Bottas wins United States Grand Prix as Hamilton takes title number six

Lewis Hamilton won his sixth Formula 1 world championship despite being overtaken for victory late on by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton jumped both Ferrari drivers on the opening lap and was then only one among the leaders to opted for a one-stop strategy, which elevated him above Bottas and Max Verstappen.

However, poleman Bottas caught and passed Hamilton with five laps to the flag to take the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s sixth world title, his fifth with Mercedes, appeared a formality before the start of the Grand Prix as he only needed to finish eighth position to wipe Bottas out of mathematical contention.

However, race victory for Hamilton seemed less likely after a disappointing qualifying meant he started behind Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton was ahead of both Ferraris halfway round the first lap, clearing Leclerc immediately then pulling off a bold move on Vettel around the outside of Turn 8 at the end of the sweeping Esses sequence, that gave him the inside line into tighter left-hander of Turn 9.

Once in third position, Hamilton slowly started to build pressure on Verstappen, who had picked up minor front wing damage at the first corner.

Verstappen passed Vettel around the outside of Turn 1 at the start and though he backed off as race leader Bottas moved wide on the exit, there was a tiny amount of contact.

That gave Verstappen a balance offset throughout the race, and meant by the time he pit first on lap 13 – committing to a two-stop strategy – Bottas was several seconds clear and Hamilton was on his tail.

Mercedes responded by stopping Bottas one lap later to retain track position against the threat of the undercut, which was successful, while Hamilton continued until lap 24.

That set up a split of strategies that handed Hamilton track position once Bottas and Verstappen stopped for a second time, and the leaders only converged again in the final few laps.

Bottas moved within DRS range of his teammate with six laps remaining and the next time round Hamilton ran slightly wide into the hairpin, giving Bottas a better run onto the back straight.

Hamilton covered the inside line as Bottas drew alongside and briefly ahead on the outside, but Hamilton braked later and Bottas had to take to the run-off on the exit of the corner.

However, on the very next lap Bottas was able to move inside Hamilton with DRS at the same place, and completed the pass without trouble.

With no chance of responding to Bottas, Hamilton’s attentions turned to keeping Verstappen at bay for second.

Verstappen’s front wing issue meant he never quite got back on terms with Bottas after dropping back early in his second stint, but he caught the ailing Hamilton with three laps to go and was granted “full power” in his bid to steal second position.

However, a yellow flag – caused by Kevin Magnussen having what looked like a brake failure and ending up in the gravel – removed a key overtaking opportunity for Verstappen, who had to settle for third.

Charles Leclerc finished a distant fourth as Ferrari’s strong run of form came crashing to a halt in a dismal race.

Leclerc had a slow first stop as he wound up 52 seconds behind Bottas in fourth, but teammate Vettel failed to finish at all after a left-rear suspension failure early on.

Vettel had already drop down to seventh position from his front-row start after struggling with massive understeer in the early laps, then his car’s suspension broke on lap eight.

Alex Albon came through to finish fifth despite hefty contact with Carlos Sainz on the opening lap, having been squeezed between Leclerc and the McLaren.

Albon had to pit at the end of the first lap because of the damage his Red Bull suffered but he charged back through with two strong stints.

Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth and best-of-the-rest for Renault after overhauling the McLarens.

Lando Norris had a later second stop that allowed him to pick off his midfield rivals and clinch seventh, ahead of Sainz who lost ground early on thanks to his first-lap clash.

Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed a late-race charge to nick ninth in the second Renault, while Daniil Kvyat passed Sergio Perez for the final point on the last lap but is under investigation for the move that won him the place.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in winning the world championship for the sixth time. To achieve this level of success with such quality really showcase how great he is as a champion. Just one more title to equal Michael Schumacher and considering his determination to win, Hamilton has still got that drive to be a winner for a long time.

United States Grand Prix, race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33:55.653
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +4.148s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +5.002s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +52.239s
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +78.038s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +90.366s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +90.764s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +1 lap
9 Nico Huldenberg Renault +1 lap
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda DNF
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari DNF
– Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNF

Bottas scores USGP pole as title rival Hamilton only fifth

Valtteri Bottas achieved his eleventh career pole position and ended Ferrari’s run to the top grid slot by beating Sebastian Vettel and out-qualfying Lewis Hamilton by a significant margin.

The Mercedes driver grabbed the team’s first pole after the summer break after beating Vettel by 0.012 seconds.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third ahead of Charles Leclerc. The top four were covered by a tenth of a second.

World champion in waiting Lewis Hamilton could only settle for fifth position after aborting his second run in Q3. The championship leader seemed to be struggling for pace and starting P5 is not ideal in terms of winning title number six. However, he just needs to secure an eighth position to win the championship.

