Thrilling Climax to WSBK Racing in Portimao

If Saturday’s Superpole and Race 1 from the Algarve International Circuit, Portimão was edge of the seat racing, what would Sunday’s racing hold in store for us? The reigning Champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had a commanding lead from start to finish in both the Superpole and Race 1 – are we going to see a repeat performance?

An update on Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) following his crash at the end of Race 1: Cortese underwent surgery for a fractured vertebra and has also suffered a fracture of the right tibial bone, four fractured ribs and a suspected fracture of the right ankle. Wishing Cortese a speedy recovery.

Superpole got underway and again it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who claimed victory to start from pole position in Race 2 with Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) in second place despite the early pressure he put in on Rea having passed Rea into Turn 1 but then running wide allowing Rea to pass back into 1st and build a gap. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) finished the top 3 with his first podium since 2014.

Despite an early challenge from Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) finished 4th, Redding 5th and Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in an impressive 6th place.

Michael van der Mark at Portimão WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Yamaha.

In 7th place Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) managed to finish four seconds ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) and Leon Haslam (Team HRC) who were battling for 8th position.

Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had an incident at the Turn 5 hairpin on Lap 2 resulting in both riders managing to continue with the race but having fallen down the order in so doing and unfortunately Davies subsequently retiring from the race a few laps later.

With a few laps remaining at Turn 3 we saw Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) and Marco Melandri (Barni Racing Team) run off the track but fortunately for both riders they were able to continue with Superpole.

After an eventful session the starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Rea : Razgatlioglu : Baz  Row 2: Lowes : Redding : Sykes

Row 3 : van der Mark : Rinaldi : Haslam  Row 4 : Gerloff : Bautista : Caricasulo

Row 5 : Fores : Mercado : Melandri  Row 6 : Barrier : Ponsson : Gabellini

Row 7 : Takahashi : Laverty : Scheib  Row 8 : Davies

With 20 laps of racing, Race 2 gets underway with Rea just managing to stay ahead of Razgatlioglu going into the first corner, Redding goes up into 3rd and Baz is down to 4th. At Turn 5 Laverty goes down with his bike ending up in the gravel, Haslam goes up into 7th and on the last corner at Turn 14, Baz suffers a high speed off and goes rolling into the gravel thus bringing his race to an early end.

Redding is now up into 2nd with Rea in 3rd and Lowes passes van der Mark up into 4th. By Lap 3 Rea puts in fastest lap and is just starting to pull out a bit of a gap ahead of Redding who has dropped half a second and is now feeling the heat from Razgatlioglu who is closing in. Van der Mark is hot on the heels of Lowes and Davies is looking to get past Haslam who is causing a bottleneck with Rinaldi and Fores closing in.

Razgatlioglu goes sliding into Turn 5 on Lap 6, he manages to recover the bike and rejoin the track in 14th place and now has a lot of work to do to fight his way back up the field. Turn 5 strikes again when Lowes goes down too, again he manages to rejoin the track but only to make his way to the pits and an early end to his race.

The gap between Rea and third place van der Mark is 3 seconds. Razgatlioglu is looking to get past Mercado to take 12th position and makes his move at the end of the start/finish straight into Turn 1 with a late braking move slipping up on the inside.

Scott Redding at Portimao 2020 WSbK Image courtesy of Ducati

On Lap 11 Van der Mark is closing in on Redding and Turn 5 strikes again when Haslam goes down rejoining the track back down in 13th. Bautista is challenging Rinaldi for 5th position and successfully passes and is now looking to close in on Davies who is in 4th place

Redding is starting to look like he is struggling for pace as van der Mark is all over him and then at Turn 5 Redding runs wide allowing van der Mark to cut through on the inside and claim 2nd place but then loses ground, runs wide at the next corner allowing Redding to pass by on the inside, van der Mark tries to cut back through but doesn’t make it.

By lap 14 Rea has stretched the gap to 4 seconds ahead of Redding with van der Mark hot on his heels determined to gain 2nd place back again.

Gerloff runs wide in Turn 2 on Lap 15 onto the kerb and comes back onto the track and into Fores. Fores goes down and out but Gerloff manages to keep the bike upright going through the gravel to rejoin the track in 11th place.

Van der Mark is not giving up and is trying at every available opportunity to get that 2nd place with Rea stretching his lead to a comfortable 5 seconds.

On the penultimate lap, Haslam passes Melandri up into 12th position with Laverty having a look too. Razgatlioglu has made his way up into 9th and as Caricasulo runs wide, manages to make up another place. The battle for 2nd place is so close, van der Mark is not giving up but Redding is successfully defending his position to the finish line. Rea takes a comfortable win and is now 4 points ahead of Redding in the Championship.

An absolutely thrilling nail biting race and a terrific end to a great weekend of WorldSBK racing.

Round 4 takes places at MotorLand Aragon, Teruel, Spain on the 28th to 30th August.

