Giving us a break from Mercedes’ usual dominance with one of the best races in recent memory, the past seven days in the F1 world certainly haven’t disappointed.
Austrian GP Fallout: Where to begin? To say F1 needed a race like Austria after the snoozefest that was France, well, it would be a bigger understatement than saying Pierre Gasly needs to finish on the same lap as his teammate. In the wake of all the (largely warranted) negativity after Paul Ricard, it was fantastic to see some actual, y’know, racing, and a finish that while controversial, wasn’t ruined by the stewards’ overzealousness. So congrats to Max Verstappen, and thanks for granting us a reprieve from Mercedes’ inevitable march to the title – we desperately needed it.
Niceties out of the way, allow me to pour some water on Red Bull, or more specifically, Honda. Yes, it’s great to see them rewarded for their hard work after four years of complete suckage, but I’m not sure I’d they should be quite so loudly blowing their own trumpet. As we saw just recently in Canada, they still have a long way to go to hold up their end of the bargain and get Red Bull back in championship contention. Mercedes isn’t going to have cooling problems at every race, nor is Ferrari going to always be racing on significantly older tyres – it’s a win in the absence of any quirkiness that will signal real improvement.
Also on a side note, I found it highly amusing to see Robert Kubica given Driver of the Day. According to the FIA it was a ‘technical glitch’, and while I’m not sure I’d call a couple thousand angry Poles and internet trolls (sounds like an album title!) a glitch, I suppose that’s their prerogative.
Dan Ticktum Shown the Door: The latest in a long line of examples of Red Bull’s ruthlessness, Dan Ticktum has gone from being seriously considered for a 2019 Toro Rosso drive to out of their young driver programme completely, in a little over six months. Whether or not it was justified, I don’t know (I don’t watch Super Formula, maybe one of you can tell me if three races was enough to make a judgement), but it does make me wonder why they’re giving such a long leash to Pierre Gasly. The most common response I’ve seen on social media is “who would they replace him with?”, to which I’d answer: isn’t the whole point of the Red Bull programme that there’s always someone you can move up?
Just like Ticktum was swiftly replaced with Patricio O’Ward, what’s stopping Helmut Marko from promoting Daniil Kvyat back to the senior team, especially considering he was half-decent the first time around, and only got demoted in the first place to make way for Max Verstappen? It’s just so out-of-character for Marko to be this patient with an under-performing driver, and who knows? Maybe moving Gasly back to Toro Rosso will help the same way it did for Kvyat?
Formula E to Turn a Profit: Through it’s first half-decade of operation, it’s been something of an irony that the series that prides itself on racing sustainable cars was not itself, sustainable. However, that will apparently no longer be the case come 2020, and while I think it’s highly unlikely it starts stealing significant amounts of eyeballs from F1 any time soon, it does indicate an increasing threat in the long-term. If the series is here to stay, more car companies might find they can get the same marketing benefit running cheaper, more road-relatable cars in FE, plus avoid much of the politicking that plagues F1, and that will make it hard for many of them to justify a much more expensive F1 program to their shareholders. Regardless of how ‘gimmicky’ the racing is, it’s a legitimate concern, and just another reason Liberty and the FIA need to address the quality of their product.