By Hong Lau
Man, what a welcome back to the grid we had this week. Obviously, the summer break is tough for DIE HARD Formula 1 fans, and we are craving F1 content. Usually, what we are left with are quite a bit of random rumours of upcoming “empty seats” and which drivers will be signing to which team. Some of the hottest topics this break were Lewis Hamilton’s return to Mercedes, Guanyu Zhou’s return to Alfa Romeo, and what Red Bull would do with Sergio Perez. Nonetheless, we were treated to one of the best races we’ve seen in quite a while. I think the beautiful thing to start with on Zandvoort is just the banking of the track. Watching cars fly at high speeds around banking corners might be one of the most satisfying things you can watch in Formula 1.
We were treated to a dry start with all drivers on slicks, and within two laps, there was just madness on this track. Weather is the ultimate equalizer/wildcard at any Formula 1 race, and it delivered twice this weekend. At the beginning of the race, we had some constructors, like Mercedes, trying to hold out and not pit, while Sergio Perez was quick to the punch and pitted immediately. This led to some drastic changes in where drivers started to where they were mid-race. You had guys like Lando Norris and George Russell begin at the head of the pack. By lap 5, we had both of them in the bottom 10. I won’t keep talking about the race too much. You guys must watch the YouTube highlights or the race to get some insight.
It was a tough weekend for Mercedes. Mercedes had a competitive race car (probably the second fastest on the grid) but could not put it together strategy-wise. It turns out they were right about holding off on pitting (see Oscar Piastri’s results), but the drivers had a serious kickback, and they ended up pitting for inters and then right back to slicks. Between the late pit on inters and going back, it wasted 22 seconds, which could have led to both cars being on the podium. That being said, both drivers recovered well and had some respectable finishes.
Let’s just talk about Max Verstappen and Red Bull. They haven’t dropped one race all year, and they’ve dominated the competition from front to back. On another note, Max has won his 9th race in a row, tying him for the record with Sebastian Vettel. A big congratulations to both of them, as it is a testament to their greatness. Max has been flat out for the whole year, and I don’t see that changing any time soon other than a mechanical error or a significant mistake on his part. He put 6 seconds into his teammate’s time in less than five laps. He was making Sergio Perez look like a child’s play out there today. He should become the sole owner of the record next week in the temple of speed at Monza, as the car and driver are tailor-made with each other. It’s been a treat to watch as it may be a record that we may never see broken. On the flip side, Checo has continued to look very lacklustre beside his teammate. Helmut Marko also made comments regarding his future with the team, so we’ll be on the lookout for that.
The last thing I’ll say about a specific team is that Ferrari continues on their clown show. So far, it’s been incredibly frustrating watching this team. The confusion around swapping out Charles Leclerc’s tyres was obviously frustrating, which Charles spoke about afterward. The team has the second-best one-lap pace and still hasn’t figured out how to put it together for a race. Carlos Sainz is starting to give me Valtteri Bottas vibes. They head back to Monza, their home track, but I don’t expect them to even podium next weekend. Typing that out is sad and just very frustrating.
Some quick notes to the end
I was wrong about Aston Martin, or Fernando Alonso just decided to put on a performance to remember finishing second today. While Lance Stroll looks awful
Alex Albon’s watch continues with his stock continuing to improve with an incredible drive again this weekend.
McLaren killed me in Fantasy, but I expect them to be super dominant next week.
Logan Sargeant is doing his best in Nicolas Latifi’s impersonation.
Zhou obviously had the accident but had a strong showing, in my opinion.
Gasly got a podium, but it didn’t feel like he had a great drive.
Anyway, great weekend! I enjoyed waking up to watch some Formula 1 again. We’ll see you next week for the Monza thoughts.