Author Archives: Louis Edwards

F1 2021 Russian Grand Prix: Qualifying report: Norris takes his first pole in tricky conditions

Rain stopped play earlier this morning as the thunder storms rolled over the Sochi Autodrome. No running in the morning gave this session a bit more mystery to the outcome. But one thing was for sure, Max Verstappen would not be on pole.

Verstappen had taken a completely new engine for this race and would start at the back of the grid. The same would happen for Charles Leclerc as well.

The rain had cleared in time for qualifying so the session could start on time, so let’s get straight into the qualifying action!

Q1

The rain had ended, and it was time for Q1.

Most drivers opted for the intermediate tyres, but with no running in the wet on this track Fernando Alonso went for a set of the wet tyres.

Not been a great weekend for Giovinazzi as he went for a spin. Managed to keep it out of the wall today. Credit :F1

With no rain expected throughout the session, the track was getting faster with every car that went round.

Even though the grip was improving, it wasn’t easy for all drivers. Sergio Perez struggled on his first lap and was well off the pace of Pierre Gasly who was fastest after the first run of laps.

Antonio Giovinazzi also wasn’t having the best time in the damp conditions. He was a bit too eager on the accelerator and spun his car on the exit of turn 16. He was lucky not to collect Charles Leclerc who wasn’t far behind the Alfa Romeo, but Leclerc was able to continue on his way.

Normality started to restore as the session went on. Hamilton topped the timing sheets with Bottas behind, but behind the two flying Mercedes, the order was far from normal.

Latifi was up in 6th, ahead of both Ferraris and McLarens. But most importantly the elimination zone was looking much more familiar. With the exception of Verstappen who was not participating, it was the two Alfa Romeos and the Haas cars who occupied the bottom four.

Russell looked to be the only one in danger of dropping into the bottom five, only two tenths of a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Russell went faster and it gave him 1.3 seconds faster than Raikkonen which would be enough to see him safe as the iceman dropped out of qualifying. Schumacher was also improving but it wasn’t enough either.

Both Williams through to Q2.

Eliminated: Raikkonen (16th), Schumacher (17th), Giovinazzi (18th), Mazepin (19th), Verstappen (20th)

Q2

Q2 started and it was the intermediate tyres once again. We saw the track performance start to improve through Q1, but it looked as though the wet tyres would be here to stay through Q2.

Lewis seemed to have the edge on Bottas through Quali, but we would have to see what Q3 offered. Credit :F1

Lando Norris didn’t seem to have any fear of the wet conditions after his big crash in Spa as he put in a mega effort to be only 0.158 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton after his first run. The same couldn’t be said for Daniel Ricciardo. He was 1.3 off Lando and just couldn’t put a decent lap together.

Bottas had a moment at turn 2 on his first lap which hindered his first flying lap, but on his second attempt he went straight to the top of the timing sheets.

But it wasn’t for long as Lewis fought back to go a tenth faster than the Finn. Lewis didn’t stop there as he went even faster to put in the best position going into Q3

Williams chose a weird strategy with Nicholas Latifi. Latifi was sat in the pits for a long time before he was allowed out on track to set a lap time. He would only get a single flying lap to see what he could do.

He would have to jump Tsunoda, Sainz, Russell and Ricciardo if he wanted to get into Q3. Both Sainz and Ricciardo went faster.

George Russell put in a mega time to go 9th fastest and push Sebastian Vettel out of Q2. Carlos Sainz was very fortunate that Tsunoda couldn’t improve and Latifi didn’t set a lap time and scraped through.

Eliminated: Vettel (11th), Gasly (12th), Tsunoda (13th), Latifi (14th), Leclerc (15th)

Q3

Q3 time and still the intermediate tyres were still the preferred tyre for all the drivers. But there was a clear line that was drying. The track was cold so it would be a tricky task, but it could be worth a go.

Lando Norris took his first pole in Formula One. Credit: F1

Russell was the first to tell his team to prepare slick tyres and as the cars were going round, it was clear to see that the level of spray in most parts of the tracks was little to none.

But all drivers committed to do a banker lap on the intermediate tyres to get a time on the board.

It was Lewis Hamilton who was on provisional pole position, with Lando Norris ahead of Bottas in second. Alonso was in 4th place.

Russell was the first to change for the soft tyres and would be able to complete the most amount of laps.

The rest of the field started to follow suit with the McLarens and the Alpines straight onto a set of the softs.

Mercedes looked to leave it late and this went from bad to worse as Hamilton hit the wall on the entry to the pits and broke his front wing. It looked like it would cost him precious time to get out there and get some temperature in his tyres.

It would come down to the final laps to set faster times as the green sectors started to creep in.

Ocon failed to improve. Stroll did improve. Sainz went fastest.

Lando went purple in the middle sector and put his McLaren on pole position ahead of his old team-mate. In third place was George Russell who judged the session to perfection to put his car in a brilliant position.

Hamilton spun on his final lap and could not improve his lap.

Full classification

F1 2021 Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying report: Advantage Bottas for the Sprint race

F1 takes a second bite of the sprint qualifying cherry this weekend. Just like at Silverstone this means qualifying for the sprint race is on Friday.

We only had the single practice session to judge the cars going into this session and it looked like Lewis Hamilton could run away with it, but we had to see what would come.

Let’s get straight into the action.

Q1

Qualifying brings traffic in Monza, so the Ferrari’s were wasting no time to get onto the track to get a lap onto the board. Leclerc didn’t have great time on this first flying lap, complaining of brake issues. His lap put him behind both Williams cars, faster only than the Haas.

Traffic is a problem at Monza as Gasly found a Ferrari parked on the apex of Ascari. Credit: F1

Lando Norris was on it after a subdued free practice and went four tenths faster than Max Verstappen. Verstappen had a little trip into the gravel on the exit of the second chicane which put him down the order.

Both Mercedes drivers went straight to the the top of the times as expected.

The Monza mayhem started early in Q1 with Max being caught up in heavy traffic on his second run and both Alpines having to slalom through traffic on their flying laps.

Williams looked to play it smart towards the end of the session and get their cars out early before mob emerged. Russell could only get 11th and Latifi 13th, so it would a tense final minute for Williams.

Both Aston Martins cars were in danger of dropping out, but two huge efforts from Vettel and Stroll made sure they were safe. Also, a late charge from Alonso made sure he progressed to Q2.

It looked as though both Williams cars were out, but Tsunoda’s lap time was deleted and dropped him into 17th. This meant George was promoted to 15th and would be in Q2.

Eliminated: Latifi (16th), Tsunoda (17th), Schumacher (18th), Kubica (19th), Mazepin (20th)

Q2

Leclerc’s issues from Q1 followed him into Q2. The issues with his brakes seemed to be a cause for concern for Ferrari, however they sent him out to see what he could do.

Silly scenes in the pit-lane as drivers went for their second runs.

The alarming difference between Red Bull and Mercedes this weekend was emphasised in this session as Hamilton was over seven tenths faster.

Both McLarens and Pierre Gasly separated Verstappen from the Mighty Mercs at the front.

Antonio Giovinazzi was going incredibly well in his Alfa Romeo. He almost matched Verstappen’s time after his first run and was looking for another Q3 appearance at his home race.

Leclerc was 9th despite his brake issues, and it was going to be a big second run for Carlos Sainz as he was sat in 13th place.

The Monza mayhem kicked off in the put lane at the end of Q2 as the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel was released into the path of Hamilton. Vettel was also lucky not to hit both a Aston Martin and Alpine mechanic. The fact there wasn’t an accident was a miracle.

But on the track the drivers were out for their final flying laps.

Perez manged to improve his lap time and he would scrape through in 10th place as both Ferrari’s found themselves into Q3.

Antonio Giovinazzi was 7th after a great effort, but for Aston Martin, both of their drivers were out, despite an improvement from Vettel on his second lap.

Neither Alpine drivers could do any better and were eliminated.

Eliminated: Vettel (11th), Stroll (12th), Alonso (13th), Ocon (14th), Russell (15th)

Q3

The drivers emerged for Q3 and it looked as though 1st and 2nd were already sorted so the battle for 3rd was there for anyone to take.

Norris bounced back after a poor qualifying in Zandvoort to put himself in a great spot for the sprint tomorrow. Credit F1

Lando Norris has been looking very fast in his McLaren, putting his car 3rd in both sessions before.

Bottas had a bit of a moment through the gravel which put him down the order and it allowed Verstappen to be in 2nd and only 0.017 seconds off Hamilton on provisional “pole”.

Lando Norris was also within a tenth of Hamilton, only 0.065 seconds off Hamilton. Ricciardo in the other McLaren also put in a great lap to go 4th, crucially ahead of Bottas.

Perez in the other Red Bull was not on the pace of his team-mate. He could only do as well as 9th, behind both Ferraris and only ahead of Giovinazzi.

It was the two Red Bulls who were out first as Perez was sacrificed as the leader of the tow train. Behind him was Max Verstappen.

Bottas, Hamilton and Norris planted themselves as the back of the line. We would see how these tactics who play out.

Max was down on his first sector and then his second sector was down again. It was Gasly who was taking advantage of the two Red Bulls in front. Verstappen couldn’t improve his lap, but Bottas was purple in all sectors and went four tenths clear at the top. Lewis fell short of his team-mate by a tenth of a second.

Lando Norris improved his time but could not jump Max Verstappen so he would only be fourth.

Bottas will be on pole for tomorrow’s sprint race.

Final classification

With so many investigations, this could change.

F1 2021 Dutch GP – QUalifying report: Max takes pole at his first home race!

It’s been a delayed by a year, but finally we get to see Formula One cars take to the Zandvoort track foe qualifying.

Max Verstappen finally got to the top of the timing sheets in FP3 and looked to be the driver to beat. But with Zandvoort being a new track, it was still unclear how the rest of the grid would form up.

But for the first time 36 years, it was time for qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix.

Q1

After Kimi Raikkonen’s positive Covid-19 test, Robert Kubica was now taking his place in the Alfa Romeo. After his first run, he was faster than both Haas cars.

Vettel almost speared into the back of Nikita Mazepin as he met a Haas blockade. Credit: F1

Carlos Sainz was also back out of track after a heavy shunt in FP3. The Ferrari’s were looking quick in Practice and Leclerc was 4th after his first run. Sainz was 17th after his first run, but he improved all the way up to 8th on his second run.

Mercedes opted for the Medium tyres for their first runs and Lewis Hamilton was only 0.15 seconds off Max Verstappen who set his time on the softs.

Both Williams cars looked very competitive in the midfield with both Russell and Latifi looking fast. It was Aston Martin who seemed to be in trouble after the first runs and it didn’t get better.

Stroll could not get out of the bottom five after his second run while Vettel was right on the edge of danger.

Daniel Ricciardo was in real danger of dropping out, but he managed to recover and put his McLaren in 9th. Norris scraped through in 15th.

Sergio Perez could not get a second run in and as the track ramped up, the drivers behind were all able to put in faster lap time and he was eliminated.

Sebastian Vettel was also not able to complete his final flying lap as he was blocked by Nikita Mazepin as Vettel approached the final corner. He was out, but his team-mate Lance Stroll was able to escape and move into Q2.

Eliminated: Perez (16th), Vettel (17th), Kubica (18th), Schumacher (19th), Mazepin (20th)

Q2

No medium tyres for Max Verstappen as he emerged for Q2.

