Author Archives: George Howson

Eric Djemba-Djemba: “When you work hard, you can make it”

Former Manchester United player Eric Djemba-Djemba has recently opened up about his time as a professional football player. Speaking to Cal Blankendal and Vernon Springer on their Football Insight Podcast, the now-retired midfielder reflected on 15 years as a pro footballer.

Thankful for everything

Djemba-Djemba has been dubbed by Red Devils fans as the player so good “they named him twice”. While he never managed to live up to that hype at Old Trafford, the Cameroonian international is thankful for the opportunity to play at the top level.

Moving to United fulfilled a boyhood dream for Djemba-Djemba. Image: Shoot

“I enjoyed every moment, every second, every day. It was a dream for me to play for Manchester United, because when I was a kid, I loved to watch them on TV.” Djemba-Djemba told VA Sports.

“After three years in Nantes, I joined United and it was a dream.”

The 40-year-old also explained how he achieved his dream and sealed a £3.5 million move from Nantes in France:

“Some scouts came from England to watch me play. After that, I remember [Sir Alex] Ferguson came to watch me play. I think the decision came from him (Sir Alex) to buy me.”

Djemba-Djemba went on to say that Ferguson was like a father figure to the younger players in the Manchester United dressing room.

Mentality is key

Djemba-Djemba was also asked what players nowadays have to do to succeed and how much things have changed in football since he burst onto the scene 20 years ago:

“If you have a strong education, you will learn very fast. Today’s it’s not like 20 years ago, you can play in the Premier League at 16 years old. At that age, it’s very difficult to move to another country, you have to be strong mentally. You have to train hard and have respect for your teammates.”

Playing with the biggest players in world football was an honour for Djemba-Djemba. Image: Goal.com

One pressure associated with modern football and sport is that related to social media. There has been no-end to the abuse that professional sportspeople face on the internet, so what’s Djemba-Djemba’s advice to them?

“It’s easy to deal with that [online abuse]. Like I said before, it depends how they and your parents educate you and it depends where you want to be in life. So, you can have these social medias, but if you don’t know where you want to get to in life, you can’t deal with that.”

“Sometimes you need to be out of social media, because it can get to be too much and you can lose your concentration.”

Eric also said that he had never personally experienced racism while playing football.

Be sure to check Sportlightpro.com for more excepts from this interview!

This interview was in association with Islands Cup Open Football.

Full podcast

If you want to check out the full interview with Eric Djemba-Djemba, we’ve linked the podcast below.

F1 2021 Turkish Grand Prix Preview: Can Hamilton repeat his heroics from last year?

Despite starting at opposite ends of the grid, by the end of the Russian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton were seperated by only one place. Hamilton appeared to be surprised to see his title rival take the number two spot on the podium, but it’s great for the title fight, as the pair are almost inseperable.

This weekend sees the Turkish Grand Prix make its second one-off appearace in a row, and just like twelve months ago, rain is forecast.

Track guide

Istanbul Park is considered to be one of the best circuits to have been designed by Hermann Tilke. It’s hard to argue against that as well, as thrilling corners like Turn 8 are one of the best in Formula 1. Turkey’s track surface caused chaos last season, as a recent resurfacing made the circuit like greased ice after a deluge of rain.

Image: F1

As thrilling as that was to witness, we are very unlikely to see that replicated in 2021. Even if we do experience large amounts of rain, the circuit organisers have ensured that there is more grip on the tarmac that in 2020.

As for overtaking spots, the main passing points are at the end of the DRS Zones at Turns 1 and 12. You can also pass through the 13-14 chicane as well, as both the inside and outside lines are fast here.

Last time out

Hamilton mastered the wet conditions to take victory in Russia two weeks ago

2021 has been a bizarre year in Formula 1. Circuits that are considered to be poor for action have produced incredible races, including Sochi a fortnight ago. Lando Norris started from his first ever pole position and dominated the majority of the race. After being overtaken by Carlos Sainz at the start, Norris expertly took the lead back after 15 laps.

The rain hit with a few laps to go and Norris gambled on staying on dry tyres. This backfired massively, as the circuit became impossible on slicks. Hamilton had battled through the pack and took his fifth win in Russia, and 100th overall in F1.

Max Verstappen started from the back row, but incrdeibly used the wet weather to his advantage and came home in second. Sainz completed the podium with third, a great result. Daniel Ricciardo finished an impressive fourth to spare McLaren’s blushes, with Valtteri Bottas lucking into a fifth place.

Sixth was the evergreen Fernando Alonso, dragging that Alpine to heights it doesn’t deserve to be in. Norris limped across the line in seventh, with Sergio Perez a disappointing ninth. Kimi Raikkonen got Alfa Romeo’s best result of the season in eighth, with George Russell scoring another point for Williams with tenth.

Can Max keep it together in Turkey?

Verstappen couldn’t keep his car pointing the right way last year in Turkey

If there’s been one criticism of Max Verstappen both this year and in past seasons, it’s that the Dutchman can make mistakes under pressure. This is Verstappen’s first title fight and is his seventh season in Formula 1. That’s the same amount of titles that Hamilton has won in his illustrious career.

