F1

Lewis Hamilton in pole position to win second world title

After the drama of the tumultous Belgian Grand Prix a month ago, things seems bleak for Lewis Hamilton as he sat 29 points behind his team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg, whilst he was also convinced Rosberg could of pulled out of their collision but didn’t on lap 2 of the race. Hamilton is known as a very emotional driver and some feared if this would throw his emotional balance out of place, potentially to Rosberg’s advantage. Things could not have gone better for Hamilton since however as he has won both the following Italian and Singapore Grand Prix’s whilst Rosberg has looked rattled as he made two mistakes to finish 2nd in the Italian GP before retiring from Sunday’s Singapore GP with a faulty wiring loom. Some will call this poetic justice for Rosberg as his 29 point lead from Belgian has been reversed into a 3 point lead for Hamilton going into the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Hamilton shows his pleasure at dominating Sunday’s Singapore GP.

What is crucial for Hamilton so far has been his emotional balance. He has looked very calm and at ease with his situation with the lack of pressure he seems to be putting on himself producing instant results as he has looked flawless in both races so far since all the drama of the Belgian GP weekend. Indeed, if it wasn’t for a faulty electrical glitch at the start of the Italian GP he would of likely dominated both races. The momentum he has now created for himself will prove crucial as he hopes to ride the crest of this pressure free wave until the end of the season as he searches for his second world title.

A lot has been made in the past by journalists and team personnel around the paddock surrounding the emotional nature of Lewis Hamilton. He is a driver that always wears his heart on his sleeve and shows every emotion he goes through during a race weekend, much like fellow British racing hero Nigel Mansell showed during his career. Most notably in 2011 the significant downturn in his racing form was attributed to personal problems he was going through with family and his girlfriend, just showing the impact his emotional state has on his driving. That year he reflected his personal problems by consistently making clumsy mistakes such as a poorly judged move on the Williams of Pastor Maldonado at Monaco, with a clip below showing the clumsy nature of his attempted move into Ste Devote.

Therefore with his emotional balance seemingly perfect over these past few race weekend’s, the results have been apparent as he now looks in pole position to secure a second drivers title barring any change in his psyche or any more reliability problems from his AMG Mercedes car. From here it will be thrilling to watch how Rosberg responds to the resurgent form of Hamilton as the title racing reaches a thrilling climax over the remaining race weekend’s. I simply cannot wait to see how it develops.

Photo credit goes to Lars Baron from http://www.gettyimages.co.uk sourced from http://www.theguardian.com

Max Chilton rumblings leave Alex Rossi in the cold

After the announcement last night that Marussia driver Max Chilton would move aside at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, allegedly for non-payment from Chilton’s sponsors, therefore allowing Alex Rossi to make his Grand Prix debut. Whilst this seemed like a dream for Rossi, who only recently joined Marussia after leaving Caterham.

Sadly for Rossi, the reality quickly became something much different because as swiftly as he was announced it subsequently became common knowledge that Chilton would in fact be driving for Marussia this weekend after all. For the seemingly happy go-lucky American Alex Rossi this must be a huge blow to gear yourself up for a Grand Prix debut, only to have it snatched away so soon.

This bizarre soap opera began last night when it was announced by the team that Chilton was being replaced for this weekend because of “contractual issues.” The waters were muddied further in the aftermath of this as Chilton himself released a press statement which said that he was “stepping aside” to allow the team to sell his seat for much needed financial benefit. This seemed strange that the team and the driver were giving different explanations for Chilton stepping aside.

It seems that if the rumours are true this was the wake up call for Chilton to start leaning on his sponsors to pay up the promised funds, as whilst Free Practice 1 was taking place this morning, whilst Rossi was probably on track, it was announced by the team that Chilton would indeed by racing this weekend after all leaving Rossi with only the Free Practice 1 session for the weekend.

Whilst this will hugely disappointing for Rossi he can take some solace from the experience gained for the future, especially as this was his first time driving the Marussia MR03-Ferrari car. It seems likely Rossi will get more chances during Free practice sessions this year, most likely at his home race in Austin. With nothing confirmed in terms of driver line-up for next year an impressive showing from Rossi in any further running for the team could persuade them to take him on for the 2015 season.

