Jumping into the post-Austrian GP analysis where the Red Bull Ring scored a low pass mark.
Getting A Jump On
The naked eye suggested Valtteri Bottas was a bit too quick out of the blocks at Spielberg, but his reaction time was 0.2s while Sebastian Vettel, he who was first to scream blue murder after the start, took 0.369s to get going. Not much in it and it was an easy decision for the stewards to make after they checked the data, but it took them 26 laps to finally make up their minds. Their reaction time is not good enough, unfortunately.
Bottas went on to claim his second race victory and it came in similar fashion to his maiden GP win in Russia earlier this year: holding off the charging Ferrari of Vettel. At Sochi the winning margin was a mere 0.617s and in Austria it was 0.658s. Mercedes will be delighted that they not only have a driver who can win when things are all running smoothly, but someone who can hold on when the going gets tough.
Is It Now A Three-Horse Race?
Bottas’ Austrian GP win means Vettel has a 20-point lead over Hamilton instead of 25 points. The Finn also considers himself to be part of the battle for the Championship as he is 35 points behind the German.
However, if Mercedes decide not to put all their eggs in one basket, like Ferrari have clearly done with Vettel, then it could cost them the title.
It is shaping up to be a close battle for the Drivers’ Championship and McLaren 2007 comes to mind when teams decide to back both drivers until the end and you end up losing the title by the narrowest of margins. Sure, as fans we want to see wheel-to-wheel action, but teams are unlikely to take such risks when a title is on the line.
Another Low Pass Mark For Austria
On the back of a breath-taking Azerbaijan Grand Prix a fortnight ago and a thrilling 2016 Austrian GP, the pressure was on Spielberg to deliver and, sadly, the race failed to come to the party.
Both Baku 2017 and Austria 2016 were exciting because of human-errors, but besides Daniil Kvyat’s misdemeanour on the opening lap, everyone played it safe and it made for a pretty boring race.
With Turn 3/4 providing the only real overtaking opportunities on the track, it was always going to be a tough ask and that’s why we need moments of madness like the one Vettel gave us in Eastern Europe.
Quietly Efficient Haas
Haas F1 finished their debut season in 2016 with 29 points, but they have already reached that total and we are not even halfway through the 2017 campaign.
After Kevin Magnussen claimed P7 in Baku thanks to a chaotic race, Romain Grosjean followed it up with a sixth place in Austria in what can only be described as a lonely race.
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) July 9, 2017
The Frenchman had an excellent getaway and was as high as fourth at one stage, but he was never going to be able to hold off a Ferrari or Mercedes, but he was comfortably ahead of the so-called fourth-best team on the grid in Force India while Williams were even further down the track.
Haas have now scored points in the last five races and Williams and STR should start looking over their shoulder as Gene Haas’ team are showing they are not here to just make up the numbers.
Thank Goodness The Bromance Is Over
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner may be trying to add fuel to the flame with his comments that Hamilton and Vettel “hate each other”, but he is spot on when he says “it would be far better to be upfront about it instead of hiding behind PR speak. It would be more entertaining for the fans. There needs to be rivalry”.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel ‘hate each other’
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) July 9, 2017
Let’s face it; the sport is a little thin when it comes to divisive, flamboyant, controversial and opinion-splitting characters.
F1 has been lucky in a sense that since the mid-80s there has always been one driver on the grid who polarised opinion as before Hamilton it was Michael Schumacher and before the German it was Ayrton Senna.
Even off the track you had Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Ron Dennis.
Sadly those characters are all gone and the sport even lacks a figure of ridicule like Pastor Maldonado.
We are mostly left with dull PR-trained answers from everyone involved. Sure Fernando Alonso is never scared of having a full go at Honda, but he is starting to sound like a broken record and yes, Raikkonen does give us a chuckle with his radio messages, but that is few and far between.
And the biggest problem is the next generation does not look like they will deliver.
Come back Pastor, all is forgiven!