Tag: Nico Rosberg

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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F1: Hamilton beats Rosberg to dominant Mercedes victory

Lewis Hamilton got his title defence off to a flying start with victory over team-mate Nico Rosberg at the Australian Grand Prix as Mercedes dominated the season-opener in Melbourne.

Hamilton’s victory never looked in doubt as he led from the start and maintained a margin of over a second over Rosberg for length of the race. Rosberg pushed at times but never worried the defending world champion, who managed fuel, tyres and his Mercedes W06 Hybrid to perfection over the 58 laps. Sebastian Vettel started his Ferrari career on a positive note with a podium and third place, but the gap of over 30 seconds to the two Mercedes shows the magnitude of the advantage the world champions have carried over from 2014.

But while Mercedes put on a show of perfection for the watching world, its rivals struggled even to start the race let alone go the distance. For the first time since the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix, the season started with a field of just 15 cars as making the grid proved problematic for three drivers. Prior to the race Valtteri Bottas was ruled out with a back injury from qualifying before both Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull and Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren suffered technical issues on the way to the grid.

The first lap accounted for two more cars as Pastor Maldonado came off worse in a first corner collision and Romain Grosjean was forced to park his Lotus before the end of the lap. Maldonado was the last car in a chain of collisions that started when Kimi Raikkonen nudged team-mate Vettel and slowed in the path of Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso. A safety car was called out to allow the marshals to clear the stricken Lotus before racing resumed on lap four with Hamilton comfortably leading Rosberg and Felipe Massa in the Williams. Further down the field Sainz dropped from fifth to seventh and Raikkonen set about recovering the places he had lost in the first corner.

In attempt to give Raikkonen clean air, the Ferrari driver was the first to pit and adopted a two-stop strategy to try to scythe through the field. It appeared to be working as he set fastest laps on a new set of soft tyres but then came a cropper at his second stop when the left rear tyre was not properly fitted and he had to pull the Ferrari to one side.

The majority of the field adopted a one-stop strategy and it was after his single pit stop that Vettel managed to get ahead of Massa. The Williams pitted three laps earlier than the Ferrari and Vettel took advantage with a series of quick laps on his old soft tyres to gain a big enough buffer to pit and hold onto third. It was the only change of position among the top four all afternoon, as Massa pushed in the second stint to try to catch up but ultimately fell 3.6s short at the chequered flag.

Felipe Nasr took fifth place for Sauber and in doing so scored the team’s first points since 2013. The Brazilian rookie put in a remarkable performance to hold the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and finish comfortably ahead by the end of the race. Nico Hulkenberg also put in an impressive performance to finish seventh in the Force India, which had only completed two and half test days before the start of the grand prix weekend. Marcus Ericsson had to adopt a three-stop strategy after a problem at the start forced him to pit on the first lap, but he recovered to eighth and impressed with a clean overtaking move on Sainz, who struggled to bounce back from a very slow pit stop on lap 24.

Sergio Perez took the final point on offer in tenth, depriving his old team McLaren of a point on its debut with its new Honda power unit. Although Jenson Button finished the race for McLaren, it was not a convincing performance as he finished a distant 11th. Combined with Magnussen’s smoky engine failure on the way to the grid, the enormity of the challenge facing McLaren is starting to become clear.

Max Verstappen also retired from the race after a couple of puffs of smoke from the Renault engine in his Toro Rosso, bringing a halt to his F1 debut on lap 34.
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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 2: Rosberg top again as rivals hit trouble

Mercedes continued its domination of free practice at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as several of its rivals ran into trouble in the second practice session.

Once more Nico Rosberg led team-mate Lewis Hamilton, managing to inch the gap up to 0.100s as they both used the soft tyres for the first time this weekend. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel came closest to Mercedes with a time 0.715s off Rosberg and was the only driver within a second of the defending world champions. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest in the second Ferrari, 1.145s off the fastest time, but complained about an issue on the car later in the session.

Raikkonen’s issues were nothing compared to rivals Williams and Red Bull, however, which both had a car miss the entire session due to an engine change. Daniel Ricciardo was ruled out before the start by Red Bull and Williams soon confirmed Massa would not take part due to a water leak on its Mercedes power unit.

That left Daniil Kvyat and Valtteri Bottas to represent Red Bull and Williams respectively and Bottas managed a time 1.145s off the pace while Kvyat was 2.319s shy. Kvayt was less than a tenth of a second quicker than Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso, as the Spanish rookie put in another impressive performance. The Lotus drivers of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean were also both in the top ten ahead of an improved time for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

McLaren’s weekend took another hit just 15 minutes into the session when Kevin Magnussen crashed at Turn 6. Magnussen managed just four laps before he lost the rear of the car under braking, missed the apex and then struggled to get it slowed down in the gravel, making contact with the tyre barrier on the outside of the corner.

fp2-magnussen-crashes

He walked away from the crash uninjured, but the location of the accident meant the car could not be returned to the garage to fix damage to its front-left suspension and front wing. Jenson Button managed to salvage 21 laps from the session, which will provide the team with useful data, but the car was still 3.690s off the pace of the Mercedes and 13th overall.

Sauber hit the track for the first time this weekend as it continues to fight in court with Giedo van der Garde. Felipe Nasr managed 32 laps and the 11th fastest time, but Marcus Ericsson suffered a left-rear suspension failure after 14 laps, bringing his session to an early end.

For the second session in a row, Manor did not take part as the team works through a number of software issues to get the car fired up. The team has less than 24 hours to get the car ready for qualifying, otherwise it will not be able to race this weekend.

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F1: Barcelona Test 2, Final Day: Valtteri Bottas fastest for Williams

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the pace, as Mercedes emerged from the final day of pre-season testing as strong world title favourites.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was sixth, but the team have done enough over the winter to prove they are still well ahead of the rest of the field.

Bottas was 0.406 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, both using the fastest tyres, the super-soft.

McLaren had another troubled day, Jenson Button managing only 30 laps.

The team, starting a new engine partnership with Honda, have done less pre-season mileage than any team other than Force India, whose car appeared for the first time only on Friday.

Button was consigned to the garage for the morning session after the team discovered a problem that required the engine to be removed.

The team then had a stuttering afternoon, at the end of which Button was eighth fastest, 2.264secs off the pace.

“I am pleased with the winter,” said Rosberg. “We have done a good job with the development of the car. That’s not to say the others aren’t also quick but I am optimistic for the first couple of races because we have a good car.

“I am comfortable, setting the best time of the whole winter testing two days ago.”

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was third quickest ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado had a light crash at Turn Four just after lunch and was slowest of all.

Lotus said the crash was caused by a “braking-related issue” which meant Maldonado could not slow sufficiently for the corner.

The season starts with the Australian Grand Prix on 13-15 March 2015.

Final pre-season test.
1. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Mercedes 1:23.063
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:23.469
3. Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.023
4. Max Verstappen (Ned) Toro Rosso-Renault 1:24.527
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:24.638
6. Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India-Mercedes 1:25.113
7. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:25.186
8. Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Honda 1:25.994
9. Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Lotus-Mercedes 1:28.272

Read more at BBC Sport