‘Red Bull, the team that has meant so much to Max Verstappen, asked for a return favour for all the work Sergio Pérez has done for him. The extra points for Pérez would have been important for the team that likes its drivers to finish first and second. I don’t understand why Verstappen didn’t heed this request.
The weekend in São Paulo was great, perhaps one of the best weekends of the year. Every day was a hit, from Friday to Sunday. A sprint race will not be more boring than qualifying, sometimes they are exciting and sometimes less so. But both Friday and Saturday are always interesting, which is precisely the purpose of this set-up. Sure, I also think the concept is not perfect yet. But fundamentally, it works. And this weekend the drivers were also aggressive on Saturday, taking risks.
George Russell controlled both races cleverly, obviously getting his starting spot with some luck due to that red flag after his own spin. Lewis Hamilton started further back as a result, which helped Russell in the end. And Mercedes is suddenly very fast, even on the straights, where Red Bull was totally uncompetitive for the first time this year. I wonder where that has suddenly come from. There hasn’t been a team this year that has managed to turn it around like Mercedes has, which is very impressive.
Should Ferrari still lose the second spot in the constructors’ championship, it would be embarrassing. They should have been battling with Red Bull, but there is something there that is not working. Decision-making in qualification was also vague: Leclerc says it is not raining, but the team says it is. That came across as odd. As if there are robots sitting there just doing calculations. By the way, let’s not forget that both Sainz and Leclerc drove a very strong race.
It was also a lot about radio traffic yesterday. Leclerc asked the team if Sainz could let him past in the closing stages, as he wants to finish second in the championship. That Ferrari did not allow this, I understand. Alonso was driving a second behind Leclerc, the risk would be too great. At that moment, getting third and fourth places in the race are the most important thing for Ferrari as constructor. Pérez asked the same of Verstappen and I cannot understand Verstappen’s reaction. Why is he worrying about finishing sixth or seventh? It doesn’t change anything for him, but it would have made a difference for Pérez and the team, and Pérez has helped him so much in the past. It was not like Max would have had to give up a podium spot, as was the case for Sainz and Leclerc.
I also got a bit wound up about Lance Stroll and the FIA’s penalty system. Verstappen received a five-second penalty, while he was given no space by Hamilton. It was aggressive from both sides, in my view a race incident. But Lance Stroll was given a 10-second penalty on Saturday for a life-threatening manoeuvre. The way he swings and blocks, it’s just wrong. That’s not racing. He did it in Austin, in Mexico he was aggressive with Gasly and now this. The FIA does not punish this hard enough, even in the feeder series, and then it keeps happening. Sebastian Vettel, his teammate and the victim of the incident, was a true gentleman. But I don’t think Fernando Alonso will be so calm next year.’