Hamilton invigorated by Verstappen challenge as he looks to capitalise on 100th pole

By Sports Desk May 08, 2021

Lewis Hamilton is embracing the element of competition in the 2021 Formula One season after taking his 100th career pole in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton tops the standings three races in having won two of them, victories in Bahrain and Portugal coming either side of Max Verstappen's triumph at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion was involved in another tussle with his rival on Saturday, edging out the Red Bull driver to reach a notable personal milestone.

Hamilton was 0.036 seconds quicker than Verstappen at the end of Q3, with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas making up the top three 0.132s back.

The Briton is the first F1 driver to manage a century of pole positions, with his first coming back in 2007 in Canada. Racing greats Michael Schumacher (68) and Ayrton Senna (65) are second and third on the all-time list respectively.

He has managed 10 poles in five of the past six seasons, while his haul of 12 in 2016 is his best tally for a single year.

The 36-year-old has recorded 58 wins when starting from first on the grid, only failing to finish among the points on two occasions, albeit not counting for nine retirements.

And it is not only the milestone which has boosted Hamilton ahead of Sunday's showdown, but also the challenge presented by Verstappen, who sits eight points behind him in the standings.

"It's always difficult to assess in the moment but wow, I've been racing a long time and the 100 mark is something I don't think anybody and particularly me thought I would ever get to that number," Hamilton told a news conference.

"It's been so enjoyable and it's crazy that it is 100 and it felt like one of the first. That for me is even more special. There have been so many qualifying sessions, so many near misses, so many mistakes and so many moments of growth and I love how close it is between us all.

"I think that's great for the fans and I think that's exciting for me also. And also the people that are only just behind us."

For his part, Verstappen is confident he can push Hamilton all the way.

"It's difficult to predict at the moment. I think we were quite decent in the long runs but [Mercedes] looked strong," he said.

"We know that it's hard to overtake around here and to be following closely, but I'm always optimistic and positive that we can do a good job and have a good race, and I hope, of course, that it's going to be as close as today."

There was not so much joy for Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who went spinning in Q3 and could only claim eighth.

He said: "I just felt a bit weak going into qualifying, and it was just getting worse and worse throughout.

"I had a bit of an issue with my [left] shoulder through qualifying, and I was just feeling bad, all the way through it. 

"I've been with the doctors from the team, and it should be all good for tomorrow."

Related items

  • Spurs stun Curry's Warriors, Bulls rally past Nets Spurs stun Curry's Warriors, Bulls rally past Nets

    After snapping the Phoenix Suns' franchise-record winning streak, the high-flying Golden State Warriors crashed back down to earth in a shock 112-107 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.

    In the second of back-to-back games, having halted Phoenix's memorable 18-game run, the league-leading Warriors (19-4) were unable to rally past the Spurs on home court in the NBA on Saturday.

    The Spurs (8-13) used an 8-1 run to close out the game for their fourth consecutive victory, fuelled by Dejounte Murray's 22 points and 12 rebounds.

    Stephen Curry scored 27 points for the Warriors, who had won 11 successive home games – tied for their longest home winning streak since they claimed 54 straight from January 2015 to March 2016.

     

    Bulls battle past Nets

    The Chicago Bulls went on a rampage at Barclays Center, where they overturned a double-digit deficit to trump the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets 111-107. Zach LaVine (31 points) and DeMar DeRozan (29 points) inspired the Bulls in the Eastern Conference blockbuster. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 28 points, while James Harden had 14 points and 14 assists.

    Jayson Tatum (also 10 rebounds) and Dennis Schroder scored 31 points apiece to lead the Boston Celtics to a 145-117 blowout of the Portland Trail Blazers, who were without Damian Lillard.

    Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic put up 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in just 27 minutes as the Denver Nuggets beat the slumping New York Knicks 113-99.

    No Giannis Antetokounmpo? No worries for defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks, who defeated the Miami Heat 124-102. Bobby Portis sparked the Bucks with 19 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. He is the first Bucks player with a 15/15/2/2/2 game in under 30 minutes since 1984.

     

    George unable to lift Clippers

    Paul George finished with a double-double but it was a rough night for him and the Los Angeles Clippers following a 104-99 loss at the Sacramento Kings. George only made five of his shots from the floor, while turning the ball over five times on the road.

  • Struggling Seahawks activate Peterson for 49ers clash Struggling Seahawks activate Peterson for 49ers clash

    The Seattle Seahawks activated veteran running back Adrian Peterson off the practice squad for Sunday's clash with the San Francisco 49ers.

    Struggling Seattle had signed future NFL Hall of Famer Peterson earlier this week but elevated the 36-year-old on Saturday, despite only two days of practice.

    The Seahawks (3-8) brought in the 2012 MVP and seven-time Pro Bowler – who was waived by the Tennessee Titans – for depth due to a growing injury list.

    "Adrian had a good week," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said on Friday, with his team amid a three-game losing streak. "It's probably hard for people on the outside to understand the impact a guy with his kind of background can make.

    "At a time where we're battling to try to win a game and get going, he jumped in here and had a remarkable influence on the week. With three guys banged up at the spot, we'll see how it goes on the weekend. He had a really productive week for us, and it was fun having him here.

    "It's a rare opportunity for our guys to see somebody like that, that has that kind of background, but stands for so much more than just the numbers and the stats and all of that.

    "He's been a remarkable competitor forever. It was so obvious. It was really a boost for a bunch of guys, the young guys in particular. He's serious about playing. He's not just here for show. He's here to come here and try to help us win a game."

    The Seahawks have lost eight or more games in a season for the first time since going 7-9 in 2011. The nine straight seasons with seven of fewer losses is the longest streak in team history with the previous record being five straight seasons (2003-2007), according to Stats Perform.

    Russell Wilson led the Seahawks in rushing with 16 yards in their 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team. It was the lowest number of rushing yards for the team's leading rusher since Week 9 of 2016 when Tyler Lockett led the way with 13 rushing yards against the Bills.

  • Madrid not LaLiga champions yet as Ancelotti warns there's a long way to go ahead of derby Madrid not LaLiga champions yet as Ancelotti warns there's a long way to go ahead of derby

    Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted there is still a long way to go in the LaLiga title race after Los Blancos moved eight points clear ahead of next week's derby.

    Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic scored in the second half as leaders Madrid defeated Real Sociedad 2-0 away from home on Saturday.

    After defending champions Atletico Madrid were stunned 2-1 by Real Mallorca earlier on Saturday, Ancelotti's men are now 10 points above their city rivals heading into the December 12 derby.

    However, Ancelotti knows there is still plenty to play for after 16 rounds, with Atletico boasting a game in hand, while Sevilla – who have also played a match less – sit second in the standings.

    "I think it was just a good day for us," Ancelotti told reporters. "The league continues and results have shown that we still know there are a lot of teams that are competing at a high level in this league, but they are very even matches, we're competing at a good level as well.

    "Hopefully we can continue. And as for Karim [Benzema], he had a bit of pain early on in the game and he didn't want to aggravate any possible injury, so we opted to replace him. We'll see how he feels in the next few days, but I don't think he'll be able to play on Tuesday, but he could be fit for Sunday."

    Pressed on people labelling Madrid champions already and whether it is exaggerated, Ancelotti replied: "Yes, because we are a team that's fighting for the league title and we are first.

    "We're playing well, but it's far from over, and I do think we're playing well and we have another big exam in three days time. 

    "So today's game is a good performance, but we have to work well in our next fixture. I'm thinking about our next game against Inter [in the Champions League]."

    Madrid will welcome city rivals Atletico to the Santiago Bernabeu in their next league fixture and Ancelotti added: "We are confident because it's a special game as well, because a derby is always a special game, and in these kind of games there are no favourites.

    "So we're going to show our quality against their quality. I think it's going to be a great game, a complicated game as well. And we'll see what happens."

    Madrid are the first team from Europe's top five leagues to have two different players with 10 or more league goals this season – Karim Benzema 12 and Vinicius 10.

    Vinicius scored the earliest second-half LaLiga goal (46:47) for Madrid away from home since December 2010, when Angel Di Maria netted at Real Zaragoza (46:36) thanks to an assist from Xabi Alonso, the current Real Sociedad B manager.

    Meanwhile, Jovic – who replaced the injured Benzema – was also impressive after teeing up Vinicius' opener before scoring a goal of his own.

    The last time Jovic had a goal and an assist in the same league game was for Eintracht Frankfurt against Hannover in the Bundesliga in February 2019.

    It also meant the Serbia international forward scored and assisted in the same game for the first time in all competitions (41 appearances) and was involved in the same number of goals than in his previous 22 games (one goal and one assist in 462 minutes).

    Madrid midfielder Luka Modric praised Jovic, saying: "He put in a very good performance. He provided an assist and scored after having gone a long time without playing. He showed that we can count on him. We're very pleased with his performance and his goal."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.