Tag Archives: 2016

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

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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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Hamilton wins in Monaco as pit mistake costs Ricciardo

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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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Clarkson to spearhead North Korean F1 bid

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!

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