Hamilton takes victory in Montreal as Rosberg’s Championship lead shrinks


Lewis Hamilton claimed victory at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday evening, while Sebastian Vettel lost his chance of victory following a poor strategic call and Nico Rosberg had to limit the damage following a first lap bump which sent him down the order.

Hamilton led the Silver Arrows to a front row lock-out on Saturday as he searched for his fifth Canadian victory, but it was Sebastian Vettel who led the pack into the first corner on Sunday following a superb jump on the Mercedes into turn 1. As he watched Vettel steal his lead, Hamilton had to defend against team-mate Nico Rosberg who was eyeing up an overtake around the outside of turn 1. Hamilton understeered and bumped into Rosberg, sending the Championship leader off the track and across the run-off area where he rejoined in ninth place. It was to be a long afternoon for the German.

Rosberg’s compatriot was comfortable in the lead as he maintained a 1.5s gap to second-placed Lewis. But when Jenson Button’s Honda engine gave up on lap 11 and a Virtual Safety Car was deployed, Ferrari took the ambitious move to bring in both Vettel and Raikkonen, putting them on a two stop strategy in contrast to Hamilton’s one-stopper.

Hamilton inherited the lead and held a comfortable advantage over the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but Vettel was fast charging  on the newer tyres and, although encountering some expertly handled resistance from former team-mate Ricciardo, he soon gave both Red Bulls the slip and promoted himself to second.

By lap 25 Hamilton’s tyres were exhausted and he had a Prancing Horse growing ever larger in his mirrors so he pitted for a set of the harder compound Pirellis. This gave Vettel his lead back while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen began backing up the drivers further down the road to allow Vettel some clear air to rejoin.

He took his second and final pit stop on the fortieth lap which saw him rejoin with thirty laps left and only eight seconds between himself and Hamilton. But what should have been an easy gap to close proved much more difficult for Vettel as he got caught behind backmarkers while Hamilton increased his pace. He had only halved the difference over the next twenty laps, following which he cut the chicane not once or twice, but three times which cost him roughly a second and a half per slip. This ensured Hamilton was left unchallenged at the front of the grid, after a fantastically well-managed race from the three-time World Champion.

Meanwhile, Rosberg looked poor for most of the race as he recovered only two positions from ninth place before the first stops. Although the end of the race brought a much different Nico who made short work of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen – including a very impressive overtake into the final chicane on the Ferrari – he found his match when trying to pass Max Verstappen for fourth. He found out the hard way that Verstappen can be a fierce opponent, trying to replicate his overtake on Kimi he locked his rear tyres on entry and ended up sliding sideways into the run-off area. He was lucky not to beach his car or to have made a mistake a little later and clouted the barriers for he was able to rejoin the track without losing a position, finishing the race in fifth.

Jolyon Palmer’s bad luck continued in Canada as, after ending his race following a slip on the paint of a Zebra crossing on the Monte Carlo street circuit two weeks ago, he met an early end in Montreal at the hands of a water leak. Massa became the third and final DNF when he too suffered a water issue which caused the temperature to rise, and so retired to protect his brand new power unit.

The other Williams was celebrating a third place, the team’s first podium of the season. Bottas had a rather straightforward race and got everything right, which he post-race claimed demonstrated Williams’ ability to be a strong team who get good results. Just behind him in the standings is Max Verstappen who met his match in Monaco when two single-car crashes into the barriers, including a race DNF, robbed some of the bragging rights he’d acquired from his Spanish GP victory. This time around he was back to the Verstappen we know and love, the impressive racer and steely tough rival (see Rosberg) who kept cool and brought home a nice fourth placed finish for Red Bull, with Danny Ric in 7th.

Kimi was perhaps less impressive as he was outshone once again by his younger team-mate. In typical Ferrari fashion, as one car impressed out the front, a second one lingered further behind. Raikkonen is the Massa to Vettel’s Alonso of the early 2010s Ferrari line-up and it remains to be seen if he will remain with Ferrari, or even in F1 (although I doubt he’ll race for anyone who isn’t the Scuderia) this time next year. I’d imagine Ferrari are far more interested in Kimi’s compatriot who joined Vettel and Hamilton on the podium.

Haas once again showed they’re not backmarkers when they got caught up in a Fernando Alonso-led Trulli train in the earlier part of the race. The two finished in twelfth and thirteenth after a couple of nicely executed overtakes on each other, a strong result for a team who are only seven races into their Formula One career.

