The hills are most definitely alive, probably with the sound of Max Verstappen singing.
It was a brilliant offering from Austria with some serious talking points.
Chris Fawcett gives you five of the best…

What have we just seen?

Two points to be made from the visuals surrounding the Austrian GP, one excellent, one most definitely not. Let’s start on a positive note, because not only was the race fantastic with some great overtakes, but it also threw some massive curve balls and surprises into the title picture too.

Something I want to applaud Formula One Management (FOM) on is the use of drones for filming purposes. This will be far from the first time they’ve been used, but it certainly caught my eye how positively they were being utilised. What a great track and scenery to show off with an aerial shot. The Austrian mountainside looks absolutely glorious, almost as impressive as the action on the track.

The reputation that Formula One gets is that of grandeur and excess, I’ll tell you something, images of Monaco ports and cruise liners have nothing on the lush countryside that was exhibited during the weekend – if this is the technological shift that the high ups have in mind for the future of the sport, I’m on board…Provided there’s a decent landscape of course!

Less impressive, and quite frankly, letting the entire side down was the huge Heineken star that graced our TV screens again. We saw it in Canada, a lot more discreetly it has to be said, and it showed its ugly head once more at the Red Bull Ring.

Augmented advertising seems to be a new toy that the graphics team at FOM just can’t get enough of, so they’re shoving it down our throats. First time I saw it in Canada, I smirked – it was something new. When I saw it in Austria, I nearly threw up a little bit – not because I detest the taste of Heineken (it’s alright), but it finally dawned on me that this could be the way we’re heading; tracks will eventually look like scenes from Mario Kart and the viewer will be less interested in the racing as a result of distraction.

Finally, it feels quite contradictory to have seen the “Bernie says, don’t drink and drive” campaign, then less than a season later, have giant Heineken logo’s brandished about the place…no more, please.

The gift that keeps on giving

A short point, but one to be celebrated. After a handful of less-than-stellar Grand Prix, we’ve reached a crucial point in the season. How many of you thought that once Mercedes brought their upgraded power unit to France and blew the field away, the season might have been decided? I did, because we’ve seen it so many times before.

What we weren’t expecting was a double DNF from Mercedes, something we’ve not seen in recent memory, in addition to that was a whole plethora of things which made the Austrian Grand Prix a great day for many.

  1. Kimi looked feisty, he actually attacked off of the start line and was definitely in with a shout of winning the race.
  2. Haas got what they deserve, as too did Romain Grosjean. I have been a critic of the Frenchman’s ability in the past, but this weekend, he got it bang on, as did the whole team. A fourth and fifth placing gave the American-based outfit a huge points boost.
  3. Ferrari DIDN’T impose team orders. Think back to the early 00’s and you’ll soon realise how great a decision that was to allow them to race.
  4. Charles Leclerc continued his points scoring run. He consistently impresses doesn’t he, despite making a trip to the perimeter fence on the opening lap.

Making mistakes

As we’ve hit upon, it wasn’t a great weekend for the Mercedes bunch, but please spare a thought for Chief Strategist James Vowles who had his apology to Lewis Hamilton broadcast to the world, not once, but twice – it was gripping listening but it got me thinking if it was entirely necessary or whether it made him look like scapegoat for yet another team error.

Lewis is Lewis; give him a fast, reliable car and he’ll do the rest, Valtteri will also give you constantly good finishes if the car is set up correctly, neither of them makes many silly errors on the track.

Turn your attention to the pit wall and you’ll see that numerous times this season Mercedes have come unstuck through poor reaction times or bad decisions made in the heat of the moment.

Think back to Australia and a race that was going perfectly to plan, if not for a timing system issue meaning they were swallowed up by Sebastian Vettel during the virtual safety car – race lost.

Then there was China, another race thrown away, this time for Valtteri Bottas. A poor judgement call on not pitting for tyres under the safety car meant that Daniel Ricciardo was able to slide his way up the field on his new set of softs, while the Silver Arrows were left to struggle on worn mediums.

This brings us to Austria where the team had “half a lap” to react following the VSC, according to Toto Wolff, and they didn’t.

They now have lost the lead in both the drivers and constructors championships. Is this due to the extra pressure that a rejuvenated Ferrari team is putting on them? Possibly, or could it be that ever since the introduction of the hybrid-era, they’ve never had to worry about competition and making split-second choices?

It’s certainly shaping up to be a nail-biter.

Oh, sweet irony

Where are the journalists who talked trash on Max Verstappen now? He’s been demonised in press conferences throughout the season, but how ironic was it that the “reckless” Dutchman was able to nurse his tyres and car home in a race that plagued so many?

He’s been on the podium four out of five races since THAT incident in Baku. Times have changed, maybe they’ll be able to celebrate him a little bit more from now on.

He is the future.

Can’t park there mate

Following on from my previous point, he may very well be the future of the sport, but he needs to learn to park his car correctly after a race victory.

Did anyone else spot that he drove straight into the regular Parc Ferme, not the one designed for the top 3 finishers?

Come on Max, you’ve got to get a handle on that if you’re going to be champion one day, you need to learn how to get to that area…maybe he was distracted by the Heineken star?

“Where’s the right parking then?” | Image: Octane Photos

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