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Portuguese GP: Mercedes chase Verstappen, Schumacher’s best result yet

With a lap time of 1m18.489 s, Max Verstappen was the fastest in the final practice of the Portuguese GP weekend.

Lewis Hamilton closely followed Verstappen, only 0.236s slower than his Red Bull opponent. It was a Mercedes/Red Bull sweep in the top four as Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third and Sergio Perez fourth.

Much like yesterday’s practice, P5 got taken by an Alpine, but this time the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. The two Ferraris took the following two positions, with Charles Leclerc taking sixth and Carlos Sainz seventh.

With a spin out in sector three, Lando Norris found himself having a repeat of FP1 as he finished the last of the practice sessions in eighth place. Norris will need to show some speed this afternoon to make an appearance in Q3.

To conclude, the top ten were Pierre Gasly in ninth, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in 10th.

Yuki Tsunoda experienced another solid session as he finished FP3 in 11th position. McLaren’s results were identical to FP1, with Daniel Ricciardo also matching his FP1 position as he finished in 12th place.

Antonio Giovinazzi and Fernando Alonso found themselves in 13th and 14th, but Mick Schumacher had made a massive improvement from his previous performances. Schumacher finished 15th ahead of Lance Stroll in 16th, George Russell in 17th and Sebastian Vettel in 18th.

To draw an end to the final practice session of the Portuguese GP was the Williams of Nicholas Latifi in 19th and the Haas of Nikita Mazepin.

Plato compliments tyre strategy en route to Race 3 podium

Plato
Credit: BTCC

Two-time champion Jason Plato complimented the team’s approach on tyre conservation with a P2 finish after a year out from the BTCC.

The championship’s most successful driver Jason Plato made his return to the British Touring Car Championship by securing a podium finish at the Thruxton opener.

During Race 3, the weather at Thruxton was alternating and evolving from the optimum wet and dry conditions.

“We were convinced our game plan was to just look after the wet tyre in the early stages,” he said after securing his P2 spot.

“And then I thought it might dry out a little bit and then I thought it would rain towards the end and we got that right. I think because our strategy was to look after the (wet) tyre, I was really strong towards the end of the race…really pleased with that.”

Plato only just edged in front of Jake Hill by 0.070s at the checkered flag – Round 3, Thruxton – Credit: BTCC

The 52-year-old made his last appearance at the end of the 2019 season scoring a victory at the Brands Hatch finale.

It was only his second appearance on the podium that season but had been finishing in the top-10 on a regular basis thus secured a ninth in the overall drivers’ standings.

Plato continued: “We’ve had a solid weekend, we scored solid points.

“I’m back in-tune in the car again and I understand and feel exactly what it’s feeling…about what little, small changes can make the little differences which we need over the course [of] the weekend.”

Plato sits second in the championship after bringing a strong points haul from his P6, P5 and P2 finishing positions across the weekend.

Even so, he will be keen to build the momentum with an equally confident and consistent performance at the following Snetterton and Brands Hatch Indy race weekends.

BTCC: Sutton victorious during unpredictable final race of the day

BTCC
Credit: BTCC

Reigning champion Ash Sutton was victorious at Round 3 of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton amid changing weather conditions.

Spanish GP: Hamilton snatches another victory from Verstappen

Hamilton
Credit: Mercedes-AMG F1 Media

Lewis Hamilton acts on his 100th pole position to take the victory at the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen snatched first position away from Hamilton in the first turn of lap one. From then on, the Red Bull and Mercedes were wing to rear as the nail-biting battle commenced.

After Yuki Tunoda’s early retirement due to loss of power forced a safety car, Hamilton had the perfect opportunity to claw back his first place position. Verstappen left the restart late and after breaking the tow of the field behind him, managed to hold on to the top spot.

It was a gamble between Red Bull and Mercedes as to who found the gap to pit first. It was Verstappen who pitted first on lap 24 but suffered a slow exchange of tyres lasting 4.2s which gave Hamilton a two-second advantage.

Mercedes played the long game and pitted Hamilton on lap 29 and continued to commit to a two-stop strategy.  After laps of giving chase, Verstappen was left in the shadows of the Mercedes as Hamilton soared to his 98th victory.

The race did not go as well for everyone as it did for Mercedes as Pierre Gasly took a 5 second penalty for starting out of the boundaries of his grid box.

With Tsunoda out of the race, things weren’t looking up for Alpha Tauri but Gasly managed to climb his way up the midfield DRS train to salvage the last spot in the points.

Charles Leclerc had another clean race and finished in fourth followed by the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

For the first time this season, Daniel Ricciardo placed above his teammate Lando Norris who had a tough weekend overall. Separating the two Mclarens was the recently departed McLaren driver Carlos Sainz.

A tough day for The Alpines as Fernando Alonso fell from 10th position on the grid to finishing 17th.  Esteban Ocon also fell a disappointing 4 places from the grid but managed to cling on to ninth place to bring home some points for Alpine.

BTCC: Cook leads BTC Racing 1-2 after dramatic Race 2

BTCC
Credit: BTCC

Josh Cook and Dan Cammish worked together to bring home a BTC Racing 1-2 in a restarted and action-packed Round 2 of the BTCC.

Thruxton – RACE 1: Cook charges to fifth Thruxton victory at season opener

There was no shortage of drama, Andy Neate came ploughing into the rear quarter panel of Glynn Geddie’s new Cupra, collecting Jade Edwards’ Honda Civic in the process halfway around Turn 1.

Geddie’s Cupra went flying over the bonnet of Edwards, sending him into multiple rollovers.

Thankfully, all drivers are okay however none of the three cars involved will take the race restart.

On the restart, Rory Butcher had a massive crash whilst fighting in the top half of the mid field. Butcher walked away from the crash without injury and the safety car was bought out again.

Jack Goff in one of the remaining Cupra’s for Team HARD went well to help lift a weekend the team will want to forget in a hurry.

Josh Cook and Dan Cammish drove brilliantly together for BTC racing as they came home in positions one and two.

Two-time champion Jason Plato and returnee Daniel Rowbottom produced example of some classic BTCC racing with some extremely late braking and a beautifully-timed cutback pass coming out of the final corner from Rowbottom.

Reigning champion Ash Sutton was forced into the pits at the drop of the flag. He managed to work his way back to after some incredible moves throughout the race.

Josh Cook was able to win the second round of the championship despite having full weight onboard the car. His teammate for the weekend, Dan Cammish, was able to defend Cook from any potential attacks from behind.

Josh Cook is on top of the championship currently having won both of the races so far. BTC Racing are a top the constructors championship as well.

Cook pulled Stephan Jelley’s number out of the hat for the reverse grid lineup for race three. Cook will start towards the back of the top ten and will be aiming for a points finish with maximum weight onboard his BTC Racing Honda Civic.

The stage is set for the reverse grid race starting at 5:05pm due to the red flag period in race two. Ash Sutton will be looking to get that first win on the board and start the pursuit of Josh Cook in the drivers championship.

Provisional Classification – 15 Laps
Position Driver Team
1 Josh Cook BTC Racing
2 Dan Cammish BTC Racing
3 Jake Hill
MB Motorsport (C)
4 Daniel Rowbottom Team Dynamics
5 Jason Plato
Power Maxed Racing
6 Tom Ingram
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
7 Colin Turkington Team BMW (C)
8 Aiden Moffat
Laser Tools Racing
9 Ash Sutton
Laser Tools Racing
10 Tom Oliphant Team BMW (C)
11 Stephen Jelley Team BMW (C)
12 Jack Goff Team HARD
13 Ollie Jackson
MB Motorsport (C)
14 Dan Lloyd
Power Maxed Racing
15 Árón Taylor-Smith Team HARD
16 Sam Osborne
Motorbase Performance (C)
17 Carl Boardley
Laser Tools Racing
18 Gordon Shedden Team Dynamics
19 Jack Butel
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
20 Sam Smelt
Toyota GAZOO Racing UK (C)
21 Adam Morgan
Ciceley Motorsport
22 Nicolas Hamilton Team HARD
23 Chris Smiley
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
24 Rick Parfitt Jr. (DNF)
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
25 Rory Butcher (DNF)
Toyota GAZOO Racing UK (C)
26 Tom Chilton (DNF)
Ciceley Motorsport
27 Jade Edwards (DNF) BTC Racing
28 Glynn Geddie (DNF) Team HARD
29 Andy Neate (DNF)
Motorbase Performance (C)

BTCC: Cook charges to fifth Thruxton victory at season opener

Cook
Credit: BTCC

BTC Racing’s Josh Cook charged to his fifth Thruxton win of nine attendances at the opening race of the 2021 British Touring Car Championship.

BTC Racing’s Josh Cook drove a fantastic race to hold off his charging opposition from start to finish in the first round of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton.

He was able to capitalise on the contact in front of him and pull away from lap 1 to come home with the victory.

BTCC fans have been patiently waiting for the start of the new season, and the first round certainly didn’t disappoint. With crashes and door-to-door racing everywhere you look, the action was non-stop all morning.

A returning Jason Plato started his 600th BTCC race, and Rory Butcher his 100th.

Thruxton is the UK’s fastest racing circuit, and with the cars having never been tested in actual race conditions, there were bound to be teething problems for some teams. Surprisingly though, two of the most recognisable faces and names in the BTCC, Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington had a controversial coming together.

Reigning Champion and race one pole sitter, Ash Stutton in his Infiniti Q50 made a good get away originally. However, coming out of the last section of the chicane on lap one he would be nudged and spun by four time champion Colin Turkington.

This would send the young Brit to the very back of the field with all of the hard work to do to try and scavenge some points back.

Turkington received a 17s time post-race penalty due to the contact with Sutton which dropped him from fourth in the classification, back down to tenth.

Controversy about the length of the penalty is being argued across the paddock as well as social media, with engineers and home engineers both critiquing the stewards decisions publicly.

A returning face to the BTCC, Gordon Shedden had a big crash coming onto the main back straight.

The ex-BTCC champion was all over the back of Ollie Jackson coming out of the first set of corners and just tagged his rear bumper sending Sheddon spinning across the circuit.

He would be T-boned by Chris Smiley and sent into the opposite tyre barrier where his race would come to an abrupt end.

Thankfully all drivers involved where unhurt and walked away from the scene of the accident.

The safety car would be bought out for the first time, turning the remaining laps into a fighting frenzy for track position.

Position Driver Team
1 Josh Cook BTC Racing
2 Tom Ingram
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
3 Jake Hill
MB Motorsport (C)
4 Dan Cammish BTC Racing
5 Rory Butcher
Toyota GAZOO Racing UK (C)
6 Jason Plato
Power Maxed Racing
7 Daniel Rowbottom Team Dynamics
8 Adam Morgan
Ciceley Motorsport
9 Ash Sutton
Laser Tools Racing
10 Colin Turkington (P4 to P10 w/ +17s penalty) Team BMW (C)
11 Aiden Moffat
Laser Tools Racing
12 Carl Boardley
Laser Tools Racing
13 Jack Goff Team HARD
14 Tom Chilton
Ciceley Motorsport
15 Tom Oliphant Team BMW (C)
16 Dan Lloyd
Power Maxed Racing
17 Sam Osborne
Motorbase Performance (C)
18 Árón Taylor-Smith Team HARD
19 Ollie Jackson
MB Motorsport (C)
20 Jade Edwards BTC Racing
21 Jack Butel
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
22 Glynn Geddie Team HARD
23 Sam Smelt
Toyota GAZOO Racing UK (C)
24 Andy Neate
Motorbase Performance (C)
25 Rick Parfitt Jr.
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars
26 Nicolas Hamilton Team HARD
27 Stephen Jelley (DNF) Team BMW (C)
28 Gordon Shedden (DNF) Team Dynamics
29 Chris Smiley (DNF)
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars

Butcher describes approach to 100th race as ‘wake-up call’

Butcher
Credit: BTCC

Toyota GAZOO Racing UK driver Rory Butcher reflects fondly on his experience ahead of his 100th race in the British Touring Car Championship.

The 2019 Independents’ Champion will be making his 100th start at tomorrow’s Race 1 at Thruxton.

Ahead of the season-opener, he qualified fifth during a qualifying session that was rapidly drying towards the latter stages.

“It was a bit of a wake up call,” he said.

“I remember 2017 and Knockhill, and it was quite an experience – I came into the car and said ‘Guys, those other competitors are aggressive – Is that normal?’ [and] they’re like ‘Yeah, what are you worried about?’.

“So since then, obviously, [I] gained a lot of experience. And it’s just been such a great learning curve, like, these car are very, very technical.”

Embed from Getty Images

The 34-year-old debuted into the BTCC at the 19th round of the 2017 BTCC championship for Motorbase Performance after a number of GT sportscar endurance commitments.

In the prior year, he claimed second in the European Le Mans Series (GTE) drivers’ standings after three wins and four podiums in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia.

His first BTCC victory came at the 2019 season opener at Brands Hatch which was his first weekend in the Honda Civic Type R FK2 at AmD Technik Essex.

Perez reveals shoulder injury hampered qualifying session

Perez
Credit: Photo by Mark Thompson, Getty Images // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez says shoulder injury hampered his qualifying session as he “was not feeling 100%” after another difficult Saturday in the Red Bull.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen secured his front-row start at the Spanish Grand Prix, only 0.036s slower than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, who achieved 100 career poles in Formula One. However, the Dutchman’s teammate endured another disappointing qualifying session in the RB16B.

It was a tough session for Perez in Q3, as he struggled for balance on the car and spun at turn 13 on his first flying lap, putting extra pressure on the 31-year-old to produce one excellent lap in the final stages to have any chance of coming close to the front three.

But, unsurprisingly, Perez struggled in his only one flying lap and could only go eighth fastest, with both Ferrari drivers and Daniel Ricciardo starting in front of him. 

Embed from Getty Images

While the spun in the opening stages affected his session, the Red Bull driver also revealed that he was suffering from a shoulder injury throughout qualifying.

Speaking to Red Bull after qualifying, Perez said: “It was a tough qualifying out there and just a bad day in general. 

“I didn’t get a good lap throughout today and I was not feeling 100% in qualifying with some shoulder pain so we did well to progress to Q3 which shows what a good car we have. 

“In terms of pace, we have a very good race car so it’s a shame we are starting out of position as it’s a difficult place to overtake but I’m confident we will be able to fight for a very strong result.”

Perez’s life at Red Bull has been up and down so far, with plenty more downfalls as he only managed to score twenty-two points in the opening three races, forty points less than his teammate Verstappen in second. 

Embed from Getty Images

The 31-year-old vows to be ‘aggressive’ in tomorrow’s Grand Prix, and make his way through the grid to have any chance of catching the leaders.

“Tomorrow is a new opportunity, hopefully, we are able to minimize the damage and take some steps forward. 

“I’ll be aggressive as I need to come through the field and catch up to the leaders as early as possible. 

“In general, it’s not been the best weekend from my side but looking at previous races this year, you can see things are coming together and I’m just getting to know the car better which is the key.”

Ricciardo happy with Q3 result but rues missing final flying lap

Ricciardo
Credit: McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo was pleased that he has taken a step forward with McLaren after qualifying seventh for the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, but he was not entirely happy with his final Q3 lap.

The McLaren driver had one of his best qualifying sessions of the season at the Barcelona circuit, out-qualifying his teammate Lando Norris, who was ninth, for the first time this year.

But while Ricciardo was happy to have finally achieved a decent result on Saturday in 2021, he was left ruing the fact he ran out of time to complete another lap at the end of Q3.

The 31-year-old was one of the last drivers to leave the pits for his final run and with the cars ahead creating gaps to ensure there was enough space to complete a flying lap without turbulent air, it meant Ricciardo failed to make it across the start/finish line before the chequered flag came out.

Embed from Getty Images

Speaking to Sky Sports after qualifying, Ricciardo said: “It’s certainly a more positive day and in saying that, there’s still a little bit of maybe what could have been because it’s the last run.
“We ran out of time, so it was a little bit of a Monza scenario a couple of years ago.”

Embed from Getty Images

The midfield is extremely tight, with fourth to eighth separated by just by two tenths of a second, and Ricciardo things that if he could have put together a better lap he may have been able to grab fourth position, putting him ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
“I think it was a tenth to fourth and I think a tenth is always there, especially when I’m still trying to get on top of the cars.” Ricciardo added.
“So maybe that was there, but nonetheless, a much better day and happier, even from yesterday and obviously a week ago, but progress means positivity.”

Monaco FE: Da Costa wins with insane final lap move

Monaco E-Prix
Credit: © FIA Formula E

Antonio Felix Da Costa put the last lap into Last-Lap.co.uk winning the Monaco E-Prix after a blissfully committed lunge on Mitch Evans at the Nouvelle Chicane!

It was supremacy from Da Costa, Evans and Robin Frijns who took Evans on the line for second.

Da Costa led away from the start with Frijns behind and Evans in third. Frijns wasn’t letting him go though and a few laps later he took the lead.

It became an excellent nip and tuck battle between the two with the lead changing hands throughout Attack Mode activation and Da Costa was able to get back into the lead and Frijns was able to take him back again.

The two of them had pulled away with Evans, Vergne and Günther tripping over each other behind. Frijns was in the lead with two seconds back to Da Costa but a slow lap allowed the much faster Da Costa to catch up and Da Costa used fanboost through the tunnel to sweep in front of Frijns.

This had allowed Evans to catch up with a later Attack Mode and he blasted past Frijns and caught up with Da Costa before taking a fantastic move at the top of the hill to go through a gap that didn’t exist and take the lead before the Safety Car came out and we had to figure out how the hell that had happened.

René Rast’s car, which had a broken rear suspension after he understeered wide whilst racing Nick Cassidy at Ste Devote.

With the energy reduction after the Safety Car, there was an incredibly difficult sprint to the flag. Da Costa was all over the back of Evans, at every corner he was trying a move. You can race at Monaco

“You all know what race I’m thinking back to right now” was the cry from Jack Nicholls and the Senna vs Mansell 1992 comparison was well deserved.

On the final lap of the race Da Costa lunged it into the chicane. He was way back, he was locked up, he wasn’t going to make it…surely

And he made it, he stopped the car, he even made the apex. Unreal. Absolutely beautiful.

Getting to the end was just a formality then with the struggling Evans and at the line Frijns was able to get a blast through and he took Evans on the line.

  1. Antonio Felix Da Costa – DS Techeetah
  2. Robin Frijns – Envision Virgin
  3. Mitch Evans – Jaguar

Exceptional!

Spanish GP: Hamilton roars to hundredth pole position

Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton, pole-sitter - Credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Media / Jiri Krenek

Lewis Hamilton’s stunning Q3 lap was good enough to take pole in Barcelona and his hundredth career pole position in Formula 1. 

Lewis Hamilton hit a century of pole positions in today’s qualifying session. The Mercedes driver set a 1m16.741s on his first flying lap in Q3. That was a strong enough time to bring up a ton of pole positions.

Max Verstappen will line up alongside Hamilton as the Red Bull driver couldn’t go faster on his second run in Q3.

The Dutchman’s lap time 1m16.777s meant he split the Mercedes cars. Valtteri Bottas rounds out the top three, the second Mercedes driver complained about some over-steer on his final flying lap.

Charles Leclerc once again shone on a Saturday as he claimed fourth position to lead the midfield. Old French F4 rival Esteban Ocon starts fifth, the Alpine driver again out-qualified his illustrious teammate.

Sergio Perez endured a tough final session as a spin at turn 13 compromised his run programme. Perez could only manage eighth on his last lap. The two Mclaren drivers sandwich Perez. Daniel Ricciardo starts seventh, with Lando Norris a disappointing ninth after promising so much.

Pierre Gasly was another driver that promised a lot, but he got knocked out in Q2. Both Aston Martins join Gasly in failing to make it to Q3. F1’s perennial Saturday star George Russell delivered another Q2 berth for Williams.

The big upset in Q1 was the elimination of Yuki Tsunoda. The rookie made his anger loud and clear on the radio and the interview pen afterwards. The youngest man on the grid will start one place ahead of the oldest man Kimi Raikkonen.

The familiar names round out the grid, although Mick Schumacher out-qualified Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

Ultimately, the day belonged to Lewis Hamilton. For the hundredth time, the Englishman will lead the pack off the line.

Provisional Qualifying Classification

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 1m16.741s
  2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing – 1m16.777s
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – 1m16.873s
  4. Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari – 1m17.510s
  5. Esteban Ocon, Alpine – 1m17.580s
  6. Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari – 1m17.620s
  7. Daniel Ricciardo, Mclaren – 1m17.622s
  8. Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing – 1m17.701s
  9. Lando Norris, Mclaren – 1m18.010s
  10. Fernando Alonso, Alpine –  1m18.147s
  11. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin – 1m17.974s
  12. Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri – 1m17.982s
  13. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin –  1m18.079s
  14. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Sauber –  1m18.356s
  15. George Russell, Williams – 1m19.154s
  16. Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri – 1m18.556s
  17. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Sauber – 1m18.917s
  18. Mick Schumacher, Haas –  1m19.117s
  19. Nicholas Latifi, Williams – 1m19.219s
  20. Nikita Mazepin, Haas –  1m19.807s

 

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