2021 Qatar Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: It wasn't too long ago we thought Verstappen was starting to wrap things up. Two races later, and that was obviously an idiotic statement to make. Two races left. Both Mercedes type tracks. Hamilton trailing by eight points. It's coming down to the wire. Nerves are getting frayed.
EVENT: We must admit, there was a larger crowd than we anticipated. And a very international crowd. A prelude to the World Cup.
TRACK: Drove like Mugello, but surprisingly with a lot more passing ability. And some very entertaining passing at that.
QUALIFYING: An anticlimactic finish as Gasly's tire failure ends the last lap prematurely, but it does cause grid penalties for Verstappen and Bottas, while Hamilton and Mercedes speed are untouchable, Sergio disappoints, and Norris is unaware of a cracked chassis.
RACE: This race was essentially over after the start. The only excitement, though it was interesting, was the fight for the rest of the positions and whether Alonso would get on the podium.
START: Hamilton immediately checks out, Alonso is his old self, Gasly hangs in there, Verstappen jumps three spots, and Bottas mucks the start again.
HAMILTON: Talk about riding momentum right now. Lewis has got to be feeling really, really good.
BOTTAS: Stretched those medium tires a weeeeee bit too far.
MERCEDES: With such an early, comfortable lead, they did the only reasonable strategic move -- simply copy what Red Bull did. No need to be fancy or outthink the situation.
VERSTAPPEN: Max has nerves of steel ... at least outwardly. But, he has got to be feeling the pressure now.
PEREZ: Sergio will be needed now more than ever.
RED BULL: Is a protest coming...?
ALONSO: Pulls off the one stop strategy for his first podium in seven years. Well executed. Well deserved.
OCON: He did try to hold up Perez. But Esteban was on way older tires. There was not much he could do.
FERRARI: Perhaps not as successful as the prior two races, but still a good haul of points compared to McLaren.
MCLAREN: Once again, shot themselves in the foot.
ALPINE: A massive haul of points...
ALPHATUARI: ...as they put themselves in a huge hole for the fight for fifth.
STROLL: Lance needed a good race.
WILLIAMS: Also lost out on the tire gamble for both their cars.
ZHOU: As expected, Antonio Giovinazzi will be out of a ride next year. And as expected, China will get their first driver in F1, Guanyu Zhou. Unfortunately, China will not have a grand prix next year.
FIA: We sound like a broken record. It is totally unfair that drivers who cause yellow/red flags in qualifying do not get penalized while their actions are severely detrimental to others. They have got to start taking away fastest laps when you cause a yellow or red flag, just like in Indy car.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Wings.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 5 -- The number of points Verstappen has outscored Hamilton in the sprint races (7-2). That difference could decide the world championship.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Much was made of Fernando Alonso's first podium in seven years. That came at Hungary in 2014 where he finished second in a Ferrari. He qualified fifth just like at Qatar (before penalties to others moved him up to third). Surrounding him on the podium were the same teams as this year -- Mark Weber in a Red Bull on the top step and Lewis Hamilton (after starting from pit lane) in third for Mercedes.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: McLaren tweeting the obvious, "That one hurt."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Clearly indicating the type of role AlphaTauri plays in the Red Bull hierarchy, Pierre Gasly is plainly told by his engineer early in the race when he was leading Max Verstappen, "Max is not your race." Soon after, Verstappen easily made the pass, uncontested.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Fernando Alonso hoping for a return of favor from Hungary, letting his team know, "Tell Esteban to defend like a lion," when Ocon was ahead of Sergio Perez, who was making a run towards the front on fresh tires.
SCHEDULE: With all the controversy about racing in Saudi Arabia, the real question is will the Jeddah track be finished? Less than two weeks and counting...
Copyright © 2021 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.