Austrian Grand Prix talking points: You aaaallll get a penalty!
With another Grand Prix in the books, it’s not like I need to start this article telling you who won right? Because you know the answer and you know how it happened.
However behind Max Verstappen and Red Bull winning, there is still plenty to talk about after round 9 of the 2023 Formula One World Championship. And there is of course things to talk about with Verstappen and Red Bull anyway.
So with that in mind, it’s time to get stuck into the talking points from another round of F1 action.
Penalty-fest 2023 should be a shape of things to come
The 2023 Austrian Grand Prix will forever be known as THAT race in which all the penalties were handed out.
In fact there were so many penalties handed out, that the stewards simply couldn’t keep up with them during the race and had to check on them well into the night once the race had concluded.
The penalties were a result of multiple drivers exceeding track limits through turns 9 and 10, with the stewards having to go through more than 1200 infringements.
By 9.46pm local time they had finally reached their verdict, issuing an additional 12 penalties to drivers to change up the final classification of the race.
But was all of this warranted? Yes it was.
This is what happens when you have proper policing and stewards in place to monitor the rules, and also remain consistent with them. There was never this amount of scrutineering in the past due to lack of people on board to properly police the situation. This year saw an increase in the ability to police track limits and this is the result: proper implementation of the rules at hand.
The drivers know the rules. The drivers know that track limits exist. And at the end of the day, it’s the drivers who are the ones breaking the rules. They are the only ones to be held accountable for their actions and the result of a weekend like this should force the drivers into adapting their style to push the most out of their car but doing so within the rules.
There was no way the stewards across the weekend couldn’t enforce them as strictly as they had been once they started, and their crackdown during the race backed up one of the rare instances the stewarding system was consistent at a Grand Prix.
Let’s just hope that is a continued sign to come moving forward.
Verstappen is right to shut down Hamilton’s comments
In the lead up to the race, Lewis Hamilton had some interesting things to say about the dominance of Verstappen and Red Bull, saying “I think the FIA should probably put a time when everyone is allowed to start developing next year’s car. Say August 1, that’s where everybody can start so that no one can get an advantage on the next year, because that sucks.”
An interesting idea put forward by the seven-time champion. One to which Verstappen had the perfect response to, saying “We didn’t talk about that when he was winning everything.”
(Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Verstappen is 100% right. During the period between 2014 and 2020, Hamilton and Mercedes were just as dominant as we’re seeing Verstappen and Red Bull now. In fact if you take it back further to 2010, only Red Bull and Mercedes have won the World Championship in both the Drivers and Constructors Championship, the longest period of dominance by two teams in the history of the sport.
So where was Hamilton’s complaining then?
It’s alright for people to bring out concern around a period of dominance in the sport. If you’re not a fan of the team or driver constantly winning, it’s boring. It’s predictable. It’s monotonous.
But this is F1. It happens. And as with any dominant period, this will be looked back on with fondness at the skills of a certain team or driver and how good they were, rather than how boring it was or ‘unfair’ for the other teams.
Think back 20 years ago. Ferrari were dominating. Michael Schumacher was all but guaranteed to win every race. Everyone hated it and demanded change.
In fact even the FIA agreed, deliberately changing the rules and regulations twice in the space of three years to stop Ferrari’s dominance. Something they never did to stop Hamilton and Mercedes, and something they aren’t planning to do any time soon to stop Verstappen and Red Bull.
The fact it’s Hamilton leading this charge is almost laughable, and Verstappen continues to bring out the W’s when it comes to his rivalry with Mercedes driver.
800 podiums for Ferrari as pace returns again
It’s so hard to read Ferrari, as it is with most of the teams behind Red Bull. One round they’re good, one round they’re not. They’re all so seemingly consistently inconsistent.
But in Austria Ferrari seemed completely on form, with a sprint podium for Carlos Sainz on Saturday and a second place for Charles Leclerc in the race on Sunday.
That podium in the main race saw Ferrari bring up their 800th podium in F1, the first team to ever do so and showcase just how dominant and consistent the team has been in the 73 year history of the sport.
Austria was the 1063rd Grand Prix for the Scuderia, meaning they have finished on the podium in an incredible 57% of all races they have taken part in.
In fact, of all the 1088 Grand Prix in the history of the sport, Ferrari have only missed 25 of them, meaning that 55% of all F1 races in history have had a Ferrari driver on the podium.
So while it has now been nearly a year since Ferrari last won a race, let’s take a moment to celebrate their longevity and their incredible achievement reached in Austria.
Piastri is proving Ricciardo wasn’t that bad, rather that Norris is THAT good
Everyone remembers and is still recovering from the fact that Daniel Ricciardo’s time at McLaren didn’t exactly go to plan, and that saw him getting the sack from the Woking team.
His replacement, fellow Aussie Oscar Piastri, was expected to come in and show just how good he is and also just how bad Ricciardo was doing.
But nine races in, all that is seemingly evident is that perhaps neither driver wasn’t exactly BAD as such, more so that Lando Norris is just THAT GOOD.
Upgrades to the MCL60 this weekend definitely added some pace to the team that has struggled so far in 2023, but in the hands of Norris it looked like a completely different beast.
He qualified an impressive fourth on the grid for the main race, third in the sprint quali and finished ninth in the sprint race and then fourth in the main race.
(Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)
Piastri meanwhile struggled, finishing 13th, 17th, 11th and 16th in each respective session.
After nine races, Norris has scored 24 points compared to only 5 to Piastri. After nine races in 2022, Ricciardo had 12 points while Norris had 46.
Yes, Piastri is a rookie and still finding his feet. And yes, the car is slower than it was last year. But there still is enough evidence to show that Ricciardo really wasn’t THAT bad up against Norris when Piastri is seemingly struggling on the same level as his compatriot was too.
Props to Norris for a stellar drive. Heading into Silverstone this week, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Are we done with the sprint format yet?
Every time there is a sprint weekend, I long for the day it is it’s last.
I know realistically that won’t happen. It seems as though the sprint is here to stay. And no doubt it will continue to expand each year.
But I think I’ve firmly come out against it. Because what does it add? We get an anti-climactic Friday with qualifying for a race held two days later, and then a pointless Saturday featuring a pointless extra qualifying and a race that really does nothing if you’re not in the top 8.
ll the drivers too bemoan it every weekend, with basically every driver interviewed talking about it “not meaning anything” when asked about their performance.
Hopefully this will send a signal to F1 and the FIA that it’s just not working, and that they can slowly remove it, rather than going the other way.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here