Ryder Cup: Rory McIlroy believes LIV players will miss being involved with Team Europe in Rome

Team Europe looking to regain the Ryder Cup after their record-breaking 19-9 loss in 2021; Five of Europe’s line-up in Whistling Straits have since joined LIV Golf and won’t feature this week in Rome; Watch live on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 27/09/23 10:06am


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Rory McIlroy say its ‘certainly strange’ not having Ryder Cup veterans Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter around and it’ll really hit them this week.

Rory McIlroy say its ‘certainly strange’ not having Ryder Cup veterans Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter around and it’ll really hit them this week.

Rory McIlroy believes the Ryder Cup stalwarts who joined LIV Golf will miss representing Team Europe more than their absence is felt this week, although admits it’s “strange” not having them in Rome.

Five of Europe’s line-up heavily beaten at Whistling Straits in 2021 have since joined the LIV Golf League, with record points scorer Sergio Garcia and stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood all having no role in this year’s contest at Marco Simone Golf Club.

The likes of Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson – all vice-captains in past Ryder Cups – have all also joined LIV since its launch last summer, with McIlroy believing that this week’s event could make those who moved to the Saudi-backed circuit realise the consequences of their decision.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at the best shots from his six appearances in the competition.

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As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at the best shots from his six appearances in the competition.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at the best shots from his six appearances in the competition.

“It’s certainly a little strange not having them around,” McIlroy admitted in his pre-tournament press conference. “But I think this week of all weeks, it’s going to hit home with them that they are not here.

“I think they are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them, so it’s just more I think this week is a realisation that the decision that they made has led to not being a part of this week, and that’s tough.

Rory McIlroy receives the biggest cheer as the players head out on to the course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club for practice ahead of the Ryder Cup.

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Rory McIlroy receives the biggest cheer as the players head out on to the course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club for practice ahead of the Ryder Cup.

Rory McIlroy receives the biggest cheer as the players head out on to the course at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club for practice ahead of the Ryder Cup.

“The landscape in golf is ever-changing and more dynamic, and we’ll see what happens and whether they will be part of it in the future. I always thought leading up to this week is when it’s going to hit home that they are not going to be here.”

Garcia enquired earlier this month about paying outstanding DP World Tour fines in an attempt to represent Europe this week, although it was irrelevant as the Spaniard – along with Westwood and Poulter – were ineligible because of withdrawing their DP World Tour membership earlier in the year.

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Europe have four rookies in their team this year and three more playing their first Ryder Cup on home soil, leaving McIlroy and Justin Rose as the most experienced in the line-up, although the four-time major champion is excited with the potential of Luke Donald’s side.

“Everyone knows this is a bit of a transitional period for the European Team and there’s people that have been part of The European Team for a long time that aren’t here this week,” McIlroy added.

US Open champion Wyndham Clark explains comments he made where he said he was better than Rory McIlroy saying that every player needs the mindset that they are the best to be ale to succeed in golf.

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US Open champion Wyndham Clark explains comments he made where he said he was better than Rory McIlroy saying that every player needs the mindset that they are the best to be ale to succeed in golf.

US Open champion Wyndham Clark explains comments he made where he said he was better than Rory McIlroy saying that every player needs the mindset that they are the best to be ale to succeed in golf.

“I think the guys that we brought in are going to be awesome. Nicolai [Hojgaard], Ludwig [Åberg], Bob [MacIntyre], that’s the future of our team and the future of the Ryder Cup.”

Rose: Team Europe in ‘transitional period’

Rose makes his seventh Ryder Cup appearance, having missed out on a place in Padraig Harrington’s side two years ago, with the Englishman believing this week can go a long way in building the future of Team Europe.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at Justin Rose's best shots from his previous five Ryder Cup appearances.

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As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at Justin Rose’s best shots from his previous five Ryder Cup appearances.

As Team Europe prepare to take on Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, take a look at Justin Rose’s best shots from his previous five Ryder Cup appearances.

“There’s a lot of winning culture still in the team, with the people in and around the team, the captain and the vice captains,” Rose said. “Luke [Donald] has got an incredible Ryder Cup record, the most winning from a percentage point of view, so the winning culture in our team is as strong as ever.”

“I think that when you look at…our team room, [Paul] McGinley, Thomas Björn, like I say, José Maria [Olazabal], we had Monty [Colin Montgomerie] in there, just people that are still connected to the European team, and I would say invested in the European team.

Rory McIlroy says he has no issues with fans heckling players at the Ryder Cup, describing it as 'part of' the tournament.

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Rory McIlroy says he has no issues with fans heckling players at the Ryder Cup, describing it as ‘part of’ the tournament.

Rory McIlroy says he has no issues with fans heckling players at the Ryder Cup, describing it as ‘part of’ the tournament.

“There’s still a lot of winning culture around what we do. So obviously in life and in business and everything, there’s obviously transition phases where you need to look to new leaders and what would be great is if you can kind of slip through that period of transition unaffected.

“You start to look to the next generation obviously to come through and to start to kind of have that winning culture. That could happen as early as this year. You start to get the rookies off to a good start this year at home, and suddenly you start to blood some of the future with positive experiences.

Team Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald gives us a behind the scenes look at their team space at the Marco Simone Golf course.

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Team Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald gives us a behind the scenes look at their team space at the Marco Simone Golf course.

Team Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald gives us a behind the scenes look at their team space at the Marco Simone Golf course.

“Maybe the transition has started last time around at Whistling Straits and now we’re coming through that already. But yeah, there is a difference.

“Obviously, Westy [Westwood], Poults [Poulter] – as captains or vice-captains or however they may or may not be involved in the future – they do have a lot to offer, of course, from experiences and that point of view.”

Live coverage from the opening day of the Ryder Cup begins on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf. There’s also live content each day in the build-up to the tournament. Stream the PGA Tour, DP Tour, Ryder Cup and more with NOW.

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McLaren target Aston Martin in F1 Constructors’ Championship after Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri double podium at Suzuka


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Highlights of the Japanese Grand Prix from the Suzuka circuit

Highlights of the Japanese Grand Prix from the Suzuka circuit

McLaren are targeting Aston Martin after a “special” double podium for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Woking-based team are 49 points behind Aston Martin in the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with six events remaining and have momentum on their side after upgrades have worked successfully on the car.

While McLaren are on the up, Aston Martin have struggled recently as Lance Stroll has failed to score since the summer break and Fernando Alonso has taken just four points from the last three events.

“It’s definitely doable. All we can do is be as competitive as we can every weekend,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports F1 when asked about catching Aston Martin.

“We have to chase down Fernando, which is never easy. You can never rule him out. We have got to have a couple of big points races like we did last weekend [in Singapore] where maybe Aston Martin don’t get in the points. It’s mathematically possible but we have to keep on pushing and that’s all we can do.

“The team is just doing such a fantastic job, executing week in, week out. We are trying to catch Red Bull. All we can do is chip a tenth at the time but Max was pretty dominant . I think we will be strong at the next race, so will keep pushing.

“I feel as confident as I can we will be pretty strong everywhere, but we know there will be some tracks that favour your car more than others and we are good in the high speed, which Qatar is, so we will be strong there and not be weak anywhere.”

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri claim the first double podium of the season for McLaren at the Japanese GP

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Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri claim the first double podium of the season for McLaren at the Japanese GP

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri claim the first double podium of the season for McLaren at the Japanese GP

Norris added: “There’s not many races left. I’m sure there’s going to be a couple where Aston are going to be a bit stronger. But I think our advantage at the minute comparing to almost every team, bar a couple, is we have two drivers who are up there fighting for these positions and fighting for this points.

“Not every team has that at the minute. So I think that’s helping us. We can help one another, we can use one another, and I think that’s a good advantage we have over a lot of other teams at the minute.

“So we are on an upward trend. We’re making good progress and days like today prove exactly that. Even though I know there’s going to be maybe some tougher races coming up at times and maybe not as straightforward as today.

“But the progress we’ve made this season has been pretty incredible from my eyes and from where we were, to finishing 18 seconds behind the lead or 19 seconds is I think evidence of exactly that. So I’m proud of everyone and we’ll keep pushing.”

McLaren are only 49 points behind Aston Martin in the battle for fourth in the Constructors' Championship with six races remaining

McLaren are only 49 points behind Aston Martin in the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with six races remaining

Norris reveals he swore and shouted during VSC

Norris revealed he shouted and swore during the Japanese Grand Prix during the Virtual Safety Car when he came across Sergio Perez.

