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2021 Qatar Grand Prix: FP1 & FP2 report: Bottas tops FP2, but Lewis stuck behind Verstappen.

F1 arrives in Qatar for the very first time and Friday practice was, for many of the drivers, their first look at the track. This track has been used for MotoGP for many years, so it would be interesting to see how the F1 cars get on.

With three races left, the tension has really ramped up in the title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Today’s session would give us an insight if Mercedes could have another dominant weekend.

Let’s get straight in Friday Practice!

FP1

It took a while for the drivers to finally get to grips with the new track, but no matter how much preparations the drivers do, there will always be those who push the limits a bit too hard and get punished for it.

The two Haas drivers were the first to start pushing the track limits as Mazepin went wide at turn 4 and kicked up a lot of dust. Schumacher pushed the limits a bit too much and found himself having a trip through the gravel at the end of the session.

Plenty of drivers were kicking up dust onto the track and the kerbs were also providing a spectacular show. George Russell ran wide and sparks were literally flying, I’m sure Williams would have a look at the floor after that.

McLaren would have definitely looked as Norris ran wide and a piece a bodywork flew off the car as he went over the kerbs.

As the session went on, the time were tumbling as the dust clears and the track rubbered in. But, it was Max Verstappen who was looking comfortable at the top of the timing sheets.

Lance Stroll’s session ended prematurely as he suffered a brake by wire problem which ruled him out of the session.

Problems then hit Lando Norris as he was crawling down the pit-lane. It appeared as though he was having some engine issues. The replays showed him riding the kerbs very aggressively again which seemed to have caused the issue. Lando was able to roll his car down the pit-lane to the garage and got back out on track later in the session.

Lewis Hamilton then looked to have an issue with his front wing as the Mercedes mechanics were having a very close look at the problem.

When the session ended, it was Max Verstappen who topped the timing sheets followed by Pierre Gasly.

FP2

We were now under the lights in Qatar as the drivers took to the track for Free Practice 2.

The stewards had taken a very laisse-faire attitude to track limits in FP1 as they looked to see where the drivers were gaining an advantage. The stewards had decided that they were going to use the purple and white kerbs as the track limits.

There would be an absence from this session as Nikita Mazepin required a brand new chassis after the old one was damaged during FP1.

It was an immediate battle between Red Bull and Mercedes as all four drivers topped the timing sheets as one point as they explored the track on the Medium tyres. But, it was Valterri Bottas who was looking comfortably quickest at the top.

The kerbs were still proving to be troubling for a few drivers. Lance Stroll who was having problems in FP1 had a moment over the kerbs and so did Antonio Giovinazzi. We saw a huge piece of bodywork fly off the back of the Alfa Romeo.

Max Verstappen was trying his hardest to wrestle his Red Bull closer to Valterri Bottas, but he couldn’t quite do it. He was losing time in all sectors as his Red Bull looked to be struggling to find the right balance.

As the cars ditched their quick runs and settled into their long runs, some drivers were being plagued by traffic issues. Sebastian Vettel ran into traffic twice in one lap as he was held up by both Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez.

For others, the dust was still roving to be a bit of a problem. Lewis Hamilton went straight on at turn1 and kicked up plenty of dust as he re-joined the track.

Charles Leclerc dipped a wheel on the AstroTurf which dragged him into the gravel trap. He was fortunate not to get bogged down and re-joined the track.

But at the end of the session it was Valtteri Bottas who was fastest followed by Pierre Gasly and then Max Verstappen.

Bahrain 2.0 for Tsunoda?

We have slowly seen Yuki Tsunoda ditch his demons and start to be more competitive, but we have yet to see a performance that rivals is first race in Bahrain all the way back in April.

However, Yuki Tsunoda has been looking very competitive so far this weekend. He has been a lot closer to Pierre Gasly this weekend and been generally competitive in the midfield.

AlphaTauri are currently in a tight battle with Alpine for 5th in the Constructor’s championship and while Pierre Gasly has been doing a lot of the heavy lifting for AlphaTauri this season, Yuki Tsunoda will have to start pulling his weight if he hopes to aid his team to 5th.

If there is a track that could be good for Yuki Tsunoda, it does look as though the Losail track could be a good fit for him.

Pierre Gasly has been looking phenomenally quick so far, finishing 2nd in FP1 and FP2. It will be quite the achievement if he can be faster than both Red Bulls this weekend, but certainly he could be up there.

Time will tell for AlphaTauri this weekend, but pace from today looks very promising.

FP1 Classification

FP2 Classification

2021 Mexican Grand Prix: Practice report – Could Red Bull run away this weekend?

The Mexican fans were out in force to support Sergio Perez after a two year absence. But the focus for the rest of us was not on Sergio Perez, but instead on his team-mate Max Verstappen and his title rival, Lewis Hamilton.

As we head into the final five races, these practice sessions are going to more important as the drivers will want to feel as comfortable as possible on track to get the most out of the remaining races.

Let’s get straight into the Friday action!

FP1

The cars headed out onto a very dusty track as Free Practice 1 got underway.

The dusty conditions were making things tricky for the drivers out on track and lead to different tyre strategies for different teams.

Mercedes went straight for the soft tyres while Red Bull went for the Hard tyres. Regardless of the tyres, it was difficult for any driver to keep it on the tarmac.

Leclerc was having a horrid time keeping his rear end in check and eventually it spun on him and put him in the barrier on the entrance to the final corner. He was lucky not to do any significant damage to the back of his car as he drove out of the wall and into the pits.

The same couldn’t be said for home hero Sergio Perez. He got onto the raised curb as he headed into the final corner and spun the car. He caught the first slide, but the rear went again, and he slammed into the wall.

Sergio Perez lost half of his front wing and appeared to do more damage as they had the floor off the car when he returned back to the garage. But after some speculation that his session might be over, he got back into the car with 20 minutes remaining.

The track conditions did continue to improve as the session and the times did tumble, but the track was far from easy.

We saw a great display from Daniel Ricciardo as he drifted round every corner in the stadium section. It was impressive to watch and I’m sure it was fun for Daniel.

Mercedes’ pace seemed to take many by surprise as they came straight out to go first and second fastest in the session.

Red Bull were not far behind though, but on paper, I think we were expecting Red Bull to be faster. But maybe Red Bull were waiting until FP2 to show their real pace.

FP2

FP2 time and cars were going out to set their flying laps as soon as possible.

But the problem that comes with all the cars out on track to set fast laps is traffic and with the slow and tight nature of the final sector, this was becoming an issue for those who tried to get out early.

Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen were having a bit of a battle with neither wanted to give each other room to set their fast laps.

It was Red Bull who were setting the initial pace on the Medium tyres, but both Mercedes drivers were on the hard tyres, but their pace was still very good.

Those hard tyres would be useless for the race though as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas had huge double lock-up going into the first corner and went straight on over the grass.

The dust issues from FP1 had not gone away and this was still catching drivers off guard as they charged down into turn 1.

George Russell was the last driver to get out to try and set a lap time, but it was not long before he was back into the garage. He reported an issue with the gearbox and was stuck in fifth gear as he cruised back to the pit-lane.

The mystery got curiouser as replays showed a lose fixing fall off the back of Russell’s car as he left the pit-lane. That marked the end of the session for George Russell as was sat on the pit-wall not long later.

When the drivers made the switch onto the soft tyres, it was Red Bull who were much faster than Mercedes. Max Verstappen was over half a second clear of Lewis Hamilton and four tenths faster than Valtteri Bottas.

The drivers now settled in to do their long runs in preparation for the race. From here the session really settles down, but for Nicolas Latifi he was lucky to escape the wall.

He got a bit out of shape going into the final corner before slamming on the brakes before he speared the barrier. He managed to get the car into reverse before carrying on his way.

Could McLaren lose third in the constructors this weekend?

McLaren have not looked encouraging in either of the two free practice sessions and have looked far off the pace of Ferrari.

Both teams went very well in Monaco and given the high downforce demands of this track, I would have expected both teams to be close like they were in Monaco, but it would appear Ferrari have the upper hand.

Both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have looked very quick as they battle with Alpha Tauri who have also been incredibly quick in both practice sessions so far. Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda have looked solid so far and could eb another threat to McLaren this weekend.

Lando Norris did manage to be comfortably quicker than Ricciardo in FP2, but the Aussie was forced to sit out much of FP2 with a gearbox issue.

With McLaren’s somewhat lack of pace, it could provide an opportunity for McLaren to get their engine penalties out of the way.

It has been discussed that McLaren would take an engine penalty for Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo either at this Grand Prix or in Brazil in a weeks’ time.

It will be crucial for McLaren to try and find a good balance in the car before qualifying if they hope to get higher up the order for Qualifying.

We will find out soon if McLaren do take the option to change the engine.

FP1 classification

FP2 classification

2021 US Grand Prix – FP1 & FP2 report: Red Bull recover from a worrying morning

It may have been two years since we last saw on-track action at the Circuit of the Americas, but F1 was looking to come back with a bang with every driver aiming to show off their new helmets for this weekend.

It was a hot and sunny day in Austin and this seemed to be a bit of a worry for some teams as there was no idea how the tyres would cope on the hot and bumpy track.

Let’s have a look at how the drivers got on in practice.

FP1

It took no time at all before we got the first red flag. Drivers were queuing up to get out, but they were back in the garage when Fernando Alonso came to a stop on the exit of Turn 12.

Bottas was 0.045 seconds faster than Hamilton to top FP1. Credit: F1

He was crawling down the straight with what looked like an engine issue, but we couldn’t tell what happened until he stopped. Fluid was pouring out of the bottom of the Alpine. Something had gone wrong and it looked to be the end of Alonso’s session.

It’s never good for any driver to miss a practice session, but especially when it’s a track that you haven’t driven in a few years.

Ferrari had a great weekend in Turkey, but for Charles Leclerc, it started with a spin. He was very fortunate to keep it out of the wall as he lost it out of Turn 6. He also managed to drag the car out of the gravel and go on his merry way. One thing was for sure, he would not be able to use those tyres again.

The big news to come out of FP1 was that Valterri Bottas would take on yet another ICE. This means he will take another 5-place grid penalty for the race.

Mercedes didn’t need to worry though, as their pace on the soft tyre was mighty. Both Hamilton and Bottas were a second faster than Max Verstappen who was a distant 3rd place.

The track was getting hotter as the session went on and it didn’t seem to bother Mercedes. Red Bull looked to be struggling in the final sector. It looked as though they were also struggling to control the rear.

Even Sergio Perez, who was doing his session on the hard tyres, was struggling through various parts of the track. He then tangled with Mick Schumacher at the end of the session as he lunged up the inside of him at turn 12, but slammed into the side of the Haas.

Advantage Mercedes in the morning, but could Red Bull recover in the Afternoon?

FP2

The cars wasted no time on getting onto the track to prepare for tomorrow’s qualifying session.

Mercedes were testing the limits of the soft tyres in the early session, so they were straight out on the medium tyres. Red Bull also opted for the medium tyres for their first run and they looked a lot more competitive after the first runs than they did in FP1.

Fernando Alonso had a frustrating day which ended with a spin. Credit: F1

Sergio Perez was the fastest after the first runs, but only 0.036 separated Perez in 1st and Hamilton in 4th.

Lando Norris ran less than Fernando Alonso in FP1 and his FP2 session didn’t get off to an ideal start either, as he had something loose in his cockpit. He was forced to box before he could return to the track to get some running done.

As Verstappen and Hamilton went to start their second flying laps, they seemed to forget that it was Friday and not Sunday. They engaged in a drag race up into Turn 1 with Lewis on the inside. Max tried to hang around the inside, but he had to concede, not before he gave Hamilton the finger to show his disapproval.

Issues with equipment and cars kept creeping up throughout the session. Nikita Mazepin was forced to box as the anti-fog spray in his helmet had gotten in his eyes. Minutes later Leclerc was forced to pit as he had something loose by the pedals.

Back on track, it was the turn of the soft tyre quali runs. Hamilton shot to the top of the timing sheets, but it wasn’t for long as his time was deleted for exceeding track limits. His second lap was good, but Perez was the driver firmly planting himself at the top.

Verstappen was getting very wound up in his car as he could not find space to set a second flying lap. Eventually he gave up and pitted instead of doing a second lap.

McLaren looked to be bouncing back from a relatively poor weekend in Turkey. Norris went second fastest on his final flying lap. Daniel Ricciardo was looking good as well, only three tenths off Norris and sat in 5th place behind the two Mercedes.

The drivers now settled in to do their long runs and Mercedes were looking very strong. Verstappen was doing very competitive times, but there was still some tuning needed.

With three minutes to go, Fernando had a spin on the exit of turn 19 and went through the gravel. He did a very good job to limit the damage. He was able to drive out of the gravel and get back to the pit-lane.

The championship mind games coming into play

The tiff between Hamilton and Verstappen during FP2 is starting to show the lengths these two are having to go to to get a mental edge.

We didn’t get to see who was behind who before they started the lap, but it doesn’t matter. With only 6 races left and 6 points between them, both drivers need to make sure they are laser focused.

By getting under each other’s skin in a free practice session, it sets a precedence for the rest of the weekend. Lewis was sending a clear message that Max was not getting passed and for the race, he would not leave him any room.

This move got Max riled up and he showed his frustration through the session. It was clear that it got to him and in the end he gave up on doing a qualifying run and pitted instead.

His decision to do that could be a problem for Red Bull as they will have no real data for Max to use.

With Mercedes looking faster over a single lap, Max will have to do his very best to put in on pole tomorrow.

FP1 Classification

FP2 Classification

F1 2021 Turkish Grand Prix: Qualifying Report: Hamilton fastest, but Bottas takes a crucial pole

It was wet in FP3, but the track looked to be drying before Qualifying. But, to add further excitement to the session, rain would be on its way. Lewis Hamilton took a new internal combustion engine for this weekend and received a 10-place grid penalty. Carlos Sainz also took a brand new engine and would be at the back of the grid regardless of his qualifying position.

It was set to e a very interesting qualifying session. Let’s get straight into the action!

Q1

With two minutes to go until qualifying started, there was already a lengthy queue at the end of the Pit-lane. With the rain on its way, teams were eager to get their drivers out on track as soon as possible.

Mick Schumacher got his Haas into Q2 for the second time this season, Previously at the French GP. Credit Haas.

The track was still damp from the rain during FP3, so getting a smooth lap was going to be very difficult.

It was a race to get onto a flying lap as most believed that there would only be the chance for one lap. Lewis skipped past both Ferraris to get track position in the final corners. Lewis blew his lap at the first corner as he exceeded track limits at turn 1.

A few drivers went for a spin at turn 1. Sainz and Verstappen went for a spin, but Verstappen manged to get another lap in to go fastest.

Drivers were able to get more laps than they believed they would as they were still running on slicks with 10 minutes left of the session.

Times were still improving as the session went on and some drivers were putting in some great lap times. George Russell went fastest at one point but was still hanging in the top 10.

The track was no means dry though and some other drivers were finding this out the hard way. Turn 1 was still proving to be very difficult. Tsunoda had a big moment that he over-corrected and put his car through the grass. Mazepin also had a spin as he looked to get out of last place.

The rain that was promised didn’t come so it was going to be tense for those at the bottom of the timing sheet as the track started to dry out and lap times started to tumble.

For the final flying laps the cars were flying and for Daniel Ricciardo this meant he dropped out in Q1. There were some familiar faces joining Ricciardo as he sat out the rest of Qualifying, But Mick Schumacher would not be one of them as he dragged his Haas into Q2.

Eliminated: Ricciardo (16th), Latifi (17th), Giovinazzi (18th), Raikkonen (19th), Mazepin (20th)

Q2

Q2 started and still no rain. The track was still not fully dry, but still dry enough for slick tyres.

Graining was becoming an issue in Q1, so Mercedes and Red Bull opted for the medium tyres straight away. They were joined by the rest of the grid, apart from Yuki Tsunoda who still opted for the soft tyres.

Leclerc left it all to the end after this spin on his penultimate flying lap. Credit F1.

Not many representative times were being set as there was no rush to get a lap time done. The drivers were doing multiple warm-up laps to get the tyres to a good temperature before going for a push lap.

The track conditions were still catching out drivers and it was Sergio Perez who had an identical spin to Yuki Tsunoda in Q1. He manged to keep the car out the wall, but his tyres were not in the best conditions.

While some drivers still struggled, others thrived. Fernando Alonso was doing a great job in his Alpine was not far off Max Verstappen who was behind both Mercedes in 3rd.

Tsunoda was showing pace was hadn’t seen for a while. Both him and Gasly were doing well and looked comfortable in the top 10.

Charles Leclerc was doing brilliantly until David Croft praised his pace and then Charles promptly spun at the final corner. This left him in the drop zone with a lot to do to be safe.

Stroll was just about in the top 10, but he had a moment into turn 1 on his last flying lap and it left him vulnerable. Leclerc was able to improve with help from his team-mate, but more commentator cursing from David Croft saw George Russell run wide at the final turn and he was out. Lance was safe.

Eliminated: Vettel (11th), Ocon (12th), Russell (13th), Schumacher (14th), Sainz (15th)

Q3

It was time for Q3.

Lewis Hamilton had been dominant up to this point with Bottas not far behind. It was going to take a mega effort from Max Verstappen to break Mercedes.

Bottas showed good pace, and even though he couldn’t beat Hamilton, he still got ahead of verstappen

Lewis does have his penalty, but he will be looking to qualify as high up the grid as possible to give him the best possible opportunity in the race.

The two Mercedes were the first out the gate and it was Bottas who went 0.022 seconds faster than Hamilton. Both times were good enough to lock-out the provisional front row.

Verstappen had a big of a moment during his lap and he was 2 tenths off Bottas’ fastest time, but still managed to go 3rd.

Gasly put in yet another brilliant lap to put his Alpha Tauri ahead of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez to go provisionally 4th.

Both Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc who had shown great pace were 7th and 8th respectively after their first laps. You would expect to see them improve on their second attempts.

Hamilton bucked the usual qualifying trend and went out early to set a second flying lap. He went purple in the first two sectors and went two tenths faster than Bottas. He had enough time to cool the tyres and get another lap in before the end.

Verstappen would set his final lap before the Mercedes, but it was only good for 3rd place. Bottas would come across the line second, but he could not improve his position so it would be pole position for Bottas despite Lewis setting the fastest lap.

Norris couldn’t improve his time, but Leclerc shot up to 4th on his final effort, ahead of Gasly in 5th. Perez could only get 7th place. Not what Red Bull needed.

Final Classification

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

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

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

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

Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both Williams through to Q2.

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

Q2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full classification

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

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

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

Let’s get straight into the action.

Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neither Alpine drivers could do any better and were eliminated.

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

Q3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final classification

With so many investigations, this could change.

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

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

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

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

Q1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full classification

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

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

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

But let’s get straight into the Friday action.

FP1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferrari look like contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

FP1 Classification

Credit: F1

FP2 Classification

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:

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