While Hamilton was blamed by the stewards for their crash at Silverstone, Max handed a penalty for their Monza clash. Istanbul Park is also a circuit where Verstappen should’ve won last year, had he not spun mid-race. With rain predicted again this weekend, could we see Mad Max go for a slide?

We certainly hope not and it’s unlikely given Max’s incredible talent in the rain. What Max and Red Bull need the most is for Perez to get back to his form earlier in the season and back the Dutchman up against the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.

Session Times

Practice 1, Oct 8th: 09:30 – 10:30 (4:30 – 5:30 EST)

Practice 2, Oct 8th: 13:00 – 14:00 (8:00 – 9:00 EST)

Practice 3, Oct 9th: 10:00 – 11:00 (5:00 – 6:00 EST)

Qualifying, Oct 9th: 13:00 – 14:00 (8:00 – 9:00 EST)

Race, Oct 10th: 13:00 (8:00 EST)

All times are British Summer Time (BST), unless stated

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Turkish GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their Russian GP preview! Ruby Price hosted Jack Watson, Tom Downey, and Louis Edwards in their latest podcast. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:

Deadly Driver Review: Unique concept keeps you gripped throughout

Travelling the world, competing in top-level sport and having millions of admirers all sound like dreams so many of us hope to achieve.

But there’s often a dark side to every story, and Bryce Winters’ tale has one of the darkest of them all. Winters’ fictional story is chronicled in Deadly Driver, an excellent book by J.K. Kelly. On the surface, Winters appears to be a racing driver, but through the lens of Deadly Driver, we read about his government-sanctioned activities and how he ended up in this situation.

A Formula 1 driver being a secret agent is a concept that most of us would never have considered, but Kelly explores this idea and does so brilliantly.

Caught between a rock and a hard place

Bryce Winters is an American racing driver with one goal, to beat Mario Andretti’s record as the most-successful U.S. Formula 1 driver ever. Winters already has one championship under his belt, but a second would see him stand above both Andretti and Phil Hill in this tally.

Winters’ racing goal is to beat the great Andretti’s record

Winters though, lives a double life, with the second being as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA have dirt on Winters, and use him to carry out missions overseas, including assassinations.

It’s a situation that could easily be farfetched, but Kelly does a great job of humanising Winters and making him relatable. Most people, especially those with families, could level with Winters and would probably make the same choices if they found themselves with the CIA’s axe swinging above their heads.

Rags to riches

Max Werner is perhaps inspired by Mercedes’ Toto Wolff

The road to Formula 1 was a very long one for Winters, but he’s bankrolled by Max Werner, German billionaire and F1 team owner. Winters worked his way up through series like NASCAR and IndyCar to get to F1, thanks to Werner’s ambition and finances.

The relationship between Winters and Werner has echoes of that between Ayrton Senna and Honda, or Valtteri Bottas and Toto Wolff. It’s something that we haven’t seen in F1 to this extent, though, and their arc is probably the best in this story.

A real human

Winters would undoubtedly be a fan-favourite like Kimi Raikkonen is in our world

At its core, Deadly Driver is the story of a man who drives fast and wants to be the best in the world at it. He’s already proven himself, but outside factors complicate his life and provide layers to his story.

This is further fleshed out by the excellent cast of supporting characters. Everybody from Bryce’s Uncle, to his best friend, love interest and CIA handler work so well.

Winters is in a situation that, in truth, is unrealistic, it’s never likely to happen in the real world. However, he’s humanised and feels more real than some of the Formula 1 drivers we know. He’ll sit down at a bar and have a drink, party in between races and make full use of the hospitality provided to him.

Something that should be mentioned is that this story has very little to do with the racing on-track. You’re kept up to date with events in the championships, but the recaps are little more than a few lines. Kelly describes the world of Formula 1 well, but petrolheads could be disappointed by what at times is a summary that’s too brief.

Another slight gripe is that real-life historical drivers like Senna and Andretti are mentioned, but current drivers aren’t. Given the nature of the book, it’s understandable why this is, but how cool would it be to have the likes of Hamilton and Verstappen thrown into this mix?

Overall, we highly recommend giving Deadly Driver a go. Both motorsport fans and non-motorsport fans will definitely enjoy this Formula 1 spy thriller!

Sportlight Rating 4.5/5 Stars

F1 2021 Italian Grand Prix Preview: Can Max Make it 3-in-a-row at Monza?

A lot can change in just a few races in Formula 1, just ask Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Verstappen’s back-to-back wins have seen him take back the driver’s championship lead. The onus is now on Hamilton and Mercedes to respond, but can the Temple of Speed see them win for the first time since the British GP in July?

Track Guide

The Autodromo Nazionale Di Monza is the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar. Drivers are on full-throttle for around 80% of the 160 mph average speed lap.

Image credit: Formula 1

Monza has hosted all but one Italian Grand Prix since F1’s beginning in 1950 and is one of the cornerstone races of the season.

Monza may have multiple long straights, but passing here isn’t easy, thanks to the minimal downforce cars run. Straight-line speed is king here, but you need downforce to get around corners like the Lesmos and the Parabolica.

