Eleven races over. Eleven to go. Mick Schumacher can look forward to them. Sebastian Vettel less so. Max Verstappen is leading the world championship battle. But Charles Leclerc will try to change that before the summer break. Another problem is troubling all the drivers.
Mick Schumacher would probably prefer to continue as early as next weekend. The 23-year-old German is on a high course and provides top arguments for a new contract. Others are in the doldrums, like compatriot Sebastian Vettel. The Austrian Grand Prix turned into a three-day disaster for the four-time Formula 1 world champion. Carlos Sainz also has bad luck. The bizarrely dangerous images of the burning Ferrari in reverse roll will not be missing from the season reviews. Just like Max Verstappen’s fans, who create atmosphere but also make other headlines – the fight for the World Championship should not become personal.
A world championship that is certainly not yet decided: Max Verstappen continues to lead. He now has 38 points. The maximum was 34 at the Spielberg race weekend. This also means: With eleven races left, one of them with a sprint decision and another eight points in addition to the maximum possible 26 in the race, there are still many, many points to be awarded. But what also became clear: Verstappen is no longer trying by hook or crook to defend himself and get the best out at the highest risk, when damage limitation lives up to its name, as it did with second place at the Red Bull home race. He lost just six points.
Mercedes is getting closer
Nevertheless, it became clear that he has to be prepared for a lot of opposition. Charles Leclerc needed this victory for the points account, but above all for his self-confidence. In addition, Mercedes with record world champion Lewis Hamilton (3rd) and George Russell (4th) are getting closer and closer and can steal important points. Only the reliability of the Ferrari men is a concern. Carlos Sainz, winner at Silverstone, retired for the fourth time this year.
A Mick Schumacher who has flipped the switch: The look, the determination – some people already feel reminded of his father Michael. The points’ premiere at Silverstone has accelerated Mick Schumacher’s development as a Formula 1 driver to the maximum. In Spielberg, sixth place was the best result of his career. He is competing for a new contract at Haas – or possibly somewhere else. He’s making a very good case right now: a name of world renown coupled with success. The fact that Mick Schumacher did not hide his frustration about team decisions at the Austrian weekend is part of the maturing process. Now he has to show what he is made of. Remarkably, he underwent a similar maturing process in the second year of both the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles. If he confirms the trend, there will be no way past Mick Schumacher.
Vettel experiences days of oblivion
The four-time world champion at the end – of the field: Sebastian Vettel was once celebrated at the Red Bull Ring. He was the star in the team celebrating its home grand prix in Austria. But that was a long time ago. In 2013, Vettel won the World Championship for the fourth and last time, then in the Red Bull. In 2022 he simply experienced days of oblivion in Spielberg in the Aston Martin. When it comes to the environment, Vettel is the champion of sustainability. In sporting terms, it doesn’t seem that way at the moment.
Spectators in the mood, but also worried: Reports from mainly female fans raised eyebrows. Assaults, sexist comments, insults, racist, homophobic. In the frenzy of the atmosphere, some people lost their inhibitions and decency. Formula 1 reacted quickly and published a statement. Drivers like Max Verstappen, who was cheered on by tens of thousands of Dutch fans, or record world champion Lewis Hamilton and Spielberg winner Charles Leclerc condemned such misconduct. Action, Hamilton demanded. The Formula 1 slogan “We race as one” was all well and good, he said. “But it was just words.” It didn’t help anything, he said. It is also necessary to put a stop to the goings-on.