Max Verstappen booked a great victory in Baku on Sunday and thus strengthened his lead in the World Cup position. At the same time, it was primarily about bouncing cars and how much it bothers motorists. Ho-Pin Tung, driver and analyst at NU.nl and Viaplay, looks back on Azerbaijan’s Grand Prix.
There’s a lot to do about the bouncing cars right now. We saw Hamilton crawl out of his car. Now Mercedes wants the rules changed so he may have wanted to stick around. But it can be really painful, right?
“It can certainly be painful. The back is the most sensitive point for a motorist because of the way they sit in the car. When there is a crash, you are often seen suffering from it.”
“But it’s a bit of a double story. Mercedes adjusts the car that way, because otherwise they are much slower. As a team and drivers, you always make certain choices yourself, while knowing that it does not always benefit comfort. Hamilton is very low in the car , for example, because it’s better aerodynamic and in terms of center of gravity. Everything is being done to improve performance. He even said last Friday that they chose to suffer pain and go for speed. You can not really complain about that afterwards. “
“Obviously, Toto Wolff is exaggerating a bit politically. Mercedes is obviously aiming for a mandatory minimum ride height, so the car is a bit taller and no longer jumps on the floor.”
Mercedes is not completely alone. Several motorists are calling for a change. Do you think the rules should be changed?
“At least not already this year, in an ongoing season. When they started designing these cars, the rules were the same for everyone. It’s a consequence of how one’s worked as a team. They’re just amazed at guinea pigs. “
“But there’s something they can do themselves. Red Bull are hardly bothered by it, but they may also be driving a little higher than they would like, and have made it work well by anticipating certain adjustments early on. For us saw guinea pigs during test days, so if you gave another team the benefit of changing the rules now, it would not be fair.
“You also have to have a large number of teams on your side to get such a rule change through, and it will be very difficult. Red Bull and AlphaTauri are of course against, and there are several teams that are not so bothered by it. To implement things in the season that are not really related to safety is still a difficult story .. Of course the riders are really bothered by it, but it is something they have created and can also solve, but giving concessions to the performance is of course the last things you want. “
Is there anything Mercedes can do even without it costing speed?
“Basically, the seat is a pure carbon shell, and Mercedes could also make Hamilton’s a little softer, with a little more cushioning material. It may already be a little there, but it can always be more. It also dampens the shocks a little, it’s not enough “but every little bit helps. Although it makes your chair more spacious, bigger and heavier, and it’s not ideal either. Everything is a compromise in the end.”
“Hamilton also sits very low in the car, also different from George Russell. It is of course longer, but it is also a personal choice. Extra cushioning material also ensures that you automatically sit higher. The driver also has it himself. Only if you drive can really not stand it, the team has to intervene because a driver often does not even admit it so quickly. “
Max Verstappen now has a lead of 34 points, while the Ferrari retired. Is the title race a race?
“Well, we’ve burned our fingers on it before. At the start of the season, Ferrari was faster and they had the reliability. It’s a bit the other way around now.”
“When Leclerc was so far ahead, we only said that retirements were necessary. It happened, and partly because it is reversed. But it also suggests in an intense battle that a retirement has enormous consequences for the title fight. So I is not in progress Say it’s not a lost match anymore. “
Leclerc saw his title chances continue to go up in smoke. How do you think he’s feeling now? Does he still trust Ferrari?
“Yes, he still has. The reliability is of course worrying. The strategy mistakes as in Monaco are operational mistakes. This can be seen in several teams, not only at Ferrari. In Baku, for example, they were sharp at the weekend with Leclerc during the first virtual safety car. “
“The speed is in the car, although it will play a role in the back of my mind that it has already broken down twice. But it affects several teams.”
“In Canada, he’s there just because every race is new anyway. So I do not think it’s something that’s going to play in his head. This was his fourth pole in a row, the speed is there, and so is his confidence. “in himself and in his car. He just has to finish it on Sunday.”
Verstappen took care of the story that Pérez could be a threat at the moment. In the end, he’s just faster than his teammate, right?
“I especially noticed that the tires broke again at Pérez, he suffered a lot from grain. It was seen in Monaco in the final phase. After the pit stop on Sunday, it seemed for a while as if he could keep up, but then fell. “farther and farther away. The gap was very big in the end. Verstappen simply ran out after both pit stops. Pérez has been a little harder on the tires in the last couple of races, although it is not usually a known problem with him.”
“I think his car may have been adjusted a little more for speed over a lap, but it often has the consequence that the tires wear a little faster during the race. It has now happened two races in a row. So it’s interesting. “
“Verstappen does not have those quick qualifying laps. It has to do with the cars’ characteristics and driving behavior. They react less sharply, something he would like. But I also think it has to do with the choice to give the car a little more.” We need to adjust more for Sunday. You really see in the races that Verstappen’s tires last longer. It usually works well, because on Sundays the points are shared. Verstappen is simply stronger. “