#1044 2021 Austrian Grand Prix

2021-08-17 00:00

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#2021, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Sara Miconi,

#1044 2021 Austrian Grand Prix

After the Styrian Grand Prix, the F1 Circus remains a second week at the Spielberg circuit. On this occasion the 25th edition of the Austrian Grand Pr


After the Styrian Grand Prix, the F1 Circus remains a second week at the Spielberg circuit. On this occasion the 25th edition of the Austrian Grand Prix will be held, the last round of an intense triptych, which began with the French Grand Prix. The track represents a version -modified in 1996- of the old Österreichring, built in 1969. In 2010, after several years of inactivity, it was acquired and modernized with facilities by Red Bull, but without changing its layout. The track winds up a hill for 4318 meters and consists of 10 turns, 7 on the right and 3 on the left. The average speed is quite high due to the presence of few corners, of which only the hairpin of turn 3 can be classified as a slow corner. The track is not particularly long: this characteristic, combined with the low number of corners, means that the times recorded in the laps are the lowest in the entire world championship. The overall record is 1'02"939, recorded by Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes, in qualifying for the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz Jr., on the other hand, holds the race record, achieved in the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix. Alain Prost holds the record for wins in this Grand Prix, with 3 successes: the first with Renault in 1983 and the other two with McLaren. Both Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas have had two victories at this circuit - 2018 and 2019 for the former, 2017 and 2020 for the latter - and they both hope to match the French champion's record. Actually, Verstappen's third triumph at this circuit was already recorded at the previous Styrian Grand Prix. Therefore, should he also win at the Austrian Grand Prix, the Dutchman would become the most successful driver on this track. As far as constructors are concerned, the record of victories is held by McLaren, which has six first places: two each for Alain Prost (1985 and 1986) and Mika Hakkinen (1998 and 2000), one for Niki Lauda (for whom it was his last victory at his home Grand Prix, in 1984) and one by David Coulthard, in 2001. Both Ferrari and Mercedes, with five wins each at this circuit, will try to match McLaren's record. The Grand Prix traditionally returns to the middle part of the championship, as has been the case since the 2014 season, when the Austrian Grand Prix became part of the Formula One World Championship again. 


The 2020 edition, still held in July, represented the opening race of the season. The FIA, due to issues dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, was forced to cancel several Grand Prix before kicking off the World Championship with the Austrian Grand Prix in early July. Austria hosted the start of a world championship season for the first time, and it was the first time since 1966 that the season began with a European race. In reaction to the spread of the pandemic, the start of the championship was postponed from its scheduled start on March 15th, 2020, with the traditional Australian Grand Prix cancelled due to the health emergency. The 2021 Formula One World Championship calendar calls for the Austrian Grand Prix to be the third of three consecutive races. The change of the dates, by the Federation, occurred in the preceding weeks due to the postponement of the Turkish Grand Prix, initially added to the calendar with the aim of replacing the Canadian Grand Prix. The Austrian Grand Prix is confirmed on the date of Sunday, July 4th, 2021, preceded by a week by the Styrian Grand Prix and before that by the French Grand Prix. Austria becomes the second country to host two races valid for the World Championship this season, along with Italy - which includes both Monza and Imola - and is the only one this year with two competitions just one week apart, as happened in the 2020 season. Unlike the previous edition held behind closed doors, the audience attendance in the grandstands is again allowed for this Grand Prix, as happened in Bahrain, Monaco, France and at the Styrian Grand Prix. The limit for the latter had been set at 15.000, while on this occasion the available capacity is set at 90.000 spectators, the highest number so far allowed for fans to attend a Formula 1 Grand Prix in this championship. Helmut Marko, advisor of Red Bull Racing, who owns the track, says on the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix: 


"We will allow access to 15.000 people during the first race. For the second race, we want to allow access to 140.000 spectators for an entire three-day weekend. We always have big goals in mind. On and off the track. Of course, this will not be easy, because all COVID-19 rules are very strict, and this scares many people. However, safety comes first".


On the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix, Ferrari is demanding more communication from the FIA regarding new directives issued in previous weeks on tire pressures, flexible wings, power units and pit stops. According to the Scuderia from Maranello, all teams registered to the world championship must sit around a table instead of passively suffering the federal decisions to cope with. Scuderia Ferrari's sporting director Laurent Mekies says in this regard: 


"Without going into the circumstances of the current technical directive, it would probably be better if in the future we all sat around the table and discussed these issues together with the FIA, rather than being surprised by a directive in the middle of the season. It is good that within the FIA we are thinking about the changes and the safety of the drivers and the team, but it would be nice if we could discuss it in advance and find out what changes we are talking about, so that we can plan for the future and adapt to the changes in the best possible way".


On Tuesday, June 29th, 2021, Liberty Media announced a partnership with Hong Kong-based company, which deals with currency exchange and will sponsor all Sprint Qualifying in the category, starting with the one held at the British Grand Prix. 


"We are extremely happy to announce our agreement with F1 as a new global partner in the category. We will be the first official sponsor of cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens, ed.) in F1. We will collaborate on several initiatives this season, including the introduction of a new award, which will reward ambition and courage shown on the track. In addition, we will be the inaugural partners of the 2021 Sprint Races, starting with the Silverstone race on July 17th. This is just the beginning of a multi-year partnership aimed at collaboration and innovation".


On Thursday, July 1st, 2021, the Aston Martin team announces that aerodynamic designer Andrew Alessi, who has been with Red Bull Racing for thirteen years, will move to the British team where he will lead, manage and develop the design, planning, production and operations of the aerodynamic department. 


"I am delighted to join the Aston Martin team. Like everyone in F1, I have observed and been impressed by the obvious ambition of the team. It is growing fast, and I want to contribute in a way that will significantly improve the team aerodynamically and operationally. This is what we need to win consistently in the future".


On Saturday, July 3rd, 2021, Honda, the supplier of Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri and which will leave the top category at the end of the world championship, announces that it will continue to assemble power units in Sakura in 2022, before moving the engine hub to Milton Keynes, named Red Bull PowerTrains Limited. Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner explains: 


"Honda has not changed its mind about leaving the Circus at the end of the championship, but 2022 will be a transition year that will allow us to permanently set up the dedicated engine campus (Red Bull PowerTrains Limited) in Milton Keynes. In 2022 the power units will still be assembled in Sakura and then we will start at 100% on assembly level in our engine campus starting in 2023".


And on the same day, the reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton renewed his contract with Mercedes until the 2023 season. Markus Schäfer, member of the Daimler AG board of directors, says: 


"I am very pleased that Lewis Hamilton will continue with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in the next two F1 seasons. Lewis' ambition and commitment to winning have played an essential role for our team and our brand to achieve success. He is not only a very talented driver, but also a socially committed person who wants to make an impact on society. We will continue our successful journey together".


Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also makes no secret of his satisfaction: 


"As we enter the new era of Formula 1 in 2022, there was no better driver to have on our team than Lewis. What he has achieved in our sport speaks for itself and with his experience, speed and skill, he is definitely at the peak of his career. We are enjoying a great battle on the track this year, and for that reason we wanted to sign this contract earlier than usual so that we would not have any distractions from the struggle on the circuits. I have always said that as long as Lewis has the sacred fire of racing, he can continue as long as he wants with us".


Previously, on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021, Alpine, Aston Martin and McLaren had asked the FIA to lift the ban on clutch intervention after Friday free practice on race weekends where Sprint Qualifying is held. Aston Martin team manager Andy Stevenson said in this regard: 


"The clutches we use were built with a different purpose and need new washers and maintenance after 300 km. If this aspect of Spint Qualifications had been clarified before the season, we would have designed them differently".


Instead, federal delegates reportedly suggested to these teams to do fewer practice starts, meeting with firm opposition from Alan Permane, Alpine's sports director: 


"It has nothing to do with starts, we're talking about wear and tear. The gear shifts are the real problem, not the practice starts".


On the same day, the FIA awarded Ferrari three stars, the highest recognition, for its efforts on the environmental front as part of the Environmental Accreditation Program, a program the Federation created to accompany leading members of motorsport industry in developing a certification process regarding environmental sustainability. Proud of the recognition achieved, Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says: 


"The issue of environmental sustainability is increasingly becoming a priority in motor racing, and it is a commitment we feel strongly about as a team. Formula 1 has reached a very high level of technology in terms of power unit efficiency, and we are working hard together with the FIA, Formula 1 and the other teams to transfer the best solutions studied on the track to road cars".


During Friday's first free practice session, Briton Callum Ilott will take Antonio Giovinazzi's place at Alfa Romeo Racing, while Israeli Roy Nissany will replace George Russell at Williams. Current Formula 2 championship leader Guanyu Zhou, on the other hand, will take Fernando Alonso's place at Alpine. For the Chinese driver this will be his debut in the top category on a race weekend. These are the words of Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur: 


"The way Callum has integrated into the team in a relatively short time is remarkable and seeing him in the car with a solid set-up that has matured from the previous week will be interesting. He did a good job in Portugal and the data he provided us with was really helpful, so we look forward to another productive session together".


Callum Ilott, however, states: 


"The second FP1 of my season will be a good opportunity to help the team and continue the good work we did together in Portugal. Already knowing the car and the team will definitely help me, plus having the data from the first week at the Red Bull Ring will give us a solid base from which to start. I'm looking forward to making the most of this opportunity".


As for Roy Nissany, the Israeli pilot says:


"I can"t wait to get back in the car for the FP1 session of the Austrian Grand Prix. It's great to be back in the FW43B so quickly, having driven it in France it's still fresh in my head! I think it will be a very useful session".


