• Matthieu Piekarski

#15 Austrian GP Review

Doom and Gloom GP weekend in Austria, hence the picture above. Until Sunday, I told myself that this weekend had all the ingredients to fulfill us with positive surprises and a stunning race.

The paddock was fuming with numerous stories concerning the future of F1. Notably, Dietrich Mateschitz (Big Boss & Founder of Red Bull) was every day at the Red Bull Energy station, being the busiest man all weekend long. Even Sebastian Vettel had a meeting with him following his qualification Saturday (was funny to see Sebastian in Red entering the Red Bull Energy station). Rumors has that Dietrich, is trying to acquire the marketing rights to Formula 1 and was negotiating the terms this weekend with Bernie. More news will follow very soon.

Racing wise. it started off well on Friday and Saturday with Vettel P1 in Free Practice 2 and 3, with a special mention to Max Verstappen once again showcasing an amazing ability to drive in the rain in FP3. The cherry on the cake was qualifying, Kimi was out after only 15 mins, with another legendary team radio exchange. Q3 left us (or me at least) on the edge of my seat when both Lewis and Nico missed their turns in their final lap. Despite finishing 2nd, Nico showed he had the upper hand on everyone this weekend.

Finally, we were treated to ultimate motorsport “orgasm” when the annual demonstration of old F1 cars paraded around the track on Sunday, before the race. The noise of the V12 & V10 were simply amazing, the noise vibration made us rekindle how much we love this sport. Everyone was smiling to see and hear these beast, even most of the F1 drivers were watching with a their fingers against their ears (a gesture we haven’t seen in a while) envy’ing to be in the seat of Lauda, Prost, Piquet and Berger (even though he didn’t take part as his Ferrari couldn’t start up).

After this, confusion arose. With all those penalties no one could tell what the race starting grid was. I was listening to Ted Kravitz and David Croft in the paddock trying to figure out the starting grid for the race and they were as confused as us. It hit me then, if these two f1 pundits have a hard time determining the starting grid with their numerous years of F1 experiences, how can the fortnight F1 fan understand any of this. Why does one need to take another drive-through if he already moved 25 places down the grid?

In this case, due to engine, turbo, gearbox changes; Alonso and Button both had 25 place grid penalties, both Red Bull 10 place, in the end this weekend we had a record of 70 place grid penalties!

We need more simplicity and more importantly the drivers should not be penalized if their team cannot give them a reliable car. In my opinion the teams should be directly penalized point wise. For example: If Alonso starting 19th with a maximum 10 place grid penalty ended the race in 8th place last Sunday, then the driver would keep the total 4 points while the constructor would only get 50% of the points.

The FIA should ban grid penalties of more than 10 places, it firstly ruins the show and offers no opportunity for the fans to see their racing teams have a competitive weekend. Starting at the back of the grid increases the chances of crashes between more competitive cars and uncompetitive cars.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

Nico Rosberg was the world champion this weekend, he had the upper hand over Lewis all weekend long. Those that followed my betting recommendation for the GP winner, I am sure you are enjoying having more than doubled your bet, you are more than welcome!

Coming back to Nico, something has changed in him. In my preview blog I was already mentioning how Nico seemed very tense throughout his media duties until race time. It seems that he is putting “positive” pressure on himself to deliver stunning starts in order to overtake his main rival and team-mate. Metaphorically, Nico Rosberg is like an old car, at the beginning of the season you need to take it slow and not push too much the engine as it is heating up, since Spain, he is in cruising mode. Now the big question is, can he replicate this next week in Silverstone and most importantly throughout the rest of the 2015 season? One thing is for sure, he is proving doubters wrong.

From a fan perspective, it would be incredible as then we would have as David Coulthard said “One hell of a world championship battle on our hands”.

The other highlight of the weekend came from another German, not Sebastian, but the other Nico, Nico Hulkenberg. What a momentum he is on at the moment. He was brilliant especially when he undercut Bottas during the race, simply spectacular. He is delivering great results for Force India and is cheaper and has more time ahead of him in F1 than a certain Kimi Raikkonen. I would be Ferrari, I would seriously consider Nico as a replacement, if he can elevate Force India to this level, then imagine what he can do alongside Vettel.

Coming to Ferrari, since Malaysia we have been reading and hearing that Ferrari is closing the gap and is a serious challenger to Mercedes AMG. In my opinion they are the second best team in 2015, but after Austria they are no way a serious challenger to Mercedes AMG.

It’s all an illusion as Mercedes AMG are downgrading their engine mode during FP 1, 2 and 3 and then putting it in full power for Qualifying and the race. And I suppose this why, Mercedes have limited reliability issue as they conserve far better their engine than the rest of the field.

Either way, the championship except for a monumental surprise will be once again for Mercedes AMG.

Max Verstappen and Pastor Maldonado were the highlight of the last part of the GP, with numerous attempts to overtake each other. Maldonado since he has been pressured to start delivering points, is becoming a much more interesting driver to watch not for his accidents but his driving style. Max Verstappen is confirming race after race that he was born to race in F1.

To conclude, I will give the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix a grade of 6 out of 10. The reason is that I found the race more interesting than in Canada, there was some good race strategies that challenged position battles, numerous and nice overtaking maneuvres, a refreshed championship battle with Rosberg closing the gap by 7 points to Hamilton. The alpine scenery was a nice change from Monaco and Montreal, we refreshed our lungs with mountain air and now we are ready for the next and big classic, Silverstone.

Thank you for your fidelity, I hope that you enjoyed my review of the Austrian GP. I shall see you all in 10 days’ time for the 51st British Grand Prix. Let’s hope for a bit of rain to spice up the show and let a chance for the rookies to demonstrate how good they are in the rain!

ps: If you feel like luck is on your side these days, then you should head over to James Allen F1 blog (http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/) to be able to win tickets for two for the British GP next week. Hurry up, the competition ends Friday the 26 of June at 7 pm GMT + 2 time. Good luck and hopefully I will see you at Silverstone!

Don’t forget to follow me on my twitter: @m_piekarski

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