F1 | GP AZERBAIJAN THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “A ONE WAY RACE. A HARMFUL RESULT FOR FERRARI”

It was a one way grand prix with Max Verstappen decidedly strong. He took the win ahead of Sergio Perez who completed the double for Red Bull strengthening Red Bull’s leadership in both ladders. Now Verstappen’s lead over Leclerc has risen to 34 points with the Ferrari driver also behind Perez.

Two “zeroes” in two races are harmful and worrying. In order to follow its direct rivals Ferrari paid in reliability. The evolutionary step in the engine was not supported by reliability and in a week it will be grand prix time again on a track like Montreal’s that is very demanding for both the engine and the brakes.

In such a packed calendar and tightly fought championship it becomes doubly difficult to recover since the time is lacking to analyze and remedy the problems. After a difficult start at the present time Red Bull is decidedly more reliable. On the performance front Ferrari and Leclerc have shown all the goodness of the project taking an important qualifying session but in the race the forces in the field changed. Unlike Monte Carlo the people on the wall guessed the strategy quickly. Unfortunately this was nullified by the reliability.

It was the eighth positive result for George Russell who took third place ahead of Lewis Hamilton and fourth place in the driver’s ladder. Too bad to see the seven times world champion suffer like this and who, amongst other things, complained about back pain due to porpoising. With the races run so closely together it also becomes hard to recover physically.

A positive result for Gasly immediately behind the top teams. It was a good race by Sebastian Vettel who recovered quickly from a mistake in the final stages finishing in sixth position ahead of a decent Alonso. In a year that has not been positive up till now Ricciardo’s finish with his McLaren in eighth place ahead of Lando Norris is to be noted.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP MONACO, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FERRARI. HOW MANY GIFTS. MONACO AN OUTDATED TRACK”

After Spain, even here in Monaco Ferrari gave its direct rivals important points in both the drivers and constructors championships. When you are solidly in the first and second place you cannot and must not make mistakes in strategy, especially on a track like this one where overtaking is impossible. Once you lose the position the discussion is over. In Monaco you pay double for the slightest mistake.

The duel between Red Bull and Ferrari is very tight, as is shown by the order across the finish line with four cars within a space of barely two seconds. Once again the seven points lost by Leclerc in Imola weigh heavily. Now the gap has grown to nine points but we are in a gap in which it is still possible to recover. At Baku however, the recovery must begin. The same goes for the constructors where Ferrari lost even more ground but with fifteen grands prix still to be raced everything is possible. The second part of the world championship will be crucial especially in terms of reliability.

At the end of the race Ferrari presented a protest against the exit from the pits by Max Verstappen maintaining that the Dutch driver touched the yellow line. Until now there had been a uniformity of view and respect of the regulations but in this case I noticed a certain superficiality. After having accepted the protest the college of marshals confirmed the order of arrival and the win and third place of Perez and Verstappen. Today created a dangerous precedent.

Like every year, the arrival of the circus onto the streets of the Principality opened the debate on the track. As far as I am concerned, as of today the grand prix has nothing to say on the technical and sporting sides. Only the extra sporting charm remains. I believe that it is now an outdated race. We again saw how difficult (if not impossible) it is to overtake. The driver still manages, in part, to stand out, in particular in the flying lap as we saw in qualifying with Leclerc or Alonso in the race. Despite a car in difficulty he held seven rivals (one of whom was Hamilton) at bay recompacting the group behind him, also causing harm for his team mate Ocon considering the five second penalty. With these technologically advanced cars it is not as selective as it once was.

On show were also George Russell, once again in the top-5 with the Mercedes, and Lando Norris, author of the race’s fastest lap. The accident with Michael Schumacher was also very strange. The car jerked abnormally crashing into the wall destroying his Haas which split in two. I do not feel like accusing him of a mistake because it could have come from a technical problem or a failure.

Now let us wait and see what will happen in Baku which is an anomalous track.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SPAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “WELCOME BACK MERCEDES. SAINZ, HOW MANY MISTAKES”

We put away a Spanish grand prix full of turning points, conditioned by mistakes and reliability problems. Too bad for Ferrari and Leclerc who would have deserved a win after the extraordinary qualifying and management of the race until the retirement. On the other hand it was a subdued performance by Carlos Sainz.

He was the protagonist of many mistakes that not long ago were certainly not part of his DNA. He must shake up his season and give his contribution to the team. With the car available to him he could have at the least reached the podium. Instead he finished behind not only the two Red Bulls but also George Russell’s Mercedes. Amongst other things, taking fourth place in the final lap at the expense of a great Lewis Hamilton who was forced to slow down to cross the finish line.

