F1 preview: A lap at the United States Grand Prix
Max Verstappen suffered a nightmare with track limits as the reigning world champion will start the United States Grand Prix from sixth on the grid to cap a horrible day for Red Bull. The Dutchman saw his lap time deleted by the stewards, which would have secured him pole position, after running wide at Turn 19, leaving him way down the order, while Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a big improvement in his Mercedes.
That allowed Charles Leclerc to secure his 21st career pole after the Ferraris turned on the pace in sizzling Austin temperatures. Lando Norris put in a superb lap to secure a front-row spot next to Leclerc, with Hamilton also narrowly missing out on pole and having to settle for third.
Carlos Sainz managed to squeeze ahead of George Russell in fourth with Verstappen needing to make up places in the race to get at least a podium. But with the championship already secured, the 26-year-old will be feeling relaxed as he no longer needs to pick up points.
He can at least console himself with the fact his team-mate Sergio Perez is behind him in ninth position after another limp display from the Mexican in qualifying.
Express Sport brings you live updates and all of the build-up ahead of Saturday’s sprint race at the Circuit of the Americas.
REPORT: Verstappen fends off Hamilton in Austin sprint race
Max Verstappen claimed victory in the sprint race at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, fending off the threat of Lewis Hamilton.
The Dutchman defended well off the line, aggressively pushing Charles Leclerc to the inside after the Ferrari man got a good launch off the start. He then managed the race perfectly from the front in what is becoming trademark fashion.
Hamilton showed strong pace to finish comfortably clear of Leclerc, who rounded off the top three, while Lando Norris managed to keep Red Bull’s Sergio Perez at bay in the latter stages.
There was less to celebrate for George Russell who could only manage an eighth-place finish. He was relegated behind Pierre Gasly after a five-second time penalty was applied.
Zhou furious with Lance Stroll
Zhou Guanyu was furious with Lance Stroll after qualifying. The Aston Martin driver was accused of ruining his lap in Q2.
Addressing his chances of making it through to Q3, Zhou said: “I was until Lance blocked me, [it is] pretty straightforward. [The] potential was there for P11.
“Very similar to yesterday. He f**ked his lap, he destroyed his lap and then he decided to stay on track all the way from [Turns] 14 to 16. So I just lost two and a half tenths because of him.”
The Alfa Romeo driver was then asked whether he went to speak to Stroll, replying: “Not really, I don’t think it is the first time he did that so we are just going to move forward and leave it to the stewards.”
Russell enjoying social media break
George Russell has revealed that he is taking a break from social media after realising the freedom of life away from the screen recently.
“I work with a social team and everything that is posted is in my own words and is signed off through me,” he told the Press Association. “I want to stay connected with the fans. But I don’t use the app and I have started to do the same with Instagram.
“I respect that everyone has an opinion. But I don’t need to read the praise because that doesn’t bring me anything. And I don’t need to see the negative comments because that doesn’t bring me anything either.
“But when I stopped using Twitter (‘X’), whenever I was on my phone I was on Instagram, and when I stopped using Instagram, I thought I needed to look at something so I started to read the news.
“But every headline was negative. Other than being informed about what is going on in the world, reading negative headlines one after another didn’t bring anything to me, so now I am totally off social media.”
Hamda Al Qubaisi takes race two win
Hamda Al Qubaisi took victory in the second F1 Academy race of the day, converting her pole position into the win with a commanding display.
There were issues further back for the newly-crowned champion Marta Garcia, who was forced to box and retire after suffering front wing damage on the opening lap.
Further down the grid, there was an immense comeback from Bianca Bustamente, who stalled on the start line before coming back to finish in P7.
Button: Red Bull not operating at max capacity
Jenson Button believes that Sergio Perez’s form is prohibiting Red Bull from maximising the potential of the RB19.
He explained to Sky Sports F1: “Even at the last race we saw other teams challenging Red Bull, so I think it’s real. It’s great to see for us watching.
“It puts a lot more pressure on the Red Bulls. Checo needs a good weekend and the problem is when you’re four or five-tenths off your team-mate.
“For example, that can be eight places now [difference on the grid] rather than one. I still think Red Bull’s the best car but I don’t think they can maximise it as much.”
Leclerc: I’ll fight Max at turn one
Charles Leclerc has pledged to attack Max Verstappen into turn one when the sprint race gets underway later this evening.
“It was a positive qualifying,” Leclerc said after finishing second in the sprint shootout. “Of course, it’s disappointing to not be on pole but second place is not that bad on this track.
“I will do everything to try and pass Max into Turn 1. The grip in second place always seems to be quite good looking at past years.
“I really hope it didn’t change for this year. Actually, I don’t know because I am on pole tomorrow, but I hope today we can pass Max!”
REPORT: Verstappen fastest in Sprint Shootout
Max Verstappen clinched his third sprint pole of the season on Saturday, edging out Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton who rounded out the top three. Lando Norris finished in P4 but was still just one-tenth behind the polesitter.
SQ1: Both Haas cars were eliminated along with Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant. George Russell was also in the headlines after blocking Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.
SQ2: Aston Martin saw both drivers eliminated in SQ2 as Mercedes took the chequered flag in P8 and P9. Alex Albon snuck his way into the top ten despite the struggles of team-mate Sargeant.
SQ3: Four drivers were separated by just one-tenth of a second in SQ3 with Verstappen just edging out Leclerc, Hamilton and Norris.
Chadwick impressed by Norris impact
Jamie Chadwick was impressed with Lando Norris’ performance during qualifying for the United States Grand Prix on Friday.
“They’ve been in good high speed, and this track has a lot of high speed,” Chadwick explained to Sky Sports F1 in Austin.
“One thing that impresses me the most about this track is that it’s a long lap, and yet we’re seeing such close margins.
“Lando, with the form he’s on at the moment, I wasn’t so surprised to see him up there. And they’ve got a good race car normally as well, so they’re going to be excited for today.”
Room to improve for Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t satisfied with his performance in qualifying on Friday, but believes there is room for improvement on Saturday and Sunday.
“There was nothing else holding me back today,” he said after Friday’s running. “Just trying to find a little bit of that feeling in the car and the set-up.
“As the track ramped up, we plateaued a bit and there’s a few things with setup… As always you could do a little bit more. [You think] maybe we could have gone in this direction, but we will see what we can discover tonight.
“I wish I wasn’t in 15th, but it’s still nice to be back behind the wheel and result aside, it’s been an enjoyable day.
“I think that’s where it’s also hard with this format. You can’t do anything overnight and have to just wait for the wind to change and hope that your car feels different tomorrow. There’s things I can keep improving and a bit to still work on with the car setup.”
Marta Garcia is F1 Academy champion
Marta Garcia was crowned the first-ever F1 Academy champion in Texas on Saturday afternoon.
The Spanish racer managed the first race of the weekend perfectly to fend off the advances of the rapid Abbi Pulling and secure a deserved victory.
PREMA Racing’s star only needed a third-place finish to secure the championship ahead of the season finale on Sunday, but victory in race one means that the job is now done for the 23-year-old.
Hamilton delighted with ‘levelled up’ Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton believes that the new floor attached to the W14 this weekend has ‘levelled up’ Mercedes’ performance relative to their rivals.
“A good session,” Hamilton explained after qualifying on Friday “Really grateful for the improvements the team have made with the car. Everyone has worked so hard to bring these upgrades.
“For us to be this close to McLaren and Ferrari and even the Red Bulls, it’s a showing of how hard everyone has worked. The car feels almost the same. It’s just levelled up pretty much everywhere.”
The seven-time world champion will start Sunday’s race from P3 on the grid, behind Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris.
Button questions Stroll ‘respect’
Jenson Button has urged Lance Stroll to ‘have more respect’ for his colleagues after shoving his personal trainer at the Qatar Grand Prix earlier this month.
“The big one is the off-track antics which I have a little bit of an issue with,” Button told Sky Sports F1.
“I think as a racing driver you get stressed in certain situations but you need to control that. You need to have more respect within the team and who you work with.
“I think he lost that a little bit at the last race. Hopefully, he realises that and he’s put it right.”
Susie Wolff laments lack of F1 Academy support
F1 Academy chief Susie Wolff has called on more F1 drivers to engage with the series’ upcoming female drivers after conceding only Lewis Hamilton has reached out.
The British star is a passionate advocate of increasing diversity in the sport and has thrown his support behind the new series, where 15 young female drivers.
And Wolff, the wife of Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff, wants more drivers to take part: “It’s a little bit sad that it is always Lewis,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“He is always the one coming over, offering support and in the end, he also knows what it’s like to be ‘the only one’ so he has an affinity.
“But there’s going to be the 10 F1 teams with their own liveries, so I expect a lot more interaction from the F1 teams generally next season because they have the platforms, they have the voices.”
Marko opens up on Red Bull ‘differences’
Helmut Marko has conceded that there have been some ‘small differences in opinion’ at Red Bull, but rubbished suggestions of a civil war.
Reports had circulated in Brazil that Christian Horner wanted to get rid of Marko, a scenario that has been strongly denied.
And the 80-year-old thinks it is an attempt to divide Red Bull given their success on the track.
“I think we’re winning too much! he said in Austin, as per Grandprix.com. “There’s no real news here and now something is being played up.
“In general, the structure and the climate in the team is fine. It’s clear that there are some small differences of opinion, but everything works out.”
Russell hits back at ‘soft’ criticism
George Russell has called out former drivers for suggesting the current crop of F1 stars are ‘soft’, pointing out the huge physical differences between now and when they used to race.
Racing icons Martin Brundle and Gerhard Berger have claimed F1 stars need to be fitter to deal with extreme conditions, but Russell says they cannot the two eras cannot be compared.
“We’re lapping 20 seconds quicker than they did, experiencing 5G loads all the time,” he said in Austin.
“Of course we need to be gladiators, but when it comes to heat, the body can only handle so much. The cars of the 80s and 90s didn’t have all these electronics, our power steering systems that run at 50-60 degrees.
“We have hydraulic lines running throughout the cockpit that heat up to 120 degrees. Our overalls are thicker than we’ve ever had since Grosjean’s accident.”
Ricciardo hints at Red Bull future plans
Daniel Ricciardo insists he would be happy to stay with Red Bull’s ‘family’ for the foreseeable future, even if it means not returning to the main team.
The Australian is currently racing for AlphaTauri on loan from Red Bull, having signed on as their reserve driver, and the 34-year-old sees no reason to leave anytime soon.
“I’m definitely here to stay and I want to stay in the Red Bull family,” he told The Mirror. “Being back here, it just feels very right for me.
“I do like Helmut [Marko, the Red Bull adviser who oversees its driver programme] and his hard approach – I’m a nice, easy-going person but his approach really does work for me. I think it gets a little more out of myself. And Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] I’ve always had a good relationship with. I just feel like the chemistry in the team is really good and I like that.
“The big picture would be to get back to that team and that car one day, but I also said that if there is not an opening then I want to stay here.”
Wolff calls out FIA over fine increase
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has joined George Russell in questioning the move from the FIA to raise the highest possible driver fine to £817,000 (€1m).
The world motorsport governing body has opted to implement a huge increase on its maximum fine, a move that has left drivers and team bosses scratching their heads – and Wolff says the numbers mentioned are ‘very surreal’.
“A million, we need to do a reality check with real life, whether that is an adequate fine or not,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever fined a driver 250k, so raising the ceiling is something that one needs to understand where it comes from.
“I don’t think we want to portray Formula 1 out there in a world where it’s tough enough to give drivers fines of a million, I think half of the grid wouldn’t be able to pay them. I don’t think we should be playing around with those numbers that seem very surreal for people that are watching us.”
Marko targets Perez again after Verstappen rant
Red Bull special advisor Helmut Marko believes Sergio Perez was to blame for Max Verstappen’s qualifying disappointment at the United States Grand Prix.
Verstappen will start sixth in Sunday’s race with Perez in ninth, and the Dutchman was left fuming with his team-mate after claiming he impeded him during qualifiyng.
Marko appears to agree with Verstappen as he weighed in on the row, saying: “We knew it was going to be tight but [on Max’s] first lap in Q3, Checo got in the way,” Marko told ServusTV.
“It was a communication error, and on the second run at Turn 1, there was a lock-up and it’s tragic when you drop from first to sixth place.”
Wolff gives honest view on Mercedes supremo
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has offered an insight into what Sir Jim Ratcliffe can bring to the table at Manchester United if his minority takeover bid is successful.
The 71-year-old is hoping to add to his sporting portfolio by purchasing 25 per cent of his boyhood club, having succumbed to not being able to strike a deal for a complete takeover.
The INEOS owner has a third of a share in the Formula One team and has played a key role in their success over the years, having also invested heavily in rugby and cycling previously.
Wolff has no doubts that Ratcliffe will be able to have a positive impact at United as well, explaining: “Jim and his partners, Andy and John, they are first of all very complementary and this is a no bulls*** organisation.
Leclerc: Engineer nearly gave me heart attack
Charles Leclerc has opened up on how he punched his steering wheel after he thought he had been robbed of pole position by Max Verstappen for the United States Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Ferrari star will start at the front of the grid after producing a superb lap around the Circuit of the Americas, but a momentary miscommunication from his race engineer sent Leclerc into a state of fury behind the wheel of his SF-23 car.
After receiving a message that began: ‘Lap time deleted track limits’ from his race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros, Leclerc swore at the Spaniard after a brief misunderstanding, as he accidentally forgot to mention Verstappen’s name at the start.
But it came too late as Leclerc had already listened to the words that every polesitter dreaded to hear come through the radio – and he punched his steering wheel and helmet in frustration.
Ricciardo backed to replace Perez
Daniel Ricciardo has been backed to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull for 2024 if the Mexican does not improve his performances.
Former world champion Jenson Button thinks the 2023 Constructors’ winners could be forced to bring back Ricciardo, 34, to the team if Perez continues to fall behind Max Verstappen.
“I think there is a possibility yes,” Button told Sky Sports F1, when asked if Ricciardo could replace Perez.
“I think in terms of confidence, he has so much confidence in his ability now. He comes back, he’s proven he’s quick against his teammate and I think that’s a big step for him getting into the Red Bull seat.
“If Checo isn’t close enough to Max when they’re in a car that doesn’t have the advantage they do right now, they need someone that can pull in those big points, and that is Daniel Ricciardo.”
Andretti line up first driver as F1 entry beckons
Michael Andretti has revealed that IndyCar sensation Colton Herta is ‘top of the list’ to join the Andretti F1 team should their bid be approved by the grid.
The California-born driver is already a seven-time IndyCar race winner and remains one of the most highly-rated talents in the series, but super license points remain an issue for Herta.
After a disappointing 10th-place finish in the standings in 2023, he’ll need to take steps forward next season if he is to get back on track to reach the required tally for a superlicence.
“Colton is definitely at the top of our list, but obviously, we have the [superlicense] points problem, so we have to see how he does in the IndyCar championship.
“But then, we’ve talked to a few others as well that do qualify, but, you know, the goal is to have at least one American in the car and then an experienced driver in the other car to help mentor that.”
Russell baffled as Mercedes star ‘off the pace’
George Russell admits he was left stumped with his lack of pace after watching Lewis Hamilton qualify third and says he was relieved to make it into Q3.
“For me, it’s been a really challenging day,” said Russell. “I’ve been off the pace, I don’t really know why. I’ve been feeling quite good and with the update, we can feel the improvement.
“But it’s been a bit of a strange day for me so I’m actually pretty pleased with P5 because at some points it was looking likely we may not even go through to Q3.
“P5 is a great place to start on Sunday and when it was looking likely at points we could’ve been much further down the order, I’m pretty satisfied with that.”
Alonso throws in the towel after ‘terrible’ session
Fernando Alonso bemoaned Aston Martin’s ‘terrible’ qualifying session as the resigned Spaniard suggested the team should use the race as a testing session.
Alonso starts P17 with Lance Stroll in 19th for Sunday’s race, the first time this season both cars have failed to make Q2. And the 42-year-old’s frustration was clear to see.
“We should go back and repeat the day completely, starting from the morning,” Alonso joked. “We had a terrible session, Lance didn’t complete any lap, I did only six or seven quality laps with a new package.
“Too many unknowns in terms of how to operate the package and the new car. I think we went a bit blind into qualifying and obviously we see the result.
“Nothing we can do now, we are in perc ferme. We use this weekend as a test for next year as well, even if they are painful so let’s see what we can learn in the remaining sessions.”
Hamilton sets Mercedes challenge
Lewis Hamilton vowed to fight for his first win in nearly two years after putting his much-improved Mercedes on the second row.
With a newly-designed floor, the 38-year-old was only two tenths behind Charles Leclerc with Lando Norris in second, and Hamilton is eyeing another race win in Austin.
“I have to say a big thank you to everyone back at the factory,” he said in the post-qualifying interview.
“They have been pushing so hard to improve our car and we have taken a step closer to the front this weekend. I know everyone is working flat out for that and I appreciate all the efforts.
“Unfortunately today, we weren’t quite at the very front, but we will give it another shot tomorrow.”
He added: “I hope tomorrow we can fight for P1 again. I’ll be giving it my best shot and with this crowd, I think anything is possible.”
Verstappen swears at Perez in angry radio message
Max Verstappen was left furious over the team radio at the Circuit of the Americas after he felt he was impeded by Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
The Dutchman was challenged throughout all three parts of qualifying on Friday as Red Bull were threatened by both Ferrari and Mercedes in their bid to secure pole position.
Verstappen’s woes peaked at the worst possible time too with the 26-year-old losing time in the dirty air behind team-mate Perez heading out of the final corner on his penultimate flying lap.
The reigning world champion unleashed his frustrations on the team radio, exclaiming: “Well done, well **** done there! What the **** was that in the last corner?”
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