F1 2016: US Grand Prix Preview

Formula One heads stateside with the US Grand Prix in Austin this weekend.

With just four races remaining Nico Rosberg heads his team-mate by 33 points – more than a race win – with Mercedes having secured the constructors championship last time out in Japan.

Lewis Hamilton has won three of the four previous outings at the Circuit of the Americas and he was the winner of the 2007 US Grand Prix when it was held at Indianapolis for the last time. He will be hoping to win his first race since the German Grand Prix earlier this year.

Circuit: Circuit of the Americas
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.513km
Number of Corners: 20
Lap Record: 1:39.347 Sebastian Vettel 2012
Previous US GP (in Austin) winners still on the grid: 2
Most Successful Team: Mercedes (2 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

The track has become a firm favourite amongst fans and drivers over the past four years due to its mixture of high and low speed corners, elevation changes, and ample overtaking opportunities.

The run to turn one is uphill meaning drivers arrive at the first corner blind. Drivers will reach top speeds of 340km/h with around 54 gear changes per lap. The first sector of the lap is fast and flowing while the second half of the lap features more low and medium speed corners.

Last year the weather conditions played a big part with torrential rain delaying qualifying until Sunday morning. Forecasts for this weekend look more promising and similar to the three other holdings of the US Grand Prix in Texas.

Rosberg is firmly in control of the championship with a 33 point lead over Hamilton. He has won nine races so far this season, including four of the last five. Hamilton is no stranger to overcoming points deficits to his team-mates however he is running out of time to do so. While Mercedes may have won the constructors, Red Bull have proven in the last few races that they can be a force to be reckoned with. Daniel Ricciardo won in Malaysia and has been on the podium at Austin before while Verstappen has finished second at the last two races. They now have a 50 point advantage over Ferrari. The battle between Force India and Williams remains close with Force India currently 10 points ahead of Williams. McLaren are pulling away from Toro Rosso while Haas are solidly eighth. Sauber are the only team yet to score in 2016.


F1 2016: Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Following the Malaysia Grand Prix, which saw the championship swing very firmly in Nico Rosberg’s favour, it is time for the Japanese Grand Prix – a firm favourite race amongst drivers and fans alike.

Daniel Ricciardo led home a Red Bull 1-2 in Malaysia when Lewis Hamilton’s engine blew, causing him to retire from the lead. Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points having finished in third place.

Circuit: Suzuka
Number of Laps: 53
Circuit Length: 5.807km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:31.540 – Kimi Raikkonen (2005)
Previous Japanese Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: McLaren (9 wins)
DRS Zones: 1   
Pirelli Tyres: Hard, Medium and Soft

The Suzuka track is a unique figure of 8 configuration and features a number of high speed corners. Drivers spend about 65% of the lap at full throttle with 42 gear changes. There is a mix of fast, medium and slow corners with the only significant braking event happening at the chicane at the end of the lap. The track is narrow and features little run-off.  Like Malaysia, track temperatures and the threat of rain are something to consider over the weekend. As it’s an older established track, grip is high but with high levels of degradation.

McLaren are the most successful team at the Japanese Grand Prix but it is Hamilton and Mercedes who have won the last two races. Before that it was Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull who won two in a row. Red Bull were the best of the rest in Malaysia behind Mercedes, and took a 1-2 in the race when Hamilton retired. This is a track they have gone well at in the past so could be ones to watch this weekend.

Hamilton will be wanting to overcome his difficult weekend at the Malaysia Grand Prix and he is the form man at Suzuka. He had dominated qualifying and much of the race before his engine gave up on the 40th lap in Malaysia. Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points – nearly a race victory – and with only five races in the year left, Hamilton will be wanting to start eating into that lead as soon as possible.