Thanks to this double Red Bull overtook Ferrari in the Championship by 26 points with Max Verstappen at the head of the ladder, six points ahead of Leclerc. The seven points lost in Imola have taken their toll on the position on the ladder of the driver from Monte Carlo. As we have always said, this is a world championship that will be won on single points and reliability. Every mistake costs double. The RB in itself is not a perfect car but today took the team both cars to the finish line completing a double. For the first time Sergio Perez showed signs of nervousness with his team, even if I am convinced that he would not have taken the win. The people on the RB wall could have managed the situation better.

As I expected, Mercedes took a good step forward. Lewis Hamilton was the author of a fantastic race. From last position he rose up to fourth place setting excellent times. Perez took the fastest lap away from him only in the end. Russell is also to be applauded for once again making the podium and important points for the team. He is confirming he is an excellent driver.

Positive times also came from Alpine that placed the two cars in the top-10 with Ocon in seventh place and Alonso in ninth after having started in last place. A point for Tsunoda who is putting a tired Gasly in difficulty. On the other hand the new Aston Martin has been postponed again.

Now on with Monte Carlo.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP IMOLA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “AN EXTRAORDINARY AUDIENCE OF TRUE FANS”

First of all I want to thank the 130,307 fans who filled and coloured Imola’s Enzo and Dino Ferrari Circuit. It was a positive result and they deserve an extraordinary cheer. Despite the water and the mud they stayed until the end with an exceptional invasion of the track. In all the three days we had a sporting, correct and competent audience. Under the podium they applauded the winners.

It was incredible to see the thousands of fans who, on the Saturday, stayed until the end to also watch the Formula 2 race. It was a result that is difficult to see in other circuits.

On the racing front Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominated the whole weekend taking pole position, sprint race, grand prix and the fastest lap. They were the masters of Ferrari’s home. It was a result that must certainly make Ferrari think. The team says goodbye to Imola with only sixth place to its credit, the result of a mistake in the final stages. In view of the world championship Leclerc would have done well to settle for third place but in that moment he was catching up to Perez and he tried to attack the Mexican to try and take second place.

It was the first mistake of a very long season that promises to be tight and played on the edge of thousandths of a second and on every single point. It becomes fundamental not to give any advantage to the rivals.

With this win Verstappen goes to second place on the ladder, 27 points behind the driver from Monte Carlo who crossed the finish line in sixth place ahead of the excellent Tsunoda. It was a decidedly negative weekend for Carlos Sainz who is not going through a good personal moment. In qualifying he made a stupid mistake that he partially remedied with a good come back in the sprint race. In the race he was slightly touched by Ricciardo but there is contributory blame. This was a race accident but with a high price.

McLaren confirmed it is the third force of the world championship with Lando Norris who completed the Imoa podium. We saw the Aston Martins once again in the points zone with both its drivers and Magnussen who brought another two points to Haas. It was a positive day for Valtteri Bottas too and Alfa Romeo   with a fifth place finish behind an excellent George Russell. The Englishman consolidated fourth place on the ladder and overshadowed Lewis Hamilton, only fourteenth just like at the end of the sprint race.

Now Formula 1 will move to Miami but the Imola Circuit is ready to host new and exciting races including the Le Mans Series in mid May, the DTM the month after, the Historic Minardi Day at the end of August and the ACI Weekends.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP AUSTRIALIA, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “NOW I AM WAITING FOR ALL OF YOU IN IMOLA”

Pole position, fastest lap, the win and always at the top of the ladder. Charles Leclerc and Ferrari dominated the Melbourne weekend taking the second win in the first three rounds of the season with a second place also to its credit.

A Ferrari that transmits calm, in addition to an important supremacy, especially in terms of reliability for the rest of the season. The fastest lap set by Leclerc in the final lap is a decidedly positive sign, as well as the progression of times from the 31st to the 40th laps. It is a Ferrari great in great shape that must exploit to the fullest this positive moment by accumulating the largest margin possible in the two ladders. Too bad for Carlos Sainz. If he had been a little unlucky in qualifying, he made an amateur’s mistake in the race. After a bad start he may have become nervous.

It was the second forced stop for Max Verstappen, the only one at the moment he can stay close to Ferrari, at least in the times. It is an uphill road for Red Bull on the reliability front and at the present time it is in third place in the constructors’ ladder behind Mercedes with Russell climbing to second place with 37 points (against the 71 of the driver from Monaco).

Today we already saw an improvement in Mercedes. They won eight world titles in the last eight years and they certainly know how to react. For the second time, helped by the retirement of the Dutch driver, they took the third step on the podium, this time with Russell who finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren put itself on show again after the “crisis” in Saudi Arabia. They confirmed they are the fourth force in the world championship. The result in Jeddah was probably only an isolated episode. We must congratulate FIA that got the regulations right and Pirelli that brought fantastic tyres. Even if we are only at the third race weekend we have all the conditions for seeing an exciting world championship

I am waiting for you all in Imola’s Enzo and Dino Ferrari International Circuit for the first European round. Amongst other things there will also be the first sprint race of the season. I hope to see the circuit full of fans starting from Friday to show the whole world that the passion for Motorsport beats strongly in Italy too.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SAUDI ARABIA, THE POINY BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “WHAT A BATTLE BETWEEN FERRARI AND RED BULL”

We saw a wonderful grand prix and I am very satisfied with what I saw. An exciting season awaits us with a battle played on the edge of thousandths of a second but very correct between two great drivers and teams who will certainly know how to entertain us. I am satisfied with the current race management which was much more attentive than in the recent past. There is uniformity of views in the decisions taken and I hope it can continue on the same path.

Seeing a win slip away in the last three laps certainly leaves a bitter taste in the mouth but Ferrari confirmed its competitiveness that consolidates its lead in the ladder but we are only in the second GP. They will have to continue working hard because in front of them is a Red Bull that is exceedingly beautiful to look at and much more stable compared to the Ferrari that must compromise by giving something away in speed.

Mercedes is still in difficulty. It was not exempt from errors of strategy both on the occasion of the Safety Car and the start with the hard compounds. They gave a big sign to the direct rivals. Russell was much better than Hamilton during all the weekend, however, I am convinced that they will know how to solve their problems quickly and with the arrival in Europe the fight could extend to three.

It was an interesting GP in the rear with a lot of overtaking even if there was no lack of reliability problems in Alpha Tauri, McLaren and Alpine. There is a great competition and above all overtaking is possible in breaking.

Now we will see what will happen in two weeks in Australia.

 

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BAHRAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RELIABILITY THE DECIDING FACTOR”

During the test sessions Ferrari won the reliability grand prix and today it confirmed all the good of its plan with an incredible double. When you start with a completely new car being able to count on its reliability is a very positive sign since you can concentrate all the forces on the car. The situation is decidedly different when this is lacking since you must divide your efforts.

What happened to Max Verstappen in the end was a pity because he showed he is a true champion. The scrimmage with Leclerc was as wonderful as it was correct. The driver from Monaco left absolutely nothing to the rivals taking pole position, the fastest lap and the win. It was an excellent result for Italian Motorsport that comes from a few difficult years. Congratulations to everyone in Ferrari. Excellent work by Sainz as well.  As a passionate fan and the President of Imola it is a result that bodes well.

Hoping that this is not the just a “swallow that makes Spring”, the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship started on the right foot giving us wonderful duels on the track with cars that are very different but equally competitive.

On this first weekend we saw a major upheaval of the players on the field with a good leap forward by Haas and Alfa Romeo that even put both its cars in the top 10 with the first point for China’s Zhou. As emerged from the tests, Mercedes confirmed it is in difficulty and currently the championship’s third force, and also lucky. Helped by Red Bull’s double retirement Lewis Hamilton and George Russell took third and fourth place.

Red Bull was certainly missing amongst the top teams, betrayed by reliability problems as the car showed it was already very competitive. Gasly too paid the price as he could have brought an important result for Alpha Tauri. The team can be consoled by Tsunoda’s eight place.

Now we wait to see the second grand prix in Saudi Arabia in a week’s time.

 

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP ABU DHABI, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO “THE TRACK GAVE THE FINAL VERDICT. CORRECT RESULT”

Max Verstappen World Champion. This is the verdict the Abu Dhabi circuit gave us. A result that came in the final lap of the last grand prix of an exciting season. I find the final result correct without taking anything away from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes that in any case can celebrate the eighth consecutive Constructors’ title.

