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F1 2021 QATAR GRAND PRIX: Hamilton dominates to pole

The first F1 qualifying in Qatar saw some shocking eliminations early on. It also saw a masterclass performance from Sir Lewis Hamilton, as he beat his championship rival Max Verstappen to pole.

Q1

The Haas drivers were the first ones out on track, followed by half of the grid. Most cars opted for the soft tyre compound, though Pierre Gasly used medium tires putting himself 4th on his first try.

The first attempts of Hamilton and Verstappen put the two in a completely different league. Hamilton led by two tenths, but Lando Norris in third was over half a second behind Verstappen. On his second attempt, Valtteri Bottas lifts himself up to first place, three thousandths ahead of Hamilton.

Both Alfa Romeo and Haas drivers struggled on their first attempts, sitting in P17 to P20. Charler Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo also had a difficult time, only getting up to 12th and 13th respectively. The track was improving towards the end of the session, with Russell putting his Williams to P10 with two minutes to go.

A lot of traffic collected in the final sector, catching out Nicholas Latifi who could not go onto make his final lap.

Hamilton ended Q1 on top, followed by Verstappen and Bottas. The eliminated drivers were Raikkonen, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Schumacher, and Mazepin.

Q2

Medium was the tyre of choice for most teams, though AlphaTauri goes out with softs on both cars. Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas retain their places from A1 on their first attempts, until Gasly took second place.

Perez’s first attempt was a dud, with the Mexican only eighth and almost one second behind Hamilton. The Aston Martin’s and Alpine’s came out on the softs after the other teams finish their attempts. Their speed forces Leclerc and both McLaren’s to change their medium tires to softs.

Perez was also forced to take the soft tyre, as he finds himself on 12th place with 5 minutes to go in Q2.

Leclerc cannot improve enough and is left in P13, with Ricciardo struggling to 14th. The Biggest shock is Perez being eliminated in 11th place. Ferrari’s gamble with putting Sainz on mediums paid of, as the Spaniard qualified for Q3 in 10th place. The Alpines and AlphaTauri flew in Q2 and get both of their cars into Q3.

Q3

All drivers headed out straight away after the green light in Q3. The first attempts echo the standings from Q1 and Q2, with Hamilton leading ahead of Verstappen and Bottas with two tenths between all three drivers. Gasly and Alonso complete the top five, all five inside just over four tenths.

Hamilton was the first one out for the final attempts with little over three minutes left on the clock. Mercedes splits their cars a sector apart, quite unusual for the team. Verstappen was the last car to leave the pits.

Hamilton dug out an incredible first sector, beating everyone by three tenths. He finishes his lap with a 1:20.827, over four tenths faster than his previous fastest lap. Gasly’s front wing broke in the last sector, puncturing his tyre and causing short yellow flags. This meant Hamilton took the pole by four and a half tents to Verstappen in P2, followed by Bottas in P3. Gasly and Alonso kept their impressive P4 and P5.

Norris got 6th, followed by his golfing partner Sainz. Tsunoda was an impressive 8th, with Ocon in 9th. Vettel could only manage 10th in his Aston Martin.

Full Classification

via @F1 on Twitter

Chelsea Column: Youth and Shrewd signings key to Blues’ success

Another unbeaten month under Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea top the Premier League table. Things may have not been perfect at Stamford Bridge over the last month, but fate keeps swinging their way.

October was a very busy month for Chelsea. They competed in all competitions and then had an international break to add to matters as well, but it was still a great month for the blues.

No Timo? No Romelu? No Problem.

It wasn’t just Lukaku or Werner who were absent from the team for parts of this month, but many players were forced to miss a few games.

Going into the final games of the month, Mount, Kovacic, and Pulisic were all also ruled out of contention. However, this had no impact on Chelsea’s free flowing style of play.

Actually, not having a recognised striker on the pitch wasn’t too dissimilar than having one on the pitch. Lukaku didn’t get a single goal in October, which was not helped by his absence, but still the Chelsea curse may be getting to him as well.

Werner on the other hand was able to bag himself a goal against Southampton. After that though, he hasn’t done too much before his injury.

The great thing about Chelsea this season is that the squad depth is incredible, and we have some of the best goal scorers all over the pitch so playing without a striker is not the end of the world.

Ben Chilwell and Reece James have been on fire as they have been netting goals left, right and centre this month.

Chilwell’s stunning volley was enough to beat a very tricky Brentford side. He didn’t stop there as he got another goal in Chelsea’s 7-0 thrashing of Norwich.

Mason Mount also stepped up out of the fog to get a hat-trick against Norwich.

