Tag: Ferrari

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: 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: 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: Ferrari launches new SF15-T

Ferrari has unveiled its 2015 Formula One car, the SF15-T, from its headquarters in Maranello.

The car is a significant one for Formula One’s oldest and most prestigious team as it marks the start of a new era under new management as well as coinciding with the arrival of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. The SF15-T is the first Ferrari to be fully designed under technical director James Allison and is also the first to be launched by under the new management of Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal and Sergio Marchionne as president.

Both the car and the power unit will need to be a dramatic step forward if the Italian team is to close the gap to Mercedes at the front of the field, but the car looks certainly different to the 2014 with a new longer nose to conform to new regulations and tighter bodywork towards the rear.

“The back of the car is something which is noticeably different to the 2014 car because we’ve been successful in pulling the bodywork much tighter to all the stuff underneath the skin,” Allison said. “That’s been done through a lot of work not only in the wind tunnel but also in the design part of the company to find radiator designs that were fundamentally more efficient. So for every square centimetre of radiator we are able to extract more cooling this year than last and able to close the car down at the back as a consequence.”

However, one area that remains the same is Ferrari’s pull-rod front suspension, which is at odds with the rest of the field that (of the cars launched so far) run push-rod. It is a feature that is often picked up on in the media, but Allison said changing to push-rod suspension would not have provided any significant advantage and would have cost aero performance.

“Every year you set out which areas of the car you should put your effort into to try to improve them,” he explained. “These are decisions that need to be taken quite carefully because when you make a choice of working on one part of the car – because you don’t have infinite resources – you are effectively making a choice not to work on another part. When you decide what to work on you have to pick quite carefully the areas that are going to give maximum return for your effort.

“Push-rod or pull-rod on the front has pros and cons either side. A pull-rod is probably harder to get light and stiff, but it’s probably a bit easier to get aerodynamic performance from, so it’s swings and roundabouts. It’s an area of the car that wasn’t felt to be a problem on last year’s car and therefore wasn’t an area that merited investment of effort this time round on the SF15-T.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: Ferrari: ‘Vettel’s big gamble is ours too’

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne admits Sebastian Vettel has taken a “big gamble” by moving to Maranello next year

Vettel officially leaves Red Bull at the end of this year, the team which funded his junior career, gave him his break in Formula One and delivered him to four world titles. He comes to Ferrari off the back of seven barren years without a drivers’ championship for the Italian team, but Marchionne has praised his new driver’s faith and desire to turn it around.

“I don’t think he’s naïve, he knows our level of performance but this is the power of Ferrari: it manages to attract people even just based on its potential,” Marchionne said. “Our job for 2015 is to set this potential free. Vettel’s big gamble is ours too, to reconstruct the team and to make it grow. The work we have undertaken alongside Maurizio is to give guarantees to this team, to bring about clear decisions and to have faith in the people who make up the team.”

Vettel joins Ferrari following a purging of staff, including a second change of team principal in less than 12 months. The new boss, Maurizio Arrivabene, was keen to set the record straight with both drivers, reminding Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen they are employees after Fernando Alonso spent much of his five years at the team lobbying for more power within it.

“Vettel brings with him the experience of winning, he has his four world titles and the enthusiasm to work together,” Arrivabene said. “He certainly wants to make the Scuderia grow alongside us. Having said that, even though drivers may be luxury employees they are still employees and they must work together with others.

“I think Sebastian is well equipped for the job that awaits him. He gets on very well with Kimi and this is a positive element, even if I hope that they won’t get on quite so well on the track, because the rule must remain that your team-mate is your main opponent.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: Jean-Eric Vergne joins Ferrari as development driver

Ferrari have hired former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne to work on car development in their simulator.

The Frenchman was dropped by the Red Bull junior team last monthand had been looking for a new role in F1.

He replaces Spaniard Pedro De La Rosa, who has left Ferrari after two years with the Italian team.

Vergne, 24, said joining Ferrari was an “honour” and a “dream” and that he was committed to “helping the Scuderia get back to the top step of the podium”.

His employment is the latest move in a fundamental restructuring of Ferrari in the last few weeks, including the sacking of several senior personnel.

This week, Ferrari have announced the departures of their former engineering director Pat Fry, chief designer Nikolas Tombazis and tyre analyst Hirohide Hamashima.

