Mercedes untouchable at Belgian Grand Prix

Mercedes dominated the Belgian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton leading yet another 1-2 finish for the team. The pair finished over 30 seconds clear of third placed driver Romain Grosjean, who qualified fourth before dropping to ninth with a grid penalty.

There was a lot of focus on the race start after new regulations surrounding what drivers can and cannot say to their drivers in the moments just prior to the lights going out. A couple of drivers were slow away on the formation lap but it went without any major problems in the race start proper. There was an aborted start following problems for Nico Hulkenberg on the grid. The Force India driver reported loss of power on his out-lap to the grid, and had been advised by his team to return to the pits at the end of the warm up lap. The team then changed their mind and told Hulkenberg to take the race start as they believed the problem was resolving itself. This was not the case and Hulkenberg was wheeled back into the pits. Carlos Sainz also had his own problems and was asked to return to the pit-lane prior to the start.

When the lights went out it was Sergio Perez who made the biggest impression, going from fourth to second as Nico Rosberg dropped to fifth. Perez made an attempt to take the lead of the race but Hamilton but failed to get past and that proved to be his only opportunity. Pastor Maldonado became an early retirement from the race as his car quickly slowed due to engine problems. He was able to make it back to the pits. Other retirements from the race were Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz.

After Ricciardo retired on track following the final chicane, the Virtual Safety Car was used, neutralising the speed of all the cars on track. The Mercedes duo were pulling away at the front of the field and it was Sebastian Vettel who slotted into third race. He became a late retirement after a tyre delamination in the final couple of laps. After a pit-stop on the 14th lap of the race, Vettel was attempting to go to the end on the medium tyres but he failed to make it. He had found himself under pressure from Grosjean but had been keeping himself ahead of the Lotus driver, with the Ferrari benefiting from good straight line speed. Vettel had called for another pit-stop but the team chose to leave him out.

Daniil Kvyat backed up his strong showing at the Hungarian Grand Prix – where he got his first podium – put in a strong end to the race to finish in fourth. Fresher tyres allowed him to catch and pass the cars ahead. Perez eventually finished fifth, ahead of Felipe Massa in sixth. Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – who started 16th following problems in qualifying and a gearbox penalty – finished the race in seventh with Max Verstappen eighth, Valtteri Bottas ninth and Marcus Ericsson tenth. Williams suffered a pit-stop blunder which saw Bottas’ car fitted with one medium tyre and three softs – a breach of the regulations. Bottas was given a drive through penalty for the mistake but he still managed to salvaged a couple of points.

Felipe Nasr finished in 11th ahead of the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Button suffered problems throughout the race including a lack of power, allowing his team-mate to pull away from him. Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens were classified in 15th and 16th with Vettel classified 12th despite not finishing the race.

It was another crushing performance by the Mercedes team, following their disappointment in Hungary. The next race is in two weeks time at Ferrari’s home race of Monza.

Lewis Hamilton notches up third home win at British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix for the third time following a fortuitous pit-stop decision that saw him swap to intermediate tyres at just the right time.

Hamilton was joined on the podium by team-mate Nico Rosberg while Sebastian Vettel also benefited from a well timed pit-stop to join the Mercedes duo on the podium once again.

It was a race of mixed conditions – largely dry until a couple of rain showers towards the end. Off the line the Mercedes duo were caught out by both Williams drivers, who had locked out the second row of the grid after Hamilton secured pole position by just a tenth from his team-mate. Felipe Massa took the race lead off the line while Valtteri Bottas slotted into second before running too wide and opening the door for Hamilton to get back ahead. The battle at the front was called off following the deployment of the safety car at the end of the first lap.

The safety car was brought out due to an incident which saw both Lotus drivers and Jenson Button retire. Daniel Ricciardo tagged Romain Grosjean, sending the Lotus driver into his team-mate Pastor Maldonado. As Fernando Alonso attempted to avoid the pair he collected his own team-mate, resulting in Button retiring from the race. The incident was investigated after the race but no further action was taken. Ricciardo later retired from the race due to an engine problem while Alonso went on to score his first point of the season. The safety car returned to the pits at the end of lap three and racing resumed. Hamilton attempted to pass Massa but locked up and gave Bottas the opportunity to get back ahead.

Massa and Bottas were asked not to fight each other but Bottas believed he had the speed to pull away from the chasing Mercedes duo. Hamilton’s pit stop strategy allowed him to leap frog Massa and take the lead of the race. There was a brief period under Virtual Safety Car conditions to allow marshals to retrieve Carlos Sainz’s stricken Toro Rosso.  Light rain started to fall around lap 36 of the race and some drivers – including Kimi Raikkonen, Marcus Ericsson, and Alonso – chose to go straight onto the intermediate tyres. The conditions proved not to warrant the change and Ericsson was unfortunate to pit again for slicks when heavier rain started to fall. In the changeable conditions Rosberg launched a charge on team-mate, slashing the gap. Hamilton reported he had no grip and pitted for intermediate tyres, a decision which proved to pay off when the rain got heavier. Vettel also pitted and went from sixth to third.

There were six retirements from the race in total along with Felipe Nasr who failed to make the start due to a gearbox failure on his out-lap to the grid. Sainz, Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Maldonado, Grosjean, and Button were the other retirements from the race. At the front the top three were followed by the Williams duo, perhaps ruing a lost opportunity to fight for the win. Daniil Kvyat was sixth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, Raikkonen eighth, Sergio Perez ninth and Alonso tenth. Ericsson, Roberto Merhi, and Will Stevens also finished the race, although the latter lost his front wing after clipping the barrier but returned to the pits and continued.

Following the cancellation of the German Grand Prix the next action will take place in three weeks time in Hungary.

2015: The Canadian Grand Prix in Numbers

Statistics from the Canadian Grand Prix weekend

Total number of laps completed (by driver)

Nico Rosberg 166
Pastor Maldonado 164
Valtteri Bottas 163
Carlos Sainz 159
Marcus Ericsson 159
Lewis Hamilton 156
Sergio Perez 156
Daniil Kvyat 155
Kimi Raikkonen 155
Max Verstappen 154
Romain Grosjean 153
Nico Hulkenberg 153
Daniel Ricciardo 150
Felipe Nasr 149
Felipe Massa 144
Sebastian Vettel 138
Roberto Merhi 132
Will Stevens 132
Fernando Alonso 120
Jenson Button 117

Total number of laps completed (by team)

Mercedes 322
Lotus 317
Toro Rosso 313
Force India 309
Sauber 308
Williams 307
Red Bull 305
Ferrari 293
Manor 264
McLaren 237

Total number of laps completed (by engine manufacturer)

Mercedes (4 teams) 1255
Ferrari (3 teams) 865
Renault (2 teams) 618
Honda (1 team) 237

Number of race laps: 70
Number of safety cars: 0
Number of race starters: 20
Number of times race lead changed hands (includes pole sitter): 2
Number of different race leaders (excludes pole sitter if lead changes off the line): 2
Number of classified drivers: 17
Number of retirements: 3
Number of drivers on lead lap at chequered flag: 7
Number of teams scoring points: 6
Most places gained: Sebastian Vettel 13 (18th – 5th)
Number of visits to pit-lane: 28
…of which were pit-stops: 24
Stop/go penalties (added to pit-stop): 0
Drive through penalties: 1
Retirements in pit-lane: 3
Fastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen 1:16.987

Lewis Hamilton back on top at Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton was back on the top step of the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix, leading home another Mercedes 1-2. Valtteri Bottas completed the podium positions – his first since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton only briefly lost the lead of the race in the pit-stop phase but was never really challenged by Rosberg, who bemoaned a poor tyre choice in qualifying costing him the chance to take the fight to his team-mate for pole position. The Mercedes duo did not have a perfect run to the line with Hamilton being asked to conserve fuel while Rosberg was asked to conserve his brakes. They both made it and with a 30 plus second advantage over the Williams of Bottas, the victory was never in doubt.

Entertainment was provided by Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa fighting through the field. Mechanical issues had seen them both start near the back of the grid and both drivers went wheel to wheel with others to fight back to points scoring positions. Vettel eventually finished in fifth place – just behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – while Massa was just behind him in sixth. Raikkonen had enjoyed his best grid position of the year starting third but a spin cost him the chance to finish on the podium. He was able to continue but it cost him valuable time as Bottas passed him on track and he was not able to close the gap again.

