F1 Extra Session – Episode 5: Monaco

F1 Extra Session is your favorite Formula One podcast. Daphne Seberich, Sebastian Becerra, and Zoé Guimard bring you post-race analysis and discuss other major stories surrounding the sport. We are Formula One fans just like you. As F1 journalists we also provide a unique perspective to what’s happening in the world of F1.

This week’s episode is a full-depth analysis about what went down during the exciting race at the glamorous and iconic race in Monte-Carlo (Monaco). Max Verstappen triumphed for the first time in its career at the Principality. Fan favorite Charles Leclerc missed out on the chance to start on pole at his home Grand Prix, due to an issue reported on his SF21. Lewis Hamilton had a disastrous race finishing in P7. We’ll cover some on the grid mishaps, some chaos in the cockpit and we’ll finish it off with some off-track chit-chat about Lando Norris signing a multi-year contract with McLaren!

Don’t miss F1 Extra Session every Monday after the race!

F1 Extra Session – All Rights Reserved

F1 Extra Session – Episode 4: Barcelona

F1 Extra Session is your favorite Formula One podcast. Daphne Seberich, Sebastian Becerra, and Zoé Guimard bring you post-race analysis and discuss other major stories surrounding the sport. We are Formula One fans just like you. As F1 journalists we also provide a unique perspective to what’s happening in the world of F1.

This week’s episode is a full-depth analysis about what went down during the exciting race on the Circuit the Catalunya in Barcelona (Montmeló). Lewis Hamilton won his 98th career race after passing Max Verstappen late. The battle of the midfield is going to be exciting this year with only 5 points separating McLaren and Ferrari. We’ll cover some on the grid mishaps, some chaos in the cockpit and we’ll finish it off with some off-track chit-chat about Romain Grosjean’s comeback during the French GP with Mercedes and the possibility of not seeing the Spanish GP in the next years in Barcelona.

Don’t miss F1 Extra Session every Monday after the race!

F1 Extra Session – All Rights Reserved

F1 Extra Session – Episode 1: Bahrain

F1 Extra Session is your favorite Formula One podcast. Daphne Seberich, Sebastian Becerra, and Zoé Guimard bring you post-race analysis and discuss other major stories surrounding the sport. We are Formula One fans just like you. As F1 journalists we also provide a unique perspective to what’s happening in the world of F1. 

This week’s episode is a full-depth analysis about what went down in the season-opening race in Bahrain. We’ll cover some on the grid mishaps, some chaos in the cockpit and we’ll finish it off with some off-track chit-chat discussing David Coulthard’s 50th birthday and what Romain Grosjean is doing after last years’ Bahrain incident!

Don’t miss F1 Extra Session every Monday after the race!

F1 Extra Session – All Rights Reserved

In the Spotlight: Max Verstappen

A series of F1 drivers’ profiles

By Daphne Seberich

They call him “mad” and he goes to the “max”: Max Verstappen is one of the drivers of the future generation of champions. 

Photo credits: Pinterest

Notorious for being the youngest driver to compete, score points and win in Formula One, “Mad Max” quickly moved up the ranks of the team backing him up since 2014, Red Bull Racing

Racing runs in his blood. His father, Jos Verstappen, is a former F1 driver, known for the incident in the pit lane where he took on fire when refueling was still allowed in the circus. His mother, Sophie Kumpen, was a successful karting racer.

Being the son of a famous racing driver subsequently put him under pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps. Nevertheless, the superb Dutch driver, endowed with such rare and raw talent, climbed the latter of karting competitions, where every F1 racer starts off their careers.

Photo credits: AS.com

The success he had in the younger categories opened the doors to international competitions in 2010, his most notorious win being scored in France at the 2013 World KZ championships at the age of 15. 

One year after, Verstappen joined the Red Bull Junior Program, which supported him throughout his path to F1. A short-lived progression to the younger Formula categories, the Dutch made it from F3 to F1 at only 17 years old. 

