Lewis Hamilton notches up third home win at British Grand Prix

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.

Sebastian Vettel edges Lewis Hamilton in Austrian FP3

It started to rain in the third and final practice session ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg was fastest in the first practice session before Sebastian Vettel overcame mechanical issues to go fastest in free practice two.  It was the Ferrari driver who remained at the top for Saturday morning’s practice although just 17 thousandths of a second clear of Lewis Hamilton.

Most of the fastest times were set in the first half of the session due to the rain that came in the second half. The rain started to fall heavily with about 25 minutes remaining. Kimi Raikkonen ran through the gravel at Turn 6 while Rosberg came off at Turn 2. Some drivers went out on the intermediate tyre but Nico Hulkenberg reported there was no grip at all as he slid off the track at Turn 4. Carlos Sainz and Vettel both also had offs at the track condition got worse.

Sergio Perez suffered a right front puncture during the session while Marcus Ericsson reported a lack of energy on the pit straight. Romain Grosjean encountered a gearbox issue during the session while Fernando Alonso compounded McLaren’s difficult weekend so far by coming to a halt on the pit straight. Both McLarens will take 25 place grid penalties for various changes, including a full engine change for Jenson Button. Alonso’s stop brought out a red flag as the rain started to fall.

Free practice 3 results:

  1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:09.994 – 16 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:10.011 – 16 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:10.177 – 12 laps
  4. Sergio Perez – 1:10.221 – 14 laps
  5. Nico Rosberg – 1:10.332 – 23 laps
  6. Felipe Massa – 1:10.408 – 18 laps
  7. Valtteri Bottas – 1:10.417 – 14 laps
  8. Max Verstappen – 1:10.436 – 23 laps
  9. Pastor Maldonado – 1:10.576 – 12 laps
  10. Romain Grosjean – 1:10.863 – 8 laps
  11. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:11.009 – 14 laps
  12. Marcus Ericsson – 1:11.058 – 22 laps
  13. Daniil Kvyat – 1:11.139 – 14 laps
  14. Fernando Alonso – 1:11.168 – 13 laps
  15. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:11.819 – 10 laps
  16. Felipe Nasr – 1:11.906 – 9 laps
  17. Jenson Button – 1:12.616 – 16 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:13.328 – 14 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:13.960 – 8 laps

Sebastian Vettel overcomes problems to go fastest in Austrian FP2

After completing just four laps in the first practice session – which was topped by Nico Rosberg – Sebastian Vettel came back to top the times in FP2.

A number of drivers instantly took to the track for installation laps while Vettel completed the first flying lap. Kimi Raikkonen instantly went faster than his team-mate but then locked up his tyres into Turn 1. Romain Grosjean was back in the car after sitting out FP1  to allow test and reserve driver Jolyon Palmer some time in the car.

Fernando Alonso was running McLaren’s new shorter nose while Jenson Button continued with the old specification. Following issues in FP1, Alonso completed 17 laps. He was forced to stop as a precaution in the second practice session after Button’s car suffered an ignition plug problem. As a result McLaren missed the opportunity to complete option tyre runs.  Many drivers complained about tyres and the handling of their cars as they progressed through the session.

Kimi Rakkonen was the first driver to put the super soft tyres on but Rosberg instantly beat his time on the option tyre run. Then Vettel went fastest by just hundredths of a second. A yellow flag was brought out at Turn 3 with twenty minutes of the session remaining. It was due to Roberto Merhi taking a trip across the gravel, something which then happened to Pastor Maldonado as well.

Free Practice Two results:

  1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:09.600 – 28 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:09.611 – 50 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:09.860 – 41 laps
  4. Pastor Maldonado – 1:09.914 – 44 laps
  5. Lewis Hamilton – 1:10.137 – 49 laps
  6. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:10.160 – 49 laps
  7. Romain Grosjean – 1:10.267 – 38 laps
  8. Max Verstappen – 1:10.356 – 48 laps
  9. Felipe Nasr – 1:10.495 – 39 laps
  10. Sergio Perez – 1:10.585 – 46 laps
  11. Carlos Sainz – 1:10.631 – 50 laps
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:10.686 – 48 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:10.744 – 40 laps
  14. Valtteri Bottas – 1:10.746 – 34 laps
  15. Felipe Massa – 1:11.011 – 42 laps
  16. Fernando Alonso – 1:11.517 – 17 laps
  17. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:11.676 – 38 laps
  18. Jenson Button – 1:11.919 – 17 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:12.522 – 34 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:13.094 – 34 laps

Nico Rosberg leads the way in Austrian FP1

Nico Rosberg topped the times in the first free practice session for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Last year’s race winner finished three tenths clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton while Kimi Raikkonen was sixth tenths off the lead Mercedes in third.

After the installation runs and laps, Rosberg led the times on the extra tyre compound with a 1:11.389. Sebastian Vettel came to a stop on track after just four laps, revealing to the team that he had “lost drive”. In the pit-lane there was drama as Felipe Massa narrowly avoided hitting Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene as he crossed to the pit wall. 2014 pole sitter Massa went on to finish the session in ninth place while team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fourth.

