Tag: Mark Webber

2015: British GP Preview

It’s the British Grand Prix this weekend and, with seven of the ten teams on the grid based in the UK, it is one of the biggest events on the Formula One calendar. The Force India team are based in Silverstone while it is also the home race for Jenson Button, Will Stevens and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Last time out Nico Rosberg won, cutting the gap to Hamilton in the drivers championship to just 10 points. Felipe Massa finished in third for Williams in a repeat of their podium finish there last year in Austria.

The British Grand Prix held at Silverstone is full throttle for over 60% of the lap and it is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. The track requires medium to high downforce and features a mixture of high and low speed corners. Pirelli are bringing the medium and hard tyres for the weekend.

Circuit: Silverstone
Number of Laps: 52
Circuit Length: 5.891km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:33.401 Mark Webber (2013)
Previous British Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (15 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Hard

Last year’s race was won by Hamilton with Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo also on the podium. There was a big accident on the first lap as Kimi Raikkonen spun across the track and collected Felipe Massa which resulted in a red flag as the barriers needed repairing. Raikkonen had a first lap accident in Austria, this time collecting Fernando Alonso, bringing an end to both of their races. At a time when his future in the sport is under intense scrutiny, Raikkonen will be hoping to have a better weekend this time out. Rosberg retired from last year’s race with a gearbox issue.

Button was another retirement from the Austrian Grand Prix, as McLaren brought his car in as a precaution. He will be hoping for a better showing for McLaren at his home race. Stevens will be making his first home appearance for Manor in an F1 race.


F1 celebrates Silverstone’s 50th British Grand Prix

This weekend Formula One returns to its spiritual home at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. The home race for a number of the teams, as well as Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Max Chilton, the British Grand Prix has been on the F1 calendar since the first Formula One World Championship in 1950. All the British Grand Prix have not been held at Silverstone, however, so 2014 marks its 50th race. There will be a number of celebrations taking place over the weekend, including parades of classic cars featuring Sir Jackie Stewart in his Matra MS80, Rubens Barrichello in the 1979 Williams FW07b, and Adrian Newey in Ronnie Peterson’s March 711, amongst others.

Circuit: Silverstone
Number of Laps: 52
Circuit Length:5.891km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:33.401 Mark Webber (2013)
Previous Australian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (15 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Hard

Mercedes have dominated the year so far and, following a blip at the Canadian Grand Prix where Daniel Ricciardo won, it was business as usual at the return of the Austrian Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg led home yet another Mercedes 1-2, while Williams put in a strong showing to finish in third and fourth after Felipe Massa qualified on pole position at the head of a Williams front row lock-out.

Last year’s British Grand Prix was a bit of a disaster in regards to tyres, as there were a number of tyre explosions including for Hamilton. Pirelli will be hoping that there will be no repeat of that this weekend as they bring their hard and medium compound. There are a number of medium and high-speed corners at Silverstone which put a lot of energy through the tyres, requiring them to be durable. It is a circuit which is not demanding on brakes meaning that recovering energy through MGU-K will prove to be difficult. Another potential issue teams and drivers will face is that Silverstone is a track which requires good downforce, something that 2014 cars are low on.

In terms of circuit modifications, artificial grass has been removed from the exits of Turns five, eight and nine while the wall to the driver’s left before Turn six has been extended.

