Author Archives: Aiden Hover

Verstappen Extends Title Lead With Victory at Austin

Written by Morgan Holiday, Edited by Aiden Hover

Formula 1 has returned to America in style, and Max Verstappen took his eighth victory of the season ahead of title contender Lewis Hamilton. It would be easy to say the Dutch driver converted his pole position into a victory, but that doesn’t tell the story of the tense fight between the Red Bull driver and his Mercedes rival that went back and forth throughout the 56 laps at the Circuit Of The Americas.

As the lights went out, Hamilton in second got a better start than the pole sitter, and was ahead coming out of turn 1 as Verstappen went wide trying to cut him off. Perez in third managed to retain his position, and so at the end of the first lap the top three were Hamilton, Verstappen, and Perez. While there was no major action at the front, a little further down the field, the Ferrari and McLaren drivers were fighting for position. Leclerc managed to hold fourth place, while Ricciardo got past Sainz for fifth, and Norris remained in seventh. Even further down the field, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll tangled with the Williams of Nicholas Latifi, knocking them both down the order.

Pit stops started early as most drivers pit for hard tyres before lap 15. Optimum strategy appeared to be starting on the medium tyre, pitting early for hards, and then making a second stop for another set of hards later in the race. Attempting an undercut to regain the lead of the race Verstappen pitted on lap 10, and by the time Hamilton followed on lap 13, he had successfully retaken the race lead. 

On lap 15 Pierre Gasly retired with a broken suspension, after facing pre-race drama on the grid with a sensor change. As the race progressed and the top ten settled into their positions, battles were being fought hard in the midfield. Alpine vs Alfa Romeo stirred up drama, as Raikkonen passed Alonso at a point that Alonso felt was outside track limits, and Alonso did the same to Giovinazzi several laps later. After a radio exchange between Alpine and Race Director Michael Masi, it was clarified that overtaking on the outside of the track was not allowed, and Alonso was ordered to give the place back to Giovinazzi by his team.

By lap 25, drivers were starting to come into the pits for their second set of hard tyres. After a brief VSC for a marshall clearing debris off the track, Verstappen came in on lap 29 to cover Hamilton, who didn’t pit for a second time until almost ten laps later. After his second stop, Verstappen was back in the lead, and it was a race till the end. On lap 41 Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, a 1.38.485, and the chase was on. With the seven second gap between them drawing ever closer, the midfield fought for final positions. Perez and Leclerc sat calmly in third and fourth place, but behind them the battles raged on. Sainz in sixth drew closer to Ricciardo but couldn’t manage to get past, while behind him Bottas tried move after move to get around the Ferrari. 

Alpine struggled in the second stint of the race, with Ocon retiring from a mechanical issue on lap 42, and Alonso retiring with a rear wing problem ten laps later. Meanwhile up front, by lap 51 Hamilton had closed the gap to Verstappen to barely over one second. Their battle, as the race drew to a close, was not only with each other, but with the cars they had to lap along the way. A problem getting past Tsunoda cost Verstappen over four seconds to Hamilton, and headed into the final lap Haas’ Schumacher was also finding it hard to make way for the top pair. It was Schumacher though, in the end, that gave Verstappen DRS down the main straight going into the 56th and final lap, and helping him to keep Hamilton behind. As the nail biting race drew to a close and Bottas finally passed Sainz for sixth place, Verstappen crossed the line only 1.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Verstappen now holds a 12 point lead in the driver’s championship over Hamilton, and Perez’s third place allowed Red Bull to close the gap in the Constructor’s to just 23 points behind Mercedes. Leclerc, Ricciardo, Bottas, Sainz, Norris, Tsunoda, and Vettel made up the final points finishers. With the sun setting on a dramatic weekend in Austin, the teams and drivers will now be looking ahead to Mexico, which is where they will be racing when Formula 1 returns.

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Terrific Texas – United States Grand Prix Weekend Preview!

From the sis kebabs of Istanbul to the briskets of Austin, the Formula One paddock has rolled into Texas for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix! Can Valtteri Bottas continue his good form from the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago? Or will his teammate Lewis Hamilton and title rival Max Verstappen return to winning ways?

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Bruna Brito

The Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) was built in 2012 in an attempt to rebuild an American F1 fanbase – a demographic that was severely lacking at the time following the distaste left after the 2005 US Grand Prix and the dropping of Indianapolis from the calendar after 2007. The 5.5-kilometre track is yet another Tilke drome, however, many of its 20 thrilling turns are ‘borrowed from other world-class circuits to form a truly exciting race track! With an opening sector akin to Silverstone’s Maggots and Beckets following a steep first corner as well as a dramatic final sector with Istanbul turn 8 vibes, the track offers a range of daring dynamics that the drivers adore.

The United States Grand Prix has truly put on some impressive shows since its return to Texas in 2012. From the epic battle between the modern titans of Hamilton and Vettel in its inaugural event to the championship drama of 2015, COTA always knows how to excite. There was yet more drama in 2017 as Max Verstappen fought back from P16 to a podium finish before having it harshly taken away following a posts race track limits penalty. We have surely missed it from the calendar over the last few years and will be anxiously anticipating its return!

