Toto Wolff says the decision to who would partner Lewis Hamilton at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team was not an easy one to make, but ultimately, they have chosen George Russell over Valtteri Bottas for the 2022 season.
Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes, has thanked Bottas for his efforts during his five years with the team, with the Finn having taken nine wins, seventeen pole positions and fifty-four podium finishes since he joined them in 2017. He has helped them secure four consecutive World Constructors’ Championships in that time, with the team aiming for a fifth in 2021.
“This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us,” said Wolff. “Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
“Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two team-mates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
“He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team, and I am pleased that he has been able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at the top level of the sport; when the time comes, he will leave us with huge goodwill from every single member of the team, and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family.”
Following the confirmation on Monday that Valtteri Bottas will join the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team next season, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team has announced that George Russell will replace the Finn.
Russell has been part of the Mercedes-Benz junior programme for a number of years and has been linked to replacing Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate thanks to his impressive performances for the Williams Racing team across the past three campaigns.
And now another part of the puzzle for the 2022 season has been put into place with the confirmation that Russell will race for Mercedes next year, and Russell says the announcement is a special day for him on both a personal and professional level, even if there is sadness that he will be leaving Williams.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions,” said Russell. “I’m excited and humbled to be joining Mercedes next year, which is a huge career step, but it also means I’ll be saying goodbye to my team-mates and friends at Williams.
“It has been an honour working alongside every member of the team, and an honour to represent the Williams name in F1. Since I joined in 2019, we have worked tirelessly to push each other forward and bring the team back up the grid where it belongs.
Max Verstappen felt it was ‘incredible’ to win his home race, with the Dutchman triumphing in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix at the Circuit Zandvoort despite almost race long pressure from behind from Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull Racing driver took a superb pole position on Saturday afternoon and held onto the lead at the start, with the Dutchman building a gap when needed in order to stay ahead when making his pit stop. To the delight of his orange army, he took his seventh victory of the season and the lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Verstappen admitted the expectations were high coming into the weekend with the supporters at the track almost inclusively in his corner, but he felt it was a positive Team performance at Zandvoort that saw him withstand the pressure from Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
“It’s incredible to win here today on another home track and it feels great to take the lead in the Driver’s Championship again,” said Verstappen. “Of course the expectations were very high coming into the weekend and it’s never easy to fulfil that but the whole crowd has been incredible and I am so happy to win here.
“It was quite a tough race, Lewis was really putting the pressure on and both Mercedes’ had really good pace but we managed to have that three second buffer when we needed it and I think that was very important.
Valtteri Bottas will leave the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the end of the current season, with the Finn moving to the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team from 2022 on a multi-year contract.
The Finn’s position at Mercedes has been under threat due to the desire of the team to promote Mercedes protégé and current Williams Racing driver George Russell into the seat alongside Lewis Hamilton, and Bottas has now found a new home in Formula 1 from next season.
Being team-mates to Hamilton was never going to be easy, but Bottas has shown himself capable behind the wheel, and during his career to date he has scored nine wins, seventeen pole positions and sixty-three podium finishes.
And Bottas will now have the chance to lead the team at Alfa Romeo having been announced to replace the retiring Kimi Räikkönen from next season.
“A new chapter in my racing career is opening: I’m excited to join Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN for 2022 and beyond for what is going to be a new challenge with an iconic manufacturer,” said Bottas. “Alfa Romeo is a brand that needs no introduction, they have written some great pages of Formula One history and it’s going to be an honour to represent this marque.
Championship Off-Road, the peak of short course off-road racing in the Midwestern United States, has wrapped up its second season of competition. Of the sixteen class champions crowned during the past weekend’s final races at Crandon International Off-Road Raceway, five have ties to another off-road series in the Stadium Super Trucks.
Ryan Beat won the Pro Spec class, a truck racing division that was newly introduced for the 2021 COR season; it is Beat’s first COR title after winning two straight Pro Lite championships in the now-defunct Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. He also raced in the Pro 2 class, where he finished fourth in points. In 2019, Beat ran his first and to date only SST race weekend in the season opener at Circuit of the Americas, where he finished third and sixth in his two starts. Beat is the first driver to pilot the Continental Tire stadium truck.
Among Beat’s Pro 2 rivals were Jerett Brooks and Keegan Kincaid. While Brooks, who ran the SST wekeend at Mid-Ohio in July, finished one spot ahead of Beat in the standings, Kincaid went on to win the championship followed by the non-COR Red Bull Crandon World Cup on Sunday. He also won the Pro 2 vs. Pro 4 race at the Forest County Potawatomi Brush Run at Crandon in June. Kincaid, whose Pro 2 title is his first in the division, holds the most SST experience among the quintet of alumni, having raced in the series from the inaugural season in 2013 to 2016. Mainly driving the Traxxas stadium truck as a team-mate to reigning NASCAR Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed, Kincaid scored four victories and fourteen podiums in forty-four starts.
In Pro 4, one-time SST driver C.J. Greaves held off reigning class champion and five-time SST starter Kyle LeDuc for the title. Greaves, who has enjoyed great success in off-road alongside father Johnny, ran the 2015 X Games round where he finished third in his heat, won the Last Chance Qualifier, and placed fourth in the final.
Brock Heger double dipped into the championship bowl with the Pro Lite and Pro Stock SxS titles. In the former, he clinched the title after the tenth race at Bark River International Raceway in August and officially beat Kyle Greaves by seventy-three points. In Pro Stock SxS, he battled with C.J. Greaves and secured the championship 491 to 444 points. Heger made three SST starts in 2013 at Crandon and the third Sand Sports Super Show round, notching a best finish of fourth in his debut.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has hosted plenty of major sporting events in its near-century of existence such as the Super Bowl, World Series, and Summer Olympics. The 77,500-seat stadium, currently the home of the perennial underachievers that is the USC Trojans college football team since Pete Carroll’s departure, has even welcomed motorsport such as motocross, rallycross via the X Games, and the Stadium Super Trucks.
However, a surprising face is looking to show up to the Coliseum’s hallowed grounds in 2022. Long rumoured but solidified by a report on Monday from The Athletic, the NASCAR Cup Series is considering moving the preseason Busch Clash from its longtime home Daytona International Speedway to a short track in the stadium.
Since its inception in 1979, the Clash has exclusively been held at Daytona as part of Speedweeks, a slate of events leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500. The Clash, an exhibition race that generally invites pole winners from the previous season with occasional field expansions for those like playoff drivers and former 500 winners, was moved from the oval to the road course for 2021.
Due to the Coliseum being far too small to accommodate a full grid of thirty-six to forty Cup cars, using an non-points race with exclusive field like the Clash will require NASCAR to just fit a fraction of that number. The Athletic did not confirm if teams will use the Next Gen car which will make its inaugural run in 2022, especially as teams might be hesitant about utilising a new vehicle in a short track exhibition.
Stadium stock car racing is commonly seen at the lower levels, with Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, being one of the most notable examples. A former Cup track from 1958 to 1971, the stadium has a track surrounding the football field that is currently used for modified and NASCAR Weekly Series racing. Per The Athletic, Bowman Gray’s quarter-mile layout will serve as inspiration for the LA Coliseum’s version.
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are officially underway with Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, yet many drivers quickly found themselves in holes. Multiple playoff contenders were involved in wrecks, including three Hendrick Motorsports drivers, as six such drivers finished outside the top twenty. The fourth HMS racer, Kyle Larson, was the last one standing and fought with Denny Hamlin for the win, but a last-ditch effort in the final corner was not enough as Hamlin finally scored his first win of the season.
Larson started on the pole but quickly lost the lead to last week’s winner Ryan Blaney, who led until misfortune befell Larson’s Hendrick team-mate Alex Bowman as he hit the wall; Bowman’s woes also extended to Hendrick ally William Byron when the former’s tyre went down and caused him to hit the latter. Michael McDowell also wrecked and finished last for the second straight race to drop him to the bottom of the sixteen-driver playoff standings.
