Nico Rosberg avoids chaos to win Belgian Grand Prix

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.

McLaren announce new partnership with Michael Kors

 

McLaren-Honda and Michael Kors have announced a new partnership.

Michael Kors will become the official lifestyle partner of the team and will feature on the team’s cars and the drivers’ overalls.

“Michael Kors and McLaren-Honda are pioneers in their respective spaces,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Michael Kors, John D. Idol said. “We firmly believe that McLaren-Honda is the right partner for our entry into the Formula 1 racing world. This is an exciting moment for us, especially as we continue to grow as a men’s lifestyle brand.”

 

McLaren’s Executive Chairman and CEO of McLaren Group Ron Dennis explained the reasoning behind signing the new deal. “Like McLaren, which has raced in Formula 1 all over the world for the past 50 years, Michael Kors is a truly international company, operating stylish and successful stores in some of the most prestigious cities in the world,” he said. “[These include] New York, Beverley Hills, Chicago, London, Milan, Paris, Munich, Istanbul, Dubai, Seoul, Tokoyo and Hong Kong.”

“Moreover, I firmly believe that the corporate cultures of both McLaren and Michael Kors encompass a common dynamism and adventurism , as well as a shared commitment to a similarly relentless pursuit of perfection,” he continued. “As such the two brands are extremely well suited to a long-term partnership. That brand fit is very important to both of us: both companies have built their reputations on being the very best at what they do, and, as we now march forward together, we’ll both become stronger still.”

In celebration of the launch of the partnership, Michael Kors has created a limited edition men’s leather jacket. The 50 specially produced black leather jackets will be sold exclusively on the men’s floor of the new Michael Kors London flagship store, while supplies last. The jackets will feature both the Michael Kors and McLaren logos, as well as a limited edition plaque with each piece’s unique production number.

 

“This partnership is about the convergence of style and speed which is inherent to both the Michael Kors and McLaren-Honda DNA,” Michael Kors explained. “There is an energy, sophistication and confidence to both of our brands, and we wanted to create a limited edition piece that spoke to that.”

Advantage Rosberg as he wins European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan

Having seen his lead slashed to just nine points in the last two races, Nico Rosberg took back the championship advantage with a win at the European Grand Prix.

It was the first race held at the Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan and it was Rosberg who took pole position before going on to win the race. He was never really challenged at the front and set the fastest lap on the way to his fifth win of the year.

Anticipation was high at the start of the race – as it is at any new circuit – with many expecting at least a safety car. All 22 drivers made it relatively unscathed through the first corner although there was some contact. There were no safety cars throughout the race and the four retirements came as a result of car failures, rather than driver errors.

Behind Rosberg it was Sebastian Vettel who finished second, finishing ahead of Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver had qualified in second but was demoted to seventh following a gearbox change as a result of an accident in free practice. He fought back and pulled off a late move on Kimi Raikkonen to secure his second podium of the season.

Raikkonen had picked up a five second penalty during the race due to crossing the white line on the entrance to the pit-lane. He had been running in third but without a five second gap to Perez in fourth, he would have dropped behind the Force India anyway. Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth having spent a lot of the race on the radio to his engineer complaining about a problem. Due to the radio bans – which restrict engineers from specifically telling their driver what to do – Hamilton was unable to fix the issue, and it eventually resolved itself. It was a day of damage limitation as he had started tenth following a qualifying crash.

Behind Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas was the leading Williams home ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg. Felipe Massa picked up the final point by finishing in tenth.

Jenson Button was just outside the points in eleventh with team-mate – and European Grand Prix ambassador – Fernando Alonso retiring with nine laps remaining. Felipe Nasr finished in twelfth ahead of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who had started from the pit-lane. Jolyon Palmer, Esteban Gutierrez, Marcus Ericsson and Rio Haryanto were the remaining race finishers.

Joining Alonso on the sidelines was Pascal Wehrlein who retired his Manor with brake issues. Both Toro Rossos endured suspension issues and were forced to retire – Daniil Kvyat in the first ten laps and Carlos Sainz after 30.

The result means Rosberg now has a 24 point lead over Hamilton as they head to Austria where Rosberg has won the last two races.

