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

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

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

Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Classification

Grid Talk Podcast

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

Grid Talk Podcast

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

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

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

Let’s get straight into the Friday action.

FP1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does Tsunoda keep crashing?

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

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

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

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

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

FP1 Full classification

FP2 Full classification

Grid Talk Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

Split choice of the tyres

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

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

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

A very punchy start

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alonso fought hard, but couldn’t hold on

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

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

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

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

Carlos Sainz makes a good recovery

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

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

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

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

Mixed bag for Red Bull

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

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

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

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

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

Full classification

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

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

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

Let’s get straight into how qualifying unfolded!

Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3

It was now time for the shoot-out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full classification

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

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

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

So, let’s get straight into the action.

FP1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferrari continued their strong form

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP1 Classification

Credit: F1

FP2 Classification

Grid Talk podcast

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

F1 2021 French Grand prix Qualifying report: Verstappen beats Both Mercedes to get pole at Paul Ricard

After a point-less weekend for the title contenders in Baku, both drivers were giving it all going into this weekend. But, aside from them, Charles Leclerc was looking for his third successive pole position in his Ferrari.

Max Verstappen was on fire going into qualifying, topping the timing sheets in FP3 by seven tenths of a second, but Mercedes did show good pace and so did Carlos Sainz. The battle was wide open going into Qualifying.

Here are the highlights from Qualifying!

Q1

The action started immediately in Q1 as Yuki Tsunoda put his car in the wall at the exit of turn 2. He hit the curb on the inside of the turn 1 and spun his car round. The crash brought out the red flag.

Another crash for Yuki in Qualifying, previously crashing in Imola and Baku. Credit: F1

Yuki tried to get the car into gear to pull away again but the car refused to go into first gear which forced him out of the session. This crash was Yuki’s third retirement from Qualifying this season.

All the cars lined up in the pitlane to get a lap in as the session resume with 14 minutes left to go. After the first round of fast laps it was Red Bull who was setting the pace with Max leading Perez in a Red Bull 1-2.

Track limits was a phrase being thrown around once again with Lance Stroll having his time deleted for going wide on the exit of turn 6. Before that he stuck his Aston Martin in 4th place. His team-mate Sebastian Vettel was also running well putting his car in 7th on his first run.

As the drivers were completing their final flying laps there was another red flag, this time it was Mick Schumacher in the wall. Mick was running in 14th place and managed to get into Q2 with the red flag, therefore would be starting in 15th tomorrow. Of course this will depend on the state of his gearbox.

It was unlucky for Lance Stroll who had no lap time due to track limits. His first attempt was hampered by traffic and the red flag meant he would start on the back row of the grid.

Along with Stroll and Tsunoda, Mazepin (18th), Raikkonen (17th) and Latifi (16th) were eliminated from Q1. Latifi missed out on Q2 by 0.002 seconds with Mr Saturday, George Russell making another Q2 appearance.

Q2

Q2 time and both Mercedes and Red Bull went out on the Medium tyres as expected. All the midfield teams also opted to go for the Mediums as well. Only George Russell went out on the soft tyres at the start of Q2. Williams hoping this strategy would get them into Q3.

Bottas fastest in Q2 on the mediums, could this be a sign for the race? Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Norris was another victim of track limits as his time was deleted for running wide at turn 6. His time would have been good enough for 6th place.

It was Sergio Perez who set the initial pace with Verstappen close behind. It looked as though Mercedes were looking to conserve their tyres as Bottas could only achieve 4th place, behind Carlos Sainz. Hamilton was further back in 6th.

Norris was forced to do another lap on his Medium tyres and put his McLaren in 7th place. He wasn’t the only driver to do multiple laps though. Hamilton stayed out for a second run and put himself at the top of the timing sheets by less than a tenth of a second.

Drivers did not opt for the softs for their second runs apart from Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Norris went out for his second run, however he was told to box. He wasn’t safe into Q3 so it would be tight if he would make it into the top 10 shootout.

He was saved though as the drivers behind struggled to improve. It was also great for Daniel Ricciardo as he would not have to start the race on the soft tyres.

It was disappointment though for Ocon in his home race as he could only put his Alpine in 11th. Alonso in the other Alpine though did make it into Q3, putting his car in 8th.

The drivers eliminated in Q2 were Mick Schumacher (15th), George Russell (14th), Antonio Giovinazzi (13th), Sebastian Vettel (12th) and Esteban Ocon (11th).

Q3

Time for the final shootout. It was one a piece between Mercedes and Red Bull, but it did look as though Red Bull had the pace advantage on the soft tyres.

Mercedes looked very quick on the Medium tyres so they could choose to make the switch for the second run if Red Bull had too much of an advantage.

Max gets his second pole position this season, his first coming in Bahrain. Credit F1

Norris did emerge for Q3 despite pitting early in Q2 and not completing a second run.

Verstappen was the first to set a lap time out of the front runners and, despite going a bit wide at turn 2, he put it on provisional pole, four tenths of a second faster than Hamilton.

Perez was third, a tenth behind Lewis with Bottas three tenths further back in fourth. It was going to be a big ask for Lewis to make up 4 tenths of a second, but he is a seven-time world champion.

As the drivers went out for their final flying laps, pressure was on Pierre Gasly who had his lap time deleted for tack limits.

Lewis set the fastest first sector and was keeping up in the middle sector. However, Verstappen went a further 3 tenths faster than his first lap and it was too much to ask for Lewis to beat it. Lewis managed to find half a second, but Verstappen took his second pole position this season.

Bottas pipped Perez to get third place and Carlos Sainz was just behind in 5th.

It is game on for the race tomorrow and it’s going to be a big ask for Max to keep those Mercedes behind.

Full classification

F1 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: FP1 & FP2 report – Red Bull dominates as Mercedes are nowhere to be seen

It’s been two years, but Formula One returns to Baku for Friday practice.

After Red Bull’s dominance over Mercedes in Monaco, it would be interesting to see if Mercedes could make up ground on the charging bulls, but it didn’t seem to be the case.

It was a dominant day for Red Bull, as they set the fastest laps in both sessions today. Mercedes were either having a horrible day or keeping their cards very close to their chest. So let’s see how today’s sessions played out!

FP1

Unsurprisingly, it was Max Verstappen who set the pace in first practice, but he had both Ferraris for company.

However, the talk of FP1 was dominated with the talk of flexi wings. The FIA were doing tests to measure how much various team’s rear wings flexed under high speed.

This debate has been going on for some time now, but the FIA are using this weekend to gather data and then give further guidance to teams.

Back to the on-track action and the mobile Russian chicane was having a field day of ruining people’s laps, including Max Verstappen’s first flying lap. Luckily for the Dutchman, he was able to put in a second flying lap which took him to the top of the timing sheets.

But it was far from plain sailing for the rest of the field as many drivers ended up facing the wrong way throughout the session as they wrestled with the windy conditions.

Yuki Tsunoda almost re-created Mahaveer Raghunathan’s embarrassing Baku moment as he struggled to find reverse after locking up at Turn 4.

It was Turn 15 that drivers were finding the most difficult with Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz all having their own moments.

Turn 2 had it’s own share of drivers using it’s escape road with Bottas and Norris using it at the same time late on in the session.

So, while Red Bull topped the time sheets, Mercedes could not find time to set a clean lap, so they ended up further down the time sheets. Lewis Hamilton was 7th and Bottas was 10th.

It was the two Ferrari cars who were just behind Verstappen, continuing to show their pace from Monaco and then closely followed by the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, who is looking to put his Monaco performance behind him.

FP2

The second practice session continued as the first one ended.

Plenty of cars were taking to the escape road, with turn 15 proving to be a real problem for the drivers. For Charles Leclerc it was more than a small problem. Leclerc was on a fast lap before locking both front tyres going down hill and put his Ferrari in the wall.

Luckily, it was not as damaging as his crash at Turn 8 back in 2019. He was able to reverse out of the wall and drive back to the pits for a new front wing.

That incident was not the only stoppage of the session as Nicholas Latifi ran into engine issues which brought his session to end 20 minutes into second practice.

Juts like in Free practice one, it was Red Bull dominance once again with Sergio Perez topping the timing charts with Verstappen just behind.

Ferrari were again just behind both Charging Bulls and despite his crash, Leclerc still put his Ferrari in 4th.

Mercedes were in no man’s land yet again with neither driver breaking into the top 10. On a brighter note though, Mercedes showed that their pace on the medium tyres was very competitive with Red Bull’s pace on the soft tyre.

This could mean that tyre strategy in qualifying tomorrow could be key.

Tyres were a big talking point with both Ferraris complaining of graining on the soft tyres and Max getting vibrations the more laps he did on the soft tyre.

With all this uncertainty with the tyres on longer runs, we could see a mixture of tyre strategies for the race which could make this race very interesting.

Could Ferrari be a competitor this weekend?

In both sessions today Ferrari were asserting themselves as the second fastest team on the grid, only a few tenths off Red Bull.

If not for Leclerc’s crash in qualifying, Ferrari would have had an incredibly positive weekend in Monaco, and they are looking to replicate again this weekend.

Ferrari are showing very strong short-run pace which could cause some upsets in Qualifying so Red Bull will have to be very wary of the Prancing horses would are looking very fast behind them.

FP1 Classifcation

FP2 Classification

Grid Talk podcast

Can’t wait until tomorrow for more F1 content? Why not check out the Grid Talk’s Azerbaijan Prixview hosted by Ruby Price and this week is joined by George Howson, Steve Jackson from Formula Shakedown and Phillip Matthew from the Grid Strip podcast.

What We’ve learned from Formula 1 2020 so far

The start of the Formula 1 2020 season has been hectic to say the least. 6 races in 7 weeks with 2 triple-headers. The next race in Spa is not until next weekend, so now seems like a good time to catch a breath and reflect on what has been a very up-and-down season thus far.

Lewis Hamilton Is Still The Man To Beat

Despite the talk and speculation surrounding Red Bull and Valtteri Bottas prior to the season, Lewis Hamilton is firmly on route to match Michael Schumacher’s illustrious tally of 7 titles this year.

It’s a shame to say it so early, on but the driver’s championship is over. The constructor’s is too for that matter. After only 6 races, Hamilton has a whopping 37-point lead over his closest challenger, Max Verstappen, and a 43-point lead over Bottas.

Granted, Mercedes have comfortably had the best car this season, but Hamilton has still had to convert car performance into wins. He has done this effortlessly, with some really dominant victories.

This is arguably the most dominant Mercedes car since 2016, despite the Silver Arrows scoring only one 1-2 finish so far. No one is getting anywhere close to them in qualifying, and largely, the same is true for Sundays.

Instead of being mad at Mercedes though, which I know many fans are; maybe we should be asking questions of Red Bull and Ferrari who, in what is the 7th season of the turbo-hybrid era, are still not on the level of Mercedes.

Considering there have been no massive regulation changes in this period, and both teams’ significant budget, the fact they are both still miles away from delivering a championship winning car is poor.

Of course, it’s a shame we have been deprived of a true championship battle for years now. But I don’t think its right to blame Mercedes for this. Let’s hope the remainder of the calendar provides us with some good races, regardless of how insignificant their baring on the championship may be.

Max Verstappen Is The Real Deal