We have seen one of the best seasons of recent years. The only sour note is the lack of uniformity in the decisions by the marshals. Today the race director was again one of the protagonists, especially in the first lap with Verstappen’s wonderful braking move and the subsequent manoeuvre by Hamilton who drove with a lot of skill. When certain decisions are taken it must be remembered that we are faced with circuits with wide escape routes but on a historic track Lewis would have ended his race early. Having said this I am definitely in favour of giving the drivers more freedom as long as there is uniformity in the whole season.

When it seemed that all was lost for Verstappen Latifi’s accident and the entry of the safety car reshuffled the cards. I believe that Nicholas’s mistake was caused by a puncture or a structural failure following the previous contact with Schumacher’s Haas. His rear got away from him.

At that point Red Bull played all in by recalling its driver into the pits to mount the red compounds. It was an operation that was not carried out by Mercedes. The driver did the rest with another nice overtake.

Both Red Bull and Mercedes gave us an incredible duel that lasted twenty grands prix and both would have deserved the crown and I find the “division” of the drivers’ and constructors’ titles to be correct.

With today’s third place Carlos Sainz ends his first season in Ferrari at fifth place overall, ahead of Charles Leclerc. A result that does not surprise me. With equal compounds the Spaniard made better use of the tyres. Now it is up to Ferrari to give these two young men a car capable of achieving major results since together they are able to fight for the constructors’ title.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SAUDI ARABIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “MARSHALS NOT UP TO THE TASK. HAMILTON AND VERSTAPPEN CUT EACH OTHER TO PIECES”

Both Hamilton and Verstappen want to take this title home at any cost and, to achieve their objective, they are willing to race at the limits of performance and the regulations. During the fifty laps they literally cut each other to pieces. They definitely have an edge over the others. They spared no efforts leaving the third placed Valtteri Bottas more than twenty four seconds behind.

For a good fifteen times Hamilton improved his fastest lap with Verstappen who was not to be undone answering his opponent’s every thrust. Verstappen’s start after the second red flag was a real masterpiece to be shown to all the young drivers entering into this world. He tried everything to take back the race lead.

Both Lewis and Max are showing and giving us the best part of Formula 1 and beyond the controversy we must let them drive and fight. Behind them there are two great teams and two top Team Principals who did not hold back cutting remarks and low blows. The tension is sky high and it is absolutely clear.

The conduct of the race was weak and the director and marshals decidedly lost control. I have not yet understood the first red flag that subsequently conditioned the whole grand prix. The Federation is slacking and what happened in recent weekends should be evaluated.

While I am writing here the final ladder is still sub-judice since there are a number of inconsistencies to be evaluated, including Hamilton’s collision with Verstappen. The fact is that in a week’s time they will race in Abu Dhabi, the twenty second grand prix, with Verstappen and Hamilton paired up.

Amongst the others, I would highlight the good performance by Antonio Giovinazzi who brought home two points, as well as the good struggle between Ocon and Bottas that ended with the Finn ahead in a photo finish. Unfortunately, in Alpha Tauri Gasly is left alone in the struggle with the direct rivals.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP QATAR, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FOR FERNANDO AGE IS AN OPTION”

 


As often happens, the starting grid was defined a few short hours before the start of the grand prix. Lately the marshals’ decisions have been very long, as well as questionable, but in the specific case of Verstappen it was correct. With the yellow flag you have to lift the foot off the pedal. Unfortunately, his casualness could have cost him very dearly, but he managed to limit the damage by also taking the point for the point for the fastest lap.

We could have witnessed a race with a number of strategies. In the first part of the race Hamilton went very strongly but with the pace he showed Verstappen could have stayed closer to him. We come to the last two races with a gap of only eight points between the two contenders. On the constructors’’ front, also thanks to Bottas’ retirement, Red Bull scored a major blow by bringing itself to only five points from Mercedes. Practically anything can still happen. We are about to experience a mini and intense world championship enclosed in two rounds. Reliability will be more important than ever.

Alonso entertained us by showing that age is only an aspect of the birth records. It is a pity that he does not have a higher performing car available. He must defend himself tooth and nail by jumping through hoops.

No praise and glory for Ferrari that defends third place at McLaren’s expense despite a really great and important gap from Red Bull and Mercedes. Third place will make it easier to digest the defeat.

Gasly made his fans dream by starting on the front row beside Hamilton but in this moment Alpha Tauri continues to “play” only with one driver and here in Qatar paid a heavy toll in comparison to its direct rivals in Alpine. Fifth place can still be reached but it will certainly not be easy.