Whilst it’s hard to read too much into Rossi’s display this morning as it was his first time in the car, therefore it was no surprise that he was 1.5 seconds behind highly rated team mate Jules Bianchi. This seems a good starting point for Rossi, let’s hope he gets a proper chance at F1 from here.

Why Andre Lotterer deserves F1 chance

Immediately following the shock announcement of Max Verstappen joining Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2015 F1 season on Monday night, rumours began circulating that for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix Caterham would replace Kamui Kobayashi with stand-out Audi sportscar driver Andre Lotterer. By Tuesday afternoon it appeared almost certainly a done deal, with the final confirmation being announced by Caterham in a press release this morning, Wednesday 20th August. For the insular world of Formula One many have started scrambling around for information and analysis on this very quick German, with the results they’ll find on him being enough to show his F1 debut this weekend is long overdue.

Andre Lotterer has already been amongst the F1 circus once before, with early titles in German Formula BMW Junior and ADAC Formula BMW in 1998 and 1999 brought him to the attention of the new Jaguar team for 2000, who offered him several tests during the 2000 season to complement his 4th in the German Formula Three Championship campaign. The link to the Jaguar F1 team was made stronger in 2001 as he raced in British F3 for the Jaguar junior racing team, before stepping up to become the official test driver for the Jaguar F1 team for the 2002 season.


Lotterer testing for Jaguar in 2002.

Whilst it initially looked likely that Lotterer would be promoted to a race seat in 2003 after it was announced that both Eddie Irvine was retiring and Pedro De La Rosa was to also leave. Sadly for Lotterer the team chose 2002 Minardi stand-out Mark Webber alongside promising young Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia for the 2003 season, leaving Lotterer looking to re-build his career momentum.

Lotterer subsequently shunned Europe and went to Japan to race in their premier Formula Nippon series, now called Super Formula, and Japanese Super GT series for 2003. Impressive results in both cemented his reputation in Japan as a very fast young driver as he was a frequent title contender in Formula Nippon for the works TOM’S Toyota team, alongside two Super GT titles in 2006 and 2009.


Lotterer and Kazuki Nakajima driving for Lexus in Super GT at Okayama in 2011.

These impressive results in Japan led to some well deserved attention from Europe, although it does seem surprising looking back that despite consistently impressive Super GT results it took until 2009 for Lotterer to make his Le Mans 24 Hours. The call came from the Kolles team racing their privateer LMP1 Audi R10 TDI. After a herculean effort from Lotterer and co-driver Charles Zwolsman to complete the race without third driver Narain Karthikeyan to injury, the car came home an impressive 7th overall after completing 369 laps.

The impressive debut with the Kolles Audi in 2009 led the highly successful works Audi team to offer him a deal for the 2010 season, where his Audi R15 TDI+ came home 2nd. From here things would get very busy for Lotterer as from 2011 onwards he would have to dovetail his Japanese Formula Nippon and Super GT commitments with a full schedule in the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, morphing into the World Endurance Series for 2012.

The full time schedule has not affected Lotterer’s pace however as he finally claimed a first Formula Nippon title in 2011 after 8 years of trying, with a perfect 2011 being completed with a heroic first Le Mans 24 Hours victory for him, after fighting off an onslaught of Peugeot’s to claim the win. Things improved in 2012 as the Lotterer/Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer partnership swept to a second consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory and the inaugural World Endurance Championship title also.

2013 and 2014 so far have seen a continuation of is stellar results as the Audi trio claimed a third Le Mans 24 Hours victory and currently sit 2nd in the World Endurance Championship with 5 rounds remaining. During his sportscar and single seater career so far Lotterer has regularly proven himself to be a master of wet conditions, which maybe gives some indication of why Caterham chose to give him debut in the notoriously wet Belgian GP at Spa. Another reason may be his experience of the Spa circuit this year as he’s already raced there for Audi both in the WEC and the recent Spa 24 Hours.


Lotterer at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi.

Whatever Caterham chose they have made a bold yet good decision in my opinion to take a chance on the always quick Andre Lotterer for this weekend, as a sportscar fan I’ve seen plenty of impressive drives from him over the last few years for Audi. He has a chance to improve things for the Caterham team although despite circuit knowledge the Caterham car has proved very difficult all season. I sincerely hope he gets the chance to give a good account of himself this weekend despite the troublesome Caterham car, which I think is only fair after the wait he’s had to make his F1 debut.

Photo credit goes to http://www.Motorsport.com , http://www.worldcarfans.com and http://www.autoindustriya.com please visit their sites for more amazing photos.

2014 German GP Race Report

After a morning of mixed weather conditions, the drivers were wheeled to the grid under a dry if overcast track. A likely threat of rain during the race kept the strategists guessing before the start, especially for AMG Mercedes as they tried to optimise their result with Nico Rosberg on pole and team mate Lewis Hamilton well down in 20th, after a gearbox penalty.

From the start it was Nico Rosberg who comfortably made the best getaway, with the action unfolding behind him as Williams driver Felipe Massa and the fast starting McLaren of rookie Kevin Magnussen collided at the first corner. Whilst it appeared to be a racing incident, despite Massa’s protests of it being Magnussen’s fault, the end result was a spectacular flip for an uninjured Massa and a severe derailment to Magnussen and Red Bull man Daniel Ricciardo’s race.

The Safety Car was scrambled for one lap to retrieve Massa’s stricken Williams, before the re-start which saw the other Williams of the quick young Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas try his best to hang onto the Mercedes of Rosberg out front. The advantage of the Mercedes is such that Rosberg was comfortably able to open a gap to the rest, as the attention focused back to the recovery drives of the other Mercedes of Hamilton and Ricciardo.

Both were flying through the field with apparent ease, reaching the fringes of the top 10 by lap 8. A lap later and they receiver further help as Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat hit the Sahara Force-India of Sergio Perez he was battling, with replays showing Kvyat didn’t give Perez enough room when attempting the pass at Turn 8.

Hamilton then made several more places with an audacious double pass on Ricciardo and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen going into Turn 6 after the back straight on lap 13, with a slight nudge on Raikkonen the only contact between the three. The left Hamilton 8th and climbing as others around him started pitting for new soft tyres. The top 2 Rosberg and Bottas pitted on lap 15, re-joining either side of Hamilton.

A long first stint appeared to be paying off for Hamilton as he easily held 3rd, before his tyres started giving up on lap 22, subsequently losing him roughly 1 second a lap before his finally pitted from 3rd on lap 26, re-joining 8th. Back at the front, and Rosberg was serenely building a 13 second advantage over Bottas in 2nd as he appeared to be cruising to a first home victory.

On the other hand, Hamilton was having anything but a serene race as he battled back through the pack for a second time, giving Jenson Button in his McLaren a love tap to the side pod exiting Turn 6 after a misunderstanding. Although he attempted to apologise later on the damage was already done as the front wing damage to the Mercedes was enough to hamper his tyre management for the rest of the afternoon.

As the second pit stop window began from roughly lap 33, the action intensified as reigning champion Sebastien Vettel and former champion Fernando Alonso carried over their epic battle from the British GP two weeks ago. Eventually it was Vettel who was able to use newer tyres to pass the Ferrari of Alonso for 4th some laps later.

Both the Mercedes drivers were now complaining about their tyres, something they rectified as they stopped on lap 41 and 42 respectively. For Rosberg this was simply routine, yet for Hamilton it was anything but. His stop signalled a drastic change of strategy from a two to a three stop race. This left him able to charge down the rest with a short stint on the super soft tyres, before a conservation final run on another set of the super soft tyres.

Lap 50 saw Sauber driver Adrian Sutil suffer a strange spin exiting the final corner, leaving the car unable to re-start precariously and potentially necessitating a late Safety Car. Sensing a potential Safety Car, Mercedes gambled on pitting Hamilton to steal a remarkable 2nd place a lap later. The Safety Car never materialised leaving thing tough for a potential podium now.

Things improved however as Alonso pitted with tyres that were completely shot on lap 55, leaving Hamilton 3rd and chasing down Bottas who was also struggling with his tyres in 2nd. Behind them Ricciardo was also using new tyres to charge up the field, although he soon had Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari on his rear wing challenging him for his 5th place.

What ensured was a truly brilliant battle between the two as they constantly changed places over successive laps, until the fun was ended as Alonso finally made it through on lap 62 exiting Turn 9. From her the attention for the final laps turned to Hamilton, who was desperately trying to pass Bottas but to no avail as Bottas held on behind a dominant Rosberg for 2nd , with Hamilton completing the podium in 3rd. Sebastien Vettel came home a quiet 4th from Alonso in 5th and Ricciardo coming home 6th.

Nico Hulkenberg delivered again in 7th, with Jenson Button in 8th from team mate Magnussen who recovered well to come home 9th. Completing the top 10 was Sergio Perez in 10th. From here the F1 circus moves on to Hungary before a well deserved 3 week break for the F1 paddock before the final run in begins at Spa in Belgium.

2014 German GP Qualifying Report

After Lewis Hamilton’s heroics at his home grand prix two weeks ago, the shoe is on the other foot this weekend as AMG Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg will be hoping for the same result as his and the team’s home race at Hockenheim.

The build up to the weekend has been dominated so far with talk surrounding the sudden banning of the FRIC (Front and rear interconnected suspension) systems, which all 11 teams are running this year. It seems the FIA has decided they have become far too complex and too much of an moveable aerodynamic device, leading to their ban starting this weekend.

There was much anticipation therefore in the paddock to see what kind of effect this ban had on the order, although the session would have to go some to be more entertaining than the mixed conditions in Britain two weeks ago provided. Q1 hadn’t even began before Caterham were struggling as a hydraulic problem with Marcus Ericsson’s car left him unlikely to compete in the session at all, something which was later confirmed halfway through the session.

At the front however, it was the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton that set the first truly competitive lap time with a 1.18.693, a cool 0.7 seconds quicker than the rest halfway through Q1. On the other hand, a small shockwave was sent through the paddock a minute later as Finland’s Valtteri Bottas confidently put his Williams-Mercedes top of the times by a cool 0.4 of a second over the rest. For Rosberg, it appeared his home race was proving a burden rather than an advantage, as he made two separate mistakes on successive qualifying laps.

The drama of Q1 was soon provided as Hamilton suffered a front right brake disc failure, which pitched him into the banked stadium section Turn 13 tyre wall. The fast impact left Hamilton sounding slightly winded in the aftermath, and sent the red flags flying with 7 minutes left.

After the small delay a frantic final 7 minutes was set up as everyone ventured back out on track with the one lap super soft tyres. The action proved fast and frantic, with the unfortunate casualties of Q1 being firstly Adrian Sutil who is resigned to 17th in his Sauber-Ferrari for his home grand prix.

Alongside him in 18th is Jules Bianchi in his Marussia-Ferrari, with row 10 containing usual suspects Pastor Maldonado in his troublesome Lotus-Renault and the Caterham-Renault of Kamui Kobayashi. Sitting 21st and 22nd for tomorrow will be Max Chilton in his Marussia and the unfortunate Marcus Ericsson in the second Caterham.

After a quiet opening few minutes of Q2 as the teams waited to save their tyres, Q2 sparked into life with Bottas again setting the early pace with a blistering 1.17.353. HIs time last roughly 30 seconds at the top however, as a far more dialled in Rosberg stole top spot with a 1.17.109. After this lap time the track went relatively quiet before the final runs began with a few minutes remaining.

With a seemingly small amount of improvement in the track, the final two minutes proved a constant flurry of changing times and places, of which the final order was only settled well after the session was over. When the dust settled, it showed that from those eliminated it was Jenson Button who fell in 11th for McLaren-Mercedes, with fellow champion Kimi Raikkonen alongside him in 12th.

Behind them it was Jean Eric Vergne in his Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault in 13th, from Esteban Gutierrez in the leading Sauber in 14th. The final two eliminated were Romain Grosjean for Lotus-Renault in 15th and Hamilton who couldn’t take part in Q2 because of his accident.

The stage was not set for the final 12 minute Q3 showdown for pole, with first runs meaning the action started from the moment the pit lane light turned green. Once these times filtered through it was Rosberg who was unsurprisingly on top with a 1.15.540, with the two Williams-Mercedes cars close behind. From here the session calmed down before the final runs for pole began with a few minutes left on the clock. These runs proved a damp squib however, as the top 3 remained the same with Rosberg claiming a popular home pole, from the impressive Williams twins of Bottas and Felipe Massa in second and third.

4th was a brilliant result for McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen, with popular Aussie Daniel Ricciardo piloting his Red Bull-Renault to 5th. Reigning World Champion Sebastien Vettel will again be disappointed to be behind his team mate in 6th, with Fernando Alonso for Ferrari and Daniil Kvyat for Scuderia Toro Rosso behind Vettel in 7th and 8th. Rounding out the top 10 were the two Sahara Force-India-Mercedes team mates, with Nico Hulkenberg winning their battle in 9th from Sergio Perez in 10th.

This German GP qualifying session has provided plenty of story lines for tomorrow, with Hamilton’s recovery drive already being eagerly anticipated. Up front, it appears Rosberg will at the very least have to fend off what should be a stern challenge from the Williams of a determined Valtteri Bottas. It should be a thrilling race indeed.

2014 Canadian GP Race Report

After a surprise pole for AMG Mercedes man Nico Rosberg, the race promised to be a thrilling battle between the two AMG Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton out front. After a contentious Monaco GP weekend the team was simply hoping for a much calmer race this time around.

As the red lights went out it was Hamilton who initially made the best getaway, appearing to have the momentum to out drag Rosberg on the outside going into Turn 1. Yet unfortunately for Hamilton the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has one of the shortest GP straights of the year, allowing Rosberg to tough it out with Hamilton and unintentionally force him wide going into Turn 2. From this fast starting Sebastien Vettel grasped this opportunity to jump past Hamilton for 2nd.

The action continued at Turn 3 as Max Chilton slid wide in his back marking Marussia, consequently sliding into team mate Jules Bianchi, who then violently slammed into the wall, removing most of his rear end in the process. With oil and debris spread across the track the Safety Car was quickly scrambled as the efficient marshals set to work. The Safety car peeled in at the end of lap 7, as Hamilton immediately started challenging Vettel for 2nd. After DRS was enabled Hamilton used it to breeze past Vettel in the inferior Renault powered Red Bull on the back straight before the final chicane on lap 10.

Daniel Ricciardo in the other Red Bull was the first of the top 6 to stop on lap 13, a strategic move that many around him soon copied to cover him. Rosberg was the first of the AMG Mercedes to pit as he came in from the lead on lap 18, with Hamilton responding with a slower stop a lap later. For Sebastien Vettel the first round of stops were the start of a frustrating afternoon as he was now stuck behind the one-stopping Nico Hulkenberg in his Sahara-Force India. Finally on lap 23 he tried a desperately late dive to the inside at the Turn 10 hairpin, before over-shooting wide and allowing Hulkenberg back through again.

Back at the front, the leaders battle was heating up too as Hamilton reduced a 2.1 second lead after the pit stops to less than a second in 4 laps. Hamilton’s new found pressure on Rosberg appeared to force a mistake as the leader locked his left front heavily braking for the final chicane, before straight lining it and carrying on. The contentious issue with this however, was the fact Rosberg opened a 0.6s gap and set his fastest lap during the process. This usually results in a penalty and the AMG Mercedes team expected the worse once it was announced the stewards were indeed looking into this move.

Back in the pack, some long awaited poetic justice was served as Williams driver Felipe Massa breezed past Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari with the help of DRS going into Turn 1 for 8th on lap 26. The significance of this move stems from Felipe’s time with Ferrari, where he spent the previous 4 seasons behind outpaced by Alonso, who used team orders to take victory in the 2010 German GP, in the process cementing the infamous “Fernando is faster than you” radio message into the contentious history books.

Hamilton meanwhile settled behind Rosberg as the stewards deliberated giving Rosberg a time penalty. Once is was confirmed he wouldn’t receive a penalty on lap 32, Hamilton soon began challenging again. Just behind them Sergio Perez in the other Sahara-Force India finally pitted from 3rd, after making his Super Soft tyres last an amazing 34, when other were averaging 15-18 laps. With Perez re-joining 8th this freed the train behind Hulkenberg consisting of both Red Bull’s and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas were now fighting over the final podium position.

The queue of cars behind Hulkenberg was depleted somewhat as Bottas strategically pitted for the second time on lap 36, hoping to jump Vettel in the process. Vettel was called in the lap after to cover this and comfortably re-joined in front of the Williams. Thing’s were not all brilliant for Vettel however as team mate Ricciardo pitted a few laps later and subsequently jumped him for the final podium place.

Back at the front the drama was only just beginning for the AMG Mercedes twins as both drivers started complaining of a loss of power. Their times suddenly rose from 1.19 laps to high 1.22 laps, several seconds a lap slower than those behind them. Hulkenberg finally released those behind him as he stopped on lap 41, although the Red Bull’s now had Perez’s Sahara-Force India in front of them. Both AMG Mercedes cars pitted on laps 44 and 45, with Hamilton jumping Rosberg for 2nd after stopping a lap later.

It appeared both cars had suffered ERS energy recovery failure’s, leaving them 160bhp down on their usual output. From here things got a lot worse for Hamilton as he now began suffering with severe braking problems, which quickly allowed Rosberg through again into 2nd on lap 46. A lap later and it was all over for Hamilton, as his car had now completely cooked it’s brakes, leaving him no choice but to trickle into the pits to retire, his second of the 2014 season.

With the various issues for the AMG Mercedes cars, this left Felipe Massa alone out front, although he appeared unlikely to be able to last the rest of the race without needing another tyre stop. This mantra was proved correct as Massa needed another tyre stop on lap 47, dropping him to 7th but with the benefit of much fresher tyres. With Rosberg now appearing a sitting duck this left Perez, Ricciardo and Vettel fighting for a likely victory behind them. Perez was struggling mightily with much older tyres things weren’t getting any better as he now had a DRS issue, which left him really struggling to overtake Rosberg for the lead.

In the next gaggle behind Perez and the Red Bull’s, Valtteri Bottas showed an unintentionally kind side to team mate Massa as his dive inside Hulkenberg for 5th meant Massa could jump them both and retain a slim chance of winning the race. Things got worse for Bottas a few laps later as Alonso used DRS into Turn 1 to depose him from 7th. By lap 63 Massa had caught Vettel and the train in front, yet appeared frustrated as the inherent lack of rear traction in the Williams gave Massa little chance of passing Vettel.

With Rosberg appearing increasingly comfortable in the lead things were hotting up behind him as Ricciardo finally passed Perez for 2nd with a demon outside move into Turn 1 using DRS, in fact he carried so much speed he barely stopped the car in time for Turn 2 , just about managing to hold of Perez and the rest behind him. He quickly caught Rosberg in front and used DRS on the back straight before the final chicane to steal the lead with only a few laps left.

For Ricciardo an unlikely first victory was secured on the final lap, as behind him Massa used DRS to gain a run on Perez for 5th, yet on-board camera’s appeared to show Perez jinked slightly to cover this move, with the unfortunate end result being a heavy collision for them both with both needed mandatory hospital visit’s afterwards, although both were later pronounced perfectly okay.

The final lap Safety Car left Ricciardo free to take a unexpected yet highly popular first win from the wounded Rosberg in 2nd, who expertly controlled the second half of the race to collect a great points haul, putting him 22 ahead of Hamilton now. Completing the podium was the other Red Bull of reigning champion Sebastien Vettel. After a demon second stint of the race Jenson Button rose from no where to claim 4th for McLaren. Nico Hulkenberg collected solid points in 5th, from a low-key Fernando Alonso in 6th for Ferrari.

Valtteri Bottas salvaged 7th and some points for Williams in a frustrating missed opportunity for them, whilst Jean Eric Vergne quietly raced on to 8th for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Completing the points were McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in 9th and finally a below-par Kimi Raikkonen in 10th.

After a truly thrilling Canadian GP, which contained it all with high amounts of on-track drama alongside a popular first time winner in Daniel Ricciardo, the revived Austrian GP has a lot to live up to in two weeks. The Red Bull team will be looking for another good result at the home race for their team, but it appears AMG Mercedes will be back on top barring any more mechanical maladies. One thing that appears certain is that this Canadian GP will be remembered as by far the best race of the 2014 F1 season.

Thank you for the great images they can be viewed at these websites below.
http://o.canada.com/sports/autoracing/ricciardo-gives-red-bull-first-f1-win-with-victory-over-rosberg-in-canada
http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/06/09/2014-canadian-grand-prix-tyre-strategies-pit-stops/
http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/06/06/mercedes-back-top-ahead-red-bull-ferrari/

2014 Canadian GP Qualifying Report

After the drama’s and tension of the Monaco GP weekend two weeks ago, the F1 circus was hoping for a much calmer weekend as they arrived at the ever popular Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This race weekend is always popular with teams, drivers and fans alike and an interesting weekend was predicted. This circuit always provides competitive racing thanks to it’s unique nature with braking being crucial around this high speed stop lap.

The Q1 drama began before the session had even got underway as Sauber sophomore driver Esteban Gutierrez was forced to sit and watch Qualifying as the his car needed a new chassis after a crash in Free Practice 3.  This meant only 5 drivers would be eliminated this time around, somewhat easing the pressure . As the cars trickled out slowly it was Williams driver Valteri Bottas who set the first competitive time with a 1.18.270 after 4 minutes.  

 

Unsurprisingly this time didn’t last long at the top as AMG Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg subsequently smashed that time with his own 1.16.690 with 12 minutes left in the session. Canada specialist Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to let Rosberg get too comfortable atop the times however as he soon chimed in with a 1.16.438. Then with 8 minutes to go he improved to a 1.15.750, a nice statement of intent on his part for qualifying. After this the session calmed down slightly before the intensity increased in the final minutes.

First Lotus-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado pulled off track at Turn 2 with a lack of power, in the process guaranteeing his elimination in Q1. Things did improve his slightly however, as Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson stuffed the rear end of his car into the outside wall exiting Turn 9 with 16 seconds left. The ensuring red flag would end the session and cement everyone in their Q1 positions.

Sharing the back row are the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and the Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson. Caterham team leader Kamui Kobayashi lines up 20th, with Marussia driver Jules Bianchi 19th. Max Chilton out-qualified team mate Bianchi for the first time in 2014 in 18th alongside the unlucky Lotus-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado in 17th. Since qualifying things have got worse for Caterham however as Kobayashi has been forced to take a gearbox change, demoting him to 21st behind team mate Ericsson.

Q2 began with star Sahara-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg being the first to set a competitive time with a 1.16.650 in the first few minutes. Both the Williams drivers looked hugely competitive this weekend and they soon flexed their muscles in Q2, with Felipe Massa quickly setting the pace with a 1.15.773 with 11 minutes to go in Q2. The major surprise of Q2 was the fact the two AMG Mercedes drivers were unable to beat Massa’s time, although this can be explained by the fact they didn’t run the softer tyres which Massa did.

The final minutes were frantic as always but the biggest surprise again was that the AMG Mercedes drivers went out for a final run when they appeared safe for Q3. Nevertheless, their softer tyre runs rewarded them with Rosberg first with a 1.15.2 before Hamilton eclipsed him with a 1.15.0 to top the Q2 session. From Q1 and Q2 the advantage AMG Mercedes enjoyed a 0.7s gap to the rest, ensuring Q3 would be another intense battle between the two.

Those who sadly wouldn’t be making Q3 were a disappointed Sahara-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg in 11th, alongside McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in 12th. Sahara-Force India’s disappointed day was completed a Hulkenberg’s team mate Sergio Perez only managed 13th, sharing row 7 with Lotus-Renault driver Romain Grosjean in 14th. The 8th row would be shared with Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat in 15th alongside Sauber driver Adrian Sutil in 16th.

The final Q3 session began slowly with Valterri Bottas the first to venture out after 2 minutes. His first lap time was a 1.15.550 with 7.30 left on the clock. His reign at the top was short however as Nico Rosberg soon eclipsed him with a 1.14.946 lap, which even team mate Hamilton couldn’t match. As the cars settled in the garage’s ready for their final run, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen gambled on setting a quick lap whilst the track was quiet. This gamble didn’t work however as he only managed 8th on his one flying lap.

The final run’s were an anti-climax as a bad lap from Hamilton handed Rosberg pole on a plate, with Rosberg improving by a tenth just to make sure of pole. Reigning world champion Sebastien Vettel produced the lap of the session to steal 3rd from the Williams drivers in an inferior Red Bull car. William sophomore Bottas usurped experienced team mate Massa for 4th and 5th, with Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo disappointed with 6th. Fernando Alonso qualified 7th from an impressive Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso in 8th. The 5th and final row of the top 10 would be shared by Jenson Button in the McLaren and Raikkonen completing the top 10 for Ferrari.

Qualifying set up the race later on today perfectly in what should be an impressive race long fight between the two AMG Mercedes drivers. Behind them the battle for the final podium spot should be just as interesting between the Red Bull and Williams cars. Also watch out for the two Sahara-Force India cars, as they are always more competitive in race trim with their car notoriously soft on it’s tyres. Watch out for their progress during the race.

2014 Pirelli Spanish GP Qualifying Report

After the excitement of the first four flyaway races F1 returned to Europe after a long three week break. The popular European portion of the season begins this weekend with the Spanish GP, a track known to highlight the chassis and aerodynamic proficiency of your car. With all of the teams bringing significant updates everyone went into qualifying hopeful their updates had significantly improved their performance.

Immediately out in Q1 were both Sauber cars, hoping their lightened car would push them further up the grid after a difficult start to their season. The first drama of this session was a brief red flag period early in Q1 as the Lotus-Renault of Pastor Maldonado ran wide on the exit of Turn 3 and lost the wayward car before it glanced the barrier on the inside of the corner, breaking the right front wheel and eliminating Maldonado from the session. After the initial talk that this is a Red Bull track and therefore AMG Mercedes might struggle, this talk all proved unfounded as the Mercedes cars had a comfortable 0.7 second gap to the rest after Q1.

At the end of Q1 there were few surprises as the predicted faces were eliminated with Maldonado in 22nd after failing to set a time, with Kamui Kobayashi qualifying a disappointed 21st for Caterham. His rookie team mate Marcus Ericsson impressed with 20th in the other Caterham with the Marussia of Jules Bianchi in 19th from team mate Max Chilton in 18th. The final man eliminated was a disappointed Adrian Sutil in 17th with his new lightened Sauber showing little signs of improvement so far this weekend.

Q2 began with the Sahara- Force India’s cars coming out quickly before the pacesetters filtered out to set their first times. Nico Rosberg was setting the pace with a 1.26.0 with only a nice 0.6 second gap to the best of the Red Bull’s in 3rd. This session proved intriguing as pre-session session favorite for pole Lewis Hamilton appeared slightly scruffy as team mate Rosberg appeared to have the edge at this point going into the final Q3 session.

Of those eliminated in Q2 it was unsurprising to see both the Force India’s in 11th and 12th with Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Sergio Perez. 13th was okay from rookie Daniil Kvyat as Esteban Gutierrez came home 14th. The final two places were reserved for the cars that failed to set a time with Kevin Magnussen suffering a power unit failure whilst Scuderia Toro Rosso man Jean Eric Vergne had a 10 place grid penalty hanging over him after a FP2 mishap, therefore it appears his lack of running may have been a tactical decision by the team.

The final Q3 session began slowly before Nico Rosberg finally ventured out for his first run with 10 minutes left of the session. He was over halfway through his first timed lap when his run was abruptly halted as the red flags flew for a second time in this qualifying session, as the Red Bull of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel stopped on the entry of Turn 3 with a suspected gearbox failure. The first race with his new chassis has proved difficult for Vettel with limited practice running and now a 10th place grid spot for tomorrow’s race to compound his problems.

When the session resumed Rosberg again set his first run time before Hamilton slightly eclipsed him going into their final runs. With seconds left on the clock the both started their final laps with Rosberg smashing Hamilton’s previous time before a nervous wait to see what Hamilton managed behind him. Luckily for Hamilton he had just enough in hand to set pole with 0.168 margin of pole from team mate Rosberg.

Row 2 will be filled with the Red Bull of the ever impressive Daniel Ricciardo with Martini Williams sophomore Valterri Bottas impressing again with 4th. Romain Grosjean was the standout of Q3 as he dragged his skittish Lotus-Renault into 5th when team mate Maldonado lost control in Q1 and will start 21st, whilst Kimi Raikkonen must be thrilled to out qualify team mate Fernando Alonso in 6th for Ferrari.

Alonso wasn’t far behind in 7th from Jenson Button in 8th for McLaren. The final row of the top 10 will be filled by Felipe Massa in 9th for Williams from the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who obviously didn’t set a time. The grid is set in what promises to be an exciting Spanish GP race tomorrow.

For the official stats from qualifying please visit this link.
http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2014/919/