Lewis Hamilton takes victory in rain disrupted Brazilian Grand Prix

Two red flags and several safety cars disrupted the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, but they didn’t prevent Lewis Hamilton taking his ninth win of the season. His first victory in Brazil couldn’t have come at a better time as he prevented Nico Rosberg from wrapping up the championship.

Treacherous conditions greeted teams and drivers on Sunday and the FIA took the decision to start the race behind the safety car. Romain Grosjean became the first driver to get caught out by aquaplaning as he spun on his reconnaissance lap on the way to the grid. The race start was also delayed by ten minutes.

The race eventually concluded three hours after it started with Hamilton crossing the line 11 seconds clear of Rosberg. Max Verstappen was driver of the day as he recovered from a late spin to climb back up the order to third. Sergio Perez was fourth ahead of another spinner Sebastian Vettel. Carlos Sainz was sixth with Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo seventh and eighth.

Local driver Felipe Nasr started last on the grid but finished in ninth place ahead of Fernando Alonso in tenth. Alonso was another driver who spun during the race but recovered to score a point.

Valtteri Bottas was 11th ahead of Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Pascal Wehrlein. Jenson Button struggled throughout the race with the handling of his McLaren and was the last of 16th classified finishers.

Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, and Marcus Ericsson joined Grosjean on the sidelines after getting caught out by the conditions – their cars being sent into spins by aquaplaning and into the barrier. Jolyon Palmer cited poor visibility for his race ending accident when he made contact with Kvyat who continued. Esteban Gutierrez retired with car problems.

It was a disappointing end to his last Grand Prix for Massa who retired during the race. He was clearly emotional as he climbed out of his car after hitting the barrier, raising the Brazilian flag above his head. There were extraordinary scenes in the pit-lane as Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams congregated outside their garages to give him a guard of honour while the race was still happening. Massa was greeted by his family as he walked down the pit-lane. He later described the moment as overwhelming but said the reaction from the fans made him proud.

The championship will conclude in Abu Dhabi.

 

 

 

Lewis Hamilton takes 50th career victory with win in Austin

With Nico Rosberg firmly in control of the drivers championship, Lewis Hamilton really needed a win to reignite his fight.

He took a controlled victory at the Circuit of the Americas, beating Rosberg by four seconds and taking seven points out of his lead. It was Hamilton’s 50th career victory in F1 and at a circuit where he has won three times previously.

Hamilton took pole position on Saturday and was never really challenged for the lead of the race. Daniel Ricciardo got the jump on Rosberg at the start but the championship leader was able to come back at the Red Bull driver to finish second. Ricciardo had to settle for a distant third when his strategy was compromised by his team-mate’s retirement.

Sebastian Vettel finished in fourth for Ferrari ahead of a spirited Fernando Alonso in fifth. The Spaniard had qualified outside the top ten but drove a superb race to finish in the points. He went wheel to wheel with Felipe Massa which eventually led to a stewards investigation due to contact but ultimately no action was taken. In the closing laps of the race he also fought hard with fellow countryman Carlos Sainz who lost out to his childhood hero in the end. Sainz finished in sixth place ahead of Massa, Sergio Perez, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean. Button and Grosjean had both dropped out of qualifying in Q1 but enjoyed good races to pick up some points.

Daniil Kvyat was 11th, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer, Marcus Ericsson, and Felipe Nasr. Valtteri Bottas didn’t recover from an early puncture, eventually finishing 16th, ahead of the Manor duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.

Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire when he left the pits with a tyre not secured properly. Max Verstappen was also a retirement when he suffered transmission issues having already had a pit stop blunder during the race. He pitted when his crew were not ready for him – claiming to have thought that the team had called him in. While that cost him a lot of time, it was ultimately a car failure which led to his retirement. He pulled off at an awkward part of the track which led to the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car which in turn hampered Ricciardo’s strategy. Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg were the other retirements.

