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Everybody, I did it!

10 years of being a Formula 1 fan, a global pandemic later, and I finally got myself to the 2021 Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

If you follow me on any of my socials, you’ll see my endless emotional tweets regarding the weekend and how I just couldn’t put it into words, so what am I doing now? Putting it into words. You see, the 280 character limit on Twitter wasn’t enough for me to express just how incredible the weekend as a whole was – so let’s start from the beginning.

After F1 Testing in 2020, I officially caught the Racing Bug (it’s a real thing, I promise), and as soon as I returned home from Catalunya, I booked the Sunday in Luffield Grandstand at the 2020 British Grand Prix. Of course, Covid-19 happened, and that put a stop to, well, everything. The option was made to roll over our tickets to 2021, and with that, we also booked GA for Friday and Saturday following the announcement of the Sprint Race trial being at Silverstone.

Following the past 18 months during the pandemic, I honestly wasn’t sure that this years British Grand Prix would even go ahead and was expecting it to be behind closed doors once again. However, in June, it was announced that the event would go ahead at full capacity after being chosen to be included in the next phase of the UK’s Governments Event Research Programme. Racegoers would have to prove a negative Lateral Flow Test taken within 48 hours of visiting or show proof of full vaccination.

My Accomodation

Typically, many people choose to camp when they go to a Grand Prix. Silverstone have a few options, Woodlands, which has both Lively and Family parts to the campsite. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of camping – so I chose to get an Air BnB instead, just a 25-minute drive from the circuit. We parked at Silverstone the first day and Dadford campsite the other two. The traffic was easy; in fact, there was none! Whether we were lucky or got there early enough to make sure we escaped it, I’m not sure.

Something I would say I missed was the camping atmosphere. I had a few friends staying in Woodlands for the weekend, and all I wanted was to go back and carry on the vibes with them and other motorsport fans! Next time, I’ll definitely get over myself and rough it at the campsite!

The Racing

Where do I begin? Obviously, as a motorsport fan, I knew I would enjoy the racing no matter what. The weekend was packed full of it; W Series, Formula 2 and Formula 1 were the main events. However, I also really enjoyed seeing the Classic Cars, particularly that beautiful silver and red Vodafone McLaren. Not only was it my first ever Grand Prix, but it was also the first trial of the Sprint Race format, in case you’ve been living under a rock – the weekend sessions consisted of FP1 and Qualifying on Friday, FP2 and Sprint Qualifying on Saturday and obviously the race on Sunday. Being there firsthand, I was actually really excited to witness two races. It didn’t take any excitement away from Sunday’s race, and I’d definitely prefer to watch a sprint race over another practice session.

I tried to watch as much track action as possible and managed to watch all of the F1. However, there is just so much else going on that I only managed a practice session and a race and a half of F2 and a race of W Series. I really wanted to focus on taking in the whole atmosphere, meeting and spending time with friends I’d never met before and looking around.

Over the course of the weekend, we sat in several different places, Friday you could sit wherever you wanted, so I took that opportunity to scope out good places to sit for future reference. We sat in the Hamilton Grandstand, Abbey and Stowe, all with incredible views. I would definitely consider getting Race Day seats there one day. Saturday, I went off to meet my friends who’d been sat up at Becketts for the Sprint Race, again, incredible views. I just loved every second. Sunday, we had Grandstand seats at Luffield and oh my goodness. I LOVED THEM.

The Entertainment

Like I mentioned above, I went there for the racing, and the entertainment side was just a bonus – but it ended up being a really huge bonus. Whether it was the desperation of being locked away for the past 18 months and finally feeling myself again within crowds of people that all share the same interest, but the evenings were definitely a huge highlight of the weekend. A few pints, good music and the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. Perfection.

If this kind of entertainment isn’t your vibe, don’t you worry. The Fanzone at Silverstone was incredible! It had EVERYTHING. Endless merch stalls, the McLaren x Gulf Livery, the Merc and another beautiful looking McLaren to sit and awe over. Some amazing games and interactive things to do, such as eSports and pit-stop challenges.

I’m coming to the end of this post, and I still don’t feel like I’ve put into words just how amazing it was, and being honest, I’m still struggling. Someone said to me, “there will never be a feeling like your first grand prix”, and at the time, I wasn’t sure what they meant. But, now, I really do.

Every person who came up to me to say hello, every friend I met and to some really special people who made the weekend one to remember, thank you.

Until next year, Silverstone.

Formula One and Moto GP are both the pinnacles of racing. F1 is the most illustrious, glorious and glamorous four-wheel championship in the world. Moto GP is the edgiest, thrill-a-minute, unpredictable two-wheel series on earth. Both competition’s trace their heritage to the European heartlands. They are also two global behemoths in the sporting landscape. However, despite their similarities, F1 and Moto GP are incredibly different. It’s worth taking a look at what they share and what makes them highly unique.

Difference – Wheel to Wheel Action

If you desire overtakes and wheel-to-wheel racing, Moto GP serves it up by the bucket-full. Inherently, there are some advantages; the bikes are smaller, they are less likely to get affected by aerodynamic turbulence, and the rider can jostle the bike in close combat. F1 is arguably the hardest motorsport for overtaking. The cars are too big, too broad and too long. They are also dramatically hampered by the aero wake coming off the back of the vehicle in front.

Conversely, Moto GP is world-famous for its intense racing battles. Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi waged an unforgettable war at Laguna Seca. Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso created a tapestry to racing with their epic duels at the Red Bull Ring and Motegi. Those are just some of the examples of the stunning racing that Moto GP provides.

On the other hand, F1 does not provide that style of non-stop racing on every lap. Occasionally, battles stand the test of time; Charles Leclerc vs Max Verstappen in Austria 2019 was a brilliant showcase of attack and defence. The young chargers then stepped it up with an unforgettable squabble at Silverstone. It was legendary. Sadly, those battles are few and far between. It is frustratingly challenging to overtake in modern F1. The addition of the DRS plaster has aided, although it is highly erratic from race to race. At some events, it is too powerful; at others, it doesn’t work at all. F1 will hope that the imminent arrival of the next-generation 2022 car will change things in the overtaking stakes.

Similarity – The Athletes Are Real Life Superheroes

Motor racing is dangerous; it is an inescapable truth of the business. Therefore, whenever the riders and drivers suit up for a race, they know the risks and the possible consequences. Racers are not normal human beings; they are wired daredevils who risk everything for glory. Marc Marquez’s recent return to the winner’s party is a perfect illustration of the extra-terrestrial behaviours that racers display. Nothing compares to watching Marquez, all elbows and knees, as he manhandles his machine as if it was some violent ballet.

F1 drivers are the same. They hop in and subject themselves to massive G-force’s, eye-watering speeds and face-melting braking forces. Seeing Lewis Hamilton set a pole position lap on the limit is one of the highlights in world sport. It feels like he’s battling against the laws of physics as he tries to go faster and faster. Add the dangers that motor racing provides to the pilot’s skill and bravery; you get a very special sportsperson. Anyone that puts a helmet on in the name of racing is a real-life superhero. The drivers and riders are the stars, rightly so. Lewis Hamilton, Valentino Rossi, Max Verstappen and Jack Miller are modern-day daredevils risking it all for victory and our entertainment. Normal sportspeople don’t compare to racers.

Difference – The Sensation of Speed

Speed is one of the hardest things for TV cameras to convey. It is why a 100mph baseball pitcher looks so sedate. However, there is one sport that bucks the trend; Formula One. When Formula One cars whizz past the camera lens, the sensation of speed is astonishing. It is a visceral image that gets sent all over the world. Sometimes, you need to catch your breath as an F1 car tackles Becketts, the Degners or Eau Rouge.

And that is where Moto GP is very different. The bikes look so slow, so sedate compared to F1 cars. The sensation of speed simply doesn’t translate through the TV screen. F1 cars are 1000 horsepower beasts, and that comes across on TV. Moto GP bikes are wild bronco’s; sadly, it all looks too calm. Watching a single F1 car on its final flying lap is one of the greatest things in the world. Viewing ten Moto GP bikes on a flying lap feels like just another lap.

The Bottom Line

F1 and Moto GP are both excellent championships. They showcase fantastic skill, bravery, technological excellence and pure sporting drama. Yes, they have their flaws and their positives, but, overall they’re brilliant. There is no point in me saying which is better; they are not mutually exclusive. Think of it like ice cream and pancakes; you can like both. It doesn’t matter if it’s an F1 car hurtling around Suzuka or a Moto GP bike flying around Mugello; it is box office.

As someone who is yet to go to a race at Silverstone, I haven’t experienced a race that I can call my favourite. This made coming up with a list of my favourite moments difficult as there are so many memories and events to choose from, some even before I was born. In addition, with so many races in a season, it’s hard to remember an exciting moment from some British Grand Prix because other more important races overshadowed them. Even so, I have thought about this a lot and here are some of my favourite moments in the (recent) history of the British GP.

1992 – Mansell wins at Silverstone for the last time

Nigel Mansell winning the 1992 British Grand Prix is, of course, not something I saw first-hand, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be included. After watching so many videos of that moment, you truly feel like you were there experiencing it for yourself. There were crowds of spectators around him as he crossed the line and took his final Silverstone win ahead of retiring at the end of the season. Of course, this wouldn’t be allowed anymore as it is so unsafe, but it signifies how important this race is to the British fans, even today. Every time Lewis Hamilton has won this race in more recent years, the fans still react with that same excitement, and hopefully, in the future, this will be the same for Lando Norris or George Russell. This win in 1992 shows how passionate British fans are at their home race, and I hope that never changes.

2008 – Lewis Hamilton wins his first British GP

Having qualified on pole the previous year, the British fans had already been treated to a masterclass, but he only finished third in the end in the 2007 race. He, therefore, had a lot to prove coming into the 2008 race weekend. Lewis only qualified 4th, but he overtook Webber and Räikkönen on the start as they struggled for grip at the wet circuit, as did Kovalainen, but he was able to retake the lead quickly. By Lap 5, though, Lewis was able to overtake him to take the lead, and he kept it throughout while everyone around him struggled and many drivers spun in the wet conditions. He eventually won the race by over a minute, which is a truly extraordinary achievement and so exciting on home soil in only his second season. We knew then that Lewis was a special driver, and he continues to be to this day.

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2013 – Nico Rosberg wins after dramatic tyre blowouts

After Hamilton qualified on pole and led the early laps, the British driver got a puncture that quickly ruled him out of podium contention. Then two laps later, Massa had the same problem, and it became clear this was not going to be an ordinary race. With Vergne next to fall foul to a puncture, Pirelli’s day kept getting worse. With Vettel then out with reliability issues, Rosberg seemed to take control following the safety car. Perez was the final driver with a puncture, adding even more drama to an already exhilarating race. Nico kept Webber at bay, with the Australian driver fighting back to take the win, mixing up the title fight hugely following a thrilling British race.  

2020 – Lewis Hamilton wins on 3 wheels

The final memory that had to be included in this list was the first of the two 2020 races. Once again, tyre issues were the main narrative, with last-minute dramas for both Mercedes drivers. Bottas had a puncture with two laps to go, giving Verstappen the chance to take a free pit stop onto softs to take the fastest lap and fly past the stricken Mercedes. Everyone was shocked, but it didn’t end there. As he started his final lap, his tyre also blew, and he was effectively driving on just 3 wheels. Max was flying behind him, and it became clear that this race wasn’t over with just a few corners still to go. Impressively Lewis was able to finish the race first, despite Verstappen’s best effort, and the Brit continued his winning streak at home, which he had won every year since 2014 apart from 2018 when Vettel won for  Ferrari. This was a very thrilling and stressful end to the race and one I will never forget.

2021 – What’s to come?

It seems strange to include a race that hasn’t occurred yet in this list, but even the build-up to this year’s race has been exciting. Knowing that a full capacity crowd will be back after over so many races with little to no fans is so exciting. So many rumours circulated regarding whether Silverstone would close their doors once again this year with constant rule changes, it is amazing to know that so many people will get their first race experience, and the Brits will be reunited in support of our drivers, as well as the rest of the field. With a dramatic start to the season, this weekend will be no different, and I, for one, cannot wait for it.

The 1940s were a time of conflict and division around the world. It saw countries take on countries, and it saw the rise of nations and ideologies and the fall of nations and ideologies. It was a war fought with new technologies, and in the aftermath of the conflict, facilities built for war were suddenly and abruptly abandoned. And that’s where we start our story.

Before Racing

Located between the Northamptonshire villages of Silverstone and Whittlebury, RAF Silverstone was a bomber station between 1943 to 1946. The base was home to a training unit, training pilots to fly and operate the Vickers Wellington Bomber Planes built in the nearby County of Surrey between 1936 to 1945. These particular planes were used during night raids during the war.

By 1945, the war was over, and by 1946 the base had been abandoned, as many former RAF bases were after the war. The larger ones would be turned into Civil Airports, which is how London Heathrow got its start, while the smaller ones were usually abandoned, and the land sold for housing or business developments. As Motorsport events began to spring up, the idea of a British Grand Prix became a part of motorsport organiser’s plans for this post-war future of racing.

In the Mid to Late ’40s, there was no permanent racing track used in the British Isles. Building a new one at this time was out of the question. The first post-war motorsport events were held in Gransden Lodge (itself a former RAF base, based in Cambridgeshire) and The Isle of Man (with parts of the Island’s motorways closed to allow for the event, a practice which continues to this day). The Royal Automobile Club, led by Wilfred Andrews, looked for a viable site to hold races in Great Britain. Andrews and the RAC would shortlist two possible sites after considering several RAF bases. These two places were Snitterfield and RAF Silverstone.

In 1948, the RAC would arrange a Lease of the former RAF Base (the Civil Aviation Authority still owning it at the time, despite not using it). The RAC would then hire James Brown, a man who would stay employed at Silverstone for 40 years until his death, to design the circuit for the first British Grand Prix to be held since 1927. He had two months to plan it.

The First Grand Prix Races

On Thursday the 30th of September 1948, the first post-war British Grand Prix began, with the race being held on Saturday the 2nd October 1948. Officially, however, the race wasn’t designated a Grand Prix. The official title was the Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix, with the ‘British Grand Prix’ title going to next year’s race. However, it was a World Championship race and was held under the F1 regulations. To really exemplify how rushed the planning process was, to quote fellow Historian Peter Swinger:

The new circuit was marked out with oil drums and straw bales and consisted of the perimeter road and the runaways running into the centre of the airfield from two directions. Spectators were contained behind rope barriers, and the officials were housed in tents.

The inaugural race was won by Luigi Villoresi, driving the Maserati 4CLT, alongside Two Time F1 World Champion Alberto Ascari. 1949 was a bigger event, having over 100 laps, on the now redesigned 3-mile track. 1949 was also a big year with the inaugural International Trophy being awarded, creating effectively creating a second Grand Prix race for the track. 1950 was the first year in which the modern Formula One World Championship Grand Prix was held at the track, with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth present as spectators for this particular race. This is the only time, so far, that the British Royals would ever attend a Grand Prix.

By 1951, The British Grand Prix saw Ferrari cars gain their first-ever Formula One victory and the Grand Prix’s running over the British Racing Driver’s Club. Under the BRDC, the days of straw bales and oil drums would be numbered, as more permanent racing facilities would be built for the track.

1955-1986: The Era of Two Tracks

Something that may surprise modern F1 Fans is that Silverstone was not the only track that held the British Grand Prix. Between 1954 and 1986, Silverstone would alternate hosting the British Grand Prix with, of all places, Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. Clearly, the organisers got confused about what the term ‘Horsepower’ meant (yes, I know there was a race track, I’m funny), and in 1964, the track that Silverstone would alternate with for Formula One races would be Brands Hatch, in Kent. Silverstone would hold races in odd-numbered years, with even-numbered years being host to races at Brands Hatch.

The era of two circuits would end in 1986. In their infinite wisdom, the FIA decided that any long-term contract to host a Grand Prix must mean that the race is held on one track. With that, Brands Hatch (considered a poorer facility) would allow Silverstone to host all British Grand Prix races.

Modernisation

1987 saw Silverstone undergo its first modernisation since 1949, with the creation of a new Chicane on the Farm Straight. And from then on, Silverstone would see some dramatic events, such as Nigel Mansell being surrounded by a crowd of fans breaking rank and entering the track to congratulate Mansell as the race winner. There would be wins for many F1 Greats at this track, such as Aryton Senna’s 1988 victory in the rain; Alain Prost would win in 1989 after Senna retired from the race.

1990 was the last year the high-speed circuit would be used for Formula One before it was reconfigured for the 1991 British Grand Prix to be slower. The 1990-1992 races would be host to what I call ‘The Mansell Trilogy’. Retirement in the race led to Mansell threatening to retire from Formula One in frustration. Fortunately, he would not and would win both the 1991 and 1992 races.

Throughout the mid-1990s, the circuit would continue to undergo modernisation and safety alterations. In particular, during 1994, when a chicane was installed at the flat-out Abbey corner, a mere 6 weeks before the Grand Prix was due to take place. Minor alterations to the track coming during the second half of the 1990s, but the 1991 layout of Silverstone would largely stay in place. And during this time, some great things would occur, such as Johnny Herbert’s victory in 1995 and Michael Schumacher’s major crash, that would write him off for much of the 1999 season.

Silverstone in the 21st Century

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone, over the last 21 years, has seen its share of intrigue and speculation. During the 2003 race, a priest would trespass on the track and make a wally out of himself before being dragged to safety and duly arrested for being a numpty. More pressingly, however, were disputes between the BRDC, and Bernie Ecclestone, over funding. The funding needed to make improvements and modernisations to the track was a source of contention between Bernie Ecclestone and the organisers of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

This would lead to the British Grand Prix being absent from the 2005 provisional calendar for the next F1 Championship season, as the BRDC refused to pay the race fee. With the risk of no race taking place in Britain for that year and with no viable alternatives, a new contract was agreed. Silverstone would therefore host the British Grand Prix until 2009.

After 2009, there was a risk of the British Grand Prix moving again to Donnington Park, host of the 1993 European Grand Prix. They were given a 10-year contract to host the race, starting in 2010. As we know, this did not happen, but why? The Financial Crisis that plagued Britain for much of the 2010s meant that Donnington Park would not be ready to host the Grand Prix for 2010 due to a lack of funding for the necessary modernisations. Ultimately, Silverstone was given a plump 17-year contract, meaning that F1 would stay in Silverstone until 2027.

This change came just as Silverstone underwent a new modernisation, with a new Arena layout and a moved start/finish line for 2011. As of 2021, this layout is still used for the British Grand Prix, and with races set to continue there until 2024 (as per the newest contract change in 2019), Silverstone is the home of British Motor Racing. It is still one of the fastest tracks in F1 today and is a spectacle for fans and racers. Not bad for the former airfield.

Overview of F1:

Formula 1 is the highest level of the open-wheel, open-cockpit, single-seater championships. This international sport is governed by the FIA − Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile or the International Automobile Federation.

The use of ‘Formula’ comes from the set of rules that all cars and drivers must follow when competing, which will be discussed more throughout this post. Of course, the main objective for every team is to win, with the first to cross the line being crowned the winner. The top-10 are given points on a sliding scale, with first-place receiving 25 points, then P2 gets 18, then 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1.  

The cars:

The F1 cars are the clearest example of how amazing motorsport technology is today. Here’s what you need to know:

Engine:

Current regulations stipulate that every car is fitted with a 1.6-litre V6 engine with kinetic and heat energy recovery systems. There are currently 4 manufacturers building engines for F1; Mercedes, Honda, Alpine and Ferrari. McLaren, Aston Martin, and Williams use Mercedes engines, while Honda supplies Red Bull and Alpha Tauri and Ferrari supply Haas and Alfa Romeo. Alpine (formerly Renault) only provide engines for their own team, having manufactured the engines for McLaren last year before they moved to Mercedes.