Alex Albon was sixth in the Red Bull, 0.519 seconds off the pace. He will start the race on the soft Pirelli compound compared to his teammate.

Carlos Sainz benefited from having two sets of fresh softs in Q3 thanks to completing only one run in Q1 to secure midfield honours in seventh position with a lap just three tenths slower than Albon.

Sainz’s McLaren teammate, Lando Norris, also earned a place on the fourth row in eighth, almost three-and-a-half tenths slower.

Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, who completed his sole Q3 run on a clear track before the final flurry, was ninth fastest, 1.459 seconds off the pace, and just over a tenth faster than Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly.

The Ferrari and Mercedes drivers will start on mediums having used that tyre compound for their Q2 time, along with Verstappen – with the rest of the top ten using softs.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was quickest of those knocked out in P11 after lapping one tenth slower than Gasly.

He briefly climbed into the top ten as he finished his final lap, only to be knocked down a place by teammate Ricciardo.

Kevin Magnussen was P12 for Haas having failed to improve on his second run, ending up 0.010 seconds quicker than Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat – who had a time that originally put him P11 deleted by going over the track limit.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was P14, just over half a tenth quicker than Romain Grosjean’s Haas.

Alfa Romeo duo Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were both eliminated in Q1 in P16 and P17 respectively.

The pair were both in the drop zone after the first runs, with last year’s winner Raikkonen briefly climbing to P15 ahead of Gasly before Giovinazzi leaped ahead thanks to his stronger pace in the middle sector.

But Gasly then posted a time good enough to shuffle both back into the bottom five, where they ended the session well clear of the lead Williams of George Russell.

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez must start from the pits thanks to missing the weighbridge in practice two, so completed only one run and was P19.

That put him less than a tenth faster than the second Williams of Robert Kubica.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas in scoring pole position. This was important grid position for the sake of the championship. Can his Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton fight back in the race? Bring on the race at the awesome Circuit of the Americas.

United States Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 01:32.029
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 01:32.041
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 01:32.096
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 01:32.137
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 01:32.321
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 01:32.548
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 01:32.847
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 01:33.175
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 01:33.488
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 01:33.601
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 01:33.815
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 01:33.979
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 01:33.989
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 01:34.100
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 01:34.158
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 01:34.226
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 01:34.369
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 01:35.372
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 01:35.889
20 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 01:35.808

Hamilton edges closer to title following Mexico victory

Lewis Hamilton is one step closer to winning title number six after recovering from a first-lap off to win the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver had a trip across the grass at the start and fell down to fifth position. But the defending champion did a solid job in managing the tyres to overhaul the Ferraris and score his tenth victory of the season.

Sebastian Vettel was unable to attack Hamilton after losing track position through race strategy and had to settle for second, with Valtteri Bottas third.

Poleman and early race leader Charles Leclerc fell down to fourth as a two-stop strategy cost him dearly.

Ferrari had control of the Mexican Grand Prix in the early stages despite Leclerc getting a small touch by Vettel after running wide under braking for the Turn 4 left-hander and slowing right down through the tight right-hand turn that followed.

Behind, though, Hamilton had already suffered an early setback as Max Verstappen challenged him on the inside into the first corner.

Hamilton had already been crowded out by Vettel on the run down to Turn 1, a move he branded “dangerous” but one that was not investigated by the race officials.

At the first corner, Hamilton ran wide and had a big snap of oversteer on the outside kerb, which lurched his car to the right and put him and Verstappen on the grass between the Turns 2 and 3 section.

The incident dropped Hamilton to fifth position behind Alex Albon’s Red Bull and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, while Verstappen fell to eighth, behind Lando Norris and Bottas.

Hamilton passed Sainz into Turn 1 on lap four then ran fourth through the rest of his opening stint, which he extended to lap 23 – eight more than race leader Leclerc and nine more than Albon, both of whom committed to a two-stop strategy.

However, Vettel – who assumed the race lead when Leclerc stopped – and Bottas extended their first stints 13 and 14 laps longer than Hamilton respectively.

Hamilton’s early stop allowed him to jump Vettel for track position, although the major tyre offset meant the five-time world champion was fearful he would not be able to defend once Vettel pitted.

However, by the time Leclerc and Albon had made their second stops and left Hamilton leading the race from Vettel, Hamilton kept his pursuer more than two seconds behind for the next 20 laps.

During that time, Bottas closed right up onto the back of Vettel, while Leclerc used his fresher tyres after his second stop to hack into the gap to the one-stopping trio ahead.

With 12 laps to go Leclerc had almost hauled himself within DRS range of Bottas but locked his front-left tyre into Turn 4 and ran wide, which doubled his deficit.

