Following the Malaysia Grand Prix, which saw the championship swing very firmly in Nico Rosberg’s favour, it is time for the Japanese Grand Prix – a firm favourite race amongst drivers and fans alike.
Daniel Ricciardo led home a Red Bull 1-2 in Malaysia when Lewis Hamilton’s engine blew, causing him to retire from the lead. Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points having finished in third place.
Number of Laps: 53
Circuit Length: 5.807km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:31.540 – Kimi Raikkonen (2005)
Previous Japanese Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: McLaren (9 wins)
DRS Zones: 1
Pirelli Tyres: Hard, Medium and Soft
The Suzuka track is a unique figure of 8 configuration and features a number of high speed corners. Drivers spend about 65% of the lap at full throttle with 42 gear changes. There is a mix of fast, medium and slow corners with the only significant braking event happening at the chicane at the end of the lap. The track is narrow and features little run-off. Like Malaysia, track temperatures and the threat of rain are something to consider over the weekend. As it’s an older established track, grip is high but with high levels of degradation.
McLaren are the most successful team at the Japanese Grand Prix but it is Hamilton and Mercedes who have won the last two races. Before that it was Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull who won two in a row. Red Bull were the best of the rest in Malaysia behind Mercedes, and took a 1-2 in the race when Hamilton retired. This is a track they have gone well at in the past so could be ones to watch this weekend.
Hamilton will be wanting to overcome his difficult weekend at the Malaysia Grand Prix and he is the form man at Suzuka. He had dominated qualifying and much of the race before his engine gave up on the 40th lap in Malaysia. Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points – nearly a race victory – and with only five races in the year left, Hamilton will be wanting to start eating into that lead as soon as possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Following the Hungarian Grand Prix, the German Grand Prix is the last race before the summer break. Lewis Hamilton leads the championship by six points following his win last time out, but a win for Nico Rosberg on home soil would see him move back to the top of the table.
The Hungarian Grand Prix was a somewhat uneventful race but it did have some close battles, particularly between Red Bull and Ferrari. In their fight for second in the constructors championship Ferrari have the edge – but only just. Just one point separates the two teams so it is finely poised.
In Hungary it was Daniel Ricciardo who joined the Mercedes duo on the podium but Sebastian Vettel had a late charge and could have taken it. Similarly, Kimi Raikkonen closed in on fifth placed Max Verstappen but was unable to find a way pass. Raikkonen was voted Driver of the Day for his charge through from 14th.
Number of Laps: 67
Number of Corners: 17
Lap Record: 1:13.780 Kimi Raikkonen (2004)
Previous German Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 4
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (22 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Supersoft, Soft and Medium
The German Grand Prix was last held in 2014 – at the Hockenheimring – having been cancelled last year. That race was one by Rosberg and he will undoubtedly be looking to repeat that feat this year.
The track features a mix of fast long straights as well as technical corners. Due to the nature of the circuit there are some heavy braking zones into medium to low speed corners. Drivers will change gear approximately 49 times per lap and will reach a top speed of 350kmh. The Hockenheimring is also considered a power circuit.
Pirelli have brought the same tyre compounds as were used in Hungary – the Supersoft, Soft and Mediums.