Author Archives: Alex Booth

F1 Blast from the Past: Hill bests Schumacher at a soaking Suzuka

Background

The penultimate round of the 1994 Formula 1 World Championship took place at Suzuka in Japan.

After his return from a two-race suspension, Michael Schumacher had scored an emphatic victory in Jerez. The German had extended his lead over Damon Hill in the championship to five points.

1994 had been the year of driver changes and yet more took place prior to Suzuka. Jos Verstappen relinquished his Benetton seat to Johnny Herbert. The Englishman’s vacant Ligier drive was taken by French F3000 driver, Franck Lagorce.

Salo made his F1 debut for the doomed Lotus team

Japanese F3000 driver Mika Salo made his debut at Lotus, while another Finn, JJ Lehto returned to Sauber in place of the retired Italian Andrea de Cesaris. Japanese driver Taki Inoue made his debut for Simtek in place of Domenico Schiattarella.

Qualifying

In Friday qualifying, Schumacher took provisional pole position by almost half a second over Hill. Fellow German Heinz-Harald Frentzen was a sensational third in the Mercedes-powered Sauber. Nigel Mansell was fourth ahead of the impressive Johnny Herbert in the second Benetton.

Mansell was finding his pace again. Image: Twitter

Eddie Irvine’s Jordan rounded out the top six grid placings. On Saturday, heavy rain meant there was no chance for anyone to improve their positions and the grid was decided on Friday’s times.

The first race

The rain didn’t cease to fall on race day and the scheduled 53 lap race got underway with Schumacher maintaining his lead over the rest of the field following in the spray. Before a single lap was completed, local driver Hideki Noda has spun his Larrousse into retirement. Lehto was also out with engine problems.

Sauber’s fortunes went from bad to worse on lap two as Frentzen compromised his race by running wide into the second corner. Schumacher began to pull out a small lead over Hill. At the end of Lap 3, all of the Japanese drivers were out, as Ukyo Katayama clouted into the pitlane wall and escaped with minor injuries.

Taki Inoue also crashed coming onto the pit straight. Johnny Hebert’s Benetton was also out after aquaplaning off on the straight itself, all of which brought out the Safety Car.

When the Safety Car peeled off, Schumacher pulled away from Hill again, with the Englishman struggling to keep the Benetton insight. On Lap 10, Lagorce’s debut came to an early end after colliding with the Minardi of Pierluigi Martini, the Italian’s teammate Michele Alboreto spun off in sympathy.

Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari was also out with battery problems. The rain worsened further and on Lap 14, Gianni Morbidelli’s Footwork aquaplaned off before the Degner Curve. The Italian was lucky to escape unhurt, moments later Martin Brundle crashed at the same corner, the McLaren struck a marshal who thankfully suffered nothing more serious than a broken leg.

Brundle feared for his life as he narrowly avoided the recovery vehicle. After these incidents, the race was red-flagged.

Japanese GP – Part 2

Some drivers were in favour of the race been abandoned and debate raged on about whether it should be restarted. Nigel Mansell, using his experience of rolling starts in Indy Car, voiced his opinion that starting behind the Safety Car was the safest way for the race to resume. Incidentally, the only driver to remain strapped in his car was Damon Hill, his mind fully focussed.

A rolling start was decided, with the result to be decided on aggregate timing. Schumacher yet again pulled away from Hill but came into the pits early to refuel, confirming that Benetton had opted for a two-stop strategy. After his stop the German found himself stuck behind Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren.

Schumacher continued to lead the race on aggregate, but Hill had put the hammer down and began to eat into his lead. Meanwhile, further back, Jean Alesi and Nigel Mansell were providing some terrific entertainment in a ferocious battle. The Ferrari’s top speed advantage allowed the Frenchman to keep the Williams behind.

Hill made his one and only stop and as well as maintaining his lead on the road, the corrected aggregate times recorded that he was fractionally ahead of Schumacher. It was not a trouble-free stop however, as the right-rear wheel was unable to come off, leaving the Williams with just three new tyres.

With the rain beginning to ease later in the race, Schumacher came in for a splash and dash and a fresh set of wet tyres. Schumacher immediately set about rapidly closing down Hill’s Williams. With the Benetton lapping two seconds a lap faster than Hill.

In six laps, Schumacher had gone from 12 seconds behind on aggregate timing to just two as the final of lap of the race begun. Schumacher had finished the first part of the race 6.8 seconds ahead of Hill prior to the red flag.

Hill took the chequered flag as the Williams team eagerly awaited Schumacher, the German found himself coming up behind Christian Fittipaldi’s Footwork who delayed him slightly. The Benetton crossed the line 10 seconds later giving Hill a 3.3 second lead on aggregate timing and his sixth victory of the season.

Behind them, Mansell made a banzai move around the outside into the chicane on the final lap to overtake Alesi but the Frenchman kept third position on aggregate. Mansell nonetheless had shown he had lost none of his speed and aggression. The final points were taken by Irvine’s Jordan and Frentzen’s Sauber.

After a season of controversy and tragedy, the Japanese Grand Prix had provided an enthralling race. The championship battle would go down to the last round in Adelaide, Australia with Schumacher on 92 points and Hill on 91.

Grid Talk Podcast

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F1 Blast from the Past: Prost wins as Mansell pulls off stunning overtake

Background & Qualifying

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City was the venue for round 6 of the 1990 Formula One World Championship.

After two consecutive victories for Ayrton Senna and McLaren-Honda, the Brazilian held a 12-point lead in the driver’s standings over his teammate Gerhard Berger. In Mexico however, it was the Austrian who took his second pole position of the season.

Riccardo Patrese qualified his Williams Renault in second place ahead of Senna in the other McLaren, the Brazilian conspicuous by his absence from the front row. Nigel Mansell hauled his Ferrari to fourth on the grid ahead of the second Williams of Thierry Boutsen and the inspired Jean Alesi in the Tyrrell Ford.

Reigning World Champion Alain Prost had suffered numerous problems with the qualifying set-up on his Ferrari, and opted to set his car up for the race. The result was a lowly 13th position on the grid. The Frenchman’s difficulties were nothing compared to the fortunes of the Leyton House-March team, as neither Ivan Capelli nor Mauricio Gugelmin could qualify on the notoriously bumpy circuit.

