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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 Reanult
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



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Rosberg Rolls to Russian Grand Prix Pole Position

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG


Moving from the latter half of the Formula 1 schedule to the fourth event on the race calender for 2016, the 5.853-kilometer circuit hosting the Russian Grand Prix during a budding 21-race season. The first pair of Formula 1 races held at the Sochi Autodrom, the Silver Arrows have struck a bullseye when it comes to finding victory. Lewis Hamilton took the Mercedes AMG team to the inaugural 2014 event and the race last year. Qualifying has also been an all-Mercedes AMG affair with Hamilton claiming the 2014 pole and Nico Rosberg claiming the top spot for 2015.

In qualifying for the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, the Silver Arrows duel again showed supremacy. Posting a track record-setting 1-minute, 35.417-second lap time, Nico Rosberg continued to demonstrate strong early season form that was first formulated late last year. The lap result on his first timed lap in Q3 was more than enough to resist competitors as well as a wheel lock-up on his second lap that resulted in an aborted run. Rosberg will start on pole in an attempt to maintain a perfect win record for 2016. The last driver to win the first four races at the start of a Formula 1 season was accomplished by Michael Schumacher in 2004 on route to his seventh and final World Drivers' Championship.

For the second race in a row, the outing was not a complete success for Mercedes AMG. Once again, defending World Driving Champion Lewis Hamilton has had a time trial cut short due to a power unit problem with his race car. However, compared to the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying, the damage was minimized as the issue only affected the Q3 session,. Second fastest in Q2, the Mercedes AMG of Lewis Hamilton was unable to set a time in the final timed grouping but will start 10th.

While Sebastian Vettel was able to post the second fastest time in Q3 (a time 0.706-second slower than Nico Rosberg), the German will be regulated to 7th place for the Sunday main event due to a gearbox change on Friday. Despite the transmission issue, Vettel and Ferrari appear to be showing some optimism in the early part of the 2016 season. The second Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen will start in third place following the demotion of his teammate.


Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.

The Sochi track has also proven to be a breath of fresh air for the Williams Martini Racing team. The Mercedes-Benz engine powered race cars driven by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas have not been able to build on the team's 2014 effort. In fourth-place in the constructors' standings so far this season with 29 points, both Williams Martini Racing drivers will start close to the front Sunday. Bottas acquires the front row starting spot alongside Nico Rosberg while Massa is positioned directly behind his teammate in 4th place.

Daniel Ricciardo leads the Red Bull Racing squad with a 5th place starting spot. Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull-Tag Heuer machine will launch from 8th place tomorrow. Racing in his home country, the crowd gave a big cheer when the Russian Kvyat succeeded in a late charge to participate in the Q3 run.

The 53-lap Russian Grand Prix is set for 3:00 pm local time (8:00 am in the Eastern time zone). With a weather forecast calling for a dry, sunny and springtime warm Sunday event, Pirelli is anticipating the use of a single pit stop strategy.


2016 Formula 1
Russian Grand Prix
Starting Grid


Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Two Races, Two Wins For Rosberg In 2016 With Bahrain Grand Prix Victory



The 1st of a 21-race long 2016 Formula 1 season calender, last month's Australian Grand Prix provided the initial event for revised vehicles, new driver pairing and updated rules. Following the opening round, the pace of the Mercedes AMG seemed to remain a constant for the third year of the row. While the team appears to maintain its dominance, we're noticing a changing of the guard has been underway deciding the lead archer in the Silver Arrows organization.

Since clinching the world championship last season at the United States Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has been consistently upstaged by teammate Nico Rosberg. Sweeping the final three races of the 2015 season, Rosberg started 2016 off by racing the win down-under. Arriving at the 13-turn, 5.412-kilometer Bahrain International Circuit, a track where Hamilton had won the previous two races, the three-time world champion was looking to cool the fires behind his German teammate. Taking the pole in qualifying, the second race of the season provided Lewis Hamilton the chance to equal himself with Rosberg at the start of this young season.

Before he lights went out to initiate the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, two former Formula 1 World Championships running as regulars on this year's tour were not part of the starting grid. McLaren's Fernando Alonso was forced to the sidelines of this weekend's race due to medical concerns existing from his frightening crash in the Grand Prix of Australia. Substituting for the Spaniard driver in the Honda powered McLaren race car was Stoffel Vandoorne. Additionally, just minutes before the race's start, Sebastian Vettel's chance at a podium went up with smoke. On the warm-up lap, the Ferrari of Vettel suffered a terminal engine issue leaving the third-place starting car unable to contend. Sebastian Vettel was joined by Renault's Jolyon Palmer who was also unable complete a lap on Sunday. Vettel and Alonso combined to post five wins of the previous nine grand prix races in Bahrain.

