Race Recap: Hamilton reignites championship fight with win in Monza after Rosberg makes mistake

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza started under a cloud of controversy following the incident between the two Mercedes drivers at Spa, a cloud that would not disperse all weekend.

Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory after a perfect weekend which saw him top all three practice sessions, gain pole by over a quarter of second from his teammate and chanter to victory despite a poor start and niggling electrical  issues throughout the weekend.

At the race start Lewis Hamilton looked set to prove that bad luck was truly catching as he suffered yet another failure with the race start setup failing to engage losing three places and vitally the lead to teammate Nico Roseberg. Compounding issues was the fast starting McLaren of Magnussen who had sling-shotted his way up to second in a seemly determined move to demonstrate his worth to the Mclaren team bosses as he continues to fight for his seat at the Woking based outfit.

The Williams’ had shown pace all weekend and Felipe Massa managed to pass his teammate Vatterai Bottas to gain third ahead of Hamilton. Bottas, it was later discovered, had suffered an electrical software issue on his race start dropping from fourth to eleventh. Williams’ Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds said after the race that the start was not even recognised as a race start on their telemetry.

However, the flying Finn showcased the raw racers talent that he has shown at so many points in his first two seasons in F1 as he fought his way up the field with some fantastic manoeuvres on Vettel, Magnussen and Ricciardo to take fourth behind his teammate and score some valuable points for Williams in their fight with Ferrari in the constructors championship.

Unfortunately for the avid Tifosi the prancing horse proved more of a leisurely stroller for Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, with Raikkonen qualifying a lowly 11th after a penalty to Daniel Kyat and Fernando Alonso in seventh unable to fight for the second row of the grid let alone pole.

Rosberg began having issues when approaching turn one as early as lap nine, running off the track and through the chicane losing 1.8 seconds of his lead and allowing Felipe Mass’s Williams and his teammate to close in on him.

As Massa sat in second his Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas was fantastically fighting his way through the field from eleventh and by lap fourteen had passed local hero Fernando Alonso easily around the outside on the main straight for seventh place and two laps later put the same beautiful move on Jenson Button to gain sixth.

Meanwhile, Hamilton had also been steaming through the field passing Felipe Massa easily around the outside of the chicane for second place and had been cutting into his teammates lead by half a second a lap despite calls from his team to hang back and preserve his tyres.

Hamilton’s determination paid off as on lap twenty eight Roseberg run off the track at the chicane for a second time, this time allowing his teammate to take the lead. Within the space of a few laps Hamilton had extended his lead to four seconds and it was Rosberg’s turn to be asked to slow down and preserve tyres and fuel by the team.  The mistake by Rosberg was considered b many after the race as a sign that the pressure mounted on him after Spa was being to show, whilst others formed conspiracy theories after Toto Wolff was deemed to have smiled after the mistake.

As Mercedes held a comfortable one- two the prancing horses of Ferrari were looking a little lame as Fernando Alonso’s car slowed to a stop at the side of turn one with an electrical problem, his first mechanical retirement since 2010 and the only time he had not been on the podium at Monza in his Ferrari career. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile appeared to be off the pace down in ninth place.

Further down the field an epic battle was occurring between the two McLaren’s and Sergio Perez’s Force India. Kevin Magnussen had received a five second penalty for an earlier incident with Valtteri Bottas where the stewards had deemed him to have forced Bottas off the track; this was added to his time after the race placing him down in tenth and with a solitary point.

On lap thirty seven Bottas finally managed to pass Magnussen with a move down the main straight after being held up for at least four laps. He then set off after Vettel passing him for fourth.

Meanwhile Magnussen’s teammate Jenson Button sparred with Perez for seventh place passing him into the first corner on lap thirty nine only to run wide and allow Perez to regain the position, the constant changing of positions carried on until the end of the race with Perez ultimately the winner holding onto seventh place.

Riccardo on lap forty seven illustrated to the world and his team that his teammate four time world champion Sebastian Vettel did not intimidate him with a fantastic move down the inside of the second chicane, taking fifth place behind Bottas.

Raikkonen continued Ferrari’s 80 race long point scoring streak despite a poor weekend for the Scuderia, gaining ninth after Kevin Magnussen’s penalty and Daniel Kyvat, who had been closing in for a number of laps, suffered a brake issue going straight on through turn one.

Overall not the renaissance that Ferrari had be hoping for at their home Grand Prix and on Monday it was announced that their long time president Luca di Montezemolo will be stepping down, rumoured to be caused by a wish for a fresh start and return to winning ways for the majestic team.

