F1 | TUSCAN GP, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “I DO NOT LIKE THIS F1”

I do not like this F1 because it wants to favour the spectacle, even to the detriment of safety as we saw on the occasion of the first restart at the re-entry of the safety-car. There have been modifications to the regulations without having tried them beforehand, causing accidents and chaos. In this circumstance the drivers have no fault.

Mugello passed the test and showed how the drivers are no longer used to racing on historic circuits with the gravel immediately after the curbs. Twelve cars crossing the finish line had not been seen for a long while and certainly they do not tell the real forces at play correctly, even if I am pleased at Albon’s third place with Red Bull. Good also Renault with Daniel Ricciardo.

Once again Mercedes toyed with its rivals. They were immediately able to gain a two second advantage at every restart which they then managed, lap after lap. They have unique strength, as shown also by the fastest lap set by Hamilton at the very end.

Ferrari’s agony continued, finishing in the points zone thanks to the many retirements. Otherwise both Leclerc and Vettel would have remained outside the top-10. Compared to the other teams it is not carrying out updates. Most probably they want use all the developments allowed at one go to remedy a project that was completely wrong. Therefore the ordeal will still continue.

However, F1 must not do “go back to square one” as this is not good. They cannot continue changing the regulations which, amongst the other things, also destabilizes the reading of the race.

Formula 1 will now stop for two weeks before moving to Russia.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | ITALIAN GP, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “A CRAZY RACE BUT A DESERVED WIN FOR ALPHA TAURI”

After Monza 2008… Monza 2020 – Excellent Pierre Gasly and all the Alpha Tauri team that guessed the right moment to carry out the pit stop. The grand prix was certainly as anomalous as it was fantastic after it was shaken up by the red flag when Magnussen went off the track.

I honestly thought this was an excessive decision since it did not seem to me that the Haas was in such a dangerous position but the marshals “invented” something that livened up a GP that had the final result practically already written. The mistake by Mercedes and then by Alfa Romeo with Giovinazzi completely overturned the pace and the race’s final result.

It was an incandescent finish with a nice comeback by Sainz who crossed the finish line second behind the Frenchman. It was an incredible result that rewarded his work. It was also a great result for Honda that most probably used two different strategies: very conservative with Red Bull and more aggressive with Alpha Tauri. Such a great difference in performance could not be explained otherwise.

The new regulations could have penalized the two Mercedes but in the end everybody suffered except those directly involved, as Hamilton showed in his incredible comeback from last place to seventh at the finish with a race pace 2” faster than all the others.

It was a black day for both Ferrari that also has to deal with reliability problems and Red Bull. Very good McLaren with both Norris and Sainz. It would have been a deserved win. This must make the people in Ferrari think. McLaren is the confirmation that you can come out of the abyss and climb back up the ladder quickly.

In a week we will go to Mugello, a new track on a weekend that could be conditioned by the rain.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BELGIUM, THE PPOINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “ALL ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPT”


The Belgian Grand Prix on the fascinating Spa-Francorchamps track has also ended. It was an anomalous race for Spa since it slid away without any major incidents with the exception of Giovinazzi’s accident that involved the guiltless Russell.

It was a Grand Prix run according to the script with Hamilton’s win ahead of Bottas and Verstappen. The script relegated the two Ferraris to mere extras. Leclerc and Vettel paid a gap of 2” per lap… Indeed, during Leclerc’s pit stop the mechanics had to put air into the valves. Most probably there had been a leak.

Once again the two Mercedes played “cat and mouse” with their direct rivals. They can do anything they want since they can count on total domination that we certainly did not discover today.

In the light of this weekend it will not be easy for Maranello to lay the foundations for a reconstruction, even if I do not understand all the silence by the top management. At this moment Binotto has been left completely alone. In a staff of more than a thousand people I do not understand how there is nobody to take all the responsibility or to come forward to review the plans for the future.

In the light of the current regulations even 2021 is already lost…

It was a pity about Sainz’s problems with the Power-Unit because he could have been one of the protagonists seeing Norris’ good result (seventh at the finish line). It was a good race by Gasly as well, eighth and ahead of the two Racing Point cars.