With Berger and Senna in the top-three, the pre-race expectations were for a McLaren Honda walkover.

Race day

The 69-lap Mexican Grand Prix got underway with Patrese making an excellent getaway to take the lead from Berger. Senna also got the upper hand on his teammate, passing him on the inside going into the first corner. Senna immediately set about grabbing the lead from Patrese’s Williams, the Italian firmly shutting the door at the end of the back straight.

At the end of the lap, Patrese led from Senna and Berger, with Boutsen fourth ahead of Nelson Piquet’s Benetton and Nigel Mansell who had dropped to sixth. As the field started the second lap, Senna breezed past Patrese down the pit straight, with Berger following suit into the first corner.

Patrese quickly fell backwards, his tyre compound of choice not paying off as Boutsen and Piquet also moved ahead. Tyres would be the order of the day as Gerhard Berger made a stop at the end of Lap 13 to change his blistered Goodyears, dropping all the back to 12th place.

Senna now had a healthy 15 second lead over Nelson Piquet. Though, the three-time World Champion was disposed of by Nigel Mansell on Lap 37. Piquet’s tyres also began to fade, and Alain Prost, who had been quietly been making progress from his poor grid position, took third place on Lap 42 as Piquet headed for the pits.

On Lap 55, Prost found a way past his teammate after Mansell was boxed in behind the lapped Gregor Foitek in the Onyx. Both Ferrari’s were quickly making inroads into Senna’s lead. The Brazilian’s pace had dropped substantially due to a slow-puncture. He had gambled on going the distance without a stop but it did not pay off.

On Lap 60, Prost took the lead going into Turn 1, and Senna could do nothing to stop him. Mansell quickly followed his teammate past the McLaren but on lap 64 the Englishman spun exiting turn three and handing second back to Senna.

The Brazilian would not hold the position for very long however, his right-rear tyre exploded and Senna would limp back to the pits, his 100th Grand Prix ended prematurely. Mansell’s spin had allowed Gerhard Berger to close in, the Austrian had worked his way back up the field after his early stop, to third place.

With just three laps to go, Berger audaciously dived down the inside of Mansell into turn one, barging the Ferrari out of the way to take second place. The furious Mansell was not about to let Berger get away with that manoeuvre and quickly fought back.

Coming out of the esses on Lap 68, Mansell took the outside line as they headed into the infamous Peralta corner, the Englishman took the sweeping right-hander flat out while Berger was obliged to lift the throttle slightly in one of Formula One’s all-time classic overtaking moves.

25 seconds ahead, Prost took his second victory of the season and the 41st of his career. Mansell in second completed the first Ferrari one-two since the 1988 Italian Grand Prix. Berger may have lost out in the ferocious duel between himself and Mansell but nonetheless enjoyed himself and took third place for McLaren. 

Alessandro Nannini had a solid race to take fourth place for Benetton ahead of Boutsen’s Williams. While Piquet took sixth place off Alesi in the closing stages.

With Senna not scoring his lead in the championship was cut to eight points over his bitterest rival and the stage was set for an excellent championship battle, just as the season was about to be written off as another year of McLaren domination.

Grid Talk Podcast

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F1 Blast from the Past: Alesi upsets the odds as Senna triumphs

Shock Qualifying

The streets of Phoenix, Arizona played host to the opening round of the 1990 Formula 1 World Championship. Phoenix was the fifth American street circuit to host an F1 Grand Prix and had hosted its debut race in June the previous year. To beat the scorching heat of the Arizona desert, the race was moved to March and became the curtain-raiser for 1990.

Friday Qualifying brought numerous surprises, but there was nothing strange about a McLaren-Honda setting the fastest time. It was Austrian Gerhard Berger in his debut for the Woking outfit who topped the timing pages.

During Pirelli’s 1989-1991 stint in Formula One, the Italian company had become known for the remarkable performance from their qualifying tyres. That was demonstrated in Phoenix with Pierluigi Martini recording the second-fastest time in the Minardi.

Third quickest was fellow Italian Andrea de Cesaris in the Dallara. Another Pirelli user shone in Friday’s session, young Frenchman Jean Alesi ending the day fourth fastest in the nimble Tyrrell-Ford.

Ayrton Senna, whose participation in the 1990 season had been doubt just weeks earlier following the fallout from the climax of the previous year, was an uncharacteristic fifth. The Brazilian’s day was hampered by electrical problems, compatriot Nelson Piquet was sixth in his Benetton-Ford.

Ferrari had been billed as favourites after a highly successful winter testing programme, but qualifying was a disaster. World Champion Alain Prost was in seventh place, and teammate Nigel Mansell languishing down in 17th.

Saturday’s qualifying session was wet, leaving no one with a chance to improve their times and the grid was decided on Friday’s results.

Shook up grid makes an exciting race

Race day was cloudy but dry and 72 laps of Pheonix got underway with Berger immediately moving across the track to cover Martini. The Austrian didn’t anticipate the lightning start from Jean Alesi though, who dived inside the McLaren into the first corner to take the lead.

There was trouble further down the field as Riccardo Patrese found the nosecone of his Williams ripped off after colliding with Olivier Grouillard’s Osella. Alessandro Nannini in the Benetton also had to make a stop for repairs after contact with the Arrows of Bernd Schneider, which left the Italian with a puncture.

Incredibly, Alesi started to ease away from Berger, with Senna in third place ahead of De Cesaris, Boutsen and Martini. On Lap 9, Berger made a mistake and ended up in the barriers, damaging the McLaren’s rear wing. He would rejoin the race, but any hopes of a good result were lost. He did manage to set the fastest lap of the race, but the Austrian would later retire with clutch failure.

Also having a disappointing debut for a new team was Alain Prost. After a poor start, the champion had progressed to fourth place. but an oil leak resulted in an early exit from the race at the end of Lap 21. While Andrea de Cesaris was out after 25 laps with engine failure, a disappointing end to a strong weekend for the Italian.

