Formula 1


Mental Health is defined as ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being’. So, why is something that makes us human still a subject which is so difficult to talk about?

The inner circle of motorsport is a busy place to be, the physical training that drivers endure is exhausting to even read about. From training camps to reaction training, spending time in the gym, which many drivers have at home, hours in the simulator, and let’s not forget about the health regimes they have to follow. But, what about their mental health?

Over recent months, more drivers have started to speak up about their inner struggles and how they have overcome them. More than often, I see racing drivers referred to as “superheroes”. Their ability to switch into their relaxed state of mind before a race continues to amaze me, but the truth is – they aren’t superheroes; they are people, just like you and me.

Last year, McLaren announced a partnership with the charity Mind, which provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. McLaren said that this partnership stems from their “increased focus on mental health as part of its overall health and well-being programme.” A few months later, McLaren F1 driver, Lando Norris, spoke up about his struggles since his career began in Formula One. He wrote, “have you ever struggled with something mentally but hidden it from the world by putting on a brave face? I know I have.” He explains how he was questioning his own self-belief and comparing himself to his teammate and other drivers. Something, I’m sure, many of the drivers deal with day to day.

Mental Strength has a huge part to play in Formula 1; it is a big mind game. Every single lap, maximum concentration, and nothing else on your mind. Can you imagine how difficult that must be? Admittedly, writing this post has taken days of on and off concentration. So how do these drivers do it? Last month, F1 revealed that the balance of mental wellbeing is starting to shift. More and more drivers have started to receive mental coaching, which has been common in other sports for years. Both Nico Rosberg and Mika Hakkinen revealed after they had quit racing, they both sought mental coaching for one reason or another. Nico once said, “We all train our bodies flat-out every day, yet we don’t do that much for our minds”, he revealed how he worked on moving his mind towards more positive thoughts every morning and evening for around 20 minutes and says it’s a big part of why he became world champion. In 2016, Romain Grosjean admitted that he needed to consult a psychologist in the darkest moments of his early career, particularly after 2012 and credits the specialist for improving his life, both on and off the track. Understandably, he will be working with a psychologist again to overcome the mental effects of his accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Social Media. Ah, you just knew this was going to come, didn’t you? Does social media have a part to play in mental health? Absolutely! As human beings, we thrive off the need for companionship and being socially connected to others. Social media can, in some ways, ease stress, anxiety, boost your self-worth, provide comfort and prevent loneliness. Unfortunately, we also live in a world where keyboard warriors troll our ‘safe’ platforms. Even my friends and I have been on the receiving end of multiple attacks on social media platforms. Now, imagine you’re a driver. You’ve worked your ass off all weekend but couldn’t pull out the results you were expected to, and maybe one little mistake cost it all, those feelings of not being good enough, letting everybody down – not just yourself. At the end of the day, you have to go onto social media and see an onslaught of comments calling you every name under the sun and telling you; you shouldn’t be doing the job you love. I get it, Formula 1 is and always will be an opinionated sport. Of course, you are frustrated too, but constructive criticism is a lot different to being unkind. Certain drivers choose to live their lives away from Social Media or have taken a step back due to these kinds of incidents.

Earlier, I mentioned how people often think of Formula 1 drivers as superheroes. In the 2019 season, tragedy struck in Belgium when 22-year-old Anthoine Hubert was involved in a fatal accident in the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race. An incident that rocked the motorsport community. Current Formula 1 drivers Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc knew Anthoine personally; they were friends outside of the sport and grew up together from karting onwards, sharing their journey every step of the way. Motor racing is a hard, brutal business. However, these moments confront drivers with the reality of the sense of danger their profession poses and that they are, in fact, human. Although they do it because they love it – the mental strength of every single one of those drivers to get back into their cars the day after and watch those five red lights come on one by one is incredible.

Unfortunately, to this day, mental illness can be seen as a sign of weakness, and I know what you might be thinking “Does that really matter?”. In a way, yes, it does! The idea that someone struggling with mental health is weak is stigmatising and could negatively affect certain subgroups of the population, for instance, men. Due to societal expectations and ‘traditional’ gender roles, men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. We all know that F1 is a predominantly male sport; could this be why mental health is a rarely spoken about topic in the world of motorsport?

Mental health is an important topic, not just in Formula 1 but everywhere. Yes, drivers and teams are becoming more open to discussing them; however, my question remains.

Can F1 do more for Mental Health?

Class is one of the dividing factors of our society. Working Class and Upper Class, it’s like them and us. Formula One has, historically, been an upper-class sport. Its earliest drivers often being chief engineers, having their own hired teams and sponsors. And that doesn’t account for travel expenses. There is a glass ceiling to get to the top of motor racing. Only those with the right backing can, and do, make it. 

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had probably one of the greatest F1 rivalries of the 2010s. It’s a tale of class, nationality, family ties, and team squabbling that, while common, was certainly very explosive in the Mercedes paddock.

The narrative that Lewis Hamilton is a working-class hero is somewhat inaccurate. He was not the richest, and his Dad did take up 4 jobs to support his son’s burgeoning career; it would be more accurate to call him middle class. Starting with Go-Karting at the age of 6, he signed up with McLaren’s young driver’s program in 1998 at 13. He would compete in Formula A, Super A, and Intercontinental A. There, he would meet the other man in our tale.

Nico Rosberg was a second-generation racer. The son of Finnish driver Keke Rosberg, the 1982 F1 World Champion, and growing up in Monaco and Ibiza, he was from a different world than Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg’s competitive spirit saw him achieve some excellent grades in school and Go-Karting and going through the Junior and feeder leagues. He had his first drive in an F1 car in 2003, in a Williams. 2 years later, he’d be driving a Williams in F1 full time.

By all accounts, both boys were friends and went up the leagues together. They even had their own team, financed by and for them by Keke Rosberg. However, the seeds of competition had always been there. According to one associate of theirs, both boys, fuelled by adrenaline or teenage testosterone, would compete against each other for everything, even eating pizza.