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: Monaco GP – Qualifying Times & Laps

Times

  1. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:13.622
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:13.791
  3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:13.942
  4. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:14.552
  5. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 1:14.726
  6. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:14.732
  7. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 1:14.749
  8. Sergio Perez – Force India – 1:14.902
  9. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 1:15.273
  10. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 1:15.363
  11. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 1:15.273
  12. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 1:15.293
  13. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:15.352
  14. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:15.385
  15. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:15.571
  16. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 1:16.058
  17. Marcus Ericcson – Sauber – 1:16.299
  18. Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 1:16.586
  19. Rio Haryanto – Manor – 1:17.295
  20. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 1:17.452
  21. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:22.467
  22. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – No Time Set

Laps

  1. Sergio Perez – Force India – 28
  2. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 26
  3. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 25
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 25
  5. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 24
  6. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 23
  7. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 23
  8. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 23
  9. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 22
  10. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 22
  11. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 22
  12. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 21
  13. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 21
  14. Felipe Massa – Williams – 19
  15. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 15
  16. Jenson Button – McLaren – 15
  17. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 12
  18. Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 12
  19. Rio Haryanto – Manor – 12
  20. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 12
  21. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 3
  22. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 1

 

Max Verstappen makes history with first Grand Prix victory

Max Verstappen became the youngest ever winner in Formula One history when he crossed the line first at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The 18 year old – who only swapped to Red Bull Racing from Toro Rosso in the lead up to Spain – held off Kimi Raikkonen to secure his first victory in the sport. Raikkonen, who has also raced against Max’s dad Jos Verstappen, is the oldest driver on the grid and led Ferrari’s charge on the day.

Sebastian Vettel joined Verstappen and Raikkonen on the podium on a day which saw Ferrari take over 30 points over Mercedes championship lead. The Mercedes duo, who had started first and second, made contact at the fourth corner resulting in them both retiring from the race. It was deemed to be a racing incident by the stewards with blame being apportioned to both drivers, rather than one in particular.

This left the door open for a fight for the lead which was contested by four drivers throughout the race – both Red Bull drivers and both Ferrari drivers. There was a mix in strategies as Verstappen and Raikkonen made a two stop work and held on on older tyres at the end. Vettel and Ricciardo on the other hand went for three stops which left them unable to close the gap to their team-mates.

Thankfully for Ricciardo they had built up enough of a gap to Valtteri Bottas in fifth, meaning he was able to pit following a puncture in the closing stages of the race.

On a day when his former team-mate was vindicating the early team switch, Carlos Sainz also impressed with a sixth place finish. He had run third in the opening stages of the race as well entertaining his fans at his home race. Sergio Perez picked up more points for Force India ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button. Daniil Kvyat set the fastest lap of the race on his way to tenth on his first race back at Toro Rosso.

Outside the top ten were Esteban Gutierrez and Jolyon Palmer with Felipe Nasr 14th. Kevin Magnussen was penalised ten seconds after forcing his team-mate off the track on the final lap. Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto were the final two classified finishers.

Romain Grosjean was just one of five retirements, while a software issue brought Fernando Alonso’s home race to a disappointing end. Nico Hulkenberg pulled off at the side of the track with a smoking car. The Mercedes duo were the first two retirements and their incident brought out an early safety car.

Nico Rosberg avoids drama to be victorious in China

Nico Rosberg has won the third race of the season.

The Mercedes driver – who now has a 36 point lead over nearest rival, and team-mate, Lewis Hamilton – kept out of trouble while those around him tripped over each other. He started on pole position and initially lost the lead to Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo picked up a puncture early on and dropped down the order but fought back to finish in fourth place behind Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat. At the start of the race there was contact between the Ferrari pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel. The latter was clearly aggrieved about the incident, putting the blame on Kvyat who he felt was a “torpedo” into the first corner.

The move caused Vettel to turn to the left, pitching Raikkonen into a semi spin and causing the Finn to get significant front wing damage. He had to pit for a new nose while Vettel dropped down the order. The contact had a knock on effect as further down the pack Felipe Nasr swerved to avoid getting collected which in turn caused him to make contact with Hamilton, who lost his front wing. Hamilton had started at the back of the grid after suffering engine problems in qualifying and taking a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

After the chaos of the first few laps the safety car was deployed to enable the marshals to pick up the debris strewn across the track. It was a day of recovery as those involved in the drama had to change their strategies to fight back through the order. Raikkonen recovered to fifth place while Hamilton finished in seventh although just ahead of Max Verstappen. The Toro Rosso driver changed his tyres late in the race to the Super Soft but ran out of laps to catch and pass the Mercedes driver who was on older tyres.

Elsewhere both Williams drivers finished inside the points – Felipe  Massa sixth and Valtteri Bottas tenth – with Carlos Sainz in ninth.

All 22 drivers saw the chequered flag with Sergio Perez first of those outside the points. Behind him came Fernando Alonso, – who had ran as far up the order as third after the safety car – and Jenson Button. Esteban Gutierrez took his first finish of the year in 14th with Nico Hulkenberg 15th and Marcus Ericsson 16th. Kevin Magnussen finished in 17th with Pascal Wehrlein 18th and Romain Grosjean a disappointing 19th. Felipe Nasr, Rio Haryanto and Jolyon Palmer rounded out the last few places.

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