There is much to digest from the Baku race as the circus heads swiftly to Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve for the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, some would say too quickly.
Especially Ferrari whose cunning plan ended up in the toilet once again. First Carlos Sainz had to park up with a bagful of neutrals, and then Charles Leclerc quickly joined him.
Once again, the Monegasque driver found himself sucking his thumb when his PU publicly announced his race exit with a cloud of blue smoke. This last act completed the Maranello Team’s misery, pulling hard on the handle marked “flush” in the cubicle named: F1 World and Constructors’ Championship.
Not to be left out, two other Ferrari engine customers also ended up bobbing in the sea. Namely Kevin Magnussen in the Haas and Zhou Guanyu in the Alfa Romeo. (As an ever-optimistic fan of Alfa’s road-going versions, I found the latter particularly ironic that a Ferrari engine was the cause of an Alfa Romeo failure).
Ferrari PU failures becoming as regular as Stroll’s barrier contacts
Apart from Mick Schumacher and Carlos Sainz, the DNFs for all other Ferrari-powered drivers this year have been engine related. The 26 seconds of “Full beans” in Azerbaijan was always going to be a big test and the “prancing horse” power unit was unfortunately found wanting.
It’s possible the customer teams expected this, and rolled back on “maxing” their engines for qualifying. Most exited this session in either Q1 or Q2 but delivered a Q3 race pace performance (until their respective PUs resigned that is).
Both victims were points bound with Zhou on a roll throughout the weekend, so it was costly in more ways than one. Whilst we’re talking great drives and injustices, the much-maligned Daniel Ricciardo finished in front of Lando Norris, despite his team ordering him to stay put behind his teammate earlier in the race (unfairly in my eyes).
This is a bit of a rarity for the Aussie racer, and I thought he would have been long gone by now. However, it’s difficult to bin an all-round nice guy and fan favourite like the “Honey Badger”. When you eventually get to pulling the lever Mr. Brown, do yourself a favour and sign Gasly.
Oscars and tiaras
Meanwhile, Mercedes defied gravity again, securing a 3rd place podium courtesy of George Russell and a 4th thanks to a superb drive by Lewis Hamilton. Unfortunately, Lewis’ race will be better remembered for the drama that eschewed as he got out of the vehicle at the end.
For sure the W13 was bouncier than a Jack Russel with ADHD in Baku and, if a certain data chart circulating the web is to be believed, significantly more so than any of the other teams.
However, where George appears indifferent (until Toto gives him a nudge and hands him the party line script that is), Lewis publicly complains. Reminding me of the princess and the pea fairy-tale. The one my sister used to read of course.
I’m in no doubt they – Hamilton and Russel – are suffering but the team should be careful in the manner it tries to move the regulatory goal posts unless the FIA decide to limit the amount of vertical acceleration (and by default: ride height) under the guise of safety. You have been warned.
How can Mercedes find their way out of a design cul-de-sac?
I don’t want to dwell on budget caps however, it was an expensive weekend for Ferrari and its customers. The “Bulls” seem to have both a powerful and robust PU. Ferrari has the former but not the latter.
Budget caps inhibit development. How are the other teams meant to catch up and/or level the playing field? Unless this situation is addressed in some way, Red Bull’s and Max Verstappen’s names are already on the trophies.
Sorry, Checo. Meanwhile, I offer Lewis a suggestion for Montreal and the back pain he’s experiencing.
The same one Sir Frank Williams made to Alan Jones when he complained about how uncomfortable the FW07B was to drive. “Why don’t you try sitting on your wallet, that’s thick enough to cushion the ride”.