The debut in an official F1 weekend makes Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou justifiably proud: 


"Driving in FP1 of an F1 weekend is like a dream come true for me and represents one more step toward my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver. It will be a very special moment. I am preparing as much as I can to be ready and also to make sure I am able to complete all the goals and plans the team has assigned to me. There have not been many Chinese drivers in Formula 1, so this chance makes me very proud. It will be even more special to drive Fernando's car, as he inspired me to pursue a career in racing when I was young. I am very happy with my results so far and I am very grateful for the support I have from those around me. My goal is to maximize this opportunity. I am looking forward to it".


And Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine, is also pleased with this choice: 


"For young drivers to enter F1 is incredibly difficult, we are proud to support up-and-coming talent on this path. In his role as Test Driver Guanyu has participated in test sessions and at the simulator, so having a free practice session with a current car is a logical and important step for one of the Academy's brightest stars. This experience will help him greatly as he progresses toward his ultimate goal, which is to obtain a full-time position in F1".


This season, the Austrian Grand Prix -as well as the previous one -is sponsored by BWT, an Austrian company active in the field of water treatment systems. Best Water Technology has also been a sponsor for the former Force India team, first renamed as Racing Point between 2017 and 2019 and Aston Martin starting this year. For the upcoming Grand Prix, British former Formula One driver Derek Warwick is appointed as assistant race commissioner. He has served in this capacity before, most recently at the Spanish Grand Prix. For this Grand Prix, like the previous one, the German car manufacturer Mercedes is providing the safety car and the medical car. For this race, Pirelli, the sole supplier of tires, brings C3, C4 and C5 compound tires, the softest in the range among those available. At the beginning of the season, the compounds chosen were C2, C3 and C4. 


Due to a change in the calendar, which involved the Styrian Grand Prix being held on the same circuit the week before, the Italian company wanted to differentiate the type of tires chosen. Pirelli Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, confirms: 


"Once again, after last year, Austria is hosting two consecutive races, so the teams have a lot of data on this track and recent experience of how to deal with its particular challenges and the strategies that can be adopted. However, having two different nominations is something new for the Red Bull Ring, so it will be interesting to see how the teams get to grips with the C5 soft compound for the second race weekend and how this choice will influence strategies to give rise to different opportunities than at the Styrian Grand Prix".


The supplier also brings two sets of tires into free practice, with the rears of stiffer construction, in the development of 18-inch tires for next season. If the results of the test are positive, the new rears will debut in the British Grand Prix and will be used for the rest of the season. The Federation establishes three zones, where drivers can activate the Drag Reduction System: the first zone is set between Castrol Edge (Turn 1) and Remus (Turn 3), with the gap point between drivers set before Castrol Edge; the second zone is between Remus and Schlossgold (Turn 4), with the gap determination point set before Remus; the third zone is on the pit straight, with detection point before Red Bull Mobile (Turn 10). The Federation establishes two points on the track where drivers are forced to respect the limits of the latter. The points in question involve Turn 9 and Turn 10. By going beyond the track limits at these two points, drivers will see their time erased by the race management. In addition, if the limits at Turn 10 are not respected, the next lap will also be invalidated. Sergio Perez will run race number 200 of his career. The Mexican will try to celebrate this milestone in the best possible way, also giving a great result to his team, at home on the Austrian track: 


"I can't believe this is my race number 200, I'm really looking forward to racing on the same circuit for the second weekend in a row. I think this will give me a good understanding of the car. I now have a very good reference from last weekend and I know what areas I need to improve".


Another important aspect will be the new compounds brought by Pirelli, one step softer than last weekend. Mario Isola states: 


"It will be interesting to see how much the tires will change performance and strategy over the weekend, I think we can do very well this weekend and it would be very special to be on the podium here in our home race, securing more points for the team".


Max Verstappen achieved victory in the Styrian Grand Prix. But the Dutchman knows that this is not enough to guarantee him the same result this weekend: 


"Winning our home race last weekend was an effort by the whole team and we can be very happy about that but we cannot expect to get the same result with ease again this weekend. The others will learn from what they didn’t do well last weekend. Also there will be softer tire compounds, which could mix things up. We had a very good race, but there are always things we can do better, and I expect everyone to be closer this weekend. This is what usually happens with two races in a row at the same track. As a team we are focused on ourselves. I like that everyone is still pushing and wants to improve because that's what F1 is all about. It is very important for me to see everyone motivated. For my part, I will continue to drive as hard as I can every weekend so I can try to stay in front. Right now we have a very good package. We have to stay on top, the season is still very long".


Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko, on the other hand, is much more confident than the Dutch driver:


"The circuit will remain the same and the cars will remain the same. The only thing that will change is the tires. So I expect that we will be able to show the same or maybe even greater dominance again with the softer tires".


However, the Austrian manager is also aware that the Mercedes team will not give up. That is why it is important to use every opportunity to increase the lead over the pursuers: 


"There are circuits where Mercedes will be strong again, and I'm afraid Silverstone is one of them. The goal for us is to build an edge for the races where we cannot win and then in those cases be able to finish second, as Hamilton does. That will continue until the end. We are still far from predicting the outcome of the world title".


Lewis Hamilton is coming from a less than inspiring period, and never before would he need a great performance: 


"The last few races have been difficult, Monte-Carlo and Baku in particular were a disaster. In France and Styria, on the other hand, it went better. We will try to close the gap that still separates us from Red Bull".


Hamilton, however, tries to show confidence and drag the team along with him in his quest to win an eighth world title. 


"I'm positive about the weekend. We have been working hard on the setup to try to find more. We are giving it our all and of course we would all like to have more pace. I can't afford to get carried away by negativity, I have to focus all my energy to be as prepared as possible".


Prototype tires will be tested this weekend, ahead of the official debut at Silverstone. The reigning World Champion, however, does not believe they will be able to make a difference in regain performance: 


"Often when Pirelli brings new tires, they do not produce a significant difference. They are mainly modifications for reliability reasons. We will judge tomorrow".


Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff knows that by working in the best way possible, great results can be achieved even if the performance is not at the top, and he encourages his team: 


"Last weekend we maximized the opportunities available to us, and despite not having the fastest car, we achieved a double podium and a good haul of points. We therefore delivered a solid performance. Whenever we go out on the track, we do it to win. It is true that we missed the win last time, but there were many encouraging aspects. Hamilton and Bottas performed well, the pit stops were excellent and the strategic calls were good. We return to the Styrian mountains this weekend with another big challenge ahead of us, but running on the same circuit on two consecutive weekends also brings opportunities. We experimented last Friday, now we hope to get to FP1 with a better car and build on that for the weekend. The tire compounds are a step softer in the Austrian Grand Prix, this will be a new challenge for all the teams and offers new possibilities in terms of strategy. This championship is a heavyweight match over 23 rounds, and we are just over a third of the way through. There are many opportunities, and it is still open".


It will be a first this weekend for Fernando Alonso, who in his very long career still had never tried to run two races in a row at the same track: 


"Maybe the softer compounds will help us this weekend, because this track doesn't particularly suit our car, it's the first time I've run two races in a row on the same track in F1, we'll also see the weather if it turns out to be more variable than the previous weekend".


The Spanish driver is also asked about the future possibilities of sharing the pit box with Max Verstappen as teammates, there is a 16-year gap between them: 


"I think it can happen in the future, but not in Formula 1. Maybe in Endurance and Le Mans".


Lando Norris was the author of an excellent race at this circuit the previous week, but the young Briton's focus remains on the challenge for third place in the World Constructors' Championship between McLaren and Ferrari: 


"Days like Sunday are very good. I achieved a lot and so did the team. Ferrari beat us by a little, but we couldn't do much better. I have to be satisfied with what I did. I didn't make any mistakes, I didn't do anything that cost us time, and on days like Sunday, even if you always want to do better, you have to be satisfied. Ferrari has ups and downs, but they don't have problems in every race. Paul Ricard was particularly bad, but many circuits are better for Ferrari than for us. It still struggles on the straights, but it is among the best in the corners, at a level close to Mercedes and Red Bull in many corners. It is our big threat at the moment. We are still working hard, that's why we are not taking anything for granted at the moment. And we have to keep working hard and improve the car, because once Ferrari gets everything right at the car level it can easily be ahead of us. As soon as it solves its problems in the race, it will fly".


Nikita Mazepin is certainly struggling with a variety of difficulties in his debut year. The Russian pilot, however, is very annoyed by those who, of his difficulties, make easy irony:


"If I hadn't spun off in Bahrain, the nickname Mazespin would never have been born. People who repeat it with a smile on their faces are miserable".


Another issue involving Mazepin in the early part of the year was blue flags. The Haas driver says he still needs to get to grips with the dynamics of F1: 


"Before 2021 I loved the color blue. This season, however, not so much. When you get lapped you have to move to the dirt and then trying to restart is not easy".


Pierre Gasly returns to the unfortunate contact that ousted him from the Styrian Grand Prix, offering his views regarding possible penalties: 


"I must say I was quite surprised given the impact the contact had on my race. The fact that the stewards did not want to go into detail about the contact, for me is paradoxical especially thinking about the penalty Valtteri Bottas received for the incident in the pit lane, an incident that had no impact on someone else's race as it did between Leclerc and me. We will talk about it with Michael Masi, for sure Leclerc did not hit me on purpose".


Regarding his future, however, the French driver states: 


"Right now I have no idea what Helmut Marko's plans are, whether it's to return to Red Bull, stay at AlphaTauri or get traded to another team. What I do know is that some teams have shown interest in me".


During the previous Grand Prix George Russell was not particularly lucky. The British driver, in pre-race interviews speaks about the damage that occurred in the electrical part of the engine of his FW43B: 


"I didn't sense the problem with the power unit until the pit stop, which lasted 20 seconds. Up to that point the failure was not affecting the performance of the car in any way, but Formula 1 is never a simple sport and can be brutal at times. What leaves a bitter taste in my mouth is that it happened right in a race where everything seemed to be going right: we had studied a good strategy, the car seemed perfect, in short, there were all the prerequisites to make a good result. We'll see if we can make up for it on Sunday".


