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Formula 1

Leclerc finally breaks the Monaco curse: 2024 Monaco Grand Prix Review

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Ferrari Driver Charles Leclerc broke his winless streak at the Monaco Grand Prix with his last win being the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.

Leclerc became the first Monégasque driver since Louis Chiron in 1931 to win his home Grand Prix, and the first Monégasque driver to win the Monaco Grand Prix as a Formula One World Championship event.

Free Practice

During the three Free Practice sessions, the team that looked very promising was Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton finishing in the top 3 in all practice sessions. Evidently, the Red Bulls were lacking pace, opening up opportunities for other teams like Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes.

In the opening free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton set the pace for Mercedes, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri close behind, followed by Hamilton’s teammate George Russell. The session saw a brief interruption due to debris on Turn 1, caused by Zhou Guanyu’s Sauber making contact with the wall.

Later in the day, Charles Leclerc impressed for Ferrari in the second free practice session, with Hamilton and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin trailing behind.

In the third practice session, Leclerc continued to dominate, leading the timesheets once again, followed by Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing and Hamilton. However, the session was halted when Valtteri Bottas’s Sauber collided with the wall at the swimming pool section, resulting in suspension damage for the Finn and a red flag.

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Qualifying

Charles Leclerc took his 24th pole position and Ferrari’s 250th pole position on Saturday with a time of 1:10.270, ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and teammate Carlos Sainz.

Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez faced a tough setback in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix as they were both eliminated in Q1. Alonso would start from 14th on the grid, while Perez would line up in 16th position.

In the following session, Q2, the 2018 race winner Daniel Ricciardo suffered a disappointing exit, along with both Haas drivers. However, the Haas duo faced additional drama as they were disqualified from the session due to a technical infringement related to their DRS systems. Despite this setback, they were granted permission by the race director to take the grid, starting from the 19th and 20th. Yuki Tsunoda’s impressive form persisted as he secured a spot in Q3 for yet another race, making his 6th Q3 appearance of the season. Pierre Gasly for Alpine and Alex Albon for Williams joined him in the final qualifying session, marking a notable achievement for both teams.

As Q3 unfolded, Charles Leclerc emerged as the frontrunner for the pole position, showcasing an impressive pace throughout the session. Meanwhile, championship leader Max Verstappen faced challenges with his car, describing it as slippery and struggling to find the optimal grip.

However, as the session reached its climax, a pivotal moment occurred when Verstappen brushed the wall at the exit of Turn 1, forcing him to abandon his flying lap. With Verstappen out of contention, the battle for pole intensified between Ferrari and McLaren.

In the end, it was Charles Leclerc who clinched pole position with a commanding final sector, asserting Ferrari’s dominance. Behind him, Oscar Piastri of McLaren secured a strong position on the grid, setting the stage for an exciting race between the two powerhouse teams.

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Race

The start of the Monaco Grand Prix encountered an early setback as a dramatic crash on lap 1 involving Sergio Pérez, Nico Hülkenberg, and Kevin Magnussen led to a red flag situation. The collision resulted in all three drivers retiring and caused significant damage to the barriers, scattering debris across the initial corners of the track.

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Adding to the chaos, as the Alpines navigated the Portier section, Esteban Ocon inadvertently squeezed Pierre Gasly’s path, causing Ocon’s car to launch upward. Ocon, acknowledging his role in the incident, retired during the red flag period. Amidst the unfolding drama, Carlos Sainz encountered a moment of turmoil as he ran wide following contact with a McLaren. However, the red flag provided a lifeline as he was able to restart from his initial grid position.

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During the red flag phase, most drivers changed their tyres, fulfilling the requirement to use at least two different tyre compounds during a race. This strategic move gave them a free pit stop. Given that Monaco is a circuit that is not too hard on the tyres, this change means they likely won’t need to pit again for fresh rubber, allowing them to maintain their positions more effectively.

The second restart saw a more cautious approach from all drivers, with Charles Leclerc leading the pack closely pursued by Oscar Piastri. Further down the field, Sainz and Norris engaged in a tight battle for position.

As the race progressed, Aston Martin adopted a similar strategy to Haas from previous races. Fernando Alonso played a pivotal role in backing up the pack to create a gap behind his teammate Lance Stroll. However, the plan backfired when Stroll suffered a puncture on his new soft tyre.

Monaco has been infamous lately for its lack of overtakes, and the 2024 race didn’t help the venue’s case. The race saw very few overtakes, courtesy of Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll, and Logan Sargent at the back of the field.

At the end of the 78 laps, Charles Leclerc clinched victory at his home Grand Prix, delighting the Tifosi and his home crowd with a spectacular performance. It was an emotional win for Leclerc, securing the top step of the podium in front of his adoring fans. Oscar Piastri also made a mark, securing a podium finish at Monaco in only his second Formula 1 season, a remarkable achievement for the young driver. Completing the Ferrari dominance, Carlos Sainz crossed the line to secure a Ferrari 1-3 podium finish, capping off a fantastic day for the Italian team.

As the Formula 1 season progresses, all eyes turn to the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix at the iconic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. After facing challenges in the previous race, Red Bull Racing will be eager to reclaim its former dominance. With the championship battle heating up, fans can expect an exhilarating weekend of racing action as the teams and drivers vie for glory on Canadian soil.

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Championship Standings after the race:

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Formula 1

A Three way Battle in Budapest: The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Formula One returns to the historic Hungaroring, a tight twisty and unpredictable race track. Read DRC’s race preview here.

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As Red-Bull and Mclaren pull away from the field, Mercedes joins the party. With three race winning cars on track, all three will look to bag good points, while Ferrari will be hopeful for a better result. Welcome to DRC’s F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Read the British Grand Prix Review here.


Know the Hungaroring

The tight and twisty Hungaroring track is located in Mogyorod, 11 miles west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Described as an enlarged go-kart circuit, it is one of the most technically challenging circuits on the calendar.

The Hungaroring Circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit. Photo credits: F1

The 14 corner track is also called Monaco without the walls, owing to it’s high downforce requirements. Even though overtaking is very difficult here, the track has undergone only one major revision, which was in 2003. The main straight was extended another 200 meters to make it 900m long, and the first corner was tightened to promote overtaking.

The track contains two back-to-back DRS zones, followed by a technical middle sector full of chicanes and esses. The final sector is a short one, only featuring two hairpins that feed back into the main straight. A good middle sector is crucial here.

Historically, Hungary has been a circuit full of firsts. It was the first and only circuit to host a race beyond the Iron Curtian. It is also famous for giving drivers their first wins. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and most recently, Esteban Ocon have taken their first wins here. Max Verstappen took his first pole back in 2019 at the Hungaroring too.

The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will consist of 70 laps around this 4.381 kilometer circuit, with a two stop strategy as the norm.


Red Bull look to fight back blow for blow

Over the last few races, Red Bull has fallen off the pace and is slowly falling into the clutches of McLaren, and even Ferrari. Right now, Red Bull lead Ferrari by 71 points, closely followed by McLaren. With both McLaren cars consistently finishing in the top 5 in the last races bar Norris’s retirement in Austria, and Checo only scoring 8 points in the last five races, it has become difficult for Max and Red Bull to outscore the Papaya clad team.

McLaren’s last upgrade has significantly improved their performance, while Red Bull is still struggling to find and mend the issues with the RB20. Verstappen recently tested the RB18 at Imola, in an attempt to figure out the problem with the new car. As Red Bull work hard to rectify their problems, McLaren seems to be getting better and better. And now with Mercedes back in the fray, a new challenger is rising to take their throne.

Max Verstappen testing the RB18 at Imola.
Max Tests the RB18 in Imola. Image cradits: Autosport

Another factor is the two on one that Max has to face. With Checo qualifying poorly, Max has to take on the McLaren, and sometimes the Mercedes pair alone. Two cars in the mix would greatly help Red Bull, and Checo will be motivated to improve his Qualifying and Race records.


Mercedes on the up as Hamilton eyes another record

The Hungaroring has always been kind to Mercedes. They have the most wins here in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Russell and Hamilton snatched pole here in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Hamilton has also won eight races here, and his first victory with Mercedes came here in 2013.

Mercedes usually nail the set-up here. With the team riding high after back-to-back victories in Austria and Silverstone, they would love to go for a treble. Lewis Hamilton will also eye a record equaling nine victories. After his win in Silverstone, he now holds the record for most wins at a single circuit with 9.

George Russell also has a fantastic track record here, finishing in the points every year since 2021, where he came eight for a struggling Williams. A podium and a top 5 finish followed in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes will want to secure a large bag of points here, to reduce the 152 points defecit they have to the leaders Red Bull and to catch up with McLaren and Ferrari.


A Ferrari Renaissance on the Horizon?

Ferrari seems to have dropped off after their excellent performances in Melbourne and Monaco. This year, Ferrari seem to be a heavily down-force reliant car, with podiums for Charles and Carlos in Sakhir, Jeddhah, Melbourne and Suzuka, all tracks which require downforce. Of course their victories on the streets of Melbourne and Monte-Carlo confirms this.

Charles Leclerc Wins in Monaco.
Ferrari have dominated the Downforce heavy circuits. Image Credit: Anonymous

Their struggles at the more balanced tracks of Canada and Barcelona, along with power heavy tracks like Austria and Silverstone have cost them dearly. It is also evident that the Ferrari is one of the more draggy cars on the straights and struggle with straight line speed.

As the Hungaroring is a heavy-downforce track, it seems like Ferrari have a shot at victory here. This might be one of the few chances for them to get points during the European Leg of the season, along with Zandvoort and Baku. Consequently, Ferrari have bought new floor upgrades to make most of this valuable chance. A huge points haul in the Hungarian Grand Prix will solidify their chances against McLaren, Red Bull and even Mercedes who look threatening.


Dark Clouds loom over the race

An alarming video was shared by Mikey Brown, a mechanic at Aston Martin, shows the Pitlane flooding in what he described as “a HUGE storm” . McLaren, having barely repaired their motorhome in time for the British GP after the fire in Catalunya, have suffered another issue. The repaired motorhome has lost it’s roof multiple times over this week, thanks to the speedy winds.

Even though Meteorologists predict a dry weekend, a small rain shower, combined with the high humidity in Hungary this time of year can put the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in doubt.


Championship Standings

This is how the championship looks as we head into the race weekend:

The 2024 Formula One world championship standings as of 18/07/2024.
Credits: F1

Race Weekend Schedule

All events during the weekend are available to watch on F1TV and Fancode. The times given below are in IST(GMT +5:30).

DRC's Hungarian Grand Prix Race weekend schedule.

Follow Desi Racing Co to keep up to date with the speedy world of motorsports.

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Formula 1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas in an exhilarating return to F1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas to back a sensational return to F1.

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As the F1 silly season continues, a rather surprising bit of rumour is that the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is set to return to the F1 grid as early as 2025 with the Haas F1 team.

Credits: Haas F1 team

The partnership is said to start out with a sponsorship deal, possibly with a renaming on the cards. A deal akin to that of Alfa Romeo and Sauber. With the possibility of a future technical partnership on the chassis/engine development. Toyota will likely join Dallara in assisting Haas for the chassis. Other talks suggest that Haas will use Toyota’s facilities for development and manufacturing. While this means Toyota won’t be directly involved in the construction of the F1 car, it means Haas gets a huge boost in infrastructure, experience, etc; and Toyota gets a new source of income.

Toyota’s history in F1

The Japanese manufacturer has seen immense success in WEC, taking 5 consecutive 24 hours of Le Mans victories from 2018 to 2022 and WRC, clinching the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and the championship for drivers and co-drivers every year since 2019. It wasn’t so for its time in F1, or at least according to Toyota’s standards and ambition.

Credits: Toyota-europe.com

Toyota made their debut F1 in 2002. The team scored 17 podiums, and 3 pole positions but never achieved a victory. Only securing 2nd place as their best finish till they dropped out of the sport in 2009, midway through the development of the 2010 car.

What does this mean for Haas, Toyota, and F1?

Toyota’s failure was blamed on a lot of factors, this deal gave the Japanese manufacturer a second chance to right their wrongs. Haas has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the 2024 season. With Nico Hulkenberg scoring back-to-back P6 finishes at the Austrian and British GP, and Kevin Magnussen backing that up with commendable performances. The deal could help Haas gain the brute force of employees, resources & financial aid. Something that they have been lacking to make a meaningful impact in the sport.

F1 would most certainly benefit from having a Japanese Manufacturer in the sport. The Japanese GP attendance and the growing popularity of F1 have been steadily increasing in the country. Toyota’s return could also provide F1 with a boost to their competitiveness and financial gains.

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Formula 1

GIFT City’s Formula 1 Racetrack Plans Hit a Roadblock

GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a Formula 1 racetrack has stalled due to structural issues and high costs, sources reveal. Initially flagged off with a feasibility study, the project now faces uncertainties.

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Gujarat’s GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a racetrack for holding Formula 1 (F1) races has come to a grinding halt just four months after initiating a feasibility study and selecting consultants, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this year, on March 11, the Gujarat Sports Authority announced that top international F1 racetrack designers were invited to present the feasibility of constructing an F1 racetrack at GIFT City. The project saw intense competition among global designers, with the consortium of renowned German designer Hermann Tilke and India’s Arcop architects emerging as the frontrunner for the feasibility study.

GIFT City (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters)

However, GIFT City’s plan has been halted, insiders revealed. “Designers had given feedback that given the layout of GIFT City, it may be difficult to build a racetrack that conforms to F1 standards due to structural issues,” said one source.

The financial implications also pose a significant hurdle. Estimates place the cost of building such a racetrack between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 crore.

R.S. Ninama, Director General of the Gujarat Sports Authority, and Hermann Tilke have not responded to inquiries from ET. Another source indicated that the project might be integrated into a larger plan for developing infrastructure for the Olympics. “So, you may get a racetrack, but not one that can host F1 races,” the source added.

GIFT City, located in Gandhinagar, has been developed as a financial hub. The city is aimed at attracting international businesses with various tax incentives. The government is focusing on enhancing the city’s livability by developing entertainment and leisure infrastructure. Notable projects include an underwater aquarium, water sports facilities, and a retail zone featuring a 158-meter-high Ferris wheel.

This story has been derived from a story reported by Economic Times.

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