Lewis Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi GP as Nico Rosberg becomes World Champion

Lewis Hamilton has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but it was not enough to prevent Nico Rosberg becoming world champion.

Rosberg held off a late charge from Sebastian Vettel – who finished third – to become 2016 world champion. Hamilton backed his team-mate into the chasing pack, despite numerous calls from the pit wall to pick up his pace, but Rosberg was able to remain in second place. He crossed the line just four tenths off his team-mate with Vettel just four tenths further back on him.

Max Verstappen recovered from a lap one spin to make a different strategy work to finish in fourth, ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Kimi Raikkonen was a distant sixth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Felipe Massa ended his F1 career with two points ahead of Fernando Alonso who finished in tenth.

Romain Grosjean finished in 11th place ahead of team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, Esteban Ocon, and Pascal Wehrlein. Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and a penalised Jolyon Palmer were the remaining finishers. Palmer was given a five second time penalty for crashing into Carlos Sainz and ending his race.

Joining Sainz on the sidelines were team-mate Daniil Kvyat, Valtteri Bottas, and Kevin Magnussen. Jenson Button suffered disappointment on his last Grand Prix appearance when his front suspension broke, bringing a premature end to his race.

At the front, defiant Hamilton backed his team-mate into the chasing pack but Rosberg withstood the pressure and finished where he needed to to become world champion. It is 34 years since his father Keke Rosberg won the world championship and they become one of only two father-son world champions. The other father-son world champions are of course Graham and Damon Hill.

 

F1 2016: Abu Dhabi GP Preview

After 20 races, the championship will be decided at the final round in Abu Dhabi. The race at the Yas Marina Circuit will see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg go head-to-head for the 2016 title.

Rosberg is the driver with the advantage holding a 12 point lead over team-mate Hamilton. This means that reigning champion Hamilton must finish in the top three to win the championship, but even at that it will still be in Rosberg’s hands. If Hamilton wins the race Rosberg must be third to be champion. If Hamilton is second then Rosberg can finish any position down to 6th and if Hamilton is third then Rosberg can finish no lower than eighth.

Circuit: Yas Marina Circuit
Number of Laps: 55
Circuit Length: 5.554km
Number of Corners: 21
Lap Record: 1:40.279 Sebastian Vettel (2009)
Previous Brazil winners still on the grid: 4
Most Successful Team: Red Bull (3)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft, and Ultrasoft

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a day to night race which starts at twilight and ends under the lights. It is a circuit which features a mix of long straights, heavy braking zones, and fast and slow corners. The three sectors are very distinct and overtaking is possible. There are two DRS zones and grip levels are medium. Track temperatures drop during the race due to conditions going from day to night.

Rosberg won the race in 2015 but suffered heartbreak in 2014 when his car suffered mechanical issues when he was fighting for the championship. Hamilton has won the race in 2011 and 2014, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen winning the four other runnings of the Abu Dhabi GP.

This weekend will also mark the end of Felipe Massa’s F1 career as he retires. Jenson Button had been set to take a sabbatical, with a possible return to race in 2018, however he has recently said he is treating this weekend like his last Grand Prix. Between them they have entered 558 Grand Prix – Button is the third most experienced F1 driver of all time. They will both be missed in the F1 paddock and will be hoping for a good race to sign off their careers.

F1 2016: Brazilian GP Preview

The 2016 Formula One grid features five world champions – Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, and Sebastian Vettel. All five have won one or more of their championships at Brazil and this weekend could see a new champion crowned in the form of Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg currently has a 19 point lead over team-mate and a victory in Sao Paulo will see him become World Champion, regardless of what Hamilton does. There are a number of other ways that Rosberg can become champion as well but he can’t win it if Hamilton wins the race.

Circuit: Autodromo José Carlos Pace
Number of Laps: 71
Circuit Length: 4.309km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:11.473 Juan Pablo Montoya 2004
Previous Brazil winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: McLaren (12 victories)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Hard, Medium and Soft

The Autodromo José Carlos Pace features a number of elevation changes and a number of bumps making it a unique challenge for teams and drivers alike. Throw in often mixed weather conditions and some areas with little run off area and it normally throws up an exciting race. The race no longer hosts the final race of the season – that will be held in Abu Dhabi – but this year’s championship can still be won there as it has so many times before.

It is quite a flowing track meaning that brake wear is low while there is a high demand on ERS deployment. Drivers will change gear approximately 42 times per lap and will sit at full throttle for 60%. It is quite a short circuit meaning drivers will circulate 71 times during the race. There is also a high possibility of safety cars.

