The battle for third place in the Constructor’s Championship is well and truly on! I must admit, up until the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, I still wasn’t a 100% sure that this battle would last the season. We’ve seen it far too often, where just as you think a battle’s heating up, taking shape…. It just fades away. But this time it feels different. This isn’t a clinic being put on by two manufacturers as they go head-to-head. You’ll need to look at Red Bull vs Mercedes for that one. But the fact that it isn’t an all-out battle between two extremely sound or “perfect” teams, drivers, and cars is what makes this battle so intriguing. It’s the faults and inconsistencies and unpredictability of the way the cars and drivers perform, that makes this such a mouth-watering battle. Inconsistencies within the team, and between the drivers even! One week you have the Ferraris matching the top 3-4 cars for race pace. The other, they struggle to get into Q3 and get both cars into the points. One week the McLarens look like baby Mercs, much like Racing Point (now Aston Martin) did last season. And the next they seem to be pegged back by the Ferraris, and the occasional burst of performance courtesy of Pierre Gasly and the Alpha Tauri.
The battle to win the title, between Mercedes and Red Bull is like a boxing match. Sure, there are flash points and moments where form and style aren’t at their peak (…. yeah… Copse at Silverstone would attest to that… racing incident imo. Just putting it out there). But, for the large part it is a very flowing and hard-fought battle that looks elegant. The battle for third between McLaren and Ferrari? Yeah, that would be more UFC than boxing. Sure, these teams are also very well versed in technique and form and style. But the second their opponent hits the canvas, all that elegance goes out the window and it just is a brawl to see the most resilient (or reliable in F1 terms) one weather the storm and stand up.
So yes, it would be better for Ferrari if they were consistent and finished the race more or less where they expected to, unlike the current situation where they either perform a lot better than they thought they would (Monaco, Baku, Silverstone) or where they perform a lot worse than they would have expected to (just about every other tack). But that would be boring! For us it would! We don’t want boring, standard consistency, do we? Nahhhh! GIVE US CHAOS! That’s what makes a midfield battle special! There’s just something not quite right about it. But that sense of “ooh, wonder what’s going to happen here then” (to be fair, this might be what Mattia Binotto and Zak Brown must be thinking too, at times) is what makes it so much fun! Same with McLaren. Lando is having a fantastic season. Brilliant pace. Super quick laps during qualifying and on race day. But there are still moments where you think “hmmm if he could’ve done xyz maybe…”. And that’s brilliant. Ricciardo has struggled to get to grips with the McLaren. But slowly but surely, you can see him improve and get more comfortable with pushing the car. As proven by his brilliant battle with former McLaren driver and current Ferrari man, Carlos Sainz. Those 20 odd laps where Sainz was pushing the Ferrari to the absolute limit in an effort to overtake Ricciardo, that was fantastic racing. Because Carlos was just on it and was pushing so hard, Daniel had to just buckle down and focus and drive the perfect race to the end. Because just one error, and I’m sure Carlos would’ve passed him. So not only are the drivers getting closer to each other, they are now getting closer to their rivals too. Silverstone just proved this. Charles in a Ferrari finishing P2 and Lando and McLaren grabbing P4. While Ricciadro and Sainz in the other McLaren and Ferrari respectively, battling it out and finishing P5 and P6. Top quality and pace displayed along with the grit and elbows-out determination. The British Grand Prix really didn’t just sum up this battle for third place, I think it also laid down a marker to say, “this is going to be rather tasty and go to the very end”. Bring it on