They lost their lead driver Fernando Alonso, who negotiated an exit from his contract to join McLaren, and replaced him with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

And immediately after the end of the season team principal Marco Mattiacci was sacked after only seven months in the job.

The hiring of Vergne and departure of De La Rosa by new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene is a shift away from the Alonso era – De La Rosa is close to his countryman.

However, fellow Spaniard Marc Gene remains as a test driver, alongside Italian Davide Rigon.

Last week Ferrari signed Mexican former Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez as their reserve driver, and the next day announced a major sponsorship package from the 23-year-old’s home country.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Vettel’s departure influenced by Ricciardo’s pace

Sebastian Vettel’s decision to leave Red Bull was influenced by the pace of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, team boss Christian Horner says.

The German, who won four titles with Red Bull from 2010-14, has joined Ferrari after a year in which Ricciardo won three races and Vettel none.

Horner says Ricciardo was “probably a factor” in Vettel’s decision.

And he said the Australian’s overtake of Vettel at the Italian GP was “quite a defining moment for Sebastian”.

Ricciardo dummied Vettel into the second chicane at Monza, feigning to pass one way before going the other, to beat him to fifth place in the race.

Horner, speaking in an interview for the BBC F1 review show, said of Vettel: “He was enormously frustrated after that grand prix.

“It was at a time where after the summer break, knowing Sebastian as well as I do, I could see he was very distracted and it was obvious something was at the back of his mind.

“And I think Ferrari were courting him quite hard and around Spa/Monza was the time he made the decision to do something different next year.”

Horner said he was “not really” surprised Vettel decided to leave and move to Ferrari as a replacement for Fernando Alonso, who negotiated an early exit from his contract.

Horner said he believed Vettel had made a final decision on his future between the Italian and Singapore races in September.

“By the time he got to Singapore you could see he was a different person,” Horner said.

“He was more relaxed and you could see he had made his mind up, but events had to unfold through Fernando actually leaving Ferrari. So, no, it wasn’t a great surprise in the end.”

Vettel has insisted he is “not running away from anything” at Red Bull and that he simply wanted a change of scenery and the chance to drive for Ferrari, where his childhood hero and later friend Michael Schumacher won five world titles.

Vettel will be team-mate there to Kimi Raikkonen in 2015.

Horner said: “The timing was right for Sebastian. He’d had a great run with us. He’d been with Red Bull since 12 years of age.

“He’s won four world championships, 39 grand prix, 45 pole positions and I think he felt: ‘I’ve reached 27 years of age. I don’t want to end my career without having driven for Ferrari and I have a great opportunity to go there.’

“The lure of Ferrari for any driver is immensely powerful.”

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Lewis Hamilton to lose senior engineer Jock Clear to Ferrari

One of Lewis Hamilton’s key technical staff at Mercedes is to leave the team and move to Ferrari.

Jock Clear, Hamilton’s senior performance engineer, will effectively be the replacement for Pat Fry, Ferrari’s former engineering director.

Fry was sacked this week as part of a purge of senior personnel at Ferrari as they seek to arrest years of decline.

Clear is to lead Ferrari’s track-side engineering once he has worked a lengthy notice period with Mercedes.

The 51-year-old handed in his resignation immediately after the final race of the season at the end of November and has a 12-month notice period.

It is unusual for F1 engineers to work out their full notice and an accommodation is likely to be reached with Ferrari over the coming months.

Clear continues to work for Mercedes, who will assess how to reorganise Hamilton’s engineering staff in the new year.

He is likely to be moved away from his current role, which focuses on the cutting edge of performance, given that he is to leave for a major rival.

Clear, who has previously worked with former world champions Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve, had been at the team for 15 years.

He joined British American Racing alongside Villeneuve, with whom he had worked at Williams, when the team were founded in 1999 and stayed through the team’s guises as Honda and Brawn and into Mercedes.

His role at Mercedes was as one of three chassis engineers assigned to Hamilton’s car, assisting the new world champion’s race engineer, the primary contact with the driver, with data analysis.

Mercedes were happy to release Clear as they were unable to offer him a role similar in seniority to his Ferrari position.

Ferrari have also tried to recruit Mercedes’ former technical director Bob Bell, who resigned in April and left the team in November.

Bell, 56, had been lined up for a senior role at Ferrari but is said by insiders to have been unable to take it up in the immediate term because of personal issues.

Read more at BBC Sport