Photo credits: Essentially Sports

Arriving as Formula 1’s youngest ever competitor at 17, Verstappen pushed his car, his rivals and the sport’s record books to the limit. The Dutchman with the heart of a lion took the Toro Rosso – and then the Red Bull – by the horns with his instinctive racing style. 

F1’s youngest points scorer soon became its youngest race winner. At the age of 18 years and 228 days, with an opportunistic but controlled drive on debut for Red Bull in Barcelona 2016, Verstappen made it into the history of the sport. He is a true wheel-to-wheel racer and known for racing to the limit of his car and abilities. 

Video rights: F1 & Liberty Media

Verstappen’s attitude and hard defending have sometimes stirred controversies with his colleagues and superiors. But the mistakes that initially disfigured his potential have given way to maturity, while the boldness and energy that make him a one-of-a-kind talent have remained. The victories have kept on coming.

At the age of 23, “Mad Max” has already ten victories under his belt, his most recent being the final race of the 2020 season in Abu Dhabi under the lights. He has stood 42 times on the podium since replacing mid-season the “Torpedo” Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull in 2016. An impressive number, considering that his percentage of podiums and race starts is 35.29%, meaning that approximately in one out of three races he competes in, he scores a top-three result.

Max Verstappen’s prospects are bright. The youngster, who’s only missing a Driver’s Championship in his array of achievements, has still a long career ahead of him in the sport. After the pre-season testing sessions in Bahrain, he also seems a favorite with Lewis Hamilton to win the 2021 Formula One title. He has got the right car and one of the top teams backing him. Can he make it into F1’s history as a champion?

Photo credits: Pinterest

The anticipation before “lights out”

Pre-season testing came to an end on Sunday and the teams had the chance to see where they stand in terms of performance ahead of the first race of the 2021 F1 campaign in Bahrain. 

Photo credits: Getty Images / Video credits: F1 & Liberty Media

By Daphne Seberich

Only two weeks separate us from the first race of the year. As the pre-season testing in Bahrain wrapped up on Sunday, teams have a much clearer picture of where they stand in terms of pace. What exactly can we expect on the first day back racing? Pre-season testing doesn’t tell the whole story, but it seems like the battle to the top won’t be as predictable as it was the last seven years. 

Red Bull’s RB16B proved to be a real contender this time. Although Max Verstappen seemed to struggle with the stability of the car on day one of testing (a known issue of the past RB challengers), he topped the standings on Sunday, setting the fastest lap of all sessions combined. This result counts as his best ever pre-season testing outcome and certainly brings a boost of confidence coming into the first race of the year.

The new addition to the team, Checo Perez stunned everybody as well. His ability to adapt so quickly to a new machine impressed everyone in Bahrain and at home. The gamble Helmut Marko took in December by signing the Mexican speedster seemed to pay off for Red Bull.  

Video rights: F1 & Liberty Media

“The vibe inside of the team is one of excitement,” says Lawrence Barretto, senior writer at Formula1.com. “Their Honda power-unit looks to be in great shape too, with promising signs of a good step in terms of performance.”

They have the right lineup and a good car. Is this the year of Red Bull bringing the Mercedes’ era to an end?

On the other hand, the Silver Arrows haven’t had the best pre-season testing sessions, as most were characterized by reliability issues. Valtteri Bottas had to sit out the Friday morning practice; his W12 suffered from gearbox difficulties. Lewis Hamilton’s challenger seemed untamable, as he spun on Saturday and Sunday’s sessions. A never-before-seen characteristic of the Mercedes car, known for its maneuverability and handling on all sections of every track they competed at.

Video rights: F1 & Liberty Media

The W12 on soft tires seemed to be 0.56s behind the fastest time set by their Austrian rivals on a flying lap. The German team has its work cut-off in the next two weeks ahead of the first race in Bahrain. Even Lewis Hamilton admitted that the Silver Arrows challenger is “just not quick enough”, anticipating a “great battle” between Verstappen and Perez in the 23-race campaign. 

Graphic credits: Formula 1

Nevertheless, Valtteri Bottas seems confident in his crew and his W12: “I absolutely believe the car and the team, it has the potential [to take the title]. I don’t think it’s yet there as a package in terms of performance, but I’ve no doubt that we will work hard to find it somehow.”

Mercedes is notorious for “sandbagging”, meaning that they like to hide their actual performance ahead of the first race of the season. Is this the case this year as well?

Photo credits: Clive Mason for Getty Images

Finishing off on a good note, the third top-team Ferrari saw some progress between the SF1000 and their new SF21. The Prancing Horse ended their 2020 F1 campaign in sixth place. Their worst result in Formula 1 since 1980.  

This season, the music — or better — the engine noise seems to be different, as the Scuderia based in Maranello debuts a completely new power-unit after their 2020 engine fiasco. Team Principal Mattia Binotto said the team’s straight-line speed is “not anymore a disadvantage,” with the data collected on the track backing up the dyno results encountered back at their facility in Italy. 

Photo credits: Motor.es

Over the winter, Ferrari admitted of having “massively improved” their power-unit, which was at the top of the pyramid of reasons why Ferrari had such a terrible season in 2020.

After the FIA decided to investigate the Prancing Horse’s 2019 challengers amid  allegations of Ferrari breaching the fuel-flow regulations, the two parties reached an agreement, which still hasn’t been made public to this day. But as testing began in Barcelona and the SF1000 lacked in pace, it was clear to everyone that the Italian team had a massive setback in terms of performance compared to the previous year. 

Photo credits: Getty Images

Everyone at Ferrari wants to put the 2020 F1 season behind their backs, especially the Monegasque star driver Charles Leclerc, whose 2020 campaign was sub-par to his 2019 breakthrough season. With Carlos Sainz now in the second seat of the SF21, the Scuderia has a much brighter future ahead. The Spaniard managed to put the red, green and burgundy car up in third in the classification on Sunday, 0.651s off the pace on Pirelli’s C4 compound (the second softest of the range).

The excitement towards the new F1 2021 season is through the roof, with the Silver Arrows set to battle it out with Red Bull for the title. Will Lewis Hamilton become the most successful F1 driver ever with eight Driver’s Championships? Does Red Bull actually have a chance to end the Mercedes domination? Ferrari is set to make a comeback, but will they be able to win some races again? All these questions will be answered in Bahrain on the weekend of March 26th-28th when we’ll finally hear the engines roar and Martin Brundle say: “Lights out and away we go!”.

Photo credits: Musco Sports Lighting

Before cars became computers

By Daphne Seberich

Let’s settle this debate once and for all. Hamilton versus Schumacher: A topic that fires up fans and ruins friendships. Who is right you may ask? Well, there are no doubts for me. 

Before cars became computers, like German journalist Walter Koster said in a press conference in 2014, racing still had excitement and passion. With KERS, DRS and all the different components of a modern Formula car, who can tell the difference between the driver’s and the car’s efforts? What are the variables of modern racing? The tires? Oh, please. Who can say to have driven in three different teams, have won podiums and set fastest laps for all of them? There’s only one guy that comes to my mind and his name is Michael Schumacher

Photo credits: Sky Sports & Lecce News 24

Why is he the greatest of all time you ask? Well, it’s obvious: Michael Schumacher won during an era where the difference was made by the driver, not by the car. He won twice with Benetton; 5 years in a row with Ferrari

“Lewis Hamilton won with McLaren and with Mercedes, so that’s not an argument”, you’d say. Well, if you really know something about Formula 1 then you’d also know the “Spygate” scandal that surrounded McLaren as a “Ferrari-copycat” team during the 2007 season when the British driver was a contender for the world championship. Hamilton’s 2008 world title is stained by the mishap of his team, as the cars that year didn’t get major updates compared to the previous season.  

Photo credits: Automoto.it

In addition to that, the Mercedes domination has been over seven seasons long and is still going strong. It started with the 2014 regulation changes that pushed hybridization of the then-newly introduced V6 engine. It continued in 2020 with the introduction of the innovative DAS (Dual Axis System). Mercedes always had the upper hand since then. Either by having the most dominating engine or the most advanced aerodynamic balance out of all the teams. 

The only real challenger Hamilton had the past seven years was Silver Arrows teammate Nico Rosberg before his retirement from the sport after his only world championship title in 2016. Since then he never had a real challenger for the top spot.

Did you make up your mind? No matter what team you cheer on or which driver is your favorite, the facts talk for themselves. 

Before cars became computers, Formula 1 was all about the drivers. Can you say the same of it now?

Photo credits: F1

Abu Dhabi and the Silly Season – a 2020 Formula 1 recap

Max Verstappen wins under the flashing lights of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to conclude the 2020 Formula 1 season. The last race of the year brought many goodbyes, but the silly season is not over.

Photo credits: XPB/Press Association Images

By Daphne Seberich

It is sorrowful to see a Formula 1 season come to an end, but this one hasn’t been a common one by any means. After the whole world shut down in March, Formula 1 and Liberty Media had to take action and stop the racing for what would feel like endless time. Chase Carey and the FIA went through thick and thin to be able to organize a race calendar with enough races to call this season a championship

On the 5th of July, the Formula 1 world picked up their drills and tires to begin what would be a 17-race championship in 2020 – impressive I’d say, regarding the fact that we are still midst a pandemic. 

Mercedes showed right from the start that their W11 would be hard – if not impossible – to beat. Only three times this season, a non-Mercedes-powered car managed to win a Grand Prix – the RB16 and the Alpha Tauri, driven by the one and only Mad Max and by blessed first-time race winner Pierre Gasly. 

Photo credits: Verstappen.com

The whole race weekend, Red Bull demonstrated to have superior pace on the Yas Marina Circuit, a track that in recent years has only been won by Mercedes. Max Verstappen didn’t disappoint and went on to win the last race of the year, finishing third in the drivers’ championship.

Being the last race of the season as well, it is a point in time where some paths meet or separate. From Monday on, everything changes. Throw the old out, bring in the new. For some, it’s only a matter of changing team. For others, it’s a permanent goodbye from Formula 1. In the case of Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel and Fernando Alonso, they will be joining their respective new home in the pinnacle of motorsport. 

The nr. 55 driver will leave the team with whom he shared his first podium, as well as legendary teammate Lando Norris at McLaren. 

Photo credits: Fox Sports & Autoweek

Stepping into his footsteps will be Daniel Ricciardo, which can be considered extremely lucky to be part of the British team right at the time they will switch to the Mercedes power-unit, the most powerful on the grid. 

Having been kicked-out of Ferrari even before the season had begun, Sebastian Vettel had to take a crucial decision: whether to continue racing or not. He was looking for a team with potential, someone with whom he could win races. Which better team than Racing Point, future Aston Martin Racing, to move on to.

Photo credits: Il Faro Online

Their 2020 car has been in the spotlight for its controversy. Many saw the resemblance to the 2019 Mercedes W10 car, which explained their sudden boost in performance from one year to the other. Whether it has been replicated or not still remains uncertain. 

With Sebastian Vettel signing for Racing Point, someone had to leave the team. Unfortunately, it was the case of Sakhir GP-winner Sergio Perez, who heard through the walls of his hotel room in Monza that he was going to be laid off by team owner Lawrence Stroll. 

That proves that the F1 world can be cruel sometimes. Even though Checo Perez close the 2020 drivers’ championship in fourth place, his career-best result, he now doesn’t have a seat for next season

Photo credits: Getty Images

His hopes for a contract now lay in Red Bull’s hands, which still haven’t come to a conclusion over who will be driving next to Max Verstappen in the RB17. Alex Albon’s fluctuating performance has brought up whether he’s the right one to fulfill the second driver role the Austrian team needs. The chances, although, are very slim for Checo. Never did Red Bull look for and sign a driver outside of their talent program. 

Goodbyes were said at Haas. Magnussen and Grosjean will leave the team after  respectively being four and five years at the American racing company. They will hand their seats over to two young drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, the last one of the two being part of a controversial sexual assault case, which Haas said would be dealt with internally. 

