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"It's possible for a woman to be in Formula 1 in the next five years"

Teen who impresses in W-Series has her sights set on F1 and says new deal with Alpine is helping her on the way up (Author: Gardener)

the next five yearsAbbi Pulling: 'It's possible that a woman will be in F1 in the next five years' The impressive W-Series teenager has her sights set on F1 and says the new deal with Alpine will put her on the path to Spitze helps Abbi Pulling on the podium during the W-Series race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in May – she's second overall this season. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty ImagesAbbi On the podium at the W-Series race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in May – she's second overall this season. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Imagesrom Abbi Pulling, from a young age insisting on only riding the fastest horse to gallop around the world's Grand Prix circuits, has long had a need for speed. Formula 1 is the goal of this determined, talented youngster who, having grown up admiring Lewis Hamilton, is convinced she may yet break the glass ceiling of what the seven-time champion calls the 'billionaire boys' club' of Formula 1. In her first full season in the all-female W Series, Lincolnshire's pulling has already made a real impression. Covering all of its drivers' expenses, the series has reignited the 19-year-old's dream of making it into F1, as adopted by Alpine F1 Team as a partner in its junior driver programme. She is second in the championship behind Britain's Jamie Chadwick, who has won the previous two W Series titles. The fourth round of this season takes place at Paul Ricard on Saturday ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton hits 300 GPs but says the first F1 race remains the highlight of being physically up to the demands of F1, which has not had a female driver at a Grand Prix since Lella Lombardi in Austria in 1976. Pulling has no such doubts. "That's Jamie's opinion, but mine is with the Alpine program, we definitely believe that a woman can be fit enough to race at this level," she says. "I think it's possible that a woman will be in Formula 1 in the next five years. I'd love to be it myself, but whatever, it shows the direction motorsport is taking and how positive it is on the female side at the moment.” Pulling has incredible talent but luckily the W-Series has played a crucial role with many of its drivers to give her the opportunity to continue her career and pursue her dream of making it into Formula 1. I had a need for speed early on.” This season, Chadwick has taken four straight wins in the first four races, but Pulling is trying his best to catch them. She is 47 points behind with two podiums in the last two races, but her drive, aggression and refusal to be intimidated by more experienced riders have been impressive. Abbi Pulling during Friday practice ahead of Saturday's W Series race at Paul Ricard. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty ImagesIt has ensured that she has made quite the impression in a short amount of time. Last season, a lack of financial resources forced her out of British F4, a moment she thought would end a career she describes as "heartbreaking" but one all too familiar for drivers in junior categories is. As a W-Series reserve driver, however, she had a lifeline and competed in four races, including a conspicuous second place finish at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Alpine took notice and accepted it in March of this year. The team is committed to gender diversity with its Rac(H)er program, which includes Pulling. Their intention is to lead a woman into F1 and bring more women into motorsport with the aim of having 30% of their workforce female within five years. Pulling embraced it wholeheartedly, but Chadwick made a valid point. The F1's F3 and F2 feeder series, and F1 itself, are extremely physically demanding, as evidenced by the sheer volume of training F1 drivers do. Pulling, who drove one of Alpine's F1 cars in 2012, is unaware of how tough it will be in terms of power. She has relocated to live near the team's base in Enstone, where she happily puts the hours of training into her life. Even if it's not me making it to F1, it could be a girl watching the W series right now. "I welcome the challenge." She says. It's definitely going to be tough over the next few years and I'll have to push harder than ever and maybe more than a man, but I don't think it's impossible to make it into Formula 1. “My junior career could last longer if I develop this strength, but if it takes a few extra years it's still doable. I'm quite a small person, but since starting my program at Alpine I've seen a tremendous gain and the results show it.” Alpine takes a rigorous approach to their program that includes a scientific examination of what women potentially do has prevented it from going further in recent years. One issue that's already apparent is the financial drain of advancing through the ranks, an issue Hamilton has addressed. Pulling recalls growing up admiring the seven-time champion. "That's when I loved him the most because he's a living legend," she says. “I thought Lewis was great, I followed him a lot.” Abbi Pulling on the podium at Silverstone with Emma Kimiläinen (left) and Jamie Chadwick (centre) leading the W Series title race. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty ImagesOver time, like many others, she has come to realize the value of Hamilton in highlighting the sport's weaknesses. "I can't agree with him anymore, it's almost ridiculous." When Coco proved not fast enough, Pulling became passionate about karting at the age of eight and raced almost every weekend. She would win two national championships in 2017 and 2018 before moving up to Ginettas and then F4. Another stalwart W-Series and no small talent, Alice Powell is their driver trainer and she has been effusive in her praise for Pulling, whose ambition hasn't been marred by Chadwick's dominance this season, like her lively attack on Emma Kimiläinen last race of the series at Silverstone showed. Subscribe to The Recap, our weekly editorial picks email. I'm not going to win the championship," she says. But for such a young woman who still has her sights set on the F1 Grand Prix, it is significant that, like Hamilton, she can see beyond the cockpit to change at a bigger picture in which she plays a crucial role . "It's the visibility for younger generations that counts," she says. "Even though it's not me coming into F1, it could be a girl watching the W series right now and that makes her want to be a racer.

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Charles Leclerc on pole for the French GP, Verstappen second and Hamilton fourth

F1 Qualifying LIVE: Charles Leclerc on pole for French GP, Verstappen second and Hamilton fourth – Follow qualifying at the Circuit Paul Ricard as the French Grand Prix weekend continues (Author: Gardener)

