Tag Archives: Formula 1

F1 2021 Russian Grand Prix Preview: Can the rain help Max pull off a miracle?

I used to think the Gods of F1 were blind. Lightning bolts desperately needed to be cast down on someone not named Mercedes and fan desperation never seemed to be enough to persuade them to pull the trigger. Well, here we are.

After yet another stunning race result nobody saw coming in Italy, it’s safe to say our calls have been answered. The booms from the thundering Gods are so loud nobody can know what’s going to happen next.

“Mercedes win in Russia”, “Max terrorises Sochi”, “McLaren finish 1-2 again”, “Kimi Raikkonen wins for Alfa Romeo”. At this point, none of those headlines would be a surprise and each is worth cheering for its own reasons.

Track guide

Russia is justifiably decried as one of the most boring tracks on the F1 calendar. It’s dead flat, unimaginative, and looks as though it was fenced like a prison yard. But it is wickedly fast and a place where mistakes are punished. While it has rarely held exciting races since its 2014 inception, this year’s F1 landscape is wholly different.

Image: F1

Sochi’s main point of interest is the huge left-hand Turn 3 that finishes off the fast Sector 1. From there, Sector 2 slows down and challenges the drivers with sharp corners leading to the back straight and a good passing opportunity. Sector 3 is all about getting it right before blasting down the main straight. Watch for an opening lap lead change or general mayhem at Turn 2.

Last time out

This was Ricciardo’s first win in over three years

Monza is F1 royalty for good reason. Every year, the Temple of Speed serves up a classic and this year was no different. A perfectly executed emphasis on aerodynamic balance saw Daniel Ricciardo earn McLaren’s first race win since 2012. Lando Norris followed the Australian home in second place to underscore the team’s triumph.

Lewis and Max made contact twice, finally taking each other out in a scary fashion the second time, and adding to the intrigue of their title fight. Valtteri Bottas, seeming like a man possessed since his contract non-renewal at Mercedes, fought all the way back to the podium from last. To say Monza was a race filled with story threads would be an understatement.

Will Verstappen and Hamilton collide again?

We could see similar scenes to this in Sochi again this weekend

There is more than one pivotal point to watch in Sochi. The most obvious is whether Max and Lewis can keep the racing contact-free. The two title contenders have seemed magnetic at times and it has cost them both. They are each fortunate the title fight remains intense.

Further incidents will start having more pronounced effects on the points table and with both teams seemingly capable of winning it all, an incident that heavily favours one team may wind up deciding it all.

As discussed earlier, McLaren won in Monza but, interestingly, the team did it on merit. With pole-sitter Bottas taking penalties and starting last, Ricciardo mugged his former teammate Verstappen into Turn 1 and dominated from there. He never appeared under serious threat even with a safety car working against him.

It would be premature to assume McLaren are suddenly in the title fight, but it is not so crazy to think they’ll be hanging around the top for the remainder of 2021.

Sergio Perez is another driver to keep an eye on this weekend. The Mexican has seen an up-and-down 2021 with a recent run of mixed results. He has always driven the Sochi Autodrome well and will be looking for a return to the podium.

Russia may sometimes be looked at like a race that can be missed. But in 2021, with the wild swings, surprise results, tight races and championship leads it would a mistake not to be excited for this weekend. The Russian Grand Prix is this Sunday, September 26th.

Session Times

Practice 1, Sept 24th: 09:30 – 10:30 (4:30 – 5:30 EST)

Practice 2, Sept 24th: 13:00 – 14:00 (8:00 – 9:00 EST)

Practice 3, Sept 25th: 10:00 – 11:00 (5:00 – 6:00 EST)

Qualifying, Sept 25th: 13:00 – 14:00 (8:00 – 9:00 EST)

Race, Sept 26th: 13:00 (8:00 EST)

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

Grid Talk Podcast

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

F1 Blast from the Past: Hamilton closes in on third title at Sochi

Background

Formula 1 made its second visit to the Sochi Autodrom for the fifteenth round of the 2015 season.

Lewis Hamilton led the Driver’s World Championship by 48 points coming into Russia following his victory in
Suzuka two weeks earlier. His teammate Nico Rosberg, however, continued his recent qualifying form by taking his second pole position in a row ahead of Hamilton.