Rosberg’s entry into F1 happened in 2005. 2 years later, Hamilton would enter F1 for McLaren and win his first championship in 2008. Rosberg would be competitive in F1, and score points in most of his races, even scoring the odd podium; he did not yet have a career win. A move to Mercedes in 2010 saw him, team, with Michael Schumacher until 2012, when Lewis Hamilton joined him.

This is where the rivalry begins. 

2013 was the first season that Hamilton and Rosberg would-be teammates, since their Go-Karting days. And tensions would build up. While the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix is remembered more for the Multi 21 incident in Red Bull, team orders saw Ross Brawn keep Rosberg in 4th place when he asked to overtake Hamilton. 

By 2014, as Mercedes became more competitive, Rosberg’s and Hamilton’s relationship began to deteriorate. An incident at the Qualifying for the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix saw Rosberg drive into the slip road, causing Yellow flags to come out and forcing Lewis Hamilton to abandon his last qualifying lap. As determined by race stewards and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, this accident was believed to be foul play by Hamilton. This was followed by an announcement that Hamilton wasn’t Rosberg’s friend anymore. 

At the Hungarian Grand Prix that same year, Rosberg was leading the race, with Hamilton at the back of the Grid; his refusal to slow down for Nico coated the German a podium finish. Things would only get uglier in Belgium, as both their cars would make contact, causing damage that would write off Hamilton’s race and damage Rosberg’s front wing. Though 2nd place Rosberg was punished for this and booed by the spectators, Hamilton’s comments of the incident being deliberate showcased a sense of victimhood that made some fan’s sympathy for him wane.

The season ended in Abu Dhabi, with Hamilton winning the race and title. Rosberg did congratulate the champion, though, after that season, some would call it civility.

2015’s F1 season saw Hamilton retain his World Championship. This season was not without incidents either. The Malaysian Grand Prix had Hamilton taking pole position despite suggestions that Rosberg had deliberately blocked him on his final run. Rosberg had already abandoned his lap but did not move aside as Hamilton came past, forcing him off the racing line. During the post-race interview, you had Rosberg pretend to be a reporter, questioning Lewis about the incident. Hilarious, I am sure you’d agree.

The big one, however, was at the US Grand Prix. Hamilton, as I have stated, retained the championship, with three races to spare. Rosberg came second in that particular race but third in the championship. And if you know what I am talking about, then you remember the cap incident. Rosberg sat in the cooldown room, looking decidedly annoyed. A pumped and happy Hamilton threw the second-place cap to Rosberg from across the room, only for Rosberg to throw it back at him, with the stormiest face this side of Texas. Although played off as a bit of ‘fun’ by Hamilton, the looks of things from the POV of Rosberg suggests something less playful and downright nasty. 

The last three races of that season seemed to make Rosberg snap. Hamilton was the golden boy, and Rosberg the number two. It was almost as if the divide that initially separated the men had shifted. Rosberg would win the last three races of the season, in defiance of his team, of Hamilton, of the perception that he was less than both and his father. 

Those 3 race wins at the end of 2015 saw Rosberg, at the start of the 2016 season, have a 7 race winning streak. Four of those wins being the first four races of the season. By the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, Rosberg had a 43 point lead on Hamilton. However, both men would not finish the Spanish Grand Prix, as Rosberg entered an incorrect engine mode due to an error the German had made on the formation lap. That meant he was slower than Hamilton coming out of turn 3, and Hamilton moved alongside Rosberg to overtake for the lead. Rosberg forced Hamilton onto grass, and both men were out of the race. Hamilton was blamed for the incident but not punished.

The drama continued into the Austrian Grand Prix of that same season. A Rosberg pole and a good lead in the race, despite engine trouble. In the final laps, Hamilton was able to overtake Rosberg, in turn, one of the final laps, and As Hamilton turned in to make the corner of Turn 3, Rosberg went straight on, causing a collision and damaging the front wing of Rosberg’s car. Rosberg would come fourth, gain two penalty points, and the blame for that incident.

The season closed in Abu Dhabi, where Rosberg’s point lead of 12 required him to have a podium finish. Hamilton needed to be in the top 4, with Rosberg coming no higher than fourth. Hamilton would defy team orders in the race, slowing down, encouraging either Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel or Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to overtake Rosberg so that he may secure the title. Whether they wanted to give the middle finger to Hamilton or didn’t take the initiative, I will leave it for you to consider. Hamilton won the race, but with a 2nd place Podium finish, Rosberg won the 2016 Formula One World Championship, bucking the trend of that year being such an infamously bad one. We may have lost Carrie Fisher, Donald Trump may have been made US President, but Nico Rosberg became the champion.

Rosberg would then announce retirement from Formula One, having “reached the pinnacle of his career”. As of 2021, he and Hamilton are still not friends, though the former has expressed hope for a reconciliation. Whether they do or not is one thing, but what we know is that for the 4 years we had them both at Mercedes, it was a wild ride. 

It’s lights out, and away we go! Max Verstappen got the better start than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and passed the 7-time World Champion into Turn One with a golden overtake move on the inside. All twenty drivers made it safely through the first corner; meanwhile, Charles Leclerc made it past Valtteri Bottas and made it into third place.

It’s Lap 5, and the stewards are putting Pierre Gasly under investigation, who seemed to be out of position at the start of the race. Verstappen built a half-second lead over Hamilton in the first few laps, but the Mercedes is doing better by a tenth or two out of the Dutchman’s time, and we see Lewis earning the fastest lap. We hear Yuki Tsunoda on his team radio Lap 8 say on “Engine’s stopped, engine’s stopped,” Later on, we can see on the replay footage that the display on the steering wheel turned off, which can be signs of a gearbox problem. Due to that, the Safety Car is deployed. 

During the Safety Car, many pitstops occur, with the most shocking one coming from Antonio Giovinazzi on Lap 10. It appeared that the pit crew delivered empty tyres, which made it impossible to assemble them on the car. Meanwhile, we see a decent double pitstop coming from Williams, and both drivers switch to the medium tyres.