Last time out

Verstappen may have lucked into a win at Spa (in some people’s eyes) but he absolutely earned his victory at Zandvoort last weekend.

The Flying Dutchman was the class of the field in the Netherlands and won thanks to a faultless drive.

Verstappen is riding a huge wave of confidence after winning his home race. Image: Guardian

Mercedes earned a double podium with Hamilton second and Valtteri Bottas in third. Merc still sit too of the constructors championship as a result.

Pierre Gasly produced the biggest surprise of the day with an incredible 4th place in his AlphaTauri.

Ferrari leapfrog McLaren into third in the constructor’s standings thanks to a 5th for Charles Leclerc and 7th for Carlos Sainz.

It was a great day for Alpine too, Fernando Alonso overtaking his biggest fan for 6th and Esteban Ocon a respectable 8th.

Sergio Perez went from the pit-lane to 9th, while Lando Norris scored a solitary point for McLaren in 10th.

Can Mercedes challenge at a power track?

In general so far this season, Red Bull have been faster at power circuits, with Mercedes better at the windy, more downforce-orientated tracks.

Zandvoort and the Hungaroring bucked that trend though, with Red Bull and Mercedes, respectively, being the quickest.

Hamilton hasn’t won a race since his incredible win at the British Grand Prix. Image: Guardian

Honda will leave Formula 1 at the end of this season, and as such, have thrown everything into their final season as an engine supplier. That has seemingly paid off, as Red Bull and AlphaTauri have both seen fantastic results at power circuits.

Monza has not been a happy bunting ground for Red Bull though, with only 2 wins to their names here. Incredibly, that’s the same amount of wins as Toro Rosso & AlphaTauri have managed here combined.

Verstappen has never won here, with Hamilton taking the top step five times and looking to break Michael Schumacher’s record tally this weekend. This would also be Lewis’ 100th Grand Prix victory too, if he managed it.

Session Times

Practice 1: 10 September              13:30-14:30 (8:30-9:30 AM EST)

Qualifying: 10 September             17:00-18:00 (12:00-13:00 EST)

Practice 2: 11 September               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 EST)

Sprint Qualifying: 11 September  15:30 -16:00 (10:30 -11:00 EST)

Race: 12 September              14:00 (9:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

Grid Talk Podcast

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

F1 Blast from the Past: Lauda wins on final visit to Old Zandvoort

Background

For the 30th – and to date final – time, Zandvoort played host to the Dutch Grand Prix. This was round eleven of the 1985 Formula 1 World Championship.

The battle for the driver’s crown was intensifying. Alain Prost and Michele Alboreto were tied at the top of the standings with 50 points apiece. Prost had taken his fourth victory of the year in Austria a week earlier.

Qualifying Washout

Double World Champion Nelson Piquet took his first pole position of the season in qualifying. This was the first time a Pirelli shod car started as the fastest qualifier.

The Brazilian was over half a second faster than Keke Rosberg’s Williams. Prost’s McLaren was third ahead of Ayrton Senna’s Lotus with the impressive Teo Fabi in the Toleman qualifying fifth.

Patrick Tambay in the Renault lined up sixth. The Frenchman was lucky to escape unhurt after a huge crash in the Sunday morning warm-up session. Meanwhile, Ferrari had a disastrous session with Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson languishing down in 16th and 17th.

Rain on Saturday meant that Friday’s Qualifying times determined the grid.

Race day

On Sunday, Zandvoort was greeted with its traditional winds but sunshine nonetheless for 70 laps of racing.

Piquet wasted his qualifying efforts by stalling on the grid and eventually ending up a lap down. This left Rosberg in the lead ahead of Senna, Fabi, Prost and Marc Surer in the second Brabham.

Both Alfa Romeo’s had an extremely short afternoon when Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever both retired with turbo failures after just one lap. Pierluigi Martini also had a half day when he had a heavy shunt in the Minardi, fortunately he was able to escape without injury, but his race was run.

On Lap 6, Niki Lauda, who had started tenth, was climbing up through the field. He soon overtook Fabi for fourth place. Johansson became the next retiree on Lap 9, when the Ferrari’s engine blew, ending a miserable weekend for the Swede.

The mood on the Ferrari pit wall was not helped by Patrick Tambay passing Michele Alboreto for ninth place at Tarzan corner on Lap 15, with Alboreto only just staying in control.

Rosberg had been opening up a small lead, but on Lap 21 his Honda engine cried enough. At the same time, Niki Lauda made a stop for fresh tyres.

Lauda’s final great tactical drive

A lap later, Senna also headed for the pits and re-joined just ahead of Lauda, but the Austrian had more momentum and beautifully drove round the outside of the Brazilian.

On Lap 33, Alain Prost decided to make a tyre stop, but it would be a bad move. The Frenchman was stationary for over 18 seconds, an eternity even in the 80s.

The delay would drop him behind Lauda and Senna. On Lap 48, Prost finally got past the Lotus and moved into second position, but Lauda was still ten seconds ahead.

The closing stages of the race saw Prost reel his team mate in. By Lap 68, he was right on the Austrian’s tail.

