FP2 in Bahrain sees Nico Rosberg top the times

Following a free practice session spent focusing on long runs and tyre evaluations, Mercedes returned to the top of the times in FP2.

Nico Rosberg lead the way just a tenth of a second faster than his team-mate. Earlier pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen ended the session third – continuing Ferrari’s impressive showing – four tenths down on Lewis Hamilton’s time. With a top 11 separated by under a second in FP1 the gap increased in FP2. The top eight were within a second while the gap to eleventh crept up to one and a half seconds.

Romain Grosjean returned to his car after Jolyon Palmer’s appearance in free practice one. The Frenchman – who scored his first points of the year in Malaysia – ended up 13th just behind the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. After grinding to a halt after just a few minutes in the first practice session, Jenson Button again came to stop early on. This time he managed three laps before stopping on the back straight. He did get out again later in the session, however, ending up 19th fastest and completing 15 laps.

A number of drivers struggled as the conditions turned from day to night. The lock-ups from earlier in the day continued while a number of drivers ran wide. In the closing stages of practice Sebastian Vettel picked up front wing damage as well as suffering from braking failure. He later apologised for hitting Sergio Perez which was what resulted from his brake failure. Raikkonen found himself in hot water, being investigated for not leaving the pit-lane correctly. He was reprimanded but no further action was taken.

Free practice two results:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:34.647 – 31 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.762 – 33 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.174 – 30 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:35.277 – 26 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.280 – 36 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:35.449 – 27 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:35.474 – 34 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:35.793 – 27 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:35.883 – 23 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:35.884 – 35 laps
  11. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.148 – 34 laps
  12. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.191 – 22 laps
  13. Romain Grosjean – 1:36.334 – 31 laps
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.471 – 32 laps
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.805 – 30 laps
  16. Max Verstappen – 1:36.917 – 26 laps
  17. Sergio Perez – 1:37.062 – 33 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:39.131 – 21 laps
  19. Jenson Button – 1:39.209 – 15 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.592 – 26 laps

Guy Martin wins third consecutive Ian Watson Trophy at Oliver’s Mount Spring Cup

Guy Martin won his third consecutive Ian Watson Trophy at Oliver’s Mount over the weekend while contesting the Spring Cup.

The Tyco rider was getting his first pure road racing taste of the team’s new BMW and he won the first leg of the Spring Cup itself on Saturday. In tricky conditions on Sunday he came fourth but it was enough to see him the overall winner of the Ian Watson Trophy, beating Ivan Lintin and Dean Harrison.

Lintin had a highly successful weekend on his racing debut for RC Express Racing. He was the overall class winner of the Junior A and Senior classes as well as finishing runner up in the Spring Cup and Super Lightweight classes. Elsewhere Michael Sweeney came out on top in the Spring Cup B class ahead of Davy Morgan and Adrian Harrison. Darren Cooper beat Ben Rea and Seamus Elliot in the Junior B standings while Paul Owen headed Nick Anderson and Adrian Haworth in the Lightweight class. James Cowton lead the Super Lightweight standings after a win and third place finish in the races, finishing ahead of Lintin and Adrian Harrison. The sidecar class was won by Conrad Harrison and Lee Patterson following a second place and race victory. Finally, Ryan Farquhar topped F1/F2 Classics, ahead of Peter Boast and David Bell. Full results can be found on the Oliver’s Mount Racing website.

The next road racing action takes place next weekend in Cookstown. The likes of William and Michael Dunlop will be in action, along with Jamie Hamilton, Derek McGee, and Maria Costello. #

Business as usual for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton leads home 1-2 in China

Lewis Hamilton has won the Chinese Grand Prix leading home another Mercedes 1-2 on the way. The race ended behind the safety car following Max Verstappen’s retirement on the pit straight with just two laps remaining. Sebastian Vettel rounded off the podium positions meaning that it has been Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, and Vettel on all three podiums so far this year.