Even in its previous guise at Indianapolis, we saw some spectacular highs – despite the depressing lows. In its last race in 2007, fans were treated to a nail-bitingly tense race-long battle between the McLaren teammates of Fernando Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton. The year before that saw a dramatic first-lap crash – in dramatic contrast to the previous years fast. The 2005 Indianapolis Grand Prix will be remembered forever as one of the worst Formula One races ever. Following a politically charged tyre controversy, paying spectators were outraged to see only 6 cars make the race start – in fact, Tiago Montaro was likely the only person to leave the track smiling as he secured his first career podium. 

With Max Verstappen leading the championship from Lewis Hamilton once again, all is to play for heading into this weekend as the season enters its closing stage. Behind, the battle for third in the constructors continues as Ferrari attempt to close the gap to McLaren. Be sure not to miss any of the action of this weekend as Formula One will once again be joined by W-Series with the action kicking off this Friday!

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Tricky Turkey! – Turkish Grand Prix Weekend Preview

With the Formula One Paddock still rejoicing Lewis Hamilton’s centenary win, whilst simultaneously mourning the loss of Lando Norris’s first, we move on from Sochi for this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix! 

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Bruna Brito

Istanbul Park is back once more following its triumphant return last year – which marked the end of a 9-year absence from the Formula One calendar. Opened in 2005, it’s widely accepted that this track is one of Hermann Tilke’s better designs with many of its aspects later finding their way onto other tracks – such as its daunting quadruple-apex turn 8 which was later lovingly recreated at COTA for 2012. Besides the bumpy and exciting turn 8, other highlights include the sweeping, undulating, opening complex which has been likened to Laguna Seca or the tight closing chicane in a similar vein to Spa-Francorchamps. The long-run into turn 12 onto the chicane is likely the best place for overtaking due to its harsh braking zone, although overtaking is possible around much of the track!

Despite its relatively short lifespan in Formula One so far, the Turkish Grand Prix has certainly not failed to disappoint! Some stand out moments includes playing host to Felipe Massa’s maiden Grand Prix Pole and win in 2006 before going on to win at the same venue again in 2007 and 2008 to make it three-in-a-row or the equally impressive battle between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher again in 2006! The most famous race however must be 2010 in which title rivals and teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel came together sending both off-track and Vettel out of the race – this, in turn, gifted a 1-2 to McLaren who themselves had teammate squabbles with their drivers, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, ignoring team orders to maintain position and save fuel which led to a stunning battle as the laps ticked down to the end!

Last year’s race was a true spectacle of Formula One talent and entertainment. Following a rained out qualifying, in which Lance Stroll scored his first Pole Position with a stunning wet drive, the race too began in wet slippery conditions. The conditions were made harder with the fact that the track had recently been resurfaced and much of the track still had yet to be rubbered in – a problem that plagued the drivers all weekend. What ensued over the next hour and a half was a truly legendary race. With Racing Point leading 1-2 for much of the race and slow starting Lewis Hamilton battling back through the field with Sebastian Vettel, there was entertainment at every corner. Hamilton masterfully kept his Intermediate tyres alive as the track dried out and made his way past Sergio Perez on his way to win the race and with it equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Formula One World Drivers Titles! Behind, with Lance Stroll relegated down the order following a tyre blunder, Sergio Perez was tasked with defending his second place from both Ferraris – a battle that would last until the line with Perez leading Vettel to complete the podium as Leclerc agonised over his near-miss mistake. Uncharacteristic mistakes plagued much of the field with the likes of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas driving races to forget – making the achievement of Lewis Hamilton that much sweeter!

This year’s championship is unlikely to be decided this weekend, however, with Max Verstappen trailing by just two points from Lewis Hamilton. Both drivers came into luck last time out with a well-timed stop from RedBull promoting Verstappen from 7th to 2nd as the rain began to worsen and Mercedes bringing Hamilton in before McLaren’s Lando Norris to secure the win. Both will be hoping for a more straightforward race this weekend, but with rain forecasted once more, anything can happen!

Be sure not to miss any of the action this weekend!

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The Top Three Title deciding Races

The 2021 season has so far seen fifteen out of twenty-three rounds take place, with Turkey coming up next. Sir Lewis Hamilton goes into this race only two points ahead in the championship battle against Max Verstappen. This is the first season in years that we have seen such a close title battle. Even when Rosberg won the title in 2016, Hamilton and Rosberg were not this close in the championship at any stage. Whilst Hamilton has led the championship for much of the season, Verstappen has never been too far behind in keeping the championship battle alive until the final round.

In 2020 we saw Hamilton clinch his record breaking seventh title in Turkey with three rounds to go and one hundred and twenty-four points ahead of his teammate, Bottas who was in second place. In 2021 we go to turkey with seven rounds still to complete (after the Turkish grand prix) with only two points in the championship battle. With eight rounds to go, it is extremely hard to say who will win the championship this year. It seems likely that the championship will go down to the last lap this year but who knows what will happen. For now, we are going to hope the championship goes right down to the wire and take a look at some of the memorable moments in history when this happened before.

Written by Megan Teahan, Edited by Aiden Hover

The 1986 Australian Grand Prix

The final round of the 1986 season was the Australian Grand Prix which took place at the Adelaide Street Circuit. Going into this race there were three drivers in contention for the championship; Alain Prost for McLaren, Nigel Mansell for Williams, and Nelson Piquet also for Williams. Mansell went in as the championship leader on seventy points, followed by Prost with sixty-four points and Piquet in third with sixty-three points. The constructor’s championship had already been decided at the Portuguese Grand Prix in September with Mansell and Piquet winning nine of the last fifteen rounds. 

Mansell was in the best position for the start of the race, lining up on pole position. If Mansell was to be crowned champion that year, he needed to finish the race in at least third, while Prost and Piquet had to win the race to secure their own championship. Piquet started the race on the front row with teammate Mansell whilst Prost started from fourth position. It seemed Prost would have all the work to do from fourth position if he wanted to win the title. The race began and off the line Mansell had a superb start followed by his teammate Piquet and Senna in third. Senna managed to take the lead of the race by turn 1, with Mansell dropping to fourth position with Prost behind in fifth place. Senna would only stay in the lead for six laps with Rosberg who had started from seventh position on the grid taking the lead of the race for now. Rosberg began to build a gap to Piquet who was behind in second position but on lap 23 Piquet spun, losing several positions, no damage was done to the car, and he continued. A couple of laps later Prost fell down the order to fourth after suffering a puncture and having a slow pit stop. Piquet was the car to watch as he made his way back up the field passing Mansell for second position on lap forty-four. Twenty-five laps remained with Prost in second behind Rosberg, Mansell in third and Piquet in fourth.

On lap 63 Rosberg’s race came to an end when the car suffered a left rear puncture after attempting to lap a backmarker. This now meant Prost led the race and was set to win the championship after Piquet was pitted for a change of tyres in fear his race would end in a puncture like teammate Rosberg’s had and how Mansell’s race ended. Piquet would make a late charge at Prost for the lead of the race making up over ten seconds in just a few laps, but the laps ran out for Piquet and Prost won the driver’s world championship for the second year in a row. The first driver to win back-to-back championships since Jack Braham in 1959/60.

The 1994 Australian Grand Prix

The 1994 title-deciding race took place at the Adelaide Street Circuit in Australia. For this race not only were the drivers Schumacher and Hill racing for the drivers’ championship, but the constructor’s championship was also still to be decided. Schumacher driving for Benetton led the championship with ninety-two points, Hill followed behind in his Williams with only one point in the difference. Williams had the led in the constructor’s championship with one hundred and eight points, followed by Benetton with one hundred and three points. Everything was on the line for both drivers and their teams.

Mansell qualified on pole position followed by Schumacher in second place and Hill in third. Off the line, Schumacher took the lead of the race with Hill following close behind. Hill was constantly challenging for position with Schumacher up until lap thirty-six when Schumacher went off track at the East Terrace corner hitting the wall on the right. There was no damage to the car and Schumacher pulled straight back onto the track with Hill coming around the corner. The two avoided colliding with each other but were now much closer. Hill challenged Schumacher once again for the led, the two collied when Schumacher turned in on Hill. Schumacher immediately retired after the incident while Hill continued. It looked like Hill was set to win the championship. Hill only continued as far as the pit lane where he was forced to retire the car due to a front left damaged wishbone. Neither driver scored points which meant Schumacher had won his first world titled by just one point. Much controversy still surrounds this race with some saying Schumacher deliberately crashed into Hill for the championship win. After the incident both drivers claimed it to be a racing incident, it wasn’t until years later Hill said he blamed Schumacher for the incident and costing him the championship in 1994.

The 1976 Japanese Grand Prix

The 1976 season saw the near-fatal crash of Niki Lauda at the famous Nürburgring track. Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off track, hit the embankment and immediately burst into flames. The Ferrari came spinning back onto the track due to the speed at which it hit the embankment, causing the oncoming car of Lunger and Ertl to hit the fireball Ferrari before the car finally came to a halt. Lauda was eventually dragged out of the car, while he was fully conscious after the accident. He later fell into a coma suffering third-degree burns to most of his face, losing his right ear and both eyelids. Up until this crash, Lauda had led the championship from his rival Hunt. Lauda returned to F1 a mere forty days after his almost fatal crash missing only two Grand Prix. Lauda was still in contention for the championship that year.

Heading into the last round of fifteen at the Japanese Grand Prix, Lauda led the championship by three points to Hunt in second. Ferrari had already won the constructors championship in the previous race. For Lauda to win the drivers championship he just had to finish ahead of Hunt. For Hunt to win the championship he needed to finish first, second with Lauda in fourth or lower, third with Lauda in sixth or lower or fourth with Lauda in seventh or lower.