The win for Hamilton signalled the turnaround of his championship fight with a dominant performance to reduce the points deficit to twenty two points with six races to go.

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Race Recap: Ricciardo secures third win in Belgium after Mercedes clash

War. That was the residing feeling from the Belgian Grand Prix as teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg connected on lap one causing a puncture for Hamilton, front wing damage for Rosberg and handed a third win to the ever present Daniel Ricciardo.

The feeling around the paddock and amongst fans appeared to be that this was inevitable; a collision when fighting for the title in such a dominant car between two incredibly talented drivers appearing unavoidable.

Since the third race of the season in Bahrain the tension between the teammates appeared to be building at Qualifying in Monaco and an on-track fight in Hungary and finally that tension came to a head in the Belgium grand prix.

In Qualifying it was Rosberg who secured pole by a comfortable two tenths of a second but a fantastic start for Hamilton allowed him to take the lead of the race with an overtaking move around the outside of turn one.

Vettel then attempted to take Hamilton on the outside of La Combes, but ran wide off the track and along the sleeping policeman which allowed Rosberg to re-pass for second.

On the next lap Hamilton ran wide through Eau Rouge and Rosberg lined up alongside him before backing out of the move, tapping Lewis’s left rear tyre with his front wing end plate in the process and giving his teammate an instant puncture.

The contact damaged Hamilton’s floor as he dragged his three wheeled wagon back to the pits and came out at the back of the field where he stayed until his retirement on lap 40 to save his engine. Rosberg, meanwhile, had sustained damage to his front wing and decided to err on the side of caution and changed his front wing in his first pit stop.

Hamilton was on the racing line and Hamilton reported that apparently Rosberg had said after the race during a team briefing that he did not back out of the move to make a point to his teammate. He has been reprimanded by Mercedes with a fine after Toto Wolff stated that it was “unacceptable”. Rosberg’s action meant he was booed on the podium despite his assertion at the time that he had done nothing wrong and that the fans were wrong to boo without understanding the regulations. On the Friday after the race Rosberg issued a statement on his Facebook page apologising to his teammate to which Hamilton responded by releasing a statement saying both had done things that could be considered wrong.

Teammate battles seemed the issue of the day as Ricciardo started honing on Vettel in the sister Red Bull and on lap 9 he had passed for second place after Vettel ran wide into Pouhon. Despite Vettel pitting earlier Ricciardo managed to stay ahead of his teammate and ultimately Rosberg to take his third race win of the season and his career.

Rosberg’s day went from bad to worse as on lap 16 the Mercedes powered Williams of Bottas glided past him on the Kemmel straight to take fourth place and a later pass on Jenson Button was deemed illegal by the stewards as he had run off track limits. However, he quickly showcased his pace by steaming past Alonso for third place on lap 26 and began chasing after Valtteri Bottas’ Williams and leader Ricciardo.

After the second round of pit stops on lap 36 Rosberg came out just front of Bottas allowing Valtteri to showcase his speed and skill with a move around the outside coming into the chicane.  However, he did not hold onto third for long as Rosberg made a daring move around the inside of Bottas going into Blanchimont .

Rosberg then quickly despatched a struggling Kimi Raikkonen on older tyres for second place and then set about cutting into the one stopping Daniel Ricciardo’s 20 second lead by over three seconds a lap.

Meanwhile Fernando Alonso was fighting with Kevin Magnussen’s Mclaren for fifth place, Magnussen fantastically defended a move around the outside by Alonso and Alonso was pushed onto the grass, a move that Fernando and the stewards believed was too aggressive. After the race Kevin Magnussen was awarded a 20 second time penalty and fell from sixth to twelfth.

Despite the late charge from Rosberg Daniel Ricciardo held onto a three second gap and secured his third win of the season with Valtteri Bottas gaining a fantastic third for Williams. Rosberg extended his championship lead over Hamilton by 18 points but as was clear after the race the ramifications and price of those points was incredibly high.

Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes to first constructor’s title at inaugural Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton led from practically start to finish at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi to bring his Mercedes team their first constructor title with a one two with teammate Nico Rosberg.

The weekend was over-clouded by the critical but stable state of Marussia driver Jules Bianchi at a Japanese hospital after last week’s race at Suzuka. As a sign of respect the Marussia team decided to run only one car for the weekend instead of seeking a replacement as a sign of support for Bianchi and his family.

Hamilton secured pole on Saturday by two tenths of a second from teammate Nico Rosberg with Bottas third and Jenson button with the second best qualifying of the year in fourth, Daniil Kyvat put in a stunning performance to take fifth for Torro Rosso in front of his home crowd and Daniel Ricciardo out performed his teammate Sebastian Vettel yet again with sixth place on the grid.

The start of the race held memories of Spa with Nico Rosberg shooting up behind his teammate for the lead in the second phase of the start going into turn two, the move caused him to go shooting off the track as he missed his braking forcing him to give the place back to Lewis and pit at the end of the first lap as he had severely flat spotted his tyres causing severe vibrations to his car.

Fernando Alonso made a characteristically good start moving to fifth from seventh past Kyvat.

Kyvat continued to fall down the field steadily with Vettel and Ricciardo moving past him for seventh and eighth as Ricciardo lost places on the start.

The poor start by Ricciardo proved costly as he ended up behind his teammate Vettel who was causing a queue to form behind him with Ricciardo, Jean Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen all fighting to pass him. Vettel did not appear to be asked to move over by the team and Ricciardo pitted at lap 12 releasing Vergne, Raikkonen and Kyvat.

Meanwhile up front Bottas was doing a good job to keep Lewis Hamilton within his sights, however it was clear that Hamilton was clearly coasting after his teammate, and championship rival’s, earlier mistake.

Marussia’s awful weekend continued with their only car of Max Chilton retiring on lap 12 after complaining of vibrations on his tyres.

Bottas had been fighting Vettel for second but as he failed to make his way through Rosberg began closing the gap to the fighting duo. Bottas was released when Vettel pitted allowing him and Rosberg to fight each other for the second step on the podium.

Unleashed by Vettel’s pit stop Rosberg made a daring move on Bottas for second down the inside of turn two which forced Bottas wide and onto the tarmac and giving Mercedes a one-two finish to dominantly secure their first constructors world championship title.

On lap thirty three Kamui Kobayashi retired from the race, and stated that he was not sure why the car was retired as he was only informed by his team that there was an issue. After the race the team stated the retirement was due to safety and the misunderstanding was simply down to a lack of communication.

At the end of the race Jenson Button in fourth was closing in on Bottas with Magnussen also running well in fifth; illustrating that McLaren’s promise on Friday was an indication of real improvement and pace. Furthermore, the fourth and fifth places for Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen whilst Perez and Hulkenberg did not score allowed McLaren to go to fifth, ahead of Force India in the World Championship.

Meanwhile home favourite Daniil Kyvat was steadily falling down the field from fifth and by lap 37 Nico Hulkenberg was sizing up the young Russian for fourteenth place. Kyvat ran wide at turn two and Hulkenberg streaked past.

Hamilton’s stunning victory in Russia both solidified Mercedes the constructors and extended his championship lead over his teammate Rosberg to seventeen points with only three races to go.  Going into the Circuit of the Americas in Austin this weekend, a track Hamilton claims is one of his favourites, the title battle has never been hotter.

As we gear up for Austin I will be releasing race recaps to  charter Lewis Hamilton’s fight back in the championship from a thirty two point deficit to a seventeen point lead in a mere matter of races.

Sombre Mood in Sochi for Inaugural Grand Prix

Marussia announced on Friday morning before free practice one that they have decided to only run the one car, Max Chilton’s, this weekend out of respect to their driver Jules Bianchi who is still fighting for his life in a critical but stable condition in Japan. As this is Marussia first home race this is a deeply significant move.

All cars and drivers are running a message of support for Jules and it is clear that thoughts are still firmly with him. The Marussia team have built his car and it will remain on his side of the garage all weekend to illustrate that although he is not racing this weekend he is still racing on with Marussia, an incredibly poignant message of support for him and his family from the team.

1913-14 was the last time a Russian grand prix was run, and this challenging track around the Olympic park, the third longest on the calendar with 3.63m, promises to be worth the wait. The long and narrow pit lane could provide some excitement through the race if there is traffic in the pit lane.

Nico Rosberg put in the first timed lap of the Sochi Olympic park track with a 1.45.186 having come out early and practised his starts. Hamilton then quickly put in a quicker time by only a few hundredths of a second despite a slight vibration on his brakes which brought him into the garage soon after.

This issue proved to be an issue that kept him in the garage for most of the practice session as the Mercedes team investigated the brakes to find the source of the issue.

