Will the duel soon become a three-way fight? Mercedes expects an improved car to have a chance of winning the Formula 1 title. Max Verstappen in particular still has a clear advantage. The German pilots continue to follow.
Max Verstappen is six points ahead of Charles Leclerc after the sixth Formula 1 race of the year. Things remain tight for the world champion in the Red Bull and the challenger in the Ferrari. And after the heat drama in Barcelona, it's now in Leclerc's homeland.
Next Sunday there will already be driving in the narrow streets of Monaco. There, the 24-year-old wants to quickly forget his bitter failure in Spain. Verstappen can win for the fourth time in a row in the Principality after the triumph in Barcelona.
Verstappen skeptical even after four wins in six races
The fact remains: the world champion makes the maximum of what his Red Bull offers him. And after three wins in a row, that's enough for the championship lead at the moment. In a long season, however, it could become a problem for Verstappen that his car has a moody nature. Twice it gave up the ghost completely in the race, in Spain the DRS became a nuisance. The folding wing didn't work in the decisive phase of qualifying, in the race it only worked as the mood took it. In the end, Verstappen's verdict was quite mild, he still won. In the cockpit, however, he seemed downright shaken by the next difficulties. You don't become world champion with such problems.
Ferrari also has reliability issues
At first it looked like a walk to victory, but then it ended bitterly for Charles Leclerc. With engine problems, he had to park his Ferrari in the garage after 28 laps. Instead of extending the lead in the World Cup, the Monegasque is now behind Verstappen ahead of his home game next Sunday in the Principality. The defect is to be examined more closely at the Maranello plant. "The feeling that the drivers had in the car was positive," said team boss Mattia Binotto on Sky: "We found the right approach, so we can still see the weekend positively." It was the first defect at Scuderia, Verstappen has already been eliminated twice in 2022.
Mercedes is lurking ever closer behind the top teams
Apparently it wasn't whistling in the woods. Mercedes has been talking strongly for a good two weeks, most recently in Miami and now even more so in Barcelona, but results have also followed. George Russell offered impressive resistance to Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton swept through the field at impressive speed after an early accident and was voted driver of the day. The Silver Arrows were again a factor in the title fight in Spain, albeit more indirectly. If they confirm this upswing, there may still be regular three-way battles between the top teams this year. Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko believes that the series world champions will soon be able to win again on their own.
Vettel positive even without championship points in the new Aston Martin
Sebastian Vettel did not have an easy weekend. He narrowly missed out on a championship point in eleventh place, and then there's the debate about his new car. Because the overtaken Aston Martin looks frighteningly similar to the Red Bull, there are allegations of cheating. Although the world motorsport association FIA has approved the changes, the topic should keep the team from England busy for a while. The 34-year-old Vettel prefers to concentrate on his job. The new package on his company car points the way to a better future: "We're making progress and moving forward, that's what it's all about." After the race he strode energetically into the mixed zone. "I'm looking forward to the shower," he said.
Mick Schumacher remains a mystery
For a lap or two it looked like it could be a big Sunday for Mick Schumacher. After an excellent start and a turbulent initial phase, he suddenly found himself in sixth place. But then Schumacher could no longer keep up with the pace in the upper midfield, and the strategy was not ideal either. If the Haas had gone as well as it did last time in Miami, a lot would have been possible, but it was passed. It is difficult to judge whether this was more due to the car or the driver in this case - due to Kevin Magnussen's early crash, the reference value was missing. Haas and Schumacher missed the chance to score points again.