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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Five talking points from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

We’re right back into snoozefest town as the return to Imola for the first time in 14 years didn’t live up to what we were all hoping for. But as always there’s plenty to talk about.

Mercedes seventh consecutive title proves once and for all Formula One has a problem There really wasn’t any question before this season that the sport was suffering at the hands of Mercedes being dominant. Hell, this headline could’ve been used in any of the last seven seasons.

But having a team win their seventh consecutive constructor’s title is only solid proof in the pudding that something is very wrong with this sport.

In any period of dominance by a single team, there were always people bemoaning the repetitive fashion that it was taking place. McLaren in the 80s, Ferrari in the 2000s and Red Bull in the 2010s.

But now we have a team that has eclipsed all of those eras and won’t stop anytime soon. That is an issue. A big issue that needs to change.

The 2021 regulations that are meant to ‘change the sport’ have been delayed until 2022, and even then I’m not exactly hopeful it will change the grid up as much as everyone believes it will.

For the most part they are all about the aero and ‘improving overtaking’. The issue here is that aero isn’t the problem in this era.

It’s the engines that are the problem, a fact that Mercedes aren’t even close to being challenged on. And nothing significant is changing there, which means nothing significant will change in terms of Mercedes being light years ahead of the field. So we’re going to be stuck with this situation for the imminent future.

So once again I bring up the fact that something needs to be done to fix this.

If you’re a Mercedes fan, of course you don’t agree with me. But for the rest of us neutrals out there, I’m sure the voices are going to continue to get louder.

F1 Grand Prix of USA

Formula One is a constant source of innovation. (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ricciardo shines once again I said only a few rounds ago that Ricciardo might be starting to feel a bit off knowing he isn’t going to be in a Renault next season but that it would all work out given McLaren look like they’re in a better position long term.

Another solid performance by him and another podium though might be making those feelings move a little deeper.

Dan was super in the race.

Starting fifth, he got away strongly and drove a solid race which allowed him to make the most of the others misfortune around him to claim his second podium in three races. After a drought of over two years, that’s been a pretty good comeback for him.

I still believe moving to McLaren makes more sense than sticking with Renault (or Alpine as they will soon be known as), but right now he needs to make the most of the car beneath him and really solidify his position as one of the best drivers in the sport.

Perez is the best option for Red Bull in 2021 It pains me to write this section as I’m a mad Nico Hulkenberg fanboy and would kill to see him in a Red Bull next season. But realistically Sergio Perez would be the better fit.

Perez should’ve been on the podium at Imola. He drove an amazing race from 11th on the grid to sit in fourth for most of the race. He then looked set to inherit the final step of the podium after the crash of Max Verstappen, but a poor strategic decision by Racing Point brought him into the pits where he only then managed to finish in sixth.

Perez did everything right in the race, and kept up his astonishing form this season.

Meanwhile, Alex Albon had another rubbish showing for Red Bull and only further nailed his own coffin shut in F1. He was once again not only well off the pace of his teammate all weekend, he was even slower than the sister team Alpha Tauri for the most part, and a lazy spin on the restart while battling for position sent him to the back of the pack where he finished last.

When Lance Stroll or Sebastian Vettel make mistakes like that, they are lambasted. I’m here to ensure Albon receives the same scrutiny through the British and likeable person haze he has around him.

All that aside, Perez would be the perfect fit at Red Bull to work alongside Verstappen. He is ready to move back into a top team to be consistently fighting for podiums and high positions where Red Bull need their second driver to be.

It should never be a question of who will be on the podium in the current climate of F1: either Mercedes or Red Bull. And when a Red Bull retires, the other should be there ready to pick up the pieces. They’re not getting that with Albon, and I don’t doubt they would be with Perez.

His promotion to the big league with McLaren in 2013 was way too early. Now it’s the perfect time.

Charles Leclerc continues to shine Ferrari have no place finishing fifth in a grand prix in 2020 but somehow Charles Leclerc can make it happen. Each race weekend he manages to pull the absolute maximum out of that car and continues to show what true talent he really is.

Alongside George Russell, he is perhaps the most talented driver on the grid when it comes to overachieving results from a fairly rubbish car. And Ferrari are very fortunate to have him in their team.

I see Charles in a similar position to Verstappen: as soon as they have a solid car underneath them that is capable of constantly winning races, they will be unstoppable.

Imagine if both of them were in a Mercedes? That would be shades of Senna and Prost at McLaren in 88. Scary right?

Here I am complaining about Mercedes right now with two great drivers, but imagine how it could get even more dominant?

On second thought, how about we keep them where they are, and let this Ferrari fan celebrate the achievements of on hell of a talent that will be at the pointy end of the grid for some time.

Latifi shines, Stroll struggles again Not often I start my Canada watch segment off with Nicholas Latifi but here I am! Latifi drove a fantastic race, running as high as sixth at one point after running long on his first stint, and then finishing only eight tenths off a point for Williams in 11th place after several cars had issues in front of him.

It was a very solid drive by Latifi and once that I’m sure he’ll be very proud of.


Lance Stroll (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

For Lance Stroll, it was his fifth race out of the points, although this time it wasn’t all his fault. In qualifying he had his best lap deleted after exceeding track limits and lined up 15th, and in the race he suffered front wing damage after a racing incident which sent him to the back of the pack.

No clear overtaking opportunities and a bungled pitstop where he overshot his box on cold tyres and nearly wiped out his mechanic meant he limped home in 13th.

It’s a shame for Lance who has had a real run of bad luck since his podium at Monza, and barring Portugal it’s hasn’t been his fault at all. The critics are always circling around him and always will no matter what he does.

But 2020 has been by far his best season on the grid and has proven his skill and talent that many don’t see, and only a few realise and have known for quite some time. I have no doubt that he will bounce back with gusto soon.

Two weeks off until we get back into it, and get excited as we head back to Turkey! Hooray! Bring. It. ON!

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


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