In two weeks we will discover the circuit in Saudi Arabia, a very fast street circuit that could again favour Mercedes… But in this world championship nothing has yet been decided.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BRAZIL, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “HAMILTON AND MERCEDES SUPERSTARS”

A success as a couple. Hamilton and Mercedes were both superstars despite that “flaw” that could have cost a lot. Even if it was just a few mere millimetres it was a major oversight by a team with eight world championships to its credit. With great stubbornness Hamilton recovered position after position, starting with the sprint race that was fruitful, and therefore positions recovered in barely twenty four laps, and he then completed the job with a clear success.

The strategy of changing the endothermic engine paid off because he was able to exploit all the power and on the straight there was no comparison with any rival. He incited the crowd.
Well done also to Bottas who during Saturday’s race took the points for the win away from Verstappen, even if I believe the points system is wrong since there are too few to be won.

For 57 laps Verstappen made him pay a high price, lapping in excellent times answering with strength to the first attack by his direct rival. I found the marshals’ decision not to proceed with the investigation correct since it was a race incident, certainly on the limits of the regulations, between two drivers who are competing for the world title. He could do nothing in bend 3 of the 59th lap. From that moment the Dutchman raised his foot to protect his Honda. It was obvious that the Red Bull did not have Mercedes’ rhythm.

We saw a wonderful struggle between two excellent teams that took points away from each other, with Perez setting the fastest pap in the end with a strategic pit-stop. There were important gaps for all the others with Ferrari once again winning the direct contest with McLaren. With seventh place ahead of the two Alpines Gasly kept Alpha Tauri in the fight for fifth place but it will not be easy with a contribution by Tsunoda.

Two new circuits now await us before the grand final in Abu Dhabi where the title will most likely be assigned. Both Hamilton and Verstappen deserve the crown but only one will win.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP MEXICO, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RED BULL AND ALPHA TAURI CAN ACHIEVE THEIR RESPECTIVE OBJECTIVES”

We saw another fantastic grand prix that was very tight until the last lap when Red Bull hit the jackpot. During the free practice they were constantly the point of reference and then on Saturday they lost pole position in an incredible way in favour of Bottas and Hamilton.

What happened in qualifying was unexplainable but just as unexplainable was the start by Bottas who did not support his team mate. Max Verstappen’s start was perfect and he was already in the lead in the first curve showing how strong his car is in this moment. At the end of the race Hamilton himself highlighted their potential.

At this moment the Red Bull-Alpha Tauri group has all the credentials to achieve their respective objectives. With Gasly’s fourth place Alpha Tauri caught up with the Alpine on the ladder while Red Bull (with first and third places) took itself to only one point from Mercedes.

Considering the current situation it was a positive result for Ferrari. With fifth and sixth places Leclerc and Sainz overtook McLaren to take third place. In this moment Norris and Ricciardo do not have a high performance car as they did in the first part of the season, finishing the race with only one point to their credit (tenth place by Norris).

We await four very interesting races of which two (Qatar and Saudi Arabia) are without any history as they are about to host Formula 1 for the first time.

Gian Carlo Minardi

 

F1 | GP USA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RACE RUN ON THE EDGE OF HUNDREDTHS OF A SECOND. VERSTAPPEN HAS MATURED”

One of the best if not the best grand prix of the season with two drivers who crossed the finish line with a gap of less than a second after fifty six laps. It was a race that was run on hundredths of a second. On one part of the track Mercedes was faster while on the other it was Red Bull. Congratulations also to the organizers to bring to 400,000 people to the circuit over the three days, setting the new record.

Congratulations also to Red Bull that got all the strategies right with Verstappen who showed once again that he wants to win this title at all costs. The friction with Hamilton helped him grow and mature. Once more he worked to bring home the best result possible, the win.

The excellent work by Red Bull was completed by third place with Perez who, as a good wingman, did not attack Verstappen at the start and ended the race with an “off” Valtteri Bottas. He will go to Mexico strengthened by this result, as well as having helped the team in the constructors’ ladder.

The result was also a good omen for Ferrari with Leclerc and Sainz placing their cars ahead of their direct rivals, McLaren.

Two precious points also for Tsunoda on the Sunday that saw the retirement of his team mate Gasly but above all for both the Alpines, the direct rivals for fifth place. A thrilling end of the season can be expected with duels raced on the edge of a few points.

Yet again absurd strategy by Alfa Romeo denied Giovinazzi the satisfaction of entering the points zone in favour of Sebastian Vettel. Antonio had the pace to take the pint but once again the team wanted to favour Raikonnen who made a mistake at the end.

Gian Carlo Minardi