On the day of the race, conditions were beyond ideal with running water all over the track, extremely heavy rain and fog persisted throughout the lead up to the race. The organisers and drivers had been in meetings all morning to discuss whether they should go ahead with just how appalling the conditions on track were. Lauda was one driver who did not want the race to go ahead, along with others. Ultimately the decision was made for the race to go ahead by the organisers.

Off the line, Hunt took the lead of the race and after driving just one lap Lauda retired from the race due to poor visibility on the track. Drivers such as Perkins, Pace and Fittipaldi made the same decision to retire from the race due to the conditions on the track. It seemed Hunt would have an easy win of the race and championship with his main rival retired. Hunt continued to lead the race up until the track began to dry out. The conditions had changed, and Hunt was now not on the optimum tyre choice. Hunt needed to finish at least fourth to win the championship. After pitting Hunt dropped down to fifth in the order chasing down the cars ahead Hunt managed to overtake Jones and Regazzoni in the closing stages of the race. Hunt managed to finish the race in third place, due to the tricky conditions throughout the race Hunt did not know the finishing order when he crossed the line nor did organisers after a few moments it was announced Hunt had finished in third place winning the 1976 world championship, much to his surprise.

Do you think the championship will go down to the last race this season? Let us know below. 

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QUARTARARO LABELS COTA “NOT A MOTOGP TRACK” AS RIDERS VOICE CONCERNS OVER SAFETY

MotoGP returns to the Circuit Of The Americas this weekend for the first time since 2019. The return of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in North America has been marred however by comments from the riders over the track’s surface.

Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Aiden Hover

COTA has retained a reputation as being a bumpy track for many years and, despite it being resurfaced in several places, much of the track remains uneven – most notably at turns 2,3 and 10. Riding through the bumpy surface has proven difficult and borderline unsafe, with a significant portion of the grid leaning towards the latter.

Amongst the more vocal riders was championship leader Fabio Quartararo calling it a “joke” and even labelling it “not a MotoGP track.”  

“It’s more or less a track I use to train with a motocross bike, but much faster and with a MotoGP bike. So, it’s really bad. I can’t imagine it, we said three years ago they need to resurface and it’s even worse.” Said the Frenchman. 

Despite his displeasure, Quartararo stated that the conditions could just about hold a grand Prix. 

“It’s just acceptable to race, I don’t know what to say. But it’s a joke. It’s not a MotoGP track for me. To make a race here – for one lap it’s OK – but for 20 laps, we will see that there will be some bad moments.

“You see a lot of bikes shaking in Turn 10. The thing is the bumps are in the worst places possible because if you have bumps in Turns 1, 11, 12, it’s OK because it’s slow corners.

“But Turn 1, Turn 2, 3, 10 are the worst corners you can have bumps, and there are bumps there. So, let’s see.

“I usually don’t go to the safety commission, but when there is something serious, I will go and today something serious that for the safety is… the track is unsafe. It’s clear to say that it’s not great and we need to resurface everything.”

Tech3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona echoed Fabio’s comparisons of the track to Motocross saying. “There are so many bumps, it feels like a motocross track and very difficult to manage.”

Another vocal critic of the conditions was Aleix Espargaro, “The asphalt is in poor condition, much worse than I remembered, and the times show it,”

“We have been complaining about this track for many years and they haven’t resurfaced it, the bumps are very, very dangerous,” he said. “The bikes in 2015 were much worse than now, it’s been six years and Marquez’s time after all this time is two seconds slower.

Espargaro went on to state that he thinks conditions are too dangerous to hold a Grand Prix this weekend at all “The track is very dangerous and for me, it’s too dangerous to race here on Sunday.”

His sentiment is shared by Peco Bagnaia who sits second in the championship with the Ducati rider stating earlier in the weekend that he’d have no qualms skipping the race and conceding 25 points to Championship leader Quartararo.

With the inherent risks that accompany motorcycle racing the addition of an uneven bumpy surface is not a welcome one. However, with the Grand Prix set to go on this weekend the Circuit Of The Americas will most definitely be the intensification of all the challenges that accompany motorsport in all aspects. Guess everything is bigger in Texas. 

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Lucky Lando Lands himself Pole Position!

Lando Norris secures his first-ever Formula One Pole position for the Russian Grand Prix following a dramatic wet-dry qualifying! Carlos Sainz Jnr. will start second as he achieves his highest qualifying result with George Russell in third – his second top-three start in four races!

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Esmée Koppius

The main story of Q3 was Lewis Hamilton’s costly mistake on pit entry as the track began to dry. Being one of the last to pit in to put on slicks, the World Champion was already up against the clock with time for two attempts quickly slipping away from him. Matters were made worse when he slid into the wall on pit entry and arrived at his Mercedes garage a severely damaged front wing. The costly wing change also held up teammate Valterri Bottas with both drivers only having time for one attempt on dry tyres. Meanwhile, George Russell, who had made the switch to slicks first, along with much of the top 10 were able to squeeze two attempts in with most only finding time on their final lap as tyre temperatures were a prevailing issue. 

Despite these issues, Hamilton’s time on Intermediates was still enough for fourth, beating out Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso who will form the third row of the grid. Valtteri Bottas will start seventh with Lance Stroll to his side in eighth, ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon who round out the top 10!

