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Shane van Gisbergen, Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight, practice times, lap times, results, how to watch, sessions

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The first Supercars track session in over 100 days belonged to Anton De Pasquale, who topped opening practice in Sydney.

De Pasquale commenced his Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight campaign with a session-topping 1:30.282s late in the 30-minute session.

Hot, blustery conditions welcomed drivers and teams for their first official running since July’s WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint.

Drivers rolled out 103 days after cars crossed the line in Townsville, and it was De Pasquale who set the early pace.

Click here for Practice 1 results

The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver clocked a 1:31.821s on his first flying lap.

Series leader Shane van Gisbergen emerged as the fast man for the balance of the session, first dropping in a 1:31.349s before lowering his marker to a 1:31.184s on his second run.

Teams chased balance as the session continued, with Red Bull Ampol Racing driver van Gisbergen’s time holding firm as cars circulated.

On his final run, van Gisbergen locked the rears at Turn 6 on a timed lap and fired into the run-off area.

A late flurry of times ensured van Gisbergen ended the session seventh.

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Teammate Jamie Whincup also had a scare at the high-speed Turn 1.

Cameron Waters fired to the top in the closing minutes with a 1:30.609s, with Erebus Motorsport’s Brodie Kostecki moving to second.

In the dying seconds, De Pasquale fired in purples to put a margin on the field.

Waters’ time was good enough for second, albeit 0.327s behind the #11 Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang.

Waters signs deal with Tickford Racing | 00:48

Todd Hazelwood jumped to third in the #14 Dunlop Super Dealers Commodore, with Mark Winterbottom and Andre Heimgartner dropping Kostecki to sixth.

Macauley Jones was an impressive eighth ahead of De Pasquale’s teammate Will Davison, with Jack Le Brocq rounding out the top 10.

The top 10 cars were covered by 1.172s, with the 24-car field covered by 2.636s.

Second practice will commence under lights at 7:30pm AEDT.

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This story originally appeared on Supercars.com and is reproduced with permission.

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Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton title fight, Saudi Arabian GP crash, overtake

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As if the 2021 F1 championship needed any more excitement, accusations are still flying thick and fast between Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and their respective teams.

In an incredible finish to the season, the championship leaders are locked on 369.5 points each, with the winner to take it all in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday night (AEDT).

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Hamilton won a chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to move level with Verstappen as the Brit hunts a record-breaking eighth world title.

Verstappen was handed three separate sanctions for incidents involving Hamilton at Jeddah as simmering tensions between the teams that have dominated the season reached boiling point.

The main flash point came on lap 37 of the 50-lap race when the two drivers made contact. Hamilton accused Verstappen of “brake-testing”, claiming he had no idea race control had instructed the Dutchman to let his rival overtake because of an earlier infringement.

‘Rules don’t apply’: Hamilton, Verstappen fume

What a finish to the season. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / POOL / AFPSource: AFP

Stewards ultimately ruled Verstappen’s “erratic” braking was the main cause of the accident, handing him a 10-second penalty, on top of an earlier five-second penalty he was given for not letting Hamilton pass him when the pair collided.

The finger pointing is going both ways as Mercedes and Red Bull pinned the blame on each other — a common occurrence through the season so far.

“I really had to just try and keep my cool out there which was really difficult to do,” Hamilton said of the incident.

“I’ve raced a lot of drivers through my life in the 28 years (of racing) and I’ve come across a lot of different characters and there are a few at the top which are kind of over the limit. Rules kind of don’t apply, or don’t think of the rules.

“(Verstappen’s) over the limit, for sure. I’ve avoided collision on so many occasions with the guy and I don’t always mind being the one that does that because you live to fight another day, which I obviously did.”

The stewards cast more light on the incident in question, pointing to the fact Verstappen was allowing Hamilton to pass before a DRS zone, which would have given the Red Bull driver an advantage and the possibility he would be able to overtake once more.

Verstappen is chasing his first championship. Photo by Lars Baron/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Verstappen, who stormed off the podium after the event, added he didn’t understand why Hamilton didn’t pass him.

“I was downshifting and braking for him to go by. I don’t understand why … maybe there was some confusion,” he told Sky Sports.

Verstappen also took a shot at his penalty while still driving after he was informed he was voted the Driver of the Day.

“Luckily the fans have a clear mind about racing because what happened today is unbelievable,” he replied. “I’m just trying to race and this sport lately is more about penalties than racing.

“For me this is not Formula 1.”

Later, Verstappen tweeted that “a lot of things happened that I don’t fully agree with”.

