Tag Archives: Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton 'silenced the myth' after out-qualifying Valtteri Bottas ahead of French GP

Lewis Hamilton says he’s ‘silenced the myth’ after outperforming team-mate Valtteri Bottas to start second on the grid ahead of the French Grand Prix, despite switching his chassis with the Finn this weekend.

Max Verstappen secured his fifth career pole position ahead of the race on Sunday, with Bottas starting third, as the championship leader looks to extend his lead at the top of the standings.

However, Bottas has been rapid across the three practice sessions in Paul Ricard, after two tough weekends, with some suggesting it could be down to Mercedes swapping his chassis with Hamilton’s.

All season, Hamilton has been driving chassis number six, with Bottas in chassis number four ahead of the French Grand Prix. Yet now, Mercedes have switched the pairing, with the Briton now in the number four.

However, Hamilton, who starts ahead of his team-mate, says he’s silenced his critics by qualifying ahead of Bottas.

“It’s been a really hard weekend,” said the seven-time world champion, “Mentally and not physically but just trying to get the car into a happy place.

JUST IN: Nico Rosberg has Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton suspicion

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Max Verstappen wants to 'finish off' Lewis Hamilton job as Dutchman takes French GP pole

Championship leader Max Verstappen says he’s ready to ‘finish off’ what he started in Azerbaijan after sealing pole position for the French Grand Prix. Verstappen sent Lewis Hamilton a clear warning sign ahead of the race after taking his second pole position of the season around Paul Ricard, a first ever in France for Red Bull.

The Dutchman secured his fifth career pole position after setting a 1:29.990s lap, going 0.258s faster than Hamilton in second place with Valtteri Bottas starting third in the other Mercedes.

And the Dutchman, who was on course to win in Baku last time out before a tyre blowout a few laps before the end of the race, insists he’s keen to finish off the job in Sunday’s race.

“I mean so far it’s been a really positive weekend on a track where normally it’s been a bit difficult for us,” said Verstappen.

“Yesterday FP2 was a bit of a turnaround and we just made it even better today. Of course, to get pole position was really nice.

“No points are scored today [in qualifying] but for us it’s a great day.

MUST READ: Lewis Hamilton ‘silenced the myth’ after out-qualifying Bottas

“Of course we have to finish it off tomorrow and try and get the 25 points that we lost in Baku. It’s a great performance from our side and I hope that we can keep it up.”

Verstappen, who leads the championship to Hamilton by four points, took the lead of the standings with victory in Monte Carlo earlier in the month.

And the 23-year-old said he was keen to show what he can do around a ‘normal’ circuit, rather than a street circuit.

He added: “I am actually [confident]. The car felt good yesterday in FP2 so I’m looking forward to it.”

Mercedes struggled coming into the weekend after scoring just seven points across the past two races, with Bottas not scoring a point since Spain in May.

Verstappen’s team-mate starts fourth on the grid, with Carlos Sainz rounding up the top five in the Ferrari.

Coming into the weekend, Hamilton said he was keen to silence any critics, admitting he feels ‘no pressure’ from Verstappen heading into the French Grand Prix.

Last time out, Hamilton made a rare mistake after the race had been red-flagged due to a tyre blowout from Verstappen, squandering the chance to retake the championship lead.

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“Max wasn’t in the race at the time so I definitely wasn’t under pressure from him,” said Hamilton.

“I don’t even count it as a mistake and I don’t even know what the mistake before that was, but I don’t feel any pressure, I feel pretty relaxed. You can’t always be perfect.

“A mistake is when you often drive off the track after missing your braking point or a hit the wall, but it as an unforced error.

“It was something we had that was sitting there that could’ve happened at any point, and it, unfortunately, bit us pretty hard.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lewis Hamilton responds to Max Verstappen pressure talk as rivalry continues at French GP

Lewis Hamilton is looking to silence any critics this weekend as Mercedes look to bounce back from two tough weekends in Monaco and Baku, admitting he feels ‘no pressure’ from Max Verstappen heading to the French GP.

Last time out, Hamilton made a very rare mistake in the car after the race had been red-flagged due to a tyre blowout from his main title rival and championship leader Verstappen.

The seven-time world champion lined up second on the grid for the restart, but plummeted to 15th after challenging Sergio Perez for the lead, accidentally activating a button on the car’s steering wheel – which changes brake bias settings and is used to heat the front tyres.

As a result, Hamilton locked up and went straight at turn one down the escape route, finishing P15 in Baku, and despite a DNF from Verstappen, due to Hamilton’s mistake, he walked away still leading the championship.

“Max wasn’t in the race at the time so I definitely wasn’t under pressure from him,” said Hamilton.

“I don’t even count it as a mistake and I don’t even know what the mistake before that was, but I don’t feel any pressure, I feel pretty relaxed. You can’t always be perfect.

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“A mistake is when you often drive off the track after missing your braking point or a hit the wall, but it as an unforced error.

“It was something we had that was sitting there that could’ve happened at any point, and it, unfortunately, bit us pretty hard.”

Ahead of the French GP, Mercedes say they are to introduce a change to avoid a repeat of the switch mishap that sent Hamilton off the track amid the dramatic end to the Azerbaijan GP.

“We’ve not moved it, we’ve just put a shroud around it just to make sure that I can’t accidentally touch it in the future, but that’s for the short term, obviously the wheels not too easy to change or to move buttons as it’s all designed,” added Hamilton.

“So we’ll look for a longer-term solution in the future.”

And Hamilton is confident he and Mercedes can turn things around this weekend.

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He said: “We continue to strive for perfection, we continue to unite and there is not really a lot we can’t do when we are together and united,” he said, “so I am looking forward to getting back onto a track where we probably won’t be as affected with tyre temps, for example.

“The last two races have definitely been really difficult for us as a whole, as a team. Fortunately, with two terrible races for us, we ended up being very, very close in points so the race is still very much on.”

Meanwhile, Verstappen, who was alongside the Briton in the press conference ahead of the French Grand Prix, agreed that due to the nature of the track at Paul Ricard, Mercedes would be stronger.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lewis Hamilton fans offered more British GP hope after 'positive' government talks

Despite the UK Government delaying the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the UK, Silverstone circuit say they remain ‘confident’ fans will be allowed to attend – with discussions continuing behind closed doors amid the possibility of a capacity crowd for the British Grand Prix.

It had been hoped that, in line with Government guidelines, Silverstone would be able to have the race take place in front of a full crowd, with Boris Johnson lifting restrictions from June 21.

However, on Monday it was announced these plans were to be delayed by four weeks as the UK had not met the requirements put in place to ease the restrictions.

Under the current rules, events outdoors are limited to 10,000 people or 25 percent of a venue’s capacity.

However, the British Grand Prix is to be part of the Event Research Programme, which, alongside various other events like music concerts, Euro 2020 football championship, and Wimbledon, will examine the risk of catching COVID-19 from attending the events.

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In a message on their website, Silverstone said: “Following today’s announcement confirming that the easing of lockdown restrictions will be delayed by four weeks, we’d like to reassure you that we remain confident fans will be back at Silverstone for the 2021 Formula 1 British Grand Prix in July.”

“Our ongoing discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, as well as Public Health England, are positive,” the track said.

“We will communicate the full details with you once we have them.”

But, according to Telegraph Sport, talks have started regarding the possibility of running the event at full capacity, if Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a delay to ‘freedom day’ until July 19.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Mercedes given wildcard in hunt for new Lewis Hamilton team-mate

Former McLaren Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen has claimed he would only return to the sport if he received an offer from Mercedes or Red Bull. Such comments do not go unnoticed in the midst of speculation surrounding a new partner for Lewis Hamilton with current team-mate Valtteri Bottas faltering.

Magnussen, who now races in the IMSA Championship in North America, enjoyed seven full seasons in F1 with McLaren, Renault and Haas before his contract was not renewed last year.

Reflecting on a lengthy spell in an uber-competitive sport, the Dane said: “I’m super happy about that and I had some great experiences. Having said that, I feel fresh motivation, and I feel like it’s fun again.”

However, when presented with the possibility of returning to F1, Magnussen claimed: “If I had a Mercedes or a Red Bull I wouldn’t say no. I don’t think many racing drivers would, but that’s not going to happen.”

His comments surrounding the enjoyment of sport highlight the stress and pressure that F1 drivers experience during the course of the season.

JUST IN: Valtteri Bottas struggled to get a ‘positive spiral’ as poor form at Mercedes continues

Despite enjoying the same machine as Hamilton, Bottas has accumulated less than half the points, often trailing so far off the pace that he cannot fulfil his wing-man role for the Englishman.

Verstappen, on the other hand, has benefitted from an effective wing-man in the form of Mexican Sergio Perez, propelling the Dutchman to the top of the drivers’ standings.

Williams’ George Russell has been touted as the most likely replacement for Bottas going into 2022.

The 23-year-old is one of the sport’s most exciting youngsters and is widely expected to line up in the Mercedes machine sooner or later.

The switch was generally expected to happen in the off-season, although it has also been suggested that if Bottas’ form does not pick up soon, Mercedes could be forced to make the embarrassing switch mid-season.

Certainly, Kevin Magnussen was not a name many expected to hear in this department.

Even the man himself has admitted that it is unlikely, but with Mercedes on the brink of being forced into a decision by Bottas’ poor form, never say never.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lewis Hamilton contract deadline set by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff as talks appear underway

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is already in contract talks for 2022 with Mercedes, according to motorsport.com, with a deadline of June 15 set by boss Toto Wolff.

Speculation has surrounded Hamilton after he opted for a one-year deal with the Silver Arrows for 2021, with some suggesting he would choose to retire come the end of 2021, if he wins a record-breaking eighth world title.

According to reports, the 36-year-old is willing to agree on a wage cut in order to sort a new deal with the world champions.

It would run until the end of the 2022 season, with an option to extend it for another year, with Mercedes boss Wolff keen to sort it all by mid-June, to avoid lengthy contract negotiations.

Talks over the previous deal between Hamilton and Mercedes earlier this year dragged on throughout the winter and into spring.

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Finally, in February, Hamilton put pen to paper – but opted for just a year-long deal with the Silver Arrows, securing his future in F1 for another year.

This season, however, Hamilton claimed talks would happen much earlier, after they “ruined” his winter last time out, with his boss agreeing that this time around it’ll be done much earlier, and would be longer than a year.

“Yes, it should be [more than a year],” Wolff said. “We don’t want to be in a stressful situation every single year where we are absolutely flat-out trying to win races and needing to negotiate. I would rather that doesn’t happen every year.

“We just need to spend a day or two together, put it out there, and decide which are the difficult components. We will then lock the door and won’t walk out until it is sorted. That works best for us and it has worked best for us in the past.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lewis Hamilton 'willing to take pay cut' for new Mercedes contract but wants huge clause

Lewis Hamilton is reportedly willing to accept a lower basic salary in negotiations over a new Mercedes contract but is eager to include a clause that entitles him to a significantly bigger bonus for winning the Drivers’ Championship.

Seven-time Formula One world champion Hamilton is only under contract with the Silver Arrows until the end of the current 2021 season.

After six races, Hamilton trails Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by four points in the championship after a rare mistake at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last time out led to a 15th-placed finish.

But the Briton is expected to battle the Dutchman all season long in a duel that could go to the wire across the 23-race calendar.

In the background, talk about Hamilton’s future in the sport continues with Hamilton turning 37 next January and currently out of contract at the end of the season.

Motorsport.com report that Hamilton is willing to agree a wage cut in order to agree a new deal with world champions Mercedes.

Yet in order to do so, it is claimed he wants to double the bonus he currently receives for winning the title.

The report claims a deal will only guarantee Hamilton stays at Mercedes an extra 12 months although there will be an option for an additional year to take the agreement until the end of 2023.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is said to want a resolution to the matter by June 15 as he seeks to finish negotiations as quickly as possible.

This year, Hamilton did not sign a new one-year deal until February, nearly two full months after the conclusion of the 2020 season in which he tied Michael Schumacher for the most driver’s titles of all time.

There are said to be several aspects of a deal still to be thrashed out with it claimed Hamilton has asked Mercedes to secure him a future position in Daimler’s structure.

That is because once he finishes racing, he is keen to continue his work improving diversity in F1.

In fact, the defending champion – who has 98 race wins and 100 pole positions – insists he is more passionate about campaigning for diversity than he is about winning more titles.

“It’s not about dividing, it’s about bringing people together, it’s about holding people accountable. For me, I’m comfortable having conversations with my boss, with Mercedes, with partners.

“We have to have those uncomfortable conversations. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. ‘What can we do together to make it more diverse?’ All the businesses need to be more reflective of the world around us.