It’s Lap 11 and the Safety Car is back in, it’s now up to Max Verstappen to determine the pace of the restart. In the last chicane Max decided to increase with full speed. The Safety Car seems to have had no effect on the Dutchman’s Red Bull. Pierre Gasly is no longer under investigation, instead, he has been given a five-second time penalty for being out of place at the start. Since this is a data-driven decision, the stewards had an easier time coming to a conclusion.

Tyre concerns with Max Verstappen as we can see him having a clearly blistered right rear tyre. Replays of Hamilton’s car reveal that his right rear tyre is suffering from severe blistering as well. In true Hamilton style, he sets a new fastest lap during Lap 21 as the Mercedes improved a tenth or two off Verstappen’s time, while the Red Bull appears quite happy to keep the reigning World Champion out of the DRS range. We’re on Lap 23, and Gasly has taken his 5-second penalty and drops to P19. 

Mercedes was the first to act with a pitstop for Bottas on Lap 25, and the Finn has rejoined the race in clear air. Lap 26 and Verstappen is into the pits just as Hamilton was closing the gap on the race leader. Max can’t be too happy about this one as it was a prolonged stop from Red Bull and very unusual for the team as it was 4.2 seconds. It appeared to be a last-minute call.

Sergio Perez, who has yet to pit, cleared the way for Verstappen, who has already done so. Hamilton has been insisting to Bono on the team radio that his tyres are in good shape and that he wants to stay out. We can also hear that Toto has been complaining to the FIA race control about Hamilton’s time loss to Mazepin ignoring blue flags on the radio. 

Hamilton makes a successful 2.7-second pit stop on Lap 29, but Verstappen is safe as he passes while Hamilton is still in the pit lane. On the other hand, Hamilton is now on the newer tyres, but Verstappen still has the Fastest Lap on his name since Lap 28. So, it seems Mercedes’ strategy is to ensure Hamilton has more traction at the end of the race when Verstappen is expected to struggle.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton earned the Fastest Lap after his pitstop in Lap 31. We’re now on Lap 34, and the leaders have passed through the back of the field with Nikita Mazepin once again being accused of causing traffic, which seems to have helped Hamilton, who is now within DRS range of race leader Verstappen. Lando Norris has had a tough time so far, but he’s now in ninth place after passing Alonso on Lap 39 while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo is on track for a good fifth-place finish. 

While Max Verstappen complains about the lack of grip, it’s in Lap 42 to see Hamilton making another pitstop. Mercedes made a bold strategic move by doing so. They decide to bring Hamilton in just as he was approaching Verstappen. He’s now on a set of extra mediums.

It’s Lap 43; right after Hamilton’s pitstop, we can hear Verstappen’s race-engineer Gianpiero Lambiase on the team radio: “At this rate, they’re going to catch us in the last lap” Meanwhile, it appears that Max stays out and will try a different strategy. As Hamilton asks to be informed of the gap to Verstappen on Lap 44, Bono reminds him, “Currently 22 seconds; you’ve done it before.”

It’s Lap 46, and we hear the following on the team radio: “I don’t see how we’re going to take this to the end”, Verstappen says. It’s for the first time this season; Verstappen sounds so disappointed. According to the informative AWS graphics, Hamilton’s newer set of tyres is giving him concern, but within the next 10 laps, the World Champion will be within striking distance of the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton is behind Bottas in Lap 55 and has the advantage in terms of race speed. Hamilton is attempting to overtake his teammate, but Bottas is refusing to cooperate. At Turn 10, Hamilton dives past his teammate on the inside. That was not part of a team order; the Finn refused to let Hamilton pass him by earlier. 

Lap 54 and Bottas make a pit stop, and the Finn will challenge for the fastest lap point. Two laps later, we see Bottas earning the Fastest Lap as a result.

With 10 laps to go, we can see on the AWS system that Hamilton will be within striking distance of Verstappen in nine laps. Verstappen and Hamilton are now separated by just over a half-second on Lap 59. Keep in mind that Hamilton rejoined the race 22 seconds behind Red Bull when he pitted for the second time. It seems like the pace isn’t there for the Dutchman. What we thought was coming becomes a reality; Hamilton passes Verstappen into turn one and takes the lead of the race. 

It’s Lap 56, and Pierre Gasly has moved up to the tenth position. The AlphaTauri, had a close touch with Lance Stroll while braking, but it doesn’t matter for the Frenchman as he’s now into the points. That would be a good outcome for Alpha Tauri after Tsuonoda’s early retirement.

With Hamilton out of the picture, Red Bull has pitted Verstappen a second time to move him to fresher tyres in the hope of winning the fastest lap bonus point, a move that wasn’t a part of the original strategy. 

The chequered flag is waved as Hamilton is the first to cross the finish line after leading the race for the last 12 laps. For the fifth time in a row, the reigning World Champion wins the Spanish Grand Prix, extending his lead in the drivers’ standings. 

There’s no denial that Mercedes’ strategy was spot on, and it was the decisive factor. Verstappen made his pit stop in second position just in time to get the bonus point for the Fastest Lap. 

This weekend marks the second-ever Formula One race at The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. It hosts the Formula 1 Heineken Grande Premio De Portugal 2021 or, to most fans, the Portuguese Grand Prix. As we’ve only raced here once before in F1, here’s a quick stop guide on everything you need to know about Portimao.

Why are we racing here?
Last year, due to many calendar changes and the impact of Covid-19, the sport returned to Portugal for the first time since 1996, excitement = intensified. However, this year, it wasn’t on the original provisional calendar released at the end of 2020. Although, there was a TBC, and many fans were hoping for the return of Portimao. In March this year, it was confirmed that the Portuguese Grand Prix would be returning to the calendar once more. Will it become a more permanent feature of the F1 calendar? I could only dream.

Okay, but give us the details of the track!
Alright, the track itself was built and finished in 2008; it took just 7 months to complete but cost a whopping €195 million. As mentioned earlier, although the track was used for F1 pre-season testing in the winter of 2008-09, it hosted its first Formula One race in 2020. The stats in terms of the most wins or pole positions at this track are a little slim, but they both belong to Lewis Hamilton, in case you’re interested. The length of the track is 2.891 miles or 4.653 km. It has 15 turns and hosts an elevation change into the layout, like COTA. It sends drivers up and down (like a rollercoaster) with the big downhill slopes and right-hand turns after the main straight and is pretty good for overtaking because of the circuit width.

Nice, so what happened last year?
A new track, new impressions – and it definitely left good ones on the drivers, with many of them praising the track and its unique layout. Pierre Gasly even compared it to the butterflies you get in your stomach when on a rollercoaster. Challenging, a lot of blind corners, high-speed, low speed and a smooth surface. Lewis Hamilton started from the front of the grid after achieving pole position over his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, by a tenth of a second. At the start of the race, Max Verstappen passed Bottas with ease as the whole grid struggled to find grip.

Once the latter positions switched back once again, the Dutch driver made contact with Sergio Perez, spinning him to the back of the pack. Bottas took the lead as Lewis battled with the slippery surface, and Carlos Sainz moved up to third, promptly passing Hamilton into second. In a surprise event, the tricky conditions played to the Spaniard’s favour as he sailed his way past Bottas and led the race until Lap 6. As a McLaren fan, my little papaya heart was beating way too fast – although that could’ve been the racing ritual Monster Energy. Mercedes eventually found themselves back at the front where they belonged, and on Lap 20, Lewis took the lead. In terms of race drama, we had a small Lance Stroll and Lando Norris collision when fighting for position, and Pierre Gasly went on the hunt for 5th place. The podium was a standard Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, but I still really enjoyed the race.

So, that’s everything we need to know about this weekends race, but what do you think of the track? Should it become a permanent feature of the F1 calendar?

When you think of Formula One, you think of drivers, cars, tracks, and excitement. A lot of people don’t think about how it has aired on television over the years. This part of F1 History is often ignored, but not by Grid Talk! Join us today as we give a brief history of the changing nature of Formula One on Television. 

When the Formula One World Championship first started in 1950 (with Grand Prix Motor racing first coming about in 1894), coverage was patchy on television. That stands to reason, with only  350,000 households having a Television set. The first race shown on British television was the 1953 British Grand Prix, aired live on BBC Television. Not that it had anywhere else to air on, there only was one channel. For the first 30 years or so, the races were not actually aired in full, as they are today. The best you could hope for were highlights on either the BBC or ITV from 1955. And that’s if they bothered to air highlights at all.

From 1979 to 1996, the BBC held the rights to broadcast races on television. With commentary from the legendary Murray Walker, and James Hunt, coverage of Formula One began to increase. However, it still wasn’t until the early 1990s that you would see full race coverage live on the BBC. Broadcasting from their London studios, and hosted by Steve Ryder, with commentary from Walker, Hunt, and then Jonathan Palmer, after Hunt’s death. And if you want to watch qualifying, then forget it. For that privilege, you had to invest in the then-new technology of Satellite television and watch it on Eurosport. Eurosport aired both qualifying and races over the weekend, though with satellite being an expensive luxury in the late ’80s and early ’90s, one can imagine that viewing figures were low.

In 1997, however, F1 coverage changed hands. ITV Sport spent £60 million over 4 years for the contract. They would host F1 coverage until the end of the 2008 season. Murray Walker moved over and was joined by Martin Brundle in commentary, with Jim Rosenthal at the helm, with Tony Jardine and Simon Taylor as pundits. That £60 million investment saw a moving studio, which went with the team in every race, and the introduction of Martin Brundle’s grid walk, which started at the British Grand Prix in 1997. That makes up for the imposition of advertising, and these adverts would play during the race.

Over 11 years, people came and went, with Murray retiring in 2001, James Allen replacing him. The introduction of Ted Kravtiz, reporting from the pitlane, and Steve Ryder, who replaced Rosenthal in 2005, as the presenter.

Come 2009, and the BBC took over presenting duties for Formula One. This time, with Jake Humphrey as a head presenter, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard as pundits. Ted Kravitz and Martin Brundle came over from ITV, with the addition of Lee McKenzie as Co-Pitlane reporter and  Jonathan Legard on commentary. In 2011, David Coulthard would join Brundle in the commentary.

And then it all changed again. In the midst of cost-saving measures, the BBC gave up full coverage, passing the baton to Sky Sports. The BBC would still broadcast some races live, with highlights of certain races filling out their coverage. Sky Sports, however, changed things yet again. Formula One was given its own Sky Sports channel, launching in March of 2012. With a whole TV channel, we now have more faces than ever: David Croft, Simon Lazenby, Rachel Brookes, and many others. Sky Sports also brought in much more in punditry: Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Paul Di Resta, and Damon Hill. As of 2021, Sky Sports holds exclusive rights to every race, bar the British Grand Prix. Highlights and select races are now being broadcast on Channel 4, which obtained the rights from the BBC in 2015. 

So, that brings us up to now. Broadcasting has changed a lot since 1950, alongside Formula One. In the last 70+ years, the medium of Television has mutated and evolved from what was once a box in the corner of the room to a flatscreen computer, connected to the internet, broadcasting at a level of detail that makes it so you can see the beads of sweat on Lewis Hamilton’s forehead. Technology will continue to change. Will Virtual Reality make it so we can sit in the car with the driver? Will we be able to select different camera angles to live on TV via our remote control? Time will tell, but we all know that Formula One will endure. 

Also, bring back The Chain. That’s the only thing missing from Sky Sports F1 right now.

As some of you may know, I became a fan of Formula One in 2011 when I couldn’t find the TV remote! Back in the days of BBC coverage, I fell in love with the sport by complete accident and have never looked back. Whether you’ve been a fan for decades or are relatively new to F1, these are some great races from the archives to watch in your spare time!

Gentleman, a short view back to the past…

2011 – Canadian Grand Prix

If you haven’t seen this race, you need to! Arguably, one of the best races of the decade! This race has everything an F1 fan loves- rain, drama and an underdog. I’ve watched this race a few times, and I’m still not too sure how Jenson won! The first 4 laps started under the safety car before Lewis Hamilton hit Mark Webber going into turn one. Shortly after, Button and his teammate, Hamilton, collided on the start-finish straight, ending Lewis’ race. Jenson pitted and then had to serve a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane, so at this point, you’d think getting points would be hard to achieve. Suddenly, monsoon rain arrived, and the race was red-flagged. Once the action restarted, Jenson collided with Alonso and had to pit AGAIN, but luckily this time, it was under the safety car so he could catch the pack up. As the track dried out, Button went onto the slicks and climbed up the order. It was overtake central! Another safety car gave Jenson what he needed to see out the victory. He had the need-for-speed and won- simply incredible!! This race never gets old.

2012 – Belgian Grand Prix

Not the most memorable race from this year, but the crash is something many of us remember to this day as it was manic! Romain Grosjean hit Lewis Hamilton heading into the first corner, causing his Lotus to fly through the air and straight over the top of Alonso- all at turn one! Perez was another victim of Grosjean’s madness, causing a shower of debris. How no one was seriously hurt, I have no idea.

Although we did get the superb radio from Kimi of “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”, which is a personal favourite radio message! For the second time in my memorable races, Jenson Button took the top step of the podium!

2013 – Malaysian Grand Prix

MULTI 21 SEB. I remember watching this grand prix and just loving every moment of it! How ruthless Sebastian was in that race was truly mind-blowing, as a relatively new fan. Completely ignoring his team’s instructions to stay ahead of his teammate so he could win the world championship? Yes, please! Drama in the cool-down room followed when Mark Webber confronted Seb, repeating in a strong Australian accent, “Multi 21 Seb, Multi 21!” with Vettel just shrugging it off like it was nothing! It is one of the funniest moments of the last 10 years and a conversation that now lives so rent-free in my mind; it’s unbelievable!

2014 – Belgian Grand Prix

For me, this is my favourite race of all-time as it was the first ever Grand Prix I attended! On race day I sat on Kemmel Straight and was one of the only teenage girls in sight. The start of the race was a classic Mercedes one-two. I was team Nico all the way and wanted him to beat Lewis. Boy, was I in for a fabulous race, and probably the catalyst of the biggest rivalry in recent years.

The start was amazing, hearing the cars gallop up Eau Rouge onto the Kemmel straight. Nico was getting closer to Lewis, DRS activated a few laps in, as they tussled all the way to the end of Kemmel Straight, and BAM – THEY’D HIT. I saw that move with my own eyes! Both cars got damage but Lewis’ was too much, ending any chance of winning this race after losing so much time. Then came Daniel Ricciardo, who overtook Sebastian Vettel after he went wide. As Nico made his way through the traffic, he got a piece of string-like debris attached to his car! A crazy race with Daniel Ricciardo winning, my favourite driver at my first race!! What are the odds!

2015 – Hungarian Grand Prix

This year wasn’t the most memorable for the racing, but this race was extremely fitting. This was the first race after the tragic announcement that Jules Bianchi had passed away after his accident at Suzuka in 2014. This was very emotional for me as a 15-year-old whose first car I saw live on track was Jules at Spa the year before.

The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both got the jump on the Mercedes at the start. There was lots of overtaking into the first turn causing, plenty of drama! Later on in the race, Lewis got understeer into the first turn and ended up whacking into Ricciardo’s Red Bull and subsequently went down the order with damage. Ricciardo got caught up in more drama with the Mercedes that race after going for a late dive on Nico Rosberg and making contact. Even with all the tangles, Ricciardo ended up 3rd. After a fabulous drive, Sebastian Vettel won in the Ferrari, which was rather fitting as Jules was part of the Ferrari Academy. Always in our hearts, Jules.

2016 – Spanish Grand Prix

At the time, I don’t think any of us knew how much this race would give us a glimpse of the seasons to come. This was Max Verstappen’s debut race for Red Bull after being promoted from Toro Rosso mid-season, replacing Daniil Kvyat. Remarkable, considering he was only 18 at the time! At the peak of the Lewis-Nico rivalry, we saw the two Mercedes hit each other again. This really put the final nail in the coffin to any friendship they had. But who was there to pick up on their mistake? Max Verstappen! Initially, he was behind teammate Ricciardo, but Max won, having opted for a two-stop strategy rather than his teammate’s three-stop. Little did we know how good the Dutch wonder kid was, which opened the chapter of the ‘new era’ of drivers.

2017 – Baku Grand Prix

Where do I start with this one?! One word- MADNESS. It all started with first lap drama, with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen colliding. Daniel Ricciardo had to pit early and was forced onto a long run on the hard compounds whilst Max suffered engine issues in the other Red Bull. A slow safety car led Hamilton to break-test Sebastian, causing Seb to retaliate by pulling up alongside Lewis and whacked into the side of the Mercedes on purpose. Sebastian’s head was clearly gone in the championship battle with this desperate move. A red flag brought out for debris on track sees Daniel Ricciardo fifth before he overtook two cars at once down into turn one, showing just why he is one of the best overtakers on the grid. Lewis had a loose headrest, so he had to pit for safety reasons. Sebastian then received a 10-second penalty for the earlier incident with Hamilton, promoting Daniel Ricciardo to the front before winning the Grand Prix, having started from 10th position! Lance Stroll also got on the podium in a Williams at the age of 18!

2018 – Monaco Grand Prix

Redemption. In 2016, Daniel Ricciardo lost the race due to a team error in the pit stop, where I’ve never seen him so annoyed! He qualified pole again, so it really was his to lose. The race came, and the Australian got the perfect start. The pit stop went great too, but he suffered a loss of power, and Lewis quickly closed. Was he going to lose another Monaco GP? He just about managed to keep his lead, helped by the fact that Monaco is almost impossible to pass, but he did it, and it was fabulous to watch!

2019 – Italian Grand Prix

The thing I love about this race was the podium reception. Charles drove all weekend fabulously following the tragic events of the previous weekend where his close friend Anthoine Hubert passed away. But like a true star, Charles drove all weekend spectacularly with and prompted the now-iconic line from Crofty ‘He won in Spa, he wins in Monza’. It had been an awful long time since a Ferrari won at Monza on their home turf. Once the Italian national anthem started to play, wow, it gave me goosebumps, exactly why I love F1. The Tifosi are the most passionate fans, and you could hear the power, excitement, and joy in their voices as they sang the national anthem. Quite frankly, it lives rent-free in my head (alongside Multi 21!). I really hope one day I can be at Monza with a Ferrari win to experience that moment- it would just be incredible!

2020 – Italian Grand Prix

This race was equally crazy! Hamilton penalty, red flag!? There is no way anyone would have predicted how this race would pan out (minus the one person in Iceland who put a 25p bet on it!). This race was the best for unpredictability- the impact of the red flag meant that some of the midfield pack who hadn’t already pitted gained 20 seconds from, effectively, a free pit stop. The red flag also meant a free choice of tyres, so the battle was between Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, both in midfield cars… WHAT?! After both fighting for their lives, Gasly held out for his first race win. What an emotional podium, exactly a year and a week since his best friend Anthoine died; you could see how much that meant to him and was a fitting end to a thoroughly entertaining race.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did! What are your most memorable races of the last decade? Let us know!

WHAT A RACE! From the second the lights went out, the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix did not disappoint. What more could we have asked for? A wet race at Imola, I’ll take that any day… 

We saw Lewis Hamilton in Pole Position, with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in 2nd and 3rd. The race got off to a flying start, or more accurately, a sliding start! The Dutch driver was quick off the mark, taking the lead at the start of the race with his compatriot Perez holding onto third place. Slow off the line, Hamilton desperately attempted to hold onto P1 into the first corner to no avail. He was forced wide, over the chicane causing slight damage to his front wing. Fortunately for Lewis, the damage was nothing too serious and he was able to continue. The action of the first lap continued with Latifi spinning off, bringing out the safety car. Whilst the safety car was out on track, further drama unfolded when Mick Schumacher guided the Haas into the Pit Exit whilst attempting to warm his tyres. 

Lap 7 and the race is back underway, little did we know that the excitement had only just begun. After 6 laps behind the safety car, the race is ready to get underway again. A tetchy restart for Verstappen nearly handed an eagle-eyed Hamilton the opportunity to regain P1. After following closely for a few further laps, Max manages to pull away from Lewis, comfortably outside of DRS range. We’ll jump ahead a bit now to the next burst of action. 

Almost halfway through the race, we hit lap 27 and Max, the race leader entered the pit lane for what would be an efficient stop. He returned to the track in third place. Hamilton followed, stopping a lap later after pushing for an extra lap on his intermediate tyres, managing to bag the fastest first sector of the race so far. Entering the pits, Lewis would have been hoping for a quick stop to help gain an advantage. However, the stop was definitely on the slower side at 4 seconds due to a sticky front right. Returning him back to track 2.5 seconds behind Max. Shortly after, Perez headed into the Pit Lane to serve the 10 second time penalty that was handed to him for an earlier safety car infringement. The misfortune of the Mexican driver elevated Norris giving him the opportunity to chase down his first podium. 

In a rare mistake, whilst lapping Russell, Hamilton slid off into the gravel at Tosa resulting in the loss of vital positions and thanks to the huge gap to the rest of the field, Hamilton was able to navigate his way out of the gravel to regain P7.

Then, out of nowhere; BOOM, BIG CRASH. RED FLAG! Valtteri and Russell are out of the race. Did I hear a bad word? I think I did… Whilst I understand Bottas’ frustration at the young British driver, he was attempting to overtake – heck, as Senna would have said “if you no longer go for a gap that exists you are no longer a racing driver”. We’ll put this one down as a racing incident. 

When the race eventually restarted after a break of around 20 minutes, there was some debate as to whether we would see a standing start or whether the action would resume from behind the safety car. The decision was made to resume with a rolling start as track conditions were deemed to be too treacherous. Upon the restart, Verstappen almost spun off, before regaining his composure. Then, Perez went into the gravel, resulting in a drop from 4th to 15th, leaving him trailing behind the Haas of Mick Schumacher. Norris almost secured his highest position in an F1 race, before Hamilton ruined the party! That sucks, but Verstappen went on to win with an almighty 22-second lead. Damn, that is impressive!

Besides the winner of the race, the driver I would like to spotlight today is Kimi Raikonnen. In a race that has seen cars jump from the back of the grid to the front, Kimi was able to go from 16th to 9th. A pretty solid performance if you ask me. As for my blunder of the race, I’m going to have to give it to both Perez, he definitely squandered his position and paid the price. 

And with that, we say goodbye to another race and what an exciting race it has been. With the Championship wide open, it is safe to say we are in for an exciting season! With only a single point separating Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, it is definitely going to be interesting to see how this season unfolds. Can Red Bull finally end Mercedes domination? I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks when we travel to Portugal. I am looking forward to another great race there because that track is mental. See you soon.

When recovering his body at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, officials found that Aryton Senna had a flag inside of the cockpit. It’s believed that had Senna won the race, he would have unfurled it in honour of a racer that had died during qualifying the day before. The flag was Austrian.

As we approach the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Grid Talk discusses Roland Ratzenberger, whose untimely death is often overlooked in light of the second tragedy that occurred on that race day. We shouldn’t treat these deaths as separately but equally.

Roland Ratzenberger had potential, which is what inspired this article. How far could he have gone? They raced in British Formula 3000, Japanese Formula 3000, and Le Mans. It was in Le Mans he displayed a talent for endurance racing, coming 9th in 1992 and 5th in 1993, with class positions of 2nd and 1st respectively. He almost had his F1 debut in 1991 for Jordan racing. That was not meant to be due to the loss of a major sponsor.

The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is infamous, along with this entire season. The rule changes for that season, ostensibly to reduce costs for smaller teams, got rid of electric driver aids, such as anti-lock brakes and traction control. While this did cut costs, it led to more accidents – Rubens Barrichello’s injury in Q1 of qualifying put a decidedly morbid mood on this race weekend.

During Q2, Ratzenberger’s front wing flap fell off, causing major suspension damage and worsened aerodynamics. During his next, and ultimately last, lap, the front wing broke off entirely and became lodged underneath his car. His car lost control and crashed at 180 mph into the Villeneuve kink. A basilar skull fracture caused Roland Ratzenberger’s death at the age of 33. His death was the first in F1 since 1986.

The next day, the more well known of the tragedies happened. While Aryton Senna’s death is the one we remember and is considered the catalyst for many rule changes during the 1994 season and beyond, aimed at increasing safety, a lot of the initial push came from Ratzenberger’s death. That’s what inspired Senna to reform the Grand Prix Driver’s Association, which was done the following weekend at Monaco by Michael Schumacher, Niki Lauda, Gerhard Berger, and many others.

While these deaths could have been avoided with better rules, and more stringent safety requirements, we must remember the time’s culture. Even in 1994, the focus on safety and knowledge of injuries was not as extensive as today. If this happened in 2021, both men would have survived. However, it would have required that knowledge and culture.

The big question of this post was this: What could Roland Ratzenburger have achieved if he survived? His endurance racing talent was wasted with Simtek, whose unexciting and underfunded cars never really set the world on fire. The team would end up bankrupt in 1995. Had Ratzenberger continued through 1994 and 1995 and signed with another team, he could have been a venerable middle grid driver. Likely scoring points consistently, but probably not a serious title contender. Ultimately, we’ll never know. While most of the paddock would attend the 3 times World Champion funeral, 5 drivers went too, along with FIA President Max Mosely. 

Almost 27 years later, Roland Ratzenburger is remembered as ‘the other driver’ to die. This post aims to provide a spotlight on Ratzenburger and remember someone who could have gone further. Instead, with this weekends Grand Prix edging closer, we remember Aryton Senna and Roland Ratzenburger, two men who died doing what they loved.

2021 is shaping up to be the most competitive and hard-fought constructors battle since Mercedes asserted their dominance in 2014, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen looking likely to be the two main contenders for the driver’s title. Lewis versus Max is the old boy against the new blood. The apprentice is taking on the master in the age-old battle of experience vs young talent.

Lewis Hamilton’s driving ability needs no introduction. The most successful driver of all time in terms of records, with a legacy that will last for as long as the sport continues. This is Lewis’ 15th season in Formula One, and with seven world drivers’ championships to his name, he has collected the ultimate prize in exactly 50% of the seasons he has competed in the sport. Simply incredible.

But Lewis is by no means invincible. He was, of course, famously beaten by his teammate, Nico Rosberg, in 2016 and before this, Jenson Button got one over his fellow Brit in 2011 when the two paired up at McLaren. In recent years, Lewis has not been pushed to the limit by his teammate Valtteri Bottas in the same way we all expected when he joined Mercedes in 2017, following Rosberg’s shock departure. The question is, has Lewis passed his peak? He is now 36 years old, which is at the more senior end of the spectrum for a modern F1 driver, with Lewis only junior to the longstanding Kimi Raikkonen and the returning Fernando Alonso. Hamilton has been at the top of his game for over a decade now. Is this where the fatigue of succession will disadvantage the champion in ways even he cannot control?

Hot on Lewis’ tail to break his records is the Flying Dutchman. Since Max entered the sport at the tender age of 17, he made his presence shown. He is the youngest ever driver, to date, and the youngest winner of a grand prix, following his debut victory for Red Bull at the Spanish 2016. Max’s raw talent is exceptional to watch, and you often hear Martin Brundle comment, “He is going to be a future world champion”, but is this reasonable to say?

This is Max’s seventh season, and he currently has 10 wins, four pole positions and 43 podiums to his name at the age of 23. He has proven that he is one of the toughest teammates out there, leaving Alex Albon’s F1 career in tatters, as well as making Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kyvat look very ordinary. Max is known to be hot-headed at times, and with such an aggressive driving style, he is more likely to make costly mistakes resulting in collisions and ultimately leading to a DNF. Max often seems to be caught up in the on-track drama regarding car issues, whether this is reliability or tyres. His impatience leads him to make otherwise avoidable mistakes, with Turkey 2020 being a recent example of this case. Will his lack of maturity in the car be the downfall to his chances of winning a world championship?

One question that F1 fans would love to know the answer to is given equal machinery, who would come out on top, Lewis or Max? It would be remarkably close, that is for sure! Max hasn’t had a fully competitive teammate since Daniel Ricciardo; it is difficult to say how the Dutch sensation would get on with the best-of-the-best in Lewis. Based on his pure speed, in my opinion, Max is quicker than Lewis. But Hamilton’s ability to look after his car and manage the tyres is one of the fundamental reasons he has achieved so much in the sport and continues to do so. Lewis knows how to grab situations where he isn’t in control, but the pressure of this gets to Max mainly from a lack of experience in these situations. Mind games are something we haven’t particularly seen from Max yet, but when we do, boy, do I think it’s going to be explosive! Max takes no nonsense from anyone, which is probably an impact of his upbringing, but Lewis knows how to get under his closest rivals’ skin like Nico did. I can’t see tensions rising to boil point this season, but you never know what individual tactics certain drivers will deploy to in an attempt to get one up on their opponent.

Although, if we look at the history of the last (and only other) seven-time world champion, Michael Schumacher, he made back-to-back unsuccessful attempts to clinch his eighth crown by losing to the younger generation the form of a juvenile Alonso in 2005 and 2006. Will history repeat itself? I don’t think so. Lewis has the advantage that his team continue to be the best on the grid and are more consistent in the season-long battle. But if any year could be the year for Lewis to be dethroned as world champion, this might well be the year.

Rachel Brookes, an inspiration to many women and young girls who watch the pinnacle of motorsport week in, week out. Her journey into Formula 1 started with a passion just like you and me and is proof that if you work hard, you will eventually be in the right place at the right time. I was extremely fortunate to sit down and ask Rachel a few questions about her current role and her experiences from working within motorsport.

Please could you tell me about your role within the Sky Sports F1 team?
I am a presenter and reporter for Sky Sports F1, working primarily at race weekends but with other work and shoots outside of race weekends. I present the F1 show and all F2 and F3 sessions when I am on-site, as well as filming features and interviews for our shows. I also do the post-session interviews with drivers.

Have you always wanted to be a presenter? If so, was Formula One always a dream of yours?
I never planned to be a presenter. I kind of fell into it. I don’t think anyone should plan to be a TV presenter. Find something you are passionate about and work towards your goal of working in it. I have always loved Formula One and watched it with my brothers when I was younger. I never dreamed I would work in it one day as I never really saw any women in the coverage when I watched it unless they were grid girls or drivers wives/girlfriends. Because of that, I don’t think I ever thought it was an option open to me, so I never even considered it. I did want to be a radio presenter, though, and I am sure that is because there were women on the radio when I was growing up.

Was the road to becoming a presenter tougher than you thought it would be? Was there anything you had to sacrifice?
As I hadn’t thought about being a presenter, I didn’t really have any expectations. I went from step to step until I ended up presenting, so it wasn’t that tough for me. If you work in sport, sacrifices come with the territory, unfortunately. Sport usually happens on the weekend, so you learn early on that you will be missing out on a lot of things, from birthdays to weddings and everything in between. It also means that after a while, the invitations stop coming because people assume you will be working or away. It’s funny because I thought I was the only one who felt like this until I spoke to my friends in F1 about it, and they all said the same thing. So, yes, there are plenty of sacrifices, and you need to be prepared for them.

Do you need to be signed up to an agency or talent space to become a presenter?
I still don’t really consider myself a presenter. I am a broadcast journalist, which means I weigh heavily on the side of journalism as opposed to being a “presenter”. You don’t need an agent or talent space to be a broadcast journalist; in fact, it is usually better for you not to have one. There is a difference between a broadcast journalist and a presenter. I would say broadcast journalists usually get work on merit, on experience or on achievements made along the way and, as such, don’t need an agent to get them to work. Presenters quite often have agents because they are looking for a variety of presenting work. They don’t necessarily want to concentrate on one thing or specialise. I have an agent now because as a result of the work I have done, I get offered various other work, and I discuss with him whether I should do them and use him to negotiate the fee, as I am terrible at that! Agents definitely have their place, but you need to work hard in the first place to be an attractive proposition for an agent, as they need to be able to make money off you, and you need to decide which direction you are going in.

What is it like being a female reporter in a male-dominated paddock and sport?
It has changed a lot in the nine years I have been working in the sport. There are a lot more women working in the paddock and in a huge variety of roles. We all support each other, and some of those women have become my closest friends. There are the odd incidents of sexism but are becoming few and far between, and we have a duty to be vocal when those incidents occur to try and stop them from happening in future and to the next generation.

Is there anything you think could help get more women interested in working in the sport?
I have always said ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and as such we have a duty to highlight all those women who work in motorsport now in all their many varied roles, so that young girls coming through know about all the opportunities available to them. As I said earlier, I didn’t see women presenting Formula One when I was little. Hopefully, young girls now will see me, or Lee Mckenzie for Channel Four or Nicki Shields presenting Formula E and realise it’s an option for them. Perhaps more importantly, I want them to see Ruth Buscombe, the Alfa Romeo strategist, or Michelle Creighton, the composite technician at Aston Martin Racing or any other women who work in motorsport.

What advice would you give to those wanting to work in Formula One?
Don’t want to work in Formula One, want to work in motorsport. Very few people ever walk straight into Formula One. You need to have a passion for motorsport first of all, and that means maybe working in some of the other series first to get your knowledge and understanding up to scratch before getting to work in Formula One.

What does a typical F1 race weekend look like for you?
My race weekend starts much earlier in the week when I do all my prep. I read up on the previous race, check for any lines or stories that have come since then and make my notes on each driver ahead of speaking to them. I want to know that if, for example, Max has an engine issue in a session, whether he has had it before that season or even if his teammate has, or maybe even another team using that engine manufacturer. Once at the track, Thursday is all about driver interviews, pre-records for the weekend and preparing for the F1 show, which is now on a Thursday evening. For that, I will listen to all the driver interviews from that day as well as adding my own input according to what I have read that week or found out in the paddock that day from chatting to people.

On Fridays this year, I am lead commentary for the first practice session. This is something totally new for me and requires a lot more prep than anything else. If you can imagine talking for an hour with nothing scripted for you, that is what it’s like. I have to react to what is going on our screens, which is provided by F1 and called the World Feed. I have one or two pundits alongside me who I bring into the conversation, and we try to make it as interesting and informative as possible. Saturday is a lot of driver interviews in the pen but also some pre-recorded links for our qualifying show. Sundays are very busy with track parade interviews, pre-records and more post-session driver interviews. Also, across the weekend, I present the F2 and F3 sessions as well as doing the post-race interviews for them so you can see why I do so much prep!

If there is one, what’s one thing you would change about your job?
I really don’t think I would change anything right now.

Your most memorable interview?
I would say that is my recent interview with Lewis Hamilton. The question I get asked most frequently when people find out I work in Formula One is “What is Lewis Hamilton really like?” Normally his interviews are very racing based, and you hear very similar answers from him. So I recently pitched to my boss that I wanted to do the next sit down interview with him for Sky Sports F1. I had to send a full pitch and question topics to him and luckily persuaded him to let me do it. My only interviews with Lewis for the last six years have been in the interview pen, and they are now limited to just two questions. So this was a rare opportunity to talk about other things, and I really wanted to show the other side to Lewis in the hope that people would feel like they knew a little more about him after watching it. He was really open and generous, and I enjoyed the interview. So did he luckily, even saying as he took his microphone off, “I enjoyed that, I hope your bosses see it and let you do more,” and so do I!

For those of us who aspire to work in the world of motorsport, getting our foot through the front door can seem almost impossible. We’re hoping for this to become a series, to share the stories of those who have made it, and to inspire us, and the next generation who want to continue in their footsteps. On behalf of the team at Grid Talk, I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to speak to me about her experiences in the paddock.

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