Senna began to charge on Alesi, on Lap 34 he made his move going into the first corner. He took the inside line and moved ahead of the Tyrrell but to the Brazilian’s astonishment, Alesi snatched the lead straight back going into the second corner.

The inevitable happened on the next lap though, as the pair approached Gregor Foitek’s Brabham to lap him. Senna again passed the Tyrrell in Turn 1 and this time he remembered to cover the inside line for T2. Alesi would not give up and was climbing all over the McLaren in a bid to regain the lead.

They were side-by-side as they negotiated the opening sequence of 90-degree bends, but Senna eventually won this exciting battle. Foitek’s afternoon on the other hand came to an end on Lap 40 when he collided with Grouillard, leaving the Brabham strewn across the track.

Nigel Mansell had come from 17th on the grid to fifth and was closing on his archnemesis Nelson Piquet. However, on Lap 50 the Ferrari’s clutch disintegrated and Mansell did well to keep the car out of the barriers as it swept sideways with a dramatic flash fire. The only casualty was some Italian pride, after an ignominious start to the season for Ferrari.

Senna had built up a healthy lead until the clutch on his McLaren began to run into problems and the Brazilian backed off. He managed to nurse his car home to take the victory and assume the early lead in the World Championship.

Jean Alesi was ecstatic with his first podium finish in second place and Thierry Boutsen was third after a steady drive in the Williams. Three-time champion Nelson Piquet was fourth despite flat-spotting his tyres earlier in the race and making a pit stop.

While Stefano Modena finished a fine fifth, a great result for Brabham given the fact the team had only just made it to Phoenix in time. Ken Tyrrell’s brilliant start to the season was completed with Satoru Nakajima scoring the final point for sixth.

After the race, the two protagonists praised one another with Senna acknowledging Alesi’s talent and the latter ratifying his respect for the Brazilian. The stage had been set for an action-packed year.

Grid Talk Podcast

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F1 Blast from the Past: Raikkonen wins first Turkish GP to close championship gap

Background

Formula 1 arrived at the Istanbul Park in Turkey for the first time in 2005, the fourteenth round of the World Championship.

Kimi Raikkonen had made small inroads into Fernando Alonso’s lead in the driver’s championship following the Finn’s victory in Hungary. Alonso had failed to score at the previous round, but the Spaniard still had a healthy 26 points lead over the McLaren driver.

Qualifying

Raikkonen claimed the first ever F1 pole in Turkey

The new circuit 30 miles outside Istanbul saw several drivers find the limits of the track throughout practice and qualifying. Jacques Villeneuve, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato were all caught out at the tricky turn eight. Both Schumacher brothers also made mistakes at turn nine.

Michael failed to set a time at all and would start at the back, along with Sato who was stripped of his time after impeding Mark Webber. Kimi Raikkonen produced an excellent lap to take his fifth pole position of the season, ahead of the two Renault’s with Giancarlo Fisichella outqualifying Fernando Alonso. Juan Pablo Montoya in the second McLaren lined up fourth.

Race day

The race got underway in searing Turkish heat

The circuit had been critically acclaimed throughout the weekend and 58 laps of the Istanbul Park got underway on Sunday afternoon. Raikkonen was slow off the line, and the Renault’s surrounded the McLaren going into the first corner, Fisichella had the inside line and took the lead.

There was trouble further back as Felipe Massa’s Sauber made contact with Nick Heidfeld’s Williams, the Brazilian was forced to pit to replace his front wing and would retire later with an engine failure. Fisichella didn’t hold the lead for long, as a mistake on the exit of turn ten allowed Raikkonen to retake first place.

The Italian didn’t give up easily though, and Alonso too fancied his chances, but the McLaren was through. Alonso quickly passed his teammate to take second place.

Mid-race melee

After Jenson Button’s mistake in qualifying, the Brit found himself starting 13th but the opening laps saw the BAR driver scything his way up the order. By Lap 11, he was up to sixth.

Mark Webber in the Williams on the other hand had a disastrous to the race. After an early puncture, he was a lap down on the leaders. Then, trying to make up for lost time on Lap 14, the Australian made a botched attempt at unlapping himself from Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari. The German turned in and contact was made.

Schumacher and Webber would both later retire as a result of this clash. Image: Motorsport images

Webber was aggrieved that Schumacher left him no space, while Schumacher lay all the blame at the Australian’s feet, saying that it was pointless to try and make up such a deficit. The damage would eventually end Schumacher’s race.

It was to be a miserable day for the Williams team. After pitting to change his front wing, Webber suffered a second right-rear tyre failure and retired on Lap 21. Teammate Nick Heidfeld also sustained two right-rear tyre failures and his race ended on Lap 30.

The championship battle

Unsurprisingly, it was McLaren and Renault battling for the top spot on Sunday. Image: Motorsport images

After the first round of stops, the McLaren vs. Renault duel continued, with Raikkonen holding the lead. Montoya was second, despite a mishap with the fuel rig release at his first stop. Alonso was third and Fisichella, after a fuel rig failure of his own, was fourth and dropping back.

The order remained the same after the second round of stops. Everything looked good for the first McLaren one-two in five years, until Montoya was hit up the back by a lapped Tiago Monteiro with just four laps to go. This was an incident that was reminiscent of his collision with Jos Verstappen in Brazil four years previously.

The incident flat-spotted the Colombian’s tyres and with just two laps to go, trying to fend off a closing Fernando Alonso, ran wide at turn eight. The Spaniard was through to second and crucially giving just two points away to Raikkonen in the fight for the championship.

Kimi Raikkonen took the chequered flag to win the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix after leading every lap of the race. However, McLaren were disappointed to see a one-two slip away with Montoya livid with his mistake and ending up third behind Alonso.

Fisichella’s race never recovered after his early pit stop calamity but salvaged fourth. Jenson Button had an excellent race to finish fifth ahead of Jarno Trulli in the Toyota with the two Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Christian Klien completing the points paying positions after a race long battle.

Kimi Raikkonen had conquered all in an entertaining first Grand Prix in Turkey, but with Fernando Alonso 24 points ahead in the championship with just five races remaining, it was looking tantalising closer for the Spaniard.

F1 Blast from the Past: Hamilton closes in on third title at Sochi

Background

Formula 1 made its second visit to the Sochi Autodrom for the fifteenth round of the 2015 season.

Lewis Hamilton led the Driver’s World Championship by 48 points coming into Russia following his victory in
Suzuka two weeks earlier. His teammate Nico Rosberg, however, continued his recent qualifying form by taking his second pole position in a row ahead of Hamilton.

Rosberg claimed pole position in Sochi. Image: Bleacher Report

Valtteri Bottas had been the star in Sochi in 2014, and looked impressive again with third on the grid ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. The two Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez lined up behind the Prancing Horses.

The major talking point on Saturday was the massive 46g crash sustained by Carlos Sainz Jr. in the Toro Rosso in the morning practice session. Miraculously, the Spaniard was unhurt and although he would have start from the back of the grid after missing qualifying, he was declared fit to race.

Race day

Race day was overcast but dry as 53 laps of Sochi got underway. Rosberg maintained the lead from Hamilton and Bottas, as Raikkonen got ahead of Vettel. As the field negotiated the first two corners, Nico Hulkenberg spun on cold tyres and collected both Max Verstappen and Marcus Ericsson.

Hulkenberg and Ericsson were out on the spot but Verstappen was able to continue, although the young Dutchman had to crawl back to the pits with a puncture.

After a brief Safety Car period, the race resumed on lap three. Bottas, having lost a position to Raikkonen on the opening lap, regained third place. On lap seven, Hamilton took advantage of Rosberg running wide into turn two and took the lead, however all was not well with the German’s car.

A problem with the throttle was unable to be remedied by the team and Rosberg retired for the only the second time in 2015.

On Lap 12, Romain Grosjean was running 13th in the Lotus when the Frenchman lost control in turn three and had a heavy shunt into the barriers. Thankfully, Grosjean was uninjured but with debris from the wrecked Lotus strewn across the track the Safety Car made a second appearance.

With the race still in its early stages, most of the front runners opted to stay out, but Force India and Red Bull decided on a different strategy. Perez and Riccardo both made a pit-stop and re-joined ninth and tenth, respectively.

Pit-stops change everything

Valtteri Bottas became the first of the leading runners to pit at the end of Lap 27. The Williams pit crew performed a good turnaround, but the Finn emerged in traffic and that allowed Vettel to leapfrog him after the German made his stop on Lap 31.

Raikkonen couldn’t quite get ahead of his compatriot though, and re-joined after his stop behind the Williams. Perez and Riccardo were both preserving their old tyres, but had Bottas and Raikkonen both closing them down, Bottas successfully moved ahead of Riccardo on Lap 45. Raikkonen found the Red Bull harder to pass, eventually finding his way through on Lap 49.

Worse was to come for Riccardo though, as suspension failure resulted in the Australian’s third retirement of the year.
At the front, Hamilton and Vettel were secure in first and second, but Perez in third on old tyres could not hold off a charging Bottas and Raikkonen for much longer.

Frantic final laps

With two laps to go, Bottas seized his opportunity and moved into third, with Raikkonen also getting ahead as the Mexican was offline. With just one lap to go Raikkonen made an optimistic move on Bottas, the two collided and Bottas
was into the barriers, Raikkonen continued but with heavily-damaged front-left suspension.

Force India were suitably pleased as this collision, as it promoted Perez back up to third.

But it was Lewis Hamilton’s day, untroubled at the front to take his ninth victory of the year.

Sebastian Vettel’s second place pushed him into the runner-up spot in the championship, albeit some 66
points behind Hamilton. The ecstatic Perez was third with Massa salvaging something for Williams in
fourth.

Raikkonen crossed the line fifth, but was demoted to eighth after a 30-second penalty for the incident with Bottas. Local hero Daniil Kvyat inherited fifth place ahead of Felipe Nasr in an excellent sixth for Sauber. Pastor Maldonado had a competitive race in the Lotus finishing seventh.

While at McLaren-Honda, a double points finish was lost when Fernando Alonso lost 10 th place thanks to a time penalty for exceeding track limits. Max Verstappen took the final point after a good recovery drive.

For Lewis Hamilton, however, a third title was virtually in the bag, while Mercedes secured their second consecutive constructors crown.

Grid Talk Podcast

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F1 Blast from the Past: Championship Rivals Collide at Monza

Background & Qualifying

The twelfth round of the 1995 Formula 1 season brought the championship to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher had extended his championship lead over Damon Hill to 15 points after the German’s sensational victory at Spa.

David Coulthard claimed his second pole for Williams at the Italian GP. Image: DeviantArt

Both title contenders had to give way to David Coulthard in qualifying however, the young Scotsman was in dominant form over the weekend and recorded a pole position time half a second faster than Schumacher’s Benetton.

Gerhard Berger gave the Tifosi some cause for optimism with third on the grid ahead of Damon Hill. Jean Alesi was fifth in the second Ferrari, with Rubens Barrichello an impressive sixth for Jordan-Peugeot.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: FERRARI OUT-SMART MCLAREN AT THE A1 RING

Race day

The 53-lap race had not even started when the drama began, polesitter Coulthard unbelievably spun off on the
formation lap exiting the Variente Ascari and was unable to take the start. Schumacher thus inherited the top starting spot and got away from the line first with Gerhard Berger challenging him on the run down to the Retifilio chicane.

Schumacher inherited the lead from Coulthard, but it wouldn’t last long. Image: F1

Alesi was up to third with Johnny Herbert making a storming start from seventh to fourth ahead of Hill’s Williams.
Coming out of the Variente Alta, a spin from Max Papis’ Footwork on the dust triggered from Coulthard’s Williams caused chaos.

Jean-Christophe Boullion, Roberto Moreno and Andrea Montermini were all eliminated, and the race was immediately brought to a halt. Moreno’s Forti and Montermini’s Pacific were unable to take to the restart while the red flag was music to Williams’ ears, as David Coulthard was able to start the race and from his pole position.

Second time lucky

At the second start, Coulthard converted pole into the lead while Berger made an even better getaway than he done at the first start. Schumacher was relegated to third, with Hill holding his fourth position ahead of Alesi and Johnny Herbert, as the field settled into the race.

