Lewis Hamilton promised to get his elbows out in a first lap fight with Max Verstappen — who blasted the “f***ing d***heads” who denied him pole position.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was livid after seeing his pole position lap deleted by the stewards for exceeding track limits during qualifying for the Portugal Grand Prix. He was then caught up in traffic as he tried in vain to beat Valtteri Bottas’ lap time for pole.
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Verstappen waved away the TV cameras after qualifying in third place but could not hide his frustration at being held up.
Controversially, Lando Norris was told to “do him no favours” by McLaren during qualifying while Verstappen also blasted the slow Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel.
Over the team’s radio, he said: “F*** sake, why do these guys not move? I am on a fast lap. They are f***ing d***heads!”
He later added: “I did not enjoy one single lap.
“It was not enjoyable to drive. If you look at the lap time (that was deleted) of course we could have had pole, but I don’t like to talk like that …should, would, could.
“I thought I could do the lap again but then lost all my time with an Aston Martin in front of me.
“I remember coming here to Portimao before the GP and it was in the top three of my favourite tracks and then they changed the tarmac. I don’t enjoy it anymore.”
McLaren denied any wrongdoing in telling Norris not to gift wrap a qualifying time to Verstappen, insisting it just didn’t want the Dutchman to benefit from being in Norris’ slipstream.
“First of all, we have to make it clear, we drive for ourselves and not for anyone else. Our aim is to finish as high up as possible with our two cars,” team principal Andreas Seidl said.
“I guess it’s normal that, like everyone is doing, and Max was no different, you don’t want to give anyone a tow, because it’s a benefit for the other car.
“Qualifying is about doing the lap time yourself without the help of anyone else.
“You just tried to get out of the way, out of the slipstream, to make sure that everyone can do his lap himself, and without additional help.”
Hamilton bracing for fiery start
Meanwhile, Hamilton, who starts in P2, is bracing himself for an all-out attack from Verstappen, who was quickest out of the blocks during the last race in Italy.
The Red Bull driver was bullish as he rammed his way past Hamilton and Bottas at the start of that race and went on to take the victory.
But Hamilton says he will not be rolling over as he looks to increase his slender one-point advantage in the championship over Verstappen.
Hamilton, who was just 0.007 seconds off Bottas’s time, said: “There was so much lost time out there and I was not able to put it together.
“It was very tricky and this qualifying session has to be at the bottom of the list of all my qualifying sessions.
“But I will go all in at the start of the race. It will be a close battle between the three of us.”
Bottas took the 17th pole of his career after a difficult start to the season where he has been upstaged by his Mercedes teammate.
The Finn has seen his future at the team called into question and was also crashed into by George Russell, who has been mooted as his replacement.
He added: “It is a good feeling to be on pole. It feels like it has been a while and qualifying has been a weak point for me in the first two races.
“But this has put a smile on my face. I feel like we are going in the right direction. The only way I know is that hard work always pays off.”
This story first appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin has stunned the IndyCar world with a sublime drive to surge from 15th to a maiden podium in Texas.
In just his third race of his debut IndyCar season – and the first oval circuit he has ever raced – McLaughlin lit up the field with a staggering display of pace.
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The New Zealand star was beaten only by fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon, a six-time IndyCar champion, in the 212-lap race at Texas Motor Speedway.
An elated McLaughlin said: “I’ve never been so bloody happy for second.”
“It was awesome battling my all-time favourite hero,” McLaughlin declared of Dixon.
McLaughlin’s 14th in the season-opener was followed by 11th in the second race. That meant he started the Texas race from 15th on the grid based on championship points, with qualifying cancelled due to rain.
The Team Penske driver opted to pit earlier than most of rivals for his first stop, a move which paid off when a crash saw yellows waved and sent most drivers into the pits. Suddenly McLaughlin was riding in sixth, and he never looked back.
The next stint was scintillating, as he moved up to third by the time the next set of pit stops were complete.
His pit crew were in fine form, sending him out in lightning-quick time – something which paid off with 40 laps remaining when a second big crash sent the field diving back into the pits from fresh tyres.
Emerging from pit lane in second, the final stanza became a showdown with the 40-year-old veteran Dixon, who stormed to a quick half-a-second lead over McLaughlin and controlled the dying laps.
Dixon was asked how much attention he was paying to McLaughlin behind him. “A lot,” Dixon replied. “I have this thing on my dashboard that tells me the gap to the other cars but I might need to remove it because it was stressing me out. He was fast.”
Dixon’s win was his second-consecutive victory in Texas, and means he has now won at least one race in each of the last 19 seasons.
The pair will rejoin battle on Monday morning at 7am AEST. Watch live on Fox Sports and Kayo!
Big losers in the pitstops were three who were in the top-5 before they pitted:
Marc Marquez said he picked the “worst corner” at Jerez on Saturday for his first crash since returning after nine months out, but he climbed back on his bike and qualified for the Spanish MotoGP.
“It was a very fast and hard fall at Turn 7, we knew that the first crash of the season would come but I chose maybe one of the worst corners to have this first crash,” said the Spaniard.
Meanwhile Aussie Jack Miller qualified third, his first front-row appearance since November 2020.
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Binder & Marquez have WILD crashes
Six-time world champion Marquez’s 2020 season ended in July when he crashed and broke his right arm on the same track in the first race last year.
He underwent four surgeries and missed the opening two races of this season, before returning in Portugal on April 18 – 265 days later – where he finished seventh.
He was only 16th fastest in practice on Friday and said he was trying for a better time when he came off his bike on Saturday.
“When you push for a fast lap, you don’t think about the risks and after being conservative yesterday, today was about attacking,” he said.
He slid across the gravel alongside the track.
“The impact against the air fence was at a very high speed and thanks to the air fence I am here,” he said “I went to the hospital just for some further checks to be sure of my condition and it was all clear.”
“I was a little bit scared because I didn’t remember exactly what happened, I was a little bit with commotion and all these things.”
MotoGP doctor Angel Charte sent Marquez for the check-up.
“He has a huge contusion on his neck and the top of his back,” the doctor said. “It doesn’t cost us anything to do a scan. It’s only a control scan, nothing more.”
Marquez returned, but as he had not posted one of the 12 fastest practice times he had to go into the first qualifying session.
He finished fourth and missed a chance to advance to the second session where the first four rows of the grid are decided.
He said he had again adopted a conservative approach, opting for safer tyres. “This crash impacted my qualifying, it made me choose the soft front to feel a bit safer, but this was the wrong choice.”
“It’s a shame because I was feeling strong and today was the first day I had really started to ‘feel’ the bike.”
Honda teammate Pol Espargaro later slid out at the same corner and the team tweeted a photo of their skid marks on the tarmac with the caption “leaving our marks at Turn 7 today.”
“Not an easy day,” said another team tweet.
“But everyone walks away without serious injury and ready to go again tomorrow.”