Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Tsunoda expects Sprint Qualifying will make British Grand Prix “tough”

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In the round-up: Yuki Tsunoda says he won’t be able to build up steadily to qualifying as he has in recent races due to this weekend’s altered format.

In brief

Sprint Qualifying complicates Tsunoda’s new approach

After a series of crashes during qualifying at Imola, Baku and Paul Ricard, Tsunoda revised his approach to build up his one-lap pace more gradually over three practice sessions. However the introduction of Sprint Qualifying for this weekend’s race at Silverstone means drivers will only have one session to prepare themselves.

The rookie driver is concerned about the affect that will have on his race weekend.

“Now we come to Silverstone and I have good memories from last year, when I came third in the Formula 2 feature race,” said the AlphaTauri driver. “And, like the Red Bull Ring, it is a track that I have driven at quite a lot, going back to when I was in F3.

“That’s all positive, but the downside at Silverstone, given I have never driven a Formula 1 car there before, is that we only have one free practice session before qualifying, as this weekend we try the ‘Sprint Qualifying’ race on Saturday.

“It means that the new approach I started to use in Austria will not work so well this time. I expect that having to perform well in qualifying immediately after FP1 is going to be tough.

“It will be quite difficult, but I will still try and speed up step-by-step again, like in Austria. But the sprint race is something new for everyone. We must also think that we can make set-up changes between FP1 and qualifying, but after that we can’t really change anything. I think it is going to be quite a challenging week for everyone, but I will just focus on myself and on being as well prepared as possible.”

Perez wary of Mercedes upgrades

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Red Bull “put a lot of effort” into Sprint preparation, says Perez
Sergio Perez is wary of a possible resurgence from Mercedes this weekend as Red Bull’s rivals bring new parts for the British Grand Prix.

“I saw Mercedes talk about upgrades so I’m sure they will be very strong this weekend,” said Perez. “We will of course try our hardest as well and hopefully we will be able to come back up on top.”

He said Red Bull have been hard at work to master the nuances of the new Sprint Qualifying format.

“It will be interesting to see the new race format for Formula 1 too. As a team we have put in a lot of effort to understand the new race format, a lot of preparation and practice has gone into this weekend. It will be very different for everyone, it’s definitely exciting and I hope that the hard work pays off.”

Fanatec team up with Gran Turismo game maker

Simracing wheel manufacturer Fanatec has announced a tie-up with Gran Turismo publisher Polyphony to develop special products licensed for the enormously popular PlayStation game franchise.

“For many years, Kazunori Yamauchi has pushed the limits on the software side and played a massive role in making simracing popular,” said Thomas Jackermeier, CEO of Fanatec owner Endor AG.

“Now we have joined forces with the shared goal to continue to merge virtual and real-world racing together. We have several exciting projects in the pipeline and I can’t wait to see how they perform in Gran Turismo.”

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Comment of the day

George Russell’s move to Mercedes in place of Valtteri Bottas looks inevitable, @Aiii reckons:

I just don’t know who benefits from this game. Maybe they’re waiting for Bottas to secure that seat at Williams (?) so he doesn’t get bombarded with pity and scornful comments, other than that, it’s just dumb to not just announce Russell.

On the other hand, if that seat really isn’t George’s yet, Toto should be sacked and George should be smacked for remaining so loyal to them while he’s wasting away at the back of the field for years. This promotion is two seasons overdue.

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On this day in motorsport

Jacques Villeneuve won his team mate’s home race today in 1996
  • 25 years ago today Jacques Villeneuve won the British Grand Prix after Williams team mate Damon Hill spun out

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19 comments on “Tsunoda expects Sprint Qualifying will make British Grand Prix “tough””

  1. I’m with Seidl here, the way they finally chose to set up the rules for sprints is basically just lengthening the actual race and have a planned red flag. I like that they are trying it at all, though.
    My prediction is; the sprint will be more action-packed than what many seem to suggest, but the actual race will be quite lame. Drivers will fight in the sprint to improve their position on track because they know nobody will pit. And they are all racing drivers. But with 20 laps they will probably have time to arrange almost everybody in fastest to slowest, in race pace that is. So when the actual race then begins, it will be a procession from lights out to flag with the field just slowly stretching out.
    I hope I’m wrong. And I definitely hope they will evaluate the success of these trials by looking at the entire weekend, not just if the sprint was entertaining or not.

    1. The other interesting part of the ‘pre red flag’ racing is that all have new tyres and only 1/3 fuel on board.

      1. I didn’t think about it, but now it looks to me like NASCAR race stages with FCY between them, they even give points for leading the stage too. And refuelling, finally.

    2. The start is going to be chaotic apart from that nothing is going to happen.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      14th July 2021, 11:44

      That’s a key point – the sprint race shouldn’t be judged in isolation. It’s the effect on the whole weekend that matters.

      Does having one practice session before parc ferme conditions come in work?
      Is there any point in FP2 when the teams can’t chance their setup – will cars only do a few installation laps to preserve the car or will they run like normal?
      Does the sprint race end up moving the drivers into race-pace order meaning the Sunday race is more processional than it would be otherwise?
      Does the race on Sunday feel as special considering we’ve already seen a race on Saturday?

    4. What’s going to happen if Bottas is in front of Hamilton or Perez gets in front of Verstappen during the sprint race – will there be ‘tactical’ passes to re-jig the pack for the main race..!?

  2. I’m so over the arbitrary opinions on George Russell. He’s not wasting away at the back of the field, he’s learning and developing. He’s not been perfect these last three years, compared to Max for example who made a lot of mistakes at Red Bull early on; George has had the opportunity to make similar mistakes and learn from them while not throwing points away for Mercedes, or being under the microscope.

    I remember last year George saying Alex Albon was the best racer he had raced against in all his years in junior formula, and what was happening at Red Bull was a disservice to him and his abilities. Who knows what people would be saying about Alex had he been given years to develop in a less pressured environment as George has.

    At the same time Mercedes have said time and time again that they are not keen on having two roosters in the shed and returning to the dynamic they had with Rosberg and would rather have a driver that puts the team first, as Bottas is willing to.

    It isn’t some easy clear cut simplistic decision, if they do go that way it will take a lot of careful management to keep the team unity, especially if there are some that don’t even want him there in the first place.

    1. +1 and well said.

    2. @skipgamer The mental aspect is the least understood aspect at this point. Some drivers are able to hop into a top team right away and thrive (Verstappen, Leclerc, etc.), others need more time in a junior team to get used to life in the F1 circus before they take on dealing with the added pressure of performing on a top team. I don’t think we’ll ever really know which driver falls into which group until they actually join a top team. Of course there are probably just as many groups as there are drivers. I’ve started with two for simplicity. And just because they can handle some aspects of being on a top team some seasons doesn’t mean they can handle all every season. One of the ways Hamilton has grown over the years is in the mental aspect. His first years at McLaren he struggled a lot with this but now you can see just how strong he has become when Rosberg retired rather than go up against him again because the mental aspect of battling Lewis was too difficult to do a second time.

      I’d like to think Russell has built the mental aspect into his racer’s toolbox at this point and can handle jumping to a team fighting for championships, but I guess we’ll just have to wait until it actually happens.

      1. Lewis hasn’t had a strong mental challenge since rosberg though. Now he does and he’s already thrown away two victories (imola and Baku) and a podium (Austria). Even if Mercedes come back when they did in 2017 and 2018 it will feel suspect

        1. @realnigelmansell Yeah that’s a good point about this year and Max’s pressure. It does feel different from the last few years that both Lewis and Mercedes in general are showing strain. I don’t think having Bottas the last few years as a teammate has helped Lewis in this regard. He probably suspected Vettel and or Ferrari would fall apart under the pressure and could relax keeping the mental aspect tuned and sharp. Or because Vettel and Ferrari would collapse, he could relax. That could be a chicken vs the egg argument.

          I think next year will be pivotal for Lewis with both the new cars and his battle against Max. If he sharpens his mental game the rest of this season and during the off season I think he could be a formidable force in the Mercedes paddock and I wouldn’t envy being Russell because Lewis will first want to dominate him. In any case Russell needs to be prepared for mental pressure like he’s never experienced.

          1. Maybe. I really don’t understand why everyone assumes merc and rb will continue to be class of the field next year. They could be, but would not at all be surprised if a completely different team/teams took the lead, especially Ferrari and am

        2. How did you reach the conclusion that his issues at Imola and Austria were linked to the “mental challenge” he’s facing?

    3. Thanks @skipgamer, I feel largely the same.

      Especially with Williams now on an upwards path, there are boatloads of new things to learn there for Russel there and to grow is own confidence in knowing how to approach things.

    4. @skipgamer I’m not as convinced it will take a lot of careful management at Mercedes if they take on GR next year, which to me is a no-brainer. They need an heir apparent to LH, and with the presumption being that GR will be stronger than VB, that does not automatically mean a LH/NR type rivalry. That rivalry was unique due to their past. And TW had re-signed NR through 2018 in mid-2016 anyway. They wanted more of it, for it meant locking out the front row to the competition, and that’s something they will want to get back to after this year.

      I envision a GR that could help them greatly in the WCC, while also respecting that he is there to be a student to LH. Of course we’d have to see how GR does in the car, the completely different cars of next year onward, but in general I don’t see GR as being difficult to manage. So much is going to depend on where the car sits amongst the grid, and how comfortable and competitive all the drivers are, but for this discussion particularly LH/GR. Will they lock out the front row? That’s invites a certain dynamic. Will they be second to RBR? Perhaps it will become apparent GR will have to cede points to LH so he can go after Max. Will they be third best car? I’d say then all bets are off between the drivers and if by any chance GR is more comfortable in the car he should be allowed to grab all the points he can and LH can fend for himself. And same for LH if he dominates GR, which I think should be the more likely scenario, just as I give the nod to LH in general, and would think GR’s general mindset would be that he is walking into LH’s team and there has to be a level of respect there until things shake out and they see where everyone sits on the grid on average over the first number of races.

      I just think the time is ripe for GR to start off with these new cars on the team, and VB has had his chances. So while there may be a certain ‘risk’ to bringing in GR, I don’t see it as that risky, but is in fact necessary at this point, imho. There’s simply no way imho that GR would be more risky than NR was, and as I say they wanted more of that pairing but for Nico retiring. Time to move on and take their chances with GR, and I think it is a no-brainer.

      But hey, if they keep VB, better for Max, as I think GR could be more of a thorn in Max’s side than VB has proven to be. But of course I have utter faith in Max, so bring it on I say. Mercedes and we the fans deserve more excitement on their team, assuming GR will bring it, which most seem to be assuming he will.

  3. I think McLaren will be stronger than Ferrari and AM next year. Russell should replace Ricciardo if he doesn’t get Merc seat…

    1. @dutchtreat Russell replacing Ricciardo would require Mclaren to terminate/buy out the latter’s existing three-year contract.

      1. Maho Pacheco
        14th July 2021, 8:46

        Not the first time, remember 2012. “McLaren confirmed on Friday that it has signed Sauber driver Sergio Pérez to a multi-year deal as replacement for Lewis Hamilton. “

  4. I’m sure Tsunoda will survive despite less practice time before QLF.

    Mercedes upgrade(s) might only be a small-ish one, so I doubt a massive difference awaits.

    COTD: I fully agree.

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