Rosberg Cruises to Victory after First Lap Collision for Hamilton

If ever there was a race that showcased the brilliance of close racing in F1, Sundays race in Bahrain was it.

After the controversial changes to Qualifying in an attempt to spice up race day, this race highlighted that what isn’t broke doesn’t need fixing.

Beautiful overtaking, all down the field, provided nail biting action which even the most cynical fan would have been enthralled by.

Although the win never really seemed in doubt for Rosberg, after a first corner collision for Hamilton, there was enough place swapping to keep the race alive.

A prime example was Kimi Raikkonen, who came alive after a poor start saw him jumped by the two Williams drivers and Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. Raikkonen charged back through the field and at many times was the fastest driver on track.

Raikkonen was not the only driver to suffer at the start, Lewis Hamilton struggled to get away, for the second race in a row, allowing his teammate to take the lead into turn one. Meanwhile behind, the Williams’ of Massa and Bottas both had fantastic starts, leapfrogging Raikkonen, which caused Bottas to come steaming up the inside of Hamilton in turn one. Hamilton appeared to have left a large wedge of room for Bottas but this quickly disappeared as they both took the racing lane, causing an inevitable collision and pushing both drivers down the field with damage.

Arguably the collision could have been avoided by Bottas, and the stewards awarded the Finn a drive through penalty for causing a collision. The collision caused severe floor damage to Hamilton’s Mercedes, reportedly losing him around a second a lap in pace, and depriving us, the viewers, a good fight between him and his teammate for the win.

Ricciardo also found himself with front wing damage after colliding with the retreating Hamilton, which ultimately damaged his pace and meant he could not capitalise fully on his fantastic qualifying, but he still managed a great fourth place.

Sebastian Vettel, the main hope of a challenge to the Mercedes, did not even make it to the start after an engine failure on the formation lap. Jolyon Palmer joined the early retiree list after a hydraulics problem halted his Renault.

All this happened in just the two opening laps! What followed was a succession of thrilling overtakes and tyre strategy battles.

By lap six Raikkonen had made his way back to fourth place with a great move around the outside of Ricciardo after the Australian went deep into turn one- a clear result of his front wing damage. A lap later Ricciardo pitted, whilst Raikkonen quickly moved into third with a great move around the outside of Bottas in the DRS zone.

After stopping on lap thirteen to change to the soft tyres Raikkonen was up to second in a single lap after an opportunistic move on Massa as he exited the pits and he passed Kyvat a few corners later.

Mclaren’s woes continued with an early retirement for Jenson Button on lap seven with a hybrid boost problem, leaving their last hope for points with debutant Stoffel Vandoorne who was standing in for Fernando Alonso who was deemed unfit to race by the stewards after his crash in Australia. Vandoorne stepped up to the challenge beautifully, capitalising on his good qualifying position, running as high as eighth throughout the race, ultimately finishing tenth for Mclaren’s first points of the season- illustrating that he is another driver to watch.

Yet again the new Haas team enjoyed a fantastic race with Romain Grosjean, by lap seventeen Grosjean had hustled his way up to sixth place and was battling Massa for fifth. The Ferrari engine allowed him to easily dispose of Felipe Massa on the straight and go charging after Ricciardo in fourth. Ultimately Romain secured a fantastic bag of points for the new team with a fifth place finish, which places Romain fifth in the driver’s championship and exulting to the team that he is experiencing, “the American Dream.”

Despite a fierce amount of speed in the early stages by the final rounds of pit stops it became clear that Raikkonen would have to settle for second when Rosberg exited the pits with a considerable lead on the Ferrari and the fastest lap of the race a lap later.

Hamilton drove a good recovery drive to gain third, with Ricciardo, Grosjean, and young Max Verstappen collecting well deserved points behind him. Pascal Wehrlein also finished a fantastic thirteenth for the Manor team- showcasing what a promising talent he is for the future.

Overall this thrilling race highlighted all the very best Formula One has to offer; close battles, fantastic tyre strategy, thrilling overtaking and a crop of young talent, illustrating that the powers that be should stop messing around with the rules and let the racing speak for itself.

Bahrain Grand prix final results:

  1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 57 laps
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +10.3s
  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +30.1s
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +62.5s
  5. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +78.3s
  6. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, +80.9s
  7. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, +1 lap
  8. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1 lap
  9. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +1 lap
  10. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +1 lap
  11. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +1 lap
  12. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap
  13. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +1 lap
  14. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, +1 lap
  15. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, +1 lap
  16. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1 lap
  17. Rio Haryanto, Manor, +1 lap

DNF Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso

DNF Esteban Gutierrez, Haas

DNF Jenson Button, McLaren

DNS Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

DNS Jolyon Palmer, Renault

 

 

 

 

 

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Hamilton equals Senna’s record with imperious win in Suzuka

Order was restored in Japan last Sunday,with Lewis Hamilton leading Mercedes to yet another one-two finish, after the shocking lack of pace they showed last time out in Singapore.

In Qualifying on Saturday it was clear that the Mercedes’ pace was back and stronger than ever around the power hungry circuit in Suzuka, with Rosberg securing pole early on before Daniil Kyvat’s crash brought out a red flag, ending the session.

Off the start Lewis Hamilton jumped up alongside Rosberg going into turn one, steadfastly sticking to the outside line and gaining the lead entering turn two. The overtake  forced Rosberg back into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas’ Williams, both of whom moved up demoting Rosberg to fourth.

Meanwhile, on the third row of the grid, Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo were in a battle for sixth place. Ricciardo had a good start and lined up alongside the Williams resulting in contact and punctures for both cars.  Massa’s subsequent fall down the field squeezed Sergio Perez who ran onto the Astroturf.

Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus’s had gained sixth and seventh in the midst of the many battles- a positive place for a team who have been in the depths of financial problems in recent weeks.  Fernando Alonso had also managed to place the power deprived McLaren up in ninth place, from 12th at the start.

Hamilton sped off into the distance up front whilst Rosberg and Bottas took their fight into pit stop strategy. Bottas attempted the undercut on Rosberg by pitting early on lap 12 to the harder tyres, a rare proactive move from the Williams team. The move proved to be right one, as when Rosberg pitted three laps later he returned yet again behind the Williams- the undercut had worked.

However, the joy in the Williams garage did not last long as on lap 18 Rosberg finally caught and easily passed Bottas with a move down the inside of the last corner before the straight, and used the DRS to put further distance between them.

McLaren’s party was also spoilt, as on lap 26 promising rookie driver Max Verstappen cruised up behind Fernando Alonso using DRS and passed him easily to take the last point placing position. Alonso complained on the radio of his, “stupid GP2 engine”, presumably much to the chagrin of the host company, and McLaren’s engine supplier, Honda.

The familiar, and seemingly inevitable, sight of a Mercedes one- two emerged on lap 33 as Rosberg finally moved past Vettel into second place as the Ferrari driver exited the pits.

The battle however, did not end there. Unlike his teammate Rosberg was unable to canter off into the distance and Vettel stuck with him until the very end of the race, with the gap staying at around 1.5 seconds as the pair manoeuvred their way through equally battling back markers.

This battle included Marcus Ericcson and Sergio Perez who were fighting tooth and nail for 11th place. It was clear that Perez had a speed advantage – his teammate Hulkenberg was up in 6th at this point- but was seemly unable to pass the Sauber driver. Perez finally made the pass on lap 49 with a move around the outside going into 130R causing Ericsson to run wide and allowing Red Bull teammates Kyvat and Ricciardo to join the fight behind.

Ericcson showed his inexperience or perhaps the pressure he was under on lap 51, when he adhered to blue flags to let Raikkonen pass him through the chicane. Raikkonen appeared unsure if he was being let through in such an unusual place, and the opportunistic young Russian Kyvat took the opportunity to dive down the inside whilst Ericcson was off the racing line.

