Tag: Mercedes

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: Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton on pole in Australia ahead of Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton took a stunning pole position for Mercedes at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as McLaren-Honda qualified last.

The world champion beat team-mate Nico Rosberg by more than half a second as Mercedes utterly dominated.

Williams’s Felipe Massa beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to third.

Meanwhile, McLaren produced their worst performance for six years as their big-budget new engine partnership with Honda got off to a terrible start.

Hamilton’s brilliant lap was 0.594 seconds quicker than Rosberg and a massive 1.391secs clear of Massa as Mercedes confirmed pre-season impressions that they will be virtually unbeatable again this season

“It has been a great start to the weekend,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t feel that long since the last race. It has been a big rush and huge effort form the factory to get us here with this performance.

“It is so much fun in qualifying and I am just massively grateful for all the hard work.”

Rosberg said: “Lewis was on impressive form today. He did an awesome job and nailed the time. For me, the speed was there; I just didn’t get it together.”

Williams won a tight battle with Ferrari, with just 0.072secs separating Massa in third from Kimi Raikkonen in fifth, with Sebastian Vettel in between in fourth place.

But for all the talk of a Ferrari revival, the Italian team were 1.43secs slower than Hamilton – only 0.2secs closer than they had been last year, when their former driver Fernando Alonso qualified fifth.

Following his move to McLaren, Alonso is missing this race to recover from concussion suffered in an accident in pre-season testing.

But even he would have been able to do nothing about McLaren’s poor performance – their faster driver Jenson Button in 16th place was 1.5secs off getting out of the first knock-out phase of qualifying and an effective four seconds slower than Mercedes once the effect of tyres was taken into account.

Button, who beat team-mate Kevin Magnussen by 0.6secs, remained upbeat about the potential of the new partnership with Honda.

“We know we can make big strides with this car,” Button said. “When you have a car that feels good underneath you can add downforce to it and that is what we need to do.

“That’s not saying downforce is a problem. The car is completely new, and obviously the power unit.

“I feel we can make big strides forward and that’s the exciting thing for me. It’s going to be a hard new few months but it’s worth it. Who knows where we will end up?”

Another team to struggle were former world champions Red Bull, for whom Daniel Ricciardo could manage only seventh fastest, behind Williams’s Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull bosses are furious with engine partner Renault, who have failed to deliver any performance improvements over the winter while the engine is harder to drive than it was last year.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz impressed on his debut with Toro Rosso with eighth place, outdoing team-mate Max Verstappen, who qualified 12th on the occasion of setting a new record for the youngest driver to compete in F1 at 17.

The Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10, as Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, another rookie, was a strong 11th.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Free Practice 3: Hamilton fastest in final practice

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton dominated final practice at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The champion was 0.696s seconds clear of his closest challenger, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg third.

Williams’s Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were next, then Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was only 13th, and McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were 14th and 16th.

McLaren-Honda look likely to qualify at the back. They were 3.5 seconds off the pace and ahead only of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, who did just six laps because of engine problems.

The two Manor cars did not run, and are now unlikely to take any part in this weekend.

Hamilton was untouchable throughout the session, fastest from Rosberg in the first part on the medium tyre by 0.2secs and then in a different league when the teams switched to the soft tyres that will be used in qualifying.

Hamilton was 0.954secs faster than Rosberg on the soft tyre. The German did two laps within 0.1secs of each other.

Mercedes said Rosberg did not have any particular problem but did not hook his lap together.

The two Mercedes cars looked a handful – both Hamilton and Rosberg ran off the track during the session – but are clearly on a separate level from any other car.

Vettel’s pace underlines the belief that Ferrari are in a more competitive position this year after making a big step in the performance of their engine and improving the drivability of their car, too.

Raikkonen was 0.454secs slower than Vettel, a similar sort of margin to the advantage Fernando Alonso typically had over the Finn last season, which was Ferrari’s worst for 21 years.

Alonso has moved to McLaren but is missing this race after suffering concussion in an accident in pre-season testing last month.

His team admit they do not know when the Spaniard will return, or what caused his accident.

Read more at BBC Sport

 

F1: Free Practice 1: Mercedes dominates open practice session

Mercedes started the 2015 season as they finished 2014, holding a significant advantage over the rest of the field during the first practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg led team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.029s, but the significant gap was the one to the rest of the field with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas the nearest competitor 1.191s adrift. Rosberg and Hamilton are likely to be in a fight of their own this weekend for the race win, but they were at least closely matched suggesting Sunday could still provide an exciting battle for victory.

The Toro Rosso rookies Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were the two most active drivers during the session, completing 63 laps between them as they got their first taste of the Albert Park track. The pair were separated by just 0.053s – as well as the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel – and in doing so made a solid start to their F1 careers with the fourth and sixth fastest times.

