A Tale of Ferrari and Williams – Styrian GP Qualifying

This weekend’s qualifying for the Styrian GP (aka Austrian GP part 2) was thrown a dose of excitement by Mother Nature. If you haven’t seen racing in the rain before, know that it’s typically a performance equalizer and it’s where driver talent really comes through. It was an exciting qualifying session and the rain delay was well worth it. The two stories this week are Ferrari and Williams:

George Russell and Williams

George Russell prepares for qualifying at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix
George Russell prepares for qualifying at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix

Holy hell. Williams out of Q1! They nearly got out last weekend but this weekend they performed solidly and Russell got that Williams all the way up to P12! They out qualified much better cars – Racing Point, AlphaTauri, Haas, and Alfa Romeo. Latifi, I believe, also would have gotten out of Q1 had it not been for the session being red flagged just before his final lap. His lap prior also suffered due to a yellow flag – remember you must slow under yellow. Overall a fantastic day for Williams.

Ferrari is screwed

Oh boy. I wrote last week that they looked like they were in a bad situation, and I think this weekend confirms it. They qualified worse this week than they did last week. (7th and 11th last week, 10th and 11th this week.) Ferrari are down on engine performance and given that rain is a performance equalizer they may have much larger problems with their car than just engine power. LeClerc is certainly a good driver and Vettel is also experienced in the rain. That they couldn’t place the car higher than 10th is very telling.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the Styrian Grand Prix

I wrote last week that Ferrari were going to be battling with McLaren, Racing Point, and Renault. You can now add AlphaTauri to that list as Gasly had a fantastic qualifying and stuck his car on P8. 

Perhaps Ferrari’s race will be better than qualifying, however if you’re a Ferrari fan I wouldn’t get your hopes up. They are well and truly screwed.

Race Day

The forecast for tomorrow looks good – no rain as far as I can tell. This should make things interesting for sure. With the Ferraris out of place – again – can they gain places? Sainz is on 3rd – can McLaren convert that to another podium? Norris placed 6th however he has a 3 place grid penalty for overtaking under yellow flags during Free Practice 1 yesterday. Esteban Ocon also quietly put his Renault at P5 so we’ll see what he can do as well now that last weekend knocked the rust off for him.

Should be an exciting race and I can’t wait! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be live-tweeting tomorrow’s race as well.

Austrian GP Qualifying – Where Was Ferrari?!

While Mercedes was on their usual form locking out the front row in Austria for the race tomorrow, the big story really is, “Where was Ferrari?” Aside from incidents where a mechanical issue prevented Seb from making Q3, he’s never missed making it to Q3 while at Ferrari. His team mate – Charles LeClerc – didn’t fare much better making it into Q3 however merely placing P7. 

ferrari sebastian vettel formula 1 f1

To make matters worse, if you compare lap times from last year and this year, Ferrari have lost nearly a full second of pace. Meanwhile, Racing Point have gained nearly a second in comparison. 

What’s more, other Ferrari powered cars – Alfa Romeo and Haas – have also significantly lost time compared to last year’s Austrian GP lap times. 

Steady Regulations

Keep in mind that the aerodynamic regulations haven’t significantly changed between last year and this year. This type of slow down would be normal during a large shift in regulations. For instance new tire compounds, new aerodynamics rules, or engine format changes. When evolving a car design year on year you don’t get slower – you get faster.

What does this all boil down to? In my mind, whatever it was that the FIA and Ferrari were involved in last year that resulted in a confidential settlement, Ferrari’s Power Unit was absolutely illegal under the rules. The FIA figured it out, had Ferrari nailed dead to rights, and made them change it. 

I’d posit that it was significantly illegal enough that they’ve had to roll back a large amount of progress on their Power Units and thus you’re now seeing Alfa Romeo 1.1 seconds slower than last year. Engine customer teams get the same exact software and engine maps as the factory teams so it’s not like they are getting less out of the engines than the factory team.

Lost Progress For Ferrari

A second slower is not a small amount of progress lost. It’s said teams will spend $10M to find a tenth of a second. Today’s qualifying dealt Ferrari a $100M blow in development on the cusp of spending regulations set to come in next season. (Have a listen to the Pre-Austrian GP news episode for more on the spending cap.)

We’ll see what happens during tomorrow’s race, but I don’t expect Ferrari to be anywhere near a podium position. If qualifying is any indication of race pace, they’ll be scrapping with Racing Point, Renault, and McLaren rather than Red Bull and Mercedes. Personally I’m hoping Lando Norris has a cracker of a race and somehow gets that podium’s 3rd step.

2020 is definitely very weird.

Formula 1 Austrian GP – Race Ready – F1 Explained

Opening Track: M83 – Midnight City

It’s been 7 months since we’ve had Formula 1 racing and it’s been an excuciating wait. Thankfully we are on the cusp of that wait being over. Sunday we’ll see our first race of 2020 with the Austrian GP. I’ll update you on the latest news, what to look out for at the Red Bull Ring, and give you a bit of history from prior races here. When you’re done, you’ll be Race Ready.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, drop some email to feedback@f1explained.com and to review the podcast wherever you subscribe – it helps other folks find the podcast.

Formula 1 News Update – F1 Explained

Opening track: Morcheeba – The See

A bunch has happened in the last couple of weeks with respect to changes coming to F1 in 2021. Cost caps, technical regulation tweaks and more so I thought I’d break it down for you.

Not to worry, I’ll be back just before the season (hopefully?) kicks off prior to the Austrian GP to get you Race Ready.

As always, follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/_f1explained) as I live tweet qualifying and races, drop me email to feedback@f1explained.com, and leave a review wherever you subscribe. Enjoy!

VETTEL LEAVES FERRARI – Formula 1 Explained

Oh. My. Goodness.

We haven’t even had a race in 2020 yet and we’re elbow deep into Silly Season again. A massive bombshell with news this morning that Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are parting ways at the end of the season.

Catch up on where the season stands so far and my thoughts on who could replace him!

I’m also experimenting with changing the cover art as the episode plays so have a look at your device to see if it changes. As long as your podcast player supports chapters, it should (most do).

Don’t forget to follow me at @_f1explained over on Twitter and drop me some thoughts at feedback@f1explained.com.

Australian Grand Prix 2020 – Race Ready – F1 Explained

Opening Track: AC/DC – For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Well, here we are with F1 2020 about to officially kick off. So exciting! After a quick bit of news about the next grand prix, I’ll take you through the track itself, what to look for, incidents in the past that have made Melbourne an exciting race, and finally when to catch it live.

After listening, you’ll be Race Ready.

Referenced material:
Martin Brundle’s crash in 1996
Ralf Schumacher kicking off an 8 car wreck in 2002
Fernando Alonso’s horrific crash in 2016 that he walked away from

2020 Pre-Season Testing & Interview with Chris Sylt of Formula Money – F1 Explained

Intro song: Nina Simone – Feeling Good

Kicking off the 2020 series with a bang! I’ll take you through what we’ve seen thus far for 2020 including driver lineup changes, new car liveries, and a couple of bombshells dropped during the first pre-season test.

I also was fortunate to have along Chris Sylt of Formula Money for a great chat. He’s been following the money in F1 for 20 years and had some great insight into teams, organizers, drivers, and how money revolves around all of them. It’s a great listen.

As mentioned, the format is changing and I’ll be getting you Race Ready during the 2020 season. Expect episodes to drop the Wednesday or Thursday before the race weekend. You’ll then know what to watch for that specific race weekend.

Give a rating or review over on the iTunes store – it helps people find the show! If you didn’t hear, I’ve got a newsletter! Sign up at f1explained.com Of course follow me on Twitter or drop me email to feedback@f1explained.com.