Tag Archives: Red Bull

Mercedes Return To Top Of The Timesheets In FP3

Mercedes showed that they appear to have retaken their stronghold over the rest of the field when they clocked the two fastest laps of FP3, over half-a-second clear of their closest rival.

It was Nico Rosberg who had the run on his team-mate when teams finally got a chance to complete some dry-weather practice before Sunday’s Grand Prix. The German was the only man to break into the 1m 33’s while Hamilton set a lap over two-tenths slower. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was the best of the rest as he led the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Bottas had sat out the rain-affected FP2 knowing the rest of the weekend would be dry, and appears to have suffered no disadvantage in return. The Ferrari drivers were sixth and eighth, with last-time race winner Vettel 1.2s shy of the Mercedes drivers. Verstappen took seventh for Toro Rosso while Grosjean taking ninth and Sainz rounding out the top ten – the latter completing the most laps of anyone this morning.

Nico Hulkenberg in eleventh led an extremely close group of drivers where only four-tenths of a second separated eleventh to seventeenth. Button, in twelfth, looked strong at his engine supplier’s home race, but the Briton missed out on any low-fuel running as the team rebuilt a broken floor on the McLaren. Ericsson was thirteenth for Sauber while FP2 leader Daniil Kvyat couldn’t better fourteenth. Pastor Maldonado brought his Lotus to fifteenth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez for McLaren and Force India respectively. Felipe Nasr finished eighteenth while the Marussia drivers of Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi took their usual spots at the back of the grid for Marussia.

Mercedes look to have stood back up and dusted themselves off after being trampled on in Singapore. Although still leading the Championship by 41 points, Hamilton will be keen to exert his dominance and return to the top of the podium. The question of qualifying therefore is can Rosberg beat Hamilton to the front of the grid?

Free Practice Three results:

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

Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team.

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Kvyat Stays Ahead Of Mercedes In FP2

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat stayed ahead of the Mercedes duo when he clocked the fastest lap of the second practice session ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Kvyat had recorded the second fastest time in the morning’s opening session when Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz had topped the time sheets, with the Mercedes drivers of Rosberg and Hamilton taking third and fifth. After their surprise lack of speed at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, all eyes were on the Silver Arrows to see if, as Vettel had predicted, they could bounce back to their usual dominance. Indeed, Rosberg was only 0.023s shy of Kvyat’s time, yet Championship leader Hamilton was over half a second behind his team-mate. Daniel Ricciardo sandwiched the Mercedes men with a time good enough for fourth, while the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and the Toro Rosso pairing of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen slotted into fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Verstappen’s running was delayed as the team searched for a lost bolt on the rookie’s car, and thus completed the least laps of any running driver – 5.

Felipe Nasr clocked ninth, almost a full second ahead of Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado who rounded out the top ten. Fernando Alonso had a delayed running when his car was reassembled by the team, meaning he came out during the heaviest rain period which left him down the order in 17th. His team-mate drove a time good enough for twelfth while Romain Grosjean – whose ties with Haas are getting stronger as the week progresses – settled in for fifteenth. Felipe Massa was twentieth for Williams, while team-mate Bottas chose not to participate and so did not complete a lap. The Manor drivers of Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi, the latter celebrating his 24th birthday today, filled out the final places on the time sheets.

Although Kvyat has outpaced both Mercedes drivers so far this weekend, and Rosberg has kept far ahead of team-mate Hamilton, the fact that the rest of the weekend will be dry means realistically we can’t predict who’ll take pole on Saturday afternoon. Tomorrow morning’s FP3 session, when the teams trial the dry tyres and prepare for Qualifying, will give us a much better idea of how the grid may take shape.

Free Practice Two Results:

  1. Daniil Kvyat
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. Daniel Ricciardo
  5. Sebastian Vettel
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Carlos Sainz
  8. Max Verstappen
  9. Felipe Nasr
  10. Pastor Maldonado
  11. Nico Hulkenberg
  12. Jenson Button
  13. Marcus Ericsson
  14. Sergio Perez
  15. Romain Grosjean
  16. Felipe Massa
  17. Fernando Alonso
  18. Will Stevens
  19. Alexander Rossi
  • Valtteri Bottas (No Time)

Image courtesy of Red Bull/Getty Images

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Japanese Grand Prix: Sainz Quickest In Rain-Affected FP1

Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz was the fastest man during Friday morning’s practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, marking the first time the Spaniard has topped a session.

The unexpected speed in extremely wet conditions saw him clock a fastest lap over half a second clear of second quickest Daniil Kvyat in the sister Red Bull car. With Mercedes’ surprise lack of pace at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix fresh in their heads, Rosberg and Hamilton recorded third and fifth respectively, with Ferrari’s meddler and Championship contender Sebastian Vettel wedging his way into fourth.

The torrential rain saw limited running from those who ventured on track, with eight drivers – including Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Lotus reserve driver Jolyon Palmer – deciding to stay in the shelter of their garages. Max Verstappen brought the other Toro Rosso to sixth, over 1.5s shy of team-mate Sainz’s session-topping time. Kimi Raikkonen took the second Ferrari to seventh while Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas coasted to eighth and tenth, and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr placed ninth and eleventh. The slowest driver to clock a lap was McLaren’s Jenson Button with a lap over six seconds slower than that of Sainz’s effort.

The order of practice cannot give too much scope to how Qualifying might play out. The conditions were far too heavy to even set a time for most of the session, and the latter part of the running saw drivers tip-toe the circuit for fear of losing control – and valuable parts on the car. Bottas, for example, went off at the ultra-fast 130R corner while Felipe Massa skipped through the gravel earlier in the lap.

Sebastian Vettel predicted this week that Mercedes would return to their strong hold over the grid this weekend, but judging from the times he seems to be holding them honest. With a dry qualifying and race predicted, the major players’ pace is still to be seen.

Free Practice One results:

  1. Carlos Sainz
  2. Daniil Kvyat
  3. Nico Rosberg
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Lewis Hamilton
  6. Max Verstappen
  7. Kimi Raikkonen
  8. Felipe Massa
  9. Marcus Ericsson
  10. Valtteri Bottas
  11. Felipe Nasr
  12. Jenson Button
  • Daniel Ricciardo (NT)*
  • Nico Hulkenberg (NT)
  • Sergio Perez (NT)
  • Fernando Alonso (NT)
  • Pastor Maldonado (NT)
  • Jolyon Palmer (NT)
  • Will Stevens (NT)
  • Alexander Rossi (NT)

*NT = No TIme

Image courtesy of Scuderia Toro Rosso/Getty Images.

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Vettel Victorious In Singapore

Sebastian Vettel stormed to a dominant victory at the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday, taking advantage of the shock lack of pace from World Championship leaders and season dominator, Mercedes. The German four-time World Champion returned to the extreme levels of dominance he displayed during his peak at Red Bull, leading former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by over three seconds by the end of the first lap. Meanwhile, Championship leader Hamilton’s fifth place start deteriorated into a DNF – his first since the Belgian Grand Prix last season.

Saturday’s Qualifying session had sprung a surprise when the Mercedes’ true pace was uncovered, showing that the Silver Arrows’ slow pace was not mere sandbagging. Both Ferrari and Red Bull had shown some unexpected pace during practice, and Ricciardo’s optimism about his teams speed proved well founded when he lined up on the front row of the grid, just ahead of fourth placed Daniil Kvyat. But it was Vettel who stole Hamilton’s pre-reserved slot at the front of the grid when he clocked in a lap 6-tenths clear of any opposition with a flawless lap around the tight streets of Singapore. His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen took third, with Mercedes slotting into fifth and sixth for Hamilton and Rosberg respectively.