Design:

F1 cars are designed to be totally aerodynamic. This allows them to move at a very high speed while cutting through the air. While this is hugely important to the cars attaining greater speed, it does lead to a lot of lift on the car. To counteract this, the wings and diffusers on the car produce downforce that ensures the car is pressed onto the track and helps the drivers to keep control of the car. With these cars producing 5Gs of downforce, drivers can take corners and bends at high speeds without skidding off the track.

Tyres:

Pirelli is the manufacturer of Formula 1 tyres. They produce 5 different compounds of dry weather (slick) tyres and intermediate and wet tyres. C1 tyres are the hardest, with C5 being the softest. Pirelli chose 3 successive compounds to use from the slick range depending on the circuit being visited each weekend. Once this decision is made, colour coding is applied. The hardest tyre will be white, with the medium tyre yellow and the soft tyre in red. The intermediate tyres are always green, and full wet tyres are blue.

Pit lane and pit stops:

With the tyres only able to last short distances, the drivers must pit during the races and qualifying and practice sessions. It is required that drivers make at least one pit stop during the race, but some tracks and strategies and weather changes require multiple stops during a race.

The pits are located at the side of the start/finish straight, and a team can have up to twenty mechanics working on these stops. Pit boxes and garages on the pit lane are ordered based on the team’s finishing position from the previous year, meaning Mercedes are the closest to the entry, with Williams at the end near the pit exit.

Circuits:

The circuits are all approved by the FIA as fit for F1 racing. Most of these circuits run in a clockwise direction, although some do run anti-clockwise. They usually start with a long stretch which leads onto several corners around in a loop. The drivers struggle more with these circuits as they feel the G-force strongly on one side of their neck.

A race has a maximum length of 2 hours and has an average distance of 305km, although this varies from circuit to circuit depending on the length or speed of the track.

Teams:

Behind every driver is a massive team including thousands of staff members, including mechanics, engineers and support staff of every kind. There are currently 10 teams competing. Each team is responsible for their own design and construction of the car, although some parts can be bought from other teams.

Here is the list of F1 teams for 2021, along with their drivers:

Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull Racing with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez

McLaren with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo

Aston Martin with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll

Ferrari with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

Alpine with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso

AlphaTauri with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda

Alfa Romeo with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi

Haas  with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin

Williams with Nicholas Latifi and George Russell

The race weekend:

Each race weekend starts with a media day on the Thursday, where drivers and team staff are interviewed about the previous race and the upcoming event. Following that, 2 practice sessions occur on Friday, both an hour long. A final practice session occurs on the Saturday morning before qualifying on a Saturday afternoon. This session is split into 3 sections, with Q1 lasting 18 minutes and knocking out the bottom 5, before Q2, which lasts 15 minutes and knocks out the next 5 slowest drivers. Q3 is the battle for pole position, the spot at the front of the grid on race day. The race then occurs on a Sunday where drivers battle for the race win and points.

F1 are introducing a sprint race format at a few races throughout the 2021 season. This will involve a practice session on the Friday morning, followed by qualifying on a Friday afternoon using the same format as we see on a normal Saturday. Practice 2 then occurs on a Saturday morning before a 100km sprint race that sets the grid for the normal race on a Sunday. The driver in first place following the sprint race will be awarded 3 points, with 2 points for the driver in second and one point for the 3rd placed driver. This is an experiment being trialled at Silverstone for the first time and maybe removed or broadened in the future depending on the results.

Formula 1 is physically demanding, and the drivers are some of the fittest athletes around. They go through extensive training to get their bodies fit enough to cope with the demands of a Grand Prix, and to help with this – they hire fitness personnel to train them to their limit. But have you ever wondered what a performance coach does? Well, I got to talk to Daniel Ricciardo’s performance coach, Michael Italiano, about his career in F1.

Hey Michael, could you please explain your role as a performance coach in Formula 1?
My role is to prepare Daniel to perform. I take care of his health and wellbeing. Controlling his training plan, his nutritional needs and all on track essentials. Preparing him all week for each session, warming him up and ensuring he’s in a positive headspace before the competition.

You obviously have a passion for health and fitness; why did you decide to become a coach?
I decided to become a coach because my passion was always in health and fitness. I had been competing in sport since the age of 5 and loved competition and was always trying to improve my athletic performance.

You made the move into Formula 1 at the end of 2017, becoming Daniel Ricciardo’s personal performance coach. How was the transition from fitness consultant to entering the motorsport world?
A huge change! I was very routine orientated as I had a very busy schedule as a PT in Perth, and to transition from 50 clients to 1 client was surprisingly difficult. Also, living out of a suitcase isn’t for everyone, so that took some time to get used to. The season is so fast-paced I didn’t really have time to settle; I had to ride the wave and deal with it. Not having a set routine was difficult at first; I found it challenging to look after myself, however like anything, the more you do something, the more you learn how to improve things.

Is working with professional athletes something you’ve always wanted to do?
Yes definitely, I’ve always had the drive to train professional athletes. As a coach who wouldn’t, they have special characteristics, which is an absolute joy to coach and helping them find their peak potential is very rewarding.

Formula 1 is demanding both physically and mentally, are there any challenges of training an F1 driver?
Yes, recovery is a big challenge, the season is so long, and we travel so much, the drivers don’t have that much time to rest. Crossing so many time zones can be an issue at times. Also, the neck undergoes a lot of G-force throughout a race; therefore keeping the neck strong is vital and something you need to keep on top of.

How do you keep your clients motivated?
Plan, plan, plan! Ensure my clients have completed a goal setting task to ensure they know their WHY! Then ensure they are celebrating the small wins along the way. Also, setting reminders to what you want to achieve. I have my 2021 goals on my wallpaper on my mobile and laptop, so I see them all day, every day, to remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing.

You focus on other people a lot, but how do you unwind from work, any hobbies outside of F1 and training?
I love my weights training; it stimulates me and keeps me positive. I also like running to clear the head if I’m in a busy patch and have a busy mind. I also enjoy reading, a nice quiet time to unwind and learn something new.

What advice would you give someone who wants to work as a performance coach within motorsport?
I’d tell them it isn’t everything they see on camera; it’s a lot of hard work and travelling. You are away from home 70% of the year, so personal relationships and routine becomes very difficult to manage.
It’s a rewarding job; however, it comes with sacrifices, so be prepared.

What does a typical race week look like for you? Any pre-race training routines you could tell us about?
Thursdays, I set everything up, I set up our race room. Unpack our massage table, sort all of Daniels racing clothes out, prepare my training bag and sort out supplementation for the weekend. Friday and Saturdays are the most busy days, two sessions each day. Warming daniel up pre sessions, ensuring he’s hydrated and controlling his meal timings. Also, preparing his helmets and being on hand in case he needs anything. Sundays mostly the same, preparing him for the race.

We have to ask, what is the best moment you’ve had with Daniel since joining him as his coach?
Easy, 2018 Monaco. He was the fastest in every session, put the car on pole and won the race. The perfect weekend and the perfect drive.

Thank you to Michael for taking the time to talk to me about his experiences in Formula 1 for our ‘Working In Motorsport’ series. Motorsport is a world so many people would love to work in, and it’s great to hear stories and advice from those who are there.

It’s 1997. A new member of the McLaren team was tasked with improving and fine-tuning the design of the McLaren entry for that season. This team member had arrived too late to really have much of a say in developing Neil Oatley’s MP4-12. This member would put his energy, therefore, in co-developing next season’s car, the MP4-13. The man’s name: Adrian Newey. This is History of McLaren: Part 2.

The Era of the Flying Finn

Adrian Newey was fresh off of his stint with Williams. Having spent much of the ’90s with the team, he was partially responsible for the four world championships and three constructor’s championships. His relationship with Williams was soured by the end of his tenure there. A refusal from management about making him technical director of the team and the success of Benetton in 1995 meant that, by 1996, Newey was on Gardening leave. He would leave Williams for McLaren in what would be a significant coup for McLaren.

As I said, 1997 saw McLaren’s performance improving, with some decent wins and podiums by the second half of the 1997 Formula One World Championship; 1998 would be a successful return to form for McLaren. It already felt like a rebirth of the team, as the long-standing red and white Marlboro livery was replaced by the striking silver ‘West’ Livery that the team would keep until 2006. If 1997 was a rebirth, then 1998 was the coming of age for this McLaren.

It would also turn out to be McLaren’s most recent Constructor’s title win, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The 1998 Formula One World Championship, with the now well-established pairing of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard (writer’s note: my favourite era of McLaren), and the Adrian Newey designed MP4-13, McLaren were winners once more. Mika Hakkinen won his first Formula One World Championship, and McLaren won its first constructor’s championship since 1991.

Newey’s advantageous usage of the technical regulations for 1998, his primary focus on designing the 1998 car, and Williams losing their Renault engines and world champion driver meant that 1998 was only McLaren who could win. 1999 saw a second world championship for Hakkinen, though the team missed out on a constructor’s championship due to a strong Ferrari car and technical issues for the McLarens.

Truth be told, I believe that Michael Schumacher probably would have won the world championship in 1999. His broken leg wrote him out for much of the season, leading to his replacement by Mika Salo and Eddie Irvine becoming Ferrari’s number one driver for a spell. However, I love Mika Hakkinen, so I won’t complain.

By the year 2000, Ferrari had caught up with McLaren in terms of performance. The Silver clashing with the Red throughout the season in an exciting series of races, seven of which won by McLaren. However, as we know, 2000 was the beginning of the Schumacher-Barrichello domination of Formula One, with Ferrari winning the World Championship and Constructor’s Championship. This was the start of another decline in McLaren’s fortunes.

2001 was, therefore, a bit of a year for the team. Mika Hakkinen, their two-time world champion, who had driven with the team full since 1993, retired. David Coulthard, very much in his prime now, outscored his teammate for the very first time. Hakkinen, by this point, was a Dad, and fears of crashes were beginning to enter his head. As we know, F1 is a dangerous sport, and Hakkinen had experienced some scary crashes by then. He quit in 2001 and was replaced by his protege.

If you want to win, Get the Finn

In 2001, a relatively inexperienced driver entered Formula One for the first time, racing for Sauber. His obtaining of a Super Licence at the age of 22 was a point of contention for some due to his lack of racing experience. But that Finn went far in his maiden season. His first race saw him take his first point in a stunning debut in F1. In 2002, he became McLaren’s newest driver. That man was Kimi Raikkonen.

Simultaneously one of the most eccentric and flamboyant playboys in F1 and one of its most shy and icy personas, he was Hakkinen’s hand-picked replacement. The latter constantly said to Ron Dennis ‘If you want to win, get the Finn’.

Unfortunately for McLaren, Raikkonen, and Dennis, 2002-2006 would see McLaren be second fiddle to Ferrari for much of this period. That’s not to say the team didn’t win races. They did, but engine failures and mechanical issues hampered both Raikkonen and David Coulthard. In 2003, Raikkonen would lose out on a World Championship win by two points to Michael Schumacher, despite using last year’s car for an early portion of the season. 2004 saw little success as well, McLaren ending up 5th in the Constructor’s Championship, with 1 race win that season.

Adrian Newey would leave in 2005, as would David Coulthard, for a stint at the new Red Bull Racing (the former of which is still there today). Juan Pablo Montoya replaced Coulthard, and the team saw more success with the MP4-20. Winning 10 races that season, though the car would be a technical nightmare to run. It would constantly break down, and the tires would not heat up properly. 2006 would be a worse year for the team, with no victories and Montoya and Raikkonen leaving, the former in acrimonious circumstances. Mind you, with the way McLaren was then; you can’t blame both men for wanting out.

A Star is Born

Fernando Alonso has won two world championships in F1 for Renault. He is one of the best F1 drivers of the modern era, and he is now racing for McLaren. The team, with a newly redesigned car, and newish livery, were set. They even had a young lad from Stevenage, Ron Dennis’ protege, Lewis Hamilton as their rookie driver. 2007 was set to be a good year for McLaren. Until it wasn’t. The start of the season was good enough. They won races and led the Constructor’s Championship for a good chunk of that season. However, there were two big problems.

One, Alonso was not happy. He was the two time World Champion and felt that the team’s focus should be on the man who was the defending World Champion. It was not on him, and reports at the time talked about how Alonso ‘Was scared of Hamilton’s competitiveness’ and all that rubbish. An incident in Hungary did not help things either. More importantly, was McLaren’s ongoing court case over spying on Ferrari. The court case found McLaren guilty of using Ferrari blueprints a ‘rogue engineer’ had obtained. They had to pay $100 million and were removed from the constructor’s championship. Also, Alonso left after one season.

2008 saw Lewis Hamilton dramatically win his first world championship (see my ‘Champions That Never Were’ list for more). However, he could not properly capitalise on that success in 2009 due to the weaker performance of the MP4-24 car compared to the newly born and competitive Brawn GP. The Ascendant Red Bull Racing, the latter breaking from its mid-grid origins to front grid status. 2009 would see Ron Dennis leave as Team Principal of McLaren, replaced by Martin Whitmarsh. 2010 saw Jenson Button join the team, with he and Hamilton winning 5 races between them. However, neither would do much damage to the dominant Red Bull team and their 4 championships in a row.