The McLaren driver believes he lost 10 seconds to everyone during the VSC because Perez was going slowly in the middle sector on his way back to the pit lane to initially retire from the race.

This contributed to the Ferrari drivers being close to Norris after the first round of pit stops, but the Briton pulled away and overtook his team-mate Piastri with the help of team orders to secure another second place.

“The thing is you can’t overtake under the VSC unless it’s obvious the guy has a problem and I don’t know what was going on,” said Norris. “I didn’t know if he had a problem, whether he was just backing me up. I didn’t know and I couldn’t take the risk of just overtaking him.

“He was going so slowly and then when we get the flashing dash for the VSC ending, he went into first gear and then I was on the outside of him because he was going so slowly, and then he almost crashed into me.

Sergio Perez breaks down his 'disaster' of a race at the Japanese GP after suffering broken front wings, safety car infringements and a collision with Kevin Magnussen took him out of the reckoning

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Sergio Perez breaks down his ‘disaster’ of a race at the Japanese GP after suffering broken front wings, safety car infringements and a collision with Kevin Magnussen took him out of the reckoning

Sergio Perez breaks down his ‘disaster’ of a race at the Japanese GP after suffering broken front wings, safety car infringements and a collision with Kevin Magnussen took him out of the reckoning

“So I honestly have no idea. I was shouting in my helmet. I was swearing quite a bit, but just got… I was so confused, I didn’t know what I could do. I’m losing time to Max.

“The Ferrari guys were, I think, 1.4 seconds behind me after being I think 12 or 13 seconds, so I lost 10 seconds and I didn’t know what I could do at the time.

“If he has a problem, he should pull over and make it obvious that he has a problem. So he didn’t and therefore I couldn’t take the risk of passing under a VSC so no idea. I don’t think it would have changed the world, just made me stress for a little bit more.

“But it would have been maybe just a bit better to put Max under a little bit of pressure at least, after that. I don’t think we would have been quite as far behind. So, a frustrating time, maybe I’ll ask next time what you’re allowed to do but I think I did the right thing so all okay.”

Ted Kravitz is in the paddock to review all the biggest stories from the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

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Ted Kravitz is in the paddock to review all the biggest stories from the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

Ted Kravitz is in the paddock to review all the biggest stories from the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

Norris made it consecutive podiums for the second time in his career with a less stressful drive to second place, after he just held onto P2 in Singapore.

McLaren have been the most improved team since the start of the season and Norris thinks his 19-second deficit to race-winner Max Verstappen is proof of McLaren’s progress.

“Since Monza a couple of years ago, it’s probably, in a way, our most deserved (podium) in terms of we are there on pure pace. Nothing had to go our way. We are just where we deserve to be, so an incredible day for everyone but also for myself,” said the 23-year-old.

“Things went, maybe not always to plan, but the pace was extremely strong. Couldn’t challenge Max. Maybe for half a car I actually got into lead for maybe half a second so I’ll take that. But, in a way, it feels better, because the pace was stronger. I could push and we were where we deserve to be, so a good job by the whole team to execute a perfect race.”

Max Verstappen uses his experience at Suzuka to elbow out both McLarens on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen uses his experience at Suzuka to elbow out both McLarens on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen uses his experience at Suzuka to elbow out both McLarens on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix

Piastri on ‘special’ maiden podium

Despite driving at Suzuka for the first time on Friday, Piastri has been in great form on a week McLaren announced he was staying with the team until the end of 2026.

He started on the front row for the first time on Sunday and says he could have taken the lead from Verstappen with a better second phase off the line.

Nevertheless, the rookie held onto third from Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton to secure a first podium in Formula 1.

“It’s special wherever you get a podium. To get the first one, I don’t think it really matters where, it’s always going to be special,” said Piastri.

“I think for myself, it probably wasn’t my strongest Sunday so from that side of things, there’s still a few things I want to work on. But no, to get the first podium, on pace as well, is a very exciting moment.

I just wasn’t quick enough at certain points of the race These high-deg races are probably the biggest thing I need to try and work on at the moment.

“I think it’s still quite fresh for me, obviously. In all the junior racing before this there are no races like this. So the only way you can learn from it is by just doing the races.

“So definitely a few things, had I had this race again, that I would have done a bit different. But that’s all part of the learning. So, exciting to know that we can finish on the podium, even if I feel like there’s more to come.”

Will Max Verstappen wrap up his third world championship at the first attempt at the Qatar GP? Watch every session of the Sprint weekend live on Sky Sports F1 from October 6-8. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel anytime



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Solheim Cup: Team USA dominate opening foursomes to lead Team Europe 4-0 at Finca Cortesin

Team USA swept the opening session for the first time in Solheim Cup history and also won a foursomes session 4-0 for the first time; Team Europe face uphill task in bid for historic Solheim Cup third consecutive victory

Last Updated: 22/09/23 2:00pm


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A putt from Allisen Corpuz secured Team USA a clean sweep in the morning foursome matches on day one at the Solheim Cup in Spain.

A putt from Allisen Corpuz secured Team USA a clean sweep in the morning foursome matches on day one at the Solheim Cup in Spain.

Team Europe made the worst possible start to their bid for a historic Solheim Cup threepeat as Team USA won all four matches in the Friday foursomes at Finca Cortesin.

Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight secured the first point of the contest when they claimed a convincing 5&4 win over Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull, who suffered a neck strain in the build-up to the biennial contest.

Solheim Cup stalwart Lexi Thompson led from the front in the top match and partnered Megan Khang to a topsy-turvy 2&1 win over Swedish rookies Maja Stark and Linn Grant, while Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall’s unbeaten Solheim Cup partnership was ended by Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee.

Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang beat Maja Stark (Swe) and Linn Grant (Swe) 2&1

Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee beat Celine Boutier (Fra) and Georgia Hall (Eng) 1up

Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz beat Leona Maguire (Irl) and Anna Nordqvist (Swe) 1UP

Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight beat Charley Hull (Eng) and Emily Pedersen (Den) 5&4

Boutier and Hall were 1up on the final green to ensure Team USA would win the opening session for the first time since 2009, before Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz completed the clean sweep by defeating Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist by the same margin.

Linn Grant and Maja Stark were defeated 2&1 by Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in the Friday morning foursomes session after Grant missed a short putt on the 17th hole at Finca Cortesin.

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Linn Grant and Maja Stark were defeated 2&1 by Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in the Friday morning foursomes session after Grant missed a short putt on the 17th hole at Finca Cortesin.

Linn Grant and Maja Stark were defeated 2&1 by Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in the Friday morning foursomes session after Grant missed a short putt on the 17th hole at Finca Cortesin.

“You could not ask for much more,” Team USA captain Stacy Lewis told Sky Sports. “We knew seeing the pairings those middle two matches were going to be tough, but I saw a ton of fight in my girls and fortunately we were on the right side of it.”

Team Europe captain Suzann Pettersen admitted her side had made a “rocky start” and pinpointed putting as the area that needed most improvement going into the afternoon fourballs.

Team USA Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis claimed that Lexi Thompson wasn't in her original plans for the Friday morning foursomes

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Team USA Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis claimed that Lexi Thompson wasn’t in her original plans for the Friday morning foursomes

Team USA Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis claimed that Lexi Thompson wasn’t in her original plans for the Friday morning foursomes

“It was a tough morning. I thought a lot of the girls fought really hard,” Pettersen told Sky Sports. “We’ve just got to stand back up.

“I don’t know if we’re trying too hard, but I feel like there were maybe some easy holes given away early in the morning on the greens pretty much.

“We’ve just got to get some putts dropping, get some momentum going and get the crowds louder.

“It was a rocky start, but sometimes that’s good too.”

Match 1: Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang beat Maja Stark and Linn Grant 2&1

Team USA won the first three holes and Thompson missed a birdie opportunity at the next that could have put them four ahead, only for Stark to reduce the deficit with a par at the sixth and scramble a share of the spoils at the par-five eighth despite finding bushes off the tee.

Linn Grant and Maja Stark were defeated 2&1 by Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in the Friday morning foursomes session after Grant missed a short putt on the 17th hole at Finca Cortesin.

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Linn Grant and Maja Stark were defeated 2&1 by Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in the Friday morning foursomes session after Grant missed a short putt on the 17th hole at Finca Cortesin.

