated with running a team became too big a mountain for the Williams family to scale and Williams Racing got sold to a US-based investment firm Dorilton Capital in August. 

Russell had the rare opportunity of racing at Sakhir GP with Mercedes when Hamilton contracted COVID-19, but an unfortunate incident robbed him of what would have been a famous victory. Jack Aitken, the reserve driver, also got the opportunity to race and finished a commendable 16th. Russell's best finish was 11th at the Tuscan GP while Nicolas Latifi bagged three 11th place finishes in Austria, Italy and Emilia Romagna. The Canadian had an impressive debut year with Williams and will be pivotal in the team's plans to return to higher finishes in 2021.

The talented pairing in Russell and Latifi combined with the financial influx of new owners should make 2021 a different story for the Grove-based outfit. 



2020 was a memorable year for the sport despite the challenges that it posed. Fans got treated to great races throughout the year, and there was a lot done by the sport to improve fan engagement. 


Hopefully, 2021 would feature the full calendar with tracks opening their doors to fans again!


Mercedes and Hamilton were flawless in defence of their respective titles. Winning it for the 7th time was no easy feat, and it highlighted how the hunger for success never dies. Records got broken, and there will be more mountains to climb in 2021. Hamilton is now the most successful driver in the history of F1. Is he the "Greatest of all time?" is a discussion for another time.


The contenders for the titles in 2021 have work to do over the winter break, but for now, Hamilton and Mercedes keep rising.


]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1627243 2020-12-13T19:27:14Z 2020-12-13T19:27:15Z 2020 Abu Dhabi GP Race Recap : Clinical, Calm and Composed in a Bull!

The finale of the F1 season gets held at the Yas Marina International Circuit, and 2020 was no exception. The circuit designed by Hermann Tilke, situated on Yas Island, is the venue for farewells and goodbyes as drivers and mechanics move on to other ventures or teams for the next season.



This year was no different with a host of changes happening in 2021. Renault F1 and Racing Point F1 would race under the names of Alpine Racing F1 and Aston Martin Racing F1 next year. The drivers who would call it a day with their current teams were - Vettel at Ferrari, Perez at Racing Point, Sainz at McLaren, Ricciardo at Renault, Magnussen at Haas, Kyvat ( probably ) at Alpha Tauri. While Vettel, Sainz and Ricciardo had their future contracts locked in, uncertainties remained over Perez, Kvyat and Albon with Magnussen taking a sabbatical from the series.


Mercedes unveiled a special livery for the weekend, featuring the name of each person who has been a part of their success. Offtrack, McLaren announced that it had sold a minority stake ( in its F1 team ) to a consortium of US-based investors including MSP Sports Capital ( valued at 185 million pounds ).


Romain Grosjean, who had suffered a life-threatening accident at the Bahrain GP was unable to recover for the season finale and Fittipaldi, the reserve driver, got another opportunity in the Haas. Hamilton's availability ( due to COVID 19 ) was still a question mark. The reigning World Champion, however, tested negative in Bahrain on Wednesday, travelled to Abu Dhabi on Thursday where he produced another negative test, thus fulfilling the protocols of the UAE government and confirming his participation of the Final GP of the year. Russell returned to Williams while Aitken got re-assigned to the Reserve Driver Role.



The battle for P2 in the Drivers' Championship wasn't over, and neither was 3rd place in the Constructors'. Bottas, who had a mediocre showing against his stand-in team-mate ( Russell ) in Sakhir, hoped for a better showing in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen's charge got brought to a halt when he crashed on the opening lap ( at the Sakhir GP ), but Bottas' poor result kept him in the hunt for 2nd in the Championship.



Racing Point, who celebrated their maiden win and double podium were on the backfoot with Perez starting at the back of the grid due to a power unit change ( over and above the allocation ). Magnussen in the Haas was another driver to suffer a similar fate. Meanwhile, Leclerc carried a three-place grid penalty for his misdemeanour at the Sakhir GP. 



So, who reigned supreme in the lights of the Yas Marina International Circuit? Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Free Practice 1 got underway with drivers trying different setups and exploring the limits of their cars. The teams also brought in 2021 parts to gather data and understand real-world results. Mick Schumacher, the 2020 F2 Champion and Haas F1 Driver for 2021 replaced Magnussen during FP1 while Kubica got another Friday drive at Alfa Romeo, taking Giovinazzi's place. Albon suffered a spin entering the marina section while Ricciardo ground to a halt with a fuel pressure problem that ruled him out of further participation in FP1. Meanwhile, Hamilton had a brake issue and had to sit out half of the session. It was Verstappen who topped the timesheets at the end of FP1, three-hundredths clear of Bottas. Ocon was 3rd for Renault ahead of Albon, Hamilton and Stroll who completed the top 6. Perez was 7th in the other Racing Point followed by the Alpha Tauris of Kvyat and Gasly who were having a strong second half with Raikkonen, the fastest Ferrari powered car in 10th.

Leclerc split the McLarens of Sainz and Norris followed by his team-mate Vettel in the other works Ferrari. Kubica was 15th from Russell and Latifi with the Haas cars of Schumacher and Fittipaldi completing the rear of the field. Ricciardo didn't set a lap time in FP1.




Pirelli had brought in the 2021 tyres for testing to Abu Dhabi, and the drivers were obliged to run eight timed laps on those sets. Raikkonen escaped a fire at the back of the Alfa Romeo in FP2, the Finn trying his best to assist the marshalls in finding the source of the flames. Smoke was still billowing when the car got extricated near the end of the session. Russell was another driver to suffer a power unit related issue, and the Williams crew exercised extreme caution as they tried to find the source of the problem since the car was leaking current. Albon had an eventful FP2, running wide several times and having his lap times deleted, and almost had a coming together with Ocon on a DRS straight. 

Meanwhile, Gasly suffered a spin at turn one while Vettel locked up his hard tyres at the same spot. The brake issues on Haas cars didn't seem to go away with Fittipaldi locking up both his tyres. The fastest time of FP2 belonged to Bottas, the Finn three-tenths clear of his team-mate, Hamilton. Verstappen led the two Red Bulls followed by Norris in 5th. Three-thousandths of a second separated Ocon, Perez, Leclerc and Ricciardo with Stroll completing the top 10. 

Sainz was in an Alpha Tauri sandwich of Kvyat and Gasly ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel. Magnussen was the fastest Haas car in 16th followed by Giovinazzi and Russell. Fittipaldi and Latifi completed the rear of the field. 




The Red Bulls reigned supreme in FP3 with Verstappen half a second clear of his team-mate Albon. The Renaults of Ricciardo and Ocon popped in a surprise with the 3rd and 4th fastest times followed by Norris and Hamilton. Stroll was 7th for Racing Point, ahead of Sainz in the other McLaren with Bottas and Perez completing the top 10. The Alpha Tauris of Kvyat and Gasly had Leclerc splitting them with Vettel another three-tenths adrift. Russell got ahead of the Alfa Romeos while Latifi was in a Haas sandwich at the back of the field. 



It seemed to be a close affair between Mercedes and Red Bull, and the battle of "fine margins" continued in the midfield.



Qualifying :


Q1 got underway with the entire field choosing the soft tyres for their first runs. Ocon decided to stay in the pits and go "out-of-sync". There was drama in the pit lane with Verstappen having to slam the brakes to avoid hitting Latifi who got released out of the box by Williams, just ahead of the Dutchman. The incident got flagged for investigation by the stewards. Verstappen suffered a flat-spot on his tyres and expressed his displeasure. Giovinazzi and Hamilton had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 20. Hamilton straddled over the kerbs and requested the team to check for floor damage. The top 6 at the end of first runs were - Bottas, Perez, Albon, Stroll, Sainz and Leclerc. 


Hamilton and Verstappen managed only the 7th and the 10th quickest times, respectively. However, Verstappen improved to 2nd with 5 minutes remaining on the clock.


Raikkonen was on the cusp of elimination with Magnussen, Fittipaldi, Russell, Latifi and Giovinazzi in the drop zone. The Red Bulls, Racing Points, Sainz and Ricciardo chose to stay in the pits while the rest of the field came out on a fresh set of soft tyres. The lap times improved with track evolution, and Hamilton ended Q1 with the quickest time, followed by Bottas and Leclerc. Verstappen, Norris and Perez completed the top 6. Giovinazzi made it into Q2, eliminating his team-mate Raikkonen with Magnussen, Russell, Fittipaldi and Latifi being the other eliminations at the end of Q1.



Tyre choice was pivotal at the start of Q2, and there was a mixture of strategies adopted by the drivers. Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault sent their drivers on mediums while Alpha Tauri and Giovinazzi ( Alfa Romeo ) chose the softs. McLaren split the strategy with its drivers, Sainz choosing the mediums and Norris the softs. 


Albon and Ricciardo had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 21. Hamilton, Bottas, Norris, Sainz, Verstappen and Gasly were the top 6 at the end of the first runs with Ocon, Giovinazzi, Albon, Ricciardo and Perez in the drop zone. Although Perez was to start at the back of the grid, the Mexican exited the pits to complete an installation lap on the soft tyres. 


Verstappen and Leclerc exited the pits with another set of medium tyres while the rest of the field chose softs for their final runs of Q2. Despite having fresh tyres, the majority of the drivers were unable to improve on their lap times. The top 6 at the end of Q2 changed to Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Albon, Norris and Leclerc with Ocon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Perez getting eliminated.



It was time for the top-ten-shootout, and the Alpha Tauris and Norris were on a used set of soft tyres for their first runs of Q3. A tenth and a half separated the top four drivers with Bottas on provisional pole from Verstappen, Hamilton and Albon. Sainz and Norris were 5th and 6th, followed by Stroll, Leclerc and the Alpha Tauris of Kvyat and Gasly.


Everyone was on a fresh set of soft tyres in the final minutes of Q3. Hamilton set blistering sector times and seemed to have bagged pole before Bottas relegated him to 2nd. However, a few seconds later, Verstappen crossed the finish line and pipped Bottas to pole! Norris catapulted his McLaren into 4th with Albon slotting in at P5. Sainz was 6th in the other McLaren followed by Kvyat and Stroll on row 4 and Leclerc and Gasly in row 5.




It was the first time in 2020 that a non-Mercedes car had bagged pole! Verstappen had pipped Bottas by two-hundredths and Hamilton by eight-hundredths of a second for the best starting position on Sunday. Celebrations erupted in the Red Bull garage, their months of hard work finally coming to fruition on Saturday. Verstappen had the perfect launch pad to fight for 2nd place in the Championship. Bottas was looking sharp all weekend while Hamilton was still getting back up to speed after his ten-day layoff due to COVID. Mercedes knew it wasn't going to be a leisurely Sunday evening drive. 


In a tight midfield, McLaren had a great chance of outscoring the Racing Points with their 4th and 6th place in Qualifying. Once again Red Bull didn't have both its cars in the top four but hoped to see Albon challenge the Mercedes since he would start on the faster and grippier soft tyres. 


Kvyat admitted that this was the best qualifying effort of his career as he looked to capitalize on Sunday. Stroll was Racing Point's best hope since Perez needed to carve his way through the field and needed an optimal strategy. The team was already on the backfoot in its defence for P3 in the Constructors' Championship. A stellar qualifying effort by Leclerc ensured Ferrari representation in the top 10. Gasly was 10th, and it was rare to see him getting out-qualified by his team-mate.


The biggest surprise of Qualifying was the Renaults. The duo had exceptional pace in FP3 but came up short in Qualifying. A free tyre choice, combined with a good strategy, could tip the balance in their favour. Vettel's travails continued on his farewell weekend, and the German was glad that only the race remained for his ordeal to end. Giovinazzi proved the doubters wrong by out-qualifying his more experienced team-mate Raikkonen and winning the team-mate battle for the season. Sunday was the day that mattered though. Haas and Williams remained stuck in the backmarker battle with Magnussen and Russell being the drivers on whom their hopes were riding. 



The race would be long and demanding, but it was time for one final push in 2020!



Race :


Sunday arrived, and it was time for the final race of 2020. C3, C4 and C5 were the compounds provided by Pirelli in what seemed to be a one-stop race.


Norris, Albon, Kvyat, Stroll and Gasly were the drivers inside the top 10 who started the race with their ( soft ) tyres from Q2. Those in the latter half of the field chose the mediums with Ricciardo, Perez and Magnussen opting for the hards.


The drivers took a knee in the fight against racism, stood in honour of the national anthem before handing Chase Carey, the outgoing CEO of F1 a helmet signed by all the drivers on the grid. It was then time for the formation lap, and the drivers got themselves ready for the final bout under the lights. 



The race got underway, and it was a clean getaway for Verstappen, the Dutchman comfortably fending off any challenge from the Mercedes into turn one. Bottas had a slower exit out of turn one but was able to hold onto 2nd despite the pressure from Hamilton. Further down the field, Ocon was able to jump Gasly for 10th while Vettel and Raikkonen overtook their team-mates for 12th and 14th, respectively. Magnussen moved up three positions from the back of the grid, and it was an incident-free opening lap.



Verstappen wasted no time in building a gap to the Mercedes and was 1.7 seconds clear at the end of lap 1. Gasly recovered 9th from Ocon on lap two at turn 9. Verstappen set the fastest lap on lap three while Perez, who had started 19th after the engine change, got past Fittipaldi for P18. Norris was holding off Albon in the battle for 4th, and the latter quipped that Norris was overdriving and might not be able to complete the race with a single stop. 



Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Albon, Sainz, Kvyat, Stroll, Gasly and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of lap 4. 



Perez relegated Russell to 17th ( lap 5 ) and Giovinazzi to 16th ( lap 6 ) while Renault instructed Ocon to let Ricciardo by ( for P10 ) a lap later. The battle for 4th culminated with Albon getting the better of Norris with DRS assistance. The Racing Point drivers were making overtakes on track with Stroll getting past Kvyat for 7th, and Perez completing a move on Raikkonen for 14th. Kvyat then lost 8th to team-mate Gasly while the VSC got deployed due to an incident in sector 3. Perez had ground to a halt at turn 19 ( lap 10 ), retiring from his final race with Racing Point. 



It was still early for a pit stop, but the teams decided to utilize the VSC period to pit their drivers. The Ferraris, Ricciardo, Giovinazzi and Magnussen chose to stay out while the rest of the field pitted for a fresh set of hard tyres. Sainz got flagged for investigation ( post-race ) for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pitlane. The marshalls needed more time for extrication, and the VSC got changed to a full Safety Car. As the field got bunched up again, Hamilton complained about balance issues on his car. Perez and his mechanics at Racing Point were distraught, and they knew the ramifications of this retirement in the battle for 3rd in the Constructors'.



The Safety Car returned to the pits at the end of lap 13, and it was a clean getaway by Verstappen again. Raikkonen got past Magnussen for 15th while Sainz relegated Leclerc to 9th on lap 14. Giovinazzi, one of the drivers who chose to stay out, lost 12th to Ocon while Stroll got past Leclerc for 9th, only for the Monegasque to fight back and retake the position at the end of the straight. Giovinazzi continued to fall backwards with Kvyat and Raikkonen getting past the Italian in the space of 2 laps while Sainz overtook Vettel for 7th ( lap 17 ). 



Leclerc suffered a similar fate and got overtaken by Stroll, Gasly and Ocon, warning the team that he needed to pit if he wanted to salvage something from the race. He finally pitted from 12th on lap 23, for a set of hard tyres, rejoining in 19th and last. On the track, Russell got past Giovinazzi for 15th while Stroll was honing in on Vettel for 8th, but ran wide at turn 11, allowing Gasly to reduce the deficit to him instead. 



Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Vettel, Stroll and Gasly were the top 10 at the end of lap 26. 



Leclerc began to recover the places he had lost with overtakes on Fittipaldi, Latifi and Magnussen for 18th, 17th and 16th respectively. Giovinazzi pitted on lap 29 for hard tyres, rejoining in 19th while Latifi got past Magnussen for 16th. Verstappen was lapping six-tenths quicker than the Mercedes duo and extended his lead to 7 seconds at the front. 



Stroll, who had failed to get past Vettel, now found himself defending 9th from Gasly. The defence didn't last long, and Gasly was up into 9th on lap 30. The Frenchman then closed in on Vettel and got past him for 8th, but the latter put up a dogged fight, his tyres unable to provide the levels of traction like Gasly's though. Further down the field, Magnussen lost 17th to Fittipaldi. The Haas driver finally pitted for mediums on lap 33, rejoining in last. The battle for 14th was an intense one between Russell and Leclerc, and the latter was able to get the job done on lap 35.



Hamilton reported that he had suffered a flat-spot on his tyres while Vettel finally pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap 36, rejoining in 15th behind Russell. Latifi did the same on lap 37, rejoining in 17th. The last of the drivers to pit, amongst those who had started on the hard tyres, was Ricciardo. The Australian pitted from P5, having held off Norris long enough, for a fresh set of mediums on lap 40, and rejoined in 7th. Leclerc was now on the tail of Raikkonen for 12th and had an opportunity to pass on lap 41, but Raikkonen fended off the challenge, his experience coming to the fore.



Vettel got past Russell for 14th on lap 42 while Mercedes asked Bottas to start pushing and close the gap to Verstappen in front. However, Verstappen responded with quicker laps of his own, extending his lead by another two seconds. 



Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly, Stroll and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of lap 45. 



Leclerc got a Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits at turn 21 multiple times. Haas pitted both its drivers with Magnussen switching to new mediums and Fittipaldi to softs on laps 49 and 50 respectively. Giovinazzi was honing in on Russell in the battle for 15th as Albon started to catch Hamilton for the final podium position, reducing the deficit to less than 2 seconds. Ocon closed up on Stroll and got past him for P9 on the last lap.



Verstappen took the Chequered Flag and Victory at the 2020 Abu Dhabi GP. The Dutchman could have completed the "Grand Slam" but for Ricciardo to take the point for the fastest lap off him on the last lap. Bottas and Hamilton came home in 2nd and 3rd for Mercedes, followed by Albon in the other Red Bull and the McLarens of Norris and Sainz. Ricciardo, Gasly, Ocon and Stroll completed the top 10. 


Kvyat was 11th in the other Alpha Tauri, followed by Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo. The works Ferrari team could only manage 13th and 14th followed by Russell and Giovinazzi. Latifi, Magnussen and Fittipaldi were the final classified finishers. 



While Verstappen celebrated with Red Bull on parc-ferme, Hamilton and Bottas performed their customary season-ending donuts on the start-finish straight. Magnussen did the same in the final sector as the Dane returned to the pits, his last race in F1. The radio channels got flooded with emotional exchanges between teams and drivers, some bidding farewell and some thanking their mechanics for the season, vowing to return re-energized for the challenge in 2021. 



Verstappen had given it his all, but Bottas' 2nd place was enough for P2 in the Drivers' Championship. Albon did all he could in the other Red Bull, but the final decision about renewal for 2021 rests with the team. Hamilton had recovered from COVID-19 but not to full fitness, and it showed. The Mercedes duo was managing an MGU-K issue which explained their lack of pace against the Red Bull of Verstappen. Norris and Sainz' 5th and 6th place finish combined with Perez's retirement in the race allowed McLaren to jump Racing Point in the Constructors' Championship. The investigation on Sainz ended with "no action taken", and McLaren had bagged 3rd place in the Championship


Perez didn't get an ideal farewell with Racing Point, but finishing 4th in the Drivers' Championship makes his CV for 2021 stronger. It had been an eventful year for Racing Point, from its RP20 being called the "Pink Mercedes" to having 15 points docked in Constructors' Championship. Despite the penalties dished out to them, they had accomplished a lot in 2020.


Renault had another double-points weekend, and they would miss the services of Ricciardo who is McLaren bound for 2021. They were locked in an intense battle all season long, and 5th was the best they could achieve. Alpha Tauri had a strong second half and got close to outscoring Ferrari. Gasly was the star of the show and with Honda backed F2 driver Tsunoda coming in, things can only get better in 2021. 


Raikkonen had a strong end to the season, finishing the highest of the Ferrari-powered cars in the season finale. Giovinazzi out-qualified his team-mate, Raikkonen, and would be looking to produce more points-scoring finishes in 2021. It was back to the drawing board for Ferrari, the Maranello-based outfit ending the season a dismal 6th in the Constructors'. Russell carried a thank-you tribute on his helmet for Sir Frank Williams and Claire Williams and would be hoping to bring Williams further up the grid next year. His team-mate Latifi would also need to step up his performances. Magnussen said goodbye to the sport, having spent the majority of his career in the midfield, his talent never getting the recognition it deserved. It was a good learning experience ( in the final two rounds ) for Fittipaldi who would take up the role of reserve driver again in 2021.



Verstappen controlled the race from start to finish, kept it clean and reaped the rewards at the end. Hamilton and Bottas had no answer to his pace and looked second-best throughout the weekend, but they had already accomplished what they set out to achieve. Nevertheless, this win helped Verstappen and Red Bull sign off 2020 on the right note and carry the momentum into 2021.



2020 had been a tough year for the world, and the likelihood of having a sizeable F1 season seemed improbable at the onset of the pandemic in March. However, the FIA, FOM and Liberty Media planned an elaborate yet hectic calendar of 17 races and accomplished the task. Kudos to them! The sport returned to some classic tracks besides visiting venues where F1 had never raced before. Some even welcomed fans. The 2020 Season had been unique in that way. There were 78000 COVID Tests throughout the season, and the protocols set in place got followed to the T. 

 


The start of the 2021 F1 Season is less than 100 days away, and the battle will resume in March, Down Under!



Till then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1624633 2020-12-07T20:03:07Z 2020-12-07T20:03:07Z 2020 Sakhir GP Race Recap : The Last became the First!

The 2020 F1 Season was drawing to a close, and two races remained from the truncated calendar. The final triple-header of the year saw two back-to-back races at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the penultimate race getting held on the outer loop of the track. The circuit, which has six variations, had never seen racing on this layout. F1 cars could complete a lap in 55 seconds with drivers applying full throttle for 75% of the lap. A marathon race of 87 laps awaited the teams and drivers where fuel management could prove pivotal. 



It had been an eventful week after the Bahrain GP which saw Romain Grosjean escape from a life-threatening crash. The FIA added a tyre wall to the repaired barriers at turn 3, which was the scene of the accident the previous weekend. Grosjean was still on the mend, and the team brought in the Reserve Driver, Pietro Fittipaldi ( grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi ) as the replacement. Fittipaldi Jr. wasn't the only rookie to take the F1 wheel, however. 



News broke out that Lewis Hamilton, the Seven-Time World Champion had tested positive for COVID-19 and would sit out the Sakhir GP weekend. Mercedes had Reserve Driver Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings, but they chose to promote their protegee George Russell into the vacant W11 seat. While Russell moved across the paddock, Williams gave Jack Aitken, their reserve driver, the chance of driving their 2020 contender. Would these replacements remain for the final race or not remained to be seen, but it was an incredible opportunity for the rookies and Russell to prove their talent and mettle in the best racing series.



Meanwhile, off track, Ferrari announced a reorganisation in their technical department for 2021 with Simone Resta, the head of the Chassis Engineering Department moving to Haas F1. Enrico Cardile was the replacement announced. Haas F1 Team announced their driver line-up for 2021 by bringing in Mick Schumacher, the son of the legendary Michael Schumacher and F2 driver Nikita Mazepin. Callum Ilott, the other contender for the 2020 F2 Crown and Ferrari Academy Driver, got overlooked, unfortunately. 



Only 12 points separated Bottas from Verstappen, and with Hamilton out of the reckoning, both had an opportunity of scoring the maximum haul of points on the weekend. Was the newcomer Russell able to throw a spanner in the works? Albon, in the sister Red Bull, had two more opportunities to prove his worthiness for 2021, was he able to do his chances any good? Racing Point had an opportunity of making right the disappointments of the previous weekend. How did they fare?



Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


FP1 got underway with drivers learning the limits of the new layout while negotiating the bumps and sudden changes of direction. Traffic was another challenge due to the short duration of a lap. Norris narrowly missed hitting Perez while Leclerc ran wide at turn six and Albon suffered a spin at turn two. Gasly's Alpha Tauri's wing mirror came loose, and the Frenchman had to return to the pits cautiously. Russell's tall frame was the cause of some discomfort ( for his shoulders ) in the Mercedes, but the Briton managed to set the fastest time of FP1, a 54.5 seconds lap. 


Less than a second separated the top 10 drivers with Verstappen, Albon, Bottas, Kvyat and Gasly completing the top 6. Vettel split the Renaults of Ocon and Kvyat with Leclerc a further two-tenths adrift. The Racing Points of Stroll and Perez were 11th and 12th followed by Sainz in his McLaren. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were the fastest Ferrari customer drivers ( in the Alfa Romeo ) while Norris had a disappointing FP1 in 16th. Magnussen, Latifi, Fittipaldi and Aitken completed the rear of the field.



Track limits got enforced at turn eight by the stewards at the start of FP2.  Several drivers had run wide in FP1, and the stewards deemed it necessary to dish out lap-time deletions for infringements. Bottas was one such driver who had a torrid time in FP2, leaving the confines of the track on multiple occasions. He even suffered from multiple lap time deletions from exceeding track limits. The flying gravel from one of his off-track excursions hit Gasly's finger which left him grimacing over the radio. Understeer became a challenge for both Red Bull drivers as they tried to push harder on their qualifying and race simulations. Vettel suffered two spins in the sessions, at turns two and five, narrowly missing a collision with Magnussen in the second incident. Leclerc, in the sister Ferrari, suffered a driveshaft failure early on in the session and was unable to rejoin in FP2. Norris went over the kerbs at turn three which damaged the floor of his McLaren. The Briton returned to the track in the latter half of the session but returned to the pits after McLaren discovered multiple issues on the out-lap. Sainz too suffered from "gear synchronisation" issues, but it was a quick fix in the garage. 


Russell topped the timesheets again with Verstappen and Perez less than two-tenths adrift. Ocon, Albon and Kvyat completed the top 6 with Stroll, Ricciardo and Gasly less than half a second shy of the fastest lap time. Sainz was 10th in his McLaren with Bottas setting only the 11th fastest time in the other Mercedes ( but on the hard tyres ). The Finn's lap times in qualifying simulations on soft tyres got deleted due to exceeding of track limits. The Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi improved to 12th and 13th with Magnussen and Latifi a second down on Russell's time. Vettel and Norris languished down in 16th and 17th ahead of rookies Fittipaldi and Aitken. Leclerc didn't set a time in FP2. 



The Friday Practice sessions were a close affair between the teams. A few tenths separated those in the midfield, and it was imperative to have a clean lap on a ( relatively ) clear track to gain the positions on offer. Bottas had a challenging Friday and needed to get the right balance for Saturday. Ferrari and McLaren had compromised running on Friday and needed to do a lot more come Free Practice 3.



Saturday arrived, and it was time for Free Practice 3. Verstappen suffered a spin at turn two while Vettel switched to a different setup for FP3. However, his run got curtailed after a trip on the kerbs and Ferrari opted to change Vettel's engine as a precautionary measure. It was Verstappen who set the fastest time of FP3, two tenths clear of Bottas. Gasly was 3rd in the Alpha Tauri with Ocon, Norris and Albon completing the top 6. Russell was 7th in the other Mercedes followed by Perez, Stroll and Sainz. 


Giovinazzi was performing well in his Alfa Romeo and set the 11th fastest time followed by Kvyat in the other Alpha Tauri. It was a lucky escape for Leclerc who spun at the last turn in the final minutes of the session, en route to the 13th quickest time. Ricciardo split the Ferraris followed by Raikkonen who was more than a second slower of Verstappen's time in 16th. Magnussen, Latifi, Fittipaldi and Aitken remained at the back of the pack.



The Mercedes duo and Verstappen were the class of the field, and the battle for pole promised to be a tight affair. The fight for supremacy in the midfield too was a matter of "fine margins" going into Qualifying. The teams needed to get their calculations right to ensure that their drivers would have the best possible chance to qualify. 



Qualifying :


Fittipaldi got a grid penalty and would start at the back of the grid. The team had to make changes to his power unit elements ( new control electronics and energy store ). Nevertheless, the Brazilian took to the track at the start of Q1. Haas, Williams, Sainz and Raikkonen were the early runners in Q1 with Sainz choosing the hard tyres. The Alpha Tauris and Mercedes followed shortly with medium tyres with the rest of the field opting for softs. All cars were out on track with 10 minutes left of Q1. Norris had his lap time deleted for exceeding of track limits at turn 8.


Verstappen, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Albon and Stroll were the top 6 at the end of the first runs. Sainz was on the cusp of elimination with Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Aitken, Latifi and Fittipaldi in the drop zone. It wasn't smooth sailing for Raikkonen who complained about braking issues on his first run.


The drivers came out with a fresh set of tyres ( softs ) and the lap times kept improving with track evolution. Aitken jumped to 15th, Latifi to 16th and Raikkonen to 13th. Verstappen, Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz and Albon chose to stay put as the rest of the field tried to sure up their chances of making it into Q2. Bottas went the fastest at the end of Q1 from Verstappen and Russell. The McLaren of Norris was 4th fastest followed by Gasly and Perez. Albon had a lucky escape in the final minutes of Q1 as he ended with only the 15th quickest time. The eliminations from Q1 were Magnussen, Latifi, Aitken, Raikkonen and Fittipaldi. 




Q2 got underway with the Renaults, Racing Points and Albon opting to stay in the pits while the Mercedes, Ferraris and Verstappen chose the medium tyres for their first runs. Gasly exceeded track limits at turn eight and had his lap time deleted. Five-hundredths of a second separated Perez, Bottas, Sainz, Russell and Stroll ( top 5 ) with Gasly, Leclerc, Vettel, Norris and Giovinazzi in the drop zone. 


The Ferrari drivers emerged with a new set of medium tyres, but Vettel aborted his flying lap and returned to the pits. Vettel didn't have the confidence of making it into Q3 with the mediumsbut Leclerc continued and broke into the top 6. Barring the Mercedes drivers, the rest of the field chose the soft tyres. Norris made two attempts to set a representative lap time but aborted both attempts. 


Verstappen ended Q2 with the quickest time from Perez and Bottas. Sainz, Russell and Leclerc completed the top 6 with Ocon, Albon, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Norris getting knocked out.



The start of Q3 saw Gasly emerge out of the pits with a set of medium tyres while his team-mate Kvyat and the Racing Point drivers chose to stay put. The first runs were complete, and it was Verstappen on provisional pole from Leclerc and Bottas, a tenth separating the trio. Perez was 4th, splitting the Mercedes following by Ricciardo, Sainz, Stroll, Kvyat and Gasly. However, the Mercedes duo had set their lap times on used softs, and they would go quicker on their final runs.


Leclerc had set a blistering lap time, but was out of soft tyres and couldn't take further part in Q3. Bottas and Russell had tyres for two more attempts, and both didn't disappoint. They locked out the front row with five minutes left on the clock. The final minutes of Q3 saw the battle for pole intensify. 


Bottas, Russell and Verstappen were setting blistering sector times, but it was Bottas who bagged pole for the Sakhir GP. Russell was shy by two-hundredths and Verstappen by five-hundredths. Leclerc's earlier attempt was good enough for 4th with Perez and Kvyat taking up row 3. Row 4 got snapped up by Ricciardo and Sainz and five by Gasly and Stroll.



It had been a close contest for pole, but Bottas got the job done in the end. Russell put in a fine effort to be within two-hundredths of Bottas' time on his first outing. Mercedes got another front-row lockout and were the favourites for victory on race day. Verstappen would be disappointed to have missed a front row start by a small margin. No one predicted Ferrari to be on row 2 of the grid, but Leclerc accomplished the unthinkable. Sunday would be the real challenge though. Perez's performances in the Racing Point continued to impress one and all, and Kvyat produced a stellar lap to end up 6th on the grid. The midfield was tight as ever, and strategy would prove pivotal in the battle between the Renaults, McLarens, Racing Points and the Alpha Tauris. 


Albon had yet another mediocre performance on Saturday and needed to step up on Sunday whereas Vettel was still struggling with the balance of his car. The German had a free tyre choice, and the race could be a different story. Giovinazzi would be encouraged with another appearance in Q2 for Alfa Romeo, edging out Norris who looked off the pace throughout Qualifying. Magnussen was the best bet for Haas, and Latifi and Aitken would be ecstatic about edging out former World Champion Raikkonen in Qualifying. Raikkonen, on the other hand, would be looking to set things right on Sunday.



A mammoth 87 laps awaited the teams in what promised to be an exciting race under the lights of the Bahrain International Circuit. 



Race :


Pirelli provided the same sets of dry tyres from the previous weekend ( C2, C3 and C4 ) in what seemed to be a two-stop race.


Norris and McLaren decided to switch to a new power unit and started the race at the back of the grid alongside Fittipaldi. 


The Mercedes drivers were on the medium tyres from Q2 while others in the top 10 on the softs. The following drivers outside the top 10 chose the softs - Norris, Latifi, Magnussen and Fittipaldi while Ocon, Albon, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Aitken and Raikkonen opted for the mediums.


Bottas led the field away on the formation lap while Russell was slower off the line. The Briton was still learning about his loaned Mercedes and needed a good start to fend off the challenge from Verstappen. 



The five red lights went out, and it was a good start off the line for both the Mercedes cars. However, it was Russell who got the inside line at turn one and took the lead of the race! Perez and Verstappen were jostling for position, but Verstappen held onto P3. Bottas was slow out of turn two and got swamped by the trio of Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc. The quartet was racing close to each other, and there was drama at turn four. Perez got tagged at the rear by Leclerc, sending him into a spin and breaking the latter's front suspension. Verstappen, who was on the outside, tried to take avoiding action, ending up in the gravel and eventually running out of road. He collided with the barriers, retiring from the race along with Leclerc. Perez was able to continue, but pitted for mediums, rejoining in last. The incident got flagged for investigation, and Leclerc got a three-place grid drop for the next race.


Further down the field, Raikkonen suffered a spin at turn two while Norris had a mega start and was up to 10th, having started P19. 


The Safety Car got deployed to remove the stricken cars and racing didn't resume until lap 7. Russell had a clean restart while Sainz got past Bottas for 2nd, but ran wide, allowing Bottas to retake the position. Raikkonen lost 17th to Perez who then dispatched Fittipaldi and Aitken for 15th a lap later, and Norris overtook Vettel for 9th. Perez continued his charge up the field with an overtake on Giovinazzi for 13th, while Raikkonen got past Fittipaldi for P17 ( lap 9 ).


Russell started pulling away with the fastest lap ( lap 10 ) while Perez relegated Magnussen to 13th. Raikkonen got past Aitken for P16 while Perez was closing in on the battle between Vettel and Albon for 10th. It was job done for Albon on lap 12 with Vettel losing 11th to Perez on the same lap. The Mercedes duo started to pull away from the rest of the field, and Sainz had Ricciardo's company in the battle for third. 


Russell, Bottas, Sainz, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Stroll, Gasly, Ocon, Norris and Albon were the top 10 at the end of lap 16. 


Magnussen got relegated to 15th by Latifi and Giovinazzi while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race. Albon and Perez got past Norris for 9th and 10th respectively, and the Briton pitted immediately after for a set of medium tyres, rejoining in 18th and last. It was 9th for Perez who got past Albon while Russell set the fastest lap of the race. 


Raikkonen pitted for hard tyres on lap 25, but it was a slow stop due to a troublesome left front tyre. Norris got past Fittipaldi for 16th, and the pit stop window was now open for those on a two-stop strategy. Giovinazzi and Magnussen pitted on lap 27 for hards and mediums respectively while Kvyat was the first from the top 10 to pit for a set of mediums. There was a slew of pit stops with Sainz and Gasly switching to the mediums ( lap 29 ) followed by Ricciardo a lap later. The undercut worked for Kvyat who jumped Ricciardo in the round of pitstops while Norris got past Aitken for P12. Vettel, the only Ferrari left in the race, pitted on lap 33 for a set of hard tyres, rejoining in 13th behind Latifi, but immediately overtaking the Canadian. Ricciardo was harrowing Kvyat for P8, but the Russian was able to fend off the challenge and set the fastest lap of the race. 


Russell, Bottas, Stroll, Ocon, Perez, Albon, Sainz, Kvyat, Ricciardo and Gasly were the top 10 at the end of lap 38. 


Ocon pitted on lap 42, switching to the hard tyres and rejoining in 10th. Stroll pitted a lap later, switching to the mediums and emerged out of the pits ahead of Ocon. However, Ocon had his tyres up to operating temperatures and regained track position with the help of DRS. He then went on to set the fastest lap of the race on lap 45 while Russell was nearing his first pit stop and got told to push by the team. Russell pitted from the lead on lap 46, putting on the hard tyres and rejoining in 2nd. He reclaimed the fastest lap time a couple of laps later as he began reducing the gap to his team-mate Bottas who was yet to pit. The Briton reported power issues which got resolved with a settings-change on the dash. 


Perez and Albon were the next to pit for hard tyres, emerging in 9th and 11th with Norris splitting the duo. The stewards issued Albon Black and White Flag for exceeding track limits multiple times ( lap 49 ). Bottas, who had tried to extend his stint on the mediums, finally pitted on lap 50 for hard tyres but had lost time to Russell, now 8 seconds adrift. Mercedes asked Russell to be careful while driving at turns 7 and 8 since it was putting a strain on the front left tyre. Gasly had to pit for the 2nd time on lap 52 for hard tyres, dropping him out of the points. Albon got past Norris for P9 on lap 53 while Kvyat pitted for the hard tyres. Gasly caught up to Vettel and overtook him for P11 on lap 55 just before the Virtual Safety Car got deployed for an incident on track.


It was Latifi who came to a halt at the exit of turn 8 with what seemed to be a mechanical issue. Norris pitted under VSC, switching to the medium tyres while Vettel and Magnussen chose the soft tyres. It was a slow stop for Vettel, the front left tyre getting stuck. Giovinazzi was another driver who ditched his hard tyres for a fresh set of mediums. The Virtual Safety Car period didn't last long, and Sainz and Ricciardo pitted just after green flag racing had resumed, switching to the mediums and hards respectively, and lost time in the process. Perez, who was managing his power unit, had closed in on his team-mate Stroll who made a mistake at turn four allowing the Mexican to take 4th. A lap later, it was Ocon who got bumped out of 3rd by Perez on the pit straight with the help of DRS. Meanwhile, at the front, Bottas was honing in on Russell, and the gap was down to 5.5 seconds. The Finn further reduced the deficit with two blistering laps on his hard tyres. 


The Virtual Safety Car got deployed again due to debris on the track. It was Aitken who had lost his front wing and pitted for a new front wing and soft tyres. The rookie had spun at the final corner and hit the orange barriers, losing his front wing in the process. The dislodged front wing was on the racing line, and there wasn't a gap big enough for the stewards to extricate the debris. The stewards decided to deploy the Safety Car and bunch up the field.



Mercedes called in their drivers for another stop, going in for the "double stack". It was a slightly slow stop for Russell who switched to the mediums, but there was chaos when Bottas drove into the box. The mechanics weren't ready with the tyres, and there was confusion with the tyres to put on; then, the left front brake overheated and caught fire while the tyre gun malfunctioned. Bottas emerged from the pits with the same set of hard tyres that he had pitted on! The Finn's 27 seconds stop had cost him track position to Perez, Ocon and Stroll, and he was down in 5th. The drama didn't end there. Mercedes discovered that they had put the wrong set of tyres on Russell's car. The Briton was driving with the tyres allocated to Bottas! He got the instruction to pit again a lap later, switched to the soft tyres, and rejoined behind Bottas. Russell, who was coasting to victory, now found himself down in 5th, all his hard work undone while Bottas had gone through a lengthy stop without switching to a new set of tyres! Mercedes had lost the initiative. Further down the field, Vettel, Raikkonen and Fittipaldi pitted for the third time, switching to the soft tyres for the final stint in the race.



The lapped cars were allowed to overtake the Safety Car and return on the lead lap, and racing resumed at the end of lap 68. Stroll almost rear-ended Ocon as Perez tried to bunch up the field. It was a great restart by Perez who led the field into turn one while Albon got past Gasly for P9. Russell wasted no time in his quest of reclaiming the top stop, getting past team-mate Bottas at turn eight in a spectacular yet clean overtake. Raikkonen and Magnussen went wheel-to-wheel for 14th, and it was job done for Raikkonen on lap 71. Magnussen got warned with a Black & White flag for exceeding track limits on multiple occasions. 



Russell relegated Stroll to 4th on lap 72 and was into 2nd with a pass on Ocon a lap later. Perez had built a gap of 3.5 seconds to Russell but was on old hard tyres. He wouldn't stand a chance against the charging Briton once he closed up and they wheel-to-wheel. The charge for victory began in full earnest as Russell set the fastest lap of the race on lap 76, bringing the gap down to 2.5 seconds. His team-mate Bottas was going the other way. His hard tyres had fallen off the cliff, and he lost positions to Sainz, Ricciardo, Albon and Kvyat in the space of 2 laps. 



There was more drama on lap 78. Russell had closed the gap to Perez to 2.1 seconds when Mercedes informed him about a puncture on the rear left tyre! Russell had to pit for the 4th time, dropping him down to 15th place! The Briton didn't hold back his exasperation, all his hard work coming to nought. To add insult to injury, the stewards decided to investigate the issue of "incorrect tyres" on Russell's car after the race. 



Perez now led the race with a cushion of 8 seconds from Ocon and Stroll. Russell began his charge through the field, passing Magnussen, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Vettel in the space of 2 laps. Bottas, on the other hand, complained about his old tyres being "undrivable", but the team asked him to soldier on. Perez had extended his lead to 10 seconds and continued to pull further away while Norris got past Gasly for 9th ( lap 85 ). A lap later, Russell was back into the points, relegating Gasly to 11th. The final lap had begun, and Perez and Racing Point seemed destined to win their first-ever race. Russell got past Norris for 9th, and that would be the best he would finish with at the end of the day. 



Perez crossed the finish line to win the 2020 Sakhir GP for Racing Point! Ocon came home in 2nd for Renault and Stroll completed a double podium for Racing Point. 4th was the best that Sainz could achieve, having run in the podium positions for the early part of the race with Ricciardo ending up in 5th. Both lost time when they pitted just after the Virtual Safety Car period had ended. Albon was 6th for Red Bull followed by Kvyat in his Alpha Tauri. Bottas and Russell came home in 8th and 9th for Mercedes with Norris taking the final points-scoring position.


Gasly drove hard but ended up in 11th. Vettel was 12th for Ferrari ahead of the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen. Magnussen, Aitken and Fittipaldi were the final classified finishers.



It was a day of contrasting emotions - while Racing Point and Perez were celebrating their wina disconsolate Russell was lying on the grass at the back of the paddock, thinking about what "could have been" had there not been a mix-up in the pit lane with regards to the tyres. 



Russell had driven his heart out, led from the start, controlling the race clinically and yet coming up short. There was no doubt that he would win one day, not just a race or two, but the Championship; but that day would come on another day. Motorsports can be cruel, and some experiences are gut-wrenching. Raikkonen who suffered a fair share of bad luck in his younger days used to quip "these things happen in sport, part and parcel of racing", and this experience would make Russell stronger, mentally. Nevertheless, his performance on the weekend proves how ready he is for the sharp end of the grid. 


Lewis Hamilton's availability for Abu Dhabi hangs in the balance. The reigning World Champion faces a race against time as he tries to recover from COVID-19. If he is unable to fulfil the protocols set by the UAE government, then Russell would remain in the Mercedes seat for the final round of the 2020 season and have another shot at victory. 


Russell deserves to be in a Mercedes, full-time, sooner rather than later. He is worthy of that honour. 



Mercedes got fined 20000 Euros for their mistake with the incorrect tyres on Russell's car. The stewards decided against disqualification ( which is the rule ) and imposed a financial penalty instead. An intercom failure was to blame for the blunder that cost the team another 1-2 finish and Russell a win. Such days are rare for a team like Mercedes, but they are humans at the end of the day. An apology by the team followed shortly after.  



Bottas blew a golden chance of cementing 2nd place in the Drivers' Championship when Verstappen retired from the race. The Finn lacked motivation and looked lacklustre the entire race. He cannot afford such mediocrity if he is to pose a semblance of a challenge to Hamilton in 2021. He needs to step up his performances as the threat of losing his seat to a younger and more talented driver looms large. 



Verstappen would have been in the reckoning for victory but crashed ( no fault of his own ) on the opening lap while trying to take avoiding action. The Dutchman can still claim 2nd in the Championship and will go all out in Abu Dhabi. Albon's 6th place was uninspiring; there were shades of brilliance, but yet not good enough. If he doesn't produce something magical in Abu Dhabi, a sabbatical awaits him. 



The midfield battle has taken another dramatic turn with Racing Point and Renault's haul of points this weekend. McLaren was in damage limitation mode and would need a better outing in Abu Dhabi, needing to outscore the Racing Points by 11 points or more. Renault is still in the hunt for 3rd place, but a 22 points deficit might be too big an ask. Ocon scored the first podium of his F1 career, a stellar drive by the Frenchman who stopped only once during the race. He is getting stronger with each passing weekend, and this augurs well for Renault.



Ferrari blew their chance of a strong finish when Leclerc made contact with Perez on the opening lap leading to the Monegasque's retirement. A three-place grid penalty for Leclerc in Abu Dhabi only compounds matters. Vettel is counting down the days left with Ferrari as his season goes from bad to worse with each passing race. They need to fend off a resurgence from Alpha Tauri, or they would end the season a disappointing 7th. Alfa Romeo's mercurial performances in 2020 remain a mystery while Haas and Williams would be proud of the drives put in by their rookies Fittipaldi and Aitken. Fittipaldi would race again since Grosjean was declared unfit for participation in the season-ender at Abu Dhabi following his horrific crash. Aitken's eligibility is dependent on Hamilton's, but the Briton had a commendable outing in his first Grand Prix.



Perez and Racing Point scored their maiden win in F1. It was also the team's first-ever double podium, and a Mexican driver won again after a gap of 50 years! Perez was last and out of the reckoning at the end of lap 1, but he produced a drive full of character and skill as he made his way through the field, being in the right place at the right time when misfortune hit the Mercedes duo. He has done more than one can ask to warrant a drive in 2021, yet his career remains in limbo. The cries for a top seat grow louder; hopefully, Perez wouldn't have to wait for long. However, he can bask in the glory and the honour of being a Grand Prix winner. Stroll had another strong weekend, taking up the final podium spot, stopping only once like Ocon in the race. 



Racing Point had two eventful weekends; from suffering a Double DNF ( with Stroll getting inverted at the race restart and Perez suffering from an MGU-K failure while running in 3rd ) to scoring their first-ever win and double podium a weekend later. A complete change of fortunes for the Silverstone-based outfit. The team was short on parts to build two race cars, and parts got flown in on Thursday evening, such were the challenges faced by Racing Point! 



The final race of the season at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit beckons. Will we see a young protegee on the top step of the podium or will the seasoned campaigner make a return in time? 



Time will tell! 

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1623018 2020-11-30T17:56:49Z 2020-12-01T08:11:38Z A Tribute to the Heroes of Formula 1!

F1 is the pinnacle of Motorsport. Every racer dreams of being in the sport and winning races and championships, but only a few make it to the zenith. The drivers in F1 get the fastest machines on the planet, race in multiple locations across the globe getting the love of scores of fans. Life in the sport, as thrilling as it may be, comes with its fair share of dangers.



Fatalities in F1 were a common occurrence up until the 1990s, and the sport lost many talented racers in their prime. Sir Jackie Stewart was a crusader for safety during the 60s and the 70s. Ayrton Senna's untimely death at Imola in 1994 was a big wakeup call. The Triple World Champion had been an advocate of improving the safety standards, and the onus was on the FIA and the FOM to deliver, and step up they did; with Professor Sid Watkins, Charlie Whiting, Herbie Blash and many others taking drastic steps in this regard.



F1, the pioneer in innovation and technology, was setting new benchmarks with each passing year, but disaster struck the sport in 2014. Jules Bianchi, Ferrari protegee, lost his life due to the injuries sustained from a heart-wrenching accident with a tractor crane at the Japanese GP. 



The governing bodies had done so much and yet come up short. The steps taken to mitigate such incidents began with the introduction of Virtual Safety Car periods ( in double yellow flag conditions ) and the HALO System. HALO is a slingshot shape piece, made of titanium, that sits over a driver's cockpit to protect the driver from flying debris. It was capable of bearing a load of 12 tonnes, which was the equivalent weight of a London Double Decker Bus. Prototypes got tested, and the drivers raised the issues of visibility and ease of ingress and egress from the car. 



Nevertheless, the HALO got formally introduced in F1 in the 2018 season, making its way to the feeder series and other open-cockpit series across the world.  It's effectiveness came to the fore at the 2018 Belgian GP. Charles Leclerc, the Sauber F1 driver, was part of a first turn pile-up and narrowly escaped injury when Alonso's McLaren went over his cockpit, the HALO acting as the barrier. The system grabbed headlines again when Hulkenberg's car got flipped by Grosjean on the opening lap of the 2018 Abu Dhabi GP. His Renault caught fire, but the marshalls were quick to put the flames out and get Hulkenberg safely extricated. The absence of the HALO could have complicated matters. 



The technological advances, combined with several complex electronic systems onboard ( an F1 car ), pose an unprecedented challenge with regards to safety. The FIA are relentless in their efforts to make racing as safe as it can be by running through several ( possible and sometimes unthinkable ) scenarios to ensure the aversion of a tragedy. Man and machine get put through the rigours throughout the season. Everything is under constant review, from marshalling procedures, barriers, run-off areas, track & tarmac quality to the testing of the fire suits, gloves, boots that a driver would wear. Compliance with the safety standards of the FIA is mandatory, and there can be no compromise.



However, there comes a day when the systems in place get tested to the hilt in real-world conditions. 29th November 2020 was once such day.



The Bahrain Grand Prix got underway, and the FIA Medical Car was following the twenty racers to complete a lap as per Standard Operating Procedure. Alan van der Merwe and Dr Ian Roberts were on board, and as they made their way through the first couple of turns, they discovered a car in the barriers, split in half, with flames billowing into the night sky. Mr Merwe and Dr Roberts immediately swung into action, along with the marshalls who were fighting the fire with extinguishers, drawing near to the car to extricate the driver stuck inside. 

Dr Ian Roberts saw Grosjean emerge from the inferno and immediately pulled the Frenchman away from danger. Alan van der Merwe didn't waste a moment to douse the flame on Grosjean's race suit with the extinguisher he had. The Medical Delegates carried an injured Grosjean away to administer first aid, then stretchered him to the medical centre, before airlifting him to the military hospital in Manama. Their action and response was nothing short of heroic, but also the result of a mentality of saving another man's life in the face of overwhelming circumstances. They admitted that they had never been in such a situation before, but they emerged unscathed. 



Grosjean had smashed into the guardrails at high speed, a 52G crash, and the car had split into half from the impact. The Survival Cell in which the driver is seated was intact, while the HALO had taken the brunt of the guardrails when they got bent. One can only imagine the complications in the absence of the HALO. Grosjean's suit was capable of resisting the flames for 20 seconds, and the time was enough for him to unstrap himself and clamber out to safety. The HANS Device, the seatbelts, the HALO, the Survival Cell had served their purpose. The driver survived!


Kudos to the fitness of Grosjean, both mental and physical, to be conscious after a high G accident and have the presence of mind to react quickly in the face of adversity. The human instinct for survival took over. 



Kudos to the marshalls who rushed to the scene, equipped with extinguishers, directing the flames away as the driver climbed out of the cockpit. Finally, kudos to the men at the helm, people like Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Michael Masi, and so many others who have taken steps to make the racing as safe as it can be.



We, as fans, tend to forget the risks that a racing car driver takes whenever he or she takes the wheel. Yes, they know its dangerous, yes, they love doing it, yes, it's their job. They have made unbelievable sacrifices along the way, and that is what sets them apart. They love what they do and are willing to give their all for it. 


Racers deserve respect, irrespective of where a fan's loyalties or allegiances lie. If there were no racers, there wouldn't be an F1 ( or any other series ), and fans would never exist! 



Thankfully, Grosjean lived to drive another day and is recovering well in the hospital ( as per the latest update received ) from his bruises and burns, and fortunately, no internal injury!


The list is long, but today we are thankful for the efforts put into safety since the inception of the sport by those who purposed to keep our heroes safe while they gave us myriad reasons to smile and celebrate and become the icons they are.


Today we salute those Heroes and are indebted to those who are the flagbearers of Safety in the Sport!



Thank you to the pioneers of safety in F1 - Sir Jackie Stewart, Professor Sid Watkins, Ayrton Senna, Charlie Whiting, Herbie Blash, Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Michael Masi, Bernd Maylander, Alan van der Merwe, Dr Ian Roberts, the FIA, The FOM, the medical teams, the marshalls and to so many others!



Thank You!

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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1622150 2020-11-30T12:33:32Z 2020-11-30T13:01:30Z 2020 Bahrain GP Race Recap : Halo, the Lifesaver & Safety, the Real Winner!

The 2020 F1 Season drew to its conclusion with another triple-header, this time in the Middle-East. The Bahrain International Circuit was the venue for the first of these with the traditional Grand Prix layout. 


The weekend also saw the return of Formula 2, a feeder series lower than F1 featuring contenders like Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott, Christian Lundgaard, Yuki Tsunoda and Robert Schwartzman. 


Bahrain, the first twilight race of the year, is a power-based circuit, and Mercedes powered cars have dominated races in the past. 

Hamilton and Mercedes were the Champions of 2020, but a lot was at stake, be it for P2 in the Drivers' Championship or 3rd in the Constructors'. 


Bottas hoped to finish the remainder of 2020 on a high and carry the momentum into 2021. Ferrari was back in the fight for 3rd in the Constructors' and could leapfrog Renault with another strong result. A seat at Red Bull in 2021 was still up for grabs, and Albon had another weekend to prove his worthiness. 


How did the teams and drivers fare in the desert? Time for a quick recap of the weekend!



Practice :


Track temperatures were lower than those in April, the usual race month, so teams needed to re-learn and change their setups during the practice sessions.


Pirelli had brought in their 2021 tyre compounds for the teams to test in Practice and give feedback for further development. Running the tyre compound was optional in FP1 but mandatory in FP2. Teams opted to run aero rakes and extra sensors to gather data as well.


Roy Nissany and Kubica, the reserve drivers, got the nod to take the wheels of Williams and Alfa Romeo in FP1. Grosjean suffered a big spin at turn three and damaged his tyres in the process. Turn ten had become a handful for Bottas who suffered from lock-ups throughout the session. Verstappen was another driver to suffer from a spin, but at the final turn. 

Hamilton set the fastest time of FP1, half a second clear of his team-mate Bottas. Perez and Sainz were 3rd and 4th, within a second of Hamilton's time, but on softer tyres. The Alpa Tauri of Gasly was 5th, ahead of the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Albon. Ocon, Stoll and Ricciardo completed the top 10.

11th and 12th were the best that the works Ferrari could do in FP1 while Kubica produced a commendable effort for Alfa Romeo in 13th. Grosjean and Magnussen were 14th and 15th for Haas, ahead of Giovinazzi in the other Alfa Romeo. Kvyat and Norris had a challenging practice with the Williams completing the rear of the field. 



The start of FP2 began with the teams trying to complete six timed laps ( as per mandate ) with the 2021 Tyre Compounds made by Pirelli. Mercedes had stated that they would utilize the remainder of the year for the development of its 2020 contender and Hamilton and Bottas did more laps than anyone else on the prototype tyres. It wasn't smooth sailing for everyone though with Gasly getting stuck behind Bottas on his flying lap, much to the former's displeasure and Verstappen having a close call with Perez. 

Leclerc had an off-track moment on the final turn but was able to continue. Albon, however, wasn't as fortunate as he ended up losing the rear of the car in the run-off at the final turn, hitting the barriers and smashing up the back of his car. It would be a long night for the mechanics to make the car track-worthy again. The session got Red Flagged to extricate the stricken RB 16. Another stoppage followed shortly after, this time due to the presence of a dog on track! 

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest at the end of FP2, three and a half tenths clear of Verstappen and Bottas. Perez, Ricciardo and Gasly completed the top 6. It was 7th for Norris in his McLaren from Stroll, Kvyat and Albon. 

Ocon was 11th in the other Renault with Sainz splitting the Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc. Giovinazzi was ahead of Magnussen and team-mate Raikkonen while Latifi finished ahead of Grosjean and Russell to complete the rear of the field. 



The teams needed to gather more data in the final practice session with Red Bull looking closer to the Mercedes in the fight for pole. The midfield battle would intensify on Saturday while Ferrari needed to find more pace to make it into the top 10. 



The final practice session ( FP3 ) before Qualifying saw Verstappen top the timesheets despite a flapping rear wing ( DRS issue ). The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas set the 2nd and 3rd fastest time respectively, the former suffering an electrical issue towards the end of the session. Albon, in the other Red Bull, was 4th with Sainz and Gasly completing the top 6. Norris, Kvyat and the two Racing Points made it into the top 10, closely followed by the two Renaults. Only two-tenths of a second separated the eight drivers. Giovinazzi split the Ferrari drivers with Russell ahead of the two Haas cars, Raikkonen and Latifi. 

Mercedes and Red Bull seemed to be locked in a battle for the front two rows with Hamilton and Verstappen having the upper hand over their team-mates. The midfield battle was close as ever, and Qualifying would be all about fine-margins. 



Qualifying :


The start of Q1 was sedate with Russell and Verstappen the only drivers on track. Russell aborted his lap after a mistake in the second sector. Everyone was out of the pits with 10 minutes remaining of Q1. Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Sainz and Perez were the top 6 at the end of the first runs with Russell, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Latifi in the drop zone. Leclerc was the driver on the cusp of elimination; the Monegasque getting stuck in traffic on his flying lap. Barring Stroll, the rest of the field had set their representative lap times on the soft tyres. 

Verstappen, Gasly, Sainz and Ocon decided to gamble by staying in the pits while the rest of the field went out on their second runs with new soft tyres. The track was evolving, and the lap times improved for everyone. 

There was a change in the top 6 with Stroll and Albon improving to 2nd and 3rd respectively. Russell was into Q2 for Williams for the 9th time in 2020 with the 14th fastest time. Norris scraped through for McLaren in 15th, but Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Grosjean and Latifi got eliminated.



The soft tyres didn't seem to have the endurance for the race, and except for the Alpha Tauris and Russell ( who stayed in the pits ), everyone else chose the medium tyres for their first runs of Q2. As the drivers began their flying laps, Sainz suffered a spin at turn one which brought out the double yellow flags. The Spaniard was unable to get going again, and the session got Red Flagged with 9 minutes remaining on the clock. McLaren later discovered that the car had suffered a rear brake failure. The session restarted with the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers along with Perez and Norris exiting the pits on medium tyres with the rest choosing to stay put. Hamilton went the quickest with Verstappen splitting the Mercedes followed by Albon, Norris and Perez. Albon had run wide on the final turn and lost a considerable amount of time. It seemed that the Thai driver would have to go out again to sure up his chances of getting into Q3. 

Ocon was the first of the remaining drivers to head out on track for his run in Q2. Ocon set the 7th fastest time, and Red Bull deemed it necessary for Albon to head out again, this time on soft tyres. Norris followed suit. However, the chasing pack weren't able to challenge the times set by them, and the duo aborted their laps to ensure that they start the race on the medium tyres. Ricciardo produced a stellar lap to get into the top 6 while the Ferraris failed to get out of Q2.

The drivers that made it into Q3 were Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Albon, Norris, Perez, Ocon, Kvyat and Gasly. Those eliminated were Vettel, Leclerc, Stroll, Russell and Sainz.

The biggest shock was Stroll, who became the victim of an error made by the team. A tyre mix-up meant that the Canadian had set his fastest lap on a used set of medium tyres! Nevertheless, he would have a free choice on Sunday and could salvage a result. 



It was time for the final shootout, and everyone was on a fresh set of soft tyres. Hamilton carried his momentum into Q3 and was on provisional pole from Verstappen and Bottas. Perez was 4th with Ocon and Gasly completing the top 6. Albon was 7th in the other Red Bull with Norris getting ahead of Kvyat and Ricciardo ( who made an error ) at the end of the first runs. 

The drivers returned to the pits to refuel, regroup and explore the areas where they could go faster. The battle for pole resumed in the final minutes of Q3. Hamilton and Bottas were setting scorching sector times, but it was Hamilton who got the better of his team-mate again. It was a track record for the Briton with Bottas finishing 2nd, three-tenths adrift. Verstappen could only manage 3rd while Albon improved to 4th completing an all Red Bull 2nd row. It was another stellar lap by Perez which saw him qualify 5th ahead of Ricciardo who pipped his team-mate, Ocon, to 6th by two-thousands of a second! Norris split the two Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Kvyat. 



Hamilton continued his dominance in 2020 with the 98th Pole Position of his career and Mercedes bagging a front-row lockout for the 11th time this season! Bottas had struggled over the past two days and needed to produce something special to emerge victorious on race day. Verstappen did all he could to challenge the Mercedes but was unable to make it to the front row. However, he had the company of his team-mate, and Red Bull could fight on Sunday with both their cars on the sharp end of the grid.

Only four-tenths of a second separated 4th from 10th and Sunday promised to be a monumental duel between the midfield teams.

Perez continued to impress with his performances, and the audition for a 2021 seat continued. The Renault drivers had done their best on Saturday and had a great chance of bringing home a strong result for the team on Sunday. Alpha Tauri was in the thick of the midfield battle and could close the gap to Ferrari in 6th. McLaren and Racing Point should have had both cars in the top 10, but a brake failure and a tyre gaffe cost them dearly. It was a disappointing Saturday for Ferrari, but they seemed to have the pace for the race. Russell brought joy to the Williams by making it into Q2 and hoped to bag his first points of 2020. Sainz's race seemed compromised after the brake failure which had destroyed a medium set of tyres. 

Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 were off the pace the entire weekend, and their drivers seemed destined for a long Sunday evening.



Race :


C2, C3 and C4 were the tyres available for the race, and C4 ( the softest ) seemed to be lacking the endurance of completing a sizeable stint. However, Sainz had no option but to start on the soft tyres due to his brake failure in Qualifying which destroyed a set of mediums. Leclerc, Grosjean and Latifi chose to start on the hard tyres while the rest of the field opted for the mediums.


The race got underway, and it was a clean start for Hamilton. Bottas got bogged down and ended up losing places into the first couple of turns. The Finn was down to 6th with Verstappen, Perez, Albon and Ricciardo getting the better of him. Meanwhile, further down the field, Norris tangled with Gasly and Ocon and damaged his front wing. Stroll and Raikkonen ran wide at turn three while the cars fought for positions in the midfield. However, disaster struck near turn 4. Grosjean's Haas got hit by flying debris from Stroll's car when the Frenchman tried to switch lines aggressively. The switch resulted in the rear right wheel of his car making contact with the left front of Kvyat's. Grosjean was a passenger as he rammed into the guardrails at high speed, the car splitting in half and bursting into flames!


The race got Red Flagged immediately as the marshalls, and the Medical Car gathered at the scene of the accident and tried to put out the flames. Miraculously, Grosjean clambered out of the inferno as the Medical Team of Alan van de Merwe, and Dr Ian Roberts offered their assistance. Replays showed that the "survival cell" was the only thing that survived, and it was the Halo that saved Grosjean from a life-threatening head injury. He lost a boot in the process and was under a lot of duress, so had to be stretchered off. He received treatment at the medical centre before being airlifted for further tests. He received bruises and burns to his hands and knees beside a suspected broken rib. 



The cars returned to the pits, and there was collective applause in the pit lane on seeing Grosjean clamber out of his stricken car. The FIA announced a stoppage of 45 minutes as repair work got carried out. The FIA replaced the damaged guardrails with concrete blocks.



Vettel and Norris' cars underwent repairs under the watchful eyes of the FIA Technical Delegate. The Race Director announced that the session would restart at 18:35 hrs local time, after a stoppage of almost 75 minutes. The grid got reshuffled as the cars exited the pits behind the Safety Car for the formation lap. The reshuffle resulted in Bottas gaining two places before the restart. There was also a change in the tyre choices with Kvyat joining Sainz on the soft tyres and Gasly, Vettel and Magnussen switching to the hard tyres. The rest of the drivers persisted with the mediums.



It was a standing start, and as soon as the five red lights went out, Hamilton was quick off the line and got a clean getaway. Verstappen was slow off the blocks and had to fend off a challenge by Perez into turn 1. Meanwhile, Bottas tried to pressure Perez, but the Mexican held onto third. Ricciardo had a poor start and was down in 9th. The Alfa Romeo team-mates sparred at the restart, and Raikkonen suffered damage to his front wing. The Finn was up to P13 while Giovinazzi lost places and ended up in 17th. Vettel was unhappy with Leclerc for not honouring the pre-race agreement, complaining about the lack of racing room from his team-mate. 


The drivers had not completed a full lap, and the Safety Car got deployed! Stroll's Racing Point was upside down and fortunately, the Canadian was ok and crawled out of his car. Replays showed that Kvyat had tried to make an overtake, but Stroll rapidly shut the door on him, which resulted in the coming together. The incident got investigated by the stewards, and Kvyat incurred a 10 seconds time penalty. Vettel had to take avoiding action and slammed on the brakes, getting relegated to 15th in the process. Magnussen ended up hitting Vettel from behind which damaged his Haas' front wing.


Bottas' race got worse when Mercedes informed him about a slow puncture which forced him to pit on lap 5. He rejoined in 16th on the hard tyres. Magnussen pitted for a new front wing and hard tyres, rejoining in 18th and last ( lap 7 ). 


The Safety Car returned to pits at the end of lap 8, and Hamilton made another flawless start. There was a lot of racing happening behind him with Leclerc challenging Ocon for 6th, but the Frenchman put up a stoic defence. Russell got past Latifi for 13th while Sainz got his soft tyres up to temperature quickly, overtaking Ricciardo for 8th. Russell then relegated Raikkonen to 13th while Hamilton started to pull away from Verstappen at the front.  


DRS got enabled on lap 11, and Leclerc lost two positions on lap 12 to Sainz and Ricciardo. Vettel, in the other Ferrari, also went backwards with Bottas, Giovinazzi and Magnussen relegating him to 18th. Vettel communicated to the team that the car felt undrivable while Leclerc lost 9th to Gasly on lap 13. It was a race of recovery for Bottas who continued his charge up the field with an overtake on Latifi for 14th, and compatriot Raikkonen the next target. Despite a damaged front wing which was sparking on the straights, Raikkonen was able to hold off Bottas until his pit stop on lap 18. Ricciardo pitted for the hard tyres ( lap 17 ), rejoining in 18th and last. Ocon, Kvyat and Raikkonen followed suit a lap later, with Kvyat serving his ten seconds during the pit stop and Raikkonen getting a front wing change. Ocon switched to the mediums while Kvyat and Raikkonen emerged with new hard tyres. 


Ocon overtook Vettel for 14th on lap 19 while Norris switched to the medium tyres, rejoining in 10th. Hamilton and Albon also switched to the medium tyres after pitting on lap 20, rejoining in 3rd and 7th respectively. The Renault drivers were recovering the positions lost after their pit stops with Ocon getting past Magnussen and Ricciardo overtaking Giovinazzi and Latifi. Verstappen relinquished the lead on lap 21 when he pitted for the hard tyres with Perez doing likewise, rejoining in 5th. There were more pit stops on lap 21 with Russell and Giovinazzi getting a new set of hard tyres and Vettel switching to the mediums. 


Sainz had done a 22 laps stint on the soft tyres, a commendable job with regards to prolonging the life of the C4 compound. He switched to the medium tyres, rejoining in 11th behind the Renault duo. Albon got past Leclerc for 5th while Latifi pitted for medium tyres, rejoining last. Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race, reducing the gap to Hamilton to 4.5 seconds as he tried to go aggressive with his strategy ( lap 23 ). 


Gasly ( 3rd ) and Leclerc ( 6th ) were the only drivers yet to pit, and the duo was losing a lot of time. Gasly lost two places to Perez and Albon in the space of two laps while Leclerc switched to the hard tyres, rejoining in 12th. Norris overtook Bottas for 6th on lap 25 while Leclerc overtook Magnussen for 11th. Gasly finally pitted on lap 27, followed by Bottas switching to the hards and medium tyres respectively. 


Renault was contemplating a position swap between Ricciardo and Ocon when Sainz relegated Ricciardo to 7th and Ocon to 6th. Bottas, who rejoined in 14th, got past Kvyat, Russell and Magnussen and was up to 11th. Raikkonen had floor damage, and Alfa Romeo performed a position swap with Giovinazzi ( lap 29 )while Renault did the same with Ricciardo and Ocon ( lap 30 ). Vettel overtook Raikkonen for 15th while Bottas got back into the points with a pass on Leclerc. 


Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Albon, Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Ocon, Gasly and Bottas were the top 10 on lap 34.


Verstappen, Albon and Kvyat pitted for hard tyres on lap 35, but a long stop for Verstappen hurt his strategy. Further down the field, Ocon pitted as well rejoining in 12th. Hamilton pitted a lap later, switched to the hards and extended his lead at the front. Meanwhile, Ocon got past Russell for 11th. The window for the second round of pit stops had begun with Perez and Ricciardo getting new hard tyres, and rejoining in 5th and 11th respectively. Unfortunately for Ricciardo, the undercut allowed Ocon to get past him, and the Australian had to complete an overtake on track to reclaim track position. Sainz lost 4th to Perez while Norris and Bottas pitted for the hard tyres. Albon wasted no time in relegating Sainz to 5th on lap 39, and the latter peeled into the pits for his final stop of the day. 


Further down the field, Russell and Vettel pitted for the medium and hard tyres, respectively ( lap 41 ). Leclerc, who was due for a stop, tried to fend off a challenge by Sainz but was unable to do so, losing 7th in the process and pitting immediately after for hard tyres. He got past Giovinazzi for 11th on lap 43. Magnussen was the driver going backwards and lost three places to Vettel, Latifi and Raikkonen while Norris got past Gasly for 5th. 


Verstappen pitted again on lap 47, this time for mediums. The Dutchman had a free pit stop and intended to bag the point for the fastest lap. Sainz was closing the gap to Gasly in the battle for 6th while Kvyat got past Giovinazzi for 12th and Bottas overtook Ocon for 9th. Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race on lap 49, bagging the extra point that comes with it. Gasly was losing traction out of the corners due to his worn-out tyres. The Frenchman had pitted only once, and the team wanted him to go till the end. He asked for more engine power to defend from Sainz who had closed up to his gearbox, but Gasly's defence was shortlived as Sainz got past for 6th on lap 52. 


The field was a bit spread out after that, and the only real battle was for 8th between Ricciardo and Bottas. However, disaster struck Perez on lap 54. The Racing Point driver had smoke billowing out of the back of his car, but he kept driving. Eventually, the engine gave up, and he got forced to pull to the side of the track, the rear of his car catching fire. The Safety Car got deployed as a result, and Albon got promoted to 3rd! The marshalls tried to put out the flames, and one of them ran across the track just ahead of Norris. It was heartbreak for Racing Point which suffered a double DNF, and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer cutting a solitary figure on the pit wall. 


Mercedes informed Bottas of a "possible rear right puncture while Magnussen and Giovinazzi pitted for the soft tyres. 


Racing didn't resume, and the Safety Car peeled into the pits as Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and the 98th win of his career. Verstappen and Albon were 2nd and 3rd for Red Bull, the team completing a double podium for the first time since the Japanese GP in 2017. Norris and Sainz were 4th & 5th for McLaren followed by Gasly who continued to impress in his Alpha Tauri. P7 was the best that Ricciardo could achieve, but managed to hold off a charge from Bottas. Ocon and Leclerc bagged the final points-scoring positions. 


Kvyat and Russell finished just outside the points, the latter yet to score points in 2020. Vettel was 13th in the other Ferrari followed by Latifi and Raikkonen who was able to jump Giovinazzi and Magnussen due to their pit stops under the Safety Car.




Hamilton had won for the 4th time in Bahrain and remained in top gear going into the final two rounds of the season. Debris got lodged into Bottas' car resulting in a performance loss, and the Finn has been a victim of a lot of misfortune. He, however, remains 2nd in the Championship.  Verstappen pushed hard, but P2 was the best that he could achieve along with Albon, who inherited P3  from Perez's retirement. McLaren would be ecstatic with the result they achieved; Norris and Sainz were flawless, and the team had scored a big haul of points against their midfield rivals. Alpha Tauri outscored Ferrari, with Gasly scoring more points than Leclerc. Kvyat, in the sister car, expressed his displeasure with the penalty dished out to him. The uncertainty and late calls by cost Renault a better result, but "something is better than nothing" as the Enstone-based outfit reduces the deficit to Racing Point to 10 points. It was heartbreak for Racing Point who were so near yet so far with Perez's retirement while running in 3rd, and Stroll getting taken out at the start of the race by Kvyat. This result could prove pivotal in the fight for 3rd as McLaren surged past them and now hold a 17 point lead. 


Ferrari, a team that has enjoyed much success in Bahrain could only bag a point, a humbling experience for the most successful team on the grid. Vettel's travails with the 2020 car continued as the German failed to get past the Williams of Russell. Williams showed an improvement, but points still eluded them. Alfa Romeo was off the pace the entire weekend while Haas would have had Grosjean's crash in the back of their minds the whole race.



Everyone was relieved to see Grosjean escape with bruises and burns and no internal damage ( as per the latest update ) in what was a horrific crash. He was able to climb out of the fiery wreckage, and this was a testament to the levels of safety the sport had achieved. The incidents involving Stroll and Perez were equally heart-stopping. The Halo had saved Grosjean from a life-threatening crash, and the timely intervention by the marshalls and the FIA Medical Delegates saved him from more grievous injuries. 


The safety teams and Grosjean himself were the heroes and the real victors at the end of the day!



Racing resumes in less than a week at the same venue, on a new layout along the "Outer Loop". Hopefully, the FIA would have enough time to assess and deploy even better safety measures.
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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1616623 2020-11-15T21:51:59Z 2020-11-15T21:52:00Z 2020 Turkish GP Race Recap : Win Number 94, Title Number 7, but no stroll in the Park!

The Istanbul Park Circuit became the venue for Round 14 of the 2020 F1 Season. Turkey, which had last hosted an F1 race in 2011, made an unlikely return to the sport in the pandemic-hit season. The Hermann Tilke designed circuit was another to run in an anti-clockwise direction and had gone through a re-surfacing procedure a fortnight before the F1 weekend. The new tarmac made it an added challenge for those who had never raced here before.


The season was nearing its end, and reliability becomes a concern for teams and drivers. Allocations get exceeded leading to penalties, and Russell was one such driver to incur a power-unit grid penalty.

 

The Williams team acting team principal Simon Roberts tested positive for COVID-19 and had to miss the race weekend. 


Hamilton hoped to seal the Drivers' Title for the 7th time after his team bagged the Constructors' crown a fortnight earlier. The midfield battle was intense as ever while Alpha Tauri was closing in on Ferrari for 6th in the Constructors' Standings. 


Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 celebrated 500 races in F1 while it was the 300th race weekend for Red Bull Racing. 


Time for a quick recap of the Turkish GP Weekend.



Practice :


Low Temperatures with fresh tarmac that was wet from the rain overnight greeted drivers for the start of FP1 on Friday morning. The drivers found conditions to be extremely difficult, the hard compound tyres complicating matters further. The bollard at the pit entry got taken out by Leclerc which Red Flagged the session for a brief period. Turns 1 and 14 were the culprits for multiple lap times deletion as drivers tried to explore different racing lines and limits of their cars. It was a tricky and challenging Friday morning with many drivers suffering from spins and some reporting that it felt like "driving on ice". Sainz had electrical issues on his McLaren and retired with more than an hour of running left in FP1. 

The Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Albon topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 followed by Leclerc, Gasly and Vettel. Norris, who celebrated his 21st birthday, was P7 for McLaren followed by Giovinazzi, Bottas and Ocon. Latifi set the 11th fastest time in his Williams, the Canadian enjoying the slippery conditions. The Racing Point cars were 12th and 13th, followed by Grosjean and Hamilton, who was 5 seconds adrift of the fastest time of FP1. The Briton had opted to sit out the majority of FP1. It was 16th for Raikkonen, the race winner of the inaugural Turkish GP in 2005 while Magnussen was 17th in the other Haas car. Ricciardo could manage only the 18th fastest time followed by Sainz and Russell.



The drivers had persisted with the medium and hard compounds for the entirety of FP1, and it was time to test the soft tyres in FP2. Drivers hoped to find more grip with higher ambient temperatures and ( some ) track evolution ( due to the running earlier ). However, the trend of spins due to lack of grip continued in FP2. Drivers also complained about the tyre-life of soft tyres, most complaining about graining after clocking up a few miles. Nevertheless, Leclerc and Kvyat managed to do 45 and 43 rounds of the track respectively. 

Verstappen was fastest again in FP2, having gone 7 seconds faster than his best time in FP1. Leclerc was P2 in his Ferrari followed by Bottas and Hamilton. Albon was 5th in the other Red Bull, and Kvyat and Gasly made it 4 Honda-powered cars in the top 7. Vettel was 8th in the other Ferrari with Stroll making it into the top 10 with the 9th fastest time followed by Norris in the McLaren. Less than a second covered P11 from P16 with Perez leading the second half of the field from Ocon and Giovinazzi. Sainz, Ricciardo and Raikkonen were 14th, 15th and 16th with Russell and Latifi split by the Haas cars at the back of the field. 



Friday had been a "baptism by fire" for almost all drivers. The fastest time on Friday was 4 seconds slower than the lap record set in 2005 by Juan Pablo Montoya. The track was slippery, and the lack of support races meant that it wasn't getting "rubbered in". The organisers deployed some road cars to lay extra rubber overnight, but the plan failed when the rain hit the circuit again.  


Saturday promised to be equally challenging with teams having to get their setups right in FP3 and Qualifying.  



FP3 got underway with the risk of rain at 90%, and the drivers opted for intermediate tyres. However, the grip levels were low, and Perez suffered a spin while Leclerc had a coming together with Ocon at turn 12. The rain intensified, and more drivers suffered from spins. The decision to switch to full Wet tyres didn't improve matters, and the drivers decided to return to their garages as the session timer ran down. The weather forecast for Qualifying was no different, and the teams had to make the tough call of sending their drivers out ( once the conditions improved ) or stay put to avoid incidents and possible repairs. It was a close call for Giovinazzi who brushed the barriers but escaped only with endplate damage on his front wing.

Verstappen was once again fastest at the end of FP3 with Leclerc splitting the Red Bulls in 2nd. Ocon, Norris and Vettel completed the top 6, more than 5 seconds adrift of Verstappen's time. Vettel managed to do 14 laps, the most by any driver in the session. It was a surprise to see Magnussen in 9th, the Dane splitting the Racing Point cars with his Haas. The only driver to have set his best lap on wet tyres was Ricciardo in 11th followed by Sainz and Giovinazzi. Grosjean was 15th in the other Haas with Raikkonen and Kvyat 16th and 17th respectively. The Williams duo and Hamilton did installation laps but failed to set a representative lap time.



Qualifying :


There was a drizzle in the air, and the risk of a deluge threatened overhead. The teams sent their drivers fueled for multiple laps at the start of Q1. The majority of the field opted for the wet tyres while the Red Bulls, McLarens, Ferraris, Perez and Grosjean chose the intermediates for their first runs. Albon and Grosjean wasted no time in switching to the wet tyres at the end of their out-lap. Verstappen, on the intermediate tyres, suffered a big scare down the straight as he lost the rear of his car. Ocon, Bottas, Stroll, Hamilton, Perez and Norris were the top 6 while Raikkonen got his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 1. Leclerc, Grosjean, Gasly, Russell, Latifi were in the drop zone as the rain intensified. Verstappen was on the cusp of elimination and ditched his intermediate tyres for full wets. However, the track conditions were getting tougher with each passing minute, and many drivers suffered spins. Eventually, the stewards decided to red flag Q1 until the conditions improved. Drivers also complained about visibility and condensation issues on their visors.

The downpour stopped, and the FIA deployed track sweepers to remove standing water from the track. Bernd Maylander, the Safety Car driver, did a couple of laps to recheck track conditions and the session resumed after a stoppage of 45 minutes. The two Red Bulls, Ferraris and Raikkonen were the first ones out as soon as the pitlane light went green. Raikkonen, who was second in this queue of cars, suffered a spin on the out-lap and lost track position to the Ferrari of Leclerc. Everyone was out of the pits with 5 minutes left on the clock. Leclerc ran wide at turn one on his flying lap while Grosjean got beached in the gravel at the same turn a few seconds later. The session got Red Flagged again!

There was a scramble in the garages with only three and a half minutes left when the light went green again. Kvyat was the next driver to suffer a spin but managed to carry on. Verstappen produced a stellar lap to set the fastest time at the end of Q1. Albon, Raikkonen, Vettel, Leclerc and Gasly completed the top 6. Hamilton set only the 14th quickest time but made it into Q2. Latifi went off at turn eight and got stuck in the gravel which brought out the double yellow flags. Those behind him came under investigation for ignoring the flags. 

Magnussen, Kyvat, Russell, Grosjean and Latifi got eliminated at the end of Q1.

Sainz had allegedly impeded Perez during Q1, and the stewards decided to investigate the incident.

The stewards decided to investigate all drivers who had set their fastest laps under yellow flag conditions post the end of Qualifying.  



Q2 got underway, and the McLaren drivers made a bold decision to put on intermediates while the rest of the field persisted with the wet tyres. Norris had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at turn six, but lap times kept improving as more rubber got laid on the track. Stroll, Albon, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Perez were the top 6 halfway through the session with Perez suffering from a lap time deletion for exceeding track limits at turn 6. Vettel, Giovinazzi, Gasly, Leclerc and Sainz were in the drop zone. 

The McLaren drivers switched to the wets as well while Verstappen moved to the top of the pile followed by the Mercedes duo and Albon.  The track was evolving at a rapid rate, and the drivers had fuel till the end of the session. The Chequered Flag was out to signal the end of Q2, but a lot of drivers were still improving on their final runs. 


Verstappen, Albon, Hamilton, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Ocon, Bottas, Raikkonen, Perez and Ricciardo made it into Q3 while both the Ferraris, the McLarens and Gasly got eliminated from Qualifying.



It was time for the top-10 shootout and Perez and Ocon chose the intermediate tyres. Verstappen was on the charge again, going 4 seconds clear of Bottas, Albon and Hamilton. However, his place at the top got usurped by Perez, the Mexican spinning on his second flying lap though. Verstappen was quick to respond and set the overall fastest times in sectors 1 and 2. However, Red Bull made a debatable call of calling him into the pits to switch to the intermediate tyres. Stroll, Giovinazzi and the Mercedes duo were the next to switch to intermediates for the final minutes of the session. Verstappen exited the pits but got stuck behind Raikkonen who was continuing his run on the wet tyres. 

Bottas and Giovinazzi were the next to suffer from spins as the lap times kept improving. Raikkonen made a mistake on his final attempt while Perez was leading a Racing Point 1-2. Perez too made an error and couldn't improve further. Meanwhile, his team-mate found grip and bagged Pole Position! Only Verstappen remained the real challenger but failed to dethrone Stroll falling short by less than three-tenths of a second! 

It was a Racing Point 1-3 with Verstappen splitting Stroll and Perez. Albon was 4th in the other Red Bull while Ricciardo was 5th for Renault. P6 was the best that Hamilton could manage. Ocon and Raikkonen took up row 4 with Bottas and Giovinazzi completing the top 10.



Sainz incurred a three-place grid penalty for impeding Perez in Q1. The Stewards concluded that Norris hadn't slowed enough under double yellow flag conditions ( due to Latifi's incident ) and handed him a five-place grid drop. The McLaren duo would start 15th and 16th.



It was the first-ever pole position for Stroll and best-ever starting position for Perez. The team had last celebrated a pole position at the Belgium Grand Prix in 2009 ( when they were called Force India ). It was the first time that a driver, other than Hamilton and Bottas, was on pole in 2020! In a tightly contested midfield, this was Racing Point's chance to bring home a big haul of points.

A disgruntled Verstappen sat disconsolately in the pits wondering what could have been. He didn't complete his faster attempt and got stuck behind Raikkonen for two laps in the final minutes of Qualifying ( after his pit stop ). Red Bull is still the best team ( in race trim ) in changeable weather conditions, and he could turn it around come Sunday. The team was also pleased with Albon's effort who did a commendable job to qualify in 4th. 

Renault had both its cars in the top 10 and hoped to outscore Racing Point and McLaren. The Alfa Romeo Racing cars made it into Q3 for the first time this year, and another dual-points finish beckoned. It had been a challenging qualifying for the Mercedes duo, and they hoped for an incident-free race start come Sunday. Ferrari and Alpha Tauri struggled to find the right balance and were hoping for better track conditions on race day. It had been a torrid qualifying session for McLaren with both drivers copping penalties. They would need a miracle to make it into the points. The chances of a decent finish seemed bleak for the Haas and Williams drivers.



Race :


The grid got finalised only 90 minutes before the race start. Russell also incurred a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags in Q1 along with three penalty points on his license. Williams had decided to start both its cars from the pitlane, and the penalty became irrelevant.  Gasly got relegated to the back of the field after Alpha Tauri requested a full PU change on Saturday night and the stewards weren't pleased with the justification provided.


There was more drama before the start of the race when Giovinazzi spun at turn two and hit the barriers. He got stuck in the gravel and got craned out of his predicament. Meanwhile, Russell hit the wall at the pit entry and limped back to the pits. Both incidents happened on the sighting laps, but fortunately, the drivers were able to start the race after some quick repair work by their mechanics. 


Pirelli had chosen the C1, C2 and C3 compounds for the racebut the track was wet at the race start, and the need for slick tyres seemed improbable. Barring the Williams drivers, everyone else chose the wet tyres.



The five red lights went out, and it was one of the slowest starts off the line as everyone battled for grip. Verstappen got bogged down, and it was a Racing Point 1-2 with Stroll leading into turn 1. Hamilton, Ricciardo and Ocon were side-by-side into turn one, and Ricciardo's tried to take avoiding action from Hamilton on the inside which resulted in him tagging his team-mate and sending him into a spin. Bottas, a couple of car lengths behind too suffered a spin and dropped down the field. The Finn suffered another spin on the opening lap ( at turn 16 ), eventually ending up in 18th. Hamilton was P3, and Vettel made up seven places at the start to go P4! Hamilton was pushing hard and missed his braking point at turn 6. The Briton had to go around the bollard, and Vettel got promoted to 3rd on the opening lap! Hamilton lost two more positions to the Red Bulls ending up in 6th at the end of the opening lap.