Charles LeclercCharles Leclerc will start Sunday's French Grand Prix from pole position for Ferrari after finishing ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Saturday's qualifying. Charles Leclerc will start Sunday's French Grand Prix from pole position for Ferrari after finishing ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Saturday's qualifying. Still, Ferrari found him a good use in Q3, allowing Leclerc to slipstream and helping to secure another pole. Still, Ferrari found him a good use in Q3, allowing Leclerc to slipstream and helping to secure another pole. Lewis Hamilton will start on the second row after finishing fourth with a tremendous drive from Lando Norris putting him in P5 ahead of George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton will start on the second row after finishing fourth with a tremendous drive from Lando Norris putting him in P5 ahead of George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Leclerc said on Friday: "Max seems to be particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. Leclerc said on Friday: "Max seems to be particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. It was a good Friday. It was a good Friday. We still have a little work to do on the car. We still have a little work to do on the car. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. Sunday's race starts at 2pm BST and we'll be covering it in detail here on The Independent. Sunday's race starts at 2pm BST and we'll be covering it in detail here on The Independent. Teamwork makes Ferrari's dream job possible but Mercedes fails again 17:43 , Kieran Jackson After three practice sessions of back and forth and back and forth, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc claimed pole position on a lap that counted most in qualifying to get the French Grand Prix, ahead of the Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The Monegasque, some 100 miles from the Principality, took the 16th pole of his career with the help of teammate Carlos Sainz's tow in the middle sector around the Circuit Paul Ricard, going three tenths faster than world champion and championship leader Verstappen. And after a first half of the season marked by questionable Ferrari strategic decisions – and a stubbornness not to consistently favor one driver over the other – Sainz's penalty at the end of the grid made teamwork a dream work under the scorching French sun.” He did the perfect work and tow that helped me a lot, gained two tenths on that straight,” said Leclerc. The car feels good but let's see how it goes tomorrow.” Lewis Hamilton has made the most of an improved Mercedes over his 300th Grand Prix weekend, which nonetheless still falls short of the top two and proved itself as a Fourth on the second row qualifies with George Russell two spots down in sixth place; the two Silver Arrows are shared by Lando Norris thanks to a superb lap by the Brit in his McLaren. However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff couldn't hide his disappointment as Hamilton is almost a second behind pole-sitter Leclerc on what looks like another weekend to pass the constructors' champions: "It's just not good enough. We're a bit behind and if it doesn't match, free styling [with setup] begins. 14:37 , Kieran Jackson Lewis Hamilton has revealed an F1 team is refusing to sign the diversity charter he has been pushing for almost two years. The Mercedes star, who launched the Hamilton Commission last year to improve black representation in British motorsport, proposed the charter to provoke changes towards equality in sport. However, the seven-time world champion admitted that one of F1's 10 teams "is unwilling to embark on the prospect of a diversity inclusion charter". "F1 needs to do more," Hamilton said ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix. I think we're on the verge of getting this diversity inclusion charter off the ground, and I think there's a team, still the same team, that isn't willing to commit. But I'm grateful to see that the other teams are willing to step up and do the work." When further asked if he would name the team in question, the 37-year-old replied, "I don't think it would appropriate to name the team. We went back and forth with them and for some reason they didn't want to, but all the other nine teams did, which is really encouraging." Hamilton insisted ahead of the British Grand Prix three weeks ago that he "don't do it alone" in Formula 1's fight against discrimination after three-time world champion Nelson Piquet was widely condemned for using racist language in an interview to describe the Mercedes driver. 14:15 , Kieran Jackson Lando Norris has revealed that Lewis Hamilton is the role model he wants to build his Formula 1 career on. Hamilton, 37, becomes only the sixth driver in the history of the sport to compete in 300 races in Sunday's French Grand Prix. Norris' rising hero was MotoGP great Valentino Rossi but the 22-year-old's relationship with Hamilton has matured over his three-and-a-half seasons in F1. "It's an incredible achievement to have been in the sport for so long and to have achieved so much," said Norris ahead of Hamilton's landmark race. “You always hear the stories of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna and that time it was Lewis. It goes without saying because I do my own thing, but in 30, 40 or 50 years I will realize that I was lucky to have been racing during that time. "He is a role model. He showed that you can be a seven-time world champion and do other things in your life at the same time. So you have to respect that he's been doing that all these years while also doing other things outside of sport.” Last chance saloon Mercedes waves as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard 13:38 , Kieran Jackson So strange it may appear to be premature at this weekend's Grand Prix No. 12 of a 22-race season, the French Grand Prix. The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for a team and what more relevant, a venue. Last chance saloon Mercedes beckons as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard 13:38 , Kieran Jackson Strange as it may seem, at this weekend's Grand Prix No. 12 of a 22-race season, the French Grand Prix being hasty The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue. Unnoticed by him, mind you - he insisted he hadn't known before saying so in Thursday's press conference, decidedly unfazed by her running. Unnoticed by him, mind you - he insisted he hadn't known before saying so in Thursday's press conference, decidedly unfazed by her running. "We're not where we want to be," he said. “We lack the pace. "We're not where we want to be," he said. “We lack the pace. Last chance saloon Mercedes waves as Formula 1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue. First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a staple of the 109 Miles Along the Coast campaign for now. Even more relevant This race has long been slated – alongside Silverstone three weeks ago – as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, with the constructors' champions still striving for top-class performance as they aim for their first win of 2022. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to next year's calendar, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a fixture of the 109-mile season for now along the coast. More relevantly, this race has long been slated - alongside Silverstone three weeks ago - as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, where the constructors' champions will still strive for class-leading performance as they seek their first win of 2022. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year. France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, especially as Monaco remains a fixture of the 109 Miles Along the Coast campaign for now. More relevantly, this race has long been slated - alongside Silverstone three weeks ago - as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, with the constructors' champions still looking for top-class performances as they seek their first win of the 2022 season before turning serious attention to the next year, it must come on a flat, high-speed track this weekend. If there's even a hint of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it has to come at a flat, high-speed circuit this weekend. If there's even a hint of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it has to come at a flat, high-speed circuit this weekend. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he gave way to test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he won twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula 1. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he won twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 Grands Prix in Formula 1. However, Friday , after two practice sti nts, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who did not race in FP1 when he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track he had raced twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become just the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula One, insisted he didn't know before saying it in Thursday's press conference. Last-chance sedan beckons Mercedes as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard. Last-chance sedan beckons Mercedes as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard. Mercedes last chance sedan as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard

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French F1 Grand Prix - Start time, How to watch and more

After top qualifying, Charles Leclerc will start from pole position for the Formula 1 French Grand Prix. Here's how and when to watch the race. (Author: Gardener)

FrenchThe Ferrari driver stormed to pole at Paul Ricard on Saturday after benefiting from a strategy of using teammate Carlos Sainz as a tow down the backstretch in Q3. With Sainz starting at the back of the grid due to a change in drive components, Ferrari planned ahead of the weekend for him to come into Q3 to help Leclerc in his fight for pole against Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Despite Ferrari getting the tactics wrong in his first Q3 run, Leclerc managed to take pole next time. Verstappen, who is hoping Red Bull's direct advantage can help him fight for victory against Leclerc on Sunday, will start from second with teammate Sergio Perez third. Completing the top 10 were Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon – the latter two being boosted by the starts of Sainz and Kevin Magnussen, who finished ninth and tenth after failing to time in Q3. Date: Sunday 24 July 2022 Start time: 14:00 BST, 15:00 local time The 12th round of the 2022 F1 season, the French GP at Circuit Paul Ricard, starts at 15:00 local time (14th July 2022). :00 am BST). Sunday 24th July. In the UK, Formula 1 is broadcast live on Sky Sports, with highlights available on Channel 4 several hours after the end of the race. Sky Sports F1, which broadcasts F1 races, can be added as part of the Sky Sports channels at a cost of £20 a month for new customers. In the UK, Sky Sports will broadcast the French GP live, with the race being broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event. Pre-race coverage begins at 12:30pm on Sky Sports F1 and 1:55pm BST on Sky Sports Main Event ahead of the race start at 2:00pm BST. Channels: Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event Start times: 12:30pm BST and 1:55pm BST, Sunday 24th July 2022 Autosport will broadcast live text coverage of the French GP here. In the UK, Channel 4 will broadcast highlights of the French GP on Sunday evenings at 18:30 BST. Throughout the 2022 F1 season, Channel 4 will broadcast highlights of every qualifying session and race of every event. Channel: Channel 4 Start Time: Sunday 24th July 2022 6:30pm BST. Live radio broadcasts of every practice session, qualifying session and race for the 2022 F1 season will be available on BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra stations and the BBC Sounds app, and via the BBC Sport website. Live coverage of the French GP begins at 14:00 BST on the BBC Sport website and BBC Sounds app. The temperature is expected to be 33 degrees Celsius at the start of the race, 12 degrees warmer than last time's Austrian GP. The race is scheduled to complete 53 laps of the Circuit Paul Ricard and cover a total race distance of 309.690 km.

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Michael Schumacher's wife breaks down in tears during an emotional ceremony honoring the F1 legend

Schumacher's wife bursts into tears at emotional ceremony (Author: Gardener)

Michael Schumacher'sMichael Schumacher's wife broke down in tears as the Formula 1 legend was honored with an award in an emotional ceremony on Saturday. Michael Schumacher's wife broke down in tears as the Formula 1 legend was honored with an award in an emotional ceremony on Saturday. Michael Schumacher's wife broke down in tears as the Formula 1 legend was honored with an award at an emotional ceremony this week. Schumacher has not been seen in public since suffering a near-fatal brain injury while skiing in Meribel, France, in December 2013. His condition has been kept secret for the past nine years, thanks largely to his wife Corinna, who has vowed to protect his privacy while he recovers at home in Switzerland. Stream all the action from this weekend's F1 French GP on Kayo. Pre-race coverage begins Sunday at 21:30 AEST, with live racing from 23:00. New to Kayo? Drop-by-drop information has come to light over time - recently former Ferrari boss and Schumacher's close friend Jean Todt said he hoped the 53-year-old would recover one day - but by and large the world became over Schumacher's health kept in the dark. On Wednesday, the seven-time world champion was awarded the State Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. His son Mick, representing Haas, was unable to attend due to illness, but Schumacher's wife Corinna, 53, and daughter Gina-Maria, 25, were present to accept the honor on his behalf, along with Todt on stage. Those in attendance at the ceremony gave Schumacher a standing ovation, and the touching gesture caused Corinna to burst into tears in an incredibly poignant moment. After the event, Todt tweeted: "An emotional ceremony in Cologne to honor Michael Schumacher's outstanding career and charitable streak with Corinna, Gina, Mick Schumacher and Henrik Wust. "I met Michael at Ferrari 30 years ago, lived his passion and brought joy to millions of us!" In response to the standing ovation, Todt later said to Bild: "It's only natural. Nobody planned it so emotionally that Corinna shed tears, but sometimes it's good not to always control yourself." Earlier this week, Todt offered a rare insight into the condition of the seven-time F1 world champion in an interview with German TV channel RTL. "I don't miss Michael, I see him," he said. “Yes, that's right, I watch races with Michael. Corinna has been very protective of her husband since the accident and revealed how the family has dealt with the traumatic situation over the past nine years. Different, but he's here, and I think that gives us strength," Corinna told the Netflix documentary SCHUMACHER. We live at home together. We do everything to make Michael feel better and feel good. "We're trying to continue as a family in the way that Michael liked and still does. And we move on with our lives. "Michael always protected us and now we protect Michael."

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Charles Leclerc clinches French Formula 1 GP pole for Ferrari with help from Sainz

Charles Leclerc took pole for the French F1 GP ahead of Max Verstappen thanks in part to slipstreaming from teammate Carlos Sainz (Author: Gardener)

Charles LeclercScuderia have been criticized for poor strategy so often that they did an Italian job perfectly and ensured Charles Leclerc secured pole for Sunday's race. He set a good lap for Ferrari but was helped by a tow from his teammate Carlos Sainz, who helped him take pole and beat the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez to second and third. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fourth and sixth - decent enough for their season but far from the improvement Mercedes had hoped for. Sainz was ninth, but knowing he would start from the back row of the grid after taking new drivetrain components, the team opted to use him tactically to Leclerc's advantage. Leclerc had set the pace on his hot first lap in Q3 after enjoying a slipstream from Sainz on the Mistral straight. It was a crucial advantage as Verstappen was on his tail and crossed the line eight-thousandths of a second down, setting up a mighty neck-and-neck race for the final heats. Ferrari repeated their tactics on the second hot laps, with Sainz leading Leclerc, but Red Bull didn't use Pérez in a similar way for Verstappen, instead opting to have two drivers at the front of the race. Once again, Leclerc took advantage in the wake of Sainz with the two a shimmering red spot, line astern in the Provencal sun, before the Spaniard gracefully veered from his path. Leclerc sailed past and smashed his previous lap at 1m30.872s. Verstappen could not keep up and was three tenths behind. "I have to thank Carlos for the help," said Leclerc. I think [the time gain] is about two tenths, so it's significant. Hamilton will reach his 300th race on Sunday but it is highly unlikely it will be the celebratory affair he was hoping for. Hamilton was nine tenths behind Leclerc while Russell was more than a second behind. “I finished it thinking it was a great lap but I was still nine tenths down,” he said. “I'm not sure why this gap has increased in these two races. I came here thinking last race we were three or four tenths down and I thought maybe this weekend we'd be two or three tenths down and we were a second down." The 37-year-old, who was in his 16th season in the sport said he was confident Mercedes could still fight for wins but they weren't quite there yet. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff praised his driver while acknowledging that the W13 car was still a long way from its place. "Lewis has probably gotten more out of the car at the moment," he said. “We knew as soon as we put the new tires on and drove the car furiously that we would be there in a third and fourth place like we have been all season. Mercedes used a new nose in France and with the temperatures high, it was hoped the track would suit their revised car with its smooth, flat surface and high-speed configuration. But the distance to Leclerc remains an abyss. They'll expect better race pace, as will Red Bull, but Leclerc is on the right track. With six wins, Verstappen has established a dominant position in the title race and enjoys a 38-point lead over Monegasque in second place and 57 points over Pérez. Lando Norris was fifth for McLaren, Fernando Alonso seventh for Alpine and Yuki Tsunoda eighth for AlphaTauri. Kevin Magnussen was 10th but will start from the back of the grid with new engine elements. Daniel Ricciardo was 11th for McLaren and Esteban Ocon was 12th for Alpine. Valtteri Bottas was 13th for Alfa Romeo, Sebastian Vettel 14th for Aston Martin and Alexander Albon 15th for Williams. Pierre Gasly was 16th for AlphaTauri, Lance Stroll 17th for Aston Martin and Guanyu Zhou 18th for Alfa Romeo.

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Lewis Hamilton's longevity cements status as one of F1's all-time greats ahead of 300th race

Lewis Hamilton's longevity cements status as one of F1's all-time greats ahead of 300th race (Author: Gardener)

Lewis Hamilton'sAmongst all the stunning stats and records Lewis Hamilton holds, the longevity of his career is often overlooked. However, with little chance of adding to his 103-race win tally at Sunday's French Grand Prix, this will likely be his standout stat of the weekend. Five men have raced in more Grands Prix: Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher at 306, Rubens Barrichello (322), Fernando Alonso (345) and Kimi Raikkonen (350) are the only men above him. Alonso, at 40, is still fighting near, if not on, the front lines and there is little sign of his skills flagging. Given Hamilton's skill, fitness and potential to be the only man with eight world championships, one would expect there's a good chance he could still surpass them all. And with seasons getting longer - next year there will be 24 races - it's not out of the question that Hamilton could become F1's first 400-race driver. Earlier this week, Hamilton hailed Alonso as his toughest rival in his 15.5 seasons at the top of motorsport. The two drove as McLaren team-mates in the Briton's debut season in 2007, with the rookie coming out on top despite losing the title. "I remember the task of being alongside Fernando at 22," Hamilton said. “I was mentally so young and of course technically ok, but it's a lot of pressure to play against a big guy like Fernando. “I would say Fernando is the toughest he's ever faced when it comes to pure pace. Alonso returned the compliment and congratulated Hamilton on a triple century of racing. "He was a great driver, a legend of our sport so it was always a pleasure to spend all that time with him." Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen... British McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, centre , waves with teammate Fernando Alonso, right, of Spain, and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland after qualifying for Sunday's Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway Circuit in Oyama, west of Tokyo, Japan, Saturday, Sept Hamilton's stats after 299 races are staggering. Or just the most successful of all time? It is impossible and difficult to compare Hamilton to the best drivers of F1's different eras. Comparing Hamilton's accomplishments and statistical milestones to Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart or even Ayrton Senna is a task that will never get to the heart of the matter. It is difficult even to compare him with some of his contemporaries. They are both confident over a lap and have dominated the sport for several years in the best car, collecting multiple titles and numerous victories. Yet when it comes to sportsmanship, Hamilton hasn't crossed the line nearly that far. That might make him a better "champion" if not a better driver. There may also be a tendency to underestimate some of his title triumphs. He and Mercedes had to come back from the back in both 2017 and 2018 to win both championships. Yes, Ferrari's challenge fell apart as the season progressed, but Hamilton arguably drove at his finest during those years, especially in the second half. After losing to Vettel at the 2018 British Grand Prix (a rare defeat at Silverstone) to fall even further down the championship standings, he has taken eight wins in his last 11 races. The defining moment of this season was another Hamilton masterclass in the rain at Hockenheim. Vettel crashed in the damp but the Mercedes driver mastered the conditions to claim an unlikely win from 14th on the grid. Not to forget the end of the 2021 season, when he lost the title in the very last lap through no fault of his own. That could have been his finest triumph. Getting back to Alonso, the Spaniard is perhaps the only true rival Hamilton has faced who compares in terms of talent - and longevity. Alonso's winning days are far behind him and his return of two championships and 32 race wins seems paltry compared to his former team-mate and even small compared to what he could have achieved with better decisions and in better cars. While Alonso's career choice seems questionable, Hamilton pulled off a feat when he switched from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013. A decade later he is the most successful driver in the sport. It's easy to say that Hamilton has reached stratospheric heights because he's been the best driver in the best car for an extended period of time. The best drivers end up in the fastest cars for a reason, and he deserves credit for Mercedes' achievements. Above all, it is undeniable that he is the best driver of his generation and deserves his place among the most famous names in F1.

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Charles Leclerc on pole for the French GP, Verstappen second and Hamilton fourth

F1 Qualifying LIVE: Charles Leclerc on pole for French GP, Verstappen second and Hamilton fourth – Follow qualifying at the Circuit Paul Ricard as the French Grand Prix weekend continues (Author: Gardener)

Charles LeclercCharles Leclerc will start Sunday's French Grand Prix from pole position for Ferrari after finishing ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Saturday's qualifying. Charles Leclerc will start Sunday's French Grand Prix from pole position for Ferrari after finishing ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Saturday's qualifying. Still, Ferrari found him a good use in Q3, allowing Leclerc to slipstream and helping to secure another pole. Still, Ferrari found him a good use in Q3, allowing Leclerc to slipstream and helping to secure another pole. Lewis Hamilton will start on the second row after finishing fourth with a tremendous drive from Lando Norris putting him in P5 ahead of George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton will start on the second row after finishing fourth with a tremendous drive from Lando Norris putting him in P5 ahead of George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Leclerc said on Friday: "Max seems to be particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. Leclerc said on Friday: "Max seems to be particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. It was a good Friday. It was a good Friday. We still have a little work to do on the car. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. Sunday's race starts at 2pm BST and we'll be covering it in detail here on The Independent. Sunday's race starts at 2pm BST and we'll be covering it in detail here on The Independent. 14:37 , Kieran Jackson Lewis Hamilton has revealed an F1 team is refusing to sign the diversity charter he has been pushing for almost two years. The Mercedes star, who launched the Hamilton Commission last year to improve black representation in British motorsport, proposed the charter to provoke changes towards equality in sport. However, the seven-time world champion admitted that one of F1's 10 teams "is unwilling to embark on the prospect of a diversity inclusion charter". "F1 needs to do more," Hamilton said ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix. I think we're on the verge of getting this diversity inclusion charter off the ground, and I think there's a team, still the same team, that isn't willing to commit. But I'm grateful to see that the other teams are willing to step up and do the work." When further asked if he would name the team in question, the 37-year-old replied, "I don't think it would appropriate to name the team. We went back and forth with them and for some reason they didn't want to, but all the other nine teams did, which is really encouraging." Hamilton insisted ahead of the British Grand Prix three weeks ago that he "don't do it alone" in Formula 1's fight against discrimination after three-time world champion Nelson Piquet was widely condemned for using racist language in an interview to describe the Mercedes driver. 14:15 , Kieran Jackson Lando Norris has revealed that Lewis Hamilton is the role model he wants to build his Formula 1 career on. Hamilton, 37, becomes only the sixth driver in the history of the sport to compete in 300 races in Sunday's French Grand Prix. Norris' rising hero was MotoGP great Valentino Rossi but the 22-year-old's relationship with Hamilton has matured over his three-and-a-half seasons in F1. "It's an incredible achievement to have been in the sport for so long and to have achieved so much," said Norris ahead of Hamilton's landmark race. “You always hear the stories of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna and that time it was Lewis. It goes without saying because I do my own thing, but in 30, 40 or 50 years I will realize that I was lucky to have been racing during that time. "He is a role model. He showed that you can be a seven-time world champion and do other things in your life at the same time. Each of us can stop Formula 1 whenever we want. So you have to respect that he's been doing that all these years while also doing other things outside of sport.” Last chance saloon Mercedes waves as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard 13:38 , Kieran Jackson So strange it may appear to be premature at this weekend's Grand Prix No. 12 of a 22-race season, the French Grand Prix. The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for a team and what more relevant, a venue. Last chance saloon Mercedes beckons as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard 13:38 , Kieran Jackson Strange as it may seem, at this weekend's Grand Prix No. 12 of a 22-race season, the French Grand Prix being hasty The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue. Unnoticed by him, mind you - he insisted he hadn't known before saying so in Thursday's press conference, decidedly unfazed by her running. Unnoticed by him, mind you - he insisted he hadn't known before saying so in Thursday's press conference, decidedly unfazed by her running. "We're not where we want to be," he said. “We lack the pace. "We're not where we want to be," he said. “We lack the pace. 1:24 p.m., Jack Rathborn World Champion Max Verstappen clocked the fastest time in the final practice session for the French Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver, who leads the title standings, finished three tenths ahead of Carlos Sainz while his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc was third. Sainz will start Sunday's race from the back of the field as he is penalized for taking on a number of unassigned engine parts. Lewis Hamilton was fourth, a second behind Verstappen. The seven-time world champion tested a new rear wing in the last race before qualifying. But the Mercedes man, who will be only the sixth driver in Formula 1 history to contest his 300th race on Sunday, appears out of contention for pole position. George Russell finished sixth, one place behind Red's Sergio Perez Bull and two tenths behind Hamilton in the other Mercedes.Verstappen, 38 points ahead of Leclerc, looks like the driver to beat after a 0.354s lap at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, seconds ahead of Sainz. Leclerc complained about the durability of his tires and also spun at Turn 12 after losing control of his Ferrari. Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso finished seventh for Alpine, with Alex Albon an encouraging eighth for Williams. McLaren have made more upgrades at this track than at any other stage of the season and Lando Norris was ninth with teammate Daniel Ricciardo eleventh. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was 20th and last for his struggling Aston Martin team. Max Verstappen leads our last practice before qualifying in France! 11:40 , Jack Rathborn Lewis Hamilton has revealed an F1 team is refusing to sign the diversity charter he has been pushing for almost two years. The Mercedes star, who set up the Hamilton Commission last year to improve black representation in British motorsport, proposed the charter to provoke changes towards equality in sport. However, the seven-time world champion admitted that one of the 10 F1 teams is "not ready to embark on the prospect of a diversity inclusion charter". "F1 needs to do more," Hamilton said ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix. I think we're on the verge of getting this diversity inclusion charter off the ground, and I think there's a team, still the same team, that isn't willing to commit. "But I'm grateful to see that the other teams are willing to step up and do the work." Last chance saloon Mercedes waves as Formula 1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard The scenic southern region of Le Castellet is such something of a last chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to F1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned in 2018 after 28 years away from Formula 1. First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence.It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race in motorsport's greatest championship will be staged as the contract for the French Grand Prix expires this year with no renewal in sight, it is almost certain that this will be the last time a race in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a staple of the 109 Miles Along the Coast campaign for now. Even more relevant This race has long been slated – alongside Silverstone three weeks ago – as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, with the constructors' champions still striving for top-class performance as they aim for their first win of 2022. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to next year's calendar, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a fixture of the 109-mile season for now along the coast. More relevantly, this race has long been slated - alongside Silverstone three weeks ago - as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, where the constructors' champions will still strive for class-leading performance as they seek their first win of 2022. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year. France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, especially as Monaco remains a fixture of the 109 Miles Along the Coast campaign for now. More relevantly, this race has long been slated - alongside Silverstone three weeks ago - as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, with the constructors' champions still looking for top-class performances as they seek their first win of the 2022 season before turning serious attention to the next year, it must come on a flat, high-speed track this weekend. If there's even a hint of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it has to come at a flat, high-speed circuit this weekend. If there's even a hint of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it has to come at a flat, high-speed circuit this weekend. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he gave way to test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he won twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula 1. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he won twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 Grands Prix in Formula 1. However, Friday , after two practice sti nts, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who did not race in FP1 when he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track he had raced twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become just the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula One, insisted he didn't know before saying it in Thursday's press conference. Last-chance sedan beckons Mercedes as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard. Last-chance sedan beckons Mercedes as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard. Mercedes last chance sedan as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton aim for pole position at the French Grand Prix