Rosberg claimed pole position in Sochi. Image: Bleacher Report

Valtteri Bottas had been the star in Sochi in 2014, and looked impressive again with third on the grid ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. The two Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez lined up behind the Prancing Horses.

The major talking point on Saturday was the massive 46g crash sustained by Carlos Sainz Jr. in the Toro Rosso in the morning practice session. Miraculously, the Spaniard was unhurt and although he would have start from the back of the grid after missing qualifying, he was declared fit to race.

Race day

Race day was overcast but dry as 53 laps of Sochi got underway. Rosberg maintained the lead from Hamilton and Bottas, as Raikkonen got ahead of Vettel. As the field negotiated the first two corners, Nico Hulkenberg spun on cold tyres and collected both Max Verstappen and Marcus Ericsson.

Hulkenberg and Ericsson were out on the spot but Verstappen was able to continue, although the young Dutchman had to crawl back to the pits with a puncture.

After a brief Safety Car period, the race resumed on lap three. Bottas, having lost a position to Raikkonen on the opening lap, regained third place. On lap seven, Hamilton took advantage of Rosberg running wide into turn two and took the lead, however all was not well with the German’s car.

A problem with the throttle was unable to be remedied by the team and Rosberg retired for the only the second time in 2015.

On Lap 12, Romain Grosjean was running 13th in the Lotus when the Frenchman lost control in turn three and had a heavy shunt into the barriers. Thankfully, Grosjean was uninjured but with debris from the wrecked Lotus strewn across the track the Safety Car made a second appearance.

With the race still in its early stages, most of the front runners opted to stay out, but Force India and Red Bull decided on a different strategy. Perez and Riccardo both made a pit-stop and re-joined ninth and tenth, respectively.

Pit-stops change everything

Valtteri Bottas became the first of the leading runners to pit at the end of Lap 27. The Williams pit crew performed a good turnaround, but the Finn emerged in traffic and that allowed Vettel to leapfrog him after the German made his stop on Lap 31.

Raikkonen couldn’t quite get ahead of his compatriot though, and re-joined after his stop behind the Williams. Perez and Riccardo were both preserving their old tyres, but had Bottas and Raikkonen both closing them down, Bottas successfully moved ahead of Riccardo on Lap 45. Raikkonen found the Red Bull harder to pass, eventually finding his way through on Lap 49.

Worse was to come for Riccardo though, as suspension failure resulted in the Australian’s third retirement of the year.
At the front, Hamilton and Vettel were secure in first and second, but Perez in third on old tyres could not hold off a charging Bottas and Raikkonen for much longer.

Frantic final laps

With two laps to go, Bottas seized his opportunity and moved into third, with Raikkonen also getting ahead as the Mexican was offline. With just one lap to go Raikkonen made an optimistic move on Bottas, the two collided and Bottas
was into the barriers, Raikkonen continued but with heavily-damaged front-left suspension.

Force India were suitably pleased as this collision, as it promoted Perez back up to third.

But it was Lewis Hamilton’s day, untroubled at the front to take his ninth victory of the year.

Sebastian Vettel’s second place pushed him into the runner-up spot in the championship, albeit some 66
points behind Hamilton. The ecstatic Perez was third with Massa salvaging something for Williams in
fourth.

Raikkonen crossed the line fifth, but was demoted to eighth after a 30-second penalty for the incident with Bottas. Local hero Daniil Kvyat inherited fifth place ahead of Felipe Nasr in an excellent sixth for Sauber. Pastor Maldonado had a competitive race in the Lotus finishing seventh.

While at McLaren-Honda, a double points finish was lost when Fernando Alonso lost 10 th place thanks to a time penalty for exceeding track limits. Max Verstappen took the final point after a good recovery drive.

For Lewis Hamilton, however, a third title was virtually in the bag, while Mercedes secured their second consecutive constructors crown.

Grid Talk Podcast

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

In the Pit Lane – What is Dimitry Mazepin’s next move?

The “American” Team

As the F1 circus moves on to Sochi for the next round of the 2021 season, Russian President Vladimir Putin will no doubt be pleased the Haas cars can circumvent the ban on drivers racing under the Russian flag with the adoption of the ‘Russian-themed’ livery.

Haas have courted much controversy for their perceived Russian flag livery. Image: Autosport

The irony of course is Haas arrived on the F1 scene with the emphasis on the team being F1’s American team!

Much has been written over why Gene Haas remains in F1, with various theories doing the rounds.

One school of thought is Gene Haas turned down the more than generous offers tabled in 2019 by the Saudi’s and Dmitry Mazepin from a patriot standpoint ensuring an American team remains on the grid. 

This may have been in doubt, as William’s new owners’ American private equity firm Dorilton Capital was also rumoured to be ‘having a look’ at Haas. The patriotic angle can now be dismissed, however, as news has emerged that Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport approached Gene Haas to buy the team only to be turned down.

Andretti Autosport is in the process of raising $287.5m to top up its available spending pot to $400m. Andretti was a potential bidder for Force India, and only walked away when faced with what they perceived to be ridiculous valuations.

With Williams, Dorilton outbid all interested parties to secure the ownership for its unknown mystery beneficial owner.

Andretti back in F1?

Andretti Autosport is a serious player running a 4-car Indy team. a Formula E team with BMW, a 4-car Indy Lights team, and an LMP3 car in the ISMA’s Sportscar series.

Andretti’s IndyCars are just one of the outfits racing teams

Undeterred by Gene Haas’ rebuttal, Michael Andretti confirmed a continuing interest in F1 telling Racer magazine, “If the right opportunity comes up, we’ll be all over it. But we’re not there yet, It would be great, but there’s a long way to go if it were to happen.”

Instead of selling, Gene Haas took Mazepin’s sponsorship Rubles in return for Junior’s race seat and of course the opportunity to brand the cars. Mazepin Sr. may or may not be disappointed with Nikia’s performance to date, but he is apparently delighted with the global exposure his company Uralkali has received.

The sponsorship has been instrumental in opening doors and has resulted in new business that has more than recouped his investment.

Could Mazepin invest outside of Haas?

The world’s biggest potash producer has just got even bigger, and this may have increased his desire to own a team not only for his son’s career but for the business opportunity that F1 presents not dissimilar to Lawrence Stroll’s F1 journey.

Unsurprisingly, Mazepin Senior has funded his son’s racing career from the get-go

If Mazepin wants to own a team, there are only two other realistic options, Williams, or Sauber, but both will in all likelihood be out of reach. 

In William’s case, if Mazepin writes a big enough cheque, you would naturally assume a private equity firm would do what private equity firms do, namely take the money and run. 

A similar scenario exists at Sauber aka Alfa Romeo which is owned by billionaire Swedish Finn Rausing worth $14.4bn courtesy of the Tetra Pak empire. Rausing became involved in F1 when back in 2016, he was approached by fellow Swede Marcus Ericsson who drove for the Sauber F1 team that was in financial difficulties.

Rausing bought out owner Peter Sauber and chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn initially through his secretive Swiss investment firm Longbow Finance SA, later transferring the ownership to himself. He appointed trusted family friend Pascal Picci as chairman and took no active role in the running of the team.

Rausing quietly attendees race weekends without any media attention.

He is a regular visitor to the factory in Hinwil, Switzerland spending hours happily chatting away to engineers. Rausing currently supports the team to the tune of $20-$30m, so it may be like Williams a heart and not a head decision. Well, he’s got to spend his money on something!

Mazepin F1 on the way?

The million-dollar question, or more accurately the multi-million-dollar question, is would Mazepin start a new team with all that involves?

Well, Liberty Media would like to expand the number of teams on the grid after the pandemic has ended. Sporting Director Ross Brawn commented to Russian broadcaster RT in July 2020, “If there was interest from a Russian team or any other that we thought was sustainable then we would be fully open to exploring the opportunity.”

One option for Mazepin would be to join forces with fellow Russian billionaire Boris Rotenberg, founder of the Russian bank SMP. Along with his brother Arkady, Boris owns the SGM Group, the largest construction company for gas pipelines and electrical power supply lines in Russia.

Rotenberg is a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin from his childhood. Both men learned judo together in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg).

Rotenburg has had a few issues…

It’s not all been plain sailing for Boris. Image: Moscow Times

The SGM Group was involved in large infrastructure projects in Crimea, which after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 led to American sanctions of both brothers and their assets.

The U.S. Treasury claimed that Putin had awarded the Rotenberg’s billions of dollars in contracts from Gazprom and for the Sochi Winter Olympics. 

EU sanctions followed, but only covered property in Rome and Sardinia valued at €30m.

As Rotenberg held Finnish citizenship, due to a previous marriage to a Finnish citizen, he bypassed the sanctions. The assets included three villas in Eze, Nice, and Rotenberg’s racing team SMP Racing, which also trains drivers in the city of Le Luc, France.

SMP Racing has a host of Russian drivers on its books, including ex-Williams F1 driver Sergey Sirotkin and rising star Robert Schwartzman.

Rotenberg has more than money behind him…

Rotenberg is a confirmed petrolhead and raced in a variety of series from 2011 to 2014 with his biggest achievement coming 2nd in the 2012 – 24 hours of Barcelona race.

Rotenberg is interested in forming an all-Russian F1 team using SMP racing and made clear his intentions back in October 2019 at the Russian Grand Prix. He said, “The more you try to create in motorsport, the more chance you have to flourish. Do we want to create a Formula 1 team? I think the more teams there are, the more opportunities there will be for our drivers.

“Everything is possible. The main thing is to make the effort. First of all, are the financial considerations.”

Well, in 2020 Rotenberg planned to invest in Dutch car maker Spyker that would enable the company to resume producing a range of three sportscars in 2021 namely The C8 Preliator supercar, the D8 Peking-to-Paris SUV, and the b6 Ventator supercar. 

Hoping to emulate Ferrari, McLaren, and Aston Martin with a sportscar manufacturer sponsoring their own F1 team Rotenberg ambitiously claimed, “Our group of companies will launch the Spyker brand successfully in the league of the world’s best super sportscars.”

Alas, it all ended in tears with the investment never materialising and Spyker filing for bankruptcy in January.

In May 2021 BR Engineering, the race car constructor established by SMP Racing released details of their third single-seater car, the BR03 developed specifically for the Russian market.

Rotenberg may be down but is not out and no doubt is planning his next move aboard his brother’s $75m superyacht ‘Rahil’.

So, will a combination of Mazepin’s money and Rotenberg’s expertise create a new all-Russian F1 team?

Time will tell.

Garry Sloan is an author, columnist, and podcaster more details at garrysloan.com

Copyright ©2021 Garry Sloan

[Note: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors and/or publishers.]

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:

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

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

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

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

Track Guide

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

Image credit: Formula 1

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

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

Last time out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Mercedes challenge at a power track?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Session Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grid Talk Podcast

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

F1 Blast from the Past: Championship Rivals Collide at Monza

Background & Qualifying

The twelfth round of the 1995 Formula 1 season brought the championship to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher had extended his championship lead over Damon Hill to 15 points after the German’s sensational victory at Spa.

David Coulthard claimed his second pole for Williams at the Italian GP. Image: DeviantArt

Both title contenders had to give way to David Coulthard in qualifying however, the young Scotsman was in dominant form over the weekend and recorded a pole position time half a second faster than Schumacher’s Benetton.

Gerhard Berger gave the Tifosi some cause for optimism with third on the grid ahead of Damon Hill. Jean Alesi was fifth in the second Ferrari, with Rubens Barrichello an impressive sixth for Jordan-Peugeot.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: FERRARI OUT-SMART MCLAREN AT THE A1 RING

Race day

The 53-lap race had not even started when the drama began, polesitter Coulthard unbelievably spun off on the
formation lap exiting the Variente Ascari and was unable to take the start. Schumacher thus inherited the top starting spot and got away from the line first with Gerhard Berger challenging him on the run down to the Retifilio chicane.

Schumacher inherited the lead from Coulthard, but it wouldn’t last long. Image: F1

Alesi was up to third with Johnny Herbert making a storming start from seventh to fourth ahead of Hill’s Williams.
Coming out of the Variente Alta, a spin from Max Papis’ Footwork on the dust triggered from Coulthard’s Williams caused chaos.

Jean-Christophe Boullion, Roberto Moreno and Andrea Montermini were all eliminated, and the race was immediately brought to a halt. Moreno’s Forti and Montermini’s Pacific were unable to take to the restart while the red flag was music to Williams’ ears, as David Coulthard was able to start the race and from his pole position.

Second time lucky

At the second start, Coulthard converted pole into the lead while Berger made an even better getaway than he done at the first start. Schumacher was relegated to third, with Hill holding his fourth position ahead of Alesi and Johnny Herbert, as the field settled into the race.

Ten laps in and Martin Brundle was out of the race after a puncture damaged the Ligier’s suspension, bitter disappointment for the Englishman after such an impressive performance in Belgium two weeks earlier.

On Lap 14, Coulthard spun off again at the Variente della Roggia, though as he re-joined it became clear that this time, driver error was not the cause for the Scotsman’s demise. A failed front-wheel bearing resulting in his sixth retirement of the year. Much to the excitement of the Tifosi, Berger took over the lead.

Gerhard Berger now led the race, but he too would fall foul of bad luck. Image: Pinterest


On Lap 24, the Austrian continued to lead ahead of Schumacher second and Hill in third. The two title contenders were lapping Taki Inoue’s Footwork as they entered the Variente della Roggia. Inoue’s presence caught out Hill, who mis-timed his braking and hit the back of Schumacher’s Benetton. For the second time in 1995, the pair had collided, and both were out of the race.

Schumacher was furious and remonstrated with Hill, as the Englishman sat in his car.

At the end of Lap 25, Berger made his one and only scheduled pit-stop, the Austrian was demoted to sixth, while Alesi took the lead. A string of pit-stops unfolded, as Alesi headed to the pits one lap later.

Barrichello, Hakkinen and then Johnny Herbert in the sole surviving Benetton led for two laps before his pit stop. Slick work by his mechanics ensured he re-joined ahead of Barrichello and Hakkinen in third position. Eventually, Alesi had regained the lead ahead of teammate Berger.

Dream turns to nightmare

The Italian Tifosi were dreaming of the first Ferrari one-two finish since 1990, but on Lap 33, their hopes were dashed when Alesi’s onboard camera parted company with the Frenchman’s car. In a cruel twist of fate, it bounced into Berger’s left-front suspension and the Austrian was out of the race.

Alesi would also fall foul of some awful luck in Ferrari’s home race. Image: Girando & Co.

Jordan had been enjoying a strong afternoon, but the Irish team’s race unravelled in the space of four laps when Eddie Irvine’s engine blew, and Barrichello lost fourth place when his clutch failed.

At the front, Alesi looked set for his second victory of the season, when with just eight laps remaining, it was heartbreak for the Frenchman, as the right-rear wheel bearing failed.

The double-retirement for Ferrari allowed Johnny Herbert, who after suffering so much misfortune in his career found himself having the luck fall on his side. The Englishman took his second victory of the season, over 17 seconds clear of Hakkinen in second and Heinz-Harald Frentzen scored his and the Sauber team’s first ever podium finish with third.

Mark Blundell finished fourth, putting both McLaren’s in the points for only the second time in 1995, while Mika Salo scored the first points of the season for Tyrrell in fifth. The final point was taken by Jean-Christophe Boullion in sixth, the Frenchman having overtaken Max Papis on the very last lap.

Herbert was understandably delighted with his victory, and firmly stated his claim for a drive in 1996 after been dropped by Benetton. However, the major talking point focused on his teammate Schumacher and his collision with Hill.

The championship battle was stalemate due to both retiring from the race, but Hill had some explaining to do. Schumacher apologised to Hill after Taki Inoue accepted responsibility for the incident, and the pair resumed their quest for the 1995 championship.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Italian GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their Italian Grand Prix Preview! George Howson hosted Tom Downey and Jawad of from Hit the Apex in their latest podcast. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:

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

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

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

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

Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full classification

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

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

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

But let’s get straight into the Friday action.

FP1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferrari look like contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP1 Classification

Credit: F1

FP2 Classification

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

Background

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

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

Qualifying Washout

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

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

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

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

Race day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauda’s final great tactical drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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