After the French Grand Prix, the Formula 1 Circus moves to Austria, to the Red Bull Ring. The Grand Prix was not initially scheduled in the 2021 season calendar. Due to the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish Grand Prix was postponed to a later date on Friday 14 May 2021 due to the restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom on travelers from Turkey. The Turkish race has therefore been replaced with the Styrian Grand Prix. Stefano Domenicali, president and CEO of Liberty Media, says in this regard:
"We were all looking forward to racing in Turkey but the travel restrictions in place have meant we are not able to be there in June. Formula 1 has shown again that it is able to react quickly to developments and find solutions and we are delighted that we will have a double header in Austria meaning our season remains at 23 races. I want to thank the promoter and authorities in Turkey for all of their efforts in recent weeks and want to thank the promoters in France and Austria for their speed, flexibility and enthusiasm in accommodating this solution. We have had very good conversations will all the other promoters since the start of the year and continue to work closely with them during this period".
The Grand Prix will be held on Sunday 27 June 2021. The French Grand Prix was originally set on this date, but it was brought forward by a week to allow for the addition of the Styrian Grand Prix. With the change to the calendar, three Grands Prix are now scheduled over three consecutive weekends, as has already happened once in the 2018 World Championship and three times in the 2020 season. The Austrian country is the second country to host two races valid for the Championship World Cup this season, in this case one week after the other. The same thing happened in the 2020 World Championship, but with the Grands Prix reversed: first the Austrian Grand Prix and then the Styrian Grand Prix, still on the Red Bull Ring circuit. The other country to host two Grands Prix in the 2021 season was Italy, thanks to the already disputed Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, held in April, and the one of the same name scheduled for September. The Styrian Grand Prix is the fourth race of the season to allow spectators in the grandstands, after the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Monaco Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix. The limit of the public that can be present in the grandstand is set at 15,000 people. On the occasion of the Styrian Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo Racing celebrates 111 years of history and presents itself in Austria with a slightly modified livery with motifs reminiscent of the number 111 on the side and on the nose. The number takes the place of the cross, symbol of Milan, in the logo of the historic company, while the famous Biscione remains, symbol of the noble Milanese family of the Viscontis. Polish driver Robert Kubica will take the place of Kimi Räikkönen during the first free practice session on Friday. Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo team principal, says in this regard:
"Robert is a major asset to our team and having him in the car in Austria will be very valuable, especially as we will be racing at the same venue two weeks in a row. He has done a great job in his first outings this year and we look forward to working with him again to help the team get even better".
Kubica himself, enthusiastic about the opportunity, declares:
"I can't wait to get back in the car next week. The team has made some big steps forward, especially lately, and you can feel the confidence in the whole team. I know how important it is to keep up this momentum and I'm ready to do my part to make sure the two weekends in Austria are as profitable as possible".
This season the Grand Prix - like the previous one - is sponsored by BWT. Best Water Technology spreads and represents the value of sustainability and reduction of environmental impact.
These principles are also cornerstones of the Formula 1 Circus, with a view to an itinerant program that involves less and less waste of resources. Lutz Hubner, Marketing Manager at BWT, says:
"It is an honor for BWT to be part of the Formula 1 sustainability initiative and to become the title sponsor of both Austrian Grands Prix through our unique and patented water treatment technologies we can contribute to 'Changing the world, sip after sip. Plastic waste, disposable bottles and their worldwide transport, as well as the associated CO2 emissions, must be drastically reduced. With BWT Bottle Free Zones, we are now also implementing this concept in cooperation with the F1 community. Joining forces to raise awareness as well as the fight for sustainability is a mission that BWT and F1 have in common".
On Sunday 20 June 2021, the organizers of the British Grand Prix announce the presence of 140.000 spectators in the grandstands, which is the maximum capacity allowed. This is the highest number of fans allowed to attend a Formula 1 Grand Prix in this championship so far, beating the 15,000 crowd that attended the French Grand Prix. In the meantime, the president of Automobile Club Milano, Geronimo La Russa, announces that the Monza circuit will once again welcome fans on the occasion of the round of the world endurance championship. The Italian Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday 12 September 2021, will therefore be able to host a more substantial presence of the public. The president of Automobile Club Milano, Geronimo La Russa, comments with optimism on the reopening of the grandstands of the Monza circuit:
"After more than a year of events behind closed doors, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza will once again welcome many fans to the stands on 18 July for the stage of the World Endurance WEC. The good news adds to the decree signed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi on the green pass. All this gives us hope for a more substantial presence of fans in view of the Italian Grand Prix on 12 September After having made an important and valuable contribution to the fight against the pandemic by hosting a vaccination hub of excellence, it will be exciting and suggestive to see the Autodromo Nazionale Monza returning to its original vocation as a participant 'Temple of Speed' to give emotions to thousands of fans and enthusiasts, in safety and in compliance with anti-covid regulations".
On Monday 21 June 2021, the organizers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix announce that changes will be made to the layout of the Yas Marina circuit, in order to facilitate overtaking. Specifically, turns 5, 6 and 7 will be removed and replaced by a single curve to the left. Also, the whole complex between turns 11 and 14 will be redrawn: they will be replaced by a single over-elevated curve to the left. Circuit CEO Saif Al Noaimi says the changes have been designed and will be made to give spectators and fans more excitement on the track:
"We have listened to the fans, the drivers and the FIA to make changes to the track that will make the event more exciting. The track will definitely get faster and we hope the championship comes to Yas Marina still open".
On Thursday 24 June 2021, the Federation issues a new directive regarding pit stops: starting from the Hungarian Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday 1 August 2021, all teams will have to respect a minimum time to change tyres. The aim is to make them safer and thus limit the risk of cars returning to the track or pit lane with wheel nuts not perfectly tightened, causing safety risks. On Friday 25 June 2021, the Turkish Grand Prix, postponed due to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom, is rescheduled for 3 October 2021. The Turkish race will replace the previously canceled Singapore Grand Prix. In the meantime, Red Bull Racing announces that Dan Fallows, who has been head of aerodynamics for the team for fifteen years, will leave the team at the end of the season - at the end of his contract - to move to Aston Martin, where he will hold the position of technical director . The Red Bull Racing team let reporters know that:
"He will not leave until his contract is concluded and remains fully focused on working on the positive start to this 2021 season".
Even the team principal of Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, says in this regard:
"Of course Dan will be missed as he played an important role during his time at Red Bull Racing and I would like to thank him for his contribution to the team's successes. We recognize that the possibility of taking on the role of Technical Director within a Formula 1 team represents an attractive next step in his career. In turn, this move creates exciting opportunities for progression within the team".
And in the meantime, Pirelli announces that it will bring two sets of new rear tires with a stiffer construction to the Austrian Grand Prix, scheduled for the week following the Styrian Grand Prix. This test will be used to develop the 18-inch tires that will be used starting next season. If the test gives positive results, the new rear tires will be used from the British Grand Prix until the end of the season. Pirelli Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, explains:
"This will continue until next year, when standard Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) sensors will be mandatory across all teams".
In anticipation of the Styrian Grand Prix, Pirelli will supply the teams with C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres, the three central ones in the range. Mario Isola explains:
"Once again, after last year, Austria hosts back-to-back races, so the teams have a lot of data on this track and recent experience of how to tackle its particular challenges and strategies that can be adopted. However, having two different nominations is a first for the Red Bull Ring, so it will be interesting to see how the teams gain confidence with the C5 soft compound for the second race weekend and how this choice will influence strategies to create different opportunities compared to the Styrian Grand Prix".
On Saturday 26 June 2021, Liberty Media announces that the Russian Grand Prix, starting from the 2023 season, will take place on a new permanent circuit, near the city of St. Petersburg. Thus, the Sochi racetrack, home to the Grand Prix since its debut during the 2014 season, was abandoned. The new circuit, designed by Hermann Tilke, measures 4086 meters and has 15 bends. There are two overtaking points, Turn-1 to the left at the end of the starting straight and the 180° sector of the track at Turn-13. On the eve of the Styrian Grand Prix, the Federation establishes three zones where the riders can activate the Drag Reduction System. The first area is set between Castrol Edge (turn 1) and Remus (turn 3), with the gap between the riders placed before Castrol Edge. The second area between Remus and Schlossgold (curve 4), with the point for determining the gap set before Remus. The third zone is on the pit straight, with a detection point before Red Bull Mobile (Turn 10). Furthermore, the Federation establishes two points of the track where the pilots are forced to respect the limits of the latter. The points in question concern turn 9 and turn 10. Going beyond the track limits in these two points, the race direction will cancel the times of the drivers who committed the infraction. In addition, breaking the limits at turn 10 will also invalidate the next lap. Emanuele Pirro is appointed as assistant commissioner for the tender. The Italian has performed this function on several occasions in the past, the last one at the Bahrain Grand Prix. For this Grand Prix, the German car manufacturer Mercedes supplied the safety car and the medical car. Finally, the Federation announces that, at the end of the race of the previous French Grand Prix, Lance Stroll's Aston Martin was drawn among the top ten classified cars for the technical checks, and that these were found to comply with the technical regulations.
Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the MGU-K was replaced on the cars of Kimi Räikkönen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. In addition, the electronic control unit was replaced on the cars of the two Alfa Romeo Racing drivers by fitting the second unit. But no driver will be penalized. Max Verstappen, currently leads the World Championship with 131 points, compared to 119 points for his rival, Lewis Hamilton. But despite his position in the standings, the Dutch driver remains realistic:
"I am looking forward to Austria because of course it is like a home Grand Prix. The opportunity to run two races there is even more beautiful. It's always good to race here and we've had good results at the Red Bull Ring, but nothing is ever guaranteed. As a team, we have asked the FIA to also carry out checks on the front wings as they obviously have a very important effect on the performance of a car. We work to give our best as a team. The constructors' title is an important bike for us and we will try to obtain results like that of Paul Ricard in the next Grand Prix as well".
In reference to the French Grand Prix, his teammate, Sergio Perez, declares:
"It has been a good weekend and it has been great for the team to score a double podium and score valuable points in the constructors championship for my part I am still making progress. I'm putting things together, but everything is going in the right direction".
As for the Styrian Grand Prix, which is held in Austria, he continues:
"I am looking forward to racing for Red Bull at its home Grand Prix. We have two weekends at the same track and I think this will help me a lot in terms of growth, to get more experience in the car. The team has done well here in the past. We hope that this form continues and that we can achieve good results. As a team we worked very well in France. We made the strategy work and now we just have to keep it going. It's time to look ahead and there is still a long way to go until the end of the season so we have to keep working well and considering each race as if it were the last. Everyone's motivation is very high. We will carry on this momentum to maximize our potential in the next races".
Finally, the Mexican driver talks about the importance of teamwork:
"It's important to always give your best, also for the team. I knew Max was coming and it was crucial for him not to waste time. It was for me too, because I was on a different strategy. So I had to let it pass, but it was crucial that we both waste as little time as possible. In the end, I lost about a second and a half on that lap and Max lost nothing, which was good. I'm here to do the best for myself but also for the benefit of the team. I think Max would have done the same for me if it had been the other way around. So I see no reason to do otherwise".
The Finnish Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, also talks about teamwork and the need to help your teammate:
"Help Hamilton? We haven't had any discussions about this. I think it's too early. Everyone must remember that there are 16 races to go. There are many, so there were no discussions on the subject. The talk about my contract renewal? I'm used to it, it's not a new situation for me. Almost every year I'm in the same situation where I wait for my future to be clear for the next season. Everyone knows how sport works: if you get results, you'll earn your place. If you don't get results, and if the team thinks they need to change the driver, then they do it, it's very simple. The team knows what I'm capable of, they know how valuable I've been in the last few years to get the victories. I repeat, it is not yet the time for these discussions. We are in the midst of a hat-trick, with two more races to go in the next two weeks. But I'm sure that in the weeks off there will be time to discuss when the time comes".
On the relationship with the team, Bottas adds:
"It is completely false that my relationship with the team has deteriorated. We have an excellent internal relationship, there are no problems and, indeed, this type of situation is normal. I'm sure not all the things that are said are then written by journalists. What has brought us, as a team, to this point is that we are always direct, we are always honest with our feelings and opinions".
Perhaps also for these reasons, Lewis Hamilton would like Valtteri Bottas as a teammate again next year:
"Valtteri is my teammate now. We've both had our ups and downs throughout our careers. But like I said, I think he's a fantastic team-mate and I don't see him necessarily needing to be replaced".
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, after listening to what the World Champion said:
"We have started discussions, there is not much to say. But we have started discussions and things are positive. We never discussed preferences. It is never something that is part of his thinking. Lewis is part of the team and has always been in the 'inner circle' of decision making, simply because we value his opinion. When we talk about riders, there is nothing we don't share with him. There is transparency".
Lewis Hamilton also talks about the possible presence of an audience of 140.000 people at Silverstone, and says in this regard:
"I am divided on this news. I can't tell you how excited I am to see the people, the British crowd at Silverstone, because they are the best crowd of all. Last year we raced behind closed doors, and now being able to see them and feel their warmth at the weekend is fantastic. On the other hand, though, I watch the news and hear about cases rising in the UK. So from that point of view, I care about people's health, of course. I don't want to turn this announcement into a negative thing - I'm excited to see so many people. The selfish part of me wants to see everyone there, but in the UK, infection rates have been rising in recent days as people have eased safety and are relaxing. And not everyone is vaccinated. I've read the vaccination numbers, they look good to me, there are fewer people in the hospital. But I don't know, it seems a bit premature to open 100%. It's not my choice, after all. People will go to the circuit, I hope we learn something from that and people stay safe, wear masks and sanitize their hands. Only that I prefer to be more cautious and restart slowly than to proceed immediately with total reopening".
The Mercedes team had to face numerous difficulties during the French Grand Prix. However, the team's principal, Toto Wolff, is confident about the next appointment:
"This season is keeping us all on the edge of our seats. We had an exciting race in France with another intense battle between the top four cars, and this challenge is something everyone in the team is relishing. The disappointment of not winning has faded, there were many positives to take from France. We got a good haul of points, with second and fourth position. The pace of the car was an encouraging step up from Monaco and Baku, thanks to the hard work of our team members at the factory and on track. Although we know there is still a long way to go and there are many other opportunities, in a season like this every single point counts and makes the difference. And we have left points on the table in the last few races. We teamed up after France and in the debriefings we understood which areas need to be improved. For the public this season is undoubtedly exciting and every point counts. We have left several on the street so far. In Austria in 2020 we did well, whereas previously we had had some difficulties. We know that this season, however, the situation is different. It's nice to have the opportunity to get back on track immediately to demonstrate how much desire for redemption there is within the team. We want to bring inertia back to our side, even if it's not easy. The lap is very fast, the margins will be minimal and we will have to go on the attack with all our strength".
Even the Scuderia Ferrari cars had to face quite a few problems during the French Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz Jr., referring to the previous Grand Prix, says:
"I don't think we have sure answers about what happened last Sunday at Paul Ricard. We've definitely investigated deeply, and it's also interesting to see how such a large team comes together and tries to give everything they have to reduce and fix these problems. In the short term, I believe we can reduce the problem, in the medium to long term - instead - we aim to solve it, trying various solutions. It will be interesting, it will give me a lot as a driver, it will show me the way to improve all together, as a team. I will try to be involved in these three days with the whole team".
After that, the Spanish driver talks about the difference in performance of his car between qualifying and the race:
"I am very disappointed that my two most important qualifying sessions, Portimão and Le Castellet, did not translate into points on Sunday. In these races it was very difficult to drive on the front tyres. Under normal conditions I would have led the fray and finished around fifth, but for some reason this year it seems to be more difficult to have a totally clean weekend. We have weaknesses in the race, yes, and even if we do great qualifying it doesn't mean that we will have it easy on Sunday. At Paul Ricard the front counted a lot, here it's much more balanced. But if it rains, then the front tires will count more here too. So I can't say if we will suffer like in France, it will depend on the weather conditions and the ability to solve our problems in the short term".
Charles Leclerc's thought is very similar to that of his teammate:
"We didn't expect it to such an extent. We imagine we could have the same problem at any point in the season, but we don't really know when. In France, the team and I suffered like crazy. We were quite competitive in qualifying, even if specifically for me it wasn't a particularly strong weekend. But in the race both cars suffered a lot. We are now trying to investigate why we had these problems. We more or less know the reasons, but for now, we don't have a solution. We are working hard to understand the exact reasons why this happens. Sometimes it happens suddenly on Sunday without us, as a team, expecting it. We need to understand exactly why it happens every now and then during the races".
At the end of the French Grand Prix, McLaren managed to increase its lead over Scuderia Ferrari in the Constructors' World Championship standings. Therefore, the aim of the British team is to consolidate the advantage margin also in the double Austrian race. But Lando Norris is very realistic, and he says on the eve of the Styrian Grand Prix:
"I can't wait to go racing in Austria for the next two weeks. It's a special place because it's where I got my first podium in Formula 1. We had two very good results in the two races in Austria last season, I hope we can have two similar weekends this time. We can't go overboard, because many things are different from last year, like the car and the tyres. We will go into these two races with our heads down and we will take one step at a time to try to have two results as good as those obtained in France. But we also have to work hard to improve our performance in qualifying".
The British driver does not believe that Ferrari's level is much lower:
"Ferrari is one of the best cars in the slow corners. In France, however, we didn't expect to be so far from the Ferraris in qualifying".
During the French Grand Prix, the McLaren team cars proved to be competitive, as underlined by Daniel Ricciardo:
"The pace we were able to maintain in the race was unexpected. I can't wait to face this double in Austria. It could be a wet race, maybe even for both weekends. We could have two very different races, you never know. I think it's simply a good opportunity to continue working on the car and on myself. We hope to be able to repeat the performance we had in France and thus find the continuity we are looking for. We will try to get more points for the team in Austria, also because the scrum is compact and every weekend counts. We will push hard".
Arriving in Zeltweg, Esteban Ocon recalls the races held on the Red Bull Ring at the start of the 2020 season:
"Austria is a quite unique circuit especially for its location on the hills. It's a really nice location, so spending two weeks there is always nice. Last year's two races were special, because they marked the moment I returned to racing in F1 and also the first race after the lockdown. One different thing this year will be that we will have fans and that is exciting. I like it a lot, I can't wait to see the fans on the track this weekend".
His teammate, Fernando Alonso, also talks about the Austrian circuit, expressing his liking:
"The Red Bull Ring is an exciting track to race on with lots of ups and downs and high speed corners. I raced here in the 2000s and then again since 2014, so I have quite a bit of experience at the circuit. Not much has changed. There are some good overtaking opportunities in turns 3 and 4 and that makes for an interesting weekend, as you can fight for positions on Sunday. I like that there is another race right away, because you can try to keep the momentum from the previous round".