BK

The Driver’s/Team Standings so far at the end of Round 3 look like this:

Riders Standings Team Standings
Pos Rider Points Pos Team Points
1 Jonathan Rea 136 1 Kawasaki 162
2 Scott Redding 132 2 Ducati 134
3 Toprak Razgatlioglu 103 3 Yamaha 131
4 Alex Lowes 91 4 Honda 60
5 Michael van der Mark 82 5 BMW 48
6 Chaz Davies 75 6 Aprilia 4
7 Alvaro Bautista 55
8 Loris Baz 54
9 Michael Ruben Rinaldi 53
10 Tom Sykes 47
11 Leon Haslam 36
12 Garrett Gerloff 22
13 Marco Melandri 17
14 Eugene Laverty 16
15 Sandro Cortese 14
16 Xavi Fores 14
17 Federico Caricasulo 12
18 Maximillan Scheib 10
19 Leandro Mercado 7
20 Christophe Ponsson 4
21 Sylvain Barrier 1

Featured image courtesy of Ducati

Tom’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Race Notes

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Well, who saw that coming?.. The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix had a lot of work to do if it was to live up to last week’s final few laps of chaos that the British Grand Prix gave us. Did it? Well… Sort of, yeah.

Super Max

What can I say, as a Red Bull fan, I honestly do not know what to say but as the neutral as I am when it comes to the race notes, all I can say is… Formula One needed this!

Super Max Verstappen and even more to the point, super Red Bull! Starting on the hard tyre and going 29 laps on the hard tyre as well as an excellent start from Max, overtaking Nico Hulkenberg and his Racing Point to instantly move into P3, saw the Red Bull team FINALLY put pressure on Mercedes on a race day and it pays off!

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Max showed us that tyre management is his thing and while his rivals were struggling to contain tyre wear, he knew what he had to do and he very well did it. At one point, Max was informed by his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to push less and hold back because his tyres couldn’t possibly sustain the pressure the Dutch man was putting on them. However, Max disagreed and continued his pursuit of the Mercedes which now looks to have been a masterstroke as he claimed Red Bull’s first win at Silverstone in 8, yes, 8 years!!

Obviously, I couldn’t mention Red Bull without mentioning Alex Albon, the young driver qualified in P9 and ended up finishing in P5. That doesn’t match what his teammate achieved but Albon was first to pit and at one point found himself near dead last again. Having received a lot of criticism in the last weeks, Alex once again showed he shouldn’t be slept on. Oh, and he also held the fastest lap for a while too. Report on that one, you know who!

Mercedes tyre issues?

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Once again, tyres have proved to be an issue for Mercedes. Both cars started on the medium compound tyre and as we all know, is the equivalent of last weekend’s soft tyre and we all know what happened at the end of last week’s British Grand Prix.

Anyway, this week saw both Mercedes cars reporting issues after just lap 5. Whether it’s the heat or whether it’s an actual issue with the car, is something we are bound to find out about in the coming days but just for now and the purpose of the race notes, it certainly seems that after so long, we have possibly identified an issue with what looks like a flawless W11.

Pole sitter Valtteri Bottas didn’t look comfortable from the start and never really showed us that he was going to get one over on his Mercedes teammate, while Lewis Hamilton didn’t look himself today despite fighting all the odds to stop claim a record podium.

Today wasn’t Mercedes’ day and having to pit early due to degradation, manage a tyre that didn’t look comfortable at all on the car, as well as having a last couple of laps of ‘free to race’ action because Lewis had the fresher tyres than Valtteri isn’t what they were hoping for whatsoever.

Hats off to you Charles Leclerc

Yes, its that stage of the race notes where I award my driver of the day and this week it goes to no other than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

For the majority of the season (ok, up until this point) when we talk Ferrari, there really hasn’t been anything positive to touch on. Nonetheless, today the Italian team and a certain driver put all that behind them and gave The Prancing Horse fans something to finally be very cheerful about!

Ferrari and Charles Leclerc, in particular, were one of only three teams to risk the one stop strategy today (other two cars/teams being, Renault (Ocon) and Alpha Romeo (Räikkönen)) and boy didn’t it pay off. Starting in P8, Leclerc managed to get himself all the way up to P4 and show that the old horse still has some power behind it and had at last, a very nice looking race pace!

Unfortunately, unlike teammate Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel’s season doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Vettel took a big spin on lap one and very nearly saw his race over had he not somehow avoid contact with Carlos Sainz’s McLaren. Vettel fought hard all the way back up to P12 but once again, its another race where Sebby’s final chapter of his Ferrari journey looks like it just isn’t going to end well.

Final Thoughts

Ok, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix didn’t give us the madness that the final laps of last weeks British Grand Prix did BUT it did give us a lot to think over ahead of next week’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. It was written in the stars that Mercedes were once again going to dominate but boy didn’t this historic track have other things in mind!

Max Verstappen managed his car to perfection and Red Bull showed why they hardly ever miss when it comes to strategy as they win at Silverstone for the first time on 8 years but more importantly, they end the run of Mercedes’ wins to possibly, possibly give us a real championship battle.

Here’s to the next one, see you in a week’s time in Barcelona! I can not wait!

Edge of the Seat Racing from Portimao in Superpole and Race 1

WorldSBK Superpole and Race 1 took place today from Algarve International Circuit, Portimão, Portugal with the reigning Champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) taking pole position by nearly three tenths of a second with Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) taking second place and Rea’s teammate, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), slotting into third place.

Last weekend’s Race 2 winner, Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT – Racing Ducati); took a tumble at Turn 5 but was able to get back on the track and to the pits for some quick repairs by his team before getting back out on the track again to finish in 8th place.

The top independent rider, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), secured a second row start with his impressive pace with the highest place Honda of Leon Haslam (Team HRC) in tenth position. Haslam’s teammate, Alvaro Bautista crashed in Sector 3 and, like Redding, he was able to get the bike back on track and to the pits.

After a tense session the starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Rea : Razgatlioglu : Lowes Row 2: Sykes : van der Mark : Baz

Row 3 : Rinaldi : Redding : Laverty Row 4 : Haslam : Gerloff : Bautista

Row 5 : Davies : Cortese : Fores Row 6 : Caricasulo : Scheib : Mercado

Row 7 : Melandri : Barrier : Takahashi Row 8 : Ponsson : Gabellini

With 20 laps of racing, Race 1 gets underway with Rea getting off to a great start with the opposite happening for Redding who, by the first corner is down two places. Sykes on his BMW has a full on wobble nearly losing it at Turn 4 but incredibly recovers and stays on track. Lowes has dropped back into 4th and Redding is now in 6th by Turn 6 and along with Lowes is now closing in on van der Mark.

Rinaldi and Haslam got off to a good start but by Lap 2 Sykes is down to 9th having started from 4th place but manages to make up a place by Lap 3. Rea has set the fastest lap and is now starting to pull away from Razgatlioglu in 2nd place.

Lap 4 sees Redding pass Lowes but then, Redding runs wide and Lowes takes the place back but Redding is all over Lowes looking to get back past. At Turn 11 Redding manages to pass Lowes and this time he makes it stick.

Scott Redding at Portimao WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Ducati

Third place is now being fought over by Baz, van der Mark and Redding with some incredible racing taking place with the Ducati all over the Yamahas and at one point they are neck and neck but still holding their positions. Van der Mark has a huge wobble and how he managed to hold onto it and his place is incredible.

Lap 6 sees van der Mark running wide and losing two places allowing Redding up into 4th and Lowes into 5th.

On the start-finish straight on Lap 8 Redding passes Baz in a very smooth overtake on the inside and then on the following lap Baz runs wide allowing Lowes and van der Mark to nip past. Meanwhile Redding’s teammate, Davies, is not having a good race at all and has now dropped back to 14th.

By Lap 11 van der Mark is hot on the heels of Redding fighting for position and Baz is now down into 7th place having been passed by Lowes on Lap 12 who is closing in on van der Mark and Redding. The fight for 3rd place is edge of the seat racing.

Rea, by Lap 15, has now pulled out a 4 second lead ahead of Razgatlioglu, both of whom are having a very controlled and smooth race.

Lowes has gone up the inside of Redding and now Rinaldi is having a look. Lap 16 sees Redding run wide, Rinaldi tries to get past on the inside but doesn’t manage it. Lowes is edging away from Redding and the battle for fifth is hotting up.

On Lap 19 Rinaldi passes Redding and they both run wide with Rinaldi managing to stay ahead but Baz slips past Redding up into 6th place with Sykes now having a look to see if he can pass by too.

It’s the final lap and Redding is looking to get back past Baz but Baz is managing to hold the Ducati off for now. Rea crosses the finish line easily in 1st position followed by Razgatlioglu, van der Mark and Lowes. Baz managed to hold off Redding to finish 6th with Redding down in 7th.

Fantastic racing in Race 1, Race 2 is going to be nail biting!

BK

Featured image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

70th Anniversary GP Qualifying: Bottas pips Hamilton to pole in a close fight

Valtteri Bottas took pole at Silverstone on Saturday afternoon after beating teammate Hamilton by 0.063 seconds in a extremely close battle as Mercedes locked out the front row after yet another dominant qualifying this season. The Finnish driver would be delighted at this result especially after signing on for one more year with the Silver Arrows. He will definitely be looking forward to starting the race on pole after the disappointment of last weekend.

Nico Hulkenberg put on a stellar display in the final parts of the qualifying to put himself on the second row for the race tomorrow in third, a tenth of a second ahead of Max Verstappen in fourth. The other Racing Point of Lance Stroll couldn’t extract the maximum out of the car and ended up qualifying sixth, which puts him on the third row alongside Daniel Ricciardo. The Renault driver put in a mega performance in Q3 on medium tyres but he couldn’t quite get on the second row which was looking likely after the first run of Q3. His teammate Ocon in the other Renault did not make it out of Q2 and will be starting 11th, pending an investigation after impeding George Russell during Q1.

Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point RP20

Ferrari’s dismal form continues. Sebastian Vettel failed to make it to Q3 and will be starting 12th on the grid; Leclerc, who managed to make it to the second row last week couldn’t make it past the fourth row this time and will start eighth. The only direction the team seems to be going is backward and there will be a lot of questions asked back at Maranello.

Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri looks to be set for another impressive weekend at Silverstone after managing 7th place today with an impressive lap. Teammate Kvyat, on the other hand, never made it out of Q1 after an error-ridden lap which saw him finish 16th.

Alex Albon and Lando Norris made up the fifth row in 9th and 10th for which both the drivers would not be overly happy.

It was a very average afternoon for McLaren with Norris at 10th and Sainz at 13th and they will be hoping that the fortunes change come race day tomorrow, especially with the midfield very tightly packed.

George Russell maintained his perfect qualifying record against his teammate after an extremely impressive lap which saw him progress to Q2 and put him fifteenth on the grid while his teammate will be starting P18.

Haas will be disappointed with their qualifying after only one car made out of Q1 with Grosjean in P14 and Magnussen in P17 after making a costly error in Q1.

Alfa Romeo started 1st-2nd-3rd-4th for the first ever British GP in 1950 but fast forward 70 years and they will be starting at the back with Giovinazzi at 19th and Kimi at 20th after a poor showing in Q1.

With Mercedes locking out the front row for the 67th time, it looks set to be a straight fight between the Silver Arrows for victory while the long-awaited podium for Hulkenberg might finally happen. With an extremely close midfield starting all the way from 3rd to 13th, it looks set to be a promising race for the 70th Anniverary Grand Prix.

Opinion: 2020, the year that could have been for Ferrari

It’s safe to say that 2020 has not been the best year for Ferrari. From dropping Sebastian Vettel, who has previously been their best shot at a title, to engine problems leaving them and their customer teams falling behind initial expectations.

Only two podiums in the first four races would usually be a disaster for Ferrari in the modern era, especially when McLaren have one third place and Mercedes have won all four. It doesn’t bode well for a team with such pedigree within the sport.

Not having both drivers through to Q3 in Austria wasn’t a major issue, especially as Charles Leclerc had described the performance of the car as “probably worse than we expected”. But when team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that there were major design flaws with the SF1000, particularly regarding the aerodynamics, this did not fill anyone within the team, or the fans, with confidence.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

As if things couldn’t get worse, they did at the Styrian Grand Prix when both cars collided on the first lap and had to retire. Even with the new upgrades to the front wing and rear diffuser, the car just couldn’t meet the standards expected from the team and the fans.

Hungary was an improvement, especially in qualifying. Both drivers made it through to Q3 and both finished the race, even if they were both lapped by Lewis Hamilton.

Also, Ferrari are lucky to not have had significant mechanical failures like some Mercedes engines and the electronics issues with the Honda-powered cars. The Ferrari-powered Haas cars had issues with the brakes in the Austrian GP. Even if their power unit isn’t as good as in 2019, its reliability is something to be impressed about.

2020 was destined to be the year for them. Leclerc had just finished his maiden year with the team and Vettel going into his last with them. Surely, just surely, they could string a good season together.

A technical restructure for the team before the British Grand Prix was needed and came with Rory Byrne being mentioned, who helped Ferrari to titles in the dominant Schumacher era. His expertise will be used to ensure the team do not fall as far behind as they currently are.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Bringing a low aerodynamic package to Silverstone, one that would commonly be seen at a track like Spa-Francorchamps, proved that Ferrari were focusing on a defensive strategy rather than trying to attack from the front. This is due to the fact that Silverstone is dominated by engine power and this has been the main point of concern for the team.

The qualifying performance from the team was more impressive at Silverstone than previous races, with Leclerc starting in fourth place just over a second behind the new record time set by Hamilton, and Vettel also qualifying in the top 10.

This was also supported by a strong performance in the race with a podium for Leclerc, assisted by a tyre issue for Valtteri Bottas in the final moments of the race, and tenth for Vettel, after struggling to keep the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly behind him.

After four races, the team is in fourth place in the constructor’s championship, one point ahead of Racing Point who have had a strong showing so far. For the drivers, Leclerc is in fifth position behind Lando Norris, and Vettel is only two points behind Gasly in 13th place. Vettel has not finished a race higher than sixth, which would usually be the minimum for one of the top three teams.

2020 has unfortunately proved that Ferrari are not going to be automatically considered to be in the running for titles or even race wins. With the rules staying the same into 2021, it is unlikely that they will be more competitive next year.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Big Crash in GT’s as Race 2 Ends Under Safety Car

image courtesy of THEWFGAMER Instagram page.

The British GT season kicked off with a bang at Oulton Park this weekend.

Race 1:

Race one saw Lewis Proctor start from pole position and lead into the first turn for the GT3’s. Connor O’Brien looked to do a similar thing in the GT4 category.

There was close action before the pit stops as the World’s Fastest Gamer, James Baldwin, looked to pile the pressure on Angus Fender in third.

Following the stops, Mitchell had found his way into third with Oliver Wilkinson taking over from Lewis Proctor. Michael O’Brien replaced James Baldwin. In the GT4’s, Kibble, Connor O’Brien’s teammate, also lead.

However, after a charge from Michael O’Brien and a penalty for speeding in the pit lane for the leader, O’Brien and Baldwin took the lead, with the number 2 car seeing it out to the flag.

The Jensen team won the first race with James Baldwin winning his first ever British GT event. Behind Jensen, Wilkinson finished second and Macdonald rounded out the GT3 podium. It was a simple affair for Kibble in the GT4 as he took the chequered flag with Collard and Caroline behind.

Race 2:

Phil Keen was raring to go from pole in Race 2 and lead into the first corner. Contact on the opening lap for Race 1 winner Michael O’Brien saw him drop to the back of the field.

Neary and Griffin both suffered problems and the two retired a few laps into the race.

Little was happening  for much of the remainder of the race but an unfortunate incident between Jones and Connor O’Brien saw the race finish under a lengthy safety car. It appeared as if Jones was trying to lap O’Brien but contact was made and the two spun off the track, hitting Fender in the process.

So Balon took the flag in the GT3 category with Collard and De Haan just behind. Flewitt won in his category, followed by Vaughan and Maththiesen.

Not the best way for Keen (Balon’s teammate) to draw level with Jonny Adam on wins, but I‘m sure he won’t mind too much.

Overall a cracking way for the GT season to kick off.

Tom’s British Grand Prix Race Notes

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Well, well, well, I have to say that at one point, I was massively struggling to find a way to make this interesting for you. However, queue the final couple of laps of the Grand Prix and the race really came alive! So, where to start? Here are my British Grand Prix Race Notes…

Lewis Hamilton 

I mean what can you say? Lewis led from start to finish, cruising home to claim a 7th British Grand Prix win, moving 30 point clear in the Driver’s Championship. Ok, I say cruised, he did for 50 laps at least before the real fun started and it almost got away from him. (more on this shortly).

Hamilton now moves to within four wins of Michael Schumacher’s all-time GP wins record. Back against him? You really shouldn’t. It’s inevitable and given the car that is under him, there’s no way he’s not going to claim the crown sooner rather than later.

Image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

I said at the start, what can you say? Well, not much more really. It was a relaxed drive for Lewis and once again, Mercedes show why they are miles ahead of the grid, even when they only have three fully functioning tires on the car!

Final Laps of Pure Carnage:

As mentioned, the Grand Prix looked all but done right from the start and the Race Note’s almost ceased to exist however, this historic Silverstone track had other ideas and gave us two laps of pure carnage and entertainment!

It all started with Valteri Bottas and after sitting in second place for 50 laps, Bottas reported on the team radio that he was suffering from a lot of vibration. At the time it was apparent that his tires we’re starting to struggle but what we didn’t know was just how bad they really were.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before we found out and as the Finn headed into the first corner to start his 51st lap, Bottas lost his front left tyre completely as it’s pressure dropped ultimately leading to his front wing punctured it. Bottas came into the pits at the end of the lap and he found himself going from second to finish the Grand Prix in 11th place. Which may sound bad but it could have been worse as at one point, you were left wondering if he was even going to make it to the pits at all!

Bottas wasn’t the only man suffering from tyre degradation either as Lewis Hamilton also quickly found out.

After leading the race completely unchallenged, it looked as if Lewis could sit back, relax and enjoy his final lap with his now 32 plus second lead over Max Verstappen, but what he didn’t know was that his tyre, just like his teammates tyre, was about to go bang!

Lewis heard about Bottas’ puncture and admitted that his looked fine but as he turned into Luffield, his very own left front tyre punctured and left him hoping that he would beat Verstappen to the checkered flag. As we know, he did but that 32 plus second lead quickly vanished into a 5.8-second win. Close call? Absolutely and in the words of Lewis himself, ”It was definitely a heart-in-the-mouth kind of feeling” for the Brit.

Danny Ric

To wrap up this week’s race notes, it’s the man himself, the man who never stops smiling and most probably has the best sense of humor the grid has ever seen.

Daniel Ricciardo, a man on a mission of late, who has those boots that are made for overtaking and overtaking he did. Danny Ric started 8th on the grid and battled all afternoon against both McLaren’s of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, which in truth up until puncture gate, was the only entertainment of the day. (Apart from K-Mag and Dani Kvyat’s crashes maybe).

Anyway, Danny Ric was one of nine drivers to benefit from Bottas’ second to last lap puncture and thanks to a solid drive from the Australian, he ended up coming him to finish in P4 which matches his best ever finish for Renualt. Had Hamilton’s tyre issue been a lot worse than it was then we could have been talking about a podium finish for Danny Ric but Hamilton somehow got his Silver Arrow home and he had to settle for fourth which isn’t anything to turn your nose up at. (No pun intended, Danny). Great drive!

Other mentions:

Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari had a tale of two weekends and depending on who you ask, the response to how they faired this weekend will be very different. Charles Leclerc had a very impressive weekend which was topped off by a podium finish in P3, which Sebastian Vettel had a nightmare weekend as he ended up in P10. Vettel struggled to stay on the track for most of the weekend and the race pace just wasn’t there for him again. That said, it was a much more improved Ferrari overall.

McLaren will be hugely happy with their showing as Lando Norris brought his MCL35 home to finish in P5, which is great news in terms of the constructor’s standings as Lance Stroll could only manage a ninth-place finish as Racing Point had a race to forget given Nico Hulkenburg’s car didn’t even make the grid due to a power unit failure.

Alpha Tauri will also be happy as Pierre Gasly had an excellent race to finish in seventh after team mate Dani Kvyat crashed out after a clash with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon.

Final Thoughts:

It was a race that looked as if it was over before it even started but thanks to a final few laps of pure carnage, it really did not disappoint in the end. Hamilton may have won his 7th British Grand Prix but it wasn’t as easy as it potentially could have been in the end.

Shall we do it again? Ok then, see you next week for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix!

 

BRITISH GP REVIEW: HAMILTON WINS RECORD 7TH BRITISH GP

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Lewis Hamliton had to literally drag his Mercedes across the finish line at Silverstone on Sunday afternoon to become the record 7th time winner of the British Grand Prix.

The Sunday for Mercedes was going in a very expected manner with both the cars comfortably leading 1-2 until it all kicked off with 5 laps to go. Valtteri Bottas complained about heavy tyre vibrations which did not seem like a big deal until his front left tyre suffered a puncture with 3 laps to go and he was out of a points finishing place just like that after having to make a pitstop which saw him finish 11th. Luck was on Lewis Hamilton’s side as he also suffered the same fate as his teammate but it was on the very final lap which enabled him to carry the Mercedes across the line for his 88th race win.

Max Verstappen took 2nd place amidst all the chaos on an afternoon where he looked set for a lonely 3rd place finish until the sequence of punctures kicked off which promoted him to 2nd. He could have even taken victory if not for the team’s idea of pitting for fresh tyres in order to go for the fastest lap just the lap before Lewis’ puncture. Charles Leclerc also ended up with a very unlikely last podium spot for Ferrari despite running at 4th the whole race thanks to Mercedes chaos at the end. Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari finished his race at the final points spot in 10th to cap off what was a very below average weekend for the German driver. Alex Albon in the other Red Bull made a late charge through the field after stopping twice which saw him finish 8th. The Thai driver will take the result as welcoming concerning the pressure on him about keeping his seat coming into this weekend and also after tangling with Kevin Magnussen in as early as the second lap which ended up with the Danish driver retiring out of the race and could also have ended badly for Albon too.

McLaren also looked set for a strong finish with Sainz at 5th and Norris at 6th when Sainz suffered the same problem as both the Mercedes on the penultimate lap which saw the Spainard finish 13th. Norris managed a 5th place finish despite being overtaken by Ricciardo who hung in there the whole race and finished an impressive 4th after all the events of the race unfolded. Esteban Ocon in the other Renault finished 6th after a strong drive following his earlier battle with the Racing point of Lance Stroll who finished 9th. The Silverstone based team would definitely be very unimpressed with the weekend as they could only get one car to the grid as the sensational return of Nico Hulkenberg did not go according to plan. Mechanical issues meant that the returning German driver’s race had finished before it even began.

Pierre Gasly probably had the best weekend out of the rest after finishing 7th following an impressive drive throughout the race. The Frenchman starting 11th on the grid was on the back of Vettel’s Ferrari from very early on and managed to pass him with a slightly controversial move. He had a mini battle with the only Racing Point as well and came out on top and made his way into a high points place. The other Alpha Tauri of Danil Kvyat retired very early on as he carried too much speed into Maggotts while suffering a right rear puncture and ended up in the barriers. Both the Alpha Romeo drivers were complaining about rare tyres during the race and ended their races with Giovinazzi at 14th and Kimi at 17th. George Russell finished 12th in his Williams after complaining about handling issues during the race. He would be left pondering as to what could have been if he had not had the 5 place grid penalty following an excellent qualifying on Saturday.

For the first time this season, Bottas failed to secure a top 3 finish after the events during the final laps which means that his championship hopes have taken a massive hit as he now sits 30 points behind his teammate Hamilton, who is in the driver’s seat to take his 7th championship and equal Michael Schumacher’s all time record. Max Verstappen also looks to be slowly cementing his 3rd place in the driver standings after his strong 2nd place finish today. It is however going to be all to play for from P4 to P10 with the midfield battle looking very promising between Racing Point, McLaren, Renault and Ferrari.

Hulk is back – The German driver impresses on his F1 return with Racing Point

With news that Sergio Perez had tested positive for COVID-19 breaking on Thursday evening, Racing Point had a decision to make as to who would come in and effectively replace him for at least this weekend’s British Grand Prix and even possibly for the 70th anniversary race weekend the next week. Well, it was all to perfect for a certain German driver who’s last race came some 243 days ago.

After losing his seat at Renault at the end of last season, Nico Hulkenberg was most likely wondering how he could get himself back in a seat. However, what he probably wasn’t expecting was how it would come about and how much earlier an opportunity for him to return to the grid would arise. With that said, news broke hours before the start of Free Practice 1 that Racing Point had opted to replace Checo with Nico, who had already spent three-quarters of an hour of Friday morning in the Racing Point simulator ahead of his scheduled return.

With 177 Grand Prix’s to his name, it absolutely makes sense for both Nico and the Pink Panthers for him to take the drive, replacing his former Force India teammate and he did not disappoint!

Glen Dunbarr / Racing Point F1 Team

Free Practice 1:

Nico’s initial lap of the historic Silverstone track was slightly delayed due to the fact we were still awaiting the result of his own COVID test, however, it wasn’t too long of a wait and before you knew it, Nico was taking to the track in the RP20 and was actually the first out.

After a couple of bedding in laps and a could of stops into the pits, Nico went on to complete an impressive 24 laps and subsequently posted a best lap time of 1:28.592 which was good enough to see him end FP1 in 9th just +1.170 behind the fastest man of the session – Max Verstappen (1:27.422).

What was more impressive was the fact that while he was just over one second off Verstappen, Nico was only +0.591 off his teammate Lance Stroll, who ended up finishing the first session third fastest posting a 1:28.004 (+0.582 behind Verstappen).

Post FP1 thoughts had you thinking that given Nico hasn’t taken to the track whatsoever this season let alone jumping into a car which has a serious chance of challenging this weekend, he could only get fast. Excitement building for FP2? Absolutely.

Final Session Times:

Free Practice 2:

FP2 got underway and Nico took his time in the garage before heading out to put an initial lap time of 1:29.906 for 13th with almost 20 minutes of the session gone. The following lap, Nico got himself into the top 10 with a much more improved 1:29.041 (9th), pace was starting to gather for the 32-year-old German.

With just under an hour of practice left, Nico saw teammate Stroll set a session fastest 1:27.274 during a qualifying simulation run. Nico’s answer? Well, it was 1:27.910 to go 5th fastest and move to within +0.636 of Stroll.

With just three quarters of an hour left in the session though, Red Bull’s Alex Albon went off the track at Stow in a big way after losing the rear end and spinning in barriers. The session was red flagged and all car’s returned to the pits for around 15 minutes.

With restart of the session and around 30 minutes to go, Nico went on to complete a further 25 laps and ultimately ended up in P7 at the checkered flag. As for his teammate Stroll, well.. he ended up being the fastest man of the session with his before mentioned lap of 1:27.274 which was +0.090 fastest than second quickest Alex Albon, who after his crash at Stow, didn’t return for the rest of the session.

Final Session Times:

 

What Nico Had To Say:

“The 24 hours has been a bit special. Crazy and wild. 16:30pm yesterday afternoon I got the call took a plane here and then seat fitted until 2am last night. Then into the simulator at 8am for an hour with a bit of prep work. It was a short night, but all worthwhile.”

Mark Sutton / Racing Point F1 Team

Overall Assessment:

Nico’s return to the track after 243 days was a very impressive one giving the circumstances. With as much notice as he had, I don’t think you could have asked much more from him. Yes, we all know that the car he was in control of could and should have been up with Stroll’s timing but let’s be honest, 24 hours on from being told he was coming in, Nico did an excellent job in staying within six hundred tenths of his teammate.

The rest of the weekend will now be an opportunity for Nico to repay Racing Point’s trust in giving him to replace Checo. You can well imagine that with the data collected from his laps today and the debriefing to follow, Nico’s confidence will have grown massively and could show not only in tomorrow’s FP3 but also in what is expected to be a much cooler Qualifying.

It’s fair to say that despite the circumstances that surround his return, it’s great to see the man that they call Hulk back in a Formula One car. Welcome back, Nico!

MotoGP: Its Jerez to be back

Its July and after four months of delay, MotoGP roared into life and finally held its first race of the 2020 Championship in the sunny climes of Jerez with its spaceship start/finish. Four subjects became clear as the weekend went on and one of which we have known for a while: Marc Marquez, Alex Marquez/Pol Espargaro, Dovizioso/Ducati  and Quartararo/Rossi/Yamaha.

Q1 saw Rins and Pol Espargaro taking the the top two slots to forward themselves into Q2 and Binder lost out by .128s.

Q2 saw a new fastest lap, set by Fabio Quartararo, which saw Marc Marquez not being able to match the two Yamaha machines. Quartararo had a dominate session with him initially setting a time of 1:37.064 and his second run saw a time of 1:36.993. It took Vinales several attempts to beat that time, and put in a lap of 1:36.844. In the dying minutes Quartararo, went faster with a new track record of 1:36.705. The #93’s best saw him fall away to Quartararo’s time in the last two sectors.

Start of the 2020 MotoGp season, at Jerez round One.
Image courtesy of Box Repsol/Honda

That set up a front three of Quartararo, Vinales, and M.Marqeuz. Vinales made the holeshot, with Quartararo bogging down and in the first few meters and going 2nd, with Vinales grabbing  the lead. Backwards Quartararo went, because by the 6th corner, Miller undercuts him at the apex. By the second lap at turn one he was down to p5, with Quartararo going wide.

Whilst Quartararo, was busying himself going backwards, Vinales wanted to create a big enough gap from the man behind. Marc Marquez is not only is a great pole setter and race leader but he can hunt you down. Lap after lap, just waiting to pounce like a panther. Vinales’s gap making approach had a huge blow with a double wobble into turn 8, and MM93, was on the back of his wheel.

Lap 2 saw the gap between MM93 and Miller equalized, Quartararo’s backwards movement down the pack finally ended at Lorenzo’s corner. Miller crashes – a short race for him. Lap 3 was the time for Marc to pounce, with a shortened calendar season, he cannot afford to wait or to make mistakes. Actually none of the front runners can. Corner 5 where the Honda propelled Marc Marquez pounced, realizing that Vinales had gone slightly wide, undercutting at the apex, but Marc brakes and goes wide himself, Vinales retaking the lead as quickly as he gave it away but Marc continued to hound Vinales right up into the Pedrosa corner retaking the lead again. Vinales doesn’t give and tries again at Lorenzo’s corner. A.Espargaro crashes at the end of lap three.

Lap four saw a .5s gap between MM93 and MV12 but there were  signs that the Honda and Marc were at the limit, twitching and sliding wide (not by much but still visible). Lap 5 was an eventful yet expected result of the instability of the Honda, Marc motor-crossed through the kitty litter at turn four. Replays showed, Marc, sliding along and saving a near crash. Ending up back on track at p18, swiftly advancing to p16. How many more saves before a crash. That left the top three as Vinales, Miller and Quartararo. Quartararo, quickly started sniffing around the rear of Miller’s Ducati.

Vinales now had a 0.6s lead from Miller. But Miller had a problem in the shape of the Petronas Yahama coming towards him like a bullet and into Lorenzo’s corner, Miller goes wide and Quartararo nabs second. Meanwhile by the end of lap six, Marc was p14. Lap 8 saw Brad Binder crash but returning to the track and Marc climbing to twelveth place. Lap nine saw the top three compressed with Quartararo being the fall guy; Miller and Quartararo were ready for any mistakes. Vinales was making mistakes, and into Lorenzo’s corner he went wide allowing both Quartararo and Miller to slide past him. Both Yamaha’s where on softs, and at this stage with Rossi in an invisible eighth, it was seemly a great toss of the dice which now looks bad.

Andrea Dovizioso at Jerez 2020 MotoGP. Image courtesy of Ducati

The next couple of laps saw, the top five, of Quartararo, Miller, Vinales, Bagnaia and Dovizioso all staying together with little attempts to overtake. Meanwhile by lap thirteen, Marc was ninth, quickly taking Oliveira then Rossi  for eighth. Into Lorenzo corner saw PEspargaro taking Doviizioso and lap fourteen was ready and so was the Ducati that was powering Dovizioso, which with its grunt, allowed him to retake fifth place. P.Espargaro goes wide himself and allows Morbidelli to take p6, with Marc hunting them both down.

Lorenzo’s corner sees some more action with Dovizioso sliding past Bagnaia. Most of lap 16 saw Marc in eigth place who was watching in front of him two packs of Dovizioso, P.Espargaro, Bagnaia and Morbidelli scrapping. Lap seventeen saw Marc outbreak Morbidelli into Pedrosa corner. By turn eight, Marc passed Bagnaia. Into Lap 19 and we saw Marc around the back of PEspargaro’s bike ready to snaffle fifth place with fourth shortly after. Before that displacement was to occur, Rossi’s non descript race, came to a sad end with engine failure. By Lorenzo’s corner Marquez had just done the job on Doviziozo.

The 20th lap around Lorenzo corner saw the bunched up threesome of Vinales, Miller and Marquez, play undercutting with Marc Marquez taking 3rd away from Miller. But if Marquez thought that he could just ride on to take Vinales, he was mistaken as Miller in the next corner retook third but he went wide after passing so Marquez got his third position.

By Lap 22 Marquez was on the heals of number two; Vinales and it seemed inevitable that he would be quickly consumed by the Spaniard. But it was that same corner where Marquez had motor crossed earlier which punted him to eighteenth. Turn four decided to take a second helping of Marc’s position. This time the bike did not slide but high sides him onto the tarmac and rolling and bouncing him in the kitty litter. Marc initially managed to walk off to behind the railings and was looked at by the medical staff but was taken back via a stretcher. A later update confirmed that he had broken his right arm. He is due to have surgery on the 21st of July. With a shortened championship this could be enough to finish of any chances of retaining his championship.

With a 4.7s gap, Fabio Quartararo was on course to win the race, but behind him second and third were up for grabs. Morbideli came like a missile up to Miller’s bike down the back straight, causing Morbideli to wobble and nearly loosing it causing him to drop to sixth. Fabio Quartararo’s win is an important win for both him and his team and also for the French. Johan Zarco had been a great Moto2 Champion but now smeemingly lost in MotoGP due to both the bike and and his attitude, the French needed a new man to cheer. Hopefully things will change for Zarco. For Fabio it’s important because your debut win is always special and you have chosen the right team and after so many near misses last year its even more special.

Round one of the 2020 MotoGP. Maverick Viñales, Fabio Quartararo and Andrea Dovizioso at the podium celebrations. Image courtesy of Yamaha racing

Yamaha have improved their bike for the 2020 season, and with no Marc Marquez for at least another Grand Prix, it’s all for Yamaha to grab points to win the Championship, but which rider (and Yamaha), Vinales or Quartararo? Only time will tell, even with 3 or 4 races out and currently with zero points Marc can come back. Rossi is not on the pace to either Vinales or Quartararo, that has been amplified by this race. The result could be that Pertronas Yamaha SRT may not take his services for 2021.

Pol Espargaro, has signed for Honda for the 2021 season with Alex moving team and with the Jerez result it initally seems a good bet by the team. If Rossi is all at sea, Dovizioso could also be in the same boat. After being second in the championship for three years running there’s only so much in your tank!

Pos. Points Num. Rider Team Time/Gap
1 25 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Petronas Yamaha SRT 41’23.796
2 20 12 Maverick VIÑALES Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 4.603
3 16 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 5.946
4 13 43 Jack MILLER Pramac Racing 6.668
5 11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Petronas Yamaha SRT 6.844
6 10 44 Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 6.938
7 9 63 Francesco BAGNAIA Pramac Racing 13.027
8 8 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 13.441
9 7 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati Team 19.651
10 6 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU 21.553
11 5 5 Johann ZARCO Hublot Reale Avintia Racing 25.1
12 4 73 Alex MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 27.35
13 3 33 Brad BINDER Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 29.64
14 2 53 Tito RABAT Hublot Reale Avintia Racing 32.898
15 1 38 Bradley SMITH Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 39.682
Not Classified
93 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 4 Laps
27 Iker LECUONA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 6 Laps
46 Valentino ROSSI Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 7 Laps
41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 23 Laps
36 Joan MIR Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 24 Laps

Race results derived from Motogp