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.

F1 2016: Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

The Hungarian Grand Prix has been on the Formula One calendar since 1986, with the circuit having been purpose built for the sport.

Lewis Hamilton goes into the weekend having won his home race at Silverstone where he reduced the championship gap to just a point. Nico Rosberg has led from the start of the season but the momentum is currently with Hamilton. The three leading teams at the minute – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – have all won at the circuit at the Hungaroring in the past.

Circuit: Hungaroring
Number of Laps: 70
Circuit Length:4.381km
Number of Corners: 14
Lap Record: 1:19.071 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous Hungarian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: McLaren (11 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

The circuit has been resurfaced for the 2016 event and Pirelli have brought the Medium, Soft and Supersoft compound tyres. Thermal degradation can be an issue due to the high temperatures normally experienced. The Hungaroring requires an emphasis on mechanical grip with a number of low speed corners. It has a low average speed while brake wear is medium.

It is often compared to Monaco due to being a tight and twisty track, although obviously there is a lot more run off. This means that drivers normally place a lot of emphasis on qualifying as track position can be key.

The championship is finely poised at the top with just a point separating Hamilton and Rosberg. Kimi Raikkonen is third, six points ahead of Daniel Ricciardo with Sebastian Vettel just eight points ahead of Max Verstappen. Last year saw the Mercedes duo suffer a number of misfortunes allowing Vettel to win. He had been leading a Ferrari 1-2 before Raikkonen unfortunately retired. Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo were second and third respectively. Ricciardo has previously won the race in 2014.

A number of drivers in Formula One history took their first wins in the sport at the Hungaroring including Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. Following Button’s highs in Austria, the team were disappointed to finish 12th and 13th in tricky conditions at Silverstone. They scored their best results of the season last year in Hungary so will no doubt be trying to repeat their form this year.

Both Williams drivers finished outside the points at the British Grand Prix while both Force India drivers finished in the points. There are 19 points between the two teams and Force India are aiming to close the gap and claim fourth in the constructors championship. Ferrari are just six points ahead of Red Bull while Mercedes are well clear at the top.

F1 2016: British Grand Prix Preview

Formula One returns to its home this weekend with the British Grand Prix. Seven of the 11 teams on the grid are based in the UK so it is a big event on the Formula One calendar. Silverstone hosted the first ever World Championship F1 race way back in 1950 and it has been the permanent home of the British Grand Prix since 1987.

Last time out Lewis Hamilton won the Austrian Grand Prix following a last lap incident with his team-mate Nico Rosberg. It wasn’t the first time this season the two have come together and with such a quick turnaround there could be fireworks this weekend. Hamilton was joined on the podium by Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Rosberg still leads the championship although now just by 11 points.

Circuit: Silverstone
Number of Laps: 52
Circuit Length: 5.891km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:33.401 Mark Webber (2013)
Previous British Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (15 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Medium and Hard

For a lap around Silverstone drivers spend 66% of it at full throttle. It is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar and features fast flowing sections. For the mixture of high and low speed corners, Silverstone requires medium to high downforce.

The soft, medium and hard compound tyres have been brought to this race by Pirelli and circuit offers high levels of grip. Due to high levels of degradation Pirelli are expecting at least two pit stops per driver during the race.

Last year’s race was won by Hamilton after he switched to intermediate tyres at just the right time. Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel were also on the podium. Hamilton will be going for a hat-trick of victories having won the British Grand Prix in 2015 and 2016. As always, the weather could play a role during the race as it can range from sunshine to rain very quickly.

In Austria there were notable drives from a number of drivers. Verstappen got his second ever Formula One podium by finishing second. While Raikkonen finished third, many thought Ferrari wasted an opportunity to win the race by pitting at the wrong time. Jenson Button finished in sixth place for McLaren having started from third on the grid – their best qualifying result for quite some time. Romain Grosjean returned to the points for Haas finishing seventh while Pascal Wehrlein got his first ever F1 point in tenth place for Manor.

All eyes will undoubtedly be on the Mercedes pair this weekend – with tensions running high can they race cleanly or will they self-implode again?

F1 2016: Austrian Grand Prix Preview

Fresh off the back of a commanding victory at the European Grand Prix in Baku, Nico Rosberg heads to the Austrian Grand Prix with high hopes. Having previously won the event in 2015 and in 2014 on its return to the calendar, Rosberg is looking for a hat-trick of wins.

After seeing his lead getting smaller it is once again advantage Rosberg, extending a nine point lead to over 20 points again following struggles for Lewis Hamilton in Azerbaijan.

