Written by the Divebomb Team, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
Formula 1: Dutch Grand Prix - Marcus Woodhouse
With the electrifying backdrop of over 100,000 orange clad fans, the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix got underway, and what a Grand Prix it was. Filled with intriguing storylines and gripping battles, the Circuit Zandvoort made up for its lack of overtaking opportunities with a tense, strategic race involving all of the frontrunners, keeping us all on the edge of our seats.
Friday came and went, and it was Mercedes who looked the superior car out there, both cars in the top five in both practice sessions. Ferrari and McLaren looked quick too, while Red Bull seemed to be struggling for not only pace but reliability, as Max Verstappen’s FP1 (Free Practice 1) was cut short, much to the annoyance of the home supporters. FP3 was perhaps a more realistic indicator of the car performance levels, with the top six places taken up by Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull. Nonetheless, qualifying was looked forward to with nervous anticipation by drivers and fans alike.
It was another qualifying disappointment for Nicholas Latifi, Sebastian Vettel, and Kevin Magnussen, while Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas made unexpected exits in the first round. Another Q2 (Qualifying 2) appearance for Alex Albon earned him 15th on the grid, while Zhou Guanyu out-qualified his Finnish teammate for the fifth time this season. Amid a cloud of off-track drama surrounding their 2023 driver line-up, Alpine’s two drivers were 13th and 12th, while Pierre Gasly, the man tipped to be joining the team next season, was just ahead.
A technical issue foiled Lance Stroll’s attempt to get his best grid position of the season, while Yuki Tsunoda was ninth and Mick Schumacher was eighth, impressive performances from the pair of them. Lando Norris was the quickest of the McLaren drivers in seventh, but couldn’t challenge the frontrunners. Verstappen was on pole, as he overcame the challenges of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, while the promising pace of the Mercedes cars was left undiscovered as a spin for Sergio Perez brought out the yellow flags and put an end to qualifying.
It was all to play for the race then, with the grid having shaped up nicely for an entertaining race, and we were not disappointed. The sea of orange was at its brilliant best, with flares billowing out orange smoke and an assortment of orange clothing uniform around the grandstands. And the lights went out, with Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz getting good getaways, while Hamilton had to defend from Perez behind, and in doing so went deep into the first corner and made contact with the side of Sainz’ car. Norris also managed to overtake George Russell, but the positions were soon reverted. A scary moment for Magnussen on Lap 2 resulted in a trip across the gravel, bouncing off the barrier, but somehow the car remained intact and the Danish driver continued on.
The race then settled down somewhat, as the drivers got into their rhythms and managed their tyres, but drama was never far away, and on Lap 15, Carlos Sainz was the victim of yet another Ferrari error, with a 12 second pit-stop caused by only having three tyres ready to put on the car, while a wheel gun was left out in Perez’ way, and his Red Bull was lucky to avoid damage as he bounced over it. Two laps later Schumacher and Vettel had a close battle for position, with the two of them friendly off-track, but it was the Haas driver who came out on top.
A relieved Leclerc then pitted without issue, and Verstappen covered him off on Lap 19, coming out four seconds ahead, but handing the lead of the race to the two Mercedes drivers. Nerves started to set in for the Ferrari and Red Bull strategists, as they realised that a one-stop strategy might be possible for Mercedes, but Verstappen bided his time and picked off Russell with a simple pass on Lap 28. The Dutchman didn’t have to overtake his 2021 championship rival though, as Hamilton dove into the pits for a set of hard tyres, his teammate following suit soon after, and they both came out ahead of the struggling Sainz. It was only Lap 36 in which Perez was caught by the first of the Mercedes, but the overtake was more difficult than expected, as Perez locked up to keep position and then nearly benefited from Vettel emerging from the pits ahead of Hamilton and holding him up.
