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Ricciardo Handed Ten Place Grid Drop For Bahrain

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Daniel Ricciardo has been handed a ten place grid drop for an unsafe release during today’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Aussie was released from his pit box without a properly attached front left tyre, meaning he had to stop further up the pitlane and wait for his team to run up the pits, push him back to his pits, reattach the tyres and release him again. After everything, he had lost a full lap.

For the unsafe release, the team were awarded a ten-place grid penalty for Bahrain, which means that the best that Ricciardo can Qualify is in 11th.

Ricciardo’s day got no better after the pits incident as the front jack, which lifts the front of a car during the pit stop, damaged the front wing and led to it breaking on the start/finish straight a lap later. He was left tiptoeing around the circuit and taking on a new front wing  and set of Pirellis.

Besides the ten-place grid drop, he was given a ten second stop/go penalty. Red Bull have also been called to the stewards for having personnel in the pits without helmets.

This is all ahead of the FIA International Court of Appeal where Red Bull are challenging the FIA’s decision to disqualify Ricciardo from his home Grand Prix last weekend, where he finished second.

Image courtesy Red Bull/Getty Images.

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Hamilton Storms To Malaysian Victory

Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable today as he led Mercedes to their first 1-2 since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. The Briton had narrowly taken pole position from Sebastian Vettel in the soaked Qualifying session yesterday, but he was untouchable today as he led proceedings from the lights to the flag.

The rain which flooded the circuit during Qualifying was gone, but the threat still existed and a mid-race rain shower could not be definitively ruled out. While the team strategists fretted over this news, it was completely irrelevant to Sergio Perez whose Force India stalled during a practice start about half an hour before the race was due to start. The team failed to get the car going again and he missed the race.

For the remaining twenty-one drivers, there was no repeat of the aborted start as there was in Australia two weeks ago. Despite a few slow starts, the installation lap got underway and everyone, bar Perez, took their respective places on the starting grid.

Lights out and Hamilton shot away while Rosberg ducked up the inside of Sebastian Vettel, who pushed his countryman towards the pitwall in an attempt to keep him behind. He had to fight team-mate Daniel Ricciardo simultaneously and inevitably lost the position to Rosberg who jumped into second. However, a wobble nearly sent Rosberg into the gravel at turn 3 and he had to defend hard against the Red Bull duo into turn 4.

The grid, somehow, made it through the tricky turn 1 and 2 sequence unscathed, but Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi came together at turn 4 when the Frenchman outbraked himself. The two were forced to pit for a replacement tyre and front wing respectively, before both retiring afterwards. Before he pulled into the pitlane to end his race, Bianchi became the first driver to earn a five second stop/go penalty.

Nico Hulkenberg challenged Fernando Alonso on the second corner of lap two, moving himself up the order. When Kevin Magnussen tried to do the same to Kimi Raikkonen, his front wing punctured Raikkonen’s rear right tyre, giving the Finn a puncture and earning the Dane a five second stop/go penalty.

As the drivers got settled into their positions, Williams deployed team orders against Valtteri Bottas while Felipe Massa tried to overtake Jean-Eric Vergne. He had been forced to back out of potential overtakes due to the threat of Bottas behind him, taking to the team radio and complaining. The team told Bottas to hold back.

Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo scrapped for fourth and Alonso pulled an incredible move on the Red Bull into the first corner. Daniil Kvyat also made in-roads after pulling a dummy on Esteban Gutierrez and swooping up the inside.

The first round of pit stops came and went and Hamilton kept his lead from Rosberg, who himself led from Vettel. As Jean-Eric Vergne dropped from the race, Ricciardo was told to drop further behind Vettel in order to save the tyres. On top of this, he was back ahead of Alonso after the pitstops, but was slowly falling into the clutches of the Ferrari as his fuel sensor failed. This left Red Bull using the FIA fuel monitors, which they blamed for Ricciardo’s disqualification at the Australian Grand Prix.

