Running a Formula 1 team takes more than just piles of money, as Lawrence Stroll with Aston Martin is currently finding out. It is not a clothing brand or a watch brand, it is much more complicated. Especially if you are running a team for your son, finding solutions becomes all the more complicated.
Looking at this weekend you saw that Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll kept getting into trouble. Stroll’s incident with Latifi in qualifying was simply embarrassing. He also blamed the track for the crash, which is arguably the strangest explanation for a crash ever. And in the race we saw that Stroll certainly does use his mirrors, given his zigzagging tactics. Teammate Vettel is clearly not enjoying himself at all, I think he would rather be at home. True, he also made mistakes at Ferrari, but his lapses this weekend did not fit in with his stature.
Although there was nothing major – no chassis was lost – from a PR point of view they all add up. Sponsors don’t like that – apart from the damage, it also costs money because of the missed points. The question now is, what will the big boss Lawrence Stroll do? If he handles his drivers the way he does business, those will not be pleasant conversations. The atmosphere in the factory must also be on a knife edge, I don’t imagine you are made to feel welcome there at the moment. In the long term it will not be an easy situation to solve; they have built a car comparable to a Williams or a Haas, but those teams managed to build theirs with a lower budget.
At Red Bull they must also be frustrated: their car is fast, but difficult to drive. To get the last much-needed tenths in the battle against Ferrari, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez are having to pull out all the stops. Ferrari is marginally faster, but their car is apparently easier to drive and easier to tune. They will still up there at the front on a bad weekend. That is psychologically tough for Red Bull. They are used to chasing Mercedes, but now it’s them who are the champions. That brings a different level of pressure. They should have been in the top 4 with both drivers and second among the constructors, but that is not the case by a long way. These are very costly DNFs.
Also because Charles Leclerc keeps on winning. He now has the championship under his control. Of course there are still 20 races to go, and a lot of work still to be done. But he has his teammate at a distance, the team more or less behind him and a gap between him and his main competitor Max Verstappen. In Italy people often ask me: “Is this the year, is it really going to happen?” The tifosi are finding it hard to get their heads round it. You can see them thinking: “When will it go wrong?” They are used to that after the Alonso and Vettel years. But the Ferrari is very fast – in effect it is the new Mercedes!