I enjoyed myself this weekend, from Friday to Sunday. That is an advantage of such a sprint race weekend: it might not bring you a better Saturday, but Friday is more fun and so the weekend as a whole is more interesting.
Let me start with the most embarrassing thing: the cheering fans when Lewis Hamilton crashed. No one knows how he is doing and yet they are clapping. Lewis isn’t even fighting Max this year, it was really embarrassing. You should never be cheering after a crash. I simply don’t understand such misbehaviour. The people who come in are supposed to be fans of racing. Whatever you think inside, keep it to yourself. It’s already bad enough that you are thinking it.
The sprint on Saturday was great. The Ferraris were faster, but started to fight each other. Carlos Sainz, who I think should have saved his tyres and then put the pressure on Verstappen together with Charles Leclerc, made a misjudgement. It seemed that Ferrari had better handling on Sunday with a full tank, Leclerc got to the apex more easily and had better grip at the exit than Verstappen. Red Bull looked a bit unsure, they tried an aggressive strategy to lure Ferrari into the pits, but the Scuderia didn’t flinch.
Carlos’ retirement was a lucky break for Verstappen. That was a painful one for him, and it looked dangerous with that rolling car. It’s just harder to get out with the halo. I thought it was a shame that we got the VSC instead of the safety car. I’m not seeing any consistency in that this year either. I think you should always use the safety car in the race – it’s safer, to start with.
But for Leclerc, the victory is of course good for his confidence. That first overtaking manoeuvre on Verstappen especially, they were on equal footing: the same amount of fuel and the same tyres. That was a good battle, after that the differences in tyres plus the DRS were too big. Verstappen didn’t really defend there anymore either. You saw that throughout the race, DRS generates overtaking pushes but not necessarily better fights. The question is what we want from F1. The 2022 rules were conceived with the idea of also removing DRS in the long run. But we are so used to it now – as are the fans.
Let me end with a compliment and an advice for Mick Schumacher. He has definitely progressed as a driver. I have also criticised him in the past: he crashed and forced too much in his driving, but that’s really getting better. His battle with Hamilton on Saturday was great. But as soon as he passes someone, he squeezes the other driver too much off the track. Yesterday he did that a few times, including with Fernando Alonso. He has to be more careful, it’s the only downside because his speed in the last few races has been good.