The British driver is in his third year in Formula 1, but so far he has collected far less than he could have: 


"Last year my goal was to learn, while now I want to make a real contribution and bring good results to the team. They deserve it, considering all the progress we have made in recent years. We are here to win, after all".


Lastly, Russell also offers a hint of the upcoming season: 


"I have not been particularly involved in the development of the car for 2022, the team is still considering the direction to go. The cars will be slower, but also more exploitable in the race, especially in terms of the impact of dirty air and the effects on the tires".


Staying on the subject of the upcoming season, Charles Leclerc has already had a chance to test the 2022 car in the simulator: 


"The feelings are those of a completely different car, but we are still in the early stages. There are so many question marks".


Another revolution, closer in time but just as radical, is that of Sprint Qualifying. The first short race experiment will be held at Silverstone. Charles Leclerc, like everyone else, is curious: 


"I am excited about having an extra race on Saturday. However, we will have to be realistic in judging whether the qualifying race adds to the weekend or not".


Lastly, regarding last week's race, the Monegasque driver recriminates about the contact on the first lap that compromised his race and especially that of Pierre Gasly: 


"In today's F1 cars, you can't see much. But that must not be an excuse for the contact with Gasly. The race overall was positive. I enjoyed coming up from the bottom, but without the contact on the first lap it would have been even better".


Antonio Giovinazzi shows up in the Red Bull Ring paddock wearing a jersey of the Italian national soccer team, which is playing in the evening against Belgium. The Italian driver will leave his car to Callum Ilott in the first free practice session and believes this could penalize him in his approach to the race weekend: 


"Loaded for tonight? Yes, we have to support the team, today will be a difficult but important game. I hope it will bring good luck to have entered the paddock with the blue jersey. Is it penalizing no to race in FP1? In the end it is not a disadvantage for the team, which will have a lot of data from Raikkonen and Ilott. As for the tires we will use at Silverstone it may be penalizing for me. I'm a bit disappointed but that's how it goes. Sometimes we are a little bit in the dark about the race pace on Sunday. We lack ten or twelve laps on the race pace on Sunday, but for qualifying it doesn't change anything".


Asked about the market topic, the Italian driver, whose contract expires at the end of the year, replied: 


"I just have to think about doing the best I can in this car, then it doesn't depend on me but on what the team and Ferrari want to do. I just have to give my best, then we'll see".


On Friday, July 2nd, 2021, drivers will be back to the track at the Red Bull Ring with free practice for the Austrian Grand Prix. The first free practice session is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. local time Before the start of the session, on George Russell's car the mechanics replace the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and exhaust system - fitting the third unit - the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit, replaced with the second unit. On the cars of Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel the energy recovery system and electronic control unit are replaced, fitting the second unit. On the car of Esteban Ocon, the exhaust system is replaced, fitting the fifth unit, as well as on the cars of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, where the fourth unit is fitted. None of the drivers are penalized on the starting grid, as all the newly installed components are among those that can be replaced within the predetermined maximum number. A few minutes into the session, the sky is cloudy, with even the possibility of a burst of rain. Temperatures are cool, 17 °C of the air and 31 °C of the asphalt. In this session drivers will test the new experimental C4 tires, which should allow for a stronger structure and use at lower pressure, 18 psi instead of the usual 20 psi. In this regard, Pirelli Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, said: 


"I don't expect major changes in terms of balance with the introduction of these new tires, but of course it all has to be verified on the track, the geometry and design of the tires is different than usual even though the outer profile has not changed so that there are no aerodynamic impacts on the rear of the cars and on the bottom. They are more robust tires, we will see what the feedback from the teams and drivers will be".


The first practice session is dominated by Max Verstappen, who shows the same pace as in the previous Styrian Grand Prix. He is followed by the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. The Dutchman sets a time 0.8 seconds slower than he did in the first session of the race held the previous week. In fourth place there’s Valtteri Bottas, while Lewis Hamilton, only seventh, focuses more on studying the prototype tires brought by Pirelli, and makes aerodynamic comparisons. Many drivers experience problems at Turn 3, with Daniel Ricciardo getting the braking point wrong, and Nikita Mazepin, who risks a contact with Hamilton by trying to get back on track after going long. This spot of the track is not the only one where drivers make mistakes. 


Yuki Tsunoda goes off in the run-off lane in Turn 5 and Lance Stroll is the author of a spin in Turn 6, passing on the grass of the inner run-off lane. Three lap times set by drivers are cancelled for exceeding the track limits at the exit of Turn 9, and as many as fifteen lap times are cancelled for exceeding the limits at the exit of Turn 10 during the first free practice session. In the first case Pierre Gasly, Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher; in the second case Pierre Gasly (four times), Kimi Räikkönen (three times), Lewis Hamilton, Callum Ilott and Yuki Tsunoda (twice), Sebastian Vettel and Nikita Mazepin (once). A light rain accompanies the second session, at least in its final phase. The two Mercedes lead the ranking, ahead of Verstappen, the fastest in the morning. These three drivers are the only ones to complete a lap under one minute and five seconds. Behind them, there are the two Aston Martins and the two AlphaTauri, although detached. Unlike the first session, the Ferraris are far behind in the standings. The arrival of rain prevents the drivers of the Italian team from looking for a fast lap. Also in the afternoon there are some errors by the drivers, as in the case of Lando Norris, author of a spin. There are ten times cancelled to the drivers for exceeding the track limits at the exit of Turn 9, while nine times are cancelled for exceeding the limits at the exit of Turn 10, during the second free practice session. In the first case, Nikita Mazepin (four times), Pierre Gasly, Nicholas Latifi, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr., Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher (once); in the second case, Kimi Räikkönen, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. (twice), Esteban Ocon, Nicholas Latifi and Yuki Tsunoda (once). Alfa Romeo Racing is fined 900 euros by the FIA because Kimi Räikkönen exceeded the speed limit set in the pit lane. Despite being the fastest, Lewis Hamilton is confident that the real Red Bull will be seen in qualifying, and especially in the race: 


"In Red Bull they have what we had in the past, which is a mapping that can raise single lap performance in qualifying. We've made some progress, but I think I'm still a tenth and a half or two behind".


The Mercedes team tried different setup configurations, such as a mono-pilon rear wing instead of the double in FP1, but later reverted to the basic setup: 


"I was not happy with the set-up we chose, when you find yourself chasing, the risk is to lose the key to the issue with solutions that are too drastic. We have to optimize what we have without upsetting the car".


For Valtteri Bottas, it is an encouraging Friday: the car has improved, and the Finnish driver hopes to compete with Max Verstappen's Red Bull. 


"We have started our weekend well, without a doubt. The car is much better than it was at the beginning of last week, and we hope to continue to improve it throughout the weekend on that basis. With the second week, every single margin in terms of performance becomes less wide. So, it's more a matter of tuning rather than finding tenths in terms of driving. I think Red Bull is still stronger than us on the straights, we will see when everyone raises the engine speed. Anyway, these are tests, so you never know what the other teams' plans are. The softer tire compounds make a big difference, it seems like the tires are holding up better on the long runs, and if the temperatures - as I think - are going to be quite variable over the weekend, we'll see what effect they have on the tires. Max was a little out of reach last weekend, but it's a new weekend, we learned a lot. I like to think we are closer to them, but no doubt they will still be very fast".


For his part, Max Verstappen confirms the good impressions already seen last week, but he definitely does not want to underestimate his Mercedes rivals:


"For our part we didn't have a perfect FP2 session, however I felt good in the car and there were no real problems. Mercedes seemed quite fast on softs, we just need to make sure we have a little more pace on that compound because we seemed stronger on the mediums and long runs, which in the end is the most important thing for the race. We also tried the new Pirelli prototype tire, which seemed to go well. In the afternoon the track became quite slippery, but luckily it was good enough to keep going, so we had a good long run. I think the fight will be tight again this weekend, as Mercedes seems to have improved a bit, but we'll see tomorrow in qualifying: the most important thing is to make sure we look after the softer compounds during the race".


Sergio Perez once again has mixed feelings after Friday's practice: he is comfortable in long runs, but not as comfortable in dry lap simulations, as he has been on other occasions this season. 


"The long runs were definitely more promising today but there is still a lot of work to be done. Both sessions were quite difficult, and I still don't feel completely comfortable with the car on the softer compound. We need to analyze the data tonight to try to get back to the pace we expected in time for qualifying tomorrow. It seemed like we were pretty far off balance on low fuel, but we corrected [this problem] pretty quickly. We also saw less degradation on these tires, which is good".


Speaking about the new prototype tires, the Red Bull driver says: 


"It's good to see that Pirelli brought the new tire to test this weekend before using it at Silverstone, overall, I learned a lot from today. It's also good to see all the fans present at the Red Bull Ring. Hopefully we can have a good qualifying tomorrow and a solid race on Sunday".


Fernando Alonso, who carried out only the second practice session, focused on the work done with the C5 compound, the only change in this second Austrian appointment. 


"It was good to be back in the car this afternoon, especially with the C5 tire compound, which we didn't have last weekend. I liked being able to try some laps with these tires, both in the short and long stints. I think we still need to do some work to fine-tune the set-up of the car with this tire compound, maybe, we have a different balance. It was a pretty quiet session for us, hopefully we can find some more tomorrow".


Esteban Ocon also worked hard, both with the C5 compound and the prototype tire. 


"It was a very busy day with many different tests completed, we tested the prototype tire and it was interesting. We also ran with the C5s and completed some significant runs with lots and lots of fuel. The conditions were also very different from last weekend, it was much cooler, so the lap times were faster. The long runs were also in line with what we expected and there will be some work to do this evening to analyze everything. Overall it was a challenging, but productive day".


For Guanyu Zhou, making his debut in an official Formula 1 weekend is exciting. The young Chinese talent says he is grateful for the opportunity and happy with the work he has done: 


"It was incredible. It was an exceptional opportunity to drive Fernando's car, I had to take care of it and at the same time push as hard as I could on the accelerator to show my qualities. I thank the team for their trust in me, we are happy with the work we did together to try to improve the set-up of the car ahead of qualifying and the race. I hope to be able to return to contribute to the Alpine team soon".


Charles Leclerc's feelings are mixed. The Ferrari driver made good long runs, but had a few too many problems with the soft compound: 


"I don't think we've been able to fully understand how to make the tires work optimally yet. We still need to work on that aspect however overall I think it was a good day. The race pace is as strong as it was last week. On the pace-qualifying instead we are still working".


It is precisely this last aspect that will be put more under observation in Maranello, to avoid being forced to start too far behind McLaren, as happened in the previous race. 


"We need to improve the set-up of the car, especially at the rear and that's what we will try to do for tomorrow. We tried the C5 compound for the first time on this track but we were not able to extract its full potential. I am convinced that it is still possible to get a good grid position, yesterday was a busy day because we had a really intense work program in front of us. There is still work to be done on many aspects and that's why I don't think our result, especially in FP2, is representative. I would say that our race pace is in line with last week's while on the dry lap we still haven't found what's missing to take us a step forward. We still need to take full advantage of the C5 compound, which is new for this race weekend".


Carlos Sainz Jr. has been doing a lot of comparative work and data collection, both in terms of set-up and understanding the new proto tires. The Spanish driver does not expect too many performance differences from last week's race: 


"It was an interesting day. We went out on track with a car that was very similar to last week's, but the feelings we had were totally different, because of the wind and the different track conditions. We experimented with different things without focusing on times because our main goal was to maximize the time available, trying various set-ups and trying to get a better understanding of both the tires for Silverstone and the soft compound that was not used last week. I think the situation is pretty similar to last week. In qualifying obviously we push a lot at full speed on this track and even though we are strong in the corners, doing about 80 percent of the lap at full throttle, it is clear that we are always a little bit behind. The feeling we had was totally different, because of the wind and the different track conditions".


Scuderia AlphaTauri worked hard on the long run simulation. In particular, Yuki Tsunoda is happy with the data collected: 


"Today was a good day and we are happy that we maintained the same pace as last week. We worked hard on the long runs, because we had struggled a bit during the race: I think the result was really positive. The track conditions were not easy: it's colder this week and some rain also came around the end of FP2. Today my main goal was to collect as much data for qualifying and the race, gradually lowering lap times: I managed to do that without making any mistakes, so I'm satisfied".


Pierre Gasly also focused a lot on the long runs, and he is satisfied with the work done: 


"After missing FP2 last week and basically missing the race as well, today I tried to make up some time by working on the long runs to understand the behavior of the tires. I think there were many positive aspects and we got confirmation that we have good pace. However, with these conditions there were some slight difficulties, so tonight we will have some things to analyze with the engineers so we can make some changes ahead of tomorrow".


Daniel Ricciardo does not give too much weight to the ranking and is happy with the work he has done, which has allowed him to make some important progress: 


"It was an interesting day. From the standings it doesn't look like a good day, but we actually made progress in some areas. We will try to make another step tomorrow and maybe that will put us in the fight. If I didn't know the standings, I would be more optimistic, but I think it just needs fine-tuning. We will continue to make progress to find a few extra tenths overnight and I think that will put us where we need to be. We have some work to do, but we are doing well".


Lando Norris, however, does not seem as satisfied: 


"We tried different compounds and various set-ups, but we couldn't find the right balance between tires and set-up. In the evening we will analyze the data and try to figure out where and how to intervene to have a better car tomorrow".


The McLaren driver makes a comment on the new proto tires brought by Pirelli: 


"Honestly, they don't look very different to me. We'll reevaluate them together with the team, but from a driving feel point of view, I'd say they're basically the same".


Tire management, however, remains a key issue ahead of the race: 


"We are thinking about a strategy involving both soft and hard. Certainly, compared to last weekend, this time we will know when we can push and when to lift our foot off the accelerator".


Kimi Raikkonen, as usually, focused on his own work, trying to take a step forward in terms of performance: 


"It was a pretty even Friday, of course everyone knows the track very well after last weekend. We won't know until tomorrow what level everyone is really at. I'm pretty confident, but we know that the gaps are so small that anything can happen. We will have to find something tonight, because we know everyone else will, and we have to make a bigger step than the others. We just focus on ourselves and doing our best and see what tomorrow brings".


While Antonio Giovinazzi says: 


"During the run I made on soft tires there were drops in Turn-1 and Turn-3, so I lost a little bit, but we are close to those in front. In qualifying, however, it will also be difficult because on Saturday we usually lose a little bit of pace. Getting into the car after losing a whole session is always difficult. Soft tire? We did a few laps, I didn't even try it with a full tank of gas, for now let's focus on qualifying".


George Russell missed the morning session, but it does not seem to be a big problem for the young Briton, who approaches the continuation of the race weekend with high hopes: 


"Sometimes it can be a problem to miss a practice session, but there are only seven real corners here and we did a lot of mileage last week, so if you're going to miss a free session then this is the track to do it at. Our main goal today was to get some mileage on the new tires coming to Silverstone, and even with some rain, I think we interpreted them well. In terms of qualifying and race preparation, the pace seemed okay, but things often change slightly on Saturday afternoon. As always, the goal tomorrow is to qualify as high as possible. Q2 is the least we hope for, but we will wait and see what the day brings".


Nicholas Latifi, on the other hand, was less satisfied, as he experienced some problems with the feeling with his car: 


"It was a very challenging Friday as we tried to fit the two extra sets of tires into what are already hard sessions. However, it was very important to gather this kind of information, as these are the tires we will use from Silverstone onward. Overall, today was a different story between the two sessions: I had different feelings between FP1 and FP2. In the first session I felt much better with the car, in terms of feeling. We have to figure out why I didn't have the same driving feeling in the afternoon, also because we made minimal changes".


Roy Nissany, on the other hand, is very grateful for the opportunity given by the Williams team. The Israeli driver sought to enjoy the unique sensations that an F1 car can provide, but also to help the team with data collection: 


"Today was great, definitely one of the most productive sessions I've done for the team, my pace was good. I love this track, having driven here often and in many different categories, but doing it with the FW43B was the best feeling so far. We collected a lot of data; we will spend the evening analyzing and learning from it, I feel really satisfied with today".


On Saturday, July 5th, 2021, the sun is shining on Spielberg, and temperatures are higher than the previous day: 22 °C that of the air, and 44 °C that of the asphalt, steadily rising. At the end of the second free practice session on the cars of Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly the transmissions are replaced. Both drivers are not penalized on the grid for using -for six consecutive Grands Prix- the same unit. Max Verstappen, in Saturday's session, he’s still the fastest driver. On a track where the asphalt temperature reaches 51 °C, the Dutchman is the only one to drop below one minute and five seconds on the lap. Behind him there are still the two Mercedes cars, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton, although the World Champion had his fastest lap cancelled, which would have put him 0.3 seconds off the Red Bull driver's time. Behind the German team duo there’s Pierre Gasly, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi. 


The first 25 minutes of the session are dedicated by all drivers, except those of Red Bull, to the use of the prototype tires brought by Pirelli, ahead of the 2022 season. Four times are cancelled for the drivers for exceeding the track limits at the exit of Turn 9, while nine times are cancelled for exceeding the limits at the exit of Turn 10, during the third free practice session. In the first case, Nikita Mazepin, Kimi Räikkönen, Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso; in the second case, the times of Lando Norris (twice), Nikita Mazepin, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr., Nicholas Latifi and Lewis Hamilton (once). In addition, Alpine is fined 400 euros by the FIA as Esteban Ocon exceeded the speed limit set in the pit lane. Qualifying are scheduled in the afternoon, at 3:00 p.m. The sky is clear and the temperatures are the highest recorded all weekend, 25 °C that of the air, while the asphalt even reaches 52 °C. Mattia Binotto, team principal of Ferrari, is curious to assess the eventual progress of the SF21s in today's qualifying:


"A week ago in the race we went beyond expectations, so there is no reason to fear a drop in performance from last weekend. We will see if we’re able to improve on qualifying".


At the start of Q1, after the times of the Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing drivers are marked, Lando Norris takes the lead, later overtaken by Max Verstappen. Behind the Dutchman comes Carlos Sainz Jr. but he is beaten by the Mercedes drivers. The track seems to be improving. Qualifying is difficult for Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, seventeenth and eighteenth, respectively, with just over a minute to go. Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda are also in a dangerous situation, so much so that, with the improvements in the Aston Martin's times, the Japanese would be eliminated, as would George Russell. Both improve and move on to the next session. Not entering Q2 are Räikkönen, Ocon, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin. In the second phase, the first to take the track is Sergio Perez: the Mexican sets a lap in 1'04"554, on medium tires. Pérez re-enters the track, again opting for the medium compound, in order to take advantage of the wake of the drivers already on the track. Hamilton, by 53 thousandths, beats the Red Bull driver's time. Verstappen sets 1'04"208, while Sainz Jr. climbs behind Perez. Bottas beats the latter's time, unlike Charles Leclerc who is sixth, before Gasly drops fourth, in turn beaten by the Aston Martins, with Vettel second. The German opts for soft tires, unlike Norris, who climbs second, but on medium tires. With this compound, the two Ferraris and Ricciardo have more difficulty. Bottas moves up to third and Russell takes the tenth time, and enters Q3, for the first time with the British team. Not entering Q3 are the two Ferrari drivers, Ricciardo, Alonso, penalized by Vettel in his fastest attempt, and Giovinazzi. In the final stage, first the Aston Martin drivers take turns leading the ranking, then Gasly and Norris (1'03"958); the two Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Bottas, have the third and fourth fastest times. Later, Verstappen beats the McLaren Briton's time. 