It proves to be a special weekend at Silverstone, where Hamilton will no doubt be hoping to start catching his team-mate. Rosberg is currently 29 points ahead having finished every race this year in the points while Hamilton has suffered two DNFs. Elsewhere, Williams’ Felipe Massa will be celebrating his 200th GP start and if it goes anything like his 100th, we’ll be seeing a Brazilian driver on the top step of the podium. Red Bull suffered major disappointment at their home race last time out as Sebastian Vettel once again suffered at the hands of his Renault engine while Ricciardo came home in eighth. For the other Brits this weekend it will be a bit of a different story than Hamilton. “The fast corners of the Grand Prix circuit aren’t necessarily going to suit our package,” Button said ahead of the weekend. “But, we’re bringing improvements to the car all the time, and we’re now seeing some really positive correlation between the tunnel and the track, which is encouraging for our ongoing development programme”. It is also a special weekend for Button for another reason, as hundreds of fans will turn Silverstone pink in memory of his late father, John Button. John was a popular figure in the F1 paddock, who always wore a pink shirt and was present at every race to support his son. He sadly passed away before the start of the season and it touched a lot of fans hearts and so the #pinkforpapa campagin was started. It will also see money donated to the Henry Surtees Foundation through the selling of the Pink for Papa Shirt. The third Brit on the grid is Max Chilton, who is still looking to emulate his team-mate’s points finish in Monaco.

2014: Monaco Grand Prix Preview

It’s time for the glitziest, most glamorous race of the season as the Formula One circus heads to the streets of Monte Carlo in Monaco. With its twisty and tight track many view it as the first real opportunity to beat the dominant Mercedes, as Monaco is a race like no other. It often throws up surprise results as it is a track which features the lowest average speed on the calendar (98mph) as well as having a demand for high downforce and a tricky set-up to achieve good mechanical grip. On the Formula One calendar since 1950, the Monaco Grand Prix has been a staple on the calendar since then, despite a brief absence in the early 50s.

Circuit: Circuit de Monaco
Number of Laps: 78
Circuit Length: 3.340km
Number of Corners: 19
Lap Record: 1:14.439 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous Australian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: Fernando Alonso (2006 & 2007); Kimi Raikkonen (2005), Lewis Hamilton (2008), Jenson Button (2009), Sebastian Vettel (2011), and Nico Rosberg 2013
Most Successful Team: McLaren (15 wins)
DRS Zones: 1    
Pirelli Tyres: Soft and Supersoft

Mercedes have been unstoppable at the first five races of the season. Four of them have been 1-2 finishes, with Lewis Hamilton winning four in a row. He took the lead of the championship for the first time at the Spanish Grand Prix, bumping his team-mate and closest rival down to second place. The team also have more than double the points of Red Bull – their closest rivals in the constructors championship – who will undoubtedly be looking to get ahead of the Silver Arrows for the first time this season. Monaco is a completely different ballgame to any other track on the circuit, and so it is realistic to assume that anything could happen – especially if the rumoured rain comes to fruition. Traditionally, the streets of Monaco have been a happy stomping ground for McLaren who have found themselves in the doldrums of late. Three races without picking up a single point have left them feeling frustrated, but with Monaco giving them a real opportunity to get back into the points they will no doubt be hoping to do so. Red Bull are a team who have enjoyed recent success at the Principality – winning three of the last four events there – with recently retired Mark Webber winning in 2010 and 2012, and Sebastian Vettel winning in 2011. It was Mercedes, ominously, who won last year however, a feat they will be hoping to repeat.

As if it wasn’t enough that Mercedes are winning everything, they have also dominated in qualifying too. And with track order being of more importance on a circuit which is notoriously difficult for overtaking – although it is not impossible – it could be that once again Mercedes get themselves into the position they need to be in that allows them to dictate the pace. On the plus side for the chasing pack, safety cars and race disruptions are all too familiar sights at the race as the barriers are a lot closer and more unforgiving than at other circuits. So if Mercedes do pull out an almighty lead there is a small chance of them being reeled in.

Pirelli are bringing the soft and supersoft tyres to the race – compounds which have been made harder and more durable in the past year.  Parts of the track have been resurfaced and McLaren’s Jenson Button reckons that drivers will face similar conditions to the inaugural Austin Grand Prix in 2012 – very low grip. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, has suggested that it won’t be updates making the difference this weekend, but rather confidence in the car which, around the tight and twisty streets of Monaco will be of heightened importance.