Chelsea know no bounds on where goals can come from and currently we still don’t know how long Werner and Lukaku are going to be out. But no matter how long they are out, I’m still confident Chelsea will be able to score goals.

Can we talk about the Chelsea youth system?

I may be going out on a bit of a limb here, but I honestly think the Chelsea youth system (despite it’s many and quite overt flaws) is one of the best in world.

Since Lampard came in two years ago, we have really seen this explosion of incredibly talented youth players come to the forefront of Chelsea’s squad.

Trevor Chalobah, Reece James, Mason Mount, Andreas Christiansen, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Everyone of these players is a product of the Chelsea youth development and are all currently playing regular first team football for Chelsea. I don’t think it would be outrageous to say that if they were all to feature in the starting XI, Chelsea fans would not blink an eye.

Out of all of those players, one is rising to super stardom at the moment and that is Reece James. Despite possibly falling out of favour with Tuchel towards the end of last season, with Azpilicueta favoured on the right, he has come back with a bang.

He scored an audacious chip against Norwich before getting a brace with two thunderous volleys against Newcastle. He was a hero in the EFL cup as he scored the winning penalty against Southampton to send Chelsea to the Quarterfinals.

Not to mention all the clean sheets that Chelsea have kept this month to add to just how good Reece James has been up and down the pitch this month.

But there is one more player I have to give credit to.

From unemployment to hero

Edouard Mendy has been Chelsea’s most important saviour, not just this season, but ever since we signed him at the start of last season.

Mendy has kept nine clean sheets in the 13 games that he has played so far this season and in the other four games, he has conceded only four goals. That’s world class.

In the last month we have seen some particularly great performances from Mendy.

When Chelsea played Brentford, Brentford gave everything they could to try and deny Chelsea three points.

I have to applaud Brentford in that game because they were relentless and were so much fun to watch despite Chelsea being the team they were tearing to shreds at times.

It’s hard to put into words just how good Mendy was that game. He was making incredible saves look easy and when Christian Nordgaard when for an epic overhead kick, Mendy was there to make an equally epic save to deny Brentford in the dying embers.

Before that he made to critical saves to stop Brentford mounting any form of come back. Chelsea owed those three points to Mendy, and no one can argue against it.

Even in games where Chelsea looked to be cruising, occasionally Mendy would be called upon.

During the Norwich game, Rashica was awarded a beautiful opportunity to get a goal back from Norwich, but Mendy was right on it and made a fabulous save to deny what should have been a certain goal.

In games where Chelsea struggle to get goals, it’s going to be these performances from Mendy which could lead Chelsea to the title this season.

10 games played, 3 points clear, but a lot of work still be done

We are only a quarter of the way through the season, and I will admit that I am getting excited at Chelsea’s potential to win the league, but I have to remind myself that this is not going to be easy.

While Chelsea may be three point clear and have already played four of the other five big six teams, there is still potential for Chelsea to slip up.

I was concerned that we did not have a good month in September, and I think I was justified in thinking that.

This month has been better, no doubt, but we have come across opponents that we should be beating comfortably, so the results we have seen over the month should come as no surprise to anyone.

Our position in the league has come from fortunate results in other games. The day Chelsea beat Newcastle, Liverpool drew to Brighton and City lost to Crystal Palace.

Coming up is fairly tough month for Chelsea with Leicester, Burnley, and Manchester united. Teams that may not seem so tough but are always tricky games for Chelsea and can be very unpredictable.

Another international break and a Champions League game against Juventus could make next month difficult for Chelsea.

With the squad depth and the positivity around Chelsea at the moment, I feel as though Chelsea will be prepared for what is to come in November.

Top 10 Memes of the 2021 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix

Gifted an opportunity that’s notoriously bad for on-track overtakes, Lewis Hamilton looked to completely turn the tables on title rival Verstappen. As F1 re-wrote the script for Sochi, a well earned podium by Red Bull leaves Hamilton in the lead, but not by much, with just 2 points separating the two going into Istanbul.

1

Posted on Reddit by Tj0ektj0ek

After a frankly underwhelming Qualifying for Hamilton, the champion’s aim for the Russian Grand Prix will have been to score as many un-answered points as possible.

Initially cautious, starting P4 and going backwards, the champ made use of excellent tyre wear and well-timed pitstops to take a well-earned win…with one small problem, Max Verstappen’s podium. The championship battle continues.

READ MORE – F1 2021 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX: LEWIS HAMILTON TAKES WIN AHEAD OF MAX VERSTAPPEN IN A DRAMATIC WET FINISH IN SOCHI

2

Posted on Reddit by Oli258

As we’ve established, Hamilton took the win today, and now we have the horrible job of breaking the news of who it came at the cost of.

While he can only blame himself for the scenario in which it happened, eschewing intermediate tyres that almost immediately became the de-facto compound to use, that will be of little to no comfort to himself and his fans. While his time will come, Norris needs to remove these incidents from his races to stand on the top step.

3

Posted on Reddit by stephennedumpally

The championship fight between Hamilton and Verstappen is now tight enough with so few races left to l swing the odds in your favour, both teams are now wont to do whatever it takes to try and gain a usable points advantage. This now means sacrificing the second driver in the team if you’re a Mercedes team with a 20 point advantage in the Constructor’s championship. That lead is now extended by another 15 points so expect that to only continue.

4

Posted on Reddit by eggheadking

The aforementioned strategies only work however, if the second driver is willing to play ball.

As a driver with a seat somewhere else, Bottas has no incentive to do much to help Mercedes’ plans even with a faster car and a predisposition to success at Sochi.

READ MORE 5 DRIVERS WHO NEED A GOOD RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX TODAY

5

Posted on Reddit by Summerof1974

Normally Sochi is a bland affair with little in the way of excitement or action. This year this was not the case and we almost feel like we’ve been robbed of a “Strike it from the calendar” hit-piece article. Better luck next year.

6

Posted on Reddit by Lucid_Night

As much as we may grumble about not being able to criticise Sochi, we are glad the race was interesting for once, and hope the same is replicated for years to come.

7

Posted on Reddit by Oli258

This meme works so well with the driver position tracker and a heartbeat, but the rain added a huge amount of variability and, more importantly, skill to the end of the race.

Teams and drivers having to manage the situation changing by the second as the best tyre type to use ebbed and flowed, finally moving towards the intermediates.

READ MORE – F1 2021 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX: QUALIFYING REPORT: NORRIS TAKES HIS FIRST POLE IN TRICKY CONDITIONS

8

Posted on Reddit by christopher_msa

That wasn’t to say the race was boring otherwise, the rain was more of a cherry on top of a very tasty Grand Prix. A mixed-up grid, free tyre choice for everyone and unseasonably cool weather all culminated in a tension filled race from start to finish.

9

Posted on Reddit by Ikcatcher

The race did have a more mundane section in the middle, as is to be expected and more importantly, a trait a lot of the good races have.

Azerbaijan 2017 was held up as a shining example of a thrilling race and yet that too had a slower middle section as the pitstops unfolded. What’s important to remember is that the race needs stakes and tension to become a classic.

10

Posted on Reddit by Unfunny_Gamer

It’s inevitable with the former team-mates battling in the early stages of the race and at other times during the season that there’s going to be some artistic license in DTS’ editing to cultivate drama and a story next spring. Get ready for it, you heard it here first.

With the gap in the championship as narrow as it’s been since Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton will look to replicate his 2020 win, hopefully with more favourable track conditions.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want to unravel exactly what caused the excitement today? The Grid Talk crew produce a preview, qualifying analysis show and race review for every Grand Prix weekend. You can check out the latest show on our Podcast section.

F1 2021 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX: LEWIS HAMILTON TAKES WIN AHEAD OF MAX VERSTAPPEN IN A DRAMATIC WET FINISH IN SOCHI

5 DRIVERS WHO NEED A GOOD RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX TODAY

F1 2021 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX: QUALIFYING REPORT: NORRIS TAKES HIS FIRST POLE IN TRICKY CONDITIONS

F1 2021 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW: CAN THE RAIN HELP MAX PULL OFF A MIRACLE?

IN THE PIT LANE – WHAT IS DIMITRY MAZEPIN’S NEXT MOVE?

Leeds United succumb to dominant Liverpool as Salah strikes his 100th league goal!

The mark of any great team is to rise from the depths of ordinary to reach the peaks of sublime.

Well, Liverpool are certainly in the league of the greatest Premier League teams ever, as they rose from a rather ordinary display against Chelsea in the 1-1 draw to a sublime 3-0 whitewash of Leeds United at Elland Road last evening.

A small number of Kopites who made the trip from Liverpool and millions more watching around the world were certainly more than satisfied as the three Reds’ stalwarts in Salah, Fabinho and Mane registered their names on the score sheet.

With this triumph, Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last 11 encounters against Leeds having won 8 and drawn 3 with their last loss coming more than two decades back in April 2001 as the Merseyside Maulers were conquered 2-1 at Anfield on that occasion.

Leeds United with this fourth successive loss since the inception of the season have piled up their most miserable campaign in any top-flight competition since 1958-59. Certainly not a good space to be in if you are a Peacocks’ fan.

So, without further ado lets dissect this rather pleasing performance The Reds showed in a game that also saw a red card:

Centurion Mohamed Salah, the difference maker in the first 45

Marcelo Bielsa’s team started this contest as the more assertive side creating their first opportunity on target in just the 4th minute as Rodrigo blasted a straight attempt at Reds’ keeper Alisson who was equal to the shot.

The visitors came back strong after the initial scare as Jota mounted a chance in the 14th minute when the Portuguese took down a Salah pass with his chest and hooked it on the volley to Leeds’ keeper Meslier who did well to take the sting out of the shot.

The momentum for The Reds would finally result in a hurrah in the 20th minute as the enigmatic Egyptian, Mohamed Salah put the visitors in front with a super strike to reach 100 goals in The Premier League after he was fed with a brilliant pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Credit – Reuters

Liverpool were up by a goal to nil early as the team gathered around the Egyptian to congratulate him on becoming the fifth fastest to reach the century landmark in this competition.

Minutes later Mane had a chance to put the visitors two to the good as his shot went above the post. Liverpool were certainly looking up for this one.

The Reds would continue to dominate the remainder of the first half albeit the second was not to be found much akin to a treasure hunter looking for the elusive treasure only to be disappointed in his excursion at least for the moment.

Fab Fabinho and Majestic Mane seal the deal

As the second 45 began, Liverpool continued their dominance as Mane and Salah both fired their shots wide.

Leeds were lucky not to concede and one could just feel the second goal was around the corner.

Well the goal came in a matter of moments as Fabinho did well to capitalize on a corner from Alexander-Arnold scoring on his second attempt as VAR did check on Sadio Mane being offside albeit the goal was given.

Credit – Official Liverpool FC Twitter Handle

The Brazilian midfielder had his first for The Reds in 15 months.

Seven minutes later Liverpool were dealt with a destructive blow as their teenage sensation Harvey Elliot was tackled rather roughly by Pascal Struijk who saw a red as the Liverpool midfielder was carried off the field on a stretcher.

Credit – Reuters

Jurgen Klopp was furious with this tackle and rightfully so!

In time we should know the magnitude of Elliot’s injury and wish him all the best on a speedy recovery.

In the 75th minute, Leeds had a chance to get one back as Bamford’s attempt was saved with much confidence by Alisson.

At the other end, Liverpool would continue their offensive onslaught as Sadio Mane came close to giving The Merseyside Maulers their third, only to be denied by the Leeds keeper.

Alisson again was up to the task in the 83rd minute, keeping a long-range effort out by Bamford jumping high to thwart the ball away.

Liverpool would finally have their third in injury time as Sadio Mane after numerous unsuccessful attempts on goal finally found fulfilment with a super strike on goal after he was fed with a fine pass by Thiago who did well to latch onto a long cross from captain Henderson.

As the referee called time, Liverpool were rightfully anointed as the 3-0 winners.

The winning momentum needs to continue for The Reds

With three wins and one draw so far in the season, The Reds are looking good and need to build on this momentum as the contests will most certainly get tougher in time.

Liverpool should continue to mount those offensive onslaughts and goals will surely become a regular feature in their play as we have seen this far.

The Champions League opener against AC Milan is upon The Reds next in a matter of a few days and nothing short of a win in the opener of Europe’s most prestigious club competition will suffice.

Having said this, make no mistake any Italian opposition is never a cake walk and The Merseyside Maulers will definitely have to bring their A game to the fore amid a 50,000 strong Anfield.

After all, when Kopites roar, Liverpool soar.

 ‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

F1 2021 Italian Grand Prix: Hamilton slumps in Sprint Qualifying

The second-ever Formula 1 Sprint Qualifying took place in the sunny and hot Italian afternoon. This was the warmest weather yet during the weekend, and that perhaps played into the decisions of the teams regarding the starting tire compounds. In the top 10, all cars had mediums except for the McLaren duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, who had opted for the soft compound.

The start was brilliant from Bottas starting from the front. His teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled getting off of the line, and the Briton fell to sixth behind Verstappen as well as both McLarens and even AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. Gasly however had quite an exit off-track in turn 3, when his front wing fell off after making contact with one of the McLarens in the first corner. Gasly was out after his crash and the safety car was brought out while the tire wall got fixed.

In the restart, Bottas has a good start once more, pulling a gap of 1.5 seconds to Verstappen on the first lap following the restart. Hamilton had a more difficult time, and could not mount a challenge on Lando Norris in fourth place.

Some action was offered by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez when he tried to overtake Lance Stroll in turn 1, but run out of room and had to cut the chicane. He was instructed by his team to give the position back, but overtook Stroll again, this time legitimately on the subsequent lap.

Bottas and Verstappen were the kings of Saturday, pulling far away from Ricciardo on third. Hamilton in the end was not able to overtake Norris, finishing a disappointing fifth. Due to Bottas’ penalties, the Finn will be at the back of the grid on Sunday, with Verstappen and Ricciardo lining up on the front row. For the Dutchman, the pole surely means much more than his two points from today.

More to follow

Baptised in Brilliance, The Legend of CR7 Scales a New Peak

Last night, a few thousand supporters at the Estádio Algarve witnessed a miracle, possibly the greatest thing to ever happen to the beautiful country of Portugal.

The enigma called Cristiano Ronaldo, the G.O.A.T of world football surpassed Iran’s Ali Daei to become the highest goal scorer in the international game with his 110th strike against the Republic of Ireland

You read that right 110 goals, a figure which most international footballers don’t reach in appearances let alone goals.

Well, if this wasn’t reason enough to cheer, in a matter of moments as the clock struck the last minute of injury time, CR7 netted in a second to reach 111 and hand Portugal a well deserved 2-1 victory in this European Qualifier for Qatar 2022.

Surely, the Portuguese captain is like the best wine going around, getting better and hotter albeit in looks and performance with each passing year.

At 36, he gives a run for their money to every young footballer with his sheer brilliance in dribbling, mounting those magnificent runs and to top it all, putting the ball in the back of the opposition net with much ease.

Simply brilliant!

World’s Envy, Portugal’s Pride.

A five-time Ballon d’Or award winner and four-time European Golden Shoes conqueror, the most for any European player, this enigma par excellence was instrumental for Portugal winning the 2016 Euros in France.

While he sustained an injury in the 25th minute of the historic Euro 2016 final against hosts France, his sheer determination to get Portugal to the finals and his team winning the tournament to honour this bastion of the game was worthy of every praise.

Well if this wasn’t reason enough to celebrate this icon, one need not look further than the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which too was conquered by Portugal beating Netherlands in the final under his captaincy.

Add to this, his thirty title victories in Club Football including five Champions League hurrahs, does it get better for any footballer. Ever?

Surely not!

For me the greatest strength that this legend exuberates is despite being a number 7 in football which essentially is a winger and second striker role, he can put most number 9s, the main strikers to shame with his sheer ability to mount goal after goal.

The number 7 jersey in football received cult status when this man of God like ability put a new sheen on it, after legends of the past in Robert Pires, Luis Figo and Sir Kenny Dalglish had done their bit to honour this jersey.

Throughout his historic 18-year international career he has been the king pin of Portuguese football around whom multiple stars have revolved.

To be relevant for 18 long years is testament to the fitness of this man who till date can put models with the best chiseled physiques to shame.

Well, The Rock of Gibraltar in footballing terms would seem tiny in front of the Rock of Portugal.

A boon for Manchester United

Life comes a full circle, doesn’t it?

It was at Manchester United that Cristiano Ronaldo first wore the number 7 jersey under possibly the greatest manager that club football has ever seen in Sir Alex Ferguson.

Wearing the number 7 jersey became an extra source of motivation for Ronaldo to honour legends like David Beckham, George Best and Eric Cantona who had previously donned this number for the Red Devils.

And now the great man is back, having signed a new contract at Old Trafford and will again don the number 7 for Manchester United. Certainly, a boon if you’re a United supporter and more misery for fans like me who worship their fiercest rival, Liverpool.

The Premier League will surely be ready to get Ronaldoed again as goals will flow like wine from this legend.

And why not, to make the impossible possible is to be Cristiano Ronaldo!

Spirited 10-man Chelsea hold Liverpool to a draw at Anfield amid flaring tempers!

Pitted as a must watch clash of the titans, Anfield was rather disappointed with the final outcome as 10-man Chelsea did well to keep Liverpool at bay in a 1-1 draw despite the relentless attacking intent shown by The Reds.

Surely, Thomas Tuchel’s side would have been the happier of the two teams despite losing their right back, Reece James to a red at the stroke of half-time and still holding their own in the second to see out a draw which in-truth seemed almost an away win for them.

Testament to their coming of age under the German!

Truth be told, this clash wasn’t only about on-field performance albeit also of raging tempers on either side when Reece James received the red having controversially kept the ball out with his hand which was headed into the back of the net and Salah scored as a result with the spot-kick.

Chelsea were surely unhappy with the decision and it showed as keeper Mendy kicked the ball away when Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson went to collect it after Salah’s penalty thereby resulting in a heated exchange between the two as their respective team members came in to diffuse the situation.

Having said this, on a more positive note for all Liverpool fans, despite this 1-1 draw, The Merseyside Maulers still continued their unabated run of not losing a single game in their last 13 league encounters having won 10 and drawn 3.

So, without further ado lets dissect this fixture that saw the small section of Blues supporters certainly being the happier bunch amid the sea of Red at Anfield:

Spoils are shared in the first 45 amid drama galore

Liverpool started the game as the more dominant of the two teams with their first chance coming in just the 4th minute as a sloppy display from Kai Havertz saw Salah get the ball and he in turn passed it to young Harvey Elliot whose strike went just inches off-target.

The Reds would continue to build attacks with a second chance coming in the 10th minute as Henderson volleyed the ball off-target with his first touch from a sumptuous Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Liverpool certainly looked up for this contest albeit much to their dismay, the opposition drew first blood when Kai Havertz loopy header found the back of the Liverpool net from a James corner in the 22nd minute. Truth be told, The Reds defence was in sixes and sevens as The German was given ample space to conveniently head the ball that beat keeper Alisson.

Chelsea led Liverpool by a goal to nil as the Kop and more importantly all of Anfield was in shock!

A comeback was more than the need of the hour.

Well, the comeback came in injury time as Mane’s strike was blocked by Reece James as the ball bounced of his leg inevitably onto his hand as it was going in.

Credit – Reuters

The result, a penalty as VAR asked the referee to decide by looking at the pitch side monitor and Chelsea’s misery soared further after James was also shown the Red as a deliberate attempt to keep the ball out with his hand.

The Blues were furious amid the rather controversial decision and Mohamed Salah made no mistake in drawing The Reds level with his 99th Premier League goal.

Credit – Official Liverpool FC Twitter Handle

As the first half ended there were ill-fated temper tussles between both the teams which also saw Blues’ defender Rudiger and keeper Mendy get a yellow.

Credit – The Liverpool Offside

Mendy keeps Liverpool’s attacking threats at bay in the second half

Having been reduced to 10-men and also scarred with two yellow cards, Chelsea as the second half began were all but emotionally drained. One would have expected Liverpool to capitalize on this situation and mount further misery on The Blues.

Well, The Reds certainly tried with mounting 24 shots with 7 of them being on target albeit Chelsea stood strong to keep the Merseyside Maulers at bay.

Liverpool had their first chance of the second half in the 51st minute with Jota’s header going just inches above the goal.

Minutes later keeper Mendy did well to keep a long Virgil Van Dijk shot out along with also standing tall to thwart Fabinho and Robertson’s efforts.

Truth be told, Liverpool were getting frustrated having not mounted a second despite having one additional player on the field.

As time went on so did Liverpool’s desperation to score with missing two more chances in the last 10 minutes as Jota and Salah were also denied by Mendy.

The Chelsea keeper had done fantastically well to deny Liverpool who had chances aplenty as the referee called time.

For a neutral and the small group of Chelsea fans at Anfield, this was almost a win for The Blues as they took an important point from this away fixture.

Not a dent but a learning for The Reds

For Jurgen Klopp and his team this draw which could easily have been a win as Chelsea were demoralized, being down to 10-men should not be seen as a dent but a learning.

Learning to capitalize better on opportunities when you have the opposition down and deflated.

Having said this Liverpool did try and had it not been for the stupendous efforts of Blues’ keeper Mendy, The Reds surely would have had a second.

Despite the draw, The Reds still sit pretty on third in the league table with seven important points and surely would hope for nothing less than a win when they lock horns with Leeds United next in the league before opening their European campaign against the Italian force A.C. Milan.

The season is still very open and all for Liverpool to make their own.

‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

F1 2021 BELGIAN GP: VErstappen takes pole as russell stars

Changeable conditions at Spa continued to wreak havoc amongst the F1 grid in a chaotic and controversial qualifying session for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen’s 6th pole of the season came at a much needed time but no one in their wildest dreams would’ve predicted that the Williams of George Russell would join him on the front row.

However, a nasty crash at Eau Rouge for Lando Norris raised yet more question marks over safety at the circuit.

Q1

Heavy rain in the minutes leading up to the session led to a slight delay to proceedings, but it wasn’t long before the timing pages were being lit up in a ever evolving first part of qualifying.

Whilst the rest of the field attempted their opening laps on full wet tyres, the two Williams drivers of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi braved the intermediates. This immediately paid dividends as they lapped several seconds faster than anyone else.

Yuki Tsunoda’s difficult run in qualifying sessions continued with another Q1 elimination (@AlphaTauriF1).

Once the rest of the field recognised this, they were soon in for the inters and the times began to tumble.

Most in danger in the latter stages of the session was Daniel Ricciardo who scrambled himself to safety in P12 as Yuki Tsunoda became the most notable driver eliminated.

Joining him in a Q1 exit were the Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen as well as the Haas drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

Q2

Q2 ran in much a similar way to Q1, with track conditions continuing to slowly improve in the intermediate conditions.

Alarmingly for the championship leaders, Mercedes struggled in the early stages of the session, and with just a few minutes to go, both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were in danger of elimination.

A quick stop for fresh inters solved that issue as both drivers comfortably moved into the top 10, however it was the McLaren of Lando Norris that was continuing to shine as him and Verstappen traded blows at the top of the standings.

The Ferrari drivers couldn’t find the winning formula in Q2 as they both failed to make the top 10 shootout (@ScuderiaFerrari).

Ferrari were having a difficult weekend, and both drivers would be high-profile Q2 eliminations, Charles Leclerc in particular unhappy with the way his team managed the session, gambling on more rain in the closing minutes.

Joining Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in the bottom five were Nicholas Latifi (his best qualifying result in F1) in P12, Fernando Alonso a disappointing P14 and Lance Stroll, who missed the chequered flag to start his final lap.

Q3

A huge rain shower in the interval between Q2 and Q3 moved the track back to full wet conditions and drivers cautiously went out, with Sebastian Vettel vocal on the radio that the conditions were now too dangerous to continue.

Sebastian Vettel checks in on Lando Norris after the McLaren’s huge crash in a touch of sportsmanship (@F1).

Unfortunately this message was not acted upon until Norris had a massive accident after losing it at the crest of Eau Rouge, pirouetting into the barrier at almost 200 mph. Vettel behind him stopped his car to check that the Brit was okay, which he fortunately was, but was deeply unhappy that the incident had been allowed to occur.

The red flags were immediately flown and a lengthy clean-up began as the rain slowly began to thankfully ease. Norris went to the local hospital for an X-ray on his elbow and will be deeply disappointed to be starting most likely from the pitlane on Sunday.

As the session resumed, conditions were on the crossover between full wets and inters, with Red Bull and Mercedes gambling on the later as Hamilton set the early pace.

However as the track continued to dry, it would all come down to the final laps and it was Verstappen who took a bit of championship momentum back with a brilliant pole.

George Russell had done a great job to even reach Q3, but he hadn’t finished there, scoring Williams’ best qualifying since Monza 2017 with a stunning front row effort.

George Russell showed yet another sign of his future potential with a stunning P2 (@WilliamsRacing).

Hamilton had to settle for P3, whilst Daniel Ricciardo made up for his teammate’s misfortune with his best McLaren qualifying in fourth with Vettel rounded out the top five.

Pierre Gasly was a solid P6, with Sergio Perez’s Red Bull in seventh. Valtteri Bottas’s P8 will become P13 after his grid penalty from Hungary is applied, whilst Esteban Ocon was the other runner left in Q3 in P9.

A Thrilling Race Ahead

With conditions predicted to be changeable tomorrow as well, a fascinating Grand Prix lies ahead.

Verstappen has a huge opportunity to seize back the championship advantage, however with Russell alongside him, how much risk will the Williams take on the opening lap to take glory?

Can Lewis Hamilton build on his recent form and outrace Verstappen on Sunday (@MercedesAMGF1)?

Hamilton’s wet-weather racecraft usually shines and he can never be ruled out, but could we see another first-time winner join Esteban Ocon in the record books?

Only time will tell.

Full Classification

Pos.No.DriverConstructorGap
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:59.765
263George RussellWilliams+0.321
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.334
43Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+1.099
55Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.170
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+1.399
711Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+2.347
877Valtteri BottasMercedes+2.737
931Esteban OconAlpine+3.748
104Lando NorrisMcLarenNo Time
1116Charles LeclercFerrari1:57.721 (Q2)
126Nicholas LatifiWilliams+0.335
1355Carlos SainzFerrari+0.416
1414Fernando AlonsoAlpine+0.484
1518Lance StrollAston Martin+0.510
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo2:02.306 (Q1)
1722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri+0.107
1847Mick SchumacherHaas+1.667
197Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+2.146
209Nikita MazepinHaas+2.633

F1 2021 Belgian GP: Leclerc, Verstappen cause red flags in practice

Rain did not cause much concerns to the teams in Spa on Friday. However, two red flags in the final 20 minutes of FP2 did more than enough damage to the weekend of both Ferrari and Red Bull. Mercedes must feel in form to start the second half of the season.

FP1

With cloudy weather and a damp track it was a quiet start to the weekend in Spa, Belgium. The Ferraris were the first cars to go out trying on intermediate tyres. Carlos Sainz was qouick to report back to his gaage that the track was dry enough for slicks.

The first corner caught out drivers in the beginning of the session. Both Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda spun there, Tsunoda even blocking the pit exit for a brief moment.

Red Bull lead the session for quite long, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez having set fast lap times early in the session. Verstappen kept improving his time and retained his top spot until Valtteri Bottas put his Mercedes on the top with seven tenths of a difference to Verstappen.

Rain began closing in on the track with ten minutes to go in FP1, resulting in most of the grid wrapping up their planned sessions slightly before the chequered flag.

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@F1 on Twitter

FP2

We received big news before the start of FFP2 as Red Bull announced that Sergio Perez would remain at Red Bull in 2022.

Bottas opened the session with once again a damp track on intermediate tires, reporting the track is too dry for inters.  After 15 minutes the drivers were finishing their first timed laps on slicks, with Bottas leading on 1:44.513, Hamilton following closely behind by 31 thousandths. Verstappen sat comfortably in third, six tenths behind the Mercedes duo however.

Hamilton was the first car out on soft compound, but failed to improve his time on his first try. Verstappen’s attempts on the softs brought him the top spot on the leaderboard, overtaking Bottas by 0.041s.

Esteban Ocon had a big spin in the exit of turn 13, but the Frenchman reported no damage on his Alpine car. Minutes later Charles Leclerc crashed in turn 7, causing red flags for 10 minutes. The session was able to resume with eight minutes left on the clock, meaning many teams were not able to complete their plans for the session.

Another red flag appeared with three minutes left in FP2, as Max Verstappen had crashed his Red Bull in the exit of the same corner where Leclerc had crashed before. The rear of his Red Bull was totaled, and the Dutchman could not move his car back to the garage.

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@F1 on Twitter

Brilliant Boks stand stall as patchy Argentina are annihilated twice

After a stupendous showing to overcome the British & Irish Lions 2-1 in the recently concluded three match test series at the CapeTown Stadium, a determined South Africa marched with much confidence to lock horns with Argentina at the onset of The Rugby Championship.

The result, Los Pumas were annihilated twice in a home and away fixture albeit in South Africa only owing to COVID restrictions at The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium with a score line that read South Africa 32 – 12 Argentina in the first fixture and Argentina 9 – 29 South Africa in the second.

To say the Boks were clinical would be an understatement, as they hadn’t played competitive rugby post the World Cup final in 2019 almost two years to date and despite that, they came on top on five occasions in the six games contested this season including the South Africa A hurrah over the Lions.

Simply brilliant!

Credit has to go to Head Coach, Jacques Nienaber and Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus for expanding the pool of players which paid dividend galore in the teams that the Boks have been able to field this season.

The depth in the Bok talent has been fantastic with the likes of Cobus Reinach replacing the injured Faf de Klerk at scrum-half and a new find in Jasper Weise who came in for Duane Vermeulen to make the number eight position his own.

Surely a star for the future once the stalwart of South African rugby decides to hangs up his boots.

Morne Steyn’s kicking abilities at 37 have also been as smooth as silk and what gives me immense confidence is to see Handre Pollard having able deputies in Elton Jantjies and Steyn in the fly-half position.

When dwelling on the depth in the Springbok reserves, how can one not talk about young Aphelele Fassi, who is considered one of the best full-backs in the country.

In his nascent career this season, the Sharks man has precisely shown why with the try he scored against the Los Pumas as he twice held on to the ball with one hand while under pressure before crossing the line. A performer second to none!

The icing on the cake one would reckon in this home season has been how every Springbok player has complemented his fellow team-mates with the only focus being on victory for the nation over individual gains.

Truth be told, the unity one has seen in this team is also testament to the Siya Kolisi’s leadership as through his stupendous performance in every game he has set a benchmark for his compatriots to follow.

Certainly, a breath of fresh air in a country that is still reeling from the self-inflicted wounds owing to political instability, rising unemployment and a dwindling economy.

An uncertain season ahead overshadows certainty in performance

As the season of The Rugby Championship moves ahead, the only certainty a Bok supporter is faced with is the outstanding performance that this team has shown.

Why do I say this?

Well, the Springboks and Argentina were to travel to Australia yesterday, albeit have not as the tournament has now gone into limbo due to New Zealand pulling out of their trip to Australia owing to a recent spike in the COVID cases.

While South Africa has put its hand up to host the remaining fixtures pending Government approval and Europe is also being looked at as an alternate, the decision on the future of The Rugby Championship solely rests on the better judgement of SANZAAR, The Southern Hemisphere Rugby Governing Body.

One can only hope the tournament continues as the performance the Boks have demonstrated this season certainly merits them winning this championship. Again!

Afterall they are playing their best rugby they have ever played in recent memory.

­­­Go Bokke Go!

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