Hamilton took an aggressive approach to the start of the race, angling himself on his grid slot to ensure he stayed ahead of Rosberg. He maintained the lead off the line with Vettel remaining in third. Kimi Raikkonen leap frogged both Williams drivers at the start, slotting into fourth behind his team-mate. Daniel Ricciardo did not enjoy such a good start, bogging down as he moved off the line. He dropped down to 17th and ended up amongst the McLaren drivers. Ricciardo then encountered a Groundhog Day type situation as he fought with Marcus Ericsson for position later in the race. He passed the Sauber driver at least twice before quickly losing the position again. He eventually made it stick and went on to fight with Ericsson’s team-mate Felipe Nasr for position.  It was not the most positive of days for Red Bull or Toro Rosso with one driver from each team retiring. Both Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen had a smoky end to their races as both their engines let go. Verstappen’s retirement came not long from the end – bringing out the late safety car – meaning he was still classified. Carlos Sainz nearly ended up on the sidelines as well following a gearbox issue but he was able to get going again.

Another retirement from the race was Nico Hulkenberg who had a gearbox problem early on, causing him to pull off at the side of the track. Pastor Maldonado also retired following an exciting race for him. He locked up on entry to the pit-lane but was able to get going again, later going on to have a spin. He then got involved in a feisty battle with Jenson Button and the pair made contact at Turn 1, allowing Button’s team-mate Fernando Alonso to pass them both. The incident was Button’s fault and Maldonado eventually retired following his adventures. Rear brake failure was the reason for his retirement.

At the front of the pack Vettel attempted to get the undercut by pitting before both Mercedes but ultimately it did not work. Raikkonen was frustrated by backmarkers – complaining over team radio for his team to get the slower cars out of the way. It would have been a frustrating moment for Alonso who was lapped by his former team-mate. Eventually Hamilton won under the safety car with his advantage wiped out, just ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean, Nasr, Ricciardo and Ericsson rounded out the points finishers. It was Lotus’ first points of the season and they were unlucky to miss out on Maldonado also picking up points following his retirement. McLaren got both cars to the end but Button faces a post race investigation for his collision with Maldonado. Sergio Perez finished just outside the points in 11th, being the only driver to use a three stop strategy. Both Manor cars also made the chequered flag although Roberto Merhi found himself under investigation after the race after failing to stay within the Safety Car delta time.

There was drama post race when the Mercedes duo failed to agree over an incident in the race. Rosberg had complained about Hamilton going too slowly and backing him into Vettel. Hamilton’s reply in the post race press conference was that it was not his responsibility to look after Rosberg’s race. The Mercedes animosity is no doubt set to rumble on as the pair go head to head once again for the title with Hamilton clearly having the upper hand at the early stage of the season.

There’s a quick turnaround following this weekend with teams and drivers travelling to Bahrain for the race next weekend.

Both Button and Merhi received five second penalties and two penalty points following investigations.

2015: Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying Report

Lewis Hamilton went into qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix as the form man, topping all three practice sessions before hand. Last time out’s race winners Ferrari have once again been the Silver Arrows closest rivals. Hamilton lead team-mate Nico Rosberg in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 3 while Kimi Raikkonen finished second in Free Practice 2.

Q1

Roberto Merhi was first out on track for the start of the session – closely followed by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard broke down on his out-lap in the third and final Free Practice session so was no doubt keen to make up for lost time by getting out early and checking everything was in working order. They were soon joined on track by the Toro Rosso duo and both Ferraris. Merhi set the first flying lap – a 1:44.911 – which was quickly beaten by Raikkonen by four seconds. Hamilton soon went fastest of all, two tenths faster than Rosberg. Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Nasr, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Raikkonen, Alonso, and Max Verstappen were the top ten after the first runs. The Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa went out with seven minutes left in the session for their first flying laps. Bottas was fastest of anyone with a 1:38.014, two tenths faster than Hamilton although on different tyre compounds. Mercedes were comfortable on the medium tyres while others went out on the soft. Massa slotted into third. Raikkonen then went fastest before being beaten by Vettel. There were a flurry of times at the end of the session which saw a number of drivers move up the order.

  1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:37.502
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.790
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.014
  4. Romain Grosjean – 1:38.209
  5. Lewis Hamilton – 1:38.285
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:38.387
  7. Felipe Massa – 1:38.433
  8. Nico Rosberg – 1:38.496
  9. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.521
  10. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.534
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.563
  12. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.622
  13. Sergio Perez – 1:38.903
  14. Marcus Ericsson – 1:38.941
  15. Daniil Kvyat – 1:39.051
  16. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.216
  17. Jenson Button – 1:39.276
  18. Fernando Alonso – 1:39.280
  19. Will Stevens – 1:42.091
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:42.842 

Q2

The Sauber drivers were first out on track for the start of Q2. Valtteri Bottas’ first effort saw him go fastest of three drivers before being beaten by Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver once again complained about his seat getting too hot. Another driver suffering a reoccurring issue from practice was Daniil Kvyat who complained about having no power on the straights. In the drop zone with two minutes remaining were Felipe Massa, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Kvyat, and Sergio Perez. Ericsson, Nasr, and Massa improved into the top ten pushing Pastor Maldonado, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz out. That meant both Mercedes, both Ferraris, both Williams’, both Saubers, a Red Bull and a Lotus were going through to the all important pole position shoot-out.

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:36.423
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:36.747
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:36.957
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.109
  5. Felipe Massa – 1:37.357
  6. Valtteri Bottas – 1:37.763
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.939
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.017
  9. Romain Grosjean – 1:38.063
  10. Marcus Ericsson – 1:38.127
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.134
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.209
  13. Max Verstappen – 1:38.393
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.538
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:39.290

Q3

The first flying lap of Q3 came from Valtteri Bottas and it was a 1:37.903 but it was quickly smashed by Lewis Hamilton who went over two seconds faster. Nico Rosberg’s time was two tenths slower than his team-mate while Felipe Massa was three tenths further back. Both Ferrari drivers were out on a set of used softs for their first runs – Kimi Raikkonen went fifth with a 1:37.906 while Sebastian Vettel was fourth with a 1:37.776. The Sauber duo of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson waited in the pits before going out for one run. All ten drivers took to the track for the last two minutes with new sets of tyres on their cars. Rosberg was last out of the garage, just behind Vettel, meaning he would be the last driver over the line to set a lap-time. Raikkonen’s lap was a scrappy one with the Finn having to wrestle the car round the corners. He improved to third but had to wait for everyone else to complete their laps. Bottas improved to third on his final flying lap while Hamilton did not improve on his provisional pole time. Massa went ahead of his team-mate while Vettel slotted into third. Rosberg was not able to improve enough ending up just four hundredths of a second behind Hamilton.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:35.782
  2. Nico Rosberg 1:35.824
  3. Sebastian Vettel 1:36.687
  4. Felipe Massa 1:36.954
  5. Valtteri Bottas 1:37.143
  6. Kimi Raikkonen 1:37.232
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 1:37.540
  8. Romain Grosjean 1:37.905
  9. Felipe Nasr 1:38.067
  10. Marcus Ericsson 1:38.158

Treble for Hamilton in Chinese Grand Prix free practice

After going fastest in both sessions on Friday, Lewis Hamilton completed his Chinese Grand Prix preparations by topping the times in the third and final practice session.

Having experienced a stiff challenge from Ferrari in Friday’s second free practice session, Mercedes went back to finishing in first and second as they did in FP1.  Hamilton finished up just two tenths of a second faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg. Ferrari continued to be the Silver Arrows’ closest rival ending the session in third and fourth.

Following positive running yesterday, when they finished 10th and 12th in FP2, McLaren had a disappointing FP3 when Fernando Alonso’s running came to an end on his out-lap. His car reportedly has an engine ignition problem which the team were positive of fixing before qualifying started. Team-mate Jenson Button ended the session 15th still two seconds back on Mercedes. Hamilton complained of his seat getting too hot – a problem he encountered on Friday – while Felipe Massa had to deal with smoke in the cockpit. Following Daniil Kvyat’s brake failure yesterday Red Bull suffered more brake problems but the team managed to finish fifth and sixth.

Hamilton’s run in the first half of the session was enough to see him top the times but he went faster still on the soft tyres, beating his team-mate’s best time. Sebastian Vettel’s best time was sixth tenths off the leading Mercedes while Kimi Raikkonen finished two tenths back from that. Daniel Ricciardo and Kvyat finished fifth and sixth ahead of Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean. In the latter half of the field Felipe Massa was 11th, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, – who complained about the tyre degradation during the session – Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and Button. Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez, Will Stevens, and Roberto Merhi rounded out the drivers to set a time.