The Mexican driver was then overtaken by the second Mercedes three laps later, before he stopped to fit the hard tyres on Lap 41, emerging in P7 but quickly catching and passing Norris for P6 on Lap 44, and that was the lap that the drama of this race really started to unfold. Sainz came into the pits, as did Tsunoda, who then pulled over to the side of the track while complaining that his tyres weren’t correctly fitted to his Alpha Tauri team. He was then told to carry on, but stopped again soon after after his engineer told him to retire from the race. It was a strange turn of events for the Japanese driver, and one that brought out the VSC (Virtual Safety Car). Verstappen took his chance to put the hard tyres on, while Mercedes carried out a successful double stack to give both of their cars fresh mediums for the remainder of the race, leaving Hamilton 16 seconds to make up on Verstappen with 23 laps to go.
However, Lap 55 saw Valtteri Bottas stop just before Turn 1 with a power unit failure, and Sainz made a risky move to overtake Esteban Ocon pretty much at the same time as the yellow flags came out. The safety car was then deployed, with Verstappen diving into the pits once again to fit a set of unused soft tyres, along with Leclerc, while both Mercedes cars stayed out to take first and second in the race, until the safety car was then brought through the pitlane on the next lap to avoid Bottas’ stricken Alfa Romeo. Unhappy with the state of his tyres, Russell convinced his team to let him change to the soft tyres as well, leaving Hamilton out in front to defend against a charging Verstappen with better, fresher tyres. Meanwhile, Sainz’ afternoon went from bad to worse, as he came out of his pit box directly in the path of Fernando Alonso, supposedly in order to avoid a McLaren mechanic, causing Alonso to have to slam on the brakes and Sainz to be slapped with a 5 second penalty for his troubles.
The Safety Car had been the only thing protecting Hamilton from the charging Red Bull, and when it peeled off into the pits at the end of Lap 60, Verstappen took no time at all to breeze past the Mercedes into the lead of the race. It was only another four laps before Russell got past his teammate as well, taking advantage of his superior tyres, despite the best efforts of Hamilton to defend on the main straight. Even the podium slipped out of the grasp of the seven-time champion, as Leclerc made light work of his opponent on Lap 66, to compound his frustrating end to the race.
After 72 laps of fierce racing, and bold strategy calls, Red Bull and Max Verstappen came out on top once again, sending the crowd into raptures, as the fireworks perfectly encapsulated the mood around the Circuit Zandvoort. George Russell’s last-minute decision to box under the Safety Car was rewarded with P2, while Charles Leclerc made it onto the last spot of the podium. Hamilton was left seething in fourth place, while Sainz crossed the line fifth but was demoted to eighth following his time penalty for the earlier unsafe release, promoting Perez to fifth, still a far cry from his teammate.
Alonso beat Norris to sixth, while Ocon and Stroll rounded out the top ten. Gasly, Albon, and Schumacher were just out of the points, while Vettel and Magnussen were both outpaced by their respective teammates. Zhou Guanyu’s P16 capped off a disappointing weekend for the Alfa Romeo team, while Daniel Ricciardo’s P17 was a sign of his current motivation after being replaced at McLaren for next year by Oscar Piastri. Latifi was the only lapped driver, while Bottas and Tsunoda suffered unfortunate mechanical issues to end their races early.
All in all, it was a gripping affair at the Circuit Zandvoort, in a fiery atmosphere, with no room for mistakes by either team or driver, and Red Bull and Verstappen produced yet another masterclass to ensure victory and an even greater championship lead. Leclerc is back up to second after Perez’s disappointing result, while Mercedes closed the gap on Ferrari for second in the constructors’ standings. We now look ahead to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza next weekend, to round off the post-summer break triple header.
F1 Feeder Series: Zandvoort - Sasha Macmillen
Formula 2 headed to the Zandvoort circuit in the midst of a championship battle that had all but been concluded after Theo Pourchaire’s engine gave way during the feature race in Spa. However, the young Frenchman was determined to not give up, but crashed during Friday’s qualifying session, whilst championship leader Felipe Drugovich took pole position. Pourchaire would also make a mistake in the sprint race, sliding into the gravel early on, and could only manage P9 in the feature race whilst Drugovich took victory. The Brazilian can now firmly put one hand on the trophy, and is expected to wrap up proceedings in Monza. Saturday’s sprint race saw victory for Hitech’s Marcus Armstrong, and Clement Novalak managed to claim his first podium in Formula 2.
