The Top 5 Hamilton vs Verstappen Moments So Far this Season 

Written by Lissie Mackintosh edited by Harshi Vashee 

The Hamilton vs Verstappen rivalry is one that will go down as one of the great battles in Formula 1 history. Two of the best drivers the sport has ever seen are neck and neck for the Driver’s championship this year, which leaves fans wondering whether we are well and truly moving into the Verstappen Era. This is an epic battle, and one which gets more and more intense with each race of the season. We have seen some incredible moments between these two drivers, but here are the best five of the season so far. 

  1. The first fight of the season in Bahrain

Whilst Red Bull dominated pre-season testing in Bahrain, it was no surprise that Verstappen took pole for the first Grand Prix of the season. But Verstappen’s initial pitstop in the race allowed Hamilton to capitalise and undercut the Red Bull driver. When Verstappen came in for his second stop, the race was well and truly on, and whilst he tried to overtake Hamilton for the race win, he came off the track in doing so, eventually giving back the position to the Mercedes driver in order to not risk incurring a penalty for taking a shortcut. And so, we saw the first real fight between the two cars this season, but this time it was Hamilton who took the win.

  1. The double Baku misfortune

The June race in Baku started out well for both drivers. By Lap 47, Verstappen found himself comfortably in the lead and looked set to be the race winner. This was until he unfortunately crashed out due to tyre failure which suspended the race on Lap 48. Tensions ran high during the restart in Lap 50, which Perez was set to lead, as Hamilton knew this was his moment to shine and take an easy point advantage over his rival. As the cars pulled away, Hamilton lunged forward as if to overtake Perez, gaining that first place back, but instead heavily locked up and went straight into the Turn 1 run-off. With both drivers out of the race, Perez took home first place, but Hamilton had failed to capitalise on Verstappen’s bad luck due to his own misjudgement of the car, finishing 15th. 

The real question remains, who lost out more in Azerbaijan? For me it has to be Hamilton as he gave away those points to Perez with only himself to blame, whereas Verstappen’s tyre issues were seemingly a wider Pirelli issue. Either way, both of the drivers suffered and the race was an exciting one to watch.

  1. Red Bull’s strategy magic in France 

Mercedes’ strategy in France was not up to their usual standard. In Lap 1, Verstappen’s mistake in Turn 1 coming off the track gave Hamilton the lead. Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton pitted (in that order) and Verstappen pulled the undercut on Hamilton. Crucially, Verstappen then pitted again in Lap 32, meaning he easily overtook Bottas on Lap 44 and then Lewis on Lap 52, whose tyres were over 10 laps older than Verstappen’s by this point. A rightly angry Bottas explained to his engineers that Mercedes should have been on a two stop strategy like Red Bull were, but ultimately it was a team win for Red Bull as Perez also overtook Bottas and finished 3rd, leaving Lewis 2nd and Bottas 4th. 

  1. The Silverstone Crash 

The Silverstone Crash. What really happened? Thanks to the power of youtube (and the extremely long red flag stop), I’m sure most of us have seen the replay footage more than once. But to recap, coming up to Copse Corner on Lap 1, Verstappen led and Hamilton was in second. Hamilton, despite trying to dip left and gain the advantage on his rival, stayed side by side with Verstappen, taking the inside of the corner. Hamilton arguably went a little wide at the apex, and Verstappen definitely wasn’t going to give him any more room either, and so Hamilton’s left front nipped Verstappen’s right rear tyre – causing the horrific crash. Whilst Verstappen (who was luckily unharmed), was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, Hamilton stayed in the race, taking a 10 second time penalty but eventually overtaking Leclerc towards the very end to claim the home Silverstone victory as his own. Whilst it certainly takes two to tango ( in this case to crash a car at 51G), and both drivers are at fault in some way, Hamilton’s unwillingness to budge led to the stewards giving him the penalty. 

  1. The Monza Crash 

Not sure if you’ve heard but there’s a new Formula on the block. It happens every few weekends: A Sprint on Saturday, Max and Lewis crash on Sunday. I joke around but in actual fact I think most can agree that we were all very glad to see both drivers walk away from this crash in Monza this weekend unharmed. To recap: Max’s disastrous pit stop just before Lewis’ on Lap 24 meant that as Hamilton exited the Pit Lane, he and Verstappen were racing head to head. Into the Variante del Rettifilo the two cars went, making contact into the chicane and colliding in the crash of the season so far. I mean, talk about a metaphor for wanting to be at the top. Just like Silverstone, Max spoke out after the crash and blamed Lewis for not leaving him enough room. Unlike Silverstone, it is Max who will this time be serving a 3-place grid penalty in Sochi for the incident, as the stewards published their decision later on today. Interesting… It’s moments like these in which we see how intense the rivalry between these two men is.

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What Can Bottas do at Alfa Romeo?

Written by Morgan Holiday, Edited by Harshi Vashee 

On Monday it was announced that Valterri Bottas will be making the switch from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season and beyond. He will be replacing Kimi Raikkonen, another driver to switch after being dropped by a bigger team. Coming from one of the top teams on the grid into a backmarker like Alfa Romeo wouldn’t be ideal in anyone’s eyes, but it may be the move that can help Bottas regain the confidence he has lost as the support driver to Lewis Hamilton.

For a driver in his ninth season of Formula 1, Bottas has switched teams a surprisingly few number of times, in fact before Monday only once. Four years with Williams and five years with Mercedes is the mark of a very steady driver. And certainly Bottas has been a very steady driver over the years, hence why he was signed by the reigning team champions for 2017 after Nico Rosberg retired. Since then, Bottas has played his part as Mercedes’ number two driver, helping the team to seven consecutive constructor’s championship wins, as well as helping Hamilton secure driver’s title after driver’s title.

But there have been doubts as to whether Bottas was what the team needed, especially in the past couple of seasons. Despite driving the championship winning car for four whole seasons thus far, Bottas has never won the driver’s championship before. That can be forgiven, as Lewis Hamilton has been all but unbeatable, but Bottas has only managed to come second in the championship twice in his time at Mercedes, in 2019 and 2020. Over halfway through the 2021 season he has only just managed to regain P3 in the driver’s championship from Mclaren’s Lando Norris, and everyone had been questioning his position at Mercedes even before rumours of his replacement started.

As a matter of fact, Bottas has lost his confidence as a driver due to having to constantly play second fiddle to one of Formula 1’s greatest drivers of all time. That, along with getting outperformed by his assumed successor George Russell in Sakhir last season, has caused both Bottas and Mercedes to lose faith in the Finnish driver. For a while it was assumed that when he was replaced he would simply leave Formula 1, because no one would want to sign him. But now, after rumours that both Alfa and Williams were after a contract with him, he has signed with Alfa Romeo and stays in Formula 1.

The question remains: What can Bottas do with Alfa Romeo? The answer largely remains to be seen, since the new regulations for 2022 mean that any team’s performance could go way up or way down. But let’s assume for the moment that Alfa Romeo’s performance stays mostly as is. What can Valterri Bottas do in a backmarker car?

Although faith in Bottas has gone down this season due to his inability to perform at Mercedes, it’s still true that he is a very talented driver with nine race wins, who earned his spot at the top team in Formula 1. What he lacks right now is not talent, but confidence, and a team who supports him fully and doesn’t force him to drop everything for his teammate. Alfa Romeo can give him that. While his teammate for 2022 is still unknown, Bottas will surely have seniority over whoever it is. All the drivers in the running, namely Antonio Giovinazzi, Nyck DeVries, and Alex Albon, are younger and less experienced, meaning Bottas will most likely have an advantage over them. Even with a backmarker team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some standout performances from him, Q3 appearances and points scoring along the way. It’s exciting to hear that Bottas isn’t done with Formula 1 and Formula 1 isn’t done with Bottas.

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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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Throwback Thursday: Michael Schumacher’s F1 Debut

Yesterday marked thirty years since one of the world’s greatest drivers took his first start in a Formula 1 race. But the story is much more interesting than the average driver’s debut, and not simply because the driver was Michael Schumacher. Let’s take a look at exactly what led to Schumacher’s first F1 start in 1991 and what happened during that race.

Written by Morgan Holiday, edited by Janvi Unni 

The story really begins with F1 driver Bertrand Gachot, who had signed with the brand new Jordan team for the 1991 season. A week before the Belgian Grand Prix, Gachot was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he had a physical altercation with a taxi driver.

With Jordan being a driver down heading into the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes offered to pay the team $150,000 to give Schumacher, who was currently driving for Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship, the seat. Team boss Eddie Jordan agreed, but not before asking Schumacher if he had been to Spa before, which he said he had. Jordan later found out that this was not, in fact, technically true. Schumacher had been to Spa before, but as a child, and had never raced on the track. All the same, he hadn’t really lied, and he managed to impress Jordan and everyone else with his performance that weekend.

On Saturday Ayrton Senna qualified on pole for McLaren, with Alain Prost’s Ferrari close behind. Schumacher managed to qualify 7th and well ahead of his Jordan teammate Andrea De Cesaris. His luck would run out after that, and on Sunday he retired on the first lap with a clutch issue. 

But an impression had been made, and the German driver had caught the attention of everyone in the paddock. Despite the agreement between Jordan and Mercedes that Schumacher would race for them for the remainder of the season, it was Benetton that he ended up signing a contract with. Despite the iconic Jordan 191 being remembered as the car driven by Michael Schumacher, he never even managed one full racing lap in it. 

Mick Schumacher driving his Dad’s iconic Jordan 191 at Silverstone in 2021

Following his debut at Spa, Schumacher raced with Benetton for the final five rounds of the 1991 season. He retired from two of those five races, but in the races he did finish he placed fifth twice and sixth once. The rest of the story is history, and thirty years later Michael Schumacher is widely regarded as motorsport’s most iconic driver, and maybe the best there ever was. 

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F1 is back! Belgium GP Weekend Preview

Almost a month on from the roller coaster of a race that was the Hungarian Grand Prix, Formula One returns from it’s summer hiatus for the illustrious Belgium Grand Prix! Will Max Verstappen overcome his recent spout of bad luck? Or will Lewis Hamilton continue to pull away towards his 8th World Driver’s Title?

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Janvi Unni 

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, located in Stavelot, has undergone many renovations and different layouts throughout its near centenary as a race track. The current track layout features 20 unique and storied corners as it winds itself through the Ardennes. Amongst these 20 is the ever nail-biting, world-famous Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex; an epic uphill, near flat-out roller coaster. Having navigated the run down from the first hairpin of La Source, drivers brace for a dramatic sweep left as the track dips away before steadily rising again for the epic right-handed, almost blind, rush to the crest of the hill where the track once again sweeps to the left onto the Kemmel Straight! 

With corners like this throughout the track, it’s no wonder the drivers love it here so much. Boasting overtaking opportunities throughout –  namely, the aforementioned Kemmel straight into Les Combes, or into the famous Bus Stop chicane following the high-speed left turn of Blanchimont – all 20 drivers will be eager to prove themselves as Formula One returns for the second half of this thrilling 2021 season!

A track as infamous as this is sure to have played host to some of Formula One’s most legendary moments – and the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps does not disappoint! Iconic overtakes, such as Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso in 2011 are sure to be remembered for a long time yet – as well as prove the inspiration for more epic moves into Eau Rouge, such as Pierre Gasly’s stunning charge in last years race as he passed Sergio Perez in a similar yet equally daring move. Even at the front, battles for the lead often steam to a boil along the Kemmel straight, such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel’s race-long squabble in 2017 or the famous scenes of Mikia Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher darting either side of the lapped Ricciardo Zonta in 2000!

Who could forget the epic starts we so often see at Spa? From the Formula One meltdown in 1998 to the scary La Source melees of 2012 and 2018, starting a race at Spa is a frivolous embark. Making it past turn 1 is no guarantee of safety, however, as we saw an enthralling 4-abreast battle for the lead in 2018 between the Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon as well as the championship contenders that year of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – this battle also gave birth to the now-iconic Crofty line, ‘BUT HERE COMES SEBASTIAN VETTEL!’ as the German pulled out from the slipstream of the Mercedes ahead in a showing that can only send shivers of excitement down one’s spine!

Whilst Spa can so often be a cruel mistress, it also has a soft spot that allows for some truly heart-warming Formula One moments. A playground for the underdog, Spa gifted the first points, podium and pole position for the much loved Force India team in 2009 as well as allowing the same team in its Jordan guise in 1998 to luck into a sensational 1-2 finish! In 2014, Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of a collision between Hamilton and Rosberg at Spa to win the third race of his career. In 2018, Esteban Ocon proved the world wrong by securing P3 in a wet qualifying just as it was announced he will not be racing with Racing Point for the following year just as in 2015 Romain Grosjean with Lotus secured his and his team’s last Formula One podium. Finally, the 2019 Belgium Grand Prix saw a truly deserving and much loved Charles Leclerc take his maiden Formula One victory to close a truly emotional weekend for the entire Formula One and motorsport world, following the tragic loss of Leclerc’s close friend and true talent in young Anthoine Hubert in that Saturday’s Formula Two race.

What can fans look forward to this year?

Having played victim to the mishaps of Valtteri Bottas (who will be taking a 5-place-grid-drop this weekend) at Hungary’s wet start, both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will be desperate to perform well in Spa – Particularly Perez whose future with the RedBull team is ever more cast in doubt following the endless tales of Helmut Marko. Mercedes too will be hoping to reverse the wrongs of Hungary, where they threw away a near sure-fire win following a strategic blunder for Sir Lewis Hamilton and will plead for both cars to stay out of trouble in the opening laps.

Formula One’s newest winner, Esteban Ocon will be looking to prove he has more than simply luck on his side and will be looking to extract the most out of his Alpine car that is only ever getting stronger – just as is Fernando Alonso who heroically defended from Lewis Hamilton in Hungary. Williams too found themselves in a rather fortunate position last time out, securing their first double points finish since 2018. Whilst they won’t quite be expecting the same fortunes as Hungary, they will definitely be hoping for yet more Q2 appearances and the odd chance at a point following their best weekend in some time.

Aston Martin and McLaren both found themselves wanting so much more from Hungary with the two teams scoring no points. The two McLaren’s were taken out at the start as well as Stroll (who will be taking a 5-place-grid-drop this weekend for his role in the first lap Melee) whilst Sebastian Vettel, who drove a stunning race to second, was unfortunately disqualified for failing to provide a fuel sample. It’s fair to say that anything that can happen this weekend will be a much-needed improvement from last race’s nightmares. Ferrari too will be hoping to stay out of trouble as, despite a podium for Carlos Sainz, they still seemed to struggle for overall pace, shown through a mediocre qualifying, and Charles Leclerc too was eliminated in the opening lap mess.

Alpha Tauri performed stoically in Hungary securing P5 and P6 for their two drivers simply by staying out of trouble and so will be looking for the same this weekend at a track star driver Pierre Gasly seems to excel at. 

At the back of the grid, Alfa Romeo and Haas would have been disappointed not to make the most of the mayhem and the opportunities of Hungary. With Giovinazzi lacking pace all weekend and a weird strategy call eliminating him from contention and a pit lane collision between Kimi Räikkönen and Nikita Mazepin eliminating the latter and awarding a penalty to the former, it meant Alfa Romeo only came home with one point (thanks to Vettel’s DSQ) whilst Haas once again came home with nothing – despite Mick Schumacher’s insane wheel-to-wheel prowess throughout the race as he slowly fell back through the pack.

Be sure not to miss any of the festivities of this weekend’s Formula One race, Formula Three races as well as the immensely entertaining W-series!

# AH19☆

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: GUANYU ZHOU ON F1 DEBUT AND MONACO WIN

Guanyu Zhou is a highly accomplished Formula 2 driver who is currently leading the championship. This weekend, Zhou will be making his Formula 1 debut during FP1 of the Austrian Grand Prix – temporarily taking the seat of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

As a member of the Alpine driver academy since 2019, Zhou has worked his way up from development driver to test driver. Currently in his third season of Formula 2 with UNI-Virtuosi racing, Zhou has won at Monaco (one of the most fabled and historic venues in all of motorsport) and is making great strides towards racing full time in Formula 1. On the verge of creating history, our founder Sage sat down with Guanyu Zhou for an exclusive interview.

Read on as Zhou talks about his inspirations, influences, words of advice, the win at Monaco and his F1 debut at Austria:

Zhou gets a run in the 2017 Renault F1 Car at the Red Bull Ring

Sage: How old were you when you were introduced to the motorsport world and who were your biggest influences?

Zhou: Since I was a young kid, around five to six years old, I loved playing around with my toy cars – watching cartoon movies about cars as well. So all that stuff got me my first opportunity to jump in a go-kart at 7 years old, and I absolutely loved it the first time I tried it. At 8 years old, my family bought me my first-ever go-kart to start doing proper racing in Shanghai. That’s how we started. My father himself loves cars, but as a young kid, they gave me the choice to do what I like, and I just love the noise and love the speed going around corners.

Zhou taking a win at the Super One Rotax Series

Sage: Are there any specific lessons or words of advice you learned during these times go-karting that you still live by today? Maybe a life’s motto?

Zhou: Yeah definitely. The one I remember most from karting days, first of all, is that my first ever go-kart race, at the age of eight, and basically, one guy behind me misjudged his braking point and flew past me [hitting] my shoulder and my helmet. I had a mechanical failure, so I had to retire from the race. When I took off my suit, my right shoulder was completely bleeding and was hurting a lot. So I had to go to the hospital to get a few stitches, and that’s the day when my family asked me whether I want to continue because it was quite dangerous. And I still replied yes while doing the stitches. So that’s something I remember a lot. And another thing is back to when I was racing in Europe in 2013, I won my championship at the very last round, so I learnt from that never give up and do the best you can.

Sage: In 2012 you moved to the UK, looking for a more competitive racing environment. What, if any, were the greatest challenges you faced during this time?

Zhou: In 2012 when I moved to the UK, the level of the drivers was a lot higher, and the pack was a lot closer. 0.2s you could be from P1 to P15. I was facing a lot of challenges because I tried to learn as much as I could. As a rookie, I always take it as motivation, try to put as much effort as I could into my testing, and in one years time, I went from a top 15 runner to a top 5 runner. So that was quite a good step I made forward, but there’s a lot of effort I have to put in behind the scenes.

Kartcom Euro Challenge Castelletto: Zhou on pole in Seniors

Sage: The people who you once beat in go-karts, such as Lando Norris, are now the people doing great things in Formula One. Does this affect you in any way? And how determined are you to beat them once again?

Zhou: Yeah definitely. Having raced with a lot of people, I mean, I raced with Lando when I was in my karting days and most of my formula single-seater career. Seeing him doing well in Formula One, proves that the level of go-karts, of motorsports and formula racing I’m taking, is the best way possible to prepare to be great or the fastest Formula One driver in the future, so actually it gives me a lot of motivation, so I know I have to do well in each series I’m in. I’m trying to come out as an even better driver. And on the other hand, I think it proves that every category I’m driving in is the most competitive category possible, so that can actually help improve your driving skills a lot.

Sage: Thinking back to 2015, you showed great consistency, scoring many podiums in the Italian Formula 4 championship on your way to becoming vice-champion, how did you manage to maintain this consistency? – Especially whilst racing the likes of Shwartzman and Beckmann.

Zhou: Back in 2015, my first year in formula cars, it wasn’t an easy year as a rookie driver, but you know, we showed our speed. We had the potential to win the Italian Championship, but I had one big incident, which forced me to use my spare engine for the rest of the season. So I was behind a little bit. But the whole season was quite consistent, we were scoring podiums every round, to be always possible fighting for pole positions as well. There’s nothing special rather than just to keep my focus, keep my momentum on every track we go, no matter if it’s a new track or an old one. I try to analyse what’s the best way or the best lane to take, and I try to be fast from the beginning.

Zhou’s 3rd win out of 3 in Italian F4

Sage: As a ‘professional athlete’ as well as an inspiration to many, I’m sure the pressure of these expectations can become a strain on your mental health. Do you have any advice as to how you deal with this extra pressure and stress?

Zhou: Obviously as a professional driver, there’s a lot of stress going on, particularly at each race start, safety car restart and in a qualifying lap, especially in Formula Two, you only have one lap to do your qualifying, and it’s so important to qualify in the top ten. There’s a lot going on, like mental stress obviously. Firstly, you have to have the experience, the other thing is that you have to always trust yourself, you can’t think of something that you are a little bit weak too much, you have to always find a way to go through this tough moment. Once you’re through it, you’ll feel confident and quite a lot stronger. And every start you try to give it maximum focus. Before the race, I only focus on the start, and during the race, I only focus on making no mistakes.

Sage: In scoring your first pole position in Formula Two, you also became the first Chinese driver to do so. How does this monumental achievement feel to you and how much more does this mean because you are representing China?

Zhou: To represent China, to be the only Chinese driver in Formula Two in these five years at least, and to be doing well, showing the world that as a Chinese driver, I prove myself to be a title contender, I can be a race winner. That gives me a lot of boosts to show all my potential for reaching my ultimate dream, becoming a Formula One driver. And it shows all the work I’ve done in the past has paid off as well. I just have to keep working hard, to keep achieving more and more, and making my country more proud.

Zhou became the first Chinese Driver to score a pole position in Formula 2 at the British GP ’19

Sage: Is there something you want to say to your fans and supporters? Do you constantly feel the love of the Chinese community following you?

Zhou: To all my fans, I have to say big thanks for all the support. Guys who follow me since I was young in Formula Four, huge thanks to all of you. The other people who just start following me since Formula Two these days, I have to say thank you as well. And all this support means a lot to me, giving me a lot of boost and motivation. To all the people who believe one day that I could be in Formula One as well. In the end, I have to say that I hope everyone can support people that are chasing their dream, especially myself to represent China is not easy in Europe. I’m trying to do my best, so hopefully one day my dream can come true, making you proud of me.

Sage: This season is your third season in Formula 2, and there is most likely a chip on your shoulder that you have to win the championship this year to have an opportunity in F1. You’re doing great right now sitting in first in the driver’s championship, but has this extra pressure affected you in any way?

Zhou: I mean this year it’s actually good so far. Looking at the rounds [in] Monaco and Baku, I didn’t expect to be leading the championship so far. So that’s actually a good start because all the tracks after I am really comfortable with. On the other hand, this pressure on my shoulder, as I had in Asian F3 early season, a car I [had never driven] before, everybody expects me to win, but it wasn’t easy for me, I have to really work hard for it because other drivers know the car better than me. And for this year, I have to do well, have to show my potential, which we already did so far, and I have to continue this momentum. And also I think winning the championship gives me [a good] opportunity to jump in Formula One, but to be in the top three, I think I still have a chance to try to find a seat in Formula One. But what I focus on right now is getting that F2 championship.

Zhou winning at Monaco ’21

Sage: How does it feel to win in Monaco?

Zhou: To win in Monaco is so special. I think it’s one of my most unforgettable or happiest victories ever. It’s such a special place, such a special area that every driver would love to step on the special podium. And on the Monaco track, you cannot make any mistake, you have to be 100% accurate, 100% focused for the whole distance. I just feel so happy that I achieved the win in Monaco.

Sage: How do you feel about getting the opportunity to drive Fernando’s car in Austria? Do you think you’re ready for the big stage?

Zhou: It’s going to be a great stage for me and I’m super excited to jump in the Formula One car as I have [worked very hard] for this opportunity. My plan is to enjoy the moment and to complete all the targets the team has set for me. I will prove myself as much as I can to show my pace and momentum.

We thank Zhou for his time and hope that he has a great weekend and a successful season of racing ahead. Be sure not to miss him drive his first laps in a Formula One car at the Red Bull Ring at 10:30 am BST this Friday!

Also a huge thank you to Bruna Brito, Aiden Hover and Tanishka Vashee for helping to make this interview happen! As well as the whole DIVEBOMB team!

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Breaking news: Sprint Races to be held at 3 Grands Prix this season

For 2021, there will be a brand new weekend structure at 3 grands prix this season. 

Written by DJ Byrne, Edited by Sam Stewart

At the end of 2020, sprint races were being talked about as something potentially coming into Formula 1, as soon as 2021. 

Following lengthy discussions about holding 3 sprint races, Formula One have officially announced that for 3 races in the 2021 season there will be 

  • Friday – A single 60 minute practice session, followed by the standard qualifying format to determine the grid for the sprint race
  • Saturday – A second 60 minute practice session, followed by a 100Km sprint race to set the grid for the Sunday race
  • Sunday – the race as normal

As of now, there will only be championship points awarded for the top 3 in the sprint races (going from 3-2-1), and only the normal point system for the race. 

Similar to formula 2, there will be no mandatory pit stop in the sprint races.

There is expected to be money attached as compensation for the teams of damages occur etc.

The sprint race qualifying will be a 100km race on Saturday at Silverstone, Monza & Interlagos, but with Covid-19, this is subject to change if any cancellations occur. 

Slick Nyck Wins the Spanish ePrix

After a gruelling and, most certainly, entertaining qualifying session, it was Antonio Felix da Costa starting on pole. Mercedes EQ’s driver and Mercedes-AMG Petronas reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, almost got a taste of pole before a tyre infringement relegated him to the back of the grid. His teammate, Nyck De Vries, starts the race from eighth after a five-place grid penalty for clashing with Oliver Rowland and Sam Bird in Rome. The championship leaders, however, found themselves starting from the back of the grid, with Sam Bird down in 21st and Mitch Evans in 18th.

Written By Hafiz Akbar, Edited By Janvi Unni

The race starts off well for the DS Techeetah driver, keeping his place in front of the pack and pulling away nicely from the grid. Soon after, Sebastien Buemi had to abandon the race due to a collision with TAG Heuer Porsche driver, Andre Lotterer. He was then slapped with a drive-thru penalty.

Just five minutes later, another DNF occurred as Max Guenther, the BMW i Andretti driver, lost control of his car and ran off into the gravel subsequently trapping him. That brought his race to an early end. The Mini Pacesetter safety car had to be brought out to assist the full-course yellow.

With fourteen minutes to the end of the race, Sergio Sette Camara was tapped by Jaguar Racing’s Kiwi driver, Mitch Evans. This caused him to spin and that trapped his car in the gravel, forcing him to retire. In the same minute, Mitch Evans also retired because of damage to the bit where he tapped Sette Camara at. This prompted the safety car to be pulled out.

In the last seven minutes, Evans and Sette Camara, along with Vandoorne and Muller, were investigated for causing a collision in separate instances. Vandoorne was slapped with a five second penalty, whilst Evans was not penalised since he’d already retired by the time the investigation took place.

Ultimately, after a long and wet race, the first one in Formula E history, Nyck De Vries went on to win the Spanish ePrix in the last lap as Da Costa ran out of juice in his battery. He didn’t just lose out the podium in the last lap but also the podium places, with Oliver Rowland and Alexander Sims finishing the race second. But since the regulations require the cars to still have some battery power after the race, some of the drivers were DSQ’ed and as such, the podium positions went to Nyck De Vries, Nico Muller, and Stoffel Vandoorne, who started from the last place in the grid.

The highlight of the race was definitely the last lap, where the drivers were running out of juice just moments before the race ended. Nyck De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne were waiting for this moment to pounce and surge up the order and eventually get the double podium for Mercedes EQ, especially the surge by Vandoorne to get up from dead last to a podium finish is just something magical, some Sakhir-Sergio Perez-esque driving that.

With the race concluded, De Vries tops the driver standings with 57 points and Vandoorne followed closely in second with 48.

Will we see another Mercedes domination? I sure hope not.

Happy Birthday Romain Grosjean!

Today marks Romain Grosjean’s 35th birthday and we at DIVEBOMB want to wish him all the best by taking a brief look at this time in Formula One.

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Hazel Alagappan

Romain’s junior career

Before making the step up to the pinnacle of motorsport, Romain enjoyed much success in the junior categories. In 2005, he would command the French Formula Renault championship, which earned him a place in the Renault driver academy. In 2007, the Frenchman would win the Formula 3 Euro Series driver’s championship before winning the inaugural GP2 Asia championship. Romain would achieve 4th in his first season of GP2 as well as being confirmed as Renault’s test driver for 2008. 

This role would allow Romain Grosjean to make his Formula One debut at the European Grand Prix in 2009, where he would finish 15th. He would struggle in his debut half-season with Renault as, out of 7 races, he would retire from 2 and achieve a best finish of 13th in Brazil. Following his poor first stint in Formula One, Renault would replace Romain Grosjean with Vitaly Petrov for the 2010 season, leaving him without a drive.

Romain Grosjean in 2009

Romain’s return

Fortunately, the Geneva born driver landed a seat in sporting cars with Matech Competition to drive their Ford GT in the GT1 world championship. He would perform well, winning 2 races and finishing second once as well as achieving consistent top 10 results. Midway through the season, however, Romain would leave sporting cars to make his return in GP2 with Dams to replace Jerome D’Ambrosio for the second half of the season. He would return full time in 2011 and would win the championship. During this 2011 season, Grosjean was announced as one of the test drivers for the newly formed Lotus Formula One team and in December, it was announced that he would make his comeback to Formula One to partner Kimi Raikkonen for the 2012 season.

Romain Grosjean trying his hand in sporting cars

Romain’s time with Lotus

He began his second Formula One stint with a bang as he qualified third for the opening round in Australia. He would unfortunately not finish the race, however, following a collision with Pastor Maldonado. Romain Grosjean would achieve his first podium following a well driven race in Bahrain and would do one better in Canada, finishing second behind Lewis Hamilton. It appeared as though Lotus had built a formidable car for 2012 and Romain was utilising it well to fight at the front. He would run second for much of the Grand Prix in Valencia, but would retire due to a technical fault. In Germany, Romain would become the first French driver to qualify on the front row of the grid since Jean Alesi in 1999 as he qualified second and would go on to finish on the podium yet again. Grosjean was making a name for himself in the world of Formula One and the eyes of the top teams were noticing.

Romain Grosjean on the podium in Bahrain

After the summer break, however, Romain would cause a horrendous first corner crash at Spa which would see the elimination of multiple championship contenders in Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Romain would be to blame for this after causing the initial contact with Hamilton and would receive a one race ban. Having supposedly learnt from his mistake, Romain made his return in Japan in a similar way to how he ended his race in Belgium. Mark Webber would label the Frenchman as a ‘first lap nutcase’ as Romain had taken the Australian out following an optimistic move on the first lap of the race. He would be involved in yet another incident in Abu Dhabi as well as in São Paulo. 

Horrendous crash caused by Romain Grosjean at Spa in 2012

Prove them wrong

Grosjean would remain at Lotus for 2013, despite his poor end to 2012. Romain returned to form this year achieving an impressive 6 podiums throughout the season. Three of which would come in succession in Korea, Japan, and India with a best season finish being achieved in the USA as he would finish second, narrowly beating out Mark Webber. 2013 wasn’t all great, however, as at Monaco that year, Romain would crash three times just in practice leading to Eric Boulier telling his driver to ‘wake up.’ He would qualify 13th but would end his race after crashing into the rear of Daniel Ricciardo which earned him a 10-place-grid penalty.

Lotus failed to adapt to the overhauled regulations for the 2014 Formula One season and so Romain struggled with a poor car, only achieving 8 points. For 2015, Lotus produced a much better car with the Frenchman achieving consistent points finishes and 1 podium at Spa. This would be his last season with Lotus, however, as it was announced that Romain Grosjean would be joining the new Haas Formula One team for the 2016 season.

Romain Grosjean following his podium in Belgium

A fresh start with Haas

In his first race for his new team, Romain would finish sixth to record Haas F1’s first points. 2016 was truly a season of foundation building as Grosjean set to establish himself as team leader and saw the opportunity to build the team around him as he finished the season with 29 points. Sticking with Haas for 2017, and with a new teammate in Kevin Magnussen, Romain again completed a solid season with 28 points overall.

2018 saw Haas take a crucial step forwards as the car was consistently in the mid-field. Grosjean, however, would be criticised as he often made avoidable mistakes, such as in Azerbaijan, where he would crash out from a points-paying position behind the safety car. Also, in Spain, he would spin on the opening lap and in the process would take out several other drivers as many likened him to his clumsy 2012 self. He showed glimpses of greatness despite this, with a fourth place in Austria. He would finish the year with 37 points.

Romain Grosjean scored points in his first race for Haas in Australia

Beginning of the end

Haas, in 2019, was joined by a controversial new title sponsor in Rich Energy, which saw the car decorated in a black and gold livery, in an echo of Romain’s time at Lotus. 2019 yet again saw Grosjean plagued by reliability issues and poor performance. He didn’t help his case with constant driver errors, including several incidents with his own teammate. This came to the forefront in Britain, where the pair came together on the opening lap causing both to retire. Both cars retiring was bad enough, but matters were made worse as Romain was running an older spec car to help the team understand their issues, but the plan was destroyed with both cars failing to complete the race. It followed an embarrassing crash in practice where Romain had spun in the pitlane. He would finish the season with 8 points.

Romain Grosjean spun in the pitlane at Silverstone

Romain Grosjean would remain with Haas for 2020 where he would struggle even more. Other than the floundering Williams team, Haas was consistently at the back of the grid. The Frenchman would achieve only one points finish at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring with a ninth-place finish. It was announced mid-season that Grosjean’s contract would not be renewed with the team and Romain would leave the sport after 2020. His season came to an abrupt end at Bahrain. On the opening lap of the race, Romain came together with the Alpha Tauri of Danil Kvyat. This contact sent the Haas into the barrier at great speed, ripping the chassis into two and igniting the car into a fiery inferno. Romain miraculously climbed out of the car and over the barrier in less than half a minute, despite the 67G impact. This crash saw the end of Romain Grosjean’s Formula One career, for now, as he missed the final two rounds of the championship due to his injuries.

Romain Grosjean escaping his wrecked Haas in Bahrain

Moving past Formula One

Romain Grosjean, whilst not always the cleanest or fastest driver on track, was well known for being an incredibly humble and thoughtful person. Being a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association since 2017, Romain was thought highly off and respected by his fellow drivers and will be sorely missed from the grid.

For 2021, Romain Grosjean will be making his debut in IndyCar to complete a part-time schedule with Dale Coyne Racing. We at DIVEBOMB, wish him and his family all the best on his future endeavours and a very happy birthday.

Romain wearing a helmet designed by his children.

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Check out our Imola GP qualifying rundown by clicking here. Be sure to also check out our recent interview with Gabriel Casagrande by clicking here.

Imola Gp Qualifying Rundown

Saturday has been a mixed bag for most of the drivers on the grid. Sir Lewis Hamilton got the job done, stealing the pole position from Sergio Perez by just 0.036 seconds. The session started off with proceedings favouring Valtteri Bottas, but fumbles in Q3 forced the Finn to settle with P8.

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Aiden Hover

Lando Norris looked fast and was ready to pose a threat to Hamilton, setting brilliant purple sectors for a provisional P2 finish, but track limits led to the deletion of his time, putting him P7, behind his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Sergio Perez, who was gaining pace with every session, managed to use the momentum of consecutive good runs to shoot him up to P2, with his teammate Max Verstappen in P3. Ferrari brought in new floor upgrades to Imola and put up a good performance with driver Charles Leclerc qualifying fourth, narrowly beating Pierre Gasly who qualified an impressive Fifth. Gasly’s rookie teammate, Tsunoda, crashed into the wall in Q1, causing a red flag. He will be starting at the back of the grid tomorrow.

The Alfa Romeo garage didn’t look too happy, with both of their drivers being knocked out in Q1. Antonio Giovinazzi will be starting P17, behind Kimi Raikkonen. The rookie pairing of Mick Schmacher and Nikita Mazepin at Haas will be starting at P18 and P19 Respectively. 

George Russell managed to achieve William’s best qualifying in some time with a very impressive 12th place, whilst fellow Williams driver, Nicholas Latifi, will be starting P14. Sebastian Vettel seemed to be having a rather rough session and had to settle for P13, while his teammate Lance Stroll qualified P10.

Fernando Alonso was outqualified by a teammate for the first time since 2017, as he finished P15 with his teammate Estaban Ocon starting tomorrow’s race in P13. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz will start P11 – the Spaniard looked visibly disappointed by his result.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will start at 12:00 UTC tomorrow. We will expect to see an intriguing contest between Hamilton and both of the charging RedBulls, whilst teammate Valtteri Bottas starts the race all the way down in P8.

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Check out our preview for the Imola Grand Prix by clicking here. Be sure to also check out our recent interview with Gabriel Casagrande by clicking here.

Codemasters drop F1 2021® Announce Trailer

Codemasters have released the announce trailer for the Formula One licensed. F1 2021 game. The announce trailer shows little but here is what we have learned.

Written by Sam Stewart, edited by Aiden Hover

Braking point 

A new, previously leaked, gamemode will be introduced to the game called Braking Point, as a play on words to the phrase ‘breaking point.’ The trailer shows an animation involving a Formula One car crashing and a fight between drivers. This seemingly indicates that the gamemode will follow the ever-changing drama of the sport, in a way that F1 games have been yet to replicate. In F1 2019® we saw the introduction of Devon Butler and Lukas Weber as characters to create drama, something we may see returning for the 2021 edition of the game.

Co-op career mode

Something that has been highly requested by the F1 game community since its removal some years ago is co-op seasons. Co-op seasons will allow players to play with their friends online, something that will be gratefully received by the F1 community.

Real-season start

An unexpected addition to this game is the ‘real-season start’ mode. This allows players to select a driver and jump into the F1 2021 season with real-time constructors and drivers championship standings. This will allow players to try and take their favourite driver to the title in a realistic manner.

Release date

The most important thing revealed was the release date of July 16, the weekend of the British Grand Prix.

A conversation with Gabriel Casagrande 

Gabriel Casagrande is a 26-year-old Brazilian racing driver who races in the Brazilian Stock Car series and will be re-joining the Vogel team for 2021. He sat down with us to talk about his life and career as a racing driver and what he aims to achieve as he returns to the team that gave him his Stock Car debut in 2017.

Interview conducted and transcribed by Bruna Brito, Edited by Aiden Hover

1) How did the passion for racing come about?

A: It was natural, I remember first becoming interested when I was 5 or 6 years old watching F1 and cheering for Rubinho [Rubens Barrichello].

2) Have you always had your parent’s support and the support of friends and family to pursue a racing career? 

A: No, at first they didn’t support me and even tried hard to stop it, but after they were bitten by the racing bug, they started to like it. My mother was very scared and my father knew about the risks involved with entering this sport.

3) What were the biggest difficulties at the beginning of your career? Did you feel any pressure to always show an example in the races?

A: The pressure to be exemplary was already inside the house, thinking about my attitudes towards home, either in life or on the track. At first, I had to give up a lot of things that teenage life offers in order to race – but I feel that everything was worth it.

4) If you were not a driver, what other profession or career would you like to have followed?

A: I really like football and music, working with that would be really cool, but I have no talent for either of these two passions! I think I chose the right side, and being a teacher or working in entertainment also pleases me.

5) Go Karting definitely forms a base for most drivers and you were clearly very good at it. How was this period of great achievement? Which of them is the most striking? Are there any lessons learned during this time that you still carry with you?

A: It was the best time of my life, my only concern was getting good grades at school so I could go to train and run more. And then on the track, the obligation was to have total dedication, that I take that with me forever. Whatever my task, you will have total dedication and a lot of dedication on my part. The biggest achievement in karting was the 2012 Brazilian championship in the Graduates category, where the best drivers in the country competed. I won other cool championships, but this one made me sure that I was at a very high level.

6) What is it like for you to deal with defeats or less than satisfactory results?

A: That is something all drivers have to learn to deal with from an early age, as we have much more defeats than joys in motorsport. At first, it took me a long time to achieve expressive results, but after you get used to it, not winning is complicated. When we go to a different category, which often needs an adaptation period, it is difficult not to be affected by the drop in results.

7) How do you generally prepare for the season? Training, food, etc…

A: I feel good when preparing myself physically, I like to train at the gym every day and also practice all kinds of sports. The fashion today is beach tennis, so this one I practice a lot, combined with football and go-kart, which I never let go of. In food, I am strict during the week, but on weekends I free myself and have a barbeque, which I like very much. I don’t follow a very restrictive diet because I believe I should be happy, and eating everything is very good.

8) What is your opinion on simulators? Do you train on any?

A: I really like the simulators, I started to run them in 2008 in a game called Live For Speed, which for me has the best tyre physics of the simulators to date. I think the equipment is becoming very expensive, and what was supposed to be a hobby for those who were unable to participate in real motoring ended up being unfeasible as well. Of course, it is still possible to participate, but we know that the equipment makes a lot of difference. I like to play iRacing and use Automobilista 2 to train with the StockCar, although I think it is far from reality. I play to have fun – not to prepare.

9) Who are your biggest motorsport idols?

A: When I was a kid, I grew up watching [Michael] Schumacher and Rubinho [Barrichello] dominating for Ferrari. I liked them a lot and I have a great affection for Rubinho because he is Brazilian. After I started watching videos on the internet, I started to admire Senna a lot, who I never had the opportunity to watch live.

10) What track do you dream of running one day?

A: LeMans. I really like long races and I think that one is the most glamorous.

11) Have you received speeding tickets away from the track?

A: Unfortunately, yes. Here in Brazil, we have speed cameras everywhere – even in places where we could walk faster without posing any risk. They are installed there just to get some of our money.

12) What is the model of your first car? And what is the dream model?

A: My first car was a Golf GTI, which served me perfectly and was what I liked the most. My dream car is a Jaguar F-Type, but for that, I will have to work a little more haha!

13) What is your favorite helmet design?

A: I really like my design, it is simple and I change very little year after year.

14) Why did you choose number 83?

A: When I was karting in 2008,  I had to choose a number that has never had a history of competition in the family. At that time Grêmio, a team very close to my heart, was doing well and they used this number a lot in promotional items thanks to the 1983 world title, so I decided to adopt it as my number on track.

15) How did it feel to compete for the first time in Stock Cars? How were the days leading up to this new chapter in your career?

A: It was really cool when I got the news that I was going to make my debut in StockCar. I was very young and I knew it would be difficult, but I qualified in the middle of the pack in my first classification. It was cool because everyone wanted to help me in some way, the drivers there are very receptive, as bullsh*t only starts once you have competed in the category for some time. The race was in Cascavel, near my hometown, and my whole family was there. I was a little nervous but after I got in the car, everything seemed to come to me naturally.

16) Motor racing, despite appearing to be an individual sport, relies heavily on the team aspect. What were the biggest surprises you saw when you joined the team and became a member of the talented StockCar grid? And how do you work with the team to achieve the desired results?

A: Motor racing is the most collective individual sport that exists. I’ve had episodes in which I was harmed by a member of the team and also ones in which I was saved by the quick reasoning and attitude of the members, we are not just those drivers inside, we have more than 15 people forming the mechanics behind a StockCar. I like to maintain a healthy relationship with my team, knowing that I depend on them and they depend on me, so we have to be in perfect harmony. A good barbecue with the members and also good results are key to fine-tune the relationship.

17) Was age at any time synonymous with immaturity, “prejudice” or an excuse for someone to stop you from trying or achieving something at some point in your career?

A: I wouldn’t say that prejudice happened, but I have already been passed over by sponsors for being too young and also for making some mistakes on the track that I don’t make anymore. It is part of it. On the other hand, the partners who support me today are the ones who bet on me when I was still nobody in motorsport, so I insist on treating them in the best possible way and always trying to maximize the return to them.

18) Do you regret any reactions or responses you made during or after a race?

A: Yes. We all have our moments of anger and with a hot head we always tend to do things we don’t want to, but the important thing is learning from mistakes and knowing how to move on.

19) How would you describe your 1st pole in 2019 in the StockCar category, how was this moment?

A: It was unexpected, I confess! But after, it was a very good feeling of accomplishment and it took a truckload of pressure off my back. I always performed very well in the races but ended up suffering in the ratings. In 2019 I had 2 poles and I was the only driver of the team to win the honorary position, which provided me with lots of confidence. The car was very good and I had to be careful because I only had one attempt. As I knew I was, on average, one-tenth and a half slower than Thiago Camilo in all qualifying formations, I didn’t want to take any chances to avoid losing a comfortable starting position. It turned out that he risked and failed to make the perfect lap.

20) Last season, you were in 5th place in the championship, but unfortunately, due to inconclusiveCOVID-19 test results, you had to miss out on the final round. What was your feeling at this moment?

A: Very frustrated. The work of a lot of people, a whole year of dedication in unfavorable conditions, my first real chance of being the champion of the category was all gone due to a disease that I took care not to contract – and yet still contracted, it is complicated. I had positive and negative tests, but they preferred to veto my participation and there was nothing I could do. This year I will try again to win the cup.

21) Despite the challenges, in my view, 2020 was a great year. With 4 podiums and 1 victory, often being the highest scorer, and finishing the season in 8th place, how would you rate this season? Do you believe this was a year of more maturity and growth in the category?

A: It was certainly the best year of my career in the psychological sense. I was very confident and, even when the situation of the car was not good, the result ended up being good as I always had my head in the right place in important situations. The year was good despite not having participated in the last stage, which was worth double points and would have put me in the top 3 which was my goal and would have allowed me to fight for the title. In 2021 the goal is to follow the top positions with more and more races in the fight.

22) In terms of technology, StockCar stands out on the national scene. Could you tell us more details about the vehicles, the championship model ..?

A: We have a very competitive category, where the cars are equalized by the same company, and the teams have only the possibility of changing the car’s setup. The championship is attractive to the public because of the 2 races and also the double points final round. The car is very crude, and the use of aids like traction control and ABS is not allowed, so the car is tricky to guide but also is very pleasurable.

23) Do you like the current car model in the StockCar championship? What do you think could change to improve the coming years?

A: Yes, I do. I think that, despite not giving as much priority to the victory of the first race, the championship is more competitive by having two races, with more winners, more exposure for sponsors, and inconstancy of results, which leads us to not be so predictable to the public. I believe that longer runs would bring more appeal and also round with special formats, with more options, etc.

24) What are your expectations for the 2021 season? Any news about this year that you could share?

A: The goal is to fight for the title again, avoid covid, and also enjoy a lot of joy on and off the track. I am back at the Vogel team, which has joined AMattheis, one of the most successful teams in Brazilian motorsport. I am still very excited and eager to get started soon.

25) And finally, would you like to leave a message to inspire young people and fans who also want to venture into the sport?

A: Dedication always, regardless of your physical or financial condition. The result of hard work is the most pleasurable experience and with it, we can all achieve what we want. I know that motorsport is an expensive sport. It’s difficult and has few opportunities, but there is always a gap to be filled.

Thank you to Gabriel for sharing some of his time with us!

Check Gabriel out on his Instagram page and his Facebook page!

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F1 COULD RACE IN MIAMI BY 2022

The quest for a second Grand Prix in the United States may have received a much-needed breakthrough, as Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris has offered a joint resolution with Hard Rock Stadium. 

Written by Andrew Lwanga edited by Sam Stewart

Previous attempts to host a Formula 1 race in Miami had been met with resistance from residents who expressed concerns over noise and air pollution. In October 2020, in fact, more than a dozen Miami-Dade County residents opened a federal lawsuit against then-mayor Carlos Gimenez seeking to block the race. 

Current Mayor Rodney Harris was also previously opposed to the idea of hosting a race in South Florida but has now offered a resolution to Stephen Ross, the owner of Miami Dolphins and also the man spearheading the campaign for the race. The resolution aims to address the concerns of the residents of Miami-Dade that led to them protesting the race. 

As part of the resolution Hard Rock Stadium and race promoters will have to raise noise mitigation barriers in sections of the proposed race track namely the north-side of any section of the track adjacent to the Snake Creek Canal to protect residents. Additionally promoters will have to monitor air and noise pollution during the race. 

Another crucial part of the memorandum is an economic package that includes a 5 million dollars commitment to residents and local businesses. Included in the package is also a STEM program in the city and also providing internships to residents. 

The Miami City Council will vote on the resolution on Wednesday, and should it go through the race could join the Formula 1 calendar as early as 2022, bringing a conclusion to the 3-year bid for the race in Southside Florida.  

Jim Clark Tribute – 53 Years On

Jim Clark was a British racing driver who won racing titles in many different racing categories including F1 – in 1963 and 1965 – and IndyCar in 1965.

Written by DJ Byrne, Edited by S Stewart

Today marks the 53rd year since his death at the Hockenheimring in 1968, in which he would crash his car and pass away in an accident in the first Formula 2 heat of the Martini Gold Cup.

He spent all 8 of his seasons at Lotus, winning 2 drivers championships with the team. He is considered an all-time great, after winning 25 of his 72 Grand Prix, and taking a record eight grand chelems – taking pole position, leading every lap, getting the fastest lap and winning the race.

My favourite of his victories came at the 1963 Belgian GP, in which it was rain soaked. It was on the old, long layout, where he started P8. The rain was bucketing, and pressure was on Lotus to perform in the early stage of the championship. After starting eighth, he passed everybody in the early stages of the race, including the championship leader at the time Graham Hill. By the end of the race, Clark lapped everybody except Bruce McLaren, who was 5 minutes behind in his Cooper. The victory was made even better by the fact he had to manage gearbox issues when he shifted up to fifth (which was often on this high speed circuit) where he had to hold the gear stick in place, thus having only one hand on his steering wheel.

His final victory came at the 1968 South African GP. This race was thrilling, as the first 6 drivers on the grid were all champions, with the reigning champion Denny Hulme starting in P9. The race began with Clark on pole, with Jackie Stewart alongside. Stewart would overtake Clark for the lead on lap one, but lose the lead again on lap 2. Jim Clark broke several records in this race as well, including:             

  Leading the most GPs(43)

  Most laps led(1,943)

  Most perfect weekends(11)

  Most pole positions(33)

  Most race wins(25) 

Jim Clark today is remembered as a legend, a gentleman, and an all round good person, with himself still being in the thoughts of many British F1 fans. He is regarded by many as the greatest driver to have lived, having won events in all sorts of disciplines. One thing for sure is that Clark is up there with the greats.

Aston Martin mechanics test positive for COVID-19

The Aston Martin AM21 – F1.com

Recent reports have emerged that two mechanics from the Aston Martin Formula One team have tested positive for COVID-19 while in Bahrain preparing for the season opener.

Written By Daniel Yi, Edited By Justin Tan

The two positive cases were detected as part of F1’s routine mandatory testing of all personnel in the paddock. This is not the first time the team has been plagued by COVID-19, with drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll missing races last season due to COVID infections. Four other team members and team owner Lawrence Stroll also tested positive for the virus last season.

According to RaceFans, the two employees in question have been isolated and will take no further part in this weekend’s event. A spokesperson also noted that the team has taken all necessary precautions and will still be a part of the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Bahrain Grand Prix weekend preview

After three months of winter break, F1 will soon finally be back in its full glory. This weekend, the 10 world-class Formula One teams will get their first opportunity to show what they can really do in race conditions. No more ‘Pre-Season Politics’ or ‘Sandbagging,’ all 20 cars will be primed and ready to attack this track, and we can not wait.

Written by Aiden Hover & Justin Tan & Tanishka Vashee, Edited by Sam Stewart

The Bahrain Grand Prix takes place around the Bahrain International Circuit, a 5.4-kilometer stunner of a track. One of Hermann Tilke’s more popular track designs, this year’s race will feature 57 hair-raising laps as the 2021 grid fight to make their mark on the season first. Last year’s pole-sitter and eventual race winner, Sir Lewis Hamilton, set a lap time of 1:27.264 and will aim to repeat this feat in 2021. Having hosted a Grand Prix every year since 2004 (excluding 2011) the race transitioned into a nighttime affair from 2014 – a welcome change as the cooler conditions, along with the stunning visuals, ensure that every visit to Bahrain is one to remember. We still remember the chills felt during the 2014 ‘Duel in the desert’ between Mercedes teammates, Nico Rosberg and Sir Lewis Hamilton, and who can forget Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari masterclass in 2010 or, in the opposite vein, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari heartbreak in 2019 after securing his first career pole position. Even last year, when Bahrain hosted two Grand Prix, we witnessed miracles in both events. In round one, Romain Grosjean became the ‘Man on Fire’ as he rose from a fiery crash like a phoenix, against all odds. Fast forwards only a week and at the Sakhir Grand Prix, using the Bahrain outer circuit, Sergio Perez won an incredible race in his Racing Point despite being last after a lap one crash. We can surely expect great things from this circuit, and the fact that it’s the season opener for this year only makes the spectacle more exciting.

Looking forwards to this year’s race, the main story is of Mercedes’ true pace. Throughout Pre-Season testing, the team appeared to struggle with both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finding the car hard to drive, with Hamilton even spinning and beaching his W12 in the gravel trap on day two. The Mercedes team also struggled with mechanical issues as Bottas missed crucial running on day one due to gearbox issues. Sebastian Vettel experienced a similar issue in his Aston Martin, which also runs Mercedes engines, so Mercedes issues could be bigger than they at first thought. However, we have seen Mercedes struggle at testing countless times throughout the last seven years of Mercedes domination, so if any team can come back from a difficult test, it’s Mercedes. As always, rumours spread of the team deliberately hiding their true performance or ‘sandbagging’ in order to disrupt their rivals despite being purely dominant yet again.

The one driver who has consistently been a thorn in the side of Hamilton and the all-conquering Mercedes is Max Verstappen. The Dutchman has frequently outperformed his difficult RedBull car as well as his teammates to threaten the Mercs during a race weekend. Towards the end of 2020, Verstappen and RedBull proved that it is possible to dethrone the champions by beating them in Abu Dhabi, a traditionally strong race for Mercedes. If RedBull is able to bring this pace into 2021, Verstappen may be able to challenge Hamilton throughout an entire season and treat fans to a truly titanic title fight – an aspect the sport has been missing since 2018. This year, RedBull has signed Sergio Perez to partner Verstappen. They hope that Perez will be closer to Verstappen’s pace than Alex Albon was last year, and will allow RedBull to use two cars to gain a strategic advantage over their German counterparts, a tool they have not been able to use in recent years. RedBull’s car looked strong in testing and they must surely be confident heading into the season opener this weekend.

The start of the new season also marks the rebirth of Racing Point, who will now race as Aston Martin. Their season contender, the AMR21, looked capable in Pre-Season testing as they were consistently close to McLaren for the third-fastest but the car has also become a fan favourite thanks to its distinct British Racing Green livery. The driver lineup of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel is heavily anticipated to be strong as Vettel looks to demonstrate that his poor performance in recent years was not an accurate representation of the consecutive 4-time world champion he used to be, whilst Lance looks to learn from his experienced teammate.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are both to take on big new challenges this year

Alpine, previously known as Renault, is also looking strong before Bahrain, off the back of a productive Pre-Season test. The team’s returning signing of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will be keen to prove that he has lost none of his talent this weekend, after a two-year absence from the sport and so will be firing on all cylinders. On the other side of the garage, Frenchman Esteban Ocon will be looking to stake his mark as team leader and put up a strong fight against the Spaniard.

In addition to the exciting Aston Martin and Alpine rebrands, the 2021 season will also play host to 3 new rookie drivers: Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, and Yuki Tsunoda. Here is what we can expect from these 3 budding young talents:

Photo credits Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Once the driver’s hit the track in Bahrain for free practice, the world will be watching the reigning Formula 2 champion, who just happens to share the same surname as one of the sport’s greatest ever drivers. Mick Schumacher has had to face the limelight that comes with being Michael Schumacher’s son throughout his entire life, the pressure only building with his growing reputation in the feeder series while racing under the Schumacher name. There will always be sceptics and doubters who will compare Mick with his father, but Schumacher has proven himself to be an incredibly smart and calculating driver, one who works immensely hard both on and off the track, internally and with the team around him as well. With the F2 and F3 championships to his name, he will make the step up to the pinnacle of motorsport with the Haas F1 Team for the 2021 season.  

It says volumes that Schumacher has not been the most spoken about of the 3 new rookies since his promotion was confirmed, this had been due to the on and off-track conduct of the Russian driver Nikita Mazepin. Before stepping into his on-track antics, his off-track actions must be addressed. The Russian’s despicable behaviour to not only grope a female passenger in a car and film this incident, but also upload this to his social media accounts has led to outrage from many. However, there is no denying that he brings huge backing that is central to the survival of Haas as an F1 team. While money was the key driving factor in his rise to F1, he should not be underestimated. He delivered 2 wins – the same as the champion – on his way to finishing 5th in the F2 standings with a new entry Hitech team. He and Mick will be closely matched over one lap – Mazepin having the potential to edge out that category, however, whether his aggressive driving style will be sanctioned by the FIA remains to be seen. 

Perhaps, the one to watch closest is not getting as much coverage as the Haas drivers during the offseason, and that is AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Tsunoda will follow George Russell and Lando Norris in stepping up to the pinnacle of motorsport after just one season in F2, a testament to his rapid development as a driver and character. Alongside race winner Pierre Gasly, he will also have the toughest benchmark of the 3 rookies; but will be in the most competitive car of the 3, so the potential to impress is greater – but so is the potential to struggle. Tsunoda will have the best platform to perform on, but the spotlight on the Haas pair will be intense – for different reasons. Whether he will step up to the plate remains to be seen, but he is no doubt ready for an all or nothing war.

The 2021 teams, and what we can expect from them in Bahrain:

Alfa Romeo

Despite missing team principal Frederic Vasseur at pre-season testing due to coronavirus, Alfa Romeo had a productive weekend – clocking up the joint most laps, joint with AlphaTauri. Kimi Räikkönen, very much the eldest statesman of the F1 grid at 41 years old, managed 166 laps on the final day – the largest one-day total than anyone else across the weekend. Will Alfa be top of the bottom 3 or completing firmly in the midfield? We shall see very shortly.

AlphaTauri

Photo Credits: Federico Basile / DPPI

AlphaTauri undoubtedly came out as one of the victors of pre-season testing, and they are looking extremely strong coming into the first race in Bahrain. Once again the team will be represented by now race winner Pierre Gasly, who had a barnstorming season in 2020. He will be partnered by up and coming talent Yuki Tsunoda, who, on paper, was the second best driver in pre-season testing. That could just be a testament to the unreliability of pre-season testing as an accurate metric for season performance, but he and this team are certainly one to keep an eye out for.

Alpine 

Renault F1’s rebrand as Alpine for the 2021 season has been much more than just a new striking blue and red livery. The team has brought in 2 time world champion Fernando Alonso, who has looked at home in the Alpine car during testing despite his cycling incident. Estaban Ocon also seems comfortable and will want to prove himself against his championship winning teammate after a strong end to the 2020 season. Alpine will also want to justify the odd design of its car, with the bulbous airbox a key talking point within the paddock during testing. The best way they can do this is with a strong midfield finish.

Aston Martin

Another new name makes it onto the grid, with Aston Martin’s return to Formula One after more than 60 years being one of the headline stories of the 2021 pre-season. With 4 time world champion Sebastian Vettel on its roster, partnering rapidly improving teammate Lance stroll, the team has much to feel optimistic about. However, their testing has been shaky to say the least, with Vettel confined to the pitlane for large swathes of time due to a number of mechanical issues. By the end of the weekend, the German had only completed 117 testing laps – comfortably the least of any driver, whether he and the team can adapt and strive towards a strong midfield finish remains to be seen.  

Ferrari 

After bleak performances in 2020, Ferrari has made it clear that it does not expect to be winning races until 2022. However, there is still much to be excited about for their 2021 campaign. The introduction of Carlos Sainz means that both seats are occupied by young, hungry and talented drivers with growing experience at the top. Testing was a mixed bag for the scarlet team, with Sainz seeming to struggle getting to grips with the SF21 car, but Leclerc put in some confident laps and team principal Mattia Binotto said that he feels the team has “improved in many areas compared to last season”. 

Haas

Photo credit: Motorsport Images

The forecast had not been bright for Haas in 2021. It is now represented by two new drivers with little experience, and the team has developed its car the least of any team over the winter break. Haas have also confirmed that it won’t be developing the car through the season, instead focusing resources for the 2022 regulations. However, this year’s VF21 looked consistent over the 402 testing laps, but there is no doubt it will be making up the rear of the pack.

McLaren 

Photo credit – @MclarenF1 

After a promising season in which it grabbed 3rd place in the constructor’s championship. McLaren have made considerable changes to its 2021 car, most notably replacing its Renault power unit with the one from Mercedes. Their optimism will be bolstered by the introduction of 7 time race winner Daniel Ricciardo, who looked successful in getting to grips with the new car during testing. His partner in crime Lando Norris is one of the new generation of superstars, who will be hoping to follow up on some excellent albeit inconsistent performances in 2020 and will be keen to prove himself against his more experienced and decorated teammate. 

Mercedes

Having swept the last 7 constructor’s championships and convinced the freshly-knighted Sir Lewis Hamilton to put pen to paper on a bumper new contract, there was a collective sigh within the fan community with the belief that Mercedes would be nothing but dominant in 2021. However, Bahrain proved anything but perfect for the team, with multiple spins for both drivers, with Valtteri Bottas admitting that the new W12 car was “snappy and unforgiving”. Mercedes have been accused of sandbagging in the past, whether this season will be more of the same will be evident at the first race of the season.

Red Bull

This could be the year that Max Verstappen wins his first driver championship. The Dutch starlet stated that pre-season has been “definitely the best ” of his career, and Red Bull looks to be well stocked and ready to attack the 2021 season on the front foot. However, team principal Christian Horner said that he still feels Mercedes are out and out favourites, whether Red bull will be able to challenge the Mercedes dynasty will remain to be seen. This could be a season with real competition for the top spot – a rare sight in recent years.

Williams

After finishing the 2020 season bottom of the standings with 0 points, Williams have a number of reasons to feel optimistic for 2021. Russell is ever-growing and improving day by day, while Nicholas Latifi has proved to be a solid second option. Furthermore, Williams plans to develop its car throughout the season. Haas, in comparison, will not. Many are expecting Williams to make steps in the right direction for 2021, but points finishes will be the ultimate proof of their progress.  

