After each Grand Prix, Nextgen-Auto.com invites you to find the tops and flops identified by the editorial staff. Who deserves applause? Who, on the contrary, is to be criticized? Finally, what are the question marks or ambiguity, which should be followed with interest in the next Grands Prix? Check it out below!
Top n°1: Imperturbable and untouchable Verstappen
What do you want to do there! Last year, Max Verstappen took a quiet and dominant victory at Zandvoort. This time, the Dutchman has to work to satisfy his (many) fans who are on the shores of the North Sea. Red Bull is no longer dominating like last year: in qualifying, without his mistake in the second sector, Charles Leclerc could (should) have taken the pole position. But Max Verstappen did no real wrong, narrowly winning the pole by several thousandths (21)…
In the race, Max Verstappen was both lucky and unlucky. Luck: to have a virtual safety car smiling at him; and he was allowed a half-free stop to resist the return of the Mercedes in good condition, and strong. And no luck: because the last time the safety of the car made him fall to 2nd place. The Red Bull driver had to take a deep breath before overtaking Lewis Hamilton at the restart, proving his skill and his composure; and also proves that under pressure or alone at the front, behind a Mercedes or behind a Ferrari, Max Verstappen remains the boss of the championship.
With now more than 100 points ahead of a scattered puzzle-like competition, Max Verstappen no longer has the goal of the title in mind as he seems to have got; but rather the record of 13 wins in a season of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, easily accessible at this rate.
Top n°2: Mercedes is here again
From nadir to near zenith: while Mercedes was away at Spa, the Silver Arrows found a better form this weekend at Zandvoort… thus reminiscent of their performance before the summer break, at the Hungaroring . Why such fluctuations in performance? First because Mercedes has a little diva this year – and the team has come back from Barcelona that it understands him better and better, which is difficult to prove. But also and above all because of the characteristics of the circuit: Zandvoort reminds the Hungaroring with a high level of downforce required; while Spa requires a very efficient drag and a high top speed, exactly where the Mercedes fishes (it doesn’t promise well for Monza on paper…).
Mercedes can play for victory at circuits like Singapore, and we want to believe George Russell when he said himself, after the race, “perfectly safe” to win a GP in 2022. In the hard runs in particular, the pace of the Mercedes impressed the young Mercedes driver, and even Max Verstappen himself. Always, without a virtual safety car, Lewis Hamilton has a chance to win according to Toto Wolff.
End-of-race adventures (George Russell made the right choice by stopping for tenders behind the safety car, while Lewis Hamilton, stuck in his first place, did not stop) are almost an anecdote. , which confronts its great structural lesson. Grand Prix: Mercedes can play for victories… at least in one category of circuits. It’s a promise!
Top n°3: A runner-up for Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll collected his fifth 10th of the year at Zandvoort, and credit must go to him. In Saturday’s qualifying, the Canadian managed to reach Q3, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel remained stuck in Q1. Due to a technical problem, the Aston Martin F1 driver could not defend his chances in Q3 and given his pace, he could have finished Yuki Tsunoda or Mick Schumacher.
In the race, Lance Stroll also did not have an easy time in the peloton, and also did not varnish the timing of entering the virtual safety car. However, it can show a rhythm similar to AlphaTauri, or even the Alpine of Esteban Ocon or Lando Norris. His entry in the points rewarded a successful personal weekend for his side; and the progress of Aston Martin F1 which is definitely slow, but starting to show… To reassure Fernando Alonso a little?
Flop n°1: Ferrari: this time, the forgotten wheel trick
Last week, we wrote that Ferrari invented yet another way to make a fool of itself in the race (with Charles Leclerc’s late pit stop to set the fastest lap, which turned into a mini-disaster: a lost place , a 5 second penalty. ). Well, the top jokes are the best at the Maranello laughter festival: this time the Scuderia released the tire card that was forgotten during the pit stop. Poor Carlos Sainz suffered a stoppage of 12 seconds… The danger was added to the laughter with a “forgotten” pistol where Sergio Pérez rolled, fortunately without many consequences.
Mattia Binotto is almost satisfied with this problem: it is easy to solve and besides the real problem of Ferrari is the lack of rhythm in this circuit. Once again, the boss of Ferrari asked because he did not want to look in the eyes of the face, everything that is wrong with Ferrari. Yes, the pit stop was late, yes we had to move fast…etc, etc, etc. In the middle between denial and the method of Coué, Mattia Binotto should think of the mistakes of his team – that of his own extenso – and hit his fist on the table. No, the paddock doesn’t exaggerate Ferrari’s faults, because it’s Ferrari; but because only the red team makes this type of mistake. And the paddock almost thought: what are they going to do to us this Sunday in Monza?
Flop n°2: Pérez and Sainz, forgettable second knife
The gaps between teammates widen again in this technical and difficult circuit of Zandvoort, in Red Bull and Ferrari in any case. The gap is really the most visible in Red Bull: in the qualification, Max Verstappen imposes 7 tenths on Sergio Pérez, on a short circuit if ever there was one. The Mexican also made a mistake in his final run, a sign that he was over the limit in trying to set a good time.
In the race, Sergio Pérez was far, far away from the rhythm of his team-mate, who admittedly was also lagging in strategy. For Carlos Sainz, apart from his problem at the pit stop, he is almost gone: no doubt his contact with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at the start of the race caused him to lose aerodynamic support points; but is that all?
Flop 3: The Calvary of Daniel Ricciardo
Poor Daniel Ricciardo: within a week, the Australian learned the name of his successor next year at McLaren (his compatriot Oscar Piastri); also there is the unpleasant surprise of apparently knowing that McLaren made his decision at the beginning of July, while Daniel Ricciardo still seems to believe in his possible extension at this time of the year; and finally, there was a disastrous Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
The results speak for themselves and say everything about Daniel Ricciardo’s lack of confidence in his McLaren, on a circuit as technical as Zandvoort where the characteristics of the orange single-seater (difficulty braking while turning) brings the gaping faults of the Honey Badger. in this car at least. 18th place in qualifying mainly due to a left penultimate corner, with Lando Norris besting the rest in 7th place; 17th place in the race, after finding the strategy all the way (the pace was very good on the hard, but it was too late).
Not at such Grands Prix does Daniel Ricciardo risk regaining his confidence or convincing a team to sign him; however, one can also wonder if the environment of McLaren (broken confidence, the car that is not well adapted to his driving) is also the representative of the talent of Daniel Ricciardo: because we have not forgotten how to beat the Max Verstappen in 2 seasons.
We want to see…
30 seconds ahead for Red Bull at Monza?
This is the fear of the paddock: that we are witnessing a boring race in Monza, so the dominance of Red Bull seems, on paper at least, inevitable. In fact, Red Bull is the strongest this year in terms of drag and top speed: it is enough to see that in the straights of Zandvoort, in the qualification, Max Verstappen won most of his time in Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari . However, in Monza, the important thing is precisely the top speed, in addition to having good efficiency with little aerodynamic support. What Max Verstappen did so well at Spa: with little downforce, he flew in straight lines and often posted the best times in the second worst sector.
On the contrary, Carlos Sainz has already said himself “nervous” at Ferrari’s Monza performance, and Charles Leclerc also said that “on paper, the performance should be worse” than Zandvoort. The Mercedes also struggled in settings with less aerodynamic downforce (in contrast, the Hungaroring and Zandvoort are circuits that require a lot of aerodynamic downforce, and we found the Mercedes more comfortable there).
So it is a small step to conclude that Red Bull is heading for a quiet double, on paper, in the northern suburbs of Milan. On paper at least! Because who knows what will happen next Sunday?