Lewis Hamilton overcomes engine problems to top FP2 in Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton topped the second free practice session after suffering an engine problem in FP1.

His lap-time of 1:39.790 was four tenths quicker than the lap set by Nico Rosberg in the morning. Rosberg’s time, however, was on a used set of the hard compound tyres while Hamilton’s was on a new set of the medium tyres. Kimi Raikkonen continued Ferrari’s impressive form by going second quickest once again, once again just under four tenths shy of the Mercedes pace. His fastest time was on a used set of medium tyres. The morning pacesetter Rosberg was third fastest.

The heat and humidity of Malaysia always creates its own unique challenges and track temperatures peaked at 56 degrees during the second practice session. This contributes to tyre degradation with the medium compound suffering more than the hard tyres. Despite this Valtteri Bottas reported over the team radio that track conditions had improved since the first practice session. After getting their first running of 2015 in the morning, Manor caused a red flag in FP2 when Roberto Merhi ended up in the gravel following a spin. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel also had a spin in the same place but did not end up in the gravel. Hamilton did not get out in the session until after the red flag with fifty minutes remaining.

Hamilton’s first run saw him go fifth fastest before improving late in the afternoon. He was forced to box due to the team losing telemetry completely. Romain Grosjean’s session came to an early end after suffering from a loss of power. Red Bull also encountered their own problems with Daniil Kvyat only completing 17 laps and Daniel Ricciardo eight laps. Free practice two times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.790 – 16 laps
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.163 – 29 laps
  3. Nico Rosberg – 1:40.218 – 26 laps
  4. Daniil Kvyat – 1:40.346 – 17 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:40.450 – 31 laps
  6. Felipe Massa – 1:40.560 – 27 laps
  7. Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.652 – 29 laps
  8. Max Verstappen – 1:41.220 – 30 laps
  9. Marcus Ericsson – 1:41.261 – 30 laps
  10. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:41.799 – 8 laps
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:41.877 – 15 laps
  12. Felipe Nasr – 1:41.988  – 30 laps
  13. Sergio Perez – 1:42.242 – 24 laps
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:42.291 – 31 laps
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:42.330 – 28 laps
  16. Fernando Alonso – 1:42.506 – 25 laps
  17. Jenson Button – 1:42.637 – 24 laps
  18. Romain Grosjean – 1:42.948 – 7 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:45.704 – 12 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:47.229 – 6 laps
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Nico Rosberg edges Kimi Raikkonen in Sepang first practice

Nico Rosberg kept Mercedes at the top of the times by setting the fastest time – a 1:40.124 – of the first practice session in Malaysia.

His time was just under four tenths clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen whose impressive time was backed up by team-mate Sebastian Vettel who ended up in third. Rosberg’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton completed just four laps before his session was brought to an en end by an engine problem.

Fernando Alonso made his 2015 Grand Prix debut, returning to the McLaren cockpit for the first time since his testing accident in the first Barcelona test. Also out on track for their first running of the 2015 season was Sauber test driver Raffaele Marciello and the Manor duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi. The start of the session was busy as drivers completed installation laps with Merhi reporting something strange on his car. He returned to the pits and was able to get further running with the team completing system checks.

Rosberg topped the early times, ending up a second faster than anyone else but Raikkonen’s last run saw him close the gap. The top ten were separated by just under two seconds with the Manor duo ending up seven seconds down on the pacesetter. The times were as follows:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:40.124 – 20 laps
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.497 – 17 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.985 – 13 laps
  4. Romain Grosjean – 1:41.543 – 14 laps
  5. Carlos Sainz – 1:41.596 – 26 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:41.787 – 15 laps
  7. Max Verstappen – 1:41.803 – 23 laps
  8. Valtteri Bottas – 1:41.882 – 23 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:42.055 – 18 laps
  10. Marcus Ericsson – 1:42.064 – 16 laps
  11. Felipe Massa – 1:42.103 – 23 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:42.567 – 19 laps
  13. Raffaele Marciello – 1:42.621 – 13 laps
  14. Fernando Alonso – 1:42.885 – 20 laps
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:42.893 – 13 laps
  16. Sergio Perez – 1:43.054 – 15 laps
  17. Jenson Button – 1:43.100 – 19 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:46.686 – 8 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:47.783 – 8 laps
  20. Lewis Hamilton – No Time Set – 4 laps

Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas cleared to race by FIA

Both Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas will return to action for their respective teams at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alonso was forced to sit out the entire Australian Grand Prix weekend due to the concussion he sustained during testing. Bottas pulled out on the morning of the race due to back problems but both drivers will return to their cockpits this weekend.