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F1 in talks to bring back Nurburgring and Hockenheim

Eifel GP at the Nurburging in 2020 – F1.com

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Daniel Yi

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali recently revealed in conversation with sport1 that that he has been in talks that could lead to the possible return of Nurburgring and Hockenheim to the F1 Calendar for 2022.

“Germany is an important market for us,” he added. 

Hockenheimring – F1.com

The 2021 calendar has undergone some changes, with the return of classic tracks such as Imola, Zandvoort and new circuit additions like Jeddah, which may put tracks like Circuit de Catalunya in danger.

Domenicali went on to applaud the efforts of the Formula 1 personnel and staff, for being able to host a world championship during the ongoing pandemic.

He also spoke about how he wants a third of the races to happen in Europe, two races in the USA and is also in talks with African nations for the sport to be truly global.

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FEATURED: Interview with Touring Car Legend Andy Priaulx MBE

Interviewed by Sam Stewart , Recorded by Bruna Brito, Edited by Aiden Hover

Find our article on Andy Priaulx here.

I’d like to begin by asking about your entry to the sport, how did you get into motorsport originally?

I’m actually the third generation [of Priaulx] to be a racing driver. My Father was racing, I used to help him and he was always introducing me to racing and motorsports, in fact, I sat on my first motorbike at 2 or 3 years old! I was then karting at 8 years old and doing motocross and all sorts, so I had a really amazing upbringing of just engines and racing, which turned serious in my late teens, when I moved over from motorsport in Guernsey and the Channel Islands, to more professional and offshore racing, and well here we are today after having a 20-year professional career

After an early career in hill climb racing you made a transition into open-wheel [circuit] racing, how did that transition go for you?

Yeah I started in hill climb, and in 1995 I won the British Hill Climb Championship, and at that moment it was rather unusual to see a young guy like me to be doing hill climbing. I was driving a Formula One engined, very powerful car and I won the British championship with a clean sweep. I had guys like Jackie Stewart watching me, he came down to watch me, and really I was given my break at that moment to really develop a single-seater career in circuit racing and I made the jump from hill climb at the age of 20 with the help of guys like Jackie Stewart and some great sponsors, and I’ve now had a great career I’ve tested in everything like sportscars, touring cars, Formula One cars, and I’ve driven pretty much anything over the years.

You mentioned your test in Formula One, how different was that to the other cars you were racing at the time?

I was racing in touring cars, so it was very different, but before I became a full-time, paid professional, I actually had a really successful single-seater career. I replaced Jenson Button in Formula 3 when he moved into Formula One and I got the drive with Renault and I was winning races at a very high level, against actual Formula One Drivers that are currently still there today some of them, so I was already perceived as one of the young up and coming, Formula One potential drivers of that time. To get a chance after not making it into Formula One, for a number of reasons – mostly financial and timing – I then got the chance of being able to test in Formula One having won the World Championship in touring cars. It was a very successful test, and from then on they signed me to become the test driver for Williams, and then for BMW, and then occasionally I was the reserve Formula One driver as well at some of the Grand Prix.

You were talking about your very successful touring car career, and you did have a very successful debut in British Touring Car, would you like to talk a bit about how that panned out?

Yeah absolutely, so at that moment I was in Formula 3 and I was struggling really financially I was already in my mid to late twenties, and I got a one-off chance to join a very successful touring car team called Vauxhall Triple Eight, and I actually drove in a one-off guest race filling in for a suspended driver, Phil Bennett. I was with really strong teammates. I was with a guy called James Thompson and Yvan Muller who were both proven winners of touring car racing at a high level. I had a really good debut, I put it on pole position for both the races and led both races. Unfortunately, I didn’t win because I had a mechanical failure, but I’d already really proved myself at a high level at that point. The following year I got picked up by Honda, and signed a contract with them, and did a full season in British Touring Car. That was in 2002. Then, in 2003, I joined BMW for the European Touring Car Championship, so my year of touring car racing in British touring car really springboarded me into an international career. I got picked up by BMW when I was actually down in Bathurst in the V8 Supercars, and I got a fax that came through to say ‘can you come through to us immediately there’s a drive for you at BMW if you’re interested.’ Of course, I was straight on the plane from Australia and when I flew back I signed my deal with them and joined BMW, and then really for the next 12-13 years I never looked back. I had so much success with them. 

Pretty soon after this debut, you managed to win four in a row in the FIA discipline and this earned you the label of the ‘Michael Schumacher of touring cars.’ What have you thought of that label?

Yeah that was great, so at that moment Lewis hadn’t dominated, and I was actually one of the only drivers that managed to win four consecutive titles with the FIA. So the FIA are the sport’s governing body and when you get a world championship status – at that moment there was only Formula One, World Rally, and World Touring Car – so to dominate that over three years was really special. Unfortunately, I didn’t win four world titles, I won three, but the European title the year before was actually all the same drivers and the same teams, and Murray Walker always said, ‘you’re actually a four-time world champion.’ I had many interviews with Murray over the years. And yeah, the BMW years were very successful to be honest, but it was very tough being a British driver driving for a German manufacturer often racing against the main factory teams of BMW Schnitzer, and it was very tough to beat them, but we managed to do it over a long period of time. BMW was very very good to me over a 12-13 year period. I had a lot of success in that time I was racing Sportscars, I was doing Nurburgring and won the 24 hour [race] there, won the Sebring 12 hour, all of them in a sportscar, and I was testing for them as well in Formula One. So I was really really busy; I was doing over 200 days a year away from home racing and testing almost every car they had over a period of about 10 years. 

You mentioned all of the things you were doing during your highly successful time at BMW, but straying from that slightly, you’ve had a lot of success at the Race of Champions at various different venues. How does it feel to be racing alongside all these different drivers from all these different disciplines, who you would never previously have had the chance to race against?

Absolutely, that was really special. I always had a really good performance in the race of champion. Not only was I racing against guys like Michael Schumacher and [Sebastian] Vettel – and very often I was beating them in a head to head which was nice, but also some World Rally champions. In fact, I actually beat Sebastian Loeb in his own rally car. I think it’s really nice to represent your country, at Wembley here for quite a few seasons. I never won the actual overall Race of Champions which is really annoying but I did win the Nations Cup twice, and the second time I won it my teammate actually didn’t win a single race, so I won something like 14 races in a row to get us through to win. So that was probably one of my best performances of all time in the Race of Champions. I got the overall fastest lap and lap records and had a really good time, so it’s nice to be able to look back on those moments and put myself against the best in the world – or the perceived best drivers in the world, and never really had an issue with that so it was good. 

Regarding putting yourself against the rest, who would you say was your biggest rival throughout your career?

Well, that’s difficult because obviously in the Race of Champions, Michael was the one who always managed to pull it off. He was very clever, he did a lot of testing and a lot of preparation before the Race of Champions where we all didn’t have the opportunity. I would say some of my toughest fights were with my teammates because you’re actually in the same car with identical equipment very often. Politics always get in the way with these things and some of my biggest fights were with Schnitzer and Dirk Muller and Augusto Farfus, and they were teammates so I was racing for BMW and very often against BMW at times. It was a really really exciting, very very challenging period and a very tough environment. Some of those touring car drivers were really very tough to beat, Gabriele Tarquine for example. One year we had 15 winners in the season and 9 drivers could win the championship in the last race. It was very different to Formula One where if you’ve got the fastest car you’re likely to win – in touring car racing we had success ballast, reverse grids, so you never dominated. You always ended up having to fight right to the end of the season to win. So it was really tough competition and, very often, some of the hardest racing on the planet. 

What would you class as your proudest achievement throughout your career?

I think for me to have been a factory driver for 20 years, as I’m still going now in some shape or form. I don’t know if people realise, but in Britain, there are about 10 drivers a year maximum that get paid to go racing, and only 4 or 5 of those are at a really high level, so for me to be one of those paid drivers for 15-20 years, that’s like playing for England for 15-20 years, so that to me is something to be very proud of. I think winning the third world title was really very special because no one can say it was luck, no one can say ‘he didn’t quite have the speed’ or ‘he wasn’t clever enough to stay over the whole year’ so to win four consecutive titles was amazing. The third one was nice because the car wasn’t the best car on the grid. We had a really difficult season and I had to be really clever with my racecraft – we probably had the 7th 8th or 9th best car on the grid, and to win the title in that environment was something I was very proud of as well. 

On the subject of touring cars, a particular track that you’ve had a lot of success at is Macau, what is it like being in such a tight circuit with so many other cars hounding you?

Yeah, so Macau is always really tough. It’s a track that I love but required a lot of commitment and a lot of precision to be fast. I remember when I first went to Macau, I had a guy who had raced there the year before, and he said ‘don’t be surprised if you’re three or four seconds off in the first session, and when we’re usually looking for two or three tenths, that was just a country mile you’re never three or four seconds off if you’re a professional driver. But, sure enough, the first session I thought that would be a really strong performance, but I was 3-4 seconds off. It’s just a place where you have to build your speed and build your rhythm and build your commitment and Macau literally is a track where if you’re not brushing the walls and brushing the barriers, then you’re not quick enough. If you were 9/10 committed then you weren’t fast enough, and if you were 10/10 committed you were fast enough but risked crashing, and it was being able to be 99.9% all of the time for all of the races and that’s what I love very much about Macau, a very tough track, but very rewarding when you did well.

What would you say is your favourite track that you’ve raced at across your whole career?

Probably Macau. It’s between Macau and Bathurst. Bathurst also, there’s a V8 supercar race that we do there that’s always an amazing race. The track I would say is half Macau and half Spa[-Francorchamps], which are probably some of the best tracks in the world, so I think probably Bathurst is probably my favourite, but a very close second would be Macau. 

Finally, would you like to tell us a bit about your charity?

Absolutely, so Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation was formed nearly 18 years ago. Both my children were premature, both Seb and Daniella, and Jo and I formed a charity having experienced how amazing the key workers were, especially with Seb as he was really in a bit of a pickle for 3 or 4 weeks. So those experiences we put to a good use. At that moment I was really successful with my racing and I was quite high-profile, so it felt like the right time to form the charity and as I said it’s soon to celebrate 18 years. It’s had the honorary Queen’s award for voluntary service to Guernsey and the Channel Islands, and it’s raised over a million pounds. We are very proud to be looking after sick children and are able to help them. We don’t only help babies we also help families with children who are going through a difficult time. We’ve got two flats in Southampton, housing children that are not well to keep the families together, so we help them in a lot of ways. I’m very proud of the charity, mostly driven by my wife Jo, she’s the one that’s been really amazing with consistent voluntary hard work over the last 18 years, whilst I’ve done what I can do – raising profile, auctioning things off, and being a spokesperson as well, which has often brought some great opportunities in the charity. Most of all its down to Jo, she’s the one that’s made it all happen.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Andy, it was great having you. 

Donate to the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation here

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Andy Priaulx – ‘The Michael Schumacher of Touring Cars’

March 19 2021

Earlier this month, Andy Priaulx took the time to talk to us on all things motorsport and about his career. You can find this interview by clicking here. I have taken the time to compile his words and some more information on Andy Priaulx in this article, showing off what is one of the greatest and most successful careers in motorsport.

Written by Sam Stewart, Edited by Esmée Koppius

Born in The Bailiwick of Guernsey on August 4th 1974 to a family invested in motorsport, Andy Priaulx MBE started his passion for the family business from a very young age. His father Graham competed in the British Hillclimb championship and introduced a young Andy to this, bringing him regularly to watch local hill climb races. At the early age of 8, Andy started fuelling his passion for motorsport through karting, and was a ‘consistent front-runner’ locally. As a teenager, Andy started competing locally in hillclimbs, in a car shared with his father. At the age of 17, Andy won 2 back to back Clubmans Hillclimbing Channel Islands Championships, putting him in the eyes of hillclimbers around the country. From 1992 to 1994, Priaulx competed in the British Hillclimb championship, picking up 2 wins across the board and a driver of the season award. 

Priaulx driving a hill climb car -Unknown

Andy’s first big breakthrough into the motorsport scene was in 1995 when he surprised many by winning the British Hill Climb Championship. The next 2 years were rather uneventful for Andy, with campaigns in Formula Renault and British Formula 3. 1998 was the year that Priaulx’s talent for sportscar racing began to fully shine through. Priaulx raced in 2 series that year, one of which being the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series, in which he finished second overall with four podiums and a pole position to his name. The other series he raced in that year and carrying over to 1999 was the Renault Spider Cup. In this championship he won all 15 of the races he entered, in a massive display of dominance, the first real sign of the legend that Priaulx was to become. In 2000, Priaulx got the call up to Formula 3 to race for Renault to replace Jenson Button and was winning races against drivers who are still in Formula One today. 

It was in 2001, however, that Priaulx got his break into Touring cars. He was struggling financially at the time, and got the offer to drive for Vauxhall Triple Eight Racing in BTCC for a one-off guest race to replace Phil Bennett, who had been suspended. Priaulx stunned the crowd by putting his Vauxhall on pole position in the first race. Priaulx had to retire due to a mechanical failure, but he had now proved his pace in sportscars. He got signed the next season to do the full campaign in British Touring Car, finishing 5th with one win to his name. 

In 2003, Andy’s career in higher level touring car really took off. The BMW touring car team had paid close attention to Priaulx’s success, and when he was off racing in V8 supercars in Australia they offered him a drive in the European Touring Car Championship. This started a huge partnership with the BMW team for Andy, driving for them in all sorts of disciplines and driving their factory cars. Priaulx finished 3rd in his first attempt at European Touring Cars, and won the championship at the second time of trying in 2004. This year also brought great success in endurance racing, with Priaulx winning the 24 hours of Nurburgring. 

Priaulx celebrating on the WTCR podium – ITV

2003 also brought the creation of Priaulx’s charity – the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation (PPBF). Both of Andy’s children were born premature, and therefore him and his wife Jo decided to create the charity, dedicated to helping the families of babies that were born premature. In the 18 years since its creation, the PPBF has raised over 1 million pounds, and owns 2 apartments in Southampton, used to keep together the families of sick and premature babies. To donate to this wonderful charity, click here. A link is also at the bottom of the article.

The following year, in 2005, Priaulx won his first of 3 World Touring Car championships by 15 points ahead Dirk Muller, a huge margin for touring car standards, despite only winning one race this season. 2005 also brought Priaulx his first taste of Formula One, as he was hired to be the Williams F1 driver for the season, a car which he was very quick in. The following two seasons, Priaulx took two more world titles in touring car, becoming the first man to win 4 FIA Touring Car championships in a row. 2006 was the most remarkable of these seasons, as Priaulxs car was, as a base, far off the pace of some of the other cars. This meant that he had to show his raw talent and consistency, of which he had a lot of, to give himself the edge on other drivers to pick up that elusive second world championship. 

Priaulx testing a Williams Formula 1 car – Unknown

Priaulx’s career with BMW carried on many years further. The 2008 and 2009 seasons resulted in 4th place finishes for him, before Priaulx chose to move on to different disciplines. At this point, he was driving every car BMW had to throw at him. Whether it was WEC, V8 supercars, or DTM, Priaulx could be seen driving sports cars of any type. 

Andy found good results in the Race of Champions. For those who aren’t aware, the Race of Champions is a racing event in which drivers from all sorts of disciplines come together to race. There are 2 tournaments over the weekend of racing, the first of which being the Nations Cup. Drivers are paired up with another driver from their nation in order to allow their country to progress into the next round. In 2015, Priaulx was racing for the England 1 team, accompanied by fellow touring car legend Jason Plato. Andy Priaulx carried his team to win the Nations Cup, beating drivers such as Sebastian Vettel to get there. 

I believe his time with BMW can be classed as one of the most successful driver/manufacturer partnerships in the history of motorsport. Priaulx brought BMW to 3 consecutive Touring Car World Championships, something never achieved by any other driver. He raced F1 cars; German, European and World touring cars; GT3s; LMGTEs; and anything else the team could throw at him. Andy excelled at every challenge thrown at him, whether it was winning around Macau, winning the Race of Champions or hugely outperforming his car in World Touring Cars. On the 15th June 2020, Andy Priaulx announced that he would be stepping down from most of his racing in order to focus on his son, Sebastian (Seb)’s, racing career. 

Donate to the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation

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Saudi GP Layout Unveiled

New Renders of the Jeddah Street Circuit – F1.com

The FIA, along with the organizers of the 2021 Saudi Arabia GP, have announced the track layout for the first upcoming Formula 1 race in the Kingdom.

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Daniel Yi, Edited by Justin Tan

Officially released pictures of the Jeddah Street Circuit – F1.com

The track will be mainly centered around the coastal district of Jeddah, giving a Monaco-esque vibe to it, minus the history. It will stretch for a total of roughly 5 kilometres and will feature a whopping 27 turns which makes it the track with the most corners on the calendar, surpassing Singapore’s 23 corners. This will provide some exciting overtaking opportunities for the drivers and the fans alike. This circuit has been touted as the fastest street track in Formula 1 so far.

Rendered view of the new Jeddah Street Circuit – F1.com

Jeddah features very little straights and no back straight so to speak. The track’s first three corners feature a chicane reminiscent of Monza’s Variante del Rettifilo, except that it is a left-to-right chicane. The first sector seems fairly low-speed, with turns 4-10 having a couple of chicanes somewhat resembling a combination of Monaco’s swimming pool section and Marina Bay’s turns 16-18. Turns 11-12 are high speed and fairly straight, leading to a hairpin of sorts at turn 13, where we expect to see some overtaking. Turns 14-24 run along the coastside area and are a combination of high-speed esses with a slight resemblance to Suzuka and Maggots and Becketts complexes. This successive squiggle of corners leads to turns 25 and 26, a long flowing left-hander taken at full throttle before finally reaching the hairpin of turn 27 with a heavy braking zone. This is another section to provide good overtaking opportunities. The exit of turn 27 leads us directly onto the main straight towards the finish line and thus completing a lap of Jeddah. 

Although plagued with controversy surrounding the addition of the Saudi GP to the F1 calendar and the circumstances behind it, it will remain to be seen whether this track will live up to its hype or not.

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W-series to conduct pre-season testing in Wales

The W-series will be conducting their pre-season testing at Anglesey circuit, Wales from the 17th to the 21st of May, 2021. It was initially planned to take place from 26-30th April at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain. The change in dates were influenced due to the curveballs presented by the ongoing pandemic.

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Justin Tan

W Series to support F1 at eight races in 2021 | Formula 1®
The W Series spec cars – F1.com

The series is a free to enter championship for female drivers that has now partnered with Formula 1 to close the gap between women and the pinnacle of motorsport. What makes this series unique is that mechanically, all the cars are of equal performance. It is truly the driver over the machinery.

Sabine Schmitz passes away at the age of 51

Sabine Schmitz, nicknamed the queen of the Nurburgring, passed away on the 16th of March, 2021 after her long battle with cancer. Condolences poured in from fans of motorsport all over the planet after the Nurburgring committee issued a statement about losing its most famous female racing driver.

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Justin Tan

Queen of the Nurburgring' Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51
The “Queen of Nurburgring” Sabine Schmitz – Motorsport Images

She made history at the track by being the first woman to win the 24-hour race in 1996, in addition to winning the VLN endurance championship title in 1998. She also drove the ‘Ring taxi’ and has completed 30,000 laps of the circuit.

She was known for her appearances on Top Gear, which prompted an outpour of tributes. The presenters of the show expressed their grief at the loss of her.  

We at DIVEBOMB are devastated by the news and offer our condolences to her family and friends. Sabine Schmitz will be greatly missed. Rest in peace.

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Hulkenberg “could land” Mercedes and Aston Martin reserve role

German driver, Nico Hulkenberg, will now see his hiatus from the Formula 1 scene cut short over speculations of him signing with reigning champs Mercedes and their customer team Aston Martin, on a reserve driver contract. The ex-Renault (now Alpine) man impressed the grid and the fans in 2020 when he came in as stand-ins on different occasions for Racing Point’s duo of Perez and Stroll.

Written By Hafiz Akbar and Sam Stewart, Edited By Tanishka Vashee

Discussions have now concluded to formalize his position, with Hulkenberg now ready to step in for both Hamilton or Bottas whenever the German manufacturer needs him to.

This decision did not come as a surprise because earlier this year we saw the two designated reserve drivers of Mercedes; Nyck De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne. Both of them are  preoccupied with their duties at Mercedes’ Formula E campaign, with multiple events clashing between FE and F1. Additionally, the Santiago double-header, allied to ongoing travel restrictions due to the coronavirus, might make it a bit difficult for the pair to get to the Canadian GP on June 13.

“We all know what he’s capable of,” he stated to Sky Germany “(he is) one of the top drivers who somehow didn’t get that last chance to drive for a top team. To have such a resource in the team is of course interesting. We are open to that, of course.”

Lando Norris wants to beat Daniel Ricciardo in 2021

Lando Norris wants to beat Daniel Ricciardo in 2021

Lando Norris has stated that he wants to beat Daniel Ricciardo and says that “his greater experience” will not be used as an excuse if he loses the teammate battle this year.

Written By DJ Byrne, Edited By Seow Hui Zhi

McLaren has what is thought to be one of the best lineups on this year’s grid by many pundits.

Norris says, “I don’t want to use his 11 years of experience as an excuse to say that’s why he might have beaten me” 

Although he has been beaten by his ex-teammate, Carlos Sainz, in 2019 and 2020, the young Brit is not looking like backing down from the fight.

“We’ll see. I think it will be a fierce battle between us. I’m excited for the teammate rivalry we will have, which will obviously be a good one, but he’s still a guy I can learn from”

“I’ve got targets I’m setting myself now, but nothing as a whole objective. I’m making sure I’m ready in certain areas but in saying which ones I want to improve. I think I’ll wait until the pre-season comes along.” 

Will Lando Norris beat Daniel Ricciardo in 2021 or will Daniel Ricciardo continue his streak of beating his teammate, regardless of the change in teams? All remains to be seen.

Portimao to host aN f1 grand prix in 2021

Portimão has been confirmed to be hosting the Portuguese Grand Prix as the 3rd race of the 2021 F1 season on the 30 April – 2 May. This will be the second time the Algarve circuit will be used in a Formula One season, after it returned in 2020 to fill race slots taken up by the COVID-19 pandemic. This race came as the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996 at Estoril, a race won by Jaques Villeneuve. The 2020 race saw Carlos Sainz take an early lead and Kimi Raikkonen make up a huge number of positions in what was a highly exciting start to a Grand Prix. The race has been rumoured to replace a TBC slot since earlier in the year. “It is the intention of Formula 1 to fill the “TBC” position with a race at Portimão in Portugal on the dates already held in the calendar,” an F1 statement said on the matter. “The final agreement is still subject to contract with the promoter.” Now this contract has been signed and Portugal will return to host the 2021 installment of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Written by Sam Stewart, Edited by Daniel Yi

Read about how Portimao was “set to host an F1 GP here and about how the Portimao Circuit will be hosting a WEC opener here.

Aston Martin launch livery for their 2021 Challenger

Aston Martin has finally unveiled their 2021 challenger.

Written By DJ Byrne and Aiden Hover , Edited By Ishaan More and Justin Tan 

It has been one of the most anticipated and hyped livery launches in recent history with the amount of fan-fare around the project becoming surreal. This season will mark the start of Aston Martin’s first F1 campaign in sixty years as they return to Formula 1 as a constructor, having taken over the Silverstone-based Racing Point F1 team. The new British racing green livery looks amazing with the pink BWT accents partnered with the contrasting white sponsors. The team has recently also purchased many upgrades to their facilities that are to be finished during this season in preparation for 2022.

The return of Aston Martin this year is a big step towards convincing more manufacturers and works teams to join Formula 1. This is a goal of which the FIA and Formula 1 have been pushing towards for some time now.

In 2020, Lawrence Stroll led a consortium of investors to buy a majority stake (16.7%) in Aston Martin (Sports/Luxury Car manufacturer based in the UK). This has allowed him to bring the manufacturer into Formula 1 through a takeover of Racing Point, another entity that Stroll’s consortium also has invested in greatly. 

Along with bringing Aston Martin back into Formula 1, Stroll has brought in four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel into the team to partner his son, Lance Stroll. Sebastian has shown that he has a lot of hope in the project and is hoping for a new lease of life with Aston Martin. The pairing of Vettel and Stroll will be interesting, to say the least. Stroll is expected to learn a great deal alongside his much more experienced teammate and will hope that this reflects onto his on-track performances. Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, will use his fresh start at the Silverstone-based team to prove to the world that he never lost the incredible spark that we all saw in him during his four world championships at Redbull. Lawrence Stroll has also secured the team several well-known sponsors, including their new title sponsor, Cognizant, having reduced BWT to a secondary position in the team shown by the subtle pink accents on the front wing and side pods . 

Last year’s Racing Point proved to be incredibly quick on track (regardless of their controversial development methods) and with mostly stagnant regulation changes moving into 2021, Aston Martin will be expected to continue their promising upwards trend towards the front. However, we must wait and see to find out if they will succeed with their ambitious goals.

Aston Martin Livery Leaked

The Aston Martin livery was one of the most highly anticipated livery launches of the 2020-2021 off season. However, it has been leaked 2 hours early prior to the 3pm launch time. With an unknown source going into the code of the website and finding a render of the assumed 2021 livery. The leaked livery is British Racing green with white details and sponsors, showing off a key feature of the British Aston Martin heritage. There are no obvious hints to the BWT sponsor, meaning that there could still be more of the car to see which is yet to be leaked. 

The launch is still scheduled to go ahead at 3pm on Wednesday the 3rd of March.

Written By Sam Stewart, Edited By Esmée Koppius

Alpine Reveal Their First F1 Contender

Alpine, mere hours after Mercedes-AMG, have become the latest team to have revealed their newest (or first, in the case of Alpine) contender in the F1 scene. The French manufacturer has partnered with Renault E-Tech to provide their powertrain, as the team finishes the transition from Renault to Alpine. The new car, dubbed the Alpine A521, a direct descendant of the Renault R.S.20, will be Alpine’s (formerly known as Renault F1 Team) first take on Formula 1 racing. 

Written By Hafiz Akbar and Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Aiden Hover, Ishaan More

The team will be looking to make progress from 2020, where they finished 5th in the championship with podium finishes from both Esteban Ocon (1) and Daniel Ricciardo (2), who is now driving for McLaren after his contract with Renault ran out. Ricciardo has been replaced by veteran and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who is coming back from his brief hiatus from Formula 1. With a combination of youth in Ocon and experience in Alonso, Alpine is poised to be a potential team to watch.

Due to the lack of regulation change, the A521 will have little to no major changes, except for some changes to the floor due to a regulation change that requires it to be simplified to reduce downforce. In the engine department, they will continue using the Renault E-Tech powertrain that was used for the previous season. The livery features Alpine’s blue with the French tricolour on the nose, and the Alpine logo plastered on the side. The French colours make their presence very prominent and help make the livery one of the best we have seen so far.  The new driver pairing of Alonso and Ocon will undoubtedly be exciting to see and may often cause some tense moments. However, with a car that is a direct descendant of last year’s, it will remain to be seen whether the team can keep competing at the front of the midfield pack.

Update:

It has just been confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will be the new reserve driver for Alpine in 2021!

Mercedes Unveils the W12

Mercedes is the latest team to release their season contender for 2021. The constructors’ champion will be looking to retain their long held lead over the pack after winning the last seven championships in the last seven years.

Written By Tom Macpherson and Hafiz Akbar, Edited By Esmée Koppius

This will be the last season that Valtteri Bottas will stand side-to-side with 7-times world champion, Lewis Hamilton. Both Bottas and Hamilton’s contract will be over by the end of this season. Rumours have swirled that George Russell will be replacing the finnish driver but with a contract yet to be confirmed, we will have to wait until the end of the season to find out. As for the legendary Briton, when his contract runs out, it will remain to be seen whether his one-year extension will be triggered or will he be replaced by someone else within the current grid or outside of it.

For the car itself, because of the minimum amount of regulation change, as stated in the previous article regarding the W12, it will be using parts that are inherited from its predecessor, the W11, with exceptions in the floor department, which was changed to reduce downforce. This has reportedly caused quite the commotion within the team’s headquarters in Brackley.

In the engine department, the German manufacturer will continue using their signature race-winning M-series engine, specifically the F1 M12 EQ Power+, produced by AMG in Brixworth. The livery, which has been teased in the Mercedes-AMG socials, still sports the black which was adopted to support the Black Lives Matter movement. There is also a little more red than its predecessor with the hints of red appearing at the t-cam, as well as the driver’s number. 

However, the biggest change to the new Mercedes car is the AMG Stickers appearing towards the back of the car. A gradient including black, grey and white is used as the background for the AMG logos which overlay the colours. The AMG logo is also in a few different locations which are not as noticeable, with one above the turquoise stripe. A slight bit more of the Mercedes blue is also present with lines becoming thicker. A sponsor has been lost on the rear wing with ‘Epson’ being the lone sponsor on the rear wing holders. 

Read more about the Alpine F1 team car launch here, and the possibility of Ocon and Russell driving for the Silver Arrows in 2022 here.

WRC Arctic Rally Finland 2021 Recap

WRC started its first journey north of the Arctic Circle on Friday morning with the pre-event shakedown. Now that the drivers have had a feeling for the road, they came back later to attack the first stages in the dark.

Written By DJ Byrne, Edited By Daniel Yi

Stage One

Ott Tanäk set blisteringly quick times through the snow, taking a commanding lead over championship contenders, Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Seb Ogier due to issues for the trio. Rovanperä suffered a 10 second deficit after getting stuck in a snow drift while Ogier and Evans struggled due to the stage evolving and getting quicker. 

Stage Two 

In stage two, it was a similar story as Tanäk continued establishing a commanding lead over second-placed teammate Craig Breen who pulled off a surprisingly quick stage. At the end of the first day, championship leader Seb Ogier was not even in the top 5, lingering down in ninth place while teammates Rovanperä and Evans were up in P3 and P5 respectively. 

Stage Three

Stage Three arrived, but this time the sun was up. This was a hectic stage as racers started making mistakes, but Ott Tanäk continued a flawless run, pulling out an even larger gap from his teammate in second place, Craig Breen. 

Stage Four

In Stage Four they got out of the forest and could push even faster. Oliver Solberg impressed many, living up to his family name as the Swede pulled off a good performance here to move up to a very respectable seventh overall.

Stage Five

In Stage Five, with the sun setting again, concentration needed to be at the maximum. Unfortunately, Seb Ogier buried it in the snow with two corners to go. Although Ogier did finish the stage, his car suffered considerable damage and lost quite a lot of time. Ott Tanäk capitalized on this and continued to have a quiet but solid rally, extending his gap to 25 seconds as drivers behind slipped up. The most notable being Craig Breen, who fell behind fellow teammate Thierry Neuville and rival Rovanperä.

Stage Six 

As Stage Six started, Neuville set some very fast sector times. Towards the closing stages, Teemu Suninen in the M-Sport gained time on the cars ahead, moving up into eighth place.

Stage Seven

It was very much the same story in SS7 as Rovanperä closed the gap to overtake Neuville and closed the gap to Tanäk by another second. Despite all this, Ott Tanäk was not fazed, as he still had a 24 second lead. 

Stage Eight

Stage 8 was the calmest of the stages. The gap between Tanäk and Rovanperä remained the same and the only notable gap change was Elfyn Evans gaining on Craig Breen in fourth position.

Stage Nine

As stage 9 started, Tanäk’s lead was nowhere under threat, with an impressive 23 second gap to second-placed Rovanperä. Meanwhile, Rovanperä and Neuville battled it out for second place while Breen and Evans fought for fourth place.

Power Stage (Stage 10/10)

Stage 10 was the final stage of the Arctic rally and the final shootout. The end of the stage caused multiple incidents in the snow drifts.  Pierre-Louis Lombet found out the hard way as he got stuck in the snow banks at the final corner. 

The Top 5 of the power stage

•Rovanperä 

Breen

Neuville

Tanäk 

Ogier

Top 5 Overall

•Tanäk 

• Rovanperä 

• Neuville 

• Breen

• Evans

Hannu Mikkola (the first Flying Finn) – an obituary

Hannu Mikkola, a Rally legend through and through, has passed away at the age of 78. A one-time rally champion in 1983 along with 18 event wins, he inspired and earned the respect of many fans and colleagues alike. He leaves behind a lasting legacy and will be greatly missed by all.

Written By Ian Bruce and Aiden Hover, Edited By Daniel Yi

Hannu was renowned for his ability to achieve outstanding feats in unlikely cars, such as winning the 1975 Rallye du Maroc in his Peugeot 504 with Jean Todt. However, it was with Ford that he began to make his mark on the WRC (World Rally Championship) stage, helping pilot the team to the 1979 manufacturer’s title alongside co-driver Arne Hertz. He unfortunately missed out on the driver’s crown by a measly one point.

After switching to Audi, he immediately proved his worth by achieving two WRC event wins in 1981 and 1982. He finally achieved his dream in 1983 when he piloted the incredible Audi Quattro to the world drivers title with four victories, despite suffering four DNF’s throughout that season.

Over the course of his illustrious rallying career, Hannu made 123 WRC starts, achieved 18 event victories, and stood on the podium 44 times with his last podium coming in the Acropolis rally, directly after his last win in the Safari Rally in 1987. He came full circle with his final outing in 1993 where he drove a Toyota Celica to 7th at the 1000 lakes rally in Finland, the very place he started his successful career all those many years ago.

We at Divebomb send our sincerest condolences to Hannu Mikkola’s family and friends as the storied tale of the first Flying Finn comes to an end.

Mortara Involved in huge crash in Diriyah

Swiss Formula E driver, Edoardo Mortara, was involved in a massive shunt during the Diriyah E-Prix third free practice session. Mortara suffered a failure following a practice start at the end of the session which saw him seemingly make no attempt to navigate the first corner. His car seemed to accelerate uncontrollably before heavily hitting the barriers at the end of the escape road. 

Written By Hafiz Akbar, Edited By Aiden Hover

ROKIT Venturi Racing has confirmed that Mortara was extracted from the car conscious and has been admitted to the nearest hospital. He has reportedly sustained minor injuries and his team will release more info as the doctor’s assessment is finalised.

With Mortara being unable to compete in qualifying, the Swiss national will be starting way down the pack in 21st, with his teammate Norman Nato in 23rd. This is due to Race Control excluding all cars using the Mercedes-Benz EQ powertrain after Mortara’s shunt was initially thought to be a powertrain failure. With that, both Mercedes drivers, Nyck De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne have been unable to compete in qualifying and thus will start in 20th and 22nd respectively. This measure has been put in place as a precaution to allow more time to ensure the failure does not happen to the other Mercedes-powered cars.

We at DIVEBOMB wish Edoardo Mortara a speedy recovery.

SLICK NYCK WINS DIRIYAH E-PRIX GRAND SLAM

The first race of the 2021 Formula E World Championship started under the dark skies of Diriyah. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the fastest electric racing street circuit. After a magnificent qualifying, Nyck De Vries of Mercedes EQ took pole, qualifying six hundredths of a second faster than TAG Heuer Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein, with Rene Rast of Audi in third. Title holders DS Techeetah sat way down the pack with last season’s champion Antonio Felix da Costa starting 18th on the grid with two-time champion Jean Eric Vergne behind da Costa in 19th. Tom Blomqvist, Nico Muller, and Robin Frijns rounded up the pack, starting 22nd, 23rd (Pit start), and 24th respectively.

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Daniel Yi

De Vries started the race very well, pulling away from Wehrlein after the German made a mistake coming into turn 1. Sergio Sette Camara was slapped with a drive-through penalty for not obeying Race Control commands just two minutes into the race. Nick Cassidy and Frijns were the earliest of the pack to activate attack mode. Tom Blomqvist was then awarded a drive-thru penalty after he exceeded regen limits. René Rast then took the opportunity to overtake Wehrlein and gain second place after the German went slightly off the racing line to activate his attack mode. Kiwi driver Mitch Evans then gained a position, thanks to Edoardo Mortara going off his racing line to activate his attack mode.

The first crash of the season involved Alex Lynn of Mahindra Racing and Sam Bird of Jaguar with Lynn having a DNF for this season opener. Sam Bird dropped down the ladder due to car damage and had to pit for a new nose. Andre Lotterer used this chance to pit under the safety car while Bird’s car had too much damage to continue racing, leading to his retirement and finishing with a DNF. 

After the safety car went in and racing resumed, Max Guenther misjudged his trajectory coming into the bobsled corners and hit the wall, terminally damaging his rear left wheel and grounding his race to a halt. This brought the safety car out again late in the race. Mortara and Rast were then investigated for overtaking under safety car conditions.

Most of the grid triggered their second attack mode in the final four minutes just as the safety car came in. Three drivers earned Fanboost. Stoffel Vandoorne triggered his Fanboost the earliest, followed seconds after by Edoardo Mortara. Lucas Di Grassi was the last to activate his Fanboost.

After 45 minutes (+1 lap) of racing, Slick Nyck De Vries won the Diriyah E-Prix in dominant fashion, leading every single lap from lights out. Edoardo Mortara had an impressive drive and came in second with Mitch Evans completing the podium. The highlight of the race was Edoardo Mortara’s incredible double overtake on Evans and Wehrlein, cutting through the pair like a hot knife through butter. 

It’s now too early to call who’s winning the 2021 Formula E championship since half the grid have been race winners and every race is unpredictable. However, this win may set De Vries to have a good run of results this season.

Formula E Round 1 & 2 Preview – Diriyah E-Prix

Season 7 of the premier electric racing series, Formula E, kicks off in Saudi Arabia this weekend with back-to-back night races. 

Written By Lewis Rundle, Edited By Ryan Lack

Historic Night Event

For the first time in its history, Formula E will be running night races, combining all the usual risks of a street circuit with the additional perils of duelling in the dark. 

Night racing is typically very power-intensive, but Formula E has managed to overcome this by using the latest low-power LED technologies available and powering the floodlights with low-carbon hydrogenated vegetable oil. 

Circuit Guide

The Diriyah circuit is never navigated easily. With a length of 2.495km (1.364miles) and 21 corners, the track offers plenty of challenges for the drivers. Key to this year’s race is the resurfacing and reprofiling that has occurred since the last Diriyah E-Prix. Turns 9 and 10, as well as Turns 12, 13 and 14, have all been adjusted for this year’s race. 

Track evolution is significant around Diriyah as layers of dust tend to accumulate around the circuit. Combine the reduced grip with the cooler temperatures of a night race, whilst also factoring in the high speed nature of the circuit, and you get an immensely challenging race with incredibly fine margins for error.

Photo Credit:

fiaformulae.com

Ones-To-Watch

There is rarely a predictable Formula E race so I’d recommend keeping your eyes on all the drivers. However, certain drivers have performed well in the past at this circuit, and, whilst the 2021 pecking order is unknown, there are a number of teams which are expected to be at the sharp end this weekend. 

Previous winners of the Diriyah E-Prix include Season 6 champion Antonio Felix da Costa, Sam Bird and Alexander Sims. Da Costa has stayed with Season 6 Team Champions DS Techeetah into Season 7, however both Bird and Sims start the campaign with new teams – Jaguar Racing and Mahindra respectively. Their success this weekend depends on how quickly they are able to integrate themselves into those different environments. Both are incredibly talented so don’t rule them out of the win this time around.

Mercedes have carried a lot of momentum into Season 7, having ended their first year in Formula E with a 1-2 on home soil in Berlin. A strong debut in Diriyah last season saw both Mercedes’ in Super Pole, with Vandoorne converting his starting position into a podium, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mercedes challenged for the win this time around.

DS Techeetah have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Formula E after dominating last season. With two champions, Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa, behind the wheel, it’s a safe bet that they will once again be fighting for the top step this season.

Don’t rule out Porsche’s newest signing of Pascal Wehrlein, who partners up with series veteran Andre Lotterer, or Season 6 runners up Nissan E.Dams, with the established lineup of Oliver Rowland and Sébastien Buemi.  

It’ll also be interesting to see how the three rookies shape up in their first Formula E outings. Super GT and Super Formula champion Nick Cassidy will be racing for Envision Virgin this weekend, with Norman Nato making his debut appearance for ROKiT Venturi, and Jake Dennis starting at BMW i Andretti. All three are exciting prospects for the upcoming season.

Schedule and Where to Watch

This is not a complete list of countries and watching options. A full list can be found on the Formula E website.

UK: The qualifying broadcast starts at 12:45 GMT and the race broadcast starts at 16:30 GMT. The event is watchable via the BBC.

Italy: Qualifying and the race are on Sky Sports Uno at 13:45 CET and 17:30 CET respectively.

USA: The race is available on CBS Sports Network at 11:30 EST

All practice sessions are streamed to the Formula E YouTube channel, and highlights are posted shortly after the end of the race.

Haas Release Car Launch Date

Haas are the final team to announce the launch date of their 2021 challenger, the VF-21 on the Thursday 4th of March at approximately 8am GMT

Written by Lucy Bennett, Edited By Issa Chaker

Haas have been unable to fit in the Ferrari engine due to Covid restrictions in the UK, with the car being built there. Regardless, we will finally see their livery.

They had an uncompetitive season last year with a combined 3 points in total, 1 from Kevin Magnussen and 2 from Romain Grosjean as they struggled due to Ferrari’s engine’s bad form in 2020.

We can’t expect them to improve much as they have an all rookie lineup. Mick Schumacher, reigning Formula 2 Champion, will be hoping to show his potential alongside Russian Nikita Mazepin, who finished fifth in that year’s Formula 2 season.

And with that and a potentially uncompetitive car. Could we see Haas fall down to the bottom of the constructors championship? 

2019 Ferrari cheating scandal punishment revealed

Ferrari, the longest tenured team in Formula One, experienced one of their worst seasons in 2020. This surprised many fans as the 2019 season was quite successful with the Italian team finishing second in the Constructors Championship. However, after the culmination of the 2019 season, it was revealed that Ferrari had violated technical regulations involving fuel flow and oil burning using a clever system that manipulated the sensors monitoring these rates. The FIA soon investigated the scenario further and culminated in a mysterious agreement with the team. Parts of this mysterious agreement are now being revealed, some of which might explain Ferrari’s poor performance in 2020. 

Written By Aryan Desai, Edited By Daniel Yi

Current FIA steward and former Formula One driver Mika Salo, disclosed some of the punishments Ferrari were given in an interview while discussing the 2021 Alfa Romeo Formula One car. Alfa Romeo, using the Ferrari engine, also suffered in 2020 and Salo was asked how the outlook for the team looked as they approach the 2021 season. 

Salo reportedly said, “They suffered from Ferrari’s cheat last year because they had Ferrari engines and were forced to use less fuel, so I think so Alfa Romeo may be in a good position if they can perform at their best in the race this season,”. Based on this statement, fans can assume that Ferrai’s poor performance in 2020 was not necessarily due to a developmental concern, but rather a consequence the Italian team had to face because of their cheating scandal in 2019. Being forced to use less fuel could explain Ferrari’s worsened race pace as they most likely had to rely on “Lean” fuel settings for longer durations during a given race.

A few months ago, reports emerged that Ferrari would be given special provisions to use new engines in order to amplify their performance for the 2021 season. Salo also responded to this development saying, “I don’t know if it’s a new engine but they’re allowed to use it to its full power. They were not allowed last year,”. During the 2019 season, Ferrari demonstrated their straight line speed dominance on the track which disappeared in 2020. The FIA placing restrictions on how much power Ferrari could draw from their engine could explain how the 2020 car was slower than the 2019 car. 

The complete details of this agreement still have not been revealed. It remains unclear if there exists another side of this agreement that might have benefitted Ferrari or saved them from a more severe punishment. But for now, the Tifosi can hope to see Ferrari excelling in 2021 and returning to the strength of the “Prancing Horse”. 

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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Max Verstappen takes pole position at the Circuit of Americas

Written by Byron Hale, Edited by Morgan Holiday

Qualifying has concluded in Austin! Verstappen took yet another well fought pole position ahead of the Mercedes duo who appear to have a long debrief ahead as they look to regain the performance which has seemingly disappeared over the course of the weekend.

There were penalties galore in Austin as many drivers will lose positions going into race day with Russell, Alonso, and Vettel all taking entirely new engines which will see them fall to the back of the grid. Bottas will also take a sixth internal combustion engine leaving him with a five place grid penalty. One must wonder where Mercedes are storing all these engines!

They may have penalties but they all still set times, as whoever was ahead at the end of qualifying would start in 18th, as three drivers battled for the bottom few positions despite their engine woes.

Vettel would show the initial advantage as he slotted in P10 come the end of Q1 with Russell 12th and Alonso 14th; Q2 painted a similar picture as all three would be eliminated with Vettel 12th, Alonso 14th, and Russell 15th after he failed to set a lap time due to his lap times being deleted for track limits at turn 9, which has seen many drivers lose lap times.

Mclaren had shown strong pace over the course of the entire weekend as they comfortably got through Q1 and Q2 with little issue. Both cars got through on the medium compound tyre which puts them in an ideal position ahead of the 56 laps of the race tomorrow. In Q3 Mclaren would fall to 7th and 8th behind the Ferraris and Ahead of the Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri.

Alfa Romeo showed good pace at the start of the weekend, although this pace did seem to dissipate as the weekend progressed. This led to Kimi Raikonnen being eliminated in Q1 as he failed to make it through yet again. With his last Q2 appearance being Hungary, it remains to be seen as to what the Iceman can do in his final six F1 races as he retires at the end of the season.

Giovanazzi did make it through to the second part of qualifying as he got through in 15th place, and he out-qualified his more experienced teammate for the 11th time in 2021. He did not make it through to Q2 however, as he qualified 13th ahead of Alonso and Russell, who failed to set a valid time in the session.

Mercedes and Red Bull appeared to be the outright fastest cars as they duked it out for the top positions, with Red Bull appearing to have the initial pace as the sessions got underway. Mercedes looked weaker as they wound up P8 and P9 in Q1, which was a sub-par performance given Mercedes’ high standards.

As Q2 began, the mediums were strapped on for Both Red Bulls and Mercedes cars as they seemed the optimum strategy, and they sought a strategic advantage for the race. Verstappen set the initial pace and looked strong as he roped the chart by a third of a second ahead of championship rival Lewis Hamilton, who qualified easily into the next session. Bottas and Perez appeared to struggle on the Mediums, as the flying Finn would finish 5th in Q2 with the Mexican only 7th come the end of the session as the track continued to improve, allowing for other cars to go much faster.

With Q3 underway, it was a game of damage limitation for Bottas who looked to limit the penalty he picked up for his engine changes. Verstappen would look strong as he set the fastest time, but that would be short lived as Sergio Perez would shortly snatch provisional pole position from the Dutchman as he attempted to go to his home race as a first time pole sitter for Red Bull Racing. As the session  drew to a close, Verstappen would pull an astonishing lap out of the bag as he claimed pole position from Lewis Hamilton who was two tenths slower than the Red Bull of Max although still ahead of Segio Perez.

Bottas would perform some good damage limitation as he took 4th place, which will see him drop to 9th place for tomorrow’s grid. A strong showing from both Mercedes and Red Bull has seen the race set up for another dynamic duel amongst our championship protagonists as they seek to gain the edge as the season begins to draw to a close.

The Grand Prix starts at 8PM BST on Sunday and you will not want to miss this as Hamilton and Verstappen battle once again for the championship edge. We will see you on race day!

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History of the US Grand Prix

Written by Ekaterina Nizovtseva, edited by Tanishka Vashee

The United States of America could claim to host more Grand Prix than any other country. World Championship races could be held on at least eight tracks. 

The first US Grand Prix was held in 1959 at the Sebring track, located on the airfield in Florida. A track known for its hummocky surface and sports car racing. Bruce McLaren celebrated the victory there, however the championship title was won by his teammate Jack Brabham. The following year, the competition moved across the country – to Riverside on a dusty road track in California. That year Moss became the winner and no more competitions were held there.

Finally, in 1961, the US Grand Prix found its real home. Watkins Glen – an excellent road track in New York State – had hosted the US Grand Prix until 1980. The key place of the track was a difficult s-shaped turn near the start line. It had some major changes prepared for the 1971 race. The track followed the edge of the hillside to two uphill right-hand turns, over an exciting blind crest into a right-hand turn, down and up into a left-hand turn rejoining the old track. Innes Ireland became the first winner of the Watkins Glen stage, and then for the next six years, Clark and Hill shared the victories with each other.

In 1971, the track was expanded and then Francois Cevert celebrated his only triumph here. But this place became fatal for him – two years later he died in the qualifying race. And the next season, the life of the Austrian Helmut Kenning was cut short there.

Despite the tragedies, the races continued, but in 1980, with the heyday of the era of turbocharged engines and the appearance of cars showing higher speeds, it became clear that the track at Watkins Glen had no longer met new requirements. And after that year, the track was never used again.

In 1976, British promoter Chris Pook established the US Grand Prix, gaining a distribution advantage that allowed the states to have two competitions. One race was held in California at the track in Long Beach. The track ran between the houses and featured a long curved straight line following a tight hairpin. Clay Regazzoni was the winner on the day of its grand opening. Races in Long Beach became a classic, but after 1983 Pook switched to Indycar.

Other promoters decided that they would be able to successfully do similar work and in 1981 the races at Watkins Glen were replaced by competitions in Las Vegas held literally in the parking of the Caesar Palace hotel. But no one liked the venue of the competition, so the races were held only 2 years there. In 1982, street racing was held in Detroit, where Ayrton Senna took three wins.

Detroit Grand Prix explores return to downtown street course

In 1984, Dallas was chosen as the venue for the Grand Prix, but a real natural disaster happened: the track surface was almost destroyed by the terrible heat. Some may even say that Texas gave F1 the “wildest race ever” with its high temperatures.

The US GP was held in Phoenix from 1989-1991, but then disappeared from the calendar.

In 2000, the formula returned to the USA, it was held in Indianapolis. After 2007, due to a conflict between the management of Formula 1 and the owner of the track in Indianapolis, Tony George, the US Grand Prix in Indianapolis was no longer held. In 2011, the FIA announced the holding of the US Grand Prix in Austin.

Ten years later Austin is still in charge of holding the US Grand Prix, and we will see more of it on Sunday, October 24th.

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Logan Sargeant joins Williams Academy

Written by Lucy Bennett, edited by Morgan Holiday

Ahead of Free Practice for today Williams have confirmed that Logan Sargeant has joined their academy. 

The American driver joins a group of Williams junior members that include current W-Series champion Jamie Chadwick, Jack Aitken and current DAMS Formula 2 driver Roy Nissany. 

Logan Sargeant competed in the 2021 FIA Formula 3 season for Charouz, taking one win and two other finishes on the podium, earning him a solid 7th place in the standings.

Now he’s joined the Williams Academy he will be hungry to improve his form and work his way up the ranks.

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An interview with British F4 title contender Matias Zagazeta

Interviewed by Tom Evans, Edited by Harshi Vashee 

First of all, who are you and in what series do you race?

I am Matias Zagazeta, I come from Peru and I race in the British F4 Championship.

When did you start to take an interest in Motorsport, and who were your favourite drivers?

I have been interested in Motorsport or cars in general since I can remember, watching it on the TV. I remember watching Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, they were my favourite drivers.

Why did you choose your driver number?

I chose number 8 as my number mainly because I was 8 years old when I started racing and my birthday is the 8th of September. It was also the number of my favourite all time driver, Ayrton Senna. 

You started karting in 2011, being your first season in the sport were there any major obstacles for you to overcome?

My first Karting season in 2011 was full of learning as I started racing in Peru with a small grid of cars. Then, I started to race internationally first around South America then, the United States and finally coming to Europe in 2017.

When you started competing in the European IAME karting championship, what was the hardest, but most rewarding thing about moving to the UK?

Coming to live in the UK by myself in 2020 was very hard because I was away from my family, friends and home and here it is a very different culture so it took me some time to get used to it and adapt. This however helped me be a lot more responsible and take care of myself.

You took the step up to British F4 in 2020. Was adapting to single seater cars difficult or easier than you expected? 

For me personally, I found it very very hard to get used to single seaters. Coming from karting, I had a difficult first season where I just couldn’t adapt to the car and didn’t have confidence in it which was the biggest problem. 

But also in 2020 you competed in some major Esports competitions. Do you think Esports is a good alternative to actual racing for great drivers on a lower budget?

Yes, before the season, British F4 organized some IRACING races and I joined just to stay sharp and have some fun during the difficult times. I didn’t have the best simulator compared to the other drivers but I had good fun! I think Esports has proven to find a lot of talented people and I think it’s also a good alternative for drivers. 

In 2021, you’ve had a brilliant British F4 season. With 4 wins so far, you’ve had a brilliant fight for the championship with Matthew Rees. With one round to go, do you think you can claim the title? 

This season has been fantastic, still learning a lot but the most important thing was that we managed to find the confidence with the car. It’s going to be an interesting last round as there’s 4 drivers still in contention so we will turn up and do our best, like we have been doing all season and this is no different. Hopefully by the end of the weekend when we look at the results, we are champions but, we will stay focused and do what we have to do to perform at our best. 

And finally what are your hopes/ambitions for the future? 

In the short term hopefully to be the British F4 champion after this weekend and in the long term, to become a Formula 1 world champion. Many drivers say they want to get to Formula 1, but why not push it a bit more?

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FIM RAISES AGE LIMIT FOR JUNIOR CATEGORIES

Written by Andrew Lwanga Edited by Harshi Vashee

Following a series of fatalities the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) which oversees Motorcycle racing has decided to raise the minimum age limit in a number of junior racing series.

Over the past 12 months, there have been three deaths in junior racing categories, all in series sanctioned by the FIM. In response a task force within Dorna Sports (the commercial rights holder for World Superbikes and MotoGP) was formed.

After much discourse between Dorna and the FIM it was announced on Friday that the minimum age limit for all junior championships will be raised. In addition to this, the grid sizes, which can at times field as many as 40 motorbikes, will also be significantly reduced. These changes will start to take shape minimally in 2022 and more substantially in 2023.

Starting from the next racing season, all Talent Cup Series will have a lower age limit of 13 with a maximum grid size of 30 riders. Red Bull Rookies Cup will raise its lower age limit from 13 to 14.

Meanwhile, the Moto 3 Championship, will raise its minimum age requirement by a year from 14 to 15 and cap it’s grid size at 32 bikes. The same grid size restrictions will be employed by the World Supersport 300, a support series of the World Superbike series. The minimum age will also be set at 16.

In 2023 age limits will be increased again and with the addition of an entry age of 14 for all Grand Prix type circuits including those graded B and C by the FIM.

MotoGP Championships including Moto 3 and Moto 2 will also have a new lower limit with the required age of entry being 18.

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The craziest race ever: Indianapolis 2005

Written by Thomas Bergamo, Edited by Morgan Holiday

The 2005 year showed us many battles: Schumacher versus Alonso, Ferrari versus Renault, and of course, Michelin versus Bridgestone. Indeed, 2005 was called “the tyre war year”. Ferrari and Bridgestone, until 2005, dominated undisputed. But, with the 2005 regulation changes, Renault could get close to the Italian team. 

One of these changes was that the drivers couldn’t enter the pit lane to change their tyres. Bridgestone was a very fast tyre, but it didn’t last very long. In fact, Michael Schumacher won a race (Magny-Cours 2004) making four pit stops. Instead Michelin had a tyre that was a little bit slower than the Bridgestone one, but its duration was longer than its rival by far.

Now you may ask, why have you ever talked about tyre compounds? When Formula 1 arrived at Indianapolis all the paddock was thinking about a normal weekend, but during FP1 Riccardo Zonta, Toyota test driver, flattened his tyre on turn 7. Then, during FP2, Ralf Schumacher also flattened his tyre, but this time on turn 13, the last turn. Fortunately, the German driver could get out of the car without any consequence, but the doctors denied him from competing in the race. Another alarm bell was that Toyota engineers found a relevant tyre pressure drop. 

So Michelin gathered all the team principals from the teams who mounted their tyres for analyzing the datas. They found nothing “dangerous for drivers’ safety”. On Saturday, only two drivers who had mounted Michelin tyres, setted valid times. By the way, qualifyings gets on. Trulli set the pole position, the first one for Toyota. On Saturday evening arrived “the crack”: a Michelin statement which said “Following analysis of the Ralf Schumacher’s incident, we do not ensure our pneumatic energy.”

So the action moved from the track to inside the paddock. That evening, and the following morning, was only a mix of confusion. Nobody knew what to do. Then, at ten o’clock something changed. All the teams agreed on building a chicane instead of doing the last turn. But Ferrari strongly opposed it and they didn’t do anything. 

During the formation lap Coulthard said to the team “Guys, I want to race”. This little glimmer of hope was immediately turned off by another team radio, but this time from Flavio Briatore to his driver, Fernando Alonso. He said “Fernando we need to retire the car”. All the cars which mounted Michelin tyres re-entered into the pits to retire their cars. Only the Ferraris, the Minardis and the Jordans stayed on the track.

The public in the grandstands were furious, and they showed it by throwing everything on the track, including a plastic bottle which hit Rubens Barrichello. Another episode was when Michael Schumacher exited from the pits and almost crashed into his teammate. By the way, the race was won by the German driver, followed by Rubens Barrichello and Thiago Monteiro, who completed that podium. The drivers of the Italian constructor didn’t celebrate that win, but the Jordan driver celebrated his first podium. Michelin was forced by the FIA to reimburse the tickets of all the fans. In 2006 the Japanese tyre manufacturer left Formula 1.

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Women Crush Wednesdays: Kate Dalton

Written by Tanishka Vashee, edited by Esmée Koppius

Kate Dalton is Aston Martin F1 team’s Head of Brand strategy. She has been a fan of motorsport since she was young but has experience in the world of luxury fashion marketing. Kate has had the experience of working with brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. 

One might think it’s unusual for someone who’s worked in luxury fashion to end up at a Formula one team, but her story is a testament to the age old saying that hard work does pay off. To add to the challenge, Kate took up the new role while the world battled the pandemic- unusual was the new usual. 

Kate used her strengths, is a keen observer and has made sure the team delivers what fans want. Brand strategy is the essence to commercial success of a team, she has found ways to ensure that despite the distance, there’s an emotional connection between fans and the team. 

She has secured partnerships with organisations like Racing Pride UK, emphasising on the importance of making the world of racing a more diverse and inclusive space. Kate has also always encouraged F1 fans to dream and work towards building a career in Formula One. 

In an interview with Females in Motorsport, she spoke about how as an F1 fan one has intuition that could be built into a marketing skill. One would know insight such as the routine, favourite teams of the other fans and what channels they use and consume, this intuition can be transformed into a skill.

Kate is a great role model to look up to, she shows young people that with hard work and good understanding of your skill set, you can certainly achieve what you dream of.

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Andretti’s Plan to Enter F1

Formula 1 is returning to America this weekend, and it is bringing with it rumours of a new team. Throughout the past couple of weeks there have been whispers of Andretti Autosport looking to join Formula 1 as soon as 2022. While normally this wouldn’t be possible, as adding a new team to the sport would certainly take several years to plan and execute, the American racing team has a unique opportunity to bring the Andretti name back to Formula 1 without creating a whole new team.

Written by Morgan Holiday, Edited by Janvi Unni

Currently, Andretti Autosport races in Indycar, Indy Lights, IMSA, Formula E, Extreme E, and Supercars. It has been no secret that the team has had an interest in joining the top step of the motorsport ladder for some time now, but they didn’t seem to be pursuing it seriously until recently. While creating a completely new team is a daunting and expensive venture, the other way to join Formula 1 is to buy an existing team, which is Andretti’s current plan.

Michael Andretti, son of former Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti and owner of Andretti Autosport, is currently in talks to become a majority owner of Sauber. The deal would be with Islero Investments, the company that owns Sauber. His plan is to buy 80% of the company, which would give him ownership of them, along with Sauber Motorsports, and effectively make him the new team owner of Alfa Romeo’s Formula 1 team. This would give the team a chance to enter Formula 1 while escaping any entry fees or having to build a team and car from scratch.

2022 would be an ideal time for Andretti to enter Formula 1, as the new regulations offer a big chance for midfield or backmarker teams to make large performance gains. While Alfa Romeo currently sits in 9th in the constructor’s standings and will likely finish there at the end of the season, the 2022 changes could see them climb up the grid, if they do everything correctly. Having an experienced racing team like Andretti to assist them through the regulation changes and add funding could increase their chances of a performance boost even more. 

In addition, Andretti being a team on the Formula 1 grid would be seen as a highly valuable asset for the sport, as there has been an increased effort in recent years to draw American viewers to the sport. A new American team, as well as possibly an American driver, is something Formula 1 has stated an interest in having, and is something Andretti would provide.

If Andretti succeeds in gaining control of Sauber, the American team could be seen on the Formula 1 grid as early as 2022. Valtteri Bottas has a contract with the (currently) Swiss team Alfa Romeo for 2022, but the second seat is still undecided. The main drivers in contention for that seat at the moment are current Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi, and Alpine junior drivers Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri. Should Andretti take over, any of these drivers would still be options for that seat. However, with the team’s presence, Indycar’s Colton Herta could also be amongst those names in the running for a seat. 

Herta has been driving in Indycar for four seasons, and currently drives with Andretti Autosport. He is already a six time winner in the series, but the opportunity for a Formula 1 seat is one very few would say no to. While Herta does not currently possess enough points to be eligible for a super licence, the FIA has been more lenient with the super licence rules in the past year, and should Herta be seriously in the running for a seat at Andretti’s new team, it’s highly likely exceptions could be made.

Reportedly, the deal has been done and is expected to be announced sometime this weekend.

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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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