Their early form shows their day may come in years to come, but for the moment our attention is focused on the Mercedes and Ferrari outfits, and particularly the rapidly shrinking gap Nico Rosberg holds at the top of the table. His 43 point lead entering the Monaco GP has, in typical Rosberg fashion, been annihilated by a resurgent Lewis Hamilton taking two wins from two. Although he probably has a Ferrari strategy mistake to thank for his Canadian win, and definitely has the Red Bull blunder of two weeks ago to thank for a Monaco victory, the most important thing is that he’s taken fifty points from two races. Rosberg seemed rattled in Monaco and less feisty than one could expect into turn 1 in Montreal. He showed at the end of the Canadian race that he has the pace to retain the Championship lead (eh.. lets gloss over his mistake he made when fighting Verstappen) so needs to make a firm comeback in the upcoming inaugural Baku GP. If he can’t make a stand next week then surely that’s goodbye on his (last?) chance of a World Championship, but I’m glad to see Vettel is now getting himself firmly into the mix, ensuring Hamilton has a fight on his hands to retain his title.

Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Max Verstappen
  5. Nico Rosberg
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Daniel Ricciardo
  8. Nico Hulkenberg
  9. Carlos Sainz
  10. Sergio Perez
  11. Fernando Alonso
  12. Daniil Kvyat
  13. Esteban Gutierrez
  14. Romain Grosjean
  15. Marcus Ericsson
  16. Kevin Magnussen
  17. Pascal Wehrlein
  18. Felipe Nasr
  19. Rio Haryanto
  • Felipe Massa – water systems failure
  • Jolyon Palmer – water leak
  • Jenson Button – engine failure

Photo courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team

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Ericsson blamed for Monaco blue on blue


Marcus Ericsson has been blamed for a crash which saw both Sauber drivers retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon.

Felipe Nasr led team-mate Marcus Ericsson during the later stages of the race but was instructed to allow the faster Ericsson through to tackle the cars that were ahead of them. When Nasr ignored the order Ericsson attempted an overtake but instead smashed into the side of his team-mate’s car, spinning the two of them and temporarily sending himself airborne.

Nasr’s cockpit flooded with smoke and he retired a lap later, while Ericsson stayed out a further two before also retiring from the race. A stewards investigation after the race placed the blame with Ericsson, with the Swede taking a three-place grid drop for the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix, and two points on his driver’s license. This brings his total to six points from a total allowable tally of twelve.

Although the stewards pinned the blame on him, speaking to Motorsport.com Ericsson said the team gave him permission to make a manoeuvre on Nasr.

“For seven or eight laps he didn’t let me through. I told the team ‘look, I’m losing too much time’ and said I was going to make a move and they said ‘yeah, go for it’. I knew it was possible. Obviously the end result was not what I expected.”

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen also came together at Rascasse, the former similarly being too ambitious with his overtaking and sending both cars into the barriers. For this, Kvyat was also awarded a three-place grid drop for the Canadian GP in two weeks, and two penalty points, bringing his total to seven.

Jules Bianchi famously successfully passed Kamui Kobayashi at Rascasse en route to his only points finish, at the 2014 Monaco GP.

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Hamilton wins in Monaco as pit mistake costs Ricciardo


Lewis Hamilton stormed to his first victory of 2016 at the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon. The Briton started the race in third place but after team-mate Nico Rosberg was ordered to allow Hamilton past and a pit-stop miscommunication delayed race leader Daniel Ricciardo, Hamilton assumed the lead.

Wet weather led to a Safety Car start as a precaution but the rain soon abated and the track began to dry. There was early trouble for Daniil Kvyat whose pit limiter got stuck on and limited his speed. The disheartened Russian was left lamenting his bad luck on the team radio before the issue mysteriously disappeared and he returned to full speed, albeit two laps down on the rest of the grid.

Eventually the Safety Car came into the pits allowing pole man Daniel Ricciardo to begin building a gap between himself and second placed Rosberg. Hamilton’s unease behind his team-mate was obvious but, with their Spanish clash surely in his mind, he stayed level-headed and avoided contact with Rosberg. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer wasn’t as lucky as he was caught out by the slipperiness of the Zebra crossing that runs parallel to the start/finish straight, and smashed into the barriers twice, before coming to a halt in the run-off area.