In the run up to this year’s race a number of pieces of the 2017 jigsaw have fallen into place. Renault have confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will remain next season to partner Nico Hulkenberg. Kevin Magnussen is expected to sign for Haas – with Esteban Gutierrez recently confirming his departure from the team. Esteban Ocon will move from Manor to Force India to partner Sergio Perez. This leaves just Sauber and Manor to confirm their driver line-ups for next year.

In qualifying, a few teams still have finely poised head-to-head battles between their drivers. In the qualifying head-to-heads Hamilton, Vettel, and Hulkenberg all lead their mates 10-9 so with two races remaining can still be beaten.

This weekend will also be special for Felipe Massa as he prepares to retire from Formula One at the end of the year. He has won his home race once before – a bittersweet victory in 2008. He crossed the line in first and for a few seconds he had done enough to win the world championship, until Lewis Hamilton did enough to become champion by finishing fifth. It was a highly emotional podium for Massa in front of his home crowd which he handled with dignity. It would be a fitting end to his career to have one last podium at home.

 

Lewis Hamilton takes 50th career victory with win in Austin

With Nico Rosberg firmly in control of the drivers championship, Lewis Hamilton really needed a win to reignite his fight.

He took a controlled victory at the Circuit of the Americas, beating Rosberg by four seconds and taking seven points out of his lead. It was Hamilton’s 50th career victory in F1 and at a circuit where he has won three times previously.

Hamilton took pole position on Saturday and was never really challenged for the lead of the race. Daniel Ricciardo got the jump on Rosberg at the start but the championship leader was able to come back at the Red Bull driver to finish second. Ricciardo had to settle for a distant third when his strategy was compromised by his team-mate’s retirement.

Sebastian Vettel finished in fourth for Ferrari ahead of a spirited Fernando Alonso in fifth. The Spaniard had qualified outside the top ten but drove a superb race to finish in the points. He went wheel to wheel with Felipe Massa which eventually led to a stewards investigation due to contact but ultimately no action was taken. In the closing laps of the race he also fought hard with fellow countryman Carlos Sainz who lost out to his childhood hero in the end. Sainz finished in sixth place ahead of Massa, Sergio Perez, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean. Button and Grosjean had both dropped out of qualifying in Q1 but enjoyed good races to pick up some points.

Daniil Kvyat was 11th, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer, Marcus Ericsson, and Felipe Nasr. Valtteri Bottas didn’t recover from an early puncture, eventually finishing 16th, ahead of the Manor duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.

Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire when he left the pits with a tyre not secured properly. Max Verstappen was also a retirement when he suffered transmission issues having already had a pit stop blunder during the race. He pitted when his crew were not ready for him – claiming to have thought that the team had called him in. While that cost him a lot of time, it was ultimately a car failure which led to his retirement. He pulled off at an awkward part of the track which led to the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car which in turn hampered Ricciardo’s strategy. Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg were the other retirements.

Daniel Ricciardo leads home Red Bull 1-2 in Malaysia

This year’s Malaysia Grand Prix saw Daniel Ricciardo score his first F1 victory since the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.

The Australian driver led home a Red Bull 1-2 with Nico Rosberg rounding out the podium finishers. It was an eventful race which saw Rosberg extend his championship lead to 23 points. Championship contender Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying and started the race from pole but his Mercedes engine gave up on lap 40, leading to his second retirement of the year.

At the start of the race it was Hamilton who made the best start, maintaining his lead. Rosberg was sent into a spin following contact with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and dropped right down the order. Vettel pulled off at the side of the track with broken suspension and was subsequently handed a three place grid drop for Japan.

Rosberg faced a fight back through the field and eventually finished in third behind the hard – but fair – fighting Red Bull duo. Rosberg picked up a ten second penalty for making contact with Kimi Raikkonen as he passed but was able to finish more than ten seconds clear of the Finn. The Ferrari suffered floor damage and lost what it reported to be about three tenths per lap.

Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Williams just ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez. Fernando Alonso drove a fine race to finish seventh having started last and he finished ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Jenson Button celebrated his 300th Grand Prix with a ninth place finish and points while Jolyon Palmer picked up his first ever F1 point.

The Toro Rosso duo struggled with brake issues with Carlos Sainz 11th and Daniil Kvyat 14th. Marcus Ericsson was 12th with Felipe Massa recovering to 13th having started from the pit-lane when he failed to get away on the warm-up lap.  Pascal Wehrlein was 15th ahead of Esteban Ocon – who picked up two separate 5 second penalties for speeding in the pit-lane.

Felipe Nasr joined Vettel and Hamilton on the sidelines along with Kevin Magnussen. Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas lost a wheel on one of the straights causing his retirement while Romain Grosjean suffered brake failure and spun into the gravel, bringing his race to an end.

