Author Archives: George Howson

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.

F1 2021 Styrian GP Qualifying Report: Verstappen on Pole at the Red Bull Ring

Max Verstappen and Red Bull headed into the Styrian Grand Prix weekend on a high. Verstappen has won two of the previous three rounds and sailed into a 12 point lead over Sir Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Perez had also won in Azerbaijan, making it three in a row for the Austrian outfit ahead of their home races at their own circuit.

Despite predictions of rain before the weekend, glorious Styrian sunshine illuminated the circuit throughout qualifying. So, we’d see some electric laps around the Red Bull Ring.

Here are all the highlights from qualifying!

Q1

As the Red Bull Ring is such a short lap (just over 60 seconds), drivers weren’t rushing to get out. When they did, Williams’ George Russell was the fastest of the early runners. It didn’t take long for drivers to beat that though, and Lando Norris, then Verstappen topped the times.

Norris was impressing yet again in qualifying.

Hamilton topped FP3 earlier in the day, but the defending champion could only manage P4, slower than Norris. Valtteri Bottas was Verstappen’s closest challenger, but the Finn couldn’t claim pole thanks to an embarrassing three-place grid penalty for a spin in the pit-lane in practice.

Nicholas Latifi blew the contest wide open with a lap that sent him up to P8 with six minutes remaining. Due to the short lap time here, mistakes are amplified and a tenth of a second can make a massive difference. Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and even Perez were all under threat before their final runs.

In the end, Latifi (P16), Esteban Ocon (P17), Raikkonen (P18) and both Haas’ of Mick Schumacher (P19) and Nikita Mazepin (P20) were all eliminated after the first qualifying.

Q2

Bottas was wasting no time in second qualifying and was the first to set a lap. Most drivers were opting for the slower medium tyres, as this is the preferred race tyre. Verstappen would soon beat the Finn to top spot as Hamilton made a mistake on his opening lap.

Max Verstappen was setting the timing boards alive in Q2

Hamilton would recover to third, but it was provisionally an all Red Bull front-row. That didn’t last long though, as Pierre Gasly sent his AlphaTauri to the top of the timing boards, albeit on the soft tyres.

After the final flying laps, Giovinazzi (P15) and both Sainz (P12) and Ricciardo (P13) were surprisingly out. Both Aston Martins suffered because of deleted lap times, but Stroll snuck into Q3. Vettel wasn’t so lucky though, and will line-up P14. George Russell’s (P11) excellent qualifying record continued and was only eight thousands of a second from Q3.

Q3

Hamilton was again the first out in Q3, and set a respectable 1:04.205 for his opening lap. Verstappen though, would turn the wick in his Honda up and set the first lap in the 1:03’s, that would take some beating. Norris was putting the cat amongst the pigeons too, as he sent his McLaren to P3 after the first runs.

Could the champion spring a surprise in final qualifying? Image: Mercedes

The drivers queued for a good position at the end of Q3, every millimetre would be crucial. Hamilton was near the front of the queue, but a mistake on his final lap meant his couldn’t improve. Bottas usurped his teammate, but Valtteri would start P5 thanks to his penalty.

In the end, it was Max Verstappen ended up on pole for the second week in a row. The Flying Dutchman was on another level today, nobody could get close to his pace. Norris ended up a very impressive P4 and will be on the clean side of the grid in P3 tomorrow.

Perez was a disappointed P5, but Gasly was elated to be P6 again. Leclerc continued Ferrari’s bad run, P7 was all he could manage. Tsunoda ended up P8, but a potential penalty for blocking Bottas could be heading his way.

Fernando Alonso was a very credible P9 in his Alpine, while P10 was all Stroll and Aston Martin could manage.

Full Classification

Pos.No.DriverConstructorGap
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:03.841
277Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.194
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.226
44Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.279
511Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+0.327
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.395
716Charles LeclercFerrari+0.631
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri+0.673
914Fernando AlonsoAlpine+0.733
1018Lance StrollAston Martin+0.867
1163George RussellWilliams1:04.663 (Q2)
1255Carlos SainzFerrari1:04.671
133Daniel RicciardoMcLaren1:04.800
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin1:04.875
1599Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1:04.913
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams1:05.175 (Q1)
1731Esteban OconAlpine+0.042
187Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+0.254
1947Mick SchumacherHaas+0.866
209Nikita MazepinHaas+1.017

F1 2021 Styrian Grand Prix Preview: Will Red Bull Win on Home Ground?

After the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, Formula 1 fans were experiencing deja vu, as Mercedes looked like the team to beat once again. However, since then, Red Bull have won three races in a row. This is the first time the Austrian team have achieved a hat-trick of victories since 2013, the last year they won a championship.

The Red Bull Ring in Austria is hosting both rounds eight and nine of 23 in 2021, the first being the Styrian Grand Prix. Sportlightpro brings you all of the key info ahead of the 2021 Styrian GP!

Track Guide

Image: F1

The Red Bull Ring is the shortest circuit on the F1 calendar aside from Monaco. Located high in the Styrian mountains, the Spielberg circuit is one of the most beautiful tracks in the world to watch racing around.

With only 10 corners making up the lap, you could be forgiven for believing that the track is a relatively easy one to race around. However, that isn’t the case, as mistakes here cost drivers dearly thanks to its short lap time.

Overtaking is definitely possible around the Red Bull Ring, as three consecutive DRS straights are connected by two slow 90-degree right-handers. Turns 3 and 4 are the main passing points, but don’t rule out drivers trying moves in Turns 6 and 9 either.

READ MORE: STYRIAN GRAND PRIX 2020 – RACE REVIEW

Last time out

Circuit Paul Ricard is lamented as one of the worst circuits in Formula 1. Or at least, it was until last week, where we saw a fascinating contest between Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen for victory. Verstappen claimed pole position but went wide through Turn 1 and lost his advantage to Hamilton.

Verstappen undercut Hamilton through the first round of stops thanks to another brilliant tyre change from Red Bull. The tyres weren’t lasting for as long as the teams expected, and Verstappen opted for a two-stop. Mercedes left Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton out for the remainder of the Grand Prix in a reverse of Spain earlier in the year.

READ MORE: AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX 2020 – RACE REVIEW

Verstappen would usurp both Mercedes drivers on fresher rubber and achieve redemption for his blowout in Baku two weeks earlier. Max’s championship lead is now up to 12 points thanks to his fastest lap bonus point. Hamilton finished a commendable second, but Bottas couldn’t hold on for third.

Sergio Perez achieved his second podium in a row thanks to a brilliant first stint, the Mexican finishing third. Bottas ended up a frustrating fourth. McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo completed a fantastic comeback to finish fifth and sixth, respectively. Pierre Gasly finished his home race in seventh, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in eighth.

Aston Martin’s long first stint earned them a double points finish. Sebastian Vettel was ninth, with Lance Stroll tenth.

Can Mercedes stop Red Bull’s run?

Verstappen has won twice in Austria, but fell short in both 2020 rounds. Image: F1

Red Bull have won three Grands Prix in a row for the first time since 2013 and that will have Mercedes worried. What’s more concerning is that the Austrian Grand Prix hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Silver Arrows since it returned to the calendar in 2014.

Before the 2021 Azerbaijan GP, the 2018 Austrian GP was Mercedes’ last pointless outing, and it was a double mechanical retirement too. In 2014, Williams claimed pole position and in 2016, Rosberg and Hamilton had a controversial crash.

READ MORE: IN THE PIT LANE – THE UAE FLASH THE CASH

With this being a double-header at the same circuit, Mercedes will be eager to close the gap to Red Bull in the constructor’s championship. That deficit currently stands at 37 points, but that will probably increase rather than decrease before Silverstone.

Hamilton will be up near the front, but Bottas will do well to beat either Verstappen or Perez. The Finn is in poor form and rumours are rife about him being replaced by George Russell, perhaps even before the end of the season.