As if this wasn’t bad enough for Ricciardo, when he pitted for the second time, he was released from his pitbox without his front left tyre being properly attached. He pulled in further up the pitlane and waited, shaking his head, as his mechanics sprinted to the car and pushed it back down the pitlane to tighten the wheel nut. After everything, he had lost a full second to Alonso, who he led before the pitstop and who was directly ahead of him when he left the pits.

But Ricciardo’s bad luck wasn’t over with yet – his front wing, possibly damaged by the front jack in the pitlane, snapped on the start/finish straight and left him crawling around the entire circuit before having it replaced. He was subsequently awarded a ten second stop/go for the unsafe release. The end of a miserable day came with three laps left as he pulled into his garage.

The Saubers both failed to finish, the first double-DNF for the Swiss team since the 2011 Italian Grand Prix. Adrian Sutil pulled over on the exit of the last corner, a lap before his team-mate, smoking, pulled into the Sauber garage.

Nearer the back, the Caterham drivers spent their day holding off a surprisingly off-the-pace Raikkonen. Eventually he passed them and finished his race battling his former team-mate, Romain Grosjean, who will be celebrating eleventh – the race distance is probably the longest running the car has had this season.

Williams ended the race the way it started: with team orders. After several laps of ordering Massa to move over for Bottas, he had not moved over and Williams then told Bottas to fight his way past him to chase Jenson Button in sixth. Eventually, Bottas couldn’t get past his team-mate and the duo finished the race seventh and eighth.

Back at the front, though, it was Lewis Hamilton who took top honours as he crossed the line, in a league of his own, to take his 23rd career victory and his 100th points finish. Nico Rosberg followed his team-mate across the line, and secured the first Mercedes 1-2 since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel filled out the podium.

Provisional Results:

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

Image courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Bottas Handed Grid Penalty For Impeding Ricciardo

Valtteri Bottas has been handed a post-Qualifying grid penalty for impeding Daniel Ricciardo.

The Finn was called to the Stewards office after Red Bull referred the matter to race officials. Ricciardo blasted Bottas over the radio during Q2 for driving slowly ahead of him on more than one occasion. Bottas, however, was one of the only drivers using intermediate tyres in the hopes of reaching Q3, but he was driving much slower than everyone else on the grid. At the time that Ricciardo complained about him, Bottas was dead last.

Eventually the stewards found that Bottas had indeed impeded Ricciardo and handed him a three place grid penalty. This demotes Bottas to eighteenth and promotes Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil to fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth respectively.

The Stewards also handed Jean-Eric Vergne a €1,000 fine for twice speeding in the pitlane. To catch up on all the happenings of today’s exciting Qualifying session, click here.

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Hamilton Takes Pole In Soaked Sepang

Lewis Hamilton narrowly took pole ahead of Sebastian Vettel in an enthralling Qualifying session which saw a very delayed start and two red flags as a downpour hit the Sepang International Circuit.

The Briton was the quickest driver on Friday morning’s opening practice session, but he had lost his advantage to team-mate Rosberg who, coming from a race win in Australia, had been the quickest man in the second and third practice sessions. It seemed definite that Mercedes would ease themselves to a front row lockout after their 1.7 second gap to rivals in FP3, but when rain arrived thirty minutes before Qualifying, all predictability was washed away.

The rain was undetected by weather radars until it flooded the track, but it was expected to dry up just in time for Qualifying. However, the rain was showing no sign of going away as the scheduled start time rolled around. This prompted race control to delay Qualifying by fifteen minutes, and then by another fifteen minutes, and finally by a subsequent fifteen minutes.

When Qualifying eventually got underway, there was a line of 22 drivers in the pitlane and, excluding the McLarens, they were all on Intermediate tyres, perhaps suggesting that it was postponed for too long. Marcus Ericsson was left behind in the pits with some sort of mechanical issue, while the others went out on track.

Hamilton was the first driver to set a lap, meaning he went straight to the top of the timesheets. However, his time was then beaten by Nico Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in seventh before being told to “box because the car has issues”. He did so and the team discovered a problem with the Energy Recovery System (ERS), a similar problem to the one which saw Kamui Kobayashi miss Friday practice. Red Bull, out of pure desperation, rebooted the system and miraculously it worked, allowing Vettel to rejoin the fight on the rapidly drying track.

