Dhe Formula 1 rehearses the slalom around the puddles, it ends with a premiere: at the British Grand Prix, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz jr. on pole position for the first time in his Grand Prix career. That even surprised the best of the day in the Ferrari himself: “I felt bad out there.”
In the dramatic final minutes of the rainy qualification, the Spaniard, who had not won in 149 World Championship races, distanced the favorite Max Verstappen by a tiny 72 thousandths, Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari followed in front of the Mexican Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull racing car. Lewis Hamilton, the record winner at Silverstone, finished fifth.
“We have a good car for the race,” believes the Dutch World Championship leader Verstappen, who once spun spectacularly while chasing times with too much risk.
Air 14 degrees, asphalt 19, light drizzle. A perfectly normal British summer’s day, but particularly unpleasant for anyone who has to drive a convertible at over 300 km/h, not to mention waiting for hours in the grandstands. For the second time in a row, qualifying for a Formula 1 race began in the wet. The favorites feared, the backbenchers hoped. Everything or spray. In the Silverstone paddock, there were still loungers in front of an open-air bar, and images from the recent race in Miami flickered on the video walls.
Longing was a good keyword, especially for those of the 140,000 spectators expected this year at the British Grand Prix (Sunday, 4 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for Formula 1 and on Sky), who count themselves among the Mercedes camp. A Silver Arrow that has been retreaded from the underbody to the sidepods is finally supposed to defeat the annoying bouncing and the brutal touching down on the company car of the British driver combination Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. It’s still not working out perfectly, the “bouncing” was still evident, especially in curves. But Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff spoke of a big jump and made a good-weather face in front of the Sky microphone under the gray sky: “It’s the best car, that we’ve had this season. We’re back in the game.”
Disappointments for Schumacher and Vettel
The start of the European season, which lasted until mid-September, was used by many racing teams for a general overhaul of the previous teams. Red Bull has given its slim cars new polish, the racing cars from Alpine and Williams-Mercedes have changed aerodynamic faces. The opportunity is also good right now, because in addition to the current budget cap, the Formula 1 management has promised an inflation surcharge.
However, the unsettled weather in central England made it difficult to accurately verify the impact on the current balance of power. Remarkable and probably due to the difficult conditions were the starting positions ninth for the Chinese Guanyu Zhou in the Alfa Romeo and ten for the previous Canadian driver Nicolas Latifi in the Williams.
The performance of the two German Formula 1 drivers was disappointingly clear this Saturday. Mick Schumacher, whose driving skills have recently become more apparent, ended up second to last with the Haas-Ferrari, which still had no new technical parts. The 23-year-old was once again doomed by a problem in the car – the steering wheel was crooked and hung to the left, the balance was wrong. Sometimes the car understeered extremely, sometimes it oversteered in corners.
Despite the series of breakdowns for which the racing team is responsible, team manager Günther Steiner continues to put him under pressure: “He knows that he can do it, has the self-confidence and just needs a little more luck. He showed in Montréal in the race that he’s there. He has the confidence. He just needs to get points now to prove it’s doable.”
Sebastian Vettel with the Aston Martin, which was revised in June, had to resign in the first qualifying section, 18th place. The man from Heppenheim cursed into the helmet microphone: “Not again, not again.” The updates just didn’t work yet.
On the Sunday before the tenth round of the World Championship, the Hessian will drive Nigel Mansell’s 30-year-old World Champion car around the Silverstone Circuit. Not as a homage to the British public’s favorite, but to set another example of one’s own climate awareness – the Williams-Renault is specially refueled with biofuel. He could only think of three words for his current car: “Bitter.” “Disappointed.” “Slowly.”