Ricciardo dedicated his win to Jules Bianchi following the race, after making Max Verstappen and Rosberg take part in celebratory ‘shoeys’ on the podium.

The next race is this weekend at the Suzuka circuit in Japan.

Jenson Button: 300 GP and the Magic Formula

This weekend sees Formula One’s most experienced current driver celebrate a big milestone in his career. Jenson Button – who recently announced he would be taking a sabbatical next year – will start his 300th Grand Prix this weekend in Malaysia. It was the race where he took his first F1 podium, way back in 2004. Here’s a look at the numbers which make up his magic formula.

16 full seasons

Jenson Button made his debut back in 2000, driving for Williams. Since then he has enjoyed relationships with Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda, Brawn, and now McLaren. He is currently competing in his 17th season of Formula One – his 7th for McLaren, the longest he has spent driving for any one team.

15 wins

While the past few years have been barren in terms of winning in Formula One, JB has wracked up 15 wins over the years. His first was of course the memorable 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix in mixed conditions. JB’s most recent win came at the season ending 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, bookending his season having won the season opener in Australia that same year.

Winner at 12 tracks

JB’s 15 wins have come at 12 tracks, his most successful being Australia. He has won the Australian Grand Prix on three occasions – 2009, 2010 and 2012. He has also won in Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain, Monaco, Turkey, China, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Belgium, and Brazil.

50 podiums

There have also been a number of podium finishes for JB over his years competing in Formula One. His first podium was at the 2004 Malaysian Grand Prix and his most recent podium finish was the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. His most frequented podium spot is third – where he has stood 20 times – in relation to 15 times in first and 15 times in second.

Podiums at 16 races

JB has stood on the podium at 16 tracks over the course of his Formula One career. He has enjoyed more than one podium in Malaysia, the European Grand Prix, Canada, Germany, Italy, China, and Abu Dhabi. He has also stood on the podium in Bahrain, San Marino, Monaco, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, Turkey, Singapore and Australia. He has had three podiums – his most at any one race – in Germany, Italy and China.

8 pole positions

Most of JB’s victories have come from not starting on pole position, but he has qualified on top on eight occasions. Five of his pole positions have been converted into victories. His first pole position came at the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix while his most recent was the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix which he also won.

8 fastest laps

As well as pole positions, wins, and podiums, JB also has had eight fastest laps. His first was at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix – a race he started from pole and also won – while his most recent was at the 2012 Indian Grand Prix.

Average 8th in championship

JB has finished an average 8th position in the championship over 16 full seasons. His best finish was 1st in 2009 while his lowest finish was 17th in 2001. He currently lies 15th in the 2016 championship with one more point than he had at the end of the season last year.

11 consecutive points finishes in one season

JB’s longest streak of points finishes in a season came in his championship winning year of 2009. He won six of the first seven races, finished third in one of them, and then went on to pick up points in the next four races too. His longest consecutive points finish run overall was 12 which happened between 2005 and 2006. Scoring points in the last ten races of 2005 – including two podiums – he then scored at the first two races of the 2006 season.

6 wins in one season

There were six wins in 2009 for JB when Brawn took over the Honda Racing team after the Japanese manufacturers pulled out of F1 at the end of 2008. JB won six of the first seven races of the season and that remains his record of most wins in a year.

80% classified finishes records

Despite having some difficult years in Formula One with cars not quite performing as they should, JB still has a 80% classified finishing record. Of the 299 races he has started to date he has been classified as a finisher in 240 of them. 13 of these have been retirements but with him having completed over 90% of the race distance.

66% points finishes

Of his 240 classified finishes, 160 of them – or 66% – have been in the points.

3rd most experienced driver of all time

JB lies in third in the all time list of both entries and starts. He has entered 302 races to date and started 299 of them. Rubens Barrichello is the most experienced F1 driver of all time with 326 entries to his name (322 starts) while Michael Schumacher has 308 entries (306 starts). With five races still to come after Malaysia – JB’s 303rd entry – he will end 2016 tied on entries with Schumacher.

1 World Championship

And saving the best ’til last, JB is a world champion. After years of ups and downs he finally won the championship in 2009 with Brawn GP. His best championship finish before that had been 3rd in 2004 and he went on to finish second in 2011.

So there we have it. 16 full seasons + 15 wins + winner at 12 tracks + 50 podiums + podiums at 16 races +8 pole positions + 8 fastest laps + average 8th in championship + 11 consecutive points finishes + 6 wins in one season + 80% classified finishes + 66% finishes in points + 3rd most experienced driver of all time +  1 world championship = 300 GP!

 

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.