Concerning the fight for P3 in the drivers’ standings, Liam Lawson’s P4 finish in the sprint was enough to reel himself in, meaning that Sargeant, Doohan and Lawson are now separated by a mere 11 points with two rounds remaining. Jack Doohan was unlucky to get caught up in safety car shenanigans, where a contentious restart procedure from Lawson was debated as to whether it had caused an incident further behind. All in all though, it was quite a low-key Formula 2 weekend, in which overtaking was scarce and difficult, yet incidents and crashes were plenty.
Formula 3 meanwhile saw five drivers head into Zandvoort covered by only ten points, and a chaotic qualifying session saw Bearman and Leclerc fail to set a competitive lap time, after a red flag put paid to their final runs. Both would start outside the top 12, and neither managed to score a single point in The Netherlands. Victor Martins meanwhile would score a valuable P2 finish in the feature race to retake the championship lead, now one of five points over Isack Hadjar. Caio Collet took his second Formula Two victory in the sprint race, whilst it was an emotional maiden podium for Juan Manuel Correa, three years after his horrific accident involving the late Anthoine Hubert.
The feature race, on a crisp early morning by the Dutch sea, saw a costly mistake from the American Jak Crawford early on, spelling the end of his dim championship hopes. Zane Maloney showed brilliant patience in his pursuit of Martins to take back-to-back feature race victories, and leaves himself with an outside chance at the championship in Monza. Franco Colapinto would hang back behind the two at the front to take a fourth podium in what is a blemishing rookie season. Ultimately, Isack Hadjar’s careful driving and consistency allowed him to score decent points this weekend. Leaving Zandvoort, it seems that the title is left to be a French duel in Monza, unless a red-hot ‘Boy from Barbados’ can spoil their party.
IndyCar: Grand Prix of Portland - Danny Jones
The NTT IndyCar Series’ race to become champion was the key talking point coming into Portland with Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin and Pato O’Ward all still having a mathematical chance at claiming the title, with the extra point up for grabs for a pole position being a significant factor on Saturday.
That extra point would go to Scott McLaughlin, who was 54 points off the championship lead, with Team Penske teammate and championship leader Will Power alongside him on the grid. Christian Lundgaard starred once again in qualifying, picking up an impressive P3, with Alex Palou completing the 2nd row, Row 3 was all Arrow McLaren SP, as Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist lined up alongside each other. Newgarden started 8th after picking up a 6 place grid drop for an unscheduled engine change, with other championship contenders Dixon and Ericsson in 16th and 18th respectively.
Turn 1 was another key talking point coming into the weekend, with all 3 races since IndyCar’s return to Portland featuring pile-ups at the chicane. However, all drivers kept it clean, with McLaughlin leading from Power and Lundgaard, with O’Ward P4, who crucially had started on the harder, black tyre.
There was little action until Lap 49, where Pato O’Ward, who was now on the softer red tyres, jumped Christian Lundgaard, who was on the blacks, in the pits, and looked poised to chase down McLaughlin and Power, but when just 0.5 seconds off the Australian for P2, the Arrow McLaren SP was held up by the lapped traffic of Jimmie Johnson, with the Mexican unable to make use of his tyre advantage.
After a surprisingly caution-free race, a yellow was finally shown on Lap 84, where Rinus VeeKay swiped across the front of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson, with the American slamming into the wall.
McLaughlin held position on the restart, whilst O’Ward, who was out of championship contention as things stood, sent it into Turn 1 on Power, however, went too aggressive, and picked up body damage whilst trying to overtake Power. Things would only get worse for the Mexican, when he was deemed to have blocked Scott Dixon in the next corner, and had to cede position to the Kiwi.
The last 20 laps featured minimal action, as all drivers looked to reach the finish, but in a comical moment, Christian Lundgaard, who had dropped significant positions during his black tyre stint, ran deep into Turn 1, and picked up advertising hoardings and had to limp all the way back to the pits, after being unable to remove the debris.