All in all it was a very successful race for the Mercedes team, so much so that we barely saw them on screen with battles all down the field holding more attention.

Lewis Hamilton not only increased his championship lead to 48 points with five races to go, but emulated his hero Aryton Senna’s 41 wins, and also looks almost assured of a third world championship.

Ferrari didn’t show the pace that they had last race out in Singapore, but finished well with Vettel third and Raikkonen fourth. Bottas and Hulkenberg came away with good points in fifth and sixth respectively, whilst Fernando Alonso bemoaned McLaren’s lack of progress just out of the points in 11th.

Going into the Russian Grand prix in Sochi this weekend it looks all set to be another Mercedes victory, or can Ferrari find that return to form again? We’ll have to wait to see on Sunday.

Gearing up for the Abu Double season finale- Abu Dhabi preview

Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit -Statistics

55 Laps

Track Length: 5.554 km

DRS Zones: First between turns 7 and 8 and the second between turn 10 and 11.

Lap Record: Sebastian Vettel 1.40.279 in 2009

2013 pole: Sebastian Vettel 1:39.957

Wins: 2009- Sebastian Vettel Red Bull, 2010, Sebastian Vettel Red Bull, 2011 Lewis Hamilton McLaren, 2012 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus, 2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull

Poles: 2009 Hamilton, 2010 Vettel, 2011 Vettel, 2012 Hamilton, 2013 Webber

As we head into the final showdown of this tantalisingly close Formula One season double points will be awarded at a circuit that has seen many close races and one very memorable championship decider in 2010.

The good news for Lewis Hamilton fans is that he has gained two pole positions out of five of the races held at the circuit, in 2009 and 2012, illustrating that he both enjoys and thrives at this circuit. However, he has also been plagued by retirements, most notably losing him a certain victory in 2012 when he was dominating in a McLaren before suffering from engine failure.

After winning in Brazil last week and reducing the point deficit to just seventeen points Nico Rosberg is benefitting from a momentum change and the new rules of double point; if the system was not in place then Hamilton would only need fifth, the very same position as in 2008 when he clinched the title in dramatic fashion on the final corner of the final lap.

Also brakes are deemed to be an issue around this circuit and management of brakes has largely been in Nico Rosberg’s favour this season. A mechanical failure for either of the drivers would be disappointing considering the close and largely clean battle they have engaged in all season, and the fans and the team are relishing the fair and close fight so far.

In Thursday’s drivers press conference Nico Rosberg made a point of saying that it was up to Lewis for the race to be a clean fight and that he had to ensure that he drove well and fairly for it to be so; a point of irony considering most of the controversial moments between the drivers this season, such as Monaco and most notably Spa, have focused on scrutiny of Rosberg’s driving and tactics not Hamilton’s.

The circuit is well accustomed to close title fights with arguably one of the most exciting title deciders in 2010 when a four man battle between Sebastian Vettel Fernando Alonso Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton went in Vettel’s favour after both Fernando Alonso and Webber suffered with poor pit stop strategy and ended up stuck in traffic and out of title contention.

Traffic could be an issue on Sunday as this famously difficult overtaking circuit will favour whoever starts on pole position, so Hamilton will be hoping to avoid some of the qualifying errors and misfortunes he has suffered from this season.

The race will be the final race for Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull as the German joins the Italian team for 2015 and Alonso is expected to re-join the Woking based McLaren team that he parted so acrimoniously from in 2007. McLaren have stated that they will not announce their driver line up until December leaving fans concerned that 2009 World Champion Jenson Button will not receive the proper send off from his 266 race long Formula One career that he deserves.

Since it augural grand prix in 2009 Abu Dhabi has been a firm favourite on the F1 calendar hosting the first twilight race providing a unique challenge for the drivers as the race spans from day to night and the dramatically light circuit comes to life.

Often described as a processional race the circuit still proves highly challenging for the drivers as they flirt with the barriers and one of the tightest pit lane exits on the calendar.

Pirelli have decided to bring the soft and super soft compound of tyres to the race due to the relatively low speed nature of the circuit and the expected low temperatures due to the night time running: so tyre preservation should not be the pressing issue it was two weeks ago in Brazil.

Caterham have secured enough funding to return for the last race of the season with Britain’s Will Steven’s joining Kamui Kobayashi to race in his first grand prix after Marcus Ericsson announced his decision to join Sauber after the last race in Brazil.

The double points are not only important for the two leading protagonists but for other drivers and teams down the field, with a three way battle between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas for fourth place in the championship, all separated by only three points.

Williams will also be looking to stay ahead of Ferrari in the constructors and McLaren attempt to overhaul the fifty point deficit to Ferrari for fourth.

Overall this season finale looks set to be a classic and as the sun goes down in Abu Dhabi and the 2014 season who will be crowned the victor amongst the Silver Arrows?

Rosberg reignites title challenge with win in Brazil

As the title battle between Mercedes teammates Rosberg and Hamilton heated up in Brazil the newly laid tarmac went along with it, with at times over 50 degree track temperatures making it a race determined by tyre preservation.

Rosberg started on pole heeding the lessons he had learnt in Austin concerning being more aggressive with his tyres, taking advantage of the grip and clear air available to him. The high temperature tore away quickly at the softer compound of tyres requested of Pirelli by the drivers spearheaded by Felipe Massa, who had asserted that the medium and hard compound tyres were too conservative a choice for the newly laid tarmac.

By lap five drivers began to put on the harder medium compound and the front running Mercedes complained of blisters on the surface of the tyres as they fought for the lead.

At the start Rosberg got away cleanly from his teammate Hamilton with the Williams’ of home crowd favourite Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas running line astern behind.

Meanwhile both Red Bulls suffered a poor start with Vettel running wide into turn four allowing Kevin Magnussen and race start specialist Fernando Alonso to pass him, and by the end of the first lap Fernando Alonso headed Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in seventh whilst Button and Magnussen ran fifth and sixth behind the Williams.

Felipe Massa was the first of the front runners to change to the medium tyres triggering the rest of the field to come steaming in. During the stop Massa was deemed to have been speeding in the pit lane and given a five second stop and go penalty, undoing all the advantage he had created by undercutting the field.

On lap seven Nico Rosberg was the first of the Mercedes to come in for a pit stop after complaining of blisters on his tyres. During this round of pit stops Hamilton was unable to make up enough time to pass his teammate; despite the gap being considerably reduced to only half a second as they both came across traffic.

By lap thirteen Alonso was still holding up the Red Bull duo in eleventh place.

Due to the difference in tyre strategy a number of overtakes were taking place throughout the field, first Fernando Alonso made a daring move on Adrian Sutil through the Senna Esses on lap seventeen followed by Felipe Massa passing Daniil Kyvat, who had yet to make a pit stop, for third and Kevin Magnussen passing Romain Grosjean down the pit straight four laps later for sixth position behind his teammate.

On lap twenty five the medium tyres appeared to be losing grip, the first indicator for Nico Rosberg was a lock up that showcased a large blister that brought him back into the pits. As Rosberg pitted Hamilton was given the call to push under the impression he would be pitting a lap later, he put in the fastest lap of the race but was unable to hold onto the pace for a second lap losing rear tyre grip and running off the track at turn one losing seven seconds in the process. It was evident that if Hamilton had not made that mistake he would have easily have passed his teammate after exiting the pit lane.

Amid a mass of drivers struggling with grip Kimi Raikkonen had stealthy made his way up to third place by making one less stop. However, this good work was unravelled during his pit stop on lap thirty six with a front jack failure causing him to lose a significant amount of time.

Trouble in the pits seemed to be becoming a theme of the day as Valtteri Bottas also suffered a slow pit stop during which his Williams mechanics unusually had to tighten his seatbelts, and a second penalty for speeding in the pit lane was handed to Sergio Perez’s Force India. Bottas’ issue dropped him behind the McLarens of Button and Magnussen.

Daniel Ricciardo’s day went from bad to worse on lap forty as he slowed down significantly citing a brake failure, the Red Bull team brought him in for a pit stop to inspect the car suspecting that it may have been suspension damage instead but were unable to fix the issue causing him to retire for the first time since Malaysia and ending his point scoring streak.

A number of battles were shaping up throughout the grid with Nico Hulkenberg putting a fantastically daring move on Valtteri Bottas for ninth place down the inside of turn one causing Bottas to run wide which also allowed an opportunistic Kimi Raikkonen to streak past.

On lap sixty one Jenson Button showcased why he should stay in Formula One next year with a fantastic move around the outside of Kimi Raikkonen into Descida do Lago and retaining the position as Raikkonen attempted to fight back. Vettel then followed Button through to take fifth in front of his expected Ferrari teammate next year.

Four laps later Raikkonen’s current teammate Fernando Alonso was close behind him as different strategies by the team had meant he had pitted once more and was clearly faster, however no order was made by the team to Raikkonen to let Alonso through. After the race Alonso stated that this was not an issue as he would have had to fuel save so would not have been able to challenge Vettel in front. Finally on lap sixty seven Alonso passed his teammate for sixth with a move around the outside on the pit straight.

The second retirement of the day came on lap sixty six with Romain Grosjean abandoning his heavily smoking Lotus at the side of the track, ending an otherwise promising weekend for the team.

Meanwhile up in front the battle for the lead was down to half a second with Hamilton faster in the first sector by 3 tenths, but he was unable to challenge for the lead allowing Rosberg to win for the first time in four months and reigniting the title battle going into the final race in Abu Dhabi and of course the double points it will award.

The result was an eleventh one-two for the Mercedes team this season and for Hamilton to win the title he will have to finish no lower than second in Abu Dhabi if his teammate wins the race due to the seventeen point lead Hamilton holds. If Rosberg is second he can afford to finish fifth, the same position as when he won his first title in 2008.

The home favourite Massa finished third adding to his stellar record at the Interlagos circuit with Jenson Button securing fourth amidst concern over his future at McLaren, Sebastian Vettel in fifth and Fernando Alonso once again finished in front of his teammate in sixth.

Classification

1 ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:30:02.555
2 HAMILTON MERCEDES +1.400
3 MASSA WILLIAMS +40.900
4 BUTTON MCLAREN +48.500
5 VETTEL RED BULL +51.200
6 ALONSO FERRARI +61.600
7 RAIKKONEN FERRARI +63.400
8 HULKENBERG FORCE INDIA +63.600
9 MAGNUSSEN MCLAREN +69.700
10 BOTTAS WILLIAMS +1 LAP
11 KVYAT TORO ROSSO +1 LAP
12 MALDONADO LOTUS +1 LAP
13 VERGNE TORO ROSSO +1 LAP
14 GUTIERREZ SAUBER +1 LAP
15 PEREZ FORCE INDIA +1 LAP
16 SUTIL SAUBER +1 LAP
RET GROSJEAN LOTUS
RET RICCIARDO RED BULL

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

Rosberg heads Hamilton in both practice sessions in Brazil

Political manoeuvring behind the scenes overshadowed the on-track action during free practice one and two in Brazil with disputes over contracts and financial concerns filtering through the paddock.

The sad news that Marussia have ceased trading came on Friday morning and Caterham, who were not at the race last week in Austin or at Brazil, are launching a crowd funding scheme to raise £2.3 million in an attempt to escape the same fate.

Meanwhile at Sauber the financial pressure has not stopped them from taking to the track but has appeared to have influenced who will be driving for them next year with reports that Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson and Williams reserve driver Felipe Nasr will be replacing Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil. Sutil has alluded to the fact that he still has a two year contract and could therefore have a challenge to the announcement, Sauber’s reserve driver Giedo Van de Garde also claims to have believed he would be contracted for a race seat next year, however it would appear that the vast funding of Felipe Nasr is sorely needed at Sauber due to the financial pressures of the sport at the moment.

A driver change at McLaren also appears imminent as Jenson Button has announced that he is considering other career avenues than Formula One with the expectant news that Fernando Alonso will replace him at McLaren after a disappointing season at Ferrari.

As the politics played out behind the scenes on track the action was shattered as a series of red flag incidents interrupted both sessions.

The problems started early for Jenson Button when his Mclaren pulled over to the side of the pit lane exit with an issue that did not allow him to go out for the rest of Free practice one.

As is tradition in Free practice one a number of new faces were seen on the grid with Jundacella in Sergio Perez’s Force India and Max Verstappen, who has a Torro Rosso set for next year. in Jean Eric Vergnes car.

Unfortunately the new boys encountered some issues around the classically challenging track with Jundacella going off into the tyre barriers of Curva Da Laranjinha causing the first red flag with just 28 minutes on the track. Then after the session restarted Max Verstappen suffered from a severe front tyre lock up and ran wide through the Senna Esses.

After Free practice one a virtual safety car was tested, with all cars being given a set delta time in which to return to the pits and a new practice of two drivers coming in to perform a pit stop.

Rosberg headed Hamilton on the leader board, breaking Hamilton’s run of perfect practices faster by 0.221 seconds.

In Free practice two the red flags came thick and fast with Jean Eric Vergne stopping on Descida do Lago with over an hour and fifteen minutes left on the clock.

Then an issue appeared to be hampering Fernando Alonso’s progress throughout the session ending in an apparent engine failure which caused flames to engulf the Ferrari and cause Alonso to change from Formula One driver to fireman as he ran to put it out.

Classification

Free Practice One

1 ROSBERG MERCEDES 1:12.764
2 HAMILTON MERCEDES +0.221
3 KVYAT TORO ROSSO +0.959
4 ALONSO FERRARI +0.978
5 MASSA WILLIAMS +1.047
6 VERSTAPPEN TORO ROSSO +1.063
7 MALDONADO LOTUS +1.270
8 RAIKKONEN FERRARI +1.350
9 MAGNUSSEN MCLAREN +1.372
10 RICCIARDO RED BULL +1.433
11 SUTIL SAUBER +1.670
12 F NASR WILLIAMS +1.758
13 HULKENBERG FORCE INDIA +1.914
14 VETTEL RED BULL +2.138
15 GROSJEAN LOTUS +2.345
16 JUNCADELLA FORCE INDIA +3.266
17 GUTIERREZ SAUBER
18 BUTTON MCLAREN

Free Practice Two

1             ROSBERG                                                              MERCEDES                               1:12.123

2 HAMILTON MERCEDES +0.213
3 RAIKKONEN FERRARI +0.573
4 RICCIARDO RED BULL +0.833
5 BOTTAS WILLIAMS +0.912
6 MASSA WILLIAMS +0.976
7 ALONSO FERRARI +0.999
8 KVYAT TORO ROSSO +1.131
9 VETTEL RED BULL +1.210
10 MAGNUSSEN MCLAREN +1.356
11 MALDONADO LOTUS +1.374
12 GROSJEAN LOTUS +1.591
13 HULKENBERG FORCE INDIA +1.759
14 GUTIERREZ SAUBER +1.779
15 SUTIL SAUBER +2.081
16 BUTTON MCLAREN +2.086
17 VERGNE TORO ROSSO +5.048
18 PEREZ FORCE INDIA

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.

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.

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.