Lewis Hamilton leads the way in Bahrain FP3

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the third and final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari set the early pace with FP1 pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen leading his team-mate my two tenths of a second on the medium compound tyres. Later on the in the session drivers put on the soft tyres and Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest lap – five tenths faster than Raikkonen’s effort. This was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg – nearly a second and a half faster – with Felipe Massa slotting into second. The order continued to change with Lewis Hamilton topping the times and Sebastian Vettel was just six hundredths off his pace.

As had been the case in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 a number of drivers struggled with lock-ups and running deep in the braking zones. Vettel complained that his DRS was not working when he first went out on track while Jenson Button bemoaned a lack of rear grip. A bit from the rear of Pastor Maldonado’s car fell off, leaving a bit of debris on the track, while Carlos Sainz struggled with power issues.

Daniil Kvyat’s session came to an apparent early end when he spun his car and ended up beached in the gravel after 30 minutes. His mechanics got the car ready to go again and he got out with a couple of minutes left to get a soft tyre run in. The incident was initially covered by a yellow flag but a red flag was brought out to allow marshals to recover the car. It was a brief five minute red flag period and cars wasted no time in getting out again for the restart. Fernando Alonso was one of the first drivers out having had extensive work carried out on his car to fix a broken sensor.

Free practice three times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.599 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:34.668 – 14 laps
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:34.968 – 16 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.141 – 13 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.393 – 18 laps
  6. Felipe Massa  – 1:35.471 – 15 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:36.307 – 14 laps
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:36.335 – 8 laps
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.421 – 13 laps
  10. Felipe Nasr – 1:36.429 – 18 laps
  11. Jenson Button – 1:36.488 – 14 laps
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:36.548 – 7 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.612 – 17 laps
  14. Max Verstappen – 1:36.684 – 11 laps
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:36.727 – 14 laps
  16. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.899 – 11 laps
  17. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.979 – 14 laps
  18. Romain Grosjean – 1:37.151 – 17 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:39.745 – 12 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.541 – 14 laps

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

Kimi Raikkonen leads Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain FP1

Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest man in the first practice session ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Finn – who has impressed at the circuit before but never won – was two tenths faster than his team-mate by the end of FP1. The top 11 were within one second of the Ferrari pace with Valtteri Bottas half a second down on his fellow countryman’s pace.

A green track saw a number of drivers struggling to stop at corners and lock-up. The conditions in FP1 are also not representative of the rest of the weekend as the race goes from day to night while free practice takes place earlier in the day and therefore much warmer conditions. In the first thirty minutes of action – in which the drivers have an additional set of tyres which they must return after that time – Raikkonen lead the way from Vettel, Bottas, Daniil Kvyat, Marcus Ericsson and Sergio Perez.

It wasn’t all straight forward for the pacesetters as Vettel complained of a loss of power halfway into the session. With half an hour to go the timing screens showed Max Verstappen fastest ahead of Fernando Alonso, Perez, Pastor Maldonado and Raikkonen. Alonso ended the session seventh for McLaren while team-mate Jenson Button spun just three minutes into the session and failed to get out again. Vettel did get out in his car following his problems, however, as Raikkonen improved his time. Jolyon Palmer was in action for Lotus and finished just four tenths off team-mate Maldonado. Elsewhere the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg focused on long runs and tyre evaluation.

Free Practice 1 times:

  1. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.827 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.029 – 12 laps
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.390 – 23 laps
  4. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.447 – 14 laps
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.455 – 17 laps
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:38.504 – 22 laps
  7. Fernando Alonso – 1:38.598 – 18 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.628 – 17 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.661 – 17 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:38.790 -21 laps
  11. Sergio Perez – 1:38.793 – 15 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.842 – 23 laps
  13. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.187 – 20 laps
  14. Jolyon Palmer – 1:39.281 – 31 laps
  15. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.293 – 23 laps
  16. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.532 – 22 laps
  17. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.534 – 21 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:42.973 – 12 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:44.265 – 15 laps
  20. Jenson Button – No Time Set – 2 laps

2015: Bahrain Grand Prix Preview

In the first back-to-back races of the year, the Formula One circus has moved on to Bahrain after the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend.