Another first-stage incident came on lap 48 involving Rick Ware Racing team-mates Cody Ware and James Davison, both of whom had tangled at Martinsville in April, and Ware would retire later in the race due to carbon monoxide poisoning after the contact resulted in crush panel damage. Hamlin took the lead shortly after the ensuing caution and held it to the stage win ahead of Larson, Kurt Busch, Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Ross Chastain, and Joey Logano; all but Chastain were playoff eligible.
Kyle Busch was the next victimised playoff driver when he was clipped by Austin Dillon and slid into the wall on lap 125. Busch immediately went to the garage, knocking over cones and forcing those in the infield to dodge him as he did not slow down to appropriate speeds, and ending his night.
“It wasn’t the #3’s fault. Just take our lumps,” Busch told NBCSN. “We were running like shit and we got wrecked, so that’s what you get when you run like shit. […] I don’t know what our problem is. Every time we go to the sim, a new sim, and think we have a good sim session, we go to the race track and we suck. I’m done with that.”
Stadium Super Trucks fans are more than familiar with Sheldon Creed. The two-time series champion holds the most wins in history (thirty-nine) and has swept five race weekends, including the 2021 season opener at St. Petersburg in April.
Now, Creed has translated that success into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as he won back-to-back races and swept a track for the first time in his stock car career. In dominating Sunday’s In It to Win It 200 by leading 105 of 147 laps, the reigning champion has won both Truck events at Darlington Raceway in 2021.
Creed, who won the playoff opener at Gateway two weeks prior, started on the pole and led the early laps before John Hunter Nemechek took the spot. Nemechek would lead to the stage win ahead of Matt Crafton, Zane Smith, Creed, Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar, Chandler Smith, Parker Kligerman, and Ben Rhodes; all but Kligerman were playoff drivers, while Austin Hill was the lone such driver not in the top ten as he placed twenty-second. Three cautions took place in the stage for a competition yellow, debris from Tate Fogleman‘s driveshaft coming off, and Colby Howard‘s spin in his first Truck start since 2019.
Creed reclaimed the lead to start Stage #2 and led until Chandler Smith took the spot on lap 64. Two laps later, Kris Wright and Jack Wood wrecked in turn four for a caution, with Rhodes also suffering damage. The restart saw Creed pull away once again while Smith was stuck battling with Kyle Busch Motorsports team-mate Nemechek for second, enabling Creed to take the segment victory. Smith held off Nemechek for the runner-up spot, followed by Crafton, Hocevar, Zane Smith, Gilliland, Friesen, Kligerman, and Tanner Gray. Gray is also not in playoff contention, while playoff contenders on the outside were Rhodes (twelfth) and Hill (fifteenth).
The final stage began on lap 98 with Creed still leading. Seven laps later, Lawless Alan was turned by Derek Kraus to warrant a caution. Kraus, who has garnered scrutiny from peers and fans for his driving and resulting incidents throughout the season, was called out by Alan’s Niece Motorsports team in a series of tweets beginning with calling him “a weapon” and adding it happens “Every. Single. Week.”
Max Verstappen won his home race at the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix and retook the lead in the drivers’ championship. This was the seventh win of the season for the Dutchman as he clinched a famous victory in front of his adoring home crowd.
Lewis Hamilton finished in second position and took the extra point for the fastest lap. Valtteri Bottas finished in third position and regained third position in the drivers’ championship.
The race started under clear skies with the air temperature at 21 degrees C and the track temperature at 35 degrees C at the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands.
The vociferous orange-clad Dutch fans were out in full force to support their hero Max Verstappen. The air was filled with orange from the flares all around the track.
Verstappen started in pole position with arch-rival Hamilton joining him on the first row. Bottas and Pierre Gasly started on the second row.
Twenty-four races into the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and fifty since his last win, Noah Gragson finally broke his dry spell on Saturday when he won the Sport Clips/VFW Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway. It is his third career win and first at the track.
Pole sitter Daniel Hemric would run strong in the first two stages and won the first. However, his abysmal luck once again bit him in the rear when he spun on the final lap of the second stage which allowed Gragson to win that segment. Gragson had finished second to Hemric in Stage #1. The top ten in Stage #1 consisted of Hemric, Gragson, A.J. Allmendinger, last week’s winner Justin Haley, Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin, Harrison Burton, Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, Myatt Snider, and Justin Allgaier. The second stage’s top fnishers were Gragson, Hamlin, Cindric, Allgaier, Hemric, Allmendinger, Burton, Austin Dillon, Haley, and Snider.
The final stage was marked by drama beginning with Riley Herbst slamming into Tommy Joe Martins‘ car which had been slowing down due to an engine failure. On the ensuing restart, Hamlin and Timmy Hill comprised the front row; the latter had stayed out but his transmission got stuck between gears, causing him to fall back and stack up the field.
Hemric spun again as a debris caution came out with four laps remaining to spark overtime. Prior to the restart, Hamlin was slapped with a penalty for having equipment over the wall too soon, ending his hopes of winning for the sixth time at Darlington. Gragson, who had been leading when the yellow arrived, held off Burton and Cindric to take the victory.
“It’s been way too long,” said Gragson. “A lot of frustration this year, and things haven’t gone our way, but we’re getting some momentum when we need to, and I just can’t thank everybody enough on this #9 team.”
|1||8||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|2||6||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||152||Running|
|3||24||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||152||Running|
|4||3||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|5||5||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|6||4||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|7||28||23||Tyler Reddick*||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|8||15||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|9||9||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|10||22||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|11||12||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford||152||Running|
|12||14||54||Denny Hamlin*||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||152||Running|
|13||10||02||Ty Dillon||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|14||19||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|15||16||92||Josh Williams||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|16||17||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|17||31||26||Colin Garrett||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota||152||Running|
|18||26||17||Mason Massey||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|19||32||07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|20||2||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|21||20||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|22||39||90||B.J. McLeod*||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|23||33||5||Matt Mills||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|24||1||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||152||Running|
|25||27||6||Ryan Vargas||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|26||21||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|27||30||15||Colby Howard||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||152||Running|
|28||23||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet||151||Running|
|29||35||31||Austin Dillon*||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||151||Running|
|30||18||61||David Starr||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||151||Running|
|31||38||74||Carson Ware||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||151||Running|
|32||34||78||Jesse Little||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|33||25||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||146||Running|
|34||37||47||Kyle Weatherman||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet||134||Running|
|35||36||99||Ryan Ellis||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Ford||133||Running|
|36||29||66||Timmy Hill*||MBM Motorsports||Ford||116||Accident|
|37||13||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet||108||Accident|
|38||7||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||107||Accident|
|39||11||8||Sam Mayer||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||45||Brakes|
|40||40||52||Gray Gaulding||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet||2||Electrical|
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
PREMA’S Arthur Leclerc took a second FIA Formula 3 win of the season under pressure from behind constantly using the characteristics of a track like Zandvoort which make it difficult to overtake to his advantage, leading from the first corner to the chequered flag.
Logan Sargeant put the Monagasque driver under supreme pressure but was unable to find a way through after conceding the position to Leclerc at the start of the race after reverse polesitter Amaury Cordeel was taken out of contention by a collision with Alex Smolyar.
Ayumu Iwasa came home in third place but was never really in contention for the win only hoping for a collision between the two leaders. Despite a late battle Jak Crawford managed to keep fourth place ahead of Caio Collet who came home in third place.
At the start polesitter Cordeel was swamped by Sargeant and Leclerc both drivers choosing to use opposite sides of the track with Leclerc going side by side with the American before taking the lead out of the exit of the first turn. Unfortunately for Amaury Cordeel he was unable to fight back, being taken out in a collision with Alex Smolyar, The Russian earning himself a ten second stop-and-go penalty for his efforts.
Up front a ‘DRS train’ was forming the passengers being Iwasa, Crawford, Collet, Sargeant and Leclerc. Lower down the field Dennis Hauger had made his way into the points scoring positions in eighth ahead of Frederik Vesti and Clémant Novalak.
As Formula 1 headed back to the Netherlands for the first time since 1985, it could only be one driver that would be on pole position, Dutchman Max Verstappen. In a session that was interrupted by two red flags in quick succession there were a few surprises in amongst the usual suspects, along with a few drivers missing from the final session.
Q1 – Last lap traffic claims Perez and Vettel
The opening session of qualifying for the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix kicked off with usual banked times as teams recorded a benchmark and scoped out the track conditions. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas hit the track on the medium compound, a move that surprised many.
Six minutes in to the session and the crowd roared as the home hero Max Verstappen when fastest with a time of 1:10.036, whilst slower than his top practice times it set the tone for the session as the orange-clad fans buzzed with excitement. Hamilton on the medium compound set a time a tenth and a half slower that the Dutch driver.
As drivers started to record their first lap times of the session, Carlos Sainz Jr. showed no signs of his earlier crash during Free Practice 3, an incident that kept the Ferrari mechanics busy between sessions; The Spaniard set a time good enough for eighth fastest.
George Russell looked on impressive form, hoping to show that his pace in Belgium was no fluke, the Williams driver set the fifth fastest time of the session.
Toto Wolff says it is important that Nyck de Vries remains part of the Mercedes-Benz set-up, even if the Dutchman finds himself on the Formula 1 grid in 2022.
De Vries is already part of the Mercedes set-up, having raced his way to the 2020-21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship title for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team. He has also been named as one of the reserve drivers for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team for the 2021 season alongside Stoffel Vandoorne.
Wolff, the Team Principal of Mercedes, says he would not hold de Vries back if a Formula 1 drive presents itself to the Dutchman. The twenty-six-year-old has been linked to rides with both Williams Racing and Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.
“I admired his decision back in the day after winning the F2 title to say, ‘I want to be part of a works team, and that’s why I’m joining Mercedes in Formula E, rather than running behind the dream in Formula 1,’” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
“And now the time has come that people recognise his talent and his ability, and therefore there’s talks taking place. But for us, most important is that he stays within the family. I don’t want to really lose him at that stage for another Formula E championship, but I wouldn’t block him for Formula 1.”
Toto Wolff wants the Formula 1 Commission to look at the red flag rules during free practice sessions when they meet next month, with the Team Principal of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team looking for a change of regulation to enable more running.
Speaking after both of Friday’s sessions at the Circuit Zandvoort were affected by red flags, Wolff says the commission need to work out whether or not continuing the session’s clock is justified.
Sebastian Vettel’s stoppage in first practice on Friday cost them thirty-seven minutes of running, while further time was lost in the afternoon following Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure and Nikita Mazepin’s spin.
Friday’s sessions were reduced from ninety to sixty minutes ahead of this season, and Wolff says losing valuable time to the red flags is not good for the teams nor the spectators who paid to see the cars circulate.
“I think this is yet another point that we have to discuss in the [F1] Commission,” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
The usual suspects came to the fore in final practice for the Dutch Grand Prix on Saturday morning, with Max Verstappen ending more than half a second ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
But after playing a staring role in practice on Friday, Carlos Sainz Jr. is now a doubt for participating in Qualifying after a heavy crash at turn three left his Scuderia Ferrari with a lot of damage.
Sainz was attacking early on but lost control of his SF21 on the approach to turn three, with the car going up the banking and into the wall heavily. It caused the fourth red flag of the weekend and leaves his team a lot of work to do in the hours running up to Qualifying.
Back at the front of the field, Verstappen, racing in front of his home fans this weekend, topped the session with a blistering time of 1:09.623, with the Red Bull Racing driver securing top spot by 0.556 seconds.
Bottas ended second fastest for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, two-tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was playing catch up after losing much of the afternoon session on Friday with an engine issue, but the Briton was seven-tenths off Verstappen in third, but just over a tenth ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez.