Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Evolution Described as Driving Force with the 2015 Sahara Force India VJM08

Photo Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

Entering its eighth season in Formula 1, Sahara Force India is still chasing its maiden grand prix victory. After a fair and consistent 2014 season topped by driver Sergio Perez claiming third place in the Chinese Grand Prix, the race organization scored points in all but two events on the calendar. Entering 2015, a mix of old and new will shape the Indian-owned team. The Sahara Force India team is one of only three Formula 1 teams returning to 2015 with the same primary driver line-up as the previous season with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. Remaining powered by Mercedes-Benz customer engines (an arrangement in place since 2009), the team acknowledges new sponsors with a redesigned vehicle featuring a new look.

A car called the VJM08, the 2015 Formula 1 challenger from Sahara Force India was created by what the team said was, "evolution rather than revolution". The Force India VJM08's most visible difference over 2014 is the reshaped and lowered front section. The top surface of the nose sports a smooth shape that runs beyond the front wing. “It is a redesign that involved a lot of work over the winter, as the new regulations caused a loss in terms of downforce and we’ve been working to claw back all that performance.” said the team's Technical Director Andrew Green. The new VJM08 also incorporates revised air openings and a completely new electro-hydraulic rear suspension system replacing torsion springs.

What will be the most eye-catching change to the Sahara Force India race machine for 2015 is noted on the body panels. Green and white vanishes from the livery for the Sahara Force India team for 2015. Predominance of black (introduced in 2014) is joined by an all-new silver supporting colour. Orange accent striping splitting the black/silver paint scheme is also present on the VJM08. Royal Challenge, Kingfisher, Smirnoff and United Spirits are returning sponsors with the Sahara Force India team for 2015. Newcomers funding the team includes motor oil company Quaker State, tequila brand Jose Cuervo and Latin American insurance company Inter.

The 2015 Sahara Force India Formula 1 race car will make its on-track debut in Barcelona next month.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hamilton Triumphs Over Rosberg for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and 2014 Championship Victory

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The last race of a 19-race tour started in mid-March in Australia, a 20-car field of advanced gasoline/electric hybrid Formula 1 race vehicles sat on the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. During 18 races, the clean slate that drivers and teams entered 2014 filled up in the favour of Mercedes AMG. Winning 15 races before arriving in the United Arab Emirates, Lewis Hamilton's late-season roll has permitted him to stand 17 pounds ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. With the championship on the line thanks to double points being awarded for the final grand prix of 2014, Rosberg charged to the pole on Saturday with no plans of letting the title slip away. Only 55 laps remained to decide which one of the Mercedes AMG teammates would be crowned the 2014 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship.

Right from the time the lights went out to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton set out to do everything he needed to go to lock up the 2014 championship. Hamilton seize a poor start by the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG race car to gain the lead right off the bat. By the second lap, Hamilton held a 1.4-second advantage ahead of Rosberg.

Behind the Mercedes AMG cars, the final start of the 2014 Formula 1 season did not go without incident. Realistically driving for his job with McLaren in 2015, Kevin Magnussen made contact with both Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil on lap 1 of the race. By closer examination by the race stewards, it was ruled that Hulkenberg was at-fault for forcing Magnussen's McLaren off the track. Kevin Magnussen continued to the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was unable to score points. Despite a five-second penalty levied against him, Nico Hulkenberg brought his Force India-Mercedes across the line in sixth place.

Photo credit: Pirelli Photo Service

A race starting late in the afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit, natural light from a boiling sun lessened on the 5.554-kilometer track. With much of the field starting on Pirelli supersoft slick tires, pit stops came early for the Mercedes AMG cars with Hamilton in on lap 10 and Rosberg pitting on lap 11. Felipe Massa was able to lead the grand prix briefly until he pitted on lap 14. Lewis Hamilton regained the lead with a 2.3-second interval on Nico Rosberg as the two Mercedes AMG cars lapped at the top of the field.