With two Mercedes AMG race cars sitting on the front row, the five lights at ahead of the start/finish line turned off unleashed the field for 57 laps around the Bahrain International Circuit in a dusk race that transitions rapidly into night time. For a second straight race, Lewis Hamilton failed to launch at the beginning of the race. The so-so start for the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG car was compounded when Valtteri Bottas' Williams-Mercedes (having launched from 6th place into the top-three ahead of the first corner) made contact with Hamilton. While the impact between the two cars left no race-ending damage for either machine, Lewis Hamilton did ultimately fall to seventh place by the first lap. Falling the incident, the Formula 1 stewards issued a penalty to Valtteri Bottas for avoidable contact on lap 9.





Contrary to his teammate's lousy start, Nico Rosberg pulled out to a comfortable lead early in the Bahrain Grand Prix. By the race's 5th lap, Rosberg held a six-second lead over the second place car of Felipe Massa. The second place position in the event was deputed after some early pit stops. The sole remaining Scuderia Ferrari entrant driven by Kimi Raikkonen would pass Massa's Williams-Mercedes car and the Red Bull-TAG Heuer vehicle of Daniel Ricciardo. Felipe Massa would drop out of podium contention early foiling the second best chance for the Williams Martini Racing to grab an early top-3 in the opening of the 2016 season.

Surprising the Formula 1 world two weeks earlier by claiming points in the debut race for the Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean continued to show strength at Bahrain. For a brief period of time, Grosjean took the Ferrari-powered race car to the fourth place position. In just the second race of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the parity of vehicles in the middle of the field have revealed a wide-open competition among the established and new team structures.

Having fallen into the middle of the field after starting the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix at the front, Lewis Hamilton spent the first-half of the event reclaiming ground. The #44 Mercedes AMG of Hamilton climbed to third place but was unable to catch the second place Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. In post-race, Hamilton described the fight back up the field as 'damage limitation'.

Taking full advantage of what the beginning of the 57-lap main event gave him, Nico Rosberg maintained a near flawless form to claim the 2016 Grand Prix of Bahrain. Crossing the line 10.282 seconds ahead the runner-up, Rosberg's took his 16th career Formula 1 victory and extends his streak of wins to five.

Largely mirroring the performance of the lead Mercedes AMG car of Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen finished a strong second place. Raikkonen's runner-up equals his 2015 result at the same race. For Ferrari, the Bahrain Grand Prix was practically a visa versa affair compared to the first race in Australia. At Albert Park, Raikkonen was sidelined by an engine problem while Vettel scored a podium result. The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen ended up in a Mercedes AMG sandwich as Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to secure the third and final podium position.

Outside of the top-three, Daniel Ricciardo continues to show flashes of Red Bull Racing's championship-winning determination. Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull Racing also provided the team something worth begging about climbing from a 15th starting spot to finish 7th after 57 laps. The Toro Rosso car of Max Verstappen finished one spot ahead of the team's 2014 graduate driver.

In two Formula 1 races, Haas F1 Team has accomplished what was thought to be the impossible. At the hands of French driver Romain Grosjean, the Ferrari-powered VF-16 chassis fielded by the American team has two point-scoring finishes. In Bahrain, Grosjean actually improved on his result in Australia by finishing fifth.

Eighth and ninth place at the end of the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix belonged to the Williams Martini Racing team. Felipe Massa led the squad as Bottas grabbed the second-to-last point-scoring position after accruing a penalty early in the race. A three-stop strategy was practised by nine of the top-ten finisher in the Bahrain Grand Prix. The exception to the tire plan was Felipe Massa's Williams machine who clocked 27 laps on his final set of tires.

The tenth and final point of the Bahrain Grand Prix was collected after a solid Formula 1 debut effort by Stoffel Vandoorne driving a Honda-powered McLaren. Filling in for the recovering Fernando Alonso, Belgium's Vandoorne joins elite company with the likes of Jacques Villeneuve, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton who have scored points in their first Formula 1 race. The point is also valuable for the McLaren Honda eager to once again stand as a frequent event contender.

The third race in Formula 1 will take the tour to China. The Chinese Grand Prix is set for Sunday April 17th.


2016 Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix
Race Results



Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
6 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
7 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull TAG Heuer
8 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
9 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
10 47 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda
11 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
12 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
13 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
14 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
15 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
16 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
17 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz
18 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
19 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
20 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
21 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
22 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault