Mercedes dominated the Belgian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton leading yet another 1-2 finish for the team. The pair finished over 30 seconds clear of third placed driver Romain Grosjean, who qualified fourth before dropping to ninth with a grid penalty.
There was a lot of focus on the race start after new regulations surrounding what drivers can and cannot say to their drivers in the moments just prior to the lights going out. A couple of drivers were slow away on the formation lap but it went without any major problems in the race start proper. There was an aborted start following problems for Nico Hulkenberg on the grid. The Force India driver reported loss of power on his out-lap to the grid, and had been advised by his team to return to the pits at the end of the warm up lap. The team then changed their mind and told Hulkenberg to take the race start as they believed the problem was resolving itself. This was not the case and Hulkenberg was wheeled back into the pits. Carlos Sainz also had his own problems and was asked to return to the pit-lane prior to the start.
When the lights went out it was Sergio Perez who made the biggest impression, going from fourth to second as Nico Rosberg dropped to fifth. Perez made an attempt to take the lead of the race but Hamilton but failed to get past and that proved to be his only opportunity. Pastor Maldonado became an early retirement from the race as his car quickly slowed due to engine problems. He was able to make it back to the pits. Other retirements from the race were Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz.
After Ricciardo retired on track following the final chicane, the Virtual Safety Car was used, neutralising the speed of all the cars on track. The Mercedes duo were pulling away at the front of the field and it was Sebastian Vettel who slotted into third race. He became a late retirement after a tyre delamination in the final couple of laps. After a pit-stop on the 14th lap of the race, Vettel was attempting to go to the end on the medium tyres but he failed to make it. He had found himself under pressure from Grosjean but had been keeping himself ahead of the Lotus driver, with the Ferrari benefiting from good straight line speed. Vettel had called for another pit-stop but the team chose to leave him out.
Daniil Kvyat backed up his strong showing at the Hungarian Grand Prix – where he got his first podium – put in a strong end to the race to finish in fourth. Fresher tyres allowed him to catch and pass the cars ahead. Perez eventually finished fifth, ahead of Felipe Massa in sixth. Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – who started 16th following problems in qualifying and a gearbox penalty – finished the race in seventh with Max Verstappen eighth, Valtteri Bottas ninth and Marcus Ericsson tenth. Williams suffered a pit-stop blunder which saw Bottas’ car fitted with one medium tyre and three softs – a breach of the regulations. Bottas was given a drive through penalty for the mistake but he still managed to salvaged a couple of points.
Felipe Nasr finished in 11th ahead of the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Button suffered problems throughout the race including a lack of power, allowing his team-mate to pull away from him. Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens were classified in 15th and 16th with Vettel classified 12th despite not finishing the race.
It was another crushing performance by the Mercedes team, following their disappointment in Hungary. The next race is in two weeks time at Ferrari’s home race of Monza.
Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix for the third time following a fortuitous pit-stop decision that saw him swap to intermediate tyres at just the right time.
Hamilton was joined on the podium by team-mate Nico Rosberg while Sebastian Vettel also benefited from a well timed pit-stop to join the Mercedes duo on the podium once again.
It was a race of mixed conditions – largely dry until a couple of rain showers towards the end. Off the line the Mercedes duo were caught out by both Williams drivers, who had locked out the second row of the grid after Hamilton secured pole position by just a tenth from his team-mate. Felipe Massa took the race lead off the line while Valtteri Bottas slotted into second before running too wide and opening the door for Hamilton to get back ahead. The battle at the front was called off following the deployment of the safety car at the end of the first lap.
The safety car was brought out due to an incident which saw both Lotus drivers and Jenson Button retire. Daniel Ricciardo tagged Romain Grosjean, sending the Lotus driver into his team-mate Pastor Maldonado. As Fernando Alonso attempted to avoid the pair he collected his own team-mate, resulting in Button retiring from the race. The incident was investigated after the race but no further action was taken. Ricciardo later retired from the race due to an engine problem while Alonso went on to score his first point of the season. The safety car returned to the pits at the end of lap three and racing resumed. Hamilton attempted to pass Massa but locked up and gave Bottas the opportunity to get back ahead.
Massa and Bottas were asked not to fight each other but Bottas believed he had the speed to pull away from the chasing Mercedes duo. Hamilton’s pit stop strategy allowed him to leap frog Massa and take the lead of the race. There was a brief period under Virtual Safety Car conditions to allow marshals to retrieve Carlos Sainz’s stricken Toro Rosso. Light rain started to fall around lap 36 of the race and some drivers – including Kimi Raikkonen, Marcus Ericsson, and Alonso – chose to go straight onto the intermediate tyres. The conditions proved not to warrant the change and Ericsson was unfortunate to pit again for slicks when heavier rain started to fall. In the changeable conditions Rosberg launched a charge on team-mate, slashing the gap. Hamilton reported he had no grip and pitted for intermediate tyres, a decision which proved to pay off when the rain got heavier. Vettel also pitted and went from sixth to third.
There were six retirements from the race in total along with Felipe Nasr who failed to make the start due to a gearbox failure on his out-lap to the grid. Sainz, Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Maldonado, Grosjean, and Button were the other retirements from the race. At the front the top three were followed by the Williams duo, perhaps ruing a lost opportunity to fight for the win. Daniil Kvyat was sixth, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, Raikkonen eighth, Sergio Perez ninth and Alonso tenth. Ericsson, Roberto Merhi, and Will Stevens also finished the race, although the latter lost his front wing after clipping the barrier but returned to the pits and continued.
Following the cancellation of the German Grand Prix the next action will take place in three weeks time in Hungary.
With the Wall of Champions waiting patiently for the unwary, it was McLaren’s Fernando Alonso heading the pitlane queue out onto a dry track as the Q1 session light went green. All hopes for a decent qualifying for McLaren were riding on him, as team mate jenson Buton was forced to watch from the garage, his car withdrawn from qualifying due to an enforced engine change. It was an eventful first lap for Sebastian Vettel: with the Ferrari promising a performance step forward this weekend, Vettel found himself withdrawing from his first timed lap with turbo problem. With much of the pre-race discussion being on the state of Lewis Hamilton’s mindset after his Monaco strategy mishap, it was Merecedes team mate Rosberg setting the pace in the first session. Lotus’ improving form was compromised somewhat by Maldonado taking a spin on his flying lap. Nothing serious though. With just over two minutes left on the clock, Vettel rejoined the session after frantic work in the garage, taking to the track on the supersoft tyres to try to guarantee his progression to q2. Ultimetaely, he did not have the power and found himself eliminated in P16, along with a struggling Massa (Williams) and the two Manors of Merhi (P18) and Stevens (P19). To round off a topsy turvy session, it was Grosjean’s Lotus topping the timesheet.
Out from 20: Button (DNQ), Stevens (Manor), Merhi (Manor), Massa (Williams), Vettel (Ferrari).
Vettel’s early exit from qualifying seemed to be the spur that those chasing a second row spot needed. Raikkonen was the early pace-setter until, that is, the Mercedes duo set their first representative times. Bottas, carrying the Williams flag in the absence of his team mate, seemed to be running well, if still nearly a second off Hamilton’s mid-session time. There was half a second from Mercedes to the Ferrari/williams/Lotus scrap for those higher Q2 slots. Alonso’s day did not improve, finding himself qualifying in 14th. All eyes are on those second row slots. With McLaren showing a serious deficit in straight line speed, it was Grosjean topping that chart, being clocked at 212mph.
Out from 15: Nasr (Sauber), Alonso (McLaren), Ericsson (Sauber), Verstappen (Toro Rosso), Sainz (Toro Rosso).
Force India’s Hulkenberg was first out for Q3, with both cars in the final session for the first time this season. Rosberg, trailing Hamilton, was complaining of a lack of rear grip, leaving him vulnerable to a charge by any of the chasing pack. For the final scramble, both Lotuses exited their garage at the same time, almost colliding in the pitlane. As the session drew to a close, it was Raikkonen heading the chasing pack. So, Hamilton on pole (his 44th, fact fans), from Rosberg, prompting Rosberg to comment “what a rubbish end to qualifying”, with Raikkonen and Bottas sharing Row 2 in the absence of their team mates. A Lotus Row 3 and then Hulkenberg putting his Force India ahead of the Red Bulls and then his team mate Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.
(grid positions provisional on pending penalties).
Lewis Hamilton was the fastest driver in the first practice session for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix. He ended up four tenths clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg who in turn was over a second faster than Romain Grosjean in third.
A number of drivers took to track early on to complete their installation laps. Off the back of scoring McLaren’s first points of the season in Monaco, Jenson Button had a difficult start in FP1, struggling to get out of second gear on his own install lap. His running was compromised briefly as the team worked to fix the gearbox issue but he eventually completed 25 laps and finished the session in 15th. Team-mate Fernando Alonso reported having “no power” during the session. Elsewhere Felipe Massa struggled with braking while other drivers including Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cut across corners.
Carlos Sainz spun at Turn 1 in his Toro Rosso while Bottas also had a spin, reporting that the rear of his car was unstable. Daniil Kvyat also had issues with the rear of his car. Hamilton became another spinner when he ran off at the hairpin. In the last 20 minutes of the session there was plenty of action. Sainz stopped at the end of the pit-lane with ten minutes of the session remaining.
It was a strong showing for Mercedes powered cars as they made up six of the top ten cars. The Silver Arrows led the way with Lotus and Force India just behind them. Sebastian Vettel was the lead Ferrari driver in fifth while Kvyat was seventh. Massa ended the session in sixth while Bottas was eleventh. Also in the top ten were Pastor Maldonado, Alonso and Max Verstappen.
Free Practice 1 results:
- Lewis Hamilton – 1:16.212 – 34 laps
- Nico Rosberg – 1:16.627 – 38 laps
- Romain Grosjean – 1:17.721 – 35 laps
- Nico Hulkenberg – 1:17.871 – 34 laps
- Sebastian Vettel – 1:17.905 – 25 laps
- Felipe Massa – 1:17.985 – 28 laps
- Daniil Kvyat – 1:18.021 – 30 laps
- Pastor Maldonado – 1:18.026 – 41 laps
- Fernando Alonso – 1:18.128 – 34 laps
- Max Verstappen – 1:18.257 – 24 laps
- Valtteri Bottas – 1:18.325 – 40 laps
- Kimi Raikkonen – 1:18.439 – 26 laps
- Sergio Perez – 1:18.503 – 28 laps
- Daniel Ricciardo – 1:18.775 – 24 laps
- Jenson Button – 1:18.786 – 25 laps
- Felipe Nasr – 1:18.948 – 30 laps
- Carlos Sainz – 1:19.065 – 23 laps
- Marcus Ericsson – 1:19.165 – 32 laps
- Roberto Merhi – 1:20.616 – 33 laps
- Will Stevens – 1:20.624 – 27 laps
Nine of the ten Formula One teams will take part in the first in-season test on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In 2015 there will be two in-season tests – down from the four last season – and the first of these is due to take place in Spain following the Grand Prix at the weekend. Every team bar Manor will run on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Sporting Regulations have stipulated that each team must run a driver with less than two F1 race starts on two of the four test days.
