Rosberg reignites title fight and secures pole position trophy in Brazil

There is only one word for the final qualifying session in Brazil and that was tight. The top ten were covered by only a second and vitally Lewis Hamilton lost pole to his teammate Nico Rosberg by only three hundredths of a second. Home favourite Felipe Massa also shined by beating his Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas by only six hundredths of a second to round off a top three separated by only two tenths.

It was apparent from the very start of Q1 that it was going to be a tight fight as the Mercedes cars went out on the softer, and subsequently faster, tyres straight away to secure their progression through to Q2.

At the start of the session Fernando Alonso was heard on the radio complaining to the Ferrari team he is expected to depart at the end o f the season, after he was sent out on a flying lap with no battery charge which allowed him to be passed by a Lotus on the track.

Among the high ranking names that were made to sweat as the session came to a close was Sebastian Vettel in thirteenth place as the two Sauber cars managed to squeeze their way through at the expense of the Lotus’s of Grosjean and Maldonado, Jean-Eric-Vergne’s Torro Rosso, who was complaining of understeer, and Sergio Perez’s Force India who will also receive a seven place grid penalty after being deemed to have caused an accident in Austin.

In the second qualifying session the success Sauber had experienced in Q1 seemed to be undone as Adrian Sutil ran wide onto the grass at Junção and was unable to find a way through to the top ten shoot out.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was also unable to re-enact his previous fantastic performances at a track of which he gained pole position in 2010 to put at least one Force India through to the final session after his teammate Perez was unable to get past Q1.

McLaren decided to risk not sending Button out for another lap in Q2 as they deemed him to be safe with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen unable to go faster than him.

Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo had to put in a good lap with only thirty seconds to go to get out of the bottom four. Daniil Kyvat also decided not to go out as he had a seven place rid penalty left over from Austin for a component change.

Going into Q3 the momentum well and truly appeared to be with Rosberg who had been fastest in every single session that weekend, with Felipe Massa sneaking past Hamilton in Q2 and receiving standing ovation from the home crowd for his efforts.

The Williams cars looked genuinely threatening to the Mercedes duo as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas stayed within a tenth of a second until the last flying laps by the Mercedes drivers despite a lock up on Bottas’ first flying lap.

Kimi Raikkonen’s decision to go out early did not appear to work  in his favour as he fell to tenth and his teammate Fernando Alonso secured eighth in the dying moments of the session.

A slight a lock up on Hamilton’s flying lap caused him to lose pole by the smallest of margins 0.033 of a second. Felipe Massa was unable to join the battle for pole due to a slow middle sector which caused him to abandon his last lap.

Going into the race Rosberg looked a dominant force as he aimed to reignite his chances of adding a world championship to his pole position trophy.

Top Ten Classification:

  1. Rosberg Mercedes 1.10.023
  2. Hamilton Mercedes +0.033
  3. Massa Williams +0.224
  4. Bottas Williams +0.282
  5. Button McLaren +0.907
  6. Vettel Red Bull +0.915
  7. Magnussen McLaren +0.946
  8. Alonso Ferrari +0.954
  9. Ricciardo Red Bull +1.052
  10. Raikkonen Ferrari +1.076
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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

Hamilton storms to first pole since May at Monza

Hamilton put in a stunning lap to claim his first pole since the Spanish Grand Prix in May by over a quarter of a second from his Mercedes teammate Rosberg. 

The pole position comes at a vital time for the 2008 world champion as he trails Nico Rosberg by 29 points after their controversial collision in Belgium which resulted in Hamilton retiring and Rosberg finishing second.

After the race Hamilton stated that Rosberg admitted in the team debrief that he had failed to prevent the collision to make a point to Hamilton after a series of incidents throughout the season. Rosberg has since been fined by the team and both Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff have told the media that they found his actions unacceptable as it cost the team a one-two finish.

On Friday Hamilton’s bad luck looked to be continuing as he had to sit out the majority of free practice two as the team worked on a electrical issue with his car. However, despite significantly less time on the track Hamilton managed put in a lap that was only 6 hundredths slower than that of his teammate.

Issues affected the other side of the garage on Saturday morning as Nico Rosberg suffered from a gear box problem in free practice three. However the team managed to send him out into qualifying without having to change his gearbox and therefore no penalty was applied to his time.

Qualifying proved to be an entirely Mercedes powered affair as the battle emerged between Williams and Mercedes for the front row of the grid. Valtteri Bottas continued the formidable form he has shown all season but was only able to gain third place on the grid with a time that was over half a second slower than Hamilton with his teammate Felipe Massa gaining fourth.

Ron Dennis stated on Saturday that “McLaren are back” and Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button highlighted this improved form by gaining fifth and sixth on the grid.

Fernando Alonso managed seventh place in front of the Tifosi crowd while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to make it through to the final session gaining eleventh place after Daniil Kyvat’s ten place grid penalty for changing a power unit element.

Lining up behind the prancing horse are the Red Bull’s of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in eighth and ninth. The weekend showed an improvement for Sebastian Vettel as he out-qualified his young teammate Ricciardo, the last race winner at Spa.

Qualifying classification:

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.24.109

2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +0.274

3. Valtteri Bottas Williams +0.588

4. Felipe Massa Williams +0.756

5. Kevin Magnussen McLaren +1.205

6. Jenson Button McLaren + 1.270

7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +1.321

8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull + 1.327

9. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1.600

10. Sergio Perez Force India + 1.835

11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

12. Jean-Eric Vergne Torro Rosso

13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India

14. Adrian Sutil Sauber

15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber

16. Pastor Maldonado Lotus

17. Romain Grosjean Lotus

18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham

19. Jules Bianchi Marussia

20. Max Chilton Marussia

21. Daniil Kyvat Torro Rosso (After a ten place grid penalty for changing his engine)

22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham