We can’t wait to see how the 2022 technical changes will mix the card game in preparation for this news. The first two Grand Prix races of the season gave us many answers, even if the season is still very young and a lot of things will change over the next few months.
Towards the Battle of Verstappen-Leclerc
We already had a feeling this was starting to take shape from the second week of winter testing in Bahrain, and that was confirmed during the first two events of the season. After the Verstappen-Hamilton competition last year, it looks like we’ll see Verstappen and Leclerc compete.
At the moment, we note in particular the respect between the two. It contrasts with the tense climate at the end of the season just a few months ago. It’s not that there was no respect between Hamilton and Verstappen, but at the end of the season, clashes and disagreements of course only added to the tension.
That could also happen between Leclerc and Verstappen if the title race is as tight as expected. At the moment the fights are amazing but clean and we congratulate each other after the races on the radio. Will this still be the case in October? In the future I will tell.
In fact, at certain points in both races, the respect was probably too much! I saw those moments when Leclerc and Verstappen braked earlier than usual on the braking approach to allow the other to pass before the DRS detection point. As in Jeddah, the two used this trick at the same time, and both closed the wheels before the last corner. Note that I don’t blame the drivers for using all the strategies and techniques at their disposal, on the contrary, but I think F1 should start thinking about this issue.
When you let a competitor pass voluntarily in the first place, because you see that the benefit of the DRS afterwards is a greater advantage, it is undoubtedly a sign that the effects of the DRS are very large. This system arrived in Formula 1 to prevent the driver from getting behind a slower car without being able to overtake it for several laps, and it does not become synonymous with certain overtaking.
To me, it shows that this system needs to be revised, especially with these new cars that should encourage overtaking. In particular, the distance at which it can be used can be reduced, allowing for example pilots to use it only on the last part of the straight line.
But for now, it looks like Formula 1 doesn’t want to go that route. This weekend in Australia there will be four DRSs on the track. So we are likely to see a lot of overtaking again this weekend…but how many without opening the rear wing? We’ll see what kind of show he’s going to make.
But back to the battle of Verstappen and Leclerc. I think we’ll get the title of a quality fight between these drivers. They know each other very well, those who raced together in karting in particular. World champion last year, Verstappen once again proved that he can get the best out of his car. Even if Ferrari appears to have a slight advantage early in the season, Verstappen is able to put pressure on Leclerc and even take victory.
As for Monaco, he finally has another chance to show his talent after two difficult years with Ferrari. Now that he must prove that he can keep up the pace all season, he’s the one who has shot himself occasionally with a few driving errors in recent seasons.
And Mercedes in all of this?
What has also caught the eye since the Bahrain Grand Prix are the difficulties Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have faced. The seven-time world champion took advantage of the Red Bulls’ retirement to score an unexpected podium for Sakhir, but he wasn’t a shadow of himself in the next race. He was eliminated in the first quarter for the first time since 2017, and eventually finished 10th, earning a point.
There are many problems at Mercedes, but the main ones remain porpoises. To reduce this unwanted effect, Mercedes must compensate with a higher car, which causes it to lose grip, making the car uncompetitive against Red Bull which could be much lower (we can clearly see this by the amount of sparks Red Bull produces). compared to a Mercedes).
There’s also the engine, which is strangely no longer as dominant as it was in recent seasons, and it’s all the Mercedes power unit-equipped teams that struggle with that at the start of the season. It might come close to looking at the manufacturers’ standings, but a quick look lets you see where the three Mercedes customer teams, McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams, are. Indicator? Start at the end.
All is not lost to Mercedes, far from that. There will be developments and improvements to the car throughout the season, starting this weekend. Mercedes is also convinced of the potential of its pontoon car, but is still trying to find how to fully exploit it.
But this will not be resolved in a jiffy. Especially with the cap on expenses, the team can no longer put in as many resources and money as before. Over the course of the season, starting with the Australian Grand Prix this weekend, we’ll see how far Hamilton and George Russell can catch up.
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