F1 2016: Japanese GP – Qualifying Times & Laps

Qualifying

Times

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:30.647
  2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:30.660
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:30.949
  4. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:31.028
  5. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:31.178
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:31.240
  7. Sergio Perez – Force India – 1:31.961
  8. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:31.961
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 1:32.142
  10. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 1:32.547
  11. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 1:32.315
  12. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:32.380
  13. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 1:32.623
  14. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 1:32.685
  15. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 1:32.689
  16. Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 1:32.807
  17. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:32.851
  18. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 1:33.023
  19. Marcus Ericsson –  Sauber – 1:33.222
  20. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 1:33.332
  21. Esteban Ocon – Manor – 1:33.353
  22. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 1:33.561

Laps

  1. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 17
  2. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 15
  3. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 14
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 14
  5. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 13
  6. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 13
  7. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 12
  8. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 12
  9. Sergio Perez – Force India – 12
  10. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 12
  11. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 12
  12. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 12
  13. Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 12
  14. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 11
  15. Felipe Massa – Williams – 11
  16. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 11
  17. Esteban Ocon – Manor – 9
  18. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 9
  19. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 7
  20. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 7
  21. Jenson Button – McLaren – 6
  22. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 6

F1 2016: Singapore GP – FP3 Times & Laps

Free Practice 3

Times

Drivers

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:44.352
  2. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:44.411 – +0.059
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:44.860 – +0.508
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:44.903 – +0.551
  5. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:45.104 – +0.752
  6. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 1:45.316 – +0.964
  7. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 1:45.503 – +1.151
  8. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:45.806 – +1.454
  9. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 1:45.879 – +1.527
  10. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 1:45.947 – +1.595
  11. Sergio Perez – Force India – 1:46.112 – +1.760
  12. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 1:46.164 – +1.812
  13. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 1:46.316 – +1.964
  14. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:46.529 – +2.177
  15. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 1:47.116 – +2.764
  16. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:47.277 – +2.925
  17. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 1:47.293 – +2.941
  18. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:47.411 – +3.059
  19. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 1:47.956 – +3.604
  20. Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 1:48.689 – +4.337
  21. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 1:49.201 – +4.849
  22. Esteban Ocon – Manor – 1:49.565 – +5.213

Teams

  1. Mercedes – 1:44.352
  2. Red Bull – 1:44.411 – +0.059
  3. Ferrari – 1:44.860 – +0.508
  4. Force India – 1:45.316 – +0.964
  5. Toro Rosso – 1:45.503 – +1.151
  6. Williams – 1:45.947 – +1.595
  7. McLaren – 1:46.164 – +1.812
  8. Haas – 1:46.316 – +1.964
  9. Renault – 1:47.116 – +2.764
  10. Sauber – 1:47.293 – +2.941
  11. Manor – 1:49.201 – +4.849

Laps

Drivers

  1. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 20
  2. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 20
  3. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 19
  4. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 18
  5. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 17
  6. Felipe Massa – Williams – 17
  7. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 16
  8. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 16
  9. Jenson Button – McLaren – 16
  10. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 15
  11. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 15
  12. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 15
  13. Sergio Perez – Force India – 15
  14. Esteban Ocon – Manor – 14
  15. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 13
  16. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 13
  17. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 13
  18. Jolyon Palmer – Renault- 13
  19. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 12
  20. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 11
  21. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 10
  22. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 9

Teams

  1. Sauber – 38
  2. Haas – 36
  3. Toro Rosso – 36
  4. Williams – 33
  5. McLaren – 29
  6. Ferrari – 28
  7. Force India – 28
  8. Red Bull – 27
  9. Mercedes – 24
  10. Renault – 24
  11. Manor – 24

Ferrari fastest at first in-season test

The first in-season test of the season has taken place at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Ten teams were in action with a mixture of race drivers and test drivers behind the wheel. Sauber opted to sit the test out. Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the two day test on the first day.

The order of the day on day one was mainly shorter, qualifying runs for teams. Three drivers completed over 100 laps – including pacesetter Vettel – while Pierre Gasly was the highest placed test driver in terms of times. Williams test driver Alex Lynn had an unusual rear wing fitted as Williams focused on aero work in preparation for 2017.

On day two Pascal Wehrlein completed testing work for Mercedes having driven his Manor on the first day. Red Bull trialled an updated engine while McLaren reserve Stoffel Vandoorne spent the day testing new parts on the McLaren. Daniil Kvyat was pleased to get some significant running under his belt as he got some “essential” laps to reacclimatise with the Toro Rosso following his seat swap. Renault were another team with an updated engine while Felipe Massa continued Williams’ aero work.

Day 1

  1. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:23.220
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:23.337 – +0.117
  3. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:23.753 – +0.533
  4. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:23.882 – +0.662
  5. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 1:24.297 – +1.077
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:24.307 – +1.087
  7. Pierre Gasly – Toro Rosso – 1:24.821 – +1.601
  8. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 1:25.467 – +2.247
  9. Alex Lynn – Williams – 1:26.071 – +2.851
  10. Esteban Ocon – Renault – 1:26.530 – +3.310

 

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 119
  2. Esteban Ocon – Renault – 105
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 103
  4. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 99
  5. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 96
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 89
  7. Jenson Button – McLaren – 86
  8. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 86
  9. Alex Lynn – Williams – 86
  10. Pierre Gasly – Toro Rosso – 78

Day 2

  1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:23.267
  2. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren – 1:24.006 – +0.739
  3. Pascal Wehrlein – Mercedes – 1:24.145 – +0.878
  4. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 1:24.592 – +1.325
  5. Antonio Fuoco – Ferrari – 1:24.720 – +1.453
  6. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 1:24.737 – +1.470
  7. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 1:25.016 – +1.749
  8. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 1:25.133 – +1.866
  9. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:27.167 – +3.900
  10. Jordan King – Manor – 1:27.615 – +4.348

 

  1. Pascal Wehrlein – Mercedes – 133
  2. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 122
  3. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 118
  4. Antonio Fuoco – Ferrari – 118
  5. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 116
  6. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren – 108
  7. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 105
  8. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 103
  9. Felipe Massa – Williams – 94
  10. Jordan King – Manor – 91

Nico Rosberg wins action packed Australian Grand Prix

The more things change the more they stay the same. You’d be forgiven for thinking that not much had changed in Formula One if you looked at the results of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix without knowing the story behind them.

Another Mercedes 1-2 finish with Sebastian Vettel once again on the podium for Ferrari at the end of the race, but when the lights went out it was a much different story. Lewis Hamilton set the headline times in practice and took pole position in a maligned qualifying session – the 50th of his career. The talking point prior to the race weekend was the new elimination style qualifying session that would see cars eliminated throughout the three sessions, rather than a number being put out at the end of each.

That was the plan anyway. Instead it turned into a clock watching exercise with many drivers climbing out of their cars before they had formally been eliminated. Hamilton had pole position wrapped up and was out of his car with three minutes of the session remaining, such was the scale of the ridiculousness of the new system. It was 1 – 0 Hamilton over team-mate Nico Rosberg but it was to be a different story on Sunday.

Daniil Kvyat’s car broke down following the warm up lap meaning just 21 cars took the start of the race. Better numbers than last year, however, when just 15 actually managed to make the lights going out. When the race did get started it wasn’t the Mercedes duo – who had locked out the front row – who led by the end of the first lap.

Vettel swept into the early lead with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen taking up second spot. Rosberg and Hamilton lost out, with Hamilton dropped right down the order to seventh in the early phases of the race. Ferrari started to pull away and with the first stop of pit-stops out of the way it looked like Vettel would be hard to beat. A red flag gave the advantage back to Mercedes who were able to gain back lost time.

The red flag was brought out following a “racing incident” between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez. Deemed a racing incident by the FIA and both drivers involved, it was a big impact with very little being left of the McLaren when it eventually came to a halt beside the barriers after being sent airborne. Thankfully both drivers emerged from their cars unaided and waving to the crowds. There was a brief delay as the debris was cleared up before racing resumed.

While both Mercedes had the medium tyres on after the stoppage, Vettel chose to continue on his set of supersofts. This meant he would have to pit again for tyres while the Mercedes duo would not. The main question was now could Vettel pull out enough of a gap to allow him a free pit-stop?

The answer was no. Rosberg took over the lead of the race as Vettel pitted and came out in fourth. He passed home favourite Daniel Ricciardo before chasing down on Hamilton. An uncharacteristic Vettel error on the penultimate lap – when the gap was down to less than a second – meant that he eventually finished in third.

Behind the trio Ricciardo came home in fourth – setting the fastest lap on his way – ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa. An overjoyed Romain Grosjean was sixth, taking points on new team Haas’ debut, with Nico Hulkenberg seventh and Valtteri Bottas eighth. The Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen finished ninth and tenth respectively although their inter-team battle was not without fireworks.

As they got caught up behind a string of cars, Verstappen was busy on the radio telling the team that he should be in front of his team-mate. His engineer gave him the OK to overtake Sainz but it was clear he would have to do it on his own as the Spaniard would not be pulling over willingly. After many laps of squabbling and angry radio messages from Verstappen, the pair eventually touched with both lucky to escape with only very minor damage and able to continue to the end.

Jolyon Palmer was just outside the points in eleventh ahead of his team-mate who picked up a first lap puncture and ended up a lap down. Kevin Magnussen was able to recover this following the red flag period. Sergio Perez was a quiet 13th with Jenson Button 14th following poor tyre strategy. Felipe Nasr and Pascal Wehrlein were 15th and 16th respectively.

Elsewhere Raikkonen retired with an airbox fire, while rookie driver Rio Haryanto failed to take the restart after the red flag due to an issue with his car.

 

F1 2016: Australian Grand Prix Preview

It is time for the talking to start and for the drivers to take to the track. With pre-season testing reduced to just two four day sessions this year, teams have had less track time to prepare for the upcoming season.

The main talking point going into the 2016 season is whether or not Ferrari will be able to close the gap to Mercedes. The Scuderia showed positive signs in testing however it is well known that you cannot take testing times at face value. Mercedes completed the most mileage of anyone but suffered a breakdown on the final day showing that reliability issues can strike and will strike at any time. The Mercedes team has been the dominant force for the past two seasons but can Ferrari take a sustained season long fight to them? Secondly, Nico Rosberg was the on form driver in Mercedes at the close of 2015 – can he maintain his form?

As well as a record breaking 21 race calendar, there is an extended grid with Haas joining. There will be three rookies on the grid this season – Jolyon Palmer steps up to a race seat with Renault while Manor has chosen to run DTM champion and Mercedes backed driver Pascal Wehrlein alongside Rio Haryanto. Making their return to the Formula One grid will be Kevin Magnussen – getting a race seat at Renault – with Esteban Gutierrez driving for Haas. Romain Grosjean has made the move from Lotus to Haas with the rest of the grid remaining as it was for 2015.

The Australian Grand Prix will once again play host to the start of the season and it is a race where there can be a lot of attrition as teams run their cars in full race mode for the first time.

Circuit: Albert Park
Number of Laps: 58
Circuit Length: 5.303km
Number of Corners: 16
Lap Record: 1:24.125 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous Australian GP winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: McLaren (12 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

For 2016 the technical regulations have remained fairly stable ahead of bigger changes in 2017. There is still scope for teams to improve though and eyes will be on certain teams in particular. One such team will be McLaren following their tumultuous 2015 reunion with engine partner Honda. They had a much more reliable winter, completing more laps in one day at the opening test than they managed over four days at the first test last year. The team are confident they have made gains performance wise but it remains to be seen where they will feature in the pecking order. Renault return to the fray as a constructor for the first time since 2009. They have Kevin Magnussen joining them after a year on the sidelines and it was in Melbourne he took his one and only podium to date in F1 back in 2014 with McLaren.

The last time new teams joined Formula One, they clearly struggled. Only Manor remains of those three teams and Haas will be hoping they won’t meet the same fate as HRT and Caterham. The Haas F1 project has been a long time coming and suggestions are they could be fighting for points straight away. With experienced driver and podium finisher Romain Grosjean on board and former Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez, they have a line-up who are certainly capable of performing.

Elsewhere Red Bull will be racing with their Tag Heuer branded engines and hoping for better fortunes than last year. Sister team Toro Rosso has made the switch back to Ferrari engines for this year and both their drivers – Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen – will be hoping for as good a season, if not better, that they both enjoyed in their rookie year.

It’s all change at Manor with two rookies taking over from last year’s drives. Pascal Wehrlein is the reigning DTM driver while Rio Haryanto enjoyed his best ever GP2 performance in 2015. Force India will be hoping to at least maintain their performance from last year where they finished a best ever fifth in the constructors championship. Williams and Sauber will run with the same drivers as they raced in 2015 and both teams will hope to make steps forward from their respective positions.

For the season ahead there are new Pirelli tyre rules and a new qualifying format which could shake up proceedings. An elimination style qualifying will take place, with cars being eliminated throughout Q1, Q2, and Q3 rather than just at the end of each session. Drivers also get to choose what tyre compounds they want from the three nominated by Pirelli. It is hoped this will lead to a bigger variation in strategies, thus shaking up the racing.