F1 2016: Malaysia Grand Prix Preview

Despite having been on the Formula One calendar since 1999, teams and drivers are heading into the unknown this weekend. The entire circuit has been resurfaced and a number of modifications have been made to corners including banking and elevation changes.

ircuit: Sepang International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.543km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:34.223 Juan Pablo Montoya 2004
Previous Malaysia winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (6 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Hard, Medium and Soft

The Malaysia Grand Prix has traditionally held an early spot in the calendar – usually after the Australian Grand Prix – but this year will host round 16 of the championship. Ferrari are the most successful team at the circuit and it was here last year that Sebastian Vettel took his maiden win for the Scuderia.

Lewis Hamilton won the race for Mercedes in 2014 and will be needing a win this weekend after seeing his team-mate win three in a row and take back his championship lead. Vettel has won the race on four occasions, Fernando Alonso three times, Kimi Raikkonen twice, Jenson Button & Hamilton once.

The Malaysia Grand Prix has a significant history for Alonso, Raikkonen and Button. In 2003 Alonso scored his first ever F1 podium at the track, Raikkonen took his first ever race win and Button joined them both on the podium for his first in F1. This weekend will also see Button’s 300th Grand Prix celebrated.

Drivers will be at full throttle for about 65% of the lap with about 57 gear changes per lap. There is a mix of medium and high speed corners and about 15% of the lap is spent braking. Pirelli have brought the hard, medium and soft compound tyres for the weekend and high tyre degradation is always a factor . Humid conditions can play a big part in the weekend with warmer conditions causing cooling problems.

F1 2016: Singapore GP Preview

The Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore first appeared on the F1 calendar in 2008. It was the sport’s first ever night race and remains the only one still held completely under the lights at night.

Teams, drivers and personnel remain on European time to help them deal with the odd timings of the Singapore Grand Prix. Due to the length of the circuit – 23 corners, the most of any race this year – and the probability of safety cars, the race normally pushes the two hour limit and is a tough challenge for drivers.

Circuit: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Number of Laps: 61
Circuit Length: 5.065km
Number of Corners: 23
Lap Record: 1:50.041 Daniel Ricciardo (2015)
Previous Singapore Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 3
Most Successful Team: Red Bull (3 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft

As is the case with any street circuit, there are low grip levels and the average speed is the second lowest of any on the calendar – Monaco being the slowest. 45% of the lap is spent at full throttle with approximately 80 gear changes per lap.

Pirelli have brought the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyre compounds with the latter making its first appearance since the Austrian Grand Prix earlier in the year. Drivers will have to contend with degradation as well as the humidity and extra challenges a street circuit brings.

The 2015 race proved to be a weakness in Mercedes’ armour with Nico Rosberg finishing fourth and Lewis Hamilton failing to finish. They struggled in qualifying and were unable to match the Ferraris and Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. It was Sebastian Vettel who won the race for Ferrari with Ricciardo second and Kimi Raikkonen in third.

Last time out it was Rosberg who won, beating team-mate Hamilton who had a disappointing start to the race. Vettel was third ahead of Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. The result means that the gap between the top two in the championship stands at just two points, with Rosberg getting right back in contention with Hamilton.

Mercedes will be hoping to avoid the difficulties they suffered at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Elsewhere in the championship, Red Bull are ahead of Ferrari and they are a team who have won the modern Singapore Grand Prix more than anyone else. Ferrari have won it twice with other previous winning teams McLaren and Renault unlikely to win it this year.



F1 2016: Italian Grand Prix Preview

From one iconic circuit to another, the Formula One circus has travelled from Spa-Francorchamps to Monza for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

The gap at the top of the championship stands at nine points between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton took a number of engine penalties in Spa, resulting in him starting at the back of the grid. He was fortuitous in the timing of a safety car period and red flag and finished in third place, limiting the cut in his championship lead to just 10 points. Rosberg won with Daniel Ricciardo finishing in second at the longest circuit on the calendar.

Circuit: Autodromo di Monza
Number of Laps: 53
Circuit Length: 5.793km
Number of Corners: 11
Lap Record: 1:21.046 Rubens Barrichello (2004)
Previous Italian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 3
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (19 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

From the longest circuit to the fastest on the calendar, Monza is dubbed the “temple of speed”. While cornering speeds are relatively low, drivers reach speeds of up to 370kph on the pit straight. The famous Parabolica corner leads onto the straight where drivers pick up speed on the run to first chicane. Due to the nature of the circuit – low speed corners and high speed straights – brake wear is high while drivers will change gear approximately 46 times per lap. Grip levels are low meaning teams will run cars at their lowest downforce levels of the year.

Of the current field only Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have won at Monza. The 2015 running of the race saw Hamilton complete the treble – pole position, race win and fastest lap. He also won the race in 2014. Following all his engine changes in Spa he is well placed to make it a third victory in a row in Italy.

In Belgium Red Bull extended their lead over Ferrari in the constructors championship while Force India moved into fourth ahead of Williams. Further down the order McLaren moved ahead of Toro Rosso into 6th place.

F1 2016: Belgian Grand Prix Preview

The summer break is over and it’s time for the Formula One season to recommence at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps. Featuring the likes of Eau Rouge, La Source, and Pouhon, the circuit is a real favourite amongst drivers and fans alike.

The longest circuit on the calendar is 7.004km and drivers will lap it 44 times. Due to the nature of the circuit it can be raining at one part of the circuit and completely dry at another meaning weather conditions can come more into play than they necessarily do at other races.

Circuit: Spa-Francorchamps
Number of Laps: 44
Circuit Length: 7.004km
Number of Corners: 19
Lap Record: 1:47.263 Sebastian Vettel (2009)
Previous Belgian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (16 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

Lewis Hamilton has clawed back the gap to Nico Rosberg and currently leads the championship by 19 points. He does however have the knowledge of an engine penalty hanging over him and it could be taken at Spa.

The circuit features a mixture of long straights and and fast corners and results in one of the fastest speeds of the year at 235km/h. The nature of the track means teams will have to find a balance between low drag and downforce. There are plenty of overtaking opportunities meaning qualifying is not as key as at other races.

Last year Hamilton led home a Mercedes 1-2, ahead of Rosberg, with Romain Grosjean in third for Lotus. In the two years prior to that it has been Red Bull drivers standing on the top step of the podium. Red Bull have been in good form in recent times and look the team most likely to challenge Mercedes.

In the German Grand Prix – the last race before the summer break – Hamilton finished ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Rosberg was fourth after a torrid race which included picking up a penalty for running another driver off the track. The Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were fifth and sixth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button, Valtteri Bottas, and Sergio Perez.


F1 2016: German GP Preview

Following the Hungarian Grand Prix, the German Grand Prix is the last race before the summer break. Lewis Hamilton leads the championship by six points following his win last time out, but a win for Nico Rosberg on home soil would see him move back to the top of the table.

The Hungarian Grand Prix was a somewhat uneventful race but it did have some close battles, particularly between Red Bull and Ferrari. In their fight for second in the constructors championship Ferrari have the edge – but only just. Just one point separates the two teams so it is finely poised.

In Hungary it was Daniel Ricciardo who joined the Mercedes duo on the podium but Sebastian Vettel had a late charge and could have taken it. Similarly, Kimi Raikkonen closed in on fifth placed Max Verstappen but was unable to find a way pass. Raikkonen was voted Driver of the Day for his charge through from 14th.

Circuit: Hockenheimring
Number of Laps: 67
Circuit Length:4.574km
Number of Corners: 17
Lap Record: 1:13.780 Kimi Raikkonen (2004)
Previous German Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 4
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (22 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Supersoft, Soft and Medium

The German Grand Prix was last held in 2014 – at the Hockenheimring – having been cancelled last year. That race was one by Rosberg and he will undoubtedly be looking to repeat that feat this year.

The track features a mix of fast long straights as well as technical corners. Due to the nature of the circuit there are some heavy braking zones into medium to low speed corners. Drivers will change gear approximately 49 times per lap and will reach a top speed of 350kmh. The Hockenheimring is also considered a power circuit.

Pirelli have brought the same tyre compounds as were used in Hungary – the Supersoft, Soft and Mediums.