Session Times

Practice 1: 25 June               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 25 June               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 26 June               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 26 June               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Race: 27 June              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 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:

F1 2021 Monaco GP Qualifying Report: Leclerc starts Home race from Pole!

Formula 1 in 2021 has been a breath of fresh air after two years of Mercedes being miles clear of the chasing pack. Red Bull have emerged as a genuine challenger for both titles. However, they would need to convert their raw pace into a second win of the season in Monaco to keep within striking distance of the Black Arrows.

Ferrari too were in contention, the Scuderia managing a 1-2 in FP2 on Thursday and could McLaren pull of a surprise in their beautiful one-off Gulf livery?

Here are all the highlights from qualifying!

Q1

Williams was celebrating their 750th Grand Prix this weekend and were eager to get out on track, George Russell being at the front of the queue at the start of Q1. The drivers were setting multiple laps as the tyres took time to heat up.

Valtteri Bottas was the first man into the 1:11’s but his time at the top didn’t last long, Verstappen quickly usurping him. Bottas would take his P1 spot back, but Lando Norris (P4) and Charles Leclerc (P2) set extremely competitive times.

A flurry of times were set just before and after the chequered flag fell as drivers desperately wanted to avoid starting in the bottom five spots tomorrow.

Alonso failed to get into Q2 for the first time since 2018.

Yuki Tsunoda (P16) has never raced around Monaco before and it showed, the AlphaTauri driver failing to get out of Q1 again. Fernando Alonso (P17) couldn’t shake off his rustiness off around the streets of Monte Carlo. Nicholas Latifi could only manage P18, with Nikita Mazepin the last of the qualifying runners in P19.

Mick Schumacher was unable to compete in Qualifying thanks to a huge shunt in FP3, he lines up at the back of the grid in P20.

Q2

After the first runs in second qualifying, it was surprisingly Ferrari that topped the times. Leclerc set the team’s opening gambit, but it was Carlos Sainz who went almost a quarter of a second faster. McLaren’s Norris would slot in P2, but a charging bull would soon best them all.

Max Verstappen was rapid in Q2.

Verstappen set a 1:10.650 to top the standings, one of the fastest laps of Monaco ever and it wasn’t even final qualifying! Mercedes was looking vulnerable, Bottas ending Q2 in fourth and Sir Lewis Hamilton down in sixth. It was Leclerc who ended up P1 though, as the hometown racer set an even faster time!

Alfa Romeo were another team that were showing more pace than normal around Monaco, but Q2 was as far as Kimi Raikkonen would go. The 2007 champ lines up P14 tomorrow, but Antonio Giovinazzi got through to the top ten.

Russell couldn’t repeat his incredible qualifying performances in Monaco, he lines up P15. Lance Stroll (P13) and Esteban Ocon (P11) were also out. The surprise driver out in Q2 was Daniel Ricciardo (P12), the Honey badger again struggling in his McLaren.

Q3

This was it. Q3 in Monaco is when you’ll see the fastest cars on earth pushed to their absolute limits more than anywhere else in the world.

Verstappen set the opening gambit of a 1:10.5, the fastest time we’d seen up until that point. Bottas got close but Leclerc would beat it by over two tenths! Sainz went third, but Hamilton could only manage sixth, behind even Pierre Gasly.

Leclerc was hunting Ferrari’s first pole in Monaco since Raikkonen in 2017, this would be a huge shock if he could manage it.

All of the drivers were pushing as hard possible, and Leclerc crashed at the swimming pool to end any hope of anybody else challenging him for pole. There will be concerns over Leclerc’s gearbox, but for the moment, as it stands, Leclerc is on pole for tomorrow’s race.

Verstappen lines up P2 at the moment and will be on pole if Leclerc suffers a gearbox penalty. Bottas did a good job to qualify P3, with Sainz completing an excellent day for Ferrari in P4. Norris was the highest performing McLaren in fifth.

Gasly signalled a return to form in his AlphaTauri, he’s sixth, with Sir Lewis Hamilton a very disappointing seventh. Sebastian Vettel had his best qualifying of the year with eighth, but Sergio Perez will be crestfallen to line up ninth. Giovinazzi completed the top ten.

Full Classification

Pos.No.DriverConstructorGap
116Charles LeclercFerrari1:10.346
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing+0.230
377Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.255
455Carlos SainzFerrari+0.265
54Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.274
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.554
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.749
85Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.073
911Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+1.227
1099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo+1.433
1131Esteban OconAlpine1:11.486 (Q2)
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+0.112
1318Lance StrollAston Martin+0.114
147Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+0.156
1563George RussellWilliams+0.344
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1:12.096 (Q1)
1714Fernando AlonsoAlpine+0.109
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams+0.270
199Nikita MazepinHaas+0.862
2047Mick SchumacherHaasNo time

F1 2021 Monaco Grand Prix Preview: Who will master the streets of the Principality?

Whether you love or loathe it, the Monaco Grand Prix is an integral part of the racing calendar.

Round 5 of 23 in 2021 takes us the glorious streets of Monte Carlo for the most challenging race of the year. After clinching his third win of the season in Spain, Sir Lewis Hamilton comes to the Principality in the ascendency and 14 points ahead of Max Verstappen.

Monaco always has a surprise up its sleeve though, playing host to some of the most surprising Grands Prix ever. Here are all the talking points as Formula 1 heads to the Cote d’Azur.

Track Guide

Monaco is unlike any other circuit in Formula 1. If you were to suggest the Circuit de Monte Carlo to the FIA as a new circuit on the calendar, you’d be laughed out of the room.

Tight, twisty and bumpy, there’s no such thing as a moment’s rest in this near-two hour event. Even the straights aren’t straight and passing is nearly impossible. Strategy will play a key role, as overtaking is something you won’t see much on-track. Turns 1 and 10 are the only real passing spots.

Armco barriers line the perimeter of almost the entire track meaning that a mistake usually ends up with damage or a retirement.

Last time out

The 2021 Spanish Grand Prix saw a surprising amount of on-track action as we witnessed another classic Hamilton-Verstappen battle. Hamilton claimed his 100th pole in Formula 1 the previous day, but it was Max who went into Turn 1 in the lead.

Hamilton and Verstappen were a class above the chasing pack, even Valtteri Bottas was nowhere near challenging the leading pair. Ultimately, it was tyre strategy that decided the race, as Hamilton’s aggressive 2-stop proved to be faster than Verstappen’s 1-stopper.

Bottas completed the podium in third, to make HAM-VER-BOT the most common podium in F1 history. Charles Leclerc was arguably driver of the day as he earned a fourth place in his Ferrari. Sergio Perez could only recover to fifth after a poor qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a respectable sixth, with Carlos Sainz in seventh in his home race. Lando Norris had his worst result of the season so far in eighth, with Esteban Ocon again in the points in ninth. Pierre Gasly again dragged his AlphaTauri to another point with tenth.

Will Red Bull capitalise on Mercedes’ weaker circuit?

Red Bull most-recently won the Monaco GP in 2018. Image: The Telegraph

Despite what the results may show, Monaco is not a happy hunting ground for Mercedes nor Hamilton. Mercedes may have won the most recent race in 2019, but slower street circuits don’t usually suit the long wheelbase Merc. In seasons gone by, Mercedes’ advantage over the chasing pack has been so large that they could still win Monaco.

However, this year the Silver Arrows don’t have that luxury. Red Bull are closer than they’ve ever been in the hybrid era before.

Verstappen has been electric off the start at most races and if he repeats the feat on Sunday, he’ll be a very hard man to catch. Perez can’t be underestimated either, as the Mexican has stood on the podium in Monaco once before, in 2016.

Hamilton has three wins to his name in Monaco. This is of course an impressive statistic, but it pales in comparison to his record at most other circuits.

Ultimately, barring unreliability or being held up by a backmarker, whoever makes it into Turn 1 first will more than likely win the Grand Prix.

Session Times

Practice 1: 20 May               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 20 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 22 May               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 22 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Race: 23 May              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 Monaco GP weekend? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew are here and have you covered with their 2021 Monaco Grand Prixview. Ruby Price hosted Phil Mathew, Adam Burns and Mikael Kataja covered all of the main talking about points ahead of Round 5 of the 2021 Formula 1 season. Audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

F1 2021 Spanish Grand Prix: Hamilton claims 100th Pole Position in Formula 1

It’s no secret that overtaking is difficult around Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya, so qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix is an extremely important session.

Sir Lewis Hamilton was looking for his 100th pole position in Formula 1, while Max Verstappen needed to make up ground in the championship battle.

Who would come out on top? And could the second drivers of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez play a role in the battle for pole?

Q1

There was a ten-minute delay to the start of qualifying due to a barrier needing to be repaired after a Formula Regional event earlier in the day. Sunny skies and warm temperatures adorned the Circuit de Catalunya this Saturday afternoon, so lap times would be very representative.

Most drivers opted for the faster soft tyres, but the exception were Mercedes whose drivers chose the mediums. Despite this, Bottas was fastest in Q1, with Hamilton less than two tenths off Verstappen in P5 in the early stages.

Barcelona’s final sector was causing havoc for traffic in Q1. Image: F1

The drivers who were in danger crawled around before the final runs to keep life in their rubber. This paid off, as the track was significantly faster than earlier in the session. Lando Norris was held up in the traffic jam in the final sector for his first run, but he topped Q1 with his second gambit.

The Haas’ of Nikita Mazepin (P20), Mick Schumacher (P18) & Williams of Nicholas Latifi (P19), were among those out in Q1. Surprisingly, Kimi Raikkonen (P17) and Yuki Tsunoda (P16) also joined that trio in going no further in qualifying.

Q2

Bottas again topped the session in the early stages of Q2, but Verstappen rang the neck out of his Red Bull to go almost half a second faster than the Finn. Tyres didn’t come into the equation, as everybody chose the soft compound.

Max Verstappen was rapid in Q2.

The field was bunched incredibly tightly, as two tenths of a second separated Carlos Sainz in fifth and Sebastian Vettel in thirteenth after the first runs. In that group was Perez, but the Mexican got his Red Bull into Q3 after his second Q2 lap.

Sadly, George Russell (P15) had run out of qualifying tyres, but the Brit almost managed to beat Antonio Giovinazzi’s (P14) Alfa Romeo. Vettel (P13) and Lance Stroll (P11) weren’t able to get their Aston Martins into the top ten. The final driver out in Q2 was Pierre Gasly (P12), the AlphaTauri still struggling.

Q3

It all came down to the top ten shootout, Red Bull were the favourites, but could Mercedes make a comeback in final qualifying?

Sainz was looking quickest until Perez spun in the final sector. The yellow flags came out but that didn’t stop Hamilton from setting the fastest time of the first runs. Even though the world champion had to slow down, he was less than a tenth of a second faster than Verstappen.

Perez’s spin didn’t stop Sir Lewis from topping the timings after the first runs.

Just like last weekend in Portugal, the second runs of the drivers weren’t enough to beat their first gambits. That meant that Sir Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th pole position in Formula 1 and will start tomorrow’s race from P1. Verstappen still has a shot in second, with Bottas in third.

Perez set a lap, but it was a disappointing eighth place for the Mexican. Charles Leclerc was an impressive fourth in his Ferrari, with Esteban Ocon again staring in qualifying, he’ll start in P5 in his Alpine. Sainz starts his home race in P6, with Daniel Ricciardo in seventh. Norris was a disappointing ninth and Fernando Alonso rounded off the top ten.

Full classification

Pos.No.DriverConstructorGap
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:16.741
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing+0.036
377Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.132
416Charles LeclercFerrari+0.769
531Esteban OconAlpine+0.839
655Carlos SainzFerrari+0.879
73Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+0.881
811Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+0.960
94Lando NorrisMcLaren+1.269
1014Fernando AlonsoAlpine+1.406
1118Lance StrollAston Martin1:17.974 (Q2)
1210Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.008
135Sebastian VettelAston Martin+0.105
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo+0.382
1563George RussellWilliams+1.188
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1:18.556 (Q1)
177Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+0.361
1847Mick SchumacherHaas+0.561
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams+0.661
209Nikita MazepinHaas+1.251

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more reaction to yesterday’s exciting qualifying session? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their analysis of qualifying for the 2021 Spanish GP. George Howson hosted Adam Burns, Louis Edwards and Tom Horrox in their latest podcast. Audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

F1 2021 Spanish Grand Prix Preview: Can Verstappen fight back in Spain?

Despite last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix not being the best race, there’s a lot to look forward to coming into Spain. Just eight points separate Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the top of the Formula 1 driver’s championship.

With rain forecast this weekend, we could have another unpredictable race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya like we saw at Imola three weeks ago. We’ve got everything you need to know ahead of the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix right here!

Track Guide

This is the first race since the Turn 10 redesign in Barcelona. Image: Racingcircuits.info

The Circuit de Catalunya was first used for the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix, making this year the 30th anniversary of Montmelo circuit. Constructed for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the track has also served as a popular testing venue.

Normally, the teams rock up with hundreds, if not thousands of laps under their belts here, but Bahrain hosted this year’s testing. There’s only one real passing opportunity in Barcelona, as Turn 1 follows a long DRS straight.

Turn 10 has been reprofiled and is now a more flowing entry from the previous straight. That means we can expect faster lap times, but passing will be more difficult.

Last time out

Lewis Hamilton claimed his second win in as many races in Portugal. Image: PlanetF1

Last week showed us exactly why Sir Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time Formula 1 world champion. Despite losing pole position to teammate Valtteri Bottas and falling behind Verstappen at the restart, he recovered to take his 97th victory in the sport.

Verstappen made a late stop and attempted to take the fastest lap bonus point, but fell foul of track limits. The Dutchman would finish second, with Bottas taking the fastest lap and completing the podium in third. Sergio Perez fell behind Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in the early stages, but climbed to fourth by the finish.

Norris again impressed as he remains third in the driver’s championship thanks to a fifth place finish. Charles Leclerc was a respectable sixth for Ferrari with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso coming home seventh and eighth, respectively, for Alpine.

Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth after failing to get out of Q1, while Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten positions.

Can Verstappen make up lost ground?

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been the standout performers in 2021 so far. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

For the first time since 2018, we have a real title battle between two different teams. Red Bull have begun 2021 with arguably the fastest car on the grid, but Hamilton and Mercedes have had the better of the results.

Mercedes had a better package in Portimao, but cold and windy conditions may have had a hand in that.

In more standard weather, Red Bull could well have the advantage. Furthermore, if it rains, we all know how good Verstappen is. However, we also know how good Hamilton is, so which way the advantage will swing is anybody’s guess.

Whatever the weather is on Sunday, Saturday’s qualifying will be extremely important. With only Turn 1 left as a proper passing spot, track position is paramount.

Hamilton could claim his 100th pole position in F1 this weekend, a record no driver is within 30 of his tally. To put that into more perspective, only five constructors (Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Mercedes and Lotus) have more poles than Sir Lewis.

Session times

Practice 1: 7 May               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 7 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 8 May               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 8 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Race: 9 May              14:00-16:00 (9:00-11:00 EST)

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

Grid Talk Podcast

The Grid Talk crew previewed the 2021 Spanish GP in their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Jack Watson, Louis Edwards, and Coops ran through all of the news ahead of this weekend’s race. Both video and audio versions of the show are linked below:

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