Max Verstappen dominates at Imola

Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the 2021 Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took the lead of the 2021 Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, in Imola, by passing Lewis Hamilton in the first corner of the first lap and went on to dominate the race despite the weather conditions and a red flag.

The race began in rainy conditions with most drivers choosing to start the Grand Prix with intermediate tires and a couple of drivers – full wet weather tires. Already on the first lap of the race, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed and the safety car came out onto the track for the first time.

With Verstappen leading the race, around the time the track was drying up, Hamilton – who was chasing down his Dutch rival – slid off track while trying to pass back markers and broke his front wing. He went on to reverse out of the gravel and rejoined the race a lap down in ninth position.

At the same time, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell had a massive accident into the Variante Tamburello and a red flag was shown. Russell touched the wet grass and lost control of his Williams car, which hit Bottas’ Mercedes.

Following a restart with half of the race remaining, Verstappen ran away with the lead and Lando Norris jumped up into second place ahead of the two Ferraris, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz respectively.

Over the final laps, Hamilton battled his way past Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo, both Ferarris, and finally Norris to take second place – 22 seconds behind Verstappen. The Brit set the fastest lap time of 1:16.702 on lap 60, which helped him maintain a one-point lead in the Driver’s Championship over Verstappen.

Norris finished the race third and the two Ferraris close by behind him. Ricciardo and Stroll finished sixth and seventh within a second of each other and Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen, and Esteban Ocon completed the point earning positions.

AFTER THE RACE:

Stroll received a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage while passing Gasly. That meant Stroll is classified in eighth place and Gasly moved up to seventh.

Raikkonen received a thirty-second penalty for a rolling start infringement. That dropped the Finn from ninth place all the way to thirteenth – promoting Ocon to ninth and Fernando Alonso into the points in tenth position.

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix results

  1. Max Verstappen (RED BULL RACING) – 2:02:34.598 – 25 Points
  2. Lewis Hamilton (MERCEDES) – +22.000s – 18 Points + 1 Point for fastest lap (1:16.702 – Lap 60)
  3. Lando Norris (MCLAREN) – +23.702s – 15 Points
  4. Charles Leclerc (FERRARI) – +25.579s – 12 Points
  5. Carlos Sainz (FERRARI) – +27.036s – 10 Points
  6. Daniel Ricciardo (MCLAREN) – +51.220s – 8 Points
  7. Pierre Gasly (ALPHATAURI) – +52.818s – 6 Points
  8. Lance Stroll (ASTON MARTIN) – +56.909s – 4 Points
  9. Esteban Ocon (ALPINE) – +65.704s – 2 Points
  10. Fernando Alonso (ALPINE) – +66.561s – 1 Point
  11. Sergio Perez (RED BULL RACING) – +67.151s
  12. Yuki Tsunoda (ALPHATAURI) – +73.184s
  13. Kimi Räikkönen (ALFA ROMEO) – +94.773s
  14. Antonio Giovinazzi (ALFA ROMEO) – +1 Lap
  15. Sebastian Vettel (ASTON MARTIN) – DNF | 61 Laps
  16. Mick Schumacher (HAAS) – +2 Lap
  17. Nikita Mazepin (HAAS) – +2 Lap
    NC – Valtteri Bottas (MERCEDES) – DNF | 30 Laps
    NC – George Russell (WILLIAMS) – DNF | 30 Laps
    NC – Nicholas Latifi (WILLIAMS) – DNF | 0 Laps

Drivers’ Championship after Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

  1. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) | MERCEDES – 44
  2. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) | RED BULL RACING – 43
  3. Lando Norris (Great Britain) | MCLAREN – 27
  4. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) | FERRARI – 20
  5. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) | MERCEDES – 16
  6. Carlos Sainz (Spain) | FERRARI – 14
  7. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) | MCLAREN – 14
  8. Sergio Perez (Mexico) | RED BULL RACING – 10
  9. Pierre Gasly (France) | ALPHATAURI – 6
  10. Lance Stroll (Canada) | ASTON MARTIN – 5
  11. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) | ALPHATAURI – 2
  12. Esteban Ocon (France) | ALPINE – 2
  13. Fernando Alonso (Spain) | ALPINE – 1
  14. Kimi Räikkönen (Finland) | ALFA ROMEO – 0
  15. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) | ALFA ROMEO – 0
  16. George Russell (Great Britain) | WILLIAMS – 0
  17. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) | ASTON MARTIN – 0
  18. Mick Schumacher (Germany) | HAAS – 0
  19. Nikita Mazepin (Russian Automobile Federation) | HAAS – 0
  20. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) | WILLIAMS – 0