Circuit: Red Bull Ring
Number of Laps: 71
Circuit Length: 4.326km
Number of Corners: 9
Lap Record: 1:08.337 Michael Schumacher (2003)
Previous Austrian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 1
Most Successful Team: McLaren (6 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft, and Ultrasoft

The Red Bull Ring – formerly the A1 Ring – only features nine corners and these are a mixture of slow, medium and high speed. It is a medium downforce circuit and features a long straight. 66% of the lap is spent at full throttle while brake wear is classed as medium.

Last year Hamilton started on pole position but lost out to team-mate Rosberg early on and had to settle for second. Felipe Massa completed the podium finishers in third place.

Pirelli have brought their Soft and Supersoft compound tyres along with the Ultrasoft. Many teams expect lap records to be broken if the Ultrasoft compound can be used in qualifying. This is currently uncertain as weather forecasts show unsettled conditions and potential thunderstorms during qualifying.

Both Rosberg and Hamilton have new engines for this weekend – Hamilton’s fifth new one of the season meaning he faces a penalty next new engine. Hamilton spent much of the European Grand Prix unable to fix an engine issue due to radio restrictions. He was clearly frustrated and had to settle for fifth place while his team-mate won.

Sebastian Vettel finished as runner up with Sergio Perez securing his second podium in three races. Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth place for Ferrari.

F1 2016: European Grand Prix Preview

Following a trip to Canada, Formula One returns to Europe this weekend at a brand new street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan.

 

The European Grand Prix has been absent from the Formula One calendar since 2012.  In its previous guise it was held at the Valencia Street Circuit for five years, having previously been held at the Nurburgring and Jerez amongst other locations.

Fernando Alonso is the most successful current driver at the European Grand Prix – winning twice at the Nurburgring and once in Valencia – so it makes sense that he is the ambassador for the new event in Baku.

Circuit: Baku City Circuit
Number of Laps: 51
Circuit Length: 6.003km
Number of Corners: 20
Lap Record: N/A
Previous European Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 3
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (7 wins)
DRS Zones: 2   
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

At 6.003km the Baku City Circuit is the second longest on the current calendar. Due to the new asphalt teams, drivers and Pirelli are expecting low grip and high track evolution over the course of the weekend. It is a street circuit and takes in many of Baku’s historical sights.

The run to turn one is 2.1km – the longest on the calendar – and there are 20 corners in total on the circuit. Brake wear will be medium, fuel consumption will be high and drivers will change gear approximately 62 times per lap. It is an anti-clockwise circuit and drivers will reach their highest speeds of the year – 340km/h on the pit straight.

It will be a complete unknown for everyone this weekend with a brand new circuit to learn. Lewis Hamilton is the driver with the momentum having won the last two Grand Prix while Nico Rosberg has encountered issues. Rosberg has seen his championship lead slashed to just nine points and will undoubtedly be hoping he can get back on track this weekend. Sebastian Vettel finished second in Canada but another questionable Ferrari strategy move arguably cost him the win. For the second race in a row a different driver scored their first podium of the year. This time it was Valtteri Bottas who finished in third place.

More information about the new race can be found on their website: www.bakucitycircuit.com.

F1 2016: Canadian Grand Prix Preview

Formula One heads to North America this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Regarded by many as one of the best races on the calendar, the Canadian Grand Prix has been on the Formula One calendar on and off since 1967. It is held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and features the iconic Wall of Champions which has seen the likes of Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jenson Button crash into it.

Circuit: Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
Number of Laps: 70
Circuit Length: 4.361km
Number of Corners: 14
Lap Record: 1:13.622 Rubens Barrichello (2004)
Previous Canadian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: Ferrari & McLaren (13 wins)
DRS Zones: 2   
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful current driver at the Canadian Grand Prix which he has won on four occasions. It was the scene of his first ever F1 victory back in 2007 when he was a rookie driver. He subsequently won it in 2010, 2012 and most recently in 2015. His record outside of winning has been a bit hit or miss, however, having retired from three of his visits there. He won last time out in Monaco – while championship leader and team-mate Nico Rosberg finished in seventh – and will be looking to take his second win of the season this weekend.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a low downforce track which plays heavily on the power unit and the brakes, especially due to the long straights punctuated by low and high-speed corners. The track surface is abrasive and much tougher on tyres than Monaco meaning the new Ultrasoft tyres will get their first proper test.

Rosberg leads the championship by 24 points over Hamilton with Daniel Ricciardo third. Ricciardo was compromised by a pit-stop blunder in Monaco meaning he realistically could have won the race. Kimi Raikkonen lies fourth in the championship for Ferrari just a point ahead of his team-mate.