Monthly Archives: May 2014

First Points For Marussia

Jules Bianchi took Marussia to their first Formula One points at the Monaco Grand Prix today when he finished eighth.

Although the Frenchman was later demoted to ninth after a five-second time penalty moved him behind Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, he still secured two points for the team – their first in their four seasons.

“I am just incredibly happy,” Bianchi said. “But first of all, I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points. To achieve them together makes me very proud. 

“It was not an easy race; there were some enjoyable highs along the way, but also a couple of concerning moments too. What matters in the end is that we got there and we can savour the highlights for a long time to come. “

“Naturally we are overjoyed at today’s result,” Marussia Team Principal John Booth said after the race. “It is a fantastic reward for all the hard work and determination, not just this year, but over the past four and a bit seasons. 

“We are only a young team, but we have every reason to believe in ourselves and a positive future. Clearly, in today’s race, we benefited from some attrition but, throughout, we were running at a pace that allowed us to stay in position with the cars around us. It is clear that we are now able to race with the back of the midfield pack.”

Virgin (now Marussia) entered the sport in 2010 alongside Lotus (now Caterham) and Hispania (who have since folded), and are the first of the three teams to score a point. Last year, Marussia took tenth in the Constructors’ Championship when Bianchi finished 13th in Malaysia, with Caterham finishing 11th in the Championship.

Caterham narrowly missed out on also scoring their first points when Marcus Ericsson finished eleventh. They finished higher than Marussia in 2012 when Charles Pic, then driving for Marussia but with a contract signed with Caterham for the following year, lost 12th to Heikki Kovalainen in the final race of the season.

Image courtesy of Marussia F1 Team. 

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Rosberg Victorious In The Streets Of Monte Carlo

Nico Rosberg took his second consecutive victory in the streets of Monte Carlo today after driving a commanding race and fending off team-mate Hamilton for the bulk of the race. Hamilton had shadowed Rosberg until the 56th lap before he began to drop back, but stayed ahead of a hungry Daniel Ricciardo who was looking to break the run of Mercedes’ 1-2s.

The race was essentially won when Rosberg made it to the first corner in the lead and Hamilton slotted in behind. They were denied the chance to do their usual party trick and bolt into the horizon when Sergio Perez and Jenson Button came together at Mirabeau, spinning the Force India into the barrier and bringing out the Safety Car. The stewards announced that they would investigate the incident after the race while Perez walked back to join Pastor Maldonado, who had failed to start the race after stalling on the grid during the formation lap.

Hamilton failed to get the jump on his team-mate on the restart and Rosberg again maintained his lead into the first corner. Vettel lost his podium position, though, and began to slide down the order as he reported an engine issue. He had dropped to last place before he finished the lap and, although the team sent him back to track, he came back in after two laps as his RB10 began to give up.

With Vettel out of the race, Raikkonen moved up to third and stewards announced that they were investigating both Marussias and Esteban Gutierrez for taking the wrong grid places on the grid. Eventually they handed each driver a five-second stop/go penalty to be served during a pit stop.

Speaking of the pits, Grosjean and Sutil had to come in earlier than planned to replace bodywork damaged in the Perez/Button crash. After leaving the pitlane, Sutil set his sights on Grosjean and threw his Sauber up the inside of the Lotus at the hairpin, forcing Grosjean off-line and moving up the order. He pulled the same move on Marcus Ericsson on the next lap, pushing the Swede wide and moving up a place.

Sutil pulled an impressive move on Max Chilton into the Nouvelle Chicane when he out-braked the Briton, but the German’s luck ran out a few laps later when he lost control at the same spot, hitting the barrier on the right and spraying debris everywhere before swiveling to a halt in the middle of the chicane. Luckily Sutil was okay after the shunt but his race was over and his overtaking to that point now useless.

The Safety Car was deployed for the incident and the grid came into the pits, including the three men who were handed a 5-second stop/go penalty. However, the rules dictate that you can’t serve the penalty under a Safety Car, which they did, meaning they were handed a five second time penalty to be added to their race times. Also in the pitlane, Jean-Eric Vergne earned a drive-through penalty when his team moronically released him into the path of Kevin Magnussen, who was forced to stomp on the brakes to avoid a collision which would certainly have sent the Toro Rosso into the line of Williams mechanics beside them. Raikkonen made a second trip into the pits when Chilton hit him and gave him a puncture behind the Safety Car.

The Mercedes AMG SLS eventually came back in and Rosberg’s Mercedes AMG F1 car bolted away, shadowed again by Hamilton. For the third time, Rosberg made it to the first corner first and maintained his lead while Daniel Ricciardo occupied third after Raikkonen’s second pit stop. Vergne was taken off-guard by Kevin Magnussen at Rascasse and Magnussen was similarly caught off-guard by Sergio Perez who pulled an even more impressive move on the Dane into the Portier corner before the tunnel.

Kimi Raikkonen was trying to move up the inside of Kamui Kobayashi into the Nouvelle Chicane but the Japanese driver repeatedly out-braked himself and cut the chicane, much to the frustration of Raikkonen and prompting his team to radio him to instruct him not to cut the corner. Finally the Ferrari moved past the Caterham and Ericsson also slipped past his displaced team-mate.

With Kobayashi still recovering from this, Bianchi caught him out and put his Marussia up the inside of Rascasse, forcing Kobayashi to allow the Frenchman past into thirteenth, which would equal the team’s best result. Bianchi moved up one better when he passed Jean-Eric Vergne as his countryman served his drive-through. Vergne’s bad luck continued and his engine soon blew, ending his race prematurely and giving Toro Rosso a double DNF.

Esteban Gutierrez was another driver ending his day early when he hit the barriers at Rascasse and spun around, stalling his car and failing to recover. As marshals wheeled his car away, Bianchi moved up to tenth and into the point-scoring positions.

Back at the front, Hamilton suddenly dropped back from Rosberg as he came on the radio to report that some dirt had gone through his visor and into his eye. He began to drop rapidly from Rosberg and into the clutches of Daniel Ricciardo who was looking to end Mercedes’ run of 1-2s on the podium.

As Ricciardo caught Hamilton, they lapped Kimi Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen, but as Kimi tried to overtake the McLaren, he overshot the braking zone and sent both cars wide and into the barriers. The Safety Car was not deployed and both cars got going again but now Bianchi was past them and, incredibly, up to eight place.

The laps ran out before Ricciardo could pass Hamilton and while Nico Rosberg won the race, Hamilton led Ricciardo across the line for second and third. Fernando Alonso took his Ferrari to fourth while Nico Hulkenberg recorded an impressive fifth after starting eleventh. Jenson Button was sixth with Felipe Massa seventh, after starting sixteenth due to his crash with Ericsson in Qualifying. Jules Bianchi finished eighth but was demoted to ninth when his penalty was added, although he still scores the first points for Marussia, while Grosjean finished ninth and was prompted to eighth. Kevin Magnussen took the last point while Marcus Ericsson narrowly missed out on points for Caterham when he finished eleventh. Kimi Raikkonen finished twelfth after his late crash and Kamui Kobayashi finished thirteenth. Max Chilton was the last of the finishers, taking fourteenth for Marussia.

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Daniel Ricciardo
  4. Fernando Alonso
  5. Nico Hulkenberg
  6. Jenson Button
  7. Felipe Massa
  8. Romain Grosjean
  9. Jules Bianchi
  10. Romain Grosjean
  11. Marcus Ericsson
  12. Kimi Raikkonen
  13. Kamui Kobayashi
  14. Max Chilton
  • Pastor Maldonado – stalled on grid
  • Sergio Perez – first lap crash
  • Sebastian Vettel – turbo failure
  • Daniil Kvyat – engine failure
  • Adrian Sutil – crash
  • Jean-Eric Vergne – engine failure
  • Valtteri Bottas – engine failure
  • Esteban Gutierrez – spin

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Rosberg Keeps Pole After Stewards’ Investigation

Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix on pole position after the stewards cleared him of purposefully parking his car during Qualifying.

The German took pole position when he went off track at Mirabeau, causing yellow flags which subsequently slowed Lewis Hamilton and prevented anyone from beating Rosberg’s fast first lap. The incident split opinions and some suggested that Rosberg, like Schumacher in 2006, had parked to secure pole. However, stewards finally announced that after reviewing video, telemetry and talking to Rosberg and Mercedes, they could find no evidence which would suggest that Rosberg purposefully went off track.

As a result of the decision, Rosberg keeps his pole position and will start from the front for the second consecutive time in Monte Carlo. He won last year’s Grand Prix from pole position.

Rosberg took victory in the season opening Australian Grand Prix when Hamilton retired from pole, but has failed to repeat the feat as Hamilton has taken victory in the last four races. Starting from pole in the tight, windy streets of Monaco would certainly give him the odds of ending Hamilton’s winning streak.

Stewards were also investigating a crash between Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Massa which occurred in the closing stages of Q1. They found Ericsson to be at fault and ordered him to start from the pitlane.

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Rosberg Takes Pole From Hamilton

Nico Rosberg will start the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position after narrowly edging out team-mate and Championship leader Lewis Hamilton. Both men set banker laps in the opening minutes of Q3 but as Rosberg began his second flying lap, he locked-up and took to the escape road at Mirabeau, prompting yellow flags. As Hamilton was behind him on track, he was forced to slow down and abandon his lap, giving pole to Rosberg. Although there have been suspicious circumstances regarding pole position in the past, Schumacher in 2006 for example, Rosberg seems to have been the victim of a lucky mistake.

Mistake or not, it will nonetheless cause tension between the two Mercedes men as Hamilton could not put in a second attempt for pole. Daniel Ricciardo was third for Red Bull and admitted that he made a mistake in turn 8 which cost him the chance to challenge for the front row, while Vettel finished fourth in the other Red Bull. The Ferrari duo locked out the third row of the grid, Alonso fifth and Raikkonen sixth, but they look no closer to challenging the top four drivers. Jean-Eric Vergne and Marcus Ericsson filled out the fourth row on the grid while Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez filled out the top ten.

Nico Hulkenberg finished eleventh for Force India, narrowly missing out on Q3, but being the first man who has a free choice of tyres for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. Jenson Button bizarrely slowed in the final sector of his last flying lap and continued to cruise down the start/finish straight, leaving him down the order in twelfth. Valtteri Bottas finished 13th for Williams while Felipe Massa was taken out by a sliding Marcus Ericsson into Mirabeau at the end of Q1 and failed to run in the second session, causing him to start sixteenth. The Lotus drivers finished fourteenth and fifteenth.

Esteban Gutierrez was the first man to drop out of Qualifying, going seventeenth for Sauber, while Adrian Sutil qualified eighteenth in the sister car. Jules Bianchi was put under investigation for impeding during the opening session and could lose his nineteenth, but provisionally qualified ahead of Max Chilton. The Caterham duo were twenty-first and twenty-second, with Ericsson qualifying last after the aforementioned crash with Massa.

Daniil Kvyat also made contact with the barriers when he got out of shape coming out of the tunnel and spun across the chicane, in an almost exact copy of Sergio Perez’s 2012 shunt. Luckily for the Russian, who went on to qualify ninth, he kept out of the TecPro barriers and managed to return to the pitlane. Maldonado also got out of shape but wonderfully controlled the car and stayed on track.

As there are several investigations underway, primarily for impeding other drivers, the provisional results could be completely changed.

Provisional Qualifying results:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Daniel Ricciardo
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Jean-Eric Vergne
  8. Kevin Magnussen
  9. Daniil Kvyat
  10. Sergio Perez
  11. Nico Hulkenberg
  12. Jenson Button
  13. Valtteri Bottas
  14. Romain Grosjean
  15. Pastor Maldonado
  16. Felipe Massa
  17. Esteban Gutierrez
  18. Adrian Sutil
  19. Jules Bianchi
  20. Max Chilton
  21. Kamui Kobayashi
  22. Marcus Ericsson

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Hamilton Back On Top In Monaco

Lewis Hamilton retook the honour of fastest man in Monaco when he topped the third and final practice session ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix. The Briton was behind Daniel Ricciardo for the bulk of the session but retook the top spot when he fitted the super-soft tyre compound. Ricciardo was only 0.050 behind the Championship leader as the session ended, hinting at a close battle for pole position between the two men. Also in with a shot at pole is Mercedes driver and last year’s race winner, Nico Rosberg, whose last run was cut short after the team took time to examine the back of his car, leaving him with less time on the super-soft compounds which will be used for the pole position lap. Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the other Red Bull, three tenths behind Rosberg and three tenths ahead of Fernando Alonso.

The best strategy seems to be to do a banker lap on the softer-compound before setting a hot lap on the next lap. This isn’t ideal, however, as the top ten drivers start the race with the tyres they set their fastest lap on, meaning that they will be running tyres two laps more worn than the drivers starting eleventh or lower.

As for the uneasiness shown by drivers on Thursday as they got used to the characteristics of the 2014 machines on the tight and windy streets of Monaco, they seemed to have gotten to grips with handling the cars. Hamilton, for example, had a scary moment at the fast left-hand Tabac corner where he was forced to engage opposite lock to prevent a crash. Jean-Eric Vergne also had problems in the final seconds of the session, first out-braking into Saint Devote, before reversing out and then out-braking into Mirabeau.

That’s the extent of the track action before Monaco and no one is any closer to being the obvious choice for pole. Hamilton or Ricciardo do seem to be the obvious contenders but in Monaco, where a yellow flag is almost as common as a green flag, or where traffic can make or break a lap, anything can happen – and anyone can be on pole.

Free Practice Three results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Daniel Ricciardo
  3. Nico Rosberg
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Sergio Perez
  8. Nico Hulkenberg
  9. Jean-Eric Vergne
  10. Daniil Kvyat
  11. Kevin Magnussen
  12. Jenson Button
  13. Valtteri Bottas
  14. Felipe Massa
  15. Adrian Sutil
  16. Romain Grosjean
  17. Jules Bianchi
  18. Pastor Maldonado
  19. Esteban Gutierrez
  20. Kamui Kobayashi
  21. Max Chilton
  22. Marcus Ericsson

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Alonso Leads Hamilton In FP2

Fernando Alonso beat Lewis Hamilton to the top of the time sheets during today’s mixed-weather FP2 session. The Spaniard put in a late fast lap to beat the morning’s fastest man by 0.4s. The pace may not be representative, however, as Hamilton set a fastest first sector before meeting a slow Nico Hulkenberg and abandoning his lap. On his second attempt, he came across Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham in the barriers before the tunnel which caused him to abandon that lap too. His third attempt moved him to second, behind Alonso. Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull, seven-tenths behind Alonso, and three tenths ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne who took fourth for Toro Rosso. Valtteri Bottas was the first man to take to the track this afternoon and ended the session in fifth.

Bottas’ one lap run was after a fifteen minute wait as the teams waited for someone else to go out and dry up the track following a pre-session hail storm. After Bottas’ installation lap – and his unhappiness with the conditions – a twenty minute wait followed as no one dared venture out. Finally Adrian Sutil took to the track but returned without setting a lap while the Toro Rosso drivers came out. Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne had the circuit to themselves as they got to work beating their team-mate’s fastest lap, until the Ferrari’s also joined them. Raikkonen wasn’t out for long, however, as he exited Rascasse and couldn’t select a gear. He nursed his ill-sounding Ferrari back to the pitlane where his team confirmed that his gearbox had failed. As it was a practice unit, he will not be penalised.

In contrast to the quiet start to the session, the last ten minutes of FP2 looked like a Q3 session as each driver worked to get their run in. Traffic is always a problem in Monaco and, as I mentioned, Hamilton was affected twice in three laps. Alonso managed to get a particularly impressive lap down which Hamilton could not better. Rosberg, who shadowed Hamilton in the morning session, finished in twentieth. Despite the low result, it still seems that he could be involved in a four way battle for pole during Saturday’s Qualifying session. Will it be Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso or Ricciardo starting Sunday’s race from the front?

Free Practice Two results:

  1. Fernando Alonso
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Jean-Eric Vergne
  5. Valtteri Bottas
  6. Sergio Perez
  7. Nico Hulkenberg
  8. Jenson Button
  9. Daniel Ricciardo
  10. Kevin Magnussen
  11. Felipe Massa
  12. Daniil Kvyat
  13. Adrian Sutil
  14. Pastor Maldonado
  15. Esteban Gutierrez
  16. Romain Grosjean
  17. Kamui Kobayashi
  18. Jules Bianchi
  19. Max Chilton
  20. Nico Rosberg
  21. Marcus Ericsson
  22. Kimi Raikkonen

Image courtesy Scuderia Ferrari. 

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Hamilton Fastest In Opening Monaco Practice

Lewis Hamilton lay down his challenge for pole position this morning as he topped the opening practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix. The Briton was predictably shadowed by his team-mate Nico Rosberg who ended the practice session three-hundredths of a second behind Hamilton, at the race where Rosberg was last year victorious. Daniel Ricciardo was two tenths behind for Red Bull as he once again proved to be the best of the rest while Fernando Alonso slipped his Ferrari into the gap between Ricciardo and the other Red Bull.

The drivers were clearly unsettled as they raced on the tight and windy streets of Monte Carlo for the first time since adopting the ‘greener’ V6 engines which give them more power and less control of the cars which left them sliding their way around the principality. Max Chilton was the first driver to take to the track and looked very uneasy in the cockpit, before spinning at Mirabeau and prematurely ending his session. He wasn’t the only driver to be caught out there, however, as Adrian Sutil hit the barriers and Fernando Alonso out-braked himself and took to the escape road. Sutil’s team-mate, Esteban Gutierrez, also had a moment at Saint Devote when he out-braked and was also forced to take to the escape road at the first corner.

Free Practice One results: 

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Daniel Ricciardo
  4. Fernando Alonso
  5. Sebastian Vettel
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Valtteri Bottas
  8. Sergio Perez
  9. Kevin Magnussen
  10. Nico Hulkenberg
  11. Jenson Button
  12. Esteban Gutierrez
  13. Romain Grosjean
  14. Pastor Maldonado
  15. Jean-Eric Vergne
  16. Felipe Massa
  17. Adrian Sutil
  18. Daniil Kvyat
  19. Jules Bianchi
  20. Marcus Ericsson
  21. Kamui Kobayashi
  22. Marcus Ericsson

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