Formula 1 lessons from France: Verstappen looks like world champion

Formula 1 lessons from France
Verstappen looks like a world champion

Verstappen won the French Grand Prix late, but deservedly. Red Bull actually appears to be at least equal to Mercedes in the 2021 Formula 1 season. Finally winning the second driver’s duel. German pilots still had room for improvement.

Verstappen could break Mercedes’ dominance

There are increasing indications that the Formula 1 world champion, for the first time since 2013, is not behind the wheel of a Mercedes. Despite being only 23 years old, Verstappen is finally ready to win the title, and Red Bull finally has the necessary qualities in all respects. Le Castellet was considered a Mercedes track until this weekend, but Red Bull was the dominant force in southern France. W: Even with strategy, in the past Mercedes was often the trump card in tricky situations, this time the World Cup contender had the better hand.

In addition, it appears that Red Bull has finally fixed its “problem” in the second car. Neither Pierre Gasly nor Alexandre Albon was able to consistently reach the top four in previous years. This is exactly what Sergio Perez is doing now. After a difficult start to the season, he has crossed the finish line four times in the last five races, at least fourth, and three times in a row has also scored more points than Valtteri Bottas, second-placed at Mercedes. Thus, Red Bull leads the constructors’ championship by 37 points (Red Bull 215, Mercedes 178).

Mercedes can’t punish Red Bull’s mistake

So Mercedes is facing a tough challenge as it has been in the past seven years. In 2017 and 2018, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel presented problems to the occasional permanent world champion, but the silver players always had moments of dominance – and eventually won the title with confidence. This dominance is missing this season, despite Hamilton’s three victories in seven races, because none of his victories were clear, and Verstappen is also already in the top three. Difficulties in Monaco and Baku hurt, but were taken into account to some extent. The fact that at Le Castellet they could not even take advantage of Verstappen’s mistake, which caused dire consequences in the second corner, worries Mercedes.

Meanwhile, at Valtteri Bottas, there are increasing indications that he will lose his place after the season. As fifth in the World Cup, he’s far behind Perez, the Verstappen/Hamilton duo out of reach of the Finn. At Le Castellet, at the end of the race, he was powerless to be overtaken by both Red Bulls. The one-stop strategy left him without any control over the tires. In turn, he was upset, and sent the box into the radio: “Why does no one listen to me when I say this is a double seal?” And even if team boss Toto Wolff says: “I think that’s cool. He’s finally criticizing” – that George Russell at Mercedes by the new season at the latest becomes more likely with every point the series winner loses to Red Bull.

Vettel is on the right track

Heppenheimer couldn’t continue his rise in the city races in Monaco and Baku with fifth and second places, but he must get over it. The 33-year-old and Aston Martin have found a certain balance, and ninth place was a good result. Red Bull and Mercedes are far ahead, and McLaren is establishing itself as a third powerhouse. Immediately behind him is the de-facto “home” of his regular racing team. So he is doing a better job than the previous racing team Ferrari. The Scuderia will probably only have one car on a quick run in qualifying, in Le Castellet Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc missed out on the top ten. Or, as the Reds themselves put it in their race report on their website: “Bad setback.”

Aston Martin, on the other hand, has brought both cars to the points for the second time this season, albeit with a minimal return of three points – two for Vettel (ninth), one for Lance Stroll (10th). “I’m not completely satisfied, but it’s great that we have both cars on the points,” Vettel then confirmed the positivity after winning the team’s indoor fencing for the third time in a row.

Schumacher has seen his ups and downs

You’ll read the statistics books: 15th place and thus the best qualifying result so far for Mick Schumacher. But you have to take a different look at the novice weekend. Because of his crash in Q1, he finished the session early and could theoretically have been outflanked by other drivers on their last attempt. W: Schumacher himself caused his mechanic to work overtime again after two training accidents in Monaco. In the race, he was inconspicuous and quickly returned to the end of the field – according to the capabilities of his Haas car.

“The start was good. After that, she kicked me out as a group. It took a lot of rounds to come back,” summed up the 22-year-old, who seems to have gained some respect in the track despite a subdued car. “In the second period, things went better and we were able to keep up with Williams in terms of lap times,” said Schumacher, who was at least 19th to secure it in Haas’ internal duel with teammate Nikita Mazepin in qualifying and racing afterwards. Seven races have been placed six times.

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