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.

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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.

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