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


Gimmick’s introduced to ignite sparks into television ratings- going too far?

Since the dominance of Red Bull Racing began arduously chipping away at the television ratings of Formula One last year, it appears that each week we have seen a new “quick fix” in an attempt to improve television ratings.
The fact is viewings have dropped due to the somewhat monotonous results, despite all the hope surrounding this year’s dramatic power unit rule changes, Red Bull’s dominance has simply transferred to Mercedes with seven of the last eight races having been won by the dynamic duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
A new attempt to enthral the viewing public was introduced during the last race at the Austrian grand prix with the inclusion of titanium blocks attached to the bottom of the two Mercedes and one Ferrari, designed to recreate the ‘Golden Age’ of grand prix racing by artificially producing sparks as the block contacts with the tarmac.
The concept of returning to the Golden Age of racing is what most Formula One fans are dying for these days, but the clue is in the title, the fans want racing not artificially constructed devices that make it appear as if the cars are racing.
Yes, sparks flying from the bottom of the cars is exciting, but only because it illustrates that the cars are flying so close to the limit and low to the ground. It is not simply the presence of bright sparks that elevates the adrenaline of Formula One fans – it is the on-track action, of which the last few seasons have at times failed to produce.
Evidence of this was shown during last week’s Austrian Grand Prix. I, personally, did not notice the sparks at all as I was focused upon the spectacle the race itself was providing. The fight between Williams and Mercedes was just what the doctor ordered as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas provided the first non Mercedes one-two of the season in qualifying on Saturday.
The joy experienced as Williams locked out the front row highlighted more than just the delight at seeing a change of faces on the podium. As one of the oldest and most respected teams in Formula One history only die hard Mercedes fans could begrudge their success.
One of the most contentious rule changes this season has to be the introduction of double points for the final race in Abu Dhabi, introduced to prevent the championship being wrapped up several races before the end of the season, as we saw last year with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing.
Arguably this makes sense, but it hits to the very core of the issue of balancing entertainment and the integrity of sporting endeavour which every sport has to deal with. The fact of the matter is if there is interference with the results of the championship then it undermines the very nature of this highly demanding sport.
The concept of a driver being faultless all season and then losing the championship due to an unforeseeable or unavoidable incident in the final race, while his competitor gained double the amount of points, is uncomfortable for most fans.
Luck has always played a part in world championships, but this is bad luck doubled by bad timing. Everyone will have an unlucky moment during the season but the person who suffers bad luck on the only race which has double importance will have suffered a double whammy.
Double points for one race throws up other issues as well such as why Abu Dhabi? Why not the “classic circuits” such as Monaco, Silverstone or Belgium which are considered by most to be some of the most challenging races for drivers.
It’s the concept of one race win being worth more than another that baffles, all wins should be considered equal as each driver has fought to be the best of the field that day and the rule has been universally unpopular with fans and drivers alike.
The intrusion of commercially motivated gimmicks is uncomfortable for a sport like Formula One, give the fans racing it’s what they sign up for.