CAROL’S CORNER: Austria went from bad to brilliant for Lewis Hamilton!

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Just a week after the British Grand Prix, Formula One moved on to Austria. Ahead of the race weekend, Toto Wolff had reservations stating that the track there had not been particularly good to Mercedes in the past.

During first free practice the team felt their car had pace, but tragedy struck for both Lewis Hamilon and George Russell when their cars went off the track during qualifying. Lewis’s car sustained a great deal of damage, so the body had to be rebuilt. He was very apologetic to his team afterwards, but Toto replied saying that neither of the drivers should feel bad, as they are aware how difficult the car is to drive.

It had been a huge disappointment for Lewis, as he had looked in with a chance to make the top 3, perhaps even pole, before he lost control of the car. As it was, George was able to keep his fifth place, and Lewis would have to line up for the sprint race in eighth.

Everything was against Lewis in the sprint race, firstly he was hit by Pierre Gasly at the start, sending him down to 11th, then he had to try and regain position. He struggled to pass Mick Schumacher, finally doing so at the end of the race, and ending up in his original eighth place for  the main race.

The sprint was won by Max Verstappen with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz next. Perez had been relegated to P13 in qualifying, for exceeding track limits, but did climb back to P5 in the sprint with George remaining in P4.

Earlier in the weekend the FIA had announced that the clampdown on ‘flexi-floors’ will not be implemented until after the summer break, which has caused many fans to ask why. The two teams that are suspected of running illegal floors are Ferrari and Red Bull, so if true, it’s no coincidence they are leading the championship. From the point of view of all the other teams, this does not make the championship fair, so the FIA should not put off dealing with the issue.

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Moving onto the main race, the first bit of drama was at the start when Russell and Perez collided. For this George was given a five-second penalty. He pitted for hard tyres and came out in 19th position. Meanwhile Lewis climbed up the order steadily, although at one point Schumacher overtook him, and he had to get the place back. Eventually Lewis was running in P4, Perez had retired, and then suddenly Sainz had problems with his engine, pulled off, and before long his car was on fire. It seemed ages before the marshals came to help him, although they were probably caught unaware.

Lewis was now in P3, and his team told him not to push, just to bring the car home safely, which he did. George made it to P4, so it was a brilliant result for Mercedes. Leclerc won the race, despite having a clutch problem at the end. Verstappen could not catch him, and had to settle for second.

At times during the race it was hard to see the track because of the smoke coming from the Orange Army’s flares, and I am wondering how spectators with asthma, or any breathing problems, cope with it. I wonder why Formula 1 allows it, they seemed to be very strict about track limits, jewellery, physiotherapists, and other very unimportant things, but when it comes to the health and safety of the spectators, they don’t appear to be overly concerned.

This is Lewis’s third podium in a row, and while cynics would say he would have come only in P5 had Perez and Sainz been in the race at the end, it’s important to remember that Formula 1 is not only about having the fastest car, but also about having a reliable car, and in that category Mercedes is still number one.

I know they will continue to try and understand their car, and after the summer break, when all their competitors have to abide by the rules with their car floors, we may see the Silver Arrow nearer to the top. Good luck Mercedes!

Be sure to follow Carol on Twitter @eagertogo and visit her website!

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