Sergei Sorokin was making his Formula One debut at his home grand prix with the Sauber team in place of Estaban Gutierrez in free practice one and managed to get within four tenths of his teammate Adrian Sutil by the end of the session.

Jenson Button of McLaren shocked at the end of the first half an hour of Practice One by topping the leader board by more than a second from second place Valtteri Bottas.

It was not only Lewis Hamilton who suffered with a brake issue, as Kimi Raikkonen was also made to sit out the majority of free practice one with a brake issue that was causing oversteer and tyre graining.

With half an hour to go of Free practice one Valtteri experienced an unusual issue with his Williams as a malfunctioning tyre blanket overheated and destroyed his tyres making it unable for him to take any further part in the session.

As the session came drew to a close many drivers found themselves running off the track with lock ups a they searched for the limits, Hamilton also felt he had not fully got the most out of himself and the car as he implored his team for another flying lap sacrificing a long run lap for the opportunity to keep pushing. At the time he was in second 0.065 off his teammate Rosberg’s best time.

Classifications after Free Practice One

Rosberg Mercedes 1.42.311

Hamilton Mercedes +0.065

Button McLaren Mercedes+0.196

Alonso Ferrari +0.409

Magnussen McLaren Mercedes +0.715

Perez Force India Mercedes +0.818

Kyvat STR Renault +0.853

Raikkonen Ferrari +0.901

Vergne STR Renault +1.016

Bottas Williams Mercedes +1.231

Massa Williams Mercedes +1.430

Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Renault +1.510

Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes +1.665

Vettel Red Bull Racing Renault +2.195

Sutil Sauber Ferrari + 2.314

Maldonado Lotus Renault +2.565

Sirotkin Sauber Ferrari +2.721

Grosjean Lotus Renault +2.879

Merhi Caterham Renault +4.471

Ericsson Caterham Renault +4.611

Chilton Marussia Ferrari +4.973

Hamilton’s third consecutive win overshadowed by a horrific head injury for Bianchi in Suzuka

Marussia’s Jules Bianchi is fighting for his life after sustaining a severe head injury after colliding with the back of a tractor which was retrieving Adrian Sutil’s Sauber during the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The race was red flagged after 44 laps due to the collision and results were counted back a lap giving Hamilton the win, Rosberg second and Vettel third.

Questions over the start time of the race circulated the paddock all weekend as there was knowledge of the bad weather coming in since Friday but the race promoters refused  to bring the race forward four hours.

A safety car was decided on for the start of the grand prix with only two laps being completed before the red flag came out to stop the race after drivers complained of poor visibility and a high level of standing water.

Under the safety car Marcus Ericcson’s Caterham had spun onto the gravel trap with marshals helping to push his car so he could rejoin the race. Shortly after Lewis Hamilton stated that he could not see his teammate Rosberg in the lead due to the conditions.

The teams run out into the pit lane as work on the car was allowed under these conditions and after fifteen minutes the race was restarted under the safety car.

Four corners into the restart Fernando Alonso became the first car to retire from the Japanese grand prix after suffering from a suspected electronics problem.

When the race had been restarted the rain had sufficiently eased causing many drivers to call for the safety car to release them and allow the race to resume well before it eventually did after 9 laps.

Jenson Button, a well known master of changeable conditions, was the first to jump for intermediate tyres coming in just after the safety car’s release on lap 10, a move that proved to be highly successful as he matched the pace of the leaders triggering the rest of the field to come in soon after.

The Williams cars quickly became detached from the Mercedes as they proved the car was not best suited to wet conditions. The Red bull of Ricciardo, which was set up for wet weather conditions, soon closed up on the back of Felipe Massa.

Quickly intermediate tyres proved to be the best tyre with most of the field coming into the pits placing Button in third from eighth. However, the Mercedes duo stayed out longer choosing to pit five laps later with Hamilton unable to jump his teammate for the lead.

Their wet weather set up proved handy for both Red Bull drivers as Vettel passed Massa around the outside on lap 16 quickly followed by his teammate Riccardo around the outside before the Dunlop curve. A few laps later both Red Bulls made their way past Bottas in the other Williams for fourth and fifth places respectively.

The pace of the Red Bull’s began to trouble the Mercedes in front as they began to lap considerably slower with leader Nico Rosberg suffering from oversteer as his teammate Hamilton clung to his rear wing. When DRS was enabled on lap twenty five Hamilton was obviously faster and a move for both the lead of the race and the championship soon appeared inevitable.

That move finally came on lap 29 as Hamilton pulled off a beautifully daring move around the outside of turn one as his teammate heavily defended his line around the previous corner. Hamilton quickly proved that he did in fact have vastly superior speed as he pulled out a two second gap by the end of the lap.

A slow pit stop for Jenson Button on lap thirty two caused him to lose third place to Sebastian Vettel, the issue being an electronics problem which affected both McLaren cars causing the steering wheel to have to be changed during the stop.

The rain started falling fairly heavily again around lap thirty eight with some, such as Kevin Magnussen coming in for extreme wet tyres. As the rain fell a few incidents occurred throughout the grid, with Sebastian Vettel aquaplaning off the track allowing Jenson Button to close in on him for third place.

An almighty fight occurred between Button and Riccardo for fourth place over the next few laps with the Australian managing to pass several times but unable to make the move stick.

Then on lap forty three Adrian Sutil of Sauber suffered an accident on the Dunlop curve colliding with the tyre barrier, Sutil walked away unharmed and a tractor was brought out to clear his car under double waved yellows.

On the next lap Jules Bianchi’s Marussia suffered a similar accident to Sutil, unfortunately however his car made contact with the back of the recovery tractor causing a severe head injury and for him to lose consciousness.

The podium was a sombre affair with Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel refraining from spraying the champagne as it was clear their thoughts, and the rest of the paddock’s, were with their colleague.

As of Thursday afternoon Jules Bianchi had received one operation at a local Japanese hospital for diffuse axonal injury, a severe head injury, and was claimed to be in a critical but stable condition requiring aid to breathe.

Going into the next race this Sunday at Sochi in Russia Hamilton leads Rosberg in the championship by ten points with four races to go.

Rosberg secures pole in Suzuka

Qualifying at Suzuka was overshadowed by a bombshell this morning, with an explosion occurring in the driver market as Red Bull announced Sebastian Vettel’s departure from the team he secured four world titles with.
The action out of track produced slightly less drama with Rosberg storming to pole by two tenths of a second from Hamilton who suffered from a lock up on his final flying lap.
The weekend did not start smoothly for the championship leader Hamilton with a crash in the third free practice session necessitating a repair job on his car that continued up to the very last few minutes before qualifying.
The Williams’ proved yet again that they are the ‘best of the rest’ with Valtteri Bottas putting in a fantastic performance to take third on the grid ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa.
Despite questions over his future as a move to Ferrari by Sebastian Vettel appears most likely, Fernando Alonso yet again put in a good performance to take fifth, five places ahead and eight tenths of a second faster than his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Fernando has stated that he has both a plan and options for his future but nothing has yet been announced, with Ferrari refusing to comment over Vettel’s rumoured arrival at the team next season.
The seemingly only option for Fernando Alonso in 2015 appears to be at McLaren who are hoping to return to the top end of the sport in 2015 with their new engine partnership with Honda. However, after leaving the team in 2007 earlier than he was contracted, will the door at McLaren be open to him?
The apparent feeling is that Honda wish for a driver of Fernando’s calibre to be spearheading their world championship chances so surely this can be the only option for Fernando other than perhaps a year out of the sport, a risky move considering he is now one of the oldest drivers on the grid.
Red Bull have quickly announced their line up for next year shutting down any opportunity for Alonso to make a straight swap with Vettel, with 20 year old Daniil Kyvat promoted to the Red Bull seat after just one season for Torro Rosso.
This leaves a gap in Torro Rosso, with Max Verstappen already announced to be replacing Jean-Eric Vergne for next year surely a driver such as Carlos Sainz Jr will be promoted up through the Red Bull young driver programme to the remaining F1 seat.
Seemingly the future of McLaren’s drivers appears to be on less than solid ground with a chance that Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen may be replaced by the now available Fernando Alonso. McLaren have refused to confirm their driver line up all year, but surely while at Honda’s home circuit there can be no better time to do so.
A storm appears to be brewing over the F1 paddock with both threats of a super typhoon that may affect the race tomorrow and a driver announcement that may just blow the whole driver market into disarray, either way tomorrow’s race has all the ingredients to be a real showstopper.
Qualifying classifications:
1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1.32.506
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +0.197
3. Valtteri Bottas – Williams i + 0.622
4. Felipe Massa- Williams + 1.021
5. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari + 1.234
6. Daniel Ricciardo- Red Bull Racing + 1.569
7. Kevin Magnussen -McLaren Mercedes + 1.736
8. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes +1.811
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing +1.926
10. Kimi Raikkonen- Ferrari +2.042