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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Five talking points from the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

Updated: Oct 30, 2021

Alright folks, we’re back for more talking points after another race and for once we had some excitement. That can’t be a bad thing.

Max Verstappen is the best driver on the grid It really is that simple. Max is the best driver in Formula One at the moment. There is no doubting he could take any car on the grid and make it a second faster than it is meant to be. He is that good.

His display during the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was outstanding. Through correct tyre choice, better tyre management and superb racecraft, Verstappen owned the race and scored a thoroughly deserved victory. We talk about how dominant Mercedes are and have been, can we imagine how even more dominant they would be with Max in the car? And this is coming from a team that has Lewis Hamilton in it. Scary thought.

Let’s just hope Red Bull can get their act together and be more competitive on a more regular occasion, as the sport desperately needs a two-team battle that goes the full length of the season. It’s been eight years since we’ve had that, let’s hope 2020 can continue on this trajectory and Verstappen continues to show why he is the best on the grid.

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

More races like that, please It wasn’t a downright classic, but it was enthralling enough to keep us entertained for the entire race distance. In what looked like a simple, lights-to-flag win for Mercedes, Verstappen kept us fascinated, as did the whole tyre situation.

This is what we need in the sport. Yes, you’re not going to get it every week, but more regularly than we have would be nice. The stat that was repeated numerous times throughout the race was the fact Mercedes had led every single lap in 2020 with the exception of one. That in itself speaks volumes for where we were heading.

Again, this has been just one race, but more of these would be nice. Perhaps Pirelli can give us better compound choices each week like we had this week. Make it happen.

Red Bull has a problem No, it’s not Verstappen. It’s who backs him up. Red Bull have three very capable drivers, none of whom seem to be able to perform on the big stage. I said at the beginning of the year that they are let down by not having a complete pairing. And this really is showing.

It’s not to take away from Alex Albon. The kid is fast on his day and showed how capable he is of making his way through the field with a strong drive to fifth. The problem is, he shouldn’t have to fight his way through the field to make it to fifth. He should be up high enough on the grid to go towards what should’ve been a 1-2 for the team had they had a more capable, consistent driver in the second seat.

Ask yourself this: had Ricciardo still been in the team, would this have happened? Of course not. It doesn’t take any Australian bias to know that Dan would’ve been fighting for the win with Max. It’s fact.


Reckon Red Bull miss these days? (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

So what are Red Bull to do? They are far more defensive of Albon than they ever were with Pierre Gasly, which is surprising given their results are comparable, so it looks as though Albon is safe for now.

They have two drivers at Alpha Tauri who easily could move up, with Gasly doing a solid job in 2020. However, he did a solid job in 2018, and look what happened. That leaves Daniil Kvyat, a man who was unfairly shafted and has been doing an excellent job for the team since he was brought back. But a man who seemingly isn’t in enough favour with the team to get the promotion once more.

It’s time for Red Bull to look outside their stable to get somebody to back up Verstappen. Because without someone who is able to do that, they will be stuck in this spot for a long time. A certain driver who won them their only championships is available next year. Just saying…

Racing Point vs the World In case you missed it, Racing Point were docked 15 points last week and fined $660,000 after the appeal against them running an ‘illegal car’ was upheld by the FIA.

In what continues to be one of the weirdest controversies in the history of Formula One, Racing Point are angry about this, their rivals are angry about this but through all of this they are allowed to still continue with said illegal car for the season, only for it to once again be protested.

Racing Point then argue the point that their car was deemed legal before and want to protest their punishment, the teams against Racing Point also want to protest their punishment, and the whole sport is in utter confusion about what is going on. Frankly, so am I.

If they have been deemed to have broken the rules, then they surely have to be forced to change the car. No amount of “it will put them at a disadvantage to change their car this late in the season” by the FIA can really make sense of that. Isn’t that the point of finding out if something is illegal? To prevent it from continuing to happen? You can liken it to the IOC finding an Olympic swimmer guilty of taking drugs, only to let them finish the current batch they’re on because it would “put them at a disadvantage to train without drugs”. It’s just odd.

Do I believe Racing Point have an illegal car? No I don’t. Do I believe if they have been deemed to have one by the FIA they should be forced to change it? Yes I do. And yes, I sound as confused as pretty much everyone is by this whole weird situation.

Stroll solid again, Latifi does what he can A better weekend for my man Lance Stroll this week as he came home a solid sixth. At one stage it was looking like he and Nico Hulkenberg would be fourth and fifth, but some great strategy and driving from Charles Leclerc and a resurgent Albon getting to where he should’ve been put an end to that. Stroll moves up the standings into seventh, the highest place he has ever been in before, so it’s time to cross those fingers to see him maintain that place.

For Nicholas Latifi it was the usual placing for him towards the back as Williams once again struggled. He had a hairy moment with Kevin Magnussen, who seemingly didn’t know how to correctly re-enter the track after running wide, but outside of that he did what he could and finished in 19th place. He also outqualified both Alfas on the Saturday, so props where props are due for that performance.

Off to Barcelona next weekend for our final stop in this second three-race binge, as always, bring it on!

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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