The ups, downs, failures and questions after the Belgian Grand Prix

The ups, downs, failures and questions after the Belgian Grand Prix

After each Grand Prix, Nextgen-Auto.com invites you to find the tops and flops identified by the editorial staff. Who deserves to be applauded? Who, on the contrary, should be criticized? Finally, what are the question marks or ambiguities that should be followed with interest during the next Grands Prix? Check it out below!

Tops.

Top #1: Verstappen and Red Bull triumph, competition disgusted

Of all the victories (and there are already 9) this year by Max Verstappen, that of Belgium was undoubtedly the most overwhelming, the most brilliant (for the Red Bull side) and the most desperate (for all his opponents, Sergio Pérez understood ). . Precisely in the Belgian Ardennes, Max Verstappen not only took pole with 8 tenths the 2nd (Carlos Sainz) with a single sleeve; but he still easily won a Grand Prix and started from 14th due to penalties.

This penalty, which should have been a major brake on the race for victory (cf. Charles Leclerc’s race with Ferrari), was in fact an opportunity to further highlight the total dominance exerted by Red Bull at Spa. The competition was even more upset as they couldn’t understand how Max Verstappen could be fastest in all three sectors: despite Red Bull being low on downforce, Max’s lap times remained desperately fast in the second most twisty section. .

Max Verstappen is now not far from counting 100 points ahead of everyone in the drivers’ championship. The Spa display suggests that Red Bull have found something in the summer break, although the pecking order could tighten at Zandvoort. Ferrari drivers judged both “disturbing” that” weird “ Red Bull’s performance. Also, the possible arrival of a lightweight chassis (for Singapore) continues to raise questions: but how does Red Bull manage with limited budgets? Mattia Binotto has already asked the FIA ​​to tighten its financial controls. Such is the fate of those who dominate: to arouse suspicion!

Top n°2: Double top 10 for Alpine, two double passes for Ocon

Alpine continues to rise from Grand Prix to Grand Prix. The trend has clearly not been reversed at Spa. In qualifying Alpine held up well and was the fourth fastest car; this advantage showed itself even more blatantly in the race. Proof of this is the very efficient race of Fernando Alonso, who sailed almost to the head of the pack, after having lost almost everything at the start after contact with Lewis Hamilton; like Esteban Ocon’s superb comeback from the bottom of the grid to 7th place (almost 6th after Charles Leclerc’s penalty). As of now, Alpine’s 4th force status is very well established, whether on track or in the constructors’ standings (20 points ahead of McLaren).

The Norman is to be particularly acclaimed for the two sumptuous double overtakes he offered us. The first of the Raidillon straight, reminiscent of the famous Michael Schumacher-Mika Hakkinen-Ricardo Zonta episode (but this time without a latecomer). The second at the bus stop, no less impressive. To be successful in such maneuvers, you need a great deal of confidence in yourself and in the car, a certain confidence and undeniable talent: Esteban Ocon has it all.

Top n°3: Albon draws the full potential of his Williams (ie a top 10)

Here’s a little ‘master class’ from Alexander Albon, as well as the entire Williams technical team! It is true that the Williams has recently received some improvements, but the fact is that the Grove car is still the slowest on the grid. And yet, both in qualifying and in the race, the Thai survived. On Saturday, Alexander Albon reached his first Q3 of the year (also Williams’ first dry Q3, after Nicholas Latifi’s wet Q3 at Silverstone). On Sunday, starting sixth on penalties, Alexander Albon managed to survive and contain the McLaren like Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin F1, for example.

His intrinsic talent is, of course, one of the main factors of this excellent tenth place; but we should also mention Williams’ choice of setup. Because the team had bet almost everything on their top speed in the first and third sectors, which paid off. The Williams was so difficult to overtake in the race with such V-Max that Albon was able to hold off his pursuers. However, Alexander Albon did not have to make any mistakes in the second sector, the most sinuous, which is not easy with so little downforce, especially in a Williams. The Thai absolved himself of this delicate task without any problem, taking care of his condition in the paddock in the process. Three top 10s in a Williams means a lot!

the failures

Failure #1: Latifi does nothing to fix his case

The contrast with his partner Alexander Albon is very cruel for Nicholas Latifi. While his midfielder is more than ever in jeopardy for next year, the Canadian put in one of his worst performances of the year.

When your teammate makes it to Q3, it goes without saying that a Q1 elimination (17th place) that’s also behind Haas’ two falcons is highly unpleasant. Nicholas Latifi left with a debt to his team on Sundays at 3:00 p.m.; he widened the deficit again in the opening laps, turning suddenly and taking out poor Valtteri Bottas in the process. Elimination in Q1, blunder in the race: there is no doubt that Nyck de Vries or Logan Sargeant are rubbing their hands…

Failure 2: McLaren in great pain

Another contrast was between the performances of Alpine and McLaren this weekend in Belgium. The Alpines were certainly expected to be faster than the Oranges: but at this point? The performance of the McLarens was hard to watch, especially in Sunday’s race. The two cars simply had neither the pace nor the strategy to recover effectively. Daniel Ricciardo (starting 7th) even had the pain of finishing two places behind his team-mate, who nevertheless started at the back of the grid: admittedly, an erratic strategy from McLaren (Daniel Ricciardo was undermined by half the field or almost) was not working in his favor either.

As for Lando Norris, you only have to compare his career with that of Esteban Ocon (also sanctioned for engine changes) to see the difference. It is clear that McLaren is no longer the 4th force on the grid and certainly not the 5th, at least if we base ourselves on Spa…

Failure 3: Ferrari invents another way to lose points with Leclerc

The situation of Iñaki Rueda, Ferrari’s chief strategist, becomes increasingly untenable as the Grand Prix progresses. Admittedly, Ferrari’s race was unlucky (particularly for Charles Leclerc, victim of Max Verstappen’s very inadvertent car detachment) and relatively well managed, strategically speaking, for most of the event.

However, this impression, if not positive, at least neutral, was swept away by the circus of the last laps: the Scuderia stopped Charles Leclerc to try to score the point of the fastest lap, despite the fact that the Monegasque risked going out behind Fernando Alonso. What really happened… The icing on the cake, Charles Leclerc committed a minor speed violation (1 km/h) in the pits, due to a sensor failure, and lost his 5th place on the green carpet in favor of Fernando Alonso (penalty 5 seconds). In short, Ferrari, wanting to gain one point, lost two, and the only gain in this episode was perhaps a fit of laughter or despair, depending on whether you are in Milton Keynes or Maranello…

The pure performance of the Ferraris in the race must also be worrying: in truth, while before the Scuderia struggled with the Red Bulls, this time not only was Red Bull untouchable, but also George Russell’s Mercedes kept Carlos Sainz at bay . The Briton even came very close to offering himself to the Spaniard at the end of the race. Is Ferrari in irreparable decline or will it raise the bar at Zandvoort?

We want to see…

Is Piastri already biting his fingers?

Will Oscar Piastri regret signing for McLaren to the detriment of Alpine? The question deserves to be asked… On the one hand, Oscar Piastri sincerely thought that Fernando Alonso was going to extend with Alpine: now the Spaniard’s seat was suddenly free during the break. Would Piastri have signed with McLaren if he had known from the start that negotiations with Alonso would fall apart? Nothing is less certain, but to Piastri’s defence, Fernando Alonso’s extension seemed almost won over, even to Otmar Szafnauer.

Second argument advocating remorse on the part of Piastri: the structural form of the Alpine compared to the McLaren. Indeed, this year, it is clear that Alpine is increasingly taking the measure of McLaren, clearly establishing itself as the fourth force on the grid. Infrastructure-wise too, Alpine is ahead: McLaren recently admitted that its infrastructure (simulator and wind tunnel) was outdated, and that there would be nothing better before 2024.

Third argument, non-sports this time, in favor of a youthful error by Piastri, perhaps discouraged by Mark Webber, his manager: his reputation in the paddock. Toto Wolff has already said, of Piastri, that he closed the door of the team that financed him in promotion formulas, that he believed in “integrity and karma. » Without even making his F1 debut, the young “prodigy” did not earn a sterling reputation as a reliable and loyal driver within the paddock. Was Piastri in too much of a hurry? One can understand his impatience, but he must not become reckless or arrogant.


#ups #downs #failures #questions #Belgian #Grand #Prix

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