Tag Archives: Sebastian Vettel

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

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Lewis Hamilton claimed victory at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday evening, while Sebastian Vettel lost his chance of victory following a poor strategic call and Nico Rosberg had to limit the damage following a first lap bump which sent him down the order.

Hamilton led the Silver Arrows to a front row lock-out on Saturday as he searched for his fifth Canadian victory, but it was Sebastian Vettel who led the pack into the first corner on Sunday following a superb jump on the Mercedes into turn 1. As he watched Vettel steal his lead, Hamilton had to defend against team-mate Nico Rosberg who was eyeing up an overtake around the outside of turn 1. Hamilton understeered and bumped into Rosberg, sending the Championship leader off the track and across the run-off area where he rejoined in ninth place. It was to be a long afternoon for the German.

Rosberg’s compatriot was comfortable in the lead as he maintained a 1.5s gap to second-placed Lewis. But when Jenson Button’s Honda engine gave up on lap 11 and a Virtual Safety Car was deployed, Ferrari took the ambitious move to bring in both Vettel and Raikkonen, putting them on a two stop strategy in contrast to Hamilton’s one-stopper.

Hamilton inherited the lead and held a comfortable advantage over the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but Vettel was fast charging  on the newer tyres and, although encountering some expertly handled resistance from former team-mate Ricciardo, he soon gave both Red Bulls the slip and promoted himself to second.

By lap 25 Hamilton’s tyres were exhausted and he had a Prancing Horse growing ever larger in his mirrors so he pitted for a set of the harder compound Pirellis. This gave Vettel his lead back while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen began backing up the drivers further down the road to allow Vettel some clear air to rejoin.

He took his second and final pit stop on the fortieth lap which saw him rejoin with thirty laps left and only eight seconds between himself and Hamilton. But what should have been an easy gap to close proved much more difficult for Vettel as he got caught behind backmarkers while Hamilton increased his pace. He had only halved the difference over the next twenty laps, following which he cut the chicane not once or twice, but three times which cost him roughly a second and a half per slip. This ensured Hamilton was left unchallenged at the front of the grid, after a fantastically well-managed race from the three-time World Champion.

Meanwhile, Rosberg looked poor for most of the race as he recovered only two positions from ninth place before the first stops. Although the end of the race brought a much different Nico who made short work of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen – including a very impressive overtake into the final chicane on the Ferrari – he found his match when trying to pass Max Verstappen for fourth. He found out the hard way that Verstappen can be a fierce opponent, trying to replicate his overtake on Kimi he locked his rear tyres on entry and ended up sliding sideways into the run-off area. He was lucky not to beach his car or to have made a mistake a little later and clouted the barriers for he was able to rejoin the track without losing a position, finishing the race in fifth.

Jolyon Palmer’s bad luck continued in Canada as, after ending his race following a slip on the paint of a Zebra crossing on the Monte Carlo street circuit two weeks ago, he met an early end in Montreal at the hands of a water leak. Massa became the third and final DNF when he too suffered a water issue which caused the temperature to rise, and so retired to protect his brand new power unit.

The other Williams was celebrating a third place, the team’s first podium of the season. Bottas had a rather straightforward race and got everything right, which he post-race claimed demonstrated Williams’ ability to be a strong team who get good results. Just behind him in the standings is Max Verstappen who met his match in Monaco when two single-car crashes into the barriers, including a race DNF, robbed some of the bragging rights he’d acquired from his Spanish GP victory. This time around he was back to the Verstappen we know and love, the impressive racer and steely tough rival (see Rosberg) who kept cool and brought home a nice fourth placed finish for Red Bull, with Danny Ric in 7th.

Kimi was perhaps less impressive as he was outshone once again by his younger team-mate. In typical Ferrari fashion, as one car impressed out the front, a second one lingered further behind. Raikkonen is the Massa to Vettel’s Alonso of the early 2010s Ferrari line-up and it remains to be seen if he will remain with Ferrari, or even in F1 (although I doubt he’ll race for anyone who isn’t the Scuderia) this time next year. I’d imagine Ferrari are far more interested in Kimi’s compatriot who joined Vettel and Hamilton on the podium.

Haas once again showed they’re not backmarkers when they got caught up in a Fernando Alonso-led Trulli train in the earlier part of the race. The two finished in twelfth and thirteenth after a couple of nicely executed overtakes on each other, a strong result for a team who are only seven races into their Formula One career.