And finally, the last big question mark is: Will Lewis Hamilton remain in Formula 1? There still hasn’t been reached an agreement between Mercedes and the 7-time world champion. His future at Mercedes is linked to Toto Wolff’s. Their fate will be decided  sooner or later with the heads of the German manufacturer. The possibility of not seeing LH44 in his Silver Arrows seat next season, although, is very unlikely.

Photo credits: Pio Deportes

In 97 days, Formula 1 will return in Melbourne, Australia. Until then, the silly season will keep us entertained, before lights-out will make our hearts race again and skip a beat for the pinnacle of motorsport in March. 

Lance Stroll incredibly secures pole position after a tough qualifying session in Turkey

After a complicated and nerve-wracking wet qualifying at the Istanbul Park, Lance Stroll astonishingly sets the fastest lap for what will be his first start on pole position. Will Mercedes’s winning streak after the Turkish GP end?

By Daphne Seberich

Who could have imagined such a crazy qualifying session? The conditions of the track for the three free practice sessions were already challenging. The new tarmac, that the organizers of the Grand Prix prepared, turned out to be an ice rink for Pirelli tires. Even in regular weather conditions. Rain just turned the dial to the max, providing for an exciting, but tough race to set the fastest lap. 

All drivers were struggling to keep their cars on track. No one excluded. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc proved to be the ones coping the best with the slippery tarmac, securing the two top spots respectively in all of the free practice sessions. Choosing the right tire strategy was key. Many drivers stuck to the full wet tire, although some brave racers tried to use Pirelli’s intermediate option, to earn some advantage in speed. The grip was inexistent for everyone, even for those that chose the blue-striped compound. 

Q1 turned out to be madness, with multiple drivers going off the track, looking like they were driving on ice with no snow chains on. Gaps between drivers were huge, separating the top spot of the ranking and the 15th place, the Q1 cut-off spot, by over 11 seconds. The two clear favorites for pole, Verstappen and Leclerc, were fighting against their car trying to do what it wants, turning out to be very time costly, both struggling to make it into Q2. Six minutes before the end of Q1 the FIA decided to red-flag the session, due to the weather conditions that made the track undriveable. The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers found themselves at the bottom of the cut-off line, securing respectively the 15th and 16th spot. They only had two last chances after the restart to set a good enough time to enter the next qualifying stage of the Turkish GP.

After a long, but detailed analysis of the track, done by safety car driver Bernd Mayländer, the session restarted, although the conditions were still not optimal. Many drivers were seen spinning off-track and one, in particular, Romain Grosjean, got stuck in the gravel at the edges of the track, forcing the FIA to red-flag Q1 again. Only being three minutes remaining, everyone just had one last shot to set their flying lap. Verstappen secured the top spot of the ranking, Hamilton barely made it into the next round, qualifying in 14th place. 

At the start of Q2, it finally stopped raining, slightly improving conditions. The “Flying Dutchman” seemed to have what it takes to get on pole, setting the fastest lap at every attempt. Others were struggling to warm up their tires properly, especially the two Ferrari drivers, which didn’t make the cut for Q3. Leclerc, the big favorite to take the crown, suddenly didn’t have any pace and dropped down to P14.

Surprisingly, both Alfa Romeo drivers made it for the first time this season to the last round of qualifying.

Going into the round that matters, Perez and Ocon took a risk mounting on their cars the intermediate tire, while everyone else was lapping the circuit with the full wet compound. The strategy paid off for the Racing Point driver, securing provisional pole with an astonishing time of 1:52.037. “Inters” were the right choice for the track conditions, which made most of the teams change their drivers’ tires, allowing them just one attempt to get the top spot.

Verstappen beat Perez’s time, but Lance Stroll, Checo’s teammate, secures out of nowhere an incredible pole position, his first in his Formula 1 career. 

A disappointing qualifying session for Lewis Hamilton, which will start the Turkish GP from the third row. His worst qualifying of the season. 

If he can pull the rabbit out of a hat, now’s the time. Winning in Turkey would end the championship fight while making history by equalling the most championship titles won by the legend Michael Schumacher. 

Photo credits: 20 Minutos & Planet F1