Russell is limited to one fast lap, thus taking advantage of an improving track, which leads the drivers to try to tackle the track as late as possible. Verstappen does not improve in the first sector, in contrast to Norris, who records the best overall time in the first part of the circuit. The Dutchman is also late in the second sector of the track, but Norris is unable to beat the Red Bull driver's time, who thus takes the pole position. Norris maintains the second position, while Perez, third, precedes the two Mercedes. McLaren takes the front row for the first time since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton's pole position. There are three times cancelled for drivers for exceeding the track limits at the exit of Turn 9, while one time is cancelled for exceeding the limits at the exit of Turn 10 during qualifying. In the first case, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo; in the second case, Antonio Giovinazzi. At the end of qualifying, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso are summoned by the stewards because the German obstructed the Spaniard, during Q2. Vettel is given a penalty of three positions on the grid and one point on the super-license. Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr. are summoned for driving too slowly in the entrance of turns 9 and 10, during Q2. Both drivers do not receive penalties. Max Verstappen takes pole position, just as he did at the Styrian Grand Prix, but despite this, dissatisfaction prevails in him for a last attempt - in his view - not managed in the best way: 


"Second attempt was bad. I'm not happy. Happy to be first, not happy with how we got there. We have to do something. But to make two poles here is very nice in any case. Hopefully we can complete it tomorrow. Compounds are softer than last weekend. So it will be more difficult to handle them, but we have to focus on our race trying to win it of course. But it's never a linear thing. A lot can happen in a lap, but I think it's certainly very satisfying to have gotten another pole position. Of course, I would have liked it to have come in a different way, because Q3 was not very good. I came out of the pits and realized I was ahead of everybody so at that point you adapt and move on, but I didn't expect to lose so much time on the straights. This is another thing that we learned for next time. Rather it's better to stay in the pits than to do that".


His attitude seems exaggerated, where in any case he got the pole position, but the Dutchman clarifies that this is part of the working method, his and the team's: 


"I always get straight to the point in every situation I face. If things go crappy they go crappy, if things go well they go well. This is the way I approach the team. You have to be direct and when needed even tough with each other, especially in the most difficult moments or when you are not happy with the way things are going. Of course, it applies both ways: I have to be clear with the team and the team has to be clear with me. Being criticized and accepting criticism is crucial".


Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner puts a positive sense on Max Verstappen's attitude, highlighting his determination: 


"Max's anger? He always wants more, even the pole was not enough for him. He complained that in the last attempt he was ahead of everyone and therefore 'pierced the air.' Lando, on the other hand, behind him, was able to enjoy a slipstream. Max would have liked to have had that slipstream".


Lando Norris is surprisingly second in the McLaren. A Mercedes-powered car, something Horner does not fail to remind the Austrian team's main rival, Lewis Hamilton: 


"Norris was super fast in qualifying, but Lewis complains about the Mercedes engine. Then he should check what they do at McLaren, because he is incredibly fast. They are definitely a threat tomorrow".


The Milton Keynes team’s boss ends the speech by saying that he knows he has a great opportunity to exploit, with both cars ahead of their Mercedes rivals: 


"To have Max and Sergio there, ahead of both Mercedes, is fantastic. Opening a new era? The road is very long. We are not even halfway through this championship. The road is very long and we have phenomenal opponents. But we've managed to build a good momentum and we have to keep it up, keep pushing. Sergio struggled, but he was increasingly happy with the car and in the last part of qualifying he did a great job. To have him ahead of Lewis and Valtteri is great for us as a team, we hope to make good use of those positions tomorrow".


There was no shortage of difficulties for Sergio Perez, but hard work this time allowed him to make better use of the car even in qualifying:


"Very difficult weekend so far. We chased the right balance, explored the car in all areas and got closer and closer with each attempt. It wasn't easy, it was hard work. You can't see it from the outside. We managed to get a good lap and tomorrow we will have a good car for the race".


Lando Norris is thrilled after earning a front row seat for the first time in his career: 


"I feel happy, it was really good. This is my best qualifying result in Formula 1, so it represents a great result for us as a team but also for myself. After the last race I wanted to progress one more place and I progressed two, so it's even better. For tomorrow it's a good position, probably one of the best laps I've ever done. I had good feelings about it. Great to be able to have taken this position. I greet all the fans who are here today. I know many are for Max, but it's still nice to have them here. In the race it will be difficult, but we did the best job we could today. I don't know how far I got from pole. It would have been even better to get it, but second position is great for us and it's a good position to start from tomorrow. Let's see what we can do in the race. We took a good step forward with some adjustments. Last week I was not frustrated but almost, because I thought we had the potential to put ourselves ahead of Mercedes in qualifying. We maximized the package we had, the changes on the car were very small. I would say I took more risks on the Q3 lap".


Lando Norris is aware of his McLaren's strengths in Spielberg, and says: 


"I was behind Max and that made me a little nervous because I was losing a lot in the straights, but fortunately I was able to catch up in the corners. Particularly in the fast corners. I took extra risks and that was where I did my lap. It will probably be another fifth place. We'll do our best to take a step forward, but I'm realistic and I know we have a tough race ahead of us. If there is a chance to fight with Max I won't back down, but I know what our dimension is".


Daniel Ricciardo is also particularly disappointed, especially in relation to his teammate's result. The elimination in Q2 cannot be justified only by the choice of the medium tire, and the Australian is aware that he needs more speed: 


"Unfortunately we got a similar result as last week, I was feeling better, but that didn't translate into a better lap time. In Q1 I was quite satisfied. I felt I did pretty well, but I was still half a second off. At the moment it's a bit of a headache. I really don't know where to get additional speed from. We have a choice of tires tomorrow, so we'll try to get another good start like last week and climb up through the group".


Pierre Gasly proved to be very competitive in qualifying, and will once again start on the third row, hoping to make the most of the strategy set on the basis of the soft tire in the first stint of the race: 


"Every weekend we are qualifying in similar positions, and I'm really pleased; sixth place today is another good performance for us, so I would say it was a good day. Over the weekend, for some reason I wasn't completely comfortable with the car, so qualifying was a bit of an unknown, which is why I'm really happy with what we got this afternoon. We are the first cars to start on softs tomorrow, so strategy will play a key role in the race. We showed that the car has good pace, so I feel confident".


Yuki Tsunoda achieved the best qualifying performance, finishing seventh, just behind his teammate. The Japanese driver is very happy and satisfied with his work this weekend and the feeling with the car: 


"I am really happy with my performance, this is my best qualifying so far. I want to thank the team who managed to keep the pace from last week and put everything together at the most important time. Although I didn't have a slipstream, my last lap was pretty good so I have to be happy with that. It was really helpful for me to have a second consecutive race here in Austria, it allowed me to increase my confidence and I think that is reflected in my performance today. I don't know what the conditions will be like during tomorrow's race, but tire management will be crucial to score points, which is what I'm aiming for".


Charles Leclerc, eliminated in Q2 to avoid fitting the soft tire, finished behind George Russell's Williams. A surprising result, which obviously creates a feeling of disappointment: 


"Whether this is an elimination put in place? Yes and no. We more or less expected not to get into Q3. I have to say that coming out behind a Williams, also with medium tires, is a little less expected. Other than that we expected to be out of Q3 today. It was the strategy from the beginning: starting with softs was absolutely what we wanted to avoid, so we tried with the mediums, but it didn't work. I won't hide from you that I'm surprised to see George Russell's Williams ahead of us today, even considering that they qualified on the mediums. It was not a perfect lap from me. If you see Carlos' times and mine we were very close. Certainly I could have done better here and there, and so could he, but we were on the limit and that’s what was possible to do today. Starting with softs would have been particularly difficult for us and we are glad we didn't have to do that, hopefully we can take advantage of this strategy. Strategy that will be different between the teams anyway, for example McLaren, which is very good at managing tires, I think they go on one stop. Starting on the hard? It is an option, we consider it but we are not sure. Whether rain can be a problem? Mah, I don't think it will rain tomorrow".


Carlos Sainz Jr. also failed to reach the top-ten, but his focus is on the race, making the same tire choice made by his teammate:


"The race pace is there, that's for sure. We want to see how we can finish ahead of everyone who starts on softs stomorrow. Finishing ahead of Norris, who starts on mediums, will be virtually impossible. Russell is also on mediums. He was the biggest surprise, but the Mercedes engine pushes here, it's not like it doesn't go on the Williams. This year, Williams is really fast on the straight. Last week George beat me in qualifying, you knew the Williams could do well. Beating drivers who start on softs is the goal, plus we have to try to pass Russell as well. We hope to finish behind Lando with both cars, so we still get points. So many things can happen tomorrow, the temperature will be much lower. Today by six thousandths, so a matter of details, we could have been super happy and instead we are not so happy".


Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, defends Scuderia Ferrari's strategic choice to reward the race by sacrificing qualifying: 


"With these temperatures, more than 50 °C on the asphalt, the soft tires struggle on the long run ahead of tomorrow. With three DRS zones that allow overtaking, you are probably aiming more at starting with the right tire because on paper the one-stop strategy starting with the mediums and then fitting the hards is feasible. Ferrari's choice is certainly thoughtful. They've made it with both drivers, so they're definitely convinced of that. The choice to bring the C5 here was aimed at creating unpredictability. In qualifying it was so, we will see then in the race".