The Briton wasn’t the only one finding the conditions tough, as veteran racer Kimi Raikkonen clouted the barriers at the hairpin seconds later, before inadvertently blocking Haas’ Romain Grosjean. The Finn attempted to make it back to the pits but after driving through the tunnel with a badly damaged wing, something which would earn him disapproval from the stewards later on, he pulled into the run-off area to retire the car.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo was still increasing his gap to the Mercedes behind him. Rosberg was nearly ten seconds shy of the Aussie when the call was made to move over and give the penned up Hamilton a chance of catching Ricciardo. Rosberg duly obliged and Hamilton gave chase, almost immediately setting a new fastest lap and leaving Rosberg trailing behind him.

There was more trouble for Renault who now tangled with the Toro Rosso of Kvyat. The Russian had attempted to squeeze past Magnussen’s Renault into Rascasse, as Bianchi had done successfully to Kobayashi in 2014, but the door had closed and the two made slight contact. Both pitted and retired from the race.

Also in the pits was race leader Ricciardo who took on a pair of the intermediate tyres, rejoining in second behind Hamilton. Ricciardo’s wait for Hamilton to pit for his own set of intermediate tyres stretched on and it eventually became clear that Hamilton was trying to risk jumping from the full wets to the slick tyres, thus saving himself a pit stop and maintaining the lead of the race.

Hamilton eventually ducked into the pitlane when it seemed that slick tyres might finally be a feasible action. Ricciardo opted to wait until the following lap to change over his own tyres in an attempt to perform the undercut, but when he entered the pits, a miscommunication saw the wrong tyres brought out and he was left sitting in the pits for a long delay as the pit crew fell over themselves and searched for the right tyres. When he eventually rejoined the track he was neck and neck with Hamilton, the latter jumping into the lead as the duo climbed the hill from the first corner.

Ricciardo was clearly the quicker car and stayed right on Hamilton’s gearbox, but the lack of overtaking spots and the backmarkers dotted awkwardly along the road meant he couldn’t manage a solid overtake maneuver on the Mercedes. Ricciardo’s team-mate, who won his first race last time out in Spain, was having a much less fortuitous race this time around: having crashed in Q1 yesterday he started the race from the pitlane and had made it as far as tenth – until he ended his race when he went wide at Massenet and was collected by Monte Carlo’s unforgiving barriers.

Ricciardo nearly ended his race in a similar fashion when Hamilton ran wide at the Nouvelle chicane, rejoining at a strange angle and almost sending the opportunistic Ricciardo into the barriers. Stewards investigated the incident and decided no further action was warranted.

The Sauber boys were less lucky. Felipe Nasr was ahead of team-mate Ericsson on track but was the slower of the two drivers, so the call was made for fifteenth-placed Nasr to move aside for Ericsson. There’s a possibility that Nasr’s radio wasn’t working properly but either way Ericsson became impatient and decided to take matters into his own hands, which brought disaster for the team. Attempting an impossible overtake at Rascasse, Ericsson drove straight into the side of Nasr before hopping into the air in the resulting spin. Both men pitted and rejoined the race but smoke began to spill into Nasr’s cockpit which signaled the of his race. He was followed into the pits a few laps later by Ericsson who had also sustained damage and opted to retire the car.

At this point, rain began to fall in the final three laps of the race but nothing substantial came until the checkered flag was waved. Hamilton maintained his lead right until the end while Ricciardo’s Pirellis eventually went past their best and he began to fall back. Sergio Perez, who was trading fastest laps with Vettel towards the end of the race, fended third place from the Ferrari, while Fernando Alonso managed to bring his McLaren to fifth place. Championship leader Rosberg was in sixth and was passed mere seconds from the end by Hulkenberg. Carlos Sainz, who expertly saved his car during a slide at the Swimming Pool chicane, took eighth, with Button in ninth and Massa rounding out the top ten.