Following Ferrari’s time at the top of the podium in Malaysia it was business as usual for Mercedes in China as they recorded a 1-2 finish. There were post-race rumblings of another falling out between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as the latter accused the race winner of holding up his progress by driving too slowly. Both made their feelings perfectly clear in post race interviews and things are set to heat up again in Bahrain, where Hamilton won last year. It was yet another Mercedes 1-2 with Force India’s Sergio Perez finishing 20 seconds behind them on the podium.

Whilst Mercedes once again dominated proceedings in China – both on and off the track – Ferrari were the team closest to them, finishing third and fourth. They were followed by the two Williams, Romain Grosjean scoring his and Lotus’ first points of the year, Felipe Nasr, Daniel Ricciardo and Marcus Ericsson. At the back of the field there were reasons to celebrate for both Manor and McLaren as both teams got two drivers to the finish. Jenson Button was handed a five second post-race penalty following a collision with Pastor Maldonado, meaning McLaren were classified 12th and 14th. Manor were classified 15th and 16th of 17th classified finishers, although Max Verstappen pulled off four laps before the end of the race.

Bahrain Stats

Circuit: Bahrain International Circuit
Number of Laps: 57
Circuit Length: 5.412km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:31.447 Pedro de la Rosa (2005)
Previous Bahrain winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (4 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft

Bahrain has been on the Formula One calendar since 2004. It has been held on ten occasions having been cancelled in 2011 due to political unrest. It hasn’t always been in the current format either. In 2010 the race flirted with a longer endurance circuit but it reverted to the Grand Prix circuit for 2012 onwards. The Bahrain Grand Prix became a twilight race in 2014 – starting in daylight and ending in darkness.

Due to the differences in conditions teams and drivers have a lot to take into consideration when setting up the cars. There will be a discrepancy between temperatures during the ‘day’ and ‘night’ parts of the race, resulting in changes in balance and grip levels. It is also a track which gives brakes a good workout as there are a number of slow-speed corners at the end of straights. Qualifying has proven to be of particular importance in Bahrain in the past with the race having never been won from further back than fourth on the grid. Ferrari challenged Mercedes in China during qualifying but ultimately the Silver Arrows came out on top. Rosberg narrowly missed out on pole position, taking the fight to his team-mate.

It is a race where Kimi Raikkonen has performed well in the past but never won. Most recently he finished on the podium for Lotus in 2012 and 2013. He is yet to get a podium in 2015 but has finished in fourth. He has encountered problems, including a loose wheel which forced him to retire from the Australian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel has been demonstrating what the Ferrari is capable – being the only driver to so far beat a Mercedes this year – so Raikkonen could be one to watch out for this weekend. For Grosjean – who has also finished on the Bahrain podium – it will be an opportunity to maintain the momentum from last weekend when he got his first points of the season. McLaren will be hoping to build on the progress they made by getting both cars to the finish and they are set to turn their engines up a bit more for this weekend ahead of further updates in Spain. Red Bull and Toro Rosso both had engine problems in China while Maldonado retired following rear brake failure and an accident with Button who collided with the Lotus driver.

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.

Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton in Malaysia final practice

Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the weekend so far in third and final practice ahead of the Malaysia Grand Prix.

He was just under two tenths clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton who in turn was four tenths ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen lost out on some running after getting a puncture early in the session and he set his best lap with just five minutes of the session remaining. The Finnish driver was in turn just a couple of hundredths ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

When the session went green a number of drivers including Jenson Button, Will Stevens and both Lotus drivers took to the track for installation laps. Temperatures were hot and a lot of drivers struggled with front tyres locking. Drivers were also complaining to their engineers about tricky car handling. At the rear of the times Roberto Merhi was within 107% but team-mate Will Stevens was outside the necessary time. There were plenty of close battles up and down the order, including between team-mates. While Mercedes are still ahead Ferrari appear to be closer while Williams are still close behind them. The times around the drop zone between Q3 and Q2 were also close with the likes of Force India and McLaren fighting for position.