Q2 was still very much Intermediate running with many choosing to use scrubbed tyres with the exception of Russell who risked a fresh set to boost himself into Q3. Sebastian Vettel narrowly missed out on Q3 and was audibly upset over the radio when his engineer informed him that he will start 11th. Pierre Gasly too was disappointed with today’s pace, lining up 12th ahead of teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Nicholas Latifi and Charles Leclerc didn’t set a lap time in Q2 as they will be taking engine penalties and will line up at the back of the grid – though Latifi still left the pits to ensure he started ahead of the Ferrari. Both set times quick enough in Q1 to get through to Q2 to ensure they were ahead of the RedBull of Verstappen who too is taking penalties and didn’t set a lap time all session – Even engine penalties come with their share of tactics and politics!

Kimi Räikkönen will start 14th (thanks to engine penalties) having missed out on Q2 ahead of Mick Schumacher. Antonio Giovinazzi span in Q1 and struggled to put together a clean lap and so will lineup 16th with Nikita Mazepin behind, who was woefully off the pace. Latifi, Leclerc and Verstappen will take the final spots on the grid with each taking fresh engines for tomorrows race!

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How is Nikita Mazepin 21st in a 20-driver championship?

Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Morgan Holiday & Aiden Hover

Replacing Finnish racing driver Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo, who tested positive for COVID-19 before the Dutch Grand Prix, Robert Kubica has raced in just two races and yet, has already overtaken the Russian driver in the standings – despite Nikita Mazepin competing in all 14 rounds of the Championship.

On and off the track, Nikita Mazepin has collected numerous controversies that will forever shroud his name. Shortly after being announced as a 2021 Haas F1 driver, Nikita posted an abhorrent video, in which he harassed and groped a female friend, to his social media. Additionally, his name recently returned to the media following statements regarding his relationship with teammate Mick Schumacher and the pairs racing conduct. However, none of these have stopped him from achieving a true feat for F1 history – placing 21st in an originally 20-place championship.

No, you are not misreading that. Right now, the Russian is in 21st position, behind Robert Kubica. Both drivers have 0 (zero) points in the standings, but due to the rules of F1, the tie-breaking criterion puts the Polish driver ahead.

Kubica has only partaken in two races this year, Zandvoort and Monza – where he finished 15th and 14th respectively. He obviously didn’t score points, but the positions that he achieved were enough to surpass Mazepin.

According to the regulations regarding tie-breaking criteria, in case the driver’s score is equal, it is the best finishing place in the races that decide championship order. If the finishing positions are equal and to the same amount and the tie is still maintained, the next criterion to be checked is their second-best place in races.

So far, Mazepin has run 14 races and has failed to score in any of them. His best position was 14th in the Azerbaijan GP, matching Kubica’s best. But, his second-best finishing position is 17th, scored in Imola, Monaco, Great Britain and Belgium. The 15th place of Kubica allows him to stay in front.

Nikita Mazepin may have a chance to take 20th place in the next race at Sochi for the Russian GP if he can prove good enough to finish higher than 14th.

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Italian Grand Prix – Weekend Preview

With Formula One still not entirely over the might of the Orange Army, it embarks into the land of the passionate Tifosi for the final part of this triple header and the Italian Grand Prix! Can Max Verstappen extend his newfound championship lead or will Lewis Hamilton find that extra gear to turn the tables back into his favour? 

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Bruna Brito

The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, better known simply as Monza, is an old school highspeed race track that has become a fan favourite thanks to its consistent delivery of amazing racing! The 5.793 km circuit is made up mainly of long straights, allowing the cars to reach some of the highest speeds of the season before enduring some of the harshest braking zones of the season as the drivers hurl themselves into the tight and twisty first and second chicanes. The iconic track also features legendary corners such as the Curva Grande and the Curva Parabolica which test a drivers psyche with their high-speed, high-risk nature.

Being built in 1922, the near centenary old track has seen history made and remade all throughout its life. In the early days, the track featured a stunning banked section that gave way to impressive wheel to wheel action as that’s where drivers truly earned their wages battling along the dangerous 30° turn. In more recent years, fans may remember the emotional scenes of 1999 when Mika Hakkinen span out of the race lead. Knowing the possible championship repercussions of this mistake, Mika’s only reaction was understandably to run into the woods and ball his eyes out. 

In more triumphant circumstances, Monza has played host to some truly enthralling battles. Title rivals, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel came to blows in 2011 as they pushed each other to (and sometimes over) the limit. Even in the same race, there was a titanic battle between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher showing just why they are both the greatest of all time. Hamilton again came up against Kimi Räikkönen for the lead in 2018 after rival Vettel span himself out on the opening lap which led to some incredible back and forth action as Kimi proved the old dog still knew how to race. Hamilton would be at the front once more in 2019 as Charles Leclerc valiantly fought off the two Mercedes cars to win the Italian Grand Prix in a Ferrari. One year later in 2020, Pierre Gasly would achieve an unlikely first win following a manic race and battle with Carlos Sainz (which you can read more about here) in a similar vein to Sebastian Vettel’s first win at the same track and with the same team in 2008!

What can fans expect this year?

Hopefully, we will once more witness the championship rivals show their excellence against one another at the front as Verstappen and Hamilton squabble for the championship glory. Meanwhile, questions remain over Valtteri Bottas’ willingness to play the team game and support his British teammate – especially after the fastest lap mess during the Dutch Grand Prix and the recent news that he will be leaving to Alfa Romeo for next year with young George Russell taking his place at Mercedes!

Ferrari is expected to perform well in front of the adoring Tifosi and it is still to be seen how this pressure will affect Carlos Sainz as he prepares for his first Italian Grand Prix in red. Charles Leclerc will love the ‘home’ support as he hopes to emulate his 2019 glory. McLaren behind, however, will be wanting to move past a disappointing race last time out, in which botched team orders have begun to build a rift between their two drivers. Alpha Tauri, meanwhile, have great pace going into their home Grand Prix – particularly as the most recent winners of the event! They will be hoping to do well this weekend.

Alpine too look strong heading into Monza, coming off the back of a double points finish in the Netherlands. Aston Martin, on the other hand, would want to move past Zandvoort as soon as possible – and the best way to do that is by performing well this weekend. Alfa Romeo, who will once again see Robert Kubica replace the COVID ridden Raikkonen, had Giovinazzi put in one of the stand-out qualifying performances of the season last weekend only to be the unfortunate victim of an early puncture. They will be hoping to turn their luck around at their home Grand Prix.

At the back of the grid, Haas is expected to occupy the last row once again, although they will be hoping to make less of a mess of it than they did last time out with both drivers throwing shade at their teammate. William’s meanwhile see Monza as one of their best opportunities to score decent points and with the recent news of Alex Albon joining the team, spirits are high rolling into Italy!

Be sure not to miss any of the action this weekend! 

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The 2020 Italian Grand Prix – One year on! 

I can still vividly remember the childlike chills that ran the length of my spine as that stunning white and navy blue AlphaTauri rounded the iconic Parabolica corner for the last time, a year ago today. With Carlos Sainz just behind and the soundtrack of an excited David Croft mixed with the roar of the Italian Tifosi, a truly thrilling race was about to come to an end. With the checkered flag now waving, the world blew into excitement as Crofty announced: “PIERRE GASLY WINS THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX! OH MY OH MY, IS THAT JUST WONDERFUL!” With the navy blue boys on the pit wall enthusiastically chanting the Frenchman’s name, Pierre Gasly was now a race winner in Formula One and wow did he deserve it! 

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Morgan Holiday

The story of Pierre Gasly winning the 2020 Italian Grand Prix was one of hard work, determination and a desire for redemption that, in all honesty, started over a year beforehand at the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix. 

Pierre was to drive with RedBull for the 2019 season, replacing the departing Daniel Ricciardo as teammate to the talented Max Verstappen. He had shown why he deserved that seat throughout his year and a bit at Toro Rosso in 2018 & 17 with some truly standout performances, such as a brilliant P4 in Bahrain and P6 in Hungary along with an array of points finishes with what would turn out to be a very unreliable Honda power unit. He had also convincingly beaten his teammate, Brendon Hartley. With a Formula One start as good as this, a step up to the big team seemed a no brainer. Things were looking good for Gasly going into 2019.

Pierre Gasly celebrating with his Toro Rosso mechanics in Bahrain in 2018

As is expected when joining a new team, it was going to take a short while for Pierre to fully catch up to speed with Verstappen. However, he didn’t help himself with a massive crash in pre-season testing that would, unfortunately, set the tone for the rest of his RedBull stint. Having caused the team numerous headaches before the season had even started, Pierre had to prove his worth at the season opener in Australia. This, however, didn’t happen. He would qualify 17th and struggle through the field to 11th in a car that arguably had the pace to win. Unfortunately for the French driver, he was nowhere near the pace of Verstappen in qualifying and was not able to carve his way through the slower traffic come race day –  a trend that he failed to break. His time at RedBull would come to its lowest at Austria when Max Verstappen would lap teammate Gasly whilst on his way to win the race.

Pierre Gasly following a crash during Pre-Season testing in Barcelona in 2019

By the summer break of that year, Verstappen had finished on the podium four times with two race wins and was sitting on 181 points in the championship, never finishing outside of the top five. Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly had only managed a best finish of fourth with no podiums and a disappointing 63 points. It was evident by this point that his RedBull drive was at risk, and by the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, it was announced that Pierre Gasly would be demoted back down to Toro Rosso whilst Alex Albon would be promoted to RedBull. This was made particularly more heartbreaking by the fact that Gasly went into the summer break ahead of Belgium with reassurance from both Christian Horner (RedBull team principal) and Helmut Marko (RedBull advisor and head of their driver development programmes) that his seat was safe.

Pierre Gasly knew that if he wanted a successful F1 career, he would need to prove RedBull wrong. In a weekend shrouded by emotion; following the loss of talented F2 driver, and close friend of Gasly, Anthoine Hubert, as well as his demotion to Toro Rosso – Pierre would come out of the gates swinging with a storming drive through the field as he scored points in his first race with Toro Rosso. 

Pierre Gasly ahead of the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix

As the second half of the season ticked by, Gasly slowly found his confidence again as well as his previous form from 2018. With more points finishes in Singapore, Japan and Mexico, many began to wonder what went so wrong at RedBull for Pierre to struggle as badly as he did. He was now easily beating teammate Danil Kvyat and consistently fighting for top ten positions and it was only a matter of time until he would achieve that stand out result to prove his critics wrong.

It was the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. Starting the race in P7 following a tidy Saturday, Pierre was in a good position for points come Sunday. However, the race that would unfold ahead of him would be remembered for a long time to come. Having run much of the race in his starting position of 7th, Gasly would stay in contention to pick his way through the chaos ahead. He would be gifted 6th as Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas pulled over with an engine issue that would trigger a safety car and bunch the field back together. Upon the safety car restart, whilst Hamilton and Verstappen squabbled away for the lead, the two Ferrari drivers tripped each other up allowing Albon to take third position. The Ferraris were not done fighting yet, as only a few laps later, Sebastian Vettel would come across the track on Charles Leclerc as he attempted to re-overtake his teammate resulting in the two colliding. Both red cars would suffer punctures and be eliminated from the race, allowing Gasly to inherit fourth place – equalling his best finish with RedBull. 

The race was not yet over, however, and on the final lap, Sir Lewis Hamilton would come together with Alex Albon – demoting the Thai driver to the back of the field and damaging the Mercedes of Hamilton. Pierre would navigate himself through the carnage and position himself alongside Hamilton as they came around the final corner. The two sped side-by-side as they drag raced to the line for second place. Against all odds, Gasly would beat out Hamilton and take the first podium of his Formula One career with second place! 

Pierre Gasly celebrating with his Toro Rosso mechanics in Brazil in 2019

Pierre Gasly was back! The immensely talented young Frenchman was finally living up to the hype that he had come into the sport with and was firing on all cylinders as Formula One prepared for the 2020 season!

Despite the delayed start to the season, Gasly started 2020 with the newly rebranded AlphaTauri team, just as he had ended 2019 with consistent showings in the top 10. Scoring points in the season opener at Austria and then again in the first British Grand Prix of that year, as well as in Spain and Belgium, things were looking good for him as the paddock rolled into Italy.

Pierre Gasly on his way to score points at the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix

Placing his AlphaTauri Honda a solid 10th on the grid, Gasly was hoping to once again stay out of trouble and pick his way through the carnage to secure a handful of points. As lights went out, Pierre got a decent start holding his position as they began to brake for turn one. With the Racing Point of Lance Stroll on his inside and the RedBull of Alex Albon on his outside, however, Gasly would be unable to avoid contact as he was sandwiched into the side of the RedBull causing Albon to be lifted into the air and fall down the order. It appeared, for now at least, that Gasly had gotten away unscathed, and he continued in 9th place. The first lap dramas were not yet over, however, as whilst the two McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris made their way past Valtteri Bottas into 2nd and 3rd, Gasly would lock up and be forced to run across the second chicane falling back to 10th behind Nico Hulkenberg. 

With the exception of Vettel’s brake failure, the race seemed to settle down until lap 19 when Haas driver Kevin Magnussen would break down and park his car just before the pit lane entry. This would trigger a safety car to once again bunch the field back together. What it also did was close the pitlane to entry due to where the stranded Haas was parked, meaning no one would be allowed to enter the pits – and yet race leader Lewis Hamilton had come into the pits as part of a rare mistake from Mercedes, and had changed his tyres. He would emerge into the race in second behind Carlos Sainz, however, the Brit would be handed a ten-second stop-go penalty as was Antonio Giovinazzo who also had pit illegally. 

Kevin Magnussen following his breakdown during the 2020 Italian Grand Prix

At this point, behind the safety car, Pierre Gasly sat in 15th following an earlier pitstop, but his fortunes would soon change as, several laps later, the pitlane would be reopened allowing all those ahead who hadn’t already stopped to pit. Suddenly Gasly was running P3, behind Lewis Hamilton, who still had a penalty to serve and Lance Stroll, who had pit earlier with Gasly. It seemed as though both Gasly and Stroll would be soon swallowed by the faster cars behind on fresh tyres when the safety car came in as the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc along with the two McLarens made light work of the Alfa Romeos and Williams behind Gasly, who were on a similar strategy. 

Suddenly on lap 24, Charles Leclerc lost control from 4th as he rounded the Parabolica and was sent skipping along the gravel and into the barrier for what was a very scary and painful shunt and to no surprise, the red flag was called. This turned out to be a miracle for those who had stopped before the safety car as it allowed them to change onto fresh tyres with no penalty and essentially put the whole grid onto the same strategy.

Charles Leclerc crashing out of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix

Upon the restart a short while later, Gasly made a good start from third on the grid to overtake Stroll and break away from the pack behind before inheriting the lead from Hamilton several laps later as the Mercedes driver peeled into the pits to serve his penalty. Behind them, Stroll, who had already lost places to Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, had been overtaken by the fast-charging Carlos Sainz, who – after overtaking Giovinazzi and Hamilton as they served their penalties – only had the Alfa Romeo of Raikkonen between him and Pierre Gasly.

Both Sainz and Gasly had secured their first Formula One podiums at the previous years Brazilian Grand Prix as Sainz was promoted to third following a post-race penalty for Hamilton and Gasly had taken second following his epic drag race. They both were now in contention for their first Formula One victories, and they knew it. As Sainz made his way past the Alfa Romeo, he told his team how he was “More worried about Gasly,” as he knew how crucial each corner was to closing down on the Alpha Tauri leading the race.

Pierre Gasly leading Carlos Sainz at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix

The next 20 laps were nail-bitingly tense for every single person watching, as Sainz slowly chipped away at Gasly’s 5-second lead and into the coveted DRS awarding one-second gap, with two laps to go. The McLaren tucked into the slipstream out of the Parabolica to close up to the Alpha Tauri along the main straight and into the final lap with a gap at this point of only three tenths. Into the first corner, Sainz would dive to the inside, but ultimately back out to try and get the run into the second chicane, but to no avail as Gasly ahead got good traction into the Curva Grande and would be able to hold position. Carlos Sainz now only had one attempt left to secure his first Formula One victory. He needed to get as close as he could possibly get through the Ascari Chicane in order to slipstream his way by into the Parabolica, but unfortunately for him, he would be unable to. As Gasly made his way through the final turn, he dove towards the pit wall to pass under his adoring team to win the Italian Grand Prix! 

He had returned the team to winning form for the first time since the same Grand Prix in 2008 with a certain Sebastian Vettel, and he had proved to the world who Pierre Gasly was. Since then, Gasly has gone on to build the Italian team around himself as he has developed into a truly exceptional racing driver adored by all. It turns out that all he needed was an environment that truly loved him and wanted the best for him. So far in 2021, Pierre has been a standout driver, starting in the top six at 10 out of 13 races with some stand out finishes, such as a podium finish in Baku and a P4 at the recent Dutch GP. He also has proven his talent under pressure, such as in Monaco, when he defended from Hamilton all race to secure P6. Currently sitting in 8th in the standings with 66 points, he is on for one of his most impressive seasons so far in Formula One with machinery that really shouldn’t be achieving the results that he is consistently getting.

Pierre Gasly celebrating his victory at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix

Surely, it’s only a matter of time before this truly exceptional driver gets awarded with the chance to drive race-winning machinery once again, and with a team that will truly love him and cherish his talent. Whatever happens, Pierre is certain to have a remarkable career in Formula One and we at DIVEBOMB wish him all the best, a year on from his debut Formula One victory at Monza.

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Max is on pole at home! – Dutch GP qualifying

Max Verstappen takes pole at his home Grand Prix, beating Lewis Hamilton by a minuscule 0.038 seconds with Valtteri Bottas just behind in third! It all came good in their final runs as all three improved with Lewis Hamilton taking an impressive 1 and a half tenths out of the RedBull just in the final sector – however, it was not enough as Max Verstappen made the Orange Army proud with the pole! 

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Esmée Koppius

Pierre Gasly once again performed miracles in his Alpha Tauri with an impeccable lap to put himself fourth on the grid tomorrow just ahead of the two Ferrari’s who will line up 5th and 6th, Leclerc ahead of Sainz – who has worked hard to recover from his crash in FP3. Another stand out performer was Antonio Giovinazzi who put his Alfa Romeo in 7th place with a good lap as he makes his case for a 2022 seat. The two Alpines of Ocon and Alonso lined up 8th and 9th in that order with Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top 10 with his McLaren.

George Russell endured a roller coaster ride of emotions as he triggered the first red flag of qualifying following a dramatic trip across the gravel at turn 13 on his final attempt. The Brit, however, was able to make it back to the pitlane, but later investigation showed that the damage was too much for him to go back out on track. With the interrupted session, Lance Stroll was unable to get a lap together that would drag him out of the drop zone, as was Lando Norris who struggled even to get out of Q1. Nicholas Latifi caused the next red flag that eventually ended the session with a massive shunt as his Williams got away from him at turn 8 – fortunately, the Canadian seems to be fine and fit to race tomorrow. Yuki Tsunoda will start P15.

The big stories of Q1 were the shock eliminations of Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel who both seemed to be victims of slow traffic on their final attempts – with the latter being involved in a scary incident as Nikita Mazepin suddenly swerved out of line in front of the German, forcing him to abort the lap. Lining up P18 is the sub of Robert Kubica who has performed well considering his lack of practice as the Pole replaces Kimi Raikkonen for this weekend following a positive covid test for the retiring veteran. Forming the back row once again is the two Haas’ of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazpein, with the Russian expecting a penalty for his incident with Vettel.

Be sure not to miss tomorrow’s race as it’s set to be a thriller with the title rivals lining up at the front of the row together for the first time since THAT Silverstone race.

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