Category Archives: Breaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren in cloud nine

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Morgan Holiday

The pinnacle of speed is back in the Temple of Speed. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has been home to some of the best races in Formula One history, with the latest one being Pierre Gasly’s shock win in 2020 with Scuderia Alpha Tauri.

As the race started, Daniel Ricciardo had a cracking start. He accelerated better from 0–200kmh than his former Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen, who lined up next to him and earned himself his first ever race lead in a McLaren. Coming into the second chicane, Lewis Hamilton was alongside Verstappen but so far so good.

Antonio Giovinazzi tried to overtake Carlos Sainz but was ultimately unable to get past and went into the run-off area trying to get past Charles Leclerc coming into the second chicane. Giovinazzi ended up getting hit by Sainz’s Ferrari upon reentry. This resulted in the VSC going out.

Pierre Gasly, the winner of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, had to come into the pit to retire after the VSC ended due to a mechanical failure. Meanwhile, his teammate Yuki Tsunoda didn’t have the chance to feature in this year’s Italian GP due to a hydraulics problem detected just before the race started. So it’s a no-points race for the Italian team, their first this season.

Meanwhile, in the iconic racing green Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel fell back after his teammate Lance Stroll went past. He faded away from the race and ended up outside of the points.

Vettel was also involved in a collision with Esteban Ocon coming into the second chicane, with Ocon being handed a penalty.

The first (and last) pit stop for Ricciardo was on lap 21, whilst Hamilton got past the Australian’s teammate, Lando Norris in the same lap. The young Brit ended up pitting two laps later and exiting ahead of Verstappen. Meanwhile, it wasn’t the best of stops for Verstappen and Hamilton. Both were involved in a slow stop, which is unusual to see from the Red Bull pit crew but is certainly not something uncommon for the Mercedes pit crew (wink wink Monaco).

Hamilton ended up exiting ahead of the young Dutch and tried to cover him off for the first chicane as Verstappen went for the overtake from the outside and got punished by the sausage kerb. This launched the back shaft of Verstappen’s Red Bull to Hamilton’s W12, and flung Verstappen’s car atop of his, promptly ending both of their races. The safety car was called out.

Norris took the best out of the situation and used the safety car period to overtake Charles Leclerc, who quickly fell back behind the wing of Sergio Perez. Valtteri Bottas, who started from 20th, quickly surged through the field and was in 4th by lap 34, overtaking both Ferraris in their home turf.

Perez was given a 5-second time penalty due to going off-track and gaining an advantage to overtake Leclerc. Meanwhile, on the Ferrari-engined car of Haas, Nikita Mazepin was also given a 5-second time penalty after causing a collision with his teammate, Mick Schumacher.

One of the highlights of the race was the battle between Perez and Bottas on lap 44, where Bottas almost managed to finish the move but ended up fluffing his lines and letting Perez through again.

There was also a battle for 3rd between Bottas, Leclerc, and Sainz on lap 45 but it lasted no longer than Mazepin’s debut race. It was pretty much a dead race from this point onwards with no significant moves being done. Oh, and I almost forgot that Mazepin retired on lap 44 due to a failure.

After an amazing 53 laps, Daniel Ricciardo wins his first race for McLaren (and his first podium for the team, too!), with his teammate, Lando Norris, coming in second to make a McLaren one-two for the first time since Canada in 2010 and giving McLaren their first win in 9 years. Sergio Perez finished the race in 3rd but due to the penalty, Valtteri Bottas is in the podium and not him. George Russell in the Williams also gained points in Monza for the first time in a long while.

Looking back to the standings, the Drivers’ Championship didn’t change much since both championship contenders crashed out. Ricciardo did climb up a place, overtaking Gasly in 8th. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes extended their lead over Red Bull by 18 points, while McLaren climbed up a ladder and is currently 13,5 points clear of Ferrari.

We’ll be back in two weeks as Formula One returns to Sochi for the VTB Russian Grand Prix. Until then, drink in the shoeey.

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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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Max Verstappen wins the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Harshi Vashee

Formula One once again returns to the Nederland, home to the Circuit Zandvoort, which hosted the championship up until the last one in 1985. With an excellent qualifying session from the title contenders, both Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton lined up in pole and second, respectively.  Fellow Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas followed suit in third position, with Pierre Gasly in fourth, equalling his best ever start.

Shortly after the race started, Sebastian Vettel went spinning. Although managing to stay off the unforgiving barriers of Zandvoort, the German veteran is relegated to the back lot of the positions.

A surprising decision by the Mercedes strategists kept Bottas out for longer, whilst the two title contenders came in for a fresh set of tyres.

Mercedes’ strategists attempted an undercut on Verstappen by pitting Hamilton early but it didn’t work out since the out lap was filled with traffic, both those waiting to be lapped or wanting to unlap themselves.

Lance Stroll and George Russell were involved in quite the battle till just before pitting, where Russell was slapped with a 5-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Being in a midfield car competing against frontrunners meant this was a quiet race for Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman stayed put on his 4th place spot throughout the race with no one to contest him and ended up finishing in 4th place.

Esteban Ocon, feeling that his pace was significantly faster than Fernando Alonso, tried complaining to the team that Alonso’s pace was “not enough.” But shortly, Alonso started pulling clear of Ocon. 

The Ferrari duo has shown their competitiveness, holding the 5th and 6th place spot till the last minute, where Alonso overtook Carlos Sainz. Charles Leclerc went on to finish 5th.

Lando Norris benefitted from the Stroll-Russell battle to pass both and enter the points, although he’d quickly lose the spot again during a battle with Sergio Perez, who started from the pit lane and surged up the field. The two banged tyres and flooring but managed to get out of it in the track (aka not crashing).

Speaking of crashing, we have two retirements from this week’s race, with Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda both retiring due to some technical failure.

In the end, it was Max Verstappen winning his first ever home GP after almost 36 years of hiatus from the calendar. He is the first ever winner of a Formula One race in Zandvoort in this hybrid era (since the last one is in 1985).

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was there amongst the crowd, congratulating race winner Max Verstappen on his hard-fought win.

As for the standings, Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton again and is clear by 3 points. Whereas the 3rd place spot was swapped between Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris, which is currently placed 3rd and 4th, respectively.

The Constructors’ Championship remains the same, with Mercedes extending their lead, now over 10 points, over their championship rival, Red Bull Honda.

Formula One will be back next week in what could be named one of the most sacred places in motorsport history, Monza.

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Max is on pole at home! – Dutch GP qualifying

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

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Esmée Koppius

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

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

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

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

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Alfa Romeo are considering Pouchaire for next year or the future

Alfa Romeo team principal Frédéric Vasseur has confirmed that Théo Pourchaire is in consideration for a seat at Alfa Romeo as early as 2022.

Written by Andrew Lwanga, edited by Tanishka Vashee

Vassuer’s comments were quoted earlier in the week and since then current Alfa Romeo driver and 2007 world champion has announced his retirement from Formula 1. This in turn confirms the availability of a seat at Alfa Romeo. 

Pourchaire who currently competes in Formula 2 and is a member of the Sauber Junior Programme. The Frenchman who was a runner up in the Formula 3 Championship in 2019 is the only one confirmed to be in consideration for a 2022 seat by Alfa Romeo. 

Among drivers on the rumoured shortlist are Formula E world champion Nyck De Vries, 9 time race winner Valtteri Bottas and last season’s Formula 2 runner up Callum Ilott. Whilst Pourchaire might not carry the credentials and experience of his rumoured competition he is much younger in comparison having only turned 18 in August. 

Speaking to Motorsport Week Vassuer said “I’m considering Theo, I don’t know if it is for next year or the future,

“Theo is part of the family, he is part of the [Sauber] Academy. We are spending a lot of energy on Theo because we are convinced Theo is one of the best ones for the future.

“I don’t know if it will be 2022, 2023 or 2024 but I’m convinced he, at one stage, will be one of the best ones.”

Vassuer also praised the progression that Pourchaire has been able to display throughout his relatively short career stating, 

 “I was not a big fan to go directly to F3 after F4 because I thought the step was big and you have less and less mileage in the junior series.

“I was not very comfortable and he had a tough start to the season, but then he was very close to winning the championship.The step to F2 would [also] be huge and at the second event he was able to win at Monaco.

“He has the capacity to adapt himself to the situation very quickly, but we also have to speak about experience and this you can’t buy you just have to test and race.”

Pourchaire currently sits sixth in the Formula 2 Championship standings and although he’s at significant deficit towards title contention the Frenchman managed a feature race win at Monaco.

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MERCEDES JUNIOR DRIVER KIMI ANTONELLI TO MAKE SINGLE SEATER DEBUT

Mercedes F1 junior driver and karting sensation Andrea ‘Kimi’ Antonelli is set to make his debut in single seaters. The 15 year old Italian will make the step up to Italian Formula 4 where he will compete in the last 3 rounds of the season with the Prema Powerteam.

Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Tanishka Vashee

Kimi, as he’s informally addressed, started karting at the age of nine and since then he’s accumulated a number of accolades most notably back to back FIA Karting European Championships in the OK class in 2020 and 2021. 

The Mercedes Junior programme had already taken interest in the Italian prior to those achievements having signed him since April of 2019. Speaking on the prospect Gwen Lagrue, Driver Development Advisor for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, said:

“Kimi is a phenomenon. He’s racing for Kart Republic, Dino Chiesa’s team, who was previously taking care of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg about 20 years ago. We were really impressed with him – he’s very mature for his young age, is very patient and extremely clever. He’s fast, whatever the conditions are, and I’ve never seen him make a silly mistake. The love and passion for motorsport are obvious and he enjoys his racing, as I’ve never seen before. The way he is racing, overtaking, building his race weekend is very special and we are really looking forward to seeing him move into single-seaters.” 

Kimi has previously tested F4 machinery with his father’s AKM Motorsport team but now will start his single seaters career proper with Prema where he’ll close out the 2021 season and is set to race with the Italian outfit in 2022. 

“I am really happy to announce that I will join Prema in these last three races of the Italian F4 Championship,” he said.

“This is an exciting new challenge for me and I can’t wait to start. A big thanks to Prema and Mercedes for giving me this amazing opportunity.”

Team principal Angelo Rosin added: “Antonelli is one of the most outstanding prospects in karting competition. He has impressed since a very early age and achieved remarkable success there. It will be very interesting for us to see him adapt to a new form of motor racing.

“Moving up to single-seaters is never an easy task as it’s a comprehensively new experience, so we are going to assist him in the transition. We are equally looking forward to his competitive F4 debut.”

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What George Russell needs to do to lead in Belgium

George Russell’s sensational qualifying lap sees him starting at P2 in Spa; his highest ever starting position in Formula One. Naturally, he has been asked about whether he could lead the race at some point – but in all honesty; could he?

Written by Sam Kift, edited by Janvi Unni

Realistically speaking, the only chance Russell has at leading the race is if he has a really good start, because the Williams car is slightly inferior compared to the RedBull and the Mercedes. There is also one underlining factor that adds complete unpredictability: rain. If there is rain at the start of the race, then there’s no other strategy than to drive to survive. But if it’s dry, then there’s a clear strategy, so let’s take a short view back to the past to to understand it.

David Croft’s “But here comes Sebastian Vettel” is quite well-known in the F1 community (and for good reason), and it is the sequence of events that produced this moment that gives us a clear idea of what George Russell has to do to pass Max Verstappen at the start of the race.

In 2017, Sebastian Vettel had 2 shots at overtaking Lewis Hamilton: once at the start and once after the safety car restart. But he failed to do so both times. What happened was Vettel had gotten such a good slipstream that he had to lift off at Eau Rouge (otherwise he would have rear-ended the Mercedes), and this killed his momentum and was the reason why Vettel only managed to get alongside rather than ahead down the Kemmel straight. In 2018, he was further back and therefore was flat all the way from La Source to Les Combes. He cleared Hamilton halfway down the straight. In 2020, Valtteri Bottas made a similar mistake to Vettel in 2017 at the race start and had to lift significantly – in fact he was almost swamped by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo behind. Ironically, it was Lewis Hamilton’s slipstream down the straight that prevented this and he kept his 2nd position as he entered Les Combes. This is proof of just how powerful the slipstream can be.

Given that the RedBull is known to be quite draggy and the Mercedes power unit is thought to be superior, a race lead looks promising if George Russell has a reasonable getaway tomorrow.

Therefore if circumstances align and Russell positions his car perfectly, then he might just be able to lead a Formula One race for the second time. We’ll know at 15:00 CEST. Stay tuned, this is a race you definitely don’t want to miss.

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F1 may announce soon of the replacement of Japan with Qatar in Losail

As per sources in the paddock, The Losail Circuit in Qatar is very likely to become the newest addition to the 23-race F1 calendar.

The Losail Circuit underneath the floodlights. (Pirelli)

The plan is to hold a four-race end of the season in the Middle East, containing Qatar, a return to Bahrain, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi in that order. Qatar looks highly likely to make its debut on the F1 Calendar this year.

#F1 have toyed with the idea of a double header at the Circuit of the Americas, with the #USGP and the #TexasGP to compensate for any cancelled races, despite the host city, Austin, becoming a COVID hotspot in recent weeks. Other possibilities include a possible race at the Dubai Autodrome in UAE. Indianapolis, is also one of the other frontrunners to replace Suzuka, however new reports have indicated Liberty Media have been thinking otherwise.

An announcement is expected by F1 to finalise most of the F1 Calendar for the second half of the season by August 26th.

Other notable news on the F1 Calendar is the Dutch Government accepting a 66% capacity crowd at Zandvoort for the #DutchGP and Sao Paulo accepted a full capacity Interlagos for the #BrazilianGP earlier this week.

Mandalika GP Association CEO: “[Mandalika] can be graded FIA A-grade”

Recent comments on the possibility of Formula 1 races in Indonesia by the Mandalika Grand Prix Association CEO, Ricky Baheramsjah hints at Formula 1 expanding its available network of circuits to the West Nusa Tenggara island of Lombok.

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Daniel Yi

There have been rumours of talks between circuit officials and Formula 1 to incorporate the track to create a new tourism venture both in the vicinity of the circuit and the region, seeing as the mega tourism capital of Bali is just next door.

Quoted by Pitpass, Baheramsjah said, “Our circuit can be FIA Grade-1, which would accommodate Formula 1, and we’ve had discussions with Formula 1 on Lombok.

“They don’t like the gravel traps we need for MotoGP but that’s a minor issue since [the surface under] the gravel is just asphalt, so it can be shifted out.

“We may need a few more facilities, more five-star hotels, as MotoGP is a very broad market– from people on scooters to people on Bentleys. [The] Ticket pricing is also relatively more affordable compared to Formula 1.

“A destination like Lombok would be challenging for Formula 1, but once Mandalika is more developed then there’s a terrific chance for Formula 1 should it want to explore it [the option]. For now, though, we are fully focused on the races we have lined up.”

Since one of the requirements of hosting MotoGP is to have an FIM Grade-A circuit, Mandalika can be modified to fit the requirements for an FIA Grade-1 certification, which can be held for the next 3 years and can be renewed. 

The Mandalika Street Circuit is set for its debut international motorsports event next year in the 2022 MotoGP season and with the massive MotoGP fanbase presence, the excitement is palpable among the Indonesian nationals to attend the race when it does come.

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