For Lewis Hamilton, the result is disappointing: the British driver is far behind his direct rival, both in position and performance. 


"As far as the contract is concerned, we got that topic out of the way. We don't have to talk about it anymore and it allows us to focus on what we do. We have a lot of work ahead of us. The road is difficult and things don't look great at the moment, but it's still a long way. Yesterday we had good feelings, today Red Bull took two steps forward and we lost performance. We knew we would be 1-2 tenths behind Red Bull. We didn't think we would be behind McLaren, but Lando did a great job. Fight against Red Bull tomorrow? I think Max will have an easy race tomorrow. They will have so much speed. I will have to fight to try to pass the two drivers in front of me. We will see if there is a way to limit the damage".


Qualifying was also complicated for Valtteri Bottas: his W12 seemed to struggle more in this session, and the Finn will start from the third row, in fifth position. 


"I was hoping to fight for the pole but it was out of reach today. It seemed like we were a little behind from last weekend, or that others had gained more than us. I would say we were a tenth or two short of where we should have been. Clearly then McLaren found something with the C5 compound this weekend. It seems to work well on their car".


Sebastian Vettel compromised Fernando Alonso's weekend, forcing the latter to abandon his fast lap and start in P14. The Spaniard in no way hides his feelings of frustration: 


"The anger was about the weekend. From being able to start fifth or sixth on the grid, which were the positions we were fighting for today, I will start 14th, which means the weekend is over. In one turn you go from making 8-10 points in the race, coming in close to the top-five, to finishing out of the points. It changed the whole weekend in one corner and it's very frustrating. I don't think Seb could do much more because inside the car we can only rely on our engineer. I think [the responsibility] was more on the team than on Seb himself".


The German Aston Martin driver explains the incident that will cost him a three-place grid penalty:


"Unfortunately I saw Fernando very late because I was making the turn, he was coming up behind and the radio call came a little late to me. Everyone honestly slowed down in the two corners where it was agreed not to slow down. Obviously I slowed down too but at this point I think everyone should be penalized. I feel sorry for Fernando but there was nothing more he could do once he set the line and unfortunately it's not my fault".


Unlike the team command, Lance Stroll will try to get good results from the top-ten start, which was desired and sought after with the use of the soft tire in Q2: 


"We can be happy with today's qualifying, because starting in the top10 will allow us to fight for points tomorrow. In hindsight, I think we could have placed even better; the car performed well in Q2, putting together good laps, while in Q3 it was more complicated to get clean laps. Today we saw how all the teams considered both softs and mediums for the start, a sign that the two compounds are close to each other. This gives us things to think about, as tomorrow the best strategy could be with the softs. Now we'll go and do our homework and come back tomorrow to get a lot of points".


Esteban Ocon is also not satisfied, as he was eliminated even in Q1: 


"Our pace didn't improve this weekend and, unfortunately, we're back to the same point again, we tried some different solutions this week, but we're still missing something. I felt like I had a good lap today, so at the moment, I don't have many answers. But we will continue to think about it and find solutions. I will focus on doing the best job I can and helping the team progress. Tomorrow I will push as hard as I can to make up some positions. We will not give up".


After some good practice and an excellent first part of qualifying, Antonio Giovinazzi is unable to go beyond 15th position. His impressions of the car are similar to those of the previous week, with the only difference being the C5 tire brought by Pirelli to this Grand Prix: 


"We didn't change much from last week. We adapted the car a little bit to the softer compound, but in general it was very similar. What will the race be about strategy? I think two stops, it will also depend on the weather tomorrow, whether it will be warmer or colder, but for now I would say two stops. Will I do the rain dance? The wet weather can mix things up a bit, however, we can definitely do well in the dry as well".


Teammate Kimi Raikkonen, eliminated from Q1, will join Antonio Giovinazzi on the eighth row. 


"I had a good feeling and the car was going well on the first lap, but when the second set came I had no front end in the first two corners. I don't know what caused it, as our lap preparation had been as good as ever, but I ended up a couple of tenths down after the first few corners and my lap was pretty much over. I was able to recover a little bit in the rest, but the damage was done. We had a good recovery in the race here last week, so let's see what we can do tomorrow".


George Russell manages to get into Q3 for the first time with Williams: so this will be a great opportunity for the British driver: 


"For us to get through Q3 today is incredible, and to do it on medium tires puts us in a really good position for tomorrow. I'm as excited as I was in the glory days of F2. Sebastian will probably be penalized, so maybe we will be eighth. Either way we will be in a very good position. We are on the mediums, we have drivers with softs and mediums in front and behind and we think the softs are a disaster. So we attack the maximum, we look ahead. Scoring points has to be the minimum goal".


Of course, teammate, Nicholas Latifi, shows more disappointment, as he ends qualifying in P18, ahead of only the two Haas: 


"It's a different weekend for everyone: we have tires one step softer. I'm struggling to get the right balance this weekend and the right setup. The first lap of Q1 was not so bad, but on the second lap I made a mistake in turn-3 and paid dearly for it. I made a mistake this time and lost a lot of time, so I'm obviously frustrated and disappointed".


Nikita Mazepin still experiences great difficulties: he is the last place finisher, and not only because of the car's lack of performance: 


"Although we solved the problem with the previous car, I still don't feel comfortable. I am trying hard to try to find an acceptable balance of the car but so far it has not been possible. It is too nervous and keeping it on track is a gamble at every corner. I still need to improve quite a bit. Two weekends in a row with the same script is a big disappointment for me. I think I am pretty good at the start but then, as the laps go by, I see everyone else getting comfortable and me struggling more and more".


Mick Schumacher is much more optimistic than his teammate: 


"It went better than last week, that's for sure. We were closer to the cars in front of us, which is always good, we knew we would lack performance in qualifying, but I think I was able to extract the maximum from the car, and I'm quite happy with that".


On Sunday, July 4th, 2021, the Austrian Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. Temperatures have dropped a lot compared to qualifying: in particular, the asphalt has dropped to 34 °C; the air temperature, on the other hand, is 21 °C. The risk of rain is moderate, but so far this has not affected the Austrian track. George Russell reports a possible problem with his Williams during the line-up lap. The car is checked on the grid by the team, finding no malfunctions. The Briton will thus start regularly from P8. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto states a few minutes before the start: 


"The softs would have forced a strategy of defense and not attack, we missed Q3 by a few thousandths. Compared to last week we did not get worse, we were closer to the top, but it was not enough. We could adopt different strategies with our drivers. Today's race will be different than seven days ago, there will be many more pit stops. Making one stop will not be easy, tire management in the first stint will be crucial, because lengthening it can be the key. Attacking right away is not the right choice, then it is clear that you will not be able to lose positions. You don't win at the first corner or on the first lap in Austria, what matters is then finding space and a clear track to break out a good pace".


The medium tire is the preferred choice for the majority of drivers who did not qualify for Q3. Only Carlos Sainz and Kimi Raikkonen choose otherwise and will start on the hard tire. When the race starts, poleman Max Verstappen keeps the lead, while Lando Norris resists Sergio Pérez's attacks, maintaining P2. Then follow the two Mercedes and the two AlphaTauri. At the start Russell immediately loses four positions and drops to P12. A contact in the third corner between the cars of Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi causes the entry of the Safety Car. The Italian driver returns to the pits and manages to rejoin the track in last position, fitting a new set of hard tires. At the restart Perez attacks Norris, but the attempt fails and the Mexican ends up in the gravel at the edge of the track. The Red Bull driver is overtaken by several cars and manages to rejoin the track in 10th position. Hamilton, in P3, puts pressure on Norris, while Sainz overtakes Russell. Between lap 12 and lap 13 the two AlphaTauri cars make their first stop, followed by Stroll (lap 14). On the same lap, Charles Leclerc overtakes Perez, placing him in seventh position. On lap 17, Daniel Ricciardo overtakes Sebastian Vettel, thus reaching the fifth position. Vettel immediately pits for a tire change. On lap 20, Lewis Hamilton overtakes compatriot Lando Norris, moving into second position. The latter is penalized five seconds by the stewards because of the incorrect maneuver he made on Perez early in the race. Verstappen leads the race by a large margin over second, Hamilton, and third, Norris. 


On lap 29, Daniel Ricciardo stops for a tire change; on the next lap, Norris - who is serving his penalty - and Bottas also return to the pits, which puts him ahead of the British driver. Hamilton stops shortly after, as does Verstappen, but the top positions remain unchanged. On lap 33 Perez also changes tires: the Mexican returns to the track in tenth position. Leclerc waits until lap 34 for his pit stop, but re-enters the race behind Perez. Verstappen stays ahead of the two Mercedes, behind which is Norris in P4. In fifth there’s the Spaniard Sainz Jr. then Gasly, Ricciardo, Perez and Leclerc. On lap 40 Leclerc tries to overtake Perez: the Mexican defends himself with a maneuver similar to the one performed by Norris against him, and he is also penalized with five seconds on the race time. Further ahead, Hamilton cannot keep up with Verstappen's pace, as the car is damaged by jumping over a kerb. On Lap 46 Gasly makes his second stop; while Sainz Jr. pits three laps later. The Spaniard returns to the track in eighth position, behind Leclerc. The Monegasque tries again, on lap 47, to pass Perez. Again, the Mexican's defensive maneuver is judged unfair by the stewards, who penalize him by an additional five seconds. On lap 52, Perez overtakes Ricciardo, but the Mexican is in fact, penalized a total of 10 seconds, which will be added to the final race time. Technical difficulties experienced by Hamilton allow Bottas to overtake his teammate, and then force the world champion to cede third position to Norris. Verstappen, who enjoys a wide margin over Bottas, now second, opts for a second stop. This allows the Dutchman to finish the race with no doubts about tire grip, and also to secure the fastest lap, of 1'06"200. 