There’s no doubt that his skill in keeping the car on track with badly degraded full wet tyres and his ability to fend off Ricciardo’s relentless attacks helped win Hamilton the race, but their pace after the final pit stops suggest Hamilton has Red Bull’s clumsiness to thank for robbing Ricciardo of victory on the streets of Monte Carlo. Perhaps more important is Rosberg’s self-confessed lack of confidence during the race, which cost him huge amounts of time. One wonders if Rosberg has finally lost his edge on Hamilton. If he has, it’s hard not to see Hamilton claiming a third consecutive Championship this year…

Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Daniel Ricciardo
  3. Sergio Perez
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Nico Hulkenberg
  7. Nico Rosberg
  8. Carlos Sainz
  9. Jenson Button
  10. Felipe Massa
  11. Valtteri Bottas
  12. Esteban Gutierrez
  13. Romain Grosjean
  14. Pascal Wehrlein
  15. Rio Haryanto
  • Marcus Ericsson – collision
  • Felipe Nasr – collision
  • Max Verstappen – collision
  • Kevin Magnussen – collision
  • Daniil Kvyat – collision
  • Kimi Raikkonen – collision
  • Jolyon Palmer – collision

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Palmer to partner Maldonado in 2016

Lotus F1 Team this evening announced that their reserve driver Jolyon Palmer will race for them alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2016.

The Briton, who has been Lotus’ reserve driver since January after winning the GP2 Championship, drove for the team in Free Practice One sessions this season.

“We are very pleased to announce that exciting British racing talent Jolyon Palmer is promoted to a race seat with the team for next season,” said Gerard Lopez, Lotus Team Principal.

“We’ve seen Jolyon’s hard work and talent this season in the way he’s approached his third driver role and he is a really popular choice for the team.

“As well as having a great future ahead of him behind the wheel, Jolyon is an intelligent and highly marketable asset to the team. He deserves this opportunity, and everyone at Enstone is excited to see what he can achieve next year.”

Palmer said: “I’m obviously delighted that I’ll be racing in Formula 1 next year. Lotus F1 Team gave me a tremendous opportunity this season and I thank them for assisting my development to a level where they have put their trust in me for a crucial season in their evolution.

“I’ve enjoyed and learnt a lot from my year as Third and Reserve driver so I’m looking forward to putting this into practice as a race driver in 2016. I can’t wait for next season to get underway!”

The 24-year-old, the first British GP2 Champion since reigning F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton in 2006, fills the vacancy left by Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman announced earlier this month that he was to race for rookie team Haas in 2016, having raced for Lotus since 2012.

Pastor Maldonado, who brings approximately $27m of sponsorship a year to Lotus from Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, has been retained by the team despite criticisms of his driving ability.

Image courtesy of Lotus F1 Team.

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Hamilton wins in Russia as Rosberg retires

Lewis Hamilton cruised to a dominant victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, capitalising on his team-mates early retirement to extend his Championship lead and effectively shut down any potential designs Rosberg may have had on the Championship.

Rosberg had grabbed pole during Qualifying by an impressive three-tenths over Hamilton, having also lead the three practice sessions. In contrast to his embarrassing show at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago when Hamilton robbed him of the lead into the first corner, Rosberg successfully maintained the lead through the first lap. Although Hamilton was looking somewhat dangerous in the German’s mirrors, any threat was neutralised when Nico Hulkenberg spun off at the second corner and collected the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, throwing debris everywhere and prompting the Safety Car. While the two aforementioned racers clambered for their cockpit, Max Verstappen hobbled back to the pits with a rear right puncture.

With the track cleared the Safety Car pitted and Rosberg led Hamilton across the line. Bottas made a nice move on Raikkonen to reclaim the third place the Finn had taken from him on the first lap, while Hamilton couldn’t pass the Mercedes in front of him. He would not be stuck for long, however, as Rosberg came on the radio to report his throttle was getting stuck open. Losing control of his car through most corners, it was easy for Hamilton to slip past him – as did the rest of the points scoring drivers – before Rosberg crawled into the pits. The team assembled around his car and decided they could do nothing to recover Rosberg’s car and retired him from the race.

While Hamilton settled into the lead, Carlos Sainz – who 24 hours beforehand had been in a hospital bed following his big FP3 shunt – was making progress and passed Button easily to promote himself to eleventh. The next man to attempt to pass Button was Romain Grosjean, whose attempt resulted in him losing control in the slipstream, get onto the marbles on the fringe of the track which curves left and clout the barriers at a mighty rate of knots. His car spun several times out of the barriers and caused big superficial damage to the bodywork – but luckily the driver was completely okay. Nonetheless, a second Safety Car was needed to clear the debris – and some gaffer tape to repair the barrier!

Some drivers took the opportunity to pit for new tyres – but none of the top 8 drivers took this option. Hamilton complained off his tyres going too cold behind the Safety Car but had relatively little hassle from Bottas on the restart. As he stormed into the lead, the Ferraris were battling for P3. Vettel made a move on his team-mate into T2 which left Raikkonen cutting across the run-off area to avoid contact, and retaining his position. He moved aside later in the lap though to allow Vettel up to third, as Kimi had illegally kept the position.

Bottas was provisionally second but once he took his pitstop, he came out in eighth. When Vettel pitted two laps later he had successfully jumped the Finn and moved up to second, while Raikkonen emerged just behind the Williams. The two Finns began scrapping for position – a story which would last for the end of the race and end badly for both men. While Perez had held third place for a large chunk of the race, Bottas was hunting him down. It took him several laps to pass the Mexican but he finally wiggled his way up to the rear wing of the Force India and pulled an impressive overtake on Perez. Raikkonen followed the Williams through and demoted Perez to fifth as the Ferrari driver now targeted the Williams in his sights. With one lap left Raikkonen was closing but he pulled an extremely optimistic and amateurish dive on the inside of Bottas which sent Bottas spinning into the barriers and damaging Raikkonen’s car. While an ecstatic Perez drove through the collision and back into third, Bottas got on the radio to ask “what the f*ck” Raikkonen was doing.

Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz also retired just before the checkered flag. Ricciardo appears to have lost his brakes and pulled safely over, while Sainz also lost his brakes but spun backwards into the barriers – ironically at the same place as his shunt on Saturday – which damaged his car and ultimately proved terminal to his race. A fairly large fragment of his front wing was on the racing line after the incident which a brave marshal chose to clear – but this left him ducking out of the way of Vettel’s Ferrari as the German came around the corner and narrowly missed the volunteer.

Up front there were no real issues for Hamilton as he breezed across the line to secure his 42nd victory. Vettel crossed the line second while Perez gratefully accepted third place. Massa took fourth while Raikkonen finished fifth but will likely be moved down the order when a penalty is applied for his contact with Bottas. Kvyat, Nasr and Maldonado finished sixth, seventh and eighth while the two McLaren drivers secured points with ninth and tenth for Button and Alonso respectively. Verstappen was the first man outside the points while Bottas was classified as twelfth. Merhi and Stevens brought both Manor cars home for thirteenth and fourteenth, the last of the finishing drivers.

Provisional Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Sergio Perez
  4. Felipe Massa
  5. Kimi Raikkonen
  6. Daniil Kvyat
  7. Felipe Nasr
  8. Pastor Maldonado
  9. Jenson Button
  10. Fernando Alonso
  11. Pastor Maldonado
  12. Valtteri Bottas
  13. Roberto Merhi
  14. Will Stevens
  • Daniel Ricciardo
  • Carlos Sainz
  • Romain Grosjean
  • Nico Rosberg
  • Nico Hulkenberg
  • Marcus Ericsson

Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team

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Hamilton Eases To Victory At Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton eased to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix, overtaking his team-mate on the start and commanding the race for the remaining 53 laps. After falling several places into the first corners, Rosberg fought back to bring Mercedes a 1-2 finish, but has still lost another crucial 7 points on his team-mate, extending Hamilton’s lead in the Championship to 48 points.

Rosberg had clinched pole on Saturday with Hamilton slotting in behind him to keep the pressure on. But at lights out, Hamilton had a slightly stronger start than the sister Silver Arrows which allowed him to pull alongside into T1. Rosberg’s efforts to snuff the overtake failed miserably as he spilled over the track limits and allowed the Ferrari of Vettel and the Williams of Bottas to slip past him and demote him from first to fourth in the first two corners. Behind them, Ricciardo had been squeezed and knocked into Felipe Massa’s front wing. The ensuing traffic saw Perez get hit and slide into the gravel at a vast rate of knots. Subsequently Massa and Ricciardo had to pit to repair their respective punctures, with Massa also taking on a new front wing.

As Hamilton secured his lead with a new fastest lap helping extend the gap to second placed Vettel, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz began the first of many mid-field squabbles when he slipped past his countryman Alonso, while Button seemed to be reversing as Nasr and Verstappen breezed past him on both sides into T1. Alonso made sure to radio his frustration at the “embarrassing, very embarrassing” ease with which he was passed – at engine developer Honda’s home race.

Nevertheless he managed to fight off the challenge presented by Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull for ten laps. The young Russian himself had to fend off Verstappen at the same time and eventually dove into the pits, leaving the feisty Verstappen to challenge for Alonso’s tenth place. He, again, managed to hold the Toro Rosso off for several laps until a small error on the exit of the final corner allowed the 17-year-old to use DRS to pass the 34-year-old double World Champion.