The action gets going tomorrow with free practice being held on Thursdays instead of Friday, due to a public holiday.


A Review of the Year: F1 – September & October

Part four of a review of the year (2013) in Formula One, following part one (January & February), part two (March, April & May), and part three (June, July & August).

September 2013 

At the start of September, McLaren celebrated their official 50th anniversary. The H Duct posted 50 posts over 50 days, celebrating the team and its achievements and personnel. The team held celebrations at the McLaren Technology Centre and commemorated the occasion at the Italian Grand Prix.

In driver news, Red Bull confirmed the identity of Mark Webber’s replacement. Daniel Ricciardo will make the move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull for 2014. Elsewhere, Force India confirmed that they had signed GP2 driver James Calado as their third driver.

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso topped the Italian Grand Prix practice sessions. Vettel took pole and another race win.

Felipe Massa took to Twitter to announce that he would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season. “For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the championship which remains my greatest objective,” he said.

Ferrari followed up Massa’s announcement with the news that Kimi Raikkonen would be returning. The Finn, who returned to Formula One in 2012 after two seasons away, won his world championship with the team in 2007.

The Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore was altered before the race, removing the infamous ‘Singapore Sling’ at Turn 10. The changes lowered the overall lap-times.

Lewis Hamilton topped the first practice session in Singapore but it was Sebastian Vettel who dominated the weekend – topping the remainder of practice, qualifying and winning the race.

Caterham announced a three year contract extension to their Renault deal.

A draft 2014 calendar was posted by the FIA. It included races in Russia, Mexico and New Jersey; including an unprecedented triple header between Monaco, New Jersey and Canada.

Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin made his Formula One debut at a display in Sochi, home of the new Russian Grand Prix.

October 2013

Marussia confirmed that they would be retaining Jules Bianchi for the 2014 season. The rookie driver improved on his debut, regularly out-qualifying and out-racing his team-mate and the Caterham drivers.

Lewis Hamilton topped the first two practice sessions in Korea but Sebastian Vettel took over in Free Practice Three. He then went on to qualify in pole position and win yet another race.

Sauber extended their deal with Ferrari into 2014 and beyond.

Sauber also announced that for practice in Japan, they would have Kimiya Sato as their reserve driver.

Codemasters launched the latest version of their Formula One game – F1 2013. The game features classic content from the 80s and 90s, including the FW207b, Alan Jones and Brands Hatch.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel topped the first two practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix. Mark Webber topped FP3 and took pole position but it was his team-mate, Vettel, who won the race.

Maria de Villota, a former Marussia reserve driver, sadly passed away aged 33. She sustained serious injuries after a testing crash in 2012, and died as a result of them.

Toro Rosso confirmed that Jean-Eric Vergne would remain with the team for 2014 and be partnered by Daniil Kvyat.

1,571 – the number of career points that saw Fernando Alonso become the highest scoring Formula One driver ever.

Sebastian Vettel topped every session in India and stormed to his fourth championship in style.


A Review of the Year: F1 – June, July & August

Part three of a review of the year (2013) in Formula One, following part one (January & February) and part two (March, April & May).

June 2013

Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber topped the three practice sessions prior to qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel secured pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton and an impressive Valtteri Bottas. Vettel went on to win the race.

Force India celebrated 100 GP at the Canadian Grand Prix.

A marshal was tragically killed after falling in front of a recovery truck picking up a stricken Sauber after the race.

Sebastian Vettel put an end to the increasing speculation that he would be moving to Ferrari in 2014. He signed a contract extension that will see him stay at Red Bull until the end of 2015 at least.

A date was set by the FIA’s International Tribunal for the case against Mercedes and Pirelli. Mercedes said: “We welcome the opportunity to explain the full facts of the Pirelli test in an open and transparent manner at the International Tribunal”. The hearing took place on June 20th.

The results of the International Tribunal saw Mercedes banned from the Young Driver Test and reprimanded, sharing the costs of the trial with Pirelli. The full findings can be found here.

The first driver to win a Formula One world championship race for Ferrari, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, passed away aged 90.

Lotus announced that they had sold 35% of the team to an investment company – Infinity Racing Partners Limited.

Renault revealed images of their 2014 Formula One engine. They also revealed that it was called Energy F1-2014.

Christian Horner received an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Williams chose the British Grand Prix, the location of their first race win and their 100th race win, as the location of their celebrations for their 600th Grand Prix. Their actual 600th start was at the German Grand Prix in July.

Perhaps the biggest news of June, however, was Mark Webber’s announcement that he would be retiring from the sport at the end of 2013. Rumours had been rife surrounding his future and he announced at the end of June that he would be leaving Formula One and joining Porsche’s sportscar team in the World Endurance Championship.

Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg topped the first three practice sessions at the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took pole position but it was Rosberg who won the race. Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso both also finished on the podium.

July 2013

At the start of July Pirelli announced that Kevlar-belted tyres would be used at the German Grand Prix, with a new compound being introduced from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel topped practice ahead of qualifying for the German Grand Prix. Hamilton took pole position but Vettel won the race – his first race win in the month of July and his first home Grand Prix victory.

A FOM camera man was injured in the pit-lane after being hit by a loose wheel. As a consequence, the FIA put further safety measures in place to ensure the incident did not happen again.

The Young Driver test was expanded to include regular race drivers following the fall out from Mercedes’ ‘secret’ Pirelli test. Carlos Sainz Jr was the fastest ‘young driver’, behind Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo tested for Red Bull at the Young Driver Test as they continued to assess drivers to replace Mark Webber.

Honda revealed that they would be making Milton Keynes their base for their European racing operation.

Marussia revealed that they would be using Ferrari engines from 2014 onwards. The partnership means that their three year relationship with Cosworth will be coming to an end.

Williams announced that Pat Symonds would be joining the team as their new chief technical officer.

In other technical news, Ferrari confirmed speculation that James Allison was returning to the team. His arrival at the start of September would see him take on the title of chassis technical director.

Sebastian Vettel topped the first two practice sessions for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Romain Grosjean was fastest in FP3 but it was Lewis Hamilton who secured pole position. He went on to win the race – his first victory for Mercedes – with Kimi Raikkonen securing second and Vettel third.

Adrian Sutil celebrated his 100th Grand Prix at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Hungarian Grand Prix was the last race of 2013 won by someone other than Sebastian Vettel.

August 2013

August saw teams take the mandatory two week summer break with factories shutting down.

During the summer break Kimi Raikkonen took part in a GP3 test for his friend Afa Heikkinen, team manager of Koiranen GP. He told the GP3 website: “I was curious to see how the car handled and it was actually fun to drive.”

David Ward announced that he would be standing in the FIA Presidential election. He formerly held the position of Director General of the FIA Foundation.

Here is how the season looked in numbers at the half-way stage.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel topped the practice sessions when racing resumed in Belgium after a month’s break. Lewis Hamilton denied Vettel another pole position but Vettel took the race win, starting his dominating string of nine victories in a row.


A Review of the Year: F1 – March, April & May

Part two of a review of the year (2013) in Formula One. Part one (January & February) can be found by following this link.

March 2013

No sooner had Luis Razia been announced as a Marussia driver than he was replaced by Jules Bianchi due to financial reasons.

The third and final pre-season test continued and concluded with Nico Rosberg setting the fastest overall time.

Prior to the first race of the year (the Australian Grand Prix), Formula One announced the extension of its partnership with DHL, with the company remaining as the Official Logistics and Global Partner and sponsoring the Fastest Lap Award.

Sebastian Vettel demonstrated a taster for the year ahead by topping both FP1 and FP2 in Australia. Romain Grosjean was fastest in FP3. Qualifying was delayed until Sunday due to heavy rain. Vettel took pole position but it was Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen who took the first race win of the year. Fernando Alonso and Vettel also finished on the podium. Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Button and Grosjean rounded out the top ten. The race was the first indication of the struggles McLaren would face over the year.

