Japanese GP: Verstappen and Red Bull win big

Normal service was resumed at Suzuka in Japan after Redbull had a bit of a disaster in Singapore last week. Max Verstappen won the race by 19.4 seconds after having dominated the entire weekend right from the start of free practice, assuring everyone that the top is where they belong in 2023.

A second consecutive constructor’s championship was also wrapped by Redbull this weekend in Suzuka despite only Verstappen finishing the race, such is the dominance of the bulls this season. It was a race to forget for his teammate Perez after a series of incidents saw him penalized and also lose his front wing a couple of times in the process. The Mexican driver had to eventually retire his car but ventured out at a point during the race to serve his time penalty and retired again eventually after.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 24: Race winner Max Verstappen of theGrand Prix of Japan at Suzuka .image curtesy of Clive Rose/Getty Images/ Red Bull Content Pool

Jubilation entailed McLaren as Norris and Piastri ensured a double podium finish for the British team and it was Piastri’s first ever podium in Formula 1. McLaren fended off Ferrari and Mercedes chasing from behind with pure pace and superior tactics to ensure they were the best of the rest in the race, a promising sign of things to come in the later stages of the season.

Ferrari and Mercedes were involved in battle throughout the race as they seemed to have a similar race pace. It all boiled down to strategy calls and utilizing the safety cars to come out on top and it ended as an even battel with Charles Leclerc finishing 4th ahead of Hamilton in 5th. An interesting battle developed towards the end of the race between Russell, Hamilton and Sainz, reminiscent of last week. Hamilton eventually came out on top of this mini battle for 5th while Sainz got the better of Russell, who could not make a one stop strategy work in a heavy tyre deg circuit.

Fernando Alonso was the only Aston Martin that finished the race in 8th place after his teammate Stroll had to retire early. Stroll was one among the five drivers that did not finish the race that was quite eventful if the leading Redbull was forgotten about.  Williams had a weekend to forget as both their drivers did not finish the race owing to multiple incidents and failures. Bottas was yet another non finisher as he had multiple incidents when he was overtaken and eventually the car was rendered undrivable by the Finn.

Alpine made up the final two places in the points with Ocon finishing 9th and Gasly finishing 10th.  Liam Lawson in the Alpha Tauri beat his teammate Tsunoda to finish 11th and yet again reminded everyone as to why he belongs in F1 amidst an inevitable return of Daniel Ricciardo coming soon. Alfa Romeo had only one finisher in Zhou at 13th while both the Haas cars finished last of the remaining drivers in the race.

With the constructor championship wrapped up by Redbull, focus is now shifted to when Verstappen would be crowned as the triple champion. A DNF for his teammate today means that Verstappen could wrap this up unusually on a Saturday as the next race weekend in Qatar offers a sprint race and a chance to score the needed points.

Featured Image courtesy of Bryn Lennon/Getty Images/ Red Bull Content Pool.

Azerbaijan GP: Sergio Perez takes yet another street circuit win

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – APRIL 30: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates after the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 30, 2023 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202304300912 // Usage for editorial use only //

Sergio Perez took yet another street circuit win in Baku on Sunday afternoon after an excellent drive to beat his world champion teammate. A timely safety car ensured that Perez took the lead in the early stages of the race and the Mexican driver did not have to look back for the rest of the race.

Charles Leclerc started the race on pole after setting the fastest lap on Friday qualifying in the new format that kicked off this weekend. The pace of the Ferrari was simply no match for the Redbulls as both Verstappen and Perez picked off Leclerc one after the other once DRS was activated at the beginning of lap 3. The fight for victory from here on was largely between the Redbulls as they left the rest of the pack behind very swiftly.

Verstappen was just ahead of Perez around lap 8 when Nick De Vries crashed, bringing about a Safety Car. The Redbull pitwall called in Verstappen ahead of Perez while there was no safety car yet but the safety car was called in moments after Verstappen completed his pitstop and Perez gained full advantage of this. Verstappen was relegated to P3 in the aftermath and spent the rest of the race catching up to his teammate.

Ferrari had a decent outing with Leclerc getting his first podium of the season, albeit not after huge pressure from Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin, who was chasing Leclerc until the finish line. Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari had to fend off Lewis Hamilton to scramble to a P5 finish.

