Felipe’s second Brazilian Farewell: 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

As the title of this post suggests, there will be practice part to talk about Interlagos driver and it is not the newly crowned four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. It is, in fact, the Brazilian driver Felipe Massa who announced his second retirement from Formula One a week before what will be his final home Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa received a guard of honour last year in Brazil, but 2017 will be his final Brazilian Grand Prix as he retires from the sport a second time [Image from The Telegraph]

Felipe Massa’s second retirement

Felipe Massa was in tears after crashing out of what was set to be his final home Grand Prix last year, but this will be his last at home [Image from The Telegraph]

The big story coming into the Brazilian Grand Prix is regarding home favourite Felipe Massa. After the emotional scenes, after he crashed out of last years race, Massa will get a second home farewell race after announcing his second retirement from Formula One. Unlike the years first, there will be no u-turns with Williams understood to be considering reserve driver Paul Di Resta and Robert Kubica to partner Lance Stroll in the other car for 2018. Massa himself has reiterated that fact, ‘Yeah! Actually, this is my second retirement race in Brazil, but this time it’s the last one for sure in Formula One’. read more

F1 2017 Mexican Grand Prix Preview : Can Hamilton do it?

I have missed a couple of Grand Prix since commenting on F1 so I would like to start this post with a brief overview of what I missed in the Far East Double bill before delving into the second part of the America’s double bill; starting with Malaysia:

2800px-flag_of_malaysia read more

F1 2017 Far East Double-header Part One: Malaysian Grand Prix 2017 Preview

Wow! What a race that was in Singapore! The first ever Formula One night race in the rain could well be a major defining moment of this years title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton jumps from his car after winning the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix [Image from Fox Sports]
Lewis Hamilton jumps from his car after winning the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix [Image from Fox Sports]

Having set a new track record with an incredible pole position lap, Vettel held the initiative while Mercedes struggled at perhaps their weakest circuit of the season. Lewis Hamilton qualified 5th and was likely to lose the Championship lead he had gained in Monza. However, moving over to cover Max Verstappen at the start saw Vettel make contact with his teammate Kimi Raikkonen which would ultimately end all three of their races. They also collected the McLaren of Fernando Alonso at turn 1 who was bang unlucky to be tagged there after a fantastic start. Hamilton was the beneficiary and after an excellent drive; building a lead up on Daniel Ricciardo several times following three Safety car appearances despite the Red Bull being a quicker car around the Marina Street Circuit to take the chequered flag to become the second man in F1 history to win 60 Grand Prix. Ricciardo finished 2nd in Singapore for the third year running while Carlos Sainz (4th), Jolyon Palmer (6th) and Stoffel Vandoorne (7th) recorded their best ever finishes in F1. read more

Lewis Hamilton takes surprise win while Vettel crashes out: 2017 Singapore Grand Prix Review

It is almost like the beginning of the end of the season when the Singapore Grand Prix comes around. It is the first of the final seven flyaway races of the season and always throws up big moments which are occasionally season-defining moments. There were driver lineup announcements for next year with Carlos Sainz joining Renault next year ‘on loan’ as well as the announcement that McLaren’s relationship with Honda will end at the end of the season. They will be powered by Renault in 2018 while Toro Rosso will have Honda power.

At the Marina Street Circuit, Red Bull were the early pace-setters with Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen on top of the timesheets. They had anticipated having a strong weekend in Singapore while Mercedes were expecting a weekend of struggle. That was until, from nowhere, Sebastian Vettel set a stomping new track record to take pole position for the fourth time this season. It put Vettel in prime position to capitalise on the Mercedes weakness in Singapore to retake the Championship lead and build a gap to Hamilton who qualified 5th. read more

2017 Singapore Grand Prix Preview

Yes, it is yet another post previewing a Formula One Grand Prix without actually reviewing one. Due to time constraints, I have been unable to review the three last Grand Prix (Hungary, Belgium and Italy) so will provide a brief outline of what happened in these race weekends.

Sebastian Vettel led his teammate home for Ferrari's first 1-2 race finish in Hungary since 2004 [Image from F1fanatic.com]
Sebastian Vettel led his teammate home for Ferrari’s first 1-2 race finish in Hungary since 2004 [Image from F1fanatic.com]

• Sebastian Vettel won the final race before the summer break from pole position despite suffering from a steering issue in the race. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen could not get close enough to pass or was not allowed to by the pit wall (decide for yourselves) as they secured their first 1-2 race result in Hungary since 2004.
• Mercedes had no answer for Ferrari at the Hungaroring. The team’s pit wall allowed Lewis Hamilton to pass Valtteri Bottas in the second stint of the race as he was faster. He could not pass the Ferrari’s and subsequently and admirably handed the place back to the Finnish driver at the final turn of the race.
• The Red Bull drivers came to blows on the opening lap as Max Verstappen understeered into his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at turn 3 of the opening lap. Ricciardo’s race ended there while Verstappen climbed all the way up to 5th and close to the podium despite serving a penalty.
• On a track where power and straight line speed is not everything, Fernando Alonso was eventually able to showcase his abilities in the McLaren-Honda as he got the better of Carlos Sainz in a race-long duel for 6th. Stoffel Vandoorne finished 10th for his first point of the season and first double points finish for the team.
• Hungary also saw the very brief return of Paul Di Resta to the cockpit of a Formula One car as he filled in for the unwell Felipe Massa. Despite not driving the 2017 Williams car in vein prior to Qualifying, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the race all considering before he was forced to retire from the race ten laps from the end. read more

2017 Italian Grand Prix Preview

Last weekend saw history in Formula One. On his 200th Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton equalled the 68 career pole position record set by Michael Schumacher with an incredible performance and setting the new track record for Spa-Francorchamps along the way. In the race, Hamilton was equally supreme in keeping the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel behind as the four-time World Champion was never more than 2 seconds behind him throughout. Championships the frustrations of Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen was evident in the early stages. The latter suffered his 6th mechanical DNF of the season as his car simply lost power. The former, felt the sinking feeling of a lack of power in his Honda engine as car after car found their way past him with the Spaniard telling his team to leave him alone at one stage. The Force India drivers were the major talking point. They had already banged wheels on the slope down to Eau Rouge on the opening lap when the collided again on lap 29. Sergio Perez tried to block his teammate getting past but succeeded in picking up a rear right tyre puncture and front wing damage for his Esteban Ocon. The contact and resulting debris brought out the Safety Car which became the defining moment of the race.

Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win the Belgian Grand Prix [Image from The Guardian]
Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win the Belgian Grand Prix [Image from The Guardian]

From the restart, Hamilton did well to defend from Vettel who picked up a tow after climbing Eau Rouge and almost had the move done. However, the Mercedes man held the inside line very well indeed. Kevin Magnussen squandered a points scoring position by locking up under braking at the restart and running wide. Daniel Ricciardo meanwhile, was the big winner. The Red Bull looked comfortable for 5th before hand. At the restart, he drove daringly to pass both Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas along the straight up to Las Combes and took 3rd place. He managed to hold on for the podium; Renault. Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag to win on his 200th Grand Prix start. He became only the fourth driver to do so after Michael Schumacher (2004 European Grand Prix), Jenson Button (2011 Hungarian Grand Prix) and Nico Rosberg (2016 Singapore Grand Prix). read more

2017 Belgian Grand Prix Preview

It has been four weeks since we last saw some F1 racing with the incident filled race at the Hungaroring. The drivers have had their summer holidays, a number of them spending a significant amount of time on the water, others did Charity work and spent time with their dogs (Lewis Hamilton did some work in Cuba with UNICEF). Valtteri Bottas amongst others just enjoyed some home comforts, Fernando Alonso did some training in Mikenos while some of the younger drivers had time partying with friends (Lance Stroll spent time in Ibiza). The Red Bull drivers took time out for some adverting with Ricciardo biking in his native Australia and Max Verstappen having a go at Quad biking while Jolyon Palmer found time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro!

Four weeks ago…

Sebastian Vettel leads the way from lights out but it was not plain sailing for him in Hungary [Image from f1fanatic.com]
Sebastian Vettel leads the way from lights out but it was not plain sailing for him in Hungary [Image from f1fanatic.com]

Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for Ferrari four weeks ago in Hungary and went on to claim his fourth race victory of the season. It was not all plain sailing for the four-time world champion as a steering issue made it a difficult race for him. His teammate, Kimi Raikkonen was quicker at times in the race but could not get close enough to pass. Whether or not Ferrari told him not to is up for debate and he could well be cemented in now as a number two driver. They managed to hold off an aggressive looking Lewis Hamilton in the second half of the race to secure their first 1-2 race result since another team-order controlled race in Germany; 2010. Mercedes had allowed Hamilton to pass Bottas on the understanding if he could not get past the Ferrari he would give the place back to Bottas. Hamilton and Mercedes kept to their word with the English driver letting the Finn through at the final turn of the race for 3rd. Three points dropped for Hamilton in the Championship which could prove crucial to all three drivers involved in the battle. Behind them, Max Verstappen finished 5th though it could easily have been much more. Red Bull had been the surprise pace setters in Friday practice and although they qualified on the third row, they still had a chance of a surprise. However, Verstappen understeered into his teammate at turn 2 which earned him a 10 second time penalty which cost him a realistic chance of competing for the win. Fernando Alonso rolled back the years with a race long duel with compatriot Carlos Sainz for 6th and Stoffel Vandoorne scored his first points of the season as McLaren scored their first double points finish of the season. It was no fluke and thoroughly deserved as even with the weaker Honda engine in their car, the McLaren looked strong all weekend and afterwards, Alonso took a well earned pre-holiday rest in a deck chair. Force India also maintained their consistency in 2017 with a 9th double point finish. The race was also notable for the deputy appearance of Williams reserve driver Paul Di Resta. The Scottish driver had not expected to take part in the Grand Prix weekend but Felipe Massa’s illness gave him a way in. Despite not having driven the car in vain, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the car before eventually having to retire due to mechanical issues. read more

