The conclusions after Styria: 'Ferrari is nowhere this year'

13-07-2020 14:49 | Updated: 13-07-2020 15:47
The conclusions after Styria: 'Ferrari is nowhere this year'

The second race of the 2020 season is over and we can already look forward to the third Grand Prix of the season this weekend in Hungary. The races in Austria were two interesting ones, in which the first was mainly characterized by the many retirements and the second one on the underperforming Ferrari. It is time to draw some first conclusions after this second Grand Prix.

1. Red Bull Racing has work to do

It's a familiar story by now: Red Bull Racing expressed a lot of confidence in the team and Honda. In fact, the goal is to make Max Verstappen the youngest world champion ever. That's became lot harder now, because both Mercedes drivers have a reasonable lead in the championship. On the other hand, the fact that Verstappen won the last two years in Austria is absolutely no guarantee for a race win again, as we have been able to see in the last two weeks. However, that doesn't exclude future victories, because the circuit in Hungary - where there will be racing this weekend - seems to better suit the Red Bull, for example.

Nevertheless, overall the difference between Mercedes and Red Bull is still considerable. They may be the closest team to Mercedes, but that is partly due to the capacity of Verstappen as a driver who is able to outperform his equipment. From a technical point of view the RB16 is inferior to the W11 and Red Bull's self-confidence has not yet managed to achieve the desired results. However, the season has only just started and everything is still open, but if the team wants to pursue and achieve the ambition, they will really have to work to narrow the gap to Mercedes even further. Otherwise there is a good chance that it will be a battle between the two Mercedes drivers.

2. Ferrari didn't exaggerate their lack of performance

After the winter test Ferrari already indicated that they would have a hard time this year. Striking, because after a good season in 2019 everything started to go backwards when the team had to reverse ''certain adjustments'' in the engine. They still haven't been able to catch up, as the qualifying positions during the second Grand Prix showed. Also in the free practice sessions the result were not pleasing the Tifosi, so it can be concluded that the Italian team was not sandbagging. They really have a lot of backlogs and it even looks like they are struggling to keep up with some teams at the top of the midfield.

Now the season is still pretty long, so the Italians might be able to win something. Nevertheless, there is a lot of work to be done and the big question is whether Ferrari will be able to claim a position in the top three of constructors at all. After all, that is what can be expected of such a team. Apart from the fact that the technical side of the car is not good enough to compete at the top, history seems to repeat itself. In his early years Verstappen was often accused of being too eager, something Leclerc now manifested by diving into a hole of which it could have been predicted in advance that it wouldn't end well. Both drivers behaved calmly towards the press, but with two drop-outs, a mediocre car and relatively few points the team is bad news for the team. On the other hand, they were honest about it beforehand.

3. Renault feels the pressure

Renault has been fighting for the position of 'best of the rest' for years and of course it was somewhat painful for the French team to see their customer McLaren in front of the constructors last year. Also this year the season didn't start very well, where McLaren is again doing pretty well. The battle in 2019 was mainly between those two teams, but now Racing Point is there as well, doing pretty well and even better than the Renault on the track. The French team clearly feels the pressure, as they are in sixth place in the constructors at the moment. They haven't been able to take full advantage during the first two races. In the first Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo dropped out and this Sunday Esteban Ocon dropped out and which is comprimising their results once again.

With Racing Point doing good business, it is Renault who has now protested against the team. The cars of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll would consist of parts of another team (Mercedes) and that is not allowed to a certain extent. Is Renault trying in this way to force Racing Point to take a step back? Certainly now that they have seen that they are being outperformed by the team? It is striking that Renault is only now protesting against the car, while the 'pink Mercedes' has been talked about since the winter tests, which actually describes what they are protesting against now. The constructors standing tells the true story; it is clear that the French team has to perform better, especially since it is a factory team.

4. Racing Point is a serious threat

The 'Pink Mercedes' is not appreciated by everyone. The car of Racing Point resembles very much the Mercedes of 2019 and that made Renault decide to protest against it. We'll have to wait and see if it delivers something, it is clear that Racing Point is in a much stronger position than last year. Sergio Perez drove twice in the points and is fifth in the championship. Stroll dropped out during the first Grand Prix, but did finish on Sunday and that gave the team some extra points, making them fourth in the constructors' standings.

Renault and Christian Horner seem worried about the team. He even said it's a team to be reckoned with. Especially Sergio Perez made an impression, who drove a very good race. It's that he had damage to his front wing, which meant he had to stop chasing Alexander Albon at some point. If Perez hadn't had any damage, chances would have been pretty good that he would have finished even better. According to the analysis of the race data, the pink Mercedes also appears to have been very fast over the whole race and that's something to take into account. McLaren still has a comfortable lead with the constructors, but Racing Point can still catch up - especially if they don't have any dropouts.

The season is still young, but these first conclusions offer some perspective on the rest of the season. With midfield close together and a better connection to Red Bull Racing, it can keep the coming races exciting. In any case, Red Bull needs to step up a gear, otherwise there is a good chance that Mercedes will disappear on the horizon. For them, the competition decreases even more now that Ferrari is nowhere to be seen.

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