The schedule for the two days in Barcelona is as follows:
|Mercedes||Nico Rosberg||Pascal Wehrlein|
|Red Bull||Daniil Kvyat||Pierre Gasly|
|Ferrari||Raffaele Marciello||Esteban Gutierrez|
|Williams||Felipe Massa||Alex Lynn|
|McLaren||Oliver Turvey||Jenson Button|
|Force India||Pascal Wehrlein||Nick Yelloly|
|Toro Rosso||Pierre Gasly||Carlos Sainz|
|Lotus||Pastor Maldonado||Jolyon Palmer|
|Sauber||Marcus Ericsson||Raffaele Marciello|
As well as seven current Formula One drivers, seven test and reserve drivers will also take the wheel. Pascal Wehrlein, Raffaele Marciello, and Pierre Gasly will be the busiest drivers as they split their running between two teams. Mercedes test driver Wehrlein who also tested for Force India during pre-season testing will continue to run for both teams, starting with Force India on Tuesday. Marciello is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and will run for the Scuderia on Tuesday before taking up his official Sauber test and reserve driver duties on Wednesday. Finally, Red Bull Junior driver Gasly will get running for both Toro Rosso and Red Bull over the two days.
Elsewhere Nico Rosberg, Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado, and Marcus Ericsson will kickstart the running for their respective teams. Jenson Button and Carlos Sainz will also be in action. Former Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez will get his first running for Ferrari after joining the team as one of their test drivers for the 2015 season. Long-time McLaren test driver Oliver Turvey will get a days running as will Williams development driver Alex Lynn. Lotus reserve driver Jolyon Palmer will be in action on Wednesday with Nick Yelloly sharing the Force India with Wehrlein.
The second in-season test will take place following the Austrian Grand Prix in June.
Nico Rosberg has won the Spanish Grand Prix, beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
The Mercedes duo joined by a Ferrari driver image is fast becoming very familiar as it has been the result at all five races so far. It was Rosberg’s first visit to the top step of the podium in 2015 as he convincingly beat Hamilton by 17.5 seconds. Vettel was a distant third for Ferrari.
The Circuit de Catalunya is notoriously difficult for overtaking so it was not much of a surprise that the top four on the grid were in the same order come the chequered flag. A slightly longer than usual pit-stop for Hamilton cost him some time and he also lost out at the start when he was passed by Vettel. He nearly lost out to Valtteri Bottas as well but he was eventually able to keep the Williams driver at bay. Hamilton used a three stop strategy while Rosberg and Vettel went for two stops. Bottas finished fourth also on a two stop, keeping Kimi Raikkonen at bay in the closing laps of the race. Felipe Massa ended up the last unlapped driver in seventh, with the rest of the top ten being passed by the leaders.
Pastor Maldonado enjoyed a feisty start to his race, passing a number of cars. He made early contact with his team-mate Romain Grosjean and after running wide across bollard, one of his rear wing endplates became dislodged. At one of his pit-stops the team removed the broken part, leaving him circulating with his rear wing attached by just one mount. He managed to run faster than the cars around him but the team eventually retired his car. There was some drama in the pit-lane when Grosjean missed his marks in the pit-lane and caused the front jackman who be lifted airborne on the jack. He was later spotted being wheeled through the paddock on a trolley with his foot in a bandage. That wasn’t the only pit-lane drama as Fernando Alonso dramatically had rear brake failure and was not able to stop in his pit-box. The front jackman had time to react and moved out of the way as Alonso came to an eventual smoking stop. He had already encountered brake issues on the previous lap, struggling to stop for the first corner and it was the brake issues which ended his race.
Daniel Ricciardo picked up his fifth points finish of the year in seventh place ahead of Grosjean, Carlos Sainz, and Daniil Kvyat. The latter two made contact on the last lap and Sainz used the run off area to get ahead. Max Verstappen missed out on points by just a second. Felipe Nasr, Sergio Perez, Marcus Ericsson, Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were the rest of the finishers. Button endured a difficult race from start to finish as he struggled with throttle issues and wheelspin.
It was Mercedes’ fourth 1-2 finish of the season. The next race of the season is the Monaco Grand Prix, where generally anything can happen. Can Ferrari or someone else halt the Mercedes duo once again?