F1 | GP GREAT BRITAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “HAMILTON AND VERSTAPPEN MUST CALM DOWN”

The first kilometres of the Silverstone Grand Prix were very hard, maybe too hard for Verstappen who tried to defend the leadership at any cost with the conclusion that he finished violently against the barriers at the Copse on the first lap after a collision with his direct rival.

I do not feel like putting all the blame on Hamilton but it could have been an accident with serious repercussions for Verstappen whose body absorbed more than 50Gs deceleration.

Besides the 10” penalty assigned to Hamilton I believe that the marshals should have summoned both drivers because I have the impression that it is going beyond a simple scuffle of the track.

It was not as if the championship were already finished beforehand but this zero points will rekindle the world championship considering that that Lewis reduced the gap to only eight points.

Behind the British driver was placed a perfect Leclerc, the author of a real masterpiece with a Ferrari that is certainly inferior to Mercedes and Red Bull. With the harder compounds it was not as competitive as Hamilton with the Mercedes but he squeezed his car to the full taking a result that was certainly unexpected on Thursday morning.

A different but interesting weekend has ended. I am convinced that the programme of the sprint race must be absolutely repeated but with a review of the format. I am a supporter of pole position taken with the fastest lap but the sprint race can be an interesting starting point for both the public and the teams and drivers, especially if the points system is extended to involve not only the first three finishers.

Gian Carlo Minardi

#F1SPRINT, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “ THE FIRST WAS GOOD, BUT…”

Pole position won with the fastest lap is something irreplaceable but as a first experiment the sprint race passed the test.

They were 17 very tight and exciting laps as Formula 1 should always be, especially Fernando Alonso’s comeback. His first lap was spectacular. Starting from eleventh place he took

However, I am of the opinion that some expedients must be taken. In order to increase the spectacle the points at stake should be increased to encourage the second tier drivers to take a few more risks, transforming these 100 kilometres into a real race rather than qualifying. In doing so we will have two grands prix, one a sprint and one regular, over the weekend, leaving the task of assigning pole position to qualifying.

Now it will be interesting to see tomorrow’s grand prix too to have a full panorama.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP AUSTRIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RED BULL AND VERSTAPPEN PERFECT”

Repeating e result only a week later is not taken for granted but Red Bull managed to repeat Max Verstappen’s pole position and win by dictating an unsustainable pace leaving Bottas’ Mercedes more than 17” behind but this rises to 46” in comparison to Lewis Hamilton (fourth across the finish line) who was slowed down by a problem in the rear of his W12.

At this moment the Dutchman is in great shape accompanied by a Red Bull that does not miss a beat and the combination with Honda is an absolute winner, just as it is with Alpha Tauri that gathered another two points thanks to the ninth place with Gasly.

Carlos Sainz’s comeback was excellent and brought the team an important fifth place after finishing ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (seventh with the McLaren), also helped by the penalty to Perez for the collision with Leclerc, even if Lando Norris’ third place was a masterpiece that consolidated his team’s third place in the constructors’ ladder.

George Russell’s excellent race is also to be highlighted. With his Williams he fought with Alonso’s Alpine for tenth place after having taken the fourth row on the grid in qualifying. He would certainly have deserved the first point for the season but the eleventh place does not cancel his excellent performance.

In two weeks they will go to Silverstone and Mercedes must try to resolve its problems if it wants to keep the world championship alive. It will be the stage for the first qualifying race, a real novelty for Formula 1.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP STYRIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI

Max Verstappen won and dominated the Styrian GP by putting onto the track all the dominating power of his Red Bull against Mercedes’ direct rivals.

The Dutchman is driving very well without making the slightest mistake and showing great peace of mind which until last year was Lewis Hamilton’s calling card.

Red Bull is growing race after race and, finally, the excellent chassis is accompanied by a just as excellent engine even if I do not believe it is the best of the lot yet.

On the other side, Hamilton once again made the difference in Mercedes but he paid a major gap that must make Toto Wolff’s men think. He did very well by making the pit-stop in the penultimate lap to take the point for the fastest lap. This shows that every point will be fundamental in the fight for the title. With the third place Bottas won the personal duel with his direct rival in Red Bull, Sergio Perez, so finishing his main task in light on the constructors’ championship.

With the sixth and seventh places Ferrari once again finished behind McLaren and Norris as well as confirming the gap from the two top teams. The difference in the times is always important. I do not believe that the result would have changed without Leclerc’s mistake in the first lap.

At most that the driver from Monte Carlo may have finished ahead of his team but no more. With his mistake he ruined the race for Gasly who was forced to retire. The weekend was partially saved for Alpha Tauri by Tsunoda. With tenth place behind Alonso and ahead of Vettel and Raikonnen he limited the damage with Alpine’s direct rivals.

Fernando has changed gears since Monte Carlo and again here in Austria he managed to keep ahead of Ocon who must be content with fourteenth place. It was a good result for Lance Stroll as well who brought his Aston Martin to 8th place (12th Vettel) and behind the two Ferraris.

In a week they will race again, even if the weather conditions could change since rain is expected. After which they will move to Silverstone. The season is getting going with Red Bull always the leader on the

F1 | GIAN CARLO MINARDI “GASLY DESERVES THE HIGHEST MARK”

We are ready to experience the seventh weekend of a world championship that is giving us a lot of satisfaction, starting with the wonderful duel between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. We come to Austria which will be the setting for a double race in which the most important variable will be the tyres since for the Austrian GP the C2 will be replaced by the sifter C5.

On paper the track favours Red Bull, just like Paul Ricard should have favoured Mercedes, even if the results on the track told us another story. We are faced with a very hard-fought season where very little is really needed to overturn the result.

Once again the challenge at the lead will be between the seven times British champion and the Dutchman, while the number two drivers will be able to play for third place on the podium, as well as playing a decisive role in the fight for the constructors’ ladder.

Naturally this also applies for the teams behind them. To date Pierre Gasly deserves the highest marks for the season he has raced but the team is not supported by its number two driver as happens amongst its direct rivals from Aston Martin to Alpine. If Yuki Tsunoda does not reset himself accompanied by a dose of humility it will be very hard for Alpha Tauri to keep fifth place. It needs the contribution of both drivers to reach its objectives for the season.

After the double zero points the people in Ferrari must try to react so as not to worsen the gap from McLaren. They could defend themselves in qualifying while on race pace the gap widens.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP FRANCE , THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “CHAOS IN MERCEDES. A STEP BACKWARDS BY FERRARI”

From pole to victory. It was the perfect weekend for Verstappen and Red Bull which consolidated the lead in the ladders. Max managed to patch up the mistake at the start by getting the better over Lewis Hamilton at the end, also helped by the excellent work by his pit.

Another mistake in strategy by Mercedes which suffered excessive wear of the tyres with both the medium and the hard mixes. I have the distinct sensation that there is not the necessary calm inside the team and that we could be faced with the end of an extraordinary cycle. At this moment Red Bull is ahead of Toto Wolff’s men. They are very well organized and can count on a fantastic chassis and a Honda Power-Unit in great shape.

Hamilton again made the difference during a weekend that was unfavourable to them, unlike Bottas who did not make the difference in regards to both Verstappen and Perez.

As was to be expected, after two poles positions there was a step back by Ferrari that even said goodbye to Le Castellet outside the points zone with eleventh and sixteenth places. From the early laps they suffered from excessive wear of the tyres with Leclerc making the first pit stop in the fifteenth lap.  McLaren did very well taking fifth and sixth places with Norris and Ricciardo and once again took back third place. Ricciardo finally managed to keep up with his team mate.

It was also a positive weekend for Alpha Tauri, seventh with Gasly, and for Alonso and Vettel, with Stroll finishing in the top ten after having started from the back.