Ocon had flat-spotted his tyres and pitted on lap 2 for another set, rejoining in 20th. Stroll was the fastest driver on track on lap 3 with Stroll, Perez, Vettel, Verstappen, Albon, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Sainz and Magnussen completing the top 10. 


Stroll continued to bang in fastest laps as he extended his lead to 6 seconds. Meanwhile, Sainz got past Raikkonen for P8 on lap 6. Perez, who was 2nd, finally got his tyres up to working temperatures and began eating into his team-mate's lead at the front. Stroll had notified the team that the track was drying and Leclerc was the first one to switch to intermediates on lap 7, rejoining in 19th. Bottas followed suit while Hamilton became the fastest man on track on lap 8. The switch to intermediates proved right as Leclerc went about setting purple sectors. There was a slew of pit stops which followed, with Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Kvyat, Giovinazzi and Grosjean switching to the intermediate tyres a lap later. 


Stroll pitted from the lead on lap 10 for a set of intermediate tyres, rejoining in 4th while Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race. Leclerc got past Russell for P12 while Norris pitted for intermediates, rejoining in 16th. The pit lane remained a hive of activity with Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly and Ocon switching to the intermediates on lap 11. On the track, Leclerc got past Raikkonen for P10 and Grosjean overtook Ocon for P18. 


Verstappen expressed his desire to prolong his stint on wet tyres since he felt comfortable with the grip levels they had on offer. However, the team notified him of the lap times set by the majority of the field, instructing him to pit on lap 12. The Dutchman obeyed and rejoined in 3rd, jumping Vettel after his stop. Albon, the only driver on wet tyres, followed suit a lap later, rejoining in 6th. He lost a position to Hamilton in the process.


Raikkonen lost two more places to Russell and Bottas after a mistake on lap 13 while Kvyat went past Giovinazzi for P16. Giovinazzi stopped at turn nine a few seconds later with what seemed to be a mechanical issue. The stewards deployed the Virtual Safety Car for the extrication of the stricken Alfa Romeo. VSC lasted for a couple of laps, and when the racing resumed, Hamilton tried to make a move on Vettel only to run wide and lose 5th to Albon ( lap 16 ). Albon then got past Vettel for 4th a few corners later. Further down the field, Bottas got past Russell for P11 only to spin and get relegated to 14th. The damp conditions seemed tricky for the Finn who was trying his best to salvage a result and prolong his challenge for the title. 


Albon was the quickest driver on track on lap 17 while Norris got past Raikkonen for P12. Verstappen had closed in on Perez and was challenging him for 2nd but ran wide and did a pirouette at high speed. He lost three positions and had to pit for a new set of intermediates after flat-spotting his tyres, rejoining in 8th after his stop. The Dutchman attracted the attention of the stewards after he seemed to have crossed the white line at pit exit. However, he escaped a penalty following an investigation post-race. Albon and Leclerc were the fastest drivers on the circuit and exchanging fastest laps ( lap 19 to 21 ).


Stroll, Perez, Albon, Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Sainz, Verstappen, Leclerc and Magnussen were the top 10 at the end of lap 21.


Meanwhile, Bottas suffered yet another spin in sector one and was languishing in 17th. Hamilton was unable to overtake Vettel and started falling backwards while Norris relegated Russell to P12 ( lap 26 ). Norris then got past Magnussen and was into the points. Numerous drivers were complaining about the wear on intermediate tyres, and some moved away from the racing line to cool their tyres. The teams wanted to prolong the stint since the track wasn't ready for slick tyres yet. The exact moment of transitioning from the intermediates to the slicks could prove pivotal in this race. 


The Race Director enabled DRS on lap 29, and Gasly got past Raikkonen for P13. While the drivers and teams debated about the correct choice of tyres on this damp, slippery yet drying track, Leclerc decided to pit for a new set of intermediates on lap 31 rejoining in 9th. Raikkonen followed suit a lap later, but a slow stop cost him three positions, and he was down to 17th, the Finn going backwards after having started in the top 10. A mistake by Ricciardo allowed Sainz to move up to 6th, but the Australian immediately dived into the pits for a fresh set of intermediates. 


The battle at the front was hotting up with Perez reducing the deficit to Stroll to two seconds while Albon who was dropping back suffered a spin after losing traction into turn 4. Vettel and Sainz pitted for new intermediates on lap 34, but it was a slow stop for Vettel. The duo rejoined in 6th and 8th respectively. Gasly did likewise, rejoining in 16th after his pit stop. Red Bull decided to pit Albon on lap 35, the Thai driver rejoining in 6th while Magnussen retired from the race after a loose wheel ( after his stop ) brought him to a halt at the end of the pit lane.


Hamilton asked his team not to pit him as he tried to extend his stint on the old intermediates ( lap 35 ). Perez was now within DRS range of his team-mate when he got the call to pit on lap 36. Stroll rejoined in 4th, behind Verstappen who had pitted a few laps earlier due to his spin. Meanwhile, Hamilton got past Perez to take the lead of the race! Stroll started complaining about his tyres graining while Hamilton began to build a gap at the front. Further down the field, Gasly got past Russell for P14 on lap 37. 


Hamilton now had a 5 seconds lead at the front, and Norris set the fastest lap of the race on lap 39. Stroll, the driver who had led the race for more than half the race distance fell back into the clutches of the Ferrari drivers on lap 40. Vettel got past him for P4, but the Canadian tried to fight back, running wide in the process and losing 5th to Leclerc on the same lap! Raikkonen got past Russell for 15th as drivers started to hear on their radios that there could be more rain on the way!


Bottas suffered another spin at turn two while Grosjean had an off-track moment at turn 10. The Ferrari team-mate tussle on track led to Leclerc getting the better of Vettel on lap 41. There was further misery for Stroll when Albon relegated him to 7th and then Sainz to 8th in the space of two laps. Leclerc moved into the final podium position after Verstappen pitted for a new set of intermediates on lap 44 and rejoined in 7th ahead of Stroll. Albon lost 5th to Sainz who went on to set the fastest lap of the race on lap 45. 


Hamilton had started lapping the backmarkers, and it was his team-mate and title contender who fell a lap down on lap 46. Gasly then got past Bottas for P13 who pitted for another set of intermediate tyres on lap 48 and rejoined in 15th. The track was drying, but there were a lot of wet patches, but Hamilton and Perez soldiered on with their old intermediate tyres. Ricciardo and Norris went head to head, and Norris got past the Australian for P9. Ricciardo tried to fight back but ended up spinning ( lap 49 ). Verstappen had closed up on Albon in the battle for P6, and they were about to lap Raikkonen on lap 50 when the latter and Verstappen ended up spinning at turn 4. Albon was able to take avoiding action and got some respite from his sparring team-mate. Raikkonen made a third stop and stayed 15th while Grosjean retired from the race having suffered from spins and a coming together with Latifi.


Hamilton had run down his intermediate tyres, and they had turned into slicks, but there was still the threat of rain. Perez was in a similar boat as Hamilton, and Racing Point didn't want to give up track position. Meanwhile, Verstappen got past Albon for 6th, and Norris was setting blistering lap times in 9th. The McLaren driver caught up with Stroll and bagged P8 on lap 56. Mercedes decided to pit Hamilton on lap 56 for a "safety stop". The Briton was 25 seconds clear of Perez and would stay in the lead. However, he overruled the team's decision, opting to stay out!


The decision would prove to be a masterstroke as the rain stayed away and Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Turkish GP! The battle for P2 saw drama on the final lap. Perez ran wide, and Leclerc got past him only for the Mexican to challenge him at the end of the DRS straight. Leclerc missed his braking point and ran wide which allowed Perez to retake 2nd and Vettel to jump up into 3rd! The four-time world champion bagged his first podium of 2020! Leclerc came home in 4th followed by Sainz who wasn't too far behind. 6th was the best that Verstappen could achieve at the end of the day followed by his team-mate Albon and Norris, the man who had won the point for the fastest lap. Poleman Stroll was a distant 9th with Ricciardo coming home in 10th. 

Ocon finished 11th in the other Renault followed by the Alpha Tauris of Kvyat and Gasly. Bottas, Raikkonen and Russell were the final classified finishers.



Hamilton had done a stint of 50 laps on the intermediate tyres while Perez had clocked 48 laps on his. The duo had run down their tyres to the level of slicks and driven a stellar race, worthy of top honours! 



It was win number 94 for Hamilton, but more importantly, he had won the Drivers' World Championship for a record-equalling 7th time! He was as successful as the legendary Michael Schumacher! Overcome by emotions on parc-ferme, the Mercedes driver took a couple of minutes to take it all in as the other podium finishers came over to congratulate him. Vettel, a driver for whom Hamilton has utmost respect, was gracious and classy as ever in his wishes. 



He wasn't the favourite for victory, yet Hamilton emerged victorious with a strategy that was championship-worthy. Such was his dominance on the worn tyres that he lapped his team-mate who was languishing in the lower half of the field having spun six times in the race. Perez put in a contract winning performance ( for 2021 ), and there is no doubt that he has the racecraft and experience to perform well if he lands a drive with a top team. His 2nd place helped Racing Point build a lead of 5 points to McLaren in the battle for 3rd in the ConstructorsVettel rolled back the years and once again proved what he is capable of despite the odds stacked up against him. 



The hunger showed by Leclerc to push right till the end augurs well for Ferrari, and the Monegasque is a prized asset to have for the future. Ferrari, the hunted became the hunter and now lie 6 points shy of Renault in 5th! Sainz was consistent as ever, and Norris brought in a good haul of points for a team that looked down and out at the end of Qualifying on Saturday. Verstappen would be keen to understand what went wrong in conditions that he is known to excel in while Albon had a decent outing as he fights to keep his seat at Red Bull. Renault got only a point this weekend, but they should consider this as only a blip in form. Alpha Tauri had a tough weekend while Alfa Romeo needs to understand why they went backwards in the race. Haas had another disappointing Sunday while Williams remained stuck at the back of the pack.



The 2020 F1 Season has three races remaining, the last triple-header in the Middle-East, in a fortnight. The Championships are done and dusted, but there is still a lot at stake. Bottas conceded defeat this year but vowed to try and beat Hamilton in 2021. He must begin his charge from the remaining rounds of 2020 if he wishes to reach the summit; that is what a Rosberg did!



Bring on Bahrain! 
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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1610539 2020-11-02T06:30:41Z 2020-11-02T06:30:41Z 2020 Emilia Romagna GP Race Recap : Steamrolling the Competition, for the 7th Time!

The 2020 F1 Season has seen the return of some classic tracks. Imola, which was the venue for the San Marino Grand Prix up until 2006 made a return in 2020, this time under the guise of the Emilia Romagna GP. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is a track owned by Ferrari and one of the few circuits to run in an anti-clockwise direction. It would host a truncated F1 weekend with only one practice session on Saturday before Qualifying and the Race.  


Italy would have hosted 100 races in F1 at the end of this race besides hosting three in 2020 itself. Kudos to the country that was one of the worst-hit by the pandemic COVID-19. 


The logistical challenges associated with moving men and equipment from Portimao to Imola was the reason behind this move. 

A two-day event posed a unique challenge for the teams and drivers; they would need to compress their Qualifying and Race simulations into one session subject to reliability.

Overtaking isn't the easiest on this old school track, and race strategy could tilt the battles up and down the field.

Raikkonen was the only driver from the current grid to have driven at Imola in an F1 car.


Meanwhile, there were updates in the Drivers' Line-up for 2021. Alfa Romeo retained Raikkonen and Giovinazzi while Williams squashed all rumours by announcing that Russell and Latifi would continue with them for 2021. A podium and an unlikely win at Monza got Gasly another year at Alpha Tauri.

Alfa Romeo renewed their partnership ( as Title Sponsor ) with Sauber Engineering for another year. 



Mercedes had the chance of lifting the Constructors' Title if they outscored Red Bull by 34 pointsand Hamilton looked to extend his unassailable lead of 77 points against Bottas. Ferrari hoped for a good showing at their home track.


How did the drivers fare at this iconic circuit? Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


The solo practice session before Qualifying was a 90 minutes affair with Hamilton topping the time charts from Verstappen and Bottas. Gasly was 4th for Alpha Tauri while Leclerc bagged the 5th fastest time. The Renault drivers took up the next two spots, a second slower than Hamilton while Kvyat suffered a lock-up at turn 2, but managed to set the 8th fastest time. Albon and Stroll completed the top 10. The midfield battle was close as ever with Perez, Vettel, Grosjean and Sainz separated by half a second. Sainz and Norris set their best times on medium tyres, the latter having an incident with Magnussen while contending for track position. The Dane also had a run across the grass, but the car suffered no harm. Norris split the Alfa Romeos of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen while Magnussen split the Williams of Russell and Latifi. A brake-by-wire issue compromised Latifi's session. 




Qualifying :

There was more learning to be done by the drivers during Qualifying, and Q1 saw a fair bit of traffic on track. 13 cars exited the pits at the start of Q1 with all drivers hoping to do multiple runs. Hamilton hit the kerb on his flying lap and asked the team to check for damage. The lap times kept dropping as the track evolved with more rubber getting laid. Ricciardo was the only driver yet to set a banker lap with ten minutes left on the clock. Verstappen, Leclerc, Hamilton, Gasly, Kvyat and Norris were the top 6 with Latifi, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Bottas and Ricciardo in the drop zone. Bottas, along with Albon, had his lap time deleted due to exceeding of track limits at turn 9. Ricciardo finally set a banker lap with the 11th quickest time.

Verstappen, Gasly, Leclerc, Kvyat stayed put and didn't come out for the final minutes of Q1. Magnussen ran wide at the last corner and lost the chance of making it into Q2; Giovinazzi suffered a similar fate with a mistakes laden lap. Russell put in a stellar effort to go 14th while Stroll made it into Q2 by the skin of his teeth. Bottas went the quickest at the end of Q1 from Hamilton and Verstappen. Leclerc, Gasly and Norris completed the top 6 and those eliminated included Grosjean, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Latifi and Giovinazzi. 




Q2 got underway with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull opting for the medium tyres and the rest of the field the softs. Verstappen reported a loss of power and returned to the pits. The team quickly wheeled him into the garage to check for issues, and the culprit was a faulty spark plug. The replacement procedure required a minimum of 15 minutes, but the Red Bull mechanics tried to beat the clock in full earnest. 

Meanwhile, on track, Bottas still had the best time from Hamilton and Gasly with Ricciardo, Norris and Perez slotting in behind the trio. The medium tyres weren't suiting Albon who was in the elimination zone and suffered a spin to add insult to injury. Stroll, Russell, Vettel and Verstappen were others under threat of elimination.

Everyone switched to the soft tyres for the final run of Q2 with Verstappen still stuck in the pits. Kudos to the mechanics who beat the clock and managed to get him out in time to put in a lap. The Dutchman emerged with the medium tyres, pushed hard and didn't disappoint as he set the 6th fastest time safely getting into Q3. He would start the race on medium tyres, just like the Mercedes duo who backed out of their final flying laps ( on softs ).

Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Alpha Tauri had both their cars into Q3 along with the Renault of Ricciardo and Ferrari of Leclerc. Perez missed out on Q3 by a hundredth of a second while Stroll who had set a lap time worthy of qualification had exceeded track limits which resulted in the deletion of his time. Ocon, Vettel and Russell were the others eliminated at the end of Q2.



It was time for the final shootout ( Q3 ), and Renault released Ricciardo straight into the path of Verstappen, much to his displeasure. Hamilton stepped up and was on provisional pole at the end of the first run with Bottas only three-hundredths of a second adrift, the Mercedes duo one second clear of Verstappen in 3rd. Gasly was a commendable 4th from Leclerc and Norris with Kvyat, Ricciardo, Sainz and Albon completing the top 10 going into the final minutes of Qualifying.

It was time to put on another set of soft tyres to battle for the best spots on the grid for race day! Hamilton and Bottas were neck and neck with Hamilton going purple in sector one and Bottas in sector two. However, Bottas managed to find almost a tenth throughout the lap and snatched pole position from Hamilton! Verstappen came home in 3rd, half a second adrift. It was a stellar performance on a Saturday by Gasly who put his Alpha Tauri on row 2 for Sunday. Ricciardo and Albon took up row 3, followed by Leclerc and Kvyat. An all McLaren row 5 completed the top 10 starters for the Emilia Romagna GP. P4 to P10 were separated by half a second, a close affair indeed!



Bottas managed to dig deep and get the pole, maintaining the momentum from Q1 and Q2. He would have the best position to start his race from and hoped to reduce the deficit to Hamilton in the championship. It was the 74th front-row lockout for the Mercedes cars. Verstappen wasn't far behind, and Red Bull had a comparable race pace to fight for victory. Alpha Tauri had the measure of its midfield rivals and hoped to maximize their results come Sunday while Ricciardo showed his consistency with yet another 5th place in Qualifying. It would have been ideal to have both cars in the top 10, but Ferrari would be impressed with what Leclerc had achieved with an underperforming car. McLaren and Racing Point would be disappointed with their performances, but the latter has a free tyre choice for Sunday and could salvage some points with a more optimal strategy. Vettel was a lowly 14th, behind Russell in a Williams, his final months at Ferrari seemed to be coming to a tumultuous end. Haas and Alfa Romeo came up short but would have the chance of turning it around on the day that matters. 



Race :


Mercedes replaced the seat on Hamilton's car while mechanics were frantically working on Gasly's car on the grid. 

C2, C3 and C4 were the available compounds for the race, and except Giovinazzi, all others outside the top 10 were on medium tyres. The drivers hoped to finish the race on a one-stop strategy. 

Bottas suffered a lock-up on the formation lap, causing a small flat-spot on his front left tyre.


The five red lights illuminated and the race got underway. It was a clean start for Bottas, but Hamilton came under pressure from Verstappen and Ricciardo. Verstappen moved up into 2nd while Ricciardo slotted in behind Hamilton, having made two positions at the start. Vettel made contact with Magnussen, and the Dane got spun around with Vettel suffering damage to his endplate. The incident got flagged for investigation, but the stewards deemed it as a racing incident. The Alfa Romeo drivers were the biggest movers with Giovinazzi up by six positions and Raikkonen four. The midfield was tight, and Ocon shut the door on Stroll causing the latter to lose a big part of his front wing. The Canadian had to pit at the end of the opening lap for a new front wing and switched to the hard tyres. 


The trio at the front slowly started to pull away from the rest of the field with Hamilton and Bottas trading fastest laps. Sainz got past Norris with the help of DRS for P9 on lap 6. Hamilton was now in DRS range and pressurizing Verstappen for P2. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on the 8th lap while Alpha Tauri asked Gasly to return to the pits as they had a terminal issue, and would retire the car. The coolant leak in the radiator was the culprit, and the Frenchman had a dismal end to the race after a brilliant Saturday. Grosjean got past Latifi for P16 and pitted for hard tyres on lap 10. Giovinazzi also switched to the hard tyres, rejoining in 17th. Bottas put in another fastest lap on lap 12 while Russell was the next driver to switch to the hard tyres, rejoining in 16th ahead of Giovinazzi. Hamilton reported that his right front tyre was degrading at a rapid rate while Leclerc, Ocon and Norris pitted on lap 14 with Leclerc switching to the hard tyres and the others switching to the mediums. The story of pit stops continued with Ricciardo, Albon and Kvyat pitting a lap later for hard tyres, covering themselves from any undercuts. Ricciardo exited the pits just in front of Leclerc who went in too hot, locked up his tyres and almost rear-ended Ricciardo. 


Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz, Perez, Vettel, Raikkonen, Latifi, Magnussen and Ricciardo were the top 10 at the end of lap 17.


Kvyat and Albon contended for 12th, the duo making contact, but Albon held on. Sainz pitted for the medium tyres and rejoined in 13th ( lap 18 ) while Verstappen switched to the hard tyres, rejoining the race in 3rd ( lap 19 ). The Mercedes pit crew were ready for Bottas on lap 20 who switched to the hard tyres, conceding the lead to Hamilton. Hamilton went on to set the fastest time, requesting the team not to pit him and the team reiterating that they were extending his stint. Bottas was losing performance after he suffered floor damage on the 2nd lap from debris on the track. A part of Vettel's endplate had got lodged into the bargeboards on the left. Hamilton was setting blistering lap times as Verstappen slowly closed in on Bottas getting within DRS range. The team asked Hamilton if he would be able to extend his stint by ten more laps and the response was in affirmative.

There was a train forming up behind Magnussen with Ricciardo, Leclerc, Albon, Kvyat and Sainz on fresher tyres. 


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Vettel, Raikkonen, Latifi, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Leclerc were the top 10 on lap 27, but the order was to change soon. Ricciardo got past Magnussen for 8th on lap 28 while Leclerc followed suit despite some dogged defending by Magnussen. Perez pitted for hard tyres and rejoined in 7th, having jumped six positionsthe others getting stuck behind a slower Magnussen. Disaster struck when Ocon pulled to the side of the track with what seemed to be a clutch issue ( lap 29 ). Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, and the stewards deployed the Virtual Safety Car to clear the stricken Renault. The VSC period allowed Hamilton to pit for a fresh set of hard tyres, the Briton losing only 17 seconds against the usual 27. Stroll also took the opportunity to switch to medium tyres, rejoining in last. Bottas relinquished the lead of the race, the Finn undone by the timing of the VSC. Latifi pitted on lap 36, switching to the hard tyres and rejoining in 15th while Stroll got past Magnussen for P17. 


Vettel and Raikkonen were the only drivers yet to make a pit stop, having extended their stint on the medium tyres to 37 laps. They hadn't lost any performance as they set competitive lap times in 4th and 5th. Meanwhile, at the front, Red Bull informed Verstappen that they were losing time behind Bottas and he needed to try an overtake. The Dutchman was pushing hard, and his opportunity came when Bottas made a mistake at the penultimate corner. Verstappen tried to get past with the use of DRS, but Bottas fended off the challenge. Vettel finally pitted on lap 40 for hard tyres, but the right front and left rear tyres got stuck, resulting in a slow pit of 13.1 seconds! The German rejoined in 14th, the hopes of a strong finish in the points now gone. 


Bottas made another mistake, running wide in the middle of Rivazza corner, which allowed Verstappen to close upon him, the Dutchman getting past into 2nd on lap 43. Further down the field, Vettel began his recovery with an overtake on Giovinazzi for 13th. Magnussen felt unwell, reporting that he was getting a headache due to the upshifts on his Haas. The team asked him if he would like to retire, but he retorted that it was his job.  


Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 49 while Raikkonen finally pitted after completing a mammoth stint of 49 laps on the medium tyres. He switched to the soft tyres, rejoining in 12th behind Russell, having jumped Vettel. Magnussen pitted as well, retiring from the race due to health issues.


There was drama on lap 51. Timing screens showed Bottas back into 2nd, and on track, Verstappen was on the gravel with what seemed to be rear right tyre delamination. The Dutchman was unable to get unstuck, and was out of the race! Mercedes were 1-2 and firm favourites to lift the Constructors' crown at the end of the race. The stewards decided to deploy the Safety Car while replays showed that something had broken ( without warning ) on the rear of Verstappen's car. The Safety Car deployment brought about a slew of pit stops with those pitting switching to the soft tyres. Perez who was up into 3rd, but the team decided to switch him to soft tyres which relegated him to 7th. Ricciardo who chose not to pit ( along with Leclerc and Albon ) now had the final podium position. Hamilton and Bottas pitted as well, the race now a shootout to the finish. Russell was in 10th, having moved up places due to cars around him pitting, and looked set to bag the first point of his F1 career. Disaster struck on lap 53 when he, trying to build temperature into his tyres, lost control of his car and hit the barriers at Acque Minerale during the Safety Car period! It was race over for the Briton, who was distraught and sat down by the side of the track, unwilling to interact with the track marshalls. The crash led to the extension of the Safety Car period. Meanwhile, Stroll failed to brake in time, hitting the front jack man during his pit stop. Thankfully, the medical centre declared the mechanic fit and fine. 



Racing resumed at the end of lap 57, and it was a clean getaway for Hamilton. Bottas suffered excessive wheelspin but was able to hold onto 2nd comfortably. Kvyat was the big mover at the restart, getting past Perez, Albon and Leclerc! The Russian in his Alpha Tauri was up into P4 and hunting down Ricciardo for that final podium position. Perez relegated Albon to 7th who made an uncharacteristic error and got spun around. Sainz took avoiding action, and Albon was out of the points in 15th. Grosjean tried to pressurize Latifi for 11th, but the Canadian held on. Leclerc was able to bring his hard tyres up to operating temperatures and held off a challenge from Perez for P5. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 60 while Albon switched to the soft tyres due to vibrations on his flat-spotted hard tyres. Hamilton extended his lead at the front by pumping in fastest lap after fastest lap.



He took the Chequered Flag and the victory at the Emilia Romagna GP. Bottas came home in 2nd to complete another Mercedes 1-2, crowning them the Constructors' Champion for 2020! 


Renault celebrated another podium with Ricciardo with Kvyat producing a stellar drive for 4th in his Alpha Tauri. P5 was the best Leclerc could do for the works Ferrari team while Perez came home in 6th, the chance of a possible podium missed. Sainz and Norris ensured that both McLarens scored points in 7th and 8th while Alfa Romeo scored their first double-points finish in 9th and 10th with Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. 


It was "so near yet so far" for Latifi who was 11th for Williams from Grosjean and Vettel whose botched pit stop cost him a points-finish. Grosjean got a 5 seconds time penalty for exceeding track limits and was demoted to 14th, behind Stroll but ahead of Albon who was the final classified finisher. 



Mercedes was the first team to win seven consecutive Constructors' Championships! They accomplished it at a circuit owned by Ferrari, the previous record holders.


Hamilton scored the 93rd win of his F1 career, extending his lead at the top. Verstappen was out of the race, and Bottas only had a mathematical possibility of winning the Drivers' Title in 2020. 


Ricciardo's second podium of the year helped Renault to 3rd in the Constructors' Championship, one point clear of McLaren and Racing Point tied on 134 points apiece. The Enstone based outfit was improving with each race, and they would have had an even better finish had Ocon not retired due to a mechanical failure. Alpha Tauri could have been on the podium had both its cars finished the race, but their 4th place finish with Kvyat was a great result nonetheless. Leclerc did the best he could for the works Ferrari team while Vettel suffered from step-motherly treatment yet again. Racing Point justified their move of pitting Perez again under Safety Car while McLaren was the only midfield team to have both cars finish in the points. 


Kimi Raikkonen was the "Driver of the Day", having made up nine places from where he started besides completing an unthinkable stint of 49 laps on the medium tyres. His team-mate Giovinazzi maintained his 100% record of making up places on the opening lap and was 10th, having made up ten places himself. Alfa Romeo would be pleased with their performances, the incentive of contract renewals doing wonders for both its drivers. A points-finish still eluded Russell who made an uncharacteristic error and would learn from his crash. Haas would want to end this season as soon as possible to start afresh next year.



The European leg comes to an end, and there are four fly-away events to bring the 2020 season to a close. COVID-19 threatens to put the continent of Europe into lockdown again due to the onset of a second wave. Hopefully, F1 would be able to march on in the face of this adversity. 



The Turkish GP beckons in a fortnight and Hamilton could be Champion for the 7th time! Can the inevitable be delayed?? The chances seem bleak.

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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1607963 2020-10-26T08:59:30Z 2021-05-03T06:01:14Z 2020 Portuguese GP Race Recap : Records are meant to be broken!

 2020 is the year of new races and new tracks in F1. Portimao, a town in the Algarve Region of Southern Portugal became the host for the Portuguese Grand Prix. The country returned to the F1 stage after a 24 years hiatus, this time at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve!


The circuit had never hosted an F1 race before, and the new entrant promised drivers and fans a "roller-coaster" experience thanks to its multiple gradient changes and high-speed turns. The Portuguese GP also saw the return of the Paddock Club, the hospitality experience offered by the sport to its high-flying guests. 


Drivers and teams were excited for the challenge that lay before them after the completion of their Thursday track walks.


Off-track, news broke out that Haas F1 would not be continuing with Grosjean and Magnussen in 2021 and Stroll had tested positive for COVID-19 post the Eifel GP weekend, but had recovered in time and deemed fit to race in Portugal. Meanwhile, Racing Point retained Hulkenberg as a Reserve / Backup driver in case of an emergency.


Hamilton could become the most successful driver in the history of the sport if he clinched another victory. Bottas had to ensure a clean, flawless and trouble-free weekend if he wanted to sustain his fight for the title. Ferrari got new diffuser upgrades with the hope of getting back into the top six ( in Qualifying ) consistently.



Time for a recap of the weekend!



Practice :


Free Practice 1 got underway with cloudy skies. FP1 would see teams and drivers do track induction runs, learning the limits of their car with the optimum racing lines and braking points. It was quite a slippery surface, and several drivers suffered spins or had off-track moments. Bottas set the fastest time of FP1, three-tenths clear of Hamilton and Verstappen. Leclerc split the Red Bull drivers while Sainz was P6 in his McLarenPerez was P7 with Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Gasly completing the top 10. A mechanic issue for Gasly cut short his FP1. Vettel was 11th in the other Ferrari, a second slower than his team-mate. Norris and Kvyat were 12th and 13th in the sister McLaren and Alpha-Tauri while Magnussen set the 14th fastest time in his Haas. Stroll could only manage P15 followed closely by Giovinazzi and Grosjean. Ocon split the two Williams at the back, his session cut short due to a Power-Unit issue. 



Pirelli decided to run their new prototype tyres in Free Practice 2 and what followed was an incident-packed session. Verstappen and Stroll had a coming together at turn 1, the contact causing both to retire from the session. Stroll was on back-to-back flying laps when Verstappen had started one of his own. The incident attracted the attention of the stewards, but no driver incurred any penalty. 

Grosjean had a run across the gravel while Perez, Sainz and Kvyat suffered spins. Vettel had to take avoiding action from rear-ending Latifi on his timed lap before suffering a spin at turn 14 himself. Drivers complained about the lack of grip in FP2 as well with more drama unfolding halfway into the session. Gasly lost power and stopped by the side of the track; soon enough the back of his Alpha Tauri was ablaze, and the session was red-flagged for the safe extrication of his car. Bottas set the fastest lap of the session again, half a second clear of Verstappen and Norris. 

Leclerc was P4, the only other driver within a second of Bottas' time. Sainz split the Ferraris to make it both McLarens in the top six. It was 7th for Gasly at the end of FP2 with Hamilton managing only the 8th fastest time. Ocon and Albon completed the top 10. Russell put in a stonking lap in his Williams to go P11 ahead of Perez and Ricciardo. Latifi was 14th in the other Williams with Raikkonen being the fastest customer Ferrari car ahead of Magnussen and Kvyat. The rear of the field got completed by Grosjean, Stroll and Giovinazzi. 



It had been an eventful Friday for the teams. The track remained a challenge, and the drivers needed to make the most of FP3  to ensure the best possible setup for Qualifying and Race. Mercedes remained the team to beat with Ferrari showing a marked improvement. It looked like Red Bull was the only challenger for victory with Racing Point having the measure of Renault and McLaren in the midfield battle.



Bottas edged out Hamilton in Free Practice 3 with Verstappen slotting in in third, less than two-tenths down on medium tyres. Gasly split the Red Bulls while Leclerc finished in the top 6 despite a spin. The midfield battle raged on with Sainz, Perez, Norris and Ocon separated by less than half a second. Only eight-tenths of a second covered the lower half of the field with Kvyat almost matching Vettel's time in 12th. Kimi Raikkonen was 13th for Alfa Romeo with Ricciardo managing 14th; the Australian struggling from DRS malfunction. Lock-ups were a common occurrence and Russell flat-spotted a set of soft tyres en route to the 15th fastest time while Stroll languished in 16th. Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Latifi and Grosjean completed the rear of the field. 

The session got cut short after a drain cover came loose at turn 14 under Vettel's car. The FIA decided to inspect all the drainage covers to ensure safety before going into Qualifying. 



Track Limits was another challenge for drivers with several lap time deletions throughout the three practice sessions, and it seemed that drivers would need multiple runs on a single set of tyres to extract the optimal lap time.



Qualifying :


Qualifying got delayed by 35 minutes as track repairs got carried out under the watchful eyes of the FIA Stewards. 

Everyone chose the soft tyres at the start of Q1, and there was enough fuel on board for multiple attempts. Verstappen ran wide at his first attempt but was able to set the 2nd fastest time, marginally behind the Mercedes duo. Perez, Leclerc and Gasly completed the top 6 with Grosjean, Raikkonen, Russell, Magnussen and Latifi in the elimination zone. The top 5 and Ricciardo opted to not run again in Q1. Raikkonen improved to 15th, and Giovinazzi got knocked out of Q1. Russell was on a great lap and pipped Raikkonen to 15th and made it into Q2! 

Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Grosjean, Magnussen and Latifi got eliminated while Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Gasly, Perez and Leclerc were the top 6 at the end of Q1.



Mercedes and Ferrari opted for the medium tyres at the start of Q2 while the rest of the field chose softs. Ocon stayed put choosing to go "out of sync" with the rest. Traffic became an issue for a few drivers as they battled for track position. Hamilton was one such driver to have his lap compromised. The top 6 after the first runs were Bottas, Perez, Norris, Verstappen, Gasly and Albon with Hamilton, Sainz, Vettel, Leclerc and Ocon in the drop zone. Vettel improved to 10th while Leclerc got up to 6th with his multiple runs. Hamilton suffered a lock-up and set the 2nd fastest time, albeit with compromised tyres. The top 6 now changed to Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz and Norris while Ocon, Stroll, Kvyat, Vettel and Russell were looking at elimination. 

Everyone was out again with less than three minutes left on the clock, the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers opting for medium tyres once more.  Russell improved to 14th, but Vettel wasn't able to go faster and ended up in 15th! In the dying minutes of the session, Ricciardo lost control at turn 11 and ended up in the gravel, his rear wing making contact with the barriers. He managed to keep the car going and limped back to the pits. Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Sainz and Norris were the top 6 at the end of Q2 with Ocon, Stroll, Kvyat, Russell and Vettel bowing out of Qualifying.



Gasly stayed in the pits at the start of Q3 with Albon switching to medium tyres. The rest of the field ( bar Ricciardo ) came out on soft tyres for the final shootout. Bottas was on provisional pole, four-hundredths of a second clear of Hamilton with Verstappen a tenth further adrift. Leclerc was 4th for Ferrari from Perez, Albon, Norris and Sainz. Gasly joined the rest for their final runs while Ricciardo stayed put in the pits as Renault went about a rear-wing swap. He wasn't able to take part in Q3 and would start P10. The Mercedes drivers were out on medium tyres for their final run as well with Hamilton exiting the pits half a minute earlier than Bottas. The duo had fuel for a couple of runs and Hamilton went the fastest with less than two minutes left on the clock. Bottas snatched it back, but Hamilton had another flying lap still. 

The Briton extracted the maximum out of his tyres and snatched pole, a tenth clear of Bottas! Verstappen pushed hard but was unable to get close to the Mercedes. P4 got bagged by Leclerc in the Ferrari while Perez and Albon completed row 3 of the grid. It was an all-McLaren 4th row with Gasly and Ricciardo completing the top 10 for the start of the race. 



Hamilton had aced it when it mattered, bagging the 97th pole position of his career along the way. Bottas had led all the practice sessions leading into Qualifying but come up short again. Verstappen remained the "best of the rest" while Leclerc had put in a stellar drive to give Ferrari a fighting chance on Sunday. The midfield battle was tight as ever with Racing Point, Renault and McLaren. Russell finally made it into Q2 in 2020 and hoped for his first points finish while Vettel would face a long afternoon come Sunday. Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 seemed destined to remain backmarkers.

Perez had impeded Gasly in Q3 and picked up a reprimand for the same.



Race :


C1, C2 and C3 were the tyre options provided by Pirelli for the race. Raikkonen was the only driver outside the top 10 to choose the soft tyres while Magnussen did the same with the hard tyres. The rest of the drivers in the latter half started with the medium tyres.


The skies were overcast, and there was rain forecasted during the race. A drizzle hit the circuit just before the formation lap, and the drivers did their best to bring their tyres up to temperatures for the race start. 


The race got underway, and Hamilton had a clean start off the line. Bottas and Verstappen went wheel to wheel with the latter momentarily getting past. However, Bottas gathered himself and retook P2 a couple of corners later. Verstappen was all over the place and missed his braking points a couple of times allowing Perez to close in on him. Perez tried a move around the outside, but the Dutchman tagged the rear left tyre of Perez's car sending him into a spin. The Mexican limped back to the pits for a front wing change, new tyres and the incident got flagged for investigation. The stewards deemed it as "no action necessary" a few laps later.


There was plenty of action happening throughout the field with Bottas getting past Hamilton who seemed to be going slower than usual. Sainz went wheel to wheel with Verstappen and got past. He was then up into second with a move on Hamilton! Norris relegated Verstappen to P5 while Raikkonen had made up nine places on the opening lap and pressurizing Leclerc for P6. 


The drivers who had started on the soft tyres had their tyres in the operating temperatures and making up places in the early stages of the race. 


Sainz got past Bottas to take the lead of the race on the 2nd lap while Raikkonen overtook Leclerc for P6 in a three-way battle. He briefly got past Verstappen only for the latter to recover his position a corner later. Albon lost two places to Stroll and Ocon, getting relegated to P12. Sainz was pulling away in the lead and set the fastest lap of the race while Albon got past Ocon for P11.


Those on the medium tyres were now getting back into the game and Bottas set the fastest lap on lap 5. Verstappen retook P4 from Norris while Bottas caught up and got past Sainz to reclaim the lead. The track was dry again, and Leclerc was past Ricciardo for P7 while Hamilton relegated Sainz to 3rd, and Kvyat overtook Latifi for 17th a lap later. 


More overtakes followed in the next few laps with Verstappen getting past Sainz for P3, Leclerc overtaking Raikkonen for P6 ( lap 8 ) and then Norris for 5th ( lap 9 ). Raikkonen was falling back into the clutches of the faster cars with Ricciardo and Gasly relegating him to 9th while Kvyat got past Grosjean for P16.


Bottas set the fastest lap of the race while Stroll received a Black and White flag for exceeding track limits. Verstappen came on the radio and communicated to his team that the front left tyre was running out of life. Gasly overtook Ricciardo for 7th while Raikkonen lost 9th to Stroll on lap 11. Leclerc retook 4th from Sainz a lap later, and Raikkonen decided to ditch the soft tyres for a fresh set of mediums, rejoining in last. 


Meanwhile, battles continued up and down the field with Vettel relegating Giovinazzi to 14th, Gasly getting past Norris for 6th and Stroll overtaking Ricciardo for 8th. 


Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Gasly, Norris, Stroll, Ricciardo and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of lap 14.


Ricciardo pitted on lap 15 and switched to the medium tyres, rejoining in 19th. Russell overtook Giovinazzi for 12th while Perez began his charge up the field with a pass on Grosjean for 15th. The battle for P5 was hotting up between Sainz and Gasly while Stroll was contending with Norris for 7th. Stroll got into the slip-stream on the pit straight and with DRS assistance tried to get past Norris. However, he missed his braking point, going over the kerbs and trying an impractical move on the outside at turn 1. He failed to leave a car's width, and the duo made contact with Stroll spinning around. Both suffered floor and front wing damage and had to return to the pits for repairs ( lap 18 ). They switched to the hard tyres, and the incident got investigated by the stewards. Stroll got a five seconds time penalty for his misdemeanour. 


Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton was honing in on Bottas, and the lead changed hands on lap 19! He quickly got out of DRS range and started to build a gap at the front.


Albon pitted on lap 20 for a set of medium tyres, rejoining in 18th. Gasly got past Sainz for 5th while Perez overtook Kvyat for P11. The Mexican was back into the points with a move on Giovinazzi a lap later. Verstappen pitted on lap 24 for medium tyres and rejoined in 6th. Hamilton was pulling away at the front and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 25. There was a slew of pit stops over the next couple of laps with Latifi, Grosjean, Kvyat and Vettel switching to the hard tyres and Sainz switching to the mediums. Ricciardo and Raikkonen got past Magnussen, relegating him to 12th while Gasly and Giovinazzi pitted for the medium and hard tyres, respectively. 


Hamilton set another fastest lap on lap 30 and was now leading Bottas by almost 8 seconds. Grosjean was the next driver to receive a Black and White flag for exceeding track limits, and the stewards didn't shy away from dishing out a 5 seconds time penalty to Stroll for repeating the same infringement for the fourth time. Ricciardo got past Gasly for 8th while Giovinazzi and Grosjean went wheel-to-wheel for P16, but the Italian didn't relent. His team-mate Raikkonen put up a stoic defence for 10th while fending off Sainz while Magnussen pitted on lap 33 after losing 12th to Albon. He rejoined in 18th with a fresh set of medium tyres.


Bottas reported about a warning on his dash to cool the car while Sainz finally got past Raikkonen for P10 on lap 34. The duo had displayed sensational wheel-to-wheel racing. Perez and Ocon showcased a version of their own as they battled for P5 which Perez finally bagged on lap 35. Leclerc pitted from 3rd for a set of hard tyres, rejoining in 4th while Stroll switched to the soft tyres ( lap 36 ). Grosjean overtook Kvyat for 16th while Latifi held onto P18 while defending from Magnussen. Russell pitted for hard tyres and rejoined in 14th only to lose it to Giovinazzi a few corners later. 


Hamilton was happy with the health of his tyres, but the team called him into the pits on lap 41 to switch to the hard tyres. Bottas who was due for a stop on the next lap requested for the soft tyres, but the request got denied. Grosjean was the next driver to get a 5 seconds time penalty for exceeding track limits, and McLaren informed Norris about a slow puncture on his car. He switched to a set of medium tyres on lap 45, rejoining in 17th. Kvyat got flagged for investigation for ignoring blue flags while Hamilton set the fastest lap on lap 45. Gasly overtook Ricciardo for 7th while Perez made his second stop of the race, rejoining in 6th with a set of soft tyres. 


Bottas was having difficulty getting his hard tyres up to temperature, and Verstappen was slowly closing in on him. Albon pitted again on lap 48, this time for soft tyres, rejoining in 12th while Sainz got past Ricciardo for P8. Ocon was the only driver who hadn't pitted and was still setting competitive lap times on the worn set of mediums. Bottas finally got his tyres working for him and set the fastest time on lap 49. Russell got past Giovinazzi for P13 on lap 51 while Vettel who was closing in on Raikkonen for the final points-scoring position suffered a massive lock-up causing flat spots on his hard tyres. The extensive damage on Stroll's car from his contact earlier forced the team to retire the car on lap 54 while Ocon finally pitted for a set of soft tyres, rejoining in 8th. 


Kvyat got a 5 seconds time penalty for exceeding track limits multiple times while Vettel got past Raikkonen for P10 on lap 55. The infringements caused by the drivers with regards to track limits didn't end with Norris getting served a Black and White flag this time. He, however, managed to get past Giovinazzi for P14. Hamilton retook the point for the fastest lap while Kvyat pitted for the soft tyres, serving his penalty during the pit stop and rejoining in 19th ( lap 57 ). Hamilton reported that he was suffering from cramps on his right leg ( lap 58 ), having to lift off multiple times to ease off the pressure on his leg. However, that didn't stop him from lapping Perez, who was running in 5th on lap 59. Norris relegated Russell to 14th while McLaren informed Sainz about some light rain in the pit lane.


