Tag Archives: Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton Drives To Controlled Australian Victory

Lewis Hamilton began his title defence by claiming his second victory at Albert Park, keeping team-mate Nico Rosberg at arms length from the beginning.

The reigning Champion faced intermittent challenges from Rosberg slipping within a second or two of the sister Mercedes car, but realistically held complete control over the Grand Prix from pole to flag.

While the Mercedes duo cruised predictably up front, the grid behind them was anything but predictable. The Manor drivers had failed to make Qualifying as their team struggled to reinstall software to the cars for the new season, meaning Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will have to wait until at least Malaysia before turning a wheel in anger.

Kevin Magnussen was one of three other drivers who failed to start the race: the Dane, who was drafted in to replace the injured Fernando Alonso, saw his Honda engine give up on his lap from the pits to the grid pre-race. Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat also ended his race effort on his lap to the grid when a terminal problem with his gearbox was discovered. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas failed to even take his car from the garage today, as he was not given medical permission to race. The Finn injured the small of his back yesterday in Qualifying and failed one of the aspects of the mandatory extraction tests earlier today, meaning he will have to wait until Malaysia to begin his season proper.

These five absences left only fifteen cars on the grid for the race start, but the car number soon dropped to thirteen. Pastor Maldonado was the innocent victim of a jab from Felipe Nasr which sent him into the barriers at turn 2 and deployed the Safety Car. Meanwhile, his Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean suffered a technical fault which sent him out of the race, compounding a dismal weekend for Lotus.

With Maldonado’s stricken Lotus cleared, the Safety Car pitted and Hamilton led the drivers away for the first full racing lap of 2015. Nico Rosberg stuck close to the rear wing of the sister Mercedes, but third placed Felipe Massa soon lost sight of the Silver Arrows, such is the advantage the World Champions hold.

Further down the grid, the eleven other drivers had grouped together into individual battles spaced out along the track. Daniel Ricciardo spent time in front of his home crowd trying to keep Kimi Raikkonen’s slightly damaged prancing horse behind him. Further behind, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were scrapping for the final places when the Mexican botched an overtake on his former team-mate and spun at turn 3.

The battle for third between Massa and Vettel was going well for the Brazilian until he pitted first and allowed Vettel to stay out in open air for several laps, while Felipe met traffic in the much slower RB11 of Daniel Ricciardo. When Vettel emerged from the pit lane a few laps later, he had promoted himself to third and held a cushion over the Williams.

Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen was doing a good effort of making up for the mistake he made in Qualifying which saw him start twelfth, and he stayed on track on his first set of tyres until lap 33 of 58. When the 17-year-old came out of the pits, however, a puff of smoke acted as a precursor for a full engine failure at Turn 15 a minute later. The heartbroken Dutchman clambered from his cockpit and lamented his bad luck as his former F1 racer father, Jos Verstappen, stormed out of the Toro Rosso garage.

Verstappen’s retirement reduced the number of cars to twelve, but when Kimi Raikkonen’s left-rear tyre came loose after a pit stop four laps later, the Finn was forced to pull over at turn 4 and stomp back to the paddock. As Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene grilled the pit crew as to why the car left the pits without the wheel properly attached, the stewards announced that the unsafe release will be investigated after the race. Raikkonen can expect a ten-place grid penalty for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as is the standard penalty for an infringement of this type.

With the racing drivers now limited to eleven, only Carlos Sainz and Marcus Ericsson gave commentators something to talk about as the latter caught and passed the former in the final laps. Up front though, Hamilton was untouched as he led Rosberg across the line for his 34th victory.

Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to take a podium finish on his debut with Ferrari, while Felipe Massa shadowed the Scuderia over the line. Felipe Nasr finished fifth on his Formula One debut – the highest result for a Brazilian driver in his first F1 race. Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, while Marcus Ericsson scored six points from finishing seventh – meaning Sauber take fourteen points home from the Grand Prix. Having gone scoreless in 2014, this will certainly not go uncelebrated. Carlos Sainz joined Felipe Nasr as a rookie scoring a point on his debut, when the Spaniard finished ninth for Toro Rosso. Sergio Perez was the final points finisher for Force India, while Jenson Button finished dead-last and was the only man to cross the line without scoring a point.

Provisional Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Felipe Massa
  5. Felipe Nasr
  6. Daniel Ricciardo
  7. Nico Hulkenberg
  8. Marcus ericsson
  9. Carlos Sainz
  10. Sergio Perez
  11. Jenson Button
  • Kimi Raikkonen – Loose wheel
  • Max Verstappen – Mechanical failure
  • Romain Grosjean – Mechanical failure
  • Pastor Maldonado – Collision
  • Kevin Magnussen (DNS)
  • Daniil Kvyat (DNS)
  • Valtteri Bottas (DNS)

DNS – Did Not Start

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Hamilton Eases To Australian GP Pole

Lewis Hamilton stormed to an unchallenged pole position at the Australian Grand Prix today, as Mercedes team-mate Rosberg predictably filled out the front row, albeit six-tenths down on Hamilton’s lap.

While Hamilton set an incredibly quick 1.26.4 on his first timed lap in Q3, Rosberg made a mistake at T15, sliding off the track and bailing into the pitlane as a result. This put the German on the back foot as he began his second timed lap, and could only go 1.26.9 – before Hamilton went faster again and put down a 1.26.3 lap as the checkered flag fell.

Felipe Massa was the best of the rest, slipping ahead of the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. On his Qualifying performance, Vettel said “3rd was possible today and we didn’t do it. It’s possible again tomorrow.” While Massa has reason to smile with his grid slot, his 1.27.7 laptime put him 1.3 seconds shy of Hamilton’s lap – showing the huge gap between Mercedes and the rest of the grid already.

Valtteri Bottas made a mistake coming out of the final corner on his flying lap and had to wrestle his Williams into staying in a straight line. The slip cost him time and the Finn qualified sixth, although it emerged afterwards that he had been complaining of a pain in the small of his back since the middle of Q2. Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley says they don’t know yet what is causing the pain, but a very stiff looking Bottas clambering from his cockpit post-Quali is an ominous sign for his race performance tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz had a strong showing on his Formula One debut as he qualified eighth ahead of the Lotus duo, who were equally pleased to make it into Q3 after their dismal 2014 showing. While Sainz’s eighth is a strong performance for Toro Rosso, his younger team-mate Max Verstappen showed immense promise when he went fourth in Q1, before his car let him down on the apex of turn 4 and ruined his flying lap in Q2. The Dutchman could place no higher than twelfth today, but money would be on him shooting through the grid in tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was the first man to miss Q3, although qualifying eleventh is still something to be pleased about for his team following their pathetic effort last season. On the other hand, Nasr’s team-mate Marcus Ericsson was knocked out in Q1 and will line up sixteenth on the grid, almost a second slower than the sister car in the first session.

Daniil Kvyat qualified thirteenth in his first race since his promotion from sister team Toro Rosso, and ironically was just behind replacement Max Verstappen. Kvyat will have the Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez behind him on the grid tomorrow.

Excluding Mercedes’ astonishing lead over the rest of the field, McLaren were probably the talking point of the session as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen qualified on the back row of the grid for the race. Button’s best lap in Q1 was 1.5s behind that of what was needed to progress to the next group. The team broke the curfew last night as they struggled with the new Honda engine, and their long night could easily develop into a long season.

Manor weren’t ready to take part in Qualifying as they continued to reinstall the software that was wiped from their cars at the end of last season, and so cannot take part in the race tomorrow. Their efforts turn instead to the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Although six-tenths down on his team-mate, Rosberg wasn’t happy with his Quali lap and the realistic difference between the Mercedes duo is a lot smaller. Still, if Rosberg doesn’t jump Hamilton before turn 1 tomorrow it’s tough to see him out-racing the Briton in a straight fight.

Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Felipe Massa
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Kimi Raikkonen
  6. Valtteri Bottas
  7. Daniel Ricciardo
  8. Carlos Sainz
  9. Romain Grosjean
  10. Pastor Maldonado
  11. Felipe Nasr
  12. Max Verstappen
  13. Daniil Kvyat
  14. Nico Hulkenberg
  15. Sergio Perez
  16. Marcus Ericsson
  17. Jenson Button
  18. Kevin Magnussen
  • Will Stevens (NT)
  • Roberto Merhi (NT)

NT = No Time

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Rosberg Stays Fastest In FP2, But Hamilton Gets Closer

Nico Rosberg continued his strong morning showing by staying on top of the timesheets in FP2. His lead over team-mate Lewis Hamilton was more than halved, however, and Hamilton finished just a tenth shy of Rosberg’s time with the soft-compound runs completed in the afternoon.

With the track ‘rubbered in’, i.e. having more grip, after the first session, drivers began to push the limits a little harder on their laps. Alonso stand-in Kevin Magnussen was one of these drivers, but he stretched the limits too far and he skipped through the gravel at turn 5 before clouting the barriers as a result. The Dane was left with only a battered ego as a red flag was thrown to recover the damaged McLaren.

Other drivers who pushed the limits were a bit luckier: Carlos Sainz spun and continued at T15, Pastor Maldonado slid off-track at the same spot and his Lotus team-mate hobbled through the gravel at T3.

