The opening race of the season in Bahrain last month saw Lewis Hamilton begin the defence of his drivers’ championship with an impressive win. The Mercedes pilot held off a strong challenge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (who finished second, with Merc’s Valtteri Bottas in third) to take the chequered flag and set up what we all hope will be a season-long showdown between the pair.
F1 viewers on DStv can look forward to the second round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, live from the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola Circuit) on the afternoon of Sunday 18 April 2021.
Qualifying at Imola now set for 1pm one hour earlier than before as “mark of respect” for Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral; Practice Three changes from 11am to 10am, while Friday practice brought forward by half an hour.
Hamilton, who is chasing a record eighth world title and will be looking to register his 100th race win through the course of this season, believes Red Bull have the fastest current package and could be even quicker come the Emilia Romagna weekend.
“I think it’s [a fight between him and Verstappen] something that all the fans have wanted for a long time,” Hamilton explained. “Of course, this is only one race, so we don’t know what the future holds in terms of [how the season will unfold].
“With the pace they have, they could be ahead a lot more, but we’re going to work as hard as we can to try and stay close in this battle. I hope for many more of these sorts of races with Max and Valtteri [Bottas], there’s a long way to go. 22 [races] holy crap! I’ll be grey by the end of this!”
Lower down the pecking order, Lando Norris scored a fine fourth-place finish four McLaren, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez used all of his nous and experience to shrug off a poor qualifying and dreadful start to the race to come from dead-last to claim fifth, while the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr also showed that they have improved dramatically compared to last season.
Sainz is a newcomer to the Ferrari stable, but former world champion Jenson Button expects the Spaniard to close the gap between himself and Leclerc in short order: “I think Carlos will get closer to Leclerc very soon,” the Englishman explained.
“I spoke to the McLaren engineers and they told me the Spanish driver is basically an engineer. He has a very intelligent approach and works closely with the team for many hours. That’s great, of course, because he doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him when it comes to getting the most performance out of the SF21. He doesn’t go over the top when he drives and we saw that throughout the weekend in Bahrain. He’s a great guy and Ferrari can boast of having a great pair of drivers.”
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