Statements put out by the FIA read as follows:

In accordance with normal procedures, McLaren-Honda [Williams-Martini] driver Fernando Alonso [Valtteri Bottas] was this morning examined by the FIA Medical Delegate and Chief Medical Officer at the Sepang Circuit Medical Centre. During the examination the driver passed all mandatory fitness tests and has thus been declared fit to race in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

An addition to Bottas’ statement said:

The driver has been informed that in case of a recurrence of pain or any abnormal feeling he must stop at the earliest opportunity.

Alonso also took part in the Drivers’ Press Conference where he faced a number of questions about his accident. He rebuked rumours that he had woken up in 1995 speaking Italian after the incident. He also explained that his steering locked just before the accident. The Malaysian Grand Prix has been good for Alonso in the past – he took his first ever pole position back in 2003 and has won the race three times. He won it for Renault in 2005 before going on to lead home a McLaren 1-2 in 2007. He won the race for Ferrari in 2012. It was a difficult start to the 2015 campaign for McLaren, however, as they qualified on the back row of the grid and Kevin Magnussen’s engine let go on his way to the grid for the start of the race. There is rain forecast for the weekend which could help McLaren get closer than they might be otherwise.

2015: Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

Following the Australian Grand Prix, where Mercedes picked up where they left off, Formula One has travelled to Malaysia for Round two of the 2015 World Championship. Lewis Hamilton won the first race which was overshadowed by some strange circumstances which saw just 15 cars start.

Manor made it to Australia but never made it out onto the track. As the team battled with software issues, drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were forced to watch from the sidelines. The team believe they are ready for the upcoming weekend having returned to base in the UK between races to “regroup technically”. Manor’s absence brought the grid down to 18 cars and became further depleted when Valtteri Bottas pulled out on Sunday morning due to a back problem. McLaren’s testing woes were compounded when Kevin Magnussen’s engine – which had been turned down along with Jenson Button to try and ensure reliability – let go on his way to the grid. Daniil Kvyat also failed to make it to the grid following his own problems.

It was a perfect weekend for 2014 champion Hamilton who qualified on pole position and then went on to win the race by a second over his team-mate. He also set the fastest lap of the race. Mercedes’ dominance over the rest of the field was devastating, as Sebastian Vettel trailed home over 30s down on Rosberg. It was a positive start to the four time champion’s Ferrari career as he finished on the podium. He finished ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa, impressive rookie Felipe Nasr, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Marcus Ericsson, Carlos Sainz, and Sergio Perez. Button managed to get the second McLaren home but he finished 11th and two laps down.

Circuit: 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 and Medium

The Malaysian Grand Prix always comes with its own unique challenges as the heat and humidity can affect the drivers and cars. It is a track characterised by long straights and high speed corners and overtaking is certainly a possibility. It has the second longest run to the first corner on the current calendar. Safety cars are a rare occurrence at Sepang, being deployed more often for the weather than anything else due to the large run off areas. Fernando Alonso will return to the cockpit in Malaysia, subject to passing final FIA medical tests on Thursday. He sat out the Australian Grand Prix after suffering a concussion during winter testing.

F1 2015: BBC and Sky Guide

As has been the case for the last three years, Formula One coverage will continue to be split between the BBC and Sky Sports in the UK. All 19 races will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1, while BBC will show ten live – including the Canadian, British and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – with nine as extended highlights. Here is a breakdown of each broadcaster’s coverage for the year ahead.

2015 Calendar

  1. Australian Grand Prix 13th – 15th March
  2. Malaysian Grand Prix 27th – 29th March
  3. Chinese Grand Prix 10th – 12th April
  4. Bahrain Grand Prix 17th – 19th April
  5. Spanish Grand Prix 8th – 10th May
  6. Monaco Grand Prix 22nd – 24th May
  7. Canadian Grand Prix 5th – 7th June
  8. Austrian Grand Prix 19th – 21st June
  9. British Grand Prix 3rd – 5th July
  10. German Grand Prix 17th – 19th July
  11. Hungarian Grand Prix 24th – 26th July
  12. Belgian Grand Prix 21st – 23rd August
  13. Italian Grand Prix 4th – 6th September
  14. Singapore Grand Prix 18th – 20th September
  15. Japanese Grand Prix 25th – 27th September
  16. Russian Grand Prix 9th – 11th October
  17. US Grand Prix 23rd – 25th October
  18. Mexican Grand Prix 30th October – 1st November
  19. Brazilian Grand Prix 13th – 15th November
  20. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 27th – 29th November

Races in bold indicate the races shown live in full by the BBC. As was the case in 2014, the BBC’s live races include Malaysia, Canada, Great Britain, Belgium, Japan, Russia and Abu Dhabi. In addition to those races the BBC will also show Bahrain, Hungary, and Brazil live. This means the new addition to the calendar – the Mexican Grand Prix – will not be broadcast live on the BBC.

