Tag: F1

F1: Lewis Hamilton cruises to Bahrain GP win, Raikkonen second

Lewis Hamilton took a controlled win in the Bahrain Grand Prix as team-mate Nico Rosberg was beaten to second by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton led from the start and was always in control as he took his third victory in four races this season.

Rosberg battled the Ferraris throughout and lost second to Raikkonen with a braking problem with two laps to go.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wrecked his podium chances by going off track and damaging his car while racing Rosberg.

Raikkonen, who nipped past Rosberg at the start of the penultimate lap when the German ran too deep into Turn One, put in an impressive drive on an alternative tyre strategy to move up from fourth place on the grid.

But Hamilton was out of reach at the front under the lights at the Sakhir track on a windy desert night.

Mercedes had expected a challenge from Ferrari during the race but Hamilton, after converting pole position into a lead at the first corner, was always in control as he set about building a lead while also protecting his tyres.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Dominant Lewis Hamilton beats Nico Rosberg in China

Lewis Hamilton turned in a faultless drive as he and Mercedes returned to winning ways at the Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton led away from pole and won the race during a perfectly-managed middle stint, where he appeared to drive conservatively despite calls from Mercedes to speed up in order to give team-mate Rosberg some breathing room ahead of Vettel. Hamilton then showed the true pace of the Mercedes by turning up the wick in the laps before his final pit stop.

His seven second lead was nullified at the end by the race finishing under the safety car but it was still a perfect weekend for the world champion, collecting pole, the fastest lap and the race victory. Rosberg and Mercedes managed to do enough to secure the one-two, though Ferrari kept the world champions honest through the first two stints. Williams spent much of the race a distant fifth and sixth, confirming the fact it has fallen behind Ferrari in the pecking order.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Lewis Hamilton beats Nico Rosberg to Chinese Grand Prix pole by 0.04s

Lewis Hamilton took his third consecutive pole position of the season as he pipped Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to the top spot in China by the slimmest of margins.

Hamilton has looked flawless all weekend and carried that form into qualifying, though he was made to sweat in Q3 when Rosberg crossed just 0.042s down on his 1:35.782 benchmark. The Mercedes front-row lock out was expected, with Ferrari having to turn its attention from the Silver Arrows to the Martini-liveried Williams in qualifying. Having had a quiet practice, Williams was back in the hunt for the second row and looked to have secured it behind Mercedes, only for Vettel to snatch third with his last run.

One important consideration was tyres, given Mercedes’ costly decision to use a set of prime tyres in Q1 in Malaysia – a decision which hampered the team in the race. There was no repeat this time around as Mercedes set the Q1 times it needed on medium tyres while all its rivals, including Ferrari, used fresh softs. It means Mercedes has saved a set of soft tyres for the race, something which may be crucial for strategy and nullifying the threat from Ferrari on Sunday.

Having had such a promising weekend on his longer runs, Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for sixth position, meaning the Finn will have to dispatch the Williams early if he wants to take the fight to Mercedes. Behind that, Daniel Ricciardo qualified seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean, while the Sauber’s of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson rounded off the top ten.

Daniil Kvyat was the biggest-name casualty in Q2 as he dropped out of the session in 12th. Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz also failed to make it through the session, while Sergio Perez did well just to make the top 15 in the Force India.

McLaren had high hopes of making Q2 – and had even finished two tenths off 10th in FP3 – but both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso dropped out of the first qualifying session. There was only 0.004s between the two former world champions, who finished two tenths off the time required to make it into the next session. It will be a blow for McLaren after talking up the visible progress it has made since the Malaysian Grand Prixm but the gains they have made might be more obvious in Sunday’s race. Nico Hulkenberg was the other man to drop out of Q1 despite having been quicker than team-mate Perez in the morning session.

Unsurprisingly the Manors finished at the foot of the standings, the first time both its drivers have completed a qualifying session. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi qualified within the 107% mark required to race on Sunday.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Lewis Hamilton sets pace but Ferrari remains in the mix

Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday practice sessions ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, but Ferrari again showed signs of being able to challenge Mercedes over a race distance.

Following Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia, the big question heading to China was whether Ferrari could sustain its challenge to Mercedes’ F1 hegemony. The times in first practice suggested the pendulum had swung back in favour of the world champions, but in second practice Kimi Raikkonen offered hope of a genuine battle emerging for the second race in a row.

