© Getty Images

Sainz: No problems in ‘healthy rivalry’ with Verstappen

Leave a comment

Carlos Sainz Jr. says that he has no problems with Scuderia Toro Rosso teammate Max Verstappen despite the two enjoying a frosty battle in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

An incorrect strategy left Sainz and Verstappen on the fringes of the top 10 towards the end of the race in Melbourne, having previously both been running well inside the points.

Verstappen demanded on a number of occasions to be let past Sainz when the Spaniard was stuck behind Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, but was kept back.

Eventually, both drivers passed Palmer, but the two made light contact later on to send Verstappen into a spin. Sainz ultimately finished the race in ninth place, one place ahead of his teammate.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Sainz said that he has no problems with Verstappen and that their rivalry remains a healthy one.

“I think it’s a healthy rivalry. At least from my side, I have absolutely no issues with anyone,” Sainz said.

“Today it was a very interesting are, a very on the limit race but that’s how Formula 1 should be: on the limit and I enjoyed a lot even if the final position I think we deserved more with so many overtakes and so much show going on.

“I enjoyed it, and I think there will be no issues at least from my side.”

Verstappen was less vocal when pressed on the matter by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton, but admitted that he felt angry with the team during the race.

“I think it’s a missed opportunity. I think everything worked well, great start, good first call in the pit stop and then everything just turned into…” Verstappen said, tailing off.

“I was very angry of course. Very disappointing. We had a great car and then to finish down here is not where we should be.

“It is like it is and I’ll just try to do it better the next race, but I’m just very disappointed.

“If you can see that the Haas finishes sixth, then I think we had a great opportunity to have a great result here.”

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
1 Comment

SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.