Formula One heads stateside with the US Grand Prix in Austin this weekend.
With just four races remaining Nico Rosberg heads his team-mate by 33 points – more than a race win – with Mercedes having secured the constructors championship last time out in Japan.
Lewis Hamilton has won three of the four previous outings at the Circuit of the Americas and he was the winner of the 2007 US Grand Prix when it was held at Indianapolis for the last time. He will be hoping to win his first race since the German Grand Prix earlier this year.
Circuit: Circuit of the Americas
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.513km
Number of Corners: 20
Lap Record: 1:39.347 Sebastian Vettel 2012
Previous US GP (in Austin) winners still on the grid: 2
Most Successful Team: Mercedes (2 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft
The track has become a firm favourite amongst fans and drivers over the past four years due to its mixture of high and low speed corners, elevation changes, and ample overtaking opportunities.
The run to turn one is uphill meaning drivers arrive at the first corner blind. Drivers will reach top speeds of 340km/h with around 54 gear changes per lap. The first sector of the lap is fast and flowing while the second half of the lap features more low and medium speed corners.
Last year the weather conditions played a big part with torrential rain delaying qualifying until Sunday morning. Forecasts for this weekend look more promising and similar to the three other holdings of the US Grand Prix in Texas.
Rosberg is firmly in control of the championship with a 33 point lead over Hamilton. He has won nine races so far this season, including four of the last five. Hamilton is no stranger to overcoming points deficits to his team-mates however he is running out of time to do so. While Mercedes may have won the constructors, Red Bull have proven in the last few races that they can be a force to be reckoned with. Daniel Ricciardo won in Malaysia and has been on the podium at Austin before while Verstappen has finished second at the last two races. They now have a 50 point advantage over Ferrari. The battle between Force India and Williams remains close with Force India currently 10 points ahead of Williams. McLaren are pulling away from Toro Rosso while Haas are solidly eighth. Sauber are the only team yet to score in 2016.
Nico Rosberg celebrated his 200th Grand Prix in style with a win at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver secured pole position on Saturday and held off a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo to win the race. The victory – along with team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s third place – means that he now leads the championship once again, the lead up to nine points.
At the start of the race Rosberg maintained the lead, with fellow front row starter Ricciardo staying in second and Hamilton third. Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen had a slow start which triggered sequence of events which led to the safety car being deployed.
Carlos Sainz went to pass Verstappen off the line and as the pair got squeezed together, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg got caught up and spun across the track and into the pit-wall. Amazingly he did not collect any other drivers but the safety car was deployed to allow marshals to pick up debris over the track.
When racing resumed Rosberg pulled away at the front but both Mercedes had to deal with brake temperature issues throughout the race. Staying out on older tyres, Rosberg also had to deal with a charging Ricciardo on fresher tyres in the closing stages of the race. Ricciardo eventually ran out of laps – Rosberg’s advantage just four tenths of a second as they crossed the line at the end.
Hamilton was eight seconds further back in third, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth and Sebastian Vettel coming from the back to finish in fifth place. Verstappen was sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen.
Not for the first time this year Esteban Gutierrez missed out on points in 11th ahead of Felipe Massa, Felipe Nasr, Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer. Pascal Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Ocon were the last of the finishers.
Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas both picked up damage on the first lap – Bottas a rear puncture and Button significant front wing damage. Both cars retired later on in the race with mechanical issues, joining Hulkenberg in the list of retirees. Romain Grosjean compounded a difficult weekend by failing to start the race due to brake issues which came to light on the way to the grid.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore first appeared on the F1 calendar in 2008. It was the sport’s first ever night race and remains the only one still held completely under the lights at night.
Teams, drivers and personnel remain on European time to help them deal with the odd timings of the Singapore Grand Prix. Due to the length of the circuit – 23 corners, the most of any race this year – and the probability of safety cars, the race normally pushes the two hour limit and is a tough challenge for drivers.
Circuit: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Number of Laps: 61
Circuit Length: 5.065km
Number of Corners: 23
Lap Record: 1:50.041 Daniel Ricciardo (2015)
Previous Singapore Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 3
Most Successful Team: Red Bull (3 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft
As is the case with any street circuit, there are low grip levels and the average speed is the second lowest of any on the calendar – Monaco being the slowest. 45% of the lap is spent at full throttle with approximately 80 gear changes per lap.
Pirelli have brought the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyre compounds with the latter making its first appearance since the Austrian Grand Prix earlier in the year. Drivers will have to contend with degradation as well as the humidity and extra challenges a street circuit brings.
The 2015 race proved to be a weakness in Mercedes’ armour with Nico Rosberg finishing fourth and Lewis Hamilton failing to finish. They struggled in qualifying and were unable to match the Ferraris and Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. It was Sebastian Vettel who won the race for Ferrari with Ricciardo second and Kimi Raikkonen in third.
Last time out it was Rosberg who won, beating team-mate Hamilton who had a disappointing start to the race. Vettel was third ahead of Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. The result means that the gap between the top two in the championship stands at just two points, with Rosberg getting right back in contention with Hamilton.
Mercedes will be hoping to avoid the difficulties they suffered at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Elsewhere in the championship, Red Bull are ahead of Ferrari and they are a team who have won the modern Singapore Grand Prix more than anyone else. Ferrari have won it twice with other previous winning teams McLaren and Renault unlikely to win it this year.
Nico Rosberg has closed the gap at the top of the championship to just two points, following a win at the Italian Grand Prix.
It was his team-mate Lewis Hamilton who started from pole position but was slow away at the start, losing out to the Ferraris, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. Rosberg took the lead and was untroubled over the course of the race, eventually crossing the line with a 15 second advantage over Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel finished in third place – where he started – ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Ricciardo, and Bottas. Max Verstappen finished seventh ahead of Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa, with Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top ten and points finishers.
Everyone from Romain Grosjean in 11th down was lapped and there were 18 finishers from the 22 starters. Jenson Button enjoyed some battles throughout the race, having been forced wide at the start and dropping to the back of the pack. His fun included a pass on “cheeky monkey” team-mate Fernando Alonso who finished 14th. Esteban Gutierrez nearly stalled at the start but did get going eventually and finished in 15th place. Alonso put on a new set of tyres in the closing stages of the race and set the fastest lap on his way to 16th.
Carlos Sainz, Marcus Erisson, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon rounded out the finishers. Daniil Kvyat suffered another disappointment with another retirement along with Pascal Wehrlein. Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr both retired following an early accident with Nasr being apportioned the blame and a ten second penalty.
The Italian Grand Prix marked the end of the European season as the action now heads to Singapore.
Felipe Massa has announced his retirement from Formula One at a press conference in Monza.
The Brazilian driver – who made his debut in 2002 – has enjoyed a 14 year career in the sport racing for Sauber, Ferrari and Williams. He will retire from Formula One at the end of the 2016 season.
Veteran of 244 races (242 starts) Massa has enjoyed 11 wins, 41 podiums, and 16 pole positions over the course of his career to date. In 2008 he finished second in the world championship – his best result – narrowly missing out on being crowned champion by just a single point. He celebrated his 200th race at the British Grand Prix in 2014 and currently lies ninth in the all time list of race entries.
Making his debut in 2002, Massa started driving in Formula One for Sauber finishing 13th in the championship and scoring four points. In 2003 he took a year out from racing to become a Ferrari test driver – the start of his long term relationship with the Scuderia. He returned to a race seat with Sauber for 2004 and 2005 before making his debut with Ferrari as a race driver in 2006. He finished third in the championship and picked up his first two wins in the sport – at the Turkish Grand Prix and his home race in Brazil.
He raced with Ferrari for eight seasons – becoming one of just a handful of drivers to race over 100 Grand Prix for one team – racking up 139 races. He missed the latter half of the 2009 season after suffering a nasty accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he sustained a head injury. An errant spring came off the back of fellow countryman Rubens Barrichello’s car and hit Massa.
Massa made his return in 2010, finishing sixth in the championship. In 2014 Massa made the switch to Williams where his most recent podium came at last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
After his long spell at Ferrari it is apt he has announced his retirement at the Italian Grand Prix, home of the passionate Tifosi where ten years earlier Massa’s team-mate Michael Schumacher announced his own retirement. Massa may have never won the world championship but he has had a very successful Formula One career and hopefully he’ll be able to go out on a high.