Author Archives: Dev Tyagi

What is Kieron Pollard’s legacy?

“Impact” – That’s perhaps the single most important thing about any sportsman; how can he impact a contest? 

It’s the currency sportsmen deal in. It’s the basis for their selection in a team. This is also the cause for which they fight and sweat it out. 

Lewis Hamilton’s impact in Formula 1 is that he made winning a habit. So utterly dominant was he until 2020 (from the onset of 2014) that he made the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull merely banal participants in the fastest form of motor-racing on earth. 

Similarly, Rafael Nadal’s impact can be gauged by the way he devoured – and still does- opponents on the clay turf. There’s no better athlete on the red surface than the ‘King of Clay!’

But as a famous career comes to an end in the world of cricket, one’s compelled to ask what was the true impact of Kieron Pollard?

A big man with a big legacy

There’ll be many who’ll be quick to point to his 99 sixes in the T20 internationals. Others will state his powerful batting that contributed to the 2012 team that lifted the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. If you were to separate Pollard from the narrative statistics paint, though, you’ll notice that his true impact in the sport was fear. 

It’s what transformed  Kieron Pollard the person into the cult of the personality we know today. Pollard brought fear into the minds of the opposition. Pollard made bowlers conscious. He was utterly unafraid of stepping down even to fast bowlers. 

He backed himself to go for those big strokes that have today become famous depictions of the mayhem he caused with the bat. The blows he hit against one and all; whether a Malinga or Watson, Dananjaya or Bumrah, McBrine or Saini, Afridi or Maxwell, Boult or Jordan. 

All have suffered the Pollard plight. The West Indies, meanwhile, have lorded many a time on Pollard’s ferocity. It’s in this impact where part of the Kieron Pollard success story lies. 

Few have gone on to extract as much from a truly behemoth physicality as the right hander. At 6’5”, you were intimidated by Kieron Pollard’s presence around you, forget the feeling he hit you with when you landed anything in ‘the slot’ or too short for his comfort. 

Just the kind of man you didn’t want to be stuck-hypothetically speaking- in an elevator with. The game, well and truly speaking, wasn’t over for as long as Pollard was at the crease. 

How good is Pollard?

Make no mistake, Pollard was no master of technique akin to a Kallis, Jayawardene or Dravid, the Wall. He didn’t wield a watertight technique that could suppress a bowling attack. Nor was he gifted much like Lara or Chanderpaul, his famous compatriots, to focus for long hours at the crease. 

Much of what Pollard did- 3 ODI centuries, 19 white-ball fifties, 4275 runs, 224 caps for West Indies- was down to brute power and quick judgement of length. 

Image: IndiaTV News

He was the mayhem maker; that he arrived in T20 cricket with a huge six in New Zealand and ended his favoured format, one where he struck almost 1600 runs, with a boundary against India, offers sufficient evidence that Pollard was power and stroke play. 

That was his true impact. The fact that he was ready to take you on. Someone who switched quite comfortably into the battle mode. 

Very often that was much to the surprise of the opposition that would think that a quiet start – say 0 from 4 deliveries- would also end the over quietly, which is where he’d lift the slower leg spin easily over long on for a 90-metre six and suddenly you’d read the scoreboard- Pollard 6*(6). 

What contributed to Pollard’s success is that he backed himself to clear the ropes at any given point in the match. That 970 of his 1569 T20I runs for West Indies, which is more than half of this share of runs, came only through fours and sixes is evidence of Pollard’s brute strength as also the damning condemnation of bowlers. 

It wasn’t all about batting and bowling…

But his was also a dramatic career that insinuated fans that expected a great deal more from the man who was unafraid to take on any bowler. 

Pollard was caught up in the whole stand against the WICB skirmish of 2014, which resultantly truncated his international journey; at times, he’d make himself unavailable and on others, he’d be simply overlooked. 

How on earth did a batsman who was in great touch in the T20 World Cup, wherein his brutal 35 off just 14 against Australia helped Windies march into the finals not play in the 2014 World Cup? The board thought of others as being better than him. It wasn’t his fault. 

As many will look back at a career that was chequered with blazing hits but also peppered with lost chances, one’ll question why Pollard never appeared in the 2016 World Cup? Probably, fair to say he wasn’t as motivated and refrained from participation. 

The final score line reads 2700 plus ODI runs and had he participated in more national duties instead of the growing number of seemingly repetitive T20 leagues, then many more runs than his 1569 in 20-20 for Windies.  And that is where one’s got to address a conundrum before passing a lame verdict. 

Yes, Pollard’s growing fascination for T20 leagues around the world- think WBBL, PSL, BPL, IPL- was often at the cost of forgoing national duties. 

Pollard came at the perfect time

But wasn’t he naturally inclined to be part of the culture that became Cricket’s dominant tide, debuting in 2007, which is when T20 concept truly boomed into being something spectacular? 

Little is spared to note that the year Kieron Pollard first wore the Windies maroon, cricket evidenced its first showpiece T20 event: the World Cup of 2007. The Lara’s and Chanderpaul’s, Hooper’s and Sarwan’s were part of an era where Test cricket – still the sport’s most respected format- was truly the litmus test of measuring one’s worth. 

But the generation that came after, the Sammy’s, the Bravo’s, the Pollard’s were caught up in the counterculture of cricket at a time where the sport, perhaps in a bid to reach wider geographies, was experimenting with T20s. 

What helped Pollard, a man of big muscles and even bigger sixes, was that he was licensed to thrill in a format that was about entertainment. He readily plied his trade, clearly also to amass the moola. 

What didn’t help, the West Indies of course, was that they didn’t compensate players as lavishly as some of the other boards at the time did and still do: think India, Australia and England. 

That Pollard, at the ripe age of 32, chose to focus on re-calibrating a fledgling white ball career by becoming captain is worthy of respect. 

Inspirational captain

Under his leadership, West Indies smashed Afghanistan in a popular bilateral series held in India, circa 2019. He’d collect famous wins thereafter, such as the ODI triumph against Ireland in 2020 and as seen in the last six to nine months, the fantastic T20I series triumphs against Australia of all teams and England. 

But it was also during this stint that Pollard’s leadership earned the growing wrath of a public that believed he was egotistical. That he was responsible for ignoring Odean Smith’s inclusion in the 2022 T20Is held in the Caribbean. And lest it is forgotten, Pollard was at the helm when Ireland posted their first ever ODI series win in the West Indies. He’d later fail to inspire his team in India as the visitors found themselves quite simply, crushed. 

He was a miserable failure with the bat. 

But you win some, you lose some. When we assess Pollard and point to all we think he could’ve achieved it’s also important to recollect that his craft wasn’t that of a seasoned match winner. He wasn’t marked to be, for instance, the next Sir Viv or Sir Sobers or his greatest immediate predecessor, Brian Lara.

It’s only fair to state Pollard did the maximum he could with a craft that was high on power if not necessarily on long term performance. 

More of a holiday shack instead of a plush holiday home. A car that zipped on cruise control, never mind if it wasn’t a sports car. 

And in some sense there’s gladness that perhaps Pollard gave back something invaluably good over and above his breathtaking strokes in mentoring the  man who could be the next West Indies white ball captain: Nicholas Pooran. 

 If that’s not big impact, then what is? 

Can unpredictable West Indies weather the mighty Australian storm?

A few days ago, when the widely watched Women’s World Cup was yet to reach the semifinal stage, a video specifically related to the Windies team went viral. We saw live spontaneous reactions of a closely knit unit of the West Indies women watching the proceedings of the (then) ongoing India-South Africa clash. 

One run was needed off as many deliveries for the Proteas to qualify. Failure at doing so would’ve meant that India would march ahead with the West Indies boarding the next flight back home to the Caribbean. 

What happened next spelt agony and ecstasy 

As the experienced Mignon du Preez hit the winning runs of Deepti Sharma’s off spin, the Proteas romped home absolutely ecstatic, and India crashed out of the World Cup with nothing more than sheer agony for company. 

As a result, the West Indies were overjoyed. 

There was pandemonium in the hotel gallery where the Caribbean unit was watching live proceedings. 

Remember, they weren’t in the game; and were mere audiences. The girls- Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Shakira Selman, Deandra Dottin, Anisa Mohammed- all of them were simply overjoyed. 

Oh, what scenes! 

And yet, there was something about the overjoyed team that stood out, but perhaps didn’t get many people’s attention. 

It was the sight of their captain, Stafanie Taylor, who rather uncannily sat motionless, absolutely unmoved at the corner table. It was as if she was into a world of her own, silently reclusive from the band of zealous girls who had landed on the moon for such was their happiness. 

So, was Stafanie not happy about the fact that West Indies had progressed into the semifinals?

Of course, only the opposite is true. So why was she the way she was?

Taylor stayed cool and calm, like a true leader

Truth be known, there was a great reason as to why Taylor retreated to reticence and was calm about the proceedings. 

She did cut a smile later on as the entire team came together in a huddle of sorts. But the reason to abstain from wild celebrations was perhaps down to the fact that the wise one from the West Indies camp was aware of the magnitude of challenge that lay ahead of her team. 

The challenge called Australia. 

There are some opponents who seem like stern walls to climb. But Australia are a mountain obstinately insurmountable or so it seems to the untrained eye. Maybe it was the realisation that her West Indies had fixed a semifinal date with the very team that had thrashed them days before that got Stafanie paying heaps of attention. 

What the West Indies have against them isn’t just a cricket team; it’s a continent. Mathematically speaking, it’s a seventh of the world that’s opposing their chances to reach the finals. And this is the mother of all cricketing battles, the grandest stage that there can be. 

At times, it does appear that to merely confront Australia is akin to staring deathly into the eyes of a lioness.

Mayhem will likely follow

Few teams play as aggressively and tactfully as the Southern Stars. And in confirming precisely this, Meg Lanning, unsurprisingly the “Mega Star” of the game, already stated that they are planning for each individual from the “dangerous” West Indies team. 

What chances the West Indies have of overcoming an onerous challenge called the Australian team could be ascertained from the bet-o-meter that’s already likely announced the odds and it doesn’t seem as though Taylor’s girls have that mega a chance. 

There’s reason to this and it’s not irrational. 

In their last outing in the World Cup of 2017, the Windies were smashed by the Aussies. In this edition itself, Lanning’s team drained the life out of Taylor’s unit, disallowing them to even reach a score of 140. 

While on paper, the West Indies offer both boldness and mercurial strength, on ground things change rapidly as seen in their previous campaigns. 

They can do both- collapse quickly like a pack of cards and win games when oddly nothing’s left to play for. 

In their opening campaign of CWC, they offered Dottin, who’s not been bowling a great deal, the final over and the result was an emphatic defeat handed to the hosts. 

In the game against England, another neck-to-neck encounter, Anisa Mohammed, a spin legend, turned the tables in Windies’ favour. 

In both games, two of their big three- Dottin and Mathews- chipped in. Taylor, an all round par excellence failed with the bat. 

Then came the heartbreaking losses to India and Australia and now, as the team needs one final push to make it to the finals, there stands amid a hubris of doubt a massive question for the West Indies. 

Rather, make that two, instead of one. 

Will their big three- Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews and Stafanie Taylor- fire with both bat and ball? 

Truth be told, only Matthews- a hundred to her name in the eminent event- has seemed in fine touch. Dottin, despite her destructive 62 vs India hasn’t quite been herself. 

Taylor, on the other hand, has gone softer, scoring only a solitary fifty in such time. 

But is the Jamaican leader saving her best for the last? The West Indies wouldn’t mind that one bit. 

What happens if the big three fail to pack a punch?

How far, supposing Windies bat first, can the likes of Knight (awfully out of form), Nation(painfully slow in run making) and Campbelle (who’s looked promising in patches) shoulder the responsibility of run scoring?

If they come to defend, even then the West Indies have their fair share of problems. 

Afy Fletcher has already been ruled out of the game. Karishma Ramharack, though mighty impressive and economical versus Bangladesh and Australia, hasn’t picked wickets. Connell, the go-to option for seam has only just recovered from injury and Selman hasn’t looked terribly threatening to score of. Can Mohammed take wickets on her own?

There are more questions than answers confronting West Indies at this point and most of them deal in the realm of “what now?”

Theirs is a familiar template of unpredictability. For a team that brings such much passion to the game, the performances are too often underlined by mediocrity and a sense of unpredictability, the latter that you’d love to avoid when it’s certainty that one badly needs at the business end of tournaments like the ODI World Cup. 

So as the first ball goes underway in just a few hours from now – the big question concerning the woman who sat calmly during those absolute scenes with her teammates going berserk is this- can Taylor’s team do something that makes her jump in joy? 

Forget not that in order to do so, the spirited bunch of cricketers will have to mow down what’s essentially a redoubtable quintuplet of match winners, starting with Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy, Meghan Schutt, Jess Jonassen and Rachel Haynes. 

The good news for Australia is that West Indies are unpredictable. The bad news, however, too is the same. 

So, what can the unpredictable Windies do? 

5 Drivers who need a good Saudi Arabian GP Today

Max or Lewis, Lewis or Max? On whom have you placed your bet?

The battle lines have been clearly drawn for the final two races and as we head to the end of the season. The Saudi Arabian GP has crawled on upon us like a massive volcano of opportunity for both Hamilton and Verstappen who’ll look to maximise their chances. 

But guess what? 

The win, as always, remains for just one of the two. One from a duo whose famous rivalry has scripted a new era of sorts in the turbo hybrid era of the sport. 

That said, let’s look at five drivers who’ll be keen to deliver a particularly strong weekend. 

1. Sebastian Vettel 

Sebastian Vettel begins his penultimate Grand Prix of the season from seventeenth on the grid. It’s neither the best possible start for a driver of his caliber nor is it a particularly troubling slot from which to aim to rise into a formidable grid position in the end.  

However, his P17 does indicate exactly a year that Aston Martin have had, slotting themselves in their maiden season neither too behind the rest of the lot whilst never fully capitalising on any race barring Baku’s triumphant podium finish. 

A year, therefore, spent in forging vital steps in what shall hopefully be a good journey up ahead! 

The last two races for Vettel, however, have yielded lukewarm results. At both Brazil as well as Qatar- Vettel went on to finish exactly where he began the races from – an eleventh at Brazil and a tenth at the latest F1 Grand Prix – at Qatar. 

Therefore, what’ll come in handy for the great German driver would be to make most of what now remains of the season. So, what’ll the four-time world champion make of the 50 laps ahead of him? 

2. Antonio Giovinazzi 

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For someone who not only outperformed someone like Kimi Raikkonen in the first half of the season, where he finished on considerably better grid positions (in qualifying) than the famous Finn, it’s no surprise that it’s Giovinazzi- not Kimi- who got a better hang of the Jeddah track this weekend. 

Now what remains is to see whether the outgoing Alfa Romeo driver, who’s driving his final two races, much like Kimi, can salvage something special at the forthcoming race. 

To make things better for him, Antonio Giovinazzi’s worked really hard to get to a P10, a position he’d quite like to see take him further up in the grid. 

But can that Alfa Romeo hold up and give its long locked Jesus a blessed run this Jeddah?

It’s all to play for! 

3. Max Verstappen 

For most drivers, the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix is a massive opportunity to score on a track on which they’ve never previously raced before. For Verstappen of Red Bull though, it’s a make-or-break contest. 

Few drivers have put in as much effort to stretch a contest to its final legs in a bid to win a title as has the Hasselt-born driver. 

But then it’s one thing to soldier on in a race and something another to excel against someone like Lewis Hamilton. 

As Verstappen begins his second last race of what has been a tremendous season, he’ll only have two things on his mind. First, how to contest in an error free Grand Prix and second, how to win the contest in order to maximise his chances come Abu Dhabi. 

But in either situation, Verstappen will be tied to what’ll be an exceedingly big task that of denying glory to a proven legend of the track: Lewis Hamilton. 

It’s exactly what makes this upcoming 50-lap run a one of its kind tussle and it’s precisely what can make this a miss and go opportunity for a driver who’s the face of Formula 1’s young generation, along with names like Leclerc and Norris. 

4. Yuki Tsunoda

For someone whose last three Formula 1 Grands Prix have resulted in no points whatsoever, there’s no rocket science theory as to why the rookie Japanese driver needs a strong Saudi Arabia GP. 

Having already proven his worth and caliber as a Formula 1 driver thanks to race finishes like his P6 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Tsunoda will look to find some old form. 

In so doing, he’ll be keen to offer a final flourish to what has been a mixed bag of a season. 

Jedda being a new track will, however, offer an interesting challenge to someone like Tsunoda for whom every Grand Prix is an exciting opportunity to forge a career. With age on his hands and a new contract under his belt, you’d 

5. Lewis Hamilton 

A great driver must belong in the driver’s seat. And that’s precisely where Sir Lewis Hamilton- fresh from massive wins at Brazil and Qatar- finds himself ahead of the soon-to-begin Jeddah race. 

For someone who’s faced a relentless onslaught at the behest of Max Verstappen’s menacing form this season, the way Lewis Hamilton has fought back last few races to be in the thick of things is indeed remarkable. 

Moreover, it exemplifies the very virtue Hamilton himself stands for- Still, I Rise: a belief that regardless how staunch the attack from the opponent, I’ll still try to rise to being my best. 

This very philosophy and self-belief will be the facets Hamilton will fight with as he begins his and the sport’s maiden Grand Prix at Saudi Arabia from the very front of the grid. 

In clinching a very memorable pole at Jeddah, the first by any driver at the latest venue and a 103rd of his career, Hamilton is now barely a few laps from what could be another world title or if not, a major upset. The kinds that only a Red Bull can attempt. But let’s see what happens ahead in what’s poised to be a titanic struggle until the very end. 

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to react to the Saudi GP qualifying? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying analysis. Louis Edwards hosted Tom Downey, Olivia Kairu and Jawad Yaqub in episode 157 of the show. Both audio and video versions of the podcast are available below:

5 Drivers who need a good Qatar GP today

A lot has changed at the venue of the forthcoming F1 race, the Losail International circuit and it doesn’t only concern changes made to track to make it fast paced and competitive for Grand Prix racing.

Besides changing the pit lane entrance completely, Losail’s presence on the F1 calendar is a change in itself. Not once previously has an F1 race been held at the track famous for hosting many a mighty MotoGP battle.

Now that it’s ready, it seems the home to the Qatar Grand Prix is all set to unfurl a mega contest that would see the man second in the driver standings claw back to the thick of things concerned with the 2021 championship.

Having said that, which 5 drivers need to deliver a strong Qatar GP?

1 – Charles Leclerc

Leclerc’s qualifying performance wasn’t up to his usual high standards

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc begins his maiden assignment at Qatar from thirteenth on the grid. Unable to put together a strong lap in Q2 meant that for the first time this season, the Monegasque found himself knocked out.

Someone not accustomed or fond of staying away from the main battle on the grid, Leclerc, sixth in the driver’s standings, would want to hold the upper hand in the teammate battle on Sunday.

For that, he’d have to deliver a belter of a race since his good friend at Ferrari Carlos Sainz is a long away ahead in seventh.

Though a cool-headed bloke, Leclerc would also be wary of other challenges the likes of which require him to focus on the larger context of the battle: the fight against McLaren.

His closest rival in this year’s standings, Lando Norris (3 points ahead of Charles) is also ahead on the grid having found better grip and traction than his struggling McLaren teammate, Daniel Riccardo on Saturday.

Among the key questions for this year’s maiden Qatar GP would be to see who might hold the edge in the battle for supremacy on Sunday. Can Charles deliver a strong race?

2 – Daniel Ricciardo

To put it simply, there are multiple reasons as to why Ricciardo in his McLaren would want to finish off his maiden drive at Qatar on a high.

For starters, when compared to Lando Norris’s 2 points from the last two races, a driver much younger to him, Ricciardo has managed none.

A DNF at Brazil and his P12 at Mexico didn’t help Daniel Ricciardo’s cause one bit.

Moreover, the mega talent found himself struggling under lights on the twisty high speed circuit where much like others, Ricciardo struggled and found himself knocked out in Q2.

While his qualifying form still needs to find the much needed improvement, purely on race performance there can be no undermining of the Honeybadger. But, the question is whether the smiling man in that McLaren can come up trumps at Qatar in the next few hours from now?

3 – Sebastian Vettel

Prior to entering the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix, the famous German had declared, “I’m not here for midfield racing!”

Which is precisely what he’s been doing, albeit pushing his Aston Martin mighty well toward the front end of the track with much gusto in 2021.

One look at what both Aston Martin drivers have managed would reveal Vettel having easily neutralised his younger teammate, Lance Stroll. The German bagging 42 points to his Canadian teammate’s 26.

But at Qatar, the former Red Bull driver would be up against a different challenge altogether.

While the younger F1 lot that’s still to cement its place in the sport, think Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin can still make errors and will be overlooked for they’re largely learning their craft, the experienced bunch of drivers will have a real test at their hands.

Not that any among Kimi, Fernando or Sebastian need to feel unnecessary pressure, they’d still like to set an example for the rest of the grid to follow. By that count alone, Vettel, who’s always relished a new challenge, would like to give it all at the night race at Qatar where he begins from a strong tenth on the grid.

How about converting a promising start into a mighty fine result in the Grand Prix?

4 – Antonio Giovinazzi

For a driver who didn’t necessarily enjoy what’s now turned out to be his final Formula 1 season, unless and until a sudden return to single seater racing’s top flight becomes apparent much too sudden, somewhere Gio is upset. And he’s grieving.

It’s not hard to see why. He must drive whatever’s left of this championship and what remains are only three final races, with all his might.

Try and convert the inner turmoil into a reason to excel on the track.

So that the adieu he bids to the sport is a mighty one in that the team that didn’t give him another shot to reclaim himself – this is when he consistently outperformed Raikkonen in qualifying- can see there’s a lot left in the driver who’s been snubbed away.

Moreover, Antonio Giovinazzi hasn’t helped his cause a bit by finishing behind his teammate and Latifi, on eighteenth. A strong result would be such a fine end to what’s been a testing time this weekend at Qatar.

After coming mighty close at scoring a point each at Mexico and previously, the USA, Antonio would desire competing in a blessed weekend.

5 – Max Verstappen

If the fighting duo of the grid finish at Qatar exactly where they currently are – P1 and P2, respectively- then Verstappen would see his lead over Hamilton shrink by some margin.

He’d still be in the lead but with only a seven point advantage over second-placed Sir Lewis Hamilton.

That Red Bull have clearly struggled from what one has seen so far, Perez sliding down below on eleventh only exacerbating the woes of the Milton Keynes outfit, should be considered a clear and present danger of what could happen if one doesn’t push the throttle and focus on Sunday. 

For Verstappen to regain control, and not lose out on the momentum he’s built ever so painstakingly in this year’s championship, a strong result, maybe even a win, must happen. 

But then, can a Hamilton in such great form as seen in the last few races ever let that happen? 

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more reaction to yesterday’s Qatar GP Qualifying? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast! Louis Edwards hosted Tom Downey, Tom Horrox and Jawad Yaqub in the 2021 Qatar GP Qualifying analysis show. Both video and audio versions of the show are linked below:

Leclerc: Ferrari’s in-form midfield man

In a sport eternally wired in the feats and performances of the front runners, it is the midfield where non-stop action often takes place, but isn’t necessarily afforded the headline-making importance.

So, how does a midfielder stand out? 

Where the ongoing championship is concerned, it could be said, a keen narrative has ensued. 

Quietly going about his business

If one looks at the last five races this season, you can find that Charles Leclerc has done quite well in demonstrating the kind of consistency that his Scuderia stable so keenly needed in 2021. 

Barring Sochi’s disappointing P15, Charles Leclerc has beaten Carlos Sainz in every single event. Whether it’s Zandvoort, Monza, Istanbul Park or COTA (USGP), the Monegasque has bested his teammate. 

Leclerc (left) and Sainz have created an extremely impressive partnership in 2021. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

To many, this may seem like boisterous stats whose end purpose is to sanitise the image of a driver in the eyes of the audience when it’s not even the case. Charles Leclerc, the very man who garnered, at the end of seventeen races last year, merely 98 points has already collected 128 points this year. 

Looking for a driver with honest improvement and that irrepressible X-factor, look nowhere but Charles Leclerc. That there are five races yet to be contested offers sufficient evidence of the large ground Ferrari and their Prince from Monaco have already covered than where they were last year where point-scoring opportunities were scant. 

Points, not podiums

Charles Leclerc’s result at the recent US Grand Prix, even if it didn’t translate into top three finish, did well to tell fans and critics alike that the young driver was keen to collect whatever opportunity that came his way. 

Leclerc’s 4th place finish in the USGP is one of his best results of the season. Image: Motorsport week

A P4 finish in the end, therefore, or twelve strong points carried their own value in that the driver hailing from the famous principality surpassed his new Ferrari teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr. on the standings. 

This was no ordinary moment; to a driver who arrived at Ferrari with one intention and one alone; to make a space for himself, one having nothing to do with shenanigans but one with everything to do with peace and resilience then it was special. Trailing his more experienced teammate, the Spaniard is currently behind Charles by 5.5 points. 

Fundamentally, Sainz may be trailing Leclerc but you’d contend that it is the Monegasque who’s struggled to finish runner-up in any race so far. 

Moreover, that he’s got raw pace is fine and for all to see. But that has he been on the weaker footing thanks to heartbreaks at Monaco and Hungary establish Charles Leclerc as a solider who simply fought and is fighting without even knowing the tiniest fate of his battle. 

His time will come

For as they say, good things come to those who wait and maybe it’s fate, but I’m most happy to have Charles interact with faster cars in midst of a race, think the remarkable ease with which Mercedes and Ferrari conquered the track position at Baku. 

2019 proved that when Leclerc has the car, he will win races

The pole-sitter, who was let down by a lack of grip and pace this year but then, did well enough to defend from Hamilton and Verstappen for the first few laps. 

And in so doing, the the young Ferrari talent earned the winner of the most prestigious yet fictitious award of the FIA, perhaps the price money deny eager sure one for defying the . We can vote. 

Leclerc, sadly with the only podium that he managed nearly two months ago, and that too, at Silverstone, where it’s never easy to break onto the podium places, reminded the scarlet red fans that all wasn’t over for as long as he and his teammate kept trying. 

This has exactly been the case because between both drivers, there are 4 podiums and 2 pole positions. The Ferrari that was struggling to even gather points finish regularly for much of 2020 is clearly a superior unit fighting (ever so regularly) for strong finishes this season. But most importantly, through brave scraps out in the midfield in 2021. Keep fighting Ferrari; keep going Charles

5 Drivers who need a Good Russian Grand Prix Today

Sochi, the venue where Mercedes have dominated with stupendous consistency could well see the dominant narrative making space for a boy who’ll dominate the sport in the years to come. 

In what is an excellent opportunity for Lando Norris to storm to a maiden victory, McLaren quite literally are in the driver’s seat. With a clear track ahead of them to bag a second – and lest it not be forgotten, stupendous- victory in 2021. 

Followed by the quietly efficient Sainz, in his maiden season with the Scuderia and Russell in third, Sochi’s starting three could well be this year’s most admired and widely exciting troika. 

What’ll happen up ahead is something only time will tell. But for now, let’s see which drivers would love to make a race to remember given not such a fantastic quali and recent race form?

Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen’s final season in F1 isn’t going to plan

The Iceman, competing in the last few races of his F1 career, will be keen to make the most of what’s left. It didn’t help Kimi, standing next to an abominable points tally of 2, that he had to sit out of Monza and Zandvoort thanks to the Coronavirus. 

Yet, true to the surprising ways in which one of the sport’s icons has fought back, the Finn’s got something that’s admirable. 

The old man of the grid has shown the youngsters how it’s done on race days. Despite 2021 being the year where his qualifying form has been “s*it” as how he’d himself put it, he’s still gained the most positions when compared to nineteen others on the grid (29) after fourteen rounds. 

Moreover, a P16 in the driver’s standings means Raikkonen has, at least, emerged ahead of Giovinazzi, who’s constantly outpaced him on most Saturdays so far, hasn’t done too miserably. 

Not that the soon-to-be 42-year-old would count it as anything but still, in the context of the race and knowing his penchant to make the most on the race days, Kimi Matias Raikkonen will be keen, albeit reticently, to make a race out of Sochi. 

But can he actually do that? 

Sebastian Vettel

Aston Martin are slowly slipping further and further behind AlphaTauri

Here are the previous four race results for the German Aston Martin driver, all set to start his Russian contest from eleventh on the grid. 

A 12th at Italy, 13th at Zandvoort, a 5th at Spa-Francorchamps, and an embarrassing – if not controversial- disqualification at the Hungaroring. 

It’s been a season where one’s witnessed shades of the dauntless Vettel of the past, the man who stormed to a fine podium at the incident-marred Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a result that should ideally have shut his critics’ mouth. 

But that being said, Vettel, who’s not been able to ace his Saturday game as such this season, would look at Sochi as a great opportunity to bounce back to form and collect handy points. 

That the last two races didn’t result in any should motivate the four-time world champion to get up to speed and hit back hard. 

But will it be any easy given Ocon (tenth), Perez (ninth) and teammate Stroll (eighth) could possibly make life difficult for Vettel? 

It’s a Bond of trust and redoubtable capability that the German would like to forge with his AMR 21 here at Sochi. 

Forget not that the License to drive and excel rests with you, Seb! 

Yuki Tsunoda

Tsunoda finds himself in this dishonourable top five yet again

Tsunoda, who starts from thirteenth on the grid, would be keen to convert his insipid qualifying result into a prominent performance at Sochi. 

But hang on, P13 isn’t nearly as bad as what the AlphaTauri driver managed in the previous two Saturday battles! 

Since the Italian and Dutch GP, quali runs were anything but mind-blowing. 

A seventeenth on the starting grid at Monza and a fifteenth at Zandvoort suggest Tsunoda’s not exactly been having a ball on Saturdays. 

This is primarily why his Sochi run is a tad bit disappointing albeit being better than the recent efforts. 

But in a few hours’ time, it’ll be down to how Yuki manages his race at Sochi which will form one of the key highlights of the race, especially down to the fact that he’ll be right behind Gasly for the 53-lap run. 

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen will hope he can charge through the field this afternoon

The last three race results for the current championship reader read- DNF at Monza, which came prior to two race wins, one each at the returning Dutch GP and the Belgian GP. 

While Spa-Francorchamps’s race win may not count as a win from the purist’s perspective, the win at Zandvoort was Max back to his best. Something he’d quite like to have maintained at Monza which is when the dramatic, widely debated and rancor-causing crash with Hamilton happened. 

While it ended both drivers’ race, from the perspective of maintaining the lead over the championship, it was a massive blow for Verstappen in that where it stands today, his lead over second-place Lewis Hamilton is a mere five and a half points. 

It’s something he’d quite like to have build on here at Sochi had the start from the back of the grid not have hurt Max’s chances, which are seriously slated to dent a chance in his championship unless a miracle happens and the Flying Dutchman is able to storm to the top three at Sochi. 

It’ll be an exciting contest to watch out for. 

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton has work to do if he’s to capitalise on Verstappen’s back-row start. Image: F1

A fourth in qualifying isn’t the worst possible place on the starting grid- is it? 

But the moment you see Mercedes, winners of every single Grand Prix here at Sochi, starting from behind a troika comprising McLaren, Ferrari and Williams, the latter, their customer team, you feel something’s amiss. 

Where Sir Lewis Hamilton, second on the Driver Standings, is concerned, a result among the top three, which isn’t impossible at all, would be akin to a win given his target has to be to finish as ahead as possible over his archrival Max Verstappen. 

But what shall the 53 laps up ahead unfold- a triumph for LH 44 or a disappointing race finish given those in front of the seven-time world champion are among the youngest and finest on the grid- it’ll be endlessly fascinating. 

Can Hammertime strike the remainder of the grid akin to Putin’s feared reign of Russia? Let’s wait and see. 

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more reaction to qualifying at the Russian GP? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew are here with their latest podcast! Ruby Price hosted Tom Downey and Louis Edwards as they analysed qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix. Both audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

5 Drivers who need a good Italian Grand Prix today

Despite winning the sprint race at Monza, Valtteri Bottas finds himself at the rear end of the pack owing to a lot of changes in his Mercedes car. This means an opportunity has been lost for the Finn, despite having won a short stint at the heartland of the Italian Grand Prix. 

But which drivers have the most work to do today? These are the five men we think need a good Sunday drive later on!

Antonio Giovinazzi 

Italian Jesus may need a miracle to score points later today.

Blessed will be those who’ll get to see the Italian Jesus, as he’s called, save his career and secure a fascinating finish to the Monza race. Among the nicest-natured drivers in the sport, and one who certainly won the qualifying battle this year against Kimi Raikkonen, is a man on a mission. 

His brave defensive driving from a rapid Sergio Perez helped Antonio Giovinazzi collect a P8, which tomorrow will be a seventh-place start underlined his passion to succeed. The man who brought home the first points for his Alfa Romeo team this season by showing great skill at Monaco now has his task cut out at Monza. 

He’s got a solid grid position too, from which to launch himself into a fine battle up ahead. 

May he continue to persevere and succeed in bringing much-needed points for a Constructor that’s demonstrated exceedingly underwhelming results this season. Honestly, it’s all to play for, for the long-locked bloke behind the beard and innocent smile.  

Lewis Hamilton 

It’s not always that one finds a certain Sir Lewis Hamilton on the list of drivers who need to deliver a strong Grand Prix. But to err is human, even though Hamilton’s penchant for great results and unbelievable consistency since 2014 onward have merited him a superhuman persona.

The man who got passed by a Red Bull, then both McLarens and will be keen to make amends for the lost ground during the sprint race. 

Known for his proclivity to raise his game especially under pressure -remember his recovery drive at the Hungaroring– don’t be surprised if Hamilton finishes second, if at all, a race win is utterly out of his grasp. 

But his boots are meant for racing, and pushing the throttle hard is what they’ll do. The five-time Monza winner would love to mount a daring fightback against the drivers who found him wanting on a not-so-sunny Saturday after all for Mercedes. 

Sebastian Vettel 

Aston Martin need both drivers to perform to catch AlphaTauri and Alpine

Sebastian Vettel couldn’t do anything astounding in the sprint race other than the decent move he pulled on another great veteran of the sport – Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. This was right after the safety car period. Though, the two-time world champion fought right back against the four-time world champion to retake track position even as Stroll, in the other Aston Martin stayed clear of the two battling heroes of the sport. 

But given Vettel’s disqualification at Hungaroring, followed by a fifth at Spa, and then a lowly thirteenth at Zandvoort, the German is clearly one of the drivers who needs to deliver a strong race at Monza. 

That’s also from the perspective of keeping up the pressure on his teammate Lance Stroll, on whom he enjoys a lead of 17 precious points in the standings where it currently stands. 

So, can race day at Monza unfurl the familiar battler on the track, one who secured a brilliant win with Toro Rosso in 2008 or will we see an under pressure driver who forged a dubious reputation as a spinner, remember the opening lap episode of 2018 at the very track? 

Only Seb has the answers and only time will tell. 

Charles Leclerc 

Ferrari look set to lose ground to McLaren this weekend

Not only because it’s Ferrari’s home Grand Prix should Charles Leclerc raise his game, but the fact that he’s contesting on the very track where he brought home a magnificently fought victory, back in 2019, should push the Monegasque to achieve a higher result in the race. 

At present, Leclerc, who qualified sixth but as a result of Bottas’ receding to the very end of the grid starts fifth, has an ample opportunity to push hard on Sunday. Though the only issue is he’ll be tailed by another Ferrari, Sainz, who is all set to begin from sixth on the grid. 

So will team orders come into play and if so- by whose side will we find Ferrari? 

Eventually, what matters is that Ferrari, the team, as one unit, should do well in front for the Tifosi and to continue to fight back to the top, which is where it’s always belonged. 

Yuki Tsunoda 

Tsunoda is making yet another appearance on this list after a poor qualifying

The last three Grands Prix results for the young Alpha Tauri driver read- P6 at Hungaroring, followed by a fifteenth at the Belgian Grand Prix- if it could be called a Grand Prix- and a DNF in the Netherlands. 

Though, that’s not the only reason why Yuki Tsunoda would want to do a better job at Monza, where he drives his maiden Italian Grand Prix. Driving the same car as his teammate, who won twelve months back at the same venue, Tsunoda’s lost the momentum and flourish that one saw in the first half of the season. 

Remember, this is a bloke who attained massive reception at the back of a brave P9 finish at Bahrain, his Formula 1 debut drive. But the Japanese driver one sees today, albeit still highly inexperienced and only on his maiden season, can do much better than what he is at present. 

A reason to spur himself to greater performances is that he neither has an insipid or weak machine nor a car that would make him this grid’s back marker. 

At Monza’s Sprint race, Yuki also had some colourful words for one of racing’s veterans, Robert Kubica with whose Alfa Romeo the Sagamihara-born driver would clash albeit both drivers narrowly avoiding what could’ve been a heavy crash. That’s even as Kubica was the loser in this episode, his car spinning out in the opening lap only to minimise his chances of getting a better track finish.  

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more reaction to today’s Sprint Qualifying? Never feat, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. Owain Medford hosted Steve Jackson, Aaron Harper and Mikael Kataja in their 2021 Italian Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying Analysis. Both audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

5 Drivers who need a Good Belgian Grand Prix today

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix might or might not be a great race in the end, but certainly from what one saw at the rain-soaked qualifying yesterday, it does appear that we saw the best qualifying battle thus far in the season.

Can the race make the contest even bigger and brighter especially for the able young drivers out there who are keen to write their own script in a sport as dogged and difficult at Formula 1 – we shall have to wait and see. 

Can we have a young race winner? The one who might be vying for a Mercedes driver albeit amid circumstances that aren’t always determined by driver skill alone but perhaps by making politically correct decisions? 

Questions there are many, most of which  will be answered when the five red lights turn green at the most serene albeit daunting F1 venue. 

That being said, which drivers will need to deliver a strong Belgian GP?

Charles Leclerc

The Ferrari driver missed out of Q3 for the first time in his Ferrari career at the Belgian GP. Remember he was the race winner here at Spa in 2019, where he led every single lap from pole to gather a brave win ahead of the mighty Lewis Hamilton. 

But amid rains and unbearable driving conditions, Leclerc’s race craft – or would you call it- rain craft got tested a bit. 

Along with Sainz, his was the other Ferrari that failed to make it to Q3. 

Originally, Leclerc, who got an eleventh, would clearly have had his task cut out that being to break into the top ten, but owing to Norris’ grid drop thanks to the gearbox change for today’s race, Leclerc has not such a terrible race lined up ahead. 

It’ll be now down to how well can he maximise his chances at the famous Grand Prix of Belgium. 

Daniel Ricciardo

Even as the great Australian driver has managed a fighting fourth as of Saturday, for his own race form and chances in the remainder of the year, Daniel Ricciardo must deliver a strong race weekend. 

A race win will be very difficult, what can’t be ruled out – and shouldn’t- is a podium finish. 

Moreover, a P4 is a very delightful and strong qualifying result, the best thus far, for Ricciardo. 

But for that to happen, the smiling man from Perth, due to contest his 200th Grand Prix will have to make the best of his sandwiched position, with Vettel on fifth and Hamilton up in third. 
What can the Honeybadger do when the lights go green at Spa? 

Kimi Raikkonen

Last year he managed a twelfth here and this year if he makes it anywhere close to P12, you’d term it moral victory. 

Once called the King of Spa once for his undulating consistency at the longest venue when compared to all on the calendar, might not be wrong to call the Iceman the man behind a new sobriquet- the ‘spin of Spa,’ his current fortunes attributed to how sadly do fortunes spin in Formula 1, once a repeat winner now nosediving to a back marker position. 

P18 is what a four-time winner at Spa managed on Saturday. Moreover, what many might not remember is that back in 2019, when aligned with a stronger machine, Raikkonen grabbed a fighting P8 on qualifying day.

He proved he still had it but that was for as long as the car suited his style and offered power. 

Now, almost 41, Kimi is having none of the chill that so quintessentially decorated his career.

One can only offer wild theories at what might he do today. So, let’s leave him alone and see what happens at Spa! 

Yuki Tsunoda

Time and again, the F1 newcomer has been outwitted completely by a more experienced campaigner Pierre Gasly, the Sagamihara-born’s teammate. 

On Sunday, Yuki, who begins his maiden Spa drive from 16th on the grid would be aware of the challenge that’s to unfold at the most picturesque F1 venue.

Being pursued by Mick Schumacher, P17, one of his young adversaries and trailing Giovinazzi, P15, under pressure to retain his Alfa Romeo seat. 

But fortunately, being allied by a car that’s anything but a vapid, underperforming machine, Tsunoda would want to maximise his challenges and offer something to write home about. 

Though, can that happen? 

Valtteri Bottas

Starting a Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso in your rear can be a daunting experience. More so when you are comfortably out of the top ten. 

Life for Valtteri Bottas, P13, in qualifying has hardly been a bed of roses. However, it could soon turn into a house of thorns should young George Russell bag his Mercedes seat even as the idea seems mired in utopia and less determined by plausibility for with all due respect, how can Hamilton be assisted in the end, also determines Mercedes’ team mate decision.  

Though truth certainly is that the Finn, whose career isn’t quite frankly going anywhere, isn’t the happiest man in F1. 
After causing a string of crashes at Hungary, his 2021 Spa drive has already got compromised by a five place grid drop. Moreover, there’ll be a host of hungrier drivers out there to vie for a best possible spot much like Valtteri on race day. 

Think Leclerc. Think Vettel. Don’t forget Ocon and Perez. 

But should Bottas, who’s yet to win at Spa Francorchamps, deliver a promising race result, it might just ease some of the insane pressure he’s been under, though for absolutely no fault of his critics. 

He’s got the car that might not be the fastest this year but is yet, second best only to the Red Bull. 

This article was written by Dev Tyagi for Sportlightpro.com

Why Pakistan Women’s cricket And Nain abidi will Never forget august 22?

Nain Abidi

August 22 is quite an eventful date for the world for a unique constellation of independent events occurring on the date shaping it in different ways. As early as 1603, on this very day, man laid the first stones at Amsterdam-bound Zuiderkerk. In 1639, the famous Indian city of Madaras was founded this very date by the-then ruling British East India company using Sliver of land.

In 1770, James Cook’s famous expedition landed on the East coast of Australia and over a century later, circa 1901, the world found to its merriment the formation of the Cadillac motor company on this date.

Then later on this date in 1987 one of Madonna’s greatest singles, “Who’s that Girl” became the number #1 chartbuster hit.

But there was something else too, albeit in the firmament of sport, that made August 22 a unique date, a date that no Pakistani will ever forget.

It was on this date, back in 2012 that Nain Abidi stroked the first-ever ODI century for a Pakistan batswoman.

To strike century and score runs in cricket is equivalent to a doctor succeeding by way of treating patients, saving lives and being recognized for victory in the strife against mortality.

But to be the first to do so beckons celebrations, marking a moment that becomes timeless in the strands of history.

What’s rather fascinating about Nain Abidi- one of the most studious and determined Pakistanis to ever wield the bat in a nation obsessed with Cricket- is that since her dogged ton in ODIs, only one other batter has gone on to register another three-figure score in the format.

The special feat belongs to current Pakistani captain Javeria Khan, who with her 133 unbeaten runs stroked her proud nation to a sweet victory over Sri Lanka.

But that Nain Abidi, well over 1600 runs in 50-over cricket, held the major record for no fewer than half a decade underlines the importance of a feat that since its conception has gone on to inspire countless girls in a land where heroes in cricket have always been men.

Think the great Wasim Akram, the yorker king Waqar Younis, the elegant Saeed Anwar, the brave Javed Miandad, the iconic Hanif Mohammad, and the wild and winning Shoaib Akhtar to quote just a few.

A technically correct batswoman known for playing every delivery to its merit aligning technical virtuosity and patience, Nain Abidi has been a senior figurehead of a team that today sits beautifully on a mélange of wealth of experience and exuberance of youth.

While her 101 unbeaten runs thumped an Ireland powered by the likes of Isobel Joyce, Laura Delany and the modern great Kim Garth, that the maiden ODI ton by a Pakistani batter came of just 129 deliveries meant a certain fluidity about the knock that’s remembered even fondly today.

That’s when it’s been nearly a decade since the match-winning knock neutralised the Irish at their own backyard, in a lush-green Dublin.

But all of that said, what must be said about Nain Abidi- nearly 2,600 runs for Pakistan- is that Karachi’s finest export to the women’s game arrived early in the game in which she’d become a force to reckon with.

In a sport so often obsessed with numbers and big achievements, Nain Abidi duly underlines the value of longevity, without which one cannot walk the distance in sport.

For someone who arrived in the game aged just 21 back in 2006 and since then has gone on to represent one of cricket’s most mercurial outfits for 155 international appearances, Nain Abidi is a giant of the game, albeit an underrated one.

In this stat-obsessed number crunching age where anyone can become a hero on any given day courtesy social media posts, and trolls break hearts and reputations, Nain Abidi has been an athlete who’s conducted herself with a sense of dignity, focused on cricket and not in the theatrics that have become a normality.

That the love for cricket in her case hasn’t subsided one bit whatsoever, despite marriage and moving bases, actually relocating millions of miles afar from Pakistan to the United States is something worthy of respect.

Just is the fact that even after embracing motherhood, parenting a beautiful young boy, Nain Abidi is still involved with the game, now dedicating herself to lift the United States Cricket team.

At a time where the rigors of life especially after the massive change marriage and responsibilities beckon make one fall out of the sport, taking the convenient route of prioritizing family over anything else, Nain Abidi, 12 fifties for Pakistan, is balancing cricket and personal commitments beautifully.

And guess what! In doing so, she’s creating a new template of inspiration for fellow mothers to follow, those who thought juggling tasks with a kid and husband and a family commitment was just not possible.

Women today have gone way beyond merely breaking the glass ceiling; they’re wielding the cricket bat on the 22 yards whilst running after the naughty toddlers in malls and parks whilst putting them to sleep after a long day’s run.

And where it comes to doing both with her quintessential zeal and understated appeal, Nain is doing her bit despite being in the sphere for no fewer than a decade and a half.

May runs and many through fifties and tons come her way and lift her United States cricket team to a new pedestal in the game!

F1 2021: Drivers that Need a Good Hungarian GP Later Today

The gloves are off, and we are back to the F1 battleground. The stage has shifted from Silverstone to the Hungaroring that holds much promise to offer another enticing Hamilton versus Verstappen duel.

With Sir Lewis Hamilton taking a record-breaking ninth career pole at the Hungaroring, the most by any driver at the venue, the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix is poised to be an exciting battle. Even more so since Max Verstappen, who’s authored a great challenge to the king of the throne thus far, has managed a third in qualifying.

And perhaps what only exacerbates Red Bull, aggrieved given their plea against Hamilton’s penalty at Silverstone wasn’t entertained by the FIA, is that none of their drivers start from the front grid, with Valtteri Bottas slated to begin second.

A lot of action and drama is poised to be unfurled at Round 11 of the 2021 World Championship, an event where there are a few drivers who’d be determined to up their game.

So let’s find out which drivers need to deliver a strong Hungarian GP?

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz has ground to make up after his qualifying crash. Image: Ferrari

After sliding outside of the track in Q1, Ferrari newcomer Carlos Sainz Jr., who had been much quicker than Charles Leclerc for the better part of Friday. The talented Spaniard will be keen to pounce on the challenging midfield in the next few hours.

Starting today’s 70-lap challenge from fifteenth on the grid, Sainz will know that he’s got a car that’s nearly as quick as the McLaren. If not in terms of straight-line speed where, one has seen the other Ferrari of Leclerc being challenged, such as in events like Baku, where it didn’t take Hamilton and Mercedes long to pass the pole-sitter.

That being said, having been the better finisher among the two Ferraris, finishing above Leclerc in both rounds at Austria and having gathered a strong P6 at Silverstone, it’ll be brilliant for Sainz to collect a strong race finish at Hungary.

READ MORE: 2021 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX – FP1 & FP2 REPORT: COULD BOTTAS UPSET THE TITLE FIGHT?

Yuki Tsunoda

Tsunoda has flattered to deceive after his incredible debut in Bahrain

The rookie Japanese driver, who collected points in his very first outing in Formula 1 has shown lukewarm form where the recent events stand. Although, where the last four Grands Prix are concerned, the Sagamihara-born driver managed to beat a more experienced teammate in Gasly on two occasions.

Picture the Steierkmark Grand Prix and the recent race at Silverstone saw Tsunoda finished ahead of Gasly.

Though, for Sunday’s Hungarian contest, Yuki begins from sixteenth on the grid, having failed to put together a strong lap in Q1, from which he was knocked out.

Knowing that he’s got a car perhaps slightly stronger than the Aston Martin and at par with Alpine Racing, Tsunoda should be in a position to contest the packed midfield shortly. But will he improve on his lowly starting position?

Max Verstappen

Verstappen will need to overtake at least one of the Mercedes to maintain his championship lead. Image: F1

Having crashed out in two important races now, one each at Baku and the next, at Silverstone, for no fault of his own, Verstappen, regardless of some of the way he’s been portrayed on social media, will be feeling crestfallen.

Someone who himself stopped the interviewers from hurling him questions related to the Silverstone saga, Max would know he has better things to focus on.

And right now, it’s to find a way to do better than what he managed during qualifying.

Aware that he’s starting from third on the grid and isn’t nearly as close to Hamilton as what he’d have liked in order to pose an early challenge, it will be an interesting sight to see the resilience of Hamilton being challenged by the aggression of a talented and fiery driver.

Moreover, for the sake of extending his lead over the world championship, instead of seeing it shrink, the chances of which are highly likely, Verstappen has to deliver a very fine Hungarian GP. Importantly, it also happens to be a venue where he’s never won a race before.

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

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen’s season has yielded only one point so far

The Iceman with his thirteenth on the grid during Saturday’s qualifying provided a moment of reprieve to himself – provided he felt pressure in all this time- and to millions of fans who were rightly distraught at having seen a driver of such fine caliber having been knocked out in Q1 itself for the last four consecutive qualifying battles.

Starting P13, Raikkonen, given his penchant to move swiftly up the grid not long after the red lights turn green, would want to demonstrate a similar act, doing which he could land himself in a point-scoring chance.

Something that hasn’t happened for long, Baku being the last and only occasion where the sport’s most enigmatic and experienced driver scored a point and that too, a solitary one.

Having scored 9 of his 103 career podiums at Hungary, while a top-three finish is about as probable as is imagining the Adriatic sea minus water and fishes, Kimi’s task is clear and cut out- he’s to fight for points and make a possible race finish inside the top 10. Some would reckon even a P10 won’t hurt so much. But is it going to actually happen? We shall have to wait and see.

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:

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