Constructors’ Championship after Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

  1. MERCEDES – 60
  2. RED BULL RACING – 53
  3. MCLAREN – 41
  4. FERRARI – 34
  5. ALPHATAURI – 8
  6. ASTON MARTIN – 5
  7. ALPINE – 3
  8. ALFA ROMEO – 0
  9. WILLIAMS – 0
  10. HAAS – 0

99th career pole position for Lewis Hamilton in exciting Saturday qualifying

Lewis Hamilton gets out of his car after the qualifying session at the Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy (Photo by BRYN LENNON/AFP via Getty Images)

This year, many have said that Mercedes have lost a lot of performance but Lewis Hamilton keeps denying that – not with words, but with actions.

In the first qualifying session at the 2021 Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was the fastest with a time of 1:14.672. Hamilton was second, and no surprising eliminations happened – which included the two Alfa Romeo and the two Haas drivers. Additionally, AlphaTauri’s rookie Yuki Tsunoda did not advance to Q2 because of a crash at Variante Alta – turns 14 and 15 of the Imola Circuit. Tsunoda did not set a lap time but will be permitted to race at the stewards’ discretion.

Q1 also saw both Williams drivers make it into the top fifteen – Nicholas Latifi even outpaced his teammate George Russell in the session and the pair were twelfth and fourteenth, respectively.

In Q2, Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez was the quickest with a lap time of 1:14.716. The Mexican set the time with soft tires, while his teammate Max Verstappen and both Mercedes drivers advanced to the final qualifying session with medium tires – which will allow them to go longer at the start of tomorrow’s race.

In the second session, Carlos Sainz was shockingly eliminated and qualified eleventh while his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc was third in the session and advanced. Also, Russell continued his streak of never being outqualified by a Williams teammate – qualifying in twelfth position; Latifi will start fourteenth. Sadly, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso did not advance into the top ten shootout either.

In the top ten determining session, the fastest sector times kept changing every lap by multiple different drivers. In his first lap in the third session, Hamilton set a 1:14.411 lap time – which would eventually hold and be the pole position time. For comparison, Bottas’ pole position time at last season’s race was an impressive 1:13.609.

After the chequered flag came out, Lando Norris set the second fastest lap time but his result was deleted because he exceeded track limits. The Brit will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix seventh.

However, a different surprise wandered in: Perez outqualified his teammate Verstappen and they will start the race second and third, respectively. Verstappen had not been outqualified by a teammate since Daniel Ricciardo in 2017.

Leclerc will start from an impressive fourth position in the Ferrari, Pierre Gasly will begin the race from fifth position in the AlphaTauri, ahead of the McLaren of Ricciardo in sixth place.

Grid for the 2021 Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix :

  1. Lewis Hamilton (MERCEDES) – Q3 time: 1:14.411
  2. Sergio Perez (RED BULL RACING)
  3. Max Verstappen (RED BULL RACING)
  4. Charles Leclerc (FERRARI)
  5. Pierre Gasly (ALPHATAURI)
  6. Daniel Ricciardo (MCLAREN)
  7. Lando Norris (MCLAREN)
  8. Valtteri Bottas (MERCEDES)
  9. Esteban Ocon (ALPINE)
  10. Lance Stroll (ASTON MARTIN)
  11. Carlos Sainz (FERRARI)
  12. George Russell (WILLIAMS)
  13. Sebastian Vettel (ASTON MARTIN)
  14. Nicholas Latifi (WILLIAMS)
  15. Fernando Alonso (ALPINE)
  16. Kimi Räikkönen (ALFA ROMEO)
  17. Antonio Giovinazzi (ALFA ROMEO)
  18. Mick Schumacher (HAAS)
  19. Nikita Mazepin (HAAS)
  20. Yuki Tsunoda (ALPHATAURI) – Retired in Q1

Martin Truex Jr becomes first driver to win two races in 2021 NASCAR season

Martin Truex Jr during the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 10, 2021 (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr became the first driver to win two races in the 2021 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season. After seven different winners in the first seven events, the 2017 Cup Series champion took the lead late in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, at the 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) Martinsville Speedway, to celebrate his 29th career win.

Race results; top 10 finishers:

  1. Martin Truex Jr
  2. Chase Elliott
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. William Byron
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Christopher Bell
  8. Tyler Reddick
  9. Kevin Harvick
  10. Kyle Busch

Drivers’ championship after 8 races; top 16:

  1. Denny Hamlin – 379 points
  2. Martin Truex Jr – 303 points (2 wins)
  3. Joey Logano – 302 points (1 win)
  4. Kyle Larson – 280 points (1 win)
  5. Ryan Blaney – 272 points (1 win)
  6. William Byron – 270 points (1 win)
  7. Chase Elliott – 260 points
  8. Kevin Harvick – 253 points
  9. Brad Keselowski – 244 points
  10. Christopher Bell – 217 points (1 win)
  11. Kyle Busch – 212 points
  12. Austin Dillon – 209 points
  13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr – 202 points
  14. Chris Buescher – 192 points
  15. Kurt Busch – 190 points
  16. Michael McDowell – 189 points (1 win)

Joey Logano becomes 7th winner in 7 NASCAR races this season

Joey Logano during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

In the NASCAR Cup Series’ first dirt race since 1970, Team Penske’s car #22 driver Joey Logano started tenth, was sixth after Stage One, led after Stage Two, and maintained the position at the front until the chequered flag on lap 253 of the Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. What is shaping out to be one of the best NASCAR seasons ever saw it’s seventh different race winner after the opening seven races.

Martin Truex Jr, who won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the same track earlier in the day, led the majority of the opening laps in the Cup Series race as well. He kept first position for 126 laps – the most of any driver today. Mexican driver Daniel Suarez was impressive all day too and took over from Truex Jr in the second stage for 58 laps.

The final fifty laps of the race saw a fun battle between Logano and Denny Hamlin, who has yet to score a victory. Hamlin was unable to pass the #22 car early in the last stage and, following a caution that caused a restart for a shootout to the finish, Hamlin eventually took a corner too high on the track and lost second place to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2018 Cup Series winner Logano celebrated his 27th career victory. Stenhouse Jr achieved his best position of the year, crossing the finish line second. Hamlin finished in third place for the third time this year and continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship without a victory in his pocket. Suarez did not finish in the top five all of last season but got to enjoy fourth place today. Ryan Newman spun early in the race but recovered enough to get back into the top five.

Race results; top 10 finishers:

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Daniel Suarez
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. William Byron
  7. Tyler Reddick
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Erik Jones
  10. Chase Elliott

Drivers’ championship after 7 races; top 16:

  1. Denny Hamlin – 327 points
  2. Joey Logano – 269 points (1 win)
  3. Martin Truex Jr – 247 points (1 win)
  4. Kyle Larson – 242 points (1 win)
  5. Brad Keselowski – 232 points
  6. William Byron – 228 points (1 win)
  7. Ryan Blaney – 226 points (1 win)
  8. Kevin Harvick – 225 points
  9. Chase Elliott – 211 points
  10. Christopher Bell – 186 points (1 win)
  11. Austin Dillon – 186 points
  12. Michael McDowell – 183 points (1 win)
  13. Kyle Busch – 183 points
  14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr – 180 points
  15. Kurt Busch – 173 points
  16. Alex Bowman – 172 points

Lewis Hamilton wins 96th career Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix (Photo by Dan Istitene/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton began the 2021 season as a lesser favorite to win an eighth title but that did not stop the British driver from improving from second place on the starting grid to the top step of the Bahrain Grand Prix podium in the first race of the year.

The new season’s opening race took a while to properly begin – during the formation lap, Sergio Perez was experiencing technical issues in his Red Bull Racing car and the grid was forced to go around the Bahrain International Circuit for a second formation lap because Perez pulled over to the side of the track. As the second formation lap began, the race that was scheduled for 57 laps became a 56-lap event. Meanwhile, Perez managed to restart his car without the assistance of the marshals and was allowed to take part in the race. Originally having had to start the race from eleventh position, the Mexican was forced to begin the Grand Prix from the pit lane.

As soon as the race officially began, rookie Nikita Mazepin spun and crashed out in the opening corners and the safety car came out onto the track. A couple of laps later, Max Verstappen – who began the race from pole position – restarted the race once the safety vehicle left the track; however, Pierre Gasly tapped Daniel Ricciardo’s left rear tyre and lost his front wing, which forced a virtual safety car while the marshals quickly picked up the debris.

Depending on tyre degradation, teams went for different race strategies when it came to pit stops – Hamilton pitted before Verstappen and successfully used the circuit’s well-know undercutting advantages (an undercut is when a car pits earlier than the cars ahead and ensures that the driver has a fresher set of tyres, which can help him overtake the cars that have older tyres).

The final handful of laps saw Hamilton masterfully defend the lead from Verstappen with tyres that were ten laps older than the Dutchman’s. At one point, Verstappen passed Hamilton but was forced to allow Hamilton to retake the lead as the Red Bull Racing driver left the track with all four tyres behind the track limits. The powerful DRS advantage in Bahrain did not aid Verstappen much.

Hamilton went on to win his 96th career race and finally passed Michael Schumacher’s record of most laps led in history, which is now 5,126 laps.

Valtteri Bottas was too far out to contend for the top two positions today but was way ahead of fourth place, so he pitted to put on a newer set of medium tyres at the end of the race and set the fastest lap – 1:32.090 – on the final lap of the Grand Prix. The Finn finished third.

McLaren’s Lando Norris had a brilliant and quiet race, driving in fourth place for the majority of the race. Even though Perez made it up all the way to fifth place, unfortunately for him, he would have most likely been in the top four if there would have been any safety-car-causing accidents at some point of the race.

Interestingly, Gasly’s debut in the second Red Bull Racing seat in 2019 was eleventh place in Australia. His highest achievements in the car were fourth place and fifth place, once each, in twelve races. Alex Albon debuted in that car by replacing Gasly in the thirteenth race of 2019 and finished fifth in Belgium. In twenty six races with Red Bull Racing, Albon finished third twice, fourth three times, and fifth six times.

Both Ferrari drivers showed a promising improvement to the Italian brand – Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were competitive from the start of the race and followed logical race strategies, finishing sixth and eighth, respectively. At the beginning of the Grand Prix, Leclerc was even racing the Mercedes of Bottas for third position.

Additionally, 20-year-old Yuki Tsunoda made impressively calm overtakes against race winners and former F1 champions, and scored points in his debut by finishing ninth. These are the first points by a Japanese driver since Kamui Kobayashi finished ninth at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012 and the first overall points by a Japanese driver in his F1 debut.

Bahrain Grand Prix results

  1. Lewis Hamilton (MERCEDES) – 1:32:03.897 – 25 Points
  2. Max Verstappen (RED BULL) – +0.745s – 18 Points
  3. Valtteri Bottas (MERCEDES) – +37.383s – 15 Points + 1 Point for fastest lap (1:32.090 – Lap 56)
  4. Lando Norris (MCLAREN) – +46.466s – 12 Points
  5. Sergio Perez (RED BULL RACING) – +52.047s – 10 Points
  6. Charles Leclerc (FERRARI) – +59.090s – 8 Points
  7. Daniel Ricciardo (MCLAREN) – +66.004s – 6 Points
  8. Carlos Sainz (FERRARI) – +67.100s – 4 Points
  9. Yuki Tsunoda (ALPHATAURI) – +85.692s – 2 Points
  10. Lance Stroll (ASTON MARTIN) – +86.713s – 1 Point
  11. Kimi Räikkönen (ALFA ROMEO) – +88.864s
  12. Antonio Giovinazzi (ALFA ROMEO) – +1 Lap
  13. Esteban Ocon (ALPINE) – +1 Lap
  14. George Russell (WILLIAMS) – +1 Lap
  15. Sebastian Vettel (ASTON MARTIN) – +1 Lap
  16. Mick Schumacher (HAAS) – +1 Lap
  17. Pierre Gasly (ALPHATAURI) – DNF | 52 Laps
  18. Nicholas Latifi (WILLIAMS) – DNF | 51 Laps
    NC – Fernando Alonso (ALPINE) – DNF | 32 Laps
    NC – Nikita Mazepin (HAAS) – DNF | 0 Laps

Drivers’ Championship after Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) | MERCEDES – 25
  2. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) | RED BULL RACING – 18
  3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) | MERCEDES – 16
  4. Lando Norris (Great Britain) | MCLAREN – 12
  5. Sergio Perez (Mexico) | RED BULL RACING – 10
  6. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) | FERRARI – 8
  7. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) | MCLAREN – 6
  8. Carlos Sainz (Spain) | FERRARI – 4
  9. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) | ALPHATAURI – 2
  10. Lance Stroll (Canada) | ASTON MARTIN – 1
  11. Kimi Räikkönen (Finland) | ALFA ROMEO – 0
  12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) | ALFA ROMEO – 0
  13. Esteban Ocon (France) | ALPINE – 0
  14. George Russell (Great Britain) | WILLIAMS – 0
  15. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) | ASTON MARTIN – 0
  16. Mick Schumacher (Germany) | HAAS – 0
  17. Pierre Gasly (France) | ALPHATAURI – 0
  18. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) | WILLIAMS – 0
    Fernando Alonso (Spain)
    Nikita Mazepin (Russian Automobile Federation)

Constructors’ Championship after Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. MERCEDES – 41
  2. RED BULL RACING – 28
  3. MCLAREN – 18
  4. FERRARI – 12
  5. ALPHATAURI – 2
  6. ASTON MARTIN – 1
  7. ALFA ROMEO – 0
  8. ALPINE – 0
  9. WILLIAMS – 0
  10. HAAS – 0

Max Verstappen claims first pole position of the season

Max Verstappen during qualifying ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Red Bull Racing driver and one of the favorites to come away with his maiden Formula One title this season Max Verstappen claimed his second consecutive pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir.

The Dutch driver has been enjoying a good preseason and a good weekend at the start of the 2021 Championship in the Persian Gulf. He achieved his second straight pole position dating back to last season’s final race, and it is the fourth of his career. The 23-year-old outqualified seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes by 0.388 seconds and beat Valtteri Bottas by 0.589 seconds. It will be this well-known trio at the helm of the grid to start the first race of the year tomorrow.

After an atrocious season last year, Ferrari finally looked competitive in qualifying. Charles Leclerc was less than a second behind the leader and will start the race in fourth position, while his new teammate Carlos Sainz will start drive the car from eighth position on the lineup.

The two drivers of the Red Bull Racing sister team AlphaTauri – Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda – had a terrific outing. Tsunoda, the first driver to start a Grand Prix born in the 21st century, was even second after the first qualifying session. Gasly will begin the race in fifth place and his Japanese teammate will start from thirteenth.

Notably, Daniel Ricciardo outqualified his teammate Lando Norris in his first race in the orange McLaren – starting the race sixth and seventh, respectively – and two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso made his return by successfully advancing all the way to the third qualifying session after failing to do so in his last season in the series. He will start ninth.

Additionally, Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel had unfortunate qualifying performances in their debuts with new teams. Perez had a lap time deleted for driving past track limits in the second session and then was unable to take his second run into the top ten; Vettel was in the unlucky part of the track when yellow flags came out in his final run after Nikita Mazepin spun in sector one.

Grid for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. Max VERSTAPPEN (RED BULL RACING) – 1:28.997 (Q3 time)
  2. Lewis HAMILTON (MERCEDES)
  3. Valtteri BOTTAS (MERCEDES)
  4. Charles LECLERC (FERARRI)
  5. Pierre GASLY (ALPHATAURI)
  6. Daniel RICCIARDO (MCLAREN)
  7. Lando NORRIS (MCLAREN)
  8. Carlos SAINZ (FERARRI)
  9. Fernando ALONSO (ALPINE)
  10. Lance STROLL (ASTON MARTIN)
  11. Sergio PEREZ (RED BULL RACING)
  12. Antonio GIOVINAZZI (ALFA ROMEO)
  13. Yuki TSUNODA (ALPHATAURI)
  14. Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (ALFA ROMEO)
  15. George RUSSELL (WILLIAMS)
  16. Esteban OCON (ALPINE)
  17. Nicholas LATIFI (WILLIAMS)
  18. Mick SCHUMACHER (HASS)
  19. Nikita MAZEPIN (HAAS)
  20. Sebastian VETTEL (ASTON MARTIN) – qualified 18th but received five-place grid penalty for failing to respect double yellow flags

2021 NASCAR season: 6 races, 6 winners

Ryan Blaney at the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Team Penske driver of car #12 Ryan Blaney became the sixth different race winner in six races this season. The 27-year-old celebrates his fifth career win after a strong push in the final few laps.

Kyle Larson – who is another one of the six different winners with a victory in the fourth race of the season – won two stages and led 268 of 325 laps in Hampton on his way to a second place finish.

The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race will take place next Sunday at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Race results; top 10 finishers:

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Austin Dillon
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. William Byron
  9. Martin Truex Jr
  10. Kevin Harvick

Drivers’ championship after 6 races; top 16:

  1. Denny Hamlin – 277 points
  2. Kyle Larson – 234 points (1 win)
  3. Martin Truex Jr – 216 points (1 win)
  4. Joey Logano – 214 points
  5. Brad Keselowski – 206 points
  6. Kevin Harvick – 203 points
  7. Ryan Blaney – 191 points (1 win)
  8. William Byron – 188 points (1 win)
  9. Christopher Bell – 183 points (1 win)
  10. Chase Elliott – 183 points
  11. Austin Dillon – 170 points
  12. Kyle Busch – 163 points
  13. Michael McDowell – 158 points (1 win)
  14. Alex Bowman – 157 points
  15. Kurt Busch – 152 points
  16. Chris Buescher – 144 points

Formula 1: Drive to Survive – season 3 review

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner in Episode 7 – Guenther’s Choice

Just a week before the beginning of the 2021 Formula One World Championship, the highly anticipated third season of the Netflix documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive was released. It is undoubtedly the proper start to a new season – revisiting the one of a kind 2020: marked by a life-altering worldwide pandemic, multiple driver changes, and historic results.

The amount of highlightable events that took place in 2020 were hard to squeeze into just ten episodes; however, that made every second of every episode unmissable.

Lewis Hamilton after the 2020 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Photo by Hamad I Mohammed – Pool/Getty Images)

Right off the bat, the season began with the expected and awaited footage of the early, pre-pandemic, part of 2020, which included the happenings and atmosphere in Melbourne that led to the decision to cancel the Australian Grand Prix. The following episode chronologically went into the first race of the season, in Austria. Eventually, the show got away from the chronological timeline and focused on certain storylines before returning to the timeline in proper order by covering the final Grand Prix in the final episode.

The middle seven episodes of season 3 looked at Valtteri Bottas’ role at Mercedes, Ferrari’s troubles, Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren, the “Pink Mercedes” controversy, Pierre Gasly’s great season with Alpha Tauri while Alex Albon struggled at Red Bull Racing, the hardships and rebuilding for 2021 at Haas, Carlos Sainz’s commitment to Ferrari, Romain Grosjean’s crash, and Sergio Perez’s rollercoaster ride of emotions from losing an F1 seat to signing with Red Bull.

Sergio Perez celebrates his maiden F1 victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix (Photo by Mario Renzi – Formula 1/Getty Images)

All in all, Drive to Survive will receive positive reviews because of the drama and the action. Behind the scenes takes and relationships among the Formula One “characters” is the main attraction of the show, which was done well as always, but another positive feature are the emotional moments. This season had a few tearjerkers: Pierre Gasly’s victory at Monza in episode 6, Romain Grosjean’s recollection of the fiery crash in Bahrain and Sergio Perez’s career recollection, the latter two in episode 9.

In the midst of a chaotic year – there were multiple chaotic events. For a hardcore motorsports fan, everything that was included in the third season was exciting to look back at. However, there were three very interesting and important incidents that were disappointingly absent: (1.) Nico Hulkenberg stepping in to replace the Racing Point drivers a total of three times on short notice, (2.) even a mention of Lewis Hamilton finishing the British Grand Prix with a tyre failure on the final lap, and (3.) more focus on Hamilton contracting COVID-19, which paved the way for George Russell to drive the Mercedes car at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

George Russell in Mercedes gear during qualifying at the Sakhir Grand Prix (Photo by Tolga Bozoglu – Pool/Getty Images)

Whether it is just because the creators of the show alone decided what storylines they thought were more attractive to the casual audience, or if there may have been some “political” influence from Formula One itself – the unmentioned events would not have only added to the show’s desired drama and entertainment, they took the F1 fans on a turbulent emotional ride in the moment and would have likely done the same to casual fans binge-watching Netflix.

Throughout the season, the series also promoted the slogan “We Race as One” and to some people’s surprise this was not brought up until the final minutes of the season finale. Possibly, with the intention of aiming to promote a positive image on all parties involved, the more controversial topics – like the drivers who tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be replaced, the injuries of Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll in Bahrain, and the social justice fight for equality – were deemed the “darker” parts of the season.

This may conclude that the 2020 Formula One season was overfilled with shocking twists and turns not only on the race tracks but also in day to day reality. But either way, it’s a must-see show for both – motorsports fans who missed the sport during the winter break and people who simply want to see a high-volume and high-drama reality television show based around a sport.

In short:

Episode 1Cash Is King – focuses on the pre-season of the 2020 Championship and the craziness that COVID-19 brought upon the world, as well as F1 by forcing the cancelation of the Australian Grand Prix, and putting the season in jeopardy.

Episode 2Back On Track – looks at the opening race of the 2020 season in Austria and follows Christian Horner, hopeful to give Mercedes a run for their money.

Episode 3Nobody’s Fool – starts in Finland and continues in Russia, as it takes a deeper look at Valtteri Bottas challenging his accomplished teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Episode 4We Need to Talk About Ferrari – follows the Ferrari team during their rough year at the manufacturer’s home race, the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, and the developments of Sebastian Vettel’s departure and eventual move to Aston Martin for 2021.

Episode 5The End of the Affair – begins with Daniel Ricciardo committing to McLaren for 2021 after a short stint with Renault, and then carries on with Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul as he leads the fight against Racing Point.

Episode 6The Comeback Kid – takes a look at the incredible season of Pierre Gasly as he redeems his reputation on a midfield team, including his unexpected first career F1 victory in light of Alex Albon’s struggles.

Episode 7Guenther’s Choice – accompanies one of the series’ beloved figures, team principal of Haas, Guenther Steiner as he endures the team’s poor results and struggling finances – eventually locking in two exciting prospects for 2021.

Episode 8No Regrets – observes the battle of the great working McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, as the latter announces a huge move to Ferrari for the next year.

Episode 9Man On Fire – is the longest of the season and covers the devastating crash of Romain Grosjean in Bahrain, as well as the unsure futures of multiple drivers who were not guaranteed to race in Formula One after 2020 – including Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez (and his first victory), and Alex Albon (and his first podium).

Episode 10Down to the Wire – goes to the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi and summarizes the 2020 Formula One World Championship, preparing the fans for 2021.

Formula One steering wheel – explained

Formula One steering wheel; Renault F1 Team in 2019 (Photo from racefans.net)

The Formula One steering wheel is a difficult and complex piece of equipment. In addition to having to focus on the regular aspects of driving, F1 drivers also need to make split second adjustments on their steering wheels while going about 200 miles per hour in the midst of a Grand Prix race.

During the 2021 Formula One preseason testing in Bahrain, former Formula One driver and current motorsports analyst Jolyon Palmer helped explain the subtilties of the expensive gadget for the official YouTube channel of F1.

Palmer held the steering wheel of two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso – who will be returning to the series this season as a driver for the Alpine F1 Team – and pointed out the many different buttons: including the most often used team radio, pit lane speed limiter, DRS activation, and overtake buttons (deployment of energy in race conditions). The gear changing and clutch paddles are on the back of the wheel.

The main LED screen is used to display an array of different information – from speed and delta lap times to brake and tyre temperatures, as well as a number of team-specific parameters. Above the screen are indicating lights that let the driver know when to upshift to the next gear.

Additionally, the device has many switches that can even tune the car during a race. Drivers change certain settings multiple times for entries and exits of different corners or uphill and downhill sections of the track throughout a single lap. Many changes to the braking are also done mid-lap.

There are buttons and paddles which are left blank and get programmed by the teams differently in each race to the liking of whatever driver is using the wheel. These are usually pre-set changes for specific corners to make the desired changes while minimizing the driver’s need to manually adjust the many knobs in the middle of a lap.

Apart from the various performance buttons, drivers also have a menu rotary that provides the ability to change various parameters – this includes everything from volume of the team radio and brightness of the LED display screen to deleting electronic errors that may arise.

Back in 2018, the Mercedes team posted an image on Twitter detailing the functions of each button on their steering wheel.

The precise cost of one of these steering wheels is unknown because each team creates their own but it is generally believed that it approximately costs $90,000 (about 75 000 euros). Drivers use about 3 to 4 wheel per season.

Successfully figuring out the intricacies and getting used to the different dials on a Formula One steering wheel can significantly improve a lap time. The 2021 Formula One World Championship will have three rookies – Yuki Tsunoda, Nikita Mazepin, Mick Schumacher – and all of them will be challenged to combine their racing skills with the technical nuances of F1 from the beginning.