The Sauber drivers finally graced the track – their morning running hampered by the looming threat of Giedo van der Garde’s court case – but while Felipe Nasr’s first practice as an F1 driver was fairly straightforward, a problem on his left-rear tyre slowed Marcus Ericsson’s progress as he had to spend the rest of the session in the garage.

The Manor drivers were the only other team who failed to get their drivers on track for FP1 – and they had no success in getting drivers out for FP2. The team must completely reinstall software on the cars, meaning they will likely miss the Grand Prix on Sunday. Manor drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi could do nothing but stand idly by as their cars were tinkered on.

Felipe Massa also missed the session as a water leak discovered before FP2 began restricted his car to the garage. The other Williams, piloted by Valtteri Bottas, went fifth fastest behind the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Although the Scuderia drivers temporarily went first and second when they swapped to the softer compound Pirelli, it seems already that Mercedes should claim the front row for themselves in Qualifying tomorrow.

Free Practice Two results:

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

NT = No Time

Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team.

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Rosberg Quickest In Opening Australian Practice

Nico Rosberg launched his challenge at Lewis Hamilton’s Championship crown by going fastest in the first practice session of the 2015 season, at Albert Park.

Although it was the Toro Rosso and Ferrari drivers who charged eagerly onto the track when practice began, it was nine minutes before Rosberg set the first timed lap. Hamilton’s first effort seconds later went slower, and Nico’s second effort went faster than his first.

The on-track action was typical of what could be expected in the first practice session of the year. Plenty of drivers went out on track, and plenty of drivers returned to the pits to have their cars disassembled by their crew. Both McLaren drivers, for example, were out of their respective machines with over half-an-hour left in the session, as Honda engineers fiddled with the new engine.

Romain Grosjean spent a chunk of his session watching his car being pulled apart by Lotus mechanics who decided the floor needed to be changed – a laborious and time-consuming task which requires a lot of bodywork removal.

Grosjean can take consolation from the fact he made it to track, though, while neither Sauber nor Manor managed to get a car out for a single lap.

Sauber presumably chose not to run their car for fear of a legal bite from Giedo van der Garde’s team. The Dutchman claims to have paid for a seat in 2015 before Sauber gave Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr a drive for the season. Van der Garde has challenged this in an Australian court and won, meaning Sauber will have to let him drive. However, without a Superlicense, which all drivers must posses, Van der Garde will likely have to wait until Malaysia before he lines up on the grid. Both Nasr and Ericsson sat in their cars for the bulk of the session, albeit not driving, almost as if afraid Van der Garde would steal their seat if they got out of the car.

Down at Manor, formerly Marussia, there were no legal issues holding them back: the cars just simply aren’t prepared. Having missed pre-season testing, Manor are having to battle through a myriad of technical issues to get their car out on track. Team CEO Graeme Lowdon told Sky Sports that it’s not clear if they will make FP2 – or even the race – so Malaysia could be the team’s first on-track appearance.

There were no big incidents to report, rather the usual opening session niggles to get out of the way. Daniel Ricciardo spun into the slow T15, while Max Verstappen took a wobble through the fast T1 chicane. Soon afterwards Valtteri Bottas showed off his driving skills when he stopped his Williams sliding into the gravel with some sexy opposite lock. Sebastian Vettel also pushed the limits through the super-fast T11/T12 but paid the price for his daring when he hobbled through the gravel trap on the exit of T12.

Apart from these few incidents, practice played its course in dry fashion, and finished with a Virtual Safety Car simulation. Nico Rosberg remained safely on top of the timesheets but, due to his 2014 performances, a Lewis Hamilton pole on Saturday cannot be discounted. One thing is clear already, though: the fight for pole involves only Mercedes.

Free Practice One Results:

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

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Marussia To Race In Australia

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.

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Alonso To Miss Australian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso will miss the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on the advice of his doctors.

The 33-year-old, who this year makes a return to his 2007 team McLaren, suffered concussion after a high-speed crash during the final day of the second pre-season test, on February 22nd. The Spaniard was admitted to the ICU unit of a local hospital as he underwent precautionary scans and tests, but was released a day later.

Today, though, Alonso announced that, following advice from his medical team, he will not race at the Australian Grand Prix on March 15th.

A McLaren team statement released this morning read: “Fernando’s doctors have recommended to him that, following the concussion he sustained in a testing accident on February 22nd, for the time being he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one.”

While Alonso will miss the first race, he should be fit to race at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks later, on March 28th.

McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen will replace Alonso on the Aussie grid. The Dane raced alongside Jenson Button at the team last year, but was appointed reserve driver to facilitate Alonso’s return to the Woking outfit.

Image courtesy of McLaren. 

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