Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Mercedes surprised by McLaren’s Austrian GP pace

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In the round-up: Mercedes did not expect engine customers McLaren to disrupt involved in their race plan at the weekend after comfortably beating the team the week before.

In brief

Mercedes surprised by McLaren pace

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin was surprised to see McLaren’s Lando Norris hounding his driver Valtteri Bottas in the second half of the Austrian Grand Prix after Bottas jumped him as they took their pit stops.

Norris had to serve a five-second penalty during his stop, which cost him a position, but he had the pace to stay within a few seconds of Bottas all the way to the end. He also out-qualified the Mercedes drivers on Saturday and came just short of taking pole.

“I think it was a surprise to see Lando in the shoot-out for pole,” said Shovlin. “He was awfully close to getting pole.”

Shovlin was convinced that the pace of the McLaren, which uses an engine supplied by Mercedes, was down to the team making progress between the two races at the Red Bull Ring.

“We know that any deficit there isn’t on the power unit side. So I think it was a bit of a surprise to see them as strong as they were, and even in the race today, we were racing them. Whereas last week they were doing their own thing and we got through them rather quickly and there was a big gap.”

More penalties handed out in FIA F3

The results of the support races in Austria were decided long after the chequered flag on Saturday, and the same happened on Sunday as a raft of post-race penalties came in.

Jenzer’s Johnathan Hoggard had 30 seconds added to his race time for repeated track limits violations, his team mate Filip Ugran, Trident’s Jack Doohan and HWA’s Oliver Rasmussen all got docked 10s, and Charouz’s Enzo Fittipaldi was penalised 5s for the same offence.

This shuffled up the order at the bottom of the field, as did a 10s penalty to Hitech’s Jak Crawford for colliding with Doohan and a 5s penalty for MP’s Timen van der Helm after he spun around HWA’s Rafael Villagomez.

Ferrari junior Arthur Leclerc crashed out in the middle of the race, collecting Trident’s Clement Novalak in the process. After assessing video footage of the crash, the stewards determined Leclerc was wholly to blame for the incident and handed him a three-place grid penalty for the next race he contests.

Newgarden relieved to end win drought

Josef Newgarden took fastest lap for the first IndyCar race in Detroit, was on pole for the second and led the most laps, then repeated that feat at Road America but came away without winning. That changed at Mid-Ohio as once again he was fastest in qualifying and led for longer than anyone else, but this time converted it into a landmark victory.

It came exactly 50 years on from his Penske team’s first win in America’s leading open-wheel series, and was the outfit’s long overdue first victory of the season.

“I’d start each stint and feel like we had everything under control,” a relieved Newgarden said.

“You get to the back end of it, and I felt like I was starting to fall apart, so it was really hard to hang on. I had my wing man, Tim [Cindric, Penske president] coaching me all the way, just making sure I knew what was up.

“This team has been doing the job. Everyone has been giving me a hard time, asking what’s up with us not winning a race. But I don’t think these people at Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race, had great performance. It’s great to seal a win here finally.”

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Comment of the day

Having packed grandstands at the Austrian Grand Prix certainly made for a spectacle, particularly when smoke flares were lit up all around the circuit as Max Verstappen crossed the line to win. However some flares were being fired during the race, and the smoke could have presented a safety hazard, as Kotrba pointed out.

Is it still alright to produce such amounts of (orange) smoke? At points the track (at least the view of it from by-track cameras) was quite engulfed in it. I imagine the view from some stands must have been limited. Especially the fans at the stand in the twisty middle sector were the main producers of it.

I certainly do not want this to turn into a anti-Verstappen thing, we have always had this with Ferrari at Monza – but that was once a year so it was kind of excusable/tolerable. It is that in general, I would not like to see F1 become a sort of football match with the negative atmosphere that tends to surround these. And that is the way I see it develops at the moment.
Kotrba

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Mercedes surprised by McLaren’s Austrian GP pace”

  1. Cotd that was nothing compared to vale’s yellow smoke, you are right smoke can become a safety hazard and it has affected some motogp races in the past.

  2. Levente (@leventebandi)
    6th July 2021, 0:53

    If it was too much, liberty being pretty much on the topic of maximising viewability, they will crack.down on it.
    If it would have any significance to.drivings, drivers would been vocal.about it. There are always underperforming lads and it could have been a really easy excuse

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      6th July 2021, 3:38

      Light a smoke can in front of an advertising hoarding and you’ll have it banned by Liberty in an instant

  3. I won’t believe the Melbourne Grand Prix is going ahead until the lights go out at this point.

    1. Ki Chi (@kichi-leung)
      6th July 2021, 7:38

      Victorian government has pulled the trigger on their end:
      https://www.theage.com.au/sport/motorsport/australian-grand-prix-set-to-be-cancelled-again-due-to-covid-19-20210706-p5877g.html

      Australian GP promoter did not confirm any cancellation according to the article.

  4. Both the Australian F1 GP and Moto GP have been cancelled according to news sources, with official confirmation coming in the next couple of hours.

  5. Don’t recall an F1 race weekend ever featuring so many penalties before.

    1. @stefmeister The 2015 F3 races at Monza were appalling. Interestingly quite a few of those on the F1 grid this season were racing in F3 that weekend (Stroll, Giovinazzi, Russell and Leclerc from memory).

    2. It’s always the same when Derek Warrick is the steward.

      1. Dismissal for him then?

        1. I would hope for promotion. Permanent steward would be good.

  6. I have an opinion
    6th July 2021, 6:55

    Australian Formula 1 and Moto GP both officially cancelled.
    The Victorian government was never going to compromise on the fourteen days local quarantine for all outside arrivals. Commentary from local news suggests drivers were never going to submit to this.

  7. Victoria can’t afford to lose the AusGP, but as the AusGP is now cancelled for the second consecutive year, I wonder about the long-term impact.

    I’m not sure how Matt Crews’ tweet is F1, IndyCar, or Motorsport-related in general.

    COTD: I understand the point. For now, I don’t mind about the orange flares. Only if it directly started affecting drivers.

    1. @jerejj Nashville hosts the next round of the IndyCar season on 8th August. They expect to have no restrictions. 350,000 people gathering in the city centre would confirm that.

  8. Ki Chi (@kichi-leung)
    6th July 2021, 7:39

    According to The Age, tentatively Australia GP will be held next April but will not be the season opener.

  9. What’s with all the women tennis stories?

    1. Well there’s a tentative mention of Lewis Hamilton at the end, claiming he is worth £39m.

      If he has been, supposedly, on £40m for the last couple of year and plenty before that, I just wonder where it has all disappeared… Perhaps the tennis lady has some questions to be answered….

  10. 350,000 gathering in the USA and Australia regional government bans visitors with 1 apparent death countrywide from this bad influenza in a year. Ridiculous.
    I feel so sorry for the Ozzie fans, victims of power hungry politicians.

    1. Note that the 350,000 are mostly from the US. The US still has travel bans in place preventing visitors from certain countries from arriving. Specifically China, Iran, European Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India.

      https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html

      Also calling COVID-19 a “bad influenza” is incredibly ignorant at this point.

      https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/no-covid-19-is-not-the-flu.html

  11. Re Mercedes: Lando is such a great driver and you can’t deny it, Mercedes.
    Re F3: More penalties handed in a single race weekend than every UEFA Euro and World Cup ever.
    Re Newgarden: Penske really waited for that.

  12. Has anyone else wondered if Maclaren and Red Bull have got faster after the delivery of the new Honda engines?

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