The second best lap of the race, which is set by Sainz Jr. on lap 70, is over a second and a half higher. In the final laps Leclerc tries, without luck, to overtake Ricciardo. With the arrival of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr., who enjoys fresher tires, the Monegasque surrenders the position to the Spaniard. The latter overtakes Ricciardo with two laps to go and also secures P5, managing to stay under 10 seconds behind Sergio Perez, who was penalized. Russell and Alonso fight very hard for the last point at stake; after numerous attacks the Spanish driver manages to get the better of the Briton, with only three laps to go. Russell thus has to give up once again his first points with Williams. On the final lap there is contact between Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel. The two cars end up in the gravel. Verstappen wins his 15th career Formula 1 race, earning his 50th podium finish. The Red Bull driver reaches, for the first time at the age of 23, a new record, the Grand Chelem, which is the achievement -in the same race- of pole position, fastest lap and victory, staying in the lead of the Grand Prix for all the laps. For the first time since 2013, the season in which the team won its last constructors' world championship, Red Bull Racing won five Grand Prix in a row, while Mercedes, in the turbo-hybrid era, failed to win five races in a row for the first time. The Brackley-based team climbs onto the podium in second with Valtteri Bottas, who holds out ahead of Lando Norris, still on the podium in third and ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Behind Sainz and Perez, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Gasly and Alonso round out the top 10. There were seven times cancelled for drivers for exceeding the track limits at the exit of Turn 9, and 14 times cancelled for exceeding the limits at the exit of Turn 10 during the race. 


In the first case, the times cancelled were those of Nikita Mazepin (three times), Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher and Pierre Gasly; in the second case, the times of Kimi Räikkönen (three times), Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc (all of them twice), Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo. At the end of the race, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel are summoned by the stewards because of the collision that occurred in the finale. Räikkönen is penalized with a drive through converted to 20 seconds on the race time and two points on the super-license. The Finn, who finished 16th, gains one position as a result of the penalty given to Nicholas Latifi. George Russell and Kimi Räikkönen are summoned as the British driver shifted his line under braking in defending against an overtaking attempt by the Finn. The marshals decide not to take action toward the British driver. Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz Jr., Charles Leclerc, Nikita Mazepin, Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly are summoned for not respecting the double yellow flags. All drivers, with the exception of Nikita Mazepin and Nicholas Latifi, do not receive penalties. The Russian and Canadian driver are both penalized with a 10- second stop-and-go converted to 30 seconds on the race time and three points on the super-license. The penalty imposed on the Russian driver has no practical effect since he finishes last, while the Canadian -15th at the time of the checkered flag- loses one position. Austrian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen is thrilled with his performance and the team's work: 


"Unbelievable. The car was unreal. With every set of tires it was really enjoyable to drive it. Really crazy, I'm surprised too because I didn't expect the race to go this way. Incredible work from everyone. Such a performance is extraordinary. The first weekend everyone said we were the favorites but it is never easy to prove it with facts. Hats off to the team. The whole package these past two weeks has been incredible. I was able at the start to create an advantage, I knew if I got through the first lap I could make my race and I did. Really crazy to hear all these fans, incredible to see all this orange. It gives great motivation, especially the last lap and the return lap I saw all this orange and it was beautiful. Thank you to everyone".


He adds: 


"Easy race? I didn't expect it to go so well, I'm super happy with today's performance. I think the car was very strong with each set of tires. I just had to be as consistent as possible. I really enjoyed it, it was super enjoyable. A lot can still happen in the standings every weekend. We have to keep staying on the ball in every situation. The season is still long but so far it's looking good. I'm happy".


The next Grand Prix will be held in Great Britain. The first Sprint Qualifying in F1 history will be held at Silverstone. 


"It is a great track. We think we can be strong there as well but let's see. It will be very important once again to find the right set-up to be competitive and do a good job".


Red Bull team principal Christian Horner congratulates his driver: 


"An extraordinary performance by Max today. He was surgical from the start, then every lap he was fantastic, getting faster and faster. But I would say it was fantastic for two weeks here in Austria. What a great feeling to win today as well. The road in the championship is long: we don't take anything for granted. We have to keep doing what we are doing race after race, keeping the pressure up".


He then pauses to talk about the next race, which will be held at Silverstone: 


“For sure it will be a great challenge in Britain. Mercedes is always strong there and Lewis will have the home crowd supporting him. If Hamilton is under pressure? I think he simply had damage to the car, that's why he lost a lot of time. Unfortunately Perez was also not there after touching with Lando at the beginning. But these are the races and we keep fighting. Silverstone? We know it's a track where Mercedes has been strong, but now we don't have to fear any circuit. Max has won three races in a row between France and Austria, Red Bull five in a row since Monte Carlo. We have to keep this momentum, because I'm sure they will react".


Former Mercedes and Ferrari engineer Ross Brawn acknowledges how everything is working in the best possible way at Red Bull right now, both in terms of the car and for Max Verstappen, whose performance is top-notch: 


"Max is in a really good place right now. He is working well with his Red Bull and you can see that there is a real harmony. Red Bull has a strong car and all the results are coming in. He had massive fan support in Austria, but when we go to Silverstone all the fans will be for Hamilton. I have said before in this column that we always thought Max was title material, and now he is fully proving it".


However, in Ross Brawn's opinion, the driver of the day can only be one: Lando Norris. 


"He delivered a sensational performance in qualifying and replicated it with a great race. There were some tough decisions regarding penalties in the race, one of which affected Lando. No one, including the stewards, wants to see the penalties, and I think they will be discussed for a long time. But by the same time, we cannot have unregulated aggression on the track. Finding that balance is not always easy. Anyway, Lando had a sensational race in which he went beyond the potential of his car: the expectations on him were high but he is always meeting them. And, indeed, he is improving steadily this year, he seems to have taken a major step. He is an incredible talent".


The British McLaren driver takes the podium after having a great race:


"Penalties? First of all, thanks to the fans. Very fun, good race. I'm disappointed, I could have been second today. With Perez I think it was a race incident. He tried to pass me on the outside and went off the track by himself. I didn't push him. But I'm still happy with third place. Catching up with Bottas? We had good pace and I was keeping his pace, but it wasn't enough to get into the DRS zone. When I got within a second I was starting to struggle. Nice though to know that we could compete with them, it's the first time in many years that I found myself competing on almost equal terms with Mercedes and Red Bull".


However, Lando Norris recriminates and greatly disputes the penalty he received, which probably took away an even more prestigious result: 


"Stewards are sometimes too strict, and that was the case today. It's not even an issue of consistency, they have to understand that it's racing, I think everyone knows that. Perez tried to pass me on the outside and went off because he braked too late. In the corner he would have understeer and he should have known that I would have understeer too. It wasn't that I wanted to push him out. He had little room, he went out because he looked for room where there was none. There was nothing I could do about it. I'm frustrated because it cost us second place in the race. It's good to know that we could have been second, but I'm a little sad that we didn't get it. However, I'm happy with third place, we made up for it somehow".


Race director Michael Masi explains the stewards' decision against the driver, saying at the end of the race: 


"Making comparisons between episodes with different dynamics and tracks is not possible plus what happened between Verstappen and Hamilton was a first lap of the race where the 'let them run’ philosophy has more margin than the later laps. In this case we are dealing with a restart, but not a first lap. When two cars are perfectly side by side you have to leave the necessary space for the opponent to complete the turn and overtake, Norris did not do that and for that he was penalized".


Valtteri Bottas is satisfied with the final result, but he does not hide some concern about the outstanding performance shown by Red Bull: 


"It was good for me, I improved one position from last week. It's a good haul of points for the team. Clearly though seeing the gap we have from Red Bull in terms of speed is not very good. This second place is important, I think I got the best possible result today. Hard tires held up well. Surprising to see McLaren so fast. They put pressure on us toward the end. Let's see in two weeks at Silverstone. There is work to be done, but we can enjoy some champagne today".


For Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, it was a difficult race, compromised by damage to his W12, which distances him even further from the top of the standings: 


"The damage I suffered in the race? It felt like the rear wing load dropped by two steps. I'm grateful to have finished the race today, but obviously it's frustrating to have lost second place. Do I feel like the title is getting out of hand? I just think about giving my best".


The reigning World Champion, in particular, is worried about the performance of his rivals, who are not easily recoverable: 


"These last few races have been difficult. Something will come, but it won't be enough to close the gap. I certainly hope for a different scenario at the next race, but if you look at their car, it's like it's going on the tracks. We've given everything at the factory in the last few weeks, trying to extract the most out of the car, but the car just didn't go well here for some reason".


Mercedes' chief engineer Andrey Shovlin also thinks the car's performance is not good enough compared to what rivals have shown: 


"We were not particularly strong here in general. You can see it not so much from the gap with Red Bull as from the fact that McLaren put us under pressure and Lando finished ahead of us. Austria didn't suit our car but we didn't make any real progress in these races. This is a longer-term problem. Then also the C5 simply did not give us in qualifying what it had given us on Friday, and we have to ask ourselves why. It is not that we did something wrong, but when you look at where the performance was, we should recognize that there is something we are doing wrong. We are the architects of our own problems, and we don't seem to have made any relative progress, to be honest. We've improved the lap balance a little bit, but we haven't found tenths of performance, so there's still that gap".


Finally, the Mercedes driver states that he prefers a fight with a rival from outside the team, rather than with his own teammate, as was the case with Nico Rosberg: 


"This is what Formula 1 should be, teams racing against each other. It's unfortunate that we are no longer as close as we were at the beginning of the season, but this is the situation now. We still have so many races ahead of us, we simply have to work with our heads down".


Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also talks about the points lost due to the problem that occurred on Hamilton's car during the race: 


"Today we lost a second position because a part of the car got damaged. Between second and fourth there are six points, we must not lose points like that. He lost 30 points of downforce coming out of turn 10 on the kerb. But we didn't see a bump, something broke".


However, the Austrian manager is convinced that if Hamilton had started behind Verstappen, the disadvantage would not have been so stark: 


"Our speed was pretty good today. We lost time behind the McLaren at the beginning. I'm sure we could have been close to Max. Not win, but be right there. The speed was there, so it's not a disaster for that".


After Lewis Hamilton's renewal, there is talk of George Russell's promotion to Mercedes in place of Valtteri Bottas. But, in this regard, Toto Wolff says: 


“There are many fast young drivers. Sainz, Leclerc, Russell are the next generation of stars in F1. For 2022 we will make a decision in the summer, now in the car there is Bottas".


Carlos Sainz Jr. is satisfied with his own comeback, which was also carried out thanks to a strategy that paid off in the long run: 


"I'm happy. I struggled at the beginning with the hard tires, I thought I wasn't going anywhere. Finishing fifth shows that races are long and you need to be patient. All in all it was a good and fun race: the hard start, but then it went well. As said, I was on hards, the others were on mediums or softs, like Seb. They had so much more grip. You could also see Raikkonen struggling like me. We were both there, sliding a lot. I stayed calm and after 10 laps everyone around me had degradation. From there on I was able to be faster. I am happy because we made a good comeback. It is difficult to pass this McLaren (the reference is to the final overtake on Ricciardo, ed.): they are very fast, against them the DRS is not much use. I took a big risk on the braking in Turn 3, got good traction and finally managed to pass Daniel. We are fast in corners, we have nothing to envy McLaren and we are not even that far behind Mercedes and Red Bull. At circuits like this, though, we struggle because there are so many straights".


At the end of the race, Fernando Alonso expresses positive comments after getting a point: 


"It was difficult to score points today and we knew that by starting so far behind. We're happy with the point, even though we know we would have deserved more this weekend, but it's better than nothing. It was a tense and beautiful battle with Russell on the track; in the end, we had better tires and were able to make the pass. On the positive side, we also saw some good improvements from the team this weekend; the car was fine all weekend here. I feel more confident ahead of Silverstone".


The Spanish driver, however, is very polemical about the behavior of some colleagues, who without respecting the track limits of Turn 1 took advantage: 


"I'm a little frustrated with what happened in the first corner. I passed Leclerc and Ricciardo at the start, then they went to the outside in the first corner and finished the race in seventh and eighth. It's too comfortable to go to the outside there, because you save yourself all the traffic in the first part of the race, instead of being in the group of 14 or 15, you're in the group of 10. I let it go, for the next races I know where you can go outside and where you can't, so it's okay, we learn things. It's unfair because I'm the only one who takes risks and overtakes on this circuit at the beginning. Also, I don't go off the track, I'm the only one who makes the corner, and moreover I fall behind. I seemed a little stupid. It's not like there's a gray area in these cases: the driver can only go out for sporting or performance reasons, so there's no question. Instead, no, some people start and gain 50 meters without anyone forcing them to go outside. Without these episodes, who knows, I could have ended much higher".


Esteban Ocon, on the other hand, is very disappointed: his race lasted only three turns: 


"It was unfortunate that our race ended early today. There wasn't much I could have done, I was trapped between Mick Schumacher and Antonio Giovinazzi at Turn 3, it was a race accident. It's one of those things you have to accept if you start from the back. There is always the possibility of contact, and it is easier to get caught up in some problem. The team and I can't take a break right now. We will do a reset, start from scratch and prepare for Silverstone".


Kimi Raikkonen had a good impression from the race pace shown by his car, although the Finn finished the Grand Prix in an unexpected way: 


"It was a race where the car was going pretty well, but we lacked that little bit to be in the top-ten, we had a long first stint on hard. Then, on the mediums, we were able to catch up to whoever was in front fighting for tenth. Alonso passed Russell, I came close, then I had contact with Seb. We caught each other and that was it, in the end it didn't change the final result. We would have both ended up out of the points".


While Antonio Giovinazzi does not shy away from making a bitter analysis of his own race: 


"A frustrating day, just like last week, our race was compromised on the first lap. I had contact with Esteban and had to pit. We had a good pace after that, but everyone was pretty close and it was very difficult to recover. I got stuck behind a Williams, then I also got a penalty. It was a weekend to forget. Hopefully we can have a better race at Silverstone, as the performance was not bad".


Daniel Ricciardo was the author of a good comeback, which was useful to improve McLaren's Constructors' World Championship ranking: 


"An important race, it gives me a smile and I have found few this year. A little satisfaction is needed to boost spirtis: today I had to attack, defend, it was an intense Grand Prix".


The Australian cannot smile as he looks at Norris' performance and thinks about the poor feeling he has with his car: 


"What do I miss? I don't know. I don't know why it's so difficult this year. With the team I get along well, the atmosphere is great. Lando is going strong, let's be clear, however, 7-8 tenths is an impossible gap. Therefore, I have to find something. Maybe I am too old, I am 32 years old. The braking that I can't do? Yes, it is true, I still have to find the feeling in braking that I had even with Renault, hopefully 2022 will be an opportunity for me, with the new regulations. Definitely the braking of when I was at Renault, but also at Red Bull, I can't get it. I have no confidence. To be aggressive I need more, I hope to find it".


Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire, due to contact with Kimi Raikkonen, but shows no hard feelings toward his former teammate: 


"The race ended with a trip to the gravel because of a misunderstanding with Kimi, I think he didn't see me in front of him. I felt the contact on the left rear. I had come well out of Turn 4 and was passing Kimi on the right as we approached Turn 5. I don't think there was any voluntariness on Kimi's part".


The German driver, however, excluding the talk about the accident, would still finish the weekend without getting points: 


"We didn't have the speed to fight for points today, the balance of the car was good, but the cars with medium tires performed better in the opening stint, when I was stuck in traffic".


Lance Stroll, penalized by the choice made in qualifying, was also not the author of a good race: 


"It was not the race we were hoping for. I think it's clear in hindsight that starting on softs was not ideal, although we managed to keep ourselves in the fight for points during the first phase of the race. When we made our first stop for a set of new hards, we came out in traffic. We lost time and did not take advantage of the tire peak at the beginning of the second stint. This had an impact on our race. Silverstone? It is a very different circuit and we will also have the new weekend format. It represents a chance to climb back up".


Pierre Gasly finished the race by scoring two valuable points, but he believes that the first stint on soft tires and a subsequent two-stop strategy-kept him from aiming for a better result: 


"I think today's race was more difficult than we could have imagined, but the good thing is that we are consistently scoring points. Today we thought we could benefit more from the two-stop strategy, but we struggled more than expected with the softs at the beginning of the race. However, there are positives and we still showed good pace. We continue to struggle at the top of the midfield, but it's a little disappointing not to finish a little further ahead in the standings today. We will look at all the data tonight and then focus on Silverstone, a track that I love".


Yuki Tsunoda struggled more than his teammate in tire management. The Japanese driver is disappointed that he did not make the most of the good position obtained in qualifying: 


"It was a difficult day for me. I struggled to keep the pace during the race and tire management was complicated. It's too bad, because qualifying yesterday had gone well. We need to review a little bit what didn't work today and try to prevent it from happening again on the next round in Silverstone".


While the analysis of AlphaTauri's Chief Engineer Vehicle Performance, Claudio Balestri, shows that: 


"Today we did our best strategically. Starting on soft tires, we decided to use a two-stop strategy with both cars and take advantage of having two new sets of hard tires. However, at the end of the race we could not stay ahead of those who chose to make only one stop. Pierre showed a good pace today, especially in the last stint: he managed to catch up with rivals who had chosen to make one stop and without the yellow flag at Turn 4 -on the last lap- he would have tried to overtake Leclerc. Yuki's race was more complicated and the two penalties did not help him, so he finished outside the points zone. We can't be fully satisfied today, because we started from sixth and seventh on the grid and only brought one car to the points. However, the positive thing is that we collected more points than our main rivals in the Constructors' Championship".


George Russell ends his own race in 11th place, just a step away from personal and team glory: 


"We were so close today... but so far. I felt good from the start, but then Tsunoda had a good block and forced me off the line to avoid hitting his teammate, so I had to brake and lose a couple of positions. That didn't change the outcome of our race because there were faster cars that always finish ahead of us. That P10 and that point would have been like a win for us, so I was fighting with everything I had. Of all the drivers you would like to have behind you in this situation, Fernando would not be one you would choose, he was flying and keeping him behind me was not possible with my tires. We are all disappointed to lose by such a small margin, but we are making real progress and will take the positives for Silverstone".


With the ninth round of the World Championship also concluded, Max Verstappen remains at the top of the standings with 182 points, increasing his lead over Lewis Hamilton, who was fourth in the race. As for the World Constructors' Championship, thanks to this additional victory, Red Bull Racing rises to 286 points, followed by Mercedes, second with 242 points. As for the fight for third place, McLaren increases its lead over Ferrari. Now the Circus will stop for a week before returning to the historic Silverstone circuit to take part in the British Grand Prix on Sunday, July 18th, 2021. This weekend will be of great interest as it will go down in history as the first to include the Sprint Qualifying format: a 100-kilometer race, to be contested during of the day on Saturday, which will define the starting grid for Sunday's race. Standard qualifying will be brought forward to Friday afternoon, thus removing a free practice session, and will define the starting grid for the Sprint Qualification. The Sprint Qualification will award 3 points to the first place finisher, 2 to the second and 1 to the third. It will also be raced on Lewis Hamilton's home track, where the reigning World Champion has already won on seven occasions.


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