Free practice three times:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.690 – 13 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.874 – 10 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.245 – 9 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.266 – 13 laps
  5. Felipe Massa – 1:40.391 – 14 laps
  6. Valtteri Bottas – 1:40.406 – 15 laps
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:40.590 – 19 laps
  8. Carlos Sainz – 1:40.601 – 19 laps
  9. Max Verstappen – 1:40.989 – 18 laps
  10. Marcus Ericsson – 1:41.200 – 19 laps
  11. Romain Grosjean – 1:41.206 – 16 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:41.592 – 18 laps
  13. Daniil Kvyat – 1:41.776 – 14 laps
  14. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:41.804 – 15 laps
  15. Fernando Alonso – 1:41.991 – 13 laps
  16. Sergio Perez – 1:42.100 – 14 laps
  17. Felipe Nasr – 1:42.117 – 18 laps
  18. Jenson Button – 1:42.319 – 13 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:46.647 – 9 laps
  20. Will Stevens – 1:47.059 – 6 laps

2015: Formula One Fact-File

On the eve of the first practice session of the 2015 season here is The H Duct’s annual Formula One Fact-File.

Teams and Drivers

Remaining with 2014 teams: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, and Romain Grosjean (11/20)

Moving to a new team for 2015: Daniil Kvyat, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson, and Will Stevens (5/20)

Returning to a former team: N/A

Rookies: Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen, Felipe Nasr, and Roberto Merhi (4/20)

Returning to Formula One: N/A

Who’s missing?: Adrian Sutil (2015 plans not yet confirmed, has been linked to WEC), Esteban Gutierrez (test and reserve driver for Ferrari), Jean-Eric Vergne (test and reserve driver for Ferrari – in particular simulator work; Formula E driver for Andretti Autosport), Jules Bianchi (remains in a coma in France following his accident at the Japanese Grand Prix), Max Chilton (driving in WEC for Nissan Motorsport), and Kamui Kobayashi (Team LeMans driver in Super Formula).

Statistic pages for all 20 drivers are available.

Milestones

No significant race milestones in 2015.

Nico Rosberg and Toro Rosso are both entering their 10th season in the sport.

Ages
(Ages specified are correct as of 12th March 2015)

Oldest driver: Kimi Raikkonen (35 years 4 months 23 days)
Youngest driver: Max Verstappen (17 years 5 months 10 days)
Oldest driver pairing: McLaren (63 years 9 months 1 day)
Youngest driver pairing: Toro Rosso (37 years 11 months 21 days)

Driver Ages 1 Driver Ages 2

*When drivers ages were added together, a month was taken as 31 days

Experience
(in terms of races entered)

Most experienced driver: Jenson Button (268 races)
Least experienced driver: Felipe Nasr, Roberto Merhi, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr (0 races – rookies)
Least experienced driver (excluding rookies): Will Stevens (1 race)
Most experienced driver pairing: McLaren (504 races)
Least experienced driver pairing: Toro Rosso (0 races)

  • Jenson Button – 268 races entered – debut in 2000
  • Fernando Alonso – 236 races entered – debut in 2001
  • Kimi Raikkonen – 213 races entered – debut in 2001
  • Felipe Massa – 212 races entered – debut in 2002
  • Nico Rosberg – 166 races entered – debut in 2006
  • Lewis Hamilton – 148 races entered – debut in 2007
  • Sebastian Vettel – 139 races entered – debut in 2007
  • Sergio Perez – 77 races entered – debut in 2011
  • Nico Hulkenberg – 77 races entered – debut in 2010
  • Pastor Maldonado – 77 races entered – debut in 2011
  • Daniel Ricciardo – 69 races entered – debut in 2011
  • Romain Grosjean – 64 races entered – debut in 2009
  • Valtteri Bottas – 38 races entered – debut in 2013
  • Daniil Kvyat – 19 races entered – debut in 2014
  • Marcus Ericsson – 16 races entered – debut in 2014
  • Will Stevens – 1 race entered – debut in 2014
  • Felipe Nasr – 0 races entered – debut in 2015
  • Max Verstappen – 0 races entered – debut in 2015
  • Carlos Sainz Jr – 0 races entered – debut in 2015
  • Roberto Merhi – 0 races entered – debut in 2015
  • McLaren – Jenson Button & Fernando Alonso – 504 races entered
  • Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen & Sebastian Vettel – 352 races entered
  • Mercedes – Nico Rosberg & Lewis Hamilton – 314 races entered
  • Williams – Felipe Massa & Valtteri Bottas – 250 races entered
  • Force India – Sergio Perez & Nico Hulkenberg – 154 races entered
  • Lotus – Romain Grosjean & Pastor Maldonado – 141 races entered
  • Red Bull – Daniel Ricciardo & Daniil Kvyat – 88 races entered
  • Sauber – Marcus Ericsson & Felipe Nasr – 16 races entered
  • Manor – Will Stevens & Roberto Merhi – 1 race entered
  • Toro Rosso – Max Verstappen & Carlos Sainz Jr – 0 races entered

Newcomers

There are four rookies on the 2015 grid but who are they and where did they come from?

Felipe Nasr – Sauber: 22 year old Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr was 3rd in the GP2 championship last year. He made his single seater debut in 2008 in Formula BMW, winning the European championship in 2009. He also won the British Formula 3 championship in 2011 before stepping up to GP2 in 2012.

Max Verstappen – Toro Rosso: Max Verstappen is the son of former Grand Prix driver Jos Verstappen and is set to become the youngest rookie in Formula One history when he takes part in the Australian Grand Prix. He only made his single seater debut last year after a successful time in karting. He finished third in the Formula 3 championship and made a successful test debut for Toro Rosso last year.

Carlos Sainz Jr – Toro Rosso: Another son of a racing driver, Carlos Sainz Jr has been part of the Red Bull Junior Team for a number of years. He won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship last year and in the past has also won the Formula Renault 2.0 title. He had been in the running for the Toro Rosso seat in 2014 but lost out to Daniil Kvyat. When Vettel made the move to Ferrari, and Kvyat was promoted, it left an opening for Sainz at Toro Rosso.

Roberto Merhi – Manor:  A late addition to the 2015 grid, Roberto Merhi is another Formula Renault 3.5 graduate. He finished third in the 2014 championship having won the Formula 3 Euro Series title the year before. He had a brief stint in DTM in 2012 and 2013 before returning to single seaters the following year. Manor only recently confirmed their return to Formula One and Merhi was announced on the week of the first race.

Engine Suppliers

Mercedes: Mercedes/Williams/Force India/Lotus*
Ferrari: Ferrari/Sauber/Manor**
Renault: Red Bull/Toro Rosso*
Honda: McLaren*

* new partnership for 2015
** 2014 engines

Calendar

The 2015 season will run from 15th March to the 29th November, starting in Australia and ending in Abu Dhabi. On their trip around the world the paddock will visit 20 countries.

The Mexican Grand Prix is a new addition to the calendar.

2014

Mercedes were a dominant force last season, winning 16 of 19 races and taking pole position at 18 out of 19 races. Lewis Hamilton was the eventual champion after beating team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Daniel Ricciardo was the only other driver to win a race last year. Other drivers to feature on the podium were Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button, and Sergio Perez. Mercedes and Red Bull both had 32 points finishes. Marussia picked up their first ever points when Jules Bianchi finished ninth at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Technical and Sporting Regulations