While Lewis Hamilton appeared to be maintaining the upper hand on his teammate by the time the race was reaching half distance, the championship challenge attempt of Nico Rosberg lost momentum (literally). Around lap 24 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG race car of Rosberg was lapping the Yas Marina Circuit slower. Through telemetry, the team realized the lost pace on track was the result of the Energy Recovery System (ERS) failing. Typically resulting in over 150 horsepower from the integrated gasoline/electric powertrain of the Mercedes AMG W05 Hybrid race car, Rosberg quickly lost ground with Hamilton and was caught and passed by Felipe Massa on lap 27. Running slower than the pace of the leaders, Rosberg backslid through the field. Through the mechanical gremlins biting the car of Rosberg, the 2014 championship because Hamilton's. Showing the poise of a champion, Rosberg would heroically finish the race in his wounded race machine in 14th place.

Without having to even finish the race the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Nico Rosberg dropped down the running order, Lewis Hamilton was by no means willing to quit. Maintaining the pace he showed all this season, Hamilton concluded the 2014 season crossing the finish line at the Yas Marina Circuit first. Collecting his 11th win for the year, the newly-crowned two-time Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion Lewis Hamilton tied himself with the second-most in a season with Michael Schumacher in 2002 and Sebastian Vettel in 2011. When Hamilton won his first championship in 2008, he captured only five grand prix victories.

Driving for the modern Silver Arrows, Hamilton's win marks the first drivers' title for a full-fledged Mercedes-Benz factory Formula 1 driver since Juan Manuel Fangio's 1955 championship. Following the event, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Dr. Dieter Zetsche said in a statement from the German automaker, “He has truly earned that title with a fantastic performance this year. At the same time, I would also like to congratulate his team-mate Nico Rosberg and all of our staff in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart on this fascinating and highly successful season.". On the Mercedes AMG team's website, Lewis Hamilton was recorded saying he felt ".. a bit lost for words really".

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Capturing two spots on the podium, the Williams Martini Racing organization finishes off what has been a productive 2014 season. A season-best grand prix result for Felipe Massa, he leapfrogged his teammate Valtteri Bottas early in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and stayed ahead for the checkered flag. Finishing within 2.5 seconds of the factory team, the customer Mercedes-Benz engine inside the Williams of Massa got close to Hamilton at the end. "It was good to be racing and pushing the Mercedes. I hope this is a strong building block to go on for next year. The team progressed so much throughout the year, which is why we were able to get podiums in the second half of the season; we will continue this forward movement into next year." said Felipe Massa in a team release. Posting more consistent results in 2014, Bottas claims a higher position in the overall drivers' standings after 19 races. In fourth place, Valtteri Bottas is the highest placed non-winner in the points launching over Sebastian Vettel thanks to the double points headed out at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With six Mercedes-Benz powered cars finishing in the top-10 after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, many of customer teams performed well in the season finale. Besides the already-mentioned Williams team, Jenson Button took fifth place with a McLaren-Mercedes in what was the last race where the team and engine supplier will be together. With both cars finishing in the points, Force India posted a total of 28 points as Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and Sergio Perez crossed the line in seventh.

With qualifying times excluded due to a rules infraction on their Red Bull-Renault race cars, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel ended the 55-lap distance inside the top-10. In fact, Ricciardo finished in fourth place, 8.3 seconds behind third place. Vettel finished in eighth place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix driving his Red Bull-Renault. Finishing 2014 fifth overall in the drivers' standings for 2014, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing ends the season much differentially than 2013. Already announced as leaving Red Bull Racing after capturing four world drivers' championships in a row with the outfit, Vettel's new home in Formula 1 should be confirmed soon. Strongest rumours indicate the German will be driving a Ferrari next season.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

The Red Bull Racing cars existed as the only Renault-powered competitors to score points at Abu Dhabi. Jean-Eric Vergne driving for Toro Rosso finished 12th while Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean crossed the line 13th, one lap down. The Caterham car driven by Will Stevens in his first-ever Formula 1 race went the whole distance of the event to finish 17th but the teammate driver of Kamui Kobayashi retired due to a bad vibration. Renault's showing in the final race was also embarrassed by a reported electronic problem on the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and a fiery eruption of the powerplant on the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.

In the final two point-paying positions, the red Ferrari race cars with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen allowed the Italian team to capture fourth in the constructors' points. Along with Vettel, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked the final race that Fernando Alonso would run with Ferrari. Finishing 2nd overall on three occasions, Alonso's time at Ferrari was fruitful but concluded without the ultimate goal the driver/team pairing had wanted.

After 19 races, the 2014 Formula 1 season concludes with a fantastic show of dominance by the Mercedes AMG team and another championship for Lewis Hamilton. With the 2015 season four months away, the victors will possibly spare themselves a little time to celebrate their success this season before turning attention to next year.

2014 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
5 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
9 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
11 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
13 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
14 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
16 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
17 46 Will Stevens Caterham Renault
18 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
19 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
20 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rosberg Takes Pole Ahead of Championship Deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

After 18 races, all that remains in the 2014 Formula 1 season is one last event. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix contains the final 55 laps for that will complete a season where Mercedes AMG launched themselves into a season where they have won all but three races and locked up the 2014 Constructors' title. Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg suit up this weekend knowing one of them will be the season's champion. Hamilton holds a 17-point edge over Rosberg preparing for competition at the Yas Marina Circuit.

In Saturday's qualifying for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton immediately made no secret that he wanted to be in prime position to capture his second world champion driving title. After the first two rounds of qualifying, Hamilton's Mercedes AMG race machine was at the top of the time sheet in lapping the 21-turn, 5.554-kilometer track. However, in the final Q3 session, it was Nico Rosberg who prevailed in capturing the pole. Rosberg's Mercedes AMG car completed a lap at 1-minute, 40.480 seconds to claim the top spot for Sunday's race. Outrunning his teammate by 0.386 seconds, the Rosberg will start with his championship rival on the front row.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

With a gap of 17 points existing between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg plus double points being awarded with the results of the final grand prix round of 2014, Hamilton wins the championship if he finishes ahead of Rosberg. If the Mercedes AMG drivers remain in their starting positions after the 55 laps of the Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton will be crowned champion by a three-point gap. Rosberg can be crowned the 2014 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship if Hamilton finishes in third place or lower provided the German wins the race.

As a familiar trend in 2014, the second-best group in qualifying was the Williams Martini Racing team. Both Williams-Mercedes cars occupy the two row of the starting grid at Abu Dhabi. Valtteri Bottas was almost a tenth of a second quicker than Felipe Massa. Winless this season, the Williams team's performance has been far improved over 2013. Obtaining just 5 manufacturer points last season, the 2014 season has resulted in the Williams organization being placed in third among teams.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/ Pirelli Photo Service

After qualifying, the fifth and sixth place vehicles belonging to Red Bull Racing came to attention of race stewards. Front wing pieces on the Red Bull-Renault race cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were found to have violated rules on flexible bodywork. As a penalty, both drivers will be starting the final race of the year from the back of the grid. Typically, the Red Bull-Renault race cars race pace has been better than their qualifying speeds in 2014 allowing the team to claim second in the constructors' standings.

Penalization of the Red Bull Racing team promotes all the remaining teams and drivers up two positions for the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. First to benefit is the Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat who will be joining the Red Bull squad next season. With uncertain plans for 2015, Jenson Button is start sixth for McLaren. With Button's teammate Kevin Magnussen is starting ninth, Sunday's event will mark McLaren's last race with Mercedes-Benz engine power after 20 consecutive seasons together.

For Mercedes-Benz, Rosberg's pole allows the automaker to lock-up a rare honour of powering every pole winner in qualifying for a Formula 1 season. At but one of those times it was accomplished by the Mercedes AMG group. The Mercedes-Benz hybrid powerplant setup's dominance in 2014 will clearly lead to concerns from the established Renault and Ferrari operations heading into the off-season. The engine performance wildcard is Honda's re-entry in the sport for next year with McLaren.

Facing its first winless Formula 1 season since 1993, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso will start on the fourth row of the grid. Leading into this weekend, Ferrari confirmed that Alonso is not to be part of the 2015 team driver line-up. It is widely speculated that Sebastian Vettel is to be announced as the new Ferrari pilot when this season ends. A Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne will start on the 10th spot for the start of the main event on the Yas Marina Circuit.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/ Pirelli Photo Service

The starting field of the final 2014 Formula 1 race has grown to 20 cars thanks to the return of Caterham F1 Team. Through an online crowdfunding effort, the race team was able to field two cars for Kamui Kobayashi and rookie driver Will Stevens. Stevens make his Formula 1 debut through Caterham after winning the World Series by Renault 3.5 championship in 2014.

The final Formula 1 race of the 2014 season is slated to begin at 5 PM local time (8 AM Eastern time).


2014 Formula 1

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
5 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
8 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
9 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
16 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
17 46 Will Stevens Caterham Renault
18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
19 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
20 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault