Updated: Aug 4, 2020
As Formula One held its second consecutive race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend, Mercedes continued from where they had left off last weekend.
Mercedes dominated the Grand Prix of Steiermark, with Lewis Hamilton mastering the wet conditions in qualifying and Red Bull not having the pace to challenge for the race victory.
It was Hamilton’s weekend. There were no grid penalties or time penalties to deal with, allowing the six-time world champion to cement his place at the front of the pack.
Meanwhile, at Ferrari, things have gone from bad to worse.
The Scuderia were off the pace again this weekend, with the upgrades brought forward to this race clearly not working.
Yes, it was wet in qualifying, but you still don’t expect a Ferrari to be eliminated in Q2, with Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap only 0.008 seconds quicker than George Russell’s Williams.
It was in the race itself though that Ferrari hit rock bottom.
As the field headed up to turn 3 on the first lap, they were running three wide in places. Charles
Leclerc made it four wide when he tried to take the inside line, to move into a gap that didn’t exist.
Leclerc went up over the inside kerb and into his teammate’s rear wing. Vettel was out with rear wing damage that wasn’t a quick fix and Leclerc himself was retired not long after with floor damage.
The incident brings back memories of the Brazilian Grand Prix last year when Leclerc and Vettel collided with each other and the post-race debrief will be just as tense this time around.
Even if the two Ferrari drivers hadn’t come together on the opening lap, things still weren’t ideal.
With Vettel starting tenth and Leclerc starting fourteenth, there was the busy midfield pack to contend with. Chances of a podium were slim what with Mercedes set for both cars on the podium and Red Bulls that could manage to fend off the advancing Ferraris.
As Ferrari’s team principal, Mattia Binotto says, “It’s not good enough for a team by the name of Ferrari.”
Here’s hoping for the sake of the sport in general that the only way is up for Ferrari from now on. This is by no means a quick fix though, especially when the root of the problem appears to be the power unit itself.
With Ferrari still going nowhere and Red Bull unable to keep pace with the Mercedes, the champions are firmly the top dogs.
Apart from some issues with gearbox sensors last weekend, Mercedes haven’t put a foot wrong. If the current situation doesn’t change, there’ll be more 1-2 finishes to come.
You have got to applaud Mercedes for continuing to innovate and make their car better than what has gone before. The champions are never complacent.
Red Bull did perform better this weekend and did have a solid points finish with Max Verstappen rounding off the podium in third and Alexander Albon finishing fourth.
All the drama with Ferrari and Red Bull has left McLaren sitting second in the constructors’ championship.
Lando Norris put in another great drive today, seizing the opportunities that were presented to him.
First, Norris took advantage of the clash between Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo as the Canadian made a diving move up the inside of turn 3, to make up two positions. With Sergio Perez driving slowly on the last lap with a damaged front wing from contact made while battling with Alexander Albon, Norris stole fifth place from the Mexican on the final corner.
Both Racing Point drivers should be commended for making their way up through the field after a difficult qualifying. All that needs to happen to make things even better is for them is if both cars have a clean weekend. Then, more big points scores will be on the cards.
After all, the Racing Points are still showing the pace in Friday practice. Things just aren’t quite coming together for them when it really matters. That’s just the luck of the draw sometimes.
Formula One’s stay at the Red Bull Ring has finally come to an end. We can look back on some
F1 returns next weekend at the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix where these intriguing talking points will continue to develop.