Linn Grant and Maja Stark were defeated 2&1 by Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in the Friday morning foursomes session after Grant missed a short putt on the 17th hole at Finca Cortesin.

A par at the 11th and a birdie at the 13th pulled the contest level, before Thompson birdied the 15th to edge back ahead and USA secured victory when the European pair bogeyed the penultimate hole.

“We worked really well together and it was definitely a great win,” Thompson told Sky Sports. “They played some good golf and we knew we had to come out swinging and play hard.”

Linn Grant holed a huge par putt on the 16th to halve the hole for Team Europe in Friday morning's foursomes to ensure Suzann Pettersen's side still had a chance of picking up a point in the match.

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Linn Grant holed a huge par putt on the 16th to halve the hole for Team Europe in Friday morning’s foursomes to ensure Suzann Pettersen’s side still had a chance of picking up a point in the match.

Linn Grant holed a huge par putt on the 16th to halve the hole for Team Europe in Friday morning’s foursomes to ensure Suzann Pettersen’s side still had a chance of picking up a point in the match.

Match 2: Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee beat Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall 1up

Kang won the opening hole with a birdie before Europe edged ahead with back-to-back holes from the fifth, only for the hosts to respond to losing the seventh hole with a bogey by making a birdie at the next.

Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull went six down through nine holes as Team Europe struggled in the bottom match during the foursomes on day one of the Solheim Cup in Spain.

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Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull went six down through nine holes as Team Europe struggled in the bottom match during the foursomes on day one of the Solheim Cup in Spain.

Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull went six down through nine holes as Team Europe struggled in the bottom match during the foursomes on day one of the Solheim Cup in Spain.

Kang and Lee won back-to-back holes to move USA ahead and Boutier converted from 10 feet again to level at the 12th, while Kang holed a monster birdie from the opposite side of the green to snatch a share of the spoils at the 13th.

The contest remained level until the par-three 17th, where Lee made an eight-foot birdie after a brilliant approach by Kang, with a par at the last enough to move the visitors into a 3-0 advantage.

Match 3: Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz beat Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist 1up

Korda found water off the tee at the driveable first but the Americans responded by winning three consecutive holes from the third to move 2up, only for the European to take successive holes from the sixth to level the contest.

Team USA's Nelly Korda gifted Team Europe the first hole against Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist at the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin.

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Team USA’s Nelly Korda gifted Team Europe the first hole against Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist at the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin.

Team USA’s Nelly Korda gifted Team Europe the first hole against Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist at the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin.

Team USA took the ninth and 11th holes before Maguire followed a birdie at the 16th by holing another to match the American birdie at the next, although the Europeans were unable to take advantage of the par-five last as the visitors won a foursomes session 4-0 for the first time in the event’s history.

Match 4: Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight beat Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen 5&4

A par for Team USA was enough to take the par-five second and Ewing went agonisingly close to an eagle at the par-five fourth, with the tap-in birdie starting the run of three consecutive holes won.

Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull went six down through nine holes as Team Europe struggled in the bottom match during the foursomes on day one of the Solheim Cup in Spain.

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Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull went six down through nine holes as Team Europe struggled in the bottom match during the foursomes on day one of the Solheim Cup in Spain.

Emily Pedersen and Charley Hull went six down through nine holes as Team Europe struggled in the bottom match during the foursomes on day one of the Solheim Cup in Spain.

Back-to-back birdies from the eighth left Team USA 6up at the turn against an out-of-sorts European pair, who reduced the gap by starting their back nine with a winning birdie at the par-three 10th but were unable to mount any kind of comeback in a one-sided contest.

“We both stuck to our game plan and executed it well,” Ewing said. “It’s such a tough format, you rely and lay heavily on each other, so it’s just to know we’ve got each other’s back. We’re very happy at this point.”

Who will win the 2023 Solheim Cup? Watch exclusively live this week on Sky Sports! Live coverage continues on Saturday from 6.30am. Stream the Solheim Cup and more with NOW.

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Paul McGinley: Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup to produce exciting finishes between Europe and USA


Paul McGinley

Golf Columnist

Team Europe chase a third consecutive Solheim Cup victory this week in Spain, while Team USA look to retain the Ryder Cup and win on away soil in Rome next week; Watch both events exclusively live on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 21/09/23 3:39pm


Watch the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup exclusively live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the Solheim Cup is from September 22-24 and the Ryder Cup is live from September 29-October 1

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Watch the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup exclusively live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the Solheim Cup is from September 22-24 and the Ryder Cup is live from September 29-October 1

Watch the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup exclusively live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the Solheim Cup is from September 22-24 and the Ryder Cup is live from September 29-October 1

Former Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley looks ahead to a big two weeks of team golf and explains why both the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup are tough to predict a winner…

I’m looking forward to the Solheim Cup and being in southern Europe for two weeks in a row. Europe have had a lot of success over the last few years and, by world rankings, they look to be even stronger than they were two years ago.

These are two very young teams – two of the youngest in history, for either side, but what is really important in any team is a vibe and energy. You can read it through the body language of the players and I certainly picked up on that for Europe in their win in Ohio in 2021.

Henni Koyack takes a look at who will feature for Team Europe as they hope to secure a third consecutive Solheim Cup which starts on Friday

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Henni Koyack takes a look at who will feature for Team Europe as they hope to secure a third consecutive Solheim Cup which starts on Friday

Henni Koyack takes a look at who will feature for Team Europe as they hope to secure a third consecutive Solheim Cup which starts on Friday

There’s no doubt Europe had great body language and looked like a team infused with a lot of energy, which is something that really impressed. They also looked like a team that had one thing on their mind and that was winning away from home, which they duly delivered.

Going in as favourites puts a target on your back, with what many would call a stronger team. It can be difficult, but the big advantage they’re going to have is the home crowd. That’s always very influential, it’s a great situation to be in when you’re favourites.

You can’t over-egg it either way, because teams are so evenly matched. The main thing is to drive the team towards performance. If they perform well, they’ll win – with the advantage of playing at home.

Team Europe captain Suzann Pettersen looks ahead to the 2023 Solheim Cup and says the players are set on what will happen on Friday with regards to pairings

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Team Europe captain Suzann Pettersen looks ahead to the 2023 Solheim Cup and says the players are set on what will happen on Friday with regards to pairings

Team Europe captain Suzann Pettersen looks ahead to the 2023 Solheim Cup and says the players are set on what will happen on Friday with regards to pairings

Sticking to a winning formula

I think, as a team, you use what has worked in the past as a base. You’ve got some young players coming in and it’s important that you don’t break up tried and tested partnerships to integrate some younger people in – you’ve got to do it in a constructive way.

It’s easy to get lost with working too hard on the rookies. Ultimately, your top players are going to win these events for you – whether that’s the Solheim Cup or the Ryder Cup. The players that play four or five matches, they’re the key. It’s important they’re in very strong partnerships and are properly engaged in the task ahead.

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It’s not a question of treating everyone exactly the same – in theory that’s what you want to do, but in reality you lean towards the top players who are carrying the workload in terms of winning the most points.

That’s what Suzann Pettersen will be looking for from her players. You’ve got to get into their heads mentally to get a performance out of them. Ultimately, that is what will determine whether Europe win or not.

As the Solheim Cup gets under way on September 22, we take a look back at some classic winning moments from down the years between Team USA and Team Europe

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As the Solheim Cup gets under way on September 22, we take a look back at some classic winning moments from down the years between Team USA and Team Europe

As the Solheim Cup gets under way on September 22, we take a look back at some classic winning moments from down the years between Team USA and Team Europe

I think both the Solheim and Ryder Cup are going to come right down to the wire, with all four teams having a lot of players in form. For golf, it would be great to have two team events back-to-back come down a big finish and creating great excitement.

The majors this year haven’t been particularly exciting, with many of them seemingly having a clear winner with four or five holes to go. With the Solheim Cup, it has been one or two points in the last two editions and there’s no reason to say that it’s not going to be close again.

Davies: Strength in depth key for Europe

Dame Laura Davies is serving as vice-captain for this year’s contest, having played in a record 12 Solheim Cups, with the Englishwoman impressed with the strength that Europe have to offer within their line-up.