Ericsson repeated his practice spin at Spoon curve which allowed Grosjean and Nasr to get past him, while Vettel maintained his position over Bottas after the two had completed their first stops. Following his own pit stop Rosberg began to charge after the cars in front of him. His first target was Bottas who he caught with remarkable speed and made short work of the into the final chicane, diving down the inside of the Finn, who didn’t seem to be particularly expecting the move from far behind.

At the same time, Verstappen was trying to make ballsy moves of his own and attempted a pass around the outside of Kvyat on the outside of 130R, although sensibly backed out of it when the Red Bull closed the door. Will Stevens showed the perils of taking 130R for granted later on in the race when he spun through the corner and narrowly avoided a huge impact with team-mate Alexander Rossi.

Vettel ducked into the pits on lap 31, avoiding debris left by Sainz who hit a pitlane bollard and broke his front wing. The German was stationary for less than three seconds as he changed his Pirellis, but when he emerged the much faster Rosberg had successfully utilised the undercut to sweep past him and into second. With Hamilton over ten seconds away, and pulling out half-a-second per lap, Rosberg settled in to maintain his second place from Vettel.

Further down the grid was less settled with everything left to fight for. Sainz scooped past Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso (to another angry radio outburst and scream from the Spaniard) and then Jenson Button into 130R to grab the final spot. Verstappen followed his team-mate through the field and pulled a nice move on Sainz at the final chicane. Kvyat made a similar move, despite running with front-end issues which made his car unstable, on Ericsson on the penultimate lap. The penultimate lap also saw Felipe Nasr pull into the pits and clamber from his cockpit.

With nearly twenty seconds in his pocket Hamilton proved unstoppable as he cruised flawlessly to his 41st Grand Prix victory. The tally puts him on par with his idol, Ayrton Senna, who ironically won his three World Championship titles at the same circuit. He has pushed his title lead to 48 points over Rosberg and with both drivers ringing up 43 points for Mercedes, a 1-2 at the next Grand Prix would seal another Constructor’s Championship for the team.

Provisional Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Kimi Raikkonen
  5. Valtteri Bottas
  6. Nico Hulkenberg
  7. Romain Grosjean
  8. Pastor Maldonado
  9. Max Verstappen
  10. Carlos Sainz
  11. Fernando Alonso
  12. Sergio Perez
  13. Marcus Ericsson
  14. Daniil Kvyat
  15. Daniel Ricciardo
  16. Jenson Button
  17. Felipe Nasr
  18. Felipe Massa
  19. Alexander Rossi
  20. Will Stevens

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Verstappen handed three-place grid penalty

Max Verstappen has been handed a three place grid penalty by stewards after he was deemed to have parked his car in a “potentially dangerous” way when it broke down during qualifying.

The Dutchman lost power coming out of the hairpin in the final seconds of the Q1 session and could not safely park his car out of the way of the oncoming traffic. Yet when stewards investigated the incident, it was found that Verstappen had first tried to park on the left side before crossing the track and attempting to park on the right side – which subsequently left his car parked diagonally across the track.

The stewards judgement read: “Car 33 experienced a sudden power loss at the exit of turn 11. The driver initially moved to the left side of the track towards a safe position and when it was about to stop, moved to the right onto the racing line, where it eventually stopped. This caused double yellow flags to be shown and endangered oncoming drivers.”

The rookie had already set a time which allowed him to progress to Q2 but could not participate, meaning he would start 15th. With the 3 place penalty he will start from 18th.

Jenson Button and Alexander Rossi were two drivers who were particularly affected by Verstappen’s break-down: Button wasn’t told which engine setting to choose before his first timed lap which led to a slow lap and when he tried to set a second timed lap he encountered the yellow flags and had to slow down, meaning he had to abandon the lap which may have seen him progress to Q2. Rossi, who’s racing in his second Grand Prix this weekend, had been affected by an earlier spin by Marcus Ericsson which left him trying to set a single flying lap in the final seconds of qualifying. Having to slow down for Verstappen, the American eventually set a lap outside the 107% rule, meaning he had to persuade the stewards to allow him to start, which they agreed to.

Nico Hulkenberg also took a three-place grid penalty today, dropping from eleventh to fourteenth, for his part in the collision with Felipe Massa at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

You can read my qualifying report here.

Image courtesy of Toro Rosso/Getty Images. 

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