Lewis Hamilton believes he is close to winning again, while Carlos Sainz Jr. is hungry for another Formula One victory at this weekend’s Austrian prix.
The Sainz 150 raced to finally win at a crashed Silverstone last Sunday, when Hamilton gathered a second straight podium to outline how Mercedes’ upgrades would pay off.
The seven-time F1 champion has won at least one race in each of the last 15 seasons in F1 and another victory to eclipse Michael Schumacher and go on with 103 wins and 103 pole positions to set another record is required. But Hamilton’s Mercedes team struggles to adapt to new F1 rules and “ground effects” – where the floor generates aerodynamic grip and causes buoyancy.
Back-to-back podiums reassure him that the final race of 2021 in Saudi Arabia is on his way to his first victory after winning 12 races earlier.
“With a little more digging and a little more hard work hopefully we can get a little closer. I really believe we can win the race this year,” said Hamilton. “Earlier this year of course I wasn’t sure we would ever win in this car.”
His pace at Silverstone, where a safety car thwarted a potential win, further underscored this. But he still thinks Sainz’s Ferrari and Red Bull’s off championship leader Max Verstappen are faster.
“Certainly Silverstone had the ability to win the race, but with our current performance we are not on the same level as both teams,” he said. “We needed everything to align (at Silverstone) so we didn’t need that safety car in the end. I think everything happens for a reason. I think it was the weekend of Carlos, it was written that he would get his first win.
Sainz’s father is Carlos Sainz Sr. – a two-time rally champion with 26 race wins.
Now his son knows what it’s like to be in the winners’ circle, and he wants more.
“This win has given me more and more appetite to do it again as soon as possible and keep fighting for the win,” said 27-year-old Sainz. “It’s so personal and it’s hard to describe what’s going on in someone’s mind. All I can tell you is that it feels great, that it’s slowly sunk in.”
Schumacher’s son – Mick Schumacher – also got his first taste of success last weekend.
Well, because it was the first time the 23-year-old German scored in F1 after starting 31 races.
His eighth-place finish earned him four points and he nearly overtook Verstappen in the end. Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, a family friend, was cheering behind him in the final laps. Later, Schumacher’s sister interrupted her younger brother’s post-race interview and sprayed Champagne on him.
Schumacher said he has been swimming with “a good and happy attitude” ever since.
It was a performance he really needed, with some observers questioning his F1 future after two DNFs in the last three races, and even more impressive given that he had started on 19th.
“In the end it made those points so sweet,” said Schumacher.
Charles Leclerc left the British GP deeply disappointed and struggling to control his frustration.
He thought teammate Sainz hadn’t moved fast enough earlier in the race and later, in a safety car chase, his team put him out for a track position instead of bringing him in for a faster tyre.
Team principal Mattia Binotto also saw him talking to him afterward instead of consoling him.
It is the second time this season that Leclerc has been baffled by a team call after they decided to pit him for new tires to take the lead in Monaco — the most difficult track to overtake — and finished fourth in his home race.
After dinner with Binotto in Monaco this week, Leclerc insisted there is no division within Ferrari.
“It’s really untrue. And I wish I didn’t have to get into it because it’s the exact question I’ve got everywhere. We’re extremely united,” Leclerc said. “There’s also some disappointment. But there is no division within the team, that’s for sure.”
Leclerc thinks Ferrari needed to improve “communication during the race” after what happened at Silverstone and Monaco.
Silverstone was in trouble for Leclerc as Verstappen dropped points in seventh place and Leclerc could have closed the gap better than moving to Austria, 43 points behind.
Leclerc surpassed Verstappen by winning two of the first three races of the season, but is now third overall. His last podium was second in Miami and he has had two DNFs since then, finishing fourth twice and fifth.
“The last five races have been pretty tough on me,” Leclerc said. “I just wanted to stay home (after Silverstone), get a little detached from everything.”
sprint for points
Austria is the second race of the season to include a sprint race, where the winner collects eight additional points. Verstappen beats Leclerc to win at Imola Then won the race with the fastest lap bonus for an overall maximum of 34 points.
The starting order for the sprint race was decided by a qualifying session on Friday after a traditional first practice session. The final sequence of sprint races then sets up the grid for Sunday’s GP.
Race Weekend is sold out with 300,000 fans participating over three days at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, nestled among the rolling hills of Styria.
Daniil Ricciardo has won eight F1 victories in his career, but scored points in only one of the last six races in a difficult season with McLaren. The Australian giant has so far dropped out of the top 10 in eight of the 10 races and was 13th at Silverstone.
“It was definitely a very deep race. Very, very slow,” said Ricciardo. “Too far from the pace. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”
While driving for Red Bull in 2017, Ricciardo counts his third place in Austria as one of his best memories.
“It’s probably the biggest podium I’ve ever had, here with the whole family,” he said.
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