Jolyon Palmer was in action for Lotus while Romain Grosjean watched the action from the pit wall. He ended the session in 14th just hundredths of a second shy of team-mate Pastor Maldonado. Max Verstappen struggled with the handling of his car throughout the session while Jenson Button struggled with tyre temperature. Button’s team-mate Fernando Alonso had issues of his own early on when he was forced to coast back to the pit-lane after an electrical harness connection issue following his installation lap. Despite what the team described as a “minor gearbox issue” he was able to get back on track but just completed 10 laps.

Free Practice 1 results:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:10.401 – 36 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:10.709 – 28 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:11.028 – 22 laps
  4. Valtteri Bottas – 1:11.452 – 26 laps
  5. Felipe Nasr – 1:11.633 – 28 laps
  6. Danil Kvyat – 1:11.642 – 31 laps
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:11.724 – 29 laps
  8. Max Verstappen – 1:11.825 – 38 laps
  9. Felipe Massa – 1:11.890 – 29 laps
  10. Sergio Perez – 1:11.905 – 37 laps
  11. Carlos Sainz – 1:11.948 – 32 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:12.004 – 34 laps
  13. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:12.031 – 36 laps
  14. Jolyon Palmer – 1:12.050 – 27 laps
  15. Marcus Ericsson – 1:12.159 – 30 laps
  16. Jenson Button – 1:12.920 – 30 laps
  17. Fernando Alonso – 1:13.272 – 10 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:13.937 – 29 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:15.459 – 11 laps
  20. Sebastian Vettel – 1:15.684 – 4 laps

Lewis Hamilton back on top at Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton was back on the top step of the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix, leading home another Mercedes 1-2. Valtteri Bottas completed the podium positions – his first since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton only briefly lost the lead of the race in the pit-stop phase but was never really challenged by Rosberg, who bemoaned a poor tyre choice in qualifying costing him the chance to take the fight to his team-mate for pole position. The Mercedes duo did not have a perfect run to the line with Hamilton being asked to conserve fuel while Rosberg was asked to conserve his brakes. They both made it and with a 30 plus second advantage over the Williams of Bottas, the victory was never in doubt.

Entertainment was provided by Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa fighting through the field. Mechanical issues had seen them both start near the back of the grid and both drivers went wheel to wheel with others to fight back to points scoring positions. Vettel eventually finished in fifth place – just behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – while Massa was just behind him in sixth. Raikkonen had enjoyed his best grid position of the year starting third but a spin cost him the chance to finish on the podium. He was able to continue but it cost him valuable time as Bottas passed him on track and he was not able to close the gap again.

Elsewhere there was some drama as Romain Grosjean and Will Stevens had a coming together. As they headed down the back straight towards the pit-lane, Grosjean pulled across on the Manor driver. Stevens’ front wing was damaged while Grosjean suffered a puncture and had to limp into the pits – surprising his team. Grosjean was given a five second post race penalty and had two points added to his licence.

Stevens’ team-mate Roberto Merhi suffered Manor’s first retirement of the year with a broken drive shaft. He was joined on the sidelines by Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on another difficult afternoon for McLaren-Honda. Alonso had been asked to save fuel and he had responded that he did not want to. He eventually retired due to a loss of power. Button lasted a bit longer but was brought into the pits to retire his car. He had already started at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty which also meant he had to take a drive through penalty within the first three laps, leaving him on the back foot.

Pastor Maldonado finished in seventh place to finally secure his first points of the season while Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth despite a trip across the high kerbs at the final chicane. He had been going wheel-to-wheel with Vettel and ended up spinning, but there was no contact between the pair. Daniil Kvyat finished ninth for Red Bull with Grosjean holding on to tenth despite his penalty.

Sunny days – Canadian GP quali

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).

Hamilton leads the pack in Montreal first practice

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:

  1.  Lewis Hamilton – 1:16.212 – 34 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:16.627 – 38 laps
  3. Romain Grosjean – 1:17.721 – 35 laps
  4. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:17.871 – 34 laps
  5. Sebastian Vettel – 1:17.905 – 25 laps
  6. Felipe Massa – 1:17.985 – 28 laps
  7. Daniil Kvyat – 1:18.021 – 30 laps
  8. Pastor Maldonado – 1:18.026 – 41 laps
  9. Fernando Alonso – 1:18.128 – 34 laps
  10. Max Verstappen – 1:18.257 – 24 laps
  11. Valtteri Bottas – 1:18.325 – 40 laps
  12. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:18.439 – 26 laps
  13. Sergio Perez – 1:18.503 – 28 laps
  14. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:18.775 – 24 laps
  15. Jenson Button – 1:18.786 – 25 laps
  16. Felipe Nasr – 1:18.948 – 30 laps
  17. Carlos Sainz – 1:19.065 – 23 laps
  18. Marcus Ericsson – 1:19.165 – 32 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:20.616 – 33 laps
  20. Will Stevens – 1:20.624 – 27 laps