By 2011, Button would finish the Drivers’ Championship in second place with 270 points ahead of Hamilton’s 227 points. McLaren was second in the Constructors’ Championship to Red Bull Racing. While in 2012, the team would suffer due to the adoption of Pirelli tyres and poor adaptations to the McLaren cars for the drivers. Ultimately, Lewis Hamilton would leave at the end of the season, beginning his time with Mercedes.

Trial and Error

As we come to the more recent history of McLaren, we see the team go through probably its longest dry spell of consistent victory in F1. Not helping matters being the constant changes in drivers and engines from this point on. 2013 saw the arrival of Sergio Perez to the team and no podium finishes in one of the team’s worst seasons.

2014 saw the end of the Ron Dennis and Mercedes era and the arrival of Kevin Magnussen to McLaren. The loss of Ron Dennis was coming, but his exit from the team would be sad, as he had led it for so long. The lack of success was probably weighing on the McLaren team at this point, leading to the revival of an old partnership. 2015 would be the year McLaren reunited with Honda and Fernando Alonso. 2015-2017 saw poor performance for McLaren Honda 2.0. They injured Alonso and just were not the team they were 10 years prior. They had become a middle grid team again.

However, by 2018, things were beginning to get better. Renault would be McLaren’s engine provider for 2 years. After finishing ninth in the constructor’s championship in 2017, they would go up to sixth next year. 2019 saw Alonso leave F1, and Carlos Sainz Jr would take his place alongside Lando Norris. This combination was successful, bringing the team up to fourth in the constructor’s championship. At the same time, 2020 would see the team in third place in the constructor’s championship, with Norris gaining his first podium.

And now we’ve reached 2021. As of today, McLaren has Mercedes engines again. Lando Norris is still driving for the team, alongside Daniel Ricciardo. They are currently competing, so I won’t say too much about them here, but they’re doing well so far. And that sums up McLaren in a nutshell. It hasn’t been easy for them, but they have done well. And long may they continue to do so.

It’s lights out and away we go for the second time on the Red Bull Ring, this time for the Austrian Grand Prix!

It’s a good start for polesitter Max Verstappen! The race gets off to a clean start, with all 20 cars completing the first lap without an incident. We’re now in Lap 2 and heading around Turn 3, Esteban Ocon was pressed out by Mick Schumacher on the left and Antonio Giovinazzi on the right, and there was contact. The Alpine driver’s race is now over.

The Safety Car arrived in Lap 3. It looks like Sergio Perez gives Lando Norris no chance to overtake, but the Mexican pushes himself too far and ends up in the gravel. He had no intention of giving up his place. On the Red Bull team radio in Lap 4, Perez states, “He pushed me off.” Norris did not appear to force him off, based on the footage. It was unfortunate that Perez pushed himself too hard, and the McLaren was faster in straight lines. Lap 7, and we have the first time-penalty of five seconds for Giovinazzi. The race stewards have penalized him for overtaking during the Safety Car earlier. The Alfa Romeo will pay the price for this. The back left tyre on Norris’ car is becoming a concern, according to McLaren racing engineers. Norris is wondering about the race plan because Lewis Hamilton seems to be faster than him in Lap 12.

We’re in Lap 13, and despite Christian Horner’s confession that Norris’s collision with Perez was a racing incident, the race stewards will now investigate the incident at Turn 4, what an overtake by Charles Leclerc in Lap 14. He and Perez had DRS down into Turn 4, but Leclerc was smart enough to pull out and let Perez go before diving inside and claiming the inside position. Lovely move! On the soft compound tyres, Sebastian Vettel was always going to struggle to maintain the McLaren behind him, and so it proves as Daniel Ricciardo passes him into P5. Ricciardo is now in fifth place on lap 17! Hamilton closes in in Norris in Lap 19! This is the closest Hamilton has come to throughout the race.

Lap 20 and Hamilton makes a move on Norris! Norris has also been given a five-second penalty for the incident involving Perez, making it a miserable lap. After passing Norris, Hamilton says on the Mercedes team radio, “Such a great driver, Lando.” In the meantime, Norris is commenting on how Hamilton’s brakes appear to be “on fire.” in Lap 21. In Lap 22, Yuki Tsunoda is the next driver to get a penalty from the race stewards, and he receives one of five seconds! On his way into the pit, he crossed the white line. Ricciardo is pitted by McLaren in Lap 30 and rejoins the race in 12th place. He’s going for the undercut, so Ricciardo needs to move quickly if he wants the strategy to work. We’re in Lap 31, and Norris has entered the pits and has completed his five-second penalty time. Valtteri Bottas was able to pass the fourth-placed McLaren as a result of this. I still believe the penalty was really harsh.

I haven’t mentioned Max Verstappen since the race’s first lap, but he enters the pits in Lap 33 and returns as the race leader. Unless there are any mechanical concerns, Verstappen appears to be having this win in his pocket already! The undercut clearly worked for Red Bull Racing. Russell has moved up to P12 after passing Stroll in Lap 40. For the first race as a Williams driver, he’s chasing points. He had a strong qualifying session yesterday, but will he finish in the top ten this time and gain some points?

Perez holds off Leclerc in Lap 41 as their wheels come into contact. At Turn 4, Leclerc tries to take the long way around, but he collides with Perez, and the Red Bull maintains his position. The stewards have to see this as it was practically the same situation that resulted in Norris receiving a time penalty. One lap later, in Lap 42, Perez is under investigation by the stewards, and indeed Perez has been given a five-second time penalty. Clearly, the FIA does not want to see drivers racing today. Leclerc goes into the gravel again. Perez maintains track position, but it’s possible that the Red Bull may be given another time penalty as a result. As I already stated, the stewards have set a pattern in Lap 47. Once again, Perez is under investigation. “Lewis has damage. Do not race him for now. We will review,” is the message to Bottas over the team radio in Lap 49. Norris said, “that leaves the door open for us.”

Lap 50 and Hamilton sounds concerned: “I don’t think I’ll make these tyres last, man”, coming from the driver who has just set his fastest lap of the race. We’re now in Lap 51, and Bottas has been given permission to race Hamilton. Mercedes has definitely seen Norris’s speed behind them and does not want to lose any positions to the McLaren. The Red Bull driver has been handed his second five-second time penalty of the race for forcing Leclerc off the track at Turn 6 in Lap 52…

Lap 53 and Mercedes has informed their drivers that they would be switching drivers, and Bottas has taken over second place from Hamilton, who is currently losing a lot of time. Norris passes Hamilton in Lap 54! The defending world champion couldn’t get his elbows far enough out to keep the McLaren from passing him, and Norris is now in third place! “Let’s go get Bottas,” is the message across the McLaren team radio to Norris. Verstappen just set a new fastest lap in Lap 59. To be honest, he’s been absolutely out of sight since the first lap, when he got off to a strong start. At the moment, the Dutchman appears to be unbeatable. Nobody can approach him.

Lap 62 and Leclerc might just need to relax a little. He is late on the brakes into Turn 4 once more, and he nearly collides with Ricciardo. After the incidents involving Perez, he still seems to be upset. Russell is on the point of scoring his first points as a Williams driver in Lap 63. He is, however, under pressure from Alonso, who is racing on newer tyres. Verstappen has a cut on his rear right tyre, which Red Bull has warned him about over the team radio in Lap 65. This came after they advised the race leader to be careful with the tyres. He obviously doesn’t want a repeat of the situation like in Baku…

There is a strong fight between the old Alonso and the young Russell, who is closing in on his first point as a Williams driver in Lap 66. Lap 68 and Alonso has climbed into the top ten, but this is a big disappointment for Russell. He gave it his all, but there was nothing he could do to prevent the Alpine with DRS from passing him.

Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix as he crosses the finish-line!

For the second weekend in a row, the Red Bull driver triumphs in the Red Bull Ring. It’s his third racing win in a row and his fourth of the season! At the top of the leaderboard, he now enjoys a 32-point advantage.

In the meantime, Bottas is second, Norris is third, and Hamilton is fourth.

As of writing this post, we are in the midst of a twofer at The Red Bull Ring. We’ve had The Styrian Grand Prix, and we are about to have the Austrian Grand Prix proper. However, there are currently no Austrian drivers in Formula One. It’s a bit odd, considering the level of success that drivers have had from the nation. Maybe not in the sense of World Champions, but certainly in being good, reliable drivers.

Austria, its time we give you your due. Here are our Top 8 Austrian Formula One Drivers.

#8 Otto Stuppacher

Very hard to find good quality pictures of the man

Yes, this is a cheeky entry on our part. Sorry to say that the list of potential Austrian Formula One racers for this top 8 was hard. As of 2021, there have only ever been sixteen drivers who drove in F1. I picked Otto Stuppacher, however, because of the interesting circumstances surrounding him. Truthfully, he wasn’t a Formula One driver. He attempted to enter three races in the 1976 season and did not qualify for any of them. He nearly raced at the Italian Grand Prix due to competitors being removed, but he went home before getting the chance.

At the USA East Grand Prix, his time was 27 seconds off pole-sitter James Hunt. To date, this gap between pole-position time and slowest time during qualifying in an official Formula One race is a record that still stands today. And with that, he earns a place on this list. Though not for achievements that would grant any merit.

#7 Roland Ratzenburger

Roland Ratzenberger’s sole Formula One season, with the Simtek team, is marred by the sadness surrounding his untimely death at Imola. We’ve already eulogised him before, and you can read our post about him here. However, his death overshadows the fact that he was a good racer. How his career in F1 would pan out is a big what if. We speculated on it before, and you can read about it on our previous post all about him, but the achievements he did make outside of Formula One are worth looking at. He was a good driver.

#6 Christian Klien

He never won races, but Christian Klien was a solid mid grid performer in his own right. Starting out with Jaguar in 2004, before moving to Red Bull in its debut for Formula One in 2005, until 2006. After that, he was a test and reserve driver for Honda, BMW Sauber, and HRT Racing. Truth be told, he never really had a fair shake. He did score points in races, when he was consistently racing, and he was often a candidate for vacant seats. However, he did help Red Bull establish itself, alongside David Coulthard, and we all know what became of that team.

#5 Helmut Marko

Before his career in Red Bull, Marko was a racer for BRM and a non-works racer in McLaren cars. He also won Le Manns in 1971 and came in a class position of 1st the previous year. However, his racing career did end in unfortunate circumstances when a rock pierced the visor of his helmet, leaving him blind in one eye. The now 78-year-old Marko then committed himself to a life of a manager. He was a team manager in Formula 3000 in the late ’80s, which would evolve into the Red Bull Junior Team. He’s better known as an advisor for Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri and the head of Red Bull’s driver development programme, helping train the likes of current F1 drivers Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz jr., and Daniel Riccardo, as well as former champion Sebastian Vettel.

#4 Alexander Wurz

Wurz was in Formula One for 10 years. With 3 podiums to his name, he is the fourth most successful Formula One driver in terms of points record. He raced for Benneton between 1997-2000, being replaced in 2001 by Jenson Button. He then became a Test driver for McLaren (And yes, Part Two of History of McLaren is on its way). He was considered for becoming Mika Hakkinen’s replacement in 2002, before losing the seat to Kimi. In 2005, while filling in for Juan Pablo Montoya, he gained Third Place at the San Marino Grand Prix after Honda-BAR’s entries were disqualified. He ended his F1 career racing at Williams, alongside Nico Rosberg.

#3 Gerhard Berger

In 14 seasons of racing in Formula One, Berger won 10 races and had 48 podium finishes. Though he was a great racer with a lot of potential, with bad luck with dominant rivals and making moves to teams too late, he just had potential. Not to say he was unsuccessful. He started with ATS in 1984 and nearly died after the end of his maiden season. A stint with Benetton followed a season for Arrows in 1985, where he would make a name for himself. This would lead to seats at Ferrari and then McLaren from 1990. He would rejoin Ferrari in 1992, after Senna and another former racer convinced him to leave, due to the loss of Honda’s engines in the 1993 season. He would end his career in Benetton after rejoining the team in 1996 and ending his career in 1997.

#2 Jochen Rindt

One time Formula One champion Rindt distinction is the only posthumous winner of the world championship. This was discussed in more detail in the ‘Champions that never were’ list from a few months back. Rindt (born in Germany but grew up an Orphan in Austria with his Grandparents) would compete for Cooper, Brabham, and Lotus over his six-year career. By 1970, he had proven himself a great driver for Lotus, being considered a rival to Jackie Stewart in the 1969 season (despite only being fourth in the world championship standings). Unfortunately, his career, and life, ended during practice for the 1970 Italian Grand Prix. The accident was initiated by a failure of the car’s right front inboard brake shaft, but poorly installed crash barriers caused Rindt’s death. He slid and slit his throat as the car crashed on his belt buckle.

Formula One is a dangerous sport, even today. But Rindt’s death shows that, despite every attempt to make sure it all works, and it’s all safe, that will never be guaranteed. His posthumous world championship victory, based on points accrued during his races, makes him the only posthumous Formula One World Champion.

#1 Niki Lauda

Formula One is a dangerous sport, but when people stare death in the eye but live to tell the tale and come back, that is another story. You likely all know the story of Niki Lauda’s accident. Watch Rush with Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth, if you haven’t already. He was already a one-time world champion at the time of his crash and was leading the championship battle for the initial stages of the 1976 world championship. After the crash, he had only missed two races. He was still bandaged when he announced he would be coming back to F1. He would race with discomfort, even with his specially designed helmet, but he still raced. He only missed the world championship by one point to James Hunt.

After leaving Ferrari, he joined Brabham for a couple of years, retired, and then raced through McLaren in 1982. He would win his third world championship with McLaren, retire again in 1985, become a manager and consultant for Ferrari, a team principal for Jaguar, and an advisor for Mercedes GP, getting Lewis Hamilton to sign with the team in 2013.

His death in 2019 brought an end to the life of the greatest Austrian F1 driver to have ever graced the grid: God speed, Niki.

It’s lights out and away we go on the Red Bull Ring for the Styrian Grand Prix!

Polesitter Max Verstappen has a strong start, rushing down to the first corner. He cuts off Lewis Hamilton, who is accompanied by Lando Norris. Norris drives wide into the first corner after braking hard, almost allowing Sergio Perez to pass. There’s a lot of action in the back of Antonio Giovinazzi. Nicholas Latifi and Pierre Gasly are almost tripping over each other, and the Italian has clearly turned around. Verstappen is in front of Hamilton and Norris, who has reclaimed third place from Perez.

We’ve made it to Lap 2, and the Top 5 remain in place as Lance Stroll moves to sixth place. Daniel Ricciardo is in ninth place after a strong start. Gasly has a puncture in his back tyre. Gasly has a long pit stop as the team tries to remove the wrecked tyre from his car. After a poor start, he appears to have fought with Giovinazzi and is to blame for sending the Alfa Romeo driver into a spin. As a result, there is debris on the track.  Replays from the start showed what happened to Gasly, who afterwards retired from the race. At the start, he collided with Leclerc, causing a puncture and breaking the Ferrari driver’s front wing. Gasly was forced to jump back through the field, colliding with a few of the midfield runners…

Hamilton has spoken on the radio in Lap 4 and is concerned that he may have hit some debris. He is 1.6 seconds behind Verstappen, who is already building a lead. Ricciardo has fallen back in the field and is now in P13, just behind Raikkonen in Lap 7.  Lap 8, and it’s still unsure what happened to Ricciardo, Verstappen has gained a few tenths at the front of the race. According to radio messages, Ricciardo had a power outage that has cost him all of his hard work up to this point.  Perez overtakes Norris in Lap 10! Down into Turn 3, the McLaren driver didn’t put up much of a fight there. 

“Plan B,” Russell is told, “due to reliability” in Lap 18. 

Hamilton hasn’t yet lapped anyone but also has dropped four-tenths. He’s starting to struggle, as we heard on the radio. However, Verstappen also struggles in Lap 19. The Haas drivers are battling in the back of the field, with Mick Schumacher locking up and allowing Nikita Mazepin to pass in Lap 22. It appears that they also bumped wheels, which probably didn’t help Guenther Steiner’s heart rate. In Lap 26, Hamilton had a moment on the exit of Turn 4 when he slips out of shape and has a big shake after putting a wheel in the gravel. That’s a wake-up call because he now admits to minor vibrations on his 29-year-old tyres. 

Russell pits from P8 in Lap 27. His stop was 18.3 seconds, a prolonged one. Perez has also made a pitstop, and he has a 4.8s slow stop when it comes to Red Bull terms. Hamilton is up next with his pitstop in Lap 29. He’s switching to hard tyres and makes a 2.2-second stop. He returns to the track in second place. Stay tuned to find out if he will gain enough time on Verstappen with this new rubber. As Verstappen sees Hamilton closing the gap, he is told in Lap 34: “Critical laps for the stint.” 

Verstappen is assured that he is doing well and that he can manage his tyres at the front in Lap 36. On the radio, Hamilton is starting to sound a little more agitated. With no rain in the forecast, it may come down to who can nurse their tyres to the finish line today. Oh no…we’re in Lap 39, and the Williams car from George Russell will have to retire due to the PU issue not being resolved. It’s especially disappointing given his great performance the day before and his early start in this race.

The gap between Hamilton has increased to 5.6 seconds in Lap 46. He wants to know from Bono, his race engineer, about the amount of time they are losing down the straights, only to be told that it is comparable to the previous week. This isn’t the kind of news that will make him happy. Verstappen, on the other hand, is on the close of lapping the field in Lap 48.  Lap 50 and Bottas doesn’t appear to be in the best of spirits. He claims that after being encouraged to push, he “cooked” his tyres and that the Red Bull of Perez is visible in his mirrors.

On 10 laps fresher tyres, Leclerc is all over the back of Vettel now in Lap 51. He tries to cut inside into Turn 1, but Vettel fends him off… However, in Turn, 4, the Ferrari driver makes an overtake move. Replays show Vettel locked up, which certainly didn’t help his cause. Verstappen is having problems of his own, this time with the brake pedal. He is advised that this is because of the kerbs and that he should avoid them in Lap 53. 

Box, box, box for Perez in Lap 56 When the team realizes he won’t be able to get past Bottas on those old tyres, they pull the trigger. As a wonderful silver lining, he now has the opportunity to go for the fastest lap bonus point and chase down the Finn. “What do you want me to do? I can’t close that gap,” Hamilton says in Lap 57. He is disappointed to find out that his only alternative is to nursing this car safe to the finish line and settle for second place.

It’s Perez’s fastest lap, as well as a virtual bonus point in Lap 58. The gap to Bottas is 16.1 seconds, and the Finn also has traffic to contend with. Is Perez capable of pulling things off in this situation? That one is going to be a show-stopper. Lap 62 and Verstappen is unconcerned enough to look up into the sky, where he notices an unsettling cloud. The team assures him that no rains are expected during the race. Hamilton has also become aware of the large dark cloud. He’s even more disappointed to learn that rain isn’t on its way.

Now we’re on the penultimate lap, and Verstappen is simply cruising and confident in his ability to complete the race. Hamilton, on the other hand, is pitting! He’ll have one go at the fastest lap bonus point with a free stop and a set of soft tyres. Max Verstappen won the Styrian Grand Prix! It was an easy job for the Dutchman today! He’s claimed his fourth win this season and the fourth time in a row for Red Bull. The Dutchman extended his Drivers’ Championship lead to 18 points over Lewis Hamilton. Behind him, Hamilton turned purple and set the fastest lap, earning the bonus point. 

Perez has DRS on Bottas. However, he is unable to make a move, and the Finn takes third place. 

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