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Daniel Ricciardo position, Valtteri Bottas takes pole, penalty

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Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position for the Italian Grand Prix Sprint after snatching top spot in Friday’s qualifying from his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Finn Bottas clocked one minute, 19.555 seconds on his last qualifying lap at Monza to finish just 0.096 sec ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton, who had been fastest in the first two qualifying sessions and practice and had been leading Q3 until he was pipped in the final moments.

That means 32-year-old Bottas will lead the field in Saturday’s 100km Sprint, which will decide the grid for the GP on Sunday and give championship points to the top three.

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First place in the Sprint will take three points, second place two and third place one.

However Bottas will start at the back of the grid on Sunday regardless of how he fares in the Sprint as he was penalised for taking on power unit components.

“That qualifying lap was nice. It feels so good when you get a nice lap,” said Bottas, who will join Alfa Romeo next season.

“I feel good, I feel relaxed and everything is sorted for the future.”

Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed one of his stronger qualifying performances of the year with the fifth-fastest time.

He was just 0.006 seconds slower than his teammate Lando Norris in fourth. Should he at least retain his position in Saturday’s sprint race, then he will start on Sunday just outside the podium positions in fourth due to Bottas’ penalty.

“From a general standpoint, I’m happy. We were fast and were fighting for top three on the grid, so I’m happy we had the potential to do that,” Ricciardo said.

“But I’m so frustrated that we got that close but not quite close enough. It was more of a tease than anything, but it’s all good.

“I think the team performance was great. We didn’t put ourselves in a difficult situation with any of the out-laps and I was in the right places in terms of track position, we had good tows.

“My only frustration is that it’s so close and, unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the milliseconds. It is what it is and I’m now looking forward to the racing.”

Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen took third, 0.411sec off Bottas, as he tries to defend his tiny three-point lead from Hamilton, who on Sunday will again attempt to bring up a century of GP victories.

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Hamilton has been stuck on 99 wins since taking the British GP at Silverstone in mid-July, which was when the Sprint qualifying format was used for the first time.

Dutchman Verstappen was behind the Mercedes pair all day as he struggled to keep up with their pace, but seemed encouraged by his showing in Friday’s qualifying.

“For us this track is always going to be difficult… We recovered quite well throughout the qualifying,” said Verstappen.

“I’m so happy to be third here… I think we can score a good amount of points.”

Charles Leclerc asked the Ferrari fans at Monza to create the same fervour as that which accompanied Verstappen’s win at the Dutch GP last week.

And the Monegasque finished eighth, 0.955sec off Bottas and a place behind his teammate Carlos Sainz.

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX SPRINT RACE GRID

Front row Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)

2nd row Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda) Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

3rd row Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda)

4th row Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari) Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)

5th row Sergio Pérez (MEX/Red Bull-Honda) Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)

6th row Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes) Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes)

7th row Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault) Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault)

8th row George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes) Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)

9th row Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda) Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari)

10th row Robert Kubica (POL/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) Nikita Mazepin (RUS/Haas-Ferrari)

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McLaren blunt message for Daniel Ricciardo, F1 news

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Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has spilt on his relationship with the McLaren engineers, detailing the “constructive criticism” he received throughout a chaotic maiden season with the British team.

Following a two-year stint at Renault, the Australian signed a multi-year deal with McLaren ahead of the 2021 championship.

Ricciardo partnered with British young gun Lando Norris, who repeatedly bettered his teammate during the first half of the season.

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Norris had claimed several podium finishes before the mid-season break, while Ricciardo was yet to secure a top-three finish when the drivers went on holiday in August.

The 32-year-old bounced back in September by winning the Italian Grand Prix – McLaren’s first F1 victory in nine years.

But Ricciardo’s woes continued after the Monza triumph, with McLaren slipping below Ferrari on the constructors’ championship as the season drew towards a close.

Ricciardo is currently eighth on the drivers’ standings with 105 points, comfortably below fifth-placed Norris on 153 points.

“The support of (race engineer Tom Stallard), and really the whole team, was good – they were very understanding and patient, for sure,” Ricciardo told GP Racing.

“But yeah, there was also at times a kind of ‘pull your finger out’, and I’m big enough to take constructive criticism – there were no insults or beating me down, it was always trying to understand, ‘Okay, what’s the issue, and then how can we help you?’ That was a more modern approach to take and it’s served us well.”

Daniel Ricciardo is currently eighth on the drivers’ standings with 105 points. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ricciardo’s main cause of frustration in the MCL35M was the braking system, which forced him to undertake a different approach to his driving, a change that didn’t come naturally for the Australian.

“The natural picture in my head was that every lap I do in this car, I’d just get better,” Ricciardo explained.

“In Bahrain I qualified sixth and I knew I still wasn’t close to 100 per cent comfortable. So in my head I was like, ‘Well, each time I drive now I’ll just push the car more and more’.

“And then I, let’s say, hit an early plateau where the limit was a different limit to what I was used to. And to arrive at that limit, I needed to drive the car quite differently.

“The car has some really strong points but also some weak points, and I was just trying to navigate my way to the strong points. It didn’t always come natural for me.

“The key was trying to break it down and understand it corner by corner because, as a whole, there were times when I was seven or eight tenths away (from Norris) and I was like, ‘I can’t do that. I don’t know where that time is’.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren. Photo by Andrej Isakovic – Pool/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“Even with me and Max (Verstappen), a really strong and competitive rivalry, I remember I was furious if he was two tenths faster than me. We all know the calibre of driver Max is. So – and I’m not taking anything away from Lando – a gap that big is like foreign territory really. I’ve never found myself in that position.

“It wasn’t like I made a mistake here or there, it was that I didn’t know where that chunk of time was. Tom was good at bringing it back and saying, ‘Look, let’s analyse, let’s go through this corner – why can’t you do that, what’s stopping you? Let’s figure it out, let’s go from A to B to C, as opposed to just going straight from A to F’.

“Race car drivers or athletes, we are a certain amount of stubborn. But you can’t take that to your grave, if you know what I mean.

“At some point you have to be open-minded and say, ‘All right, this is what it is. I have to now adapt and maybe I’m not comfortable with it at first, but take encouragement that the more I learn and get comfortable with it the better I’ll be’.”

The F1 season resumes next weekend with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to get underway at 4.30am AEDT on Monday, December 6.

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Lando Norris takes aim at ‘very creepy’ social media users

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Lando Norris is only in his third season as an F1 driver, but it hasn’t stopped a barrage of “creepy fans” dissecting every detail of not just his life, but his family and friends as well.

The 22-year-old made his debut with McLaren in 2019 and earned plenty of plaudits for his rookie season drives as well as his jovial spirit off the track.

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Norris would also often participate in Twitch streams playing the virtual edition of his sport alongside his peers George Russell, Alexander Albon and Charles Leclerc.

With 4.4 million followers on Instagram, the Brit has a large social footprint with plenty of devoted fans.

But there are drawbacks to Norris’ ever-growing popularity.

His family and friends have been targeted by online trolls for no reason other than simply appearing on Norris’ social media platforms.

According to the young star, it’s “the worst side” of being a famous athlete.

“I think the one bad thing is just personal life with friends, people who through no fault of their own get put into the spotlight sometimes because of being seen with me, following them on social media or something,” Norris told ESPN.

Lando Norris has been a revelation since making his F1 debut in 2019. Picture: Lars Baron/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“I think that’s been the worst side of it – someone who is just quiet on their own and they are seen with me at dinner or on a post on Instagram.

“There’s still a lot of nasty fans, a lot of fans which are just not nice and just use a lot of people and things like that.

“I’d say the worst thing about the popularity is those kind of people. The people who don’t respect your personal life at all and the people you hang with and so on.

“That’s definitely the worst bit of it.”

Norris said fans went to strange lengths to learn more about the loved ones featured on his social media.

Norris hit out at how people on social media can be “very creepy” with the info they uncover on his family and friends. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

It’s something the McLaren star can see the lighter side of, but is fully aware of the odd nature of it all.

“It’s very, very weird,” Norris said. “Honestly, it’s very creepy what some people do.

“The time they spend trying to investigate things or people or whatever.

“I just laugh and find it very funny, but it’s very weird. It’s just odd.”

Norris will get his next chance to put the online trolls out of his mind at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 6, with lights out scheduled for 4:30am (AEDT).

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how to watch, date, news, preview, Supercars, Jamie Whincup, Mount Panorama

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Jamie Whincup has detailed the “absolutely massive” Bathurst podium in 2005 that aided his move to Triple Eight.

Next weekend’s Repco Bathurst 1000 will be the retiring Whincup’s final full-time appearances before he shifts to team management.

It was at Mount Panorama where Whincup scored the biggest result of his fledgling career prior to his signing with Triple Eight.

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After a run of outs with Garry Rogers Motorsport and Perkins Engineering, a 21-year-old Whincup was signed by Tasman Motorsport for the 2005 season.

Top 10s came and went, but it was at Sandown and Bathurst where Whincup flexed his muscle alongside the late Jason Richards.

The duo finished third at Sandown, before they crossed the line second in the Great Race behind the might of Mark Skaife and the Holden Racing Team.

Just weeks later, Whincup was signed to Triple Eight, and the rest is history.

“It was absolutely massive,” Whincup told The Howie Games podcast.

“I’ve got this lifeline to get back into the sport through Greg Murphy’s father Kevin.

“Little did I know at the time that a certain team boss, Roland Dane, he was looking for a young, cheap kid that could stay out of trouble all year and team up with Lowndesy to win Bathurst.

“For me to run second, hand the car over to Jase in the lead with 30 laps to go, that was a huge pivotal point for me to get the opportunity with my current team.”

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Whincup won on his first appearance as a Triple Eight driver in Adelaide, and returned to Bathurst and won with Craig Lowndes.

In 14 seasons since, Whincup added 122 more wins and a record seven drivers’ titles, as well as three more Bathurst victories.

Whincup cited the Adelaide breakthrough as a “fairytale” and highlighted that it was proof he could stick it out long term if he continued to race at the front.

“The car was fantastic; I was a passenger,” he said of Adelaide 2006.

“We ran third on the Saturday and won on the Sunday. It was a fairytale start to my journey with Triple Eight.

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“There’s a common saying in motorsport; you’re only as good as your last race.

“It’s so true; you have a win, and you’re hot property. You’re the man of the moment.

“Winning was huge for me back then, and it started to cement that, hey, I had longevity if I was given the opportunity.”

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship and Dunlop Series seasons will conclude at the Repco Bathurst 1000.

Every session of the event will be broadcast live on Foxtel (Fox Sports 506) and streamed on Kayo.

This article first appeared on supercars.com and was reproduced with permission.

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