With five minutes left in Q1, Esteban Gutierrez went off track and momentarily prompted yellow flags, as did Vettel two minutes after the Mexican. However the big disturbance came when Marcus Ericsson slid on a white line exiting turn 3, got sideways through the gravel, hit the barriers and rejoined the track in a terrifyingly close call with the speeding Sauber of Gutierrez who missed the out-of-control Caterham by mere centimetres. This crash, with 35 seconds left on the clock, caused a red flag. Adrian Sutil was the big loser from this stoppage and ended the day in eighteenth, while Maldonado joined him in seventeenth. The other four drivers to drop out at the first hurdle were the predictable four back markers.

By the time Q2 got underway, the rain had intensified and necessitated the use of the full wet Pirelli tyres. Raikkonen and Alonso had tried to run with intermediate tyres while the rest of the grid fitted wet tyres. The so-called ‘rooster tails’, the spray which comes out from the wheels, blocked the TV cameras’ vision and the drivers could see even less. Amid the chaos, Daniil Kvyat and Fernando Alonso came together. Alonso, tiptoeing around the circuit, had taken a wide line into turn 11 which Kvyat mistook for the signal to overtake. He also outbraked himself and had nowhere to go as Alonso turned in to take the corner. Kvyat’s STR9 made contact with the Ferrari and broke the Scuderia’s front wishbone – a usually unrepairable damage.

A red flag was shown after the collision and this gave Ferrari time to work on the car. Like Vettel’s problem, Ferrari somehow fixed the suspension and allowed Alonso to return to the circuit. As the green light was shown, everyone bar Alonso took to the track. Valtteri Bottas put on a set of inters but his gamble failed as the drivers on wet tyres blasted past him.

Although his strategy was clearly failing, and he occupied last place, Williams called Massa in to fit him too with a pair of the green intermediate tyres. On the other hand, Hamilton, Rosberg and Magnussen occupied the top three places with wet tyres. The Red Bull drivers completed their laps and Ricciardo jumped to P2, sandwiching Rosberg as Vettel took fourth. Massa realised his mistake and quickly took a set of wet tyres while Bottas improved slightly to twelfth. Daniil Kvyat narrowly made it to Q3 with a tenth place – until his team-mate jumped into the top ten and pushed the Russian down to eleventh. Grosjean also missed a place in the top ten when he spun out on his final lap.

Q3 got underway, and everyone, excluding McLaren, had fitted wet tyres. The gamble wasn’t working, as Jenson Button, whose strength is in the wet conditions, was crawling around the track in tenth. Determined to use inters, he returned to the pits for another set while his team-mate took on a pair of wets. Up front, Raikkonen set the fastest lap, and was then beaten by Hamilton. Rosberg took second, and was then eclipsed by Alonso and Vettel. The drivers, excluding Button, pitted for fresh tyres ahead of the final fight for pole position, but the conditions were getting worse.

Vettel missed out on the chance to challenge for pole position, crossing the line a mere two seconds after the chequered flag flew. Hamilton gave up when he drove wide at turn 4, and left the chance of keeping his pole position to the speed of the others. Button finally conceeded defeat and drove into the pits while Rosberg took P3. Alonso went fourth ahead of Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Magnussen. Jean-Eric Vergne took ninth while Button was left settling for tenth.

With other drivers failing to beat his time, Hamilton took his 33rd career pole position – equalling Jim Clark’s British record which was set at the 1964 American Grand Prix.

Provisional Grid: 

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

Image courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Rosberg Keeps Mercedes In World Of Their Own

Nico Rosberg kept Mercedes firmly fastest in the final piece of track action before Qualifying at the Malaysian Grand Prix. The German kept his dominance over team-mate Lewis Hamilton as he looks to take a back-to-back win this Sunday, trumping Hamilton’s time by three-tenths of a second.

