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Monday, May 16, 2016

Magnificent Victory in Spain Defines Verstappen's Red Bull Debut

Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA



Fans in Spain were treated to one of the most unusual and suspenseful Grand Prix of the young 2016 Formula 1 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The aftermath of 66 laps at the 4.655-kilometer track has seen a first-time winner emerge. Racing in his 24th Formula 1 grand prix, Max Verstappen achieved an impressive win in his debut with the Red Bull Racing team. Transitioning from the Scuderia Toro Rosso race team to Red Bull Racing, Verstappen's success came in his first competitive weekend, the 18-year-old Dutch driver swap rides with Daniil Kvyat.

The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix will be known for both Max Verstappen's triumphant and for a spectacular incident that resulted in no Mercedes AMG cars being around for the race's finish. After winning the opening four rounds of the season, Nico Rosberg's first loss in 2016 and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton's retirement were related to an early race collision.

Hamilton started on pole with Rosberg beside him but was passed by his teammate through turn one. As the field exited turn three, Lewis Hamilton rapidly closed on the Rosberg's car (it was later discovered the #6 car of Rosberg was running in a wrong engine mode). As Hamilton motioned to pass for lead, the #6 car dived to block the advance by the #44 machine out of turn three. The slower car of Rosberg and Hamilton's faster car collided resulting in a crash taking out both Mercedes AMG vehicles. "The gap was there and, if you’re a racing driver, you go for that gap." said Lewis Hamilton following the incident. Both drivers have expressed remorse for the effect their collision had on the team. A very rare scoreless grand prix in Spain for the Silver Arrows, the last race where neither race car campaigned by Mercedes AMG finished within the points was at the 2013 United States Grand Prix.


Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

A strong day overall for the Red Bull Racing team, the early part of the Spanish Grand Prix saw Australian Daniel Ricciardo leading the first 28 laps. A contender early, Red Bull Racing decided to place Ricciardo on a three-stop strategy as opposed to the two-stop plan exercised for Max Verstappen's car. The intended three-stop strategy would ultimately become a four pit stop race for Ricciardo's vehicle as a late race tire puncture resulting in the inability for Red Bull to position both cars on the podium. Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and expressed displeasure after the Spanish Grand Prix on the pit stop plans that differed from Verstappen.  

Max Verstappen's path to the finish line was closely followed by the two Scuderia Ferrari team cars. Kimi Raikkonen challenged the Red Bull drivers in a match where a seasoned veteran and former Formula 1 world champion tried to find a way around who could possibly be the sport's youngest grand prix winner. Entering DRS zone in the late laps, there wasn't enough the Ferrari driver could do to deny the record-setting youngster in the Red Bull powered by a Tag Heuer badged Renault engine. Finishing the race with just a 0.616-second margin over Raikkonen, Max Verstappen's victory rewarded his new race team with their first win since 2013 (before Verstappen had arrived in Formula 1).

As Red Bull Racing was able to score a massive amount of points for the constructor's championship, the team remains in third place thanks to the double-podium result for the team placed in second place in the standings. Ferrari welcomed Kimi Raikkonen across the across the line in the runner-up spot who is now in second place in the driver's points following the first-lap retirement of Lewis Hamilton. 5.581 seconds behind the winner, Sebastian Vettel collected third-place resulting in Ferrari's first double-podium finish of the season. Prior to the completion of this race, Vettel's 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix victory was Red Bull Racing's last victory.


Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA



Crossing the line after Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull-Tag Heuer machine was Valtteri Bottas highest-positioned Mercedes-Benz powered car finished fifth for Williams Martini Racing. Bottas' teammate Felipe Massa surged from an 18th place starting spot to claim 8th place after 66 laps in Spain. With the demise of the Mercedes AMG race cars, the Williams Martini Racing drivers Bottas and Massa now enjoy the distinction of collecting points in every race so far this season.

Scuderia Toro Rosso is the last remaining team leaving the Spanish Grand Prix with a both cars scoring points. Carlos Sainz Jr achieved his season-best finish with the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso machine while Daniil Kvyat first race back at the team he started his Formula 1 career resulted in 10th place. Sainz finished ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez while Kvyat followed the Honda-powered McLaren of Jenson Button to the chequered flag.

Just outside of the points, honourable mention is due for Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez. At the beginning of the race weekend in Spain, Gutierrez mentioned how team issues with Haas F1 Team have been effecting the way he has been perceived in the first races of the 2016 season. Since his teammate Romain Grosjean has posted three finishes in the points during the first five races with the rookie organization, the comments made by the Mexican Formula 1 driver were criticized. On track this weekend, Gutierrez achieved an 11th place finish.

The next race for the 2016 Formula 1 schedule is set for the streets of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix. Planned for May 29th, the Monaco Grand Prix is the first race part of a day of racing that includes the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.


2016 Formula 1
Spanish Grand Prix
Race Results



Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
6 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
9 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
10 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
12 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
13 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
14 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
16 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
17 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz
18 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
19 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
20 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
21 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
22 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hamilton Edges Out White-Hot Teammate for Spanish Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA

The opening Formula 1 round on the European continent for 2016, the Spanish Grand Prix is the 5th race on a tour dominated by Mercedes AMG driver Nico Rosberg. All four races so far in this 2016 season saw the German driver take the top spot on the podium and has resulted in an sizeable early lead in the overall points championship battle. No one more than teammate Lewis Hamilton would like a chance to unseat Rosberg from the throne of Formula 1.

In qualifying at the 4.655-kilometer Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was a tight battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg through all three timed sessions. Ultimately, a lap time of exactly 1 minute and 22 seconds recorded by Hamilton proved enough to take pole position for Sunday. The three-time and reigning Formula 1 champion's best time was 0.280 seconds quicker than his fellow Mercedes AMG competitor. Hamilton's third pole of the 2016 season, this qualifying outing followed two consecutive events where power unit problems caused difficulty for the #44 machine.  

The Spanish Grand Prix is the first race where the effects of a highly-publicized driver swap will be on exhibit. Following a performance at the Russian Grand Prix where Daniil Kvyat's was responsible for a first lap accident, the Red Bull Racing driver's shaky credibility led to him being removed from the TAG Heuer-powered machine. Now occupying the second Red Bull race car is sophomore hot-shoe Max Verstappen who received a promotion from the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, Kvyat was reassigned to the Toro Rosso; the Red Bull Racing affiliate team where he started his Formula 1 career in 2014.

On the time sheet in qualifying in Spain, Verstappen has appeared to pass the first step in climbing to the four-time constructor championship-winning operation with flying colours. Starting fourth at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the 18-year-old Belgium-born Dutch driver has been suggested as a future superstar in the sport. Max Verstappen's veteran teammate Daniel Ricciardo third place effort in qualifying allows the Red Bull Racing team to fill the second row behind the Mercedes AMG cars.

Driving a Toro Rosso-Ferrari for the first time in 2016, Daniil Kvyat's qualified a respectable 13th. However, Kvyat's new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr bested him on the time chart securing the 8th place starting spot. As a Spaniard, Sainz's home grand prix start sees him placed two positions ahead of fellow countryman and three-time world champion Fernando Alonso. In 10th place, Alonso's last career Formula 1 victory came at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.    

Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel fill the third row of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix starting grid. Raikkonen's 1-minute, 23.113-second lap time was more than two-tenths of a second quicker than Vettel. Valtteri Bottas driving for Williams Martini Racing is well separated from his teammate after qualifying in 7th place on Saturday. Citing traffic, Felipe Massa in the other Williams-Mercedes was unable to log a sufficiently quick lap time to advance beyond Q1 resulting in an 18th place starting position.

The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix is set 66 laps prepared to start at 2:00 pm local time (6:00 am Eastern time).


2016 Formula 1
Spanish Grand Prix
Starting Grid

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
6 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
13 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
16 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
17 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
18 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
20 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
21 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
22 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Four-For-Four: Rosberg Conquers Russian Grand Prix in Perfect Season Start

Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA


In the first two grand prix events held at the Sochi Autodrom, the late season placement in the Formula 1 schedule meant the race served as a locale where the final statements of a season's worth of effort was filed. Repositioned to the early part of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the Russian Grand Prix weekend as the fourth race on the calender meant the teams arrived in Sochi with less understanding on their performance abilities. After events of the first three races in the 2016 season, this year's outing in Russia on the 19-turn, 5.853-kilometer track was 53 laps of increased uncertainty.

Last year, Lewis Hamilton's win at the Russian Grand Prix was a near-decisive victory for his third championship. Hamilton would later win the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas to official claim the 2015 World Drivers' Championship. Since winning the title, Hamilton has been struggling while his Mercedes AMG teammate Nico Rosberg has been on an all-time career high. Winning the last three races of 2015, Rosberg has also claimed victories in the first three events of 2016. Taking the pole at the Russian Grand Prix for a second-straight season, Rosberg was intent to explore better luck than a lap 7 retirement suffered at last year's Russian Grand Prix.


Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA



Accepting the 2016 Russian Grand Prix a new possibility for victory, the Mercedes AMG race car in the hands of Nico Rosberg took full advantage of the start to position the Williams-Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in his rear-view mirrors. For the second consecutive event, Lewis Hamilton suffered a power unit problem in qualifying. An issue that presented itself in the Q3 session, the unavailable power in meant Hamilton started 10th. Through a well-executed start, the reigning world champion had climbed to 5th place.