Contrary to what we thought, we saw an exciting grand prix with an incredible duel between Red Bull and Mercedes. Now we await the double trip to Red Bull’s home, Austria… The world championship could take a nice turn.

Gian Carlo Minardi

THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “MERCEDES IN DIFFICULTY’”

Although it is still the car of reference, it is clear that Mercedes has lost the great advantage that we were used to. Mercedes is suffering at the moment, as shown by Valtteri Bottas’ results, today he even finished outside the points zone. Despite the mistake at the restart Lewis Hamilton managed to hide his car’s currents difficulties. You do not see Mercedes say goodbye to a GP with zero points every weekend.

On the other hand we have a Red Bull in great shape that, thanks to Sergio Perez’s win, managed to extend its lead on the ladder. The Mexican replied on the field to Marko’s declarations on his renewal. He is certainly not new in this type of performance and he is a driver that I really like. At this moment he only has to improve in qualifying.

It was a Grand Prix that was flying by anonymously enough until Verstappen left the scene. Race management opted for a restart, surely a new way that we will have to get used to. Like it or not, the final two laps were exhilarating and they certainly cancelled what had happened (or not happened) up to that point. The tussle between Leclerc and Gasly was very good with Alpha Tauri’s Frenchman responding promptly to the Ferrari driver’s assault and he went onto the podium.

After yesterday’s pole position today’s result reflects the true potential of Ferrari which however leapt over McLaren on the ladder. The forces on the field are lining up and there are a number of tussles on the field that will certainly entertain us in the next rounds. The level of the championship is very high and the difference is very tight. This Saturday we again saw in Q2 ten cars enclosed in a few tenths of a second.

Congratulations also to Vettel. After the positive result in Monte Carlo he went onto the podium in second place. It was a result that will certainly lift his spirits. It may be a little early but he is coming out of the “tunnel”.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP MONTE CARLO, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “AFTER SEVEN YEARS NO MERCEDES DRIVER AT THE TOP OF THE LADDER”

We saw an exceptional weekend. Personally qualifying was absolutely the best with minimal gaps. In Q2 we had fifteen cars enclosed within little more than a second. As often happens in the last five minutes of Q3 everyone tried to achieve the best performance and mistakes are around the corner. This time an extraordinary Leclerc, who took Ferrari to pole position, paid a heavy price.

It was a pity that he was unable to take part in the race, also because Ferrari is fighting McLaren for third place in the world championship and having two drivers in the points would certainly have been convenient rather than thinking about the win.

Despite no overtaking, as usual in Monte Carlo, these drivers gave us a thrilling grand prix won by a perfect Verstappen who was absolutely at ease with the track and his car. A perfect Red Bull.

For the first time after seven years we do not have a Mercedes driver at the top of the drivers’ ladder. It was a certainly a subdued weekend for Lewis Hamilton. An unhappy grand prix can happen but I did not like his team radios and his post race comments, also because we are only at the start of the season. His fastest lap was astounding.

We are witnessing an absorbing championship and even the point for the fastest lap could be decisive for the final result. I am convinced that Hamilton and Verstappen will fight it out until the last race.

Ferrari is back on the podium with Carlos Sainz Jr. who finished ahead of Lando Norris. The McLaren driver confirmed he is the most promising driver for the foreseeable future. He fought Sergio Perez, who was subdued in qualifying but decidedly a bulldog in the race.

Sebastian Vettel finally woke up after the long hibernation. In the two laps before the pit stop showed all his worth and he managed to put his Aston Martin ahead of Gasly and Hamilton, grabbing fifth place.

Antonio Giovinazzi also deserves a very high mark. He was very good in qualifying and excellent in the race. He gave Alfa Romeo the season’s first point. He showed he has all the credentials to be taken in greater consideration inside the team.

We say goodbye to Monte Carlo without having seen the safety car and with only two cars not crossing the finish line. Leclerc who did not start and Bottas who was forced to retire due to an problem in the inner right during the pit stop.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GP SPAIN | IL POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “MERCEDES-HAMILTON UNSTOPPABLE”

Even if there was no need for confirmation Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton gave a new demonstration of their supremacy by winning the Spanish grand prix ahead of a just as excellent Max Verstappen who with the Red Bull tried everything to try and overturn a difficult situation.

Just like in Portugal we again witnessed an excellent duel, this time in three between Verstappen, Bottas and Perez, for the point for the fastest lap. This time the Dutchman did not miss the appointment leaving his team mate more than a second behind.

It was a GP that again saw Bottas lose the challenge with his team mate, paying a major gap, even if the number two driver brought home his “homework” of taking points away from his direct rival Sergio Perez. At the moment he cannot do more than this.

It was a masterpiece race by Leclerc who was the protagonist of a stupendous start in which he got the best of the Finn crossing the finish line in fourth place with a Ferrari that is growing but still pays about eight tenths per lap compared to the Mercedes. The driver from Monaco puts much of his own into it as the gap with his team mate showed.

The careless mistake made by Alfa Romeo during Giovinazzi’s pit-stop was incredible. It was a mistake that is rarely committed in lower categories. In this circumstance the mistake was made in both the preparation and the check of the set. In addition, not even the second set was ready. It was a festival of mistakes and always at Antonio’s expense. It was sad because his rhythm was superior to Kimi’s and he could have put himself into the fight for tenth place.

We file away a good weekend that, in addition to the excellent challenge between Hamilton and Verstappen, gave us very hard fought qualifying sessions, especially in Q2 with 14 drivers enclosed within barely 1”.

I look forward to Monte Carlo where I expect many drivers enclosed with the space of a few tenths of seconds. We all know how important qualifying is amongst the streets of the Principality.

Gian Carlo Minardi

 

F1 | GP PORTUGAL, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “BOTTAS CONFIRMS HE IS A NUMBER TWO DRIVER”

This was a grand prix that betrayed the expectations by giving us the best excitement only in the last three laps with the duel between Bottas and Verstappen for the extra point for the fastest lap. The challenge was won by the Finn, even if I find it absurd taking the time away from the Dutchman. Congratulations to both drivers and also to the mechanics. In this context it is not easy keeping the coolness necessary since a “blink of an eye” is enough to neutralize all the work.

Portugal confirmed that the battle will be between Mercedes and Red Bull with Toto Wolff’s men ahead, especially with Lewis Hamilton since Bottas for the umpteenth time showed he is a number two driver.

For its part Red Bull is trying to cancel the gap with the reigning champions. The choice of drivers has proven to be excellent with both Max and Sergio getting the most out of the car, just like the strategy was excellent when they tried everything with Perez by keeping him on the track as much as possible.

Excellent the grand prix by Norris and Ocon who showed that they are the future of this category. Ferrari lost the direct challenge with McLaren, finishing in sixth place with Leclerc and behind Lando. It was a pity for Sainz who, on the re-entry of the safety car, lost a number of places not managing to repeat the excellent start. A Ferrari that constantly paid the gap, including the 5-7 tenths per lap compared to the first places.

It was a good race also by the two times world champion Fernando Alonso. He was the protagonist of less than perfect qualifying, he recovered many positions finishing behind his team mate which contributed to bringing important points to the Alpine team. A point for Alpha Tauri as well, thanks to Gasly’s tenth place. On an unfavourable track, as emerged in the free practice, this represents a positive result, as well as continuing the positive trend.

We will be racing again in a week, arriving in Spain.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GIAN CARLO MINARDI “IMOLA DESERVES A FIXED SPOT ON THE CALENDAR”

Imola showed that it is second to no other circuit. The weather helped to give us a great grand prix won fully by Max Verstappen, the protagonist of a great race, as well as being one of the few not to make a mistake.

The duel with Lewis Hamilton, who was as strong as he was lucky, was very good. After his mistake the red flag and the re-start gave him a good hand but he was very skilled in coming back swiftly place by place reaching second place ahead of a very good Lando Norris who confirmed McLaren’s competitiveness.

Ferrari’s defence was very good. The fourth and fifth places by Leclerc and Sainz represent the best result possible but the team can finally count on both its drivers. Certainly Bottas was missing, in constant difficulty up to the collision with Russell. In this circumstance the Englishman was absolutely guilty since in the Finn’s attack he already held his foot and then lost control of his Williams. It was a serious mistake.

This weekend I expected something more from Alpha Tauri, even if it reached the points zone thanks to Gasly’s eighth place.

A weekend has ended; it was long but with decidedly positive implications. As a Circuit we received the compliments of the Federation and both Imola and the Motor Valley, together with the whole of the Emilia-Romagna region gave a great demonstration of their worth. Now it will be important go continue working to find a fixed spot on the calendar.

Even if it is too soon to come to a conclusion this weekend we had the confirmation of the good compaction of the performances but above all that it will all be a challenge between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GP BAHRAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “IF THIS MERCEDES IS IN CRISIS THEN THERE IS NOTHING TO BE CALM ABOUT”

The Formula 1 season began with all the conditions for witnessing a thrilling championship. The tussle between Mercedes and Red Bull was very good with the latter confirming the positive trend of the end of the 2020 season by putting onto the track a further step forward helped by the Honda engine. Perez’s fifth place after starting from the pits is a further signal on the quality of their package.

But let’s be careful. If this Mercedes is in crisis then there is little to be calm about since they have always shown a very great capacity for reaction even if they made a mistake in the pits with Bottas, nullifying a possible double.

It is not clear what happened in the final laps with the overtake and counter overtake between Hamilton and Verstappen, also because the Dutchman was no longer able to attack the Mercedes driver. I absolutely did not like the decision of the race management to use two measures between qualifying and racing by deciding to not penalize the cut at curve 4. It is surely a terrible lesson.

We will file away a very tactical and technical first race. McLaren, which adapted very quickly to the Mercedes engine, also continues its growth by just missing out on the podium with Norris.

Despite the almost 60” delay paid in comparison to Hamilton and Verstappen Ferrari brought home a positive result, especially if compared to what happened only three months ago with Leclerc tenth a lap behind. Especially in qualifying the car has made a most important improvement even if the road is still long but positive signs can be seen.

Fabulous Yuki Tsunoda who marked his debut in the World Championship with the first two points ahead of a good Stroll. It was a decidedly negative weekend for Sebastian Vettel, the protagonist of two serious mistakes.

The World Championship will now move to the Imola track onto a demanding track that already gave us a good race last year. Too bad that it will be behind closed doors once again.

Gian Carlo Minardi
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F1 | GP ABU DHABI, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RED BULL’S WIN IS POSITIVE IN LIGHT OF 2021”

We have come to the end of a season that at the start of the year was impossible to predict but Formula 1 was united and managed to put together a good calendar with seventeen grands prix with which it was able to give us great races and major moments, all wrapped up in an incredible domination labelled Mercedes.

This final round also gave us a great emotion with Max Verstappen’s pole position and the win in front of the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.

It was a Red Bull that grew strongly in the final part of the season which bodes well for next year. Only a few reliability problems, together with the retirement in the previous grand prix caused by Leclerc’s collision with Perez, denied the Dutchman the satisfaction of taking the title of vice-champion but at the same time this saved the reputation of Bottas who today paid a gap of 15 seconds.

Once again Hamilton showed his qualities by firmly taking third place despite a less than perfect state of health dictated by Covid-19. The situation of his contract still remains to be resolved and an eventual divorce would create a real tsunami in the circus.

This was a championship that was able to give us excellent growth by McLaren that won its duel with Racing Point for third place and a Renault on the rise as shown by the fastest lap time set by Ricciardo in the last lap.

The only sore point is this Ferrari. It failed to go beyond sixth place in the constructor’s’ ladder (never this bad since 1980). There is a lot of work to do in Maranello and very little time considering that the number of days of winter testing will be reduced to three.

Gian Carlo Minardi