Elsewhere there was some drama as Romain Grosjean and Will Stevens had a coming together. As they headed down the back straight towards the pit-lane, Grosjean pulled across on the Manor driver. Stevens’ front wing was damaged while Grosjean suffered a puncture and had to limp into the pits – surprising his team. Grosjean was given a five second post race penalty and had two points added to his licence.

Stevens’ team-mate Roberto Merhi suffered Manor’s first retirement of the year with a broken drive shaft. He was joined on the sidelines by Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on another difficult afternoon for McLaren-Honda. Alonso had been asked to save fuel and he had responded that he did not want to. He eventually retired due to a loss of power. Button lasted a bit longer but was brought into the pits to retire his car. He had already started at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty which also meant he had to take a drive through penalty within the first three laps, leaving him on the back foot.

Pastor Maldonado finished in seventh place to finally secure his first points of the season while Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth despite a trip across the high kerbs at the final chicane. He had been going wheel-to-wheel with Vettel and ended up spinning, but there was no contact between the pair. Daniil Kvyat finished ninth for Red Bull with Grosjean holding on to tenth despite his penalty.

2015: The Monaco Grand Prix in Numbers

Statistics from the Monaco GP weekend

Total number of laps completed (by driver)

Carlos Sainz 200
Lewis Hamilton 198
Nico Rosberg 197
Daniil Kvyat 181
Felipe Massa 178
Sergio Perez 178
Romain Grosjean 175
Sebastian Vettel 174
Nico Hulkenberg 173
Daniel Ricciardo 172
Max Verstappen 168
Valtteri Bottas 167
Felipe Nasr 161
Kimi Raikkonen 158
Will Stevens 157
Roberto Merhi 156
Jenson Button 155
Marcus Ericsson 151
Fernando Alonso 124
Pastor Maldonado 111

Total number of laps completed (by team)

Mercedes 395
Toro Rosso 368
Red Bull 353
Force India 351
Williams 345
Ferrari 332
Manor 313
Sauber 312
Lotus 286
McLaren 279

Total number of laps completed (by engine supplier)

Mercedes (4 teams) 1377
Ferrari (3 teams) 957
Renault (2 teams) 721
Honda (1 team) 279

Number of race laps: 78
Number of safety cars: 1
Number of race starters: 20
Number of times race lead changed hands (includes pole sitter): 1
Number of different race leaders (excludes pole sitter if lead changes off the line): 2
Number of classified drivers: 17
Number of retirements: 3
Number of drivers on lead lap at chequered flag: 14
Number of teams scoring points: 7
Most places gained: Carlos Sainz 10 (Pit-lane (20) – 10)
Number of visits to pit-lane: 33
…of which were pit-stops: 32
Stop/go penalties (added to pit-stop): 1
Drive through penalties: 0
Retirements in pit-lane: 1
Fastest lap: Daniel Ricciardo 1:18.063

Strategy blunder costs Hamilton victory as Rosberg notches up third Monaco win

Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix for the third year in a row following a costly mistake from his Mercedes team.

Lewis Hamilton secured pole position on Saturday and looked set for a lights to flag victory around the streets of Monte Carlo before a pit-stop error put paid to that. He ended up in third place behind Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

When the lights went out signalling the start of the race, Hamilton and Rosberg maintained their positions of first and second, while Vettel remained third. Daniil Kvyat locked up as he moved ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and came close to making contact with Vettel, but all emerged out of the first corner unscathed. There was contact further down the field between Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg at Mirabeau, the former of which picked up a five second stop/go penalty as the Force India ended up in the barrier. Hulkenberg was able to pit for a new nose and continued in the race but ultimately was on the back-foot and finished outside the points. Felipe Massa was another driver needing to pit after the first lap and he sounded desolate as he came over the team radio and said “it’s over”. He – as was the case with Hulkenberg – continued after his pit-stop but failed to score any points.

Pastor Maldonado may be ruing the day he selected ’13’ as his permanent driver number after the Lotus driver suffered more bad luck. He retired from the race after just six laps due to a brake-by-wire issue, which the team had initially tried to manage by asking him to lift and coast. He was joined on the sidelines by Alonso, who had already endured a difficult weekend when his car suffered electrical issues during qualifying. His issues on Sunday appeared to be gearbox related as his car overheated.

Following 64 laps of what was very much a procession there was drama after a close battle between Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean. Grosjean led the pair and Verstappen closed the gap to him, trying to find a way to overtake. The Toro Rosso driver had already encountered a long pit-stop earlier in the race and it looked like he may be able to salvage a point. As the pair approached Ste Devote Verstappen made heavy contact with the rear of the Lotus and was sent as a passenger into the barriers. It was a big impact but thankfully Verstappen was OK, reporting he was “a bit stiff” as he completed his post-race media interviews. He suggested that Grosjean had braked early, causing him to make the mistake, but the stewards ruled that Verstappen was at fault and he carries a five place grid drop to Canada as well as two penalty points on his licence.

The Virtual Safety Car was initially used to cover the incident however the real safety car was soon deployed and Hamilton’s race started to unravel. He had built up a lead of nearly 20 seconds to his team-mate, but a miscalculation from the team saw him brought into the pits for a new set of tyres. They didn’t have quite as much time in hand as they imagined and Rosberg and Vettel continued on past the pits. Vettel was ahead as they crossed the safety car line meaning Hamilton had to settle for third, primed for an overtake once racing was resumed. Vettel suggested to his team it was like “swimming with weights on my feet” in relation to his soft compound tyres – while Hamilton had taken on fresh super-softs – as they would struggle to get heat back into them after the safety car period.

When racing was resumed, Hamilton failed to find a way past Vettel, allowing Rosberg to build up a gap and cross the line to take his third Monaco victory in a row. In the championship, he now lies just ten points behind his team-mate. Behind the top three, Kvyat finished a career best fourth after Red Bull employed team orders to try and get on the podium. Ricciardo had been released to try and get amongst the top three, and he got close to Hamilton in third but was unable to pass. As had been agreed, he allowed Kvyat back past him at the final corner. Kimi Raikkonen finished in sixth, not happy with a move he described as being “not very nice” from Ricciardo who pushed him wide. The move was investigated but no further action was warranted. Sergio Perez finished an impressive seventh for Force India while Jenson Button finally secured McLaren’s first points of the season – four for finishing eighth. Rounding out the top ten were Felipe Nasr for Sauber and Carlos Sainz, who started from the pit-lane having been disqualified from qualifying for missing the weighbridge.

The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time.

2015: The Spanish Grand Prix in Numbers

Statistics from the Spanish Grand Prix weekend

Total number of laps completed (by driver)

Nico Rosberg 166
Max Verstappen 158
Felipe Massa 158
Carlos Sainz 157
Sebastian Vettel 153
Felipe Nasr 153
Kimi Raikkonen 148
Jenson Button 147
Lewis Hamilton 146
Nico Hulkenberg 142
Sergio Perez 140
Valtteri Bottas 140
Will Stevens 137
Roberto Merhi 126
Marcus Ericsson 125
Daniil Kvyat 120
Pastor Maldonado 117
Daniel Ricciardo 113
Romain Grosjean 109
Fernando Alonso 104
Susie Wolff 22
Jolyon Palmer 21
Raffaele Marciello 15

Total number of laps completed (by team)

Williams 320
Toro Rosso 315
Mercedes 312
Ferrari 301
Sauber 293
Force India 282
Manor 263
McLaren 251
Lotus 247
Red Bull 233

Total number of laps completed (by engine supplier)

Mercedes (4 teams) 1161
Ferrari (3 teams) 857
Renault (2 teams) 548
Honda (1 team) 251

Number of race laps: 66
Number of safety cars: 0
Number of race starters: 20
Number of times race lead changed hands (includes pole sitter): 4
Number of different race leaders (excludes pole sitter if lead changes off the line): 3
Number of classified drivers: 18
Number of retirements: 2
Number of drivers on lead lap at chequered flag: 6
Number of teams scoring points: 6
Most places gained: Sergio Perez 5 (18th – 13th)
Number of visits to pit-lane: 48
…of which were pit-stops: 46
Stop/go penalties (added to pit-stop): 0
Drive through penalties: 0
Retirements in pit-lane: 2
Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton 1:28.270