Ahead, Vettel closed to within two seconds of Hamilton for the first time with eight laps remaining, but Hamilton hit back immediately and continued to keep the Ferrari out of range.

Hamilton’s win, with Bottas third, extended his championship by 10 points but he needed to add 14 points over Bottas to clinch his sixth title.

That means Hamilton, who now has a 74-point lead with 78 available in the final three races.

Behind the top four, Albon was fifth after arguably his strongest performance for Red Bull, with teammate Verstappen fighting back to sixth after a mammoth 66-lap stint on hard tyres.

Verstappen’s race was wrecked early on when, after being forced off by Hamilton, he suffered a right-rear puncture shortly after lunging Bottas for seventh into the stadium section.

Max made it back to the pits with the tyre stripped from the rim of his Red Bull and dropped to last, before gradually rising back up the order with no further pitstops and supreme tyre management.

Home favourite Sergio Perez resisted a charging Daniel Ricciardo to secure best-of-the-rest honours in seventh position.

Nico Hulkenberg was poised to finish ninth in the Renault, but was hit into a spin by Daniil Kvyat on the final lap and rear-ended the barriers.

Kvyat claimed ninth ahead of teammate Pierre Gasly but was handed a 10-second penalty after the race, dropping to P11 behind Hulkenberg.

McLaren looked on course for another best-of-the-rest victory early on but Sainz faded badly after switching to hard tyres, to the point he stopped again to switch to mediums and wound up P13.

Teammate Lando Norris retired following a bad pitstop in which a wheel was improperly attached.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes with this Mexican success. This was Hamilton’s 100 podium result and the team’s 100th victory. Impressive form by the Silver Arrows.

Mexican Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36:48.904
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.766
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +3.553
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +6.368
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +21.399
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +68.807s
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +73.819s
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +74.924s
9 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1 lap
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +1 lap
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
18 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
– Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– Lando Norris McLaren-Renault DNF

Verstappen scores Mexican Grand Prix pole as Bottas crashes

Max Verstappen scored an important pole position for Red Bull Racing as the Mexican Grand Prix qualifying session was red-flagged after Valtteri Bottas crashed hard at the final corner.

Verstappen set the fastest time on the first runs in Q3, 0.114 seconds quicker than Charles Leclerc.

He then improved to a one minute, 14.758 seconds on his final attempt to land pole position – although his first lap would have been good enough to secure P1 – completing his lap after Valtteri Bottas had a big crash and brought out double waved yellow flags.

Leclerc held onto second position despite not improving, with teammate Sebastian Vettel also using his first-run time to take third on the starting grid after having to back off for yellow flags.

Lewis Hamilton made a small improvement on his second Q3 run to make sure of fourth position, 0.504 seconds off the pace.

Alex Albon was fifth fastest and 0.580 seconds slower than his Red Bull teammate.

This put him just 0.002 seconds quicker than Bottas, who was on course to improve on his time when he hit the outside wall in the final left hander on his final attempt.

The rear stepped out on Bottas and sent him into the wall, which he slid along before coming to rest against the leading edge of the Tecpro barrier closer to the exit of the corner.

Although the medical car was deployed due to the size of impact, Bottas reported he was okay.

McLaren dominated the battle for ‘best of the rest’, with Carlos Sainz Jr outpacing Lando Norris by three-tenths in the battle for seventh position.

Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly claimed ninth and tenth for Toro Rosso, separated by just over a tenth-of-a-second.

The Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes drivers will all start the race using medium-compound Pirellis having used that tyre to set their Q2 times, with the rest of the top ten are on softs.

Kvyat will be investigated after the qualifyingsession for an unsafe release when the Scuderia Toro Rosso sent him out of the garage as Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault was driving past in Q1.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez ensured he was the best-placed driver with free tyre choice for the race by grabbing P11 at the end of Q2, missing out on Q3 by just 0.008 seconds.

That put him two-tenths ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, with Daniel Ricciardo behind in P13.

Kimi Raikkonen won the battle of the Alfa Romeo drivers for P14 position, outpacing Antonio Giovinazzi by three-tenths.

Lance Stroll was the quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after only making a small improvement on the time set on his first run – complaining over the team radio of “no grip”.

A slow run through the middle sector cost him and left him 0.271 seconds away from Giovinazzi, the slowest of those to escape Q1.

The Haas drivers both squeezed in three runs during the session, with Kevin Magnussen the faster of the duo in P17, 0.163 seconds quicker than Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean’s first attempt was ruined by the rear stepping out at the entry to Turn 1, as although he caught the moment it flicked the car into a spin in the other direction as he took to the grass.

Williams driver George Russell was just 0.224 seconds off Grosjean’s pace as he took P19, again winning the intra-Williams battle with teammate Robert Kubica 1.356 seconds slower.

So congratulations to Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen with this Mexican Grand Prix qualifying form. This result has halted Ferrari’s run on pole positions. Can Max score a hat-trick of victories on race day? Well, starting on pole will be advantage and he is looking good for the race. Best of luck Max.

Mexican Grand Prix, qualifying result:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 01:14.758
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 01:15.024
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 01:15.170
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 01:15.262
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 01:15.336
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 01:15.338
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 01:16.014
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 01:16.322
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 01:16.469
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 01:16.586
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 01:16.687
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 01:16.885
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 01:16.933
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 01:16.967
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 01:17.794
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 01:18.065
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 01:18.436
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 01:18.599
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 01:18.823
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 01:20.179

Bottas victorious at Suzuka as Mercedes secures constructors’ title

Valtteri Bottas took his first Formula 1 win since Baku to help Mercedes clinch a sixth consecutive constructors’ championship as a jump start and first-corner clash from Ferrari ended the chance of a strong result at Suzuka.

Bottas launched from third to first on the run to the first corner, passing both Ferraris as Leclerc got away slowly while poleman Vettel lost momentum by moving slightly before the five red lights went out.

That put Bottas into a lead, while Vettel avoided a jump-start penalty – despite television replays clearly showing he moved before the red lights went out – to finish in second position but could not stop Mercedes taking the teams’ title.

After Vettel immediately dropped to second, Leclerc’s race was massively compromised moments later at the first corner.

Max Verstappen swept around the outside of Lewis Hamilton and Leclerc after a superior start in his Red Bull, but Leclerc then ran deep into Turn 2 as the corner tightened.

He went wide and made contact with Verstappen, throwing the Red Bull driver off-track and breaking his own front wing.

Leclerc continued for two laps in third position, irritating Hamilton as the Ferrari’s damaged wing showered the chasing Mercedes with sparks and then debris – which broke Hamilton’s right-side wing mirror.

On lap three, Leclerc pit, dropping to the back of the field and behind Verstappen, as race control communicated their first-lap incident would be investigated after all, having initially said it was not necessary.

As Leclerc charged back to sixth, Verstappen struggled with an oddly-handling, damaged car and retired on lap 15, with the clash investigation moving to after the race.

Vettel’s fortune with the race officials allowed him to stay in the lead fight and hold up Hamilton, allowing Bottas to take control and he stretched his lead.

Ferrari moved first in the strategy fight, pitting Vettel on lap 16 with Bottas following suit one lap later and Hamilton stopping on lap 18.

In that time, Bottas’s advantage over Vettel rose while Hamilton fell more than 20 seconds adrift, a move that left him feeling frustrated over the radio.

All three committed to a two-stop strategy, but used it differently: Vettel pit on lap 31 of 53 and ditched his softs for mediums, while the Mercedes ran longer and opted for softs.

Bottas stopped on lap 36, at which point he was 14 seconds clear of Hamilton, and Hamilton ran an extra seven laps before making his final visit to the pits.

That left Bottas leading Vettel by under 10 seconds, with Hamilton within five seconds behind the Ferrari and armed with fresher, softer tyres.

With five laps to go Hamilton moved into DRS range and had half a look into Turn 2 but Vettel didn’t budge and Hamilton ran slightly wide.

Hamilton had a better chance with three laps to go when Vettel got stuck at the final chicane trying to lap a Toro Rosso, backing Vettel into Hamilton and giving Hamilton a great run.

However, Hamilton closed too late on the straight to attack, and Vettel retained the place to the end.

Bottas’s win, his first since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, reduced Hamilton’s championship lead to 66 points with 104 still on offer.

Alex Albon scored his best Formula 1 result with fourth position for Red Bull, despite falling behind both McLarens at the start.

He made one of those places back early on with a lunge on Lando Norris that resulted in wheel-to-wheel contact into the final chicane.

Albon got ahead of Carlos Sainz by stopping twice as Sainz implemented a one-stop strategy to finish a fine fifth.

McLaren should have had a double points finish but, after being hit by Albon, Norris had to make an early pitstop because debris from Leclerc’s broken wing got caught in his brake ducts. He eventually finished P13.

Daniel Ricciardo charged to seventh position, executing a very long first stint on medium tyres then switching to softs at the end and picking off several cars with just a few laps remaining

He passed teammate Nico Hulkenberg for ninth and promised his Renault team “I’ll get them” as he pursued Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly, who he then picked off on successive laps.

Stroll faded from the top ten late on, with Hulkenberg nicking ninth and Sergio Perez set to steal the final point from Racing Point teammate Stroll on his penultimate lap.

However, having also passed Hulkenberg, Perez crashed out on the final lap after contact with Gasly, promoting Stroll to P10.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas in winning the Japanese Grand Prix. His first since Baku earlier this season. As for Mercedes, an incredible achievement in winning the constructors’ title for the sixth successive time. All that hard work has paid off with this fine result as champions.

Japanese Grand Prix race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes  1:21:46.755
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +13.343s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +13.858s
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +59.537s
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +69.101s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +1 lap
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +1 lap
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1 lap
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
11 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +1 lap
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF

Super Sebastian on pole at Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel achieve a commanding pole position at Suzuka as Ferrari overturned rival Mercedes practice pace advantage to lock out the front row.

Vettel led the way throughout Q3 at Suzuka, setting a one minute, 27.2 seconds lap on his first run and improving to a one minute, 27.0 seconds best on his final run to claim his first P1 since the Canadian Grand Prix.

Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc found three tenths of a second between his two Q3 runs, but missed out on making it five poles in succession and saw his streak of nine straight qualifying victories over Vettel come to an end.

Having dominated Friday practice, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton both had disappointing first runs in Q3 to only get third and fourth, behind the Ferraris.

Bottas, who led the way in both sessions, improved to one minute, 27.2 seconds on his final run but still missed out on the front row by 0.040 seconds.

Championship leader Hamilton was less than one hundredth of a second behind in fourth position.

Max Verstappen, who suffered a power loss on his Red Bull-Honda in Q2, and teammate Alex Albon set identical times in locking out row three of the grid. Verstappen claimed fifth by setting his one minute, 27.851 seconds lap before Albon did.

Carlos Sainz continued his strong form by again qualifying best of the rest for McLaren, 0.160 seconds clear of teammate Lando Norris.

Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso-Honda and Romain Grosjean’s Haas rounded out the top ten, Gasly almost four tenths down on Norris and Grosjean over half a second adrift of Gasly.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen narrowly missed out on the top ten during the late rush of improvements at the end of Q2.

Giovinazzi was just over a tenth adrift of Grosjean, while Stroll and Raikkonen missed the cut by just over two tenths.

Daniil Kvyat was two tenths further back after making only a small gain on his final run, while Nico Hulkenberg was cut well adrift in P15.

Hulkenberg was unable to complete the Q2 session after suffering a “major problem” on his Renault. He complained of feeling something “funny” with the power steering and gear shift on his out-lap.

Daniel Ricciardo missed out too by just under a tenth of a second in the other Renault, despite finding six tenths of a second between his first and second runs in Q1.

Sergio Perez’s Racing Point was P17, half a second down on Ricciardo and only 0.020 seconds faster than George Russell’s improved Williams.

The lack of grip and windy conditions early on in qualifying appeared to catch out Kevin Magnussen and Robert Kubica, who both crashed out at the turn just before the start/finish line before setting a lap time.

Kubica struck the barrier at the end of his out-lap, wrecking his Williams and causing the qualifying session to be red-flagged.

Television replays showed Kubica understeering off the circuit onto the grass on the outside as he tried to negotiate the kink. He described it as a “f***ing joke” before returning back to the pits.

Magnussen then hit the barrier after going off at the same place shortly after the session resumed, causing a second red flag period.

The Haas driver lost control of the rear of his car, and managed to limp back to the pits with front and rear wing damage after spinning into the barrier, but he did not re-emerge from the garage.

Despite the red flags in the early part of qualifying, the end result was the red cars finishing first and second on the grid. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel with pole position with his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc alongside. Bring on the race!

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:27.064
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.253
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.293
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.302
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:27.851
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:27.851
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:28.304
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:28.464
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:28.836
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:29.341
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:29.254
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point=Mercedes 1:29.345
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo=Ferrari 1:29.358
14 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:29.563
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.112
16 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:29.822
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:30.344
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:30.364
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari –
20 Robert Kubica Williams- Mercedes –

Hamilton back on top following Ferrari team order drama

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix and yet the major talking point was Ferrari’s team orders controversy and a badly timed retirement from Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel refused to let his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc back into the lead after drafting past him and Hamilton at the start, but eventually retired from the race following an engine failure.

Leclerc had got himself back ahead of Vettel and into the lead of the race by this point by stopping early, but Vettel parked his car on track and caused a virtual safety car.

That allowed Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to make their pitstops during the safety car period, which they converted into an unexpected one-two finish as Leclerc finished a frustrated third.

Vettel got a superb run from third position at the start, passing Hamilton almost immediately and then drafting Leclerc on the run to Turn 2.

The race was immediately neutralised under a safety car because of a three-car clash involving Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Giovinazzi found himself between both cars under braking for Turn 4, made contact with Ricciardo on the inside and pitched the Renault into Grosjean, whose Haas crashing into the barriers on the outside.

As the Haas was recovered, it emerged that Ferrari had ordered Leclerc not to fight Vettel if Vettel used the tow to get ahead at the start, and agreed to swap the drivers back when racing resumed.

However, just one week on after Leclerc was angered by Ferrari’s strategy handing Vettel the win in the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel ignored the instruction to let Leclerc past, and then proceeded to pull away from his disgruntled teammate.

Leclerc was the first of the leaders to pit, and used his four laps on fresh mediums to set a quick pace that meant he moved ahead of Vettel when the race leader stopped on lap 22 of 53.

Shortly after rejoining the track, Vettel suffered an apparent MGU-K failure, and crawled to a halt.

That caused a virtual safety car period and that was a nightmare situation for Ferrari, as Hamilton and Bottas had stayed out and Leclerc was still well outside the Mercedes drivers’ pitstop window in the event of a caution.

Hamilton and Bottas duly pitted as Leclerc circulated at considerably reduced speed, changing to soft tyres and rejoining first and third.

George Russell then suffered a bizarre crash under the VSC, thanks to an unspecified failure, which turned it into a full safety car period.

Ferrari opted to sacrifice Leclerc’s track position to switch him from mediums to softs, dropping him to third behind Bottas but eliminating Mercedes’ tyre advantage in terms of wear rate and compound.

However, despite Leclerc’s best efforts, he was unable to mount a serious attack on Bottas at any point after the restart.

That left Hamilton in the clear to take his 82nd victory in Formula 1 in unexpected circumstances and extend his championship leader over Bottas to 72 points with five races remaining.

Max Verstappen finished fourth after a quiet race. The Red Bull Racing driver had started ninth after a five-place grid penalty and lost touch with the leaders as he worked his way through to fifth early on.

He used the VSC to switch to mediums and ran to the finish a few seconds adrift of Leclerc.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Alex Albon finished fifth despite starting from the pitlane and rising from the tail of the top ten during the final stint.

He demoted Carlos Sainz to sixth during that ascension, denying Sainz a top-five finish for McLaren – although the Spaniard still earned best-of-the-rest honours after heading the midfield battle.

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez overcame Kevin Magnussen to finish seventh, as Magnussen crossed the line eighth but was demoted to ninth at the flag.

He received a five-second penalty for leaving the track at Turn 2 during his unsuccessful defence of seventh from Perez.

The second McLaren of Lando Norris was the sole beneficiary, moving up to eighth, as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg dropped too far back to also move ahead of Magnussen and thus finished P10.

Robert Kubica was the only other retirement. His Williams team ended his race shortly after Russell’s crash “to conserve parts”.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Back to winning ways after so many defeats by Ferrari in the last couple of races. This victory was important in terms of the championship.

As for Ferrari, this was a nightmare situation following Vettel’s first DNF of the season while Leclerc was unlucky not to convert his pole to win. Third position was the end result.

Russian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33:38.992
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 3.829
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 5.212
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 14.210
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 38.348
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 45.889
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 48.728
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 57.749
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 58.779
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 59.841
11 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:00.821
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:02.496
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:08.910
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:10.076
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:13.346
– Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNF
– Daniel Ricciardo Renault DNF
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari DNF

Fourth consecutive pole position for Leclerc

Charles Leclerc achieved his and Ferrari’s fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrome.

Leclerc set two laps quick enough for P1 during Q2 and had an advantage of 0.402 seconds over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who split the Ferraris with his final lap.

Once again, the red cars showed impressive pace on the straights, with Leclerc outpacing Hamilton by almost half a second in the first sector of the lap.

Sebastian Vettel had second position after the first runs in Q3, but only found 0.082 seconds on a messy second lap and had to settle for third, just 0.023 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen looked a potential pole position threat early in qualifying but ended up fourth fastest and just over three tenths ahead of fifth quickest Valtteri Bottas.

But Verstappen has a five-place grid penalty thanks to taking a new Honda power unit at the start of the Russian Grand Prix weekend, meaning he’s currently set to start ninth.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz won the midfield battle in sixth position, just 0.067 seconds quicker than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.

Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who struggled through the first part of qualifying but delivered a superb lap at the end of Q2 to make it into the top ten shootout.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was P10 and last of those in Q3, 2.033 seconds off the pace.

Of the top ten, both Silver Arrows drivers will start on medium Pirellis having used that tyre to set their Q2 time – with the rest locked in to starting on softs.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P11, although he will not start there as he has a five-place grid penalty because of an engine change at the start of the race weekend.

This means Racing Point’s Sergio Perez moves up to that position after failing to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P13 in an Alfa Romeo that hasn’t looked a top ten threat, putting him ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen did not improve on his second run in Q2 after running wide at the Turn 15 left-hander and ended up P14.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll made a similar mistake at the same corner and also did not improve, leaving him almost half-a-tenth behind Magnussen in P15.

Kimi Raikkonen was quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after failing to improve on his second run.

He ran wide at Turn 10 on his final lap, then the rear stepped out on him in the middle of the last corner and allowed Alfa Romeo team-mate Giovinazzi to bump him by less than a tenth.

Williams driver George Russell was P17, six-tenths off the pace needed for Q2, and had an advantage of 1.2 seconds over Williams teammate Robert Kubica.

Kubica, who has a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking a new Mercedes engine package, slid off the track at Turn 15 on his second push lap on his first set of tyres but improved on his second run.

Alex Albon, who carried a five-place grid penalty into qualifying for an engine change, was P19 and eliminated in Q1 after spinning into the wall on his first run at Turn 13 right-hander.

The Red Bull driver carried too much speed into the corner after briefly locking the rears at the start of the braking phase.

The rear came round before the apex, backing the car into the Tecpro barrier and bringing out the red flag with just over six-and-a-half minutes remaining in Q1.

Daniil Kvyat did not participate in qualifying after stopping on track with an engine problem during FP3.

The team opted to change the V6 engine, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H, but could not complete the job in time to run in Q1.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc with this amazing run of four pole positions. The last time a Ferrari achieved this record of consecutive poles was Michael Schumacher back in 2001. What an incredible result in his first season representing the Scuderia.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.628
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.030
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.053
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.632
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:33.222
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.289
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:33.301
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:33.517
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:32.310*
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:33.661
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:33.950
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.958
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.037
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.082
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:34.233
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.840
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:35.356
18 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:39.197
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:36.474
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda –

*Five-place grid penalty for a power unit change

Vettel victorious at the Singapore Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel finally scores his first Formula 1 victory in over a year as Charles Leclerc was not happy with his team’s strategy decision in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc led the opening stage of the race from pole position but fell behind Vettel after Ferrari pit the second-placed car first, which Vettel converted into a first win of the season since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.

After being told to save his power unit 15 laps from the finish, Leclerc’s response to Ferrari included: “I just don’t think it is fair, but I won’t do anything stupid.”

Max Verstappen completed the podium for Red Bull, after early second-place runner Lewis Hamilton slipped down to fourth position after the longest opening stint of any of the frontrunners.

Hamilton led the pursuit of Leclerc in the opening stages, but Leclerc was managing his pace and backed up the front group.

That prevented any of the drivers from the big three teams from attempting an undercut until lap 19, as the midfield package remained too close to the frontrunners.

However, once those in the midfield started to pit, a gap emerged – and Verstappen looked set to be the first to utilise that as he complained of fading rear tyres.

At the same time, Ferrari brought in third-placed Vettel, which also gave him the chance to use fresh set of Pirelli to get ahead of Hamilton.

Leclerc stopped one later, but Vettel’s pace advantage was enough to jump his teammate.

Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton’s stint out front by six laps compared to Leclerc and his pace faded considerably on fading softs.

Hamilton’s pace was not great that Mercedes even ordered Valtteri Bottas, who had already stopped from fifth position, to back off the lap before Hamilton’s pitstop.

This was to prevent Hamilton losing track position to both Bottas and the Red Bull of Alex Albon, thus protecting fourth and fifth for Mercedes.

Once behind, Leclerc started to pressure Vettel but lost ground to his teammate as they worked their way through the midfield cars running long.

Vettel’s progress to the front included an aggressive move on Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso, and when he got there he had to manage three safety-car periods.

The first of those came when Romain Grosjean and George Russell collided and the Williams was turned into the wall exiting Turn 8 on lap 36.

Vettel faced no threat at the restart on lap 41 but the safety car came out again three laps later, after the Racing Point of Sergio Perez stopped on the straight between Turns 10 and 11 with a problem.

That took three laps to clear, during which Leclerc requested “everything” for the restart but was told by Ferrari to manage the engine and “bring the car home”.

“Yeah, I won’t do anything stupid – it’s not my goal,” Leclerc responded. “I want us to finish one-two, I just think it’s not fair. This won’t change, I won’t be stupid.”

One final safety car period stood between Vettel and victory, thanks to Daniil Kvyat lunging Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner on lap 50, breaking the Alfa Romeo’s front left wheel and putting Raikkonen out on the spot.

