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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rosberg Stages Season Recovery With European Grand Prix Win In Baku

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Starting the 2016 Formula 1 season off in dominant fashion with four wins and a sizeable lead in the drivers' championship, the last three grand prix events have been a source of frustration for Nico Rosberg. Following the high-profile lap 1 wreck with Mercedes AMG teammate Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg's lead in the championship points has fallen to 9 markers heading into the inaugural Formula 1 race in Baku, Azerbaijan. A slump for the German occurring at the same time as Hamilton won the Monaco Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix has resulted in a tightening points battle.

Arriving for the first-ever European Grand Prix being held on the 6.001-kilometer Baku City Circuit, the 22-car Formula 1 field was once-again led by Nico Rosberg after scoring pole position in qualifying. Rosberg was joined on the front row by a Red Bull Racing car piloted by Daniel Ricciardo and a second starting row consisting of Ferrari race cars. Due to a mishap in qualifying, the second Mercedes AMG driver Lewis Hamilton would start 10th making the European Grand Prix the most recent occasion where the three-time world champion suffered a poor starting position due to an error.

Prepared for 51 laps, the inaugural Formula 1 event in Baku opened in a dominant fashion for Nico Rosberg's Mercedes AMG machine. Before his first pit stop on lap 21, Rosberg had built up on a 20-second lead on the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Second place starting Ricciardo dropped to third in the running order in the early laps.

An optimistic day for Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was ended early. Starting the European Grand Prix sixth, the Russian parked his Ferrari-powered race machine in the team's garage after just 8 laps due to a suspension failure. Later in the race, Kvyat's teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. would also suffer the same issue leading to a double retirement by the Toro Rosso team. Suffering two suspension failures, the team has proceeded to investigate the cause of the problem.


Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA


Fighting up from 10th place, Lewis Hamilton climbed to 4th place by the 12th lap of the event. Positioned in third place early, Kimi Raikkonen's European Grand Prix quickly went south. Contending with the debris of a plastic bag within one-quarter distance of the race, Raikkonen was handed a pit road procedure violation penalty following his lap 8 stop. A five-second time penalty was added to the Ferrari's position at the end of the event.

With each lap, the European Grand Prix fell deeper in to the grasp of Nico Rosberg. At the finish line, the German won his 5th Formula 1 event of 2016 by a healthy 16.696-second margin over runner-up Sebastian Vettel. Describing the race as a straightforward afternoon, Rosberg commented in post-race "I am so happy to win here in Baku. I really felt at one with the car in a way I’ve never felt before. I didn’t have the feeling that something would go wrong at any point today. The car was awesome this weekend, so thank you so much to the team for this."

With a second and fourth place finish, Ferrari's result after the 51 laps on the Baku City Circuit was impressive considering the manner Mercedes-Benz powered race cars of factory and customer teams tended to dominant practice sessions. For Sebastian Vettel, the European Grand Prix is the third time in 2016 the Ferrari driver finished in the runner-up position and fifth podium. Still searching for a first win of the season, Vettel's consistency near the front of 2016 Formula 1 races has the four-time world champion close to second place Lewis Hamilton in the overall season points. Kimi Raikkonen missed the podium but has so far collected points on five of the seven grand prix events this season.

Splitting the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel Despite achieving a runner-up spot in qualifying on Saturday in his Mercedes-Benz powered Force India race car, Sergio Perez started the European Grand Prix in seventh place due to an accident in final practice. A car proven to be very fast on the streets of Baku, the Force India emerged strong over the course of the race. Running fourth in the late laps, Perez closed tightly to Kimi Raikkonen. While Perez needed only to stay within five seconds of Raikkonen Ferrari to inherit the podium spot but the Mexican decided to take the position on-track. At the first turn on the final lap, the Force India slipped by the red race car to take third place. Sergio Perez's finish is the second podium in three events. He has also claimed points in the last five races largely contributing to Force India building up s firm hold of fifth place in the constructors' points standings.


Photo Credit: Force India F1 Team



As predicted by Pirelli, many of the front runners elected for a single pit stop strategy. In the final running order, the top-six finishers elected for the one stop for soft compound tires. Red Bull Racing decided on a two-stop plan in the European Grand Prix that ultimately resulted in a grid spot gain for Max Verstappen but a loss of ground by Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo started on the front row but came across the line 7th at Baku followed by Verstappen in 8th place.

The victory for Nico Rosberg reverse a trend that was occurring in the hunt for his first Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship. With Mercedes AMG teammate and defending 2015 champion Lewis Hamilton providing the main competition for Rosberg, 51 laps at the Baku City Circuit gave the German some extra breathing room. With Hamilton finishing in fifth place, the points gap between first and second place drivers in the overall 2016 title fight is now 24 points (Rosberg added 15 points on Hamilton in the final results).

The next race for the 2016 Formula 1 tour is a trip to Austria competing at the Red Bull Ring. The Austrian Grand Prix is set for July 3rd.



2016 Formula 1
European Grand Prix
Race Results


Pos #/ Car #/ Driver/ Team/ Engine

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



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rosberg Rises, Hamilton In The Hole In European Grand Prix Qualifying

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The 8th race for the Formula 1 tour is among one of two all-new stops for the world's top open wheel racing series. Making its first visit to the country of Azerbaijan (a region that borders Russia, Iran and the Caspian Sea), Formula 1 cars will be contesting the European Grand Prix for 51 laps on a 6.001 street course inside the city of Baku, The inaugural event in the bustling city located below sea level has 22 drivers and cars looking for the inside line for the 21-turn track. Familiarising with the Baku City Circuit through three practice sessions, two things apparent was the potentially punishing nature of the temporary race course and the Mercedes-Benz powered machines were quick. In Saturday qualifying both factors were in play.

The Mercedes AMG drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton achieved contrasting efforts in the final qualifying session. Grabbing the first-ever pole for the European Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit, Rosberg posted a 1-minute, 42.758-second top time. The gap between the pole-sitting time and second place was 0.757 seconds existing in part due to the faltering of teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final minutes of the Q3 session. Hamilton made contact with the turn 11 wall with only two minutes remaining for drivers to post qualifying efforts. Damaging his suspension, Hamilton will start in the 10th place position suffering an issue other drivers experienced through practices on the Baku track. Following several races where Lewis Hamilton appeared to have gained championship-winning form, qualifying issues that had plagued the British driver in some early 2016 events appear to be lingering.

With qualifying cut short due to the red flag, drivers planning on progressing up the top-10 grid with late timed runs were defeated in their attempts. Helped partially because of the way qualifying ended, the runner-up in the final session was a surprise effort from Force India. Advantaged with Mercedes-Benz power but also proving highly competitive throughout the weekend in Baku, Sergio Perez allowed him to share the top-3 in qualifying with Nico Rosberg and third place Daniel Ricciardo driving for Red Bull Racing. Unfortunately for Perez and the Force India team, celebrations were tainted by a Saturday practice accident that required a gearbox change. Because of the incident, Sergio Perez has been dropped to seventh place on the starting grid.




With Daniel Ricciardo promoted to the front row, the second row of the 2016 European Grand Prix is all-Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel starts third after setting an identical time to Ricciardo (the Red Bull claimed the advantage on the grid since that car set the time first). Alongside Vettel is Kimi Raikkonen's red Ferrari. The effort showed the Scuderia Ferrari team in much better form than what was displayed in the Mercedes-Benz-dominated practice.

The Mercedes-Benz powered Williams Martini Racing squad both start in the top-10 a week after Valtteri Bottas scored the team's first podium result for 2016. Felipe Massa will start fifth on Sunday while Bottas is positioned in eighth place between Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

Predicting the inaugural 51 laps on the Baku City Circuit, Pirelli believes competitors will opt for a one-stop strategy. Also, based on the nature of the race weekend, there appears to be good chance of seeing a safety car at some point in the 2016 European Grand Prix. Sunday's race start is scheduled for 5 pm local time (9 am Eastern time).

2016 Formula 1
European Grand Prix
Starting Grid


Pos #/ Car #/ Driver/ Team/ Engine

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


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hamilton Feels Canada's True Patriot Love With Fifth Victory In Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

In 2007, Lewis Hamilton won his very first Formula 1 grand prix on the Notre Dame Island. With the past grand prix round in Monaco, Hamilton collected his 44th victory in a series where he is a three-time World Championship. Prior to the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix, four of Hamilton's career victories were achieved on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Arriving as a hot driver after a lukewarm start to this season, the reigning Formula 1 World Driver's Champion successfully kept the momentum in his favour in Montreal.

A 70-lap event, the Canadian Grand Prix on the 4.361-kilometer Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was held under cloud cover Sunday with an air temperature that topped just 13 degrees. Despite the less than settling weather, rain did not play a part in the race in contrary to what some forecasts predicted. Another year when an affluent and dedicated crowd arrived for the grand prix, many drivers on the grid recognize the  Scoring pole in a very tight battle with Mercedes AMG teammate and current Formula 1 points leader Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton prime position for the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix would be challenged immediately when the lights went out to start the race. The Mercedes AMG cars launch resulted in a practical dead-heat between Rosberg and Hamilton. However, rising against the Silver Arrows, the prancing horse adorned in red that led the field into the first corner. Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari surged masterfully at the start of the Canadian Grand Prix soaring past the Mercedes-powered race cars.

As Vettel possessed an unopposed entrance into the first turn, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were still side-by-side. Following the pair's incident at the Spanish Grand Prix, another lap 1 battle proved nightmarish for the Mercedes AMG camp at the Canadian Grand Prix. Into the corner with Hamilton entering on the inside line, the #44 car exited the corner wide occupying the line of the #6 vehicle of Rosberg. Rosberg was forced off the race track onto the course's grass and was required to slow down to rejoin the Formula 1 pack out of turn two where he fell out of the top-five. After the race, Hamilton cited understeer into the first turn as the reason for crowding his teammate. In a post-race transcript, Nico Rosberg simply called the incident a bad maneuver from Hamilton while also responding "I had to try the move or accept I’d be behind him."




Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

70 laps for the 2016 edition of the Canadian Formula 1 round occurred fairly smoothly as only three drivers were reported out of the race at the end. A Virtual safety car period to clear the McLaren-Honda of Jenson Button who suffered a blown power unit on lap 9 was a brief interruption. Another non-finisher in the Canadian Grand Prix was Felipe Massa who parked his Williams-Mercedes for an overheating issue. In the first six grand prix races of the 2016 season, Massa was distinguish as the only driver to have finished in the points in every event. Despite Felipe Massa's exit, Williams Martini Racing would leave Canada in a highly celebratory mood.

Nico Rosberg's eventful start to the race was compounded as the event transpired. Regaining ground through the distance of the grand prix, the #6 Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race car proved uncooperative for the German. Rosberg would battle brake and fuel warnings inside his race machine. Costing him a chance at a podium finish, a late race tire puncture required Rosberg to make an unplanned second pit stop on lap 51. Returning to the race, Rosberg ran in fifth place and had instantly set sights on the fourth place Red Bull-Tag Heuer race car driven by Max Verstappen. Despite newer tires and the support of DRS, Rosberg was unable to undertake Verstappen who vigorously fought off the Mercedes AMG driver. On the second last lap for the pair, the Mercedes racer made one final attempt to pass the Red Bull Racing machine. Into turn 13, Rosberg made a late-braking maneuver on Verstappen but couldn't make his vehicle stick. Spinning his Mercedes AMG vehicle after the last-ditch effort for fourth place, Rosberg was able to hold into fifth place by a one-second margin on Kimi Raikkonen.  

The lead battle of the Canadian Grand Prix would be decided on pit road, or rather the lack of pit road for one car. A one-stop strategy proved the edge Lewis Hamilton needed to overcome the Ferrari. While Sebastian Vettel's two-stop plan required the Ferrari to push on soft and supersoft Pirelli racing rubber following the ultrasoft slicks many front-runners started the race on, Hamilton transitioned from ultrasoft to soft tires. When Vettel made his second pit stop on lap 37, the German driver's interval was not large enough to keep Hamilton behind him as he left pit lane. Depending upon his newer soft tires as a possible match to catch the Mercedes and perhaps retake the lead, the Ferrari was held at bay by Hamilton. In fact, Lewis Hamilton's fastest lap of the race was set on the third-last lap of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Crossing the line 5.011 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton gave credit to recently-departed boxing legend Muhummad Ali for inspiring him to the victory. "Over the last 10-15 laps all I could think of was Muhammad Ali – float like a butterfly, sting like a bee – because it really felt like I was floating. For me, and everyone I’m sure, he was such an inspirational figure, so that one was for him.", said Hamilton in post-race. He also fondly remembers the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as the location of his first Formula 1 win during his rookie campaign in 2007. Winning his fifth Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton closes in on the record seven wins at the event achieved in the career of the great Michael Schumacher.

Second place Sebastian Vettel started the grand prix spectacularly but simply came up short. Vettel was quick to cite the efforts of his Ferrari Formula 1 team, "I know that this car is a step forward, we know also that there’s still potential, and we’re not yet where we want to be. I also think we put ourselves under enormous pressure because we want to win. As a team, we came here and did our best, this weekend we were very close and hopefully next week we’ll be there.”, said the #5 car driver.

While the before-mentioned retirement of Felipe Massa was a setback for one Williams-Mercedes, the second team car for Valtteri Bottas more than salvaged their overall showing at the Canadian Grand Prix. The first podium of the season for the Williams Martini Racing team, Bottas repeated his 2015 appearance with a third place finish. "I’m very happy with what we achieved as a team today. It’s a shame with what happened to Felipe, but this gives us a big motivation boost for the next few races. I think today shows that we are a strong team who can deliver good results." said the Finnish driver in post-race.

Since the Spanish Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg's point lead has dwindled from 43 to just 9 markers. Struggles to capture points for one Mercedes AMG driver has come to the benefit of the other team pilot Lewis Hamilton as he is has captured two straight races. The next Formula 1 event is the European Grand Prix functioning as the inaugural occasion the series will run on the Baku City Circuit in the country of Azerbaijan. Teams will only have a week to prepare for the all-new event with the race scheduled on Sunday, June 19th.


2016 Formula 1
Canadian Grand Prix
Race Results


Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

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