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It’s lights out and away we go in Baku!

Polesitter Charles Leclerc had a great start in the Ferrari and got away very quickly from the line and led in front of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. There were no incidents through the first few turns. Meanwhile on Lap 2, Sergio Perez has made a strong start to the race, moving up two positions to 4th place. On the other hand, Lando Norris has had a poor start and is already in 12th place, behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo. George Russell is the first one of the field to make a pitstop already. Lewis Hamilton makes it to P1 in Lap 3. The World Champion does not even need a DRS to overtake Leclerc, who could not stay in front of the Mercedes. It was a brilliant move. Lap 4 and the first retirement of the race is for Esteban Ocon. It appears that the Alpine has a gearbox failure as we heard Ocon on the team radio saying, “Lost power!”

We’re into Lap 7, and Max Verstappen hits the brakes late and overtakes Leclerc. Max obviously needed a few laps to get there. Lewis Hamilton complained about some balancing concerns over the Mercedes team radio in Lap 8, saying, “Balance is on the nose”, he also mentions struggling. Sergio Perez now closes in on Charles Leclerc and joins his Dutch Red Bull teammate in moving forward. Charles Leclerc is into the pit in Lap 10 and receives a fresh set of hard tyres. Charles Lecelerc rejoined the track before Kimi Räikkönen on P10. Lewis Hamilton says to be having struggles with his rears on the team radio in Lap 11. A disaster for Ferrari in Lap 12 after Carlos Sainz went straight through Turn 8 after his tyres blocked. As a result: the Spaniard is now in P15 after having to reverse back onto the track.

In Lap 15, we see Lewis Hamilton, the defending World Champion, make a slow pit stop of 4.6 seconds, and he loses his position on the track. One lap later, during Lap 16, Red Bull is capable of a pit stop for Max Verstappen in under two seconds. Sergio Perez is now leading the race with Sebastian Vettel on P2. Now Sergio Perez comes to a 4.3 second stop in Lap 17, but the Mexican stays ahead of Verstappen. Lap 19 and meanwhile Sebastian Vettel is leading the race, but he has yet to pit. It’s the first time the German has led a race since Brazil 2019.

Now, as it stands, we have P1: Vettel P2: Verstappen P3: Perez P4: Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel pits for a new set of tyres in Lap 21, and the former World Champion leaves the pit lane in 8th place. Aston Martin’s strategy of stretching out the first stint of the race seemed to pay off. Max Verstappen is now the new leader of the race with his teammate Sergio Perez on P2! Lap 22 and Valtteri Bottas hasn’t been mentioned yet. He’s still stuck in 10th place, where he started the race. He’s having trouble getting past Norris.

After a lock-up earlier in the race, the Spaniard had to work his way through the field, and he showed amazing courage by passing Giovinazzi into Turn 8 during Lap 24. He took the long way around after braking late. On Lap 25, Bottas drove off-track at Turn 16, losing him over a second and putting him further behind Norris. Nikita Mazepin makes a lockup and misses the corner in Lap 26. By 38 seconds, the Russian has dropped to the back of the field…

We hear a worrying Lewis Hamilton on the team radio during Lap 27 saying he cannot keep up with the Red Bulls. Mercedes have the best straight-line speed, but the Red Bulls have been the more balanced cars throughout the weekend. We’re into Lap 31, and we have the first Yellow Flag situation of the race.

Stroll had the longest stint in the race and was the only driver not to pit, and now he’s crashed into the wall after a rear puncture caused a massive accident on the run to the finish line. Eventually, the Safety Car has been deployed, and there is a significant amount of debris on the track. Michael Masi also decided to close the pit entry as a result. Still behind the Safety Car in Lap 34 and Lewis Hamilton mentions that a restart will be difficult on his tyres. Meanwhile, the pitlane re-opened, and Alonso, Giovinazz and Russell head into the pits. Mick Schumacher is also making a pitstop, but his tyre wasn’t put on properly by the team; they brought him safely to the pit and put on the tyre the right way, after all.

Finally, the Safety Car is ending in Lap 35. Max determines the pace, and we restarted! Lewis Hamilton considered going around Sergio Perez’s back but decided against it. Then Sebastian Vettel passes Leclerc before the Ferrari nearly collides with Hamilton’s rear end due to a lock-up! Sebastian Vettel’s tyres perform brilliantly as he passes Gasly, bringing the former world champion in 2nd place behind Hamilton.

We’re on Lap 44, and on the Mercedes team radio, Hamilton says, “I’m not getting any closer.” Despite having the fastest lap of the race a few laps ago in Lap 39. Now Max Verstappen has set the new fastest lap of the race in Lap 45.