Sky Sports F1

Continuity is key for Sky Sports F1 with the 2014 team returning for 2015. Coverage will be fronted by Simon Lazenby and Natalie Pinkham, alongside roving reporter Ted Kravitz. Martin Brundle and David Croft will provide commentary while expert analysis will be given by Damon Hill, Anthony Davidson, Johnny Herbert and Bruno Senna.

Race weekends will be complemented with weekly editions of The F1 Show and live coverage will also be shown of the supporting GP2 and GP3 races.

Viewers can watch live on TV with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, via Sky Go or using Race Control accessed via the red button or the Sky Sports App for iPad. Race Control users can choose two of up to ten camera views, including driver and pit-lane cameras, and data streams to watch on split-screen.

“There are so many exciting story lines next season and we’ll cover every twist and turn from Australia to Abu Dhabi,” Sky Sports F1’s executive producer Martin Turner said.

BBC F1

Although not explicitly stated, it appears the BBC F1 team will also remain as 2014 for the upcoming season. With coverage fronted by Suzi Perry, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, analysis will come from Allan McNish and pit-lane reporting from Lee McKenzie. Commentary will once again be provided by Ben Edwards and Coulthard for the TV feed, while James Allen will commentate on races for BBC Radio 5 Live joined by McNish. Jennie Gow will feature on the radio coverage as a pit-lane reporter.

There will be comprehensive coverage of the whole season across television, radio and online. All races will be live on BBC Radio 5 Live or 5 Live Sports extra and fans can also follow all the action and the latest news on the F1 section of the BBC Sport website and via the BBC Sport App. World Champion Lewis Hamilton will continue to write his column for the BBC website.

A new addition to the BBC F1 coverage this year is Formula 1 Rewind which will be presented by Suzi Perry. Murray Walker will be recounting classic Grand Prix from the past.

“Like all F1 fans, we can’t wait for the 2015 season,” Ben Gallop, the BBC’s Head of F1, said. “With Lewis Hamilton as World Champion, F1 in Britain is in a great position and we’re delighted with our race package. These live races, combined with our ever-popular highlights programmes and our extensive coverage on radio and online means F1 fans can follow every step of Hamilton’s title defence on the BBC”.

The BBC negotiates with fellow broadcaster Sky on the division of live and non-live races, with a variety of factors being taken into account when deciding the picks. For the races not shown live on BBC TV audiences are offered a wealth of ways to follow the action with extended TV highlights and live radio and online coverage.

The BBC has a deal to broadcast Formula 1 racing, through to and including 2018.

F1 2014: The Season So Far in Numbers

With eleven races having already been completed just eight stand between 22 drivers and the end of the 2014 Formula One season. Mercedes have dominated so far and the team are leading the constructors championship by a considerable margin while Nico Rosberg is on top of the drivers championship. We have already looked at the winners and losers of 2014 (part one & part two) but here is an overall look at the season so far in numbers.

The Basics

Unsurprisingly, Mercedes top most of the basic statistics. Nico Rosberg has most pole positions (6), Lewis Hamilton has most wins (5), and Rosberg also has most podiums (9). Mercedes have the most pole positions overall (10) – Williams are the only other team to have a 2014 pole – while they also lead the wins tally (9), with Daniel Ricciardo winning the other two for Red Bull. Mercedes have 16 podiums in total (from a possible 22) compared with Red Bull’s 7.

It’s Fernando Alonso who has most points finishes – a 100% record for the year – but Mercedes have most points finishes as a team. You will also find the Silver Arrows at the top of the fastest laps total as well as the team have 7 – that’s six more than any other team. While Mercedes may be dominating every other statistic one area they falter is finishes.

Jenson Button and Alonso have most classified finishes – another 100% record – with McLaren and Ferrari also leading the way with 21 each. Mercedes have 19 classified finishes from 22 so far. Alonso is the only driver to finish every race in 2014 and Ferrari lead the actual finishes tally as well.

Qualifying

Not one driver in 2014 has a clean sweep in qualifying. The driver with the best record over their team-mate is Romain Grosjean who currently leads Pastor Maldonado 10 – 1. Nico Hulkenberg leads Sergio Perez 9-2 as does Kamui Kobayashi over Marcus Ericsson. Other biggish gaps are 8-3, with Valtteri Bottas leading Felipe Massa and Jules Bianchi leading Max Chilton.

The most evenly matched team-mates in qualifying can be found at McLaren, Toro Rosso, and Red Bull where one driver is beating the other 6-5. Jenson Button, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Daniel Ricciardo are the drivers ahead.

There have been 17 grid drops so far in 2014 with drivers losing a combined total of 94 places between them (not including when drivers are excluded from qualifying/made to start from the pit-lane).

A total of 12 drivers have received grid penalties in 2014 of either 3, 5 or 10 places. Esteban Gutierrez has dropped the most places in total – 23 – from four grid penalties. Three of these were as a result of car problems (gearbox) and one was for a driver error (causing a collision). Other drivers with grid penalties this year are as follows:

  • Valtteri Bottas: 1 car (5 places, gearbox), 1 driver (5 places, impeding)
  • Max Chilton: 1 car (5 places, gearbox), 1 driver (3 places, causing a collision)
  • Daniel Ricciardo: 1 car (10 places, unsafe release)
  • Jean-Eric Vergne: 1 car (10 places, loose wheel in practice)
  • Sebastian Vettel: 1 car (5 places, gearbox)
  • Jules Bianchi: 1 car (5 places, gearbox)
  • Kamui Kobayashi: 1 car (5 places, gearbox)
  • Lewis Hamilton: 1 car (5 places, gearbox)
  • Adrian Sutil: 1 driver (5 places, impeding)
  • Pastor Maldonado: 1 driver (5 places causing a collision)
  • Sergio Perez: 1 driver (5 places, causing a collision)

The top ten in terms of average starting position is as follows:

  1. Nico Rosberg 1.90
  2. Daniel Ricciardo 5.09
  3. Lewis Hamilton 6.09
  4. Sebastian Vettel 6.45
  5. Fernando Alonso 6.72
  6. Valtteri Bottas 7.72
  7. Felipe Massa 8.18
  8. Nico Hulkenberg 8.18
  9. Jenson Button 9
  10. Kevin Magnussen 9.54

In terms of starting positions the biggest gap between team-mates is 4.18 between the Mercedes duo while the smallest gap between team-mates is 0.45 between the Toro Rosso and Williams pairing.

Races

Monaco, Canada, and Hungary have been the races so far with most safety cars – 2 – while Malaysia, China, Spain, and Austria all had 0 safety cars.

All but two of the eleven races so far have seen all 22 cars start the race. Sergio Perez failed to start in Malaysia due to a gearbox problem while Pastor Maldonado failed to start in Monaco thanks to a faulty fuel pump. The races with most classified finishes were China and Spain – both with 20 – while Australia had the fewest classified finishers (13). The race with most retirements was the Canadian Grand Prix which saw 9 drivers retire from the race while China and Spain had fewest retirements – 2 each.

The race with the most lead changes was Hungary (8) which also had the most different race leaders (5). Bahrain saw 15 drivers finish on the lead lap while only four managed that feat in Monaco. Eight teams scored points in Monaco – including Marussia’s first ever Formula 1 points – while only 5 scored in Bahrain and Austria. The most positions gained in one race was achieved by Lewis Hamilton last time out when he climbed 19 spots from 22nd and starting in the pit-lane.

The Malaysian and Bahrain Grand Prix both saw 60 visits to the pit-lane while the British Grand Prix saw fewest visits (25). The Bahrain Grand Prix saw 57 pit-stops with the British Grand Prix only featuring 23.

The race with most retirements in the pit-lane was Canada (5) while Spain and Germany saw none. There were most penalties in the pit-lane (stop/go or drive through) in Monaco (4) and fewest in China, Spain, Canada and Hungary (0).

Leading

Eight drivers have led a race in 2014: Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas. Of the eight drivers Rosberg has led most laps (342) while Button has led fewest (1).

Laps

Fernando Alonso is the only driver in 2014 to complete every racing lap. So far this season there have been 698. Next up are Jenson Button with 693 and Daniel Ricciardo with 691. Marcus Ericsson has completed fewest racing laps (466) with Jean-Eric Vergne and Pastor Maldonado both also completeing fewer than 500 laps each (484 and 487 respectively).

