Things are never dull in Formula 1.
This was supposed to be a quiet week off, following a back-to-back in Austria and Britain, and ahead of another back-to-back in Hungary and the Netherlands. But a thunderbolt from the clouds came down on Monday, with the shocking news that Daniel Ricciardo was coming back to the grid.
After just ten races, AlphaTauri and Red Bull had seen enough from Nyck de Vries. The rookie was out, and Ricciardo was in, on loan to AlphaTauri starting with the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Still, with F1 on a bye week following the British Grand Prix it is time to take stock of just where each of the ten teams are ahead of Budapest. Working through the field from the bottom of the Constructors’ standings to the top, what is the biggest question facing each team right now?
Having kicked things off with AlphaTauri and then Alfa Romeo, it is time to turn to the Fightin’ Guenther Steiners, or as they are officially known: Haas.
Can they solve their reliability woes?
There are two big questions facing Haas, but right now one seems more glaring than the other.
One is their race pace. Haas has shown this year some strength on Saturdays, with Nico Hülkenberg qualifying second at the Canadian Grand Prix before a penalty dropped him to fifth. Hülkenberg was even stronger in Austria, as he qualified fourth for the F1 Sprint race, along with a P8 in qualifying for the Austrian GP.
But races have been a different story. While Hülkenberg held on in the F1 Sprint for three much-needed points for the team, they have not scored points in a Grand Prix since Miami, when Kevin Magnussen finished tenth.
So they certainly need to solve their race pace woes. But perhaps a more pressing issue for the team right now? Reliability. Over the past few grands prix, reliability woes have been a massive problem. Hülkenberg experienced a power loss that knocked him out of the Austrian Grand Prix, and last weekend it was Magnussen’s turn, as he lost power midway through the British Grand Prix, after also experiencing a failure on Saturday.
And when you consider the fact that Hülkenberg also had a power loss during practice ahead of the Canadian GP, that is three race weekends in a row with a problem.
“It’s been a very disappointing weekend,” said Steiner after Silverstone. “We just didn’t have the pace and we’ve now had our third engine failure in three races as well – that doesn’t help us. We have to regroup and see how we move forward from here because we need to get out of this hole. Everybody will be working on it obviously, but today was simply not a good day.”
“There was an issue yesterday in qualifying and then today I didn’t finish with another engine issue – so not the best weekend for us,” added Magnussen. “It’s a shame of course, but it’s not like we were in a point scoring position. I think tire degradation-wise it was better than we expected. We have some work to do to find some more pace, but we just need to get our heads down, work hard, and keep pushing.”
Following the British Grand Prix, Hülkenberg admitted to some jitters over the issue. “Definitely the alarm bells are ringing,” he said. “It seems to happen more just on our team and cars. So I think we definitely take it seriously and we need to investigate and find out why.”
And they need to find out why fast.