Not every driver experienced the fortune that found the #44 Mercedes AMG car. In fact, a chaotic opening launch claimed three cars even before they could complete a single lap. The Manor-Mercedes of Rio Haryanto, the Force India-Mercedes of Nico Hulkenberg and most notably Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari experienced a very short 2016 Russian Grand Prix. In the case of Vettel, it seemed a five grid position penalty for a gearbox change accrued after Friday practice was extremely costly. At the start, the Ferrari came under immediate attack from the Red Bull Racing machine of Daniil Kvyat. As the Russia native fought to present a strong showing in front of his home country fans, his ambitions led to two rear collisions on Vettel's Ferrari resulting in the red car's race ending the wall. Ruled at-fault for the incident, Kyvat was assessed a 10-second stop and hold penalty in the race on lap 8. The wild start to the Russian Grand Prix led the safety car to be called onto the track for several laps.  


Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA



Shortly after the safety car returned to pit lane, the leading Mercedes AMG pulled off to a vast lead before the first pit stop. As the race progressed, the one-stop strategy Pirelli predicted was undertaken by the majority of the field. Rosberg pitted on lap 21 and eventually ended up with a 12-second lead. The second place position would change as a hard-charging Lewis Hamilton soared by the Williams-Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas under DRS after his pit stop and before the midway point of the 53-lap event. Though Hamilton was able to initially close-in on his teammate, the interval widened as Rosberg soon bettered his own pace.


Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG



At the end of 53 laps, a comfortable 25.022-second lead gave Nico Rosberg the confidence of claiming his fourth win in the four grand prix races of 2016. Other drivers who has started a Formula 1 season by winning the first four races include Ayrton Senna in 1991, Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Michael Schumacher in 1994 as well as in 2004. In every one of those examples, the driver has gone on the win the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship. Although the 2016 season is still young, the German has compiled 100 points and outranks second place in the season's standings by 43 points.

Runner-up in the race after a masterful recovery, Lewis Hamilton being overshadowed by his teammate has been a change following recent past seasons. The contentiousness of the Mercedes AMG drivers is certain to carry through in 2016. Even Rosberg recognizes Hamilton is likely to be force as this Formula 1 season continues.

While one Ferrari SF16-H was forced out early in the Russian Grand Prix, the second team car posted a competitive effort with a podium finish. Crossing the finish line a little under 7 seconds after Lewis Hamilton, Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen posted has recorded two podium results in the three races following his fiery end at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Williams Martini Racing claimed the two highest non-podium positions at the end of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas in fourth place leading Felipe Massa who finished fifth. So far this season, the Williams Martini Racing drivers have achieved one impressive feat that allows them to hold the same begging rights as the Mercedes AMG drivers. In the first four races, Bottas and Massa have collected points in every grand prix outing.

The top-10 results for the Russian Grand Prix saw some striving Formula 1 race teams posting great finishes. Scoreless in the constructor standing entering Russia, McLaren left with a double-point scoring result as Fernando Alonso brought his Honda-powered MP4-31 car across to the chequered flag sixth while Jenson Button fought to grab the race's final point in 10th place. In 7th place, the Renault Sport Formula One Team formed from the remnants of last year's Lotus F1 Team took a monumental first set of points. Team veteran Kevin Magnussen claimed his first Formula 1 points since Brazil of 2014 when he drove for McLaren. Sergio Perez took ninth place after 53 laps also collecting his first point-scoring finish for 2016.

In eighth place, Romain Grosjean continues a miraculous 2016 Formula 1 with a race team that was built largely from stretch. The Ferrari-engined race car of the Haas F1 Team wheeled by Grosjean has scored points in three of the first four grand prix events. Haas F1 Team is currently ranked in fifth place in the Constructors' Standings currently ahead Toro Rosso and McLaren in the point tally

For the first time since last season's Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing has left a grand prix without scoring points. A dubious result that has only happened a total of four times since the start of the 2011 season, the both Red Bull-TAG Heuer cars had a poor result in Russia despite encouraging starting positions. While Daniil Kvyat's early race drama ultimately led to his 15th place result, Daniel Ricciardo's also sustained damage in the opening lap. Both Red Bull Racing cars operated on a two-stop strategy that failed to provide the team with the edge to claim a top-10 result. To Kvyat's credit, he did take full responsibility for the rough start and apologized.

The next race on the 2016 Formula 1 tour is the first race on Europe continent. The Spanish Grand Prix is scheduled for May 16th on the Circuit de Catalunya.


2016 Formula 1
Russian Grand Prix
Race Results

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
6 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
7 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
8 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
12 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
13 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
14 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
15 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull TAG Heuer
16 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
17 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
18 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
19 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
20 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
21 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
22 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz