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Max Verstappen leaves it late at Paul Ricard to Extend Championship Advantage

After a washout of rain this morning and overnight, and with all the rubber each car has laid down at each session this weekend being washed away by that rain, this was sure to be a wild race at the the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France. In the end Max Verstappen made a big statement with a major overtake late in the race to hold onto the lead in the 2021 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship.

The race started with an even getaway for the top three. Carlos Sainz Jr. had a superior start to Sergio Pérez but was not able to seal the position. Into turn two Verstappen locked up and went wide seemingly for no reason as he was not under pressure from anyone behind, and in doing so, he gifted Lewis Hamilton the lead.

A lap later Hamilton almost powerslided round Turn Five and called into his team to check his back tyres as he could not find any grip. Further down the field, Daniel Ricciardo had a fantastic start, getting ahead of of his team-mate Lando Norris, and Sebastian Vettel made a beautiful move on Esteban Ocon for eleventh place. Nikita Mazepin nearly took out his Uralkali Haas F1 Team team-mate Mick Schumacher on Lap Five and Gasly began to complain about his car balance, calling it “a disaster”.

On Lap eight, Hamilton began to complain about his tyres, stating that they were getting hot, reporting front tyre graining, and believing that the tyres would not last as long as Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team expected them to. It seems Hamilton was correct as Mercedes announced to their Pit Crew that they were going to be minus two laps to their planned strategy.

Ricciardo finally found his way past the Alpine F1 Team car of Fernando Alonso into turn eight, and just three turns later, his team-mate Lando Norris found his way through too. Just a few laps later, Daniel then found his way past Charles Leclerc in the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, who a short time later decided to be the first driver into the pits.

Doohan wins wet F3 feature race in France

On a soggy morning in Southern France, Jack Doohan out-witted Championship leader Dennis Hauger to claim his first FIA Formula 3 victory at Paul Ricard.

The Australian and the Norwegian have raced against each other for many years in many different single-seater series as they climbed the racing ladder together so they are no strangers to racing wheel-to-wheel and Doohan came out on top this time as he held on to his wet tyres longer as the track dried towards the end of the race.

The race winning overtake with five laps to go looked to be the end of it but Hauger kept pushing to the end and was never too far away from making a move but the Trident of Doohan withstood the challenge.

Hauger does however extend his championship lead as Victor Martins could only manage fourth at his home race, being overtaken by MP Motorsport and Alpine academy teammate Caio Collet for the final spot on the podium.

It was a result much needed for Collet having not scored in the two races on Saturday while Martins will still be content with a very healthy chunk of points after his double Saturday podium.

Liam Lawson Becomes Youngest Ever DTM Race Winner

In the 2021 DTM season opener, on Saturday 19th June, New Zealander Liam Lawson had many firsts. He not only won his first DTM race, he did it as the youngest driver ever to win at just 19 years old plus he is the first Kiwi to do so. He also gave Ferrari their first win in their debut DTM race.

The race got underway in very summerlike temperatures of around 30 degrees centigrade at Monza, Italy with an Indy-style rolling start. This first race gave us some very close racing with paint being exchanged a number of times including between the BMW of Timo Glock and Dev Gore’s Audi which resulted in Gore’s retirement. Later in the race Daniel Juncadella in the GruppeM Mercedes-AMG was unable to avoid a minor collision with DTM regular, Nico Müller’s Audi resulting in the Audi spinning a full 360 degrees which lost him a few positions and giving Juncadella a time penalty.

Lawson Leads the Pack. Photo Credit: Hoch Zwei

Early in the race, DTM rookie, Vincent Abril led the pack and led well until he had to pitstop where Lawson managed to get past on Abril’s exit in turn one by the skin of his teeth. You could barely see daylight between the Mercedes-AMG of Abril and the Ferrari of Lawson as Lawson squeezed by to take the lead.

Formula 1 driver Alexander Albon piloted his AlphaTauri Ferrari brilliantly in his first DTM race from starting fourteenth to finishing fourth.

There was a great battle, watched by many, between the two female drivers of this season and the first since 2012, British driver Esmee Hawkey and German driver Sophia Flörsch. The pair fought hard throughout the race and it was the T3 Motorsport Lamborghini of Hawkey who came out ahead of Flörsch’s ABT Sportsline Audi.



SRX co-founder Tony Stewart wins inaugural dirt race at Knoxville

Tony Stewart, noted stock car and dirt track legend, can add winning in his own creation to his résumé after winning Saturday’s Camping World SRX Series race at Knoxville Raceway. The first dirt race for the young series, Stewart won a heat race before dominating the fifty-lap feature.

Heat races

SRX co-founder Stewart led much of the first heat while NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Hailie Deegan, who was making a cameo appearance a day after her main series’ race at Nashville in place of Tony Kanaan due to scheduling conflicts, moved into second. Paul Tracy hit the wall with five minutes remaining to produce a caution, and Stewart continued to lead to the heat win.

Michael Waltrip spun after contact with local track champion Brian Brown, resulting in him finishing last but starting first for Heat #2. Hélio Castroneves led much of the race before a caution came out as the race had run too many green-flag laps (yes, SRX has a mandated yellow flag whenever a race hits a certain number of consecutive laps under green). Tracy produced another caution when he spun with less than a minute remaining to set up a green-white-checker finish. Castroneves and Scott Bloomquist led the field to the restart, with the latter—one of the most decorated dirt racers of all time—winning out. In an odd twist, Castroneves fell back to seventh as he did not understand the concept of GWC conditions, causing him to assume the checkered flag waved in conjunction with the green; such a concept is not used in Castroneves’ IndyCar Series home, where races typically end under yellow in the event of a late caution.

Heat #1 results

FinishNumberDriverLaps
114Tony Stewart23
298Marco Andretti23
31Hailie Deegan23
42Ernie Francis Jr.23
513Paul Tracy23
69Bill Elliott23
721Brian Brown23
818Bobby Labonte23
93Hélio Castroneves23
1000Scott Bloomquist23
1117Willy T. Ribbs23
1215Michael Waltrip23

Heat #2 results

FinishNumberDriverLaps
100Scott Bloomquist22
22Ernie Francis Jr.22
315Michael Waltrip22
414Tony Stewart22
51Hailie Deegan22
69Bill Elliott22
73Hélio Castroneves22
821Brian Brown22
918Bobby Labonte22
1098Marco Andretti22
1117Willy T. Ribbs22
1213Paul Tracy22

Feature

Stewart and Ernie Francis Jr. occupied the front row to begin the Feature. After the previous week’s season opener saw the Feature starting lineup set by Heat #2 results, SRX tweaked the format to have the Feature’s grid established by average finish between the two heats.

After a debris caution on lap four, Bloomquist moved up to second on the ensuing restart while Bill Elliott fell off the pace. Brown and Willy T. Ribbs brought out cautions of their own due to spins.

Shae Davies nabs SST Darwin Race 3 win from Nash Morris

The third and final race of the Boost Mobile Super Trucks weekend supporting the Darwin Triple Crown was the Nash Morris Show, but Shae Davies crashed the party. Although Morris dominated the race, Davies chased him down and passed him in the final chicane to steal the victory.

Morris started on the pole ahead of Dave Casey, while the former’s father Paul was at the back after winning the first two races. Casey, who retired from Race #2 with a broken fuel pump, quickly pulled to the side when the issue struck again, forcing him to exit the event. Rob Whyte also retired after running in third for the first two laps.

“The motorsport Gods weren’t in our favour today but thats just the way it goes sometimes with mechanical failures,” wrote Casey in an Instagram post.

