And we’re back…
After a long time without posting anything, I felt the need to bring this blog back from the ashes to provide my thoughts and opinions on the state of Formula 1.
For new readers, I’ve been a Formula 1 fan for over 25 years. The sport has fascinated me with the technology and the racing over these years and it is the sport I feel most passionately about (as people who know me will attest). I love watching F1, reading about F1, talking about F1. Whether it’s all the goings on in 2016, or reading about those heroes lost from the early days.
As I slowly bring this blog back to regular postings from my viewpoint as a fan, I will start with my thoughts on the Spanish GP.
What a Spanish GP that was, and one that will go down in history with Max Verstappen taking the accolade of being the youngest ever Grand Prix winner.
10 days after being confirmed as a Red Bull Racing driver following the swap between him and Daniil Kvyat, he is now a race winner, which I find to be an unbelievable result. First race weekend in the car, first race with the new team, including new engineers to work with, and the 18 year old kept his calm with a World Champion behind him to take the win.
Max wasn’t the only story from the race, so here is my round up of what I observed from the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix
The race started off in dramatic fashion at on the run down between Turns 3 & 4 with the crash involving the 2 Mercedes. I must admit I was looking further down the field and only caught the incident from when Lewis was on the grass.
Having seen the replay on multiple occasions and seen and heard the analysis of the incident, like the stewards, I am under the view that it was a 50/50. Even before hearing about Rosberg being in the incorrect engine mode, to me it looked like he was making his usual aggressive defensive move (as we’ve seen him to previously at Bahrain on the run up to Turn 4 in 2012) and Lewis went for a gap that was ever closing, so to see the, crash in that way was an inevitable conclusion.
What was telling is that after seeing the stewards, both drivers appeared to be reserved in their interviews. Lewis seemed to accept it was his mistake but did point out the 17kph speed difference between the two cars, whereas Rosberg kept pointing out how he’d accept the stewards decision. In my view, it appeared that he was trying not to blame Lewis, but that is what he felt.
Carlos earned his career best F1 finish on Sunday, and went largely unnoticed because of the exploits of his former team mate. I think Carlos had acquitted himself well against Max, so it must be difficult to see him being promoted to Red Bull while he has to continue to ply his trade in the junior team for the time being.
The 6th place finish from the 8th place start may not seem like much to shout about, but what was largely missed on lap 1 (because of the Mercedes incident) was how Carlos got himself ahead of both Ferrari’s and into 3rd place.
I’ve re-watched the start since, and it looked like Carlos got ahead of the Williams of Bottas at Turn 1, and ended up going around the outside of Vettel at Turn 4.
Carlos has kept his head down at Toro Rosso and got on with it, while all the attention has been on Max Verstappen. With Max now at Red Bull and Carlos having Daniil Kvyat to measure himself against, I am hoping he can continue his good form and show the paddock how good he is.
What to say about Ferrari… A race win which was in their hands, but they couldn’t take the advantage following the Mercedes incident. Was it another strategy mistake?
Raikkonen came within 0.6s of Verstappen, but couldn’t get close enough to attempt an overtake. Whereas Vettel seemed to run an odd strategy. A 7 lap soft tyre 3rd stint seemed an odd call. Vettel was much quicker than Raikkonen & Verstappen during that stint, but to cut that short and then having to run 29 laps on the medium? That seemed a strange decision to me.
Looking at the lap times for Vettel’s final stint (minus the out lap) he averaged 1:29.682 over those 28 laps. By contrast, Verstappen’s 31 lap final stint (again, minus the out lap from his final stop) averaged a 1:29.735 (Raikkonen’s 30 lap final stint average 1:29.655)
Verstappen and Raikkonen were trying to make their tyres last to the end. Vettel with his fresher tyres only got the gap to Raikkonen below 5s for one lap. Whether this strategy would have been better off with a longer 3rd stint on the soft tyre and then a final stint on the soft tyre, we’ll never know. It just seemed a strange decision for that type of 3-stop race and maybe another race where Ferrari threw it away with a mistake on the strategy.
So that’s the Spanish GP, with a few of my thoughts from the race.
I have one last thought on Max Verstappen… an 18 year old Grand Prix winner, now racing in one of the top teams. If he can continue his rate of progress, Sunday 15th May 2016 may just have been the start of the records he will break
Feel free to share, comment and let me know your thoughts as I’ll aim to be posting more in future