“It’s not going to change anything [winning the world championship]. I know who I am and what I’m capable of, where I come from and what we’ve achieved. What I would be proud of is that last year the team only had three per cent diversity.

“If at the end of this year we have five per cent or slightly more, and in the next couple of years we were into the teens, that for me is huge. So that’s what I’m most passionate about.”

F1 takes a week off this weekend but then returns for the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard on June 18 to June 20. 

Do you think Mercedes should agree to double Hamilton’s bonus payment if he wins more world titles? Have your say in the comments below

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lewis Hamilton explains Azerbaijan GP misery as Brit 'humbled' after missing out on win

Lewis Hamilton was left devastated after missing out on the chance to retake the lead of the championship after main title rival Max Verstappen crashed out in a spectacular final four laps of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Verstappen crashed out from the lead of the race with just four laps to go due to a tyre failure, bringing out the red flag.

Race control decided to restart the race after the debris was removed from the track, with Perez inheriting the lead in a two lap-sprint finish.

After an electric restart, Hamilton, in second, went side by side with Perez before locking up his tyres and going straight at turn one, with the pack of cars speeding past him.

The mistake played into Red Bull’s hands with Perez grabbing his second Formula One win and his first for the team, with no points scored by either of the two main title contenders.

Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: “Naturally it’s quite a humbling experience to deal with. We’d worked so hard this weekend to come back out of the top 10 and it was looking so good.

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Sergio Perez wins after Hamilton mistake and Verstappen crash

Sergio Perez wins after Hamilton mistakeAzerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Azerbaijan Grand Prix RECAP

– Sergio Perez wins his first race with Red Bull after late Lewis Hamilton mistake costs Briton

– Hamilton ended 15th despite having excellent chance of winning race

– Max Verstappen was in control of race but suffered big 200mph crash due to tyre failure
– Red flags had to be brought out after the incident – read more here

– Sebastian Vettel ends in second for Aston Martin, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly third

4pm: Have you got your breath back yet? Me neither.

That’s all we’ve got time for today – thanks for joining Express Sport for this afternoon’s race.

Stick around for all the best reaction including quotes from Hamilton and Verstappen and more. Cheers!

3.40pm: Read more about that incredible end to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix here.

3.35pm: Words from race-winner Perez: “Normally Baku is pretty crazy. I have to say sorry to Max, it would have been incredible to get that one-two for the team.

“But at the end, it was a fantastic day for us. We were close to retiring the car but luckily we managed to finish the race.

“This is definitely a strong boost of confidence for myself.”

An unforgettable moment for the Mexican, while Vettel labels himself “over the moon” to come second for Aston Martin having also been fifth in Monaco following a great drive.

3.25pm: Perez has to stop on track with a mechanical failure – he’ll be very thankful that issue has come now the race has finished rather than before he reached the finish line.

That’s just his second ever Formula One race win after his Sakhir Grand Prix triumph last year. What a crazy last hour.

That of course means Red Bull remain top of both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings.

Perez is on 69 points with Verstappen out in front on 105, ahead of Hamilton on 101. Red Bull’s Constructors’ lead is now 174 points to Mercedes’ 148.

3.20pm: Steam was pouring out of Hamilton’s brakes before the race restart and what a mistake from the Briton.

It’s a rare one but one that has cost him at the very least a podium and perhaps even the full 25 points. He had a great chance of victory but instead he ends up 15th and it’s Perez who steals victory.

Vettel finishes second with Gasly third to complete the podium. Elsewhere, Leclerc ends fourth with Norris fifth, Alonso sixth, Tsunoda eighth and Ricciardo ninth.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

SERGIO PEREZ WINS THE AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX!

Lap 51: Incredible last-lap drama as Gasly and Leclerc battle for third spot.

Lap 50: LEWIS HAMILTON MISTAKE! Wow. Hamilton got past Perez into the first corner but locked up and goes into the run-off area at turn one.

“I’m so sorry guys,” he tells the team radio. He recovers to get back on track but it’s Perez who leads after a great restart.

3pm: The race will get back underway at 10 minutes past the hour. This could be very exciting. Can Mercedes snatch a race win?

This could be a massive moment in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship battles.

2.55pm: While we wait for the race restart, here’s the current order of the cars…

1) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
4) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
5) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
6) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
7) Lando Norris, McLaren
8) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
9) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
10) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
11) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
12) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
13) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
14) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
15) George Russell, Williams
16) Mick Schumacher, Haas
17) Nikita Mazepin, Haas
OUT: Max Verstappen, Red Bull
OUT: Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
OUT: Esteban Ocon, Alpine

2.45pm: Red Bull spoke to race director Michael Masi after Verstappen’s collision and explained they’d had no warning of the tyre failure and asked for a red flag to be brought out.

“Michael I know you’re busy, but we got zero warning of that failure. So consider a red flag,” they said.

That’s why we’re at a standstill. Worrying that the Milton Keynes-based outfit had nothing in their data that suggested the tyre would blow up as it did.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

2.40pm: We’re expecting the race still to be restarted. The red flags are merely out to clear the debris on the track, not to signal the end of racing.

Looks like cars will be changing to new tyres while they’re in the pits too.

Meanwhile Red Bull boss Christian Horner is heard saying of Verstappen’s crash: “I think it’s a tyre failure. They’re at the end of their life. It’s exactly the same tyred that failed on Stroll, so I think it’s a tyre issue.”

THE RED FLAGS ARE OUT AT THE AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX 

Lap 48: Tragic for Verstappen, who had driven so well all afternoon. He’s deeply frustrated as he walks back to the pits. He’s OK, but mentally that is a big blow.

The Red Bull garage look just as devastated after that 200mph crash. Red Bull’s first one-two in a long, long time has been taken from them.

Lap 47: MAX VERSTAPPEN CRASHES OUT! Incredible drama. His left rear failed just like Stroll’s.

He was coming down the main straight but then his tyre went and he couldn’t do anything but spin off into the right-hand side.

Lap 41: Verstappen is clear out in front but his Red Bull team-mate is under pressure because Hamilton is hot on Perez’s heels.

The Briton has just managed a new fastest lap but sees Verstappen immediately takes the extra point back. At this rate, the Dutchman will end the weekend 15 points ahead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Lap 37: We’re back racing! Hamilton has got a tow on Perez but can’t get past him on the first lap after the restart.

Vettel gets past Leclerc into fifth and the Ferrari driver is lucky not to shunt into the back of the German a couple of corners later after a lock-up.

Aston Martin’s Vettel then gets beyond Pierre Gasly and is up into fourth. Could he catch Hamilton? His compounds are seven laps fresher.

Bottas was ninth but he’s now down to 13th. A grim weekend for the Finn in Baku.

Lap 36: Schumacher is forced to stop at the of the pitlane, before crossing the white line, and is rolled back into Haas’ box after an unsafe release. He’s still in the race though.

Lap 35: Hamilton says he can’t attack an overtake at the Safety Car restart on his current tyres. He’ll need a pitstop if he’s to get past Perez at any point it seems.

The pitlane opens up before the race restart but at this point, the cars are all bunched together and pitting drivers risk losing an irrecoverable amount of places.

Despite that, Alonso, Russell, Schumacher and Giovinazzi all box.

Lap 32: Big crash! The yellow flags are out and so will be a Safety Car as Stroll leaves debris all over the track due to an 180mph impact.

The Canadian is thankfully fine but suffered a high-speed shove into the wall just before the pitlane entry, spinning off to the left after a left rear tyre puncture.

The pitlane is closed because of where his car is positioned.

Lap 31: Verstappen is comfortable out in front – he’s now nearly seven seconds clear of team-mate Perez in first.

Mercedes rival Bottas has had a hurry-up from the Silver Arrows, being told he’ll finish ninth or 10th if he doesn’t pass Norris.

Lap 28: Was Hamilton playing mind games? He’s just started going faster again behind the two Red Bulls. We’ll see whether it’s fast enough to catch up to and overtake Perez.

Sainz overtakes Alonso back down the order but he’s still only up to 12th. He’s seven seconds behind Bottas in the final points-finishing position. Not the race day the Spaniard will have been hoping for.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 26: Nikita Mazepin goes off down the escape round at turn four due to a lockout on both front tyres in the Haas.

The Russian, running 19th, is able to recover, while cameras show Bottas ran wide at turn 16 as he looks to overtake Norris.

Lap 24: It’s close among the top three but Verstappen boasts a three-second advantage for the timebeing.

Hamilton has just dropped off slightly from Perez but is seven seconds clear of fourth-placed Lance Stroll, who has not yet pitted.

The Briton says he’s “losing ground” on the two Red Bulls and he’s no longer in tow. Does he need to pit once more for fresh tyres towards the end?

Lap 20: Vettel is finally into the pits and Verstappen gratefully takes the lead of the race. The German rejoins in seventh between Leclerc and Tsunoda.

Hamilton is going at a good speed in third but he’s not quite within DRS range of Perez as he slipstreams the Red Bull.

Lap 17: Aston Martin’s Vettel still out in front having yet to stop, while the rest of the top 10 is as follows…

1) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
5) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
6) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
9) Lando Norris, McLaren
10) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 15: Not good for Hamilton. Perez’s pitstop is slow and so he loses the lead to Verstappen, but the Mexican still comes out ahead of the Mercedes.

Can the Briton get back ahead of him while Perez is warming up his new tyres?

Lap 13: Hamilton pits first – but it’s a 4.6 second stop due to Pierre Gasly coming into the pits for AlphaTauri. That’s not an insignificant amount of time.

He rejoins in fourth before Verstappen boxes for a 1.9 second stop. He comes out with a healthy gap on his title rival, though Sergio Perez remains first and Sebastian Vettel – yet to pit- is second in the Aston Martin.

“How’s he so far ahead of me?” asks seven-time world champion Hamilton with Verstappen several seconds ahead of him.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz meanwhile goes into the run-off area at turn eight after locking up on his new hard tyres but is able to back up and return to the track.

Lap 11: Leclerc comes into the pits for the hard rubbers, with Hamilton and Verstappen still yet to come in. The latter is meanwhile on the cusp of DRS range.

Tsunoda, after telling his pitlane to “shut up” when being told to push harder, also makes an early pitstop.

Lap 8: More misery for Leclerc, as he drops to fourth with Red Bull’s Perez – who started sixth – the next to overtake him into the final podium position.

Alonso and Norris both pit with the latter looking to try and undercut ninth-placed Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 7: Leclerc drops to second as Verstappen gets past the Ferrari. The Dutchman is through to attack race leader Hamilton now.

Further back, Yuki Tsunoda overtakes Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in the AlphaTauri to move into seventh.

Lap 4: We have our first retirement. Esteban Ocon loses power in the Alpine and is forced back into the pits.

Lap 3: Just like that, Lewis Hamilton leads! That superior straight-line speed from the Mercedes, and the tow of Leclerc’s Ferrari, sees the Briton snatch the lead with ease down the 2km straight.

George Russell meanwhile pits for Williams. He’s trying to run on the hard tyres until the end of the race and Antonio Giovinazzi follows suit for Alfa Romeo.

Lap 1: We’re underway in the Azerbaijani capital! A good start for Leclerc and also for Hamilton. Verstappen stays behind the Merc in third.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez meanwhile jumps up from sixth to fourth after a great start. Norris is down to 12th for McLaren.

AND IT’S LIGHTS OUT AT THE AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX!

12.50pm: Almost time for lights out in Baku. Max Verstappen wasn’t happy yesterday about the madness of qualifying and how many stoppages there were.

The angry Dutchman said: “All this s**t is all the time happening in Q3, I don’t care. It’s just unfortunate. It’s a street circuit so these things can happen.

“Qualifying, a lot of things are happening. Maybe in the race these things can happen again. Let’s hope for a clean start and we’ll see from there.”

Will we get an incident-free opening lap? Let’s hope so. Third-placed Verstappen will certainly be crossing his fingers for one.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

12.35pm: Lewis Hamilton, after ending up P2, hailed Mercedes’ remarkable turnaround in qualifying after a miserable Friday which saw them stuck outside of the top 10.

“We definitely weren’t expecting that,” the seven-time world champion admitted. “This is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend. You can see it.

“We kept our composure. We’ve continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer.

“We’ve moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it’s been so difficult.”

He added of today’s race: “For us to turn it around and to be in the top three competing so closely with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, who have been just destroying everyone last weekend and this weekend, is just [great to be] in the fight.

“We have got a race tomorrow and we are in a position to get some good points. I’m just excited.”

12.20pm: There were four red flags in a hectic qualifying session and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso has urged his Formula One rivals to “calm down a little bit”.

“I think the people need to calm down a little bit and drive 98 per cent in a street circuit because if you crash and you start last in the race, maybe you don’t drive over your possibilities,” the two-time world champion told Sky Sports F1.

“Today we saw many people driving over the possibilities of their car or their abilities.”

The Spaniard starts eighth in Baku today and said: “We have a good car; it has been good all weekend. We have always been in the top 10 in every session and we felt comfortable.

“Here you can overtake if you have the pace, so we need to take care of the tyres – that will be the hot topic for the race, I guess – but we are reasonably confident to take good points.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

12.05pm: As a result of Norris’ three-place grid penalty, the top 10 for today’s race start is as follows…

1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
7) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
9) Lando Norris, McLaren
10) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

12pm: Further down the grid, Lando Norris will start ninth for McLaren, having been pushed down three spots because of a red-flag infringement.

The Briton did not pit at the first opportunity during a red flag as is mandatory, although his punishment has been reduced from the usual five-place penalty.

The stewards said: “During the hearing the driver admitted that he lifted the throttle, braked and was committed to and able to enter the pitlane.

“At that moment he was not sure what to do and asked his team over the radio. Although the team ordered him immediately to enter the pits, it was too late and NOR crossed the finish line one more time.

“The stewards assume that if a red flag is not respected during qualifying, a drop of 5 grid positions is appropriate.

“However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track, a drop of three grid positions is sufficient as an exception.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE: Charles Leclerc faces Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle

Azerbaijan Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

11.45pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix!

Charles Leclerc starts on pole for Ferrari having been denied the chance to front the pack in Monaco a fortnight ago by a pre-race mechanical issue.

The Monegasque, bidding to secure the Prancing Horse’s first race win in two years, is joined by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the front row after Q3 was cut short by a red flag yesterday.

Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauri crashed at Turn 3 and was followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who locked up and went into the run-off area just seconds later as the session came to a premature end.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the Drivers’ Championship leader, was denied the chance to beat his time and starts third with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly fourth.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lewis Hamilton throws away Azerbaijan win as Max Verstappen crashes out – 'I'm so sorry'

Lewis Hamilton threw away the chance to take back the lead of the championship standings after making an uncharacteristic mistake on a red-flagged restart at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after title rival Max Verstappen hit the wall. Sergio Perez went on to win the race.

“I’m so sorry guys,” said Hamilton after going off at the first corner having been side by side with Sergio Perez.

The finale was a two-lap sprint race thanks to an earlier red flag due to Verstappen’s crash. Perez took victory while Hamilton ended up 15th.

In the aftermath, Hamilton was seen sitting in his car devastated, with Perez picking up his first win for Red Bull and the second Formula One win of his career.

Sebastian Vettel shocked fans with a shock podium for Aston Martin, with Pierre Gasly finishing third. 

JUST IN: Max Verstappen crashes out of Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The red flags were brought out because Verstappen crashed out at 200mph on the start-finish straight, with his car sliding to a halt after a big collision.

The Dutchman was fine and climbed out of his car but kicked his Red Bull with frustration. The race was stopped to allow the track to be cleared with just a handful of laps remaining.

The 23-year-old has never won in Baku, and was looking for back-to-back race wins thanks to victory in Monaco. He was on course to take a maiden win after controlling much of the race.

The driver was looking to extend his lead to 14 points over title rival Hamilton, after a relatively quiet race before the crash, with Hamilton running third at the time of the crash.

However, on the red flag standing start, Hamilton went straight into the run-off at turn one, tumbling down the order in P15, handing the win to Perez.

Mercedes tried to protect the undercut by pitting early, however, it didn’t work out for them due to a slow pit stop and both drivers struggling for pace on the hards, it played right into Verstappen and Red Bull’s hands.

But just as he looked to beat his main rival, the championship leader hit the wall hard, fuming under his helmet with his day over in Baku.

Replays of the crash seemed to show it to be a rear tyre failure, with red flags shown as debris remained strewn across the track, with the race red-flagged on lap 49 of 51. 

Verstappen was heard shouting across the radio “***** tyre *****” as Horner was seen on the pit wall with his head in his hands.

Neither championship title protagonist scored points, with Verstappen still leading the way despite his DNF, but there was at least joy for Red Bull as Perez reached the chequered flag first. 

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed