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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spanish Formula 1 Qualifying Tips Advantage to Rosberg



The fifth event of the 2015 season, the Spanish Grand Prix is celebrated as the beginning of Formula 1's traditional run. With Mercedes AMG continuing to be the gold standard of the Formula 1 field, Barcelona welcomes a slightly more competitive group of race cars. Ferrari with driver Sebastian Vettel broke through to spoil an attempt at early season dominance winning in Malaysia. A focused Williams team is also present in 2015 at the start of Formula 1's European tour. 

In preparation for qualifying at the 14-turn 4.655-kilometer Circuit de Catalunya, Mercedes AMG set the top time in all three practice sessions. Three-time winner Lewis Hamilton was upstaged in two of the three warm-ups heading into the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. In the Q1 grouping, Hamilton sent a message to his teammate posting a top time 1-minute, 26.382 seconds to exit the segment in the lead. However, in the following two sessions, Nico Rosberg and his Mercedes AMG F1 W06 Hybrid proved too fast for the reigning World Driver's Champion to eclipse. Rosberg's final Q3 session lap time was 1-minute, 24.681 seconds. Lewis Hamilton speed was enough to place his race car in the under 1-minute, 25-second territory but was 0.267 seconds slower than his German teammate. With the pole position for Nico Rosberg, Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix will be the first race of 2015 not to have Hamilton in the prime starting spot.

Third fastest with a time that lacked 0.777 seconds off the mark of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are still optimistically placed for the Spanish Grand Prix. Before the win this season, the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix was Ferrari's last win with Fernando Alonso wheeling a F138 chassis. Starting alongside Vettel on the second row Sunday will be the Williams-Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Both Vettel and Bottas out-qualified their teammate that still left qualifying with top-10 starting spots.

In the third row for the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix is the young guns of Toro Rosso. Impressing on his home track, Carlos Sainz Jr. was more than a tenth of a second faster than his teammate Max Verstappen. The combined effort of the so-called junior team to Red Bull Racing overshadowed their parent company. For the first time this season, the Red Bull-Renault Daniil Kvyat will start eighth place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who is starting tenth.

For some Formula 1 teams, the Spanish Grand Prix marking the start of the European calendar has presented a renewed sense of hope after difficulties in the first races of 2015. For no other team have the struggles of 2015 been more apparent than with the McLaren Honda organization. Despite a team with two World Championship-wining drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso as well as an over 50-year-old kinship to the sport, McLaren Honda has been fighting an uphill battle to escape Q1 in qualifying in the opening four rounds of the 2015 Formula 1 season. On the Circuit de Catalunya, the team's faithful have witnessed first hand improvements in the efforts of McLaren and its new Honda hybrid powerplant. Both team cars broke into the Q2 segment resulting in a 13th place for Alonso and a 14th start for Button.

The Spanish Grand Prix is set for start at 8:00am eastern time.


2015 Formula 1

Spanish Grand Prix

Qualifying Results


Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine





1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
5 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
6 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
8 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
11 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
13 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
16 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
17 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
18 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
19 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
20 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari

Monday, March 30, 2015

Vettel and Ferrari Outsmarts Mercedes for Malaysian Grand Prix Victory

Photo Credit: Ferrari

The domination of the Mercedes AMG team during the 2014 Formula 1 season derailed the momentum of two established names in the sport. After four-consecutive years of championship success with Red Bull Racing, Sebastian Vettel's string of luck was trimmed. While his 2014 Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo found victory lane three times, Vettel's best effort was a second in Singapore. In another 2014 Formula 1 paddock, Scuderia Ferrari went winless through the entire 19-race schedule (the first time since 1993 that happened to the Italian team. Joining forces for the 2015 season, expectations were high as many observers believed the Ferrari/Vettel pairing could become a new Formula 1 dynasty. In only the second race of the season, the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, this partnership obtained its first major objective.

After Saturday's qualifying in deteriorating conditions, Lewis Hamilton maintained a long-standing stranglehold of the pole position for Mercedes-Benz dating back to the Australia Grand Prix in 2014. However, the feat was also spoiled by an emerging threat to Mercedes AMG. Ferrari and the SF15-T race car appears to be to most viable challenger the Silver Arrows in the early part of the 2015. Barely missing the pole, Sebastian Vettel would also be beaten on the standing start by Hamilton's Mercedes-AMG car. Just as Lewis Hamilton was preparing to orchestrate another potentially masterful victory with a superior race machine, the Malaysian Grand Prix was completely reshaped. In lap 4, safety car period was called when Marcus Ericsson spun-out in turn one and buried the rear wheels of his Sauber-Ferrari in a safety trap. Bringing the field together, a crucial strategy decided the outcome of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

As the safety car lapped the Sepang International Circuit, a majority of Formula 1 teams chose to pit including the race leader Lewis Hamilton, his teammate Nico Rosberg as well as the Red Bull Racing and Williams Martini Racing cars. While most of the front-running cars pitted, one contender remained on-track. Scuderia Ferrari kept their #5 car driven by Sebastian Vettel out on the race track. Joined by a handful of other drivers such as Lotus' Romain Grosjean and the pair of Force India vehicles, Vettel inherited the top spot in the race when the safety car pulled off the track on lap 7.

Compared to the Australian Grand Prix, the non-finisher list was considerably smaller. Among the most notable retirees were the McLaren Honda race cars. In their second showing with the all-new Honda powerplant, the McLaren machines struggled for speed through the entire Malaysia Formula 1 race weekend. Making a momentous return to competition, Fernando Alonso's first outing with McLaren Honda was cut short after 21 laps. 20 laps later, Jenson Button was forced to park his car in the team's garage. The retirement of Alonso's car was associated with a ERS cooling issue while Button's problem was associated with a turbocharger. The 2015 season may be a long period of work for the McLaren Honda organization.




Photo Credit: ©FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO/ Pirelli


While only five cars failed to cross the start/finish line at the Sepang International Circuit, there were several close calls that risked expanding the retirement list. One incident involved an on-track battle between the Red Bull Racing drivers of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat as well as a Force India-Mercedes piloted by Nico Hulkenberg. On lap 26, the dicing among the trio resulted in Kvyat spinning when he and Hulkenberg made contact in turn 2. Hulkenberg was assessed a 10-second penalty for the incident. Shortly after the Red Bull-Renault's spin involving a Force India, Hulkenberg's teammate Sergio Perez made contact with the Lotus-Mercedes of Romain Grosjean. Like Kvyat, Grosjean spun out but dramatically recollected his race car and continued racing. By lap 36, both Force India cars were given 10-second penalties. From the Force India team's official Twitter account, they remarked to the ruling with the following tweet: 


After the 56-lap distance of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel became the 38th different driver to win a Formula 1 race driving for Scuderia Ferrari. The win was the first grand prix victory for the team his the Spanish Grand Prix in 2013 and Vettel's first since the Brazilian Grand Prix of that same year. His first win with Scuderia Ferrari, this victory was Sebastian Vettel's second coming from Ferrari power. Vettel debut win at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix came behind the wheel of a Toro Rosso powered by a Ferrari engine.

Adopting a two-stop strategy, the key to victory for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari was the ability to carefully manage their Pirelli slick tires. Mercedes AMG team cars, leaving the Sepang International Circuit with their eight-race winning streak broken, operated on a three-stop plan finished second and third. Finishing 8.569 seconds behind Vettel, Lewis Hamilton finished more than 3.7 seconds ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg.


Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG


Despite a cut tire early in the grand prix, Kimi Raikkonen persevered to finish strong in the second Ferrari. Using some short-pitting, Raikkonen maintained a steady advantage to hold on to fourth place. The effort ties the Finnish driver's best result since returning to the Ferrari team in 2014.

In fifth and sixth place, the Williams Martini Racing team had an admirable day. Kept out of the car due to back problems in Australia, Valtteri Bottas' first grand prix of the year was a fifth place result ahead of the second Williams-Mercedes of Felipe Massa. Similar to the Williams team, Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing had both team cars finish in order. Formula 1 rookie drivers Max Verstappen as well as Carlos Sainz Jr took the checkered flag in seventh and eighth. The mother team to Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing was led by Daniil Kvyat who recovered for a ninth place result. Daniel Ricciardo's race was disrupted early with a rear braking issue but still finished in the 10th place spot capturing the final point-paying position in Malaysia.

The last car to finish the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix was the Manor Marussia F1 Team's entry driven by Roberto Merhi. Following the embarrassment the organization brought to themselves in Australia, a 15th place finish for the Ferrari-powered race car was a noble effort.

Next race for the 2015 Formula 1 schedule is set for April 12th at the Shanghai International Circuit hosting the Chinese Grand Prix.

2015 Formula 1

Malaysian Grand Prix

Race Results



Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine





1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
7 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
9 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
11 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
12 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
15 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari
16 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
17 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
18 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
20 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hamilton Endures Soaking to Claim Pole in Malaysia

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The opening race for the 2015 Formula 1 series two weeks ago saw the Mercedes AMG team continuing on the path of domination they established in 2014. The 2015 Australian Grand Prix featured the Mercedes AMG's W06 Hybrid race cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg handily fended off 2015 challengers. However, their near-flawless performance in qualifying and on race day in the Albert Park track may have been magnified by miscellaneous incidents that resulted in an 18-car starting field deteriorating to 11 finishers. Arriving for the second race in Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit, every Formula 1 team will be critically tested against their efforts in Australia.

While practices on Friday and Saturday for the Malaysian Grand Prix continued to present the familiar sight of Mercedes AMG cars at the front, their presence at the top of the time charts was a runaway. Following-up on impressive race pace in Australia, the Ferrari squad were consistently within a second of the top Mercedes AMG driver's top practice session time. In the first practice, Nico Rosberg was hounded by Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in their second and third-fastest Ferraris. For qualifying, the Silver Arrows faced its first real pressing opposition on-track arriving from the Prancing Horse brand.

Starting in dry conditions, qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix was affected by a fast-moving storm. While Q1 allowed teams to run on slick Pirelli tires, heavy rain flooded the 5.543-kilometer track in the early part of Q2. Resulting in just a few minutes for drivers to post a quick time to advance in the top-10 for the final qualifying session, the dry track was crowded for Q2 resulting in Q1's fastest driver Lewis Hamilton only able to muster an eighth-place time. While Hamilton was still able to gain entry into Q3, the same was not the case for Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen who missed making the final session with an 11th fastest time.

After a brief delay, the Q3 qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton recovered to take the pole for Sunday's race. On wet weather tires, Hamilton's Mercedes AMG posted a 1-minute, 49.834-second lap time to stand at the top of the charts. Stretching the streak of Mercedes-Benz engine poles in Formula 1 to 21 grand prix events, this occasion at the Sepang International Circuit almost saw a new powerplant leading the field to Sunday's race start. Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari was only 0.074 seconds off the time of the lead Mercedes AMG car. One of Vettel's better qualifying efforts since his last championship-winning season in 2013, the Ferrari SF-15 T race car is showing potential during this initial point of the season of legitimately contending against current Mercedes-Benz guard of Formula 1.

Nico Rosberg qualified third for the Malaysian Grand Prix and will start alongside the Red Bull-Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. A little over half a second off Ricciardo's time, Russian teammate Daniil Kvyat is starting beside Max Verstappen driving for Toro Rosso (Kvyat's race team in 2014). A little off from their performance in Australia, the Williams-Mercedes cars were still successful in making the top-10. Felipe Massa will start seventh on Sunday while Valterri Bottas is starting eighth. Originally qualifying in eighth place, Romain Grosjean was required to start in tenth place due to a post-qualifying procedural penalty for the way he entered pit lane.

Triumphantly returning to Formula 1 competition after a crash in pre-season testing, Fernando Alonso officially starts his first race back with the McLaren team. While Alonso's presence was welcomed, the performance from the McLaren-Honda race car is far from celebrated in qualifying. Both eliminated in Q1, the machines of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were more than 2.3 seconds slower than the top time in the first session. Only the Manor Marussia F1 Team entrants were slower than the McLaren Honda team.

After creating controversy in Australia for not even registering a qualifying lap, Manor Marussia F1 Team was ordered to pay their travel expenses for the first race as it appeared the team had no intentions to compete. The organization returned to the paddock in Malaysia expected to prove they were serious about making a best effort in racing. Though the Manor Marussia-Ferraris were at the bottom of the time sheets on all three practice sessions as well as qualifying, Formula 1 stewards have allowed drivers Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens to run in Sunday's race.

With a 20-car field, the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix is set for 3 pm local time or 3 am eastern daylight time.

2015 Formula 1

Malaysian Grand Prix

Starting Grid


Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine





1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
5 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
6 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
7 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
9 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
10 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
11 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
15 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
16 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
17 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
18 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
19 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari
20 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari