The French GP was all about hot weather and tyres, the two combining to present the teams with a difficult task when it came to tyre management and that played a significant role in every session including qualifying and the race. It was a complicated weekend with no points at the end, but the best way to recover from a disappointing race is to get back on track as soon as possible and we don’t have long to wait as Red Bull’s home race, the Austrian GP is just around the corner, next weekend.
Up until the race, we really ran two very different programmes for our drivers, as we knew before we got here that Daniil would be starting from the back of the grid and so flying lap performance was not a consideration for our Russian and he could devote himself to race set-up. Honda wanted to introduce its latest Spec 3 version of the Power Unit and, as both our drivers had already reached the maximum permitted number of PUs, that would involve penalties. Therefore instead of facing an uphill struggle with both drivers, it was decided that Alex would stick with Spec 2 and thus avoid any penalties.
For qualifying, all Daniil had to do was lap quicker than George Russell who would also start from the back with penalties, so that he could start ahead of the Williams. He duly managed that and Alex came very close to Q3 but had to settle for eleventh. Not too bad, as it means the possibility to start from the clean side of the track and have a free choice of tyre compound to start the race. Unfortunately though, at the start Alex dropped a few places, running wide on the opening lap. Daniil running the Hard tyres gradually began picking off the slower cars ahead of him. A long 27 lap stint saw Alex move into the top ten before he came in for fresh tyres. But this was not our day and, with no retirements there were no points for us. But at least our duo livened up the final ten laps as they battled hard for 14th spot, the place going to Daniil in the end.
With everyone on duty for the Austrian Grand Prix, starting this coming Thursday, the pack-down in the very hot Paul Ricard paddock had a real sense of urgency about it. The race cars in their transporter and the crew whose first job is to build up our garage in the pits at every race, have already headed straight for the town of Spielberg, home to the Red Bull Ring, while the engineers and other team members are making a brief pit-stop in our Faenza factory.
Daniil and Alex flew to Austria on Monday as they are taking part in the “Sport & Talk” show for Servus TV, which is being filmed in the famous Hangar 7 in Salzburg, the incredible building that’s home to the historic Flying Bulls fleet of aircraft, as well as a display of Formula 1 cars. On Tuesday, the two drivers have a bit of free time to visit Salzburg before getting in some pre-race weekend physical training, which is no hardship when you have the beautiful Styrian mountains to go running in!