A one-lap safety car appearance followed, after which the race continued without interruption as Vettel won by 1.6 seconds.

Verstappen fended off Hamilton to complete the top three at a race Red Bull and Honda had hoped to challenge for victory, but a return to the podium was reward for the team’s decision to pitstop at the same time with Vettel while running fourth early on.

Bottas finished fifth, missing out on fastest lap late on after dropping away from Hamilton to get clear air, with Albon in sixth position.

Lando Norris was an excellent seventh for McLaren. He assumed the lead of the midfield fight after teammate Carlos Sainz and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg collided on the opening lap.

Hulkenberg dived inside Sainz at the fast Turn 4 right-hander, clobbering the right-rear of the McLaren and forcing Sainz to limp back to the pits.

Norris moved ahead of Hulkenberg when the German was forced into the pits at the end of the lap with damage, and serenely controlled the best-of-the-rest contest thereafter.

Pierre Gasly battled to eighth with a strong drive aided by a long first stint and a gutsy outside pass on Kevin Magnussen after a safety car restart.

Hulkenberg recovered to ninth ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, who led briefly as Alfa Romeo committed him to a long first stint but dropped right back at one stage after being hit by Daniel Ricciardo.

So congratulations to Sebastian Vettel with this Singapore Grand Prix victory. This result was the perfect response to the media following questions about his errors and lack of confidence. Been a whole year since Vettel last won a race. Kudos to Ferrari in winning three Grands Prix in a row.

Singapore Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:58:33.667
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +2.641s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +3.821s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +4.608s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +6.119s
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +11.663s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +14.769s
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda +15.547s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +16.718s
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +17.855s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +35.436s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +35.974s
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +36.419s
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +37.660s
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +38.178s
16 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes +47.024s
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1:26.522s
– Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF

Leclerc scores hat-trick of pole

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc achieved his third consecutive Formula 1 pole position after edging out Lewis Hamilton by 0.191 seconds.

With the Scuderia’s aerodynamic upgrades giving it a significant boost in performance around a street circuit that even the team expected would not suit it, Sebastian Vettel set the pace on the first runs in Q3.

But Vettel’s second attempt was messy, resulting in him aborting to the pits, leaving the way for Leclerc to claim pole.

After the lap, Leclerc claimed over the radio that he lost control three times on the lap in what was a superb attacking performance.

Vettel’s final-run struggles allowed Hamilton to secure second position on his final lap, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ending up fourth and almost four tenths behind Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon, with neither driver able to threaten their teammates.

McLaren led the way in the midfield battle, with Carlos Sainz taking seventh place ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault, 0.065 seconds quicker than the McLaren of Lando Norris.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez jumped up to P11 at the end of Q2, but missed out on beating Hulkenberg to a Q3 spot by four hundredths of a second.

Perez has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change thanks to damage sustained in a practice crash, meaning he is currently set to start P16.

Behind him, Antonio Giovinazzi and Pierre Gasly both failed to improve on their second runs and ended up P12 and P13 respectively but both well within a tenth of Perez’s time.

Gasly reported over the radio that he was struggling with the rear after completing his final lap, during which he grazed the wall.

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen was P14 after setting his best time on his second Q2 run, having slapped the wall with both left-hand-side wheels on his first attempt.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was slowest of those in Q2, lapping eight tenths behind Raikkonen.

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was the quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 having failed to improve on his time set during the first runs.

He was up after the first sector, but lost time thereafter meaning he was unable to recover from Perez bumping him into the drop-zone – although he was only 0.015 seconds slower than Magnussen, who did make it through Q1.

Lance Stroll was P17 after only finding 0.209 seconds on his second run in the Racing Point after several light brushes of the wall, which was enough to put him three-tenths clear of Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

George Russell had to abort his final attempt after running wide at the exit of Turn 7, although his first-run time was good enough to put him P19 ahead of Williams team-mate Robert Kubica by three tenths.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in achieving a hat-trick of pole positions. The Ferrari driver is on a winning form with this qualifying result and it will be fascinating if he can score another victory at Marina Bay.

Kudos to Ferrari in upstaging the Mercedes and Red Bull by going quickest in qualifying. The Scuderia admitted that this street circuit won’t suit the SF90 as it requires downforce but the red car of Leclerc surprised everyone with this pole position. Bring on the race!

Singapore Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:36.217
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.408
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.437
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:36.813
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:37.146
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:37.411
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:37.818
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:38.095
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:38.264
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:38.329
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:38.620
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.697
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:38.699
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.858
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:39.650
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:39.957
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:39.979
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:40.277
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:40.867
20 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:41.186