As the pair came up to lap Huub Rothengatter in the Osella, Prost tried to take advantage and went for the inside line but the wily Lauda was wise to that move and firmly shut the door.

It was nail-biting contest to the end, but Lauda successfully held Prost off to take his 25th and final career victory and some recompense for the Austrian after a disappointing season.

Past and future, this podium saw 10 world driver’s championships between its 3 drivers

Prost took six important points, leaving him three points clear of Alboreto in the driver’s championship. Senna took his second podium finish in as many weeks in third place. Alboreto managed fourth place after a difficult weekend with compatriot Elio de Angelis again in the points in fifth. The final point was taken by Nigel Mansell in the Williams.

It would prove to be the great Niki Lauda’s last victory in Formula One and the last Dutch Grand Prix for 36 years, only returning this year in 2021.

F1 2021 Belgian Grand Prix Preview: Who Will Come out On Top After the Summer Break?

The 2021 Formula 1 season has had as many twists and turns as the calendar’s most famous circuits. Before the summer break, Sir Lewis Hamilton took back the championship lead after claiming second place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Thanks to damage sustained in a first corner crash, Max Verstappen only managed ninth and is now eight points behind Hamilton in the driver’s championship.

Who will come out on top around the incredible Spa-Francorchamps circuit this weekend? We’ve got everything you need to know in right here in our Belgian Grand Prix preview!

Track Guide

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is one of the cornerstone circuits of Formula 1 and world motorsport. The 7km-long track cuts through the Ardennes Forest and is the longest circuit on the calendar. The drivers will power around the Belgian track for 44 laps on Sunday.

Image credit: Formula 1

Spa is home to some of the best and fastest corners in the world. Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont are just some of the turns that thrill us and the drivers. Setup is always difficult here, as the first and final sectors are all about straight-line speed, but you need downforce to be quick in sector two.

The biggest challenge in Spa though, is the weather. The Ardennes forest and surrounding hills create their own microclimate and can create rainstorms out of thin air.

READ MORE: F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST:

Last time out

The 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix produced one of the most surprising set of results in modern F1 history. Turn 1 crashes caused by Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll shook up the grid no end. Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris joined Bottas and Stroll on the side-lines, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen sustaining considerable damage.

Hamilton and Verstappen’s crash has continued to dominate the headlines. Image: Reuters

At the restart, Hamilton was the only driver not to pit for dry tyres, and would drop to the back of the pack as a result. Esteban Ocon would inherit the lead but was hounded by Sebastian Vettel for the entire race. Ocon held firm though, to take his and Alpine’s first win in F1.

Vettel crossed the line second, but failed to provide a 1kg fuel sample and was disqualified post-race. Hamilton recovered to an admirable second place, with Carlos Sainz drawing Ferrari level with McLaren with third place. Fernando Alonso produced an incredible defensive display to finish fourth.

Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda completed a great day for Alpha Tauri with fifth and sixth, respectively. Williams had their highest-scoring weekend since 2017 with Nicholas Latifi in seventh and George Russell in eighth. Verstappen ended up ninth, with Kimi Raikkonen getting a point for Alfa Romeo in tenth.

Who has won the development battle?

Despite the mandated factory shutdown, the teams will have made big strides in performance over the last four weeks. Mercedes got a 1-2 in qualifying for the Hungarian GP, but that is a completely different circuit to Spa. In general, Red Bull have had better straight-line speed and been faster around power circuits.

Could we see another crash between the two leaders in the championship?

If there’s one thing that Mercedes and Hamilton know how to do, though, it’s how to win. Hamilton can never be discounted, especially if Mercedes have a good low-drag setup.

You can always try a move into La Source, but it’s arguably better to be second into Eau Rouge for the run up to Les Combes. Hamilton has won four times in Belgium, but this is not a circuit that one of his favourites in terms of results. Verstappen has never won in the country of his birth, but that could easily change this weekend.

Session Times

Practice 1: 27 August               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 27 August               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 EST)

Practice 3: 28 August               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 EST)

Qualifying: 28 August   14:00 -15:00 (9:00 -10:00 EST)

Race: 29 August             14:00 (9:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

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:

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 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview: Will Hamilton Claim Win 100 in Hungary?

After Austria, Max Verstappen was threatening to run away with this championship. The Flying Dutchman racked up four wins in five races and built up a lead of 32 points over Sir Lewis Hamilton. However, Hamilton and Verstappen’s crash two weeks ago at Silverstone has changed the complexion of the title fight.

Verstappen still leads, but now by only eight points as Formula 1 heads to arguably Hamilton’s best circuit. Sir Lewis has won eight times in his 14 races at the Hungaroring, a stellar record by anybody’s standards. Although, Mad Max will be fired up after the British Grand Prix, so it’s sure to be a fascinating contest. Here’s Sportlight’s 2021 Hungarian GP preview!

Track Guide

The Hungarian Grand Prix has been ever-present on the Formula 1 calendar since making its debut in 1986. The Hugaroring has remained largely the same in the following 35 years and is often called “Monaco without the barriers”.

