My eyes were still full of the images of athletics in Tokyo and I thought that a Grand Prix could hardly have given us the same emotions. Then I saw the usual, frenetic dance that precedes the starts with wet asphalt (if you want a definitely dry GP, between now and November, you have to go back to Emilia Romagna). And finally the screen filled with triumphal bullshit by Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll’s monument to inexperience. These things happen, of course; but people who have been running for many years in the highest category should know that a) if you stop at the moment of the deadlift, you cannot make the next one pay with a braking beyond the limit (of decency) and b) on the grass you do not brake, on the wet one even less. Within seconds, these two did more damage than the Scourge of God, which was at home here on the plains of Pannonia.
When I saw Verstappen’s Red Bull repaired with the Cuki (I know, it’s actually a powerful adhesive, but in short) I realized that all his talent would not be enough to take him to the top of the ranking. An engineer would explain that, “typically”, damage to the bottom of the body like this makes you lose at least a couple of tenths per lap. In my opinion even more, because moreover it unbalances the aerodynamic load “points” between the two sides of the car. The icing on the retort (sic) was then put by the Mercedes men. No, I say, if there is a track where you don’t need spotters, observers who can’t go around today because of Covid, that’s the Hungaroring. Just go up to the terrace of the motorhome with good binoculars. And as well as in Suzuka 2018 qualifying, and you know what I’m talking about, if you are the only one doing a certain thing you are hardly a genius. An alien who accidentally landed on the blue planet will have thought “Uè, this is a smart start in August“.
In short, one of those entropic processes that transform energy into chaos had already been triggered. A bit like the crazy Monaco GP of ’96. And from the chaos, today as then, a blue car and a French driver emerged: then the Ligier of Panis (with Flavio Briatore, also owner of Benetton, who broke the world record for shirt changes), now the Alpine of Ocon. Multiethnic driver, Franco-Hispanic-Algerian, who years ago seemed destined to make the eternal reserve of Mercedes and today has found his way. Winning a GP, we know, changes your way of seeing racing. Maybe he and Gasly – another transalpine capable of exploiting the opportunity of their lives – will not make other career centers, or maybe they will. Surely now they know they can do it, if necessary. And it is not a trivial thing. I remember when Esteban, then a Manor driver, came to thank Maurizio Arrivabene for allowing him to use race number 31 (Ferrari could have refused it, for a quirk that I don’t even remember now). He was and I think he is still a polite guy, I’m glad he came out of limbo.
Also happy for Seb Vettel, which many in Ferrari still have in their hearts – not at all levels of the GeS – and which today also bore the disappointment written on every feature. I think actually the task of taking the victory away from Ocon was much more difficult than it seemed. It is true that Sebastian has had about ten attacks available in the DRS area, but if the driver in front runs in free air it is not easy to take them home, on a circuit like this. Especially since the asphalt had been washed by the rain and I think it offered little grip. We also saw it from the effort that Hamilton made in his multiple comeback to the podium. I join the chorus of those who celebrated today’s race of Nandokan Alonso: very hard, but always correct. In the end he succumbed to Hamilton with the honor of arms, as he had succumbed to the onslaught of Ricciardo seven years ago, with the tires now at the killer and an embarrassing Ferrari like the F14T.
And the Ferrari of today, the SF21? Here we go again. With Leclerc immediately, innocently out of the race, I am convinced that nothing was wrong with Sainz’s strategy. The point is that at that moment he believed – and with reason! – that Carlos could and should play against Hamilton for the final victory. But the last set of tires did not give the expected pace, Hamilton passed the Red with much less effort than it had cost him to pass the Bleu, and in the final laps even Alonso became dangerous. The cardboard medal is not an achievement to be celebrated on a day like this, in which “the others” win; but the fact that Sainz had to save petrol suggests that he had started a bit “light”, perhaps trusting in a very wet GP. Beyond the specific fact, this Ferrari reminds me a lot of the one of five years ago, the SF16H or 667 if you prefer. A much better project than the results showed, but penalized by an excessive sensitivity to temperature variations between asphalt and tires and also to the wind (see Carlos’ accident in qualifying). In short, as I had perhaps already said, a discreet but incomplete machine. Which today has burned an important possibility. Personally, however, I liked to see a team studying for victory at the wall. At this rate, sooner or later, who knows that the gold medal will not arrive.