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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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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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Rosberg The Wizard Of Aus

(c) Mercedes AMG F1 Team

Nico Rosberg stormed to victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, a race which proved to be all about the survival of the fittest. Pole man Lewis Hamilton and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel both retired very early on while two men took to the podium for the first time.

Even before the lights went out today, Romain Grosjean had been handed a drive-through penalty for leaving his garage before he was allowed to. The Frenchman suffered through a dismal Qualifying and later opted to start from the pitlane so that his team could work on his car. On the plus side, Grosjean was spared the chaos at the start of the race.

Max Chilton failed to take the formation lap when his car simply turned itself off, meaning he had to be wheeled slowly back to the garage while the grid weaved around Albert Park. Two minutes later, Hamilton led the 20 cars on the grid and the 2014 season was very nearly underway – until Jules Bianchi suffered a similar problem in his Marussia and prompted an aborted start. As he too was wheeled to the pits, the grid underwent another formation lap.

Finally the five red lights came on, went out, and the nineteen eager drivers rushed forward. Pole man Lewis Hamilton lost his lead immediately to fast-starting Nico Rosberg while Kevin Magnussen got sideways in his McLaren and missed an overtaking opportunity on local hero Daniel Ricciardo. Kamui Kobayashi, after his absolutely stunning Qualifying performance, braked far too late and smashed into the rear of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. His front right tyre was completely disconnected from the car, and the left one subsequently came loose when he slammed into the back of Felipe Massa’s Williams, sending both Kamui and Felipe into the gravel and out of the race. Kamui later claimed responsibility for the crash and was eager to apologise, but said that when he pressed the brakes, the car simply wouldn’t slow. Massa slammed the Japanese returnee, who missed last season, for braking far too late.

Pole man Hamilton was dropping down the order fast: his Mercedes was noticeably struggling and it was not long before the team told him to pit to retire the car. He stayed out for a further lap, hoping against hope that the car might fix itself, but inevitably pulled in on lap three. A devastating weekend for the pre-season title favourite. The reigning World Champion fared no better, dropping like a HRT on the front row from his starting position of eleventh, eventually falling behind Max Chilton who overtook him on the back straight. He followed Hamilton into the pits on the fifth lap and started his title defence with a retirement.

Sebastian Vettel falls behind Marcus Ericsson
(c) Red Bull/Getty Images

Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas had a nice scrap for P6 with the Williams driver outmaneuvering his more experienced countryman and moving up to sixth. It was the start of a strong race for Bottas and a disappointing showing for Raikkonen’s first race since his return to Ferrari.

Once he had cleared Raikkonen, Bottas went in search of the next car down the road, which turned out to be Kimi’s team-mate, Fernando Alonso, who himself was chasing Hulkenberg for fourth. Bottas was closing Alonso’s gap and looking ready to overtake before he slid wide coming out of the turn 10 chicane and whacked the wall, losing his rear right tyre. The Finn hurried back to the pitlane where his car was given the all-clear and returned to the race. But as he got out on track, so did the Safety Car which was deployed to give marshalls a chance to clear the debris on the long back straight caused by Bottas’ accident.

The Safety Car stint led to an obvious flurry of pit stops as Rosberg, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Button leading the bulk of the grid in for the first tyre change. After a slightly prolonged Safety Car period and the warning of very light drops of rain, the Safety Car came in and Rosberg charged away in the distance ahead of Ricciardo and Magnussen.

The race recovery was back on for Valtteri Bottas who began his charge by passing former team-mate Pastor Maldonado for eleventh. Ricciardo was simultaneously told that he did not need to save fuel while Hulkenberg dropped further behind Magnussen and into the clutches of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. He was noticeably struggling to keep ahead of the Prancing Horse and suffered several huge lock ups. Bottas moved past Marcus Ericsson’s displaced Caterham when he made his first pit-stop, and subsequently passed Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso for ninth. Raikkonen, who let Vergne passed him following a huge lock up and slide wide, was now in Bottas’ sights.

Not long after his pit-stop, Marcus Ericsson compounded Caterham’s bad luck when he stopped his car at turn 4 due to an oil pressure issue. The same fate befell Maldonado’s Lotus which pulled over on lap 31 after a pit-stop. Button didn’t retire after his pit-stop, but did come out without the front tip of his nose after the front jack man accidentally knocked it off when he was lowering the car.

Hulkenberg pitted and opened the door for Alonso while Raikkonen went wide in the other Ferrari and allowed Bottas up to 5th place – much to the hidden delight of a noticeably nervous Claire Williams. Alonso was the next man to stop for a fresh pair of boots, swapping the soft compounds for the medium Pirellis, and rejoined the track narrowly ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Ricciardo and Magnussen pitted and Magnussen hoped to echo Alonso’s overtake through pit strategy. He failed to do so, however, and rejoined the race very close behind Ricciardo’s Red Bull. Rosberg pitted from first and had no problem keeping his lead – rejoining almost twenty seconds ahead of Ricciardo.

Hulkenberg leads Alonso, Vergne and Ricciardo
(c) Sahara Force India F1 Team

Bottas was closing on Vergne, Magnussen was up Ricciardo’s gearbox but couldn’t pass the Aussie and Daniil Kvyat was closing on Raikkonen. Vergne had a huge sideways moment in the final corner and allowed Bottas to cruise past the Toro Rosso, while Magnussen was first told to save his tyres in case he has to defend against Button, but then told he was free to race Ricciardo.

Raikkonen was still defending hard against a feisty Kvyat and overtook the other car of Vergne following another error from the Frenchman. He was subsequently asked to let Kvyat past, but didn’t. Magnussen was unbelievably close and saved fuel for four laps before turning the fuel mix up to catch Ricciardo on the last three laps. He came mighty close but Ricciardo’s home crowd drove him on and Magnussen just about missed out.

Nico Rosberg crossed the finish line twenty-five seconds clear of Ricciardo, who led Magnussen across the line – both of whom were on the podium for the first time. Button was close behind his team-mate and finished fourth in the race which he has three times won, followed by Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas.

Nico Hulkenberg finally finished the Australian Grand Prix, having not completed a single racing lap in his previous three races at Albert Park. Kimi Raikkonen finished eighth, Jean-Eric Vergne in ninth and Daniil Kvyat in tenth to score points on his first race. Sergio Perez was eleventh, the Sauber duo of Sutil and Gutierrez twelfth and thirteenth respectively, and finally the Marussia drivers of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi who, despite their pre-race troubles, made it to the chequered flag.

Final standings:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Daniel Ricciardo
  3. Kevin Magnussen
  4. Jenson Button
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Valtteri Bottas
  7. Nico Hulkenberg
  8. Kimi Raikkonen
  9. Jean-Eric Vergne
  10. Daniil Kvyat
  11. Sergio Perez
  12. Adrian Sutil
  13. Esteban Gutierrez
  14. Max Chilton
  15. Jules Bianchi

Felipe Massa – Collision
Kamui Kobayashi – Collision
Lewis Hamilton – Engine issue
Sebastian Vettel – Engine issue
Marcus Ericsson – Oil pressure issue
Pastor Maldonado – MGU-K failure
Romain Grosjean – MGU-K failure


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Hamilton Recovers From Missed Running To Lead Mercedes 1-2 In Second Practice

Lewis Hamilton recovered from his morning difficulties to take the top spot during the second Free Practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

The Briton, who is favourite for the Championship, stopped after just four minutes in the morning session, with a problem that was later identified as a sensor failure. Despite the lost time, he threw in his challenge for pole position in the afternoon by grabbing the top time, 0.157 ahead of his team-mate, Nico Rosberg.

Fernando Alonso, who was the quickest man in the opening session, was the next man down the order, taking third for Ferrari. While Alonso’s day was pretty straight forward, Kimi Raikkonen in the sister car suffered a gearbox issue in the pitlane. The Finn was lining up in the pitlane to do a practice start with Alonso waiting behind him, however, the ’07 Champion simply couldn’t engage first gear. Ferrari mechanics ran up to him and rolled him back to the garage and he was back out on track after a fifteen minute stint in the garage. He finished the session in seventh.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Red Bull and seems to be in a much stronger position that they appeared to be in pre-season testing. Daniel Ricciardo, in the other RB10, was sixth at his home Grand Prix. “Friday was good – we got a lot of laps done,” Ricciardo said post-session. “The guys are happy. The performance doesn’t seem as slow as we thought”.

Jenson Button was in between the Red Bull’s and finished in fifth, looking like McLaren could be running with a much improved car. Valtteri Bottas was eighth for Williams, who finished surprisingly low as their pre-season pace suggested that they would be right behind, if not ahead of, Mercedes. Indeed, Felipe Massa finished a low 12th, in contrast to the third and fourth that Bottas and Massa secured in the opening session respectively.

Kevin Magnussen was ninth for McLaren and doing a good job with familiarising himself with the car, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg filling out the top ten. The German spun under braking with five minutes left on the clock and beached his VJM-07. At the same time, ironically, Romain Grosjean suffered some sort of brakes failure and spun into the gravel at turn six, and he too became beached in the gravel. He finished the day down in a miserable eighteenth.

Jean-Eric Vergne was eleventh for Toro Rosso and had a straight-forward day, especially in comparison to his rookie team-mate who spent more time acting as a rolling roadblock and not checking his mirrors – at one point forcing Hamilton to stand on the brakes as the Russian weaved in front of him on an off-lap. The Russian, 19, is the youngest driver on the grid and also the first man to go straight from GP3 to Formula One. He ended the day in sixteenth.

Sergio Perez was twelfth for Force India, followed by the Sauber duo of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez who finished a tenth apart in fourteenth and fifteenth respectively. Jules Bianchi finished seventeenth for Marussia and got a solid day running under his belt. Like Bianchi, his team-mate Max Chilton set 29 laps. In stark contrast, Marussia’s rivals, Caterham, failed to run a single lap: Marcus Ericsson discovered a hydraulics issue on his installation lap while Kamui Kobayashi’s car had its engine removed following a fuel issue in Free Practice 1. This leaves Ericsson’s lap total from today at two laps, with no laps for Kobayashi.

Pastor Maldonado was twenty-second, and last, as his technical issues from the morning session spilled over into the afternoon and left the Venezuelan watching his mechanics tinkering with his car.

Session results:

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

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Massa Fastest As Red Bull Fail To Run

Felipe Massa set the benchmark during the penultimate day of pre-season testing, but it was Red Bull’s continued problems that provided the talking point.

Sebastian Vettel set out for his first run of the day and made it as far as turn four before his RB10 gave out and stopped at the side of the track. His car was collected and shipped back to the Red Bull garage where it was repaired and sent back out on track – only for it to stop at the end of the pitlane a few seconds later. Vettel pushed the No.1 car back down the paddock and to the garage, but it would not emerge for the rest of the day. His final day of testing is tomorrow before the Australian Grand Prix in a mere two weeks.

Back to Massa whose 99 laps set him firmly two tenths clear of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. Massa also ran yesterday when he placed fourth, and will hand over to Valtteri Bottas tomorrow for the final day of testing. Rosberg underwent a precautionary engine change in the morning session which delayed his running for several hours, finally emerging and clocking up a respectable 103 laps. Lewis Hamilton will pilot the car tomorrow for the final day of testing.

Kimi Raikkonen was third overall with a slight delay due to a connector failing which left mechanics stripping part of the car to fix it. In the afternoon his running was as smooth as a fresh Pirelli and he completed a race simulation and several pit stop practices. Kevin Magnussen was fourth for McLaren and his 88 laps left him 2.5 seconds behind Massa’s Williams. Jenson Button yesterday admitted that while the McLaren appeared quicker than last year, it still lacks outright pace.

Daniil Kvyat led the time sheets before Massa took over, and eventually slipped down to fifth for Toro Rosso. Behind him was Nico Hulkenberg for Force India who himself bettered Jules Bianchi who again had a strong day for Marussia. His 78 laps added to yesterday’s tally put him at a grand total of 133 laps overall – a promising sign for the team who missed the first test and endured problem after problem in the second test. Their rivals over at Caterham worked throughout the night to fix the problems which caused a fire on Friday, and their work made sure the CT-03 ran smoothly today. Ericsson will be handing the car over to Kobayashi for tomorrow.

Romain Grosjean ended his day ninth with a power until problem limiting his running to 33 laps. Adrian Sutil was eleventh for Sauber and also bemoaned problems on his C33 after the car went up in flames as the car was exiting the pit lane. Like his countryman in Red Bull, Sutil’s day was fruitless with no laps on the board.

Felipe Massa Williams 1.33.258 99 laps
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.33.484 101 laps
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.34.487 81 laps
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1.35.894 88 laps
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.36.113 81 laps
Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1.36.205 115 laps
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1.37.087 78 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1.38.085 117 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.42.166 33 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull

Image courtesy Williams F1 Team.

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Rosberg Keeps Mercedes Striving, Red Bull Still Struggling

Nico Rosberg brought the fourth and final day of the second pre-season test to a close today, while their front-of-the-grid rivals over at Red Bull endured another frustrating day.

After yesterday joking that everyday brought a new issue, that was true of today also. Red Bull had prematurely ended their running on Friday to focus on fixing the issue and getting a solid day running today, but managed to only complete a mere 15 laps throughout the day as a new issue reared its head this morning. They managed to fix the issue and sent Ricciardo out on tap until, after 10 laps, another problem emerged and they brought the car into the garage to end another frustrating week.

Meanwhile Nico Rosberg took the Mercedes to within a second of his 2013 pole lap at the Bahrain International Circuit, essentially quelling fears that the new ‘greener’ cars would be slower than their V8 counterparts. Jenson Button ended the day second overall, a whopping 1.7 seconds behind Nico’s fastest lap.

Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari and was looking to move himself up the order with a late hot lap, but a mistake sent him into the barrier in the closing seconds, smashing the front left of the car and losing his front left Pirelli. His day until that point had been straightforward and had completed 81 laps when he hit the barrier at turn 4.

Pastor Maldonado led the way for the Renault supplied teams, completing 59 laps for Lotus. His day was interrupted when he had to have a software and electronic reset, but otherwise his day showed a move in the right direction for Lotus who struggled earlier this week.

Felipe Nasr was out on track for Williams after he was announced as their new reserve driver last night. His first run in the car was nothing to be ashamed of with his 87 lap run completely uninterrupted en route to fourth on the time sheets. Marcus Ericsson suffered a mechanical failure out on track for Caterham who also use a Renault engine.

Adrian Sutil had a particularly unproductive day as he ran a mere 7 laps today with Sauber incurring a chassis problem on the C33. At least he had track time today with Bianchi failing to get a single lap for Marussia as they battled yet more problems. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he was about to head out on track for the final five minutes before Kimi crashed and brought out the red flags.

Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.33.238 89 laps
Jenson Button McLaren 1.34.957 66 laps
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.36.718 81 laps
Felipe Nasr Williams 1.37.569 87 laps
Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1.38.707 59 laps
Sergio Perez Force India 1.39.258 19 laps
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.39.837 15 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.40.472 19 laps
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1.43.027 17 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1.45.094 4 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber 7 laps
Jules Bianchi Marussia 5 laps

Image courtesy Mercedes F1 Team.

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Hulkenberg Strong As RBR’s Woes Continue

Image via Force India on Twitter

Force India returnee Nico Hulkenberg led the way as the second of three pre-season tests got underway today at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The first day of testing got off to a slow start due to a shortage of marshals which delayed the start time. The shortened day eventually got underway but not for long as Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari ejected a cloud of smoke and prompted a red flag. Nonetheless the Spaniard’s car returned to the paddock under its own steam and was soon back on track as the green flag flew again.

Ferrari weren’t the only team prompting a red flag with Toro Rosso suffering an oil leak in the morning. The car, piloted by the team’s rookie Daniil Kvyat, was stitched up and sent back out on track before breaking down in the afternoon and causing another stoppage. Red Bull’s woes continued when Sebastian Vettel ground to a halt in the latter part of the day as his RB10 was smoking. Vettel took matters into his own hands, grabbing a fire extinguisher and spraying the rear of the car before beginning his trek back to the drawing board.

His countryman, Nico Hulkenberg, was on the other end of the spectrum however, with the smoothest running of any team today – no spins, no failures, no spontaneous combustions. His 78 lap run was as smooth as a fresh Pirelli and his fastest time of 1.36.880 put him firmly 0.999s clear of Alonso who completed 74 laps en route to second in the timesheets. Williams, who set the benchmark in the opening test, were robbed of their smooth sailing when a fuel system problem restricted Felipe Massa’s track time to a mere five laps. He finished the day tenth overall with no lap time recorded.

Another man who failed to set a lap time was Jules Bianchi in the Marussia who set three installation laps (exiting the pits, circling the circuit and re-entering the pits before crossing the start/finish straight) amid an IT configuration issue. Marussia’s rivals Caterham had a much more productive day with their Dutch driver Robin Frijns completing 68 laps of the Bahraini circuit and setting a lap time almost five seconds shy of Hulkenberg’s table-topping lap.

Adrian Sutil spun his Sauber en route to sixth overall; the German’s tally of 82 laps being the highest lap count of all drivers today – one lap more than Danish rookie Kevin Magussen set for McLaren which left him fourth at the end of day one. Hamilton, who drove for McLaren between 2007 and 2012, was third after clocking up 74 laps. His time was marginally slower than that of Fernando Alonso.

Testing resumes tomorrow and will run until Saturday. The season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16th – only three and a half weeks away. Not that anyone is keeping count or anything…

Here’s today’s results:

Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1.36.880 78 laps
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.37.879 64 laps
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.37.908 74 laps
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1.38.295 81 laps
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.40.224 14 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber 1.40.443 82 laps
Robin Frijns Caterham 1.42.590 68 laps
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.44.346 5 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.44.832 8 laps
Felipe Massa Williams 5 laps
Jules Bianchi Marussia 3 laps

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