Their early form shows their day may come in years to come, but for the moment our attention is focused on the Mercedes and Ferrari outfits, and particularly the rapidly shrinking gap Nico Rosberg holds at the top of the table. His 43 point lead entering the Monaco GP has, in typical Rosberg fashion, been annihilated by a resurgent Lewis Hamilton taking two wins from two. Although he probably has a Ferrari strategy mistake to thank for his Canadian win, and definitely has the Red Bull blunder of two weeks ago to thank for a Monaco victory, the most important thing is that he’s taken fifty points from two races. Rosberg seemed rattled in Monaco and less feisty than one could expect into turn 1 in Montreal. He showed at the end of the Canadian race that he has the pace to retain the Championship lead (eh.. lets gloss over his mistake he made when fighting Verstappen) so needs to make a firm comeback in the upcoming inaugural Baku GP. If he can’t make a stand next week then surely that’s goodbye on his (last?) chance of a World Championship, but I’m glad to see Vettel is now getting himself firmly into the mix, ensuring Hamilton has a fight on his hands to retain his title.

Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Max Verstappen
  5. Nico Rosberg
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Daniel Ricciardo
  8. Nico Hulkenberg
  9. Carlos Sainz
  10. Sergio Perez
  11. Fernando Alonso
  12. Daniil Kvyat
  13. Esteban Gutierrez
  14. Romain Grosjean
  15. Marcus Ericsson
  16. Kevin Magnussen
  17. Pascal Wehrlein
  18. Felipe Nasr
  19. Rio Haryanto
  • Felipe Massa – water systems failure
  • Jolyon Palmer – water leak
  • Jenson Button – engine failure

Photo courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team

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Hamilton wins in Russia as Rosberg retires

Lewis Hamilton cruised to a dominant victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, capitalising on his team-mates early retirement to extend his Championship lead and effectively shut down any potential designs Rosberg may have had on the Championship.

Rosberg had grabbed pole during Qualifying by an impressive three-tenths over Hamilton, having also lead the three practice sessions. In contrast to his embarrassing show at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago when Hamilton robbed him of the lead into the first corner, Rosberg successfully maintained the lead through the first lap. Although Hamilton was looking somewhat dangerous in the German’s mirrors, any threat was neutralised when Nico Hulkenberg spun off at the second corner and collected the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, throwing debris everywhere and prompting the Safety Car. While the two aforementioned racers clambered for their cockpit, Max Verstappen hobbled back to the pits with a rear right puncture.

With the track cleared the Safety Car pitted and Rosberg led Hamilton across the line. Bottas made a nice move on Raikkonen to reclaim the third place the Finn had taken from him on the first lap, while Hamilton couldn’t pass the Mercedes in front of him. He would not be stuck for long, however, as Rosberg came on the radio to report his throttle was getting stuck open. Losing control of his car through most corners, it was easy for Hamilton to slip past him – as did the rest of the points scoring drivers – before Rosberg crawled into the pits. The team assembled around his car and decided they could do nothing to recover Rosberg’s car and retired him from the race.

While Hamilton settled into the lead, Carlos Sainz – who 24 hours beforehand had been in a hospital bed following his big FP3 shunt – was making progress and passed Button easily to promote himself to eleventh. The next man to attempt to pass Button was Romain Grosjean, whose attempt resulted in him losing control in the slipstream, get onto the marbles on the fringe of the track which curves left and clout the barriers at a mighty rate of knots. His car spun several times out of the barriers and caused big superficial damage to the bodywork – but luckily the driver was completely okay. Nonetheless, a second Safety Car was needed to clear the debris – and some gaffer tape to repair the barrier!

Some drivers took the opportunity to pit for new tyres – but none of the top 8 drivers took this option. Hamilton complained off his tyres going too cold behind the Safety Car but had relatively little hassle from Bottas on the restart. As he stormed into the lead, the Ferraris were battling for P3. Vettel made a move on his team-mate into T2 which left Raikkonen cutting across the run-off area to avoid contact, and retaining his position. He moved aside later in the lap though to allow Vettel up to third, as Kimi had illegally kept the position.

Bottas was provisionally second but once he took his pitstop, he came out in eighth. When Vettel pitted two laps later he had successfully jumped the Finn and moved up to second, while Raikkonen emerged just behind the Williams. The two Finns began scrapping for position – a story which would last for the end of the race and end badly for both men. While Perez had held third place for a large chunk of the race, Bottas was hunting him down. It took him several laps to pass the Mexican but he finally wiggled his way up to the rear wing of the Force India and pulled an impressive overtake on Perez. Raikkonen followed the Williams through and demoted Perez to fifth as the Ferrari driver now targeted the Williams in his sights. With one lap left Raikkonen was closing but he pulled an extremely optimistic and amateurish dive on the inside of Bottas which sent Bottas spinning into the barriers and damaging Raikkonen’s car. While an ecstatic Perez drove through the collision and back into third, Bottas got on the radio to ask “what the f*ck” Raikkonen was doing.

Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz also retired just before the checkered flag. Ricciardo appears to have lost his brakes and pulled safely over, while Sainz also lost his brakes but spun backwards into the barriers – ironically at the same place as his shunt on Saturday – which damaged his car and ultimately proved terminal to his race. A fairly large fragment of his front wing was on the racing line after the incident which a brave marshal chose to clear – but this left him ducking out of the way of Vettel’s Ferrari as the German came around the corner and narrowly missed the volunteer.

Up front there were no real issues for Hamilton as he breezed across the line to secure his 42nd victory. Vettel crossed the line second while Perez gratefully accepted third place. Massa took fourth while Raikkonen finished fifth but will likely be moved down the order when a penalty is applied for his contact with Bottas. Kvyat, Nasr and Maldonado finished sixth, seventh and eighth while the two McLaren drivers secured points with ninth and tenth for Button and Alonso respectively. Verstappen was the first man outside the points while Bottas was classified as twelfth. Merhi and Stevens brought both Manor cars home for thirteenth and fourteenth, the last of the finishing drivers.

Provisional Race Results:

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

Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team

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Hamilton Eases To Victory At Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton eased to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix, overtaking his team-mate on the start and commanding the race for the remaining 53 laps. After falling several places into the first corners, Rosberg fought back to bring Mercedes a 1-2 finish, but has still lost another crucial 7 points on his team-mate, extending Hamilton’s lead in the Championship to 48 points.

Rosberg had clinched pole on Saturday with Hamilton slotting in behind him to keep the pressure on. But at lights out, Hamilton had a slightly stronger start than the sister Silver Arrows which allowed him to pull alongside into T1. Rosberg’s efforts to snuff the overtake failed miserably as he spilled over the track limits and allowed the Ferrari of Vettel and the Williams of Bottas to slip past him and demote him from first to fourth in the first two corners. Behind them, Ricciardo had been squeezed and knocked into Felipe Massa’s front wing. The ensuing traffic saw Perez get hit and slide into the gravel at a vast rate of knots. Subsequently Massa and Ricciardo had to pit to repair their respective punctures, with Massa also taking on a new front wing.

As Hamilton secured his lead with a new fastest lap helping extend the gap to second placed Vettel, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz began the first of many mid-field squabbles when he slipped past his countryman Alonso, while Button seemed to be reversing as Nasr and Verstappen breezed past him on both sides into T1. Alonso made sure to radio his frustration at the “embarrassing, very embarrassing” ease with which he was passed – at engine developer Honda’s home race.

Nevertheless he managed to fight off the challenge presented by Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull for ten laps. The young Russian himself had to fend off Verstappen at the same time and eventually dove into the pits, leaving the feisty Verstappen to challenge for Alonso’s tenth place. He, again, managed to hold the Toro Rosso off for several laps until a small error on the exit of the final corner allowed the 17-year-old to use DRS to pass the 34-year-old double World Champion.

Ericsson repeated his practice spin at Spoon curve which allowed Grosjean and Nasr to get past him, while Vettel maintained his position over Bottas after the two had completed their first stops. Following his own pit stop Rosberg began to charge after the cars in front of him. His first target was Bottas who he caught with remarkable speed and made short work of the into the final chicane, diving down the inside of the Finn, who didn’t seem to be particularly expecting the move from far behind.

At the same time, Verstappen was trying to make ballsy moves of his own and attempted a pass around the outside of Kvyat on the outside of 130R, although sensibly backed out of it when the Red Bull closed the door. Will Stevens showed the perils of taking 130R for granted later on in the race when he spun through the corner and narrowly avoided a huge impact with team-mate Alexander Rossi.

Vettel ducked into the pits on lap 31, avoiding debris left by Sainz who hit a pitlane bollard and broke his front wing. The German was stationary for less than three seconds as he changed his Pirellis, but when he emerged the much faster Rosberg had successfully utilised the undercut to sweep past him and into second. With Hamilton over ten seconds away, and pulling out half-a-second per lap, Rosberg settled in to maintain his second place from Vettel.

Further down the grid was less settled with everything left to fight for. Sainz scooped past Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso (to another angry radio outburst and scream from the Spaniard) and then Jenson Button into 130R to grab the final spot. Verstappen followed his team-mate through the field and pulled a nice move on Sainz at the final chicane. Kvyat made a similar move, despite running with front-end issues which made his car unstable, on Ericsson on the penultimate lap. The penultimate lap also saw Felipe Nasr pull into the pits and clamber from his cockpit.

With nearly twenty seconds in his pocket Hamilton proved unstoppable as he cruised flawlessly to his 41st Grand Prix victory. The tally puts him on par with his idol, Ayrton Senna, who ironically won his three World Championship titles at the same circuit. He has pushed his title lead to 48 points over Rosberg and with both drivers ringing up 43 points for Mercedes, a 1-2 at the next Grand Prix would seal another Constructor’s Championship for the team.

Provisional Race Results:

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

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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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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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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Pre-Season Testing, Day One: Vettel Quickest For Ferrari

Formula One kicked off 2015 with pre-season testing yesterday, with Sebastian Vettel topping the timesheets for Scuderia Ferrari. Of the seven drivers who completed laps over the space of the day’s running, Vettel’s tally of 60 laps put him fourth overall, but kept him a tenth clear of Marcus Ericsson who took the second fastest time, for Sauber.

“Today was a good start,” reflected Vettel when the day’s action had ended, but kept a grounded attitude and admitted: “I can’t say more than that because this is only the beginning.

“For now lap times aren’t important: I did mine on the medium compound but the comparison has to be made yet again with the Mercedes. They are very quick, let’s just hope they’re not quite as fast as last year…”

While the exact speed of the Mercedes is so far unclear, Nico Rosberg’s incredible count of 157 laps on what is, for some teams, a chance to see how many times the car can break down, was an ominous sign of the Mercedes’ potential strength again this coming season. While half a second slower than Vettel’s quickest lap, Rosberg said the focus of early testing was reliability.

“In the beginning it’s all about reliability and we managed to do a lot of mileage today. The guys in the factories built a complete new car and now we come here and it’s working great, so the team did a fantastic job over the winter.”

On the difference in lap times, Rosberg added: “As a driver, you always want to find out how quick you are compared to the others – but that will have to wait until qualifying in Melbourne.

Marcus Ericsson’s first day of running with his new team also showed positive reliability and he clocked 73 laps overall, tied second with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. The Swede, formerly of Caterham, was clearly pleased with his first experience of the Sauber on track, and praised the reliability of the car under various set ups.

“I think we have good reasons to be happy. We were able to complete a lot of laps, and we went through quite a few different small tweaks on the set-up and did all the installations needed. There were no major problems with the car, which was really the main thing. Overall it’s been a good day, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. I hope we can continue like this.”

Bottas also clocked 73 laps over his track time, and like Ericsson, the Finn seemed happy with his first taste of the FW37. Beginning with shorter stints, Williams began to build up to longer runs, and were happy with the car’s reliability, Bottas said. “The day started off a bit slow, but it turned out to be a really good one. After that initial set-back, we didn’t have a single issue with the FW37, which is impressive for the first day with a new car.

“We know we have a lot to learn and improve, but we also know where these gains can come from, and have work to do with the car performance and the power unit. There are a lot of strengths in this car and we’ve made good progress in just one day, so I am very pleased,” the Finn concluded.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest overall as he gave the RB11 its inaugural running, albeit with a swirly livery, specifically made for testing. In usual fashion, Ricciardo gave his approval of the unique design: “The livery’s cool. It’s a testing specification for us but I think it looks really good. Maybe I need a matching helmet.”

Ricciardo was similarly happy with the performance of the car, saying: “We got going pretty well this morning and I got a few laps under my belt. So the first impressions are good. We’ll get a few more laps over the next few days, but so far everything seems pretty encouraging.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of laps but definitely more than at this test last year! Obviously we had a couple of issues, but once the car is running it’s all going pretty normally. There are some positive signs there.”

Over at Red Bull’s sister team, Carlos Sainz Jr. took the RB10 for a noble 46 laps around the Circuit de Jerez. Although he had run in a filming day already this year, rookie Sainz felt positive about the Toro Rosso’s first proper shakedown.

“We worked well together as a team,” commented the Spaniard. “I felt good in the car today, I was constantly improving, lap after lap. We did some adjustments and I think we have a good starting baseline”.

Sainz’s country-man, Fernando Alonso, had the least successful day of any of the seven drivers, completing a mere six laps on the first day of his return to McLaren. Although alleging to have purposefully run a series of short stints, with the longest run being three laps, McLaren’s day of testing finished at lunchtime when a technical gremlin took the car out of action for the afternoon.

“Given the complexity of modern Formula 1 machinery, the sorts of issues we encountered today weren’t too surprising,” said Alonso of the technical issues. “They’re just the things you experience on the first day of a Formula 1 test.”

“Obviously, I don’t really have a feeling for the car yet – I only did a handful of laps, and most of those were at slow speed, conducting preliminary checks – so I need a bit more time to be able to speak accurately about it. But everything seems to be responding well, and showing us what we expected.”

While McLaren’s day ended early, neither Lotus nor Force India made it to Jerez in time for the beginning of testing. While Lotus’ trucks crawled into the pit lane in the afternoon, Force India’s were nowhere to be seen as it was confirmed that they would not be attending the test. The team have also moved to rubbish rumours that their car, again piloted by Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, will not make it to the grid for the curtain-opening Melbourne Grand Prix on March 15th.

Pre-season testing continues on Monday with Lewis Hamilton, Daniil Kvyat Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Max Verstappen and Felipe Nasr all piloting their respective cars.

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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