Dame Laura Davies believes the European team is the strongest she can remember in the history of the Solheim Cup

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Dame Laura Davies believes the European team is the strongest she can remember in the history of the Solheim Cup

Dame Laura Davies believes the European team is the strongest she can remember in the history of the Solheim Cup

“We’ve always had really good European teams in terms of the top seven or eight – mainly because in the old days not everyone played on the LPGA Tour,” Davies explained. “This year we’ve got 12 LPGA Tour-based players in the European team. They’re all very confident, great ball-strikers.

“I’d say we haven’t got one superstar, but 12 superstars. Number one through number 12, there’s not much in it. If you look in Suzann’s notebook, there’s about 100,000 different permutations and she’s driving herself mad with it because she has a luxury of riches.

Live Solheim Cup Golf

September 22, 2023, 12:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Golf HD

“I don’t think the girls are thinking as favourites. We’ve won the last two, but we know we could have lost the last two. I’d say it’s 50-50. It could come down to the last match or the last two. I think it probably will. It’s as even a playing field as you’ve ever seen.

“The Americans have got the last two major champions – Lilia Vu and Allisen Corpuz – and though Lexi Thompson is not playing her best, it’s match play and she’s going to relish this. They’ve also got Nelly Korda. But we’ve got Madelene Sagstrom, Charley Hull and all these players. I just think it’s going to be a feast.”

Who will win the 2023 Solheim Cup? Watch exclusively live on Sky Sports! Live coverage from the opening day begins on Friday from 6.30am on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event. Stream the Solheim Cup and more with NOW.



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Martin Brundle on the Italian GP: 10 for Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton disappoints and Carlos Sainz stars


Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle delivers his expert verdict on the Italian GP weekend after Max Verstappen made it 10 consecutive race wins in Monza.

That was one of the best Monza F1 Grands Prix and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For Max Verstappen to win 10 consecutive races, along with Red Bull taking all 15 races so far this season, it’s truly something to behold.

What an achievement to faultlessly keep up that level of performance and reliability on many different track layouts and in varying weather conditions, up against mighty opposition. Congratulations to each and every one of them.

If a tennis player or football or rugby team for example was so utterly complete and dominant, they would rightly be globally lauded at the highest level. As should this pairing be. Sport can and should be tribal, but you must surely also appreciate a level of excellence in others.

Highlights of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza.

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Highlights of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza.

Highlights of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza.

So I was a little surprised and disappointed that Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff played down this achievement over the weekend, because they rightly received their due reverence and appreciation during their years of total domination from 2014 to 2020.

At the same time Max and Red Bull will no doubt reflect on a few past actions and words which have diluted their current appreciation levels in some quarters. But it’s all to be expected when you put so many intensely competitive people into the same space.

Sainz the real star of Monza

Sky F1's Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to analyse Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc's epic battle for the final podium spot in Italy!

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Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to analyse Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc’s epic battle for the final podium spot in Italy!

Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to analyse Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc’s epic battle for the final podium spot in Italy!

The star of the Italian Grand Prix was undoubtedly Carlos Sainz. It was clear early on that Ferrari had really focused on Monza with their aerodynamic package and fresh power units.

This one mattered and Sainz was on form from the off. He threatened to be the one to deny Verstappen pole position, and when the pressure was on, he delivered.

Most people in the paddock thought Red Bull would have the faster race car and look after its tyres better on longer race stints, and that included Ferrari. Their drivers Sainz and Leclerc knew they would have to give it everything they had, and they surely did. Ferrari and their fans love an aggressive, passionate, and never-say-die driver, and have many former heroes such as Gilles Villeneuve as a benchmark.

Sainz’s defence against Verstappen and later Sergio Perez in the sister Red Bull, as well as his own team-mate Leclerc was brilliant, if right on the limit. He positioned his car perfectly and aggressively resisted moves around the outside, particularly at turn one. Sometimes his defensive moves were a touch late, he occasionally pushed the rules on moving more than once and also on the need to leave space on the outside of a corner. It was great to watch and full credit to the FIA stewards for allowing hard racing.

Max Verstappen claimed first place at the Italian Grand Prix to set a new record of ten consecutive first-place finishes.

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Max Verstappen claimed first place at the Italian Grand Prix to set a new record of ten consecutive first-place finishes.

Max Verstappen claimed first place at the Italian Grand Prix to set a new record of ten consecutive first-place finishes.

Rules sometimes not as clear as they seem

The rules are basically this: if your rival is trying to pass on the outside line, should they be fully alongside, front wheel to front wheel, then you have to give them space, which in effect means let them pass.

It’s not always easy to define exactly where the apex is in some longer corners, but in the 90-degree right/90-degree left first chicane, it’s clear enough.

The problem there is that it’s so narrow that two compliant drivers can barely pass side by side, and the driver on the inside will not have enough command over their front tyres to simply dial in even more steering angle. There will be contact along with drivers claiming to have been run out of road.

Both Ferrari drivers defended against both Red Bulls with guile and determination, but it was inevitable they would end up fighting each other for the final spot of the world’s best podium in front of the passionate Ferrari fans.

Ted Kravitz is in the paddock as he reviews all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

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Ted Kravitz is in the paddock as he reviews all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

Ted Kravitz is in the paddock as he reviews all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

So they set about racing each other with plenty of aggression and a few near misses which was enthralling. Both drivers said they thoroughly enjoyed proper racing, Leclerc said it reminded him of his karting days. If the drivers love it and are allowed to race, then the fans will love it too.

Had the Ferrari boys wiped each other out and put George Russell’s Mercedes on the podium instead, there would have been chaos and recrimination all round. But they didn’t.

Perez race craft made him another standout performer

Sainz was the best non-Red Bull driver – 11 seconds behind Verstappen which is better than the half a minute or more in some races this year. Having said that, Max had to cruise at the end of the race to protect some car temperatures which were getting high.

It was also a standout performance from Sergio Perez. Slightly off the pace again in qualifying, his race craft to navigate past Russell, Leclerc and Sainz was top drawer.

Watch the funniest moments from the Italian GP including George Russell and Alex Albon exchanging banter. In addition to Ted Kravitz's UK geography getting tested.

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Watch the funniest moments from the Italian GP including George Russell and Alex Albon exchanging banter. In addition to Ted Kravitz’s UK geography getting tested.

Watch the funniest moments from the Italian GP including George Russell and Alex Albon exchanging banter. In addition to Ted Kravitz’s UK geography getting tested.

That puts him 49 points ahead of Fernando Alonso in second place in the drivers’ championship, but I think much more importantly will give him great confidence heading into the final eight races. I sense he’s mentally back in control after some difficult races.

Russell had a strong weekend for Mercedes at a track where they were stronger than McLaren and Aston Martin. Lewis tripped over Oscar Piastri’s McLaren with a squeeze into the second chicane, for which he impressively took full responsibility and apologised to the Aussie rookie who was having a solid weekend again.

Alex Albon and Lando Norris travelled side by side in the same road car from and back to Monaco, and would spend the entire race nose to tail finishing a third of a second apart. Norris simply couldn’t find a way past the speedy Williams of Albon, who once again soaked up the pressure without error. This fight was typical of the battles throughout the field.

Liam Lawson once again impressed standing in for Daniel Ricciardo at Alpha Tauri, and it appears he will have a couple more chances yet before Ricciardo’s difficult hand fracture has sufficiently healed.

Elsewhere it was a weekend to forget for Alpine and to a lesser extent Aston Martin who could only manage ninth for Fernando Alonso, which would have been 10th without Piastri’s contact with Hamilton. However next up is Singapore, which is an altogether different challenge and will shuffle the pack again.

Sky F1 travel to the Monza circuit ahead of the Italian GP on the train as part of our Sky Zero campaign to protect the sports we love.

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Sky F1 travel to the Monza circuit ahead of the Italian GP on the train as part of our Sky Zero campaign to protect the sports we love.

Sky F1 travel to the Monza circuit ahead of the Italian GP on the train as part of our Sky Zero campaign to protect the sports we love.

Stick with decision on tyre combinations

This was the second trial for the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) where drivers would be limited to 11 sets of dry tyres comprising of three hard compounds, four medium and four soft. This is two overall sets fewer than usual and also means just four sets of soft tyres instead of eight.

It would be a dry weekend and so a true test, which went well enough. It does make the Friday practice running even more difficult to decipher, especially as those not expecting to get through Q1 or even Q2 to take a completely different approach to the practice sessions tyre-wise. And it will surely always promote fewer practice laps rather than more.

I don’t mind which way we go as long as a decision is made and we stick to it. We simply have too many tyre combinations for the various qualifying and race formats and many of us in the paddock struggle to remember them without reading up each time, and I suspect the fans really can’t be bothered with it all either. The teams will adapt as required.

And so to the humidity and relentless floodlit corners of Singapore. I can’t wait.

MB

Formula 1 returns in two weeks’ time with the Singapore Grand Prix and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from September 15-17.



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Alex Albon: Williams driver praised by rivals after claiming fourth in Dutch GP Qualifying

Alex Albon will start fourth on the grid for Williams in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix after equalling his career-best qualifying performance; watch the Dutch GP from 12.30pm live on Sky Sports F1, with lights out at 2pm at Zandvoort

Last Updated: 26/08/23 7:02pm


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Alex Albon believes the ‘right kind of wind’ helped him claim an impressive fourth place in qualifying of the Dutch GP

Alex Albon believes the ‘right kind of wind’ helped him claim an impressive fourth place in qualifying of the Dutch GP

Alex Albon earned high praise from his rivals after equalling his career-best qualifying performance to claim fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix.

While Max Verstappen lived up to his billing as the star of the show by taking pole in Zandvoort, Saturday’s most eye-catching performance undoubtedly came from his former Red Bull team-mate.

Having delivered performances across the opening 12 races of the season that have seen him linked with a return to some of the sport’s top teams, Albon picked up where he left off in the first race after the summer break.

After impressing in practice, the British-born Thai driver topped Q1, before producing a sensational lap to match the multiple fourth places he claimed during his 18-month stint at Red Bull.

He was only denied a top-three start by two peers who have to this point overshadowed his achievements, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ George Russell.

Russell and Albon congratulated each other after their impressive qualifying performances in Zandvoort

Russell and Albon congratulated each other after their impressive qualifying performances in Zandvoort

Albon’s long-term prospects as an F1 driver appeared uncertain when he was let go by Red Bull, but the way he has rebuilt his career at Williams after a year out hasn’t gone unnoticed by his fellow drivers.

“I’m really pleased to see him up there and it shows when you get your confidence how that can really transform the performance,” said Russell, who spent three seasons with Williams before earning his Mercedes seat.

The British driver also praised the impact of Williams team principal James Vowles, who left his role as Mercedes motorsport strategy director to take up the position.

“Williams are making a huge amount of progress at the moment,” Russell said. “I think James Vowles is having a really positive impact there.

“I think he’s definitely the best man for the job for what Williams need at the moment for their sort of resurgence.

“So it’s great to see more than just the top teams fighting and that’s what we want in Formula 1. We want everybody to have a chance if they do a good job.”

Verstappen ‘impressed’ by Williams

Albon’s season driving alongside Verstappen left question marks over his pedigree, but the similar struggles endured by other talented drivers alongside the Dutchman put that in perspective.

While Verstappen’s generational talent is undeniable, there is a suspicion that the way Red Bull develop their cars to suit the two-time world champion’s driving style has also hindered his team-mates.

Despite the brutal nature of his Red Bull departure, Albon has maintained strong relationships with his former colleagues and has been talked about as a potential candidate to replace Sergio Perez when the Mexican’s contract expires at the end of 2024.

“I didn’t know what to expect with other teams coming in,” Verstappen said. “But they (Williams) have been quick all weekend in the wet and dry.

Max Verstappen takes pole ahead of Lando Norris, George Russell and an impressive fourth place from Alex Albon at the Dutch GP

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Max Verstappen takes pole ahead of Lando Norris, George Russell and an impressive fourth place from Alex Albon at the Dutch GP

Max Verstappen takes pole ahead of Lando Norris, George Russell and an impressive fourth place from Alex Albon at the Dutch GP

“That’s impressive to see and it’s great for the sport as well to have more teams up there.

“I’m very happy for Alex himself. He’s a great guy, he was my team-mate before and we always had a good time, so I’m very happy for him to be up there and have a very competitive car.”

Norris is best placed, in terms of recency, to understand the struggle of being a talented driver at the back of the grid.

While McLaren’s remarkable mid-season turnaround has catapulted him to regular front-row berths, Norris has also clearly been paying attention to Williams’ gradual improvement.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise because they have been very competitive at certain places,” he said

“But every now and then, like Silverstone he (Albon) was P1 in Practice and now they just managed to keep it more through qualifying and into Q3 especially.

“So happy for him and the whole team. Logan (Sargeant) was there all the way pretty much until Q3, so they look strong. They made some big progress this season, so it’s good to have them in the battle.”

Albon reveals ‘strange’ secret to Zandvoort success

Perhaps most surprised by their success on Saturday were Albon and Williams themselves, with the 27-year-old revealing what he thinks might be behind the outstanding qualifying display.

“All conditions – slicks, wets, yesterday in the dry – we have been quite surprised, actually. We are not normally known for our high downforce performance but it’s been working well this weekend.

The team debate which driver on the grid has made the biggest improvements this year. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

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The team debate which driver on the grid has made the biggest improvements this year. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

The team debate which driver on the grid has made the biggest improvements this year. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

“I have been surprised, but the wind this weekend is perfect for our car.

“It sounds very strange, but in the corners where we are normally quite weak there’s a head wind, and in the corners where we’re normally quite strong there’s a tail wind.

“It sounds strange to say, but the wind has been very good for us. The car has been working really well. It’s been a lot of fun to drive around here so far.”

With more unpredictable weather forecast for Sunday, Albon will undoubtedly be hoping that the breeze – and his momentum – continues to blow in the same direction.

Sky Sports F1’s live Dutch GP schedule

SUNDAY AUGUST 27
8.55am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Dutch GP build-up
2pm: THE DUTCH GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag: Dutch GP reaction
5.30pm: Dutch GP highlights

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Sergio Perez reveals it has not been easy to watch Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen’s winning F1 streak

Sergio Perez is 125 points adrift of Max Verstappen going into the Dutchman’s home event at Zandvoort this weekend; watch the Dutch Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1, with the track action under way on Friday at 11.30am and Sunday’s race starting at 2pm

Last Updated: 24/08/23 5:22pm


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Max Verstappen says he has enjoyed his summer break and believes the Red Bull car can break records in the right circumstances

Max Verstappen says he has enjoyed his summer break and believes the Red Bull car can break records in the right circumstances

Sergio Perez has revealed it has not been easy to watch team-mate Max Verstappen’s recent dominance in Formula 1.

Verstappen has won every race since April’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix and could equal Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive wins from 2013 with victory on home soil this Sunday at Zandvoort.

During that time, Perez failed to reach Q3 five times in a row and has taken three podiums from the eight races.

“Certainly it hasn’t been easy for me because I know the car’s potential,” said Perez. “Max has been exploiting that but when you don’t really have that feeling but you know that your car has a massive potential, it’s not an easy situation as a driver to be in.

“But certainly we have got a great race car and we just have to make sure we utilise it, because you never know when you’re going to have a car that is as good as this one.

“I’m mainly focused on myself. There are 10 races and I just want to get some victories and get that consistency, like we had in the last races and finish the season very strong. It’s only going to help next year, so that’s my target.”

The F1 podcast team debate whether Red Bull and Max Verstappen have broken another second driver in Sergio Perez and what he can do to stay at the team

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The F1 podcast team debate whether Red Bull and Max Verstappen have broken another second driver in Sergio Perez and what he can do to stay at the team

The F1 podcast team debate whether Red Bull and Max Verstappen have broken another second driver in Sergio Perez and what he can do to stay at the team

Perez opens up on driving style issues

Perez won two of the opening four events this year and was on the verge of taking the championship lead when he started from pole position at the Miami Grand Prix, with Verstappen in ninth.

But, Verstappen came through the field to win and Perez has also struggled in mixed conditions which have affected several events this year.

“There is no secret that as the car developed, I struggled a little bit more. Things were not coming naturally anymore and I had to go very deep on my driving style, adapt to it quite a bit, and change it, because the car has simply changed and I think in the last two races were a lot better in that regard,” explained Perez.

“It’s not easy because with amount of practice we have, you kind of follow one direction or the other and then you got stuck with it for the rest of the weekend. So it is not an easy situation for a driver to have.”

Max Verstappen's former performance engineer Blake Hinsey describes what it was like to work with the two-time world champion. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

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Max Verstappen’s former performance engineer Blake Hinsey describes what it was like to work with the two-time world champion. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

Max Verstappen’s former performance engineer Blake Hinsey describes what it was like to work with the two-time world champion. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

He added: “I think we have understood a lot of things, especially on the development side, how we can figure it out. The team really knows what I really like and where I do feel more comfortable at.

“We’ve done some improvements during the summer break to try to make me feel more comfortable, so hopefully this second-half of the season we can show a good improvement.

“It is quite complicated and I will have to go in more detail than I would like to. It’s just the sharpness basically at medium and high speed that I’ve been struggling with, especially when we had tricky conditions did change, takes away some of the confidence. I’m OK with it. It’s another challenge for me, so I’m looking forward to that.

“I think at the end of the day, the team is trying to make the fastest car, and sometimes the development suits one style better than the other. That’s just how it works.”

Sergio Perez hopes to win some of the remaining 10 races this year

Sergio Perez hopes to win some of the remaining 10 races this year

Verstappen: Hopefully we can break a few records

Along with the winning streak record, Verstappen also has the opportunity to score the most points, podiums and wins a season.

Red Bull could become the first time to go unbeaten in a campaign too in a year which may be seen as a historic one in years to come.

“Hopefully [we can break] a few records but it’s not always in our hands entirely but so far it’s been a great first half of the year. Hopefully even with the break, we can keep it going,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

On whether he feels extra pressure on home soil, he added: “Honestly, I think it’s just great. I mean for me, it doesn’t bring a weight on my shoulders or extra pressure, it’s just amazing that this is possible.

“Nobody 10 years ago even thought about a Grand Prix here, and that we’re able to do this now is fantastic.”

Ahead of this weekend's Dutch Grand Prix, we look back at some of the most memorable moments from previous races at Circuit Zandvoort

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Ahead of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, we look back at some of the most memorable moments from previous races at Circuit Zandvoort

Ahead of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, we look back at some of the most memorable moments from previous races at Circuit Zandvoort

Sky Sports F1’s live Dutch GP schedule

FRIDAY AUGUST 25
9am: F2 Practice
11am: Dutch GP Practice One (session starts 11.30am)
12.55pm: F2 Qualifying
2.45pm: Dutch GP Practice Two (session starts 3pm)
4.15pm: The F1 Show

SATURDAY AUGUST 26
10.15am: Dutch GP Practice Three (session starts 10.30am)
12.10pm: F2 Sprint Race
1.15pm: Dutch GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Dutch GP Qualifying

SUNDAY AUGUST 27
8.55am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Dutch GP build-up
2pm: THE DUTCH GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag: Dutch GP reaction
5.30pm: Dutch GP highlights

Formula 1 returns after the summer break with the Dutch GP and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from this Friday. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime



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Lewis Hamilton vs George Russell, Max Verstappen vs Sergio Perez and all the F1 2023 team-mate duels


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Check out some of the funniest moments from the 2023 F1 season so far

Check out some of the funniest moments from the 2023 F1 season so far

The driver match-up at each Formula 1 team is always one of the biggest talking points of any season.

So with Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen among those performing particularly strongly against their respective team-mates after the first dozen rounds of this 2023 campaign, how do the key overall metrics stand at each of the 10 teams as the racing resumes in the Netherlands this weekend?

Notes on the head-to-head numbers: Qualifying scores are awarded on the results at the end of Q3 before any grid penalties are applied; If both cars from the same team fail to finish a race, then no head-to-head score for that race is awarded; The Sprint Shootout and Sprint results are not included in the main head-to-head numbers below.

Red Bull: All-conquering Verstappen

Qualifying: Verstappen 10 vs 2 Perez

Race: Verstappen 10 vs 2 Perez

Did Not Finish (DNF): Verstappen 0 vs 0 Perez

Points: Verstappen 314 vs 189 Perez

No surprises here.

Max Verstappen’s utter domination of the 2023 season is reflected in his team-mate head-to-head with Sergio Perez.

The score reads 8-0 to the runaway title leader in both qualifying and the grand prix since Perez’s win in Azerbaijan back in April, with the Mexican’s early-season hopes to mount a title challenge undone by a succession of qualifying disappointments amid his team-mate’s relentless front-running form.

Poles: 7 vs 2; In Q3: 11 vs 6; Average grid spot: 3.4 vs 9.3
Wins 10 vs 2; Podiums: 12 vs 7
Sprints: 2 vs 1

Mercedes: Hamilton regains the momentum

Qualifying: Hamilton 7 vs 5 Russell

Race: Hamilton 9 vs 3 Russell

DNF: Hamilton 0 vs 2 Russell

Points: Hamilton 148 vs 99 Russell

Considering George Russell started the season by outqualifying his team-mate at the season’s first four events, Lewis Hamilton has been in fine form since to swing the second year of the all-British head-to-head in his favour.

It has been the seven-time champion who has been able to extract the most from the improved – but not-yet-Red Bull challenging – W14 more consistently.

Hamilton delivered the car’s only pole position in Hungary and four of its five podium finishes up to the summer break.

Poles: 1 vs 0; In Q3: 11 vs 8; Average grid spot: 5.3 vs 7.9
Podiums: 4 vs 1; Races in points: 12 vs 10

Sprints: 1 vs 2

Aston Martin: Relentless Alonso sets the standard

Qualifying: Alonso 10 vs 2 Stroll

Race: Alonso 11 vs 1 Stroll

DNF: Alonso 0 vs 2 Stroll

Points: Alonso 149 vs 47 Stroll

Not for the first time in his long career, Fernando Alonso is setting a high bar in the battle against his team-mate.

Lance Stroll is the latest driver to experience the relentlessness of the two-time champion, with the podium-achieving form that Aston Martin displayed in the season’s early months very much reflecting well on Alonso.

Ironically, it was only really the Spaniard’s home event at Barcelona in June when Stroll had the upper hand for most of a weekend.

Front-rows: 4 vs 0; In Q3: 12 vs 8; Average grid spot: 5.3 vs 10.3
Podiums: 6 vs 0; Races in points: 12 vs 8

Sprints: 1 vs 2

Ferrari: Leclerc back ahead despite Sainz consistency

Qualifying: Leclerc 8 vs 4 Sainz

Race: Leclerc 7 vs 5 Sainz

DNF: Leclerc 2 vs 1 Sainz

Points: Leclerc 99 vs 92 Sainz

2023 is not proving to be the season Ferrari envisaged, so the battle to be top dog from weekend to weekend here hasn’t often counted for as much as the drivers would want.

Despite a tough start to the season with retirements from two of the opening three rounds, it’s Charles Leclerc who has fought back to lead in the key metrics, although Carlos Sainz continues to put up a decent fight against one of the sport’s outright fastest drivers over a single lap.

Indeed, Sainz has the more consistent results in qualifying – with only Verstappen achieving a higher average grid spot across the first dozen rounds – and races but Leclerc has achieved all the poles and podiums.

Poles: 2 vs 0; In Q3: 10 vs 11; Average grid spot: 6.6 vs 5
Podiums: 3 vs 0; Races in points: 9 vs 11
Sprints: 1 vs 2

McLaren: Norris still leading the charge

Qualifying: Norris 10 vs 2 Piastri

Race: Norris 9 vs 3 Piastri

DNF: Norris 0 vs 2 Piastri

Points: Norris: 69 vs 34 Piastri

Lando Norris continues to set the standard at McLaren, with the 23-year-old’s well-established speed and under-rated consistency a high bar for Oscar Piastri to try and emulate in the Australian’s rookie season.

But Piastri is faring pretty well, particularly recently following McLaren’s big jump in form, and qualified in and around Norris in the three rounds before the break.

Piastri started ahead for both Sprint and GP in Belgium, although the latter was ended in first-corner contact after a runner-up finish to Verstappen in Saturday’s shorter race.

Front-rows: 1 vs 0; In Q3: 8 vs 7; Average grid spot: 8.5 vs 10.3
Podiums: 2 vs 0; Races in points: 7 vs 5
Sprints: 1 vs 2

Alpine: 2023’s closest duel

Qualifying: Ocon 6 vs 6 Gasly

Race: Ocon 5 vs 4 Gasly*

DNF: Ocon 4 vs 3 Gasly

Points: Ocon 35 vs 22 Gasly

Expectations that the arrival of countryman Pierre Gasly next to Esteban Ocon would produce a closely-matched driver contest at Alpine have been vindicated.

While the performance of the team’s 2023 car has fallen short of expectations, and indeed prompted all manner of recent upheaval behind the scenes, the all-French driver pairing has generally performed solidly.

Ocon’s high was his run to the bottom step of the podium in Monaco, while Gasly took third in the sprint in Belgium.

*both drivers failed to finish the Australian, British and Hungarian GPs, so no scores are awarded for those races

In Q3: 6 vs 7; Average grid spot: 9.9 vs 11.5
Podiums: 1 vs 0; Races in points: 7 vs 7
Sprints: 1 vs 2

Williams: Dominant Albon’s star shining bright

Qualifying: Albon 12 vs 0 Sargeant

Race: Albon 10 vs 1 Sargeant*

DNF: Albon 2 vs 3 Sargeant

Points: Albon 11 vs 0 Sargeant

It’s one-sided numbers like this which have added weight to the case about Alex Albon again being a driver on the rise, three years after he lost form, confidence and ultimately his seat at Red Bull.

Being team-mate to a driver in his first year of F1 should have always given him a natural advantage, but Albon has still underlined that by achieving all four of Williams’ Q3 appearances and all 11 of their points.

Logan Sargeant got closest to a maiden point at Silverstone with 11th.

*both drivers failed to finish the Australian GP, so no score is awarded for that race

In Q3: 4 vs 0; Average grid spot: 12.7 vs 17.6
Races in points: 3 vs 0
Sprints: 3 vs 0

Haas: Hulk’s quali heroics the differentiator

Qualifying: Magnussen 3 vs 9 Hulkenberg

Race: Magnussen 6 vs 6 Hulkenberg

DNF: Magnussen 3 vs 1 Hulkenberg

Points: Magnussen 2 vs 9 Hulkenberg

At Haas, it has been Nico Hulkenberg’s qualifying prowess on his full-time return to F1 after four years that has proved the most consistently impressive factor of the team’s season to date.

The 36-year-old has reached Q3 six times – that’s half the races. Unfortunately, the car’s penchant for overheating its tyres over the longer race distances has regularly seen Hulkenberg quickly slip backwards.

He and Kevin Magnussen have therefore often found themselves in similar territory as races have progressed and the drivers have grappled with the car’s shortcomings, leading to an even Sunday score. Magnussen has only reached the top-10 shootout on a Saturday once so far this year, but he at least cause a stir when he got there in Miami by qualifying fourth.

In Q3: 1 vs 6; Average grid spot: 15.3 vs 11.8
Races in points: 2 vs 2

Sprints: 2 vs 1

Alfa Romeo: Bottas maintaining leader status

Qualifying: Bottas 8 vs 4 Zhou

Race: Bottas 8 vs 4 Zhou

DNF: Bottas 0 vs 1 Zhou

Points: Bottas 5 vs 4 Zhou

One of the closer team-mate battles in the field, albeit one taking place further back in the pack than the team would like.

The 10-time race-winning Valtteri Bottas continues to enjoy an edge in results overall, but the margins have often been close with the 24-year-old Zhou Guanyu displaying more consistency in his second year of F1.

Zhou took the team’s best grid spot of fifth in Hungary, while Bottas claimed their best Sunday finish of eighth all the back in Bahrain in March.

In Q3: 2 vs 1; Average grid spot: 14 vs 14.9
Races in points: 2 vs 2

Sprints: 1 vs 2

AlphaTauri: Improved Tsunoda faces fresh new test

Qualifying: Tsunoda 1 vs 1 Ricciardo / Tsunoda 8 vs 2 de Vries

Race: Tsunoda 1 vs 1 Ricciardo / Tsunoda 8 vs 2 de Vries

DNFs: Tsunoda 0, Ricciardo 0, de Vries 2

Points: Tsunoda 3, Ricciardo 0, de Vries 0

Having comfortably seen off Nyck de Vries in the space of 10 races, Yuki Tsunoda’s 2023 position as the lead driver at AlphaTauri will be challenged by Daniel Ricciardo, a multiple race winner, over the remainder of the season.

In the two races before the summer break, the nascent head-to-head was even, although Tsunoda did pick up just the team’s third point of an awful campaign with a strong drive to 10th in Belgium.

In Q3: Tsunoda 2, Ricciardo 0, de Vries 0; Average grid spot: 14.2 vs 16 vs 16.6
Races in points: Tsunoda 3, Ricciardo 0, de Vries 0
Sprints: 0 vs 1 / 1 vs 1

Formula 1 returns after the summer break with the Dutch GP and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from this Friday. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime



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Belgian GP: Charles Leclerc expects ‘tricky’ race from pole as Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton eye progress

Charles Leclerc will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from pole position; Max Verstappen topped Qualifying but starts sixth after a grid-penalty; Lewis Hamilton starts third for Mercedes; watch the race live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm on Sunday, with build-up from 12:30pm

Last Updated: 30/07/23 12:32pm


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Charles Leclerc said it ‘feels good’ to be in pole position on Sunday after Max Verstappen’s penalty but believes it will be difficult to keep his Ferrari in the lead.

Charles Leclerc said it ‘feels good’ to be in pole position on Sunday after Max Verstappen’s penalty but believes it will be difficult to keep his Ferrari in the lead.

Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc says Ferrari have a “good chance of a great result” in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix but admits he is “not confident” of holding off the Red Bulls behind him.

Leclerc inherited pole position after finishing second in Friday’s Qualifying because Max Verstappen, who topped the timesheet, incurred a five-place grid penalty after exceeding his gearbox part allowance for the season.

Having taken victory in Saturday’s Sprint to extend his world championship lead to 118 points, Verstappen will start as favourite on Sunday despite his position of sixth on the grid.

Leclerc, who has endured a tough first half of the season after being Verstappen’s nearest challenger last year, is looking for a first win and just a third podium of his campaign.

Asked about his chances of victory, Leclerc said: “Not confident, especially with two Red Bull guys right behind.

Sky Sports' Anthony Davidson compares the difference between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on their qualifying laps at the Belgian Grand Prix.

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Sky Sports’ Anthony Davidson compares the difference between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on their qualifying laps at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Sky Sports’ Anthony Davidson compares the difference between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on their qualifying laps at the Belgian Grand Prix.

“I think they’ve got a much better race car than we have.

“It’s great to be starting first and I think it gives us a good chance to have a great result, but to say that we’ll target the win, I think is probably a bit too optimistic.

“If there’s an opportunity for whatever reason, as always I’ll try to get it, but I believe it’s going to be difficult to try to keep those guys behind.”

Verstappen confident of repeating 2022 heroics

Verstappen is seeking to become just the second driver in F1 history to win eight successive races, while Red Bull can claim a record-extending 13th consecutive Grand Prix triumph.

It was around this point last season where Verstappen began to exhibit a dominance that he has almost totally maintained since, with a statement win coming at Spa last year as he won with ease from 14th on the grid.

See how Max Verstappen climbed up the leaderboard from middle of the pack to end up winning the 2022 Belgian GP.

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See how Max Verstappen climbed up the leaderboard from middle of the pack to end up winning the 2022 Belgian GP.

See how Max Verstappen climbed up the leaderboard from middle of the pack to end up winning the 2022 Belgian GP.

While the Dutchman has never won from sixth on the grid, he is unsurprisingly confident of changing that.

Verstappen said. “Last year we started 14th and I think this year the car is better, so I’m still targeting to win the race for sure.”

Reflecting on his Sprint victory, Verstappen added: “The car was quick. We knew already over one lap that we were not bad, but also it seemed like in the race we were quite good on keeping the tyres alive. So hopefully we can do the same tomorrow if it’s dry.

Max Verstappen eases home to win the Belgian Grand Prix Sprint by almost 6.5 seconds.

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Max Verstappen eases home to win the Belgian Grand Prix Sprint by almost 6.5 seconds.

Max Verstappen eases home to win the Belgian Grand Prix Sprint by almost 6.5 seconds.

“But tomorrow of course I’m starting a bit further back. I need to be careful to not have any damage on the car.

“As soon as I just have a clean lap one, I think from there onwards we can move forward.”

Hamilton hoping to ‘fight’ Leclerc, Perez

Lewis Hamilton, who has displayed encouraging pace in his upgraded Mercedes throughout the weekend, was another beneficiary of Verstappen’s demotion and will start from third behind the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

While the near-constantly changing conditions at Spa have made it difficult to assess the true dry pace of any team, Hamilton has been highly competitive.

Lewis Hamilton believes his collision with Sergio Perez was 'a bit of a racing incident' while Perez claims Hamilton 'took the whole right-hand side' of his car off.

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Lewis Hamilton believes his collision with Sergio Perez was ‘a bit of a racing incident’ while Perez claims Hamilton ‘took the whole right-hand side’ of his car off.

Lewis Hamilton believes his collision with Sergio Perez was ‘a bit of a racing incident’ while Perez claims Hamilton ‘took the whole right-hand side’ of his car off.

The seven-time world champion finished fourth in the Sprint after overtaking Perez, but was later demoted to seventh by a five-second penalty for causing a collision with the Mexican.

Like Leclerc, Hamilton isn’t optimistic about keeping Verstappen behind him, the 38-year-old is hopeful of taking the “fight” to the two cars starting in front of him, along with holding off McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

“Our pace has generally been decent,” Hamilton said.

Sky Sports' Anthony Davidson analyses the collision between Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton.

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Sky Sports’ Anthony Davidson analyses the collision between Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton.

Sky Sports’ Anthony Davidson analyses the collision between Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton.

“Third tomorrow, I’ve got a Ferrari and Perez ahead so I’m hoping I’ll be able to fight those guys.

“At some point Max will come sailing by and I’ll just try to keep the McLarens behind.”

Belgian GP provisional starting grid

1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
5) Oscar Piastri, McLaren
6) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
7) Lando Norris, McLaren
8) George Russell, Mercedes
9) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
10) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

Sky Sports F1’s live Belgian GP schedule

Sunday July 30
7.25am: Formula 3 Feature Race
8.55am: Formula 2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – Belgian GP build-up
2pm: THE BELGIAN GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag – Belgian GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook

Watch all sessions of the Sprint weekend at Spa live on Sky Sports F1. Stream the Belgian GP and more with NOW.



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Belgian Grand Prix: Lando Norris says he ‘completely destroyed’ McLaren floor in Qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps

Lando Norris was outqualified by McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, but was happy to be seventh on Friday after damaging his floor in Q1; watch the Belgian GP Sprint Shootout at 11am on Saturday live on Sky Sports F1, followed by the Sprint at 3:30pm

Last Updated: 28/07/23 7:01pm


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Lando Norris has revealed he found qualifying ‘a bit more of a struggle than for some of the others’.after picking up damage, and Oscar Piastri says he ‘left quite a bit on the table’.

Lando Norris has revealed he found qualifying ‘a bit more of a struggle than for some of the others’.after picking up damage, and Oscar Piastri says he ‘left quite a bit on the table’.

Lando Norris has revealed he “completely destroyed his floor” in Q1 with his trip through the gravel, so was relieved to qualify seventh for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Norris went wide at Turn 16 in Q1 and his engineer initially reported front wing damage. However, the McLaren driver also damaged his floor as he found a way to reach Q2, then Q3.

The 23-year-old is looking to make it a hat-trick of podiums on Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps, after finishing second at Silverstone and the Hungaroring.

“I’m really happy. Frustrated I went off in Q1 and completely destroyed the floor, so I’m happy to have made it to Q3 and only a couple of tenths off what Oscar did,” Norris told Sky Sports F1.

“I think he did a good job, his middle sector was very strong. We’re very poor in the straights, so there’s wins and losses. I’m happy, it could have been a lot worse, I could have been out in Q1, so I’ll take P7.

“The whole thing [floor damage]. It can be repaired, I hope. Normally you can repair it. Tape is not going to help, we tried to tape it. [The mechanics] did a good job on getting as much as they can fixed but too much to be competitive today.

“I don’t think we’re bad. If we had a car that was together and I didn’t make a mistake in Q1, I think we could have had a slightly better day. We weren’t miles off the guys ahead but I’m happy I got what I did out of it. It’s frustrating because it was pretty close between us and some of the others, but hopefully tomorrow we can turn it into a better result.”

Lando Norris goes wide through Turn 16 but carries on despite possible front-wing damage.

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Lando Norris goes wide through Turn 16 but carries on despite possible front-wing damage.

Lando Norris goes wide through Turn 16 but carries on despite possible front-wing damage.

Team-mate Oscar Piastri qualified sixth and added: “I felt very comfortable when the conditions were really tricky like that. I think in some ways the track drying up and becoming closer to normal was a hindrance for me.

“I’ve not done a dry lap around here in an F1 car, so for braking points and stuff like that when offline is wet you never want to brake too late and that’s where I left quite a bit on the table, unfortunately.”

Hamilton: We have to understand one second loss in middle sector

Lewis Hamilton was happy with qualifying fourth for Mercedes but says they are still a 'chunk off' Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

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Lewis Hamilton was happy with qualifying fourth for Mercedes but says they are still a ‘chunk off’ Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton was happy with qualifying fourth for Mercedes but says they are still a ‘chunk off’ Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth, but will start third on Sunday due to Max Verstappen’s five-grid place penalty for a fifth gearbox.

Mercedes elected to send their cars out early in each segment of Qualifying and Hamilton says it was a “big guessing game” as the track dried up.

“It was definitely very hectic because it was consistently drying up. It was very slippery at the beginning, difficult to see,” said Hamilton.

“I was just maximising because you know every lap is going to be faster than the next lap. That’s why we were at the end of the pit lane early each session. The team did a great job in getting us out and quick turnarounds. I was head down, just maximining as much as I could.

“At the end, still a good chunk off Max – pretty impressive. But I’m really happy with the result I’ve got.”

Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes has progressed a 'huge amount' this season compared to where they started in Bahrain and the 'hard work' gives him hope the team is going in the right direction.

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Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes has progressed a ‘huge amount’ this season compared to where they started in Bahrain and the ‘hard work’ gives him hope the team is going in the right direction.

Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes has progressed a ‘huge amount’ this season compared to where they started in Bahrain and the ‘hard work’ gives him hope the team is going in the right direction.

Asked whether he can find more performance on Saturday, he added: “I have no idea. We will find out. It didn’t feel bad today. Generally, it has felt decent. It’s just the middle sector we are losing a second, so I have got to study it to figure out where that is, if there is any way with the package we have, whether we can close that.

“We obviously need to work on making some improvements. I will give it everything I’ve got tomorrow and hopefully the next Qualifying will be as good.”

Russell confused by Qualifying struggles

George Russell was on the backfoot for the majority of Qualifying at Spa and ended up eighth, 0.718s behind Hamilton and 1.6s adrift of Verstappen.

Russell used a bigger rear wing than Hamilton, which appeared to be the wrong choice as he lost a lot of time on the straights as the track dried out.

Sky Sports' Ted Kravitz takes a look at the upgrades Mercedes have made for the Belgian Grand Prix.

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Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz takes a look at the upgrades Mercedes have made for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz takes a look at the upgrades Mercedes have made for the Belgian Grand Prix.

“It was a dynamic session but just been off the pace to be honest. I struggled in that session, I don’t really know why. I normally love those transitional sessions but with that we were nowhere,” he said.

“A bit to try and review and understand. We know qualifying isn’t everything around here but definitely would’ve liked to be higher up the order.

“You’d always love to do more laps to understand the car. It didn’t feel too bad, just slow overall so a bit to try and understand. P8 is not a horrendous place to start on Sunday but definitely would’ve liked to be higher up the order.”

Mercedes sent George Russell and Lewis Hamilton out early in each part of Qualifying after being caught out at the Hungaroring

Mercedes sent George Russell and Lewis Hamilton out early in each part of Qualifying after being caught out at the Hungaroring

Sky Sports F1’s live Belgian GP schedule

Saturday July 29
8.55am: Formula 3 Sprint Race
10.30am: Belgian GP Sprint Shootout build-up
11am: Belgian GP Sprint Shootout
12.40pm: Formula 2 Sprint Race
2.30pm: Belgian GP Sprint build-up
3.30pm: BELGIAN GP SPRINT
5pm: Ted’s Sprint Notebook

Sunday July 30
7.25am: Formula 3 Feature Race
8.55am: Formula 2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – Belgian GP build-up
2pm: THE BELGIAN GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag – Belgian GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook

Watch all sessions of the Sprint weekend at Spa live on Sky Sports F1. Stream the Belgian GP and more with NOW.



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