Verstappen Aims for Another F1 Win in Barcelona as Sainz Hopes to Showcase His Talents at Home Race 

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen of Netherlands walks in the paddock in Barcelona, Spain, 20 June 2024. (EPA)
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen of Netherlands walks in the paddock in Barcelona, Spain, 20 June 2024. (EPA)
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Verstappen Aims for Another F1 Win in Barcelona as Sainz Hopes to Showcase His Talents at Home Race 

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen of Netherlands walks in the paddock in Barcelona, Spain, 20 June 2024. (EPA)
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen of Netherlands walks in the paddock in Barcelona, Spain, 20 June 2024. (EPA)

Max Verstappen will be out to quash any hopes that his Red Bull could be beatable at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, where the three-time world champion enjoyed his breakout as a teenager and has won for the past two years.

The race just north of Barcelona kicks off a run of three grand prix in as many weeks and five in a six-week span. Given that tight schedule, teams will have less time to tweak their cars. So the upgrades they are bringing to Spain could be key to determining who has the edge as the summer heats up.

Verstappen has won six of the nine races so far this season and recorded his 60th career win in Montreal two weeks ago. Overall, the 26-year-old Dutchman has won 50 of the last 75 events and holds a 56-point over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc going into Sunday’s race.

While some races have practically been over once Verstappen sped off the starting line, there have been signs that his chasers could at least make this season a bit more interesting.

Both Mercedes and McLaren led the pace during stretches of the Canadian GP before Verstappen steered clear. And two of the last four races have gone to other drivers: McLaren’s Lando Norris won in Miami after Verstappen clipped a chicane and had to pit, while Leclerc won in his home race in Monaco.

Spain, however, usually lets the flat-out fastest cars dominate. Twenty-four of 33 races here have been won by pole sitters, and no driver has won from starting further back than fifth. It is also well known to drivers because pre-season testing used to be held here.

The 4.6-kilometer Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit was made even more fit for speed last year when a chicane that was unpopular among drivers was replaced by two fast turns head of the main straightaway.

“I think it’s always very tricky, in a way of course exciting,” Verstappen said about the state of the competition before practice started for the race on Friday.

“This is normally a track that is a bit more straightforward. People have a bit more information about a track like this, it’s been on the calendar for a while. Of course, from our side we are hoping to have a good weekend here.”

Verstappen has fond memories of a track where he showed the stuff of a future champion by winning the 2016 Spanish GP on his Red Bull debut. That made him F1’s youngest race winner at age 18. He also scored wins here the last two seasons.

In Canada, Norris lamented not having taken his chance to get a second win. Now he hopes McLaren can match the Red Bulls for pure speed.

“The whole season we’ve been strong, at every race,” Norris said on. “If we can get the car performing like it has done in the past on high-speed circuits, and then I’ll be confident that we can. We should be able to fight.”

For Mercedes’ George Russell, who finished third in Montreal, a good result here should translate into better things to come.

“I think this is going to be a real test and if we can be fast this weekend, that bodes really well for the season,” Russell said.

Ferrari is looking to bounce back from a frustrating weekend Canada, when both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggled in qualifying and then neither were able to finish the race.

Sainz's showcase With Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin so far unable to reproduce their fine 2023 season, the home fans will likely place their faith in Sainz. He is trying to claim his second race of the season after winning the Australian GP in March, when an engine fire knocked Verstappen out.

Sainz is the best driver who does not have a seat guaranteed for next season, after seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton agreed to switch Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025. So Sainz is in need of strong performances, especially ahead of teammate Leclerc, to showcase his talent.



Buoyant Hamilton Seeking to Keep Momentum and More Records

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)
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Buoyant Hamilton Seeking to Keep Momentum and More Records

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)

A buoyant Lewis Hamilton heads into this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix on the crest of a wave, seeking a record-increasing ninth Hungaroring victory and Mercedes' third consecutive win of the season.
After two years of struggles, Hamilton ended his long winless run at the British Grand Prix with a record ninth home triumph at Silverstone and hopes to repeat that feat in forecast intense heat at the track where last year he secured his most recent pole position, AFP said.
Following his emotional success in front of an adoring crowd in the English rain, Hamilton said he felt excited at the prospect of returning to a track where he has scored several memorable victories in his career.
"I love Hungary," he said. "And so I am definitely looking forward to going there. The trajectory we're now on and the fact that the car is starting to really, really come alive and feel great. I can't wait."
The 39-year-old seven-time world champion won at the Hungaroring -- a tight, twisty and often dusty circuit 22 kilometers north of Budapest -- in his debut season for McLaren in 2007 and again in 2009 and 2012.
After switching to Mercedes, he continued to relish the unique challenge of a track often described as 'Monaco without the walls' and won again in 2013, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
If he secures a podium finish this Sunday, it will be the 200th of his career, a pole position would be a record-extending 10th, landmark achievements that set him apart as he bids to add to team-mate George Russell's victory in Austria and his own in Britain.
He and Russell know, however, that they will not be favorites despite their recent successes as defending three-time champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull bids to complete a hat-trick of Hungarian wins after triumphs in 2022 and last year.
"Last year was brilliant," said Verstappen. "I have good memories of racing here and last year achieved our 12th win in a row. So, hopefully, we can have a great race again."
Midway point
The Dutchman leads the title race by 84 points ahead of nearest rival and friend Lando Norris of McLaren as the season crosses the midway point after 12 of the scheduled 24 races.
Team boss Christian Horner expects a close scrap.
"It's going to be interesting to see how we perform there," he said.
"It could be very hot and I think it will be the usual people who are quick at the moment and it will be very, very close again."
That suggests Horner considers Red Bull will be fighting with McLaren and Mercedes on recent evidence, but with Ferrari likely to return to form on a tighter circuit –- not unlike Monaco where Charles Leclerc gained an emotional home win in May.
With the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps following immediately, within a week, the double-header offers an opportunity for teams to make a telling impact before Formula One takes its annual 'summer shutdown' during August.
This will translate as more pressure for struggling Sergio Perez of Red Bull who is hoping to escape a nightmare run having scored only 15 points in his last six outings since agreeing a new contract.
Ferrari are also in need of a solid result from Leclerc but have struggled with a recent upgrade package that failed.
"When you're at the sharp end, it's all marginal gains," said Horner. "Mercedes were very quick at Silverstone, took pole and the front row and then executed a good race... at least Lewis did."
His Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff admitted: "We have momentum and gained headline results in Austria and at Silverstone, but we don't yet have a car to challenge for victories every weekend.
"The Hungaroring is very different in character to the last two circuits. We will focus on doing the best we can and hope to maintain our trajectory."