2019 Austrian Grand Prix Blog

What a difference a week makes. The French GP was, to put it politely, not the most exciting Grand Prix we have ever witnessed. This weekend the F1 roadshow moved onto the Austrian mountains and we were treated to the best race of the season so far. That’s sport for you…

What made the Austrian Grand Prix so good? Qualifying was genuinely close. For the past few events one got the impression Mercedes could turn up the heat when they needed and that they were quite comfortable. Not at Spielberg! In the end none of the drivers had an answer to Charles Leclerc’s 1:03.003. Lewis Hamilton did well to snatch second spot from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the dying seconds, but he was subsequently demoted to fourth when he was deemed to have impeded Kimi Raikkonen. His teammate Valterri Bottas therefore took third spot on the grid. And where was Sebastian Vettel? A problem with his air pressure line ruled him out of Q3 and he started ninth on the grid.

So, onto race day and nearly everyone was pleased to see a different order at the front of the grid. At only 21, Leclerc must have felt huge pressure on his shoulders in the build-up, but he didn’t fluff his lines and the Ferrari got off to a flying start. The same can’t be said for Max Verstappen whose anti-stall kicked in as he crawled off the line. Cars swerved round the Red Bull, and audible groans could be heard from the Orange section of the crowd as their hero found himself down in seventh spot at the end of lap one.

The early laps of the race were entertaining as drivers jostled for position. Leclerc held onto first place convincingly but behind him Kimi Raikkonen found himself in forth spot with McLaren’s Lando Norris in fifth. Both drivers did well to defend their positions however in the end the superior speed of Verstappen and Vettel saw them force past the slower cars.

More drama at lap 20 as Mercedes decided to pit second placed Valterri Bottas. Ferrari immediately called in Sebastian Vettel, who was in fourth, to cover the move. The problem? Nobody told the Ferrari mechanics who weren’t ready when Vettel came to a standstill, resulting in a 6.6 second pit stop. Vettel was rightly furious as he re-joined in eighth place. These schoolboy errors need to stop if Ferrari have serious aspirations about regaining the Constructors Title.

The race built to a riveting conclusion as Verstappen began one of his trademark charges. On lap 50 the Dutchman passed Vettel to take third spot, then he passed Valtteri Bottas on lap 56. Now in second place, Verstappen had about 5 seconds to make up on Charles Leclerc and 15 laps to do it. It was edge of seat stuff and by lap 68 the Red Bull had caught the Ferrari, they jostled for a lap or so with Leclerc defending brilliantly, but on the following lap Verstappen forced his way past at turn 4. The Red Bull went on to claim victory amid wild celebrations from fans, the team, and Honda for whom it was a first race win since 2006!

Verstappen said afterwards: “Wow! After that start I thought the race was over but we just kept pushing hard, I was quite quick so the pace was actually not too bad but I had quite a bad flat spot on my first tyre, and then after the pit stop we were flying… Of course extremely happy for the whole team and also for Honda – we just started working together this year but to win here is incredible.”

Was his overtake on Charles Leclerc unfair? The stewards looked long and hard, deliberating for over 2 hours, before ruling that the coming together of the two cars was a racing incident and didn’t deserve a penalty. We’re not completely sure on this, but if Verstappen hadn’t passed where he did, the Red Bull would surely have overtaken the Ferrari before the end of the race. It was rough on Leclerc, who could do nothing more, but the right result.

Silverstone is up next, which is always a highlight. Let’s hope Red Bull and Ferrari can keep the pressure on Mercedes and for another race like this one.

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2019 Canadian Grand Prix Blog

Another race, another Mercedes victory… But this one was much more contentious than normal because Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel passed the chequered flag in front. A mistake at Turn 3 on Lap 48 saw Vettel skid across the grass and then re-join the track still just ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The problem? Lewis had to slam on his breaks and was forced wide to avoid a collision. The stewards looked long and hard before handing Vettel a 5 second time penalty for re-joining the circuit in an unsafe manor.

Was it the right decision? Social media went wild with both Mercedes and Ferrari fans shouting their points of view. For what it’s worth we’re on Ferrari’s side. The circuit layout in Montreal is such that Vettel had nowhere to go other than re-join the track as he did. It was a mistake but, in our eyes, it was just a racing incident and the punishment seems harsh.

Vettel was understandably upset but didn’t cover himself with glory in his post-race antics. Swapping the number 1 and number 2 signs in parc fermé produced a cheer from the crowd but won’t have helped his cause with the FIA…

Team boss Mattia Binotto was more controlled and said afterwards: “We are not happy. From our perspective, he could have not done anything else and he was even lucky to remain on track… No intention in what he did, he was still ahead and he tried to keep his position and simple as that. We disagree with the decision but we all may have our own opinion.”

Toto Wolff’s counter argument was: “My view of the incident is that it is very difficult for the stewards to interpret regs so everyone is satisfied and that incident could be judged 60-40 on either side but we mustn’t put the stewards under pressure so they struggle even more in the future to come up with consistent decisions… Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it goes against you.”

Toto is right of course, and in all sport, decisions can go against you, but Ferrari must be starting to think they really are cursed as their run of bad luck continues.

Perhaps article 38.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations needs rethinking? Safety is, and always should be, paramount in Formula 1 but the scenario on Sunday would have happened with or with out this rule. All the 5 second penalty achieved was to cheat fans out of what could have been a grandstand finish.

Once he’d calmed down Vettel himself summarised quite succinctly, saying: “It’s not making our sport popular with these kind of decisions. People want to see us race and that was racing. It is a shame when we have all these funny decisions.”

These arguments could rumble on for months but more immediately we have the French Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. Le Castellet is not dissimilar in style to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and this may provide a ray of hope for Ferrari. They qualified on pole in Canada. Can they do the same again in France?

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2019 Monaco Grand Prix Blog

The end of May means only one thing – Monaco GP time again! We enjoyed another action-packed weekend. It was great to catch up with all our contacts down there and to see clients having such a wonderful time at the Grand Prix.

Thursday night kicked things off with the Red Bull Energy Station party. What a fabulous bit of kit that is! At around 30,000 square feet, and weighing 800 tons, it’s too big to be put together in Monaco and is instead built in the port of Imperia, Italy. Once constructed it takes 6 hours to make the 40-mile journey down the coast so it can occupy pride of place in the harbour. Only in Monaco!

Onto Saturday and we had a full house in our Ermanno 7th Floor suite, and lots of clients who did a ‘Combo Package’ which is Saturday on our trackside yacht and Sunday on the 7th Floor Ermanno Terrace.

The yacht this year was moored in a superb position, on Tabac corner and with trackside views off the bow and the stern. Watching Qualifying from here it was great to see the two Mercedes flying through the harbour section and setting scintillating lap times. They deserved a front row lock out. The only disappointment was Charles Leclerc getting knocked out in Q1. Another strategy error from Ferrari and it was a shame the local boy didn’t get chance to show what he could do round his home track.

Sunday was the big day and most of our guests were in our Ermanno 7th Floor Suite. There was a lot of admiration for the wraparound balcony which has views over 70% of the circuit and is directly above the action at Turn 1. You won’t find a better view anywhere in Monaco!

It’s important to say a special thank you to Paul Oz who did a live painting session during the day and kindly donated two hand embellished prints to Promise Dreams, who raise money in aid of terminally ill children.

The Grand Prix itself was a nail bitter. A safety car on lap 11, due to debris falling off the floor of Charles Leclerc’s damaged Ferrari, triggered a series of early pit stops for both Mercedes, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel. The timing was on the cusp of being able to get medium tyres to the end of the race. Mercedes took this risk, whilst Verstappen and Vettel opted for the hard compound.

Fast forward to the final 10-15 laps and Lewis Hamilton found himself defending with all his might from Max Verstappen, on tyres he felt were not going to last. If there’s one driver you don’t want behind you in a situation like this, it’s Max! There was the inevitable lunge by the Dutchman right at the end, but Hamilton handled the situation well and he deserved to take maximum points.

Hamilton dedicated his win to Niki Lauda, saying “I was really fighting with the spirit of Niki… I know he’d be looking down and he would take his hat off today. I was trying to keep my focus and make him proud … we truly miss him.” Well said. Mercedes fans around the circuit were delighted, horns were going off from the yachts in the harbour, and we all celebrated with a few glasses of Champagne in the suite.

Monaco is a special place for Formula 1. If you haven’t been before it really is worth making the trip to be part of this fantastic event.

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2019 Spanish Grand Prix Blog

You’d be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu watching the Spanish Grand Prix as Mercedes stormed to another crushing victory. That’s five 1-2 finishes in a row, the first time any team has achieved such a feat in Formula 1, and a remarkable achievement. The problem is it’s all getting a bit repetitive. What we want to see is wheel to wheel racing between all the top teams, not just between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas…

Ferrari looked poor this weekend, there’s no two ways about it. They arrived at Circuit de Catalunya with a new engine, a major aerodynamic upgrade, and the clear intention of serving it up to Mercedes. The problem? Mercedes had made aerodynamic upgrades of their own and reports suggest the Silver Arrows revised front wing and bargeboard area were worth up to 0.4 seconds a lap.

No surprise then that Qualifying went the Brackley based outfit. What did raise a few eyebrows was Bottas’ time of 1:15.406, a full 0.6 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Lewis looked punch-drunk in the post session interviews and was clearly surprised how far behind he was. This obviously didn’t sit well and come Sunday he flew out of the blocks with one of the fastest starts we can remember. What followed was a nightmare scenario for Bottas, a split second slower, who found himself sandwiched between Hamilton and Vettel as a result. Seb left it too late on the breaks, flat spotting his tyres, but Hamilton took full advantage sneaking round the inside and into first place.

Truth be told the race was won at the first corner. It was brave from Hamilton, and momentarily heart-stopping for Mercedes, but from that moment on their victory never looked in doubt. But even as race winner, Lewis Hamilton seemed to acknowledge the need for a closer championship, commenting: “It’s not as much fun, for sure as when you’re competing against another team… That’s what Formula 1 is about. That’s the exciting part, when you arrive and you’re competing against one or two other teams who are also bringing their A-game. Naturally in those teams, that’s another two drivers. That puts another spanner in the works and often when the cars are close, there’s strengths and weaknesses of either team, and how you play those and benefit from those, it’s awesome.”

Sebastian Vettel was equally frank in his assessment, saying: “Obviously a big step back in terms of pace with Mercedes being far away, but it is what it is. I know everybody is very keen to do better but it is a question of time. It is not easy. Other people are doing a very good job and you need to respect that.”

Lando Norris blotted his almost perfect copy book, making contact with Lance Stroll on lap 46. Both cars span out of the race and the safety car was deployed. Who was at fault? The stewards deemed it a racing incident and stated that neither driver was ‘wholly or predominantly to blame’, but this was not the result the young Briton had been hoping for. The safety car bunched up the pack but at the re-start it was a case of business as usual with both Mercedes pulling clear and Hamilton claiming one of the more straightforward of his 76 career wins.

Next up is Monaco, a track Mercedes have traditionally struggled with, but one gets the sense this year they have an edge with the low speed corners too. If any team can give them a race you’d have to look towards Red Bull. Their car has an excellent chassis and Daniel Ricciardo’s imperious performance in Monte Carlo last year shows exactly what the team are capable of.

If you would like to join us at a F1 race in 2019, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com