Nico Rosberg saw Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead cut to just nine points by winning the Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton started from the back of the grid after a number of engine penalties but was able to take advantage of a safety car and red flag period to secure a podium finish. He finished behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
The start of the race was chaotic with a number of drivers getting themselves into difficulty. Max Verstappen – who started alongside Rosberg on the front row of the grid- bogged down at the start and as a result lost out to Kimi Raikkonen. Verstappen tried a move up the inside at the first corner but Sebastian Vettel squeezed the pair resulting in contact. Both Ferraris dropped to the back of the pack while Vetstappen picked up damage which Christian Horner suggested cost him 1.5 seconds a lap.
Elsewhere Carlos Sainz picked up an early puncture and as the tyre delaminated it got caught in his rear wing, causing damage and the car to spin. Pascal Wehrlein and Jenson Button were also casualties of the first lap as the Manor driver drove into the back of the McLaren. Marcus Ericsson started from the pit-lane but was forced to retire after just three laps following a gearbox failure.
The safety car was brought out following a huge shunt for Kevin Magnussen on the fifth lap. He lost control of his car at the top of Eau Rouge and the impact was such that his headrest came free from the car. Thankfully Magnussen was able to get out of the car unaided, however with a limp. After a trip to the medical centre and a local hospital Magnussen tweeted that he had a cut on his ankle but expected to be able to race in Monza.
A red flag was eventually brought out after about ten laps behind the safety car to allow marshals to properly fix the damaged barrier. The red flag stoppage benefited Fernando Alonso and Hamilton as they stayed out while most ahead of them pitted. This left Alonso fourth and Hamilton fifth, due to the McLaren driver having got ahead of the Mercedes at the start and leading him for the duration of the race so far.
When the race was restarted Rosberg was once again unchallenged at the front and he was able to drive his own race and win by 14 seconds. Ricciardo was second with Hamilton 27 seconds off his team-mate in third. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were fourth and fifth for Force India meaning that they have now moved into fourth in the championship ahead of Williams. Vettel fought back to sixth and finished ahead of Alonso, who showed some good pace to stay ahead of the Williams duo. Raikkonen split the Williams after passing Felipe Massa, having had spirited battles with Verstappen throughout the race.
Verstappen missed out on a points finish after finishing 11th. He was visibly aggrieved by the incident, driving aggressively against Raikkonen. The Finn at one stage came onto team radio to suggest that Verstappen’s “only interest” was running him off the track. One incident saw Raikkonen having to back right off on the Kemmel straight after a last minute change of position for Verstappen. Esteban Gutierrez finished 12th ahead of Romain Grosjean, Daniil Kvyat and Jolyon Palmer. Rookie Esteban Ocon finished 16th on his debut ahead of Felipe Nasr.
There is a quick turnaround with the Italian Grand Prix taking place this weekend.
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.
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.
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.
Mercedes led the way in the first three practice sessions ahead of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. Drivers going into the session with grid penalties were Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Verstappen got a ten place grid penalty for a component change while Grosjean got five places for a gearbox change. The McLaren duo went into qualifying with combined grid penalties of 105, meaning they will start at the back of the grid regardless.
Most drivers went out on the medium compound tyre at the start of the session, with Roberto Merhi, Felipe Nasr, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Ericcson and Will Stevens opting to use the softs straight away. Nico Rosberg’s first flying lap put him ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just under a tenth of a second. Sebastian Vettel slotted into third albeit six tenths of a second off the leading pair. Both McLaren drivers went out to complete laps, despite knowing they would be right at the back due to their penalties. Times started to fall as drivers switched to the option tyre with Force India moving to the head of the times with Sergio Perez. Hamilton soon returned to the top of the times, just a hundredth clear of Rosberg with Perez still within a tenth of a second of the Mercedes duo.
- Lewis Hamilton 1:48.908
- Nico Rosberg 1:48.923
- Sergio Perez 1:49.006
- Vallteri Bottas 1:49.026
- Carlos Sainz 1:49.109
- Sebastian Vettel 1:49.264
- Kimi Raikkonen 1:49.288
- Romain Grosjean 1:49.353
- Daniil Kvyat 1:49.469
- Nico Hulkenberg 1:49.499
- Marcus Ericsson 1:49.523
- Pastor Maldonado 1:49.568
- Daniel Ricciardo 1:49.664
- Felipe Massa 1:49.688
- Max Verstappen 1:49.831
- Felipe Nasr 1:49.952
- Jenson Button 1:50.978
- Fernando Alonso 1:51.420
- Will Stevens 1:52.948
- Roberto Merhi 1:53.099
Valtteri Bottas set the first flying lap of the session – a 1:49.678 – before quickly being dislodged at the top of the times by Lewis Hamilton with a 1:48.024. Nico Rosberg went faster still – the Mercedes team-mates once again separated by under a tenth of a second. Kimi Raikkonen came to a halt on track bringing out the red flag with eight minutes of the session remaining. Max Verstappen complained of a loss of power and looked like he wouldn’t be taking any further part in qualifying. There were a flurry of times at the end of the session, with Nico Hulkenberg dropping out of the top ten while his team-mate went fourth. The top thirteen drivers who set a lap time were separated by just over a second and a half, with sixth to eleventh covered by a tenth of a second setting up a close fought pole position shoot out.
- Nico Rosberg 1:47.955
- Lewis Hamilton 1:48.024
- Sebastian Vettel 1:48.761
- Sergio Perez 1:48.792
- Felipe Massa 1:48.806
- Pastor Maldonado 1:48.956
- Romain Grosjean 1:48.981
- Daniel Ricciardo 1:49.042
- Valtteri Bottas 1:49.044
- Carlos Sainz 1:49.065
- Nico Hulkenberg 1:49.121
- Daniil Kvyat 1:49.228
- Marcus Ericsson 1:49.586
- Kimi Raikkonen No Time Set
- Max Verstappen No Time Set
Going through to the pole position shoot out were both Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, both Williams, both Lotus, Daniel Ricciardo and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz. The Williams driver of Valtteri Bottas was first out on track for Q3, soon joined by Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Massa. Bottas once again set the first flying lap of the session – 1:48.567 – which was promptly beaten by Lewis Hamilton by over a second. Nico Rosberg was four tenths off his team-mate. Hamilton improved his lap-time and maintained pole position. Bottas secured third with Grosjean fourth before his five place grid drop. Perez ended the session fifth, with Ricciardo sixth, Massa seventh, Maldonado eighth, Vettel ninth and Sainz in tenth.
- Lewis Hamilton 1:47.197
- Nico Rosberg 1:47.655
- Valtteri Bottas 1:48.537
- Romain Grosjean 1:48.561
- Sergio Perez 1:48.599
- Daniel Ricciardo 1:48.639
- Felipe Massa 1:48.685
- Pastor Maldonado 1:48.754
- Sebastian Vettel 1:48.825
- Carlos Sainz 1:49.771
After 19 races it has come down to Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg for the 2014 Formula One World Championship. Mercedes have been a dominant force all year winning all but three races and wrapping up the constructors championship in Russia. Hamilton has a 17 point lead but with double points in play, it’s not over yet. While Hamilton has won ten races in 2o14 to Rosberg’s five, Rosberg has been the superior of the two in qualifying.
This will be the sixth holding of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, having made its debut in 2009. It has been won three times by Sebastian Vettel, once by Hamilton and once by Kimi Raikkonen. The grid will be slightly bigger than it was last time out in Brazil with Caterham returning to the grid following a successful crowd-funding initiative. Marussia had hoped to be joining them but will miss the race. Kamui Kobayashi will be driving for Caterham but his team-mate is currently unknown, with reports it could be Roberto Mehri or Max Chilton. Andre Lotterer, who made a one race appearance for Caterham at the Belgium Grand Prix, reportedly turned down the opportunity to race at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Abu Dhabi GP Stats
Circuit: Yas Marina Circuit
Number of Laps: 55
Circuit Length: 5.554km
Number of Corners: 21
Lap Record: 1:40.279 Sebastian Vettel 2009
Previous Abu Dhabi winners still on the grid: 3
Most Successful Team: Red Bull (3 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Soft and Supersoft
The race in Abu Dhabi is unique as it is the only race to run from day to night. It also features a mix 0f fast corners and long straights, with a twisty technical section. It can be a hard circuit to overtake at, as Fernando Alonso discovered in 2010 when he failed to pass Vitaly Petrov and lost out on the championship to Vettel who won the race. The race has only been won from pole position once, however, with three being won from second and once from fourth. Raikkonen won the race from fourth in 2012 at the end of his return season with Lotus.
For some drivers, the race will be significant for more than just being the last race of the season. For Vettel it will be the last race with Red Bull – the team with whom he won his four world championships. It is almost certain that Alonso will make way for Vettel at Ferrari although this has not been confirmed yet. Alonso is in turn expected to be announced as a McLaren driver for 2015, but the team revealed yesterday that there would be no announcement before the first of December. As a consequence of this, this could be Button’s final race in Formula One, with seats at other teams being filled up. Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil both do not have a seat for next year while Jean-Eric Vergne is still waiting to hear whether or not he will be retained by Toro Rosso next year. Sergio Perez is also expected to be confirmed as a Force India driver for a second year in due course.
Hamilton is going for his second world championship while Rosberg is hoping to secure his first. If Rosberg wins the race then he needs Hamilton to finish no higher than third. If Rosberg finishes second then Hamilton must finish fifth to win the title. If Rosberg finishes anywhere outside the top six then the title belongs to Hamilton.
After the summer break Formula One is ready to resume and where better than Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix.
A firm favourite amongst fans and teams alike, the 7.004km track has provided some spectacular racing over the years. Counting the iconic Eau Rouge, La Source and Les Combes amongst its features, the track provides a challenge like no others for the drivers. With average speeds of 230km/h Spa is a fast track and 70% of each lap is spent at full throttle. Another challenge which could give teams a dilemma is the weather. Due to the length of the track, quite often if it rains, it is raining at one side of the circuit before it reaches the other, making tyre choice imperative.
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: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (16 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft
At the head of the championship, Nico Rosberg leads team-mate Lewis Hamilton by eleven points. Hamilton has won at the Belgian Grand Prix before – 2010 – while Rosberg has not, but it is a race where the phrase ‘anything can happen’ normally does come true. Kimi Raikkonen is the most successful current driver at the track with four wins to his name – two with McLaren (2004 & 2005) and two with Ferrari (2007 & 2009). It will be interesting to see if the Finn can turn his disappointing season around at the track where he normally excels.
In terms of the track itself there have been new fences installed at turn one and there is improved drainage at turns one, two, four, eight, eleven, sixteen and seventeen.
Elsewhere there have been a couple of interesting announcements in the run up to this weekend’s race. 12 races into the 2014 Formula One season and there will be two rookies making their debut.
32-year old Andre Lotterer and 22-year old Alexander Rossi will drive for Caterham and Marussia respectively this weekend. Three times Le Mans winner Lotterer was confirmed by Caterham yesterday and will be driving in place of Kamui Kobayashi. Marussia made a late change to their line-up earlier this afternoon, announcing that due to “contractual issues” Max Chilton would be stepping aside with test driver Rossi being promoted to a race seat. Both are currently just one race deals at the minute.