Red Bull fight back! - Saturday Racing Round Up

Can he extend his title lead?

F1

Any feeling that Mercedes was taking control of the season have been washed away, as Red Bull seemed to have a few tenths on Mercedes in Qualifying today. It was Verstappen who put it on pole, pulling out a superb lap when it counted. In the race tomorrow, if he can stay ahead of Lewis on Lap 1, he should have the pace to win. However, we could see drama into Turn 1! Perez did brilliantly too, and if there hadn’t been rain at the end of Q3, he could have joined Max on the front row. It looks as though he has got the hang of doing his own set ups, which are rather different to Max’s, so there are promising signs for the team.

On what we thought was a Mercedes track, they have been bested by the better team. They just didn’t find as much improvement as Red Bull overnight, possibly helped by the hotter temperatures. You could see the chronic understeer in Lewis’ car, which caused him to consistently lose time in the last sector. I imagine the race pace will be close with Red Bull, so the race start is key, I wonder how aggressive Hamilton will be, to try and get some points back on Max! Bottas was where he needed to be today, a tenth or two behind Lewis, but with the penalty, it could be hard for him to get back to 4thtomorrow, as we know he isn’t a great overtaker.

Almost perfect day for Ferrari, as they were the 3rdbest team, and have a great chance to gain on McLaren tomorrow. The only downside was that Sainz qualified on the softs in Q2, that wasn’t planned, they just expected to improve on the 2nd run, which didn’t happen. Unless Ferrari have one of those weekends where they have terrible tyre wear, it will be hard for McLaren to beat them. Ricciardo and Norris weren’t too disappointed with how qualifying went, Lando thought there was a bit of time on the table, however he may not have beaten Charles.

Having had a mediocre Friday, AlphaTauri actually had a rather good qualifying, with both cars reaching Q3, although only just! It seems that Albon is an effective driver coach for Tsunoda, as we are seeing signs of improvement from him. In the race it will be all about trying to keep the Alpine’s and Aston Martin’s behind.

With Vettel at the back, and Stroll out in Q1, there is a great chance for Alpine to gain more points on Aston Martin with Ocon. They actually did a rather effective tow with Alonso; however, it wasn’t quite enough to reach Q3. Russell once again performed well on a Saturday, despite having a lap time deleted.

Apparently, we are set for a 2 stop race tomorrow, due to the higher temperatures we are seeing in Texas. That means there could be plenty of cars coming and going in the race, which will be great for us to watch. More than anything though, we just can’t wait for the run to Turn 1 between Max and Lewis!

MotoGP

If you thought that the title fight was over, today the racing gods gave their best shot at reviving the battle. As expected, Ducati was almost dominant in the wet conditions, and locked out the front row, but most importantly, it was Bagnaia who came from Q1 to take the pole. It was a remarkable showing by him, as he mastered the conditions, and never really looked as if he could be beaten. His chances of winning tomorrow have gone way up!

It is an all Ducati front row, with Miller barely missing out on pole, he just made a few too many mistakes, and got caught out by yellow flags. It is hard to say what his race pace will be, especially if it is dry, he would do well to bring home a podium. The only person to near Pecco in terms of greatness today, was Marini, who on a two year old bike, very nearly got his first ever pole! It has been a difficult year for him, being outperformed by Bastianini for the most part, but this was another chance for him to show how good he is. A top 6 or 7 result would be excellent for him tomorrow!

Once again, in cold tricky conditions, Pol was able to outperform the bike really, and head up the 2nd row. Much like for Marini, it was a chance to remind people that he is a good rider, he is just in a tough spot at the moment. The race could still be hard for him though. In fact, the whole 2nd row was riders coming back from difficult periods, as both Olivera and Morbidelli have been struck with injury in the 2ndhalf of the year. The KTM clearly does work well in the wet, which helped Miguel, however Franky pulled that lap out of nowhere, as the rest of the team has been nowhere all weekend.

You would have expected more from Marquez in these conditions, although you have to bear in mind it was nearly completely slick by the end. With some bikes out of position ahead of him, a podium is definitely on the cards for Marc. The Tech 3 squad had a solid run in the end, after a very disheartening year, some solid points tomorrow would do them well.

Pramac would have hoped for so much more today, bearing in mind how well the rest of Ducati did, but the riders kept having issues. It seemed to dry up too much for Aleix, as he fell back, but should come forward tomorrow! Rins and Alex Marquez were unlucky to miss out on Q2, there were just too many strong riders in Q1. Suzuki look as though they will have another trying weekend, with Mir down in 18th.

You couldn’t write this stuff! As Quartararo just couldn’t put a lap together in the wet conditions to advance to Q2. Even if his final lap had stood, it wouldn’t have been enough, the Yamaha just doesn’t work in the rain really. He can take solace in what should be a dry race tomorrow, so from 15th, he should be able to reach at least around 7th or 8th, and likely higher. Bastianini will be following him through most likely, after going so well here last time. He couldn’t match the other Ducati riders in anyway, which will hurt him.

Nakagami did find some pace in the end, but it only got him to 17th, as the Honda pain continues. Vinales was never a fan of wet conditions, so combine that with a new bike and personal issues, and 19thdoesn’t look too bad. He just needs to use every race as a test session for 2022! Binder may be the most disappointing rider of the day, as we saw all his teammate fair quite well, but he was nowhere.

-M

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