Ten laps in and Martin Brundle was out of the race after a puncture damaged the Ligier’s suspension, bitter disappointment for the Englishman after such an impressive performance in Belgium two weeks earlier.

On Lap 14, Coulthard spun off again at the Variente della Roggia, though as he re-joined it became clear that this time, driver error was not the cause for the Scotsman’s demise. A failed front-wheel bearing resulting in his sixth retirement of the year. Much to the excitement of the Tifosi, Berger took over the lead.

Gerhard Berger now led the race, but he too would fall foul of bad luck. Image: Pinterest


On Lap 24, the Austrian continued to lead ahead of Schumacher second and Hill in third. The two title contenders were lapping Taki Inoue’s Footwork as they entered the Variente della Roggia. Inoue’s presence caught out Hill, who mis-timed his braking and hit the back of Schumacher’s Benetton. For the second time in 1995, the pair had collided, and both were out of the race.

Schumacher was furious and remonstrated with Hill, as the Englishman sat in his car.

At the end of Lap 25, Berger made his one and only scheduled pit-stop, the Austrian was demoted to sixth, while Alesi took the lead. A string of pit-stops unfolded, as Alesi headed to the pits one lap later.

Barrichello, Hakkinen and then Johnny Herbert in the sole surviving Benetton led for two laps before his pit stop. Slick work by his mechanics ensured he re-joined ahead of Barrichello and Hakkinen in third position. Eventually, Alesi had regained the lead ahead of teammate Berger.

Dream turns to nightmare

The Italian Tifosi were dreaming of the first Ferrari one-two finish since 1990, but on Lap 33, their hopes were dashed when Alesi’s onboard camera parted company with the Frenchman’s car. In a cruel twist of fate, it bounced into Berger’s left-front suspension and the Austrian was out of the race.

Alesi would also fall foul of some awful luck in Ferrari’s home race. Image: Girando & Co.

Jordan had been enjoying a strong afternoon, but the Irish team’s race unravelled in the space of four laps when Eddie Irvine’s engine blew, and Barrichello lost fourth place when his clutch failed.

At the front, Alesi looked set for his second victory of the season, when with just eight laps remaining, it was heartbreak for the Frenchman, as the right-rear wheel bearing failed.

The double-retirement for Ferrari allowed Johnny Herbert, who after suffering so much misfortune in his career found himself having the luck fall on his side. The Englishman took his second victory of the season, over 17 seconds clear of Hakkinen in second and Heinz-Harald Frentzen scored his and the Sauber team’s first ever podium finish with third.

Mark Blundell finished fourth, putting both McLaren’s in the points for only the second time in 1995, while Mika Salo scored the first points of the season for Tyrrell in fifth. The final point was taken by Jean-Christophe Boullion in sixth, the Frenchman having overtaken Max Papis on the very last lap.

Herbert was understandably delighted with his victory, and firmly stated his claim for a drive in 1996 after been dropped by Benetton. However, the major talking point focused on his teammate Schumacher and his collision with Hill.

The championship battle was stalemate due to both retiring from the race, but Hill had some explaining to do. Schumacher apologised to Hill after Taki Inoue accepted responsibility for the incident, and the pair resumed their quest for the 1995 championship.

Grid Talk Podcast

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F1 Blast from the Past: Wet Weather and Huge Pile-up Sees Jordan Claim First Formula 1 Win

Background

The historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium played host to round 13 of the 1998 Formula One World Championship. Mika Hakkinen arrived with a seven-point lead in the championship over arch-rival Michael Schumacher, but the momentum was with the German after an inspired victory in Hungary two weeks earlier.

Hakkinen would continue his and McLaren’s domination of qualifying in 1998. Image: Pinterest

Nevertheless, the Finn clinched his ninth pole position of the season in qualifying, ahead of teammate David Coulthard in second and an extraordinary performance from 1996 champion Damon Hill saw the Jordan line up third.

The two Ferrari’s of Schumacher and Eddie Irvine qualified fourth and fifth respectively with reigning World Champion Jacques Villeneuve completing the top six.

READ MORE CLASSIC F1: FERRARI OUT-SMART MCLAREN AT THE A1 RING

The pile-up

Sunday brought torrential rain and bizarrely the race did not start behind the Safety Car, as it had done the previous year. That decision would prove calamitous, Hakkinen got away first ahead of a fast-starting Villeneuve and Schumacher.

Hill and Coulthard both made poor starts and as the leaders exited La Source and toward Eau Rouge, Coulthard lost control and careered into the wall. The McLaren rebounded back into the path of the oncoming field causing a chain reaction, 13 cars were involved as wheels and debris flew terrifyingly in all directions.

The start of the 1998 Belgian GP was arguably the biggest pile-up in F1 history. Image: F1i.com

Prost, Tyrrell, Stewart and Arrows all had both their representative cars involved, leaving Olivier Panis, Ricardo Rosset, Rubens Barrichello and Mika Salo all unable to take the restart due to only one spare car been available.

READ MORE CLASSIC F1: WET IMOLA PRODUCES CHAOTIC RESULTS

The restart

The race restarted for its full 44 lap schedule almost an hour later. This time Damon Hill made a much better start and took the lead going into La Source, Hakkinen and Schumacher made contact and the Finn spun, Johnny Herbert’s Sauber collected the McLaren ending both their races.

David Coulthard compounded McLaren’s misery by tangling with Alexander Wurz’s Benetton on the first lap, the Austrian was out but Coulthard continued. The Safety Car was brought out to clear Hakkinen’s wrecked McLaren.

Hakkinen wouldn’t make it past the first corner at the restart. Image: LAT

On lap three, the race restarted with Hill leading from Schumacher as the two proceeded to pull away from Irvine in third. At the end of lap seven, Schumacher made his move for the lead at Bus Stop and relegated Hill to second.

Two laps later, Irvine had an off-track excursion at Les Combes and lost his front wing, the resulting pit-stop dropped him from third all the way to eleventh. On Lap 17, Villeneuve, who had briefly led during the first round of pit-stops, spun and crashed into the barrier on the Kemmel straight.

Schumacher was dominating at the front, his lead over Damon Hill extending to over 30 seconds. On Lap 24, he came up to lap the sole remaining McLaren of David Coulthard who was languishing down in eighth place. The Scotsman slowed on the approach to Pouhon to let the Ferrari through but stayed on the racing line.

Schumacher, unsighted, rammed into the back of the McLaren, losing the right front wheel. Both cars made it back to the pits, but Schumacher’s race was over. The furious German headed straight to the McLaren garage to remonstrate with Coulthard, but was restrained by the Ferrari and McLaren mechanics. Coulthard was able to re-join the race after the team fitted a new rear wing, albeit dead last and several laps down.

READ MORE CLASSIC F1: SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL IN THE DESERT

Yellow cars at the front

With Schumacher out, Damon Hill retook the lead. Ferrari’s interest in the race was gone when Irvine spun off for good on Lap 25. One lap later, Fisichella was involved in a violent accident when he slammed into the back of Shinji Nakano’s Minardi, reminiscent of the earlier incident involving Schumacher and Coulthard.

The Italian was powerless to bring the Benetton to a stop as it slid towards the pitlane entrance, but thankfully, he was able to walk away. Like Coulthard, Nakano was able to re-join.

Damon Hill led a race for the first time since joining Jordan. Image: F1i.com

Fisichella’s wrecked car brought the Safety Car out. Hill, who had used the opportunity to make his second and final stop, retained the lead. When the race restarted on Lap 33, though, Hill was been hounded by his teammate Ralf Schumacher, while Jean Alesi’s Sauber was pushing both Jordan drivers.

The Jordan team radioed Schumacher, ordering him to maintain position behind Hill so as not to risk both drivers taking each other out. Hill rounded off the final few laps to take the chequered flag for Jordan’s first ever Grand Prix victory.

Hill’s 22nd career win was his first since leaving Williams at the end of 1996. Ralf Schumacher completed an historic Jordan one-two, although he was bitterly disappointed at not being allowed to fight for the victory. An ecstatic Jean Alesi scored his and Sauber’s best result of the year with third.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen drove steadily to bring his Williams home fourth, Pedro Diniz equalled his best-ever result in fifth and Jarno Trulli scored the first point of the year for Prost with sixth place.

For many Formula 1 fans, the Belgian Grand Prix of 1998 remains one of the most bizarre, but memorable Grands Prix in the sport’s history.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Belgian Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prixview. George Howson hosted Sam Thatcher, Tom Downey and Aaron Harper, both audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

F1 Blast from the Past: Button Ends Long Wait for First Formula 1 Victory

Background

Round 13 of the 2006 Formula One World Championship was at the Hungaroring, near Budapest. Fernando Alonso continued to lead the driver’s standings coming into the weekend, but a recent drop in form coming off the back of Renault’s mass damper controversy had allowed the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher to close in. Three consecutive victories for the German had allowed him to close to the gap to Alonso to just 11 points.

Alonso and Schumacher’s title battle would define the 2006 season

Following the departure of Juan Pablo Montoya after the United States Grand Prix, another big name had left the sport before Hungary. Jacques Villeneuve was deemed unfit to drive following his crash at the German Grand Prix the previous week and was replaced by Poland’s Robert Kubica. However, the 1997 World Champion parted company with the BMW Sauber team permanently.

Qualifying

The weekend got off to a controversial start when championship leader Alonso felt that Red Bull’s third driver Robert Doornbos had impeded him during Friday’s second practice session. The Spaniard remonstrated furiously with the Dutchman and brake tested him. Alonso was handed a one-second time penalty for each part of qualifying.

To make matters worse, he incurred the same penalty for overtaking under waved yellow flags later in the session.

The only F1 race in Eastern Europe produced plenty of penalties for the top dogs. Image: ppm Hungary

The defending world champion wasn’t the only one in trouble, though. Jenson Button’s Honda engine failed in Saturday morning’s practice session, giving the Englishman a 10-place grid penalty.

However, the other championship contender also found himself in hot water. Kubica followed Alonso around the final corner as both slowed following the red flag, but Schumacher drove round the outside of both of them. Subsequently, the German also gained a two-second penalty for each part of qualifying.

Kimi Raikkonen avoided the controversy to take his second pole position in as many weeks. The Finn was ahead of the two Brazilians of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari and Rubens Barrichello’s Honda. While the penalties imposed resulted in Schumacher starting 11th, Button 14th and Alonso 15th.

Slip and slide at the start

For the first time in its history, the Hungarian Grand Prix started in wet conditions. The 70 laps got underway with Raikkonen holding his lead, but Massa made a poor getaway as Barrichello and the second McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa got ahead.

It was very much sink or swim at the start of the 2006 Hungarian GP. Image: The Checkered Flag

Further back, both Schumacher and Alonso made excellent starts. Schumacher was quickly up to fifth and by the end of the lap had disposed of Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault for fourth. Alonso had surged through the field and was only two places behind in sixth after dismissing Massa’s Ferrari into the final corner.

Alonso then quickly got past his teammate Fisichella for fifth before hunting down Schumacher. Despite their grid penalties, unbelievably they were dicing for fourth after just a few laps.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL IN THE DESERT

On Lap Four, Alonso boldly passed Schumacher round the outside of Turn Five. Button also got the better of Schumacher on lap seven, the German had started on full wet tyres and as the track was briefly drying, the Ferrari was on the backfoot.

On Lap 17, Giancarlo Fisichella was battling with Schumacher when the German caught a snap of oversteer and tagged the Italian, damaging his front wing. Schumacher sunk to ninth, while Alonso found himself in the lead after both McLaren’s made their first pit-stops.

A race of attrition

The rain began to get heavier and on Lap 18, Fisichella spun off at Turn 8, the damage ended his race. Robert Kubica also spun at Turn Five and would head to the pits for a new nosecone. On Lap 26 the Safety Car was brought out after a terrifying incident which saw Raikkonen launch over the back of the Toro Rosso of Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The Italian had backed off to let the McLaren lap him, but Raikkonen was caught out by the deceleration and couldn’t avoid the Toro Rosso. Alonso used the opportunity to make his first pit-stop and retained his lead from Button and de la Rosa.

The race restarted on Lap 32 and Schumacher’s incident-packed race continued when he collided with David Coulthard’s Red Bull at Turn 2 and spun, but quickly recovered. Button was flying in the Honda as the track was drying out again, setting the fastest lap of the race thus far and closing in on Alonso. Kubica was also recovering well, catching Massa napping and moving into the points.

At the end of Lap 46, Button headed to the pits for his second fuel stop, he was followed soon after by Schumacher. Neither opted to change their tyres. Alonso then made his stop on Lap 51, relinquishing the lead to Button but the Englishman would have to pit again. However, the Renault had a problem exiting the pits, the driveshaft had failed leaving the Spaniard careering into the tyre barrier at Turn 2 and out of the race for the first time in 2006.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL AT IMOLA 2005

Button was then left with a comfortable lead, Schumacher was up to second but his gamble to stay on intermediates didn’t pay off as de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld, both on dry tyres, began to catch him. With just six laps to go, de la Rosa made a move down the inside going into the chicane, Schumacher straight-lined the chicane and refused to concede the position to the Spaniard.

On the next lap, de la Rosa attempted the manoeuvre again, Schumacher cut the chicane for the second time but the McLaren made it through to second place. One lap later at the same spot, Heidfeld tried the same move, Schumacher refused to yield and there was contact, it was the Ferrari that came off worse with a broken right-front track rod. A frustrating weekend finally came to an end for Schumacher.

At the front, Jenson Button, in his 113th Grand Prix, finally scored his first victory after a brilliant drive from 14th on the grid. Pedro de la Rosa followed him home in second for his first career podium finish, and Nick Heidfeld took BMW Sauber’s first podium finish. There hadn’t been a happier podium for a long time.

Barrichello completed Honda’s day with fourth place ahead of Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher. Robert Kubica finished seventh on his debut but was excluded for an underweight car. Leaving Felipe Massa picking up two points and Michael Schumacher salvaging the final point after been classified two laps down.

It had been a long time coming but Jenson Button had answered his critics and had become a Grand Prix winner in one of the most entertaining races in modern Formula 1 history.

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want more content to preview your Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Jack Watson, Alex Booth and Phil Mathew in their Hungarian GP Prixview. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:

F1 Blast from the Past: Mansell bests Piquet in Brilliant British GP Battle

Background

The 1987 Formula 1 season was approaching its half-way point as the championship rolled into Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.

Local hero Nigel Mansell was confident coming into his home Grand Prix, after victories at Brands Hatch in the previous two years. The first half of the season had proven troublesome for the Englishman, but a victory at Paul Ricard had elevated him up to fourth in the World Championship.

Senna led the driver’s championship after Round 6. Image: Pinterest

Brazilian Ayrton Senna still topped the driver’s standings with 27 points, one point ahead of compatriot Nelson Piquet and three ahead of double World Champion Alain Prost.

1987 would mark the first time Silverstone would permanently host the British Grand Prix and the circuit had been slightly modified with a chicane added between Bridge and Woodcote. However, the changes were not met with praise from the drivers, Englishman Martin Brundle in particular labelling the slow corner as “everything Silverstone is not.”

Qualifying

Qualifying unsurprisingly saw the Honda-powered cars lead the way, though the patriotic British crowd would not get the result they wanted. Nelson Piquet secured pole position by just seven hundredths of a second. Mansell’s last-ditch effort to take pole resulted in a spin at the new chicane.

Nelson Piquet claimed pole position in Silverstone. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

Senna was third, over a second shy of pole position, with Prost fourth and the two Benetton-Ford’s of Thierry Boutsen and Teo Fabi completing the top six.

Race day

Race day brought a hot summer’s afternoon for 65 laps of Silverstone. As the lights turned green, it was Alain Prost who made a demon start from the second row to jump into the lead at Copse, but the Honda power of the Williams was quickly able to rectify the situation, as Piquet re-took the lead at Becketts.

Nigel Mansell then demoted Prost to third going into Stowe corner, with Senna fourth, Boutsen fifth and the Ferrari of Michele Alboreto in sixth.

The opening laps saw the two Williams establish their superiority as they screamed away into the distance. A rare mistake for Prost at Copse saw Senna relegate the Frenchman back to fourth. But it wasn’t to last long as Senna began to hold up a train of cars as the Brazilian tried to maintain his tyres, Prost snatched back third position soon after going into Copse corner, redeeming himself for his earlier error.

Senna did his best to keep up with the Williams, but would eventually find himself a lap down. Image: Essaar.

The high-speed nature of Silverstone would lead to unreliability. After just eight laps, Andrea de Cesaris made a dramatic exit in the Brabham when the BMW blew its turbo. Stefan Johansson in the second McLaren wouldn’t last much longer, as the TAG Porsche engine gave up the ghost on Lap 19. Ten laps later, Brabham’s woes continued as Riccardo Patrese retired, again with a blown turbo.

On Lap 35, Nigel Mansell made an unexpected visit to the pits, the general consensus at Williams was that this would be a race without the need for tyre stops, however a balance weight had come off the left front wheel resulting in vibrations.

Mansell’s comeback

The Williams mechanics performed the tyre change in 9.5 seconds and the Englishman re-joined the race, albeit 29 seconds behind teammate Piquet. With a fresh set of tyres Mansell began close on Piquet at a rate of over a second per lap, ignoring his fuel consumption read out in the process.

Mansell was pushing as hard as he could to close the gap. Image: LAT Photographic

Ferrari’s disappointment continued Berger had already retired early on after a skirmish with Derek Warwick’s Arrows and on Lap 52 Michele Alboreto’s race came to an end with suspension problems. Prost lost fourth place one lap later when his engine cried enough.

After repeatedly breaking the lap record and with the help of backmarkers, Mansell to drew ever closer to Piquet and by Lap 62, he was right on the Brazilian’s tail.

On Lap 63 he seized his chance as he moved out of Piquet’s slipstream. He sold his teammate a dummy going down Hangar Straight and Piquet reacted to the move, leaving the inside line exposed and Mansell took the lead in a superb manoeuvre, the 100,000+ British crowd were ecstatic.

Mansell crossed the line to win, the eighth victory of his career. The Williams-Honda blew its engine on the slowing down lap due to the stresses of running on full power for numerous laps and Mansell was engulfed by the spectators invading the circuit.

Joining the Williams pair on the podium was Ayrton Senna, finishing a worrying entire lap down. His teammate Satoru Nakajima scored his best ever result in fourth, completing a Honda top four lockout. Derek Warwick finished fifth on home soil with Teo Fabi in sixth.

It was Nigel Mansell’s third victory in front of a British crowd and undoubtedly one of the finest drives of his career.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your British Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their British GP Prixvew. Ruby Price hosted Owain Medford, Louis Edwards and Phil Mathew in the latest podcast. Both audio and video versions are linked below:

F1 Blast From the Past: Scintilating Race Produces Ultra-close Finish

Background

Round 13 of the 16-race 1982 Formula 1 World Championship was at the ultra-fast Osterreichring, the home of the Austrian Grand Prix. These were long before the days of the modern Spielberg circuit, but some sections of this track are comparable to today’s.

We had sadly already seen the last GP performance by the great Didier Pironi after Germany. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

In the driver’s championship, Didier Pironi was top of the standings with 39 points. However, the Ferrari driver wouldn’t compete in Formula 1 again after his horror-crash at the Hockenheimring. That meant that McLaren’s John Watson was in the de facto lead of the championship on 30 points.

Behind Watson, it was very close, with Keke Rosberg on 27 points, Alain Prost on 25 and Niki Lauda on 24.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: VILLENEUVE & ARNOUX’S MESMERIC FRANCE SHOWDOWN

Qualifying

The turbocharged Brabham BMWs really showed what they were made of in qualifying, with reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet taking pole position, three tenths of a second clear of team mate Riccardo Patrese.

Piquet claimed Brabham’s only pole of 1982 in Austria

Prost’s Renault was third, over a second shy of Piquet’s time, with Patrick Tambay fourth. The Frenchman being Ferrari’s sole entry after Didier Pironi’s horrifying accident at Hockenheim the previous week.

Race Day

There was drama right from the start of the 53 laps. Andrea de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo was over-zealous in his getaway and swerved into the side of teammate Bruno Giacomelli, eliminating both of them on the spot. Derek Daly in the Williams was also caught up in the melee, ending the Irishman’s race scarcely before it had begun too.

A few drivers didn’t go any further than the start line in Austria

Piquet led away while Prost had made a good start to move ahead of Patrese. Although, the Italian quickly rectified the situation and re-took Prost for second midway through the opening lap. Patrese then overtook Piquet to move into the lead on Lap 2.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: SENNA AND MANSELL COLLIDE AT ESTORIL

Patrick Tambay’s Ferrari suffered a puncture which dropped the sole Ferrari right out of contention as the Frenchman toured back to the pits. This left the two Renault’s of Prost and René Arnoux behind the Brabham’s. The dramatic opening continued when Michele Alboreto spun his Tyrrell into the wall, ending what could have been a promising race for the young Italian.

Brabham make history

The two Brabham’s appeared peerless as they stormed away into the distance. Throughout the latter half of the 1982 season, the team had run the opening stints of the races on half tanks of fuel. With the plan being to make a refuelling stop at half distance. This was at odds with the usual strategy of doing the entire race without a fuel stop.

The unreliability of the BMW engine and some bad luck had prevented the team from achieving their goal thus far. But, in Austria, the plan finally came to fruition as Piquet made the first fuel and tyre stop in modern Formula 1 history, re-joining in fourth place behind Elio de Angelis’ Lotus.

Patrese led the race after Piquet’s stop. Image: Motorsport Images

Riccardo Patrese was on his own at the front and made his stop shortly after Piquet. The Brabham mechanics completed the turnaround in 14 seconds to ensure the Italian re-joined without losing the lead.

But Brabham’s mechanical gremlins were not far away, three laps after his stop, Patrese suffered an engine failure and spun spectacularly onto the grass, coming to rest on the banking. Prost inherited the lead from de Angelis with Piquet third. However, the Brazilian’s pace was dropping, and on Lap 32, he suffered his seventh retirement of the season with an electrical failure.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: A LEGEND IS BORN AT ESTORIL ’85

Prost led by over half a minute from de Angelis, while Keke Rosberg in third began to close rapidly on the Lotus after Piquet’s demise. On Lap 49, just four laps shy of the chequered flag, the Renault ground to halt with an injector problem. Prost rued his ninth retirement of the season as he sombrely walked back to the pits, his title chances slipping even further away.

Frantic Final Laps

At the front, de Angelis took the lead with Rosberg behind, both drivers looking for their first Grand Prix victory. The Italian started the final lap over a second ahead of the Finn, but Rosberg was not ready to throw in the towel and clawed the deficit back.

The Italian was having to watch his fuel consumption, allowing Rosberg to close right onto his gearbox as the pair entered the Jochen Rindt Kurve for the final time. Rosberg took the inside line coming out of the corner onto the start finish straight to pull alongside the Lotus but de Angelis just held on by a mere 0.050 seconds. One of the closest finishes in Formula 1 history.

de Angelis celebrates his incredible victory over the line.

Elio de Angelis was ecstatic with his first victory, despite just missing out Rosberg nonetheless boosted his title chances with second place, the Finn was now just six points behind the stricken Didier Pironi the World Championship after moving ahead of John Watson who was suffering a run of poor form.

The Ulsterman had now gone five races without scoring points. Third place was Jacques Laffite in the Ligier, a welcome boost for the Frenchman after a miserable season, while Tambay recovered to fourth. Niki Lauda came home fifth on home soil after a low-key race for McLaren, with the final point been taken by Mauro Baldi in the Arrows.

READ MORE: STYRIAN GRAND PRIX 2020 – RACE REVIEW

The Austrian Grand Prix of 1982 was the great Lotus team’s 73rd victory, but sadly it would prove to be the last for legendary founder Colin Chapman before his untimely death four months later.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Styrian Grand Prix weekend? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew are here with their 2021 Styrian GP preview! George Howson hosted Louis Edwards and Garry Sloan in their latest podcast. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:

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