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2024 Spanish Grand Prix: What the Drivers are Saying after Qualifying

Lando Norris took his second career pole position on Saturday at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, leading Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. 

Norris, who hadn’t secured a pole position since Sochi in 2021, trailed Verstappen after the first attempts in Q3. But a phenomenal final time of 1:11.383 seconds saw him edge out the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver by a mere two-hundredths of a second.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team translated their promising practice pace into strong qualifying results. Hamilton outperformed teammate George Russell for just the second time this season, grabbing third on the grid for Sunday’s race, with Russell right behind in fourth.

Charles Leclerc and local favourite Carlos Sainz Jr. settled for fifth and sixth, respectively, in another closely contested session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Pierre Gasly impressed with a stellar performance, taking seventh place for BWT Alpine F1 Team.

Sergio Pérez, despite finishing eighth in his Red Bull, will start three positions lower due to a penalty from Montreal. This promotes Esteban Ocon in the other Alpine car and McLaren F1 Team’s Oscar Piastri, who had a challenging Q3 and couldn’t set a time.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix – Second Career Pole Position for Norris

Lando Norris secured his first pole position of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season and the second of his career, ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona. 

The Briton will start the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix alongside Verstappen, and will hope he can stay in first to get his second career win after winning his first race in Miami earlier on in the year.

Q1 – Double exits for VCARB and Williams

Q1 started with a bit of a lull as most of the drivers waited for better track conditions. There were a few out on track, including Daniel Ricciardo, who was the quickest of the five that went out early. That lap time was soon replaced by the two Red Bull’s, as the times kept tumbling down. 

Leclerc set the pace during the first runs, setting a time of 1:12.257s, with Verstappen half a tenth behind the Scuderia Ferrari man. Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg raised a few eyebrows after the first few laps, sitting in sixth and seventh respectively. Valtteri Bottas also put in a good lap to be twelfth.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Home Hero Sainz Leads the Way in Final Practice

Carlos Sainz Jr. topped the third and final hour of practice ahead of qualifying later today for Round 10 and the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship Spanish Grand Prix.

Lando Norris topped the first session on Friday morning, with Lewis Hamilton then showing that Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team have pace during the second session, topping the times ahead of Sainz.

The session started slowly and after 15 minutes, there were just 9 times on the board. George Russell was leading the way with both Scuderia Ferrari’s behind him and in front of Hamilton in fourth. Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez followed behind in fifth and sixth, quite a way off the pace at that point.

Attentions were turned from race runs to qualifying simulations during the second half of the session. Sainz delighted the home crowd during his lap, going top of the timesheets. Norris was +0.030s behind Sainz’s time of 1:13.013s, while Charles Leclerc was just +0.007s behind Norris in third.

Verstappen wasn’t too far behind, finishing just +0.074s, which was only good enough for fifth. The Dutchman seemed much more comfortable than he did yesterday, but they’ll certainly still be a fight for pole position later on today, if the trends over the past hour continue into this afternoon.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Hamilton Sets Pace Ahead of Sainz

Lewis Hamilton set the pace during the second hour of Free Practice for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, leading the way from Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris.

George Russell led the way early on the medium compound tyre, with Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team continuing their strong showing from the Canadian Grand Prix and the earlier practice session on Friday.

Max Verstappen was’t happy with his RB20 once again, despite Oracle Red Bull Racing introducing a large, significant upgrade package for this weekend. The three time world champion cut a frustrated figure on the radio, complaining about understeer mid-corner. 

Once teams had done some long running, collecting data for the race on Sunday, focus switched to qualifying simulations. Sainz went quickest as one of the first to put on the soft rubber, before Hamilton took top spot by just +0.022s.

Once everyone had done a few runs on the soft compound tyre, attention once again switched to race simulations, with at least a two-stop strategy expected during Sunday’s race. Norris was less than a tenth behind Hamilton, ending the day in third after going quickest in Free Practice One.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Norris leads Verstappen in First Practice

Lando Norris was fastest in the first Practice session of the 2024 FIA World Championship Spanish Grand Prix weekend, edging out Drivers Championship leader, Max Verstappen.

As the green lights signalled the start of a triple header of European races to come, starting with Barcelona this weekend. Oracle Red Bull Racing will be hoping to get back to top form after a difficult few race weekends, despite getting the win in Montreal. The Milton Keynes based outfit have brought a big upgrade package this weekend, but so have Constructors Championship rivals, Scuderia Ferrari. Red Bull junior team, Visa Cash App RB have also brought a sizeable upgrade.

With the drivers getting more comfortable, the track was getting quicker, but the session was halted temporarily due to debris on track from Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team car. This small delay meant everyone came back out on different run plans – some opting for long runs and others on qualifying simulations.

Norris was the quickest at the chequered flag, with a time of 1:14.228s, which was around four tenths better than the quickest time in Free Practice One in 2023. Verstappen’s fastest time was only good enough for second, while Carlos Sainz Jr. ended the hour +0.344s back from his former teammate in third.

Photo: McLaren Media Centre

George Russell was the lead Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team car in fourth, ahead of Sergio Pérez and Oscar Piastri. Lewis Hamilton was running a different programme to his teammate, finishing the hour in seventh.

Martin Macik Jr. sells Dakar-winning truck to Firemen Dakarteam

Martin Macík Jr.‘s beloved IVECO PowerStar, nicknamed “Cenda”, has a new home for the 2025 Dakar Rally. He announced Thursday he has sold his Dakar-winning truck to Richard de Groot and Firemen Dakarteam, while he and MM Technology plan to field a new truck.

Cenda is a PowerStar that MM Technology built and débuted at the 2023 Dakar, where he won four stages but narrowly lost the overall victory in the Truck category. Macík also raced Cenda in the World Rally-Raid Championship, finishing third in class points. He finally got over the hump at the 2024 edition in January with four more stage wins as he beat Aleš Loprais for his maiden Bedouin.

In early June, Macík brought Cenda to Tunisia for a four-day desert test. The truck received slight upgrades such as better weight distribution and modifications to help mechanics repair it easier. He also spent the week in the desert test driving a Can-Am Maverick, of which he was named a brand ambassador in January, as well as helping fellow Czech team MING Racing test their new Ford F-150 T1+.

Macík has another IVECO dubbed “Charles”, which was built in 2019 and has raced events like Dakar and the Morocco Desert Challenge.

“A great machine and the pinnacle of MM Technology’s technological development so far, thanks to which we finally fulfilled our big dream – to win the Dakar Rally,” wrote Macík. “It is worth mentioning the second place in the Dakar 2023, or several podium finishes in various World Cup races. In short, a great period when I and the whole team learned a lot.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: What the Teams are Saying ahead of the Weekend

Formula 1 heads to Barcelona this weekend for Round 10 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen returned to winning ways last time out at the Canadian Grand Prix, extending his championship lead over Charles Leclerc and Oracle Red Bull Racing’s lead in the Constructors with both Scuderia Ferrari cars missing out on points in Montreal.

The Spanish Grand Prix is always a crucial part of the season, with nearly all of the grid bringing upgrade packages and it’s no different this year. The drivers and team representatives have given their thoughts ahead of the weekend, read what they had to say below:

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — Driver

“We are back to the European races for a while now and I have been with the Team at the factory this week preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix, being the first race of a busy triple header.

Kamui Kobayashi: “It was a phenomenal race through 24 hours.”

Kamui Kobayashi has described the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans as “a phenomenal race through 24 hours, with every manufacturer fighting non-stop.” The team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing and driver of the #7 car was reflecting on his team’s performance as they narrowly missed out on victory in the epic 24 race.

The historic race week did not start well for the Japanese team. In qualifying on Wednesday 12 June, the #8 car was knocked out of the battle for the pole position, qualifying 11th on the grid. The #7 car seemed to be faring better, with Kobayashi setting the 4th fastest time. However, in the final few moments, he span at the Porsche curves, bringing out the red flag and causing all his lap times to be deleted, meaning they would start in 23rd on the grid.

The #8 Toyota was involved in several battles with the #51 Ferrari. Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

In the first few hours of the race, both Toyotas made steady progress through the field and, as night fell, the #8 car was leading with Ryo Hirakawa at the wheel. On Sunday morning, both cars were very much in the mix. With 2 hours of racing remaining, contact between the leading #8 Toyota and the #51 Ferrari AF Corse car pushed the Toyota down to 6th and out of contention. Meanwhile, the #7 car was battling the #50 Ferrari for the lead. After a final fuel stop, José María López set about chasing down the leading Ferrari, but a minor turbo issue caused enough of a delay for the Ferrari to win. The team told López to bring the car home in second, banking valuable points for the team in the 4th round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship. The #8 car finished 5th.

“Obviously it was a very tough race for us” commented Kobayashi, “we could have won but we had a few issues. It was not a smooth 24 hours for the #7 car, but the whole team did such a great job throughout a very tough week. Everyone wants to win this race and we were very close. Such a close finish makes us hungry to come back stronger next year and we will do our best to achieve that.”

The #7 car battles through the rain which had such an impact on the race. Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

For López, it was a particularly emotional day, having been drafted in as a replacement for the regular #7 driver Mike Conway who suffered a cycling accident just days before the race. “It was a rollercoaster of emotions for me, starting from 10 days ago when Mike got injured and I took his place” López explained, adding “I was happy be here but also sad for him.” Speaking about the race itself, the Argentinian said “the race was simply the hardest one I ever experienced, with the weather, having to start from last and losing time with slow zones, punctures and other issues. We always managed to come back, and we showed our strong spirit. I am proud of everyone for that.“




INTERVIEW: “I Know I’m Capable Of Winning The World Championship” – Kevin Hansen Is Ready For The Challenge Of The 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship

Kevin Hansen is part of a dynasty of rallycross royalty. His father, Kenneth Hansen, won 14 European Rallycross titles throughout his career, while his mother, Susann Hansen, is the only female European champion, winning in Super 1400 in 1994. The pair are now Team Principal and Team Manager respectively of Hansen World RX Team, and their eldest son, Timmy Hansen, was champion of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Now Kevin Hansen is one of the driving forces propelling world rallycross into an exciting new era, both as a driver and as team principal of junior rallycross team, #YellowSquad. 2023 was Kevin’s most successful world rallycross season to date, finishing second overall and securing a superb victory in Hong Kong. Having visited MotoFest Coventry earlier this year, scouting a new potential city centre circuit for world rallycross, and the FIA introducing the “Battle of Technologies” concept, the future of world rallycross looks very exciting for the young Swedish superstar. Kevin’s enthusiasm and passion for the sport are immediately obvious when talking to him. He joined The Checkered Flag from his office in Weybridge to discuss the future of the sport by first taking a look back at the turbulent end to the 2023 season.

Kevin Hansen celebrates his win in Hong Kong. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

“If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have a series this year.”

Kevin Hansen

We last spoke at Lydden Hill in July 2023 at the weekend that changed the rest of the season? How was the rest of the season for you, and how did you find switching to the RX2e machinery?

“I think the end of the ’23 season was not what anyone wanted but we did the best with what we had. We were able to put on a good show in Mettet and drive a good entertaining race for the fans there. In Cape Town and Hong Kong, we were able to pull something off. All the teams came together. We put our wallets where we wanted to be able to continue the world rallycross championship. I think if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have a series this year.







Sebastien Ogier “never been really attracted that much” by Dakar Rally

Sébastien Ogier is one of the greatest drivers in World Rally Championship history as an eight-time champion who continues to win races today even on a part-time schedule. Unfortunately, fans who want to see him trade in his Toyota Yaris for a Toyota Hilux will be disappointed to learn he doesn’t echo their sentiment.

Speaking with Autosport, Ogier admitted that even if he decides to step away from rally for good, the Dakar Rally is not something he is particularly excited about.

“It hasn’t been on my list yet,” Ogier explained. “I think testing the car, I will always be for it, it’s always a fun experience. But at the moment, I don’t know. I’ve never been really attracted that much by this race.”

Rally raid is a popular avenue for rally drivers who wish to try something else that still shares some overlap in skillset. Ari Vatanen won the 1981 World Rally Championship before going on to win four Dakar Rallies, while Kenjiro Shinozuka was the first Asian driver to win a WRC round and claimed the 2000 Dakar. Nine-time WRC champ Sébastien Loeb and twice titlist Carlos Sainz are among the top drivers in the World Rally-Raid Championship today, the latter winning the Dakar four times including the latest in January, while reigning W2RC victor Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to dabble in rally today to great success. Mikko Hirvonen and Spanish Rally Champion Sergio Vallejo boast Dakar experience too, and although he has yet to make it happen, 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg has been open to tackling the race someday.

Instead of cross-country rally, Ogier is more attracted to pavement racing with a focus on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He entered the 2022 edition in an Oreca LMP2 and finished ninth in class, capping off a three-race stint in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Frenchman has also made one-off appearances in the Porsche Supercup and DTM.

Stephane Peterhansel returns to bike roots at Swank Rally di Sardegna

With his four-wheeled rally machine out of commission for the foreseeable future, Stéphane Peterhansel decided to return to his roots once again by entering last week’s Swank Rally di Sardegna. Racing a Yamaha WRF450F, he battled with Benjamin Melot and Alessandro Botturi throughout the five-leg event; although coming up short, he still proved he hasn’t missed a step on a bike with a third-place finish.

Peterhansel led early when he beat Vincenzo Savoca Corona for the first stage win by just two seconds. He continued his advantage before Melot tied it up with an identical time through three legs. Melot had raced alongside Peterhansel at the Dakar Rally in January, albeit on a bike (and solo), and the veteran stayed sharp as he pulled away in the final two stages to beat Botturi by a mere seven seconds. Botturi in turn edged out Peterhansel by seventeen seconds.

Beyond riding the same marque, Peterhansel and Botturi also both knew their way from Europe to Senegal on two wheels. Peterhansel won the Paris–Dakar Rally six times on a motorcycle followed by three more in a car before the race moved elsewhere, while Botturi is a two-time bike winner of the Africa Eco Race that took up the Dakar’s original route. Botturi, one of Yamaha’s factory riders, also finished second in the 2024 AER.

In January, Peterhansel finished thirtieth in his thirty-fifth career Dakar, scoring his record-tying fiftieth stage win but falling out of contention due to mechanical problems. He and Mattias Ekström spent the rest of the race accompanying team-mate Carlos Sainz to his fourth Dakar victory. Although their Team Audi Sport was supposed to race for the W2RC in their final season, the team ended up shutting down after Dakar due to parts shortages, leaving Peterhansel with plenty of free time for himself.

While his career has been up in the air as he approaches his sixties, he has been keeping busy. In 2023, Peterhansel made his return to bikes when he entered the Morocco Desert Challenge in a non-competition category as part of the Tenere Spirit Experience, a factory-backed programme for Ténéré 700 owners led by his wife Andréa Peterhansel. Andréa also entered the Swank Rally and finished nineteenth.

Kevin Benavides: “I’m going to recover, I’m going to come back and keep giving my best day by day”

Kevin Benavides does not remember much about his accident in May that prevented him from racing the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s Desafío Ruta 40 in his home country. Most of this stems from the diffuse axonal injury he sustained to his brain, among a rash of fractured bones and other injuries that necessitated surgery. After staying mostly silent in the month since the crash, Benavides went public on Monday to discuss what occurred and his rehabilitation.

He and his younger brother Luciano Benavides had wrapped up DR 40 training in Salta for the day when they decided to visit Mantillo MX Park and get some laps in. Besides the head injury, he also broke his left elbow, left humerus, part of his cervical spine, and tore a radial nerve.

“I wanted to do a bit of motocross. Normally it’s the other way around, Luciano is the one who entices me,” remarked Kevin. “We had done a roadbook of almost 400 kilometres that day at over 4000 metres of altitude for over five hours. I was a little tired, but I wanted to do motocross that day.

“Honestly, I don’t know what happened that caused me to fall and hit my head so hard. It wasn’t just my head: I broke my humerus, my elbow, I cut the radial nerve, also some injuries in the cervical spine which made it noticeable that it was a big fall. The type of head injury I had is called a diffuse axonal injury. I don’t remember how the fall happened. I remember very few things about that day. The good thing about not remembering my fall is that I already want to ride my bike again.”

A diffuse axonal injury is a traumatic brain injury in which the brain’s nerve fibres, or axons, are disconnected when damaged. DAIs are one of the most severe TBIs that one could suffer, resulting in comas or severe impairment. Benavides was taken into intensive care, where his procedure took twice as long as scheduled.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: TheCheckeredFlag’s Preview

It’s race week once again and time for Round 10 of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship as the pinnacle of motorsport heads to Circuit de Catalunya for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen was victorious at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix and the 2023 event too, with a double Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team podium on race day in 2023 and the Dutchman will be hoping to further extend his Drivers Championship lead on Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris as F1 returns to Europe and to a circuit that should suit Oracle Red Bull Racing’s RB20 much better than the previous two rounds in Monaco and Canada. 

It will be a key weekend for Mercedes as they will hope to show similar pace to what we saw in Canada, where George Russell secured pole position and a podium in the race, with pace that was good enough for a potential race win. Lewis Hamilton will be hoping for a better qualifying if he is to challenge near the top end too – the seven time world champion is yet to start a race within the top six.

It’s a home race for Carlos Sainz Jr. and Fernando Alonso. The former will be looking to bounce back from a Q2 exit, retirement in the race and an overall disappointing weekend in Montreal last time out. The latter will be hoping for a bit more pace with Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team. Lawrence Stroll’s team haven’t developed the car as they would’ve liked so far this but a double points finish in Canada was a step in the right direction as they look to close the gap on the front runners.

Photo: Sam Bloxham

Head of the midfield, Visa Cash App RB are set to be bringing upgrades to the Spanish Grand Prix, which is good news for Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo. Tsunoda will be hoping for another points finish after spinning out of the top ten during the Canadian Grand Prix, while Ricciardo will be wanting to build on his performance in Montreal and have another positive weekend.

Nicklas Nielsen: “It really is a dream come true.”

Ferrari AF Corse driver Nicklas Nielsen has described winning the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans as a “dream come true.” The Danish driver secured victory for the #50 Ferrari 499P, along with teammates Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco in an utterly gripping race. The 2023 winning #51 Ferrari finished third, making it a double podium for the legendary Italian team.

The two Ferraris qualified on the second row of the grid and looked competitive from the off. Nielsen took the lead from the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport car on the first lap and the team made their presence felt at the front of the pack for the majority of the race. During the night, they fell back a little and battled with the #2 Cadillac Racing car. After an immense 4.5 hour safety car period due to rain, the battle resumed in the morning, the #50 car continuing to fight for the lead against the Cadillac. The American car dropped off with a few hours to go, leaving a tantalising dogfight between Ferrari and Toyota.

The podium featuring the two Ferrari AF Corse crews and the drivers of the #7 Toyota who pushed them all the way. Credit: Ferrari Media Center

The final couple of hours will go down in Le Mans history as one of the most tense and exhilarating finishes to a race. Rain threatened to intervene once again, falling heavily on certain parts of the track. The #51 was involved in a tangle with the #8 Toyota, dropping the Toyota out of contention and handing the #51 car a 5 second penalty at its next pit stop. Meanwhile, door issues threatened to derail the #50’s efforts. When instructed to pit to repair it, a simple fix was completed at the same time as a fuel stop, shuffling the car back to the front and handing them the advantage.

Nielsen was cool, calm, and collected, nursing the car home with barely any energy left in the tank, pushed all the way by the #7 Toyota which, after 24 hours of racing, finished just 14 seconds behind the winner. The win means that the team have achieved glory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, the first time the same manufacturer has won both races in a single year since Alfa Romeo in 1934.

Nielsen nurses the #50 Ferrari across the line. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

“The last lap was very long, impossible to imagine. I worried about avoiding any risks and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible” Nielsen explained after the race. “The victory seemed very difficult for part of the race, even at the end, when we had a problem with the door. But then everything went well. I’m speechless. I’m very proud of everyone.“




Baja Satu Mare cut short after crash involving leaders

The Baja Satu Mare, a joint race in Romania between the Hungarian and Romanian Cross-Country Rally Championships, was called off for the former after three stages following a wreck involving leaders Miroslav Zapletal and Lőrinc Mészáros Jr.

Both drivers, competing in Ford F-150 T1+ cars, collided after a navigation error sent one of them in the wrong direction, causing Zapletal to t-bone Mészáros in the driver’s side. Mészáros and co-driver Erik Pál got out of their vehicle without issue, but the former reported feeling pain in his left leg upon standing up and decided to go back to Hungary for evaluation. Zapletal and Marek Sýkora escaped injury, though their Ford suffered substantial front damage.

Prior to the accident, Zapletal had been leading the overall with a time of 48:15.9, just a minute and eleven seconds ahead of Mészáros. The latter set the best time during the first Selective Section on Friday while Zapletal was third; Mészáros’ M1 Motorsport team-mate Balázs Molnár was sandwiched between them but retired in SS3. The second stage, which was supposed to take place later Friday, was cancelled due to agricultural machinery blocking the course for many competitors.

The race continued for the Romanians, but was called for Hungarians due to the crash. The awards ceremony was also called off. Sebastian Paraipan won the rally on the Romanian side in his Can-Am Maverick R by nearly twenty-four minutes, continuing an impressive rally raid infancy for the SSV; Can-Ams swept the top five.

Mészáros was the defending Satu Mare winner when he narrowly beat Csucsu by just seven-tenths of a second and Zapletal by eleven seconds in 2023, and had finished third overall in the season-opening Desert Express 300 in March. His father is a businessman who served as the mayor of Felcsút in the 2010s; the elder Mészáros grew up with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and is thus a close member of his inner circle.


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