Image credit: Formula 1

Qualifying is incredibly important in Hungary because passing is very difficult. The only spots on the circuit where overtaking is common are Turns 1 and 2, which both follow DRS straights. Hungary is also a circuit which rewards alternate strategies, especially when it’s hot like this weekend is forecast to be.

Don’t rule out Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez being deployed tactically by Mercedes and Red Bull, respectively, either. With passing so hard, the Ferrari and McLaren drivers could produce a surprise podium as well.

Hungary has produced some of the best Grands Prix of the modern era. 2014 saw Daniel Ricciardo with a tactical masterclass. The following year saw one of the most chaotic races ever and who could forget Jenson Button’s first win in 2006?

READ MORE: F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: BUTTON ENDS LONG WAIT FOR FIRST FORMULA 1 VICTORY

Last time out

Hamilton was the fastest driver in qualifying, but Verstappen jumped the home hero off the line in the first-ever Formula 1 sprint qualifying race to line up on pole on Sunday. The tables were turned in the race, as Hamilton got the better start off the line and challenged Verstappen for the lead throughout the first two sectors.

The pair tangled into Copse corner, with Verstappen losing a wheel and flying into the barriers with over an 50G impact for good measure. Max was thankfully alright, but his race was over. Hamilton survived but was passed by Charles Leclerc for the lead.

Hamilton and Verstappen’s crash has continued to dominate the headlines. Image: Reuters

When the racing restarted after the red flags, Leclerc held his advantage over Hamilton. To make matters worse for Lewis, a ten-second pit-lane penalty put him behind Bottas and Lando Norris. Hamilton though, roared on by the British crowd passed the pair and relentlessly chased after Leclerc.

Sir Lewis Hamilton would overtake Leclerc at Copse with a few laps to go and magnificently claim his eighth British Grand Prix victory. Leclerc was a brilliant second, his first podium of the season, with Bottas completing the podium. Norris and Daniel Ricciardo rounded off an excellent day for McLaren with fourth and fifth, respectively.

Carlos Sainz recovered from his Sprint Qualifying off to finish sixth. Fernando Alonso produced an excellent performance to take seventh in his Alpine, with teammate Esteban Ocon in ninth. Lance Stroll was a solid eighth, with Yuki Tsunoda claiming the final point in tenth.

A record-breaking weekend for Sir Lewis?

Hamilton and Mercedes won three of the opening four rounds and it seemed as though both were heading for an eighth championship crown each. However, since the Monaco Grand Prix, the form book had completely turned, with Red Bull winning every race. That has now changed, with Lewis in position to set some huge milestones.

If Hamilton wins on Sunday, it will be his 100th Grand Prix victory and his ninth in Hungary, the most for both any circuit and event in Formula 1 history.

There aren’t many records Hamilton hasn’t broken

Verstappen will be doing everything he can to stop that happening, though. The Dutchman almost won in 2019 and finished a credible second last year. However, Mercedes are arguably faster over one lap, so it may be the case that Max has to pass Lewis or run a superior strategy to stand on the top step of the podium on Sunday.

With Turn 1 being extremely wide, don’t rule out a last of the late-brakers move from either championship challenger. If that happens, we could well have a new crash to talk about through the summer break.

Session Times

Practice 1: 30 July               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 30 July               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 EST)

Practice 3: 31 July               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 EST)

Qualifying: 31 July    14:00 -15:00 (9:00 -10:00 EST)

Race: 1 August             14:00 (9:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

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 2021 British Grand Prix Preview: Will Hamilton Return to Winning Ways on Home Ground?

Two weeks is a long time without a race in Formula 1, especially after the triple-header we just experienced. Red Bull and Max Verstappen are in the ascendency after the Dutchman has claimed a hat-trick of wins in as many rounds.

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have it all to do, but F1 and the world champions are coming home to Silverstone this weekend. Also thrown into the mix is the first of three sprint qualifying sessions that provides the biggest shakeup to a Grand Prix weekend in decades.

There’s a lot to talk about ahead of the 2021 British Grand Prix weekend, so let’s get into our preview!

Track Guide

Silverstone hosted the very first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1950. While the circuit has changes over the years, it still remains one of the fastest tracks on the calendar. The high-speed corners of Abbey (1), Copse (9), Stowe (15) and the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex are some of the best corners in the world.

Image credit: Formula 1

Silverstone is an absolute fan-favourite and we will see a full-capacity crowd this weekend, meaning up to 150,000 will be cheering on Hamilton, Lando Norris, George Russell and co. on Sunday.

The British Grand Prix rewards a car that is both fast in a straight line and can corner rapidly without wearing the tyres out. The forecast is calling for dry, hot conditions throughout the weekend, so it’s doubtful we’ll see rain deluge the circuit.

Something else to note is that the pit-straight between the first and final corners is now named after Hamilton. So, he’ll be racing on a piece of track that’s dedicated to him.

Last time out

Verstappen won both of the Red Bull Ring rounds at a canter, as his driver’s championship tally is now 32 points higher than Hamilton. Red Bull also achieved their fifth win a row and show little sign of that ending anytime soon.

It was a classic light to flag victory for Verstappen, as he claimed pole and the fastest lap. This sealed his first-ever Grand Slam and he also became the youngest man to ever do so, as 23 years old.

Max Verstappen was untouchable in Austria and Styria. Image: Marca

Valtteri Bottas was a very distant second, as Norris continued his mesmeric season to claim another podium in third. Hamilton had damage caused by Austria’s harsh kerbs, but he still brought his Mercedes home in fourth place.

Carlos Sainz had a rousing drive to fifth, thanks to his mega stint on hard tyres at the start of the race. Sergio Perez finished fifth on the road, but his penalties for running Charles Leclerc off the circuit (twice) dropped him to sixth. Daniel Ricciardo recovered from another poor qualifying to classify seventh in the end.

Leclerc was a disappointing eighth on a day when McLaren scored big again. Pierre Gasly scored points again for AlphaTauri in ninth, with Fernando Alonso rounding off the top ten.

An honourable mention has to go to George Russell, who just missed out on his first points for Williams in eleventh.

Can Mercedes stop Red Bull’s winning streak?

Hamilton and Mercedes won three of the opening four rounds and it seemed as though both were heading for an eighth championship crown each. However, since the Monaco Grand Prix, the form book has completely turned, with Red Bull winning every race.

It’s Verstappen that has won four of those five as well and, truth be told, he would’ve won in Baku as well if it wasn’t for his puncture.

Sir Lewis won the 2020 British GP despite finishing on three tyres. Image: Top Gear

Historically, Silverstone is a very happy hunting ground for Mercedes, having won all but one British Grand Prix since 2013. Furthermore, no driver has won more British Grands Prix than Sir Lewis (7). If there’s one thing that 2021 has taught us though, it’s that history means nothing, as Red Bull appears unstoppable.

You do, however, have to go back to Mark Webber in 2012 for Red Bull’s last British GP win. You only have to go back eleven months for their last Silverstone victory though, as Verstappen won last year’s 70th anniversary GP.

Mercedes really struggled with tyre wear in Silverstone during both of last year’s races. Bottas and Hamilton both suffered punctures and while Lewis still won the race, he’ll do very well to have such a gap to lean on. Although, if you believe Toto Wolff, then Mercedes will win by 30 seconds thanks to their upgrades. Very bold words indeed.

Qualifying on Friday (yes, it’s on Friday this weekend) will tell us a lot, but there’s no indications that Verstappen and Red Bull will be letting up anytime soon.

Session Times

Practice 1: 16 July               14:30-15:30 (9:30-10:30 AM EST)

Qualifying: 16 July               18:00-19:00 (1:00-2:00 PM EST)

Practice 2: 17 July               12:00-13:00 (7:00-8:00 AM EST)

Sprint Qualifying: 17 July    16:30-17:00 (11:30 AM -12:00 PM EST)

Race: 18 July             15:00 (10:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

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: Ferrari out-smart McLaren at the A1 Ring

Background

The Austrian Grand Prix was the venue for round nine of the 1999 Formula 1 World Championship. This was the third race held at the revamped A1 Ring since its return to F1 in 1997.

Coming into the weekend, Mika Hakkinen led the World Championship by eight points, despite not scoring at the British Grand Prix two weeks earlier.

The major talking point though, was the accident of his title rival Michael Schumacher at Silverstone. The German suffered a broken leg that would mean he’d be absent for the next six races.

Schumacher’s place at Ferrari was taken by the Mika Salo, who had deputised for Ricardo Zonta at BAR in earlier in the season.

Ferrari’s decision not to promote test driver Luca Badoer from Minardi to fill the vacant seat attracted criticism in the paddock, notably from Jean Alesi, who had himself turned down the opportunity to race for Ferrari again.

Qualifying

McLaren continued their amazing qualifying form in Austria

Qualifying saw the McLaren pair of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard lock-out the front row for the fourth time in 1999. Eddie Irvine qualified third, over a second shy of Hakkinen with Heinz-Harald Frentzen starting fourth in the Jordan.

The two Stewart’s of Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert sharing the third row. Mika Salo, on his debut for Ferrari, lined up seventh.

Teammates collide

The start of the 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix got away with Hakkinen leading from Coulthard, Irvine, Barrichello and Frentzen.

Unlike the previous year, there were no incidents into the Castrol Kurve. However, going into the Remus Kurve, Coulthard over-ambitiously tried to dive down the inside of Hakkinen and tipped his teammate into a spin.

The unfortunate Finn fell all the way down to last place. There was disappointment for the other Finnish driver too, as Mika Salo was caught out by the concertina effect in front of him and made contact with Herbert’s Stewart. The ensuing rear wing change would drop Herbert out of contention.

Coulthard thus took over the lead from Barrichello who had managed to overtake Irvine after the Ulsterman had slowed to avoid hitting Hakkinen’s McLaren. Frentzen continued to hold fourth while Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR had made his usual demon start and moved up from ninth to fifth ahead of Ralf Schumacher.

On lap nine, however, the young German became the first retiree when trying to pass Villeneuve. Under pressure from Pedro Diniz’s Sauber, he braked too late into Remus and spun into the gravel trap.