And now we await the two grands prix in Italy, Monza and Mugello…

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “AN ERA HAS ENDED”

Spa-Francorchamps will be the first grand prix after the signing of the new Concorde Agreement but above all it will be the first weekend without Williams in the hands of its founder. With the change of ownership an era has ended, that of the so called garage-owners.

I regret this step since we fought together in 1996 to safeguard the intellectual property of the team, taking sides against the clones.

Concerning this very issue, I understand the step backwards by Williams and McLaren (Mercedes customers) but honestly Renault’s change of course concerning Racing Point surprised me, especially after the many complaints that led to the sanction (both monetary and points), even if in the end the car remained the same. A monetary amnesty…

We are faced with somewhat bizarre scenarios and decisions, such as the idea proposed by FIA to ban the “party mode”, starting with the Monza GP, as if this were enough to stop Mercedes’ domination. FIA thought to intervene in one of the most complicated areas, the one connected to the electronics in which teams can count on the work of 30-50 engineers against the 7-8 of the Federation. It seems to me that I am witnessing an impotent Federation in the face of an attempt to reorganize the regulations.

Coming to the grand prix, last year we witnessed Leclerc’s first win, ahead of Hamilton. A year later I do not think it possible to hypothesize a similar result since we are faced with an incredible domination and supremacy. The only one who can try to oppose them is Max Verstappen with Red Bull.

On August 31 last year Antoine Hubert left us and I think it proper to send a thought to both him and his family. Motorsport remains a dangerous sport, even if it has made great strides on safety but Spa-Francorchamps 2019 reminded us that we must not let our guard down. A 22 year old young man with an important career ahead of him lost his life in that accident.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SPAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “IS IT STILL F1?”

Once again we witnessed a grand prix run at a pace at least 7” slower than qualifying (1.22 against the 1.15.584 of Hamilton’s pole). Bottas and Hamilton went below the 1’20 barrier only in the final laps with the Finn setting the best time after the change of tyres with 1.18.183 on the very last lap thus taking the extra point

Honesty I find this quite unacceptable. This is certainly dictated by the management of the tyres since, after having found the right peace of mind and after having lessened the petrol, the two Mercedes drivers raised the pace considerably, with only Verstappen trying to oppose them but he paid the price in any case with a twenty two second gap at the finish.

Once again the race and the management were perfect for Hamilton who outclassed his team mate who was the protagonist of an error at the start that cost him dearly in terms of time and distracted by the attack by Stroll and Perez (fourth and fifth at the chequered flag).

It was a weekend to forget for Ferrari with Leclerc’s retirement and Vettel seventh but lapped. At least he took his task to the finish without making any mistakes.

We have six finished only grands prix but we are faced with a season that practically has almost nothing more to say. We are reliving the golden years of Williams with Mercedes that manages to lap practically everybody. Only the top three, Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas, crossed the finish line having completed all the laps…

In the middle of the field it was a good performance by Sainz and Gasly who brought important points to McLaren and Alpha Tauri respectively. On the other hand, both Renaults finished outside the pints.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BRITAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “HAMILTON LUCKY, BUT HE WON ON THREE WHEELS”

The Silverstone Grand Prix gave as a thrilling finish Mercedes dominating strongly due to a superior pace almost 1.3” faster compared to Leclerc’s Ferrari, with only Max Verstappen able to (almost) stay in its wake.

Only the two safety-cars avoided that the two Mercedes would practically lap everybody with Hamilton crossing the finish line on three wheels. Luck helped the British champion but during the 51 laps he accumulated an incredible lead and showed an unassailable domination.

It was yet another good performance by Verstappen who brought home the point for the fastest lap thanks to the pit-stop during the second last lap following the problem that struck Bottas. It went well for Renault with Ricciardo and Ocon, respectively in fourth and sixth place, as well as McLaren, despite the front left problem that also struck Sainz who was forced to cross the finish line only in fourteenth place, with Norris in fifth place.

Also noteworthy was Gasly’s seventh place with Alpha Tauri. Albon, helped by the tyres, was the protagonist of an important comeback who had kept the fastest lap for a long time which was then taken away only by Verstappen.

An interesting and exciting grand prix was certainly filed away, one that, also confirmed Mercedes’ excessive power (first in the constructors’ championship with 68 points ahead of Red Bull), the problems in Ferrari and especially the good challenge between McLaren, Renault, Alpha Tauri and Racing Point.

In a week’s time we will have Silverstone II where we will have even softer compounds…

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP HUNGARY, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “MERCEDES OVERWHELMING. EXCELLENT VERSTAPPEN”

Here in Budapest Mercedes showed all its overwhelming power in both the chassis and the engine. They were perfect in both qualifying and the race showing supremacy that is more unique than rare. With Hamilton they took the luxury of stopping for a final tyre change three laps from the finish crossing the finish line with a lead of more than 8” on Verstappen and also setting the fastest lap, leaving only five drivers at full laps.

We have to go back to the Williams era to find similar overwhelming power.

Not only do Hamilton and Bottas have a car bordering on perfection but Mercedes manages to also supply excellent material to its clients as we saw especially in qualifying. Let me be clear, I am absolutely against the clones and the assemblers because they go against the logic of the constructors’ championship.

Congratulations to Red Bull that gave a great show of strength, above all after Verstappen’s mistake in the warm-up lap. A second place, maybe unexpected, that rewarded both the driver and above all the whole team for the excellent work done. Albon is indecipherable after paying a gap of more than 1” from his team mate.
The two McLarens were missing in this grand prix but most probably their chassis was not suitable for this particular circuit that is very slow.

Chapter Ferrari: I would not give too much importance to the mistake (if we can say this) of strategy on Leclerc with the choice of the red tyres since the weather forecasts were put aside. This was shown by the result achieved by Vettel who finished in sixth place, a lap behind McLaren.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | Gp Stiria, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “MERCEDES BREATHTAKING. LECLERC FROM RICHES TO RAGS”

For some time and a few years we had already understood that Mercedes came from another planet but this weekend they gave us proof of an incredible supremacy in both the wet and the dry.

In qualifying Hamilton put himself on show with a breath-taking lap, leaving Max Verstappen more than 1.2” behind and his team mate more than 1.4” as a demonstration that in addition to the DAS there was something else. I am more and more convinced that they are developing steerable rear tyres.

They confirmed this in the race with a perfect Hamilton who dominated the race from beginning to the end, followed by the comeback by Bottas who finished ahead of Verstappen and Albon’s Red Bulls. For a good part of the race the latter raced with very high times compared to his team mate, waking up only on the occasion of the tussle with Perez. Unfortunately, Verstappen can do no more than that.

We are witnessing a very positive compaction of the forces in the field behind Mercedes and Red Bull with McLaren, Racing Point, Renault and Alpha Tauri that are giving us exciting finishes to the GPs, as was also highlighted during the winter tests. Praise once more for Lando Norris who brought home a very important fifth place for both him and the team. I am sure that these young men will give us wonderful races.

Ferrari deserves a chapter apart after experiencing a dark weekend. On this occasion, both the car and the drivers were not worthy of the expectations. Leclerc committed an amateur’s mistake. He went from riches to rags in only one week. Very possibly a part of the nervousness was also due to the poor competitiveness of the car. The situation is very serious however, as was also shown by the results of Haas and Alfa Romeo that finished outside the points.

The new developments here in Austria did not show a great step forward, even if the proof in the race is lacking since it finished too early.

In a week’s time we will be back on track in Hungary. This very tight rhythm does not help those who must chase the others.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | Gp Austria, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FERRARI THE 5th FORCE”

The Formula 1 world championship started again with a “bang”. The grand prix showed all the problems tied to a championship that started four months late between reliability problems, mistakes by the mechanics and a certain nervousness by Vettel and Hamilton, the latter certainly helped by the marshals who decided to give him a 40’ penalty for the start of the race.

The grand prix was distorted by 4 safety cars (this had not happened in a while), just as seeing only eleven cars cross the finish line. All the teams had problems, except for Ferrari that however saved the weekend thanks to a great driver, a good strategy and a lot of luck.

Ferrari was the only team not to improve its lap time compared to the previous edition despite running with the same mixes and showed problems also on the engine front as also emerged from the times by Alfa Romeo and Haas. Beyond the result Ferrari is the championship’s fifth force behind Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point, paying a gap of more than 1” second from the top. The result in qualifying certainly reflected better the real forces at play.

It was a pity for Albon. He was the only driver to keep up with Mercedes, helped by an excellent strategy by Red Bull’s men on the wall. The work was thwarted by the collision with Hamilton who was then rightly penalized.

Unfortunately, we lost one of the protagonists right from the start, Verstappen.

Congratulations to Lando Norris who reached his first podium at 20 years of age with a McLaren in good shape, even if I did not understand the strategy used by Sainz. I hope that this is not the beginning of a political and not clean ploy in regards to the Spaniard.
Honestly, I also did not understand the strategy used by Alfa Romeo with Giovinazzi which was remedied under the safety car with the Italian managing to finish in ninth place in front of Vettel.

There was another mistake by Vettel who was nervous when he came to Austria. I did not understand his declarations during the press conference that went against what we had read up till then and had never denied by him.

This will be replayed in a week’s time, even if with different mixes. There really is little time with a lot of work to do.

In the next few days I want to discuss the clones with you which should race in a separate championship.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | Gp Australia, MINARDI “Thursday, the first challenge”

CWell here we are, between controversies and unknown factors all the teams got to Australia, the stage for the first round of a long and demanding season, even with the unknown factor of “COVID 19” .

Despite the closing of the Albert Park Hotel near the track and the staff placed in quarantine after having recorded its first positive case to Covid-19 the weekend of racing is still confirmed even if the Premier of the State of Victoria admits that all could change in an instant.
Teams and drivers arrived in Melbourne after only six days of testing, not enough to define the forces in the field but enough to fuel various controversies.

The first race of the season will be run on Thursday with the Federation called in with the first most complex and in-depth verification of the regularity of all the cars. Any disputes could start from there.

Under the magnifying glass there are the World Champion Mercedes, with Red Bull that could be asked, under the regulations, for an explanation of the grip of the rear bracket that last year FIA had retained regular but also Racing Point, the well built “clone” of the 2019 Mercedes that surprised at Barcelona.

The verifications will also be the testing ground for knowing if there has been an end to the secret agreement between the Federation and Ferrari which the seven teams without Ferrari engines did not like with Red Bull’s Marko using tough regarding on FIA.

Controversies aside, Melbourne will be the opportunity to tidy things up and to understand the real forces in the field. At Barcelona we witnessed a very interesting compaction of the field with all the cars enclosed in a gap of barely 1’15”. And if this is so we expect a great tussle. Mercedes is still the team to beat, even if reliability is an unknown factor. We will see what will be the response of RP’s Perez and Stroll.

We expect a weekend full of uncertainties, including on the weather front with some rain expected in Friday but a sunny Sunday. The only certainty is with the tyres, the same as last season, with the teams that have practically confirmed their 2019 strategies. Ferrari and Red Bull have opted for 9 sets of the C4 Softs, like last season and with Mercedes which will have 10 available, one more than to 2019.

It is a track of traction and braking with little grip since it is a purely street asphalt which could easily see the entry of the safety car.

In brief, there are all the premises for experiencing and enjoyable weekend full of developments. Qualifying will start at 7.00am and the Grand Prix at 6.10am (Italian time live on Sky Sport F1 HD).

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | Tests, The analysis by Gian Carlo MINARDI. Red Bull is scary

 

The lights have gone off on the second round of collective tests in Montmelò and it is certainly not easy to make an analysis, even if we ned to start from two fixed points:

– We are at the end of a technical cycle and on from the technical point of view these cars have reached their limit;

– The tyres are the same as last season.

The improvement in terms of timing, in the order of some tenths of a second compared to twelve months ago, are perfectly in line, just as it is much easier to gain half a second(if not a second) between one season and another and another with the inclusion of a new mix. Working only on the aerodynamics and the engine two-three years of development are needed to achieve the same objective.

What caught the eye was the gap of barely a second and a half between the first and the last (1’16”196 by Bottas and 1’17”803 by Albon). Honestly this gap is unrealistic and this must make us think but we will know the real forces at play in Melbourne.

What is scary is Red Bull. I have the impression it is one of the top teams, they have carried out the next major stage of development of the chassis and they had kept themselves hidden. In the latest attempt last Friday Verstappen clearly lifted his foot on T3 and his best time of 1’16”269 (a 71 thousandths from Bottas) could have been much lower.

Mercedes is illegible. They too have kept themselves under cover. Just like the satellite teams they encountered unexpected problems in reliability but they could have deliberately pushed their pieces to the limit to test their resistance.

Ferrari has grown compared to the first three days of tests, with different tests on the tyres even if they do not feel ready to fight for victory in the first part of the season.

Gian Carlo Minardi

Foto © Copyright: Moy / XPB Image

F1 | Gp Abu Dhabi, THE POINT by Gian Carlo MINARDI “An unexplainable startegy by Ferrari. A reflective pit stop is needed”

Mercedes ended its latest triumphant season with a disarming performance in which it showed all its strength with Lewis Hamilton’s win and especially for Bottas’ comeback who, after starting from last place on the grid, crossed the finishing line at the foot of the podium in fourth place behind Leclerc.

Leclerc took his tenth pole position for the season but he paid a gap of 43” from the British driver which went up to 64” for Sebastian Vettel. These heavy figures are supported by the fact that in the 27th lap the Ferrari’s people on the wall asked their drivers to save fuel lapping constantly at 1’43” and then gambled on a strategy with one pit stop more but it paid anyway with 1” gap compared to Hamilton’s best lap.

Sincerely I did not understand the strategy adopted by Ferrari, especially with Leclerc who, after his masterpiece in qualifying with the Medium tyres, stopped in the 12th lap at the same time as Vettel who had started with the Softs. The people in Maranello must take a reflective pit stop to focus on all the corrections to be made in light of 2020 which concern the chassis, the engine and reliability to which must also be added the mistakes by the drivers and in the strategy.

As was to be expected, Verstappen brought home third place overall amongst the drivers at Leclerc’s expense. The result in Brazil played a crucial role in this direction. Red Bull Honda is certainly the name that grew most this season and the second place in the constructors’ ladder may have slipped away due to the initial choices. They were justified but they did not affect the drivers’ side with a Verstappen who was certainly extraordinary.

We must also highlight the good result by Sainz who finished in sixth spot on the drivers’ ladder which confirms his place as a top driver.
Now we have a long, but short, winter, since more than 100 days separate us from the Melbourne gp but the gap from Mercedes really is huge.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | Gp Brazil, THE POINT by Gian Carlo MINARDI “Wrong not to punish Vettel. A foul action”

We witnessed a good grand prix that was characterized by different strategies between drivers of the same team in a weekend dominated by Verstappen, just as we announced.

This was also race characterized by two incredible mistakes by two world champions who have won ten world titles between them. They were two very different episodes. Once more Leclerc was able to make Vettel nervous who, with an action that was as incredible as it was insane that ruined both his own race as well as that of his team mate and gave Ferrari an incredible zero in the score sheet. In Maranello they will have a big problem to solve. Hamilton instead spoilt second place for an excellent Albon and denying Honda a historic treble. The 5” second penalty was also too little. For his part the British champion apologized but it was not a simple weekend for the team from Stuttgart, orphan in Brazil of Toto Wolff. They had problems of reliability and from the sporting point of view.

All this however arose from the entry of the safety car, which did not make sense since Bottas’ car was off the track and not in a dangerous position. The management seemed “too American” to me.

Congratulations to Gasly for both having brought Toro Rosso to second place in the race and the excellent weekend, He was reborn and answered the “failure” with deeds. Carlos Sainz was just as good as the protagonist of a good recovery. This was a historic result by Alfa Remo’s two drivers as well who took fourth and fifth place. I was especially happy for Giovinazzi who managed the race very well while protecting his team mate’s back as the times showed.

Gian Carlo Minardi