Raikkonen’s quick lap was within 0.5s of Hamilton’s best, but it was the long-run pace that looked most impressive as his Ferrari proved quick and consistent on the medium tyres. Hamilton said afterwards that his medium tyres “did not feel too good”, but the significantly quicker soft compound looks likely to be the tyre of choice if degradation of the front left is kept under control.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg failed to impress on their hot laps, with Vettel 0.7s off team-mate Raikkonen and Rosberg running wide at the final corner on his soft tyre attempt. As a result Rosberg was a full second off the pace of Hamilton on a weekend when he needs to reassert himself in the in-team battle at Mercedes.

The laps of Vettel and Rosberg allowed Daniel Ricciardo to go third fastest in the Red Bull, although he was still over a second off Hamilton. Ricciardo was running a low-drag rear wing on the RB11, which helped mask the power deficit of the Renault engine but needs to be balanced against the extra strain the reduced downforce will put on the tyres. He was 0.4s quicker than team-mate Daniil Kvyat running the old rear wing, whose session came to an end in the barriers when his brakes failed at Turn 14.

Valtteri Bottas was seventh fastest for Williams while team-mate Felipe Massa failed to set a representative time after losing his car under braking for Turn 14. Massa was on his quick lap when the rear of the Williams stepped out under braking and grazed the barrier, knocking off the front wing endplate. The accident left Massa 17th by the end of the session and that allowed Jenson Button to creep into the top 10 with a time two seconds off Hamilton’s best. Fernando Alonso was another 0.5s shy of Button in 12th, but the overall performance was positive for McLaren and Honda as they up the performance of the MP4-30 again this weekend.

The session also had a bizarre and unwelcome interruption when a spectator managed to gain access to the pit straight and sprint across the breadth of the track to the pit wall as a Force India exited the final corner. He was quickly apprehended by marshals and passed on to the police, but the intrusion will be a concern for the race organisers.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Vettel beats Mercedes for first Ferrari win

Sebastian Vettel took his first Ferrari victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix and the first for the team in 35 races after beating Mercedes in a battle of tyre degradation and strategy in the heat of Sepang.

Just two weeks after Mercedes dominated the Australian Grand Prix, Vettel made use of two-stop strategy to beat both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in a straight fight. The heat and a well-timed safety car played their part, but it should take nothing away from the drive from Vettel or the new-found performance of the Ferrari.

Kimi Raikkonen underlined Ferrari’s impressive pace by taking fourth despite a puncture on the first lap and fighting back through the field. Williams, meanwhile, struggled in the heat as Valtteri Bottas marked his return from a back injury with a fifth place after passing team-mate Felipe Massa on the penultimate lap. Renault-powered cars rounded out the top ten, although it was Toro Rossos ahead of Red Bulls as Sepang succeeded in throwing up yet another surprise in form.

Hamilton led Vettel away from the start as expected but the race was blown wide open by Marucus Ericsson, who spun on lap four. The resulting safety car opened up strategy options and effectively split the field into two separate races, which would eventually converge in the final stint.

Option one was to pit under the safety car, a strategy adopted by Hamilton and Rosberg, who had to stack in the Mercedes pit box as they came in at the same time. It put them on a three stop strategy, but also delivered them into the middle of the pack for the safety car restart. Vettel and Ferrari went a different way, opting to stay out and make the most of clear air at the front of the field before adopting a two-stop strategy.

Key to Vettel’s approach was being able to look after the tyres, but the Ferrari was capable of the task and Vettel built his lead when racing resumed. By the time Hamilton had emerged from the traffic into second on the road, his hard compound tyres were a little worse for wear and the gap to Vettel was 9.9s. Rosberg was in an even worse position behind as he had to pass both Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo, who were on similar strategies but had got the jump on him in the pits stops under the safety car.

Vettel made his first stop on lap 17 and took on another set of medium compound tyres, which had worked so well for him in the first stint. The stop put him behind the two Mercedes, but he was able to use the pace advantage of his fresher and softer tyres to rein in both Mercedes and pass them on track. As Vettel got past Hamilton into the final corner on lap 24, the Mercedes dived into the pits, although by now it was clear there was a race on as both Mercedes were effectively a pit stop down on the Ferrari and behind it on track.

Now it was Hamilton’s turn to go at a quicker pace than the Ferrari, but to stand a chance of winning he would have to maintain it over the course of the stint and the Mercedes’ hunger for tyres was not willing to allow that. Vettel continued to log consistent times and on lap 37 pitted for the second and final time. He exited the pits behind Hamilton and just ahead of Rosberg, but crucially still had a pit stop in hand over both Mercedes.