Hamilton's blistering pace continued with two more fastest laps while the battle for 5th was hotting up between Perez and Gasly. Bout one went to Perez who gave no quarters and shut the door on Gasly into turn 1. A lap later, on 65, Gasly tried a move on the outside of Perez. He succeeded and was up into P5. The defence put up by Perez didn't go down well with the stewards who initiated an investigation, handing him another reprimand on the weekend post-race. He was now one reprimand away from copping a ten-place grid penalty. The Mexican had lost performance in his soft tyres and was falling back into the clutches of Sainz. He got relegated to 7th on the final lap.



Hamilton took the chequered flag and the 92nd win of his career to become the most successful driver in the history of the sport having surpassed the great Michael Schumacher. Bottas came home in 2nd, 25.5 seconds adrift of his team-mate to complete another 1-2 finish for Mercedes. It was Verstappen who was 3rd again, having suffered some hiccups at the start. Leclerc drove a stellar race to come home in 4th, having aced his race strategy, the updates working well for him.


Alpha Tauri had a strong weekend with Gasly in 5th while 6th was the best Sainz could accomplish having led the race for a few laps at the start. A brilliant recovery drive from Perez after his first lap contact with Verstappen saw him come home in 7th while Ocon finished ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel who completed the top 10.


Raikkonen finished just outside the points in 11th, a shame after having made up ten places on the opening lap thanks to his monster start. The Iceman once again showed that there was no substitute for experience. He was impeccable, both in attack and defence and the "Driver of the Day" for me. Albon had a tough race, getting bogged down at the start and then running a compromised strategy to produce yet another lacklustre performance in 12th. The damage sustained from contact with Stroll meant that Norris couldn't do better than 13th while Russell came home in 14th, his first point in F1 eluding him. Giovinazzi was 15th in the other Alfa Romeo followed by the Haas drivers, Latifi and Kvyat who completed the classified finishers. 



Hamilton had dominated once he took the lead from Bottas. The Finn had no answer and is now 77 points behind in a Championship which seems done and dusted. Hamilton had lapped everyone up until 5th, an occurrence rarely seen in F1. Mercedes has one hand on the Constructors' Championship with another 1-2 finish. Verstappen had lapped his team-mate Albon in the race, something that doesn't augur well for the latter. Red Bull needs both its drivers to be fighting at the sharp end of the field, and it remains to be seen whether Albon would stay or leave at the end of 2020. 



The upgrades brought in by Ferrari seemed to work well for Leclerc, but the travails that Vettel faces in 2020 don't seem to go away. Renault failed to score more points than rivals Racing Point and McLaren despite having both cars in the top 10. Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo are improving with each race, and Raikkonen deserved to be in points for the performance he had put in on Sunday. Williams and Haas had another disappointing weekend and need to keep working hard if they want to offload the tag of "backmarkers".



Round 13 of the 2020 F1 Season will take place in Imola, known as the home circuit of Ferrari in the Emilia-Romagna region. The teams face an added challenge with the weekend being only a two-day event ( thanks to logistical challenges ) consisting of only one practice session. It will be interesting to see how the teams complete their qualifying and race simulation programs on a truncated weekend.



Hamilton is on track to match Schumacher's record of 7 World Championships, and if he renews his contract at Mercedes ( which should be a no-brainer ), will be favourite to lift the title again in 2021. 



The thought of a driver breaking Schumacher's record of 91 race victories was a far fetched one, but as the famous saying goes, "Records are meant to be broken!"


On to Imola!

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1602552 2020-10-12T05:56:17Z 2020-10-12T06:16:30Z 2020 Eifel GP Race Recap : Hamilton, emulating the Legend himself!

Germany has given a lot to the world of F1 - Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in F1, Sebastian Vettel, a four-time World Champion besides Nico Rosberg who beat Hamilton in a tightly contested title battle in 2016. Who can forget the contributions of drivers such as Ralf Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Andre Lotterer and Wolfgang von Trips! 

Hockenheimring and Nurburgring were venues loved by the purists of the sport. The exclusion of the German GP from the 2020 F1 calendar was a shock to one and all. However, the onset of the pandemic COVID-19 brought about the rescheduling of the calendar with Nurburgring making an unlikely return after seven years. The legendary circuit would host what got known as "The Eifel GP". 


  The pandemic hit the  F1  paddock again, this time two members of the  Mercedes AMG F1  team testing positive. One test was inconclusive while four other team members weren't allowed to take any part for the rest of the weekend. Six replacements got called in by the team.


While Kimi Raikkonen would become the most experienced driver in the sport on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton was chasing his 91st victory to equal the number of wins of Michael Schumacher. 

There was a lot of excitement and hype around the appearance of Mick Schumacher in FP1, Ferrari Academy Driver and Michael Schumacher's son; the German slated to take the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C39. His academy mate Callum Ilott would get a chance to drive the 2020 Haas car, giving Ferrari an idea of the capabilities of the duo. 


Nurburgring, like its older brother the Nordschleife, is a fast-flowing yet unforgiving circuit with changeable weather conditions. The majority of the field had never raced here in an F1 car which made the challenge even more daunting!


How did the teams and the driver fare at the Eifel GP? Time for a quick recap!


Practice :

It wasn't the best time of the year to host an F1 race at Nurburgring. The 24 hours Nurburgring, the GT endurance event held a fortnight before the F1 weekend suffered from stoppages due to rain, and the signs of F1 suffering a similar fate seemed ominous.

Bad weather hit both the practice sessions on Friday with a heavy mist/fog settling over the circuit and its vicinity. Intermittent rainfall compounded matters, and the FIA delayed the start of the sessions multiple times. The medical helicopter wasn't able to fly due to the conditions prevalent over the track and the route to the nearest medical facility or hospital ( Koblensk ). As a result, running on Friday had to be called off, and the fans were left disappointed. 

Schumacher Jr. and Ilott would need to wait for another day at another circuit to prove their F1 worthiness.

The cancellation of running on Friday meant that Free Practice on Saturday would be a busy affair for all teams. They would need to manage the tyre allocations to avoid jeopardizing the sets available for the race ( in the event of inclement weather ). 



Clear skies greeted the teams on Saturday morning and what followed was a busy Free Practice 3. Racing Point had a difficult start to the day with Stroll reported as being unwell. Stroll's unavailability left them with Perez alone for FP3 and the need for calling in a replacement urgently.

Thankfully, Nico Hulkenberg made himself available and drove down to Nurburgring at short notice.

George Russell went sliding across the grass while Vettel and Latifi suffered a spin at the last chicane. The track temperatures were low due to the chilly weather around, and Hamilton had a couple of lock-ups while Norris needed something to keep his hands warm in the cockpit. 

Bottas set the fastest time of FP3, a tenth clear of his team-mate Hamilton. Ferrari got upgrades to the track, and both cars were in the top 6, split by Verstappen. Norris was P7 for McLaren while Perez set the 8th fastest time in the lone Racing Point. Albon and Gasly completed the top 10. Ocon, Kvyat and Sainz finished just outside the top 10 in a closely contested midfield while Raikkonen was 14th for Alfa Romeo. The Haas drivers were 15th and 16th with Russell getting the better of Giovinazzi and Latifi.


The lack of data due to no running on Friday meant that all teams would need to adopt an aggressive approach to Qualifying. However, there seemed to be no threat to the Mercedes at the top with Bottas enjoying a cleaner session than Hamilton. 



Qualifying :

Racing Point officially announced Hulkenberg as Stroll's replacement for the weekend, the German driving the RP20 for the first time at Nurburgring in Qualifying. Hulkenberg needed to use Q1 for learning the limits of his car and wasn't likely to make it into Q2 which would compromise the chances of a strong weekend for Racing Point. The team had this driver pairing for the first time since 2016. 



Q1 got underway with Russell and Perez opting for medium tyres while the rest of the field chose softs. Russell ditched his medium tyres after a sighting lap and switched to the softs as well. Gasly came to an abrupt stop outside his pit-box when a tyre warmer blanket got stuck to the left front tyre. Thankfully, the mechanics dislodged it in time. Kevin Magnussen had his lap time deleted due to exceeding of track limits at turn 4. 

Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Leclerc, Albon and Ricciardo were the top 6 after the first runs with Magnussen, Raikkonen, Latifi, Giovinazzi and Hulkenberg in the drop zone. Many drivers had fuel for another run, and the track was evolving as more rubber got laid. Latifi improved to 13th before returning to pits. Barring the top 3, the rest of the field headed out again in the final five minutes of Q1. Grosjean set a quick lap only to have it deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4.  

Norris and Ricciardo got into the top 6 while Magnussen and Giovinazzi were into the top 16. Grosjean's lap time deletion cost him dearly as he failed to make it into Q2. Russell, Latifi, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg were the other eliminations.

Raikkonen would be disappointed to be on the last row of the grid for his record-breaking 323rd race start. Hulkenberg's predicament came as no surprise, the German doing his best with the limited running he got.

Giovinazzi made his first Q2 appearance of 2020, the Italian beating his more experienced team-mate as he fights for a racing seat in 2021.



The top teams had a tough decision to make at the start of Q2 and Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault ( with Ricciardo ) decided to roll the dice, sending their drivers out on medium tyres. Kvyat meanwhile, exited the pits with a used set of soft tyres for his first run. Verstappen, Hamilton, Albon, Norris, Ocon and Sainz were the top 6 at the end of the first runs with Vettel, Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Kvyat and Gasly in the drop zone. The top 6 were separated by a second while Bottas, Leclerc and Ricciardo were on the cusp of elimination, their decision to use the medium tyres not bringing the desired result. 

The Ferrari cars were carrying extra fuel onboard nevertheless, and both drivers decided to do another flying lap. However, they were unable to improve, eventually returning to the pits for a fresh set of tyres. 

All drivers ( barring Albon ) were out on the soft tyres for the final minutes of Q2, Bottas trying to improve after a mediocre first attempt. Kvyat and Vettel fought over track position on their out-laps. The lap times improved thanks to "track evolution" and Hamilton set the fastest time of Q2, ahead of Verstappen and Bottas. Ricciardo and Leclerc improved to 4th and 5th while Albon got into Q3 with the 6th fastest time. Perez, Sainz and Ocon completed the top 10.

Vettel failed to make it into Q3 despite having the upgrades; the German would, however, have a free tyre choice come Sunday. Both the Alpha Tauri drivers got eliminated along with Giovinazzi and Magnussen at the end of Q2.



The final shootout got underway ( Q3 ) with everyone barring Perez exiting the pits to set banker laps. Verstappen drew first blood, going six hundredths clear of Bottas' best effort. Hamilton could only manage third on his banker lap, another two-hundredths adrift. Perez was out of sync with the rest of the field and set only one representative lap time.

Albon set the 4th fastest time from Leclerc and Perez followed by Renault powered cars of Ocon, Norris, Sainz and Ricciardo. 

The battle for pole position was hotting up with the contenders on fresh tyres as the clock ran down. Everyone was improving on their final runs and Hamilton was the first to cross the line in what seemed to be another pole position for the Briton. However, Bottas had other ideas and pipped his team-mate to pole! Verstappen was on a quick lap as well, but a mediocre third sector relegated him to the second row. A stunning lap by Leclerc catapulted him to 4th in his Ferrari. Albon was a commendable 5th from Ricciardo and Ocon. Norris, Perez and Sainz completed the top 10. 



Mercedes completed another front-row lockout despite the limited running on the weekend. Bottas had the best platform to fight for victory on Sunday and was going through a mini-resurgence. Hamilton would leave no stone unturned to make things right on Sunday while Verstappen knew he had a car which had the speed to fight for a win on race day. Albon ensured that his team-mate was not alone in the fight at the front. The upgrades brought in by Ferrari were doing wonders on the race track, and Leclerc hoped to capitalize on the opportunity. Vettel had a disappointing Qualifying but had the experience and talent to turn it around at his home race. Renault and McLaren had the chance of scoring more points than Racing Point in the Constructors' Championship. Alpha Tauri hoped to make it into the points scoring positions after a challenging day in Qualifying. Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams seemed destined to remain backmarkers in the race.



Race :

McLaren changed the Power Unit on Norris' car on Saturday night, and it was within his allocation for the season. 

Pirelli chose the C2, C3 and C4 tyre compounds for the weekend and even though it was cloudy, the rain stayed away for the race start.


Vettel, Gasly, Kvyat and Grosjean chose the medium tyres while the rest of the drivers outside the top 10 were on the softs.


The race got underway, and Hamilton had a quicker getaway compared to that of Bottas. The Briton braked late and went wide at turn one, sending Bottas even wider. The latter didn't relent and kept his foot down into turn two, retaking the lead. Meanwhile, Verstappen came under intense pressure from Ricciardo but managed to hold onto third. It was a poor start for Albon who was down in 6th. Further down the field, Grosjean had lost four positions while Giovinazzi and Hulkenberg were up into P11 and P17 respectively. 


Magnussen got past Gasly for P13 on ( lap 2 ) while Bottas pulled away from Hamilton, opening up a gap of 1.5 seconds. He then went on to set a series of fastest laps, pushing hard on the soft tyres. The trio at the front was pulling away while there was a train forming behind the Ferrari of Leclerc. Ricciardo was searching for a way past him, but the Monegasque positioned his car well on the track. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on the 7th lap while Gasly went wheel-to-wheel with Magnussen for 13th but failed to get past.


McLaren informed Sainz that there was a prediction of light rain while Albon who had suffered a flat-spot on his left front tyre due to a lockup on the opening lap pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 8. He rejoined last after a slow stop with the front left tyre. On the track, Ricciardo got the job done, relegating Leclerc to 5th on lap 9. Norris came under pressure from Perez who tried an enthusiastic move at turn three only to back off later ( lap 10 ). 


Leclerc, having flat-spotted his tyres from a mistake at turn one on lap 6, pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres, rejoining in 19th. Raikkonen followed suit rejoining in 20th and last. Gasly got past Magnussen for 10th while Vettel who was chasing Giovinazzi got spun around after he tried to take avoiding action from rear-ending the latter's car. His tyres got flat-spots as well, compromising his race strategy. The German pitted at the end of the lap for hard tyres, rejoining in 18th. Russell, in his Williams, switched to the medium tyres. 


The lead at the front changed hands on lap 13! Bottas missed his braking point, had a massive lockup at turn one which allowed Hamilton to close up and muscle past him for the lead. The Finn had flat-spotted his tyres and needed to pit early to avoid compromising his race further. There was more drama at the back of the field. Vettel, Russell and Raikkonen were racing each other when Russell tried to get past Vettel at the turn one. The German held on, but Russell became vulnerable to an overtake from Raikkonen. Raikkonen to avoid hitting Vettel locked up his front tyre, losing the rear of his car and hitting the side of Russell's car when he tried to correct the slide; this sent Russell into a spin, the Briton suffering a puncture and rear suspension failure. The Stewards flagged the incident for investigation. 


Bottas, unable to manage the flat spots on his tyres, pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 14, rejoining in 4th behind Ricciardo. Albon got past Magnussen for P12 while Gasly overtook Giovinazzi for 9th. Meanwhile, Leclerc relegated Grosjean to 17th. Magnussen and Latifi pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres while Bottas began his recovery drive with an overtake on Ricciardo for 3rd on lap 15. Giovinazzi pitted for medium tyres, rejoining in 15th while the Virtual Safety Car got deployed after Russell rolled to a stop at one of the run-off areas. Hamilton, Verstappen and Ricciardo pitted under VSC, switching to the medium tyres with Verstappen having jumped Bottas after the first round of stops.


The Virtual Safety Car period was a brief one, and Kvyat ran onto the grass on turn 14, which compromised him into the final turn. Albon got past him for P10, but cut back across, ripping the front wing off the Russian's car. Kvyat now needed to complete an entire lap without his front wing, rapidly losing positions in the process. He switched to the hard tyres and a new front wing.


Disaster struck on lap 18. Bottas reported a loss of power and lost two places to Norris and Perez as he tried to arrest the issue with some changes in the settings. The problem seemed terminal, and the Finn returned to the pits and into retirement on lap 19. It was a Power Unit failure. Meanwhile, Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 20 while Leclerc got past Hulkenberg for P10.


Raikkonen got a ten-second time penalty for his incident with Russell earlier which the Finn served when he pitted for the second time in the race.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Norris, Perez, Ocon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon and Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 21.


The battle for 8th was hotting up with Albon trying to get past Gasly. The Frenchman put up a stoic defence causing Albon to lock up his tyres ( again ) at turn one. He suffered a flat spot on his second set of tyres and relayed to the team that the Alpha Tauri drivers were racing too hard with him. Ricciardo got past Ocon on lap 23 in what seemed to be a Renault going slow on track. Ocon had suffered a mechanical issue and limped back to the pits to retire from the race. Albon's mistake of taking out Kvyat's front wing got him a five-second time penalty which he wasn't able to serve as a stray stone had gotten into the exhaust of his car leading him to retire from the race on lap 25. 


The powertrain issues continued to haunt other drivers, this time Norris reporting a loss of power ( lap 26 ), an issue which kept getting worse. McLaren discovered a sensor issue on the car and tried to guide Norris through some changes to the settings. The problem was worsening, and Norris got the instructions to manage it for the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, Leclerc got past Gasly for 7th ( lap 28 ). 


Perez and Sainz pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap 29, rejoining in 7th and 9th respectively. Grosjean pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in 15th. Norris was due for his pit stop and switched to a fresh set of mediums on lap 30 while Hulkenberg followed suit a lap later. Perez got past Norris for 5th on lap 31 while Alpha Tauri called Gasly in to switch him to the medium tyres as well. Ferrari informed Leclerc that they were changing to "Plan C" while Hulkenberg overtook Latifi for 13th. Latifi lost another position to Grosjean a lap later while Norris was struggling with his issues as Sainz relegated him to 7th. Perez was now putting pressure on Leclerc for 4th and got past him just before the DRS Detection zone before the start-finish straight, but Leclerc fought back and reclaimed his position. Gasly overtook Magnussen for 11th while Latifi pitted for mediums, rejoining in 15th ( lap 35 ). Leclerc's defence didn't last long as Perez got past him before turn 13 on lap 36. 


Hamilton reported issues of graining on his tyres while Leclerc and Magnussen ditched their existing sets for a new set of medium tyres. Giovinazzi who was doing a stellar job for Alfa Romeo in 7th pitted for another set of medium tyres on lap 38, rejoining in 13th. Meanwhile, Raikkonen lost three places in the span of two laps to Leclerc, Gasly and Hulkenberg as he tried to prolong his stint. Vettel suffered a similar fate to Raikkonen, the duo now out of the points-scoring positions. Vettel was also suffering from a flat spot on his hard tyres and switched to the soft tyres for his final stint on lap 43. Perez in 4th was honing in on Ricciardo, lap by lap, hoping to challenge him in the final stages of the race. 


There was another twist on lap 44. Norris was unable to manage his sensor issue and came to a halt on the run-off area at turn 6 with smoke billowing out of the rear of his car. The Race Director decided to deploy the Safety Car! 


Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Gasly, Hulkenberg and Raikkonen all pitted under the Safety Car for a fresh set of soft tyres which would last them till the end of the race. Perez also switched to the same compound a lap later. The ten lapped cars were allowed to overtake and get back on the lead lap as the Safety Car did a few more laps around the track. 


Racing resumed on lap 50, and it was a clean getaway for Hamilton. Verstappen got bogged down and came under pressure from Ricciardo, but managed to stay ahead. Grosjean, who hadn't pitted under Safety Car lost two places to Gasly and Hulkenberg while Leclerc got relegated to 7th by Gasly on lap 51. Hamilton set the fastest laps of the race ( back to back ) as he extended his lead at the front. DRS got enabled on lap 53, and Latifi lost 12th to Vettel and 13th to Raikkonen. Vettel was on the cusp of scoring points when he got past Magnussen on lap 55, the duo banging wheels in what was a feisty duel on track. Magnussen failed to fend off Raikkonen as well, getting relegated to 13th. 


Hamilton set the fastest lap on the penultimate lap only to have it robbed off him by Verstappen on the final lap.


Nevertheless, no one could deny him the chance of equalling Michael Schumacher's record of wins in F1. The Briton took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Eifel GP, scoring the 91st win of his F1 career! Verstappen came home in 2nd, a few seconds adrift, and it was Ricciardo who took the final podium place, Renault returning to the podium for the first time since 2011! Perez was 4th for Racing Point, Sainz and Gasly completed the top 6. Leclerc was pleased with another strong showing for Ferrari in 7th while Hulkenberg finished a commendable 8th in the other Racing Point. It was the first points-scoring finish for Grosjean in 9th while Giovinazzi produced a stellar drive in his Alfa Romeo, fending off a late charge from Vettel to bag the final point. Vettel, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Latifi and Kvyat were the other classified finishers.



Hamilton and Verstappen were a class apart today. The duo would have lapped everyone up to P3 had there not been a Safety Car period. Bottas suffered another blow to his title aspirations with his Power Unit failure and needed to cover a deficit of 69 points in the upcoming rounds. Verstappen closed in on Bottas for P2 in the Championship, and it seems that this fight will go on till the end of the season. Ricciardo's hard work with Renault finally paid off, and the Australian would be hoping to do even better in the upcoming rounds. Perez did the best he could for Racing Point, but Hulkenberg, the "Driver of the Day", accomplished an unthinkable finish having spent less than 24 hours in the cockpit of the RP20 at Nurburgring. The German surely deserves a seat in the sport! Grosjean and Giovinazzi drove exceptionally well for their teams, and these drives will go a long way in improving their reputations within the paddock. 



Mercedes had a bitter-sweet race with a chance of another one-two finish gone but extended their lead in the Constructors' Championship thanks to one Red Bull failing to finish the race due to mechanical issues. Renault was the 7th Constructor to score a podium finish in 2020; 2012 was the last time the sport had the same statistic. However, they lost points with Ocon's retirement. Racing Point would be pleased with the way their fortunes changed, especially with the finish Hulkenberg achieved, stepping in for Stroll who was unless. In a tightly contested midfield, McLaren would be ruing the retirement suffered by one of its cars. The double points-finish allowed Racing Point to jump to third in the Constructors' Championship. Ferrari's upgrades seem to be working, and the team would be hoping for better weekends in the upcoming races. Alpha Tauri capitalized on the slip-ups by the competitors while Haas and Alfa Romeo enjoyed a points-scoring weekend. Williams remains the only team yet to score a point in 2020.


Kimi Raikkonen completed 323 race starts, granting him the record of the "most experienced driver in F1." The Iceman keeps racing and doing what he loves.



Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's record of race wins and was gifted a race-worn helmet ( from 2012 ) of Schumacher by Michael's son Mick Schumacher at parc-ferme. He could now become the most successful driver in the history of the sport with his next win. 



The teams head to Portugal in a fortnight, to a track that has never hosted an F1 race before. One can only speculate the surprises in store for the contenders for the crown. 

Bring on Portimao!!


]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1597377 2020-09-28T08:41:02Z 2020-09-28T09:18:55Z 2020 Russian GP Race Recap : It ain't over till it's over!

The second half of the 2020 F1 Season kickstarted with the Russian GP in the city of Sochi. The Sochi Autodrom is a street circuit built around the Olympic Park by the legendary circuit designer Hermann Tilke consisting of many medium-speed corners.

The Russian GP was the first one-off GP of the 2020 season followed by a two-week break before the return of Nurburgring for the German GP and then a double-header in Portugal and Italy.


The sport also saw a reshuffle in its leadership with Ex-Ferrari Team Principal & Lamborghini supremo Stefano Domenicali taking over the role of CEO and Chase Carey becoming the Non-Executive Chairman.


Sochi had been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes, and their dominance in 2020 made them the runaway favourites. Hamilton was one victory shy of equalling Michael Schumacher's record of wins ( 91 ) besides extending his lead in the Championship. Red Bull hoped to see both its cars on the sharp end of the grid in its quest for a podium here. Ferrari had aerodynamic updates, and Stroll had the privilege of driving an upgraded Racing Point car, the Canadian being a beneficiary of a new chassis after his crash in Mugello a fortnight ago. Pirelli chose the softest three tyre compounds for this weekend.


Let us have a quick recap of the Russsian GP weekend.


Practice :

Valtteri Bottas was the fastest driver at the end of Free Practice 1, half a second clear of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. The Dutchman wasn't pleased with Russell in the Williams impeding him on his fast lap.

Perez and Stroll were in the top 6 for Racing Point followed by Ocon in the Renault. Kvyat had a spin but managed to set the 7th fastest time with Albon, Vettel and Gasly completing the top 10. The 2019 pole position man Leclerc was P11 for Ferrari followed by the McLaren duo of Sainz and Norris. It was a tough session for Sainz who suffered a spin at turn 10, the rear of his car hitting the barriers, leaving his rear-wing hanging precariously as he limped back to the pits.

The Alfa Romeo cars were 14th and 15th fastest followed by Magnussen and Russell. Grosjean was P18 for Haas, having gone wheel-to-wheel with Leclerc over track position during the session, leaving the Monegasque a bit flummoxed. It was a quiet FP1 for Hamilton who managed to set only the 19th fastest time on hard tyres. Latifi had a similar crash to Sainz at turn 10, the impact leaving him winded and the car a wreck. The stewards Red Flagged the session to clear the stricken car. The Canadian came out unscathed thankfully.


Free Practice 2 got underway with teams splitting the sessions into low fuel runs and race simulations. Turns 2 and 13 turned out to be notorious ones in FP2. Hamilton had a big lockup and just avoided the barriers at turn 13. Stroll, meanwhile, spun at the same spot. Norris and Albon had to use the run-off at Turn 2 after missing their braking point while Verstappen made a rare mistake and got spun around at Turn 14.

It was Bottas who had the momentum on Friday and set the fastest time, more than two-tenths clear of his team-mate Hamilton. Ricciardo carried his FP1 form into FP2 and was third fastest, but a second adrift. Sainz, Norris and Perez ensured McLaren and Racing Point representation in the top 6 while Verstappen was the fastest Honda-powered car in 7th.

Ferrari had both its cars in the top 10 with Ocon splitting the "Prancing Horses". Albon, in P12, was in an Alpha Tauri sandwich while Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo ( in P14 ) was the fastest Ferrari-powered customer car. Latifi had a better FP2 with the 15th fastest time, edging out his team-mate, but more than two seconds slower than Botttas.

It was a disappointing FP2 for Stroll who managed only the 17th fastest time with Magnussen, Giovinazzi and Grosjean bringing up the rear of the field.



The Final Practice Session ( FP3 ) saw Hamilton find his mojo, setting the fastest time, eight tenths clear of team-mate Bottas. The Briton went wide at turn 13, skating over the sausage kerb. Only two-tenths separated four drivers from four different teams, and it was Sainz who set the third quickest time from Ocon, Perez and Verstappen. Ocon had an off-track moment at turn 17 but was able to continue without any damage. It was an encouraging session for Vettel, the Ferrari driver setting the 7th fastest time from Stroll, Kvyat and Ricciardo. Gasly was P11 in the other Alpha Tauri having suffered a spin at turn 15.

Leclerc was P12 in the other Ferrari with Russell catapulting his Williams to 13th. Issues with the general balance of the car led to incessant complaining by Grosjean, the Frenchman suffering a similar spin like Gasly's but managing to put in the 14th quickest time. Latifi and Magnussen were P15 and P16 for Williams and Haas, but more than 2 seconds slower than the fastest time of FP3. The Alfa Romeo cars were struggling in 17th and 18th while Albon, in the sister Red Bull, had a very unsettled FP3. The Thai driver needed to step up his game in Qualifying. McLaren's upgrades didn't seem to work on Norris' car, the British driver 20th at the end of the session.



Sochi is a power-sensitive circuit, and the Mercedes works team had a clear edge over the rest of the field. It was advantage Bottas in the intra-team battle. Pirelli's choice of having the softest three compounds for the weekend would bring Red Bull into the fray, but Friday running suggested that they might not be the real contenders. Renault power came to the fore, and the works team with Ricciardo was right in the mix for the top 6 along with McLaren, their customer team. Ferrari powered cars seemed destined for a long Sunday afternoon, their lack of straight-line speed costing them dear. However, the works team had both its cars in the top 10 and were optimistic of keeping it that way come Qualifying. Perez, without the upgrades, was faster of the two Racing Point cars which might have made the team to reconsider the effectiveness of the updates brought in. The midfield promised to be a closely contested affair come Sunday.


Qualifying :

The skies were overcast for the start of Qualifying, and the threat of rain loomed at the beginning of Q1. Russell was the first driver out on track with medium tyres but had to abort his flying lap due to traffic. A slew of cars emerged behind him, five minutes into the session, all on soft tyres. The Renault drivers were also on medium tyres on their first runs.
Hamilton and Magnussen had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 2. The sausage kerbs were unsettling a lot of cars on their flying laps. The reigning World Champion recovered to P2 on his second attempt. Bottas, Hamilton, Perez, Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc were the top six after the first runs with Ocon, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Grosjean and Latifi in the drop zone. Vettel and Magnussen were on the cusp of elimination and needed to improve their times.

Only Bottas and Verstappen from the top 6 ventured out for another run in the final minutes of Q1. Raikkonen missed his braking point and got unsettled over the kerb at turn 2. The resulting imbalance sent his Alfa Romeo into a spin, ruining his and his team-mate's lap who was following closely behind. The lap times came down rapidly ( for the others ) with track evolution. Leclerc and Vettel managed to scrape through to Q2 in 14th and 15th. Meanwhile, Russell put in a stonking lap to go 13th quickest while Kvyat, Ocon and Ricciardo broke into the top 6. Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Latifi and Raikkonen got eliminated at the end of Q1.




Spots of rain got reported by the drivers on their out-laps at the start of Q2. Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen had opted for the medium tyres while the rest of the field ( bar Russell ) stuck to the softs. Hamilton set the fastest time on his banker lap but his lap time got deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 18. Ricciardo led from Sainz and Perez at the end of the first runs. Bottas, Norris, Gasly, Verstappen, Ocon, Leclerc and Kvyat completed the top 10 with Albon, Stroll, Vettel, Hamilton and Russell in the drop zone. Hamilton wanted to do another run on his existing medium tyres, but the team denied him the request, asking him to switch to a fresh set of medium tyres for the remainder of Q2. Russell, who was out of sync with the rest of the runners, set the 13th quickest time ( provisional ) on soft tyres.

Ricciardo chose to not run again in Q2 while Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen went out with a fresh set of medium tyres. There were two minutes left on the clock and Vettel was on a flying lap, just ahead of Leclerc. The German clipped the inside of the kerb at turn 4, his car getting spun around, making him a passenger as he careered into the barriers while sliding over the sausage kerb. It was a big wreck, and his front wing got dislodged. Leclerc ended up going over some debris, and the session got Red-Flagged! Hamilton, who was on a flying lap as well couldn't complete his lap and remained in the drop zone, yet to set a representative lap time. These were tense times for Mercedes and Hamilton, his race strategy compromised as well.

It was a lengthy halt to the session, and when the pit lane was due to open, a queue had formed up at the pit exit. Hamilton exited the garage with soft tyres and would have to pass several cars on his out-lap if he wanted to start his lap in time. Matters got complicated further when Stroll encountered trouble as he waited for the session to resume. The Racing Point mechanics had to wheel him back into the garage, an overheating issue to blame. He was out of Q2 as well. The Red Bulls were quick off the blocks as soon as the session resumed. The Alpha Tauris behind them decided to hold up the rest of the field for a few more seconds before they pulled out onto the race track. Hamilton got informed by the team that they were critical on timing, asking him to push.

The cold tyres on his car caused him to run wide at turn 2, forcing him to take the longer route around the markers set by the FIA Race Director. The clock was ticking down, and Sainz and Perez failed to start their lap. Hamilton, just ahead of the duo, was able to commence his final run, beating the clock by less than a second! A close call for the reigning World Champion. He was able to set a lap, ending the session with the 4th fastest time. Meanwhile, Verstappen was flying on his final attempt but slowed down at the end to avoid starting the race on soft tyres. Leclerc made a mistake, putting him out of contention for Q3.
Ricciardo ended Q2 with the quickest time from Bottas, Sainz and Hamilton. Perez was the solo Racing Point car to get into Q3 with Norris and Gasly 6th and 7th. It was another close call for Albon, who got the job done in the final minutes of Q2 with the 8th fastest time. Verstappen and Ocon completed the top 10. Leclerc, Kvyat, Stroll, Russell and Vettel were the eliminations from Q2.




The final shootout got underway ( Q3 ), and Hamilton stepped up when it mattered. He was on provisional pole with a healthy lead of eight-tenths of a second from Bottas. Verstappen and Ricciardo were the only other drivers within a second of his time. Perez, Sainz, Ocon, Albon, Gasly and Norris completed the rest of the top 10.
The drivers opted to not wait for the final minutes of Q3 to complete their second runs. The Red Bull drivers let the rest of the field to clear before joining the track a minute behind. Bottas, the first challenger for pole, lost time in the first sector after his car got a bit awry at turn 2. He failed to improve in sector two as well, eventually setting a time that was half a second slower of his team-mate's first attempt. Hamilton, behind him, went even faster and set a new track record! Pole position was his unless Verstappen had a say. Verstappen benefitted from a tow from Bottas ( who was on the cooldown lap ) and relegated him to P3, helping Red Bull get its first front row start in Sochi. It was pole position for Hamilton again!
Perez qualified an unlikely 4th having pipped Ricciardo by four-hundredths of a second. Sainz, Ocon and Norris made it Renault Powered rows three and four for Sunday while Gasly qualified ahead of Albon to start P9.




Hamilton, Magnussen, Grosjean and Latifi got summoned to the stewards' room for not following the Race Director's instructions with regards to rejoining the track at turn 2. However, they escaped any penalties.




It had been an eventful and frenetic Qualifying session in Sochi. Hamilton, with all the setbacks and hiccups, reigned supreme on Saturday. However, it was a compromised strategy for him with his immediate rivals starting the race on medium tyres. Verstappen and Bottas would be hoping to get the tow from Hamilton to jump him on the run into turn 2. Perez was giving other F1 teams a great audition with his performance on Saturday. The Renault powered cars weren't short on power and would be a handful come Sunday. Albon would need to salvage his weekend on a Sunday again after a disappointing performance in Qualifying. The lack of straight-line speed would make it a challenging race for the Ferrari powered cars, and they would need smart strategic calls to capitalize on the slip-ups ahead. Russell was brilliant on Saturday for Williams but would he be able to maintain the momentum on Sunday was a different matter altogether. The Alfa Romeo drivers were disappointing with their performances since a Q2 appearance for both was definitely on the cards. Haas F1 needed to address its balance issues if the team hoped to have a fruitful Sunday.



Race :

Albon and Latifi got five-place grid drops each due to a gearbox change. There was drama before the start of the race with Hamilton coming under investigation for practice starts outside the designated area. The race start drew nigh, and the stewards were yet to make a decision.


Raikkonen and Kvyat opted for the hard tyres while Leclerc, Stroll, Russell, Vettel, Grosjean, Giovinazzi and Magnussen were on the mediums. Albon, who got demoted to P15, due to the penalty had to start on the soft tyres from Q2 on Saturday.


The five red lights went out, and it was a clean getaway for Hamilton from pole position. Verstappen who was on the "dirty side" of the grid got bogged down and lost second to Bottas. Bottas got into the tow behind Hamilton, and the team-mates were side-by-side going into turn 2. Unfortunately, the Finn had to relent, and Hamilton kept his position. Verstappen tried to avoid Ricciardo who had the inside line, getting forced to go around the bollards at turn 2. Chaos unfolded further down the field. Sainz, in the midfield tussle, too was pushed off the track at turn 2, but tried to rejoin the circuit too quickly and ended up hitting the wall with his left front tyre. It was race over for the Spaniard. A slew of cars had to take avoiding action and Norris, his team came off the worst, having lost ten places on the opening lap. There was more drama two corners later with Leclerc tapping the right rear wheel of Stroll's car, the contact sending the Canadian into the barriers. He became the second retirement of the race on the opening lap. The stewards deemed it as "no action necessary".


The Safety Car got deployed by the stewards to clear the debris on the track caused by the incidents. It was a lightning start for the Haas cars, the duo up into P9 and P10 while Giovinazzi was P12 for Alfa Romeo. Russell, Norris and Albon decided to pit at the end of the opening lap for a fresh set of hard tyres with Norris' stop being longer as the team checked for damage and debris. Norris also reported issues with his steering, the team asking him to manage it till the end of the race.


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Ocon, Ricciardo, Perez, Gasly, Leclerc, Magnussen and Grosjean were the top 10 behind the Safety Car.


The Safety Car pulled into the pits, and it was a clean restart for Hamilton ( lap 6 ). Russell and Raikkonen went wheel-to-wheel, but Raikkonen held on to P15. Norris and Albon too had a tussle with Norris relegating the Thai driver to 18th. Hamilton had already opened up a 1.5 seconds gap to Bottas at the end of lap 6.


The verdict was out on the infringement committed by Hamilton earlier. The stewards penalized him with two 5 seconds penalties for two violations of practice starts outside the designated area. He would have to serve it at the time of his pitstop.


Kvyat got past Grosjean for P10 on lap 8 with Verstappen reporting grip issues on his rear tyres. Raikkonen overtook Latifi for P14 on lap 9. A three-way battle unfolded at the back of the field with Norris putting pressure on Russell for P16 and Albon waiting for the right opportunity to pounce on any mistake by the duo. Russell held on to 16th, but Norris lost 17th to Albon. Meanwhile, at the front, Mercedes asked Bottas to close the gap to Hamilton ( lap 12 ) while Russell locked up at turn 13 and lost 16th to Albon. Kvyat overtook Magnussen for P9 while Norris got past Russell for P17 ( lap 13 ).


Mercedes asked Hamilton to push to build a gap and mitigate the time lost at the time of serving his penalty. He refused to pit at the end of lap 14 and went on to set the fastest lap of the race. Perez got past Ricciardo for P5 on lap 15 while Russell pitted for mediums, having flat-spotted his exiting set. Ricciardo, having lost P5 pitted immediately after for hard tyres and rejoined in 14th. Hamilton didn't let up on his pace and set the fastest lap of the race again on lap 16 while Albon relegated Latifi to P16.


Hamilton finally pitted on lap 17, serving his 10 seconds penalty and switching to the hard tyres. He rejoined in 11th, and out of contention for race victory ( unless there was to be another Safety Car period ). Giovinazzi too pitted from 11th, rejoining in 17th with a set of hard tyres. Ontrack, Norris overtook Latifi for 15th.


Bottas, now in clear air went on to set a series of fastest laps as he prolonged his stint on the medium tyres. Grosjean and Latifi pitted on lap 18 for hard and medium tyres, rejoining in 15th and 17th respectively. Ocon and Gasly pitted a lap later, both switching to the hard tyres. Gasly rejoined in 13th while Ocon in 9th just behind Vettel. Meanwhile, Hamilton, who was in 11th moved up three places with those ahead of him pitting and got past Vettel for 7th, gaining track position on Ocon.


Magnussen pitted on lap 20 for hard tyres rejoining in 14th while Ricciardo got past Raikkonen for P9. Perez pitted from 3rd a lap later for hard tyres, rejoining in 6th behind Hamilton, and jumping Ocon who got stuck behind the Ferrari of Vettel in 8th. Bottas' pace at the front was relentless as he set another fastest lap of the race. Ocon's race was getting compromised with his inability to clear Vettel which allowed his team-mate Ricciardo to close upon him and get within DRS range. Renault instructed the Frenchman to let Ricciardo by, and he obliged on lap 25. However, Ricciardo locked up on the run into turn two and went over the kerbs, attracting the attention of the stewards.


Verstappen pitted for hard tyres on lap 26, rejoining in 4th behind Leclerc and Kvyat. He had a 6 seconds lead over Hamilton. Bottas pitted a lap later and retained his lead, switching to the hard tyres for his final stint. Verstappen cleared Kvyat for P3 ( lap 27 ) while Ricciardo relegated Vettel to 8th on lap 28. However, Ricciardo got a 5 seconds time penalty for not following the Race Director's instructions on rejoining the track at turn 2 ( the infringement on lap 25 ). Vettel lost another position to the Renault of Ocon, the Frenchman finally getting past, but all his hard work brought to nought with the time lost.


Meanwhile, Albon pitted from 11th for medium tyres and rejoined in 16th ( lap 28 ). Leclerc made his mandatory pitstop a lap later, switching to the hard tyres and ending in 7th ahead of Ocon. Albon and Russell made another stop and switched to the medium tyres. Kvyat pitted for medium tyres on lap 31 from 3rd, rejoining in P8. Vettel followed the Russian into the pits and switched to the hard tyres, relegated to 16th. Raikkonen was the only driver yet to pit and was putting up a spirited defence against Gasly in the battle for P9.


Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Ocon, Kvyat, Raikkonen and Gasly were the top 10 at the end of lap 32.


Gasly finally got past Raikkonen on lap 34 while Renault informed Ricciardo about his time penalty, asking him to push and build a gap to Leclerc behind. The Australian replied with "I shall drive faster". Red Bull informed Verstappen about the deficit to Bottas and the lap times he was setting, Verstappen replied that he focused on his own pace, vary of Hamilton behind. He had given up on his chances of a victory. Raikkonen was the last driver to pit on lap 36, switching to the medium tyres, but the left front got re-attached slowly. The Finn rejoined in 16th, 12 seconds adrift of Vettel.


Albon overtook Giovinazzi for P13 ( lap 38 ) and then got past Grosjean a couple of laps later. Grosjean ran wide at turn two and had to go around the bollards which made him vulnerable to an overtake from Giovinazzi behind. The Frenchman couldn't hold onto P13 and had to relent on lap 41. Vettel was the next driver to overtake Grosjean, the two banging wheels at turn 2, and Grosjean taking out the bollards in his attempt to adhere to the Race Director instructions. The Haas drivers lost more positions with Albon relegating Magnussen to P12 ( lap 42 ) and Raikkonen getting past Grosjean for P15 ( lap 43 ). The Virtual Safety Car period got initiated by the race stewards as the marshalls went about the job of replacing the foam bollards destroyed by Grosjean earlier.


Gasly pitted from 9th, trying to take advantage of the VSC period, but it ended as soon as he entered the pit lane. He switched to the medium tyres and lost two positions in the process. Grosjean pitted for medium tyres, rejoining in 18th and last. The battle for 9th was hotting up with Norris, Albon and Gasly on laps 45 and 46. Albon closed in on Norris with DRS assistance, but Norris slowed him down on the exit of turns ten and eleven, making Albon vulnerable to Gasly who wasted no time and relegated him to 11th. It was now Gasly's turn to go wheel-to-wheel with Norris who was putting up a stoic defence. It was job done for the Frenchman on lap 48 with Albon doing the same a few corners later. The Briton eventually pitted at the end of the lap for a fresh set of medium tyres, ending up in 15th behind Raikkonen.


Giovinazzi, who was having a strong weekend with Alfa Romeo was on the cusp of scoring points again when he got past Magnussen for P11 on lap 49. Meanwhile, Verstappen at the front decided to push till the end and set the fastest lap of the race. A three-way battle unfolded between Magnussen, Vettel and Raikkonen who had reduced the deficit after completing his pit stop. Kvyat was now within DRS range of Ocon and had P7 in his sights ( lap 50 ). Verstappen reduced Bottas' lead to 5.5 seconds who responded by snatching the fastest lap of the race from the Dutchman. Raikkonen kept up the pressure on Vettel, hoping to make up a position on his former team-mate while Russell pitted for soft tyres on the penultimate lap.


Bottas took victory from Verstappen, taking home the point for the fastest lap as well. Hamilton recovered to 3rd but was unhappy with the punishment meted to him. These three drivers finished on the podium for the sixth time in 2020. Perez came home in a commendable 4th with Ricciardo finishing in 5th for Renault. The Australian retained his position despite the time penalty. Leclerc was 6th for Ferrari, followed by Ocon who held onto 7th from Kvyat. Gasly and Albon completed the top 10. The stewards had dished out a five-seconds time penalty to Albon as well, but the Thai driver, like Ricciardo, had built a big enough gap to retain the final scoring points finish.


Giovinazzi produced a fine drive in 11th for Alfa Romeo, shame that he was unable to finish in the points again. Magnussen did well to fend off a late challenge from Vettel and Raikkonen while Norris finished a dismal 15th for McLaren. Latifi was 16th with Grosjean and Russell the final classified drivers.


Mercedes were flawless in their strategy calls, and an early pit stop was damage limitation for Hamilton. Bottas kept it clean throughout and managed his race pace well. Red Bull and Verstappen weren't able to mount a serious challenge and would be happy to have split the Mercedes drivers nonetheless. Racing Point had a bitter-sweet weekend with Perez doing an exceptional job in the older-spec car but Stroll suffering from an early end to his race. Renault had the best result from the midfield teams with both drivers finishing in the points. McLaren would want to put this weekend behind them as soon as possible. Leclerc produced a stellar drive in his under-performing Ferrari, the Monegasque benefitting from great strategy calls from the pit lane. The Alpha Tauri drivers finished in the points again ahead of Albon who had another compromised weekend due to the gearbox penalty. He has the backing of the team still, but patience would be running out for some of the top brass. Giovinazzi drove a strong race for Alfa Romeo and drives such as these will help in his quest for a contract in 2021. Magnussen remained the better of the two Haas drivers while Vettel's poor form in the 2020 Ferrari continued. Raikkonen would rue his qualifying mistake since he had the speed to finish higher than he did. Williams went backwards again on a Sunday.


Bottas was going through a lean patch since his finish outside the points ( British GP ). His inability to capitalize on Hamilton's mistakes drew a lot of criticism from fans and experts alike. He vowed to keep pushing and not give up until it's over and this victory will do his confidence a world of good. Hamilton would have to wait for another day to equal Schumacher's record.


The F1 Fraternity now travel ( in a fortnight ) to the legendary circuit of Nurburgring, the venue for the Eiffel GP. Seven years have passed since it hosted an F1 race. The inclement weather has produced some exciting races in the past. Bring on round 10 of the 2020 F1 Season!

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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1596036 2020-09-24T04:12:41Z 2020-09-24T17:53:10Z 2020 F1 Mid Season Review - Can the Unrelenting Juggernaut be stopped?

F1, the pinnacle of Motorsports, celebrates its 70th year of racing in 2020. The Formula One Management drew up an elaborate plan for the season - a 22 race calendar, the longest ever in the history of the sport.


Unfortunately, the world got hit by the Pandemic COVID-19 and the start of the season seemed to be in jeopardy. Nevertheless, the FOM decided to proceed with the season-opener in Australia until they had to call it off on the Friday of the event when a couple of personnel tested positive for the virus in the paddock. The entire world then went into lockdown from mid-March, with a host of races getting cancelled or postponed. Thankfully, things started to improve, and new plans got drawn up for the season.


The season opener got shifted to Austria with most of the races announced as "closed-door" events. The 2020 season would now have 17 races consisting of triple-headers and double-headers. Some iconic tracks made an unlikely return while a couple would host an F1 Grand Prix for the first time.



The 2020 F1 Season has reached the halfway point ( an achievement in itself in 2020 ), and eight races remain before the Champions of 2020 get crowned.


It is time to review the performance of the teams and drivers at the halfway point of the season!



Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Mercedes AMG F1, the undisputed kings of the turbo era, are runaway favourites in 2020 again. The fight for the Constructors' title now remains a mathematical formality. The only blips Mercedes had were at Silverstone ( with Bottas ) and Italy where an incorrect call cost them victory. The car still suffers in the "dirty air" behind another and overtaking can be challenging, but the competitors have failed to exploit these chinks in their armour. Mercedes and Hamilton have dominated the proceedings in 2020.

Hamilton ( with six victories ) is the Championship leader, having rebuffed an early challenge by his team-mate Bottas. Bottas is settling into a "number 2" position again, contrary to his claims. The Finn's title challenge got derailed in Silverstone with the tyre delamination incident, and he hasn't been able to capitalize on any slip-ups by Hamilton. He lies a distant 2nd on 135 points and is under threat from Verstappen in 3rd. Hamilton enjoys a healthy lead of 55 points and has Schumacher's all-time wins record in his sights. A record-equalling 7th title also beckons. Is he the greatest of all time? Well, that is a debate for another day, but credit where credit is due, the Briton has been impeccable when it comes to racing in the modern era and deserves all the accolades coming his way. Bottas, unfortunately, hasn't been able to operate on the same level as his World Champion team-mate, having to settle as second best again.

Toto Wolff, the team principal, is being eyed by Racing Point ( which becomes Aston Martin in 2021 ) and Hamilton's contract is due for renewal at the end of the year, so the team has its hands full when it comes to the retaining its prized assets at the end of the year.


Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Red Bull had a strong end to the 2019 season and continues its momentum into 2020. It has emerged as the only challenger to the Mercedes, but the deficit remains wide. Unlike the table toppers, Red Bull hasn't been able to have both its drivers in the sharp end of the grid to fight for top honours. Albon has struggled to get to grips with his car on Saturday, which eventually denies him better results on a Sunday. His career-best finish and the first podium of his F1 career in Mugello would have reinstilled some confidence in his abilities. Red Bull is also doing its best to make the car suit Albon's driving style. Albon is 5th on 63 points, with a podium, and six other finishes in the top 10. His performances in the second half of 2020 will determine his retention for next year, so a lot is at stake.

Verstappen is Red Bull's trump card, and the Dutchman has capitalized on most of the opportunities presented to him. He isn't out of the reckoning for the Drivers' Title ( mathematically ), and can also easily surpass Bottas who is going through a lean patch. Verstappen is 3rd on 110 points, only 25 short of Bottas in P2. It would have been a much closer affair with Hamilton had it not been for his three retirements ( all mechanical failures ).

Honda, the engine supplier for Red Bull, has speeds comparable to that of the Mercedes power unit but still lacks the reliability of the latter. If Verstappen and Red Bull want to win championships, they need everything to be working in perfect harmony, and currently, they come up short in the face of the mighty Mercs. It also remains to be seen as to how long Verstappen will persist with Red Bull in his quest for the title. The team can't afford to lose a driver of his talent and racecraft to a rival, so they need to ensure he gets the fastest, the most reliable, and the best equipment.



McLaren F1 Team :

McLaren, one of the oldest teams in F1, is going from strength to strength in 2020. The team is third at the halfway point of the season, 14 points clear of Racing Point in 4th.

Lando Norris leads the intra-team battle with 65 points to his name while Sainz Jr has managed 41. The midfield battle is a tight affair with Albon just two points adrift of Norris in 4th and Sainz two points behind Gasly in 11th. Norris and Sainz have scored a podium each ( 3rd and 2nd respectively ), but have had mediocre Sundays too; while Norris has finished in the points on seven other occasions, Sainz has managed only four. The Spaniard has also suffered from a technical issue in Belgium and an accident in Mugello. He would like to sign off from McLaren on a strong note before heading off to Ferrari in 2021.

McLaren has done enough to attract the attention of a top driver in Daniel Ricciardo for next year, and with the switch to Mercedes power, things can only get better in 2021. They have a brilliant aero package and should retain 4th by the end of 2020. It isn't going to be a walk in the park though with Racing Point having strong points finishes practically every weekend. The team, with its capable leadership, has learnt to grind out results, even on tracks where good results were unlikely. The second half of 2020 will be an intriguing affair.



Racing Point F1 Team :

Its been an eventful year for Racing Point F1. The team's challenger, RP 20, got dubbed the "Pink Mercedes" for its uncanny resemblance to the 2019 factory Mercedes car, the W10. The controversial brake-duct design attracted the attention of various teams, leading to a series of protests and a docking of points, 15 to be exact along with a financial penalty of 400,000 Euros by the FIA. The team had breached the sporting regulations and decided against contesting the fine.

There was activity in their driver lineup for 2021 as well - Sebastian Vettel got the nod ahead of Sergio Perez to partner Lance Stroll. The news drew mixed reactions from the fans. The team will also race under a new name ( Aston Martin ) in 2021, so exciting times await the Silverstone-based outfit.

Ontrack, Perez and Stroll have been doing a commendable job, and the team sits 4th, splitting McLaren and Renault in a tightly contested midfield. Stroll bagged a podium ( 3rd place ) in Italy along with points finishes in six other races and sits 6th in the Championship. Perez is in 10th with 43 points. The Mexican's 2020 campaign suffered a setback when he tested positive for COVID-19 and had to sit out the two race weekends in the UK. Nico Hulkenberg got called as the replacement but could compete in only one race ( 70th Anniversary GP ) after technical trouble ruled him out of the British GP.

Racing Point has a capable car and will need both its drivers to maintain this momentum if they are to relegate McLaren at the end of 2020.



Renault Sport F1 Team :

Renault brought in Esteban Ocon to partner Daniel Ricciardo for 2020. The French brand has been steadily improving since its return to the sport as a full works team. The team is currently 5th in the standings, hot on the heels of Racing Point F1. Daniel Ricciardo, who announced that he would be switching to McLaren, came close to getting that elusive podium thrice this year. If we were to go by current form, he should accomplish this feat for the team in the second half of the season. Besides his three 4th place finishes, the Australian has scored points in three other races and sits 7th in the Championship with 53 points.

Ocon, on the other hand, has had a more challenging time with 5th place in Belgium being his best result. He is currently 12th in the Championship with 30 points.

Renault's commitment to F1 is unquestionable. They will race under a new avatar - Alpine Racing F1, in honour of the brand's performance division besides re-signing ( for 2021 ) Fernando Alonso, the man who won them two championships in the early 2000s. There is no substitute for experience, and Alonso will be pivotal in helping them return to winning ways. They need to keep pushing in the second half of 2020 to try and finish 4th and build themselves a great platform for 2021.



Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

"Oh, how the mighty have fallen" is the English saying that is synonymous with Ferrari's mid-term report card. The controversial double fuel flow sensor became the bone of contention and got done away with for 2020. However, this led to a sudden loss of straight-line speed for the Ferrari powered cars. In their quest to improve the aerodynamics package, the team added more downforce complicating matters. The loss of speed, coupled with the added drag, has left the team contending in the lower half of the midfield. Their decision to sign Carlos Sainz Jr for 2021 without offering Vettel a new contract has caused further unrest within the team. Fans and experts alike aren't happy with the treatment meted out to the four-time World Champion.

Charles Leclerc, the future according to Ferrari, is P8 in the Championship with two ( fortunate at best ) podium finishes and two other finishes in the points. Vettel meanwhile, managed five finishes in the points but is in 13th with sixth being his best finish ( Hungary ). Both drivers have suffered a couple of retirements ( each ).

Ferrari is in a lowly 6th in the Constructors' standings with Alpha Tauri threatening to relegate them further. Their chances of improving to fifth seem bleak, their supremo admitting that they won't return to winning ways up until 2022.

The most successful team in the history of the sport completed the milestone of 1000 GPs recently. Unfortunately, this iconic season hasn't given them much to celebrate. However, the ruling of having "closed-door" races has saved them the blushes in front of their beloved Tifosi.

They have the resources and the men to turn it all around. It is never too late.



Scuderia Alpha Tauri F1 Team :

Scuderia Toro Rosso got rechristened as Scuderia Alpha Tauri, to promote Red Bull's fashion brand in 2020. The Red Bull B Team is having a fantastic season. 

Pierre Gasly is leading the team-mate battle, having scored an unlikely victory at the Italian GP! Monza has always been a happy hunting ground for the Italian outfit, and the win is like gold-dust in a tightly contested midfield. Gasly has also scored points finishes in four other races ( Austria, Great Britain, Spain and Belgium ). The Frenchman is making a strong case for himself and should go from strength to strength in the second half of the season.

Daniil Kvyat, on the other hand, has been struggling with 7th being his best effort at the Tuscan GP. The Russian sits 14th in the Championship and needs to step up his performances to warrant a seat in 2021. His performances will be pivotal in the team's quest for P6 in the Constructors' Championship.

Alpha Tauri is only 13 points adrift of Scuderia Ferrari, and the prospect of beating the most successful team in the sport doesn't present itself every year! Franz Tost, the Team Principal, is considered to be one of the best in the business and has the will and vision to accomplish this feat. Can't wait to see what is in store in the second half of the season!



Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Team :

Alfa Romeo Racing was the best customer Ferrari team in 2019 with regular points finishes. Kimi Raikkonen was 6th in the standings going into the mid-summer break last year. However, all has changed come 2020. The team lies 8th in the standings with only 4 points to its name. Both Raikkonen and Giovinazzi have finished in the points only once with Giovinazzi yet to make an appearance in Q2. The lack of straight-line speed in the 2020 Ferrari engine is the cause of their undoing. The team's aero setup has faired well, even beating the works Ferrari on a couple of occasions, but they remain a mere shadow of their former self. A seventh-placed finish seems like a distant dream with their rivals Alpha Tauri having bagged an unlikely win this year. The team must aim to capitalize on points finishes ( whenever the opportunity arises ) for the remainder of 2020.

Raikkonen and Giovinazzi are yet to get a drive for 2021 with Raikkonen the popular choice for a contract renewal. Mick Schumacher, the legendary Michael Schumacher's son, is performing well in Formula 2, and if he meets the terms set by Ferrari ( which is finishing at least 3rd in the Championship ), the 2021 drive will be his! Giovinazzi had a strong start to the year but had a blip in form, both in qualifying and on race day. He has the talent to do well in F1, and a step-up in performances from the Italian could leave the team spoilt for choice for 2021.


Haas F1 Team :

It has been another torrid year for Haas F1. The American owned outfit persisted with their lineup of Grosjean and Magnussen contrary to beliefs that one of them would lose his drive for 2020. The duo is having yet another lacklustre year with Magnussen managing a solitary point for the team at Hungary. Lack of power in the 2020 Ferrari PU coupled with balance issues, has left the team sparring with Williams Racing at the back of the field. 

It is time for them to shift their focus to development for next year besides exploring the option of hiring a new driver lineup altogether. The team has made its commitment to the sport up until 2025 by signing the new Concorde Agreement, and Gene Haas, the owner, would not want his team to be an "also-rans" in the sport.


Williams Racing F1 Team :

Williams has been unable to stem their slide in the Turbo-Era. Russell and Latifi, their drivers for the 2020 season, have languished in the rear of the field despite having better outings on Qualifying day. The team came close to opening their account with Russell on three occasions but came up short.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The takeover by the American-based investment firm Dorilton Capital brings a promise of things getting better in the future. It is sad to see the Williams family bow out of the sport, but a change was necessary. They will finish tenth and last but can focus on building a faster car for a renewed challenge in 2021.



Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes seemed destined to lift the Drivers' and Constructors' titles for the 7th time. Bottas might still have a say, but would he be able to sustain the challenge? I highly doubt it. Verstappen and Red Bull remain the best of the rest while the Midfield Tussle is one of the most exciting aspects of 2020.


All teams have handled the various challenges of this fast-paced but truncated racing calendar with aplomb. 2020 has produced some unpredictable and exciting races. A lot can happen in the final eight rounds.


Time will reveal all!

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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1593181 2020-09-14T08:36:34Z 2020-09-14T10:53:35Z 2020 Tuscan GP Race Recap : Entanglements, Crashes, Stoppages, Restarts & Win Number 90!

The pandemic COVID-19 threatened to jeopardize the 2020 F1 Season as the world went into lockdown, and a lot of races were postponed or cancelled. Racing returned in July with a series triple-headers, the governing body planning for 17 to 18 races in the season. Many iconic tracks got added to the calendar while some made a return after a long hiatus.

Mugello had been a regular feature on the Moto GP calendar but had never hosted an F1 race. F1 however, had an in-season test here in 2012 where Grosjean had come out fastest for Lotus F1. It was also the venue where Kimi Raikkonen tested for Sauber in 2000, eventually getting him a ticket to F1 a year later. The track finally got the opportunity to host a full F1 weekend in 2020, and the race got christened "The Tuscan GP".


It would also play host to Scuderia Ferrari's 1000th GP in F1. The Italian marquee has been the most successful team in F1, having participated every year since the sport's inception and sported retro Burgundy livery to commemorate the weekend. The sport welcomed fans ( in limited number ) to the grandstands for the first time this year.


The driver market was abuzz in the leadup to the Tuscan GP. Sergio Perez announced that he would be leaving Racing Point at the end of the season with no alternate destination ( currently ). The replacement got announced the very next day, and it was none other than the 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel! The team would also change its name to Aston Martin from 2021.

Renault Sport F1 also decided to change their name and livery to Alpine Racing F1, 2021 onwards. Alpine, the brand's sports performance division relaunched in 2017 had been a regular feature in the World Endurance Championship. The cars would be powered by Renault E-Tech Hybrid Engines, however.

Simon Roberts, Williams Racing's former MD got appointed as the acting Team Principal for the transitional period.


The Italian Grand Prix threw up a major upset with Gasly taking an unlikely win for Alpha Tauri. Hamilton and Mercedes hoped to reclaim the top step in Mugello. Verstappen and Bottas looked to make amends from last weekend while Ferrari prayed for a memorable 1000th GP in the sport. The midfield battle was hotting up between McLaren, Racing Point and Renault and a good result was the need in Mugello since it marked the halfway stage of the 2020 season.


Who reigned supreme in the wilderness of Tuscany?

Time to revisit the inaugural Tuscan GP!


Practice :

Sunny skies greeted the teams on Friday morning for the start of Free Practice 1. FP1 was a learning experience for all the drivers as they explored different lines and tested the limits of their cars. It wasn't an uneventful session though with Latifi suffering a spin, barely escaping the gravel trap and Grosjean expressing his displeasure after being held up by Perez on his flying lap. Bottas was the fastest in FP1 and the first driver to set a "track record" in an F1 car. Verstappen was a close second with Leclerc finishing an unlikely third. Hamilton, Gasly and Ocon completed the top 6. The top 15 drivers had set their best lap times on the soft tyres while Russell used the mediums and the two Racing Points along with Latifi stuck to the hard tyres.
Raikkonen was P11 for Alfa Romeo, quicker than a works Ferrari driven by Vettel. The German was languishing in P13, a second adrift of his team-mate who was third. Sainz managed only the 15th fastest time while both the Racing Point cars were only quicker than one Williams.
The pecking order would change considerably in FP2 though.



Free Practice 2 got underway with Norris' session getting cut short due to a crash at turn 3. The Briton ran wide, putting his left rear wheel on the gravel that sent him into a spin making him lose his front wing and hit a concrete wall. The session got Red Flagged briefly. A technical issue on his Haas car restricted Grosjean, the Frenchman completing only five laps. Perez got into trouble with the stewards after his left front tyre clipped the rear of Raikkonen's car. The Mexican was exiting the pit lane while Raikkonen had just started a flying lap. The contact sent the latter into a spin and onto the gravel. Thankfully, he was able to continue. Both Ferrari cars suffered spins with Vettel suffering a power loss near the end of the session.
Bottas was the class of the field again, bettering the track record set by him in FP1. The top 6 were two-by-two, the Mercedes followed by the Red Bulls and the Renaults. Perez, Gasly, Raikkonen and Leclerc completed the top 10. The deficit between the Ferrari team-mates reduced with Vettel finishing in 12th, a tenth adrift of his team-mate Leclerc. The McLarens were 13th and 14th, and Kvyat was 15th for Alpha Tauri. Giovinazzi split the two Williams in 17th while the Haas cars brought up the rear of the field.


Perez incurred a one-place grid drop for his earlier misdemeanour.


It was advantage Bottas at the end of day one at Mugello. However, Hamilton finds a new gear come Saturday. Verstappen was doing all he could to keep the Mercedes duo honest, and it seemed that he would finally get some assistance from his team-mate Albon. Red Bull's pace on race simulations was encouraging as well. The midfield battle was a close on based on the results from Friday.

Free Practice 3 saw Bottas continue his dominance at the top, but the gap reduced to less than two-hundredths of a second to Verstappen. Hamilton was a further six-hundredths adrift, qualifying promising to be a close-run affair. Gasly split the two Racing Points in a commendable P5 but had a major off-track excursion at turn 11 while Leclerc ensured Ferrari representation in the top 8 with the 7th fastest time. Albon was 8th in the other Red Bull with Kvyat 9th. The big surprise of FP3 was Grosjean in 10th whose running on Friday got limited due to gremlins. Renault fell backwards with Ocon in P11 and Ricciardo in P17. McLaren too had a disappointing session with only the 12th and 19th fastest times. The chances of making it into Q2 seemed bright for the Alfa Romeo duo who were 13th and 14th fastest. Vettel's woes continued as he could manage only the 18th fastest time. A brake-by-wire failure kept Russell in the pits for almost the entirety of Free Practice 3.



Qualifying :

Williams was the first team to head out on track at the start of Q1. The rest of the field followed suit shortly after, and Gasly, Raikkonen, Russell, Grosjean and Magnussen were in the drop zone after the first set of runs. Vettel and Norris were the drivers under threat while Gasly got hampered by traffic on his first run. Bottas, Verstappen and Stroll opted to stay in the pits, and the rest went out for their final runs of Q1. A mistake in sector two compromised Russell's attempt. The Briton was on a good lap before a short trip over the edge of a gravel trap. He still improved to P12 only to fall back into elimination as others improved on their lap times. Vettel and Norris had fallen into elimination but improved to P14 and P9 respectively. Gasly was the first big casualty of Q1. The winner of the Italian GP from last week got eliminated from Q1 along with Giovinazzi, Latifi, Russell and Magnussen.
Bottas was the fastest in Q1 from Hamilton and Verstappen. Albon, Leclerc and Perez completed the top 6. It was a close call for Vettel who was relieved to make it into Q2. Raikkonen was now making it a regular feature to get into Q2 with Alfa Romeo. It was Gasly's first Q1 elimination since Belgium 2019.



The start of Q2 saw some drama in the pit lane when Racing Point released Stroll just in front of Verstappen, and the Dutchman wasn't pleased with his strategy getting compromised. Everyone opted for the soft tyres and exited the pits for their first runs of Q2. Grosjean, however, decided to stay put and adopt the "out-of-sync" strategy. The pecking order got reversed with Hamilton edging out Bottas by thirteen-hundredths of a second on his first run. Verstappen was two tenths slower in 3rd, followed by Albon, Ricciardo and Stroll. Albon was finally getting to grips with his one-lap pace while Ricciardo was "out of breath" after his first effort of Q2.
The drivers in the drop zone were Kvyat, Sainz, Vettel, Grosjean and Raikkonen. Raikkonen had used a used set of soft tyres from Q1 which explained the deficit to the rest of the field.
The top 5 chose to not run in Q2 again as the others headed out on a fresh set of soft tyres. Vettel improved on his final run, but couldn't make it into the top 10 while his team-mate Leclerc failed to improve, eventually finishing in 8th. Stroll stayed 6th fastest while Raikkonen relegated Vettel to 14th. The Iceman set an identical lap time to Sainz ( who was yet to complete his second run ) and Kvyat. Kvyat made a mistake at turn seven which sent him over some gravel, compromising his final attempt of Q2. The yellow flags from Kvyat's offtrack moment caused Perez to abandon his lap while Sainz improved to P10 and put Norris into the drop zone. The top 5 remain unchanged at the end of Q2 with Norris, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean getting eliminated from Q2. Vettel was only half a second slower than his team-mate, but that was the difference between a P8 and a P14!

The top 10 shootout was underway in Q3 with Ocon and Perez opting for only one run and Perez choosing the "out-of-sync" strategy. Hamilton was on provisional pole from Bottas and Verstappen. The deficit was only six-hundredths of a second between the Mercedes team-mates. Verstappen, four-tenths adrift seemed to be the best of the rest. Albon was the 4th fastest from Stroll, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Sainz.
Perez decided to complete his only run early in the session, desiring to have a clear track. He went 5th fastest, making it an all Racing Point third row ( provisionally ). The final minutes of Q3 saw the nine contenders head out on track for one final faceoff. Hamilton couldn't improve on his second run, a mistake in sector one costing him time. Verstappen went quicker than his previous best lap but stayed in third. There was drama in the dying minutes of the session as Ocon lost the rear of his car at turn 3, spinning him around and bringing out the yellow flags. The yellow flags in sector one compromised the lap times of all the runners behind him, and Bottas was one of them. The Finn wouldn't improve, and Hamilton claimed pole position! Albon ensured a second-row lockout for Red Bull while Leclerc gave the Tifosi some hope with the 5th fastest time. Perez and Stroll were P6 and P7 for Racing Point while Sainz split the Renaults of Ricciardo and Ocon.

It was Pole Number 95 for Hamilton with Mercedes securing a front-row lockout for the seventh time in 2020! Bottas was a bit unfortunate with the yellow flags in the end, but it was a hard-fought battle. Nonetheless, he had a great platform to mount a challenge for the win on Sunday. Red Bull was pleased to have both its drivers in the fight at the front and Ferrari pinned their hopes on Leclerc for their historic weekend. Perez was faster than his team-mate, in a car that was an older spec. Renault didn't capitalize with its drivers on Saturday but hoped for a better showing on Sunday. It had been a tough weekend for the McLaren drivers and a long afternoon awaited them on race day. The Alpha Tauri drivers made mistakes which cost them dear in qualifying, and they couldn't afford the same on Sunday. Raikkonen was the fastest customer Ferrari and even did one better than Vettel who was in the works team. The Iceman hoped to bag his first points of 2020 come Sunday. Haas and Williams struggled again and seemed destined to remain the backmarkers for this weekend as well.


Race :

Sunday was a special day for Scuderia Ferrari F1 as they celebrated their 1000th GP with a small pre-race celebration. Mick Schumacher, the son of the most successful driver in F1, Michael Schumacher, had the opportunity of driving his father's title-winning Ferrari from 2004 around the circuit. 


Pirelli chose the C1, C2 and C3 tyre compounds for this race weekend and most drivers had plans to stop twice during the race.


The drivers made it to the grid after their reconnaissance laps, and Verstappen reported issues with his power unit. There was a flurry of activity around his car as the mechanics first addressed a brake light issue and then the software and electronics. Thankfully, the power unit issue got addressed in time, and Verstappen was ready for the battle ahead.


Kvyat, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Russell and Latifi opted for the medium tyres while the rest were on softs.


The five red lights went out, and the inaugural Tuscan GP got underway! It was a slow start for Hamilton who got overtaken by Bottas and also by Verstappen. However, the Red Bull driver suffered a sudden loss of power, rapidly losing positions and ending up in a midfield tussle. Bottas led from Hamilton, Leclerc and Albon but there was mayhem further down the field. Raikkonen suffered a touch of oversteer out of turn 1, having to correct his line. Gasly was sparring with Grosjean when he ended up in a Raikkonen-Grosjean sandwich. The trio banged wheels with Gasly tangling badly with Raikkonen, getting lifted into the air momentarily and hitting Verstappen. Raikkonen couldn't control his braking due to the locked wheels and rear-ended Verstappen as well, sending the Dutchman into the gravel. Further up, Sainz got spun around by one of the Racing Point cars and suffered damage. Vettel was unable to take avoiding action and damaged his front wing in the process.

The resulting debris on track forced the stewards to deploy the Safety Car. Verstappen was out of the race for the second weekend in a row. The incident got flagged for investigation, but later got termed as a "racing incident".

Vettel and Raikkonen pitted at the end of the first lap for a new wing and a fresh set of medium tyres.

The order behind the Safety Car was - Bottas, Hamilton, Leclerc, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Ocon, Russell, Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Sainz, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Vettel.

Magnussen was a big winner, having made up eight positions on the opening lap.

It was a lengthy Safety Car period as the marshalls tried to extricate Verstappen's stricken Red Bull. 

The Safety Car peeled back into the pits at the end of lap 6 with Bottas bunching up the field to time his restart perfectly. It was a clean restart at the front, but further down, the midfield got tangled in an ugly crash on the start-finish straight. Sainz, Giovinazzi and Magnussen collided on the restart, parking up on the pit straight. Magnussen went slow at the restart, but Giovinazzi reacted quicker and went into the back of his car. The duo then collided with Sainz and Latifi which caused the Safety Car to get deployed again. Grosjean, Raikkonen and Vettel did well to avoid the mayhem in front of them.

The stewards deemed it best to Red Flag the race to remove the excess debris and the cars on the start-finish straight. Alfa Romeo and Haas also had the opportunity to inspect and repair the damage sustained by Raikkonen and Grosjean in the first lap incident. Both had extensive floor-damage, and the mechanics were busy taping up the gaps under the watchful eyes of the FIA Scrutineers.


The race restart incident got investigated, and the following drivers were issued warnings ( post-race ) for inconsistent application of throttle and brake for the restart procedure - Magnussen, Kvyat, Latifi, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Ocon, Russell, Giovinazzi and Sainz.


The restart would be a standing start again but the Red Flag period claimed another victim in Ocon. The Frenchman retired due to his brakes overheating. Only 13 cars remained at the restart. It was turning into a race of attrition. Bottas, Hamilton, Russell and Raikkonen opted for the mediums ( Raikkonen on used ) while the rest of the field was on soft tyres. Lap 9 became the formation lap for the restart. Hamilton's front brakes were smoking as he waited on the grid for the five red lights to illuminate.

Everyone had a clean getaway, but Bottas lost the lead to Hamilton into turn 1. Albon was down in P7 while Raikkonen had moved up into P10. Vettel got past Grosjean for P12 on lap 11 while Russell overtook Raikkonen for P10 a lap later. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 13 and was pulling away from Bottas and Leclerc.

Ricciardo overtook Perez for P5 on lap 15 while Vettel relegated Raikkonen to P13. The battle for the final podium position was hotting up with Stroll closing in on Leclerc. It was job done on lap 18 for the Canadian. Albon began to make amends for his poor restart with a pass on Perez for P6 on the same lap. Leclerc then lost three places in the span of three laps with Ricciardo, Albon and Perez getting the better of the Ferrari driver. He didn't want to lose more time and pitted on lap 22 for hard tyres, the team switching him to plan "C". Leclerc rejoined in 13th and last.

Hamilton, Bottas, Stroll, Ricciardo, Albon, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Russell and Vettel were the top 10 at the end of lap 24.

Ricciardo was closing up on Stroll in the battle for P3 while Leclerc cleared Grosjean for P12. Norris was in acknowledgement with the team's idea of undercutting Perez while Bottas requested Mercedes to put him on the opposite strategy to Hamilton. Ricciardo pitted on lap 28 for medium tyres and rejoined in 8th. Raikkonen pitted for hard tyres, but a slow left-rear and miscommunication with the rear jack-man kept him stationary for almost 13 seconds. He rejoined last, far adrift from the rest of the field. Meanwhile, on track Norris got past Perez for P5 on the 28th lap.

There were more pit stops over the next couple of laps with Perez, Stroll, Norris and Kvyat pitting for the mediums and Vettel, Grosjean and Russell for the hards. Perez got the jump on Norris as the undercut seemed to be the smarter call. Ricciardo was another beneficiary, displacing Stroll for P3. Perez set the fastest lap of the race on lap 32 while Bottas pitted having nursed his tyres till that stop. He switched to the hard tyres and rejoined in third. Mercedes asked Hamilton to pit, but the Briton wanted to go longer since his tyres felt fine. The team asked him to pit for "safety reasons" and cover him off against the undercut. Hamilton pitted on lap 33 for hard tyres and rejoined, his lead intact while Albon switched to the medium tyres on the same lap, emerging in 5th. Norris got past Leclerc for P7 while Raikkonen overtook Grosjean for P12. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 35 as he tried to reduce the gap to Hamilton at the front. Kvyat was closing in on Leclerc for P8, the latter's tyres losing performance. Leclerc got rid of his hard tyres on lap 38, switching to the mediums and rejoining in 11th.

Albon was the fastest man on track ( lap 40 ) and honing in on Stroll in P4. Russell had quietly moved up to P9 in his Williams, hoping to stay in the points. Mercedes asked both its drivers to avoid the kerbs since they were concerned about the health of the tyres.

There was more drama on lap 43 with Stroll crashing at turn 9. He picked up a rear-tyre puncture and was a passenger as he hit the barriers. The Safety Car got deployed for the third time, and Bottas was the first to pit for medium tyres. Ricciardo, Albon, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Vettel pitted for the soft tyres while Hamilton switched to the mediums a lap later. Replays showed the Raikkonen entered the pit lane at the last moment, cutting across the white line, which got flagged by the stewards for investigation.


The old school nature of the track meant that the extrication of Stroll's car was becoming difficult. The barriers also needed repairing, and the Stewards decided to Red Flag the race for the second time! It was a complete reset for the remaining drivers and a golden opportunity for Bottas to try for victory. The drivers returned to the pits to await further instructions about the race restart and have some maintenance work done on their cars. Meanwhile, the Racing Point of Stroll looked like a complete wreck with the marshalls having to use extinguishers to put out fires at the back of the car.

Raikkonen and Grosjean were a lap down to the rest of the field and instructed to complete a lap before rejoining the back of the queue under Safety Car for the formation lap. Lap 46 became the formation lap for the third standing start of the race! Everyone was on the soft tyres for the final stint of this race.


The lights went out and the race restarted with Hamilton getting away nicely. Bottas got overtaken by the fast-starting Renault of Ricciardo with Albon and Perez fighting wheel-to-wheel behind them. Russell, who was in P9 got bogged down at the restart and fell back to P12. Raikkonen was up into P8, ahead of Grosjean and the Ferrari drivers.

Bottas reclaimed P2 from Ricciardo on lap 48 and went about chasing his team-mate in full earnest. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 49. Meanwhile, Raikkonen got a five-second time penalty for crossing the line at pit entry in the Safety Car period earlier. The Iceman was under threat of finishing outside the points, and the team asked him to keep pushing till the end of the race.

Leclerc overtook Grosjean for P9 on lap 50 while Albon got past Ricciardo for P3 a lap later. The Thai driver looked set to bag the first podium of his career. Grosjean got relegated to P11 by Vettel on lap 51 while Hamilton extended his lead with the fastest lap of the race. Grosjean lost another position, this time to Russell who was trying to recover the places he had lost at the restart. Russell was informed about Raikkonen's time penalty, and the team asked him to keep pushing until the end. They believed they could finish 10th and take home a point at the end of the race.

Albon was closing in on Bottas, but the Finn responded with the fastest lap of the race on lap 53. Russell was now in DRS range of Vettel for P10, the duo falling away from Raikkonen and Leclerc in front. Alfa Romeo was updating Raikkonen about the gaps at the end of each lap, and the Finn consistently kept setting personal best lap times to build a buffer to the chasing pack behind him. Eventually, Vettel and Russell failed to stay within five seconds of Raikkonen. The Finn was pulling away comfortably from Leclerc as well.

Ricciardo was keeping Albon honest but was unable to mount an attack for P3. Albon had to keep it clean for two more laps, and the final podium place was his! Hamilton didn't want the point for the fastest lap to slip away and bagged it on the penultimate lap of the race. Russell couldn't sustain his challenge and fell away from Vettel.


Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Tuscan Grand Prix! Bottas was second best again, and Albon was ecstatic to bag the first podium of his career! Ricciardo matched his best result at Renault with P4, narrowly missing on what could have been a famous podium. Perez, Norris and Kvyat had escaped the midfield melee unscathed and finished in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. Raikkonen came home in 8th, but only 3.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc which meant that he would lose P8 to the Monegasque driver ( due to the time penalty ). He, however, finished P9, finally scoring his first points of the 2020 season. Vettel was 10th with Russell and Grosjean finishing just outside the points. Ironically, the three podium finishers from the previous race weekend didn't finish the race! The Tuscan GP became the longest race of the 2020 season.


Mercedes celebrated 100 Grand Prix victories since their return to F1 in 2010. Hamilton was one shy of equalling Schumacher's record of wins in F1 ( 91 ). Red Bull was pleased to see Albon finally finish on the podium, something that was long due. Ricciardo was the driver of the day and had there not been the third restart he would have won Renault's first podium since their return. He drove a flawless race. Raikkonen did a fine job after the final restart in a car that had a badly damaged floor. Alfa Romeo was steadily improving with each weekend. Ferrari was the only team along with Mercedes to have both their cars finish the race. P8 and P10 were the best they could with the lack of speed. Williams and Russell were disappointed to have finished just outside the points.

Verstappen with his third retirement of the season was out of the title race. Bottas vowed to keep pushing until the end, but Hamilton remained relentless in his quest for the 7th title.


This race was a reminder of the saying - "to finish first, first, you have to finish". Hamilton had clean getaways and made no mistakes at the front. Others kept it clean amid utter chaos which unfolded around them. This race was a test of the mental calibre, fortitude and fitness of every racer and kudos to the men who got across the finish line.


We have reached the halfway point of the 2020 season, and racing resumes in a fortnight in the city of Sochi, Russia. Will anyone be able to dethrone Mercedes on another power track?

The challengers have the time to regroup, restock, restrategize and return renewed for round ten of the season.

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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1590815 2020-09-07T11:17:35Z 2020-09-10T20:45:22Z 2020 Italian GP Race Recap : Gasly, the New Alpha at the Temple of Speed!!

Round 8 of the revised 2020 F1 Season took place at Circuit Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, also known as the Temple of Speed. The circuit situated near the city of Milan is the home Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team, and it's faithful, the Tifosi. Unfortunately this year the race was held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The FIA enforced the ban on "quali modes" from this weekend. The ban came into effect on Saturday, meaning the teams had to use a single-engine setting from the start of qualifying till the end of the race. 


Williams Racing announced that Claire Williams, the Deputy Team Principal, would step down from her position after the Italian GP weekend. The new owners Dorilton Capital chose to continue with the Williams name, but it was an end to a rich legacy of racing history. 


Mercedes reigned supreme at Spa and seemed destined for the same in Italy. Ferrari's lack of straight-line speed caused them much pain at Spa while Renault produced their best result of 2020 ( till now ). Autodromo Monza is the fastest circuit on the calendar, demanding a low downforce setup from all teams. Would there be a new winner or would status quo be maintained? How did all the teams fare at this historic track?


Time for a quick recap!


Practice :

Free Practice 1 saw Valtteri Bottas top the timesheets from Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon. Kvyat, Verstappen and Gasly completed the top 6. It was a fruitful session for Alpha Tauri, its duo within a second of the high-flying MercedesVerstappen suffered a spin at the Ascari chicane in the early part of FP1, hitting the wall and damaging his front wing and bringing out the red flags. There were a lot of cars running wide onto the gravel at turns causing "stones" to end up on the racing line which came to the notice of Raikkonen. The midfield battle resumed between Racing Point, McLaren and Renault with Perez, Norris, Ricciardo and Sainz making it into the top 10. Leclerc was P11 for Ferrari, in a car that was a mere shadow of its predecessor. Vettel had a torrid time in the other works Ferrari suffering from balance issues and locking up his tyres regularly. He could only manage the 19th fastest time. Ocon and Stroll were 12th and 13th, respectively. The Haas drivers were 14th and 15th, followed by the two Alfa Romeos. Roy Nissany, the reserve driver for Williams, got the nod for another FP1 session and was the faster of the two Williams drivers. 




Mercedes reigned supreme in Free Practice 2 with Hamilton setting the fastest ever practice time at Monza, two tenths clear of his team-mate Bottas. Turn 5 was the nemesis with a lot of drivers struggling for corner grip. Norris was the surprise of FP2 with the 3rd fastest time in his McLaren. Gasly's Friday got better with a P4 finish followed by Verstappen and Sainz who were more than a second adrift of Hamilton's time of FP2. The resurgence of Alpha Tauri continued with Kvyat in the sister car setting the 7th fastest time from StrollLeclerc and Perez. Stroll had a sparring time with the Haas cars, impeding Grosjean and then getting impeded by Magnussen on his flying lap. Leclerc had his share of off-track moments, relaying how difficult it was to drive the car. His team-mate Vettel suffered a spin ( at turn 6 ) but was able to get his car back to the pits after escaping unscathed from contact with the barriers. He managed the 12th fastest time. The Renault drivers were P11 ( Ocon ) and P15 ( Ricciardo ), but ascertaining their pace was difficult since some of their laps got deleted due to exceeding track limits. Getting a tow is invaluable on a circuit like Monza ( for better straight-line speed ), and the drivers tried to practice for qualifying by queueing up one behind the other, resulting in traffic jams, and some drivers missing their braking points. Giovinazzi however, benefitted from the tow and was P13 ahead of Albon in a Red Bull. Raikkonen, in P17, was in a Haas sandwich with Latifi and Russell bringing up the rear of the field.



Hamilton seemed to have the upper hand with regards to one-lap pace, but how large would the disparity be with the chasing pack by the banning of engine modes remained to be seen. Everyone needed to stay "within the white line" to avoid having lap times deleted. The effect of the tow could also throw up a few surprises on Saturday, needing the teams to form up an effective strategy to benefit from this.




It was a dry Saturday, and Free Practice 3 got underway with the teams running their qualifying simulations. Bottas was the fastest in FP3, three tenths clear of his team-mate Hamilton in P5. Hamilton's final run was compromised after the Briton had to make an evasive manoeuvre to avoid hitting slow-moving cars ( near Parabolica ). Renault power came to the fore with SainzNorris and Ricciardo making it into the top 4. A suspected fuel pump failure on Ricciardo's car cut his session short and briefly brought out the red flags. Verstappen slotted in at P6, his best lap on the medium tyres. Albon, Ocon and the Racing Point duo completed the top 10. Leclerc was P11 for Ferrari, just clear of Gasly and Kvyat in 12th and 13th. Grosjean, in P14, was the first driver more than a second slower of the fastest time of FP3. Vettel split the Haas drivers with Raikkonen, Latifi, Russell and Giovinazzi bringing up the rear of the field. There were a few drivers who had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 11, and this trend continued into qualifying.


The desire for a better tow along with optimum track position was leading to massive traffic jams and it became pretty evident that this could cause an accident besides denying some the opportunity to set a lap time ( a repeat of 2019 ). Some drivers were also found guilty of driving too slowly on their warmup laps. Eight drivers got summons at the end of FP3 - Latifi, Grosjean, Perez, Hamilton, Gasly, Stroll, Albon and Sainz. The incident at the Parabolica where Hamilton was the aggrieved party also got investigated.




Qualifying :

Williams and the three Ferrari-powered teams were the first cars out on track at the start of Q1. The rest of the field exited the pits with thirteen minutes left on the clock, everyone barring the Mercedes works team was on soft tyres. Leclerc, Magnussen, Gasly & Stroll had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 11. The top 6 after the first runs were Hamilton, Bottas, Perez, Sainz, Norris and Verstappen. The drivers in the drop zone were Latifi, Stroll, Gasly, Leclerc and Magnussen. The list changed again as the latter half of the field went for a second run. Meanwhile, Albon had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits and was on the cusp of elimination in P15. 

A flurry of cars exited the pits with three minutes of Q1 remaining with Perez, Sainz and Verstappen choosing to stay put. Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi were in the drop zone. The fight for the optimum tow and track position made the Alfa Romeo drivers overtake a couple of cars ahead of them, leading to complete chaos at the exit of Parabolica. Six drivers were battling on the pit straight at the start of their final flying lap of Q1. It seemed to be more of a race rather than a qualifying session as the contenders jostled for position, and the results were disastrous. Vettel got impeded by Russell and had to back out of his final run, eventually pitting and getting eliminated in Q1! Raikkonen got an excellent tow from Ocon, but the Frenchman, himself on a flying lap didn't budge, and the two were millimetres away from a high-speed collision. The replays showed how messy the out laps were for the final runs and almost all drivers got compromised on their flying laps. Russell and Raikkonen made their displeasure known over team radio.

The stewards decided to investigate the incident involving Ocon, Raikkonen and Latifi after the session.

Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi got eliminated at the end of Q1.  

Hamilton was fastest in Q1 from Bottas and Perez. Sainz, Gasly and Verstappen completed the top 6. Leclerc made it into Q2 with the 10th fastest time while Albon was fortunate to scrape through in 15th. Raikkonen and Alfa Romeo made an appearance in Q2 for the second time this season.



All teams opted for the soft tyres for their first runs of Q2, and it was Hamilton who set the fastest lap time ( on the first run ), going past the previous track record of Raikkonen set in 2018. Bottas was second quickest with only five-hundredths of a second separating Perez and Sainz in 3rd and 4th. Verstappen was P5 along with Gasly in P6, the Frenchman continuing to impress in his Alpha Tauri. Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Magnussen and Raikkonen were in the drop zone, Magnussen and Raikkonen having set their banker laps with used soft tyres from Q1. There was a beeline at the pit exit in the final minutes of Q2 with everyone on a fresh set of soft tyres. The Renault drivers had clear air and track position with Ricciardo leading Ocon on their flying laps. Ricciardo had to improve as he was only 9th fastest and was pushing hard for a better lap time. Unfortunately, an error on the exit of turn 5 sent him wide and over the gravel bringing his effort to an end. Magnussen also went wide on the second Lesmo bringing out yellow flags in sector 2. 

Bottas, however, found more pace and went the fastest at the end of Q2, making the track record his own. He was into the high 1:18s, two tenths clear of Hamilton and Sainz. Perez, Verstappen and Gasly completed the top 6. Ricciardo was the only works Renault driver in Q3 with the 9th fastest time while Albon had yet another close call in Q2 with a P10 finish.

Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Raikkonen and Magnussen got eliminated at the end of Q2. 



Q3 got underway with the Mercedes duo having a comfortable buffer to the rest of the field. Hamilton was on provisional pole from Bottas and Perez. Verstappen and Sainz were 4th and 5th fastest. Norris completed the top 6 after the first runs while Albon had another lap time deletion due to exceeding of track limits. Ricciardo, Gasly and Stroll were the others to set banker laps. Hamilton and Bottas didn't wait for the final minutes of qualifying and drove out of the pits with five minutes remaining on the clock. The rest of the field mirrored their strategy. The Mercedes cars were into the 1:18s again with Hamilton setting a new track record, en route to the 94th pole position of his career! Bottas improved on his lap but was a tenth slower than Hamilton's pole lap. McLaren sprung a surprise with Sainz who went third fastest, eighth tenths adrift of the Mercedes. It was the highest starting position for the Ferrari bound Spaniard.

It would be the first time in 2020 that a Red Bull would not feature on the second row of the grid with Perez pipping Verstappen to P4. Row three got taken up by Verstappen and Norris while Ricciardo and Stroll occupied row four. Albon and Gasly completed the top 10.


The stewards' decision was "no further action" for the incident from Q1 ( Raikkonen, Ocon & Latifi ).


It was no secret that the Mercedes would be unbeatable on a Saturday. The deficit would have only been wider if running higher engine modes were allowed. They were clear favourites, and another 1-2 beckoned. Hamilton bagged the 94th pole position of his career besides setting the fastest lap in the history of F1. Sainz had a great qualifying for McLaren and looked a serious contender for the podium on Sunday. Red Bull had Racing Point and Alpha Tauri breathing down their necks while Renault was there to capitalize on mistakes by its competitors. It was a very tight midfield, and teams had to draw up their best strategies for Sunday. Ferrari seemed destined to contend with its customer teams ( Haas and Alfa Romeo ) for yet another weekend while Williams rued a missed opportunity in qualifying and hoped to make amends on race day.


Race :

Bottas had some drama on his reconnaissance lap, locking up his tyres and his car bouncing over the kerbs. No damage suffered though.

The risk of rain during the race was 20%.

The tyre compounds available for the race were C2, C3 and C4. The top 10 started the race on the soft tyres from their Q2 session. Kvyat and Vettel chose the hard tyre, Leclerc and Ocon the softs and the rest were on mediums for the start of the race.

It was a clean getaway for Hamilton when the lights went out. Bottas had a decent start but got swamped by the McLarens into turn 1. Sainz got the jump into P2 while Norris made contact with Bottas on his overtake for P4 a couple of corners later. It got worse for the Finn with Perez and Ricciardo getting past him in the Lesmos and at Ascari.

Raikkonen and Giovinazzi moved up two and four positions on the opening lap while Albon lost six places. The Thai driver tangled with Gasly at the first turn of the opening lap and was down in P15. The incident got noted, the stewards deeming it as "no investigation necessary".

Magnussen pitted at the end of the opening lap, switching to the hard tyres, rejoining almost a minute behind the rest of the pack. He had picked up front-wing and nose damage.

Stroll got past Verstappen for P7 on lap 2, and Vettel overtook Russell for P17. Bottas suspected a slow puncture on his car, but the team assured him that all was fine. Verstappen got back into Stroll's slipstream and reclaimed P7 on lap 3. Meanwhile, Hamilton was motoring away in the lead and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4. Leclerc and Raikkonen battled for P12, but the latter put up a dogged defence. 

There was drama on lap 6. Vettel suffered a rear brake failure while fighting with Russell over P17 and was unable to brake at the first chicane. He went straight through the polystyrene board, his brake-by-wire system having exploded. Ferrari had made him aware of the situation on the previous lap, and his brakes were already on fire out of Ascari. Bits of the brake components flew off on the entry into Parabolica, eventually sending him through those boards at turn 1. He slowly made it back to the pits and into retirement on lap 7.

Albon incurred a five-second time penalty for not giving Grosjean a car's width while defending his position at turn 1. He suffered massive floor damage as a result of that contact. The Perez and Norris battle heated up on lap 9, the former having to back out of a move at turn 1. Bottas wasn't able to close up on Ricciardo, the chance of a race win dwindling with each passing lap.


Hamilton, Sainz, Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll, Ocon and Gasly were the top 10 at the end of lap 12.


The team decided to put Bottas on the alternate strategy, asking him to go longer than the cars ahead of him on his first stint ( lap 16 ). He also was asked to move off the racing line wherever possible to cool off the temperatures on his car and came under pressure from Verstappen who was in DRS range. Bottas wasn't happy about the setup and the engine settings he was on, his car struggling in the dirty air. Hamilton meanwhile had opened a ten seconds gap to Sainz at the front and looked in control.

Latifi pitted for the hard tyres on lap 17 while Albon made a move on Leclerc for P13. Leclerc didn't waste time and pitted immediately to switch to the hard tyres, rejoining in P17. Raikkonen pitted a lap later for hard tyres, rejoining in P16. The Finn was a bit confused with the strategy call by the team since he believed the medium tyres had some life left. The team wanted to cover off Leclerc and Raikkonen was forced to relent. Latifi overtook Magnussen for P18 ( lap 19 ), and Magnussen rolled to a stop near the pit entry with an engine failure.

Gasly pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in P15 and just after that the Safety Car got deployed ( lap 20 ). Hamilton and Giovinazzi decided to capitalize and pitted for mediums and hard tyres, respectively. The rest of the field stayed out since the stewards had closed the pit lane entry.

Hamilton and Giovinazzi got flagged for investigation for entering the pit lane when it was closed!! Replays showed that the lightboxes had a red cross and the duo had committed a safety breach!

The Pit lane entry cleared on lap 22 and, there was a slew of pit stops. McLaren, Red Bull and Renault decided to double stack their cars. Perez, Bottas, Kvyat, Grosjean and Russell were the others who pitted. Bottas was able to jump Ricciardo and Perez in the pit stops. It was a slow stop for Perez, his right front tyre to blame. All chose the medium tyres. Stroll was the only driver who didn't pit under the Safety Car and was up into P2. Gasly, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Leclerc and Latifi had jumped into the top 8 after the round of pit stops.

The Safety Car was in at the end of lap 23 and racing resumed in full earnest.

Hamilton was quick off the blocks with Gasly in tow. Leclerc made a double overtake on the Alfa Romeo cars, moving up into P4. Raikkonen got past his team-mate for P5, and there was a lot of action throughout the field. Sainz was past Latifi for P7, Verstappen cleared Perez for P12, the latter losing three more positions to Ocon, Kvyat and Russell. He recovered to repass Russell. Latifi lost two more places to Norris and Bottas and was down to P10 while Ocon sparred with his old nemesis Verstappen for P12 but couldn't complete the overtake. Further down the field, Albon got past Grosjean of P17.

There was more drama on lap 24 when Leclerc lost the rear of his car under acceleration out of Parabolica and got sent straight into the barriers. It was a big crash, and the Monegasque sounded a bit winded over team radio. Thankfully, he got out of his car and jogged away from the scene of the accident.

The Safety Car got deployed again, but citing the damage done to the barriers, the stewards decided to Red Flag the race. The cars headed back to the pits, and the verdict from the pit lane investigation was out. Giovinazzi incurred a ten seconds stop-go penalty for his earlier infringement. Mercedes informed Hamilton a similar punishment was coming their way.

The cars returned to the pits while the stricken Ferrari got extricated by the Marshalls.

The stewards didn't wait long to punish Hamilton with the same ten seconds stop-go penalty, and this would put him out of contention for the win ( lap 26 ).

Hamilton decided to visit the stewards' office during the break to reason with them, and Mercedes decided to change some bits on both their cars ( specially Bottas ) under the watchful eyes of Joe Bauer, the FIA Technical Delegate.

Norris was also in trouble for driving too slowly in the pit lane entry. Stroll was the biggest beneficiary of the Red Flag. He hadn't stopped for fresh tyres under normal racing conditions or during the Safety Car period and could now swap his tyres until the end of the race. He was in P2 and could inherit the lead once Hamilton came in to serve his penalty. Gasly was P3 with Raikkonen in 4th for Alfa Romeo.

The stewards decided on a standing start for the race restart, and lap 27 became the formation lap behind the Safety Car. 

The pit lane lights went green, and Hamilton led the field away for the second "formation lap" of the race. Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Ocon had opted for the soft tyres ( a dicey call ), their teams expecting them to complete a stint of 26 laps! Hamilton, Albon and Grosjean were on the hard tyres and the rest of the pack on the mediums. The incident between Verstappen and Perez from lap 24 got flagged for investigation as the cars lined up on the grid.

Hamilton had a clean restart, but Stroll lost P2 to Gasly. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi got passed him as well. Stroll had a big lock-up at the Second Variante, losing another place to Sainz but retaking it at the Ascari chicane. Kvyat got past Latifi ( for P11 ) who continued to fall backwards while Verstappen was down in P14.

Hamilton decided to serve his penalty on the next lap ( 29 ) and rejoined in last, thirty seconds adrift. Gasly led the race for Alpha Tauri with the two Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi in second and third respectively! Who could have imagined such a situation!
Meanwhile, Perez got past Latifi for P11 while Grosjean overtook Verstappen for 13th. Hamilton's other title challenger Bottas was in P7 battling for P6 with Norris. Giovinazzi served his penalty on lap 31, rejoining in P16 and last. Verstappen also pulled into the pits and retirement with an engine issue. It was a lacklustre weekend for the Dutchman.

Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 32, giving his all to reduce the deficit to the cars in front. Russell and Grosjean were sparring over P12, but the Frenchman held firm. Alfa Romeo's decision to put Raikkonen on the soft tyres was turning into a farce as Raikkonen rapidly lost places over the next few laps. He went from second to eighth in the space of five laps, losing positions to Sainz, Stroll, Norris, Bottas and Ricciardo. Thankfully, the racing was hard but fair as the Iceman put up a stoic defence but for a losing cause. The team and driver were having a heated discussion about preserving the tyres while pushing for points finish. Further down the field, Grosjean and Russell tussled over P12 and Hamilton had caught up to Albon and overtook him for P14 on lap 40.

Sainz was within three seconds of Gasly as Hamilton continued his charge up the field with overtakes on Russell and Grosjean for P13 and P12 ( lap 42 ). Raikkonen lost two more places to Kvyat and Ocon in the space of two laps. He was in P9 and under threat of finishing outside the points. Hamilton got past Latifi for P11 on lap 45 as the gap at the front reduced to two seconds. Perez went wheel to wheel with Raikkonen and relegated him to P10 on lap 46. Hamilton had caught up to the duo and put Raikkonen out of the points on the same lap. The fight for the win was hotting up with Sainz reducing the deficit to Gasly to just 1.2 seconds. These were anxious times in both the garages.

Perez lost 9th to Hamilton on lap 49, and the team asked Gasly to start pushing till the end of the race. Sainz got the license to use more battery power and closed the gap in the first sector, only to lose time in the dirty air in the second. Lap 50 saw Norris pulling away from Bottas who was falling back into the clutches of Ricciardo in the battle for P5. Hamilton picked off Kvyat for P8 on lap 51, and Raikkonen lost P11 to Latifi on the penultimate lap.

McLaren asked Sainz to "keep it clinical" and bring the car home in P2, but Sainz wanted to win this race. The battle went into the final lap, and Sainz gave it all under DRS to close up on Gasly. However, the Alpha Tauri had better exits out of the corners and was able to fend off the challenge. Further down the field, Hamilton got past Ocon for P7 and Grosjean relegated Raikkonen to P13.


Gasly took the chequered flag and victory at the Italian Grand Prix!! Sainz had to settle for 2nd while Stroll completed his recovery to 3rd. It was a missed opportunity for the Canadian, the mistakes on the restart costing him dearly. Norris came home in 4th, capping off a great Sunday for McLaren. Bottas could only manage P5 while Ricciardo held on to P6 from a charging Hamilton. It was an inspired recovery from the back of the field for the six-time World Champion. Ocon, Kvyat and Perez completed the top 10.
Latifi finished in P11, just outside the points in his Williams. Grosjean was 12th for Haas while Raikkonen had a frustrating end in 13th. Russell, Albon and Giovinazzi were the other classified finishers.



Celebrations erupted in the pit lane, the Alpha Tauri mechanics celebrating an unthinkable victory. The person responsible for their COVID tests joined them as well! McLaren was ecstatic with the second podium finish of 2020. Ontrack, Gasly was screaming with joy on the radio while Sainz was proud of the best finish of his career. He badly wanted the win for McLaren who hadn't won a race since Brazil 2012, but it was not to be. He wished for one more lap to get the job done. Ocon and Renault had an exchange of words, the team reminding him to avoid discussing sensitive matters over the radio. Raikkonen was livid with the strategy, and Alfa Romeo was apologizing for this gaffe. Latifi and Russell got on the radio to thank the Williams family for their support and wished them the best in their future endeavours.



Gasly was the first French winner since Olivier Panis' win in Monaco in 1996. It was the second victory for Alpha Tauri F1, 4371 days had passed since their last win in Monza in 2008 with Vettel. The Italian GP, their home race had become a happy hunting ground. F1 had a winner who didn't belong to Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull after 146 races. The last was Kimi Raikkonen with Lotus F1 at Australia in 2013.



The Williams Family said goodbye to the world of F1, Claire Williams emotional after her last Grand Prix with the team.
9 Constructor's Championships, 7 Driver's Championship, 114 Race Victories, 312 Podiums and 133 Fastest Laps were part of the legacy they leave behind!


The marshalls and the track representatives unfurled a gigantic Italian tricolour on the start-finish straight as the Alpha Tauri mechanics sang the Italian National Anthem with vigour during the podium celebrations.



Mercedes and Hamilton blew the chance of sure-shot victory with the pit lane infringement. Bottas had a humbling experience in the other car while Verstappen, the other title challenger to Hamilton, failed to capitalize and suffered retirement. McLaren was pleased with a strong performance while Racing Point made a recovery of sorts after a mediocre Belgian GP. Albon had a forgettable weekend, and his Red Bull seat was now under serious threat. Williams finished just outside the points unfortunately but would be encouraged with the race pace displayed by its drivers. Alfa Romeo's aggressive strategy backfired, and the team can't afford such mistakes when the chances of points finish are few and far between. Ferrari had an embarrassing weekend with double DNFs, and the absence of the Tifosi saved them further blushes. Their chances of salvaging this season are dwindling with each weekend.



Alpha Tauri and Gasly kept it clean and capitalized when the opportunity came. Honda power reigned supreme on the fastest track of the calendar. They have come a long way since their days of unreliability and lack of pace. Kudos to them! The past 18 months have been an emotional rollercoaster for Gasly, the jump to Red Bull in 2019 only to lose his seat midway through the season; then losing his friend Anthoine Hubert in Belgium and bagging his first podium ( 2nd ) in Brazil at the end of the year to winning this year with Alpha Tauri. Life had come full circle for the Frenchman. He spent a few moments in solitude on the podium, reminiscing the time gone by, remembering his deceased mate and taking in the feeling of being a Grand Prix winner. He was deserving of this honour. He fought hard, prevailed and came out triumphant. He was a new Alpha in the world of motorsport!



The next race on the calendar is the Tuscan Grand Prix. Mugello, a circuit that is a regular feature on the Moto GP calendar will host F1 for the first time. It is also Ferrari's 1000th GP, so the event has even more significance. 

Will we see a new winner in Mugello? Time will tell!




















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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1587903 2020-08-30T20:11:49Z 2020-09-05T07:26:45Z 2020 Belgian GP Race Recap : Mercedes Masterclass in the Ardennes

The third triple-header of the F1 season kicked off at the awe-inspiring circuit of Spa-Francorchamps nestled in the Ardennes forest near the town of Spa. The drivers returned after a week of respite for Round Seven of the revised racing calendar. 

There was news from the F1 world in the interim.

Dorilton Capital, US-based investment firm took over Williams Racing F1 Team. Williams Racing was a family-run outfit and the third oldest team on the grid with a great history of racing in the sport. One can only hope that this acquisition would help them get back up the field. 

All ten teams signed the Concorde Agreement confirming their participation until 2025.

The FIA also decided to delay their ban on engine modes or "quali modes" until the Italian GP weekend, the weekend after Belgium.


The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest track on the F1 calendar and demands a mix of power and balance for optimum lap times. The inclement weather and varying track conditions have the potential to play havoc in the races.


All teams carried a tribute for Anthoine Hubert, the Formula 2 racer from France who succumbed following an accident in the F2 Feature Race last year.


Here is a quick recap of the 2020 Race Weekend!



Practice :

It was a cold and windy Friday morning with grey skies in Spa-Francorchamps. Free Practice 1 got underway with only a few runners in the first thirty minutes of the session. Norris ran wide at La Source while his team-mate Sainz suffered from DRS issues. Grosjean returned to the pits after complaining about a lack of power on his first run. His car would remain on stands with what seemed to be an engine issue. Magnussen suffered a similar fate in the other Haas car.  Ferrari powered cars were slow in straight-line speed while Mercedes and Honda the quickest through the speed traps. Raikkonen and Hamilton tried different setups with their rear wings to get the right balance. However, it was birthday boy Valtteri Bottas who was fastest in FP1. He suffered a puncture near the end of the session but was able to return safely to the pits. Less than a second covered P1 from P12 and a tenth the top 3. Hamilton was P2 from Verstappen and Perez. Stroll and Albon completed the top 6. 

Renault powered cars were in the top 10 with Ocon, Sainz, Ricciardo and Norris. Kvyat and Gasly were 11th and 12th for Alpha Tauri and Raikkonen 13th for Alfa Romeo. Leclerc and Vettel could only manage 14th and 15th while Latifi and Russell completed the list of those who set a lap time. Giovinazzi suffered from technical issues and was the third driver ( besides the Haas duo ) unable to set a lap time.


There was a downpour during Formula 3 qualifying, but the track dried up at the start of Free Practice 2. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen were the first drivers on track with the former trying to make up for the time lost in FP1. Raikkonen suffered from tyre vibrations throughout FP2 and Norris reported abnormality in engine power which got addressed in the pits. Woes for Haas F1 continued into FP2 with the mechanics trying to make both cars track-worthy. Magnussen and Grosjean were finally able to get some laps with thirty minutes left of the session, both on new power units. As more rubber got laid, the lap times started going down. It was Verstappen who reigned supreme in FP2 with Ricciardo catapulting his Renault into P2. It wasn't a trouble-free session for the Australian though with Renault asking him to bring the car to a halt on the Kemmel straight with what seemed to be a hydraulics issue. Hamilton looked well settled in P3 while Albon got the other Red Bull into the top 4. Racing Point had representation in the top 6 with Perez and Bottas had a couple of hairy moments at Les Combes, ending the session in P6. Norris was P7 for McLaren from Ocon, Sainz and Gasly. Stroll's best lap fetched him the 11th fastest time, but on the medium tyres. Kvyat was P12 from Giovinazzi and Raikkonen. Ferrari had a forgettable Friday with Leclerc down in P15 and Vettel suffering a series of lock-ups to finish the session in P17. Russell split the Ferraris while Latifi and the two Haas cars brought up the rear of the field.

Red Bull with Verstappen seemed to be a worthy challenger for pole on Saturday and Albon looked more settled with his one-lap pace. Mercedes looked primed and ready for qualifying Saturday while the Ferrari powered teams were sweating after a troublesome Friday. The works team had a lot of setup changes to perform if they were to mount any challenge come Sunday. Belgium has always been a happy hunting ground for Racing Point, and Friday running didn't suggest otherwise. Renault was in the mix only if they could keep their gremlins away. Alpha Tauri drivers seemed to have become consistent top 10 performers and were bullish about qualifying.


The final practice session before Qualifying ( FP3 ) got underway with cloudy skies and intermittent light rain. However, the weather didn't warrant the need for Intermediate tyres. The Haas duo were the first cars out on track and completed six laps each before light rain set in. McLaren and Alpha Tauri were the other teams to venture out, but only for installation laps. Raikkonen complained about battery issues and had to return to the pits for some settings change. The mechanics were busy at work, repairing the floor of Norris' McLaren and taping up bits on Sainz' car as well. Everyone had set representative lap times by then, some with soft tyres and some with mediums and hards. All drivers drove out with a fresh set of soft tyres with five minutes remaining on the clock for their low fuel runs. The Haas drivers had a clear track and set their respective lap times. Bottas made a couple of mistakes on his first run, running wide at La Source and couldn't improve his lap time. The Bus-Stop chicane saw a queue of cars lining up to gain an optimum launch for their laps. Hamilton was the fastest in FP3 from Ocon and Norris. Albon was P4 for Red Bull from Bottas' best attempt ( on mediums ). Verstappen's run on soft tyres was compromised due to traffic and couldn't go faster than his time on the medium tyres. Ricciardo set the 7th fastest time.
Stroll was P8 for Racing Point from Sainz and Perez. A mistake on his final run denied Perez a better lap time on soft tyres, and he got summoned by the stewards for allegedly impeding Grosjean. The Alpha Tauri cars continued to be competitive with the 11th and 12th fastest times from Latifi in a Williams in 13th. Magnussen was the fastest Ferrari powered car in 14th from Grosjean and Raikkonen. Ferrari was languishing in 17th with Leclerc and last with Vettel. They were slower than their customer teams, and the possibility of a Q1 elimination seemed real! Russell and Giovinazzi split the Ferraris in 18th and 19th.



Qualifying :


The threat of rain loomed large at the start of Q1, and the Haas cars were again out on track early. Many teams experimented with slip-streaming between their drivers. Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Sainz, Verstappen and Albon were the top six after the first set of runs with Latifi, Raikkonen, Vettel, Grosjean and Magnussen the drivers under threat. Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, was hanging on precariously in P14. The final three minutes of Q1 saw a flurry of cars head out, and spar over track position and clean air. Bottas and Verstappen from the top 6 and everyone from P7 ( bar Ocon ) went for another run in Q1. There were improvements on the final run of Q1 and Vettel jumped out of danger to 13th. Leclerc was on the cusp of elimination, but no driver was able to beat his time. Magnussen's off-track excursion at turn 14 didn't help matters either. Raikkonen, the only challenger, missed the cutoff by eight-hundredths of a second! Raikkonen, Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Latifi and Magnussen were the eliminations of Q1. Hamilton was the quickest in Q1 from Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Stroll and Kvyat. Russell maintained his record of making it into Q2 ( 14th ) while Ferrari scraped through in 13th and 15th, saving themselves an embarrassment.



Q2 got underway with tyre choice being a pivotal decision for both team and driver. Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll and Perez opted for the medium tyres while the rest of the field chose the softs. Hamilton was fastest from Bottas and Verstappen after their first runs while Ricciardo, Ocon and Albon completed the top 6. The decision to run medium tyres didn't work for the Racing Point cars, and they could manage only the 11th and 12th fastest times. Vettel, Leclerc and Russell were the others in the drop zone, Russell returning to the pits after aborting his lap. It was time to refuel, take a breather, put on a fresh set of tyres and go again. Ricciardo couldn't join the rest of the field due to a brake-by-wire issue. He was in 4th and hoped to make it into Q3. The Racing Point duo made the sensible decision to switch to the soft tyres for their final run, and both made it back into the top 10. Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen were on quick laps but backed off right at the end to not jeopardize their tyre choice for the race on Sunday. The top 2 were unchanged with Albon improving to third on his final run of Q2. Verstappen, Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Ocon, Perez, Norris were through to Q3 while Kvyat, Gasly, Leclerc, Vettel and Russell got eliminated. However, those eliminated would be eligible for a free tyre choice. 


It was time for the top 10 to faceoff in Q3. Hamilton flexed his muscles and pulled away from the rest of the field. The Briton set a new track record, half a second clear off his team-mate. Bottas made a couple of mistakes which cost him time around sectors 1 and 2. Ricciardo overcame his brake-by-wire issues and was third fastest on his first run of Q3 from Verstappen and Albon. Positions six to ten after the first run of Q3 were: Sainz, Ocon, Perez, Stroll, Norris.
Tow and slip-stream duties were switched between team-mates after their first runs with Albon assisting Verstappen and Ocon giving a tow to Ricciardo. Racing Point didn't send their cars back on track which came as a surprise to many. Hamilton was flying again and went even faster, beating his own time to bag the 93rd Pole of his career! It was a new track record at Spa-Francorchamps. Bottas improved on his final run but was still half a second adrift. Verstappen retook P3 from Ricciardo who had a scruffy lap and bailed out of it. Verstappen was a hundredth of a second away from a front-row start and rued the decision to use up his battery power on the early part of his flying lap. Ricciardo sealed his best qualifying position at Spa-Francorchamps in P4. Albon qualified in a commendable P5 with Ocon ensuring both Renaults made it into the top 6. Sainz and Perez occupied row 4 and Stroll and Norris row 5.



Hamilton and Mercedes were the class of the field once again. Bottas wasn't displeased about a front row start and hoped to use the tow from Hamilton to challenge for the lead on the Kemmel Straight. Red Bull was pleased to have both cars in the top 6 and knew they had the pace to fight the high-flying Mercs. Renault's resurgence with Ricciardo continued with Ocon joining the cause as well. A close contest with their ex-customers ( Red Bull ) awaited them. Racing Point would be disappointed with a poor showing on Saturday, setup changes for what could be a rainy Sunday possibly to blame. McLaren and Alpha Tauri looked as strong midfield teams. Ferrari had a dismal two days. They were the only team who failed to go faster than their lap times set in 2019. It seemed that they would be contending with other Ferrari customer teams and Williams come Sunday. Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 remained the backmarkers of 2020.



Race :

The sky was sunny on Sunday with rain predicted later in the race. The cars left the pitlane for sighting laps, and Sainz reported a problem in his car with smoke spewing out the back of his McLaren. The Spaniard returned to the pits for inspection, but the problem was terminal. He would not start the race due to an exhaust failure. 

The drivers took part in the "End Racism" campaign on the grid followed by a minute's silence to honour the memory of Anthoine Hubert. It was a sober moment for everyone and a reminder that motorsport is dangerous. 


Leclerc adopted an aggressive approach for the start of the race by choosing soft tyres. Gasly decided to go deep into the race with hard tyres while others outside the top 10 chose the mediums.


The race got underway, and it was a clean start for everyone. Bottas was unable to pressure Hamilton into Eau Rouge and Raidillon, but Ricciardo was all over Verstappen for P3. Their battle carried on into Les Combes, but Verstappen managed to hang onto P3. Further down the field, Leclerc extracted the maximum out of his soft tyres and was up to P8 while Giovinazzi and Magnussen moved up four and five places respectively. Norris ran wide at Les Combes and lost positions, relegating him to P11. Raikkonen overtook Russell to retake P16 on the opening lap while Gasly made a move on Perez for P9 on lap 2. The Frenchman wasn't pleased with the Racing Point driver for squeezing him into the wall while defending his position out of La Source.


Hamilton's lead over Bottas was over a second already, and Leclerc was under pressure from Gasly after his mega start. Leclerc lost two positions to Gasly and Perez in the space of two laps, the Ferrari a sitting duck on the Kemmel Straight. Raikkonen overtook Magnussen for P15 on lap 4 with Russell doing the same a lap later. The Mercedes duo was pulling away from the rest of the field and exchanging fastest laps. Meanwhile, Ferrari was down in 10th and 13th, clinging on to the final points-scoring position. Leclerc's defence of P10 didn't last long, and he yielded to Norris on lap 6. Grosjean overtook his team-mate for P17 while Bottas requested permission to attack Hamilton, but the team asked him to hold station, as discussed earlier in the pre-race brief. Leclerc kept going backwards with Kvyat snatching P11 from him on lap 7. Gasly caught up to Stroll, and both went wheel to wheel for P7. Magnussen also had to defend his place from Latifi further down the field. Hamilton was managing the gap at the front and trying to extend his stint as much as possible. 


There was a massive crash out of Fanges on lap 11. Giovinazzi and Russell got eliminated from the race. Giovinazzi, in P14, ran wide out of Fanges, spinning around, the rear of the car hitting the barriers. A loose wheel from his car went across the track and struck the right front of Russell's car who was trying to take avoiding action. The impact sent Russell into the barriers on the opposite side, the halo saving him from a serious incident. The Haas cars went through unscathed, but there was debris strewn across the track. The stewards decided to deploy the Safety Car.


It was a bit early for those on the medium tyres to pit, but they did nonetheless. Leclerc, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Latifi were the first to pit. Ferrari wasn't ready for Leclerc, and the stop cost him track position to Raikkonen. Mercedes and Renault decided to double-stack their pit stops, and it was close for Bottas who exited the pits just ahead of Verstappen. Albon, Stroll, Norris, Kvyat and Vettel were the final set of drivers to pit under the safety car. All drivers except Albon ( medium tyres ) were on the hard tyres. Perez and Gasly chose to not pit and were P4 and P5 after the round of pit stops.


Racing resumed on lap 15 and Hamilton had a clean start again. Stroll came under intense pressure from Norris but defended his position. Raikkonen overtook Vettel for P12 on lap 16 without the use of DRS, an embarrassment for Ferrari to see its customer performing better than its works' car. Ricciardo made light work of Perez for P5 on lap 17 who was then under pressure from Albon and Ocon. It was job done for Albon a lap later. Perez eventually pitted on lap 19 for hard tyres, rejoining in 17th and last. Leclerc tried a move on Vettel at the end of the Kemmel Straight, the duo banging wheels and Leclerc having to relent to avoid further contact. Ricciardo's charge up the field continued with a move on Gasly for P4 ( lap 21 ).


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon, Ocon, Stroll, Norris, Kvyat were the top 10 on lap 22. 


Perez overtook Latifi for P16 ( lap 23 ) and Magnussen for P15 ( lap 24 ) while Albon got past Gasly for P5 ( lap 24 ). Hamilton's pace at the front was unrelenting with fastest lap times on laps 25 and 27. Leclerc pitted again on lap 26 for a set of medium tyres, but it was a slow stop, the team having to refill some pneumatic pressure in his car. He rejoined in 17th and last. Ocon finally got past Gasly for P6 on lap 26, and Gasly pitted a lap later for his only stop, switching to the medium tyres for his final stint. He rejoined in 16th. Gasly got past Latifi for P15 on lap 28. Vettel communicated to the team that he wouldn't be able to pass the cars ahead of him and demanded a pit stop. However, the team didn't seem keen on heeding his request. An overtake by Perez for P11, a lap later, added insult to injury. Gasly was moving up the field rapidly with overtakes on both the Haas drivers and honing in on Vettel. Verstappen reported vibration on his tyres ( lap 31 ) while Latifi pitted for medium tyres. Gasly completed his move on Vettel for P12 on lap 32, the German locking up his tyres and running wide under braking. 


Perez was in DRS Zone, and it was an easy overtake on Raikkonen for P10 on the Kemmel Straight ( lap 33 ). Gasly caught up and did the same a lap later. Bottas reported numbness in his left leg while vibrations on Verstappen's car were getting worse. The top 3 were told by their teams to look after their tyres to avoid a repeat of Silverstone. Leclerc went past Magnussen ( for P15 ) who pitted for soft tyres on the same lap. Perez and Gasly got past Kvyat on lap 37, Kvyat making way for his team-mate who was on an alternate strategy. They were back into points-scoring positions. Norris completed an overtake on Stroll for P7.


Hamilton made a rear error at the Bus Stop Chicane, locking up his tyres and going wide. Bottas made the same mistake a couple of laps later, the lock-ups not helping their tyre management efforts. Mercedes asked Bottas to avoid using the kerbs on the "right side" as the drivers started to lose mechanical grip. Hamilton too didn't feel confident about the health of his front tyres. Gasly completed a move on Perez for P9 on lap 40 while Ocon went wheel to wheel with Albon, but the Thai driver defended well. 


There was a battle unfolding for P5 between Albon, Ocon and NorrisRicciardo was reeling in Verstappen who was closing in on Bottas. The last three laps promised a lot of action. Ocon tried an overtake on Albon again ( on lap 42 ) but couldn't make it work. Gasly overtook Stroll for P8 on the penultimate lap, a brilliant charge up the field after his pit stop. Ocon finally completed his move on Albon on the final lap while Leclerc went past Grosjean for P14.



Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag victory at the end of 44 laps from Bottas and Verstappen. A charging Ricciardo reduced the deficit to Verstappen to only three seconds and also set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap! Ocon came home in fifth for Renault from Albon and Norris. Gasly, the driver of the day finished in P8, Stroll and Perez completing the top 10. 
Kvyat, Raikkonen, Vettel, Leclerc, Grosjean, Latifi and Magnussen were the drivers who finished outside the points.



It was Win Number 89 for Lewis Hamilton and another 1-2 for Mercedes in 2020. The team would be happy to go away with the best result possible from both its drivers. Red Bull continued to come up second best and need both their drivers to be involved in the battle at the front. Renault would be ecstatic with 4th and 5th, their best result in 2020 till now. It was damage limitation for McLaren after one car failed to start the race due to technical issues. Gasly produced yet another stellar drive, making a strong case for himself to drive with the Red Bull A team. Racing Point would be mulling over what went wrong with their cars at Spa. They hoped for a better Sunday. Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest Ferrari powered car, showing there is no substitute for experience. Alfa Romeo would take some positives from his result. A mistake proved costly for Giovinazzi, but the Italian displayed strong race pace up until then. Haas F1 and Williams had a mediocre weekend again.


Belgium was a humbling experience for Ferrari. The Prancing Horse, which was so dominant a year back, finished in a dismal 13th and 14th. Change is necessary and imminent. They cannot continue like this. They need to salvage whatever they can in 2020.




The next race is at the Temple of Speed, the Home of the Tifosi, in Ferrari homeland, in Monza, Italy. The fastest circuit on the F1 calendar, Monza holds a special place in the hearts of drivers and fans alike. Sadly, the fans will not be able to witness the race live on track, but for some, it might prove to be a blessing in disguise!




BRING ON ITALY!!


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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1583681 2020-08-16T21:30:24Z 2020-08-17T06:27:19Z 2020 Spanish GP Race Recap : Hammer Time in the Mediterranean

The Circuit de Catalunya was the venue for the sixth round of the 2020 Formula One season and the last race of the second triple-header of 2020. The circuit, situated in the town of Montmelo near Barcelona, Catalunya is the most used track on the calendar with the teams participating in two pre-season tests held here besides the GP itself. The Spanish GP is held in May but got postponed to August due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that has a "little bit of everything" and tests the true capability of a car. Deficiencies if any, are exposed on this fast, flowing, high downforce circuit and the respective lap times indicate the real pecking order of the F1 grid.


The recently concluded 70th Anniversary GP served up a thrilling race thanks to the tyre choice made by Pirelli for the second weekend in Silverstone. However, the Italian marquee decided to take a conservative approach for Catalunya and chose the hardest tyre compounds ( C1, C2 and C3 ) for the Spanish GP weekend. 

Sergio Perez, who had missed the two races at Silverstone, returned to racing with Racing Point after testing negative for Covid-19. 

The FIA also decided to ban "quali modes" after the Spanish GP weekend, intending to bring more parity in the field. The teams will have to run the same engine mode for qualifying and the race from next GP ( Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium ).


More Details about the ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-engine-modes-what-are-the-proposed-changes-and-why-do-they-matter.OI3cSGqWS6mONcBHUFncL.html


Red Bull bagged a great victory with Max Verstappen at the 70th Anniversary GP. Mercedes suffered due to the higher track temperatures and tyre blistering.

The weather forecast for the Spanish GP weekend wasn't any different.


Did we have a repeat of the previous race or did Mercedes overcome the gremlins to take another victory in 2020? Did Ferrari have a better outing with a higher downforce package? Were Racing Point, Renault and McLaren able to get into the sharp end of the grid? Were Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo able to score points this weekend?

Time for a recap of the events from the weekend!



Practice :


Vettel ( Ferrari ) and Sainz ( McLaren ) got a new chassis for the weekend, the duo hoping to address the issues they faced from the opening rounds. 

Williams Reserve Driver, Roy Nissany got the nod for a practice session, in place of George Russell, the Israeli rookie following his father's footsteps who was the reserve driver for Minardi in 2005. Stroll and Perez came within close contact of Bottas and Raikkonen in the tight and twisty last section of the circuit. The Finns had to relent and give up on their laps. Bottas narrowly missed hitting a bird on one of his flying laps while debutant Nissany suffered a spin ( at turn 10 ) while getting to grips with his Williams. George Russell took to pit lane duties and acted as the lollipop man for his team. 
Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1, four-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate Hamilton. Verstappen was third lastest, less than a second adrift. Leclerc and Vettel were 4th and 5th for Ferrari with Grosjean joining them in the top 6 in his Haas. Perez was P7 for Racing Point. Albon, Magnussen and Stroll completed the top 10. McLaren could only manage P11 and P13 while the Renault drivers set the 12th and 18th fastest times. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen ( P15 and P16 ) split the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Kvyat. Latifi and Nissany were 19th and 20th for Williams.

Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres except for Perez, Stroll, Ocon and Nissany who were on mediums.


Free Practice 2 was an eventful session with low fuel runs and racing simulations for almost all drivers. Mercedes was the class of the field with Hamilton, three-tenths of a second clear of Bottas. A wobble at the exit of turn 15 along with a trip across the gravel denied Bottas a clean session. Verstappen kept the Mercedes duo honest in third while Ricciardo catapulted his Renault to P4. Haas F1 was in the top 6 again with Grosjean repeating his performance of FP1 with the 5th fastest time. Leclerc ensured works Ferrari representation with P6 while Sainz improved to P7 for McLaren. The Spaniard still struggled with cooling issues on his car. The Stewards reprimanded Sainz for using the run-off area for gaining a position on a slower car, the manoeuvre saving him brake usage. Perez was P8 for Racing Point while Ocon got both Renault cars into the top 10 with P9. It wasn't a trouble-free session for the Alpha Tauri duo with both drivers spending a considerable amount of time in the garage. However, Gasly was able to set the tenth fastest time while Kvyat was only P15, his flying lap compromised by a Williams on the racing line. Stroll was P11 for Racing Point while Vettel was down to P12 in his Ferrari. Albon's travails on a Friday continued with only the 13th fastest time. Norris was P14 from Kvyat, Magnussen, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Russell returned in FP2 but was critical of the lack of grip quipping that it felt like "driving on ice". He was the slowest of the session, three-tenths of a second off his less experienced team-mate Latifi's best time. 

Only six-tenths of a second separated P6 from P16, suggesting a tight midfield battle could unfold on Qualifying day. Haas was encouraged by their strong showing on Friday while Alfa Romeo still had no answer for their lack of pace. Red Bull was the best of the rest on Friday with Mercedes holding a considerable advantage over one lap pace. The race simulations in FP2 saw some running the medium tyres and some the hards. The Red Bull cars did comparable lap times with the Mercedes cars on the medium tyres. Christian Horner, the Red Bull Team Principal, believed that this could reduce the deficit come Sunday.


Haas F1 broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night to change the Power Unit on Grosjean's car, the first of their two exemptions in the season. McLaren changed the Internal Combustion Engine, MGU-H and MGU-K to mitigate any issues of cooling on Sainz' car.  


Hamilton led another Mercedes 1-2 in Free Practice 3. Searing track temperatures put a strain on the soft tyres with Mercedes asking its drivers to drive under the shade of the grandstands to cool them down. The lap times got faster as drivers laid rubber on the track. Hamilton made full use of track evolution and was a tenth and a half clear of his team-mate. Verstappen was third, half a second slower with Sainz, Perez and Leclerc completing the top 6. Alpha Tauri looked strong going into Qualifying with P7 for Gasly. Stroll, Albon and Ricciardo completed the top 10. Ocon was P11 but suffered a late crash that brought out the Red Flag and ended the session. The Frenchman got overtaken by Magnussen who seemed to back out of his flying lap three hundred metres later. Magnussen then tried to move off the racing line to the middle of the track when Ocon caught up at turn 3. Ocon, however, didn't react soon enough and had to do a hard turn to avoid ramming Magnussen from behind. The sudden change of direction sent him into the wall, damaging the front portion of his Renault. The stewards investigated the incident but deemed it as "no action necessary" since data on Magnussen's car showed that he was harvesting energy and Ocon had enough time to react. Vettel was P12 in the other Ferrari, ahead of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Norris could only manage P15 with Kvyat, Magnussen, Giovinazzi and the two Williams bringing up the rear of the field. 



Qualifying :

It was a long afternoon for Renault mechanics who got Ocon's car ready, just in time for qualifying. Q1 got underway with the entire field opting for soft tyres. It was a close contest with one second separating P1 from P15. Hamilton, Perez, Stroll, Bottas, Verstappen and Sainz were the provisional top 6 with Grosjean, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Latifi and Giovinazzi in the drop zone. Giovinazzi asked the team to check for floor damage after running wide on the penultimate corner and bouncing over the kerbs. Kvyat had allegedly impeded Magnussen on his flying lap, the stewards deeming it necessary for investigation post-qualifying. A huge bottle-neck formed up in the final minutes of Q1 as the drivers jostled for clear air and track position. The lap times tumbled due to track evolution. Raikkonen catapulted his Alfa Romeo to P14 before ending on the cusp of elimination. The others behind couldn't go faster. Alfa Romeo was into Q2 for the first time this season! Magnussen, Grosjean, Russell, Latifi and Giovinazzi were the drivers eliminated in Q1 with Hamilton being the fastest from Perez, Verstappen, Bottas and Leclerc. The loss of pace for Haas F1 flummoxed one and all, the chances of a promising result seemed bleak.