McLaren are the team who have completed most racing laps in 2014. They have completed 1369/1396 (98.07%). Only one other team has completed over 90% of available racing laps and that is championship leaders Mercedes who have completed 1303 in total (93.34%).

McLaren also dominate in overall laps for the season with 1695 for Kevin Magnussen the most of any driver. This takes into account laps completed in all three practice sessions, qualifying, and the race every weekend. The Caterham duo have completed fewest laps overall with Kamui Kobayashi on 1212 while Marcus Ericsson has completed a few more (1277). McLaren as a team have completed 3357 laps overall – 133 more than Mercedes.

 

2014: Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

Two weeks after the Australian Grand Prix, teams have traveled to Malaysia for round two of the Formula One championship. Nico Rosberg threw down the gauntlet in the opening round, winning the race in a dominating and comfortable style, finishing ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and rookie Kevin Magnussen. Ricciardo was subsequently disqualified due to fuel flow irregularities however this decision is set to be appealed by Red Bull on April 14. The results mean that Rosberg has taken the early lead in the drivers championship with McLaren leading the constructors. As suspected there were reliability issues in Melbourne but what will the score be at the Sepang International Circuit?

Circuit: Sepang International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.543km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:34.223 JP Montoya (2004)
Previous Australian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: Sebastian Vettel (2013, 2011, & 2010), Fernando Alonso (2012, 2007, & 2005), Kimi Räikkönen (2003 & 2008), and Jenson Button (2009)
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (6 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Hard and Medium

The Malaysian Grand Prix comes with its own unique challenges. A lot of teams have struggled with cooling – most noticeably Red Bull – and this issue will only be magnified in the heat and humidity. It’s not just the cars that the heat is an issue for as drivers can face temperatures of 50 degrees in the cockpit. A track characterised by long straights and high speed corners, as well as it being incredibly wide at some points, will only add further challenges for them. The race was first held at the Herman Tilke designed track in 1999 and has been won nine times by drivers still on the grid. Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel are the most successful drivers at the track with three wins each. It is a special track for Kimi Räikkönen who took his first ever race victory  in 2003 as well as Jenson Button who took his first of 50 F1 podiums in 2004.

Tyre degradation is also a focal point on Malaysian Grand Prix, as it is particularly high. There is a long run to the first corner from the grid – the second longest on the current calendar – and plenty of overtaking opportunities. There are rarely safety cars at the race due to the wide run off areas. Generally, safety cars are deployed due to the heavy rain quite often seen. In 2009 the race was called off after 31 laps and half points were awarded, due to the horrible weather conditions affecting visibility.

Rosberg’s dominating win at the Australian Grand Prix confirmed the fears of the chasing teams that Mercedes have a significant advantage. There were promising signs for Red Bull who, despite having problems with Sebastian Vettel’s car, got a driver on the podium (only for him to be later disqualified). The Malaysian Grand Prix will be an interesting one for the reigning world champions who have struggled with cooling. McLaren seem to have put last years’ woes behind them, finishing with two cars on the podium (Button was promoted to third) and leading the constructors championship. While it is early days, and they do not have the outright pace that Mercedes have, it is definitely a much more solid foundation than what they had last year. Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to bounce back after an engine misfire brought an end to his Australian Grand Prix after only a few laps. Valtteri Bottas had a strong race for Williams after he clouted the wall and had to pit after picking up a puncture. He finished solidly in the top ten. His team-mate Felipe Massa was taken out at the first corner by Kamui Kobayashi, who had rear brake failure, so will be hoping to prove what his Williams car can do in Malaysia. Ferrari finished with both cars in the top ten in a solid but unspectacular result. Both Toro Rossos had a promising start to their 2014 campaign with Daniil Kvyat becoming the youngest ever driver to score points in Formula One.

For the rookies it was an impressive start in Australia. The next challenge is to maintain the standards they set for themselves. Kevin Magnussen was on the podium, Kvyat was in the points and Marcus Ericsson was impressing with his racing until his car retired due to a technical fault. Both Sauber drivers finished the race but down in 11th and 12th and a lap down. It was a dire weekend for Lotus who will be hoping to complete a race distance with at least one of their cars in Malaysia. The Marussia duo of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton both finished after initially stalling on the grid while both Caterhams retired. It is all to play for in Malaysia but as always, anything can happen and it probably will!