Mercedes announced that Chief Executive Officer Nick Fry would be standing down from his position, although remaining with the team as a consultant.

Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen topped first and second practice in Malaysia but it was Sebastian Vettel who ultimately topped FP3 and qualifying, then going on to win the race.

Force India announced that their deal with Mercedes would continue into 2014 and beyond.

Williams announced that Claire Williams had become Deputy Team Principal.

April 2013

Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were fastest in the practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took Mercedes’ first pole of the season and his first away from McLaren. Mark Webber was sent to the back of the grid after he stopped on track after qualifying, unable to provide the required fuel sample. Alonso won the race ahead of Raikkonen and Hamilton.

Caterham announced that former race driver Heikki Kovalainen would be re-joining the team as a reserve driver.

Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso topped the Bahrain Grand Prix practice sessions. Nico Rosberg took Mercedes’ second podium in a row but it was Sebastian Vettel who won the race, beating the Lotus duo of Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Sebastian Vettel became the first Formula One driver to drive at Sochi – the location of the Russian Grand Prix in 2014. He said: “I can already see it will be a fun circuit to drive in a Formula One car and the rest of the venue is very impressive.”

May 2013

In early May, Lotus announced that their Technical Director James Allison would be leaving the team. They replaced him with Nick Chester.

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa topped the Spanish Grand Prix practice sessions, but none were able to prevent Mercedes taking their third pole position in a row. It was once again Nico Rosberg, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton qualifying second to make it a front row lock-out. It was Alonso who won the race, however, beating Kimi Raikkonen and Massa to the chequered flag.

McLaren revealed that from 2015 they would once again be partnering Honda. The multi-year technology partnership would result in McLaren’s long-standing relationship with Mercedes come to an end after a final hurrah in 2014.

Mercedes announced that Paddy Lowe would join them from early June, following his early departure from McLaren.

Felipe Massa took part in a demonstration run in Warsaw. He drove the 2009 Ferrari around a specially-designed street circuit.

Pirelli announced that they would be changing their tyre constructions from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards. Paul Hembery said at the time: “Our aim is to provide the teams with a new range which mixes the stability of the 2012 tyres and the performance of the current ones.”

It was revealed that the Mercedes F1 Team had taken part in a ‘secret’ test with Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix. The matter was brought in front of the FIA International Tribunal in June.

Nico Rosberg dominated around the streets of Monaco to top all three practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself. It was his second victory of the year and saw him finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. It was Mercedes’ fourth pole position from five races.

Toro Rosso revealed that they would move from Ferrari to Renault engines from 2014 onwards.

Also on the engine front, Williams announced that they would be moving from Renault to Mercedes for 2014 and beyond.


Season number ten for Red Bull = championship number five?

It’s hard to remember a time when Infiniti Red Bull Racing weren’t winning races.

Fresh off the back of their fourth constructors’ championship, what better to way to celebrate ten seasons in Formula One than a fifth world title next year.

With 2014 comes a host of regulation changes – including 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines – which Adrian Newey and his team will no doubt have been working towards for some time now. With major regulation changes often comes a shift in the status quo. Teams can go from hero to zero just like that. Red Bull Racing went the other way in 2009, the last big regulation shake-up, becoming a regular contender (and winner) at the sharp end after being a lower mid-field runner for their first four seasons.

It’s not just the regulations that will change, however, as, following Mark Webber’s departure, World Champion Sebastian Vettel will be partnered by a different Aussie.

Daniel Ricciardo’s smile rarely falters and, with the speed he has demonstrated at Toro Rosso, he could have many more reasons to grin in 2014.

So, will they be celebrating ten seasons with a fifth championship? Only time will tell, but they’re well placed.