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

Boom! The Championship battle is well and truly wide open after the events of Silverstone two weeks ago. Now, with only one point between Championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, whoever gets the best result in Hungary will be Championship leader going into the 4-week summer break.

Silverstone’s future on the Formula One calendar may be in doubt but this year’s Grand Prix weekend produced some entertaining moments. First, was the misfortune of Daniel Ricciardo pulling up Q1 with a turbo failure before Fernando Alonso and McLaren made a brave move in switching to slick tyres at the end of Q1 to go fastest! Lewis Hamilton took pole for the 5th time at the British Grand Prix and set the fastest lap on the current Grand Prix layout with an incredible 1:26.600. read more

F1 July 2017 Double header Review: Momentum with Mercedes after victories in Austria and Britain?

This is unchartered territory for me! For the first time on this blog, I will attempt to review the action from two Grand Prix in the same post. Through the 71 laps of the Red Bull Ring in Austria and the shortened 51 lap British Grand Prix at Silverstone, it seems evident as the title of the post suggests that Mercedes have regained momentum from Ferrari in the battle to be the team to beat as F1 passed the halfway stage of the season. As well as that, F1 has seen lap records tumble and others close to tumbling; just a shame the Conservative-DUP deal has not. I’m sorry, couldn’t resist…

red-bull-ring-circuitThe Red Bull Ring at the second highest altitude of the season, in the Styrian Mountains of Speilberg, played host to the Austrian Grand Prix. The 30th edition of the event had a tall order to follow of the crazy day of the races in Azerbaijan and the 71 lap race struggled to match it with only 13 racing overtakes after the opening lap carnage.

Bottas leads the way after a questionable start but chaos would ensue behind him [Image from F1 Fanatic]
Bottas leads the way after a questionable start but chaos would ensue behind him [Image from F1 Fanatic]

Indeed, it was an electric start and no more so than for pole sitter Valtteri Bottas who made THE perfect start to off the line which a couple of his rivals believing the Mercedes man had jumped the start. As a number of drivers had differing starts; some poor, some great, they all trickled into turn 1. Daniil Kvyat locked up heavily going up the hill and ran into the strong starting McLaren of Fernando Alonso who in turn collided into home favourite Max Verstappen. The Red Bull and McLaren drivers saw their races end there, Kvyat limped home three laps adrift. read more

Duel in the Dessert Round Two: 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review

The penultimate race of the season in Brazil was certainly eventful. The weather in Brazil is always a factor and it proved to be the case in 2016. The rain led to a delayed start due to Romain Grosjean crashing his Haas on the way to the grid so he did not start a Grand Prix for the second time this season. Inevitably, the race started under the safety car and eventually the drivers were allowed to race from the end of lap 6. This would not be the case as an incredible 33 laps were under the Safety Car as the race was also red flagged twice, taking the total race time to just over three hours!

Max Verstappen completing his nominated Action of the Year move on Nico Rosberg round the outside of Championship leader Nico Rosberg [Image from motorsport.com]
Max Verstappen completing his nominated Action of the Year move on Nico Rosberg round the outside of Championship leader Nico Rosberg [Image from motorsport.com]

When the racing did eventually start on lap 7, Max Verstappen showed glimpses of what was to come as he made a late great move on the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at turn 1. It could have been so much more for Verstappen in Brazil as when racing began again on lap 31, he produced another sublime move. This time, around the outside of Championship leader Nico Rosberg at turn 3. He wouldn’t finish ahead of the Mercedes driver though as Red Bull made the same mistake twice in pitting their drivers for Intermediate tyres. The second time, they reverted their drivers back on to the full extreme Wet tyres. This dropped Verstappen to 14th and allowed for his star of the race performance as he rose through the grid to take an astonishing 3rd place. read more