F1 Qualifying LIVE: Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton target French Grand Prix pole position - Follow qualifying at the Circuit Paul Ricard as the French Grand Prix weekend continues (Author: Gardener)

Max VerstappenThis weekend is the French Grand Prix and you can follow live F1 coverage as we get closer to qualifying. This weekend is the French Grand Prix and you can follow live F1 coverage as we get closer to qualifying. On Friday, the Ferraris looked to have the edge as Charles Leclerc reignited his World Championship hopes last time out by driving to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz - a winner at Silverstone - outpacing him after FP2 Championship leader Max Verstappen was. On Friday, the Ferraris looked to have the edge as Charles Leclerc reignited his World Championship hopes last time out by driving to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz - a winner at Silverstone - outpacing him after FP2 Championship leader Max Verstappen was. But the Belgian-Dutch rider - 0.550 off Friday's pace setting time of Sainz - was fastest in Saturday's third practice session. But the Belgian-Dutch rider - 0.550 off Friday's pace setting time of Sainz - was fastest in Saturday's third practice session. Leclerc said on Friday: "Max seems to be particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. Leclerc said on Friday: "Max seems to be particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. We just have to get everything together and the pace is in the car. We just have to get everything together and the pace is in the car. Lewis Hamilton did not drive in the first practice on Friday, so Nyck de Vries took his place. Lewis Hamilton did not drive in the first practice on Friday, so Nyck de Vries took his place. But both Hamilton and teammate George Russell were fifth and fourth fastest respectively in FP2, while Hamilton was fourth and Russell sixth in FP3 on Saturday, one place behind Sergio Perez. But both Hamilton and teammate George Russell were fifth and fourth fastest respectively in FP2, while Hamilton was fourth and Russell sixth in FP3 on Saturday, one place behind Sergio Perez. 14:37 , Kieran Jackson Lewis Hamilton has revealed an F1 team is refusing to sign the diversity charter he has been pushing for almost two years. The Mercedes star, who launched the Hamilton Commission last year to improve black representation in British motorsport, proposed the charter to provoke changes towards equality in sport. However, the seven-time world champion admitted that one of F1's 10 teams "is unwilling to embark on the prospect of a diversity inclusion charter". "F1 needs to do more," Hamilton said ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix. I think we're on the verge of getting this diversity inclusion charter off the ground, and I think there's a team, still the same team, that isn't willing to commit. But I'm grateful to see that the other teams are willing to step up and do the work." When further asked if he would name the team in question, the 37-year-old replied, "I don't think it would appropriate to name the team. We went back and forth with them and for some reason they didn't want to, but all the other nine teams did, which is really encouraging." Hamilton insisted ahead of the British Grand Prix three weeks ago that he "don't do it alone" in Formula 1's fight against discrimination after three-time world champion Nelson Piquet was widely condemned for using racist language in an interview to describe the Mercedes driver. 14:15 , Kieran Jackson Lando Norris has revealed that Lewis Hamilton is the role model he wants to build his Formula 1 career on. Hamilton, 37, becomes only the sixth driver in the history of the sport to compete in 300 races in Sunday's French Grand Prix. Norris' rising hero was MotoGP great Valentino Rossi but the 22-year-old's relationship with Hamilton has matured over his three-and-a-half seasons in F1. "It's an incredible achievement to have been in the sport for so long and to have achieved so much," said Norris ahead of Hamilton's landmark race. “You always hear the stories of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna and that time it was Lewis. It goes without saying because I do my own thing, but in 30, 40 or 50 years I will realize that I was lucky to have been racing during that time. "He is a role model. He showed that you can be a seven-time world champion and do other things in your life at the same time. So you have to respect that he's been doing that all these years while also doing other things outside of the sport.” Carlos Sainz and Kevin Magnussen will both start from the back of the grid on Sunday due to engine penalties at 14:02, Kieran Jackson H and MGU -K was added to his CE change, resulting in a penalty. "I think when we swap components, we change a lot of them, make sure he has fresh components in the car and it's very likely he'll be at the back of the grid," Mattia Binotto had told Sky Sports F1 earlier on Saturday. “It's always difficult to overtake, but he has the pace. I think he's focused on having a good weekend and trying to minimize the disadvantage of penalties.” Whoever finishes higher than Sainz and Magnussen in qualifying will start 19th, while the other will start 20th and last goes into the race. Last chance saloon Mercedes beckons as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard 13:38 , Kieran Jackson Strange as it may seem, at this weekend's Grand Prix No. 12 of a 22-race season, the French Grand Prix being hasty The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue. Unnoticed by him, mind you - he insisted he hadn't known before saying so in Thursday's press conference, decidedly unfazed by her running. "We're not where we want to be," he said. “We lack the pace. 1:24 p.m., Jack Rathborn World Champion Max Verstappen clocked the fastest time in the final practice session for the French Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver, who leads the title standings, finished three tenths ahead of Carlos Sainz while his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc was third. Sainz will start Sunday's race from the back of the field as he is penalized for taking on a number of unassigned engine parts. Lewis Hamilton was fourth, a second behind Verstappen. The seven-time world champion tested a new rear wing in the last race before qualifying. But the Mercedes man, who will be only the sixth driver in Formula 1 history to contest his 300th race on Sunday, appears out of contention for pole position. George Russell finished sixth, one place behind Red's Sergio Perez Bull and two tenths behind Hamilton in the other Mercedes.Verstappen, 38 points ahead of Leclerc, looks like the driver to beat after a 0.354s lap at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, seconds ahead of Sainz. Leclerc complained about the durability of his tires and also spun at Turn 12 after losing control of his Ferrari. Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso finished seventh for Alpine, with Alex Albon an encouraging eighth for Williams. McLaren have made more upgrades at this track than at any other stage of the season and Lando Norris was ninth with teammate Daniel Ricciardo eleventh. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was 20th and last for his struggling Aston Martin team. Max Verstappen leads our last practice before qualifying in France! Have F1's new regulations made any difference to wheel-to-wheel racing so far? 12:20 , Jack Rathborn Lewis Hamilton, who described the riveting wheel-to-wheel race at Silverstone two weeks ago as "a reminder of the days of karting", had no illusions: the encouraging effects of this year's new regulations in Formula 1 have been clear to see everything. The aerodynamic changes - with ground effect, modified rear wings and a new front wing shape - should in theory make the cars easier to follow, leading to closer races, while a switch from 13-inch to 18-inch rims improves the overall design of the Cars also means heavily changed. And yet it was not until Round 10 of a 22-race calendar at the British Grand Prix that these changes were seen in such fascinating style. On round 45 of 52, Hamilton's battle with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc thrilled a global audience, not to mention the thousands who whirled around in the stands. Have the new F1 regulations made a difference in wheel-to-wheel racing? 11:30 , Jack Rathborn Lando Norris has revealed that Lewis Hamilton is the role model he wants to build his Formula 1 career on. Hamilton, 37, becomes only the sixth driver in the history of the sport to compete in 300 races in Sunday's French Grand Prix. Norris' growing up hero was MotoGP great Valentino Rossi, but the 22-year-old's relationship with Hamilton has matured over his three-and-a-half seasons in F1. "It's an incredible achievement to have been in the sport for so long and to have achieved so much," said Norris ahead of Hamilton's landmark race. Last chance saloon Mercedes waves as Formula 1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue. First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. First to Circuit Paul Ricard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a staple of the 109 Miles Along the Coast campaign for now. Even more relevant This race has long been slated – alongside Silverstone three weeks ago – as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, with the constructors' champions still striving for top-class performance as they aim for their first win of 2022. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to next year's calendar, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a fixture of the 109-mile season for now along the coast. More relevantly, this race has long been slated - alongside Silverstone three weeks ago - as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, where the constructors' champions will still strive for class-leading performance as they seek their first win of 2022. If there's even any hint of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it needs to come at a high-speed flat circuit this weekend. If there's even a hint of the Silver Arrows reviving their season before serious attention turns to next year, it has to come at a flat, high-speed circuit this weekend. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he gave way to test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he won twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula 1. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he won twice in 2018 and 2019 and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 Grands Prix in Formula 1. Unknown to him, mind you - he insisted he was unaware before it was shared in Thursday's press conference. Last-chance sedan beckons Mercedes as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard. Mercedes last-chance sedan beckons as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard

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Ferrari in the lead and Lewis Hamilton fifth ahead of FP3 at the French Grand Prix

F1 Qualifying LIVE: Ferrari on top and Lewis Hamilton fifth ahead of FP3 French Grand Prix – Follow Practice 3 and qualifying at the Circuit Paul Ricard ahead of the French Grand Prix (Author: Gardener)

the French Grand PrixThis weekend is the French Grand Prix and you can follow F1 coverage live as we wrap up practice sessions at Circuit Paul Ricard and head into qualifying. This weekend is the French Grand Prix and you can follow F1 coverage live as we wrap up practice sessions at Circuit Paul Ricard and head into qualifying. So far it looks like the Ferraris have the edge as Charles Leclerc reignited his World Championship hopes last time out by driving to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz emerged unscathed from his Ferrari after that caught fire. So far it looks like the Ferraris have the edge as Charles Leclerc reignited his World Championship hopes last time out by driving to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz emerged unscathed from his Ferrari after that caught fire. The Belgian-Dutch rider was 0.550 seconds down on Sainz's pace on Friday. The Belgian-Dutch rider was 0.550 seconds down on Sainz's pace on Friday. Leclerc said: “Max seems particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. Leclerc said: “Max seems particularly fast with the high fuel consumption. It was a good Friday. It was a good Friday. We still have a little work to do on the car. We still have a little work to do on the car. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. It's very difficult to understand because it feels like Red Bull are doing something different with us on Fridays. But when we focus on ourselves, the feeling is good. But when we focus on ourselves, the feeling is good. We just have to get everything together and the pace is in the car. We just have to get everything together and the pace is in the car. Lewis Hamilton did not drive in the first practice, Nyck de Vries took his place. Lewis Hamilton did not drive in the first practice, Nyck de Vries took his place. Follow all live updates, times and standings throughout the day. Follow all live updates, times and standings throughout the day. Sebastian Vettel in talks to stay with Aston Martin amid McLaren speculation 12:00 , Jack Rathborn Sebastian Vettel has revealed he is in talks with Aston Martin about staying with them next season, laughing off speculation that he could switch to McLaren. The four-time world champion is without a contract at the end of the 2022 season, and there is a lot of discussion about his future – and whether he will stay in the sport at all. Asked about his plans ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Castellet, Vettel joked he was racing this weekend and next. "Obviously I said we'll start talking eventually and I'll talk to the team," he said. F1 drivers unite to demand lifetime bans for abusive fans 11:50 , Jack Rathborn Sergio Perez called for lifetime bans for abusive fans at Formula 1 races and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton called on the community to band together to stamp out the rude behavior at recent events. Drivers were shocked at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago when fans took to social media to alert F1 to rampant harassment, sexism, racism and homophobia in the Red Bull Ring grandstands. F1 condemned the behavior hours before the start of the race and said it had raised the issues with the race organiser. However, her statement offered no mechanism for fans to report issues during the race, insisting the bad behavior must be decisively addressed. 11:40 , Jack Rathborn Lewis Hamilton has revealed an F1 team is refusing to sign the diversity charter he has been pushing for almost two years. The Mercedes star, who set up the Hamilton Commission last year to improve black representation in British motorsport, proposed the charter to provoke changes towards equality in sport. However, the seven-time world champion admitted that one of the 10 F1 teams is "not ready to embark on the prospect of a diversity inclusion charter". "F1 needs to do more," Hamilton said ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix. “All teams have to do more. I think we're on the verge of getting this diversity inclusion charter off the ground, and I think there's a team, still the same team, that isn't willing to commit. "But I'm grateful to see that the other teams are ready to step up and do the work." 11:30 am , Jack Rathborn Lando Norris has revealed that Lewis Hamilton is the role model on which he bases his Formula One Hamilton, 37, becomes only the sixth rider in the sport's history to compete in 300 races at Sunday's French Grand Prix Norris' growing up hero was MotoGP great Valentino Rossi, but the relationship The 22-year-old's to Hamilton has matured during his three-and-a-half seasons in F1."It's an incredible achievement to have been in the sport for so long and to have achieved so much," said Norris ahead of Hamilton's landmark race Last-chance saloon Mercedes beckons , as Formula 1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard The picturesque southern region of Le Castellet is something of a last-chance saloon for a team and, more relevantly, a venue First, to Circuit Paul Ric ard, who only returned to Formula 1 in 2018 after a 28-year absence. It is almost certain that this will be the last time a race will be staged in motorsport's biggest championship as the French Grand Prix contract expires this year with no renewal in sight. With Las Vegas and possibly Shanghai and South Africa returning to the calendar next year, France is sure to thwart Formula One's exponential global boom, particularly as Monaco remains a staple of the 109 Miles Along the Coast campaign for now. Even more relevant This race has long been slated – alongside Silverstone three weeks ago – as a pivotal weekend for Mercedes, with the constructors' champions still looking for top-class performance as they aim for their first win of 2022. If there's any inkling the Silver Arrows can revive their season before serious attention turns to next year, it needs to take place on a flat, high-speed circuit this weekend. However, Friday, after two practice stints, will have failed to provide impetus for excited racing in the garage, with George Russell finishing P4 in both hour-long sessions. Lewis Hamilton - who was not driving in FP1 as he made way for test driver Nyck de Vries as part of F1's young driver protocol for 2022 - was fifth on the timesheets later in the afternoon, at a track where he had finished twice in 2018 and 2019 won and where he will become only the sixth man to reach 300 grands prix in Formula 1. Last-chance sedan beckons Mercedes as F1 bids farewell to Circuit Paul Ricard

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"I wasn't scared after the British GP accident, I love Formula 1 and a big accident won't change that."

In an exclusive interview, Zhou Guanyu talks about growing up in Yorkshire, where he represents a billion people, and surviving a "pretty scary" crash at Silverstone (Author: Gardener)

BritishThe Canadian spotted a gap in the Silverstone tarmac ahead and sped past George Russell and Zhou Guanyu as the cars headed for the wide, fast right-hand Turn One at the British Grand Prix earlier this month. But Russell went right, Zhou stayed left, and Gasly had nowhere to go. His AlphaTauri tapped the rear right side of Russell's Mercedes, which in turn spun left against its will and slammed into the side of Zhou's Alfa Romeo. The car, in which China's first-ever full-time Formula 1 driver sat, immediately became a passenger, tumbled over itself and slid headlong relentlessly toward the barriers at over 100 mph. Chunks of carbon fiber ripped from its battered chassis like styrofoam balls and floated in the air as drivers behind them tried to avoid crashing themselves. The car continued on over the tarmac and over the gravel, its driver powerless, his head inches off the ground. Zhou waited for minutes in the decimated cockpit before being pulled from the car when medical personnel inexplicably found him completely unharmed. "It's not a nice feeling waiting for the final goal," Zhou tells i. “Going headfirst into the barriers so quickly is pretty scary. I try not to think about that moment too much.” Zhou had qualified for the British Grand Prix with an impressive ninth place, in just his tenth start as an F1 driver in his rookie season. As he sat on the grid, weighing his tactics ahead of the first corner, he never imagined that his life would be saved by the Titan Halo device, designed to protect drivers' heads in seconds. But Zhou was back in the Silverstone paddock before the race was even over, getting into his F1 car for qualifying in Austria five days later. "[Lack of fear] isn't built into you, it's about how much you've experienced in the past and how easily you can forget things that happened and start all over again," Zhou explains. “It wasn't easy to return to Austria straight away, but I wasn't afraid of it. When you are younger and facing these issues you are a bit scared but as you get older you build the mental side to be strong. We all love to drive and race so much, even after a big accident that doesn't get taken away.” After all, the idea of ​​driving an F1 car around the world is what Zhou's entire family is passionate about worked towards his childhood. After competing in the first-ever Chinese Grand Prix in his hometown of Shanghai in 2004, Zhou took up karting and when his family realized at the age of 12 that he had tremendous talent for racing, they turned their lives upside down and moved to Sheffield where their son could compete alongside Britain's and Europe's brightest talents. "Coming from Shanghai, which is so big and so busy, Sheffield doesn't have that many big buildings and the way people live is much more relaxed," says Zhou. “You're always busy in Shanghai and it's a very different way of life. Learning a second language wasn't the easiest thing and school was very different than home.” While living in Yorkshire, Zhou honed his skills at Strawberry Racing, winning both British and European Championships. "I found it quite strange that you went to different classrooms and different buildings [for different subjects]," he explains. “Each building had its own cloak that you had to put on before entering, it was a nightmare to remember all of that! I was a pretty fast sprinter so they wanted me to play in the senior team which I tried a bit but I got injured twice and decided to get away from it! Will you be the next Jenson Button?' They were keen that I always go away to race at the weekends and sometimes come back with trophies.” Zhou rose through the racing categories in Yorkshire and joined the Ferrari junior program before eventually moving up from Formula 3 to F2 and now to F1. The 23-year-old credits Sheffield and his people with forming a part of his character. "I was the only Chinese in the whole school, and that made things even more difficult," Zhou explains. “People from Sheffield are very laid back and straight forward. If they believe in something, they'll just tell you, and that's a pretty good way of doing things I think. The results Zhou has achieved so far in Formula 1 have been impressive. He took a point on his Bahrain debut and has overtaken teammate and ten-time race winner Valtteri Bottas three times. "I think that's normal because there was only one spot available and I was the one who got it. But from my side I don't take it personally, I take it as energy to move forward. I belong here, I deserve to have the seat and show my potential. It's good to imagine people turning around like that in three or four months.” The responsibility of representing a nation with such a large population in a new frontier is not lost on Zhou, but he does enjoy his ambassadorial duty. “[I want] to get more people interested in motorsports in China, and I see a clear trend of people racing at home. To be that person who represents her in the best category in all of racing is amazing. "Even at home people would say it's impossible for us to have a driver in F1 because we start so far back. Drivers have tried to go to Europe before but weren't good enough, but I've always believed in myself. I'm trying to tell the world and everyone at home that we can do what everyone else does, that we're not just good at table tennis. For Zhou, one of the most useful things that helped him overcome the horror of the Silverstone crash was to focus on his goals. "My next dream is to race in front of a home crowd," he says, with China set to return to the F1 calendar in 2023. I think the whole circuit will be full!” Whatever Zhou Guanyu achieves in his racing life, his achievements are lauded from Yu Gardens to Yorkshire. Although his Formula One career has only just begun, some of Sheffield's stainless steel is clearly rooted in a driver who came through one of the sport's most horrifying accidents in modern times without a single scratch on his body or character.

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