If there’s one thing that’s sure in Formula 1, it’s that surprise is just around the corner.
Just one week ago, the usual doom-mongers were calling for root-and-branch change after what at least one person described as the worst race ever.
(I do wonder the extent to which Sky’s drab, one-dimensional commentary and coverage is responsible for perceptions that F1 is boring at the moment. I missed the race live, and watched the highlights on Channel 4. I didn’t think it seemed all that bad…)
Amid all that doom and gloom, it was almost inevitable that the Austrian Grand Prix was going to be a stonker. It duly delivered.
Max Verstappen’s comeback from a poor start will surely go down as one of the great drives. Yet, the threat of a penalty hung over him for hours after the race — and it didn’t really need to.
It seems as though there is going to have to be a root-and-branch review of driving standards following the third serious controversy in three races. None of them were clear calls, and the stewards have been left making difficult decisions as a result of drivers pushing the limits of the rules. This is an indication that the rules are no longer fit for purpose.
In this case, I think it’s fair that Verstappen didn’t receive a penalty. But I am left wondering why on earth he left himself vulnerable to receiving a penalty at all.
I’m not a racer, but it seemed to me that Verstappen had the clear upper hand over Charles Leclerc. So why did Verstappen have to push Leclerc off the circuit? It was totally unnecessary.
I’d rather have seen Verstappen pull off the move more cleanly. If he’d done so, he’d have had a clear win. Instead, he forced the stewards to decide whether he should keep it or not.
It reminds me of his totally unnecessary scrap with Esteban Ocon at Interlagos last year, when Ocon was unlapping himself. Verstappen should never have got drawn into that situation, yet he went out of his way to pick a fight.
This weekend was the same. There is talk of how Verstappen has matured a lot and cleaned up his act. But his unnecessary clash with Leclerc showed that he still has some way to go.