F1 2016: Malaysia Grand Prix Preview

Despite having been on the Formula One calendar since 1999, teams and drivers are heading into the unknown this weekend. The entire circuit has been resurfaced and a number of modifications have been made to corners including banking and elevation changes.

ircuit: Sepang International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.543km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:34.223 Juan Pablo Montoya 2004
Previous Malaysia winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (6 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Hard, Medium and Soft

The Malaysia Grand Prix has traditionally held an early spot in the calendar – usually after the Australian Grand Prix – but this year will host round 16 of the championship. Ferrari are the most successful team at the circuit and it was here last year that Sebastian Vettel took his maiden win for the Scuderia.

Lewis Hamilton won the race for Mercedes in 2014 and will be needing a win this weekend after seeing his team-mate win three in a row and take back his championship lead. Vettel has won the race on four occasions, Fernando Alonso three times, Kimi Raikkonen twice, Jenson Button & Hamilton once.

The Malaysia Grand Prix has a significant history for Alonso, Raikkonen and Button. In 2003 Alonso scored his first ever F1 podium at the track, Raikkonen took his first ever race win and Button joined them both on the podium for his first in F1. This weekend will also see Button’s 300th Grand Prix celebrated.

Drivers will be at full throttle for about 65% of the lap with about 57 gear changes per lap. There is a mix of medium and high speed corners and about 15% of the lap is spent braking. Pirelli have brought the hard, medium and soft compound tyres for the weekend and high tyre degradation is always a factor . Humid conditions can play a big part in the weekend with warmer conditions causing cooling problems.

Stoffel Vandoorne to partner Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2017

After months of increased speculation, McLaren have confirmed their driver line-up for 2017.

The Woking team has announced an “innovative three-driver strategy for the 2017 and 2018 Formula 1 seasons” which will see current reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne promoted to a race seat alongside Fernando Alonso.

While Jenson Button – who has raced with McLaren since 2010 – has signed a new two year deal with the team, he will take a backseat in 2017.

“As a race driver for our team these past seven seasons, he’s been superb, both on and off the track,” Ron Dennis said of Button. “And, as we’re seeing this season, he remains superb – not only fast and fit but also experienced and expert. He’ll start his 298th Grand Prix tomorrow; as such, he’s the most experienced driver on the grid. Having extended his contract to include 2017 and 2018, he’ll continue to be a senior, influential and committed member of the team, and will remain centrally involved in the development of our cars. He’ll also be available to race for us if circumstances require it.”

As expected, Alonso will continue as a race driver into 2017 and will be partnered by Vandoorne. Vandoorne deputised for the Spaniard at this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix and scored McLaren’s first point of the season with an impressive drive to tenth. He has been waiting in the wings for a couple of years and won the GP2 championship in 2015. This year has seen him race in Super Formula.

For Button, he does not view the news as a retirement. “I’m delighted that I’ll be staying on as a key member of the McLaren-Honda team,” he revealed. “I’m massively excited about my new role [and] specifically I’m looking forward to becoming even more deeply involved in the team’s efforts to bring about the success we’ve all been striving to deliver.”

“I love McLaren-Honda – I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with and I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team,” he continued. It had been suggested that he might be on his way to Williams – with whom he made his Formula One debut back in 2000 – to replace the retiring Felipe Massa. “To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. I’m contracted for both 2017 and 2018, I intend to work hard on car-development, and I’m sure I’ll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point.”

 

Button has enjoyed eight victories with McLaren to date along with 18 further podiums. His best finish in the championship with the team was 2nd in 2011. 201

 

 

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