Tyre choices dominated team discussions in Q2. The teams would run "quali modes" for the last time in the turbo era. All the drivers opted for the soft tyres for their first run in Q2. The order after the first runs was - Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Stroll, Norris, Albon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Ocon, Gasly, Kvyat and Raikkonen. Both the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen chose not to run in Q2 while the rest of the field bar Raikkonen exited the pits on a fresh set of soft tyres. Raikkonen didn't have any new soft tyres left and had to use the mediums for his final run in Q2. The top three remained unchanged with Stroll improving to P4 and Gasly producing a stellar lap to jump up to P5. Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Albon and Norris completed the top 10. Albon and Norris scraped through to Q3, escaping elimination by five-thousandths and three-thousandths of a second! A lucky escape indeed! Most of the runners were unable to improve on their final runs into Q2, track temperatures going outside the operating range of the soft tyres being the probable cause. Vettel was the big casualty of Q2, failing to make it into Q3 again by the smallest of margins. These setbacks never seemed to end for the four-time world champion. Kvyat was P12 while Renault had a forgettable Saturday with Ricciardo in P13 and Ocon in P15. Raikkonen qualified P14 for Alfa Romeo, faster than a Renault, with medium tyres and narrowly missing a chance of getting into Q3 ( 0.22 seconds slower ). He believed the car had the pace to qualify in the top 10, but for the shortage of soft tyres!


The top-ten shootout got underway a few minutes later. Red Bull released Albon into the path of Hamilton, the latter having to take evasive action. The contenders for pole were out on soft tyres for their banker laps in Q3. Five chose the used soft tyres for their first run - Norris, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Albon. 

Hamilton was on provisional pole, five-hundredths of a second clear of Bottas in P2. Verstappen was P3 from Perez, Stroll and Norris. Leclerc, Albon, Sainz and Gasly completed the provisional top 10. The final minutes of Q3 saw changes in the pecking order with everyone switching to a fresh set of soft tyres. Bottas set the fastest overall time in the second sector but ran out of grip in the final section. He couldn't improve on his first run. Hamilton couldn't improve on his previous lap time either. The Racing Point cars of Perez and Stroll were unable to break into the top 3. Verstappen pushed hard in his Red Bull yet failed to split the Mercedes. Albon improved to P6 in the other Red Bull followed by Sainz and Norris in P7 and P8. Leclerc had reported abnormal engine behaviour on his out-lap but went faster on his final run. He was P9 from Gasly, both a second and a half adrift of the fastest time. Kvyat got a formal warning for his impeding infringement in Q1.


Hamilton was on pole for the 92nd time in his career! Bottas completed a Mercedes front-row. Red Bull was pleased to see both their cars in the top 6 while Racing Point posed a potent challenge to the Milton-Keynes based outfit. The McLarens were there again, ready to pounce on any slip-ups by the drivers ahead. Ferrari continued to be off the pace, despite their higher downforce setup. Alpha Tauri had a great qualifying session and hoped to score some points on Sunday. It was a better showing for Alfa Romeo on Saturday while Renault had their work cut out for Sunday. Haas F1 and Williams Racing were a disappointment, yet again. 



Race :

Red Bull changed the ICE, Turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K on Verstappen's car ahead of the race. They were components used earlier, so no penalty incurred. Racing Point also took new control-electronics and energy store for Perez. 

There was a 20% risk of rain during the race. Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Ocon, Grosjean, Latifi and Giovinazzi started the race on medium tyres, the rest choosing the softs. The Mercedes drivers used their DAS system to good effect on the formation lap, bringing their tyres to optimum temperatures.




Hamilton had a clean start off the line with Bottas' slower launch getting him swamped into turn 1. Verstappen and Stroll got mega starts and used the tow to jump him on the 600m drag to turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2 with Stroll demoting Bottas to P4. Perez tried to make it worse for the Mercedes driver but couldn't make it work. Norris got bogged down and fell back to P10. Further down the field, Giovinazzi made up a place on Latifi while Ricciardo also gained a couple of places. Gasly was up to P8 while Kvyat made a pass on Ricciardo for P12 on lap 2.


Hamilton was 1.5 seconds clear of Verstappen at the front. Mercedes asked Bottas to quickly dispatch Stroll so that his race wouldn't be compromised. He tried a couple of times with DRS assistance but the Canadian held firm. It was job done on lap 5 with Verstappen the next target, three seconds further up the road. Russell got past Grosjean for P17 on the same lap as Verstappen tried to maintain his advantage with the fastest lap of the race. Bottas, in clean air, went faster on lap 6. Red Bull informed Verstappen that the gap to Hamilton was reducing, the Briton trying to control the pace of the race while extending his stint on the soft tyres. Albon, in the other Red Bull, was closing in on Perez whose tyres had started to overheat. 


The top ten at the end of lap 10 were Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Albon, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Norris. McLaren was confident about "Plan A" ( race strategy ) for Sainz, as communicated to him on the team radio. 


Hamilton put in a series of fastest laps from laps 10 to 13 as Verstappen continued to complain about his tyres and a tail-wind which had picked up out of turn 7, hampering his drive. The field had begun to spread out with only Kvyat and Raikkonen the drivers within DRS range of the cars in front of them. Kvyat tried to make a move on Vettel for P11 under DRS but wasn't close enough. The battle for P14 was hotting up between Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon. 


Albon was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 18 for hard tyres. He rejoined in P16, right in the thick of the Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon battle. Russell pitted on lap 20 for medium tyres, rejoining in P20. Albon tried to make an overtake on Ocon but had to back out of it. Ocon, on the other hand, got past Raikkonen for P15 with Albon doing the same a couple of corners later. The Alfa Romeo driver had no more grip and pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 21.


Frustration over lack of grip due to tyre-wear left Verstappen fuming. Red Bull fulfilled his wish to pit, on lap 22, executing a 1.9 seconds pit stop to bring him out just ahead of Stroll and Perez in P3 with medium tyres. A flurry of pitstops followed over the next couple of laps. Gasly, Norris, Kvyat and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 23 with Norris choosing the soft tyres and the rest, the mediums. Mercedes decided to do a "double-stack" and pitted both its drivers for a fresh set of mediums. It was a slower stop for Hamilton with an issue on his left rear tyre. Thankfully, he didn't lose track position to Verstappen. Bottas, however, was demoted back to P3 after their first round of pit stops. Sainz pitted on lap 25 for soft tyres and rejoined in P12, being passed by Albon out of turn 1. 


Kvyat made a move on Latifi for P16 while Albon got stuck in traffic in P11, the strategy call not paying off. He came under intense pressure from Sainz who was on fresher tyres. Verstappen wasn't too pleased with Red Bull continuously informing him about the strategies adopted by the Mercedes duo. He reprimanded his engineer for being too preoccupied with what others were doing and asked him to focus on their performance instead. Meanwhile, Kvyat went past Grosjean for P15 and Raikkonen overtook Latifi for P18. Stroll pitted on lap 28 for mediums and rejoined in P8. Magnussen lost places in the space of one lap to Ocon, Albon and Sainz. He immediately pitted, along with Latifi, for fresh medium tyres while Latifi switched to the hard set. There was more action on track with Sainz relegating Albon to P11 on lap 29, thanks to his fresher tyres. 


Perez, Leclerc and Vettel were the next drivers to pit on lap 30. Perez and Leclerc switched over to the mediums while Vettel chose the soft tyres. Leclerc and Vettel rejoined in 13th and 14th, respectively. Perez rejoined in P7, just behind Sainz who was completing an overtake manoeuvre on Ocon into turn 1. Ricciardo, Ocon and Grosjean were the drivers who still hadn't pitted. Perez regained track position on Sainz with an overtake on lap 31 while Leclerc got past Kvyat for P12Russell got past Grosjean for P15 and Leclerc had honed in Norris on lap 32. 


Perez tried a daring move on Stroll on lap 33, much to the displeasure of the team principal Ottmar Szafnauer. Stroll held on to P5. Further down the field, Raikkonen made a move on Grosjean for P16. Grosjean pitted on lap 34, rejoining in P19 with soft tyres on his car. Albon moved up into P8 with an overtake on Ocon. Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Norris for P11, but the latter put up a strong defence despite a couple of lock-ups. Ricciardo finally pitted on lap 36 for a set of soft tyres, rejoining in 13th while Russell pitted for a set of medium tyres, down to P18. Ferrari informed Vettel that there was rain forecasted around lap 50. However, they had weightier issues to address on lap 37. Leclerc spun, getting stuck at turn 14 and unable to get going again. Replays showed that the Monegasque's engine had given up, sending him into a spin. The problem seemed terminal even though he recovered from the shutdown. Leclerc wanted to pit as his seat-belts had gotten loose as well.


Hamilton was now 9 seconds clear of Verstappen. Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Sainz, Albon, Gasly, Norris and Kvyat completed the top 10 at the end of lap 40. Leclerc pitted on lap 41 to address the issues on his car. Albon also pitted, for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in P11. The Ferrari mechanics couldn't repair the car and wheeled Leclerc into the garage and retirement. A disappointing end to a promising Sunday. The battle at the front intensified with Bottas reducing the deficit to Verstappen, the latter pitting for the second time ( lap 42 ) for another set of medium tyres. Sainz pitted a lap later and managed to rebuff a challenge by Albon for P10 on exiting the pits. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. 


The second round of pit-stops had begun. Stroll and Gasly pitted on lap 44 for softs and mediums, rejoining in P8 and P11, respectively. Norris pitted on lap 46 for medium tyres, rejoining behind Gasly. Hamilton now held the fastest lap time. Raikkonen pitted from P14 for soft tyres and rejoined in 19th. Kvyat and Giovinazzi followed suit a lap later, opting for mediums and softs. Bottas pitted on lap 48 for soft tyres while Vettel asked the team's opinion on pitting again. He was in P5 but converting to a one-stop strategy seemed to be a tough ask. Bottas had to bridge a six seconds gap to Verstappen and had the fastest tyres under him. Meanwhile, Hamilton discussed tyre choices with his team and demanded the medium set for his final stint. Mercedes heeded to his demand in his pit stop on lap 51.


Perez was found guilty for ignoring blue flags and came under investigation. He got a five-second time penalty for his infringement ( lap 53 ). Ferrari, unsure of their plans, asked Vettel about the possibility of extending his soft tyres stint till the end. The German was exasperated, asking why they didn't consider this earlier, presumably before he started taking extra life out of his tyres.
Daniil Kvyat was next on the list to receive a five-second time penalty, ignoring blue flags the crime again ( lap 56 ). 


Bottas was unable to close the gap to Verstappen ahead, the Dutchman extending his cushion to more than seven seconds! There was no sign of rain in the closing stages of the race. Racing Point asked Stroll to push, realising that an overtake would have to be made on track for P5. Stroll completed the move on Vettel on lap 57 with DRS assistance. He had clear air ahead of him and a chance to bag P4 from his team-mate Perez should he finish within five seconds off him. Ocon got past Magnussen for P13. Raikkonen completed an overtake on Grosjean for P16 on the pit straight ( lap 59 ) but wasn't happy with the Frenchman. Grosjean moved under braking, once again and Raikkonen had to slam on the brakes to avoid ramming him from behind. The Flying Finn made another move on the same lap, snatching P15 from Russell. 


Stroll was catching Perez who like Vettel had opted for a one-stop strategy. Stroll was comfortably within the five-second bracket, so a P4 finish was assured. Sainz demoted Vettel to P7 ( lap 60 ) with Albon lining him up next. Grosjean tangled with Giovinazzi while unsuccessfully defending P17 and ran wide at turn 1, causing debris from his car to end up on the track. Hamilton drove over that debris and got concerned about damage. Thankfully, all was ok. The Stewards decided to investigate the Grosjean and Giovinazzi incident after the race. Raikkonen relegated Magnussen to P15 on lap 61 while Giovinazzi completed an overtake on Russell a lap later. The Mercedes duo sparred for the fastest lap of the race on lap 63. Bottas cut the deficit to Verstappen to two seconds, but it was too little too late. He had lost performance on his soft tyres. Grosjean pitted on lap 65 after suffering a tank-slapper at turn 9.


Bottas pitted on the penultimate lap for medium tyres, resigned to P3 but determined to grab the fastest lap point. A train of cars had formed up behind Vettel; Albon, Gasly, Norris and Ricciardo all vying for a higher finish. The German managed his defence of P7 well, positioning his car and using his battery power sensibly to fend off attack after attack from Albon. 


Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and victory at the 2020 Spanish GP! Max Verstappen came home in 2nd, 24 seconds adrift. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, completing the podium in P3. Stroll and Perez were P4 and P5 for Racing Point followed by Sainz, Vettel, Albon, Gasly and NorrisRicciardo was P11 for Renault from Kvyat, Ocon and Raikkonen. Magnussen, Giovinazzi, Russell, Latifi and Grosjean completed the classified runners. 




Hamilton had dominated on a Sunday again. He had lapped everyone up to P4 and was in a league of his own. It was his 88th career victory, three short of the record of 91 wins of Michael Schumacher. He surpassed the German with this result being his 156th podium finish! Another record for the six-time World Champion.



Kimi Raikkonen, too set a record this weekend. The Finn achieved the record of longest distance raced in an F1 car ( 83846 km ) which equates to 2 full laps of the earth. He accomplished this feat on lap 37 of the race! Kudos!


Vettel crossed 3000 points in his F1 career with his 7th place.


Mercedes bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend with another flawless win. They would be a tad disappointed with Bottas' race, but except for Verstappen, no one else poses a threat to their title chances. Red Bull needs to have both cars contending with the Mercedes, and the onus is on Albon to improve from the next race. Racing Point continues its upward climb despite the reprimands and protests of their competitors. There was another protest lodged by Renault which got withdrawn as the Technical Delegate had already highlighted the ( same ) brake duct design to the stewards. Racing Point got another reprimand this weekend.


Ferrari would rue a missed opportunity for a double-points finish with the electrical failure on Leclerc's car. It was a mini-revival for Vettel, his P7 finish testament to his never-give-up attitude. Alpha Tauri would be pleased with Gasly's result, the Frenchman's reputation rising with each race weekend. McLaren and Renault seem to be going through a blip in form and need to improve their overall performance to stay in touch with the high flying Racing Point. Alfa Romeo would be encouraged with a better showing on Saturday and Sunday, but finishing in the points remains a target. Haas F1 and Williams Racing have a lot of work to do over the next fortnight if they are to stem this decline in 2020.




The season resumes in a fortnight at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ( Belgium ), the next destination on the F1 calendar. It will be the first race of the next triple-header of the season. An iconic track with unique challenges that only a classic F1 circuit can present, the Belgian Grand Prix must not be missed!


Time for the drivers to refresh, regroup and return for round seven, in a fortnight!
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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1581970 2020-08-09T19:43:27Z 2020-08-10T04:16:24Z 2020 70th Anniversary GP Race Recap : Max-imum Attack on a Bull-ish Sunday!

It is the 70th year of racing for Formula 1. The Pinnacle of Motorsport has enthralled fans through the seven decades of its existence returning this weekend to the place where it all began, 70 years ago! Silverstone played host to this special event, the race christened as the 70th Anniversary GP.

There was a lot of buzz in the world of F1 leading up to this historic weekend.

Pirelli investigated the tyre delaminations of the previous weekend and stated that these were due to the "extremely long use" of the tyres after an early Safety Car in the race. The 70th-anniversary event would pose a new challenge with the tyres being a level softer. Higher track temperatures than the previous weekend meant that teams would need to conserve their harder sets for the race, limiting their simulation runs in Free Practice sessions.

On the Protests front, the FIA reviewed the documents and technical data submitted against Racing Point ( by Renault ) over the past four race weekends and upheld the protest. Racing Point had copied the front brake ducts ( of Mercedes ) for their 2019 car ( when it was allowed ) but copied the rear brake ducts for 2020 ( which wasn't allowed ). FIA ruled this as a breach of Sporting Regulations and docked 15 points off Racing Point's points tally along with a 400,000 Euros fine as a financial penalty.

Thankfully, the RP20 was considered legal and allowed to participate in the championship in its current avatar. The team is contemplating an appeal against this decision.

Renault however, isn't happy with the severity of the sentence and plans to appeal for higher sanctions against Racing Point. Ferrari already has, other teams might follow suit.


More Details about the FIA Ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.breaking-racing-point-deducted-15-points-and-fined-heavily-as-renault.7j9tsLSAm7rXnWHxH1Uy9c.html


Sergio Perez, who tested positive for Covid-19 last weekend hadn't recovered in time and would miss the 70th Anniversary GP as well. Racing Point retained Nico Hulkenberg as his replacement. The German would hope for a trouble-free Sunday after failing to start last weekend's race due to a faulty clutch-bolt.


So who reigned supreme in the countryside of Silverstone?

Was the 70th Anniversary of the sport a memorable day in its history?


Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Valtteri Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1 from Hamilton and Verstappen. Hulkenberg had an impressive start to the weekend in P4. Ferrari was in the mix with Leclerc in P5 ( with their low-downforce setup ) while Albon completed the top 6, a second adrift of the fastest time. Vettel had an off-track moment but managed to set the 7th fastest time. Stroll, Kvyat and Ocon completed the top 10. McLaren didn't feel bullish this weekend, their drivers spending the session learning about the soft tyres. Grosjean was the fastest Ferrari customer car, splitting the McLarens with the 13th fastest time. The Williams duo was 15th and 16th fastest, Latifi slowly getting up to pace with the FW43.  Ricciardo struggled in FP1 and could set only the 17th fastest time. Raikkonen was 18th from Kubica, the Polish reserve driver getting a session instead of Giovinazzi. Raikkonen believed there was more speed in the car and hoped to finish in the points this weekend. However, he still suffered from balance issues and had a couple of off-track excursions. Kevin Magnussen was P20 in his Haas. Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres.


The drivers chose to experiment with their tyres ( some mediums, some softs ) in Free Practice 2. Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in the session and had set his time with a set of medium tyres. Bottas was P2, less than two-tenths of a second slower than his team-mate. Ricciardo produced a stellar lap, bumping up his Renault into P3, just clear of Verstappen's best time in 4th. Stroll and Hulkenberg were P5 and P6 for Racing Point. Hulkenberg's race simulation program was a bit compromised after the team had to address his seating issues. Leclerc was the fastest Ferrari with the 7th fastest time. Norris and Sainz were back up into the top 10 with Ocon hot on their heels. Albon had another challenging FP2; the Thai driver suffering from balance issues on his Red Bull. Alpha Tauri had another strong showing in free practice with P12 and P13. Vettel could only manage P14 in the other works Ferrari car. The four-times World Champion suffered from an engine failure near the end of the session, grinding to a halt on the old pit straight. The Stewards initiated a Virtual Safety Car period due to excessive oil on the track. Grosjean was again the faster of the two Haas cars in P15 ahead of Russell and Raikkonen. Magnussen managed the 18th fastest time while Latifi was 19th in the other Williams. Giovinazzi, who sat out FP1 for Kubica also suffered a mechanical failure and had to ditch his Alfa Romeo at a run-off area at Becketts. The session was subsequently red-flagged and ended by the Stewards.

Race simulation programs from FP2 suggested that almost all teams would need a 2-stop strategy for the race. Mercedes was still the quickest of the lot but less than half a second separated P6 from P15. Qualifying would be a close-run affair with tyre choice being paramount for the midfield runners.


Mercedes reigned supreme in Free Practice 3 as well. Hamilton was the fastest from Bottas and Norris. Norris was the only driver to set his fastest lap time on medium tyres. Racing Point was in the top 6 with Hulkenberg and Stroll. Ferrari chose to change Leclerc's Power Unit as a "precautionary measure". Leclerc was P6 from the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Albon. Verstappen was held up by Stroll and had to back off on his first run. Ocon and Sainz completed the top 10. The Alpha Tauris remained quicker than Vettel, the German having a complete lack of pace over one lap. Ricciardo could only manage the 14th fastest time. Grosjean was P15, Latifi and Russell P16 and P17. Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Magnussen brought up the rear of the field. An intriguing Qualifying session awaited the drivers.



Qualifying :


Q1 got underway with everyone but Russell, Grosjean and Magnussen on soft tyres. Verstappen complained about gusty conditions which were putting the cars out of balance at Maggotts and Becketts. The Stewards decided to investigate an incident between Ocon and Russell, the former guilty of trudging slowly on the racing line. Leclerc, Verstappen and Hulkenberg did not opt for a second run as others drove out on another set of fresh tyres. Bottas set the fastest time in Q1 from Hamilton and Albon. Verstappen, Gasly, Stroll, Norris, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Leclerc completed the top 10. Vettel managed to scrape through to Q2 in P14 while Russell ensured William's representation with the 15th fastest time. Kvyat was safely in the top 15 after his final run but had his lap time deleted due to exceeding of track limits at turn 15. The Russian was immensely disappointed at the end of the session and the first casualty of qualifying. Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen were the other eliminations. Alfa Romeo had brought upgrades this weekend but still seem to lack outright pace. It is quite a frustrating period for the Swiss-based outfit.


Q2 was the most intriguing of the Qualifying sessions as teams had to debate on the choice of tyres for their drivers. Red Bull rolled the dice by sending Verstappen out on hard tyres. Russell chose the soft tyres while the rest of the field opted for the mediums. Hulkenberg got compromised on his banker lap after an off-track at Chapel. Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo were the top 3 after the first runs. Verstappen set the 5th fastest time. Ricciardo and Verstappen decided to stay in the pits with Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Leclerc and Sainz choosing the softs for their final run. The rest opted for the mediums hoping to qualify into Q3. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Gasly, Ricciardo, Albon, Stroll, Leclerc, Verstappen and Norris made it into Q3. Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc had backed off on their final run and would start the race on medium tyres.

Ocon, Vettel, Sainz, Grosjean and Russell were the eliminations in Q2. Vettel was four-tenths of a second slower than his team-mate, another disappointing Saturday for the German. Data showed that both Ferrari cars were struggling in the high-speed corners. Sainz too had a challenging qualifying but had the luxury of a free tyre choice for the start of the race.


The final shoot-out in qualifying brought another mixed bag with tyre choices. Ricciardo, Albon and Verstappen put on the medium tyres for their banker laps of Q3. Hamilton laid down the gauntlet with the fastest time on his soft tyres. Bottas was hot on his heels. Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Verstappen and Albon constituted the best of the rest.
A change in track temperatures in the final minutes of Q3 brought about another discussion between teams and their drivers over the right tyre choice. Hamilton, Bottas and Ricciardo deduced that the medium tyres were the best fit in current conditions. The rest of the participants chose a more aggressive route with the soft tyres. The final minutes of Q3 would decide the fate of those who made the right call with their tyres. It was a close contest between the Mercedes duo. Bottas came out on top, six-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate. Hulkenberg set a blistering lap, promoting himself to P3 on the grid! Verstappen could only manage P4. Ricciardo had a strong showing for Renault in P5 while Stroll ensured Racing Point had both cars in top 6. Alpha Tauri would be proud of another stellar lap by Gasly who would start in P7. The Frenchman was maturing well in Red Bull's B-Team. P8 was the best that Ferrari could manage with Leclerc. Albon had a mediocre outing in P9 while Norris qualified in P10 for McLaren.


Ocon got a three-place grid drop for impeding Russell in Q1 and would start the race in P14.


Mercedes seemed unbeatable this weekend as well. Red Bull held a slight advantage over their rivals with Verstappen starting the race on hard tyres. Overcutting both the Mercedes was a different matter altogether. Hulkenberg was the talk of the town with a great qualifying. The entire F1 world hoped and prayed for a trouble-free and incident-free Sunday for the German. A podium finish beckoned; if all went well! Ricciardo was Renault's best chance at a podium while Leclerc hoped for some fortune like last weekend to finish higher up on Sunday. Albon has a better showing on Sunday and looked to undo the damage of Saturday. Vettel was in the same boat as Albon. McLaren aimed for points finish for both their cars. Alpha Tauri needed a clean race from both their drivers. Williams saw improvement with each passing weekend while Haas and Alfa Romeo fell backwards despite their upgrades.


Sunday would be a memorable day!



Race :



The 70th Anniversary GP saw all 20 starters line up on the grid for the formation lap. Verstappen was the only driver to start on hard tyres in the top 10. Vettel, Sainz, Kvyat and Raikkonen also followed suit. The rest of the field were on medium tyres. The "Alternate Strategy" wasn't ideal; as shown in the F2 Feature Race on Saturday. Those on the hard tyres had a chance to prove otherwise.  


It was a clean getaway for the Mercedes duo as the lights went out. Verstappen was up into P3 with Hulkenberg having to fend off Stroll in P5. Vettel had a decent start off the line and was challenging Sainz into turn 1. However, the rear of his car got loose, sending him into a spin and relegating him to the back of the field. Leclerc held onto P10 while defending from Sainz. Giovinazzi and Magnussen were the biggest gainers ( 4 positions up ) on the opening lap. Raikkonen passed Latifi for P18 with Vettel following suit a few turns later ( lap 2 ). Vettel went past his ex-teammate on lap 4 to move up to 18th.


Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Ricciardo, Gasly, Norris, Albon and Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 4.


Mercedes warned Bottas about the "critical" health of his left front medium tyre ( lap 6 ). It seemed like his race was getting compromised.  


Albon was the first to pit for what seemed to be an early stop for a two-stop strategy ( lap 7 ). He rejoined last with a fresh set of hard tyres. Red Bull made the call to pit Albon early and save him from the midfield squabbles. Gasly and Giovinazzi pitted a lap later for a set of hard tyres as well. Vettel was now up to P15 and honing in on Russell in the Williams. Russell was the next driver to pit on lap 9 for a set of hard tyres. The battle at the front was hotting up with Verstappen setting similar lap times to the Mercedes in front. Gasly made a move on Raikkonen for P14 on lap 11 while Red Bull asked Verstappen to back off and preserve the life of his tyres. Verstappen refused to relent citing a rare chance of coming out on top with his alternate strategy. He was in DRS range and heckled Hamilton for the next few laps. Meanwhile, Norris pitted from P7 ( lap 13 ) and rejoined in 13th with a fresh set of hard tyres.


Albon made a daring overtake on Raikkonen for P15 while race-leader Bottas pitted for hard tyres ( lap 14 ). The Hamilton-Verstappen battled carried on with Hamilton getting increasingly critical of the health of his rear tyres. Bottas rejoined in 6th behind Ricciardo, the Finn needing to make a few overtakes to maintain track position over a charging Verstappen. Hamilton pitted on lap 15 for hard tyres and rejoined in P6 behind Bottas and Leclerc. Ricciardo switched to another medium set, rejoining in P10.      


Hamilton was back up to pace quickly with an overtake on Leclerc for P4 while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race. Hulkenberg pitted from P2 on lap 16 and switched to a set of hard tyres rejoining in P7. Verstappen had track position and continued to extend his stint on the hard tyres. Grosjean lost P11 to Vettel ( lap 17 ) and P12 to Norris ( lap 18 ) before entering the pits for a switch to the hard tyres. He rejoined in 20th and last. Stroll and Leclerc pitted on lap 19, both switching over to hard tyres. Stroll rejoined in 6th while Leclerc was down to P12.


Magnussen sparred with Latifi for P18 and ran wide at Stowe. They banged wheels with Magnussen dangerously rejoining the track. The Stewards investigated the incident and Magnussen copped a five-second time penalty for his misdemeanour. Albon went wheel to wheel with Gasly, for P13, but the Frenchman held his ground. Leclerc tried a manoeuvre on Norris ( for P10 ) and was past him out of Luffield ( lap 20 ). Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres from P8. Grosjean went past his team-mate Magnussen for P19, the latter pitting for a set of hard tyres. 


Both Mercedes cars were now reporting blisters with Verstappen lapping quicker than them! The tables had turned! Red Bull Racing had the upper hand; a rare opportunity beckoned! 


It was job done for Albon with an overtake on Gasly ( for P12 ) on the outside of turn 7 ( lap 22 ). Kvyat moved past Raikkonen for P14. 


There was another flurry of pit stops on lap 23. Sainz, Ocon and Vettel dived into the pits. Sainz had a slow stop ( left rear ) and rejoined on a set of medium tyres. Vettel and Ocon had a set of hard tyres on rejoining the race. Gasly pitted a lap later, rejoining in P19 with a fresh set of hard tyres. The issue of tyre blistering worsened for the Mercedes cars, Verstappen now had time for a pit stop on Hamilton! 


Vettel had another tussle with Raikkonen, moving up to P13 ( lap 25 ). The series of pit stops continued into the following laps. Russell pitted on lap 25 for a set of hard tyres while Ricciardo pitted for hard tyres from P6 ( lap 26 ). Verstappen was also into the pits and completed a switch to mediums on lap 26. It was a slightly slower stop for the Red Bull crew, Verstappen rejoining the track a few car lengths behind Bottas in P2. Verstappen was back in the lead on lap 27 with a move on the outside at Luffield! Raikkonen and Latifi also pitted for a set of mediums and hard tyres respectively. They rejoined in P17 ( Raikkonen ) and P19 ( Latifi ). Leclerc was the fastest driver on the track now.


Vettel wasn't happy with the strategy that Ferrari put him on and made his displeasure known on the radio. The German was stuck in traffic, down in 12th behind Sainz. Meanwhile, Albon passed Norris for P7 who decided to pit immediately after for a set of hard tyres. The McLaren protege rejoined in 13th. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race while Red Bull instructed Verstappen to go aggressive on his current stint and forget tyre management. Hulkenberg and Albon pitted on lap 31 for a set of hard tyres, rejoining in P6 and P12 respectively. Ricciardo suffered a spin on lap 31 and dropped out of the points. The Australian had closed in on the Ocon-Kvyat battle and looked to have banged wheels with Sainz which sent him into a spin. Verstappen heeded to his team's advice and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 31. He was into the pits a lap later, Bottas mirroring his strategy! Hamilton was into the lead and yet to make a second stop ( if needed ). For Verstappen and Bottas it was a race to the finish. 


Vettel and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 34 for a set of medium tyres, rejoining in P14 and P19 respectively. Sainz switched to the hard tyres two laps later and rejoined the race behind Vettel. Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton questioned his team's decision to prolong his run on the hard tyres. The team assured him that he still had some grip left on the current tyres. Albon overtook Ocon for P7 while Norris went past Ricciardo for P10. Kvyat pitted for the final time on lap 36 for medium tyres. Ricciardo had suffered flat-spots on his tyres due to his spin earlier and forced to pit for the third time. Albon, in clear air, set the fastest lap of the race. Leclerc, in P4 for Ferrari, was the only driver in the top 6 yet to make a second stop. 


Mercedes contemplated on switching Hamilton to a one-stop strategy, the reigning World Champion having track position and an eleven seconds cushion to the charging Red Bull behind him. There was action further down the field - Ricciardo went past Raikkonen for P14 while Grosjean and Russell pitted for a set of hard and medium tyres respectively. Albon was closing in on the Racing Point cars in P5 and P6. Red Bull asked Verstappen to start pushing and close the gap to Hamilton ( lap 41 ) since they believed that he would not be pitting again. However, Mercedes chose the conservative approach and pitted Hamilton for a new set of hard tyres at the end of lap 41. He rejoined in P4, 12 seconds adrift of Leclerc. He could now push till the end and possibly, salvage a win. 


Hamilton was on a charge, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. Hulkenberg, in P5, reported vibrations and pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 45. He rejoined in P7, having lost positions to Stroll and Albon. Hamilton caught up to Leclerc and completed the overtake at Stowe on lap 46. Leclerc put him a good fight and probably slowed Hamilton enough to guarantee Verstappen a win. Magnussen's dismal day came to an end on lap 45, the Haas driver retiring from the race in P20. 


Verstappen had a five-second lead over Bottas who himself was three seconds clear of Hamilton. The gap between the Mercedes team-mates was reducing rapidly. Mercedes informed both their drivers that they were free to race but had to "keep it clean". Hamilton was within striking distance of Bottas and P2 on lap 50. He had a look on the outside of Vale chicane but relented. They were side by side through Aintree and Brooklands with Hamilton finally getting past his team-mate on the Wellington straight. Albon brought more joy to Red Bull with an outstanding overtake at Corpse corner on Stroll for P5. 


Verstappen was on the final lap and had a chuckle with his race engineer! It had been a challenging race for the team and driver. He took the chequered flag and his first win of 2020, comfortably clear of Hamilton and Bottas! It was a victory well deserved! 
Leclerc produced another stellar drive to come home in P4. He was one of the two drivers in the top 10 that had pitted only once during the race! Albon had another strong Sunday in P5 while Stroll and Hulkenberg could only manage P6 and P7 for Racing Point. Ocon was the other single-stopper to finish in the points. The Frenchman had to do a considerable amount of fuel-saving besides fending off a late attack by Norris. Kvyat completed the top 10. Gasly narrowly missed out on another points scoring weekend while Vettel was left wondering about Ferrari's strategy choice for him. Sainz and Ricciardo had a long afternoon in P13 and P14. Raikkonen was P15 for Alfa Romeo from Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi. 


Racing Point got reprimanded for using the same brake ducts that conflicted with the sporting regulations. Renault had protested against Racing Point again but withdrew after the latter got a reprimand.


Higher track temperatures combined with softer tyres caused the undoing of the Mighty Mercedes! Red Bull showed that they never back out of a duel and are more than a handful on their day. Verstappen didn't slip up when the opportunity arose. Ferrari was kinder on its tyres and would be encouraged by Leclerc's showing. There is still light at the end of the tunnel. Albon repaid Red Bull's faith in him with a strong performance on Sunday. He needs to address his qualifying issues to be right up there with Verstappen. Racing Point had a strong weekend with another double-points finish, the podium still elusive for Hulkenberg. An uncharacteristic error by Ricciardo robbed him of a finish in the points. Ocon had to hold the position due to fuel saving at the end. It was another "what could have been" day for Renault. McLaren would like to put this challenging weekend behind them as quickly as possible. Alpha Tauri would be ruing the missed opportunity of a double-points finish. Ferrari's race strategy miffed Vettel, the spin at the start of the race adding more woes to his never-ending struggles. The German is possibly suffering neglect in his final year there. Alfa Romeo's travails continue with a lack of outright pace despite the upgrades this weekend. Raikkonen, however, did a great job with tyre management on his one-stop strategy. Haas F1 had another forgettable weekend. Williams went backwards again on a Sunday. 



It was one of the most memorable Sundays for Red Bull Motorsport. They came out victorious both on two wheels and four! 



Yuki Tsunoda, the Honda Program driver, was victorious in the F2 Sprint Race at Silverstone. Brad Binder, the rookie in Moto GP, helped Red Bull KTM Racing ( the factory team ) bag their first win in Moto GP history at the Czech GP in Brno. He sported number 33 on his bike. 


Two hours after Binder's win, Max Verstappen won the 70th Anniversary GP for Red Bull Racing F1 Team in F1! He too raced with number 33 on his car!


An iconic win on a historical day in F1! 



Red Bull Racing is the only challenger to a rampaging Mercedes in 2020 and Max Verstappen is its warrior elect.


Catalunya is next on the F1 calendar with similar weather forecasted for the race. We could see yet another Red Bull victory next weekend.

Bring on the Spanish GP!



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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1579596 2020-08-03T12:08:18Z 2020-08-03T12:12:56Z 2020 British GP Race Recap : A Tyre-ing Day at the Office!

Silverstone UK was the venue for rounds four and five of the 2020 F1 season. The teams travelled west, a fortnight after the first triple-header of the year. The teams took stock of their performances in the opening rounds and arrived in Silverstone, some with an upgraded package.

There was a buzz in the air with the 70th anniversary of the sport a week later. However, grim news hit the paddock on Thursday. Sergio Perez, Racing Point F1 driver, was isolated due to an "inconclusive" Covid-19 test. He later tested positive. The Mexican went into self-isolation as per UK quarantine guidelines and would miss the British and possibly the 70th Anniversary GP. He had flown to Mexico to visit his injured mother and believes he contracted the virus during travel. Thankfully, he was asymptomatic.

Racing Point had little time to search for a replacement. Nico Hulkenberg got chosen over Vandoorne and Gutierrez. The German was a part of the sport up until last year and had a 5-year stint with the team. He infamously holds the record for the most number of races without a podium ( in F1 ). Many hoped this would change in the extremely capable Racing Point RP20.

Hulkenberg was allowed into the paddock after a series of Covid-19 tests and a seat fit completed in the Racing Point factory which is next door.


Silverstone is a power-track which offers a fair bit of challenge to general car balance thanks to its fast, flowing corners. This track was the first test of the capabilities of each car on the 2020 F1 grid and the "home race" for Mercedes AMG Petronas, Red Bull Racing, Racing Point, McLaren, Renault, Haas F1 and Williams Racing. 

Varying track temperatures would make it a challenge for the right tyre choice come qualifying and race. The tyre selection ( by Pirelli ) were a step harder than the ones chosen for the weekend after. The engineers had their hands full for an action-packed British and 70th Anniversary GPs.


Let us have a quick recap of the British GP weekend!


Practice :

Free Practice 1 saw Verstappen top the session with Hamilton and Stroll hot on his heels. The Mercedes powered cars were on the medium tyres vs the soft for the Red Bull. Ferrari had a mixed session with Leclerc setting the 5th fastest time and Vettel unable to participate due to intercooler issues on his engine. Bottas could only manage P6 while the Renaults made it into the top 10. Hulkenberg was a commendable P9, only half a second slower than his team-mate. McLaren had a tricky start to the weekend with Sainz and Norris in 12th and 13th respectively. Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi had offtrack excursions - Raikkonen suffered from a spin in Luffield while Giovinazzi had an incident at Becketts. The Italian came off worse. The blistered hard tyre damaged the floor of his car and debris got strewn across the track. The session was red-flagged, Giovinazzi summoned to the stewards' room. Russell complained about balance issues but was able to split the Alfa Romeo cars. Latifi was the last driver to set a lap time.

Track Temperature during Free Practice 2 was 10 degrees higher than that predicted for Qualifying and the Race. Stroll was the fastest in the session from Albon and Bottas. Albon had a high-speed crash on the exit of Stowe corner, massive damage to the rear end of his car. FIA had to red flag the session briefly. Bottas was 3rd for the Mercedes works team while Charles Leclerc promoted his Ferrari to P4! Hamilton had to back off on his flying lap and finished in P5. Sainz got McLaren into the top 6. Hulkenberg improved to P7; 6 tenths of a second the deficit to his team-mate. Gasly and Ricciardo were 8th and 9th. Kimi Raikkonen got his Alfa Romeo into the top 10, encouragement for the Ferrari powered customer team. Giovinazzi was P13 in the other Alfa Romeo while Norris and Ocon finished in P11 and P12. Max Verstappen was impeded on his qualifying sim run by Grosjean and had to settle for 14th. He made his intense displeasure known on the team radio and returned the favour a lap later. He also held up Ocon's Renault in the process. Vettel's woes didn't seem to end in FP2 either with the German setting only the 18th fastest time. He was confined to his box again due to a loose pedal floor. He had work to do on Saturday due to the limited running on Friday. Haas and Williams were the slowest in FP2. Latifi suffered a spin, out of Stowe corner near the end of FP2.

Free Practice 3 got underway with conditions being overcast. An ERS Issue for Albon resigned him to the pits for the majority of the session. Vettel's FP3 program also hit a blip when his brake pedal came loose, the German visibly frustrated with these setbacks. Bottas was the fastest in FP3 from Hamilton and VerstappenA gust of wind through Maggots and Becketts compromised Hamilton's flying lap, his real pace still unknown. Mercedes had a clear advantage to the rest of the field. Less than a second separated P1 from P9 with Stroll slotting himself into P4 ahead of Sainz and Leclerc, the only Ferrari powered car in the top ten. Hulkenberg reduced the deficit to his team-mate to only two-tenths of a second and finished in P9. P13 was the best that Albon could do after having his first lap time invalidated due to exceeding track limits. Vettel ended the session in P14. Five Ferrari powered cars were in the bottom six with Haas and Alfa Romeo bringing up the rear of the field. 
Alpha Tauri changed gearboxes for both their drivers. Gasly had retired in the previous race so didn't incur a penalty. However, Kyvat got a five-place grid drop. Renault broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night, their first of the two exemptions allowed in the season to change the chassis on Ricciardo's car after it developed a hairline fracture. Giovinazzi and Hamilton switched to their second MGU-K units, no penalties incurred.


Qualifying :

Bottas was the dominant Mercedes in Q1. Hamilton and Verstappen completed the top 3. The Racing Point cars were 4th and 5th. Russell once again bumped his Williams up into Q2 with a 13th place finish. His team-mate Latifi had a big spin at Luffield in the final minutes of Q1 and brought out yellow flags. Russell set his personal best time under yellow flag conditions ( P13 as mentioned earlier ) and was investigated by the stewards after the session. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had improved on their times but couldn't get themselves out of Q1. Alfa Romeo Racing F1 was the only team to have not entered Q2 till date, troubled times for the Swiss-based outfit. Magnussen, Grosjean and Latifi were the other casualties. Raikkonen reported his displeasure at being impeded by Ocon and the stewards decided to investigate the incident.


Q2 got underway with a varied tyre choice for drivers. Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull and Leclerc chose the medium tyres for their first run. The rest of the field were on softs. Bottas set a new track record whereas Hamilton made a rare mistake at Luffield and got spun around. To add insult to injury, the Stewards decided to halt the session when Hamilton was on a flying lap ( his second attempt ). The marshalls had to clear the gravel off the racing line before the resumption of the session. The seven-time World Champion had a decision to make in the interim. He chose to use his final set of Medium Tyres for his second run in Q2 with eight minutes left on the clock. He set the 2nd fastest time, the move paying off. In the final minutes of the session, Vettel and Stroll exited the pits on a fresh set of medium tyres while the rest of the field ( including the Mercedes ) chose the soft tyres. Stroll couldn't improve on his final run, neither could Vettel. Stroll was the driver under threat in P10. Gasly matched his lap time ( to the thousandth of a second ) but was classified eleventh since Stroll was the first driver to set the same lap time ( as per FIA rules ). Albon was the big casualty of Q2 with twelfth being his best effort. Hulkenberg too was a disappointment in 13th. He believed the car had more pace. Russell and Kvyat were the other eliminations. Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll and Leclerc would start the race on the medium set of tyres, enabling the quintet to go longer than the others ( in Q3 ) before their pitstops.


Low fuel loads, a fresh set of soft tyres and maximum engine performance are the hallmarks of every dry Q3. The final session of Qualifying got underway with some drama in the pit-lane. Stroll had to slam on his brakes after Ferrari released Leclerc in his path. Ricciardo was behind Stroll and had to do an evasive manoeuvre. Stewards decided to investigate the unsafe release. Mercedes pulled a considerable gap to the rest of the field with their banker laps. The order at the top had changed with Hamilton getting the jump on Bottas. He held onto provisional pole after the first runs and set a new track record in the process. Verstappen was the best of the rest in P3, a couple of tenths clear of Stroll and Leclerc. Vettel's lap was compromised after he put a wheel on the dirt at Chapel but managed to get provisional P6. The order would change drastically in the final run of Qualifying though. Hamilton went even faster, by three-tenths of a second, to grab pole at the British Grand Prix. Bottas pushed hard but had to settle for P2. A qualifying masterclass by the seven-time World Champion! Verstappen qualified in P3, a second down on the Mercedes duo. Leclerc produced a stellar lap to qualify in P4, a great place to start for the Ferrari driver. Norris and Stroll completed row three, Sainz and Ricciardo row four and Ocon and Vettel row five on the grid. Vettel's final lap time was invalidated as he had exceeded track limits, a dismal couple of days for the four-time world champion. 


The stewards decided to hand Russell a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellow flags in Q1. Russell failed to interpret the "double-yellow" signal and wasn't instructed ( by the team ) to abort his lap ( as per the rules ). He also got three penalty points on his licence for this infringement. There was no further action on the Ocon/Raikkonen, Leclerc/Stroll and Stroll/Ricciardo incidents.

Hamilton bagged the 91st pole position of his career. It was also a day of milestones for both driver and team!

More on that here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-facts-and-stats-hamilton-claims-100th-front-row-start-for.3Osq6MptqI9lu9lc5Yf2WC.html


Mercedes were the class of the field on Saturday again. Verstappen was their closest challenger, albeit a second behind. McLaren and Racing Point hoped to have better race pace than the Ferraris while Albon had his work cut out for Sunday afternoon. Renault would be in the mix too. Duels in the front, midfield and at the back awaited fans on Raceday!


Race :

Hulkenberg, the replacement for Perez in Racing Point failed to make it to the grid due to engine issues on his car. Racing Point tried for a pit-lane start but to no avail. A disappointing end to a roller-coaster weekend for the German.  

Everyone ( bar Hulkenberg who didn't start ) outside the top 10 chose the medium set of tyres. Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Ocon and Vettel were the drivers who started the race on soft tyres.

The five red lights illuminated and a frenetic lap 1 got underway. Hamilton managed to fend off Bottas while Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen. The Dutchman held on to P3. Ricciardo moved up to P5 ahead of Sainz and Norris. Vettel ran wide at Corpse corner but managed to hold onto P10. Magnussen and Albon tangled at the last corner of the opening lap. Magnussen lost momentum after clipping the inside of the kerb and Albon tried a move on the inside. The left front tyre of the Red Bull hit the rear right tyre of the Haas, sending it into the barriers through the newly laid gravel.
The FIA immediately deployed the Safety car as well as the Medical car. Thankfully Magnussen was safe. The stewards initiated an investigation.

Racing resumed on lap 6 with Hamilton having a great restart. Ocon tried a move on Stroll but couldn't pull it off.  Albon pitted on lap 7 for hard tyres after reporting vibrations on the mediums that he had started the race on. He didn't suffer any suspension damage from the incident, a relief for the team. Vettel was stuck in P10 when DRS got enabled on lap 8. The Mercedes drivers were pulling away from Verstappen who was himself building a gap to Leclerc in 4th. Kvyat overtook Giovinazzi for P12 on lap 11 but had a massive crash at Maggotts a lap later. The car was a wreck after the High-G crash and brought out another Safety Car. The team suggested it was a right rear puncture to blame for the crash, not the driver. 

The Safety Car period caused a flurry of pit stops with everyone switching to the hard tyres. The front runners ( top 6 ) followed suit a lap later. Grosjean opted to not pit and got elevated to P5 at the expense of Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris and Stroll. Stroll was having a tough day at the office, the Racing Point car unable to live up to its true potential. Raikkonen also lost track position due to a poor double-stack by Alfa Romeo. The top 4 remain unchanged. The safety car period came at an ideal time for those on the soft tyres. It was a no stop race to the end now.

A prolonged period of seven laps under the safety car ended on lap 19 after a safe extrication of the stricken Alpha Tauri of Kvyat. Hamilton had a great restart again. Bottas doing likewise with Verstappen and Leclerc. There was action further down the field though. Sainz defended from Ricciardo who got bogged down and lost a place to Norris, the McLaren protege pulling off an amazing overtake on the outside of the corner. Norris then went wheel-to-wheel with Sainz but had to relent after running wide at Corpse. Further down, Ocon and Raikkonen overtook Vettel and Russell for P10 and P15 respectively. The stewards decided to punish Albon with a five-second time penalty for the incident ( on lap 1 ) which he served on his second stop.
 
Hamilton and Bottas were trading fastest laps in the front and pulling away from the rest of the field. Grosjean moved under braking while defending his position from Sainz. The Spaniard made his displeasure known over the team radio but got the move done on lap 22. Norris followed suit a lap later. Grosjean got warned with a Black & White Flag for unsporting behaviour on track, the stewards having studied his incident with Sainz. Stroll put a wheel on the dirt out of Becketts and was vulnerable to an overtake on the Hangar straight, Ocon unable to pounce at the opportunity. Raikkonen lost P15 to Russell on lap 28, a torrid time for the Iceman in the underperforming Alfa Romeo. Albon was slowly moving up the field and had Gasly in his sights. Gasly overtook Giovinazzi ( on lap 31 ) for P12 while Albon decided to pit instead of sparring with the duo in front. He served his time penalty, put on a new set of medium tyres and rejoined in seventeenth and last. Giovinazzi came under scrutiny a lap later over a Safety Car infringement. Raikkonen lost another place to Latifi on lap 33. Giovinazzi got punished with a five-second time penalty by the stewards and Ricciardo made a successful move on Grosjean for P7 ( lap 36 ). Grosjean had adopted dodgy tactics to defend his position again. The incident got flagged for investigation post-race.

Grosjean got overtaken by Stroll before he pitted for a set of hard tyres on lap 37, got stuck in the box, rejoining in 17th and last. Hamilton had retaken the fastest lap crown in the interim. Gasly passed Vettel for P10 on lap 38, the German's day going from bad to worse! 

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Stroll, Ocon and Gasly were the top 10 on lap 39.

Albon resumed his charge up the field by passing Raikkonen and Latifi on laps 40 and 42 respectively. Verstappen held the point for the fastest lap after it changed hands between Hamilton, Albon and him. There was excessive tyre wear on both Mercedes cars. Bottas reported vibrations and decided to conserve his tyres till the end. The gap to Hamilton started increasing steadily. Raikkonen was relegated to P17 and last when Grosjean overtook him on lap 45. Albon closed in on the duo of Giovinazzi and Russell in the battle for P12 and passed them on lap 46. Vettel in the Ferrari was next, seven seconds adrift. Stroll moved under braking while defending from Ocon on the Hangar Straight and got served a Black & White Flag for unsporting behaviour. It was job done for Ocon on lap 47 who was up to P8. Albon was taking chunks out of his deficit to Vettel and set the fastest lap of the race. 

Hamilton's lead to Bottas now extended to 6.5 seconds while Verstappen reduced his deficit to less than 9 seconds. McLarens were also reporting issues of blistering and Norris was coming under pressure from Ricciardo. Raikkonen's miseries didn't seem to end when he suffered a front wing failure and a left front puncture on lap 48. He limped to the pits and rejoined after a fresh set of tyres and front-wing swap. Gasly overtook Stroll for P9 on lap 49 and Albon was honing in on Vettel for P11. 

No scriptwriter could have imagined the drama that unfolded in the last three laps of the race. Bottas suffered delamination on the left front tyre going wide at turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2! There was more action further down the field with Albon overtaking Vettel for P11 and Ricciardo going past Norris for P6.  Bottas had already begun his lap when the tyre mishap occurred and would have to tip-toe around the entire length of the circuit, losing a lot of time to those behind him. He pitted on the penultimate lap, got a set of soft tyres in a 6.5 second stop and rejoined in P12 behind Vettel. Disaster for the Finn! 

Verstappen also pitted for a fresh set of tyres, Red Bull aiming to bag the point for the fastest lap. It was a guaranteed P2 for Verstappen who had a comfortable buffer to LeclercMercedes had the option of pitting Hamilton to mitigate the chances of tyre delamination. They chose otherwise. Hamilton had a thirty-six seconds cushion after Verstappen's pit-stop and instructed to exercise extreme caution with his tyres.

Albon's recovery drive continued with an overtake on Stroll for P9 on the final lap. There was more drama further up the field. Sainz was next on the list of casualties from tyre delaminations. The Spaniard's left front tyre gave up the ghost, losing P4 to Ricciardo. He pitted and rejoined in P16 and out of the points. 

Lewis Hamilton, the Race Leader, was halfway through the final lap when he too suffered delamination on his tyre! Mercedes had made a tactical error by not pitting him when they had the chance. It was a nerve-wracking time for the six-time World Champion. There were continuous changes to the settings ( on his dash display ) to manage a car that was limping around on three wheels. Verstappen was informed about Hamilton's predicament and kept pushing till the end. The gap reduced drastically but Hamilton limped over the finish line, less than 6 seconds clear of a late-charging Verstappen. Leclerc came home in 3rd after putting in another flawless drive. Ricciardo equalled his best finish in Renault with P4, Norris was P5 for Mclaren and Ocon P6 for Renault. Gasly, Albon, Stroll and Vettel completed the top 10. Bottas put Vettel under intense pressure but couldn't pull the move off at the end. A dismal end to such a promising weekend for the Finn. Giovinazzi was P12, another good drive put in by the Italian for Alfa Romeo. Russell, Latifi, Sainz, Grosjean and Raikkonen were the rest of the finishers. 

Some experts believed that Red Bull blew the chance of victory by pitting Verstappen on the penultimate lap. However, Team Principal Christian Horner refuted the claims by saying that Verstappen had cuts on his tyres and would have suffered the same fate as the Mercedes duo had he not pitted. Mercedes had a bitter-sweet day and rued the missed opportunity of another 1-2. Hamilton and Mercedes seem unbeatable even under duress. Ferrari is having a challenging 2020 but will be encouraged by a strong showing on Sunday. Alan Permane, Renault's Track Operations Director, completed a milestone of 500 race weekends on Sunday. P4 and P6 by his drivers is quite a tribute for his dedication to the team's cause. McLaren also had a mixed day at the office with Norris getting P5 and Sainz being denied a points-finish at the end. Gasly put in another strong weekend for Alpha Tauri in P7. Albon once again proved his skill to fight on a Sunday. Stroll and Racing Point had a forgettable British GP and will look to bounce back the next weekend. Hulkenberg seems destined for another round of racing next weekend with Perez restricted to the confines of his room. Vettel was frustrated after a trouble-ridden weekend but will have a second shot at it. Williams is improving with each passing weekend while Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo seem lost at sea. 

Grosjean got a formal warning from the stewards for his unsporting defensive manoeuvres in the race.  

Pirelli promised a thorough investigation of the tyre delaminations at the end of the race. Their findings will be critical since the dry tyre compounds chosen are a level softer with higher track temperatures forecasted for the 70th Anniversary GP. 


The 70th Anniversary of F1 is nigh. The teams will return to Silverstone this weekend for a second bout. A special event awaits one and all. 

]]>
Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1574666 2020-07-20T14:12:04Z 2020-07-20T14:28:51Z 2020 Hungarian GP Race Recap : The King of the Ring Hungry for More!

The 2020 F1 season got underway with two back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. Mercedes reigned supreme over the two race weekends. The sport then made its way east, to the city of Budapest, home to Hungaroring, venue for the Hungarian GP which completed the first triple-header of the season.

Hungaroring, a high downforce, street-like circuit, has seen some memorable races in the past. This was one race that could close the gap between Mercedes and the chasing pack. Lewis Hamilton, a 7-time winner here, also called "the King of the Ring" hoped to reduce the 6 points deficit to the Championship Leader and his teammate Valtteri Bottas. 

The Racing Point cars still ran the "controversial" brake ducts that Renault had protested against while Ferrari hoped for a better outing after the fiasco in the previous race. 


Were Red Bull and Racing Point able to upset the mighty Mercs? Was Lewis able to become an 8-time race winner at Hungaroring and take the lead of the Championship or did Bottas have a say? Did Ferrari & Renault show signs of resurgence? Was McLaren able to maintain the momentum they had from the season openers? 

All shall be revealed in this race recap! 


Practice :

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were the fastest in Free Practice 1. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were the only drivers within one second of their times. Renault got themselves up into the top 10 with Ricciardo in P6 and Ocon in P10 while Vettel and Leclerc set the 6th and the 7th fastest times respectively. It was a mixed session for Red Bull with Alex Albon down in P13 and Verstappen in P8. Both the cars struggled with balance issues and traffic on track. McLaren was in a similar situation with Norris in P9 and Sainz in P11. The Haas cars were P12 and P14  while Latifi outpaced his more experienced team-mate, George Russell to finish P15. Gasly didn't take part due to sensor issues on his car while Kubica replaced Raikkonen for this session. Williams was now on par with Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo.

Free Practice 2 was hit with inclement weather and few chose to drive in the wet. Gasly and Raikkonen used this session for acclimatization. Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets for Ferrari with Bottas hot on his heels. Charles Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, could only manage the 10th fastest time while Carlos Sainz Jr. went P3 for McLaren. The Racing Point cars were in the top 6 again. Drivers experimented with intermediate sets but struggled due to poor track conditions. Many ran wide due to lack of grip and the session finished with thirteen setting times, the Renault and Williams duo, Albon, Magnussen and Hamilton unable to do so. 

Free Practice 3 was a rain threatened session. The session was split into race and qualifying simulations by the teams. Bottas was fastest from Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and Stroll who completed the top 5. Red Bull struggled with balance issues while Williams had a great run with Russell in P14. Racing Point seemed to be the real challenger going into qualifying. Ferrari was encouraged by their performance in the final practice session. Gasly reported engine trouble on his Alpha Tauri, warning signs for Honda. Haas and Alfa Romeo were the slowest of the lot, their chances for the weekend bleak. 



Qualifying :

Q1 got underway with a flurry of cars coming out of the pits as the rain clouds closed in. Soft tyres were the choice for all as a slight drizzle hit the track. Latifi, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Giovinazzi were in the elimination zone after the first run. Giovinazzi's lap-time was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4. The bottom 5 kept running through Q1 in their attempt to better their times. Track conditions improved as the clock ran down and the likes of Albon, Ocon, Gasly were under threat. Russell and Latifi jumped into the top 10! Meanwhile, Perez set the fastest time of Q1! Everyone drove out on a fresh set of soft tyres with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Verstappen was at risk in the final moments of Q1. The Dutchman improved to P8 while those in the drop zones failed to do better than the 15th placed Latifi. Magnussen, Kvyat, Grosjean, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen eliminated from Q1. It was a forgettable day for Alfa Romeo and Haas once again. Williams had both cars in Q2 after a gap of 4 years! Claire Williams was elated. The Racing Point cars were the fastest of the session with Hamilton hot on their heels. Sainz was under investigation for impeding Giovinazzi. Verstappen and Gasly complained about engine issues.

The lights went green for Q2 and Mercedes, Racing Point and Renault drivers chose the medium set of tyres for their first timed laps. Gasly was the last one to set a banker lap on a set of soft tyres. Leclerc, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were in the drop zone with 8 minutes left on the clock. Red Bull suspected damage on the front wing of Albon's car while Gasly's engine woes continued. Gasly was informed by the team that the issue couldn't be fixed in-session, much to his chagrin. Racing Point had a tense time with Stroll, who got called to the weigh-bridge for a random check. They had to wheel him into the garage to refuel and replace his tyres with less than 4 minutes left. Gasly gave up on his final attempt in Q2 due to an engine failure. The Frenchman would get a new engine for the race on Sunday. Racing Point again chose the medium set of tyres for their final run in Q2, a bold decision indeed! Everyone else was on the soft tyres. Albon made a couple of errors on his flying lap and couldn't better his time. He eventually qualified 13th behind Russell in the Williams! A bad day at the office for the Thai sensation. Ricciardo, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were the drivers eliminated. Gasly scraped through in 10th but wouldn't take further part due to the issue. Ferrari was relieved to have both cars in Q3 for the first time this year.  Advantage Mercedes and Racing Point - the quartet would start the race on the medium set of tyres ( from Q2 )!


Mercedes were a class apart in Q3 as they dialled up their engines. Lewis Hamilton set a new track record on his first run with Bottas three tenths behind. Perez exceeded track limits, his lap time deleted. Stroll was provisional P3 from Verstappen, Norris, Sainz, Vettel and Leclerc. The Ferraris were the first ones out to complete their final run (with 5 minutes left). Stroll followed shortly after. The trio improved and Ferraris locked out the third row on the grid, Stroll P3Perez, on his legitimate run, set the 4th fastest time; Racing Point 3rd and 4th! Hamilton went faster on his final run, beating his lap record set a few minutes earlier, a tenth clear of his team-mate Bottas in P2. Verstappen, Norris and Sainz couldn't improve on their final runs and would start 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. Another day of dominance for the Mercedes powered cars! The works team was in a league of its own with their favourite customer, best of the rest! Ferrari was the 3rd fastest team on the grid ( in qualifying at least ) while Red Bull had work to do overnight, sorting out balance and engine issues. There was the possibility of rain on race day as well, an exciting prospect on Sunday!



Race :

The heavens opened on Sunday. It would be a wet start to the race. There was drama before the race even began! A skid at turn 12 ( on his exploration lap ) sent Verstappen into the barriers damaging his front wing and possibly, the front suspension. The Red Bull mechanics wheeled him into his grid slot and began a thorough inspection. Others ran back and forth to gather tools and spares for the car. The front wing and the steering rod were some of the components replaced. The mechanics completed a 90-minute job in 15, kudos! 
Their troubles were compounded when the FIA initiated an investigation on the other car. The mechanics had allegedly used leaf blowers to dry the grid slot of Albon's carFIA F1 Technical Delegate Jo Bauer was witness to the act. The verdict would be given post-race. 

The formation lap got underway and barring Magnussen ( who was on wets ) everyone chose intermediate tyres. 
Haas F1 decided to pit both their drivers ( for slicks ) at the end of the formation lap. They believed the track was ready for dry tyres.
The others lined up for the race start.

It was a poor start for Bottas. He seemed to have jumped the lights, stopping momentarily before using the launch control again. Fortunately, ( for him ) the sensor didn't report this infringement. 
Hamilton led into turn 1 from Stroll. Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel with Vettel for P3 and got the position. Vettel and Leclerc were 4th and 5th, Bottas down to 6th! Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo and Latifi completed the top 10 at the end of lap 1. 
Norris had a bad start and was down in P14. Raikkonen was P15 but got served a 5 second time penalty for being in the wrong grid slot for the race start.

Kvyat pitted on lap 1 for a set of mediums. Bottas and Leclerc pitted on lap 3 for medium and soft tyres respectively. Albon overtook Latifi for P8 while Verstappen pressurized Stroll for P2. A slew of cars entered the pits ( on laps 4 and 5 ) for a switch to dry tyres. Vettel lost a lot of time in this melee. Sainz tangled with Latifi when his front wing clipped his left rear tyre at the pit exit. Latifi got spun around and suffered a puncture. It was an unsafe release by Williams and Latifi was awarded a time penalty of 5 seconds ( on lap 10 ). Magnussen and Grosjean jumped to P3 and P4 after the first round of pit stops! Leclerc, Kvyat, Gasly, Russell and Giovinazzi had chosen the soft tyres while the rest of the field the mediums. 

Perez ran wide and lost 2 positions to Vettel and Albon on lap 5. Verstappen set the fastest time on lap 6. DRS got enabled a lap later and Stroll overtook Grosjean for P4.  Bottas sparred with Leclerc ( lap 8 ) but was forced onto the wet section, his challenge fizzling out. Hamilton reclaimed the fastest lap from Verstappen. Bottas returned for round 2 and completed a clean pass on Leclerc on lap 10. He then overtook Grosjean on lap 12 for P5. Vettel made an error and ceded a place to Albon and Stroll pressurized Magnussen for P3. Hamilton extended his lead at the front. 

There was a prediction of a light shower on the radar. 
Albon started pressurizing Leclerc who was losing performance on the soft tyres. He attempted a couple of overtakes but was unsuccessful. This allowed Vettel to close in on the sparring duo. Meanwhile, Raikkonen passed Gasly for P14. Gasly limped into the pits on lap 16 and into retirement, his car emitting smoke. Stroll caught up to Magnussen and passed him on lap 16. Down the order, the battle for P7 raged on with Vettel joining the fray as well! Bottas demoted Magnussen to P5 on lap 17. Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz joined Albon & Vettel behind Leclerc. Albon was getting frustrated and requested for more engine power. It was job done on lap 18, the Haas duo up next. Vettel had to clear Leclerc who was struggling to prolong his stint.
Thankfully, Ferrari didn't stall his progress and the German overtook his team-mate with DRS on lap 19. Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres. Leclerc, now under pressure from Perez, defended his position and pitted on lap 21 for a new set of hard tyres. He rejoined in P15. Perez had clear air and started pulling away from Ricciardo and Sainz. Giovinazzi pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap 22. Light rain was predicted in 10 minutes. Hamilton was pushing and lapping backmarkers pretty quickly. Leclerc was one of them on lap 24.

Bottas was closing in on Stroll, Leclerc likewise with Norris. Sainz too maintained pressure on Ricciardo. Drivers complained about tyre wear and loss of grip but chose to continue ( with the threat of rain in the air ). Lap 29 saw two great battles unfold - Bottas vs Stroll and Leclerc vs Norris. Leclerc was wheel-to-wheel with Norris but unable to complete the move on the outside of turn 3. Albon overtook Grosjean on lap 30, the Frenchman coming under intense pressure from Vettel. Vettel, however, pitted at the end of the lap for a set of hard tyres and avoided the loss of time behind slower cars. He rejoined in P12, Raikkonen up to P11! 

Perez demoted Grosjean to P8 on lap 31 and Leclerc was having a titanic battle with Norris. The McLaren protege was immovable. Leclerc finally passed him on the next lap. Meanwhile, Vettel set the fastest lap of the race and Ricciardo made a move on Grosjean for P8.
There was a slew of pitstops again. Bottas pitted on lap 34 for another set of medium tyres and Raikkonen pitted from P12 for a set of hard tyres and rejoined in 17th. Albon pitted on lap 36 ( from 6th ) for hard tyres and rejoined in 10th. Stroll pitted for a set of medium tyres but lost third place to Bottas. Bottas' undercut strategy paid off. Verstappen and Hamilton pitted as well
( on laps 37 & 38 respectively ). Status quo maintained. 

Magnussen couldn't defend against Perez for P9 ( lap 40 ) and was falling into the hands of Leclerc. A switch to the hard tyres for Sainz on lap 41 put him out of the points scoring positions in P11. Yellow flags were deployed when Latifi had an offtrack excursion. He made it back to the pits and put on another set of fresh tyres.

The Haas cars were going backwards - Ricciardo overtook Magnussen ( lap 47 ) after his final pit stop while Grosjean lost two positions to Ocon and Norris in the space of two laps. Bottas switched to the hard tyres with another pit stop on lap 50, in the hope of "under-cutting" Verstappen. The Red Bull driver chose to continue on his worn set. Bottas had to reduce the 23-second deficit in the space of 20 laps for a P2 finish. There was another battle brewing, this time between would-be teammates, Leclerc and Sainz.
Bottas went about chasing Verstappen with a series of fastest laps and steadily reducing the gap. Stroll, meanwhile, pitted for a fresh set of boots on lap 53. Albon and Vettel were the next cars to be lapped by the leader Hamilton, only the top 4 remaining on the lead lap! 

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Vettel, Albon, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 58.
The battle for the final point intensified with Sainz challenging Leclerc on lap 60. The Ferrari driver held firm. He couldn't defend on the next lap though and ceded his place to the Spaniard. Mercedes asked Hamilton to pit on lap 63 but aborted it, the life of the soft tyres still being debated on the pit wall. He eventually did pit on lap 67 for a fresh set of soft tyres. Albon snatched back P5 from Vettel on the same lap. Bottas held onto the fastest lap with 3 laps remaining. He was within 2 seconds of Verstappen and catching him at a rate of knots. Hamilton reclaimed the point for the fastest lap ( on the penultimate and last laps )!
All eyes were on the battle for P2. Bottas was in DRS range of Verstappen on the final lap. Unfortunately, he was a lap too late.


Hamilton won the Hungarian GP for the 8th time! Verstappen had his Red Bull Mechanics to thank for his second place. Bottas came home in third. Stroll was P4, Albon P5 followed by Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Sainz
Leclerc, Kvyat, Ocon, Norris, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi failed to finish in the points. Gasly was the sole retirement.

Post-race, the Haas F1 team got summoned for alleged breach of regulations on the formation lap with regards to driver aids. Both drivers were served a 10 second time penalty. The team made the call to pit ( not the drivers ), hence the penalty.
Grosjean was relegated to P16 and Magnussen to P10. Sainz & Raikkonen promoted to P9 & P15 respectively. 

Red Bull Racing and Albon weren't penalized for their alleged breach on the grid. The Stewards reviewed the video evidence and concluded that the team didn't attempt to alter the grip of the track surface.


Hamilton was a class apart this weekend. He had lapped every car up to P5, truly a drubbing. Bottas has relinquished his lead in the championship. Red Bull had a tough weekend but was able to salvage a P2 and a P5. Racing Point had another strong weekend. Vettel made the right calls and scored good points. His team-mate had another disappointing weekend, a poor strategy call to blame. McLaren hit a low after the highs of the opening races. Renault would be glad to see both cars finish a race and aim to score points with both cars. Williams did great on Saturday but faltered on Sunday. Alfa Romeo struggled on both days! It is disheartening to see a team struggle on tracks where they scored points a year earlier. Alpha Tauri would like to forget this weekend as quickly as possible.  

Silverstone, another power track, is next on the calendar. The next triple-header is less than a fortnight away, so teams need to address issues to recover lost ground. Mercedes might still have the upper hand. Time will tell.



Hamilton, the King of the Ring, won at Hungaroring for the 8th time! More records beckon, the hunger never dies!!
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Ankush Ahuja
tag:tech-know-crat.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1571985 2020-07-13T12:16:30Z 2020-07-20T14:11:22Z 2020 Styrian GP Race Recap : Deutsch Dominance in the Styrian Countryside

The 2020 F1 season got underway at the Red Bull Ring with the Austrian GP! Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes AMG F1 won the opening round. Charles Leclerc produced a stellar drive to finish P2 with Lando Norris bagging the first podium of his F1 career.

These 3 constructors ( Mercedes, Ferrari & McLaren ) shared the podium for the first time in the history of the sport!

The week that followed served up more surprises. Fernando Alonso announced his return to F1 with Renault Sport F1 Team for 2021 and 2022. 

The race calendar now included Mugello and Sochi as the latest entrants. The circuit in Mugello makes a return to the sport and will be the venue for the 1000th GP of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team.

The contenders returned to the same venue, a weekend later, to take part in round 2, now known as the Styrian GP! The race was named after the region of Styria where the circuit is located. It wasn't the first time a race would be named after a region. Pescara in Italy hosted the Pescara GP in 1957. This would be the first venue, however, to host back-to-back races in the same year!


Ferrari rushed in a couple of aero upgrades for Round 2. Lewis Hamilton hoped for a clean weekend while Honda claimed their engine issues were addressed ( due to an electrical fault ) and Red Bull would have a more reliable car for the weekend.


How did the teams fare on the weekend? Did we have a new winner? Time for a recap!



Practice :

Friday Practice saw Racing Point dominate FP1 with Max Verstappen and the Mercedes duo hot on their heels. Ferrari powered cars continued to struggle with 10th being their highest finish. Nicolas Latifi retired from the session with a broken gearbox. Jack Aitken and Robert Kubica, reserve drivers for Williams and Alfa Romeo respectively, finished P17 and P18. Haas' woes continued - Romain Grosjean suffered braking issues while Kevin Magnussen completed only 3 laps before the team called him to investigate what seemed to be a faulty battery. Lando Norris got penalised with a 3 place grid drop for overtaking under Yellow Flags during FP1.

The weather prediction for Saturday was heavy rains with the threat of both FP3 and Qualifying being called off. If conditions didn't improve by Sunday morning ( alternate timeslot for Qualifying ), the FIA would be forced to refer to the FP2 results for forming the grid for the race. 

FP2 commenced on a disastrous note for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian lost control of his car into turn 9, careering into the barriers, the car wrecked. He was pretty winded after the impact and seen limping. Thankfully, precautionary checks at the medical centre deemed him fit for the rest of the weekend.

A lot of teams chose to throw caution to the wind, using up more than one fresh set of soft tyres to set banker laps. Some, like Mercedes, went the conservative way and ran their race program after a few flying laps. 

The result? Max Verstappen was top of the pile with Bottas and the Racing Point cars a close 3rd and 4th. Hamilton ended the session in 6th while the Ferraris languished in 9th and 16th, Vettel reporting issues with the front end throughout FP2. McLaren was in the mix with Sainz in 5th and Norris in 8th. Albon finished in P7 but it wasn't a clean session for him ( spin and an off-track excursion ). The Williams got the jump on Haas, an encouraging sign for them!

Saturday arrived and the heavens opened. The Formula 3 Race had to be Red Flagged and after a lot of deliberation, Free Practice 3 stood cancelled

The possibility of a postponement of Qualifying to Sunday Morning seemed real...



Qualifying :

The start of Qualifying was delayed due to the onset of another shower and poor track conditions. 

Q1 finally got underway, 50 minutes later, with everyone making a beeline for the pit exit. The teams didn't want to be caught out if the conditions worsened. Everyone was fueled to till the end of the session. Lap times started improving slowly as the water was displaced off the racing line by the train of cars. Williams rolled the dice by sending Russell on a new set of wet tyres in the final minutes. He improved to P12.  Less than a minute left on the clock and the Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi spun, going backwards into the barriers, bringing out yellow flags and eventually red-flagging the session ( when it ground to a halt ). The runners behind the Alfa Romeo had to slow down and couldn't improve their lap times. Sergio Perez was the big casualty of Q1. Kimi Raikkonen was the other. Both were on personal best laps when the session was red-flagged. Latifi, Giovinazzi & Grosjean were the other eliminations of Q1. Grosjean was unable to set a lap time with an ERS issue. Giovinazzi was handed a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change while Haas came under investigation for working on Grosjean's car in parc-ferme conditions.  

Q2 began under slightly better conditions. Hamilton traded fastest laps with Verstappen initially but the conditions soon deteriorated as the rain intensified. Ferrari was once again struggling to stay in touch with the front runners with Charles Leclerc outside the top 10 and Vettel the driver at risk of elimination. The Monegasque driver couldn't better his time and eventually finished the session in P11. Leclerc's woes didn't end there as he was under investigation for impeding Kvyat on his flying lap in Q2. He was awarded a 3 place grid drop for this infringement and would start the race in 14th! Russell, Stroll, Kvyat and Magnussen were the other casualties, mistakes for Stroll and Magnussen costing them dearly. Racing Point hoped to turn things around come race-day.   

Track conditions were similar to that of Q1 ( at the start of Q3 ) and the cars tiptoed around the track for the first couple of minutes. Lap times were set and the Mercedes duo seemed to have an upper hand in the fight for the front row. The lap times started dropping in the final three minutes of the session. Verstappen jumped to Provisional Pole while Gasly improved to P4. Lewis Hamilton had different plans. The 6 times World Champion set purple sectors and snatched back provisional pole, this time with a margin of seven-tenths of a second. Ocon demoted Bottas to P4 before Sainz claimed P3 from OconMax Verstappen pushed hard on his final attempt displaying razor-sharp reflexes whenever the car tried to misbehave. It was neck and neck into the last couple of corners when a distraction caused by the Ferrari of Vettel pulling into the pits upset his focus. He lost the rear end of his car into the final turn and the challenge was over. It wasn't over for the Mercedes duo...yet... Bottas pushed hard but could only manage P4. Lewis flexed his muscles and went even faster. He would eventually finish on pole with a buffer of 1.2 seconds to Max Verstappen and 1.6 to his team-mate ( who was in 4th ). It was a driving masterclass in atrocious conditions! 

Carlos Sainz Jr qualified P3. Bottas, Ocon, Norris, Albon, Gasly, Ricciardo & Vettel completed the top 10.

Come rain, come sunshine, Mercedes was still the team to beat. Red Bull and McLaren had a great base to fight them on Sunday. Once again there was only one Ferrari powered car in the top 10 and the works team needed to produce a foolproof strategy ( with a fair bit of luck ) if they were to replicate their performance from the previous week. The Racing Points weren't able to display their true pace either. The race on Sunday promised to be an exciting affair!



Race :

The Regional Anthem of Styria was played before the drivers took a stand ( or knee ) against racism. 19 cars lined up on the grid as Grosjean opted to start from the pit lane. The sun was shining in all its glory and the track was bone dry! It was time to go racing!

Everyone had a free choice of tyres ( due to a wet qualifying ). Ricciardo, Vettel, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Latifi and Giovinazzi opted to start on the medium set of tyres while the rest of the field chose the softs.  

The 5 red lights went out and Hamilton was quick off the blocks. Sainz tried to scrap it out with Verstappen but the latter held firm. The train of cars reached turn 3 and Leclerc tried to make a move on Vettel, went over the kerb, the rear of his car lifted into the air and tangled with the rear wing of Vettel's Ferrari. The latter limped to the pits with a dangling rear wing. His race was over and the Safety Car was deployed. Kimi Raikkonen had a front-row seat of the incident and had to slam his brakes to avoid contact with the sparring Ferraris in front. His car went into anti-stall relegating him to the back of the pack. Vettel retired from the race. Leclerc pitted as well for a front wing change and a switch to an alternate strategy (a new set of hard tyres ). Stewards investigated the incident and deemed it as "No Action Necessary".

Racing resumed on lap 4 and once again Hamilton had a clean getaway. Leclerc's car was undrivable due to massive underside damage and he retired from the race on lap 5. Perez had a mega start and was already in P11 by the end of lap 7. Bottas overtook Sainz for P3 while Albon closed in on the McLaren. An off-track excursion for Russell demoted him to 18th and last. Albon overtook Sainz for P4 ( lap 8 ). Raikkonen passed Latifi for P17 while Stroll bickered with Norris over P9 on lap 10. The Canadian was on the move having started 13th on the grid. He was able to make the overtake a lap later. His team-mate Perez then made his entry into the points scoring position on lap 14 with Norris going backwards in a tough phase of the race. 

Daniel Ricciardo was closing in on his team-mate Ocon for P6. Renault had opted for different strategies and it seemed that Ocon was losing performance on his soft tyres. Things got quite nervy on lap 17 when Ricciardo tried to make a move on the outside at turn 4. Ocon held forte. Ricciardo didn't mince his words over the team radio and wanted to chase down Sainz ( in P5 ) if the team instructed Ocon to let him by. Stroll made it past Gasly on the same lap and was closing in on this duo rapidly. A lap later the Renault team-mates went wheel-to-wheel again while Gasly lost another spot, this time to Sergio Perez
Ricciardo finally made it past Ocon ( lap 19 ).

Mercedes instructed both their drivers to push and Hamilton responded with the fastest laps of the race on laps 20 & 21. It went from bad to worse for Gasly who lost another place to Norris ( on lap 22 ). The Alpha Tauri was rapidly losing performance on the soft tyres. Meanwhile, Leclerc and Vettel exchanged words in the paddock and the former apologised for his mistake at the start of the race. 

Bottas was now closing in on Verstappen. There was a lot of action at the back of the field as well. Raikkonen was now in P14, having passed Magnussen. Giovinazzi, his team-mate, was the next car up ahead.  

Red Bull decided to undercut the Mercedes and pitted Verstappen for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 25. Game on! Ocon retired from the race on lap 26 with a suspected cooling issue. Hamilton was now 25 seconds clear of Verstappen.


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Albon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Perez, Norris and Kvyat were the top 10 on lap 27. Hamilton dived into the pits at the end of lap 27, switched to a fresh set of medium tyres and exited the pits with a comfortable lead over a charging Verstappen. The Dutchman was unhappy and questioned the team's attempt of an undercut.

Bottas took over the lead of the race and decided to go longer on his first stint. Gasly pitted on lap 29 for a set of hard tyres, the Frenchman rejoining in 17th and last. Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in setting the fastest lap time ( of the race ) on his fresh set of medium tyres, pulling away from Max Verstappen and reducing the deficit to his team-mate in front. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez put immense pressure on his team-mate for P7. Racing Point had a decision to make. 

Carlos Sainz pitted from P5 on lap 33 but a sticky left-rear wheel delayed the Spaniard. A stationary stop of 7.2 seconds caused him to get stuck behind a train of cars that were yet to pit. Bottas finally pitted on lap 34 for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in 3rd behind Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen. The Finn would now have to make an overtake on-track to claim P2. 
Racing Point also pitted Lance Stroll on the same lap ( lap 34 ). This cleared the road for Sergio Perez in his quest to reduce the gap to Ricciardo. The Alfa Romeo cars were now into points-scoring positions. 

Albon pitted from P4 on lap 36 and rejoined in 7th behind Lando Norris. Stroll and Sainz were now hunting down the cars yet to make a stop. Stroll overtook Raikkonen on lap 36 and did the same with Giovinazzi a lap later. Sainz followed suit with overtakes on laps 38 and 39. Perez pitted on lap 39 ( from P5 ) and rejoined the track just in front of Sainz. The Spaniard was unwilling to yield and went wheel to wheel with Perez. He had track-position out of turn 4 but Perez got a great slipstream and went around the outside of turn 5 to retake P8! What an outstanding manoeuvre!

Norris and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 40 for a fresh set of tyres while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race, reducing the deficit to Verstappen. Haas F1 drivers were having a torrid time and still suffering from braking issues. Raikkonen pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 45 while Perez closed in on his team-mate ( again ) for P6. He was side by side with DRS Assistance out of turn 4 and had the inside line into turn 5. Another brilliant move and great wheel-to-wheel racing! 

Perez had Daniel Ricciardo in his sights, the latter struggling on the soft tyres. The front-runners were now lapping the backmarkers and the gap between Verstappen and Bottas was hovering around the 8-second mark. Raikkonen and Magnussen had quite an aggressive duel with the former rebuffing the challenge ( lap 48 ). Raikkonen then passed Gasly to move up to P12 on lap 49. Gasly ditched his hard tyres for a fresh set of mediums and rejoined last... a forgettable Sunday for the Frenchman.

Perez was in DRS range and overtook Ricciardo before turn 4. It seemed like the latter was nursing an issue or running conservatively to protect the reliability of his car. Ricciardo soon fell into the clutches of the other Racing Point and Stroll was unrelenting in his pressure to claim P6. Ricciardo held on, using his battery power at the right places to maintain the status quo. The crown for the Fastest Lap shifted to Perez who was flying with the clear track in front of him. The Mexican put in a series of blistering laps! Suddenly P4 seemed a possibility... an incredible feat from P17 ( if he could accomplish it ). The gap was reducing rapidly and Albon ( in P4 ) was apprised about the situation. 

Mercedes informed Bottas ( lap 54 ) that he would catch Verstappen on the last lap with the current pace and Verstappen had picked up some front wing damage on the right-hand side. Thankfully it wasn't critical. Alfa Romeo was on the cusp of scoring points again with Giovinazzi and Raikkonen hot on the heels of 10th placed man Kvyat. The team deliberated on a position swap between their 2 drivers. Raikkonen was on fresher tyres and was stuck behind Giovinazzi, losing performance in the dirty air. 

Perez was within striking distance of P4 and in the DRS range ( lap 57 ). Albon and Perez then ran into a couple of backmarkers with the latter getting held up just a bit. Down the field, Raikkonen finally got the nod to pass Giovinazzi and hunt down Kvyat to grab the solitary point ( on lap 60 ). It would prove to be too little too late. 

Stroll was still stuck behind Ricciardo when Norris and Sainz started tussling for 8th. McLaren swapped positions with minimal time loss to either, giving Norris the license to go after the Renault and Racing Point in full earnest ( lap 62 ). Perez continued to pump in a series of fastest laps in the DRS range of Albon while Bottas was 2 seconds behind Verstappen! Verstappen complained about driveability issues and worn-out tyres and Bottas was in DRS range by lap 65. The fastest lap of the race changed hands again! It was Norris who claimed it ( lap 65 ) as he closed in on Stroll in P7. 

The battle for P2 intensified on lap 66. "Not much left on my rear tyres" quipped Max Verstappen as he led Bottas into the triple DRS zones. Bottas got close into the run at turn 3, was made to take the outside line, got better traction out of the corner and with DRS assistance the pass seemed to be complete before turn 4. However, Verstappen had other ideas and drove around the outside. Bottas was forced to yield ( at turn 5 ) and Verstappen kept his place for another lap! 
The battle resumed on the next lap with Bottas forced to take the outside line out of turn 3 again. This time he got the job done with DRS into turn 4. It was a Mercedes 1-2 ( lap 66 ). 

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, decided to turn up the wick and reclaimed the fastest lap point from Norris ( lap 66 ). Carlos Sainz pitted on the same lap for a fresh set of soft tyres, his goal the same. It was a free stop for the Spaniard. 

The race had come alive in the closing stages! 

Verstappen would then pit at the end of lap 68, a free stop for him as well. Kudos to the FOM for adding an extra point for the fastest lap of the race since last year. Carlos Sainz now topped the fastest laps chart but would he hold onto it until the end?

Perez knew it was now or never and tried a pass on Albon into Turn 4 ( on the penultimate lap ). The two made contact, Perez's front wing suffering damage after contact with the rear of Albon's car. The latter was lucky to come out unscathed out of the same turn where he suffered much grief a week earlier. The front wing of the Mexican's car was hanging on precariously but he kept racing. Meanwhile, Norris had joined the Ricciardo-Stroll battle for P6.

There was more drama on the penultimate lap. Lance Stroll went for a last-ditch, late-braking lunge, down the inside of Ricciardo at Turn 3, out-braked himself, ran wide, pushed Ricciardo further wide and offered Norris the chance of a double overtake. The trio raced wheel-to-wheel into turn 4 with Norris getting the jump on Ricciardo and even challenging Stroll only to relent a turn later. 

The McLaren protegee got a second shot at it on the final lap and got the job done into turn 4! 

Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and the win, well clear of his team-mate Bottas and Verstappen. Albon took P4.

Perez had a 6.5 seconds cushion to Norris. The gap reduced massively and Norris overtook Perez on the penultimate turn! Norris finished in P5 with Perez holding off Stroll and Ricciardo in a photo finish! Sainz and Kvyat completed the top 10 with Sainz bagging the point for the fastest lap! 

Raikkonen came across the line in P11, the Finn having to back off due to fuel saving towards the end. Magnussen and Grosjean jumped Giovinazzi for P12 and P13 respectively. Gasly was P15 followed by Russell and Latifi.



Hamilton had lapped everyone up until P9. Such was the dominance of the Mercedes! Red Bull, the best of the rest. McLaren and Racing Point had another strong weekend. Renault still had reliability issues to address. Scuderia Alpha Tauri had a mediocre weekend. Alfa Romeo Racing had a better outing while Haas F1 was relieved to finish after their double retirement the previous weekend. Williams would rue a missed opportunity with Russell.

Ferrari had a forgettable weekend and need to bring all their resources to bear to turn things around quickly. They have numerous issues to address. P11 was the best finish for a Ferrari powered car ( Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen ) this weekend. Challenging times for the most successful team on the grid.


Offtrack, Renault lodged a complaint with the FIA over the legality of the Racing Point RP20. FIA confirmed Renault's protest was admissible. There will be a full hearing.


The F1 brigade now makes its way to Hungary. The circuit, close to the city of Budapest, is a high downforce track and the chasing pack can reduce the deficit to the Mercedes here. Track position will play an important role though.

Mercedes will be glad to start the season with a win for both their drivers. Their quest for a 7th Constructors' Championship has begun on the right note. The three-pointed star landed a knockout punch in both the bouts.

Mercedes reigned supreme in the Sytrian countryside! Bring on Hungary!!

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Ankush Ahuja