‘Not treated the same’: F1 accused of hypocrisy

The team bosses were no better, as Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said Verstappen was trying to give his place back and let Hamilton take the lead, as ordered.

But team radio of the incident heard Verstappen’s race engineer telling the Dutchman to give it back “strategically”.

“He (Verstappen) lifted off,” Horner said. “I think Lewis even lifted off, and I don’t know whether he’s messing around the DRS line there but it was clear we were giving the place up.

“Lewis is slowing down behind him, it sounds like he’s lifted off, but it’s like he didn’t want to pass him there because of the DRS.”

Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko wasn’t afraid to take aim, saying Red Bull and Mercedes “are not treated the same”.

“Our engineers are preparing that we can prove Max was constant with his braking, he didn’t brake test like Hamilton said,” Marko told Motorsport.com following the race.

“Then he crashed into our car, he unfortunately put two cuts in the rear tyre. That was so severe that we couldn’t attack anymore. We had to take speed out.

“That was the one thing. The next thing was at the second start, Hamilton was more than 10 (car) lengths behind. (Sebastian) Vettel got penalised in Budapest when he did it. But with this manoeuvre he (Hamilton) was preparing his tyre better for the start.

“Then he pushed Max off, no reaction. So we feel we are not treated the same.”

Mercedes are looking for the driver-constructor double again. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he believed the data would show Verstappen was “brake-testing” Hamilton.

Vision of the Mercedes team principal showed him raging on the TV coverage and slam down his headset. He said Verstappen’s driving was “over the line”.

“It’s hard, very hard, maybe over the line hard,” he said. “We just want to have a clean championship – may the best man win – and if it’s Max at the end then I have peace with that. But it needs to be a fair race.”

Wolff also warned of a messy end to the season.

“I would hope that (Sunday’s) race has enough repercussions that everybody’s going to learn from it and adapt for the final race,” he said.

“Similar driving, if it were to be deemed by the stewards as over the line, would then probably also be penalised in Abu Dhabi, and that could well end in a messy situation for everybody. I don’t think that the championship has deserved a result which was influenced by a collision.”

Can you feel the warmth between the pair. Photo by Sam Bloxham – Pool/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Hamilton and Verstappen’s battle has made for incredible viewing throughout the season, although there have been some scary moments.

At the British Grand Prix, Hamilton won but was accused of a “disrespectful” act when he made contact with Verstappen and sent him into a barrier at 290km/h.

Verstappen was penalised at the Italian Grand Prix, when Verstappen’s car ended on top of Hamilton after going for an overtake on the turn two chicane. Both teams blamed each other for that incident as well.

The pair also clashed again at the Brazilian Grand Prix in a wheel to wheel battle late in the race.

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F1 news, drivers’ championship, state of play, final race in Abu Dhabi preview, Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen, standings

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It all comes down to this.

For just the second time in Formula 1 history, the top two drivers are level on points heading into the final race of the season.

And it was even less likely to happen in 2021 than it was in 1974, when Emerson Fittipaldi beat Clay Regazzoni to the title, because many more points are given out nowadays.

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When Fittipaldi won his second world title, he won with 55 points from Regazzoni’s 52. This time, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are tied on an extremely specific 369.5 points.

Verstappen has pole position thanks to his uber-consistent season, featuring nine wins, eight seconds, a ninth, five fastest laps and five points from the three qualifying sprints.

Hamilton has come charging home, with three consecutive wins to bring his season tally to eight, plus seven seconds, a third, a fourth, a fifth, a seventh, six fastest laps and two points from a qualifying sprint.

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Perhaps it won’t be decided on the final corner, like Hamilton over Massa in 2008 – though who knows? – but the most thrilling title race since at least that famous season will find a conclusion in Abu Dhabi this coming weekend.

Not that the drivers’ championship is the only crown to be given out, with the constructors’ crown not yet locked up, plus there are crucial battles in the midfield that must be decided.

Here’s the state of play for the Formula 1 season heading into the last race.

Radio confusion at Saudi Arabia GP! | 01:16

Current drivers’ standings (Top two teams)

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 369.5 pts

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 369.5 pts

3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 218 pts

4. Sergio Perez (Mercedes) – 190 pts

THE TITLE FIGHT

In a sense, it’s very simple; whoever finishes ahead of the other in Abu Dhabi will claim the 2021 drivers’ championship*.

Lewis Hamilton will be feeling confident as his Mercedes has looked like the fastest car on the grid for several races, ever since they took repeated engine penalties to ensure they had extra power units in the pool.

Hamilton has won at Abu Dhabi more than any other driver, with five triumphs, though the last time the title race went down to the wire in the Middle East in 2016, he couldn’t seal the crown over teammate Nico Rosberg.

And Max Verstappen has been both quick and clever in recent races. He should’ve been on pole in Saudi Arabia, if not for a crash on the last corner in qualifying, having been three tenths up during the final sector.

Verstappen won last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, taking pole by .025 seconds from Valtteri Bottas and leading every lap, showing that the current Red Bull isn’t ill-suited to the track.

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For those worried about the race being a bit of a procession, as we’ve seen in recent years: keep in mind the Abu Dhabi circuit has been altered to help overtaking.

The sequence of 90-degree bends after the second back straight has been turned into a single banked turn, which the cars are expected to take at 240 km/h, while the chicane heading into the first back straight has also been removed.

Along with the opening up of several corners in the street circuit-like final sector, it’s hoped the track will be both faster and more exciting.

You’d still pick Hamilton to win the title if you had to name a winner, and he’s the slight favourite with bookmakers, but that assumes a pure clean race… and as we saw in Saudi Arabia, that’s no sure thing.

*Technically that’s not completely true – Hamilton could beat Verstappen while both finish outside of the points, meaning Verstappen wins on the tiebreaker; or if Hamilton finished ninth while Verstappen finished tenth with the fastest lap, they’d again tie.

Lewis beats Verstappen in dramatic race | 02:18

WHO HAS THE EDGE HEADING INTO ABU DHABI?

Verstappen has the natural advantage of leading in the standings.

What exactly do we mean by that? Well, the 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1997 crowns were all decided when the two leaders crashed out in the final race; if both the Dutchman and Brit crash out in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen will be champion.

“If it was to come to the scenario of the last race in Abu Dhabi and they were to be racing each other for the title, whoever is in front (on points) is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said last month.

“What happened in Monza? Verstappen took Lewis out because he was about to overtake and he was quicker. And that is totally understandable.

“If you are racing for the championship and you see it fading away because the other guy is overtaking you, what tool have you got other than the one that makes sure he can’t overtake? We’ve seen it with Schumacher and Villeneuve, we saw it with Senna and Prost twice.

“I would never give the instruction to crash into anyone else but if they go to that last race and whoever is in front wins the championship, they will be racing each other, hard.

“And I don’t think you can control it, Hamilton and Verstappen, I don’t think you want to control it because they are the gladiators in their machines. That is what makes this sport so interesting, because it is ingrained in our nature that we don’t like confrontation and then one is intrigued to see how that relationship unfolds.

“If they crash are they going to confront each other? What are they going to say? Will they look in each others’ eyes? We would not interfere. The relationship is sorted out between the individuals.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF VERSTAPPEN AND HAMILTON TIE ON POINTS?

Verstappen will be crowned world champion, because he has won one more race (nine to eight); they cannot tie on points with Hamilton also winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Legend’s grandson caught in HORROR crash | 00:30

WHAT ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTORS’ TITLE?

Mercedes already had a handy lead in its bid to win an eighth consecutive constructors’ crown; and then Sergio Perez crashed out in Saudi Arabia.

The ex-Racing Point driver’s up-and-down season, compared to Valtteri Bottas’ steady year – including nine third-place finishes – has been the difference in the race between the Silver Arrows and Red Bull.

On 587.5 points, Mercedes is a full race win ahead of its nearest rival (559.5 points).

Realistically Red Bull needs a 1-2 finish in Abu Dhabi while one of Hamilton or Bottas crashes out to win the constructors’ title.

Current constructors’ standings

1. Mercedes – 587.5 pts

2. Red Bull – 559.5 pts

3. Ferrari – 307.5 pts

4. McLaren – 269 pts

5. Alpine – 149 pts

6. Alpha Tauri – 120 pts

7. Aston Martin – 77 pts

8. Williams – 23 pts

9. Alfa Romeo – 13 pts

10. Haas – 0 pts

WHO WILL BE BEST OF THE REST?

Daniel Ricciardo’s debut season in a McLaren hasn’t exactly gone to plan, with the Australian almost certain to finish eighth, well down on his fifth in 2020 – which he achieved in the fifth-best car on the grid.

He upgraded moving from Renault (now Alpine) to the British outfit but when the McLaren car was at its best, in the first half of the season, Ricciardo was still getting used to it.

He peaked with that stunning win at Monza, with teammate Lando Norris completing a stellar 1-2, but ironically ever since the Italian Grand Prix it’s been Ferrari as the third-best constructor.

Charles Leclerc (158 points), Norris (154 points) and Carlos Sainz (149.5 points) are scrapping it out for fifth place in the drivers’ standings; the Ferraris have both finished above Norris in each of the last five races.

The rest of the field, in both the drivers’ and constructors’ standings, is relatively spread out.

Current drivers’ standings (Midfield)

5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 158 pts

6. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 154 pts

7. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 149.5 pts

8. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 115 pts

9. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) – 100 pts

10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 77 pts

11. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 72 pts

12. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 43 pts

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 34 pts

14. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) – 20 pts

Esteban Ocon nearly gave Alpine back-to-back podiums on Monday, but was pipped on the line by Bottas; however the hefty points on offer for fourth mean the Hungary race-winner is closing in on teammate Fernando Alonso for tenth.

The late surge by Ocon and Alonso has virtually sealed fifth place for Alpine, even though the Alpha Tauri when driven by Pierre Gasly has at times appeared the third-best car on the grid.

Unfortunately for the Red Bull junior side, Gasly’s brilliant qualifying hasn’t been matched on Sundays, with just one third-place (in Azerbaijan, when Verstappen, Hamilton and Bottas all missed the points).

His rookie teammate Yuki Tsunoda showed early promise with a ninth on debut in Bahrain, but has otherwise been well off the pace off the very impressive Gasly, with just five other points finishes this season and three retirements; only last-placer Nikita Mazepin has failed to finish more often.

Sebastian Vettel will actually beat his woeful 13th-placed finish from 2020 at Ferrari, as he’s almost certain to beat Lance Stroll at Aston Martin, with the peaks of a second-place in Azerbaijan and two fifths in Monaco and Belgium followed by way, way too many irrelevant back-of-the-midfield races.

If you’ll recall, at the start of the 2021 season there were aerodynamic changes which hurt ‘low rake’ cars like Mercedes and Aston Martin (given their car’s similarities to the Mercedes) the most. The former recovered; the latter hasn’t.

Of the last six full-time drivers in the standings, three will be elsewhere in 2022, all for different reasons.

Current drivers’ standings (At the back)

15. George Russell (Williams) – 16 pts

16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) – 10 pts

17. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 7 pts

18. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) – 3 pts

19. Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 0 pts

20. Robert Kubica (Alfa Romeo fill-in) – 0 pts

21. Nikita Mazepin (Haas) – 0 pts

Hamilton and Verstappen collide! | 00:57

George Russell’s first F1 points, including that bizarre second at the aborted Belgian Grand Prix, will see him replacing Bottas at Mercedes with added confidence.

Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen (retirement) and Antonio Giovinazzi (dumped to Formula E) surround Russell’s Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi, who’ll partner Alex Albon next season, in the standings.

Haas is set to match Williams (2020) and Marussia (2015) as the only teams in the last seven seasons to fail to score a point, with Mick Schumacher at least showing some promise.

Nikita Mazepin must finish 15th or better in Abu Dhabi to avoid finishing 21st and dead last, behind Robert Kubica who replaced Kimi Raikkonen for two races in the middle of the season.

The Russian was 14th in Azerbaijan – essentially by default, with four non-finishers, the heavily-penalised Nicholas Latifi and poor restarter Lewis Hamilton behind him – but otherwise hasn’t finished higher than 17th.

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Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, championship race, leaderboard, crash, reaction

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Lewis Hamilton edged out Max Verstappen to win a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that had the F1 world divided on Monday morning.

There were a number of flashpoints during the race that only intensified the ongoing tension between Hamilton and Verstappen, who are now level on points ahead of the decider.

Hamilton had sped away from pole position before the balance of power shifted after 10 laps when Mick Schumacher buried his Haas in a barrier.

Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas pitted under the safety car but Verstappen stayed out.

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‘I didn’t understand what was going on’ | 01:27

Four laps later, the race was red-flagged to allow the barriers to be repaired which enabled Verstappen to pit, change tyres and resume the race in the lead.

On the restart, Hamilton reclaimed the lead but claimed he was forced off the track by Verstappen.

Moments later there was another red flag as Sergio Perez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin all collided at the rear of the field.

The stewards decided that Verstappen’s manoeuvre was illegal and promoted Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to pole for the third start of the race, with Hamilton in second and Verstappen in third.

Amazingly, Verstappen then took the lead again with Hamilton following through.

However the drama and controversy continued when they collided late in the race. Hamilton said he had been brake-tested and Verstappen was penalised by the stewards before the Briton swept past and onto victory.

“It has been a dirty race in terms of tactics,” Martin Brundle said on Sky Sports F1.

“This is absolutely crazy. It’s kind of like we’re making it up as we go along.

“But it’s so many unusual situations. It’s more like an obstacle course than a race track.”

The F1 world was just as stunned by what unfolded on Monday, with the constant chaos proving hard to keep up with.

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