Disaster for the race leader! Max Verstappen is in the wall in Lap 47. He looked set for victory, and the race was as good as wrapped up, but there has been a problem with one of his rear tyres. We saw something similar happen with Stroll earlier in the race. We see a shocking Christian Horner with his head in his hands at the pit wall, not believing what just happened with only a few more laps to go….

We’re now, unsurprisingly, behind the Safety Car in Lap 48, and there’s a good possibility this race will end behind the Safety Car. The problem seems to be with the Pirelli tyre probably becoming too soft. With only three laps remaining, the race stewards have decided that it’s preferable to stop the session with a Red Flag situation to clear the track with the cars staying in the pit lane. It has been decided that the race will resume. Later on, it has been decided that the drivers will make their second standing start of the afternoon.

Once again, the lights went out for a two-lap sprint race to the finish line, and Hamilton appeared to be in front of Perez. The championship leader had just said on the radio minutes before that he would not take any big chances because it’s still early in the season.  Then he completely locked up, crashing into the Turn 1 run-off area before finishing P15 and out of the points.

Sergio Perez takes the chequered flag and his first race victory as a Red Bull driver! Getting some crucial points for Red Bull in exceptional circumstances. Sebastian Vettel finished second from 11th with his Aston Martin, and Pierre Gasly took 3rd after holding off Leclerc’s repeated overtaking efforts, leaving the pole-sitter in 4th.

Drama already unfolded even before starting the race as Polesitter Charles Leclerc has experienced some gearbox issues on his out lap. Later on, Ferrari confirmed that he would not be racing this afternoon. This is a hard one to swallow for the Monegasque after claiming pole in his home Grand Prix; however, he will now be on the sidelines.

It’s lights out and away we go in Monaco! 

It’s a good start from Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, and we see a lock-up from Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1. It’s been a somewhat aggressive start from Verstappen, who now has a decent lead over Bottas in the front of the field.  Carlos Sainz also got away very well. According to replays, Bottas had a slightly better start than the Dutchman. He might have been able to cut back on any other track once Verstappen went through him to take the racing line, but not on a street circuit like this. 

We’re going into Lap 2, and all 20 drivers moved up one place after the DNS from Charles Leclerc, and we see Max Verstappen earning the fastest lap. In the top 10, there doesn’t appear to have been much change, but that’s Monaco for you. Nikita Mazepin received the first black and white flag of the race for breaching track limits in Lap 14. He’s crossed the line far too many times. We’re only 16 laps into the race, but another infringement will result in a penalty for the Russian.

Lap 19, and we can hear Verstappen on the team radio saying, “For these tyres, I’m happy.” So far, it seems that everything has gone according to plan for the Dutchman. Not for Norris, who has now been handed a black and white flag.  Lance Stroll launches his Aston Martin over the kerb where Leclerc crashed in Saturday qualifying in Lap 21 but saved it from hitting the barrier just in time.  We’re in Lap 22 when we hear Bottas complain about the left front tyre that seems to be starting to drop. As seen on the AWS tyre condition graphic, Bottas has indeed 20% left of his tyres.  Lap 26 and Max Verstappen sounds very happy again. This time he mentions to be having “Quite a good front end” on the team radio. Something that used to be a problem during the free practices has been improved with the Red Bull. 

Lewis Hamilton is the first to make a pit stop in Lap 30 and made a swift pitstop of 2.2 seconds  Lap 31, and there is a disaster pit stop for Bottas. which causes a lot of chaos.  Three tyres came off easily, but the front right refused to come off. We saw the wheel gun shattering into shards, and the team was unable to remove his tyre, forcing the Finn to retire from the race. Meanwhile, we hear a fuming Lewis Hamilton on the team radio: “I don’t understand, guys. I saved the tyres to go longer, and you made me stop before.

Max Verstappen, the race leader, pits on lap 35. A short two-second stop for the hard tyres there, and it’s all looking quite good for the Dutch Red Bull driver now. Still, in Lap 35, Hamilton dropped two positions by pitting, and he’s just been warned that he’s in threat from Sergio Perez, who is currently leading the race and has some breathing room to extend his lead. Lewis sounds very unhappy. Sergio Perez has finally pitted for a set of hard compound tyres on Lap 36. It’s a smooth stop, and he returns to the track in fourth place. Red Bull is so far experiencing an amazing day, while Mercedes seems to be having a disastrous one.

Now we’re on Lap 50, and things are starting to get interesting. Sainz is putting a lot of pressure on Verstappen, and while the Red Bull still has a three-second lead, the Ferrari has been fast all weekend. Lap 53 and things are getting unfortunate for Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently in P12, as his teammate will lap him. While he begins to get to know his McLaren, it’s not the weekend he expected.  For the Aussie, today is a race to forget after two poles and a win.

Verstappen and Sainz are separated by only 2.7 seconds in Lap 56. This race has felt like a parade from the start, but if the Ferrari keeps up this pace, there could be some surprises near the finish. Lap 58 and Lando Norris just informed the team over the radio that his car is undriveable on these tyres. If this keeps up, he’ll soon have Perez on his tail. The youngster sounds very concerned. Sergio Perez has closed the gap on Norris to four seconds in Lap 61, but that gap isn’t closing fast enough when you consider he has to go past him somewhere.  Unless, of course, the tyres will lose their condition, in which case Norris will be in serious danger.

We’re in Lap 63, and Lance Stroll is under investigation for supposedly failing to maintain his position in the pit lane to the right. After such a strong performance, a time-penalty might be devastating for the Canadian. Carlos Sainz is starting to drop from his position in Lap 65. He’s 7.2 seconds behind Verstappen but might be satisfied with second place today, which would be a fantastic first podium for his new Italian team. Were in Lap 69 and a set of fresh soft tyres for Hamilton. This seems like Mercedes’ acceptance that Hamilton will not finish in the serious points at the front of the field. Therefore he will rather try for the fastest lap bonus point.

The stewards investigated the incident involving Stroll in Lap 70 and concluded that he did not go over to the right side of the pit lane, deciding that the Aston Martin did not break the rules. Meanwhile, in the same lap, Hamilton is about to be lapped by the race leader Max Verstappen. Hamilton has just set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 72. The defending world champion’s gamble to switch to a fresh set of soft tyres might just pay off, though it’s still been a very frustrating afternoon for Mercedes.

Lando Norris appeared to be struggling to keep Perez behind him a few laps ago, but the McLaren has found some more grip and pace and appears ready to finish on the podium. Max Verstappen is now one lap away from winning the Monaco Grand Prix and taking over the Drivers’ Championship lead for the first time this season.  For the Dutchman, it’s been a parade, but he really hasn’t put a foot wrong today. 

A true display of strength from the young driver hoping to help Red Bull win the championship this season. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have had a phenomenal day!  Not only does the Dutchman win in Monaco, but he also takes over the lead in the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career. 

Carlos Sainz comes in second, with Lando Norris completing the podium in third!

After a strange year, Moto GP finally returns to the fabled Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans in its rightful place on the calendar. The French GP is one of the premier events on the Moto GP calendar; it is a great track that generates excellent racing. Add the fact that two of the top five riders are French, and we’re in for an exciting weekend. Pair those ingredients with a splash of rain hovering around central France, and the world’s most competitive motorsport may raise the entertainment level even higher.

The Two Muskateers

Fabio Quarteraro is the home hero this weekend

After waiting 21 years for a winner, France got it through Fabio Quartararo last year. The then Petronas Yamaha rider’s maiden win in Jerez sent a country into raptures. His strong performances in the customer Yamaha team meant he got offered a ride with the factory Yamaha squad. El Diablo replaced Valentino Rossi in the offseason, and he’s started impressively. After four races, Quartararo took victory in Portugal and Doha; the Frenchman is loving life on the full-fat Yamaha.

However, it isn’t just Quartararo that is exciting the French fans. Moto GP veteran Johann Zarco burst onto the scene in 2016 for French outfit Tech 3. After excelling on a satellite bike, Zarco joined the KTM factory programme. Unfortunately, the move panned out hopelessly as both rider and team found great difficulty in working together. For 2021, the old Zarco has returned on the Pramac Ducati machine. The Ducati’s are incredibly fast in a straight line, plus their qualifying speed has been superb. Zarco probably won’t be in the championship fight, but that makes him all the more dangerous; he is going for race wins in 2021. Second is the best he’s achieved thus far; Zarco is desperate to stand on the top step of the podium.

Can Pecco Bagnaia Maintain His Consistency?

Pecco Bagnaia is the championship leader, despite not winning a race

Italy’s Pecco Bagnaia is the championship leader, despite not winning a race. His metronomic consistency is underpinning his current success. The factory Ducati isn’t the fastest bike in race-trim; nonetheless, it is mightily fast in a straight line and qualifying. His teammate Jack Miller was the winner two weeks ago in Spain; he’s another rider itching to fulfil his potential with a championship challenge.

The significant difference in this year’s championship is the struggles of Moto GP’s big names. Valentino Rossi is 21st in the championship standings with just four points to his name. The Doctor is enduring a miserable time on the Petronas bike. Marc Marquez is finally starting to emerge into his old form after missing nearly a year with an injury. Marquez still requires time to adapt to the menacing Honda motorcycle. In his absence, the world witnessed how difficult it is to ride that bike; Marquez must show patience to get back to his best.

Qualifying Report: Fabio Quarteraro Takes Pole in Dramatic Session

Fabio Quarteraro is on pole

In a dramatic wet/dry qualifying session, home hero Fabio Quartararo snatched a last gasp pole position. With a minute left in the session, Honda held a front-row lockout as Marc Marquez was on provisional pole position. It seemed as if that would be that as most riders weren’t improving. Then, in the dying seconds, both Yamaha riders started setting the fastest sector times. Maverick Vinales went fastest to get pipped by teammate Quartararo as the track began to dry out. Jack Miller joins them on the front row. Marc Marquez will start sixth, one spot behind the other home rider Johann Zarco. Valentino Rossi enjoyed the best session of the season so far as he grabbed ninth. Q1 claimed some big scalps as reigning champion Joan Mir and championship leader Pecco Bagnaia got knocked out. They will need to come through the pack tomorrow to maintain good positions in the championship standings.

Final Classification

  • 1st Fabio Quarteraro – Yamaha
  • 2nd Maverick Vinales – Yamaha
  • 3rd Jack Miller – Ducati
  • 4th Franco Morbidelli – Petronas Yamaha
  • 5th Johann Zarco – Pramac Ducati
  • 6th Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda
  • 7th Taka Nakagaami – Honda
  • 8th Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda
  • 9th Valentino Rossi – Petronas Yamaha
  • 10th Miguel Oliveira – KTM
  • 11th Lorenzo Savadori – Aprilla
  • 12th Luca Marini – Ducati
  • 13th Aleix Espargaro – Aprilla
  • 14th Joan Mir – Suzuki
  • 15th Alex Rins – Suzuki
  • 16th Pecco Bagnaia – Ducati
  • 17th Danilo Petrucci – KTM
  • 18th Iker Lecuona – KTM
  • 19th Alex Marquez – Honda
  • 20th Tito Rabat – Ducati
  • 21st Brad Binder – KTM
  • 22nd Enea Bastianini – Ducati

Stat-Pack

Honda is the most successful manufacturer at the French Moto GP with 53 wins. Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez are the active riders with the most wins at Le Mans with four wins each. Track length – 2.6 miles. Weather – Rain and intermittent showers forecast throughout the day. Race start time at 1 PM BST.

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. 

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!

2021’s Formula One World Championship has started off with a bang, which saw the 7 Time World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton narrowly ward off Max Verstappen from the top of the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix. It may not have been as eventful as last year’s two-fer in Sakhir – but the race was exciting, the pace was nonstop, and the drama was high.

This year sees a lot of changes on the grid. Formula Two graduates Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, and Yuki Tsunoda made their debuts for Haas and Alpha Tauri respectively, while Fernando ‘Can you Hear the Drums’ Alonso made his long-awaited return, in Renault’s re-branded Alpine car. Replacing the blinding, cotton candy, pink and white Racing Point is the green and sophisticated Aston Martin, who have scored long suffering 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel as their driver.

The formation lap saw Perez almost quit with a faulty car in his debut for the hopeful, and re-energised Red Bull Racing. The race started off in the expected F1 dramatic fashion. Starting from the fourth pole position of his career, Verstappen had taken control of the race early on, but lost it during pit stops. Following a second stop for both drivers – Verstappen’s coming 10 laps after Hamilton’s – we were treated to a race, and probably the first of many for this season between Hamilton and Verstappen. A nail biting 0.7 second gap between both men gave Hamilton the victory. Verstappen making it to second place, with Bottas a distant third.

Claiming fourth and fifth place was Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, respectively. The latter climbing up over the course of the race, much like he did last year for his maiden win. To see McLaren back in the game, after a miserable couple of years in the middle of the grid is beautiful. I just hope to see them competing for the world title again.

For me, the man of the race had to be Yuki Tsunoda. I watched him during qualifying on Saturday and was mighty impressed by this 20-year-old racer. And he is a racer, scoring his first points in his debut race, behind a Ferrari. The land of the rising sun has a new and exciting racer, and I predict great things to come from him. Disappointingly for Alonso, he was not able to finish this race, being let down by his car. That was a shame, as he was excellent in qualifying. As well as this, Sebastian Vettel, in his shiny new Green car, was only able to get a paltry 15th place, after a crash with Esteban Ocon resulted in a 10 second penalty.

So, what does this race tell us about the season as a whole? Hamilton may have won the day, but frankly, I think he has very good competition. Mercedes has become complacent with its cars. They are fast, they can win races, but the gap between them, and their rival teams, has closed somewhat. Red Bull is back with a vengeance, and Max Verstappen is undoubtedly going to go to war with Lewis Hamilton. I also see McLaren being a force to compete with, as those battles for 3rd and 4th place become ever more important. They have a good car, they have two very good drivers, and I think they will be formidable in their own right.
Will I be right, or am I talking out of my rear wing? Only time will tell.

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