Hamilton’s only hope was to be quick on his final set of tyres and haul in the Ferrari. It was a surprise, therefore, that at his final stop he took on the slower hard compound rather than the mediums. On his outlap he radioed to say “Wrong tyre, man”, but the decision dated back to Q1 in qualifying when Mercedes opted to send both cars out on mediums in the first session in order to save hard tyres for the race, presumably in the belief the mediums would degrade too quickly in the heat and the hard would be the tyre of choice. But as Vettel proved, that was not the case on Sunday and so Hamilton had to try to haul in a 15-second deficit to Vettel using the same tyres.

In the end it proved too big a deficit and Hamilton finished the race 8.5s behind Vettel. It remains to be seen whether it was a one-off in the heat of Malaysia or a true reflection of Ferrari’s improvement over the winter.

As an aside, 2014 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso observed the victory from the pit wall after his first race with McLaren-Honda ended with a technical issue on lap 21. Team-mate Jenson Button retired 20 laps later from 14th position, emphasising the task ahead of the team before it joins the fun at the front.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Hamilton beats Vettel to pole in the wet

Lewis Hamilton just held onto pole position ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 0.074s at the Malaysian Grand Prix as rain played a factor in a tense qualifying session in Sepang.

Nico Rosberg had to settle for third, 0.465s off Hamilton and 0.391s off Vettel, after failing to improve on either of his two final runs. The wet track opened up a slither of hope for Ferrari and Vettel nearly capitalised on it as the Mercedes got in each other’s way on their second runs.

Hamilton was the first to make the most of fresh intermediate rubber and his initial attempt on a new set of tyres stood as the pole position time by the end of the session. Rosberg’s first attempt was not so good and his second lap was then hampered as a Williams exited the pits in front of him at Turn 1. That caused Rosberg to abandon his lap, but in doing so he hampered Hamilton, who was on an even quicker lap behind him.

For Hamilton it made no difference as his first lap was quick enough for pole, but Rosberg dropped to third behind Vettel, who improved late in the session. Daniel Ricciardo managed to take fourth for Red Bull ahead of team-mate Daniil Kvyat and the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, as three of the four Renaultp-powered cars took advantage of the conditions. Williams lost out in the conditions after initially going out on full wet tyres before pitting twice again for intermediates. Felipe Massa was left seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean, who also went out on full wets initially, and Valtteri Bottas. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top ten as he continued to show impressive pace in the Sauber this weekend.

There was only enough time for one slick tyre run in Q2 before the rain came, meaning it was all about positioning at the pit lane exit to get a clean run and qualify for Q3. Vettel enjoyed a clear track at the front of the queue, but his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen did not and was knocked out after losing time in the final corner behind the Sauber of Ericsson. Pastor Maldonado was also knocked out along with the two Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, which had looked capable of a better performance based on practice times.

Felipe Nasr dropped out in a dry Q1 in the second Sauber along with the two McLarens and two Manors. Jenson Button managed to beat McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, but despite positive signs through the weekend the disadvantage of the detuned Honda power unit left him 0.3s shy of Nasr’s Sauber.

Roberto Mehri was the only one of the two Manors to set a time, but it was 0.4s shy of 107% of the fastest time by Lewis Hamilton, meaning his participation will be left down to the discretion of the stewards. Will Stevens, meanwhile, failed to clock a lap due to a fuel pressure problem, but his FP2 time on Friday would have been quick enough to get within 107% and therefore he is likely to be allowed to race.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Ferrari pace surprises Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton admits he is surprised about Ferrari’s competitive lap times in Friday practice but thinks he left plenty of time on the table from his own qualifying simulation.

Hamilton beat Kimi Raikkonen’s headline time by four tenths in FP2 but Ferrari continued to show the progress it has made over the winter. Despite topping the session Hamilton admits the pace of Raikkonen had caught his attention.

“The Ferraris look great, they really do,” Hamilton said. “Surprising to see how good their times are and we’ll see how close they are this weekend.”

Hamilton’s day was blighted by a power unit inlet problem in FP1 which carried over into the afternoon session. When he finally returned to the track he jumped to the top of the timesheets immediately but complained about “downgraded” gear shifts and thinks there was more time to be found.

“I know my lap wasn’t spectacular and I think I have some improvements I can make to the balance and the settings, they’re all from the last race so I’m sure we’ll tweak it around.”

The reigning world champion thinks his preparation for Sunday’s race has been hampered by a day of limited running.

“They’ve been pretty heavily compromised. Whenever you lose a session that definitely doesn’t help, as well as half if not more of the second session. The team did an amazing job to re-build the car and I’m very grateful. Just to have got some laps was crucial. Sunday will be hard.

“From my side of things I got a pretty decent lap but I haven’t dialled it in, we haven’t changed any diff settings, we haven’t changed the settings at all so there’s definitely work to do. Fortunately I got a bit of a longer run at the end. But in terms of my set-up I haven’t made any changes so I’m just working with what I have, it’s quite a bit off where we need it.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: McLaren driver Fernando Alonso to return for Malaysian GP

Fernando Alonso will return to racing at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, if he is given the all-clear by doctors, his McLaren team say.

The double world champion missed the season opener in Australia on 15 March to recover from concussion suffered in an accident in pre-season testing.

McLaren said in a statement Alonso, 33, felt his steering go heavy before the crash, which is so far unexplained.

The team will fit the car with an extra sensor to gather data.

McLaren said the decision was made following Alonso’s visit to the McLaren factory last week, when he drove the simulator and went over the data from the accident with the team’s engineers.

“While there was nothing evident in the extensive car telemetry data, nor anything abnormal in the subsequent reconstructions and laboratory tests, Fernando recalls a sense of ‘heavy’ steering prior to the accident,” McLaren said.

“Consequently, the team has fitted an additional sensor to the car, to increase our data capture.

“Fernando is very much looking forward to getting back into the car and making a substantial contribution to our collective efforts with Honda, to accelerate the required improvement to our on-track performance.”

Alonso has decided to fly to Malaysia for the race following medical tests by three eminent doctors at Cambridge University on Sunday.

His manager would not confirm Alonso had passed the tests and McLaren made no reference to them in their statement.

However, the driver was given the all-clear and now faces only the official test by governing body the FIA’s medical delegate and the Sepang circuit’s chief medical officer before being allowed to race.

It is considered highly unlikely that he would fail these having passed the tests in Cambridge, which are also part of the FIA’s programme for drivers returning from injury.

“Since his Barcelona testing accident, Fernando has followed a rigorous, specialised training programme, designed and closely monitored by leading sports scientists, to ensure his safe and timely return to racing,” McLaren said.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Sauber and Van der Garde end bitter dispute

Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde admits his “future in Formula One is probably over” after reaching a settlement with Sauber to resolve their bitter legal dispute.

Van der Garde took Sauber to courts in Switzerland and Australia over his belief he had a contract to race for the team in 2015. In the days before the Australian Grand Prix the Supreme Court of Victoria found that Van der Garde was entitled to race at the season-opening race in Melbourne, but both parties came to an agreement ahead of Sunday’s event to allow Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson to compete for Sauber.

On Wednesday Van der Garde confirmed via his Facebook page the matter has been resolved and his 2015 contract ended by mutual consent. The Dutch driver, who drove for Caterham in 2013, says he felt well within his rights to take the team to court to pursue the career he always dreamed of.

“As a passionate race driver, I feel sad and am very disappointed,” Van der Garde’s statement said. “I have worked very hard my entire career, ever since starting with go-karts at the age of eight, to live my dream and become a successful Formula One driver. I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula One is probably over.”

Remarkably, Van der Garde says Sauber has his own sponsors to thank for its continued existence in the sport.

“There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014. This was simply in good faith and to help the team deal with its cash problems at the time. Effectively, it was my sponsor’s advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014.

“Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me. Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done.”

Van der Garde says he came to an agreement not to drive at the Australian Grand Prix because he feared the ramifications for Sauber, though he did take a swipe at team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

“I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne.

“To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team´s cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team´s directors would even be taken into custody. I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself in.”

The Dutchman says he now has his eye on competing in the World Endurance Championship and the illustrious Le Mans 24 Hours.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Van der Garde and Sauber set to reach financial settlement

Giedo van der Garde’s case against the Sauber Formula One team looks set to come to a conclusion in the next couple of days after the parties finalised a settlement.

The Dutchman and the Swiss squad were embroiled in a legal battle during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, as he claimed he was unfairly ditched by the team when he had a contract to race in 2015.

An Australian court ruled in favour of the driver, but the case was dropped as both parties agreed to talk and Sauber stuck to its original plan of running Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

Now the case is set to come to an end, with Sauber agreeing to pay van der Gard a big sum of money.

Motorsport.com understands that the figure involved is €15m, a substantial sum given the obvious financial predicament of the team.

Despite the legal problems, Sauber enjoyed a very positive grand prix in Melbourne, with Nasr finishing in fifth and Ericsson in eighth.

The team is currently third in the constructors’ championship, just one point behind Ferrari.

Read more at motorsport.com