Formula 1Opinion

Post-Race Analysis and Driver Ratings for the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix

Ferrari lose their grip on the championship as Mercedes take a big leap forward among the orange army at Netherlands.

Though Verstappen seemed unstoppable in the race, this weekend has definitely been an eye opener for both RedBull and Ferrari in terms of the development Mercedes has made so far. Although, Mercedes keep saying that this is performance specific to just the Zandvoort circuit and that “this car will probably be kept out of their museum,” Ferrari and RedBull got a hint of how strategists can play a vital role in almost snatching P1 from a dominant team. Perhaps, Hamilton’s record of “At least one race win in every season competed” may not be broken this season as well!

In a weekend where the Silver Arrows were fastest on the sheets, it did not quite reflect on the streets, majorly because of risks which did not pay off as the team would have liked it to. Both Hamilton and Russell topped the FP1 and stayed nearly at the top in FP2 and FP3, but their pace seemed to vanish in Qualifying. Although, Max, Charles, Carlos and Hamilton were only merely separated by a few hundredths. Arguments may also be made that Russell and Hamilton were cut short of their final runs in Q3 by Perez’s incident, but telemetry data does not show them to have potentially improved.

Zandvoort being a very short circuit, is a tough track to overtake upon, the only real place for opportunity being the long main straight. Apart form these track temperatures also soar high and aggressive corners take a heavy toll on the tires. Even though Pirelli introduced the hardest compounds for the weekend, that is the C1, C2 and the C3, drivers and teams had a tricky time to figure out which compound suited them best. Teams had to make tough calls during the race and with the VSC and Safety Cars, had to even take risks to finish as ahead as possible.

Could fate have been different for Mercedes?

At the race start, Hamilton had a good start, but on the inside of Turn 1, he had a brief contact with Sainz which set him slightly off. Though he did not sustain any damage, he lost the initial position which is important at a circuit like Zandvoort. THe rest of the race went smoothly until Tsunoda’s incident which triggered the VSC. The pit crew did a brilliant job in double stacking both cars, and with the pace it looked like a top step for either driver. But a Safety Car being deployed due to Bottas was where the whole play changed. The team decided to keep Hamilton out, but Russell demanded for new soft treads which they gave him.

In hindsight, Hamilton should have pitted for new softs, but Mercedes took the risk of him having half a chance of being able to defend Verstappen in the final laps. Of course he would lose out eventually, given the pace detriment in the W13, but it could have possibly granted a double podium to them. Even though Zandvoort requires a pace advantage of more than a second to be able to overtake, Verstappen was able to do it effortlessly right at the restart. The next lap looked familiar to last year’s Abu Dhabi GP. With just about 12 laps remaining Hamilton lost positions to Russell and Charles and was heard complaining on the radio. To answer our question at the top, we think that a win for Mercedes was definitely not possible but a double podium could have been on the cards. In either case, it is a strategy risk which all teams take during a race and unfortunately did not favor them.

Haas and Ferrari

Though the teams are poles apart in terms of pace, car build, position and obviously points, their race in the Dutch GP ended in a nearly similar fashion. Here’s how. Both drivers of the teams, namely Sainz and Magnussen, started beautifully and gained or held on to their positions in the early half of the race. A delayed pitstop by both teams cost the drivers a potentially better final position in the race. In a way of comparing Leclerc and Schumacher, both drivers did some pretty impressive overtakes and though Schumacher improved from P17 to P13, Leclerc ended up losing a position instead.

Points Rush for Alpine and Alonso

The oldest driver on the grid is definitely setting his mark on the midfield this year. Though he is leaving the team at the end of this season, there has been no dearth in his performance in helping Alpine come on out on top of the immediate rivals. With a P6 for the Spaniard, it counts as a consecutive top 10 finish. This class of consistency is by far superior than most of the other drivers, only matched by current championship leader, Max Verstappen. His teammate Ocon has also been quite instrumental in providing top notch results for his team. Though at the moment, the Alpine team is only held back by the overall pace of the car, at this moment the team is surely looking at a solid P4 in the constructors at the end of this year. Though few races are still to take place and the team is only 24 points ahead of McLaren, it should be noted that such a result was not achieved since 2007 in the pre-hybrid era and 2018 in the turbo-hybrid era, when the team previously run by the name of Renault.

RedBull, Alphatauri and Social Media

In the aftermath of the race, a lot of people took to Twitter to hurl conspiracy theories and insults at RedBull and its sister team. These abuses were mainly aimed towards RedBull chief strategist Hannah Schmitz and Alphatauri driver Yuki Tsunoda. The vile accusations were based upon the fact that Tsunoda “conveniently” DNfed in the final stages, which benefitted Verstappen who went on to win the race. Mostly LH and British fans accused Schmitz of orchestrating such a plan, which is totally biased and uncalled for. These were especially sparked after Crofty and Kravitz passed sly comments on the SkySports commentary. This sort of drama has been seen in the sport a lot of times in the past, but sadly is yet to see a better solution.

Driver Ratings

P1: Max Verstappen

As Max finished the race to “Super Max” blaring on the speakers, he was the most triumphant racer on track. He almost achieved a Grand Slam in the race which also rewarded him with the Driver of the Day! Clearly his pace still remains unmatched. Along with a great team of engineers and strategists, a deadly combo now exists for the further races to come.

Driver Rating: 9.5/10

P2: George Russell

A quick thinking smart move in the final quarters of the race granted the runners up spot to Russell. His was definitely at par with Ferrari and RedBull cars and could have definitely vied for the win had he performed better in Qualifying. Nevertheless, we are sure that the top step is not too far now.

Driver Rating: 9.5/10

P3: Charles Leclerc

A textbook strategy followed by Ferrari seemed to work for the Monegasque at the Dutch GP. Though he just nearly missed out on Pole Position, his pace was relatively acceptable. The untimely interruptions did not help in his cause but his overtakes on track were brilliant which show that he is just slightly offset from contending for the championship.

Driver Rating: 8.5/10

P4: Lewis Hamilton

The British driver had his race upturned by his strategists no doubt. He had the pace and with fresher tires would have definitely got the 2nd spot if not the top. However, a blunder on his team’s part cost him not only the potential win but also the podium.

Driver Rating: 9.5/10

P5: Sergio Perez

A highly unsatisfactory driver from a driver, who literally has the “best car” on the grid. He looked uncomfortable this weekend as well, in inclusion of the past few races. He could have easily secured a 1-2 for his team had he been carried a bit more pace. But it is said that he still not being able to find the balance with the car to be confident enough to push it to its limits which caused him to lose out on almost all duels in the race.

Driver Rating: 7.5/10

P6: Fernando Alonso

Yet another few points to add to the bag and to the record of consecutive points in the past 10 races. The Hard tires seemed to work with the Alpine car and Alonso sent it further, as much as he could. For the most part of the race, he battled with Norris beating him successfully with the pace and of course, experience!

Driver Rating: 9/10

P7: Lando Norris

4 races in a row where Norris has not been able to move ahead past P7. In Spa he had gone down further behind in P12, but again came back to his “regular” spot in Zandvoort. His pace has been relatively superior to rivals, but only in the practice sessions. On Race Day, usually he is not able to find reasons for the lack of pace.

Driver Rating: 7.5/10

P8: Carlos Sainz

The other Ferrari driver who yet again was held back because of shortcomings from his team. His delayed pitstop cost him a podium opportunity as it is, and a 5-second penalty for unsafe release added to the misery. His race was strong on track though, and at one point had almost caught Perez for the P5 position.

Driver Rating: 8/10

P9: Esteban Ocon

Ocon’s race was definitely not optimized on Sunday, and it kept us wondering if he could have finished higher up the grid. His teammate did a pretty good job keeping behind Norris, but Ocon himself could not make it past the McLaren.

Driver Rating: 7/10

P10: Lance Stroll

Stroll got a little lucky with the Safety Car, where he performed better with his rivals having to pit but his strategy kept him ahead. A largely overdue positive drive for the Canadian who scored a good point for his team.

Driver Rating: 7/10

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Abhishek S.

Loves long drives, sunsets and skylines (pun intended ;)). Will miss a date but not an F1 race!

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