The younger Morris led the way early on with Trav Milburn in tow. Paul Weel moved up to third after Whyte’s exit, but a shunt from Davies on lap four sent him into the grass and out of podium range. At the competition caution a lap later, Morris led Milburn and Davies, the latter losing his hood along the way.

When the race resumed, Milburn tried to pass Morris for the lead in turn one but locked his brakes and slid wide. As Milburn fell back, Paul Morris joined his son in the top two. The pair—the fourth father/son duo in SST history—battled for the lead until the final competition yellow flag. Greg Gartner spun prior to the caution.

Kyle Busch wins 100th Xfinity race with Tennessee Lottery 250 victory

Kyle Busch has joined Richard Petty and David Pearson in sharing a historic milestone: triple-digit wins in a NASCAR national series. Busch dominated Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Nashville Superspeedway from the pole, leading 122 of 188 laps en route to his 100th victory in NASCAR’s second tier.

While Busch qualified on the pole, six drivers were sent home: Chad Finchum, Timmy Hill, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Colby Howard, Dillon Bassett, and Gray Gaulding.

Despite Busch’s pole and his eventual win, Austin Cindric would dominate the first stage as he led every lap. Busch finished second followed by Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, A.J. Allmendinger, Jeb Burton, Josh Berry, and Myatt Snider. However, Snider’s race took a turn when his car lost power and necessitated a trip to the garage for a battery change; by the time he returned, he was 22 laps down.

Echoing a pattern from the previous day’s Camping World Truck Series race, the first two stages saw nearly every lap led by one driver in each. After Cindric did so for Stage #1, Busch did so for the second as he led all but one lap; Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Hemric led the lone non-Busch lap under caution on lap 75 following Stefan Parsons’ wreck. By the end of the segment, Busch kept Allgaier at bay to win; Hemric, Burton, Michael Annett, Berry, Jones, Cindric, Justin Haley, and Noah Gragson closed out the top ten.

The final stage ramped up in incidents as Busch continued to lead, with the first caution of the segment coming for debris that ended his run on top. Joe Graf Jr. and Jade Buford wrecked on lap 156 to produce another caution, followed by a larger incident involving much of the leaders like Cindric that eliminated him from the race. At the front, Busch traded the lead with Allgaier.

Paul Morris holds off Davies, wins SST Darwin Race 2

Paul Morris‘ domination of the Boost Mobile Super Trucks‘ Darwin Triple Crown weekend continued on Sunday when he held off a last-lap charge by Shae Davies to win Race #2. Having won the first race the previous day, he is in prime position for a weekend sweep later in the day.

The finishing order from Saturday’s round was inverted to produce the starting grid for Race #2. Russell Ingall and Paul Weel, both of whom retired from Race #1 after a wreck, started on the front row while Morris was at the back.

Ingall cleared Weel as they approached turn one and led the first lap before Weel responded with his own overtake the following circuit. On lap three, Davies attempted a pass on the inside of Nash Morris in turn one, resulting in the latter spinning and forcing Rob Whyte to stop to avoid hitting him.

The following lap, Shaun Richardson took second from Ingall, who also lost positions to Paul Morris and Trav Milburn. Morris collided with Ingall while trying to pass him on the inside and briefly riding on his left-side wheels due to hitting the kerb. After the weekend, Morris quipped on Instagram about the contact, “The Enforcer all ways there when I need someone to lean on .”

The competition yellow flag was waved at the end of lap four, with Weel leading Richardson and Morris. Dave Casey exited the race with a blown fuel pump.

Pierre Gasly: “It’s a very good day and I’m really pleased to Qualify in sixth position”

Pierre Gasly continued to show his good pace and form during Qualifying for the French Grand Prix on Saturday as he took an encouraging sixth on the grid.

Fresh off the back of his podium finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago, the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver was strong in Qualifying at the Circuit Paul Ricard to put his AT-02 on the third row of the grid.

And Gasly was doing this despite not having felt as comfortable in the car as he would have liked, with the Frenchman having made multiple set-up changes across the weekend before it all came good when it mattered on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a very good day and I’m really pleased to Qualify in sixth position,” said Gasly.  “It’s been quite a difficult weekend up to this point, I haven’t felt that comfortable in the car and we’ve struggled a bit with the changing conditions.

“We’d made lots of set-up changes to the car across the weekend and it all came together for Qualifying. After the disappointment of finding out my lap was cancelled, I knew I had just one shot to get it right in Q3.

Grégoire Saucy Dominates Again to Win Race One at Zandvoort

Before 2021, Grégoire Saucy had not won a single-seater car race.  Now, nine races into the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine season, the Swiss racer has been victorious five times!

The ART Grand Prix driver started the first race of the weekend at Circuit Zandvoort from pole position having once again dominated Qualifying earlier in the day, and Saucy was not to be beaten in the race, despite a late safety car closing up the field.

Saucy was untroubled at the start as team-mate Gabriele Mini defended resolutely from R-ace GP’s Hadrien David, and he was more than two seconds clear after just a couple of laps around the Dutch circuit.

An incident early on at turn eight for JD Motorsport’s Tommy Smith did not require the safety car to be deployed, but with eight minutes on the clock, it was required after KIC Motorsport’s Patrik Pasma crashed out at turn four.

This could have unsettled Saucy, but the Swiss racer was able to run away from the field at the restart and ended more than three-seconds clear of team-mate Mini when the chequered flag flew a few laps later.

Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies: “All in all, it was a satisfactory qualifying”

Laurent Mekies, the Racing Director at Scuderia Ferrari, felt it was a ‘satisfactory’ performance by the Italian team during Qualifying for the French Grand Prix on Saturday, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc set to start fifth and seventh respectively on Sunday.

Mekies and the rest of the team knew they were unlikely to be able to contend for a third consecutive pole position at the Circuit Paul Ricard, with the French track a much different proposition to that of the Monaco or Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which were both on street circuits.

However, it was pleasing for Mekies to see the team being the best of the rest behind Red Bull Racing and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team around a track that they did not feel would play to the strengths of their SF21.

“All in all, it was a satisfactory qualifying,” said Mekies.  “We came here knowing that the hierarchy would be different to that seen at the two unusual tracks in Monaco and Baku and that the characteristics of the Paul Ricard circuit would not be ideally suited to our SF21.

“But once again, we were able to demonstrate that we are the best of those teams directly behind the two that are fighting for the championship. Furthermore, as in the three previous qualifying sessions, we got both our cars ahead of our direct rivals.

Carlos Sainz Jr.: “Today I felt at home with the car no matter what compound I was on”

For only the second time in 2021, Carlos Sainz Jr. was able to get the better of team-mate Charles Leclerc in a Qualifying session, with the Spaniard set to start the French Grand Prix fifth on the grid.

After a troubled Friday where Sainz appeared to struggle, he was able to put together a strong run in Qualifying at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday afternoon, and will line-up on the fifth row of the grid, the best of the rest behind the two Red Bull Racing and two Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers.

Sainz, who joined Scuderia Ferrari at the beginning of 2021 after two years with the McLaren F1 Team, says he is continuing to find the limits with the SF21, and he was thrilled to qualify so far up the grid in France.

“Not a bad day for the team,” said Sainz.  “After a couple of eventful Saturdays, it’s good to have a clean quali like today.

“We managed to extract everything out of the car and show the progress we have made at this type of track. From my side, I continue to adapt and learn from the different conditions and corners, and today I felt at home with the car no matter what compound I was on.

Genius tyre call sees Newgarden claim Road America pole

Pole position for the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America went the way of Josef Newgarden after a bold tyre call in the Firestone Fast Six paid off in a big way.

Team Penske opted to send both Newgarden and Will Power out on the primary black Firestone tyres for the final laps of qualifying as they bid for pole position and Newgarden managed to hook the lap up superbly to put his car in the best possible place for tomorrow’s race.

He’ll be joined on the front row by Andretti Autosport’s young hotshot Colton Herta who went the other way on tyres, setting his best laps on the alternate red compound but he was two tenths off of Newgarden’s pole time.

Jack Harvey was again the driver to upset the applecart at the front as he and Meyer Shank Racing qualified third at a track where they have always performed admirably so their tails will be up for the race tomorrow.

Power couldn’t match Newgarden’s magic and had to settle for fourth from Chip Ganassi’s Alex Palou and the third Penske car in the Fast Six in Simon Pagenaud.

“I’m sure we’re in for a real fight” – Mercedes’ Toto Wolff

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas line up second and third for the French Grand Prix, with the weather looking unpredictable come Sunday.

Both Silver Arrows qualified ahead of Red Bull Racing‘s Sergio Pérez who lines up fourth, but behind championship leader Max Verstappen who took pole.

The race pace between the two teams looks too close to call, especially with a number of balance changes made to Hamilton’s car since his race run in free practice. Team Principal Toto Wolff is relishing the battle between the two teams and is looking forward to a titanic fight to take the win tomorrow.

“That was an exciting qualifying session and a solid performance to put our cars P2 and P3, with just a tenth of a second between them, but we weren’t quick enough to claim pole position today. We made a good step with Lewis’s car from yesterday, and he felt much more comfortable with the balance once he was running in qualifying; and Valtteri has bounced back strongly from a tough weekend in Baku.

“Like the cars around us, we will start the race on the Medium tyre, which will give us the opportunity to race hard tomorrow and hopefully put pressure on Max. The long runs yesterday looked closely matched, so I’m sure we’re in for a real fight all the way to the chequered flag.”

“We’re loving the battle” – Lewis Hamilton on Rivalry with Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton qualified in second place at the French Grand Prix, to see himself line up alongside championship rival Max Verstappen who stormed to pole.

Hamilton has looked close to Verstappen all weekend, however he has always been a couple tenths behind, the story was the same for qualifying with Hamilton missing out on pole by just over two-tenths of a second.

Hamilton has made several balance changes since Friday, meaning that his true race pace is unknown going into Sunday, where the weather is also another unknown with rain forecast for the race.

The 15,000 fans in attendance are surely in for a treat on Sunday, where Hamilton will look to regain the championship lead.

“It’s great to see the fans here and it warms my heart to see people coming together finally after this difficult period for us all. It’s been a really hard weekend trying to get the car into a happy place and you wouldn’t believe all of the changes I’ve made since FP1. Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today.
 
“On long run pace I think the Red Bulls were a tenth or two quicker than us in FP2 but my car is in a much different place now so I’m just going to stay hopeful and do everything that I can tomorrow. Obviously in second you’ve got a fighting chance down to Turn 1 and there’s going to be some interesting strategy calls tomorrow. Maybe it’ll rain so we’ll potentially get to see the rain masters do their thing!

“There’s a lot at stake” – Red Bull’s Christian Horner

Max Verstappen took Red Bull Racing’s first ever pole position at the French Grand Prix, taking the top step after an unbelievable final lap leaving title rival Lewis Hamilton alongside him in second.

It was an unbelievable lap by Verstappen to take pole by just over 0.2 seconds, the Dutchman has looked the class of the field all weekend and is now in the best position to extend his championship lead tomorrow.

For Sergio Pérez it was a disappointing qualifying, the Mexican lines up in fourth after a messy final lap, leaving him behind both Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner is incredibly proud of all the hard work going on at the team, with so much currently at stake.

“It was another great performance from Max today and it’s fantastic to see him take our first pole position in France. Together we’ve been improving the car throughout the weekend and to have Checo up there as well, building on the momentum from his Baku victory, is a great Team performance. Starting from pole certainly gives us confidence but we’re expecting Mercedes to be very competitive tomorrow.


RaceScene.com