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#1020 2020 Stirian Grand Prix

2021-04-22 00:00

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#2020,

#1020 2020 Stirian Grand Prix

Archiviato il primo emozionante Gran Premio della stagione, che ha visto vincitore Valtteri Bottas davanti a Charles Leclerc e Lando Norris, è il mome

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The exciting first Grand Prix of the season is over. Victory belongs to Valtteri Bottas, with Charles Leclerc in second place and Lando Norris in third. It's now time to turn the page and focus on the next race: the Styrian Grand Prix, which will once again take place on the Red Bull-owned Spielberg circuit. Formula 1 will be in Austria once again from 9 to 12 July, marking the first time in the sports’ history that teams will compete on the same track twice in a season. It is also the first time that a Grand Prix counting towards the World Championship will bear the name of a region. This had previously happened with races which were not valid for the championship, such as the Grand Prix de la Bourgogne in 1946 or the Natal Grand Prix, in South Africa, in the 1960s.

 

The game is afoot in this new weekend of racing, with a soon-to-be crowned winner of this first and unusual Styrian Grand Prix. It is forbidden to have two races with the same name on the calendar, reason why the race is named after Styria, the Austrian state where the track is located. One week after its debut, the strict anti-Covid-19 protocol seems to be working as it should, despite the 2,000 people present at the Red Bull Ring and the over 4,000 tests conducted. Nothing is left to chance, and that is why Formula 1 is the first international sport to return.

 

Both Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull management are well aware of this: after the first race weekend, they have received a formal warning for chatting without masks around the paddock. This violation has resulted in the FIA's Covid-19 delegate reprimanding the Ferrari and Red Bull team managers, without, however, proceeding with fines or penalties. Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas have also been called to order, but for a different reason: both the Monegasque and the Finn ignored the FIA's recommendations to avoid leaving the circuit for the first triple-header of the season, and returned to Monte-Carlo. As if it weren’t enough, Leclerc was then spotted in the company of his girlfriend and a friend, none of them wearing a mask. Ferrari therefore received a second warning, after just one week of racing. Despite the rigidity imposed by Covid-19, there is no shortage of surprises.

 

Though the season has just begun, the drivers' market is already in full swing. On the eve of the second Grand Prix, Renault announces that Fernando Alonso will officially return to Formula 1 in the following season. The Spaniard returns to the same team he won the World Championship with in 2005 and 2006, after a brief stint in endurance racing and in the Dakar rally. Alonso says he is excited and proud of his big return, and determined to get Renault back on the podium:

 

“It's a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team that gave me my chance at the start of my career and which now gives me the opportunity to return to the highest level. I have principles and ambitions in line with the team’s project. Their progress this winter gives credibility to the objectives for the 2022 season and I will share all my racing experience with everyone from the engineers to the mechanics and my teammates. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I”.

 

Alonso will race alongside Esteban Ocon, thus taking the place of Daniel Riccardo. The Australian, however, is not leaving Formula 1: next season he will occupy Carlos Sainz’ McLaren seat, alongside Lando Norris. Ricciardo says he is happy and confident about this move, especially in light of the progress shown at McLaren:

 

"All the teams that contact you try to convince you, especially now that there are no races, and you can only go to whoever inspires you the most. If we look at 2019, which is the sole reference, McLaren rocked: Mercedes won the title, but McLaren has made a big and clear step forward. They are ready to go, they will change engine from 2021 [from Renault to Mercedes - Ed.] and they give me confidence, but it was not an easy decision and only time will tell if I made the right choice or not".

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The biggest uncertainty of the season, however, is Sebastian Vettel’s future. After his farewell with Ferrari, before the season even began, the German still has no clear plans for next season. According to him, all doors are currently open:

 

"I haven't made a decision, I don't want to overload myself with pressure. I also talked to Renault, but there were no concrete discussions and they took a different decision: it's good that Alonso is back, I'm pleased. I look at myself, I will take all the time I need to make a decision: continue, break or retyre, it will depend on what options I have. It is no secret that I am competitive, I have achieved great results and I am not here just to participate".

 

He also comments on a recent and persistent rumor, which sees him reconnecting with Red Bull:

 

"I obviously know Red Bull well. The recent appearance in a Red Bull video has nothing to do with a potential return of mine. I know they were strong when I was there and I know they still are. I'm here to compete, so I would probably accept a Red Bull seat should the call come. Racing Point? At the moment there is no news, I don't know what will happen. This race is very important for me and then we'll see what happens, but regardless, Racing Point has made a good impression on me. I know part of the team and have known them for quite some time. This year they have a competitive car to fight and improve".

 

Finally, Vettel talks about the updates brought by Ferrari:

 

"The updates will be important to understand if the direction is the right one. Then the stopwatch will tell the rest. It will also be important to compare this weekend with the previous one. I think it's a great opportunity to have a race on the same circuit a few days apart to get an immediate answer. My test was not good, we found a couple of things but it is difficult to understand if brakes and balance affected my first race. But I have a clear memory of what happened, even when the car gave me good sensations. Everything to take a step forward".

 

There will be plenty of twists and turns in the coming weeks, as a prelude to the 2021 season, in which the FIA will begin the gradual introduction of new regulations, including the budget cap for teams. In the meantime, the 2020 calendar expands, with the confirmation of the Russian Grand Prix on September 27 and the introduction of the Mugello Grand Prix on September 13, just one week after the Monza Grand Prix. Chasey Carey, president and CEO of Formula 1, comments on the news as follows:

 

"We are delighted to welcome Mugello to the 2020 Formula 1 calendar. I want to thank the promoter for their hard work to make this event happen. I know that all our fans are excited to see a race on this fantastic circuit and for all Ferrari fans it will be a pleasure to be able to celebrate the Scuderia's 1000 Grands Prix in this way".

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Not just any Grand Prix for Ferrari, but the 1000th in the team’s history. The Scuderia is also the only team to have been present in Formula 1 for seventy years. The full name of the Grand Prix will be the Ferrari 1000 Tuscan Grand Prix, where the SF1000 will be the undisputed protagonist. Speaking of Ferrari, there’s an air of uncertainty and concern for this Grand Prix. To be fair, the Maranello team has never had any particular luck on the Spielberg track. Since 1997, when Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine drove for the Scuderia, the team has brought home only three victories on the 4,318 meters that characterize this circuit: in 1999 with Irvine and in 2002 and 2003 with Schumacher. The team is aware of its inferiority, not only with respect to the previous season, but also and above all with respect to the other teams. This is the reason there is a lot of concern at Ferrari, though accompanied by the determination to do their best. Team principal Mattia Binotto is confident about the data gathered during the first Grand Prix on this circuit, and above all about the work done between the two races:

 

"While the race team stayed in Spielberg between races, Maranello was bustling with work to try to react to the indications that emerged in the first Grand Prix. We knew it was going to be an uphill start to the season and it has been more so than we expected, which is why we are pushing on the accelerator to try and bring forward this weekend at least some of the updates we had planned to bring to Hungary. It's a race against time, but we're doing our best. Precisely because we will be racing on the same track it would be important to have the new components, so that we can confirm their effectiveness and understand if the new direction of development undertaken is the right one. The goal for the Styrian Grand Prix is very clear: to get the most out of the package at our disposal, and to take advantage of every opportunity to collect as many points as possible".

 

In this regard, a new floor arriving from Maranello will be mounted on Charles Leclerc’s car, who is asked to test the new version of the component which had compromised the performance of the car a few days earlier. The race weekend officially starts Friday 10 July 2020, with the first free practice of the day. Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier, provides C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres, the same ones used in the previous Grand Prix. The FIA confirms the three zones where it will be possible for drivers to activate the Drag Reduction System: the first zone is between Castrol Edge in turn 1 and Remus in turn 3, the second between Remus and Schlossgold in turn 4 and the third on the pit straight.

 

Free practice begins with some changes. George Russell, on whose single-seater the V6 engine, the MGU-H and the turbo have been replaced, won’t be driving next to Nicholas Latifi: British Formula 2 driver Jack Aitken will be driving for Williams in his place. The same goes for Alfa Romeo, where veteran Robert Kubica will be taking Antonio Giovinazzi’s place on track. At the end of the first session, Sergio Perez is the fastest on track: the Mexican runs on soft tyres, coming in at 51 thousandths of a second from the time set by Lewis Hamilton at the end FP1 at the Austrian Grand Prix the week before, with the track 24 °C hotter.

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Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, with the same tyres, is less than a tenth behind, and precedes the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. In this first session, the British team gathers information for the race, using hard and medium compound tyres. The Racing Point’s good performance is confirmed by Lance Stroll achieving the fifth fastest time. Ferrari uses the session for testing purposes like Mercedes, without setting particularly significant times. The two new testers, Jack Aitken for Williams and Robert Kubica for Alfa Romeo, take advantage of this first session to carry out aerodynamic tests on their respective cars. The other Williams, driven by Nicholas Latifi, suffers a loss of power in the power unit, which forces the Canadian to stop the session early. Kevin Magnussen also suffers from a battery problem, later replaced, which prevents him from completing a full lap.

 

At the end of the FP1, Lando Norris receives a three-position penalty on the starting grid and two points on his Super Licence due to a double overtake carried out under yellow flags. This brings us to the second free practice session on Friday afternoon. The session is particularly important: the bad weather announced for Saturday could lead to both the third free practice session and qualifying being cancelled. In this case, the result of the second session would determine the starting grid for Sunday. In this second round, Max Verstappen sets the best time on soft tyres. His time, a 1'03"660, is six tenths better than the time set by Lewis Hamilton in the same session of the Austrian Grand Prix the week before.

 

Right behind the Dutchman, just 43 thousandths back, is Valtteri Bottas, who precedes Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, despite the Canadian seeing a few of his times deleted for not respecting the speed limits. Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton are in fifth and sixth position respectively, while Lando Norris suffers from back pain which forces him to a limited performance and an eighth position. If Bottas' day is therefore to be considered positive, the same cannot be said for Hamilton who has been complaining about the balance of his W11 since the morning. The British driver asks his engineers to make several setup changes during the two tests, but still doesn't seem to have found the right feeling at the end. Sebastian Vettel is also penalized for breaking the speed limits, finishing sixteenth, while Charles Leclerc is ninth. Both drivers, unlike their rivals ahead of them in the standings, use only one set of soft tyres as they believe that qualifying will be held regularly.

 

Compared to the previous Grand Prix, there has been an improvement of 255 thousandths. With the exception of Haas and Renault, the other teams improve more than Ferrari, mainly due to the use of higher engine modes than those used during the previous Friday. The session is characterized by an accident involving Daniel Riccardo, who goes out of the track at high speed in the penultimate corner, crashing against the barriers with his Renault. The driver is almost unharmed, although he does have some trouble walking and is thus taken to the medical center. Though the tyre temperature during this second free practice session is 53 °C, a much lower temperature for qualifying on Saturday, if it takes place.

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This could create a lot of problems for the drivers, as bringing the front tyres in the right working temperature window will be crucial. Mercedes will certainly benefit from the Dual Axis Steering system, which has been designed to help the drivers warm up the front tyres without overheating the rears; a native problem for the Anglo-German cars, especially on certain tracks. In fact, according to initial analyses, DAS can bring a gain of one to over three tenths of a second per lap, depending on track conditions. Friday ends with Red Bull and Mercedes confirming themselves as the fastest cars, followed by an unexpected Racing Point. Max Verstappen says he is happy with his performance, which saw him emerge as the fastest in this second free practice:

 

"Last week we were not happy with the car, today the sensations are better. We tried to fix some things and the direction is right. If we have the package to win? We will find out on Sunday, but for sure this weekend has started in a very positive way. I don't know if this time could be worth the pole position because, if we can't qualify tomorrow, I think the qualifying will be eventually moved to Sunday morning".

 

Charles Leclerc is also confident, despite setting the ninth fastest time:

 

"I would say it was a difficult day, although towards the end of the sessions we saw some progress in conditions with a lot of fuel on board. Let's see if tomorrow or Sunday, depending on the weather, we will be able to improve our performance even with little fuel on board. There is definitely potential in the updates we brought this week. We need to keep working on them to fine-tune them and define everything they can give us. I'm pretty happy thinking about the wet conditions predicted for tomorrow, so we'll see what happens. Hopefully it will be wet but not too wet so we can get out on track. Then we'll see where we are on the grid".

 

Sebastian Vettel is finally in a good mood, after a newfound feeling with his SF1000:

 

"Today the SF1000 gave me much better feelings than a week ago. Right from the start of the day I felt like I was driving a different car and I felt comfortable all the time. At this point I just have to hope that things don't change. If we look at the times it certainly wasn't a great day, but you have to keep in mind that my best lap was cancelled and we didn't work towards qualifying. The main focus today, however, was to evaluate the updates that were introduced this week. We fitted them to the car one by one and they seem to be working properly, but we need to look carefully at the data to be able to have a car that can give us the best performance. I also tried some adjustments on the brake balance and I still have to work on it to find the right rhythm. Apart from that it was a pretty normal Friday. Now let's think about tomorrow and see how wet we will be: this is a factor that could shake things up a lot".

 
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As a matter of fact, on Saturday morning the weather isn’t looking good and so FP3 is first postponed and then cancelled. The morning is therefore free, and each team tries to find the best strategy to use for the afternoon, should the session take place, but especially for the Sunday race. With a break in the rainfall, in the early afternoon the weather seems to improve. Though qualifying is scheduled for 3:00 p.m., the situation becomes unclear once again just before it begins. The safety car is sent out to test track conditions and race director Michael Masi suggests the possibility of postponing qualifying to Sunday morning. In the meantime, the session is postponed until 15:35, before the FIA finally sets the start of qualifying for 3:46 p.m..

 

However, the situation is still uncertain, which is why the cars take to the track with extreme wet weather tyres. The first lap of Q1 is completed by Sebastian Vettel, with a 1'24"235, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, Charles Leclerc and the two Red Bulls. Shortly after, George Russel sets the best time with a 1'24"031, thanks to the tyres’ better grip. Mercedes seems to be struggling, with Hamilton nineteenth. Sebastian Vettel does not give up, and rises again to P1, ahead of his teammate and Kevin Magnussen. Leclerc steals the first place from his teammate soon after, and places ahead of Esteban Ocon, then overtaken by Max Verstappen. The other Red Bull driver, Alex Albon, tries to make his mark by retaking fifth position from Carlos Sainz, just as Lewis Hamilton takes first place.

 

The track gets drier and drier as the minutes go by, making it difficult to perform well on wet tyres. Romain Grosjean goes off track and onto the gravel, compromising the second qualifying session. Sergio Perez struggles to repeat the good times he set on Friday, despite constantly improving. Two minutes before the end of the first session, Antonio Giovinazzi goes off track and hits the barriers, leading to a short neutralization. At the end of Q1, Raikkonen, Perez, Latifi, Giovinazzi and Grosjean are among the eliminated, with the latter not completing a single lap. The real protagonists are Lewis Hamilton, who places first and sets a great time, and George Russel, who brings a Williams back into Q2 for the first time since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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The second qualifying session is back after a short break. The track is not dry yet and unpredicted rain is once again on the track. Sebastian Vettel is the first to hit the track, followed by the Mercedes cars. Valtteri Bottas sets the best time, with a 1'19"006, followed by Vettel and Hamilton. Daniil Kvyat then fits between Vettel and Hamilton, while Gasly overtakes Vettel. The attempts continue and Max Verstappen gains the second position, followed by Bottas, but only temporarily: it's just a matter of time before Lewis Hamilton sets the best time, with a 1'18"741 lap. The track starts to dry out once again, raising the level of difficulty.

 

In the meantime, the FIA investigates an incident between Leclerc and Kvyat, which will be further analysed only after the end of qualifying. In the last seconds of Q2 both Albon and Bottas improve their times, while the return of the rain causes Vettel to make a mistake at the first corner. Leclerc, Russel, Stroll, Kvjat and Magnussen are knocked out of Q2, but despite this, it is Williams’ best qualifying result since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix. Ferrari, on the other hand, fails in Styria, with the Monegasque out of Q3 and Sebastian Vettel making his way into Q3, but not without trouble. Rain also threatens the third and final qualifying session, which sees Max Verstappen set the fastest time, with a 1'21"800 lap. Lando Norris and Estabn Ocon follow.

 

The two Mercedes come out and do not disappoint, placing themselves between Verstappen and Ocon. However, the Finn is then passed by Ocon and Norris, with the latter improving but still subject to a three-place grid penalty for the previous day's penalty. In no time, Lewis Hamilton takes the lead with a lap of 1'20"649, while Albon steals third position from his teammate. Sebastian Vettel continues to improve but fails to get close to the times of the best, remaining stuck in eighth position. At the end of qualifying Lewis Hamilton is the fastest in the rain, with a 1'19"273 and achieving the 89th pole position of his career, while Verstappen is second after spinning. Sainz and Bottas are on the second row, while Ocon and Albon will start from the third.

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Ferrari do not set noteworthy times. In addition to this, Charles Leclerc also receives a three-position penalty on the starting grid and one point on his Super Licence for obstructing Daniil Kvyat during the Q2 session. The Monegasque will therefore start fourteenth, while Vettel will start tenth. At the end of qualifying, the atmosphere in the Mercedes box is one of celebration, especially for Lewis Hamilton who admits:

 

"I am very happy. The day was challenging and the rain brought difficult conditions for everyone, you couldn't see where you were going. At the penultimate attempt I found myself with my heart in my throat, but luckily it went well and then I had a good last lap. I love these days, they remind me of when I used to race in Blackpool as a kid, even in worse conditions. Yesterday was a difficult day, we had a problem in FP2, but nothing serious, we found out last night and today even in the dry it would have gone better than yesterday, but I'm still thankful for the rain, I always like it. Tomorrow should be sunny, but we are prepared for both conditions. Today I didn't make any mistakes and it's always important to start in front of everyone, that's what we want".

 

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, is also happy to see both drivers in the first three rows:

 

"Max did a great job, he made a mistake on the last fast lap but we don't know if he would have been able to do better than Hamilton anyway. The position on the grid is really good, I think we can do very well tomorrow in the race".

 

It is team principal Mattia Binotto’s turn to comment on Ferrari’s behalf on the disappointing performance:

 

"A really disappointing day. We have to accept that the stopwatch doesn’t ever lie. In two qualifying sessions, albeit in different conditions, we have not been competitive, not only against those who have been our closest rivals over the past few years, but also against others, who up to yesterday were generally behind us. We worked very hard to bring updates to the car earlier than planned, but they didn't show their worth on track. We have to work out why and change this state of affairs, which is just not good enough for a team by the name of Ferrari. We mustn't get heated up about it, but we cannot ignore the facts".

 

Qualifying comes to an end, and it's time for the teams to draw conclusions and get ready for the Grand Prix. Sunday arrives with unexpectedly good weather. Everything is ready for the first Styrian Grand Prix, and the race starts at 15.10 with the formation lap. A little more than a minute later the single-seaters are lined up on the starting grid, with warm tyres and high concentration on the part of their drivers. The lights go out and the show begins, with a good start by Lewis Hamilton who immediately creates a gap to the rest of the group. Behind the British driver, there is a tight battle for second place between Verstappen and Sainz. Verstappen gets the better of it, positioning himself behind the Englishman and leaving behind him the drama that in the meantime is unfolding at Ferrari.

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In an attempt to join the group, Charles Leclerc crashes into Sebastian Vettel, ending up on the kerb and then bouncing off the German's rear wing. The team calls for a double pitstop, but Vettel doesn't move: this is the first retirement of the race. The safety car comes in on the fourth lap and the race resumes, but it's a matter of minutes before Monegasque’s Ferrari is forced to retire due to damage to the car’s floor. This means zero points for the Scuderia of Maranello but also a lot of disappointment: Leclerc's car had been fitted with a new underbody, which therefore cannot be evaluated and compared to the one fitted on Vettel's car.

 

However, the race continues. Sainz’s McLaren has reduced race pace and is overtaken on lap 6 by a fierce Bottas and then by Albon. Up front, Hamilton continues to rack up fast laps, while Verstappen keeps a relentless pace, not wanting to add a single tenth to the 2.5 seconds that separate him from the Brit. In the meantime, the Racing Points are more aggressive than ever. With the great improvements to the track this season and the mediocre results achieved during the first race weekend, the team now has a desire for redemption. As a matter of fact, at the back of the field, Sergio Pérez is relentlessly chasing Lando Norris for tenth position and then Pierre Gasly, taking eighth place.

 

Both Racing Points are now in the points, but the enthusiasm overheats the brakes too much: Stroll however doesn't give up and he too is able to overtake Gasly. In the meantime, Ricciardo and Ocon fight for sixth position: the Frenchman remains momentarily ahead of his teammate, but the Australian inevitably conquers sixth position a few minutes later. At the front of the pack, Verstappen loses ground to Hamilton as the laps go by. There is now a 5.3 second gap between them and the Dutchman begins to have to watch out for Bottas, who is right behind him, as his track engineer urges him to pick up the pace. He is called in early for his first pit stop on lap 24 and chooses medium tyres for his second stint.

 

The Dutchman re-enters in third position after a lightning-fast pit-stop, and his out-lap is impressive. Immediately after it's Hamilton's turn, who during the twenty-fifth lap opts for yellow tyres and comes out in second place, behind Bottas but ahead of the Dutchman. Esteban Ocon is forced to retire as a precautionary measure due to an electrical problem. In the meantime, Bottas takes advantage of the series of pit stops and takes the lead with a considerable advantage. He then stops on lap 33 for medium tyres, like his teammate, and returns to third position, eight seconds behind Max Verstappen. The German team's strategy does not appear to be a good one, given the gap left by the Dutchman. Behind him are Alexander Albon and Daniel Ricciardo. When the Anglo-Thai driver stops, he re-enters the track behind the Renault driver.

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On the edge of the points zone, a battle begins between Lance Stroll and the Alfa Romeo Racing cars, which have not yet pitted. Stroll passes Kimi Räikkönen and then Antonio Giovinazzi, moving up to eighth. On the next lap, the Finn is also passed by Carlos Sainz Jr. Ricciardo stops on the same lap, coming out in seventh place. Carlos Sainz Jr. isn’t as lucky: during the thirty-third lap his pit stop is delayed and consequently drops back to P13, struggling to get back in the points zone. Lance Stroll also stops for a tyre change on the same lap, while Ricciardo goes for softs and drops back to seventh, followed by Norris on medium tyres.

 

Lewis Hamilton is now in race management mode, and is keeping Verstappen at 4.9 seconds with minimal effort, while Bottas is able to reduce the distance from the Dutch driver. However, both drivers are suffering from stability issues. Pérez and Norris stop on lap 40 and Daniel Ricciardo is now back in fifth place. Up next are the two Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez, and Carlos Sainz Jr. Kimi Räikkönen, ninth, has not made his pit stop yet. Pérez, seventh, follows Stroll and passes him on lap 46, moving up to P6, and then goes to attack the fifth place, currently held by Ricciardo; three laps later the Mexican manages to pass the Renault driver. Stroll also quickly moves behind Ricciardo and catches him on the penultimate lap.

 

Sainz Jr. gives up the position to his teammate, Norris. On lap 56 the Briton sets the fastest lap, getting closer to the Stroll-Ricciardo duo. Bottas' chase seems to be completed on lap 47, but Verstappen is able to re-overtake the Finnish driver with a pass on the outside of turn 5. Yet Red Bull Dutchman’s resistance ends on the following lap, when Bottas makes the overtake stick. Carlos Sainz Jr. makes one more stop, putting on new tyres to try and get the best lap, which is however set by race leader Lewis Hamilton in the same lap. Verstappen goes for the same strategy as McLaren’s Spaniard, but rejoins the track between lapped cars and is thus unable to lower the lap time, unlike Sainz Jr.

 

Pérez's climb doesn't stop, and after a short delay due to Russell not giving any space during the lapping phase, he continues and gets closer to Albon. A few laps from the end, Sergio Pérez touches Alex Albon, damaging his rear wing. Norris takes advantage of this, passing both Stroll and Perez, and finishes in fifth position. Alex Albon takes fourth place, while Perez is in sixth position, followed by Stroll, Ricciardo, Sainz, who sets the fastest lap with a 1'05"619, and Kvyat. The first two positions confirm the Mercedes domination: Lewis Hamilton passes the chequered flag first, followed at a distance by Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, who closes the race with a distance of over thirty seconds.

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The Briton is happy: this is his fourteenth year in a row with at least one victory during the season and ever closer to Michael Schumacher's grand total of ninety-one victories.

 

"Thanks to my team and everyone at the factory. The year is really bizarre but it's just great to be back here driving at this level. The team did a fantastic job on strategy, we were able to keep the car on the road avoiding the curbs and get it to the finish line. I'm still thankful to be back in first place. It honestly feels like a long time ago, even though it was the last Grand Prix last year. To be back at this level after a tough weekend last week is really a huge step forward for me. I love consecutive races, now there's a third one as well. We could even have a party between the races".

 

On the podium, after the anthem, the reigning world champion raises his clenched fist as a sign of solidarity for the fight against racial discrimination. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas, comments on his race in the following way:

 

"Starting on pole, Lewis Hamilton could control the race. Not much happened compared to the last race and for my part, not being on pole, I had to limit the damage. I recovered some positions and I arrived second, so not bad. Yesterday was not an ideal day for me, but I managed to make up for it quite well today. I thought I had quite a bit more pace than Max Verstappen towards the end. I was able to prove it with the overtake at the end. The one with Max was a good battle, very entertaining. I could have been even more satisfied but the first two races were not bad at all. We look forward to next week with optimism".

 

On the other hand, after his premature retirement at the first Grand Prix of the season, the Dutchman finishes in third place, but is not satisfied and addresses about the missed victory:

 

"Yes, I tried, but we were a little bit too slow today. I pushed as hard as I could even when Valtteri was trying to overtake me. I tried to make his life a bit difficult, even if I knew that he would have overtaken me again the next lap. It was still fun to fight with Valtteri, because otherwise the race had been really boring until that moment. in the end it went well but there is still a lot to do. As for possible updates for Hungary, I don't know, we'll see, next week we'll see if there's something new".

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Charles Leclerc, among the retyred, acknowledges the mistake and apologizes:

 

"I apologized to Sebastian. I am always honest, today I was absolutely not good. I'm disappointed with myself, I said at the beginning of the year that I didn't want to miss an opportunity. It was difficult to make a performance like last Sunday, but it's my fault, no excuses. I'm so sorry for the team who worked so hard to bring upgrades that didn't get us where we wanted. There are no excuses, I had so much desire to do well, maybe too much. I saw a gap, I said to myself I'll try; I should have thought more. Today is completely my fault, I'm sorry".

 

Vettel, instead, states:

 

"I was fighting with two other cars at Turn 3, took the inside and closed normally. I didn't think Charles would try anything at that point of the track. It's a shame that it happened, but I couldn't do anything honestly. I was trying to drive conservatively but I realized that there was damage to the car. His maneuver? There was no room to pass, that's why we touched."

 

The Ferrari cars, however, need updates and need them quick. New updates are expected in a week in Budapest, but no one knows if they will be enough to be competitive once again. This is especially true if, as Mattia Binotto admits, the origin of the problem is not even known:

 

"It is the worst possible end to a weekend that was already very disappointing. At this stage of the season when we are not competitive, the regret is not scoring points by trying to maximize opportunities and not having seen the potential of the car in dry conditions. But we can't hide behind the accident. We have to improve the car. Ours is not a trivial situation: we have to understand the origin of the problem, which could be in the methodology, in the concept of the car at the base. We have to analyze everything in order to find a way out".

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Perhaps the issue is that the SF1000 has too many problems: from the engine, now without the flow meter that regulated its power, to the chassis and even the aerodynamics, designed to achieve greater stability in the corners at the expense of straight-line speed. In the meantime, Ferrari fans are disappointed since the team is barely fighting for the last positions and is currently only a shadow of what it was. Racing Point's weekend has been completely different, with two solid drivers and an extremely competitive car that does very well, maybe too well. And so, the day after the Styrian Grand Prix, Renault files an official complaint against the legality of the Racing Point RP20, which has been considered a copy of the 2019 Mercedes W10 since the pre-season tests. The protest points to Article 1 of Appendix 6 of the 2020 Sporting Regulations, which states:

 

"A competitor shall, in respect of the Listed Parts to be used in its cars in Formula One, only use Listed Parts which are designed by it. Listed parts are a list of various components of the single-seater that must be designed by the team. Alternatively, as suggested in article 2 (c), it is possible to entrust the design of these parts to third parties, provided that “such third party shall not be a competitor or a party that directly or indirectly designs Listed Parts for any competitor".

 

The complaint of the French team against the air intakes of the front and rear brakes of the car, is judged admissible and accepted by the commissioners. The contested parts will be verified and Mercedes will also be involved in the process. For this reason, Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll’s sixth and seventh finishing positions are subject to confirmation by the stewards. This is how this second Grand Prix ends, between great victories and heavy defeats. The date to look forward to is the following weekend, with the third stage of this unpredictable championship: the Hungarian Grand Prix, on the Hungaroring circuit.

 

Desirée Palombelli

 

Translated by Livia Alegi

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