Kimi Raikkonen was the closest driver to the Silver Arrows,  but he was still a full 1.2 behind the title favourites. Behind Raikkonen was Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull, who himself led from Force India’s promising Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, who will be eager to make the podium after being disqualified from second at his home Grand Prix two weekends ago.

Fernando Alonso was noticeably slower than his team-mate as he occupied seventh place and narrowly fended off former team-mate Felipe Massa for Williams. Massa’s team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, took ninth while Sergio Perez filled out the top ten for Force India.

The Toro Rosso duo of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne took eleventh and twelfth ahead of the Sauber pairing of Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil, thirteenth and fourteenth. The Lotus drivers finally got some running under their belt, although Romain Grosjean had an off-track excursion in the final seconds of the session and subsequently declared the E22 a ‘disaster’ over the team radio.

Max Chilton was seventeenth for Marussia, ahead of team-mate Jules Bianchi and the Caterham duo of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi. Kobayashi failed to get any noteworthy running on Friday due to technical gremlins, and needed to maximise the hour today. However, another technical issue reared its head and saw him ending his session after seven laps. McLaren report ‘hardware issues’ in their cars which saw them finish twenty-first and twenty-second this morning, and these problems will be tough to fix before Qualifying.

Free Practice 3 Results:

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

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Rosberg Leads Raikkonen In Afternoon Session

Nico Rosberg took to the top of the time sheets during the Friday afternoon practice session, taking over from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who led the morning session. Rosberg’s fastest lap of 1.39.909 was just enough to edge out Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who was in second. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was merely three-hundredths of a second behind Raikkonen, and held a similar gap over Hamilton in fourth.

Fernando Alonso led former team-mate Felipe Massa, who himself led Daniel Ricciardo and Jenson Button. Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg filled out the top ten. Jean-Eric Vergne was eleventh for Toro Rosso, ahead of Kevin Magnussen who reported oversteer throughout the session. The Sauber’s of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez in thirteenth and fifteenth respectively were split by Toro Rosso’s rookie, Daniil Kvyat, who last week became Formula One’s youngest ever points scorer.

Romain Grosjean was seventeenth for Lotus – an improvement, at least, from finishing twenty-second in the morning session. However, his running was still riddled with issues in the afternoon, and his session ended with him jumping from the car with twenty minutes left on the clock. His team-mate failed to get out on track following his smoky exit from FP1. Kamui Kobayashi also failed to run this afternoon, with Caterham still trying to recover the car after finding a problem in the energy store this morning. Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi were eighteenth and nineteenth for Marussia respectively, while Marcus Ericsson was the final person to set a lap, in twentieth.

Free Practice 2 Results:

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

Image courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Hamilton Sets The Pace In Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man during Friday morning’s practice session ahead of this Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The Briton, whose best result in Sepang was second in 2007, edged out Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg who finished second and third respectively.

It was a promising omen for Hamilton who failed to set a single lap as the same session at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago. While Hamilton’s run was free of any technical gremlins, the same could not be said for the Lotus drivers, both of whom had to be recovered: Romain Grosjean pulled over after twenty minutes, while Maldonado went up in smoke with around twenty minutes left in the session. While Grosjean’s E22 was fixed up and he got back out on track, Maldonado climbed from his cockpit and left his mechanics to try to have the car ready for the afternoon session

Caterham who, like Lotus, run Renault power, were forced to call an end to his morning activity when a problem was discovered in the energy store. Aside from Kobayashi and the two Lotus’, no one else seemed to be suffering from any noteworthy issues.

The majority of extracurricular activity this morning came as a result of spins: Adrian Sutil spinning at the pit entrance, Marcus Ericsson spinning out of the last corner and Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa both spinning into the run-off area at turn 10. Lewis Hamilton out-braked himself at turn 14 and took the scenic route through the gravel in the final seconds of the session, as if to celebrate his fastest lap. Finally, Kevin Magnussen had a peculiar issue when the car shut itself off in the pit entrance: he required the assistance of marshals who pushed him some bit towards the pits before simply giving up and walking away, leaving the Dane stranded until marshals from a different post had run to him.

Free Practice 1 Results:

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

Image courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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