Times from the third and final free practice session:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:37.615 – 14 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:37.841 – 16 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.313 – 17 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:38.512 – 16 laps
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.020 – 8 laps
  6. Daniil Kvyat – 1:39.106 – 14 laps
  7. Carlos Sainz – 1:39.113 – 17 laps
  8. Valtteri Bottas – 1:39.243 – 15 laps
  9. Max Verstappen – 1:39.274 – 19 laps
  10. Romain Grosjean – 1:39.405 – 14 laps
  11. Felipe Massa – 1:39.410 – 17 laps
  12. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.513 – 14 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.559 – 18 laps
  14. Felipe Nasr – 1:39.591 – 19 laps
  15. Jenson Button – 1:39.694 – 16 laps
  16. Pastor Maldonado – 1:39.766 – 16 laps
  17. Sergio Perez – 1:39.781 – 17 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:42.928 – 15 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:44.956 – 9 laps
  20. Fernando Alonso – No Time Set

2015: Chinese Grand Prix Preview

Following Mercedes’ routine 1-2 in Australia, the tables turned in Malaysia when Sebastian Vettel made the most of a different strategy to take a convincing victory. The Ferrari driver finished eight seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton with Vettel favouring a two stop strategy over Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s three.

Now all eyes turn to China to see if Ferrari’s win means there is a genuine threat to Mercedes’ domination or if circumstances on the day helped the Scuderia on their way to victory. While Vettel was winning, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen recovered from qualifying 11th to finish in fourth place. The rest of the top ten read like Noah’s Ark, with the two Williams drivers finishing next to each other ahead of two Toro Rossos and two Red Bulls. At the other end of the spectrum, Ferrari’s sparring partner of days gone past McLaren suffered a double DNF although Ron Dennis revealed last week that both engines would be used again in China. McLaren were buoyed during the race, however, to be fighting with other cars in the midfield. Roberto Merhi got the Manor car to the end of its first race but was the sole representative following a fuel pump problem on team-mate Will Stevens’ car.  Following the much depleted grid in Australia, Malaysia was a much better showing with 19 out of 20 cars making the start of the race – 15 of them made it to the chequered flag.

Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.451km
Number of Corners: 16
Lap Record: 1:32.239 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous China winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (4 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft

From the heat and humidity of Malaysia, Formula One moves on to the cooler climes of Shanghai. The Chinese Grand Prix has been on the F1 calendar since 2004 and provides teams the challenge of setting their cars up for long straights punctuated by a mixture of slow, medium and high speed corners. The track can also be particularly tough on the tyres and Pirelli have brought the soft and medium compound this weekend. In its 11 year history the race has been won by eight different drivers with just Hamilton and Fernando Alonso winning it more than once. Last year saw Hamilton lead from lights to flag, finishing ahead of his team-mate and Alonso in the Ferrari. It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest we could see Mercedes return to their winning ways this weekend but Ferrari have certainly put a cat amongst the pigeons by winning last time out. The championship is finely poised after two races – Hamilton leads by just three points from Vettel – but can Ferrari prevent another Silver Arrows 1-2 on Sunday?

Maiden win with Ferrari for Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia

Sebastian Vettel has won the Malaysia Grand Prix beating the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Vettel was one of only a few drivers who opted for a two stop strategy while most others went for three. He also stayed out during an early safety car while Mercedes stacked their cars in the pit-lane. The safety car was deployed due to a mistake made by Marcus Ericsson which saw him beached at Turn 1. He became the first retirement of the race and was later joined on the side lines by Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, and Pastor Maldonado. Both McLarens retired due to power unit problems – Alonso on lap 22 and Button on lap 43.

19 drivers started the race with Manor’s Will Stevens forced to sit out due to a fuel pump problem which also forced him to sit out qualifying. His team-mate Roberto Merhi made his first F1 Grand Prix start and he made it to the end of the race, albeit three laps down. Also finishing outside the points were the Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Both drivers picked up ten second stop/go penalties during the race for separate incidents. Hulkenberg made contact with Daniil Kvyat while Perez made contact with Romain Grosjean. It was another disappointing afternoon for Lotus who failed to get either car to the chequered flag in Australia. Maldonado retired with just nine laps left. Grosjean did finish but outside the points.

Up at the front Vettel finished 8.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton who in turn was 3.7 seconds ahead of Rosberg. Kimi Raikkonen recovered from an early puncture – caused by Felipe  Nasr who finished 12th – to finish an impressive fourth. Valtteri Bottas completed a late pass on team-mate Felipe Massa after the pair had made contact to finish fifth. Max Verstappen took his first F1 points with a seventh place finish, finishing ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz. The Toro Rosso pairing finished ahead of both Red Bull drivers who rounded out the top ten. Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo were both lapped by Vettel.