That was an incredible season of F1. Incredible that it even got going during the Coronavirus pandemic, let alone getting to the finale in Abu Dhabi. It is testament to the FIA, Liberty media, F1, the circuit organisers, the teams and drivers that we even had a season of F1 in the first place after the Australian Grand Prix started but never went ahead after two McLaren team members tested positive for the virus and the first 8 races were cancelled.
The season eventually got underway in July, 217 days after the 2019 season finale; the third longest gap between seasons in F1 history as the 70th anniversary season started. It was historic as Michael Schumacher’s win record (91), podium (155) were beaten and his seven World Championship were equalled by Lewis Hamilton [Feature image above from formula1.com]. read more
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 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.
• Lewis Hamilton marked his 200th Grand Prix by matching Michael Schumacher’s pole position record of 68 with an incredible qualifying performance in which he was in a league of his own. He set the new track record at Spa-Francorchamps three times on his way to pole. Then, after some great defensive driving to hold off the Ferrari of Vettel on the opening lap and then again after the restart, he went on to win the race becoming only the fourth man to win his 200th Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg are the other three. • The Safety Car was brought out by a collision between the two Force India drivers on the run down to Eau Rouge on lap 29. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had already come to blows on the opening lap but did so again. On the second occasion, Perez seemed to cut in front of Ocon and suffered a rear right tyre puncture. Ocon suffered front wing damage but managed to recover and finish the race 9th. Perez failed to finish. Post-race, Vijay Malaya spoke of introducing team orders to avoid a repeat having previously allowing his drivers to race freely. • Daniel Ricciardo secured his 6th podium of the season in opportunistic fashion with a daring move on the restart from the Safety Car. On the climb up to Las Combes, the Australian made a double move to pass Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to claim third place. He was able to hold on to that position until the end with Raikkonen finishing 4th and Bottas 5th. • Max Verstappen however, experienced the all too familiar sinking feeling as he pulled up on lap 7 having lost power in his car. This was his 6th retirement of the season and all of them have been due to mechanical issues. • The Haas F1 team could have been on for their second double points finish with both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the top 10 during the Safety Car period. However, Magnussen braked too heavily at the final turn upon the race restart and required a fresh set of tyres which dropped him down to 15th.The main beneficiary was Carlos Sainz who finished 10th and scored 1 point.It proved more painful for Haas as the two sets of points would have made their Championship position stronger.Nico Hulkenberg finishing 6th for Renault meant the French they closed the gap to them in the battle for 7th in the Constructors Championship to one point.read more
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.
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
Nineteen rounds into the season, only two remain and after Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Mexico, the Drivers Championship is still to be decided. Hamilton’s victory in Mexico was his 8th of the season and the 51st of his Formula One career taking him level with Alain Prost in the all-time winners board. Nico Rosberg finished 2nd as Hamilton’s victory closed his Championship lead to 19 points while the points scoring positions were held by just five teams for the 6th time this season. The teams scoring points remained the top 5 in the Constructors Championship (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams and Force India). Hamilton could be considered fortunate to have kept the victory after taking to the grass at turn 1 on the opening lap after locking up his front right tyre under braking. He was certainly lucky as Max Verstappen was penalised for taking to the same grass while defending against Sebastian Vettel on lap 68. Verstappen was given a 5 second time penalty while Vettel was penalised for moving under braking meaning the final podium position eventually went to Daniel Ricciardo but only after the race. Vettel celebrated on the podium meaning there would be no shoey in Mexico.read more
Lewis Hamilton controlled the United States Grand Prix from pole position to win his 7th win of the season and the 50th of his career (the third man to reach 50 wins in F1 history). He came into the race 33 points behind teammate Nico Rosberg in the Drivers Championship. Rosberg’s second pit stop came under a Virtual Safety Car period which allowed him to effectively steal second place from Red Bulls Daniel Ricciardo; who it must be said had the measure of the Championship leader. Instead, Ricciardo settled for third and a shoey with Gerard Butler. Sebastian Vettel finished a distant 4th while Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz matched their best results of the season to finish 5th and 6th respectively. In 7th was Felipe Massa for Williams and was followed by Sergio Perez for Force India in 8th. Jenson Button finished 9th to give McLaren their second double points finish in three races and their fourth of the season while Romain Grosjean marked his 100th Grand Prix with a point for Haas in their first home race.
So, after the joys of Taylor Swift, Usher and Mr Butler, Formula One moved from Texas, south and across the border into Mexico City for the Day of the Dead and the Mexican Grand Prix!read more
The United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the America’s was back to its normal self last weekend after the 2015 event was heavily affected by rain. Twelve months on, the race winner may not have been different but the mood seemed to be as artists like Taylor Swift and Usher brought in 266,889 spectators over the weekend. That was a record attendance for the circuit and there certainly wasn’t a blank space in the stands come race day.
