Hamilton edges thrilling curtain-raiser against Verstappen: 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Formula One in 2021 is here! Starting off two weeks later than originally planned in the dessert with the traditional Sakhir International Circuit layout for the Bahrain Grand Prix hosting the season opener for only the third time. The opening race can be crucial for setting the tone for the season ahead with the driver winning the opening race going on to be crowned World Champion 34 times. That said, that has not happened since Nico Rosberg in 2016. However, this was one of the best season-opening races in recent years and if the Bahrain Grand Prix is only the first of many such races we will see in 2021, it is sure to be a scorcher!

For the first time in the hybrid era, it looks like we may have a sustained challenge to the all-conquering Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; image from formula1.com]. Red Bull looked very strong in the three-day pre-season testing that was undertaken in Bahrain while Mercedes looked to be a bit on the backfoot. That appeared to be the case when it came to the first weekend with Max Verstappen looked mighty! Red Bull were aiming to win their first season-opening race since 2013 and with Honda power in their cars, could it have been Honda’s first since Ayrton Senna in 1991. Verstappen put them on the right track with an epic pole position lap going almost four-tenths quicker than the Mercedes of Hamilton with these two titanic drivers qualifying on the front row together for only the first time! read more

F1 2021 Season Preview

It is two weeks later than originally planned, but the 2021 Formula One season gets underway this weekend. Australia is not the season-opening race, it is the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir [Where the drivers line up on the start/finish straight above; feature image from formula1/.com] hosting the curtain-raiser for only the third time and the first time since 2010.

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, it did not look like we would get an F1 season at all last year. It is a testament to the powers that be in F1, Liberty Media, the teams, the drivers, the media crews and the circuits that came up to the plate that we had an F1 season last year. Starting off in Austria with a double bill in July, we got 17 races to form a championship as Lewis Hamilton surpassed Michael Schumacher’s once thought unsurmountable 91 race wins on his way to matching his 7 world titles. As a spectacle, the races were not always as exciting as what we had become accustomed to in 2019 but under the circumstances, it was just great to have some F1 to watch. read more

Mercedes secure historic seventh straight Constructors Crown as Hamilton wins at Imola: Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Review

After a 14 year absence since the last time it hosted a Grand Prix, Imola returned to F1 for 2020 with a difference. Not only was it returning with a new title named after the Emilia Romagna region of Italy (having hosted the Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and the San Marino Grand Prix 1981-2006), it was also a shortened format with only one practice session before Qualifying and the race. It was different for the teams and drivers to rise to.

Imola circuit map. [Image from formula1.com]

It was a first for a circuit that despite its absence is steeped in history; a fact marked by the drivers paying their respects at the Ayrton Senna memorial and some of the drivers wearing tribute helmets. Imola saw more history made after what was admittedly a lacklustre race when overtaking proved difficult due to the narrow layout of the circuit and a DRS zone that was perhaps 100m too short. The only real excitement came at the start and in the final 6 laps after the Safety car was called upon but it saw Mercedes make history by clinching an unprecedented 7th successive Constructors Championship [Pictured celebrating in the feature image; above image from RaceFans.net]. read more

Hamilton rewrites the history books with record-breaking 92nd win: 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Review!

For the second time in this crazy 2020 season, F1 raced at a circuit that had never before hosted a Grand Prix. Portimao on the Algarve hosted the first Portuguese Grand Prix for the first time since 1996. That was hosted at Estoril and while Portimao hosted a pre-season test in 2009, only half of the field had driven around the circuit in any type car before. It was a fresh challenge and one that I think the drivers enjoyed as Lando Norris commented in practice, ‘I’m going side to side, left to right, like a rollercoaster’.

Portimao Circuit map. [Image from formula1.com].

With its fluctuating elevations and frequent changes of direction made the Algarve circuit look spectacular. There was the loose drain panel issue which forced Qualifying to be delayed by half an hour and the relatively new track surface meant it was difficult for the drivers to find grip but once they had got through the graining phase, the Medium tyres were the tyres to be on in the race despite the initial promise of the Soft tyre in the opening laps as a slight shower of rain fell. It was a crazy start and race. With a powerful wind close to the sea, I think this is something the drivers would experience when F1 does eventually return to Zandvoort but it would be nice to see F1 return to the Algarve. read more

Schumi’s 91 equalled by Hamilton at the Nurburgring, Ricciardo gets his Podium and Kimi also makes history: 2020 Eifel Grand Prix Review

It has hosted the German Grand Prix, the European Grand Prix, the Luxembourg Grand Prix and now the Nurburgring in the Eifel hills of Germany has held the Eifel Grand Prix. The legendary circuit was not on the 2020 schedule until the pandemic hit but it produced a great, historic race. Racing there in the summer can offer unpredictable weather at the best of times but in October it was a unique challenge in the autumn temperatures but also with a lack of running. Rain and fog meant there was no Friday practice running so the drivers and teams had only one session before Qualifying to practice set-up, race simulations and qualifying runs; effectively a pre-runner for Imola.

Nurburgring Circuit Map. [Image from formula1.com].

If Imola produces anything like the Nurburgring it will be a very good race indeed. The first visit since 2013 saw a late super-sub appearance from Nico Huldenberg who replaced the unwell Lance Stroll at Racing Point. Race day temperatures of 9 degrees Celcius meant tyre management was a huge issue for the drivers with frequent lock-ups but it was engine failures that helped define the race. It helped pave the way for Daniel Ricciardo to reach a podium for the first time since 2018; Kimi Raikkonen made history by starting his record 323rd Grand Prix but it was Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; Image from Eurosport] who took the chequered flag for the record-equalling 91st time! read more

Valtteri Bottas secures a much needed win as turn two causes trouble: 2020 Russian Grand Prix Review

After a two week break after the chaos of Mugello, F1 returned to action for the 10th round of 7 races in 2020 with the Russian Grand Prix from the Sochi Autodrom. There had been no driver announcements in the lead up to Sochi but an announcement from the top of F1 with Chase Carey stepping aside from his F1 chairman role. Ex-Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicalli replaces him for 2021 and personally, I think he’ll do well in the role and miss his presence in the sport after leaving the Scuderia in 2014. Curiously, we now have three ex-Ferrari bosses at the helm of F1 again: Franz Todt at the FIA, Ross Brawn and now Domenicalli.

The teams brought updates to Russia but the circuit proved difficult to master with various drivers having lap times deleted in Qualifying at turn 2. The stewards directed that if a car ran wide they had to go through the bollards to the left of the circuit in order to not gain an advantage. That was a huge talking point of the weekend as four drivers were summoned and later acquitted post-Qualifying. It was responsible for one driver crashing out on the opening lap, a virtual safety car was needed after Romain Grosjean went through them and Daniel Ricciardo picked up a five-second penalty for failing to abide by it. The stewards clearly had a busy weekend but at the podium, for the 6th time in 10 races this year it was Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas sharing the podium but not in the order we have come to expect this year. Could this be a turning point in the championship? read more

Mugello makes a chaotic F1 debut but it’s a familiar winner: 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Review

Situated in the Tuscan hills of northern Italy, the Mugello Circuit for the first time hosted an F1 Grand Prix. It last hosted F1 cars for a test session 2012 but never a Grand Prix. With its narrow layout overtaking was expected to be difficult but with its sweeping high-speed corners, it was a quick circuit which delivered an almighty chaotic and entertaining race. The only question left us; can F1 go to Mugello more often?

We would not have had a race at Mugello without the pandemic but it was nicely planned to mark Ferrari’s 1,000th Grand Prix as a team. Everything was a celebration of Ferrari. They emblazoned their cars with a burgundy special edition livery to match their initial colours from the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, Mick Schumacher got to take his fathers 2004 Ferrari for a spin and even the Mercedes Safety Car was painted red as a tribute, It’s just as well, it was the only red car to lead a lap. We saw it come out three times and after waiting three years for one, two red flags come at once after Monza the weekend before. Seven cars did not get past the opening 10 laps but we did see some racing eventually with F1 having 213th different driver on the podium but it was an all too familiar race winner [Pictured above; Image from formula1.com]… read more