On the start, Vettel left the grid far behind him as he sped into the distance, while Raikkonen, the two Red Bulls and two Mercedes jostled through the first corners but essentially retained their qualifying position. Further down the grid, Hulkenberg had made strong gains from eleventh while Verstappen stalled his Toro Rosso on the grid. The Dutchman was left stranded and in need of a push from the marshalls, who returned him to the pits before he rejoined the race a lap later. Further down the lap the drivers, with the exception of the mechanical Vettel, were struggling for grip on the slippy circuit, with a number of close calls including Perez losing control under breaking and narrowly avoiding contact with his Force India team-mate.

Almost immediately the grid settled down into the traditional procession which gave the race it’s ‘Singabore’ nickname, opting to preserve brakes and tyres rather than challenge for position early into the long race. Romain Grosjean was the first man to duck into the pitlane for a new set of boots, spurring the first round of stops in the process. Alonso and Ericsson suffered long delays, McLaren struggling to get Alonso’s front-left tyre off his car, and then both men having to wait until Maldonado and Ericsson breezed past them in the pits before they could be released. Grosjean took advantage of Alonso’s slow stop, the first of many to suffer blunders, to jump the double World Champion on track.

Massa was one such driver who suffered a long pit stop and it proved costly when he emerged from the pitlane into the path of Nico Hulkenberg who, unable to see the Brazilian from his angle, unwittingly closed the door on the Williams and was sent airborne as a result. While the German spun into the barriers and clambered from his cockpit, Massa was able to continue until a gearbox issue would end his race prematurely in the latter stages.

The Safety Car was deployed for several laps to clear the debris from Hulkenberg’s crash which bunched the grid up, and the second time round saw Vettel kept far more honest by the drivers behind him. Indeed, fourth placed Hamilton (having passed Kvyat by pitting before the Safety Car came out) took to his team radio to claim Vettel was purposefully holding Ricciardo up. Ironically, the Briton soon took to the radio to say he was losing power. With the team’s suggestions proving useless for Hamilton, he dropped further down the grid until the team finally told him to retire the car. Not before Alexander Rossi, in his F1 race debut, had the chance to pass the slow car on track, undoubtedly giving the American a smile. Alonso followed Hamilton into the pits to retire with yet another mechanical issue.

As Grosjean spurred the second round of pit stops, the yellow flags came out in Sector 2, and then a Safety Car. A 27-year-old man had somehow gained access to the circuit and was leisurely walking along the track taking photos on his mobile phone while walking against the cars. Eventually the idiotic invader decided to clamber back over the track lining barrier where he was tackled by security and arrested.

The Safety Car eventually pitted, with Rossi tangled up in the top three and holding Kimi Raikkonen up. Further down the order, a slow moving Sainz saw Maldonado hesitate on the restart and drop behind Alonso on the grid. The Lotus driver was subsequently left open for attack and when Jenson Button attempted to pass the Venezuelan, the Lotus inexplicably slowed out of the corner with Button running into the back of him. As his front wing shattered and showered the cars behind, Button hopped on the radio to criticize Maldonado, with the 2009 World Champion eventually retiring. Maldonado subsequently dropped four places with the two Toro Rosso men and two Sauber drivers promoting themselves at his expense.

Up front, Ricciardo had closed Vettel’s lead to only 1.4s but could not close the gap before the maximum race time of 2 hours clocked out, leaving the Aussie bemused and blaming the second Safety Car for missing out on the win. Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line for third to seal a double Ferrari podium, with Nico Rosberg claiming fourth. Valtteri Bottas finished fifth for Williams with Kvyat crossing the line in sixth ahead of Perez. The Toro Rosso drivers crossed the line in front of the two Saubers and the two Lotus’, with the Manor drivers keeping their head down and finishing the race – Rossi beating team-mate Stevens on his debut.

Despite his retirement, Hamilton maintains his grip on the World Championship with 41 points over closest rival Nico Rosberg, and Vettel 49 behind. But the question now is, can Ferrari throw in a last minute challenge for the title?

Race Results: 

  1. Sebastian Vettel
  2. Daniel Ricciardo
  3. Kimi Raikkonen
  4. Nico Rosberg
  5. Valtteri Bottas
  6. Daniil Kvyat
  7. Sergio Perez
  8. Max Verstappen
  9. Carlos Sainz
  10. Felipe Nasr
  11. Marcus Ericsson
  12. Pastor Maldonado
  13. Romain Grosjean
  14. Alexander Rossi
  15. Will Stevens
  • Nico Hulkenberg
  • Felipe Massa
  • Lewis Hamilton
  • Fernando Alonso
  • Jenson Button

Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari. 

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Vettel Confirmed At Ferrari

The worst kept secret in Formula One has been officially confirmed today, with affirmation from Ferrari that four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel will partner Kimi Raikkonen at the team next year.

Vettel rose up through the junior formulae under the guidance of the Red Bull Young Driver programme, but this year announced his departure from Red Bull. And with Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner announcing that Vettel would be a Ferrari driver at the Japanese Grand Prix in October, the resulting drawn-out wait had an inevitable end: official confirmation from Ferrari.

That confirmation came today with the declaration of a three-year contract alongside Kimi Raikkonen, who currently holds a contract until the end of 2016. Reportedly, Red Bull reserve driver and reigning World Endurance Championship Champion , Sebastian Buemi, will also move to Ferrari as a reserve driver, at the request of Vettel.

“The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari,” Vettel said in a Ferrari statement this morning. “And for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true.

“When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari. I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello,”

Ferrari Team Principal, Mario Mattiaci, added: “In Formula 1 terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write together a new winning chapter in the history of Ferrari.”

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso remains tight-lipped over his future. McLaren, the team many expect him to return to, this week decided to prolong their driver announcement until after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and subsequent Young Driver Test. If not returning to McLaren, another suggestion which has gathered air is that Alonso could follow in his friend Mark Webber’s path, and leave F1 for the WEC.

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Hamilton Takes Victory In Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton took victory at a shortened Japanese Grand Prix today, overtaking team-mate Nico Rosberg mid-way through the Grand Prix to extend his lead in the World Championship fight.

The race began behind the Safety Car as Typhoon Phanfone hit the circuit, as was expected, and made it too dangerous to complete a standing start. However, there were but a lap and a half completed before the race was red flagged due to the rain getting heavier. The FIA had twice asked Honda, the organisers, to start the race four hours earlier to avoid the rain, but Honda twice refused, hence the unnecessary problems in the race.

Finally the race restarted, albeit still behind the Safety Car. Race control left the Safety Car out until lap 9, although drivers were insisting that the track was completely driveable by lap 6. Hamilton, in second, was the main man trying to get the race underway, directly radioing Race Director Charlie Whiting to plead for the race start. Meanwhile, Alonso was trying to warm himself in the garage after retiring on lap three with a car electrics failure.

The Safety Car came in on lap nine and Rosberg led the pack across the start/finish line to begin lap 10, and start the race proper. Hamilton, who was so keen on getting the race started, looked at passing his team-mate, but was unsuccessful and slotted back behind into turn 1. Sebastian Vettel was also on the move and pulled an ambitious overtake on McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, which the Dane managed to fend off. Undeterred, Vettel tried again down the straight into 130R and was successful, moving up the order.

Button was the first man to come into the pits and take on the intermediate tyre compounds, returning to the track far down the order. Although he struggled in the conditions, he soon proved to be faster overall and when a cavalcade of drivers came into the pits at the same time, Button passed them all and moved himself up to third, behind the two Mercedes drivers.

It was Rosberg’s turn to box from the lead next, but as the team tweaked with his front wing, it cost him a small amount of time in the battle to rejoin ahead of Hamilton. It was up to Lewis then to optimise on the delay, but he himself went wide at Spoon corner and lost some time. When he rejoined the track after his pitstop, he was 2.4s behind Rosberg.

As Hamilton began to slowly close the gap to his team-mate in the lead, the two Red Bulls were battling the two Williams’. Vettel was the first to make a move, diving up the inside of Massa’s Williams into the hairpin and getting past. Ricciardo tried to follow his team-mate in the following corners, but the Brazilian was proving to be good competition. Instead, Ricciardo waited until the Dunlop curve, sliding past on the inside in one of the overtakes of the season. In fact, he mirrored it a lap later when he followed Vettel past Valtteri Bottas at the same spot. Impressive racing from all four drivers.

In the meantime, Hamilton had been closing the gap and finally made it within the DRS 1-second gap. His first few attempts at passing Rosberg on the start/finish straight were unsuccessful, but on lap 29 he had a powerful run from the final chicane and pulled an impressive move on the outside of turn 1 and took the lead of the Grand Prix.

Soon afterwards, the rain began to get heavier. Kevin Magnussen, for example, was caught out and spun an impressive 360 before continuing as if nothing had happened, albeit now a place down. Sebastian Vettel was also caught out through the S-curves, skipping across the run-off area before rejoining. Although the rain was coming down harder now, and the DRS was disabled, Ricciardo was still on the charge and moved up the order after a move past Button at the hairpin.

Yellow flags came out during the overtake, as the rain became increasingly heavy, and the threat of a red flag drew nearer. Adrian Sutil had aquaplaned off the track into the barriers at the Dunlop curve, but was unhurt in the collision. However, when the JCB came out to clear the Sauber, Jules Bianchi slid straight off the track and hit the JCB sideways. Bianchi had been hurt. He was unresponsive to the team’s calls on the radio, and the medical car was deployed.

An ambulance was called to the scene and Bianchi was taken to the medical centre before being forwarded to the hospital. He was unconscious leaving the track and was sent by road ambulance, as opposed to the medical helicopter which is kept on scene for this purpose. There are no further details as to his condition, but, of course, we all hope he’s okay.

The race was red flagged as a result and meant that Lewis Hamilton won the race, with 7 laps remaining. Nico Rosberg finished behind in second, meaning the Championship gap increases to second, while Sebastian Vettel finished in third. The subdued celebrations on the podium, on which no champagne was sprayed, showed the concern of drivers for Bianchi’s condition.

Japanese Grand Prix Race Results:

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

Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team. 

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Vettel Leaving Red Bull, Joining Ferrari

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Sebastian Vettel will drive for Scuderia Ferrari in 2015.

The Red Bull star’s departure was announced at a press conference ahead of Free Practice Three this morning at the Japanese Grand Prix. Vettel broke the news to Team Principal Christian Horner last night.

Of his motivation to leave the team, Horner said: “Obviously Ferrari have made him a very attractive offer. I think the lure of Ferrari, a window has opened there with whatever is going on and he has decided the timing is right for him.

“That is his choice, and he has been around long enough to know his own mind. He doesn’t have a manager and doesn’t have people that surround him. He has made this decision and we respect that.”

Vettel brought Red Bull to the front and helped them secure a string of World Championships since 2010. But this season he has been overshadowed by Daniel Ricciardo who was promoted from sister team Red Bull to fill Mark Webber’s seat after the veteran racer moved to the World Endurance Championship.

Red Bull also announced today that Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat would follow in Ricciardo’s footsteps and join him in the senior team in 2015. This leaves a vacant seat at Toro Rosso beside Max Verstappen, which looks likely to be filled by Carlos Sainz Jr.

Vettel is expected to partner Kimi Raikkonen at the Prancing Horse next season, with Alonso reportedly returning to McLaren, where he famously fell out with Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh while team-mates with Lewis Hamilton. If Alonso does indeed return to McLaren, Jenson Button will likely get the boot, leaving Alonso to partner impressive rookie Kevin Magnussen.

As of yet, however, Ferrari have yet to comment on the rumours, instead shooting down queries about the morning’s news.

Alonso has been a driver with Ferrari since 2010 but has failed to secure a Championship with the historic team, and he is reportedly dissatisfied with the changes made by new Team Principal Marco Mattiacci. Although Alonso has a contract with Ferrari until the end of 2016, he allegedly asked former Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo, to release him as a departing gift.

Another theory floated, although unlikely, is that Alonso will stay at the team, and will partner Vettel and Raikkonen in a three car team, should the three car system be introduced for 2015.

Image courtesy of Red Bull/Getty Images. 

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