Meanwhile, the senior Red Bull team appeared to struggle, with Daniel Ricciardo complaining about the driveability of the Renault power unit and suffering a spin at the penultimate corner with 30 minutes remaining. While Renault has worked on boosting power ahead of the season, the delivery of the power was still offering the drivers some surprises on Friday. Ricciardo’s fastest time was quick enough for 10th behind the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the Williams of Felipe Massa.

McLaren continued its stop-start search for reliability, but despite hitting the track early in the session only managed 13 laps between both drivers. Of the cars that set a time they were only quicker than Romain Grosjean, whose Lotus had an issue until the final moments of the session when he completed five laps.

However, as much attention was focused on the cars not taking part in the session as it was on the cars on track as both Sauber and Manor failed to leave the garage for very different reasons. Sauber’s dispute with Giedo van der Garde continues to cause the team headaches and although both Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr sat in their cars at the start of the sessions, the C34s were not fired up. Court proceedings are set to resume this afternoon and it remains to be seen what further impact they will have on the team’s plans to go racing.

Manor meanwhile are facing a race against time to get their cars up and running, with installation complications with the Ferrari power units causing a delay. Although the team arrived on time in Australia, crucial parts – such as a front wing for Will Stevens’ car – were arriving as late as Friday morning.

Read more at ESPN

F1: Barcelona Test: Day 1: Maldonado tops eventful first day

Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado topped a scrappy opening day at the second pre-season test in Barcelona, which featured the unusual sight of two cars colliding and saw McLaren and Mercedes hampered by problems.

Maldonado leapt to the top of the timing screen with a 1:25.011 less than one hour from the chequered flag, a lap he set on the soft tyre. Maldonado had a frustrating start with two separate stoppages out on track in the morning but the red flag waving was not limited solely to Lotus.

There was more woe for McLaren-Honda as a faulty seal on the MGU-K forced the team to change the whole power unit and end its first day early. Jenson Button’s start had been promising as he accumulated 21 laps in the first two hours but it was yet another setback for McLaren and its new engine partner.

mclaren-faulty-seal

There was also early difficulty for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who completed just 11 laps before ending his day early due to a fever. A neck injury for Nico Rosberg meant Mercedes had to wait until after lunch for reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who completed 32 laps in the morning driving Force India’s 2014 car, to step into the breach. A fuel pump problem after lunch hampered Mercedes further, but Wehrlein managed to add another 48 laps before the close of play.

The afternoon session started with an unusual sight for testing as two cars collided. Damage to the left front of Susie Wolff’s Williams and the right rear of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber was the tell-tale sign the two had come together on the run down to Turn 5, with the Sauber beached in the gravel just before the tyre barrier. It is unclear exactly what happened in the crash, though Wolff was on an out-lap when it occurred. Nasr and Wolff both made it out for late runs but the Sauber finished the session early when it stopped at Turn 9, an incident which brought out a late red flag.

wolff-nasr-crash

Kimi Raikkonen continued Ferrari’s solid start to winter testing, completing 73 laps, though it is still hard to gauge whether the team has made inroads to Mercedes because fuel loads are unknown. However, it will be another morale boosting day of testing after topping three of the four days in Jerez earlier this month.

Daniel Ricciardo had been at the foot of the timesheets for much of the morning without recording a time, but the camouflaged Red Bull was one of the more active participants after lunch. The Australian accumulated 58 laps, though rarely in stints longer than five or six at a time. Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen also had a disjointed morning and early afternoon but still clocked 93 laps overall with some solid running late in the day. Sergio Perez continued Wehrlein’s good work in the afternoon at Force India and by the end of the session had recorded a 1:26.636 to go 4th, although headline times are still of limited significance.

1. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.011 69 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:25.167 73 Laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.547 58 Laps
4. Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.636 39 laps
5. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.307 78 Laps
6. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.900 93 Laps
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.182 21 Laps
8. Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:28.329 32 Laps
9. Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:29.489 48 Laps
10. Susie Wolff Williams 1:28.906 83 laps
11. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.429 11 Laps

Read more at ESPN

F1: Mercedes officially launches W06 Hybrid

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have officially unveiled the Mercedes W06 Hybrid in the Jerez pit lane on the morning of the first day of 2015 testing.

The new car is the one Mercedes hopes will successfully defend the drivers’ and constructors’ championships won in 2014. Glimpses of the car had been seen from a filming day in Silverstone earlier this week, but the Jerez launch came ahead of Rosberg’s day behind the wheel. He will alternate days with reigning world champion Hamilton for the remainder of the test.

The W06’s predecessor enjoyed record-breaking dominance last year, with Hamilton and Rosberg winning 16 of 19 races, and the team enters the 2015 as favourites to repeat their world championship success again.

Read more at ESPN