Russell pushed a bit too hard and found himself in the gravel, bringing out the red flag. Credit:F1

Mercedes had opted for Medium tyres in Q1, but this time they also went for the soft tyres. Both Mercedes drivers could not get anywhere near Verstappen. Hamilton was over 6 tenths off Verstappen with Bottas another tenth off Lewis.

Lando Norris did not look comfortable in his McLaren. His first run was slower than both Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo and George Russell in the Williams.

McLaren’s rivals, Ferrari, were looking very fast. Leclerc topped Q1 and put his Ferrari above both Mercedes and into 2nd place.

Pierre Gasly also managed to leapfrog the Mercedes cars, nearly two tenths of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton. After one run he already looked comfortably into Q3.

It looked even more comfortable when George Russel spun out on the final corner and brought out the red flag with just under four minutes to go. Luckily for Russell the car was not damaged and he was able to drive out of the gravel and bring his car back to the pits.

This put a lot of pressure on the likes of Lando Norris and other drivers towards the back to get a lap in.

But they wouldn’t get a lap in anyway. Nicolas Latifi in the other Williams crashed out with just over a minute and a half left. The red flag was brought out and the session would not restart. This was great news for Antonio Giovinazzi as he would progress to Q3.

Eliminated: Russell (11th), Stroll (12th), Norris (13th), Latifi (14th), Tsunoda (15th)

Q3

It didn’t look like anyone could touch Max Verstappen and it looked to be the case again from the start of Q3. He was 3 tenths faster than both Mercedes drivers.

Bottas was able to pip Hamilton by about half a tenth. Lewis’ lap was a little scrappy and couldn’t get a clean lap together, but despite that, he would have still been behind Max.

Ferrari were looking quick, but Pierre Gasly managed to go faster than them both and put his AlphaTauri in 4th place.

Giovinazzi had done an impressive run after his first run by putting himself in 8th, ahead of Ricciardo in 9th and Ocon in 10th.

As the drivers came out to do their final runs, it was going to be a big job for Mercedes to take pole off Max Verstappen.

Gasly held off the charge from the Ferrari’s and held onto fourth place. Giovinazzi improved his place and overtook Alonso for 7th place.

Max Verstappen improved his lap by half a tenth on his second run and this would prove to be crucial as Lewis was only 0.038 seconds off taking Pole off to home hero. Bottas couldn’t improve and will start 3rd.

Max is on pole and we have a great race on our hands for tomorrow.

Full classification

2021 Dutch Grand Prix – FP1&FP2 report: Lewis loses power as Max struggles at home

Formula One returns to Zandvoort for the first time since 1985. With the banked corners and rolling hills, it was going to be a great spectacle to watch.

Verstappen fans were out in force for his first ever home Grand Prix and the stands were packed full of people.

But let’s get straight into the Friday action.

FP1

Formula One cars emerged onto the Zandvoort track for the first time in 36 years and it was Yuki Tsunoda who was the first to be caught out on the new track. He spun his car round only 2 minutes into the session. He is the only driver not to race on this track in any category so this was the last thing he needed.

Tsunoda goes for another spin early in the morning session. Credit: F1

But things were even worse for Sebastian Vettel who had an engine failure only 15 minutes into the session and brought out the red flag.

Vettel was straight out of the car and rushed to get the fire extinguisher. Fireman Seb was on hand to put his car out.

The red flag last for just over 35 minutes as marshalled worried the car was still live and needed Aston Martin mechanics to make sure that it was all okay to be recovered.

This left only seven minutes for drivers to get any running in and rivers were all quick to get out on track.

Traffic was an issue coming into the final corner which Lando Norris found out the hard way. He looked to pass Ocon to start a flying lap, however, Ocon was looking at a Red Bull on his right and was looking to get out of the way of them. Norris went of Ocon’s left and three don’t go into one and Norris was pushed slightly onto the grass.

But once the dust had settled and the drivers got their runs completed, it was Lewis Hamilton who topped the timing sheets. Verstappen was second, less than a tenth of a second behind his title rival.

Both Ferrari’s were only a tenth off Lewis too with Sainz and Leclerc in 3rd and 4th respectively.

FP2

The start of second practice was mysteriously delayed by five minutes with no reason given by the stewards.

Lewis Hamilton’s session ended with a loss of power. How could this affect his weekend? Credit:F1

The drivers were eager to get out as soon as possible, given the lack of running they got in the morning session.

It looked like the afternoon session was looking to imitate the morning session as Lewis Hamilton this time was plagued with engine trouble.

The red flag this time did not last and drivers were back on track in no time. However, for Hamilton, this would be the end of his session.

Bottas was now Mercedes’ guinea pig and they sent him out on a set of soft tyres to get some quick runs in so the team had some data with no Lewis out on track.

The red flag helped Sebastian Vettel as he returned to the track not long after the green flag was waved.

Many of the drivers were settling into their quali and long runs, but it came to a halt once again when Nikita Mazepin went too hot into turn 11 and beached his car into the gravel.

Max Verstappen was getting very frustrated as he was still yet to set a competitive lap time. When the track went green again, he was straight out but could only go fifth fastest.

It was Ferrari who has both of their cars at the top of the timing sheets. Esteban Ocon put his alpine in 3rd place. Bottas could only get 4th, but he was ahead of Max Verstappen.

Ferrari look like contenders

Ferrari were quick in both sessions and looked to be taking the fight to Red Bull and Mercedes.

Ferrari topped the second practice. Could they be on the podium this weekend? Credit: F1

They currently sit only a few points behind McLaren in the constructors championships and looked comfortably faster than McLaren in both session.

Zandvoort seemed like a track that would be tough for Ferrari, given the lack of slow speed corners. The results of the practice sessions looked to mimic that of the Hungarian Grand Prix, a track that Ferrari looked quick at and could have got a better result if not for incidents in Qualifying and the race.

Qualifying tomorrow is going to be very important. With the lack of overtaking opportunities, getting as far up on the grid could yield a lot of points.

Ferrari will be hoping that they carry this momentum into the rest of the weekend.

FP1 Classification

Credit: F1

FP2 Classification

Chelsea Column: Could this be the start of a Title winning season?

Football is back. The Premier League is back, which means that my monthly Chelsea columns are back.

Chelsea are the reigning European champions which means that expectations have never been higher and there will be a lot more pressure of Tuchel this season.

The Premier League seems to be the target set by the fans, and given how Chelsea have strengthened over the summer, it looks like it could be in reach.

While I have been cynical on Chelsea’s chance, the last month has given me an insight on what could be a great season for Chelsea.

Have Chelsea already proven themselves championship worthy?

Chelsea have taken seven points from their first three games, breezing past Arsenal, and getting a crucial draw at Liverpool.

Kai Havertz got his first goal of the season against Liverpool. Credit: NBC

After going down to 10 men and conceding a penalty away to Liverpool, it did look as though Liverpool would run away with the game in the second half. However, Chelsea dug deep and held on.

Liverpool threw everything they had at Chelsea and a defiant defence stopped Liverpool getting a winner. Despite being a man down, it didn’t stop Chelsea getting forward and almost winning it themselves.

That result shows how far Tuchel has brought this Chelsea in the 8 months that he has been in charge. The Chelsea of old would have failed to keep Liverpool at bay, but the discipline in the defence is going to make it incredibly difficult for any team to score against Chelsea.

This goes to show that the result against Liverpool could be the result that defines them as Championship contenders this season, more so than the cruising victory over Arsenal.

Lukaku showed in that Arsenal game just how much of a difference he is going to make. Watching Werner linger offside and miss sitters was very painful last season. Lukaku kept himself onside and bullied the defence.

He did the same against Liverpool and if it wasn’t for some poor decisions in the final third, he could have scored a couple.

Chelsea have all the ingredients to do it, but there are still 35 games remaining and anything could happen.

Another fortunate Champions League draw

Next month, Chelsea will start their defence of their Champions League title. Considering the last time they failed to get out of the group stages, I’ll be hoping for better this time around.

Trevor Chalobah has burst into the Chelsea squad with two impressive games. Credit: Getty Images

Chelsea have been drawn against Juventus, just like in 2012, as well as Malmo FF and Zenit St. Petersburg. On paper, this should be a pretty simple group, and one that Chelsea will be expected to win.

Of course, PSG will be the favourite for the Champions League, but I wouldn’t rule out Chelsea going far in the competition again. Chelsea still have a very strong side and they are capable of beating each team in the competition.

I’m not expecting Chelsea to win the Champions League, far from it. I’ll be happy with the Quarterfinals and anything beyond that will be a bonus.

My expectation of Chelsea is just to compete in cup competitions and as long as we can do ourselves proud then I’ll be happy.

I am really looing forward to playing Juventus. It has been a long time since Chelsea have played Juve in a competitive game. With the Old Lady no longer having Ronaldo, I do believe that Chelsea have a better chance of topping the group.

I expect a big step up from English teams in the Champions League this season and I think it’s going to be very competitive, so if Chelsea can get into the quarterfinals then that will be an achievement.

What should be Chelsea’s goals for this season?

In terms of the Premier League, Chelsea have to compete for the title. People seem to think that Chelsea have to win it after the Champions League victory, but I don’t think that is the case.

Marcos Alonso kicked off Chelsea’s season with a fantastic goal against Crystal Palace. Credit: Getty.

City, United and Liverpool are all going to be very competitive this season. The battle for the league could be one of the closest amongst the top four that we have seen in a long time.

Chelsea are going to have to work hard if they want to come out on top spot, but whether or not it’s possible is still yet to be seen.

September is going to be a very tough test for Chelsea and their title hopes. First up after the international break is Aston Villa, followed by Manchester City and then Spurs. If Chelsea can go through that undefeated then their stamp on the title race will have been made.

As for domestic trophies, Tuchel will want to make up for the loss against Leicester in the FA Cup final last season. It feels like it’s been forever since Chelsea won a domestic trophy, despite being in a domestic final for the last seven seasons running.

It’s about time that someone ended City’s dominance in the EFL Cup, so that would be nice for Tuchel to get another one up on Pep.

With how good the top four in England are at the moment, it’s going to be very difficult to get any kind of double, so getting a domestic trophy will be a good season. However, I do expect Chelsea to go on a good cup run in both domestic competitions.

For Chelsea, competing for trophies has been the minimum requirement. Now that Tuchel has won the Champions League in his first season, though, winning trophies now have to become the minimum requirement

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying report: Tatics at play as Hamilton storms to pole!

It’s time for Qualifying. Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton had all topped a practice session up to this point, so it was a real toss up on who would get pole. We were promised rain, and like all weather predictions in Formula One, it never came. Instead it was scorching heat with almost clear blue skies.

Pole here is very important, but only time would tell who would get it. Let’s get into the action

Q1

For fans of Mick Schumacher, it was worrying news as his crash in FP3 meant that it looked as though he would miss Q1 as they changed the gearbox.

Carlos Sainz coming very close to an AlphaTauri. Could it be a penalty? Credit:F1

Bottas was the first of the front-runners to set a flying lap and while it was a very solid lap from the Finn, Lewis was next over the line and went 2 tenths faster. But the battle wasn’t over as Max was the last over the line, going a further 2 tenths faster than Lewis.

Perez in the other Red Bull had not had the best of weekends up to this point and on his first run, he was slower than both Gasly in the AlphaTauri and Norris in the McLaren. He was over a second slower than Verstappen.

The Ferrari’s were patient and waited before setting their first flying laps. Sainz put his car on 4th, but he was released in the path of Pierre Gasly. He darted to the inside kerb to avoid, but still likely cost Gasly some time as he would have had to run wide at turn 1.

Leclerc in the other Ferrari was not able to replicate his team-mate’s pace and could only manged 7th, 4 tenths off Sainz.

As the drivers headed out for their final runs, Mr Saturday, George Russell, was in the drop zone and seemed to be in real danger of dropping out. Latifi was a few thousandths behind him. Tsunoda was also in trouble in 16th. After a poor weekend so far, he needed to avoid being eliminated.

Russell had 4 tenths to make up to get into Q2 and it proved too much as he missed out. It is the first time this season he was eliminated in Q1.

Despite Latifi also improving, he couldn’t beat George and would qualify in 18th. With Tsunoda also out, it was good news for Alfa Romeo who got both cars into Q2. A good showing from both Alfa drivers.

Eliminated: Tsunoda (16th), Russell (17th), Latifi (18th), Mazepin (19th), Schumacher (20th).

Q2

As expected both Mercedes and Red Bull cars emerged from the pit lane on Medium tyres. The best strategy is the one-stop and with the soft tyres burning up very quickly, it was important to get these laps perfect.

Sainz providing the drama again, but this time putting himself out of qualifying with a hefty impact. Credit: F1

Interestingly Perez opted for the Medium tyres despite his struggles around this track this weekend. Perez’s lap wasn’t amazing, but he was only 2 tenths off Bottas in 3rd who didn’t have a very good lap.

Lewis drove a blinder and was over 2 tenths faster than Verstappen in 2nd and half a second faster than Bottas.

But now it was the turn of the soft tyre runners. Vettel and Gasly were able to sperate Bottas and Perez from their team-mates, and then Fernando Alonso came out of nowhere to put his Alpine in 2nd.

Ferrari took their time again and Leclerc went faster than Verstappen to put his car in 2nd, however Sainz put his car in the wall at the final corner. This brought out the red flag with 6 minutes to go. Sainz was able to keep the car running but ran over his front wing and was forced to retire.

Bottas and Perez now faced a tough choice. They either sacrifice another set of Medium tyres or use the softs to try to make sure they get through to Q3. Norris and Stroll who showed great pace in Q1 were in the danger zone and would need a big lap to get them through to Q3.

Bottas did choose to run the medium tyres again so there was no room for error for the Finn. He put in a 1:16.7 which would see him comfortably into Q3.

Verstappen switched to the soft tyres and set the fastest lap on the soft tyres which could cause some issues in the race tomorrow.

Perez also switched to the softs and went 4th, behind Norris in 2nd and Gasly in 3rd. Ocon was able to get his first Q3 appearance this season with 9th. Vettel put in a mega lap to push Daniel Ricciardo out of Q2. His Team-mate Lance Stroll could only do as well as 12th.

Eliminated: Ricciardo (11th), Stroll (12th), Raikkonen (13th), Giovinazzi (14th), Sainz (15th).

Q3

It was clear from Q1 and Q2 that the track speed was get much faster so this was going to be very tactical to get the best lap possible.

Gasly put in a great effort to qualify 5th for tomorrow’s race. Credit: AlphaTauri

After the first run of lap, it was Hamilton who put his car on provisional pole. He was half a second faster than Verstappen in 3rd place. But, it was a Mercedes front row with Both red Bull cars behind.

Leclerc was best of the rest in 5th, but only 2 tenths of a second separated Leclerc in 5th and Norris in 9th. Norris used a a set of old soft tyres.

Vettel went out on his own to set his singular lap of the session and it put him in 8th for the time being.

Some strange games were going on between Lewis and Max. Lewis was very slow through the pit-lane and then he was holing him up throughout the out lap. Lewis was in no rush to get on with it, which would have been irritating for the red bull drivers stuck behind.

This meant that Perez could not get over the line in time and was stuck in 4th.

Neither Bottas, Hamilton or Verstappen could not improve their times which locked out the front row for Mercedes.

Gasly did an amazing lap to be best of the rest ahead of Lando Norris in 5th. A great lap for Lando as he got ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

But the race was now setup for Tomorrow. It was going to be very tough race for Red Bull who have a big challenge ahead of them.

Full Classification

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want more reaction to yesterday’s qualifying session, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. Ruby Price hosted Steve Jackson and Tom Downey in their 2021 Hungarian GP qualifying analysis. Audio and video versions of the show are both available below:

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want more reaction to yesterday’s qualifying session, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. Ruby Price hosted Steve Jackson and Tom Downey in their 2021 Hungarian GP qualifying analysis. Audio and video versions of the show are both available below:

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – FP1 & FP2 report: Could Bottas upset the title fight?

After two weeks which has seemed to split the Formula One fanbase in two, it was nice to see some on-track action for a change. Lewis Hamilton is coming into this weekend hoping for his 9th win at the Hungaroring. But this track is nicknamed “Monaco without walls” and given the dominance shown by Red Bull in Monaco a few months ago, this could be another tense weekend.

Let’s get straight into the Friday action.

FP1

Max Verstappen was fast out of the gate and looking to get back at Mercedes right away. He set the initial pace on the hard tyres. Lewis Hamilton was not happy with the setup of his car. He complained of understeer and could not keep up with Max or Bottas throughout the session

Fernando Alonso turned 40 this weekend and proving that he’s still human behind the wheel. Credit: F1

The condition were very hot in Budapest and teams were hesitant to use the medium tyres. However, McLaren decided to avoid the hard tyres for Lando Norris and use the Medium tyres. An unusual move for McLaren but time will tell if this could pay off when Sunday arrives.

Kimi Raikkonen was absent from this session as Robert Kubica took over his seat. It’s always great to see Kubica behind the wheel of a Formula One car. He was responsible for much of Alfa Romeo’s running as Giovinazzi was stuck in the garage. Antonio was only able to complete five laps putting him on the back foot for the weekend.

Giovinazzi was not the only one who had trouble though as Fernando Alonso had a high-speed spin on the exit of turn 4 which saw him in the pits for a while.

But for Yuki Tsunoda his escapades at turn 4 were more session ending. With less than a third of the session remaining, Yuki got a bit greedy on the entry kerb into turn 4 which spun his car around and put him in the wall. This brought out the red flag.

After the car was cleared and the barrier was repaired, the drivers started to emerge on the soft tyres. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen almost had a little moment in the pit-lane, coming out at the same time.

But at the end of the session, it was Max Verstappen who managed to pip Bottas to the top of the timing sheets by only 0.067 seconds. Hamilton was a further tenth behind in 3rd place.

FP2

The temperature climbed up even further for the afternoon session and the teams looked to make the most of it. 19 out of the 20 cars were all out on track within the first few minutes of the session. Most teams opted for the Medium tyres to gauge their qualifying and race potential.

Lewis Hamilton looked better in the afternoon session, but still lost out to Bottas on Quali runs. Credit: F1

But while Tsunoda was stuck in the garage after his crash, Gasly was out putting on a good show in the other AlphaTauri. He put his car in 5th place early in the session. Tsunoda’s car required a new gearbox and and whole new rear-end. It would be a push to get him out before the end of the session.

Out on track though, it was Lewis Hamilton who set the early pace. After some balance issues in the morning session, he looked to be a bit more comfortable.

Max was complaining that he was still having some balance issues from the morning session. But he wasn’t far off the Mercedes pair in third as the teams now switched the focus to qualifying runs.

Bottas came alive and managed to get ahead of Hamilton by 0.027 seconds. Verstappen waited a little longer to do his qualifying run, but Max’s run was far from clean. A clean last sector saw him nearly 3 tenths off Bottas and Hamilton. Far from ideal.

Esteban Ocon was showing some resurgence by putting his Alpine in 4th place, ahead of Sergio Perez, who didn’t look comfortable over both sessions, nearly half a second off Max Verstappen.

With only 2 minutes to go, Tsunoda left the garage and he would only be able to set a single flying lap. It was far from an impressive time, only managing to get his car in 17th place. It would be a big day for him tomorrow.

Why does Tsunoda keep crashing?

This is now the fourth time in 12 races that Yuki Tsunoda has brought out the red flag. With results not being the best as well, a lot of doubts are starting to dwell on Yuki’s place in Formula One.

Yuki hit the wall hard with his crash and meant it was a delayed start for him in FP2. Credit: F1

Of course, he is the youngest driver on the grid and this is his first season in Formula One, so you have to give him some leniency in his performance.

But while we mock Nikita Mazepin for some of his antics on tracks this season, Yuki has not been much better with his crashes.

Now, I do not believe that Yuki should be chucked out of his seat at AlphaTauri because he clearly has a lot of pace and potential, but he just needs to start being more consistent and keep his car out of the wall. The Summer break could be crucial for Yuki to reset and go again.

FP1 Full classification

FP2 Full classification

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content before the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend? Check out the Grid Talk Hungarian Grand Prix Prixview! This week George Howson is joined by Philip Mathew, Jack Watson and Alex Booth. Both video and audio versions of the show are down below:

2021 British Grand Prix – Sprint Qualifying report: Max takes pole as Perez spins out

Ever since this was announced, we have eagerly waiting to see how this sprint qualifying would work. This was a best test for the drivers and Formula One.

It was a very strange to see the cars lining up on the grid, but as the “race” got closer, it was very exciting as this was a step into the unknown for Formula One.

This race would be only 17 laps long and will set the grid for the actual race tomorrow. The top three drivers will receive three, two and one points respectively.

So let’s get into the action for the very first sprint qualifying.

Split choice of the tyres

It was a scorching day at Silverstone and the sun was shining on a very hot track. I would have made sense to start the race on the medium tyres, but it was not the case for all driver. Bottas, both Alpines and Kimi Raikkonen decided to start on the soft tyres.

it would be a risk for Mercedes to put Bottas on the soft tyres but they needed to be aggressive to get ahead of Max Verstappen off the start.

It was the same case for the Alpine cars who would want both of their drivers as high up the order as possible to have the best chance of scoring points in tomorrow’s race.

A very punchy start

Max’s brakes were on fire and so was Max.

Mercedes’ gamble didn’t pay off at the start as Verstappen flew past Lewis Hamilton at the start. He had the lead by turn 1. he was under pressure from Bottas, but managed to keep his teammate behind as he started on his persuit of the lead.

Hamilton first looked to make a move down the Wellington straight, but Verstappen just managed to hold on. Lewis wasn’t finished there though. Lewis lined up his next move on the run up to Copse corner. He looked to the outside, but Max held the inside line and held onto the lead.

That was not the only drama on the opening lap. Carlos Sainz and George Russell had a coming together through Brooklands. This put Sainz all the way down in 19th place.

Mazepin also found himself facing the wrong way and he collided with his team-mate.

But not all drivers fell backwards. Vintage Fernando Alonso came back to life at the start and made up six places on the opening lap. He was in 5th place at the end of lap 1 with both McLarens and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez bearing down on him.

Alonso fought hard, but couldn’t hold on

People who worried about the lack of overtaking and action must have been delighted with Fernando Alonso.

Lando Norris was hounding the Spaniard, and despite Alonso weaving down the Hangar straight and did everything he could to keep Norris behind, Lando found his way past with a great move down the inside of turn 3.

Next was Daniel Ricciardo. Alonso did all he could to keep the Australian behind, but Ricciardo looked to make a move similar to his teammate going into turn 3. Alonso had the inside covered which forced Daniel to the outside. Daniel made the move stick into the loop and took 6th place. Alonso wasn’t done though. He had a go at Ricciardo going through Brooklands and Luffield, but Daniel held on.

Alonso was now under pressure from Sebastian Vettel in the the Aston Martin, but this time he did not buckle and held off Vettel to qualify in 6th place for tomorrow’s race.

Carlos Sainz makes a good recovery

Being 19th after lap 1 of the sprint race is never ideal, but he did a great job to get his Ferrari back up the order.

He was making some amazing moves as he battled through the field. A notable move from Carlos was overtaking Kimi Raikkonen around the outside of Copse corner. An incredibly brave move in a normal Grand Prix and it was more brave today given short the race is and how much is at stake.

His move on Gasly for 11th place was also impressive. He couldn’t make the move into Stowe, but piled on the pressure through the Vale chicane and got the cutback through Club and got the move done as they crossed the line.

Usually 11th place wouldn’t be the worst place to start the race as you would get free choice of tyres, but that isn’t the case this weekend as all drivers will get a free choice of tyres, so it’s going to be tougher for Carlos to make up those places.

Mixed bag for Red Bull

Well it was Max Verstappen who took control from lap 1 to take pole position for the race tomorrow. but the other Red Bull will be starting from the very back.

As Perez was chasing down Ricciardo and Alonso, he overcooked it on the throttle as he was going through chapel and spun out of the race. He was incredibly fortunate to just miss the barrier, but it put him all the way at the back of the field.

He did recover to 18th before he was forced to retire from the race with a single lap to go. It’s going to be a tall order for Perez to make his way through the field in tomorrow’s race.

As for Max, he now has a huge upper hand on the Mercedes. Lewis really struggled with blistering, and while Max’s tyres also blistered, they were in a better condition than Lewis’ at the end of the race.

with temperatures expected to rise again for the race, it looks to be advantage Max Verstappen. However, with Perez at the back, hw will be under threat from Hamilton and Bottas behind.

Full classification

F1 2021 Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying report – Max takes pole, but Lando in 2nd!

It was a close battle between Max Verstappen and the two Mercedes, but for the second weekend in a row they would have to fight it around the Red Bull ring.

Coming into qualifying it was still unclear who would take pole. Mercedes had shown some great pace in Friday quali sims, but Max topped the time sheets in FP3 this morning.

Let’s get straight into how qualifying unfolded!

Q1

The Max Verstappen fans were out in full force as qualifying got underway. The track temperature was scorching so it would be a true test to keep the tyres in a good operating window.

Daniel Ricciardo was a long way off Norris once again as he scrapes into Q2. Credit: McLaren

Traffic was a cause for concern as Mercedes got right onto the FIA to make sure no one would hold up their cars through turns 9 and 10. The Haas cars wasted no time and got their laps done early. There was no point wasting time as they knew they would be out in this session.

As expected it was Verstappen who set the initial pace, 0.25 seconds ahead of Hamilton in second place. Behind the Mercedes it was very close between Sainz, Norris and Perez. All drivers fighting for fourth place.

Aston Martin and AlphaTauri took a different approach, doing their first lot of laps on the Medium tyres. It worked very well for Aston Martin as Sebastian Vettel put his car in 11th after his first flying lap. AlphaTauri were more worried as Gasly had his lap time removed and Tsunoda could only do as well as 14th.

The surprise of the session was when Fernando Alonso rocketed up the standings and sat in 3rd place. An amazing performance given Ocon was in the danger zone after the first lot of runs.

It only got worse for Ocon as he failed to get out of the bottom five and will start the race in in 17th. Also out were both Haas cars, Latifi and Kimi Raikkonen. Dnaiel Ricciardo scraped through to Q2 by the skin of his teeth while Lando Norris was 2nd fastest.

Eliminated: Raikkonen (16th), Ocon (17th), Latifi (18th), Schumacher (19th), Mazepin (20th)

Q2

The cars emerged for Q2 and it was unsurprising to see that the top teams headed out on the medium tyres.

Fernando Alonso onboard as he came across Sebastian Vettel in the final corner. Credit: F1.

It felt as though I was playing the F1 game as all the cars came out at the same time. When Lewis was setting his first lap time, he was met with four cars at turn 9. Luckily for Lewis, they kept out of the way. But his lap time was still not good enough to top the time sheets.

His lap time wasn’t good enough for 2nd place either. Lando Norris put his McLaren in 2nd , Perez was in third and Sebastian Vettel was in third. Granted, he was on the soft tyres, but it was a mighty effort from the four-time world champion.

Aston Martin had shown great pace with Stroll also in the top 10 after the first runs. That pace was worrying for Ferrari who could only do as well as 11th and 12th on the Medium tyres.

Ferrari would not be deterred as they persevered with the medium tyres for their final run. But it would be for nought as they couldn’t improve on their positions. They were beaten by George Russell who managed to get his Williams on the top 10, and most importantly, it was on the medium tyres. A brilliant job by George.

Fernando Alonso was looking to replicate his Q1 pace, but he was held up at the final corner by Sebastian Vettel. Alonso was furious and it denied him a place in Q3. This would be taken to the stewards.

Eliminated: Giovinazzi (15th), Alonso (14th), Ricciardo (13th), Leclerc (12th), Sainz (11th).

Q3

It was now time for the shoot-out!

Max Verstappen had been the pace setter for every session so far and it was no different after the first runs in Q3. The two Mercedes cars could not keep up and they couldn’t even go faster than Lando Norris who did an amazing job to put his McLaren in 2nd place.

George Russell qualified in 9th place, Mr Saturday indeed. Credit: Williams F1

Perez was behind the Mercedes in 5th followed by Gasly in 6th, replicating his qualifying position from last weekend. Vettel was in 7th after the first runs and the Ferrari drivers would want to keep an eye on where he would end up as his likely penalty could promote them to the top 10.

It was going to be a tense final run as Mercedes needed it to be perfect. But it would not be Mercedes who would make this session interesting.

Lando Norris found some great pace to go purple in the first sector. Max wasn’t improving and Lando was chipping away as Max’s lap time bit by bit. In the end it wouldn’t be enough for the young Brit as he missed out by half a tenth of a second.

Perez jumped both Mercedes to round out the top 3. Hamilton could only get 4th place and Bottas would line up behind him in 5th.

But I have to take off my hat to George Russell who jumped Stroll right at the end to qualify 9th place. With the potential for Vettel getting a penalty, he could start in 8th. We will not be jinxing him on this website

Full classification

2021 Austrian GP – Have Mercedes found an edge on Red Bull?- FP1 & FP2 report

Some may not see the point of doing another day of practice at a track that had held a Grand Prix only five days ago, but here we are for the second part of the Austrian double header.

It was a much tougher day than most expected with may drivers struggling to find their feet early on. The tyre compounds are a step softer this weekend compared to last so there was much still to figure out for a lot of team.

So, let’s get straight into the action.

FP1

Several teams had opted to run their test drivers in the morning session. Guanyu Zhou stepped in for Fernando Alonso for Alpine; Callum Ilott got his first outing this season as test driver for alfa Romeo; and Roy Nissany made his hundredth appearance in the Williams, stepping in for George Russell.

Stroll narrowly avoiding the wall on the exit of turn 10. Credit: F1.

Red bull continued from where they left off last weekend as Max Verstappen topped the timing charts. However, teams were running various programmes during first practice.

Mercedes looked as though they were focusing on long runs. But, when Mercedes did attempt to do some quicker runs, they were plagued by tyre issues. Lewis Hamilton complained that he could not get the tyres switched on. This saw both Lewis and Valterri running wide at turn 1 as they attempted a fast lap.

Mercedes were not the only ones struggling with the soft tyre though. Stroll had two big moments which saw him off the track. First, he dipped his tyre into the gravel on the exit of turn 6 which sent him into a spin. After some drifting on the grass, he got back going again.

The second time almost ended in disaster as he completely lost the rear coming out of the final corner. He was lucky to keep it out of the barrier, but it was far from encouraging for Stroll and Aston Martin.

But the common theme of this session was Nikita Mazepin. He couldn’t help himself by getting in the way of both Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. Raikkonen almost ran into the back of Mazepin as he entered the pit-lane and made his feelings very clear with a hand gesture to the Russian.

As for Hamilton, Mazepin was crawling around turn 3 and almost turned in on the seven-time world champion. Quick reactions from Mazepin meant that he didn’t cause a crash.

But this would all be forgotten as the drivers focused on FP2.

FP2

There were reports of rain at the very start of the session, but it wasn’t anything to worry about as it was very light.

Many drivers chose to run Pirelli’s prototype tyres at the start of the second practice session. Pirelli were testing a new, tougher hard tyre with hopes to use them at Silverstone. Despite not taking the flak for the Baku blowouts, it’s clear they will be doing something about it.

Hamilton struggling in the damp conditions late on in the session. Credit: F1

Ferrari had some nagging issues in the morning session despite their quick times, and these issues crept up again in the afternoon. Leclerc had a scary moment at turn 9 in the early part of the session. His rear stepped out on him as he turned it. Luckily for the Monegasque he managed to catch it, but the Ferrari certainly looks a handful.

Half-way through the session and the attention turned away from long runs and into quali runs. It was the two Mercedes who took the top two steps with Verstappen two tenths off Hamilton’s time.

There were a few surprises as well as both Aston Martins looked very quick. Both AlphaTauri’s were showing the pace from last weekend as well.

As the session came into it’s final third, the rain started to pick up. It only came a week late. Their is a potential for rain during the race and drivers continued to run to get a good idea of how far they could run while the rain was coming down.

This did mean that we were not going to see anymore flashy laps as the teams sent of their drivers to gather data about the wet conditions.

But when you go out on a damp track on slick tyres, you can expect some drivers to find it difficult to keep their car on the track. Lewis Hamilton was the first victim of the damp conditions as he ran off the track on the exit of turn 4. After a trip through the gravel he was able to re-join the track and continue on his way.

Norris was the second victim as he lost the rear on the exit of turn 1. He managed to avoid the barrier and get his car facing the right way. His tyres were nicely flat spotted and with only a few minutes remaining, he was forced to change his tyres

Ferrari continued their strong form

Ferrari showed great race pace last weekend despite a poor qualifying. It looks like it could be the same again this weekend.

Charles Leclerc out on the Pirelli prototype tyres. Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

The long-run pace that they showed in FP1 was very impressive and even though the tyres are a step softer this weekend, Ferrari will be ones to watch in the race.

The quali simulations in FP2 only saw Sainz in 11th and Leclerc in 16th, but I expect that when Qualifying comes round tomorrow, the red cars won’t be that low down.

Ferrari are only 12 points behind McLaren in the constructors championship and if they can get another great result this weekend then they are going to be right with them. Ricciardo had another difficult day with McLaren and it looks as though it will be a long weekend for him.

Ferrari will need to pounce of this, and I think they could do it again this weekend.

FP1 Classification

Credit: F1

FP2 Classification

Grid Talk podcast

Want to get some more build up to the weekend? The Grid Talk crew previewed this weekend’s Grand Prix in their latest podcasted. This week Louis Edwards hosted Owain Medford, Garry Sloan and Tom Downey. Both the audio and video links are below so make sure to check it out.

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