Max Verstappen backs up bold talk while tyres cause confusion | Giles Richards | Sport

Max gets cute

Speaking before the Austrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen was unwavering in his self-belief that he alone could turn around his troubled season by “doing nothing”. The 20-year-old also said he believed he had grown up. “I am getting older,” he said. “I don’t need people shouting at me to tell me what I did wrong.” With his win at the Red Bull Ring he certainly showed remarkably maturity.

Where Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo suffered from tyre blistering, Verstappen had his rubber under control. The worst damage was caused by the loading through the last two right-handers and the team principal, Christian Horner, believed Verstappen dealt with it superbly. “That is where Max was really cute,” he said. “He backed off through those right-handers and made his time in the other parts of the circuit. A really, really mature drive.”

The Dutchman was able to keep his rear left cooler than the rear right, a remarkable achievement, Horner described as “unbelievable” and further evidence that Max was right to believe in Max.

Tyres make for misery and mystery

It was a different story for Hamilton, who suffered from heavy blistering and was forced to stop again before he retired. The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, said it had been unexpected but it was noticeable that Ferrari did not have an issue. “Everyone who suffered from the blistering was attacking,” said Wolff. “We were going flat out, and going flat out means you are overheating the surface of the tyre, and that causes the blistering.”

Hamilton certainly believed it stymied his charge. “Managing tyres wasn’t difficult. It was just that I was trying to overtake,” he said. “That’s the problem you can’t attack with these tyres. That has robbed the fans of seeing any motor racing.”

Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.

Ferrari may beg to differ and that its car is easier on the rubber is clear. At McLaren, however, it has just prompted more head scratching. “A lot of people started to have problems with rear tyre blisters,” said Fernando Alonso. “We didn’t and that’s what allowed us to move up the order in the last few laps. We have to understand why we didn’t suffer from blistering, if we did something different compared to the other teams, because that was the key for coming through the field.”

Red Bull make the right call

Down on power to rivals at the front of the grid, Red Bull proved once again in Austria that they are increasingly adept at taking advantage of every possible situation to turn the tables. In China their lightning fast decision to pit under the safety car proved to be a race-wining call for Daniel Ricciardo and once again in Austria their bold decision to pit both cars under the virtual safety car gave them an advantage that was unassailable by Ferrari or Mercedes, even had the latter’s cars not expired.

Horner paid tribute to his crew. “You have to have confidence in your boys to nail a double stop with the proximity that the drivers were in there,” he said. “We have got the best guys in the pit-lane without any shadow of a doubt. It was a ballsy call but it was the right thing to do and it paid dividends.” Wolff admitted his team had got stuck in a “thinking loop” assessing options which proved to be a mistake. Red Bull are suffering from no such distractions and are formidably sharp.

Haas make midfield quake

The Haas team, racing in their 50th grand prix in Austria, left with every reason to celebrate. Fourth and fifth for Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen represented the team’s best finish and enough to pass Force India and McLaren and take fifth place in the constructors’ championship.

The team enjoy a technical partnership with Ferrari and use the impressive Ferrari power unit but, while the attrition at the front of the field played a part, the team’s pace was ominously strong throughout the weekend. In qualifying Grosjean was sixth, beating Ricciardo and only five-hundredths slower than Verstappen. More importantly the gap to best of the rest behind them – Renault – was a massive eight-tenths. Members of the other midfield teams said they were shocked at the Haas pace, with Renault’s Carlos Sainz saying the gap was “a world” away.

Kevin Magnussen on his way to fifth place



Kevin Magnussen on his way to fifth place. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Haas backed it up in the race and appear to be creating a midfield group of one, to the team principal Günther Steiner’s delight. “Everybody realised the potential the car has got but we just didn’t turn it into enough points. This time we scored.” he said.

Ferrari opt out of orders

Having drawn harsh criticism in the past by employing team orders in Austria, perhaps the Scuderia decided that discretion was the better part of valour this time in not making Kimi Räikkönen move over for Sebastian Vettel.

In 2001 Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to cede second place to Michael Schumacher on the last lap, which was not well-received but there was uproar a year later when they once again ordered the Brazilian, who had led every lap from pole, to give the win to Schumacher. Interestingly Ferrari had much less reason to do so that year, with a dominant Schumacher ultimately going on to win the title with six races remaining.

This season it appears every point will count and Vettel could have had three more. The team have favoured him in the past over Räikkönen but it may be that switching the Finn, who was absolutely charging at the end, was deemed too likely to provoke another storm in the mountains of Spielberg.

Source link

Facebook Comments