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.
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.
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.
Today is Day One for Formula One – the start of a new count of days since the last driver death. A huge run of reforms and developments across all areas of Formula One safety occurring over the two decades since the last on track driver death made it seem like the modern sport produced indestructible racers. The last career ending crash, by my count, was Luciano Burti’s barrier-spearing shunt at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2001. Alonso in Brazil, Button in Monaco, Webber in Valencia, even Kubica’s mammoth accident at the ’07 Canadian GP all demonstrate the improved safety standards which allowed all aforementioned drivers to survive their big impacts, usually with only a bruised ego to lament. So for a driver to die in this environment is shocking. As with Senna and Ratzenberger’s deaths 21 years ago, we must use this tragedy to work out the kinks in safety, to ensure we limit the chances of another death as much as possible. But in contrast to other fatal crashes, we cannot blame a fault with the cars or the driver protection. Bianchi’s death was a freak accident. No protective equipment, perhaps not even cockpit canopies (which may have become inverted during the impact and caused further injury) could have saved Bianchi from injury when he hit the back of the JCB removing Sutil’s car in the rain in Suzuka. The matter lies with car removal procedure, a method which Martin Brundle has spoken against since – in a spookingly ironic twist – he had his own near miss with a tractor in the same spot during the rainy 1994 Suzuka Grand Prix.
I won’t go explaining the different things F1 can do – and has done (Virtual Safety Car, for example) – to improve again on the safety of the sport. That’s for another article – or the countless articles which have been written since Jules’crash nine months ago. Today we mourn for the loss of a racer. The loss of an otherwise certain future Championship challenger. The loss of a popular, enthusiastic young man with an infectious smile and a love for the job he lost his life doing. But as we struggle to overcome the shock of his passing, we must keep the Bianchi family in our thoughts. Phillippe Bianchi, Jules’ father, recently spoke out about Jules’ condition in hospital. He hated his son’s quality of life and insisted that the condition was “worse than if he had died” in the crash. Today, although grieving for the loss of their child, the Bianchi parents can begin to move on and mourn their son – rather than endure the daily torture inflicted upon them during Jules’ nine months in hospital, where though breathing unaided, he never regained consciousness.
Although cruel to admit, what undoubtedly makes this tragedy that much tougher is who it happened to. Bianchi’s talents had been blatantly obvious for many a year, even before he ran circles around his backmarker colleagues when racing for Marussia. The obvious highlight of his career will forever be scoring points from the back of the grid for Marussia – in the worst car on the grid. It was a drive reminiscent of a young Ayrton Senna or Gilles Villeneuve. His talent was obvious, and with Jules testing for Ferrari during last year, it appears that he may have been replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari when the Finn’s contract runs out. With a seat on the Prancing Horse I believe Bianchi would have been the first French Champion since his compatriot Alain Prost snatched his fourth and final Championship in 1989.
Bianchi tested for Ferrari in July of 2014 (c) Scuderia Ferrari
Instead, on Tuesday we bury our first driver in 21 years and Formula One will come together as a community to mourn the loss of one of their own. Formula One will never be safe – that’s part of the attraction for the men who race – but hopefully it will become even safer.
For now, Ciao Jules. Rest in Peace.
Filed under F1, News, Opinion
The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile today announced that it is to retire the #17 from the driver number selection in honour of Jules Bianchi, whose driver number was 17.
The 25-year-old Frenchman lost his fight for life on Sunday morning, nine months after sustaining massive head injuries in a freak accident at the Japanese Grand Prix last year. Although breathing unaided, he never regained consciousness.
Bianchi chose the number 17 as his driver number when the FIA introduced permanent driver numbers at the beginning of the 2014 season. Today’s announcement means the number 17 will always belong to Jules Bianchi, the first driver to lose his life on track since Ayrton Senna 21 years ago.
Among the tributes paid to Bianchi since the news of his death emerged was former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montazemelo who confirmed that the Scuderia had planned to replace Kimi Raikkonen with Bianchi, once the Finn World Champion retired. Bianchi had been a Ferrari academy member and test drove for them several times, most recently at Silverstone in July of last year.
Bianchi’s funeral will be held on Tuesday in Nice, France.
North Korea have announced that Jeremy Clarkson is to spearhead it’s bid to host a Formula One race in 2016. The Briton made headlines this month when reports of a ‘fracas’ with a BBC producer came out, and ultimately lost him his role as a presenter on Top Gear.
Rumours of North Korea’s hopes to enter a bid have been whispered in the paddock for the last few days, but North Korean leader Kim-Jong-un confirmed their bid this morning in a press conference aired on North Korean TV.
“Well, the cat was let out of the bag a bit, I suppose”, said the 32-year-old. “It’s true that we’re looking at holding an F1 race at the moment.
“I was a big fan of Narain Karthikeyan’s and I really hope he can race in my country. It’d be super cool,” explained the Leader.
“We’ve asked Hermann Tilke to design us a track in the shape of an F1 car, but he said that’d be a bit too exciting. I guess we’ll just take a typical Tilke track, which’ll probably be a bit dull to be honest.
“It’ll be WAY better than South Korea’s though”, Jong-un added.
South Korea hosted a Grand Prix between 2010 and 2012 before it was booted off the calendar due to spiralling ticket sales and poor racing. A planned marina, based on the Monaco and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix settings, was never constructed around the track.
Kim Jong-un says the North Korean track will have a firework display every ten minutes. He also promised that he would request that Hermann Tilke construct a Mario Kart style loop-the-loop in the second sector of the track.
As well as spearheading the Formula One bid, Jeremy Clarkson is to advise Kim Jong-un on dealing with Formula One management and their producers.
This story is a joke by the way. Happy April Fool’s Day!
Marussia F1 Team say they will race at next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
The team confirmed that they have built a provisional car to race at Australia, but will bring a more advanced model, based on development work from last year, to the grid mid-season.
Marusssia’s appearance on the grid this year seemed in severe doubt after the team collapsed at the end of last season. Jules Bianchi’s serious crash at the Japanese Grand Prix last October was a precursor to Marussia running out of money and failing to make it to the final Grands Prix, like backmarker rivals Caterham.
Although attempts to bring the team back for this season picked up speed in January, it seemed unlikely when Force India vetoed Marussia using their 2014 car for the opening races. Finally, with the construction of a basic, rule-abiding 2015 model, Marussia were given permission to race in Australia by the FIA.
Graeme Lowdon, President and Sporting Director of the team said: “I want to thank all of the teams, the FIA, Formula One Management, our suppliers and staff and of course all of the fans for the support we’ve received over the past six months.
“It has been a challenging period for all of us but we’ve come through it and now we just want to go racing again.”
Will Stevens will be one of Marusssia’s pilots, with his team-mate yet to be confirmed. Former Marussia driver Max Chilton is racing with Nissan Motorsports in the World Endurance Championship, and so cannot race for the team.
Image courtesy of Marussia F1 Team.