Hello, This Week was finalised slightly early on Friday afternoon because of the Platinum Jubilee weekend. The queen has overseen seven decades of F1 her father King George, the then Duchess of Edinburgh attended the first championship race, commonwealth countries host four of the twenty-two races where she is she is head of state.
Lewis Hamilton recalls a private lunch in 2009, “She is a sweet woman, and we talked about how she spends her weekends, houses and music. She is really cool.” Often her duties as head of state are fulfilled by other members of the royal family, governor-general or government ministers if overseas such as presenting the winner’s trophy at races.
She has honoured several drivers, engineers and team principals for services to both charities, the sport, road safety and many more. The second Elizabethan era has seen many changes including in F1.
The budget cap limit is under pressure once again with the sport’s three biggest teams Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all believing they are at risk of exceeding the budget cap. All teams have to stick to a £119m cap designed to create a level playing field and improve the competition, but the war in Ukraine, pandemic recovery, the rising cost of inflation, and energy and freight costs have put teams under more strain.
The FIA has announced that its secretary-general for sport and Formula 1 executive director, Peter Bayer, has left the governing body. Bayer took up the role as secretary-general for sport in 2017, overseeing all activities in the FIA’s sporting department.
Bayer also oversaw the investigation into controversial end to the season in Abu Dhabi, overseeing its F1 operations. He was put in charge of the inquiry into the race where Lewis Hamilton lost out on the F1 title to Max Verstappen on the final lap restart after former race director Michael Masi failed to implement at least two articles of the sporting regulations.
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has defended Lewis Hamilton after the seven-time champion was held up by Fernando Alonso, also saying that Hamilton and his teammate George Russell were “very much on the same pace.” The Englishman didn’t gain any positions but finished where he started.
Wolff, meanwhile, admitted Monaco presented more “lessons” for the struggling world champions. he added, “At the moment, I don’t want anything for us gifted. Our team is only third on the road and that is why the positions of fifth and sixth are where we belong to.”
Later in the week, Wolff said he believed that Hamilton needed his spell of bad luck to stop for him to match Russell’s results. We know Russell has been the driver who has got the most out of the car, while now the prosing issue has affected Hamilton more as well as being caught out by poor strategy. I think we are possibly starting to see the realisation that they need to start switching to build a good base for next season so they can fight back at the front.
Sergio Perez following his victory last weekend was announced as signing a two-year contract. This looks to be them wanting to secure a good line up and we already know that Max Verstappen signed a long term deal about six months ago, the line I thought was key was ‘Perez was now operating at a similar standard to Verstappen.’
Are Red Bull trying to use the momentum from last year and their strong start to the new era of the sport to move forwards building on the success last year.
Jos Verstappen has criticised the strategy given to his son Max during the Monaco Grand Prix, insisting valuable points were “thrown away” because they favoured eventual winner Sergio Perez. Monaco is always going to be a challenge as it’s a more strategy dependent race
He wrote “Red Bull achieved a good result, but at the same time exerted little influence to help Max to the front. Max was not helped by the chosen strategy. It turned completely to Checo’s favour. That was disappointing to me, and I would have liked it to be different for the championship leader.”
Ferrari has announced an investigation into the strategic errors which cost them victory and a one-two in Monaco. Charles Leclerc switched to inters too late and in an attempt to double-stack then lost position to Sergio Perez on track. The Italian team lost the victory through the timing of the pit stop.
team principal Mattia Binotto admitted that the team had made significant errors, and it was now key for the team to understand why those decisions were made. He told Motorsport.com, “I think we need to admit that if you’re leading the race, and you’re finding yourself in first position, then we may have done something wrong. So we made certainly mistakes in our judgement and we made mistakes in our calls.”
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the ‘trauma’ of the last decade for Ferrari, partly caused by the strategy they really need to get on top of this given the fact that Red Bull have been really strong. If we don’t start seeing them beat their rivals on track this championship slip away.
Later in the week Binotto went onto say those strategy errors “will make us stronger”, but have they already forgotten those lessons from three years ago? You however as he said himself the team gets more used to fighting for wins again, something it hadn’t been able to do consistently over the past few years.
It’s the second lost win in a row for Leclerc and Ferrari after the Monegasque driver retired from a commanding Spanish Grand Prix lead due to power unit issues, which has seen the lead in the drivers’ championship. How do they bounce back without going into the spiral we saw in 2017 and 2018?
Lando Norris says that McLaren will also need to reflect on its strategy after he was frustrated during the Monaco Grand Prix. Following his first stop for intermediate tyres, he made a second for hard-compound slicks but was overtaken by George Russell in the latter instance as the Mercedes driver stopped a lap earlier.
A theme this week feels to be the frustration after serval teams lost out on strategy and for McLaren that meant he was engaged with a long debate with the team around that second stop. They were also lacking a bit of race pace which also didn’t help.
Daniel Ricciardo’s future appears to be under growing pressure with comments going around in the press that his future is not certain given his performances over the last eighteen months haven’t been on the whole what we expected. I think Norris has up his game and Ricciardo has struggles, there was the hope of a reset with the new regulations has not paid off.
Pierre Gasly was one of the drivers who managed to overtake in Monaco saying he was looking for “unusual places” to overtake. The team looked competitive in practice but that unravelled in qualifying when he was prevented from setting a time at the end of Q1.
In the wet, though after surviving sketchy conditions he became the fastest driver on track and then pulled off a rare overtake on Daniel Ricciardo through the Swimming Pool. Gasly admitted that he didn’t know “how many times I almost crashed” and that when he initially exited the pit lane on intermediate tyres, he thought it “might have been a very bad idea”.
Gasly we know is one of the stand out drivers in my mind in the wet and we know he is continuing to grow as a driver and that continuing.
The Week Ahead
Next weekend marks the third distance in this season, I think we now can likely conclude that the fight this season is between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. However, Leclerc needs to start beating Verstappen on track as we know he has won every race he has finished this season.
Baku is a race where high speed and downforce are important I think Ferrari have looked faster in a straight line than Red Bull, we had those epic duals in the Middle East and I think we are likely to see the same thing again in Baku. The story will be continue to be the same.
Mercedes challenge continues to be understanding what is going on with their car or was Monaco a one off after the step forwards in Barcelona? I think they will continue with the cautious optimum as that has been one of there best tactics in recent years but this is obviously a very different situation. They are in third but we know it could be a bit hit and miss this season.
Daniel Ricciardo appears to be under pressure, tabloids and off the cuff comments from McLaren’s management has hinted they aren’t getting what they expected from him. Could that continue or will he respond in a general interview about his season.