F1: Talking Points ahead of the Styrian GP
Formula One returned with a bang as fans were treated to great opening race round Austria. The second race, which is called the Styrian GP, will also take place round the Red Bull Ring.
7th July 2020
There are numerous topics which are constantly being talked about ahead of this weekend's race. Here are a few of them explained in greater detail.
Ferrari to bring forward planned upgrades
Charles Leclerc saved Ferrari from an absolutely dismal weekend by dragging his SF1000 to second place on the podium. It was an "unexpected" podium finish given how both drivers fared in Qualifying, Leclerc in 7th while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was knocked-out on raw pace in Q2 and started 11th. Leclerc described the race as one of his best in his short career so far but admitted he wouldn't have reached the podium if it wasn't for the amount of Safety Cars, crashes and penalities.
Ferrari confirmed after Pre-Season Testing that they would not be competitive in both races round the Red Bull Ring with the team working hard to fix the issue they found with the car. Initially, planned upgrades were to be on the car for Hungary but it has been brought forward to this weekend's race.
The Scuderia hope to bring some or all of the aerodynamic package that was scheduled for Hungary for the second race in Austria.
Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri said: "We know there’s lots of work to do. This is certainly not the grid position that a team like Ferrari should have and we have to respond immediately. It’s clear that we have to improve on all fronts. The only solution is to react and I’m pleased by the immediate reaction and the work that Mattia and all his team are putting in at every level."
Mercedes searching to fix gearbox issues
It was a comfortable one-two as Valterri Bottas led Lewis Hamilton on Sunday until both drivers encountered gearbox problems. This resulted in radio calls to both drivers to stay off of the Red Bull Ring's tricky kerbs as Mercedes classed the issue as "critical".
The reigning champions anticipated the problems ahead of the race as they had dealt with a similar issue on Bottas's car at the end of FP2. Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin described the issue as "electrical noise." He also added it was a combination of other factors, such as, the kerbs, the high altitude of the circuit and the warm weather which caused problem to become "critical."
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said: "We have a great group around [trackside engineer] Simon Cole on trackside reliability and he and his team are going to solve that problem for this week."
Can Williams get into Q2?
"Today has exceeded my expectations. We have made a big step forward." That's what George Russell said after he managed to qualify a brilliant 17th place for the Grove based team.
He qualified ahead of both Alfa Romeo's, only +0.003s behind Kevin Magnussen's Haas in 16th and only +0.073s from making it into the second part of Qualifying.
It was an impressive result by the 2018 F2 Champion who showed how far Williams have progressed since last season. The gap to Q2 in 2019 was over a second while it was less than a tenth on Saturday with the pace overall being improved by seven tenths.
While being forced to retire on Lap 49 after losing fuel pressure, it was a great weekend for Russell. Progressing out of Q1 and into Q2 is a realistic target for Williams this season having not been able to do so in 2019.
How will different strategies play out?
In Qualifying, Max Verstappen and Red Bull rolled the dice and decided to set his quickest lap time in Q2 on the Medium tyre. This would mean that the Dutchman would start the race on the Medium tyre while everyone else in the top 10 started on the Soft tyre giving the Red Bull driver an advantage. However, Verstappen's race came to a premature end on Lap 11.
The other drivers, starting from 11th to 20th, all started on the Medium tyre and it would have been interesting to have seen how far this compound of tyre would have gone in the race. The race was interrupted by numerous Safety Cars which meant driver's original strategies couldn't have worked out to what they intended to do.
This weekend's race could be different or it could be the exactly the same with the high attrition rate among the teams. Keep an eye out for what the teams and drivers decide to do on Saturday during Qualifying.