The Race Weekend
Lewis Hamilton came into the United States known if there was ever a weekend to start clawing back his teammate’s advantage in the Drivers Championship, it was this one. He started it in mephitical style by finishing the first procure session fastest and 0.315 seconds clear of Nico Rosberg. The nearest challenger to the Mercedes pair was Max Verstappen in the Red Bull but was some 1.9 seconds slower. Roles were reversed between Hamilton and Rosberg in the second session as Rosberg finished 0.291 seconds faster. Hopes of a challenge to Mercedes in qualifying were raised in the final practice session on Saturday morning with Verstappen heading a Red Bull 1-2. McLaren showed progress as both drivers finished in the top 10 in second and third practice while 22-year-old Jordan King made his F1 debut by finishing 20th in the first practice; ahead of Jolyon Palmer and teammate Esteban Ocon.read more
Four races. That is all that remains of the 2016 Formula One Championship: USA, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. For Nico Rosberg, he will be hoping for more of the same after his win in Japan a fortnight ago. Apologies for not posting on that race previously, I was suffering from a bad illness. I will now provide a brief review of the Japanese race.
Last time out: Japanese Grand Prix
If Nico Rosberg was anything but controlled in Malaysia, he was more than in control in Japan as he dominated the weekend. The weekend started as he meant to go on by finishing top of the timesheets in all three practice sessions while Renault getting both of their drivers into the top 10 in Third Practice proved to be a surprise.read more
Formula One enters the closing stages of the 2016 season with four races in October before the season concludes with Brazil and Abu Dhabi in November. First up was the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit just outside of Kuala Lumpur for the 18th time and the 16th round of the 2016 championship!
The race for the World Championship took an intriguing turn last time out in Singapore. Lewis Hamilton went into the Grand Prix with a 2 point championship lead over his title rival and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. He left Singapore, 8 points adrift as having qualified in pole position and then controlled the race, Rosberg took his 8th win of the season. Hamilton on the other hand, never really seemed to get going and finished 3rd. Rosberg’s victory was not a forgone conclusion as Daniel Ricciardo battled him hard to finisdh within half a second of the Mercedes. The win gave Rosberg 273 points in the Driver’s championship while Hamilton’s fortunate 3rd place finish put him on 265. In third place is Daniel Ricciardo on 179 points and 26 points ahead of the best Ferrari in the standings. The Constructors Championship was Mercedes’ for the taking in Malaysia having stretched their lead to 222 points on 538. Although the result is below, more detailed information on the Singapore Grand Prix weekend can be found here.read more
F1 certainly came back with a bang! The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend had controversy, turn 1 chaos, safety cars a red flag and much more as the weekend delivered a worth spectacle. The only thing that was missing was the unpredictable weather of Spa but then again; maybe raining at one part of the circuit and bone dry at the other is too predictable for Spa as last weekend the track temperatures were unusually hot.
Nico Rosberg won the incident filled race from pole position uninterrupted from start to finish despite the chaos ensuing behind him. He did all he could do last weekend to hurt his team mates Championship lead. However, the chaos and mayhem bringing out the safety car twice helped Lewis hamilton to score a podium finish having started 21st after serving a 55 place grid penalty for new engine parts which most people in F1 knew were coming at some point. The result meant Hamilton retained his Championship lead albeit having been reduced to 9 points. While Max Verstappen was accused of dangerous driving and causing mayhem; team mate Daniel Ricciardo went about his work quietly to finish 2nd for the second in time in as many races. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished 4th and 5th to give Force India 4th in the constructors Championship; leapfrogging Williams who caused some controversy of their own having used team orders to ensure Valtteri Bottas finished ahead of veteran Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso finished an incredible 7th to help McLaren take 6th place in the Constructors from Torro Rosso having started the race plum last. Meanwhile, Kevin Magnusson suffered the most notable incident having lost control of his Renault at the top of Eau Rouge bringing doubts over his participation this weekend.read more
It has been a long 4 weeks hasn’t it? The football season has started up again, the Olympics in Rio have come and gone; Team GB came back with 67 medals and the UK is still no nearer to leaving the EU. However, F1 is back! The drivers have had their summer holidays in which Kimi Raikkonen got married, Nico Rosberg spent time with his dogs, Lewis Hamilton took a trip round the Caribbean, Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo met up in the US while Fernando Alonso trained at Palm Springs in California.. They’ve had their fun and it is time for them to get back down to business for the final 9 races of the 2016 season. It’s time to get back in the car, extract the maximum from it, fight for points, pole position, podiums wins and championship position. For some it will be glory or pride’s sake, for others it will be about saving their F1 career.