Welcome back, gear-heads! This past weekend Miami International Autodrome was introduced to the public and racers alike. Over the weekend one could see the sheer size of this event which
contained not only the three practices, qualification and the grand prix itself, but there were
concerts and swanky meals galore. Although this is the first time in this particular venue racing
has been held within Florida at Sebring, this time it was done bigger and better. One could see it
oozing through the screen. The practices were wild to say the very least; seeing the highlights I
got the impression that everyone was spinning out getting used to the track. The biggest worry
before qualifying was the crash from Carlos Sainz who hit the barrier causing another during a race weekend. Thankfully for him everything was mended and ready to go for Saturday (Qualifying) and Sunday (the race). However, the race had few moments which stood out but I will do my best to deliver the winners and losers of this past weekend.
Hard Compound tyres:
The Pirelli hard compound tyres were the main star of the weekend for a most drivers and this will be covered in more depth as to how that was utilized. Throughout practice and qualifying most drivers were on soft or medium compound tyres and it was a big shock to me how the majority of the racers started on the opposite. The choice of tyre depends on a few things, like the condition or the temperature of asphalt or the rain in the most extreme cases. The thicker the compound the stronger it holds up but that means that the cars aren’t as fast so the opposite is true for the reverse. The softest tyres would be the fastest in terms of speed but deteriorate quicker. Which is why in qualification where speed matters the teams usually use soft tyres. So when the majority of the drivers started on hards or mediums I was surprised. The reason they are the winners is that like a few races ago using these tyres to run the majority of the race means that you won’t have to pit very much and therefore not conceding positions to other drivers. And this leads me to my next winner.
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton:
Although both George and Lewis didn’t win the Grand Prix, they can feel like it was a solid
performance after Russell having a disappointing qualification finishing in P14 after Q2. Hamilton started in P6 on the pole but during the start of the race immediately falling several places only to drive his heart out to get back to his original starting position. Though Lewis wasn’t challenging for the top spots, It was Russell who would take the position on hard compounds and drive them into the ground. His gamble paid off and when Gasly hit Norris causing a virtual safety car then safety car meaning that he was able to pit without losing a position for it. Russell pitted directly when the safety car was deployed to get fresh tyres to help him with push for a higher position. P5 and P6 were the finishes for Russell and Hamilton but it was where Briton started that caught my attention.
Cheers to you boys!
Carlos Sainz and Ferrari:
There hasn’t been much to celebrate for the Spaniard since Bahrain in Round 1 and from practice it felt it would be a long weekend to forget. However, Carlos and Ferrari had other plans. Putting his car into the wall during practice meant more pressure on an already strained driver going through a bad spell. A huge qualifying P2 performance felt like things got back on track and would help defend LeClerc’s P1 as well. Off the line on Sunday Carlos was immediately passed by Max but he would drive brilliantly to hold off Sergio Perez in P4 for the entirety of the race ensuring a P3 while LeClerc would have to settle for P2 respectively. His teammate, Charles LeClerc did well to make a challenge after the safety car but couldn’t capitalize on the accident falling from P1 to P2. I am not sure they feel like winners and Carlos said as much in the closing interviews but this does constitute a win in my mind, especially after what Carlos went through the last two race weekends.
Another solid showing from the Fin in several weekends has finally led him to the winners list.
Starting P5 and finishing P7 but having to fight off the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Russell was
easier said than done. When I learned of the move from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo I had my doubts
but Bottas has eased those concerns with strong performances this calendar year. Points are hard to come by in Formula 1 and with Valterri scoring consistently it puts a lot of pressure on the rookie Zhou Guanyu but they are clearly an upgrade on last years pairing.
This weekend saw a lot of drivers make major movers and overtakes. First there was Estaban Ocon who came from P18 to finish P8. I couldn’t tell if I had any recollection of significant moves by the French driver but it’s clear that the stats tell a very different story. Next is Lance Stroll, having started from the pit on Sunday for not being ready to enter the circuit for the formation lap meant he and his teammate started P19 and P20. Vettel wasn’t able to make much out of that bad situation but the Canadian driver Stroll didn’t give up hope and drove his butt off from P19 to P10 thanks to a penalty levied against Fernando Alonso causing a collision. And last but certainly not least, Alex Albon. The Thai driver delivered a similar performance in the Williams car from P16 to P9, which is a fantastic feat all things considered. Racing for Williams used to mean that you would be competing for titles but over the years the funding just hasn’t been available unlike a lot of the teams we are all familiar with. What he is doing in that Williams is nothing short of a miracle and he’s clearly proving he belongs among the top tier drivers.
This is his second straight victory and his car seems to have overcome the reliability issues that
plagued a few of the earlier rounds. The car is fast out of the straights and with Max behind the
wheel making almost no mistakes, this is a duel that is shaping up to be as scintillating as the previous championship. There aren’t many more superlatives that could describe how good he has been in 2022 and it’s all getting magnified with the performances of Lewis Hamilton. Although it’s only round 5 and he’s second in the championship, two maximum point totals for Max two weeks running and he won’t be there for much longer. Drive of the day for sure in my book.
And there you have for the winners now on to the losers of the weekend.
Not much in the way of a memorable performance for the Alpha Tauri number 1, but a significant
crash taking out one of darlings in the process lands you here. In reality it doesn’t matter who of
the other 19 drivers but it’s true that Lando is one of the top tier drivers and to see an accident is a tough pill to swallow. I am not certain but earlier in the race a collision with Fernando Alonso could have caused some damage to the Frenchman’s car which ultimately led to his later collision with Lando Norris several laps later. It’s hard to tell but he was certainly to blame for this one.
This one hurt because I really enjoy it when Fernando is on his game and especially as I am
surrounded by Spaniards cheering him on with every race he enters, it was clear as day he had a bad day at the office. Jumping out the grid to overtake Lewis as the lights went out gave a false
sense of things to come because it was all downhill from there. The collision with Lewis helped lead to that jump at the beginning and later colliding with Gasly causing a 5 second penalty. I am not sure, but it didn’t look like he was able to pit for those 5 seconds and that resulted in a 3 grid
position penalty going from P8 to P11, unfortunate.
And that’s that gear-heads!!! I was really blown away by how much enthusiasm and fan fare there was at this event and from a lot of the drivers and fans it was a hit. I personally would like to see less of the stereo-typical Americana stuff like the helmets at the podium instead of the traditional hats but hey don’t let my opinion get in the way of a good time. The show must go on and to our next stop, the local circuit, the Barcelona Grand Prix. Until next time, like, comment and share.