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10 issues we realized from F1’s 2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton should be trailing within the 2021 Components 1 world championship battle, however the Mercedes driver laid down the gauntlet to Max Verstappen and Purple Bull with a second dominant victory on the trot in Qatar.

After Verstappen’s victory in Mexico, Hamilton has come alive and with two races to go it is nonetheless all to play for within the drivers’ championship, though a DNF for Valtteri Bottas has helped Purple Bull to shut within the constructors’ race.

In the meantime as a double world champion ended his personal private drought, McLaren’s dwindling kind continued and an enormous alternative was missed by a first-time front-row sitter.

Listed here are 10 issues we realized from the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s dominant win has turned the tides within the title struggle

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Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

1. Hamilton and Mercedes have all of the momentum within the title struggle (by Luke Smith)

There was some extent on Saturday in Brazil when, after it had been confirmed that Hamilton can be ranging from the again of the grid for the dash race, it regarded doable the title may very well be settled in Qatar.

However the turnaround in kind Hamilton and Mercedes have produced over the previous two weekends has completely modified the dynamic within the title race. Purple Bull’s power from Austin and Mexico has dissipated, with Hamilton producing two 10 out of 10 shows – as per Autosport’s driver rankings – to get himself again into the thick of the struggle.

PLUS: Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings 

The hole is down to only eight factors, and Purple Bull had zero response to Mercedes’ tempo in Qatar. Given this was the monitor Mercedes was most involved about throughout the run in, the efficiency will function a large confidence enhance.

Hamilton additionally seems to be in certainly one of his difficult-to-beat runs, with Wolff pointing to the setback on Saturday at Interlagos as having sparked something inside the seven-time world champion.

“They’ve woken up the lion on the Saturday at Interlagos,” Wolff mentioned. “He’s completely on it – brutal, and cold-blooded. That is the most effective in Lewis, and we’ve seen it up to now.”

Verstappen recovered well from seventh to second, but never had the pace to trouble Hamilton

Verstappen recovered effectively from seventh to second, however by no means had the tempo to hassle Hamilton

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

2. Even with out the penalty, second was the utmost for Verstappen (LS)

Verstappen’s grid penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags might have denied us a doable side-by-side second with the title contenders into Flip 1. However for outright tempo, it didn’t have a giant bearing on the top outcome.

A lot as in Brazil, Purple Bull merely didn’t have the tempo of Mercedes in Qatar, one thing all of the extra regarding given Mercedes did not run the fresh Interlagos engine. Verstappen began effectively and was inside 4 seconds of Hamilton as soon as he bought to P2, however then stood little likelihood of bridging the hole.

PLUS: How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage 

It’s a regarding outlook for Purple Bull. The group has taken a step again since Mexico, and might’t pin it solely right down to Mercedes’ kind. The benefit that made this appear like Verstappen’s championship to lose has now left his title appear extra within the stability.

Jeddah shall be an unknown for all groups, however so was Qatar. Purple Bull should guarantee it doesn’t face comparable struggles all through that weekend, or it could go to Abu Dhabi needing a outcome to disclaim Mercedes the titles.

Alonso took his first podium since the 2014 Hungarian GP

Alonso took his first podium because the 2014 Hungarian GP

Photograph by: Alpine

3. Alonso’s podium was precisely why he got here again to F1 (by James Newbold)

A lot has modified because the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix. Again then, Hamilton was a mere one-time world champion, Verstappen was a Components 3 racer but to set foot in a F1 automobile, and Ferrari’s subsequent massive factor was Jules Bianchi.

Fernando Alonso’s seven-year await his 98th F1 podium was lastly led to Qatar because the 40-year-old marked his return to F1 with a third place finish. The outcome was assisted by a puncture for Bottas and the Digital Security Automobile that halted Sergio Perez’s cost, however it nonetheless required all of his expertise to nurse his tyres and execute the difficult one-stop.

It was becoming that Alonso ought to no less than have one podium to indicate for a powerful comeback season that arguably reached its peak along with his defence towards Hamilton in Hungary – that aided team-mate Esteban Ocon’s victory push – and will have yielded a rostrum go to in Sochi had the rain not intensified, after he made his class present within the initially intermediate circumstances.

Departing F1 following three years of toil at McLaren in 2018, many puzzled whether or not we might ever see Alonso in F1 once more. In his time away, he succeeded in successful the World Endurance Championship title for Toyota, together with a Le Mans 24 Hours double, though has discovered the Indianapolis 500 a harder nut to crack.

This 12 months, he is appeared a person extra at peace with himself than the usually agitated determine who steadily proclaimed that drives to fifteenth in a woefully McLaren-Honda had been amongst his best-ever, realizing a factors end represents a great day on the workplace for Alpine. However, as has all the time been the case with the Spaniard, every time there may be the slightest sniff of a outcome he comes alive and ruthlessly maximises it. Qatar was one such instance, and confirmed precisely what he returned to F1 for.

Gasly went wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton off the line, but finished outside the points on a tough day for the Frenchman

Gasly went wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton off the road, however completed exterior the factors on a tricky day for the Frenchman

Photograph by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

4. AlphaTauri noticed an enormous alternative move by (LS)

Pierre Gasly lower a dejected, baffled determine when he got here to the written media pen following the race. He had gone from the entrance row of the grid to ending exterior of the factors, one lap down, and was at a loss to what had happened.

“Our tempo was stunning,” Gasly mentioned. “In the mean time we do not actually have the reply. We tried to stay with Fernando [Alonso] for the primary few laps. I might barely make it, after which after that we tried to go for an aggressive two-stop technique however the tempo was by no means there.”

Gasly added he might have made 5 stops and he would nonetheless have had zero tempo, questioning whether or not the half modifications made after the harm he picked up in qualifying might have precipitated the difficulty. Staff-mate Yuki Tsunoda additionally struggled massively for tempo, partially after getting a visor tear-off caught in his rear wing.

Not solely does it finish a good spell of kind for AlphaTauri, however is compounded by Alpine’s 25-point haul with Alonso in third and Esteban Ocon in fifth. The 2 groups had been tied on factors within the struggle for P5 going to Qatar, with AlphaTauri very a lot within the ascendancy. Now, the struggle appears nearly as good as over with two races to go.

McLaren only scored two points in Qatar after Norris's puncture, helping Ferrari extend its advantage

McLaren solely scored two factors in Qatar after Norris’s puncture, serving to Ferrari lengthen its benefit

Photograph by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

5. Norris’s puncture continued McLaren’s depressing current run (by Megan White)

Having taken simply 4 factors within the final three races, McLaren now finds itself languishing virtually 40 factors behind third-placed rivals Ferrari within the constructors championship. The Italian group trailed by 17.5 factors after the Russian Grand Prix, the place Lando Norris was a contender for victory, however McLaren’s torrid run since then has seen momentum shift decidedly in favour of the Scuderia.

Its two factors in Qatar, following one level apiece in Mexico and Brazil, contrasts starkly with the 47 picked up by Ferrari throughout the three races, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc ending seventh and eighth respectively final weekend.

McLaren group boss Andreas Seidl admits the triple header “didn’t go their approach”, with Daniel Ricciardo as soon as once more failing to complete within the factors – his third pointless race since Austin – after a Qatar race compromised by extreme fuel-saving.

This was compounded by the “dangerous” puncture Norris suffered, dropping him from a potential fourth place to a lowly ninth on the end. The Woking-based outfit now has a number of work to do in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi if it has an opportunity of taking again third place.

Drivers remain uncertain over what is permitted in wheel-to-wheel racing

Drivers stay unsure over what’s permitted in wheel-to-wheel racing

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

6. Driving requirements in wheel-to-wheel fights nonetheless stay unclear (LS)

The massive speaking level on arrival within the Qatar paddock on Thursday was Mercedes’ request to evaluation the incident between Hamilton and Verstappen at Flip 4 in Brazil.

After a prolonged wait, the stewards confirmed on Friday that they did not deem the new video evidence – Verstappen’s onboard camera – to be significant enough to have the case reopened.

It led to an extended dialogue between the drivers in Friday’s briefing about what’s and isn’t allowed in wheel-to-wheel battles, and the best way to deal with the driving force on the surface of the nook, with Norris vocal in his belief that it showed his penalty handed down in Austria was unfair.

Some got here away saying it was clear (together with Verstappen) however many, including Hamilton had been much less sure.

Evaluation: Why F1 drivers are still confused over racing rules 

“There was no consequence,” mentioned GPDA director George Russell. “I do respect you must decide each single particular person case by case. However for me that was not even near the road, it was effectively past the road.”

“We want black and white guidelines,” added Alonso, who has been vocal all through this 12 months about stewarding consistency. “When they’re gray, generally you are feeling you’re benefitting from them, and generally you’ve been the dangerous or the fool on-track once more.”

Race director Michael Masi felt it was “clear” to the drivers what is predicted, even when there was not whole settlement.

“A few of them may agree, a few of them disagree, and that is all the time with each certainly one of them, they’ve agreed and disagreed throughout,” he mentioned.

“So we have drawn, given them some total steerage, but in addition been very clear on the truth that each case shall be judged on its deserves.”

Delayed confirmation of Verstappen's penalty made for a frustrating wait for fans

Delayed affirmation of Verstappen’s penalty made for a irritating await followers

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

7. The await penalty choices is irritating followers (by Jake Boxall-Legge)

Late penalty choices are a little bit of a meme in Components E, the place the order of drivers crossing the end line could be very a lot topic to alter – particularly with the amount of variables crammed right into a single 45-minute race. By comparability, F1 has been held up as an enviornment that may go for fast choices, aided by the zillions of digital camera angles that FOM’s broadcast group has at its disposal.

However though Components E can generally ship a late verdict, its stewards no less than intention to make a same-day supply. At Brazil and now at Qatar, F1 has slept on two notably giant choices – the result of the Hamilton/Verstappen off-track incident right-to-review at Brazil’s Flip 4, and Verstappen’s double-yellow transgression in Qatar qualifying.

The stewards, when reviewing Verstappen’s defence towards Hamilton towards Brazil that left each drivers working out of highway, didn’t have the Purple Bull driver’s overhead digital camera obtainable when making their resolution throughout the race. Mercedes then submitted its proper to evaluation software, however the verdict to throw it out was delayed till Friday.

Verstappen’s qualifying incident was additionally not investigated instantly, and the Dutchman was not required to fulfill the stewards till 1pm native time the next day – and even then, his five-place penalty on the grid for the race was not revealed till an hour and a half earlier than the race was set to start.

Not solely does that create issues for the groups and drivers, who have no idea which consequence they’re making ready for, however it additionally leaves the followers confused.

FIA race director Masi said “it was clearly comparatively late, [drivers] not being right here, lengthy day, and so forth. So do it this morning – everybody’s contemporary,” however the truth that the race was quick approaching with no one being certain of the ultimate grid (which was initially improper, as Bottas’ similar penalty for ignoring a single yellow in qualifying originally put him down to fifth, not sixth) left everybody pissed off {that a} resolution couldn’t be reached sooner.

By all means sleep on a giant resolution, however no less than name it early the subsequent day.

There was yet another war of words between Red Bull and Mercedes, this time on the topic of 'score marks'

There was one more confrontation between Purple Bull and Mercedes, this time on the subject of ‘rating marks’

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

8. Relations between Mercedes and Purple Bull have hit a brand new low (LS)

Mercedes and Purple Bull have contributed sufficient political drama for your complete grid this 12 months, with tensions solely rising over the Qatar weekend.

Mercedes’ rear wing design was Purple Bull’s level of assault as soon as once more, with group boss Christian Horner saying the team was ready to lodge a protest. The group pointed to the apparent score marks on the end of the main plane as suggesting the wing was flexing, one thing Wolff called “a ghost”.

The FIA has launched new rear wing load checks as a part of a fact-finding mission, one thing Horner mentioned he was “delighted” about. However Wolff remained unsure if it will avert the potential for a protest, saying Purple Bull had been “erratic”.

The Friday press convention between Wolff and Horner was extremely tense. Horner said there was “no relationship” with Wolff, including: “It is attention-grabbing to see how individuals react beneath strain, how they react once they’re challenged. It is by far essentially the most intense political title struggle we have been concerned in in our time on this sport.”

It’s intense, however as we head into the ultimate two races and the margins slim in each championships, it will be terrible for such a superb on-track struggle to be settled in court docket. Hopefully the week off earlier than Saudi Arabia will cool issues down and ease among the strain.

Horner apologised for his remarks criticising a marshal

Horner apologised for his remarks criticising a marshal

Photograph by: FIA Pool

9. Horner was improper guilty the marshal (JBL)

As the warmth of the championship battle continues to accentuate, tempers have flared drastically. Horner, throughout a number of media appearances, has been on one thing of an offensive in his accusations that Mercedes have been working an unlawful wing, talking vaguely about “rating marks” and alluring the Sky F1 pundits to “do their analysis”; forgetting that in a court docket of legislation, it is the accuser who should present proof to kind a case.

However Horner’s campaign did not cease there. Following Verstappen’s failure to stick to the double-waved yellows after Gasly was stranded on the Losail major straight with a punctured tyre, Horner was fast guilty the marshal who produced the warning flags for interrupting the Purple Bull driver’s lap.

“I feel it’s only a rogue marshal that’s caught a flag out and he’s not been instructed to by the FIA,” Horner advised Sky.

“They’ve bought to have management of their marshals. It’s so simple as that as a result of that’s an important blow on this world championship for us. We’re beginning P7 at a monitor you may’t overtake at, that’s huge.”

Naturally, the FIA did not take too kindly to that, summoning Horner to the stewards’ room submit race – having breached Articles 12.2.1 f) and 12.2.1 ok) within the FIA Worldwide Sporting Code, which describe misconduct in the direction of the FIA members and marshals engaged on behalf of the circuit.

To his credit score, Horner apologised for his comments, and consequently escaped with a warning and must attend a stewards’ seminar next year as penance. Though the FIA drew consideration to the feedback being made “beneath the strain of competitors”, Horner is an F1 veteran now and should absolutely know the worth of exercising restraint in his media appearances. Quoth Jose Mourinho, “I choose to not converse. If I converse I’m in massive hassle.”

With two weeks between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Horner is likely to be finest served reserving in appointments with a podiatrist and a dentist, as a result of he is been effectively and actually caught along with his foot in his mouth recently.

Hamilton wore a special helmet livery in support of the LGBTQ+ community

Hamilton wore a particular helmet livery in assist of the LGBTQ+ group

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

10. Hamilton’s human rights stand is essential for F1 (MW)

Donning a rainbow-liveried helmet in Qatar in support of the LGBTQ+ community, Hamilton took a daring stand for human rights.

In a rustic the place same-sex marriage is illegitimate and amid human rights issues forward of the 2022 World Cup, the Mercedes ace mentioned sports activities visiting locations with poor data are “obligation sure” to boost consciousness.

“These locations want scrutiny, and it wants the media to talk about these items”, he mentioned. “Equal rights is a critical situation.”

Hamilton has beforehand spoken of the “huge drawback” surrounding human rights in among the nations F1 visits for races, and spoke to officers in Bahrain concerning the matter earlier this 12 months.

It was one other reminder of the ambassadorial position Hamilton holds for F1, each on and off the monitor, even amid one of the tightly-fought campaigns in a few years.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st position, waves from Parc Ferme

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st place, waves from Parc Ferme

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

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