In Austria, Yuki Tsunoda tells reporters that he will have to hold an interview with the Red Bull Racing consultant, Helmut Marko, but it doesn't excite him at all:
"I have to talk to Helmut tonight around eight. We haven't spoken since the Azerbaijan match and I don't think it will be a fun conversation between us".
Helmut Marko first jokes about the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, then pauses to talk about the next race:
"Strange, lately he's been mad at Christian. Usually I was the one who had the honor. We are looking forward to racing our home grand prix. We have always done well at Spielberg and, for one reason or another, the Honda turbo has always performed better than the Mercedes in Austria. We look to the weekend with great confidence. Maybe another win will come and who knows it won't be five in a row. Passion, in our team, comes first. It's the real engine that drives us to try to break the Mercedes dominance".
At the end of the French Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel had approached Mick Schumacher's car to inspect the seat. Speaking with the press, the German driver says he realized, thanks to his compatriot, that he was riding in a less than ideal position.
"I've been sitting in a crooked position since the start of the season i.e., the seat is central, but I'm not straight. We had actually already talked about it and I took the opportunity to show him. I believe he gave my mother the suggestion to break it. So I would have had a new one sooner. But in the end it didn't happen. So for now I still have the same seat. It's a small detail. Something I've been used to, shall we say, even in the minor categories. To be honest it doesn't harm me in any way when I drive. We need to focus our attention on something else instead of wasting it on something that doesn't interest me so much right now".
However, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the first person to notice the seat problem was Mick Schumacher's mother Corinna:
"She told me that in France there had been problems with the session and I replied by saying that I didn't know anything about it, that Mick had never told me about it. Now he is talking about it a lot because the boy would like to have a new seat made, but there is no great urgency. He himself said it is not a priority now. I think he's exaggerating a bit because the matter only came into the spotlight after Sebastien did an inspection of Mick's car and the scene was caught on camera. If I didn't find out about a problem like this before, it means it can't be that serious".
On the eve of the Styrian Grand Prix, Antonio Giovinazzi's hope is to replicate the results obtained in Austria in 2019 and 2020. The Italian driver, in fact, scored points on both occasions, remaining outside the top ten only once of the second race held in 2021:
"Austria is a track that I like where I have good memories. I scored my first point there, in 2019, and in 2020 I brought home ninth place after an exciting race. I am eager to add more good moments to these and look forward to racing there twice in two weeks. I find that you can really get into a rhythm and improve every session, getting the most out of yourself and the car. I can't wait to get back to fighting for the top-ten on Sunday".
Kimi Raikkonen is eager to redeem himself after he retired at this same circuit last year due to a wheel gap:
"Our focus is completely on Austria and not on what happened in France. We learned our lesson and are now determined to do better. Austria is one of those tracks that look easy but aren't. It's short and there are few corners where time can be made or lost, which means that each of them is crucial. Traffic management, both in qualifying and in the race, will also be a key factor but, in the end, it will be the same for everyone. Scoring points this weekend would be a nice birthday present for Alfa Romeo. We have to do a better job than our rivals".
During the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, on this same circuit, the Williams cars had shown themselves to be more competitive than usual, obtaining eleventh place with Nicholas Latifi. For this reason, the British team hopes to be competitive again, and possibly to be able to score some points. Admits Nicholas Latifi:
"I am looking forward to the races in Austria. France was tough for me, so the best way to move on is to get back on track. Austria is a circuit that generally offers some great racing, so let's hope it holds up. It can be difficult for the tyres, there could be some opportunities. With two races on the same track we will be able to maximize our performance".
While his teammate, George Russell, who finished the race in twelfth position in France, states:
"I'm happy to drive to another track straight away after a good result in France. Austria always offers some good racing with three good straights and some very nice high speed corners at the end of the lap: even though it is a very short circuit it is fun to drive. Two races at the same circuit give the opportunity to try different set-ups between the two, and potentially understand the car further".
Roy Nissany, who will drive for George Russell in the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix, can't wait to start practice:
"I can't wait to get back in the car for the FP1 session of the Austrian Grand Prix. It's good to be back on 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".
Regarding the pit-stop directive issued by the FIA, and which will come into force between three Grands Prix, the opinions of the team representatives are conflicting. Helmut Marko, consultant at Red Bull Racing, says:
"Mercedes pushed because they wanted to steal the advantage we have during the pit stops. It will cost us up to four tenths. We have put seven years of work and training into the consistency and speed of our pit stops".
The idea is also shared by the sporting director of Alpine, Alan Permane:
"It's about time something happened, the rules require the man to give the orders. If you look at Red Bull's pit stops, some processes are below human reaction time".
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has another take on the matter:
"A month ago we asked the FIA for information about a safety mechanism that is linked to a system we are using and whether this could be optimised. Whether this triggered something else I don't know, but we have questioned the FIA on this matter. There must be a reason why the Federation has issued a new technical directive, but I'm not 100% sure. The operation of the wheel gun and the release of the car is a very complex matter. Competition is the basis of F1, but safety must not be forgotten. We have taken precautions as far as we are concerned because losing a wheel is enormous damage. To do this, however, we have accepted to be slower. In any case we are talking about an average slowdown of one or two tenths. However, it will be interesting to find out why the FIA decided to issue a new directive and on what basis".
On Friday 25 June 2021 the temperature in Zeltweg is 24 °C for the air and 33 °C for the asphalt. At the end of FP1, two cars powered by the Honda power unit were present to ask for the time classification. Max Verstappen precedes Pierre Gasly, and is the only one to record a time lower than the limit of 1'06"0. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas follow in third and fourth place. The Mercedes appear to be slower in the straight than the Red Bull Racing, as the Anglo-German team is correct to load more on the wings than the Anglo-Austrian team cars, which generate more load from the floor. Furthermore, the Honda power unit proves to be extremely competitive, as Yuki Tsunoda sets the fifth fastest time.
The two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr., the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo and the Red Bull Racing of Sergio Perez set slower times due to the work done in anticipation of the race, rather than in the qualifying simulation phase . During FP1, the times of Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Nikita Mazepin were canceled on two different occasions for having exceeded the limits at the exit of turn 9. On the other hand, eleven times were canceled for having exceeded the limits at the exit of the corner 10, and are those of Lando Norris (three times), Pierre Gasly, Lewis Hamilton (twice), Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Valtteri Bottas (once). The Mercedes team cars showed graining problems. The team principal of the Anglo-German team, Toto Wolff, dissatisfied with the times of the first free practice session, admits:
"We didn't have a great FP1. We still need to understand why we have graining problems and why we lose straight line speed. If you were to race today, it wouldn't be nice. It has been seven years since we had a real opponent and this is good, it is an experience that must make us grow and it is the reason why we play this sport. Now we are clearly at a disadvantage, but sometimes it's only by taking a hard blow that we manage to get back up".
Before the start of the second free practice session, the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit were replaced on Esteban Ocon's car, but the French driver will not suffer any type of penalty because the new components installed are among those replaceable within the pre-established maximum number. During the afternoon free practice session, the air temperature drops to 22 °C, while that of the asphalt rises and reaches 45 °C. The track can be traveled on with slick tires despite being wet from the rain. At the end of FP2 Max Verstappen is the fastest, as the time set by Lewis Hamilton is canceled after the Briton goes beyond the limits of the track. During the tests, it was noted that the Red Bull Racings were very competitive over a single lap, while the Mercedes expressed themselves better in terms of race pace. Valtteri Bottas' spin in the pit lane, at the time of his restart, did not cause any damage to the car. Max Verstappen ended practice in first position, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, with the Alpine. Lewis Hamilton is fourth, while Fernando Alonso is fifth, confirming the competitiveness of the French cars on this track. Pierre Gasly was unable to get on track, given that the AlphaTauri technicians decided to carry out an in-depth analysis of the power unit, as they detected anomalies. There are six times canceled for exceeding the limits in turn 9, and eleven for turn 10. In the first case, the times of Nikita Mazepin (three times), Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris (once) are cancelled. In the second case, the times canceled are those of Lando Norris (three times), Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda (twice), Antonio Giovinazzi, Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel (once). At the end of FP2, the gearbox was replaced on the cars of Pierre Gasly, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda, but no driver would suffer a penalty. The Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, is summoned by the marshals due to the accident that occurred in the pit lane during practice, in which he lost control of his car after leaving the pit stop area. After listening to the driver's opinion, the marshals decide to penalize him by three positions on the starting grid and to subtract two points from the superlicence for having caused a dangerous situation with personnel present near the accident. Before the call-up Valtteri Bottas had said about it:
"We tried something different for the pit exit, there were variables to what we normally do, and I spun. I'd be surprised if they penalized me, it's a normal mistake that happens, I think the stewards simply want to know what happened".
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl also expresses his opinion regarding the accident involving the Finnish driver in the pit lane:
"When you leave the pits with hard tires you have to be careful. Safety first. The pit lane is, to say the least, crowded with people who must necessarily occupy those positions in order to carry out their work. It was quite a scare, but it can happen. The only thing they could do then was help Bottas get back on track".
In the meantime, Lewis Hamilton talks about the tests that have just ended, proving to be satisfied with the improvements obtained between FP1 and FP2:
"We had tire degradation, but not like in FP1. Work always pays off and this shows that we are heading in the right direction. We have to continue like this, the driving sensations were good. The group is compact, with Red Bull having the advantage. We don't know what will happen when Red Bull starts exploiting the engine as well. I do not know what to say. I like the track a lot, but on the straights we lose. In any case, there are not four tenths of a gap between me and Verstappen, we are closer. Red Bull is delivering some well-aimed blows to us, but we have to keep our guard up".
Max Verstappen, although he set the first time in both practice sessions, remains realistic:
"In these FP2s, Hamilton went faster than me, but his lap was cancelled, so the situation is different from what it seems looking at the standings. With Hamilton the battle will be close, we will see the weather tomorrow. As always, there are some aspects that could be improved, but for the first day, the feeling is very good. I feel comfortable driving and I felt good in the car".
The Dutch driver also talks about the manoeuvrer that involved him gasping at Nicholas Latifi:
"Sometimes I really don't understand what's going on in people's heads at least they're not paying attention. Of course the engineer has to pay attention. But obviously there's a reason why one driver drives a Williams and the other a Red Bull".
Sergio Perez concluded the first day of practice by setting the thirteenth and ninth fastest time in the two practice sessions. Despite the unexciting performance, the Mexican driver is calm:
"The track conditions are good, the track improved from lap to lap, let's see what happens tonight in terms of weather. We need to optimize the set-up to solve the small problems I found, I lost direction and it wasn't the right one. But the pace is fine, we need a couple of tenths. There is potential to be found with trim-level adjustments. For our part, we need to do some fine-tuning because there's certainly more potential in the car and finding a few tenths here makes a big difference. I'm still learning the best set-up settings for the car and am as usual spending time with the engineers to get as much out of the car as possible. I think we have good pace and the pace looks promising. We'll get to work tonight to find that couple of tenths we're missing, then we should be fighting tomorrow and hopefully we can put together a good lap in Q3".
Daniel Ricciardo finished FP2 in second place:
"With an empty tank on the qualifying lap we go well while we still have to work a little with a full tank in view of the race. A good start, that's for sure".
As well as the Australian, Lando Norris is also confident:
"Today I saw several times canceled because I was looking for the limit. We've never ridden so much on Friday to prepare for the race and that's very positive".
As for the Alfa Romeo team, Antonio Giovinazzi says that the work done on the first day of testing was positive:
"I think today was a positive Friday, from the first lap of FP1 I was completely at ease with the car. I'm happy, but tomorrow won't be as easy as today, we have to keep pushing and every detail will count. It is good to remember that traffic will be important and it will be essential to be at the right place at the right time. I'm happy with the balance of the car, tomorrow I expect it won't be as easy as today, we have to keep working to have the same feeling as today".
The Italian driver is the subject of market rumors together with Mick Schumacher. In this regard, the team principal of Alfa Romeo Racing, Beat Zehnder, declares:
"We all know that our motoring partner would have the right to decide who to entrust a steering wheel to. It is also true, however, that in an Alfa Romeo, an Italian car, it makes sense to have an Italian driver. Anything could still happen this year, but Antonio is doing very well, demonstrating great strides forward also on a mental level. He has always been very good in qualifying and now he is proving to be an improved driver on Sunday too. I repeat, it is more logical to have an Italian rider in the team".
Fernando Alonso, happy with the work done with his team, said at the end of FP2:
"It was a quiet Friday for us today. We were all expecting a wet FP2 session, but the time remained dry; thus, we completed our normal schedule. The car was already feeling very good in FP1 and I think there is even more pace to extract, as we didn't put together the perfect lap. This gives me confidence in view of tomorrow's qualifying, let's hope we have a competitive weekend".
And Esteban Ocon is also satisfied:
"It was a busy Friday for us, with many parts of the program completed. Having both cars in the top ten is positive, but it's only Friday and we need to stay focused, continuing to work on the areas we can improve. All in all it was a productive day and we are looking forward to tomorrow. It's good to be third in the timesheets and to hear on the team radio, even for a brief moment: You're in P1… it was very nice. But I insist: it's only FP2, what matters is tomorrow".
Aston Martin is among the teams that have suffered the greatest setbacks from the technical regulations this year. For this reason, Sebastian Vettel is quite satisfied with the performance provided by his car:
"A good start to the weekend. The single lap performance is encouraging and usually in the race we are more competitive. We know where to work to be ready this time as well and set a good pace in the race. In the mountains, however, the weather can change from one moment to the next and we will have to pay attention to the weather. It would be nice to test the car's performance in the wet".
As well as his teammate, Lance Stroll:
"The car has been working well since the first lap and both sessions have been positive for us. We know where we can make some improvements, such as the balance in low-speed cornering. There has been a lot of talk about rain but today it was only lightly drizzling at times so that wasn't really a factor. I like to ride in wet conditions and he always shuffles the cards, so I won't complain if we have a little rain tomorrow or Sunday".
Pierre Gasly, as mentioned, did not take part in FP2. But that doesn't deter him:
"This morning was great, the pace and the performance of the car were really good and everything went well, the weekend started well. Unfortunately, the team spotted an anomaly on the PU and didn't want to take any chances, preferring instead to check the problem. It's a shame, because there were some things we wanted to try in the second session, but that's how things turned out in the end and we can only look forward. Yuki wasn't as comfortable with the car as he had been in the first session; therefore, we have to analyze all the data in view of tomorrow and try to put everything together to face qualifying in the best possible way".
Yuki Tsunoda says he would prefer qualifying in dry track conditions, as he doesn't have enough experience to race in wet conditions yet:
"I'm quite satisfied with today. In the first session we saw that we have pace in the short runs and I certainly managed to set some good times. However, during the long runs in FP2 I struggled a bit with the balance of the car, so it's something I'll have to work on tonight. It might rain tomorrow, but honestly I'd prefer it to stay dry because I don't have a lot of wet experience in F1 and it would be more complicated for me. If we're running in the dry, I'll just have to put it all together and build up my confidence during the session".
Carlos Sainz Jr. failed to enter the top ten in both free practice sessions. The Spanish rider, however, remains confident:
"It was a busy Friday. I say this not because I finished eleventh in both sessions, but because in general you lose some concentration on performance. We didn't look for the lap time but we tried to focus more on general understanding of the car, also because this is not an ideal set-up for qualifying, where we'll try to put together the lap anyway".
Charles Leclerc is also of the same opinion as his teammate, and explains:
"Compared to France, I think we'll be in better shape in the race even if you can never go too far given that last Friday we were also happy with what we gathered in free practice, only to then experience a difficult Sunday. In terms of race pace, we're pretty good, now we need to work on qualifying. I'm not afraid of the rain because in case it will be like this for everyone, the low temperatures could instead put us in difficulty. I hope the weather stays this warm".
On Saturday 26 June 2021 the air temperature is 20 °C, while that of the asphalt is 45 °C. Before the start of FP3, the MGU-K was replaced on Pierre Gasly's car, but the French driver will not suffer any type of penalty. On this occasion it was Lewis Hamilton who set the fastest time, ahead of Max Verstappen by 0.2 seconds. The Red Bull Racing driver, however, was unable to improve his performance due to the presence of traffic on the track. Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Pérez follow as Lando Norris' best performance is erased. The two AlphaTauri riders, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, follow in fifth and sixth place. During FP3 the times of Nikita Mazepin (twice), Kimi Räikkönen, Carlos Sainz Jr., Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher and Charles Leclerc (once) were canceled for having exceeded the track limits at the exit of turn 9. Instead, the times canceled for exceeding the limits at the exit of turn 10 are those of Nikita Mazepin (twice), Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher and Max Verstappen (once). Before the start of qualifying, the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, expresses his opinion regarding the penalty given to Valtteri Bottas:
"I think it's pretty tough, to be honest. Valtteri is a rider who never does anything risky. Not good for our race strategy. We're not changing our qualifying strategy for this penalty: we can't ask Lewis to slow down to give Valtteri a pole, so that he starts at least on the second row. Valtteri knows that he needs to be up front in order not to lose too many positions »and the FIA directives on pit stops which will be implemented in Baku. I think the pit stop just needs a strong regulatory package. Some teams and another team, that's what I heard from the FIA, are operating with less safety margins. And I think we don't want to end up seeing tires coming off the cars. It hasn't happened so far, but if it happens then we complain about it. In terms of pace, we had a different set up direction which seemed to work. Lewis adopted it yesterday, Valtteri this morning and it seems faster. We were ahead of Red Bull this morning but in general I like this fight between us. We have been winning for seven years, some have been hard on Ferrari. We managed to win and now we have a real fight".
At the start of Q1, the Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo Racing drivers alternate in the top positions of the standings. Shortly after, Lance Stroll sets the best time, but this was improved by the two AlphaTauri riders. However, Lando Norris was the first to drop below the limit of 1'05"0. This was before Max Verstappen crossed the line setting - in turn - the best time. The Mercedes drivers, who took to the track, set the second and fourth fastest times. The Alpine drivers try to get into Q2 with just one timed lap, but Esteban Ocon sets the twelfth fastest time, while Fernando Alonso is eighth. All the drivers, with the exception of the first four, decide to go down the track again, with three minutes left at the end of Q1. Fernando Alonso managed to stay in the top ten, as did Lance Stroll, while Charles Leclerc set the fifth fastest time, preceded in the standings by Yuki Tsunoda, fourth. Shortly afterwards, Sergio Pérez also managed to improve on the Monegasque's time and moved up to fifth position, while Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon, Kimi Räikkönen and the two Haas drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, were eliminated. Valtteri Bottas was the first to take to the track in Q2, setting a time of 1'04"724, but a few moments later Max Verstappen set a better time (1'04"540). Lewis Hamilton is only fourth, 0.9 seconds behind the Dutch Red Bull Racing driver. The two Mercedes pilots and Max Verstappen use Medium tyres, unlike all the other drivers who use Soft tyres. Subsequently, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton both set better times than those set at the beginning of the session, and Lance Stroll set the fourth fastest time. The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc, managed to set the fifth and sixth fastest times by exploiting the evolution of grip due to the rubber deposits on the asphalt. But for the same reason Pierre Gasly, with Soft tyres, takes advantage of the favorable conditions and sets the best time (1'04"429), while his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, sets the sixth fastest time. Lando Norris, is third Five minutes from the end of the second stage, Lewis Hamilton, still on Medium tyres, improved, moving into fifth position, just 0.083 seconds behind Pierre Gasly. Max Verstappen came out of the pits, surprisingly, on Soft tyres, but did not finish the timed lap. In extremis Charles Leclerc sets the eighth time, while Carlos Sainz Jr. fails to score enough time to enter the top ten. Something that George Russell manages to do instead. The exaltation for this result, however, lasts a few moments, as Fernando Alonso sets the ninth best time, excluding the British driver of Williams Racing from the top ten.Sebasian Vettel does not improve, who is eliminated together with George Russell, Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Antonio Giovinazzi. In Q3 the first to take to the track is Lewis Hamilton, who sets the reference time lapping in 1'04"205. Shortly afterwards all the drivers who are now in Q3 enter the track, with the exception of Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll, who they seem to limit themselves to making a single attempt. Max Verstappen records the best time, lapping in 1'03"841. Sergio Pérez is third, but moments later he loses the position to Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton, in an attempt to get close to the limit set by Max Verstappen, completes two consecutive timed laps, but remains 0.2 seconds behind the Dutchman. Subsequently all the drivers took to the track, including Lewis Hamilton, who made a third attempt.
The British Mercedes driver does not improve while Valtteri Bottas records the second time. Pierre Gasly sets the fourth fastest time, but shortly after he loses the position in favor of Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez. Max Verstappen takes his sixth pole position: the Red Bull Racing driver will start from the front row with Lewis Hamilton, due to the penalty that Valtteri Bottas will have to serve. There are three times canceled for riders for exceeding the track limits at the exit of turn 9, and four times canceled for exceeding the limits at the exit of turn 10, during qualifying. In the first case, the canceled times are those of Nikita Mazepin, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lewis Hamilton; in the second by Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel. At the end of qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix Yuki Tsunoda and Valtteri Bottas are summoned by the marshals as the Japanese driver hindered the Finnish driver during Q3. After listening to the riders' opinion, the marshals decided to penalize Yuki Tsunoda by moving him back three positions on the starting grid and subtracting one point from his superlicence. The Japanese driver will start from eleventh position on the starting grid. At the end of the tests, Max Verstappen is understandably happy with the result obtained, but warns the public, emphasizing that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton will not make it easier for him to win the race:
"Everything is going well. We are on our track and we want to prove that we are the strongest. I expect a very tight race, Mercedes never gives up. Obviously there are always things that can be done better, a car is never perfect. But today we showed that we have a very car and this is obviously very satisfying. All weekend the car responded as we wanted. However, I expect the battle to be very close in the race. On Sunday they are always a little more competitive and are very strong in managing the tires".
Sergio Perez will start from fifth position on the starting grid. The Mexican rider admits he is not satisfied, but he doesn't lose faith:
"I'm a bit disappointed with today's qualifying, especially Q1, because I think it really compromised our session. We had to use a second set of tires for the second lap because I wasn't totally happy with the balance. Then for my first lap in Q3 I was on used tires and it seemed to me that I did quite well. But when we switched to the new tyre, the lap was very complicated and I didn't improve as much as I hoped. We just need to analyse what happened on that first lap and start from there, especially as the margins are extremely tight here, even compared to the mid-field cars.We still have a very good strategy for tomorrow as we start on the softs.There's a long race ahead and still a lot to play for, so "I can't wait. I think we can have a good solid race. Congrats to Max too today, he did a great job".
In Lewis Hamilton's opinion, Red Bull Racing is the best car right now:
"They are faster than us in any case, both in the flying lap and in the long run. I read yesterday evening that they are about two and a half tenths faster than us in the race pace. I hope we'll be closer than that, but we'll find out tomorrow. We no longer lose three tenths on the straight like in France. I don't know how much we lose, but we still lose something. Right now I just want to enjoy the evening, gather my thoughts, and come back stronger tomorrow".
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, at the end of qualifying, admits that the final result is even better than expected:
"Overall, I think our qualifying result was probably better than we expected after practice. Valtteri made a great recovery after a difficult Friday and limited the damage well. He will start fifth and will be able to take advantage of the medium tire in the opening stint. Lewis put in a great lap and looking at the data, it's not clear where he could have made up more ground. Valtteri who did three laps in Q2, while Lewis did the same on the soft tire in Q3. This allowed us to squeeze everything out of the car and control the pace of our out-laps in the best way to manage the tyres. Both pilots will start with the averages. We have a fast car and a few different options on strategy. It will be an exciting afternoon and the weather could also play a role".
And Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner says he is flattered to get so much attention from rivals:
"It is normal that whoever is at the top is observed more carefully by everyone. I'm very happy that Max has a car that allows him to be effective in qualifying, Honda did a super job. It could rain tomorrow and the Mercedes will be difficult to beat in the race, we'll have to be careful and concentrated".
The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers will start from seventh and twelfth positions on the starting grid. Certainly not an exciting result. Indeed, the sporting director of the Maranello team, Laurent Mekies, admits:
"Qualifying more difficult than expected? Yes. Charles did what he could with his performance. For Carlos, on the other hand, it was an elimination for a few cents. This weekend we focused on race pace, this is the right year to do it. We'll see if tomorrow we can be more effective in the race than last week. We are not hiding from the fact that this is an 80% engine track. We've made progress on the engine, but we're not where we'd like to be. The key for us is to keep learning to be more solid".
And Charles Leclerc adds:
"I see the gap from Gasly and then I understand that we didn't have enough. I didn't make any mistakes on my lap, there wasn't enough potential to do better. Have we sacrificed qualifications? Yes, let's say we did a lot of race-runs yesterday, we put more work into the race simulation, and we hope it helps us understand the tire for tomorrow. Yesterday we were quite strong on pace, we hope to repeat his performance in the race. It will be difficult, it will be very difficult: the Red Bull Ring has three large straights where it's easy to overtake, but paradoxically we lose time with the DRS open, and so if we're on a train it's complicated. If I hope for rain? No, I would like to try to understand more about the car. I'd like a clean race that helps us get more data where we need it".
Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified twelfth. The Spanish rider is surprised by the extent of the delay he accused of his teammate in qualifying:
"After what we saw yesterday, I expected to struggle. Other teams are much more competitive than us, like McLaren AlphaTauri and Alpine too. There is half a tenth between me and Leclerc, I am surprised by the elimination. Tomorrow I hope to go forward and not backwards. Maybe it will rain, for this too - and for the deterioration of the tires - we decided to load the car a bit. With the other wing we wouldn't have been faster anyway. One wing does not change life. The gap between us and McLaren and AlphaTauri is very big".
In fact, the McLaren team will be able to start with an advantage thanks to Lando Norris's fourth place.
"In qualifying we're closer to the Mercedes and Red Bulls, but then the gap widens in the race. The goal is to be in the top five, even if anything can happen here between the weather and a possible Safety Car. Last year, for example, I took advantage of the five-second penalty inflicted on Hamilton, we'll see if tomorrow someone will pay five or ten seconds. On the eve of the weekend I would have voted for rain, but then we worked hard to find modifications to the car that proved to be effective. If it were to rain, we riders would certainly have fun, but I'd rather not at this point".
But the British team still cannot explain why Daniel Ricciardo will only start from thirteenth position. In this regard, the Australian driver says:
"I certainly didn't expect to be in this position after yesterday, we didn't have the perfect car, but the time has arrived anyway. Today I felt like I was pushing, but we were slower pretty much everywhere. We lost a lot of speed during the night. We were not only slow in qualifying but we were already slow this morning when we put the car out on track and we were quite off the pace. This is another session we need to think about, it's a bit strange. Yesterday was encouraging".
Pierre Gasly is undoubtedly happier, back from an excellent qualifying that will allow him to start from fifth position:
"I'm really satisfied with today. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy day after missing FP2 yesterday, but the car has been incredible all weekend and I was confident going into qualifying. I think we gave a good showing this afternoon, managing to get through Q2 on just one set of tyres. This is really good for us and we are just a few tenths off the front row. I'm really happy with all the work the team has done and the improvements we're continuing to make every weekend. It's an exciting moment for us and it shows that we just have to keep pushing".
Even his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, despite the penalty that will force him to start from eleventh position, is happy with the work done by his team:
"I think the car was good this weekend and I made a big step forward. I started qualifying with a more relaxed approach and then developed my lap as I went through each session. My final lap didn't it was perfect, but I'm happy to have reached Q3. It's a step in the right direction for me. Unfortunately, I'll start eleventh tomorrow, but dry weather is not guaranteed for the race. So we will plan a variety of situations tonight and we'll see what happens".
Sebastian Vettel failed to get into Q3. After qualifying, the German driver explains to the press:
"Today I struggled a bit to get the most out of the car. The failure to enter Q3 was no surprise. Still, it's a shame we didn't get through the cut. Race pace? We struggled a bit yesterday, but let's hope it's better now".
His teammate, Lance Stroll, instead entered Q3 and set the tenth fastest time, but will start in ninth position due to the penalty that Yuki Tsnunoda will have to serve:
"It's a good feeling to be back in Q3, especially when it happens after such a balanced qualifying it was fun and I think that tenth position - ninth after Tsunoda's penalty - was the best we could get today. It's been a quiet weekend so far. I felt really good straight away in the car and that gave me the confidence to push because the balance was constant in every session. We have shown competitive pace in the last two races, so I think we can fight for some good points tomorrow. Anything can happen especially in terms of weather".
Antonio Giovinazzi, disappointed by the result obtained, says at the end of the tests:
"We were quite confident today, so fifteenth position isn't what we expected. We had a really good Friday, but today the other teams seem to have found something more than us. I put together a good lap, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get into Q3. I'm still optimistic for tomorrow, but our race pace didn't seem bad yesterday and this is a track where overtaking is possible. We need to focus on the race and see what the weather will be like. We know we can get close to the top- 10 and fight for points".
Even his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, is certainly not happy with the result of qualifying:
"I wasn't able to do a single good lap and this is the final result it's not what we want, obviously, but it went. It won't be easy to start from where we are, but we'll see tomorrow what we can do".
Williams Racing's British driver, George Russell, is confident he can get his first points of his career, as he will start in tenth position due to the penalty that Yuki Tsnunoda will have to serve:
"The goal was to finish in the top ten, but we are happy to have come so close. The team is working to raise the race pace. It won't be easy to fight with Ricciardo, Sainz and Vettel, but we aim to bring home the first points of the season. We have found a set-up that could allow us to significantly improve the race pace. Tomorrow's race and the next ones will tell us if the changes made to the set-up of our single-seater are really effective. The points goal is within our reach. The feeling with the car makes me feel calmer ahead of the race and so far everything has gone in the right direction. At the Red Bull Ring it was our best FP1 and FP2 since the start of the season. We'll see if we can translate the good things done up to this point into a points finish. I repeat: the car looks very fit, we believe we can have a good race".
The French Alpine rider, Esteban Ocon, is dissatisfied with the work done so far in Austria:
"We are not happy today. Coming out of qualifying in Q1 is not where we should be. We need to regroup, keep analysing and understanding what's going on to improve our performance, because today wasn't enough. It's been a difficult weekend so far, but we gave it our all in both fastest laps. The lap time was not there and this is something we have to understand. Tomorrow we'll give it our all and see what we can do".
While his teammate, Fernando Alonso, who managed to enter Q3 for the third consecutive time, is satisfied with the behaviour of his car:
"I'm happy, it was a very stressful qualifying. Today in the morning we lost some competitiveness, then we had a car that was already out in Q1. But I'd say it was a very positive day. I'm still in Q3. We did a good job today, but the points are given tomorrow. Q2 was a good lap, I also enjoyed it because I feel much more comfortable in the car now than I do now. We did some experiments between FP3 and qualifying, we changed a few things on the car, making even more radical changes than you normally would. And I think they worked, given that we were struggling in FP3. Looking to tomorrow, we have rain forecasts, in case everything would change, but in the meantime, starting as far forward as possible is positive".
Sunday 27 June 2021 the sky above the Red Bull Ring is partly cloudy, while the air temperature is 26 °C and that of the asphalt is 54 °C. At the start of the Styrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen maintains the lead of the race, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, Sergio Pérez, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll. Charles Leclerc, in sixth position, touches the left rear tire of Pierre Gasly's car with his front wing. The Monegasque is forced to make a pit stop, and taking advantage of the situation, he mounts Hard tyres. Meanwhile Pierre Gasly, after having been the protagonist of a contact with Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo Racing at turn 3, was forced to retire. The standings remained unchanged until lap 10, when Sergio Pérez overtook Lando Norris. Meanwhile Max Verstappen increases his lead over Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Pérez pits on lap 27, followed by Valtteri Bottas. The pit stop carried out by the Red Bull Racing mechanics is very slow, so the Mexican driver returns to the track behind the Finnish driver. Lewis Hamilton pits on lap 28, while Max Verstappen waits for lap 29. During lap 31, Lando Norris returns to the pits, and his mechanics put on Hard tyres. This allows Carlos Sainz Jr. to move into fifth position. At the end of lap 40, Max Verstappen was 4.5 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton and 25 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who in turn managed a 2.7 second lead over Sergio Pérez. Followed by Carlos Sainz Jr., Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll. During lap 40 Charles Leclerc made a new tire change, and during lap 41 his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Daniel Ricciardo also pitted. In the following laps Carlos Sainz Jr. manages to quickly pass Lance Stroll, taking sixth place.
Meanwhile Max Verstappen further increases the lead over Lewis Hamilton, while Sergio Pérez makes a pit stop and puts on Soft tyres, both to try to score the fastest lap and to try to pass Valtteri Bottas. In the final laps Charles Leclerc is the author of an extraordinary comeback that allows him to close the race in seventh position, while Carlos Sainz Jr. manages to double against Lewis Hamilton. Consequently, the Anglo-German team also decides to call the World Champion back to the pits, to try to set the fastest lap and thus obtain the additional point. The Briton, after getting rid of the lapped drivers, sets the fastest lap at the end of the last lap. While Sergio Pérez approaches Valtteri Bottas, moving to less than a second from the Finn, but he is unable to overtake his rival. Max Verstappen wins the Styrian Grand Prix and takes his fourteenth career victory, thus increasing the margin of advantage in the standings over Lewis Hamilton, who finishes second. Valtteri Bottas finished the race in third position, followed by Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jr., Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda. There are four times canceled for riders during the race for exceeding the track limits at the exit of turn 9, and six times canceled for exceeding the limits at the exit of turn 10 during the race. In the first case, the times of Yuki Tsunoda (twice), Lewis Hamilton and Nikita Mazepin were cancelled; in the second case, the times of Charles Leclerc (twice), Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel were cancelled. Max Verstappen wins the Styrian Grand Prix, taking his second consecutive victory, the fourth this season. Immediately after the race, the Dutch driver talks about the sensations he experienced during the race:
"You never know, but right away I felt a good balance in the car. This was good for managing the tires from the start. In the end, I still had rubber left over. They entered the pits before us. We reacted, kept pushing and kept doing the times we set ourselves. Everything worked perfectly. Another race here? Yes this is good but we have to prove it again next week. We'll see what we can do better, we'll review, but I'm looking forward to next week. Builders? Yes, it's true, everything went well, but we have to keep pushing and we can continue to do a good job. The departure was the key moment, of course. But tire management also had its importance. The car went great with the tires in the race and this helped us a lot to keep the lead, given that Mercedes struggled more. I had a lot of fun driving in the race, I'm delighted with how it went, from start to finish. A Formula 1 race is never easy, sometimes there is a problem that emerges. It was easier here than in France for me, of course, but I want to be as consistent as possible and get the best apex every corner and also manage the tires well. You always have to be very focused".
"There is a continuous exchange of messages with the engineers. Can we beat Mercedes anywhere? I hope so. But very different tracks will come, let's wait and see. Every weekend we have to wait to understand what will happen. But we know we have a very fast car. If we find the right set-up, I'm confident I'll do a great job every weekend. This supremacy isn't much different than go karts, honestly. This is Formula 1, there is obviously much more fans, but the natural instinct is the same. I'm a better driver than I was 8-9 years ago, but I follow the same principles: you have to win when you have a good car and make as few mistakes as possible".
His teammate, Sergio Perez, on the other hand wasn't able to go beyond fourth place:
"Unfortunately today didn't go well, and it was a shame to lose the double podium. We just needed one more lap and we could have conquered it, that's all it would have taken. I think the soft tire was slightly worse than expected in this race and that hurt us towards the end of the first stint; we also had a slow stop, which had an impact on the race, as we gave the position to Bottas. The team tried something different with the two stop strategy but we were caught out by the traffic. That's the way it goes sometimes, we had to try something. I'm really happy for the team today because Max won, he did a great job and I know we have a strong package. I can't wait for next weekend where we will try to get on the podium again".
Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner recriminates for the mistake made in the pits during Sergio Perez's pit stop, but rejoices for the victory obtained with Max Verstappen:
"It's a pity about Perez's mistake at the pit stop. Max controlled the race like a charm, it was the Sunday we were strongest this season. Four consecutive victories are the result of a very positive start to the season, we need to continue this momentum by keeping our sails full and putting pressure on our opponents who are incredibly strong. To beat them we have to be perfect. In terms of shape and size they will be the same as now, but they will be more resistant. We will try them next weekend. All the teams will try them and we will get an idea next week. I'm sure Pirelli will have done their homework well and they will be fine. By now we know Toto, he usually tries to divert attention by turning the spotlight on other issues I can't believe that they will continue throughout the season without bringing a single new component to the car. It is a question of balancing efforts well between this year and the next, but if this means working a little more we are absolutely ready to face the required effort. The question is finding the right balance between marginal gains for this year and big strides for next year. But it's no different than it has been in the past. The big difference this season compared to the last ones is that we came out of the blocks in a very strong way. We are now optimizing the potential and tuning the car ever more effectively. We have to keep our heads down, turn the screw and stay focused. Next week we have yet another race here, but we already saw last year with the double races that things can change from one weekend to the next".
Lewis Hamilton has really been able to do little to contain the dominance of Max Verstappen's Red Bull Racing in this Grand Prix:
"My solitary race. I was trying to keep up with Red Bull, but they have incredible speed. They keep making improvements. Obviously they have done some in the last few races and at the moment it is impossible for us to keep up. I don't know where we continue to lose time, but they are better on long runs. They keep ringing fast laps one after the other and we lose a lot on the straight. There is work to do, but we still scored good points as a team".
"Championship? I try not to worry, but they are just faster right now. It's not like it can do much. I have to do the best possible job every weekend and we have to find performance. Bringing updates, I don't know where, on the rear wing or on the engine. It was a rather lonely Grand Prix. I saw Max from afar, I tried to answer the times he did, but he kept getting further and further away. However, we brought home good points for the team. We have limited the damage, of course, when you don't have speed you can't do more to stop them, it's impossible for us at the moment to keep up. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next races. I don't know if the inferiority of Mercedes is given by the engine: of course, we lose a lot on the straight, but I don't have a definitive answer. Strong is a matter of power, maybe it's the winger. They certainly have incredible speed, they keep improving and bringing updates. We have to try something ourselves. We will have the same car the same next week, so we will probably have the same result. On the other hand, we cannot improve the package in a few days. We'll just try to make some changes and see how it goes. It is obvious to all that that aileron flexes better than all the others. I know they've been working on it for a long time, which we, for example, haven't. If we don't intend to develop and improve our car for the rest of the year we cannot expect different results from those obtained so far. I know that a new directive from the federation to regulate the spoilers is in the pipeline. I have no idea what it is, maybe there will be limitations on the curvature of the wings. In any case, it could be a measure that will level the balance of power on the track".
However, according to the opinion of the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, it makes no sense to develop the W12, as this could subtract time and money from the development of the W13 which will debut - with the new technical rules - in 2022:
"Developing the Mercedes W12 aerodynamically is not a rational move. Red Bull brings truckloads of material on Thursdays and Fridays, it's their choice and it's paying off because today it was in a different category in terms of race pace. It is a difficult decision because next year's car is also fundamental for the following seasons and the regulation is completely different from the current one. You have to choose the right balance bearing in mind that practically all the teams are working 100% on the project for next season. Dedicating a month or two to work on the current car would not have the benefits that dedicating it to next season's will have. The championship is far from over, sooner or later even Red Bull will stop bringing new things by focusing 100% on 2022. Today we conceded the 2-0 goal. But we come back and we want to fight. The season isn't over. But you see that their car and their engine are faster than ours. Verstappen as a striker always scores? Yes. Their development of the car is seen to be better than ours. Today we see that their car goes fast. The whole package. Straight, aerodynamics… it's very easy for him (Verstappen) to set times. Today there were no chances. Normally we don't want things that we can't predict. This year, however, we accept everything that comes and which represents a bit of a lottery, because it can help us. They have a new engine and it is clearly going strong. He is also seen with Gasly and Tsunoda. Regarding that there is a regulation that says that it cannot be developed. You can only do things for reliability. Normally, however, there shouldn't be more power".
But Christian Horner doesn't fit, and he replies to the Austrian manager:
"We have a new oil from ExxonMobil, so I think they should take all the credit for the remarks Lewis made about the engines, the engines are homologated, they are the same specs. It is unusual for Mercedes to have had to change the power unit so early in the year as they have done, they seem to have more degradation this year than in previous years. But as I said, all we can do is focus on our work. Today was another great performance from Honda. We took our tenth win with Honda in less than three years. So so far everything is fine".
Valteri Bottas managed to contain Sergio Perez's attacks and finish the race in third place:
"Considering where I started from, I think we maximized our potential for the race: starting from fifth place and finishing on the podium was a decent result. There wasn't much left in my tires in the end, today it felt like I was rallying in Lapland more than in Formula 1. The Red Bulls seem two tenths faster than us on every lap at the moment, which is a lot. We managed to beat Perez today, which was good, but we need to improve the car to compete for the win. We have to accept the fact that they are ahead at the moment and use that as a motivation. It has been a pretty clean weekend for me, apart from the penalty, the second position in qualifying and the podium are positive and I am looking forward to next week. Considering where I started from this was the best possible result today. It was important to be able to stay ahead of a Red Bull and limit the damage in the constructors' championship. We hope to be better next week. I didn't have much margin on Perez, they played their best card and it almost worked. But I'm happy, it's been a while since I got on the podium, that's okay. Better next? Yes, without penalties and doing better in qualifying we can try".
Even Mercedes technical director Andrew Shovlin admits:
"Valtteri played the advantage of the tires well in the first stint and seemed ready to pass Sergio on track, but he came back before losing his position. We were planning to go long, but then their pit stop problem created the opportunity to gain position on that lap. Later in the race we were thinking about making two stops, but the situation wasn't clear. We didn't want to risk losing the podium, so we stayed on the single stop. The end of the race was a bit tense. However, our instruments had understood that Sergio would have caught Valtteri on the last lap, but he would not have had time to pass".
As for the challenge for third place in the Constructors' World Championship, although Lando Norris managed to score ten points, the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers totalled fourteen points.
"I really couldn't ask for more today. Races like this show how important it is to do well in qualifying. We are getting the most out of the car and in the race we always try to push ourselves to the limit. I hope I can be even more competitive next weekend. Days like Sunday are very good. I got many and so did the team. Ferrari narrowly beat us, but we couldn't do much better. I have to be satisfied with what I did. I haven't made any mistakes, I haven't done anything that has cost us time, and on days like Sunday, even if you always want to do better, you have to be satisfied with it. Ferrari has its ups and downs, but it has no problems in every race. Paul Ricard was particularly bad, but many circuits are more suited to Ferrari than to us. It still struggles on the straights, but is among the best in the corners, close to Mercedes and Red Bull in many corners. It's our big threat right now. We are still working hard, that's why we don't take anything for granted at the moment. And we have to keep working hard and improve the car, because once Ferrari gets everything right on a car level they can easily be ahead of us. As soon as he solves his problems in the race, he will fly".
On the other hand, the performance of Daniel Ricciardo was lacking, as he was unable to recover from the initial thirteenth position:
"It was a really unfortunate race. From thirteenth position I had climbed up to eighth. The first lap was fantastic, at the beginning of the race I was able to overtake many faster rival riders, but at a certain point I felt a drop in power and was unable to recover. It's a shame, because with the same strategy as Sainz I could have finished sixth. It was a weekend that started badly and ended even worse".
The difference in performance provided by the two McLaren drivers is very clear. In this regard, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl comments:
"Daniel had a power unit problem in the early stages of the Styrian Grand Prix. We need to investigate this in detail with our colleagues at Mercedes. As far as I understand, he has nothing to do with temperatures. Of course he was very disappointed not to have been able to continue the growing trend of the last few races. Like us, he didn't expect to have to struggle so much in qualifying. Racing on the same track again is perfect for the learning process of him but certainly in the fight we are engaged in we need points from both cars".
As mentioned, Scuderia Ferrari managed to score eight points thanks to Carlos Sainz Jr.'s sixth place, and six points thanks to Charles Leclerc's seventh place. Team principal Mattia Binotto is satisfied with the work done, especially if he thinks back to the result obtained a week earlier in France:
"Today we showed good race pace. For Charles, it's a pity about the accident on the first lap. He happens. It was a racing accident. Finally he got back up doing all the overtaking he did and it's a good sign. I think the weekend went well, a non-perfect qualifying remains in the balance sheet. Going ahead would allow us a better result. We have a few days to take stock of the weekend and figure out how to prepare for the upcoming weekend. I'm very happy with how the team reacted after France, always without ever disuniting, working and trying to figure out how to approach this weekend which could offer pitfalls for tire wear. The choices we made today proved to be correct for the pace of the race, a little more difficult for qualifying, but we are satisfied. I think Norris is an achievable target for us next week, even if every race is different and can change. Our race pace was clearly superior to that of the teams we are battling with and for this I am sorry to have recovered only four points. How important is it for us to score points at McLaren? It is not. As I said at the start of the season, our main focus is to make sure we progress for next year and the seasons to come. We have to make sure we do better in every single area. We have to learn from mistakes, like in France for example. For us, third position is a goal, but not the main one. The main one is that, as a team, we are improving and are competitive for the future. So it's a good thing to have earned some points in the constructors' championship. But that shouldn't be our main focus this season. If today we had been in France? In hindsight, even at Paul Ricard we could have made different choices. The situation could change, but not drastically. We will have the counter-proof, the litmus test, at Silverstone. There we will again face a medium-high speed track, with a lot of energy demanded from the front tyres. We will prepare ourselves better than in France".
Carlos Sainz Jr. He was the author of a comeback race, from twelfth to sixth position:
"Starting twelfth and finishing sixth is what I wanted for breakfast this morning. I wanted to finish top six. It was a good race, today the pace of the car was very good. We managed to overtake and overcut many riders in the middle of the group on the track. Today the tires performed well. At this circuit - we don't know why - it's much better than at Paul Ricard. We have to find something in qualifying because we start too far back. I'd like to start later to put more pressure on McLaren in the race: today we had more pace than them. I didn't want to do anything stupid, I didn't want to ruin my race and at the same time I didn't want to ruin Lewis' title race either. But I was realizing that it would become increasingly difficult to catch Lando if I stayed behind him. So together with the team we found a way to talk to Mercedes. I doubled up with the DRS and was able to resume the pursuit of Norris even if, after spending fifteen laps behind Lewis, I had damaged the front tires and there was little time to recover".
Despite the mistake made at the start of the race, Charles Leclerc still managed to finish the race in seventh position:
"It was one of my best races in my career, it's a real shame it's only worth a seventh place. I would have liked to fight more at the top, but the contact at the start made the race go uphill. I have bittersweet feelings right now. In any case, I had a lot of fun making several overtakes and the pace we maintained in the race was incredible. The car today was a great car. It was a very positive day. Excluding what happened on the first lap, we did our best. In terms of race pace, the team did a great job, it went even better than expected. Now we will analyze everything well to maintain this level of performance in the future as well. I seized all the opportunities, I made aggressive overtakings, but they always went well".
Yuki Tsunoda managed to score a point thanks to his tenth position:
"Compared to last week it's a good step forward and I'm happy to have finished in the points today. I want to thank the team because we've worked very well in recent weeks: being in the top ten today is really positive. I think there was the potential to also finish in P8 or P9, but we need to analyze everything a bit and work hard for next week. I think this has been my most consistent weekend so far and I have to say that overall I am satisfied. It was a real shame for Pierre today, but the car has pace and, therefore, we just need to put everything together for the next race. Now I have some interesting activities planned together with AlphaTauri and Red Bull, after that we will start preparing for the second race here in Austria".
While Pierre Gasly, speaking of the incident that saw him involved with Charles Leclerc, regretfully admits:
"Honestly, I don't think there's much to say. When the accident happened I was in the middle of the straight; therefore, I don't think I could have done anything. Up until then it had been a fantastic weekend. Of course I'm extremely sorry not to having taken part in the race, I think we had a great points-scoring package at our disposal. It's really frustrating because we are in full battle for the constructors' championship, but for the moment we remain fifth and it's good for the team".
And regarding the accident that excluded him from the race, he adds:
"It doesn't matter if I made a mistake or he did. We both went out and for me this is the most painful thing. After a weekend like this, being out after a corner is really extremely disappointing. He touched the left rear and the tire blew. It didn't even feel like I made a contact, but unfortunately that cost us the race. Clarify? No, nothing changes in the end. I won't score any points today and for me that's the most disappointing thing, because obviously in a championship you never want to retire. What happens after the race doesn't matter anymore".
Even the technical director of AphaTauri, Jody Egginton, is sorry for what happened in the first laps of the Styrian Grand Prix:
"Clearly, we are disappointed not to cross the finish line with both cars, following the puncture and damage to the rear suspension on Pierre's car. But we still managed to score points with Yuki. We have thus limited the points lost to other teams for the championship to a certain extent. At the same time, we hoped we could score a lot more points, given our positions on the starting grid. The pace shown here was consistent and competitive throughout the sessions. So, looking forward to next weekend's race, the goal remains to secure good starting positions and then score points with both cars".
Esteban Ocon was unable to finish the race in the top ten, but he is still confident he can do a good race at the Austrian Grand Prix, which will always be held at the Red Bull Ring circuit:
"It was a tough weekend. Today we were in a difficult position from the start and it would have been difficult to come back. We were unable to follow the group ahead where there were some battles, with possible opportunities to be seized. We are racing again in Austria next week and will try a few different things to find solutions. We have a few directions to choose from and I'm already looking forward to next weekend".
Instead, it went better for Fernando Alonso, who with his ninth place earned two valuable points for the Alpine team:
"I don't think we could have done much more than ninth today, but it's nice to get a few more points for the team. We had a good start, battling with two-three cars on the first lap. After the first pit stop we were just behind Lance Stroll in eighth position and battled with him for the rest of the race. In the end, the Ferraris with fresh tires were too fast for us. We race here again next week, analyse everything and try to optimize the car for the weekend".
George Russell, once again, failed to score the first points of his career due to a power unit malfunction, which forced him to retire on lap 36, when he was eighth. The British driver, however, is keen to point out that:
"No need to apologize, we are in this together. We'll come back again next week, and get those points next week".
George Russell once again amazed everyone. Except Fernando Alonso who, speaking of the British driver's performance, says:
"Williams were very quick from Friday and at this circuit they achieved an eleventh place last year with Nicholas Latifi. So it is possible that they are particularly fast at the Red Bull Ring, I expected a good race from them. Unfortunately, George had to retire, but next weekend I expect Williams to be very close to us again and to be able to do well again. I don't think Austria is our best circuit. Unfortunately, we have to go racing here again and limit the damage in terms of points. We did it very well in the first race, because we brought home one more than AlphaTauri and two less than Aston Martin. The second race will represent another challenging weekend and we will try to do better, but it will be difficult".
The possible passage of George Russell from Williams to Mercedes is a very recurring theme within the Circus. Williams Racing team principal, Jost Capito, expressing himself in this regard, says:
"George's contract ends at the end of the year, he is free at the end of the season. I think he likes staying at Williams at the moment. He likes working with us. He sees where the team is going. He sees the changes we are making, the approach we are taking. Of course, if he had the option to ride in a Mercedes, he'd be stupid not to. But if he doesn't get that chance, I think he'd be quite happy to stay at Williams. This is all we can hope for. We are certainly not at the mercy of anyone. Every time a rider's contract ends he can renew or leave, that's normal. We must have a backup plan, there is a possibility that Mercedes will make an offer. But I don't see the need to act before Mercedes has decided what to do".
Unfortunately, Nicholas Latifi is not surprising, as he finished the race in seventeenth position:
"I had a good start and made up one position, I think, but then I got trapped on the outside of the first corner. When the cars in front of me (Gasly and Giovinazzi, ed) made contact, I was rear-ended. This caused me to puncture and stop on the first lap. Practically after a few corners I was already lapped. Since then I have been stuck in a blue flag sequence and therefore it has been difficult to do any overtaking. We will try again next weekend, and hopefully have a better race".
George Russell's retirement also favoured the comeback of Lance Stroll, who managed to score four very important points for the Aston Martin team:
"We were in the top ten throughout the race, and it was exciting to be in battle from the first lap to the end. We made a good start, I was in the group with Alonso, Leclerc and Gasly. The contact between them helped us to gain some positions, and I was able to pass Fernando to gain sixth position. We were all there in the race, it was a fun battle. We tried to keep Sainz and Leclerc at bay, but in the final stages they had a strong pace and a tire advantage. So eighth place is a good result and we can be happy with a positive weekend right from the first lap on Friday. We race here again next weekend, we'll try to figure out where we can earn to be even stronger next weekend".
For Sebastian Vettel, however, the Styrian Grand Prix was not as productive:
"It was a difficult race today. The scrum pack was very tight and we were in a fight for points for most of the race. However, we had a lot of time in traffic and towards the end I struggled with grip. When everyone is so close, these factors can really affect your race and the final result. It's always very easy to say we should have done things differently in hindsight, but we are focused to get back on track stronger next weekend".
Antonio Giovinazzi was involved in a spin during the first lap and was forced to recover positions from the back of the group. However, the Italian driver was unable to go beyond fifteenth place:
"When you get spun on the first lap and you have to recover from last position, it will always be a difficult race. I had to push a lot at the beginning to reach the group and this compromised us further. We tried to recover with an undercut putting on hard tyres, but this left me exposed at the end of the race when I had no more tyres. Despite this, the race pace wasn't bad, as Kimi showed by finishing 11th. If we have a good qualifying next week and stay out of trouble at the first corner, we can hope to have a better result and bring home points".
While his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, managed to climb from eighteenth position to eleventh. At the end of the race, the Finnish pilot swears that with a few more laps available, he would have managed to bring his Alfa Romeo Racing into the top ten at the finish line:
"Ten more laps and we could probably have scored some good points, but unfortunately that wasn't the case we did the best we could today and achieved the best possible result compared to where we started. The strategy was right, we had good pace and the car felt good. I had a good start, some good fights and passed several cars. In the end we just missed the points. We will try to have a better Saturday next week and give ourselves a better chance for the race".
Mick Schumacher, at the centre of the debate due to the position of his seat, rather than for his performance, said at the end of the race:
"There was a bit of confusion at the start and I tried to stay out of it so as not to jeopardize the race right away. Overall I think we can be satisfied. What we have to do now is analyse the race and figure out which aspects we can improve on".
Nikita Mazepin, on the other hand, is satisfied with his performance, despite the lack of competitiveness of his Haas relegating him back to last place:
"I think I had a great opening lap. [Throughout the race] we did our best, but there wasn't enough pace to fight with the other teams today. I'm satisfied with myself because this time I didn't make any big mistakes. I think I did the best".
Haas team principal, Guenther Steiner, speaking of the race of his drivers, says:
"At the signal from the blue flags Nikita had to give way to the faster riders and moving to areas of the track with no rubber, in such a short track, means getting the tires dirty with no possibility of recovering the right pace. I'm glad that when the fight between Mazepin and Schumacher occurred, the battle was heated, but fair. The boys battled but respecting each other and this is a very positive sign because the harmony of the team comes first. Mick managed to keep a very good pace in the final part of the race, we need to understand where this extra speed came from to put it to good use in the next race".
Thus concludes the eighth race of the Formula 1 World Championship of the 2021 season. Max Verstappen has once again obtained a victory, thanks also to the clear superiority of Red Bull Racing - on the Austrian circuit of the Red Bull Ring - compared to Mercedes, which suffer due to the regulatory change, which eliminated part of the aerodynamic load that the car had until last year. Furthermore, the decision not to develop the car, concentrating on the design of the W13, which will compete in the 2022 World Championship, exacerbates the difficulties of the Anglo-German team, which is forced to chase Red Bull Racing in the Constructors' World Championship, which at the top of the standings with 252 points, compared to 212 for the World Champion team. As for the fight for third place, Scuderia Ferrari recovers four points and reaches 108, against the 120 points of the McLaren team. But the challenge that most interests the public, of course, is the one involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton for first place in the World Drivers' Championship, where the Dutchman leads with 156 points, against 138 for his rival. And in seven days we'll be back racing on the same circuit that saw Red Bull Racing triumph. What will change in such a short time?