A champion’s comeback

Hakkinen proceeded to charge through the midfield, making short work of the opposition and executing some brilliant overtaking manoeuvres.

By Lap 16, he had already made his way back up to the top ten and moved ahead of Ricardo Zonta in the sole remaining BAR for ninth at the Castrol Kurve.

By Lap 34, he was fifth and made a brave move on Heinz-Harald Frentzen into the same corner to incredibly take fourth place.

Jacques Villeneuve had been hoping to finally bring the BAR home and score the team’s first points but on Lap 35 the Canadian retired for the ninth consecutive race with a half shaft failure.

Alessandro Zanardi’s disastrous return to Formula 1 continued when his Williams ran out of fuel one lap later.

After David Coulthard’s pit-stop, it became clear that the Scotsman was lacking pace with a heavier fuel load.

While Eddie Irvine, free of Barrichello after the Brazilian had pitted, began a string of sensational laps, reminiscent of the tactics used by Michael Schumacher. The Ulsterman’s pit stop duly came on Lap 44 and after 8.6 seconds, he was away and the Ferrari the pit lane ahead of Coulthard.

Mika Hakkinen continued his storming drive by overtaking Barrichello for third on Lap 50. Five laps later, even the chance of a points finish slipped away for the Stewart team as Barrichello’s Ford engine gave up.

In the closing stages, Coulthard began to put the hammer down and closed in on Irvine, but the Ulsterman had just enough pace to keep the Scot at bay.

The chequered flag

Irvine scored his second victory of the season after a brilliant drive to make the most of McLaren’s misfortune. A bitterly disappointed Coulthard finished second while Hakkinen’s amazing recovery drive resulted in third place.

Though it could have been more, those four points would prove crucial in the fight for the driver’s title.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished fourth after another good performance with local favourite Alexander Wurz coming home fifth for Benetton.

The final point was taken by Pedro Diniz, in what would prove to be the final career points finish for the Brazilian.

Eddie Irvine had closed the gap to Mika Hakkinen in the World Championship to just two points, more importantly he had firmly signalled his intentions to assume the role of team leader with Schumacher on the side-lines.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Austrian GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew previewed this weekend’s race in their latest podcast. Louis Edwards hosted Owain Medford, Garry Sloan and Tom Downey. Both video and audio versions of the show are linked below:

EURO 2020: La Roja Spared Blushes By Impressive Comeback in Eight Goal Thriller

Despite both Spain and Croatia being lacklustre in their respective groups, both sides advanced to the knockouts of Euro 2020. Spain in particular will have been buoyed by their 5-0 thumping of Slovakia in their final match, while Croatia showed their class to beat Scotland 3-1 in Glasgow.

However, the Blazers won’t have been helped by Ivan Perisic’s recent positive test for COVID-19. The Inter Milan forward is one of Croatia’s most experienced and talented players. With this match taking place at Denmark’s Parken Stadium, this was a truly neutral venue.

What followed was one of the best games in European championship history. But who would book their place to face either France or Switzerland in the quarterfinals? Here are all the highlights!

Spain score at both ends

The opening exchanges were largely cagey, but Spain were the side that had the lion’s share of possession. As has so often been the case for La Roja though, fashioning clear-cut chances was proving difficult.

In the thirteenth minute, Pablo Sarabia had Spain’s first shot in anger. The PSG midfielder’s effort though, only troubled the side netting and not Dominik Livakovic.

Sarabia was causing Croatia a lot of problems down the left. Image: Sport360

The first key chance was a few minutes later, and it came down the left again. A perfectly weighted through ball from Pedri found Koke in the centre of the penalty area, but the Atletico Madrid midfielder couldn’t best Livakovic with his shot.

An even better chance came in the nineteenth minute. Ferran Torres found the time and space on the right to float a perfect cross to Alvaro Morata’s head. However, the Juventus striker failed to get proper contact on the ball and headed it firmly into the ground before Livakovic caught with ease.

READ MORE EURO 2020: THORGAN’S STRIKE CREATES ‘HAZARD’ FOR PORTUGAL AS BELGIUM MARCH ON

If that was bad, what followed next was unbelievable. Spain were producing all of the chances, but found themselves behind in the most bizarre circumstances. Pedri had no pressure on him and passed back to his goalkeeper Unai Simon. The Barcelona midfielder overdid it though, and Simon failed to control the ball, he could only watch it fly into the back of his net. Croatia led 1-0 and had hardly ventured out of their own half.

Croatia were spurred on by their unexpected lead, Nikola Vlasic powering through on the right wing, but couldn’t find the net with his effort. Mateo Kovacic too, had a good effort just go over the net in the 26th minute.

READ MORE EURO 2020: PURPOSEFUL DENMARK CONQUER WALES TO REACH EURO 2020 QUARTER-FINALS

Spain were growing back into the game, and with eight minutes to go before half-time, they deservedly equalised. Another fine move down the left resulted in a scramble in the box. Jose Gaya got a shot off, and despite Livakovic parrying the powerful effort, Sarabia followed up to level the game 1-1.

Both sides would’ve been happy to head into the break level, but for different reasons. The final chance of note was a long shot by Koke, which flew a yard or two wide of Livakovic’s left-hand post.

Croatia capitalise on Spain sitting back

The first substitution of the game was carried out by Croatia at half-time. Bruno Petkovic, who was anonymous in the first 45, was replaced by Andrej Kramaric.

Spain were again the side on top, but were again largely failing to create clear chances. That changed in the 27th minute though, as an overload on the left side of the pitch resulted in Torres crossing to Cesar Azpilicueta, of all people to powerfully head into the goal.

Azpilicueta rose highest to put his side into the lead for the first time this evening. Image: Sportsbet.io

Livakovic was powerless to stop the full-back’s purposeful header as the Spaniard rose above the defender to see Spain lead 2-1.

Simon preserved this lead in the 67th minute thanks to a superb strong save low to his right. Vlasic cut the ball back for Josko Gvardiol and the latter shot at goal from a few yards out, but Simon redeemed himself for the OG earlier on. Kramaric would go through on goal a couple of minutes later, but the offside flag was raised, although Simon didn’t know that and produced another good save.

READ MORE EURO 2020: GERMAN SUB SINKS HUNGARY, BOOKS ENGLAND SHOWDOWN

In the 72nd minute, the ball was in the back of the Croatia net again. A free-kick resulted in chaos in the Croatian box and Torres once more perfectly found Morata. Morata tapped in from little more than a yard out, but it was always going to be called back for offside.

Straight after this, Croatia went down the other end and were calling for a penalty. The referee said no, despite Azpilicueta kicking the ball into Koke’s hands and waved away the protests with a yellow card for Marcelo Brozovic.

After a brief stoppage for an injury, Spain doubled their lead. Ferran Torres latched onto a brilliant pass from the restart from Pau Torres. F. Torres cut inside onto his left foot and slotted calmly into the net, 3-1, a fine goal. Croatia were kicking themselves though, that was schoolboy stuff to switch off like that.

READ MORE EURO 2020: SUPER STERLING POWERS ENGLAND INTO THE ROUND OF 16

Spain consolidated their position with substitutions, while Croatia were making changes to attempt to inject energy and zest into their eleven. In the 84th minute, it was almost deja vu for Croatia as they again switched off from a free-kick. Dani Olmo attempted to float the ball into the net, but Livakovic was there to save.

Croatia then got themselves back into the game in the 85th minute. No sooner had Spain almost gone 4-1 up, they found themselves only 3-2 ahead. Luka Mordric’s skill finally came in use, as Captain Croatia cut back the ball for Ante Budimir to strike at goal. The shot was saved, but another scramble in the box ensued before Mislav Orsic slammed the ball past the line.

Goal-line technology confirmed the goal and despite a VAR check for a potential handball, the goal stood and Croatia were only 2-3 down with five minutes remaining. A nervy five minutes followed, which only got worse for Spain when six minutes of added time was confirmed.

Croatia were rolling the dice and they came up with sixes. Croatia moved down the left with Orsic firing a perfect and dangerous cross into the middle. Mario Pasalic met it perfectly and the ball was in the net, 3-3 and we were heading for extra-time. This surely must be one of the games of the tournament!

Extra-time

The thirty minutes of extra time got underway as the sun began to set in the Danish capital.

The momentum and mentality of the sides had completely flipped. Croatia were now in the ascendancy and Spain were terrified of the counterattack. Not without reason after, as in the sixth minute of ET, Croatia should’ve been ahead again.

Orsic down the left once more and crossed to Kramaric, who let fly from six yards out. Simon again bailed his team out, a combination of hand and knee prevented Croatia from taking the lead. Spain would have a chance of their own straight after, Dani Olmo only being stopped by Duje Caleta-Car.

Spain would go ahead as the clock struck 100 minutes. Olmo was in acres of space on the right and he floated a perfect ball into Morata, who fired an unstoppable shot into the top-right of the goal, Spain lead 4-3!

Alvaro Morata silenced his critics with his second Euro 2020 goal today

Kramaric had a half-chance at the other end, but Spain finally, surely, put the tie to bed in the 104th minute. Another defence-splitting ball from Olmo saw Mikel Oyarzabal free and the Real Sociedad slotted in via a deflection from Livakovic to make it 5-3.

Morata would have another chance before half-time, but Spain looked like they had an insurmountable lead at last.

ET: Second half

Croatia didn’t get the memo again though, as Ante Budimir was inches wide following a move from the kick-off.

Spain then slowed the game down as Croatia began to really physically struggle. Modric departed the pitch with seven minutes remaining in what will likely be his last appearance in a Euro game.

Morata almost doubled his tally for the day with five minutes remaining. The Juve striker was through on goal, but a good save from Livakovic prevented Croatia from being hit for six. Olmo also almost made it 6-3, but the post denied him.

The Croats had given their all, but the 2018 World Cup runners-up fell at the first knockout hurdle again, 5-3 the final score.

Croatia’s dismal run of never winning a Euros knockout game continues, while Spain will face either Switzerland or France in the quarterfinals.

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