20 laps later, McLaughlin brought home his 3rd victory of the year, after St. Petersburg and Mid-Ohio, with Power solidifying his championship lead after finishing P2, with Dixon rounding off the podium.
O’Ward and Palou both find themselves officially out of the championship hunt after finishing 4th and 12th respectively, whilst Newgarden settled for 8th, after the caution relegated him from 4th, due to the pace deficit of the blacks. Marcus Ericsson finished P11, and although still mathematically in contention, has a lot of work to do, if he wants to claim the title.
IndyCar will head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to crown the NTT IndyCar Series champion with 5 drivers still in mathematical contention. Will Power will claim the title with a podium finish in the California desert, as he lies 20 points clear of Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon. Marcus Ericsson and Scott McLaughlin lie 39 and 41 points behind respectively, and will require Power to have problems if they want to win the title.
Portland has meant the Championship Seven has been whittled down to the Championship 5, and with 5 points lying between Christian Lundgaard and David Malukas in the rookie standings, everything is to play for in Laguna Seca.
MotoGP: Gran Premio di San Marino - Andrew Lwanga
The chequered flag fell in the Adriatic coast of Misano to close off what was a historic San Marino grand prix. It was the first time the Marco Simoncelli Misano world circuit held a Grand Prix in the MotoGP era without the mercurial Valentino Rossi on the grid. However, even in the absence of “The Doctor” the partisan crowd was still treated to a classic showdown between two of Italy’s best motorsport athletes.
Francesco Bagnaia was first across the line but by the narrowest of possible margins with Enea Bastianini’s front tyre just 0.03 seconds behind Bagnaia’s. Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales came through in third to make it an all italian manufacturer’s podium.
Despite seemingly dominating proceedings it was far from a straightforward race for “Pecco”. During free practice the Italian was riding slowly through the racing line landing him a three place grid penalty. With the penalty in effect Bagnaia was relegated from second on the grid to the second row in fifth. An electric start quickly amended whatever incursions he was guilty of as he shot to third before the first turn, ironically putting him directly behind his current and future teammates.
Jack Miller who had taken pole on saturday suffered a lowside on the opening few laps of the race at the tricky Rio corner eliminating him from contention and handing the lead of the race to the man replacing him next season, Enea Bastianini. A few laps later Marco Bezzechi also lost control of his motorcycle putting him out as well in what suddenly became a race of attrition as more riders hit the asphalt, although some of them including Bezzechi managed to remount.
Bagnaia very quickly took the lead from Bastianini but was unable to break from the trailing pack which included Vinales and Marini. Further down the order championship leader Fabio Quartararo and championship contender Aleix Espargaro were locked in a battle for fifth. The pair lacked the pace to go with the leaders for most of the weekend and the race was no exception.
As the race wore on however the defending world champion was able to go clear of Espargaro securing a top five finish and in the larger scheme of things, damage limitation. Towards the front the two Italians traded fastest laps consequently dropping both Marini and Vinales turning it into a two horse race for home glory.
“The Beast '' piled on the pressure on his compatriot, harkening back memories of the French Grand Prix but unlike the French Grand Prix Bagnaia kept his composure and soaked up the pressure. Bagnaia’s defence in the last few laps was, for lack of a better term, beautiful. Placing his Ducati at just the right part of the track and without compromising his own lines, he held on. On the last lap Bastianini mustered every ounce of his famed late race pace and put it all on the lap so much so that despite making a mistake he was less than half a tenth away from Bagnaia at the line. Vinales rode him in third to take his third podium of the season and a few seconds behind him Marini equalled his best result in the premier class.
Bagnaia’s win meant he was only the first rider to win four successive races for Ducati. An impressive feat when you consider the legends to have ridden for the Italian outfit. His win also meant he overtakes Aleix Espargaro in the championship and now sits at just 30 points behind the defending world champion with 6 races to go.
The race also marked the end of a great career as Andrea Dovizioso hung up his boots and leathers at his home race. With 248 premier class race starts, 62 podiums and 15 wins Andrea Dovizioso is without a doubt a legend in the sport.