For Mercedes, it was yet another weekend of being too far away from the top while struggling to be in the battle for the 2nd best team on the grid. Hamilton tried his best after an untimely pitstop before the safety car and ended up P6 while his teammate George Russell spent the large part of the race behind Lance Stroll in the Aston martin. Although, a late pitstop at the end meant that the Englishman had the point in the bag for the fastest lap.

McLaren’s upgrades meant that Norris was in the running for the points throughout the race and the English driver finished P9 while his teammate just missed out after finishing at P11. It was a fantastic effort from the Australian despite battling illness throughout the weekend to achieve a high finish, especially after losing around 3kg in weight as informed by Mark Webber.

It was a mixed day for Alpha Tauri after Yuki Tsunoda finished in the last of the points position while his teammate Nick DeVries crashed out in the opening stages of the race. Alfa Romeo had both the cars finish out of the top 10 with Bottas at P12 and Zhou at P15, with Bottas being involved in a first lap incident and pitting three times during the course of the race.

Hulkenberg in the Haas and Ocon in the Alpine went on a bold strategy as they started the race from the pitlane. The drivers put on a set of hard tyres and drove almost until the end of the race and only pitted at the end to avoid disqualification. It was not without an incident of course when during Ocon’s pitstop on the last lap of the race, the pit lane was swarming with photographers and mechanics. The safety protocols were grossly thrown out of the window and a massive disaster was narrowly avoided and thankfully no one was hurt. Hulkenberg finished P17 while his teammate Magnussen in the other Haas finished P13. Ocon finished P15 after the whole fiasco while his teammate Gasly in the other Alpine finished P14.

The Williams of Alexander Albon finished P12 while his teammate Sargeant finished P16. They will be hoping for a change of fortunes come the Miami GP which is going to be the second one in the triple header we have going on.

Sergio Perez yet again proved that he is the king of the streets as he fended off an in form world champion teammate to take win and close the gap to 6 points to him. The Mexican driver will be fancying his chances again next Sunday as it is another street circuit with a marina in Miami.

Saudi Arabia GP: Perez takes a convincing win as Redbull finish 1-2, again

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 19: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – MARCH 19: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez took yet another street circuit win at Jeddah on Sunday night as Redbull reigned supreme yet again, much like their first outing in Bahrain earlier this season. The Mexican driver faltered at the start and lost the lead to Alonso by turn 1, but the unmatchable pace of the Redbull meant that there was no one stopping him from taking the win tonight, not even his teammate.

It was an eventful beginning to the race as Alonso in the Aston Martin got the better of Perez at turn 1 while there was a lot of action between the Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari cars behind. The joy was short lived for Alonso after Perez passed him again, which was then followed by a 5-second time penalty as the Spaniard was out of position at the start. Things got worse for Alonso after the national anthems of Mexico and Austria on the podium as he was hit with a further 10-second time penalty for serving his 5-second time penalty incorrectly. The post-race penalty for Alonso meant that Geroge Russell and Mercedes had their first podium of the season, which looked like a far off possibility based on the mood around the Mercedes paddock.

Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari had a great start as he was able to gain three places in no time after starting from P12 thanks to a penalty pertaining to the control electronics while Verstappen further behind from P15 had a steady opening to his race. A dummy call from the Ferrari pit-wall meant that Stroll of Aston Martin was the first of the front runners to come in to the pits for a change of tyres and it proved costly for him. Both Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc overcut the Canadian and were well ahead of him after the first round of stops and things got even worse for him as a mechanical issue forced him to retire which brought the safety car out.

It looked like there was no need for a safety car as Stroll seemed to park well of the track but an incorrect GPS indication from Stroll’s car meant that the inevitable has happened. Mercedes and Verstappen were one of the few to take advantage of the safety car and Ferrari were the ones to come out of it with a lot of bad luck. The race was pretty much decided at this point as Max’s pace proved to  be too fast for anyone else on the track apart from his teammate, who ultimately won the grandprix.

It was a good result for Alpine as both Ocon and Gasly finished in the points scoring positions at P8 and P9 respectively, with Kevin Magnussen in the Haas scoring the last available point after a feisty battle with Tsunoda towards the end of the race. His teammate Hulkenberg in the other Haas only managed a P12 just outside the points. Alfa Romeo have had a mixed race with Zhou Guanyu finishing in P13 while his teammate Bottas finished P18 and last of the running cars in the race.

McLaren might have thought that their fortunes have changed a little with Piastri starting P8 in the race but an tussle in the opening lap meant that the rookie driver needed a front wing change. It got worse for them when Norris came in the next lap as well with the same issue. This meant that the pair were running at the back of the grid for the large parts of the race and McLaren were forced to issue team orders when Piastri was faster than Norris. He then made it count by making a pass on fellow rookie driver Logan Sargeant in the Williams for P15, while Norris finished P17. Alex Albon in the other Williams had to retire with a break issue, making him the second driver to not be classified in the race. It was a decent outing for Alpha Tauri albeit it was without points as Tsunoda was P11 at the end and his teammate De Vries finished the race at P14.

With yet another Redbull 1-2 unfolding at Jeddah, it is going to take a mighty effort from the remaining frontrunners in Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari to cause any damage to the bulls. It is still early in the season to think that Redbull could end up winning both the championships but the tone that has been set by them in the first two races certainly fits the thinking. The Australian Grandprix arrives in about two weeks time before F1 goes for almost a month’s break in April.

 

British GP qualifying: Sainz takes first ever pole in soaked Silverstone

Image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports Carlos Sainz took his fist ever pole position in F1 on Saturday afternoon in an action packed qualifying in Silverstone. Wet weather showed up to no ones surprise for qualifying and it meant that driver skill would decide pole position. Sainz excelled throughout the qualifying and was fastest on track when it mattered in Q3, landing his first pole position ever, in F1.

Ferrari would be pleased with their qualifying overall after Sainz pole and Leclerc slotting in  at P3. The Monegasque driver made a mistake towards the end of Q3 and it cost him a shot at pole but he still remains in contention for the race win starting from 3rd place. Championship leader Max Verstappen could not improve on his final lap in Q3 but is still well placed at P2 for the race. His teammate Sergio Perez will be starting at P4 alongside Leclerc.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes was also impressive throughout the qualifying but could not match the pace of the front runners and ended up at P5. His teammate Russell could not match his pace and was only fast enough for P8. Both the Mercedes cars were hopeful of challenging for a race win this weekend but will have their task cut out for a race win but a podium might be a more realistic target for the silver arrows.

Lando Norris had a decent qualifying session and ended up at P6 but his teammate Ricciardo could not improve his time in Q2 and could only put together a lap good enough for P14. It seems like an uphill task for McLaren this weekend to ensure that both the cars will finish in points scoring places. Fernando Alonso in the Alpine had another great qualifying session albeit no as impressive as Canada and will start the race from P7. His teammate Ocon could simply not match the Spaniard and will start the race at lowly P15.

Zhou Guanyu carried his momentum from Canada and put together a good qualifying session and will be starting the race from P9 while his teammate Bottas will start the race from P12. The star of the qualifying was Nicolas Latifi who impressed session after session in challenging conditions and made it all the way to Q3. He will line up at P10 on the grid while his teammate Albon failed to make it out of Q1 and will be lining up P16.

Alpha Tauri have left themselves with things to do for Sunday’s race after Pierre Gasly missed out on Q3 and will be lining up at P11. His teammate Tsunoda also failed to make it to Q3 and will start the race from P13. Both the Haas cars must have given the team last year’s flashbacks after they failed to make it out of Q1 with Magnussen lining up at P17 and Schumacher at P19. Aston Martin got it completely wrong with their setup yet again and it means that Vettel will be starting at P18 and Stroll will be starting at P20 respectively.

It promises to be an exciting race at Silverstone with the Ferrari and the Redbulls lining up alternatively on the grid at the front. With a good chance of rain for the race, the drivers and the teams cannot afford a slip up, which makes the race all the more exciting come Sunday.

 

Canadian GP: Verstappen holds off Sainz to take victory at Montreal

Max Verstappen drove yet another beautiful race on Sunday afternoon in Canada despite late pressure from Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari. Multiple VSCs and a safety car in Montreal meant that victory was not going to be straightforward for the reigning world champion who was in control during the entire weekend. His teammate Sergio Perez had a entirely different story after the Mexican driver’s gearbox failed during the race and he was forced to retire.

Fernando Alonso was the talk of the town for starting from P2 but the Spanish driver ultimately could not keep up with the faster cars behind him and ended up in P7.  The Spaniard was grumpy towards the end of the race and a minor issue with the engine did not help the cause. His teammate Ocon finished just ahead of him in P6 after battling the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc for the most parts of the race.

Lewis Hamilton back on the podium in 2022. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

Mercedes had a perfect Sunday with Lewis Hamilton taking the last spot on the podium and with George Russell finishing in P4. Coming to Canada on the back of a painful week in Baku, the team will take heart with the result and look to push on with Silverstone coming on next, a track where they have been traditionally strong.

Charles Leclerc drove a solid recovery drive from P19 all the way to P5, pulling off quite a few moves on the way. The Monegasque driver had his work cut out but he executed overtakes one after the other in fine fashion and reached his target of P5 that Ferrari aimed for on Saturday. This however leaves him with a lot more to do in his quest for the championship as his rival Verstappen extended his lead to 49 points at the top.

Zhou making good progress. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

It was a good weekend for Alfa Romeo with both their drivers finishing in the points. Zhou finally picked up points after the first race of the season after finishing P9 and Valtteri Bottas kept up his good form for this season and  finished in P8. Lance Stroll made up the final points scoring position at P10 after the safety car stoppages worked out for him and the Canadian driver will be happy to pick up a point in his home race. His teammate Sebastian Vettel could only manage a P12 finish after he had issues with his tyres during all the stints.

It was a Sunday to forget for McLaren after an ambitious double stack under a safety car went terribly wrong for the British team. A slow stop for Ricciardo meant that Norris was held up and then was subjected to an extremely slow stop for himself. Ricciardo finished the race at P11 but Norris could only manage a lowly P15 and the English driver will look to put this entire weekend out of his mind and go on to his home race with a fresh mind.

Verstappen with a great start but Magnussen and Hamilton come together behind him. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

It was a disastrous weekend for the Haas team after Mick Schumacher dropped out of a points scoring position owing to a mechanical failure. Kevin Magnussen in the other Haas tangled with Hamilton on the very first lap and had to come in for a front wing change. Haas will be furious with the way their weekend turned out especially after their strong qualifying on Saturday.

Alpha Tauri also had a dismal weekend with Gasly finishing at P14 and Yuki Tsunoda crashing on his way out of the pits. It was a mixed Sunday for Williams after Albon finished P13 and Latifi finished P16. It was a case of what if for Williams after Albon looked closer to the top 10 during the beginning stages of the race but could not capitalize on the safety car periods.

A fantastic drive for Max Verstappen handed him his 6th win for the 2022 season and a solid lead in his bid for chasing the WDC. With his teammate retiring and Charles Leclerc forced to do a recovery drive, Verstappen comes out as the ultimate winner from the Canadian GP weekend. With a handful of races to go before the summer break, Silverstone is up next and promises to be a thriller with the teams looking to bounce back from this weekend.

 

Monaco GP: Sergio Perez takes dramatic win in the Principality

Sergio Perez of Redbull became the first ever Mexican driver to win the Monaco GP on Sunday afternoon. A strategic masterclass from Redbull followed by an excellent drive from Perez delivered what was his 3rd win of the career for the Mexican driver. The changing conditions in Monaco followed by a frustratingly delayed start did not seem to dampen the spirit of Perez as he came home to take the chequered flag as the clock stopped in Monaco.

The wet conditions of Monaco. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media

The race was delayed from the 3pm start time in Monaco for fifteen minutes after race control were playing it safe to not risk chaos on the track. A couple of formation laps were underway behind the safety car but the track was deemed too wet for a race to start. A lengthy delay began at this point and it was 45 minutes before the race restarted. The drivers started behind the safety car with full wet tyres on once again with 77 laps to go. Charles Leclerc set the pace and was doing steady laps as the track was drying out very quickly.

A few back markers decided to try out intermediate tyres at this point with Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri being one of them. He was setting up decent lap times and even pulled of a couple of highly unusual overtakes which made the leaders take notice. Redbull were the first of the front runners to pull the trigger and Perez was in for his pitstop. This proved fruitful for Redbull as Ferrari could not cover this off for Leclerc and the Monegasque driver was left in 2nd place at this point.

A few laps later, the track dried out completely and Ferrari’s unintentional double stack meant that Leclerc went down to 4th place as Sainz slotted into 2nd behind Perez. A Schumacher crash coming out of the swimming pool section brought out the red flag and another lengthy delay ensured because the barriers had to be repaired. At this point, it was the clock that was going to decide the end of the race rather than the amount of laps. With about 45 minutes remaining, the race restarted yet again.

The race finished with a dramatic 4 way fight towards the end with all the top four cars seperated by less than 3 seconds with Perez taking the win, Sainz at 2nd, Max at 3rd and Leclerc at 4th. The Monegasque was visibly distraught at the end of the race after his excellent weekend was undone by strategy when it mattered the most. Behind the leading pack, George Russell in the Mercedes had an impressive race after he finished P5, coming under pressure in the final laps from Lando Norris in the McLaren who finished P6.

Fernando Alonso in the Alpine did extremely well to manage his pace and keep Hamilton behind the entire race and finished P7 while the British driver only managed P8. It would be considered a disappointing end to the weekend in Monaco for Hamilton after a promising show in Spain last weekend. Ocon in the other Alpine finished P9 on track but a 5 second time penalty owing to his earlier collision with Hamilton meant that he only finished P12 and out of points.

Vettel on his way to a points finish. Image courtesy of Aston Martin Media

Valtteri Bottas in Alfa Romeo picked up some handy points from the weekend after the Finnish driver ended his race in P9. His teammate Zhou in the other Alfa Romeo only managed to finish P16. Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin was the last of the drivers to pick up points in Monaco this weekend after the German driver finished P10. His teammate Lance Stroll only managed P14 in what was an okayish weekend for Aston Martin.

Daniel Ricciardo brought his Monaco weekend to end by finishing P13 after the Australian was yet again not able to extract the same amount of pace as his teammate Lando Norris from is McLaren. It was an overall forgettable weekend for Ricciardo following his crash from FP2 and he would want to have a fresh start going into Baku in two weeks time. Latifi in the Williams finished P15 despite crashing at the hairpin under the safety car while his teammate Albon had to retire before the end of the race.

It was a forgettable weekend for Haas after Magnussen had to retire due to a mechanical issue and Schumacher crashed out during the race. Yuki Tsunoda was the last of the classified runners with a P17 finish in what was an overall bad weekend for the Alpha Tauri team.

The 2022 Monaco Podium. Image courtesy of RedBull Content Pool

Sergio Perez took his first win of the season propelling himself into the championship battle with just 15 points behind his teammate and 6 points behind Charles Leclerc. The Mexican driver by all means is not be discounted out of the race for WDC given his start to the season and if he keeps this up, Redbull will have a tough time managing their drivers. With almost a third of the season done, the battles for the driver’s and constructor’s championship are nicely setup going ahead.

Miami GP: Leclerc takes pole as Ferrari lockout front row

Charles Leclerc’s quest for redemption got off to a splendid start in Miami after the Monegasque driver delivered an excellent lap to put his Ferrari on pole for the race on Sunday. Leclerc looked in control throughout the free practice sessions and did not put a foot wrong when it mattered. His teammate Carlos Sainz who has been on a bit of a rough patch would be extremely satisfied with his result in qualifying after he was able to lock out the front row alongside his teammate.

Redbull and Max Verstappen would not be overly rejoicing at their qualifying result after a mistake from Verstappen in the second run of Q3 undid any chance of Dutchman trying to get closer to his championship rival Leclerc. Sergio Perez in the other Redbull could not replicate his FP3 result and had to settle for fourth position on the grid, locking out the second row next to his teammate.

Disappointment for Verstappen as he steps out of the car. Image courtesy of Red Bull content Pool

It was yet another disappointing session for Mercedes as only Lewis Hamilton could make Q3 this time, qualifying in 6th in the process. His teammate George Russell got knocked out in Q2 after the English driver could not deal completely with the issues of oversteer in his Mercedes. He will be starting the race from P12 on the grid which would mean that he has a decent amount of work ahead of him on Sunday to score some points.

Bottas on his way to a P5. Image courtesy of Pirelli F1 Press Room

Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo continued to impress this season after the Finnish driver put together a great lap in the final run of Q3 good enough for a fifth place on the grid. His teammate Zhou in the other Alfa Roemo unfortunately finished only P17 as traffic on the last runs of Q1 ruined his flying lap. This concluded a mixed Saturday for Alfa Romeo but they definitely look highly likely to score good points through Bottas come Sunday.

It was a great Saturday in Miami for Alpha Tauri after Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda qualified seventh and ninth respectively. Gasly got off to a shaky start in Q1 after he had his lap time deleted but he got on well with the rest of the session earning the team a great chance to score points on Sunday.

McLaren were able to get one car into Q3 via the courtesy of Lando Norris as the Englishman is set to start the race from P8. Daniel Ricciardo in the other McLaren could not improve enough in the second runs of Q2 and the Australian will be forced to start from P14 for the race.

Vettel not able to make it to Q2. Image courtesy of Aston Martin F1 Media

Aston Martin seem to be finding pace slowly as the season progresses as this time, Lance Stroll comfortably made it into Q3 after a very good lap in the last run of Q2. He will be starting the race from P10 while his teammate Vettel in the other Aston Martin will be starting the race from P13 after missing out on Q2 by 0.086 seconds, which the German driver admitted on radio was due to his mistake.

Alpine had only the one car of Fernando Alonso running in the qualifying after a heavy crash in FP3 meant that Esteban Ocon could not participate in qualifying. Alonso will be starting P11 whiile Ocon will be starting at the back of the grid.

Both the Haas cars will be starting P15 and P16 with Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen respectively. They will be looking to make inroads on Sunday for some points. Both the Williams will start with Albon at P19 and Latifi in P20 respectively and would take something special like Australia to score points come raceday.

It was Ferrari’s turn to draw first blood this weekend after Redbull took 1-2 in their home country a couple of weeks ago. The Italian team will be looking to convert their excellent qualifying result into a race result but they will be facing a big task of fast charging Redbulls from the second row.

Brazil GP sprint race: Bottas beats Verstappen to pole amidst a mega drive from Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas took pole in sprint qualifying on Saturday afternoon at Interlagos after a blistering start from second place saw him take the lead on the very first lap from Max Verstappen. The Finnish driver, starting on soft compound tyres, had an amazing launch off the line and never looked back after. Verstappen was slow to get off the line and the Dutch driver was visibly distraught, reporting gear sync issues on his radio during the race and had to settle for P2.

The star of the race however was Lewis Hamilton, who started all the way from the back of the grid due to a disqualification from Friday qualifying. The English driver’s car was found guilty of a technical infringement of the DRS system and he was punished for it. Saturday was a different story however as the seven-time world champion picked off cars lap after lap as if it were virtually nothing. He eventually finished P5, after making up 15 places in the span of 24 laps but will be starting only P10, thanks to the engine penalty that he will have to serve on raceday.

Hamilton was forced to start the sprint last after a technical infringement saw him disqualified from Friday qualifying – Courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

Carlos Sainz put up quite a show besides Hamilton, as the Spaniard had a great start from P5, which put him ahead of Sergio Perez into 3rd. The Ferrari driver then held of the Mexican after a great display of race-craft on soft tyres that were falling off all the time. He will be hoping for more of the same as each and every point for Ferrari from here on would be crucial in the race for third place in the Constructors’ Championship. His teammate Charles Leclerc on the other hand had an underwhelming race after he could only manage a P7 finish.

McLaren had a mixed outing on Saturday after Lando Norris managed to make up places to P6 after eventually falling prey to an amazing overtake from Hamilton on the final lap, while Daniel Ricciardo lost places during the race and could only finish P11. The British team have it all to do tomorrow during the race if they are to not let Ferrari get away further ahead in constructor’s standings.

Pierre Gasly , who had a brilliant qualifying session on Friday could not repeat the feat for the sprint race after a poor start cost the Frenchman places from P4. He lost three places at the start and come the end of the sprint race, he could only finish P8. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda also went backwards in the sprint race after the Japanese driver could only manage a P15 finish.

It was a decent outing for Esteban Ocon in the Alpine as he made up a couple of places in the sprint race and managed a P9 finish. Fernando Alonso however could only manage a P12 finish. It is not all lost for the French racing team as they can still aim for a decent points finish come raceday. Aston Martin had a slightly better Saturday than Friday after Sebastian Vettel made up a single place to finish P10, while Lance Stroll managed to make up a couple of places to P14.

Alfa Romeo had a difficult sprint race after teammates Giovinazzi and Raikkonen collided on lap 2 and the Finnish driver was spun round at Turn 1. Giovinazzi still managed a decent P13 finish but it was not the case for Raikkonen as he could only recover as far as P18. He will be just ahead of both the Haas cars who are set to start with Schumacher P19 and Mazepin P20. George Russell was finally beaten by a Williams teammate on a Saturday for the first time as Nicholas Latifi held on to finish P16, while Russell had to settle for P17.

Verstappen might have lost out to Bottas for pole but the Dutchman comes out of the sprint race after extending his advantage to 21 points over his challenger Lewis Hamilton. The championship race is not over by any means, especially after the way that Mercedes and Hamilton have performed in the sprint race today. A brief showing of the main event on Interlagos was seen today and the race is sure to be a thrilling event come Sunday.

Brazil GP sprint qualifying: Hamilton back on top in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man on track in Brazil on Friday afternoon after a blistering lap to put his car on pole for the sprint race. A fresh engine on the back of his Mercedes, combined with the flair of the 7-time world champion, meant that the British driver beat his competition by a whopping four tenths of a second. This lap might become highly significant in the course of the championship battle as it shows Mercedes are not going to give up easily in the remaining races.

Hamilton’s main challenger Max Verstappen is ready to start the sprint race from P2 on the grid with the Dutchman admitting that Mercedes were faster than Red Bull and that he was happy to be second. The one thing that Red Bull will be looking forward to in the sprint race is that even if Max Verstappen finishes where he starts and Hamilton beats him, he would be on the pole for the main race as Lewis Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty owing to an engine change.

Hamilton will start five places back from his sprint finishing position due to an ICE change – Courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is set to start from a handy third place for the sprint race on Saturday. The Finnish driver will be looking to put behind the misery of Mexico and hope for a strong weekend this time around, and the podium hero from Mexico Sergio Perez will be staring alongside him from P4 in the second Red Bull.

Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri continued his stellar form on Friday as he put in a lap which was good enough for him to start the sprint race from P5. The Frenchman is just ahead of the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclrec in P6 and P7 respectively for the Saturday sprint and will be looking to stay there come race day. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri could only manage a lap good enough for P13 and will be looking to make up places in the sprint race.

McLaren will be looking to make up ground in the sprint race with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo starting at P8 and P9 and crucially behind the Ferraris. As a result, they are already on the back foot for the weekend in their bid to trump the Italian team for third place in the constructors championship.

A positive day for Ferrari means that they will start tomorrow’s sprint ahead of both McLarens – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Press

Fernando Alonso of Alpine will complete the top 10 grid spots for the sprint race tomorrow after his lap in Q2 was good enough for him to just to get into Q3.  Esteban Ocon will be starting the sprint race on P11 from the grid and will be looking to make inroads into the top 10 spots on the grid for the main race on Sunday.

Aston Martin had a  Friday qualifying to forget after Lance Stroll got knocked out of Q1 and the same befell Sebastian Vettel in Q2. They will be starting P16 and P12 respectively and will be hoping for a better Saturday than a Friday. Both the Alfa Romeo cars have got out of Q1 on Friday and will be starting with Kimi Raikkonen P14 and Antonio Giovinazzi P15 respectively. It seems that Alfa Romeo will be playing a bigger role off track during the final days of the season as they are set to announce Bottas’ partner for the next season soon.

George Russell in the Williams was finally beaten by teammate Nicholas Latifi in the knockout format qualifying but it is not all lost for the Briton as he could still pass his teammate and maintain his 100% record vs him in qualifying.  The Williams will line up with Latifi at P17 and Russell at P18 respectively. Both the Haas cars will be starting with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin on the last row of the grid.

With the title fight reaching its climax, every point is set to make a difference from here on. The sprint race is going to be important in this context as the winner is set to get 3 points from it while the 2nd place gets awarded 2 points. With Hamilton and Verstappen starting first and second, this could prove to be important with any points advantage that one could rake up on the other. A short version of what racing in Brazil would be like is set to be the feature tomorrow as fan favorite track Interlagos returns to the calendar after last year’s absence.

US GP: Verstappen drives to the limit to win in Texas

Max Verstappen pushed his Red Bull to the limits after being chased by Lewis Hamilton all the way to chequered flag in the scorching heat of Austin.  The Dutchman, cheered on by his fans in Austin, just about managed to keep the fast chasing Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton behind and managed to get himself a crucial win in the bid for the Drivers’ Championship.

The race was largely played out on the strategic thinking of the Red Bull and Mercedes teams ever since the first round of pitstops. Hamilton, who was starting from 2nd on the inside line, had a great getaway in comparison to Verstappen and assumed the lead of the race going into turn 1.  Verstappen managed to keep up with the Englishman for about 10 laps before Red Bull triggered the undercut and got Verstappen into the lead of the race.

The battle of the strategies continued onto the second phase at around lap 30, when Red Bull called Verstappen in early again – perhaps a bit too early in comparison with Hamilton who them went on for 8 more laps, providing himself with a tyre advantage towards the end of the race. Mercedes’ strategy was proving to be the right one as Hamilton kept chipping away Verstappen’s lead but it all came to nothing in the end as the English driver simply could not get past the Red Bull. Verstappen now has a 12-point lead heading into the last five races of the championship and this win might prove to be crucial come the end of the season.

For Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, it was a decent afternoon as he finished on the last place of the podium but the Mexican driver had to put in quite a physical effort as his drink system wasn’t working. Perez however kept his head and finished 3rd, which is a very welcome result for Red Bull in the context of the constructors’ championship.

Sergio Perez overcame adversity to finish a very respectable third for Red Bull – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

It was Ferrari vs McLaren that was the other talking point of the race apart from the championship battle. It was intense racing from lights out between both the teams as they had a lot to fight for in the Constructors’ Championship. Charles Leclerc got the Italian team the best result he could after finishing P4 in what was a lonely drive for him; the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz was involved quite heavily from lap 1 with the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. The trio of drivers raced hard throughout the Grand Prix but Ricciardo got the better of Sainz by finishing P5, after the Spaniard was also hunted down by the faster Mercedes of Bottas towards the closing stages and only managed a P7, while Bottas ended P6.

Ferrari beat McLaren by four points in what has become an enthralling battle for third in the Constructors’ standings – Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Press

Lando Norris in the other McLaren had to settle for P8 in the race but will take joy from the fact that McLaren still hold a very slender 3.5-point lead over Ferrari in the standings. Yuki Tsunoda drove a decent race for AlphaTauri and managed to finish P9, picking up two points for himself in the process. His teammate Pierre Gasly however had no luck as a suspension issue forced the Frenchman to retire his car early in the race on lap 15.

There were other retirements in the race as well and unfortunately for Alpine Racing, it was a double disaster with Ocon retiring on lap 42 due to an unexplained issue while his teammate Alonso retired close to the end of the race on lap 51 with a broken rear wing on his car. The Spaniard did provide a lot of entertainment in the laps that he raced after close battles with Alfa Romeo that saw him going off track multiple times. He came out on top in these battles but it was all undone towards the end because of his retirement.

Sebastian Vettel got the last remaining points place after finishing P10 in his Aston Martin despite starting on the penultimate row of the grid. The German driver made up places early on in the race and drove consistently in a Grand Prix which involved a few scraps with George Russell in the Williams, but the four-time champion did well to make his way through the pack to grab the final point on offer. His teammate Lance Stroll managed a P12 finish after he tangled with the Williams of Nicholas Latifi on the very first lap of the race. The Canadian driver recovered from that over the course of the race and managed a decent finish.

Alfa Romeo, who had endured the wrath of Alonso during the race, did manage to see the chequered flag with Antonio Giovinazzi finishing in P11 just outside the points while Kimi Raikkonen managed a P13 finish. The Finnish driver could not keep his car on the track towards the end of the race and wandered off on to the grass. This cost him a higher place and even a possible points finish with his Alfa Romeo.

Williams finished with George Russell in P14 and Latifi P15 respectively, an afternoon with not much for the British team to cheer. Russell, starting in P20, made up as many as five places on the opening lap but could not make more inroads apart from that. Latifi had to come very early into the pits for a front wing change after he got into a first lap incident with fellow Canadian driver Lance Stroll. Both the Haas cars finished last of the remaining runners with Mick Schumacher in P16 and his team mate in P17.

The main talking point of the race was the battle for the win as Verstappen extended his lead at the top to 12 points going into the next leg of American races in Mexico and Brazil. This lead could come in very handy for the Dutchman as these tracks have favoured Red Bull in the recent years. Hamilton will have his work cut out in the coming races if he is to have that alluring 8th world championship crown to his name.

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