Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rosberg Posts Top Speed in Damp Spa-Francorchamps Qualifying

Photo Credit: Pirelli/ Andrew Hone Photographer

The Formula 1 cars return to action after a now customary extended hiatus for weeks in the summer. At the ongoing 2014 season's last race in Hungary, Daniel Ricciardo scored a second career victory with Red Bull Racing in a season dominated by the Mercedes AMG team. All but two of the 2014 Formula 1 season's 11 rounds have resulted with either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton being at the top of the podium at the conclusion of a race. The mid-summer break for the Formula 1 championship has presented an opportunity for drivers, crew members and race shop personnel of the eleven teams to officially rest ahead of the homestretch run consisting of eight grand prix events. Of course, it only seems natural that some, if not all of the Formula 1 teams have taken this time to evaluate their performance and perhaps unofficially search for ways to improve their on-track product. As the 2014 Formula 1 season returns to action at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, there was some interest in whether some teams would arrive from the summer break with better footing.

Qualifying for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix showed few signs that the story of Mercedes AMG's life at the front of the race field may not change going forward. Nico Rosberg posted a 2-minute, 5.591-second lap time around the historic 7.004-kilometer track in Q3 on intermediate Pirelli tires. A wet Spa-Francorchamps track caused over two minute lap times for the entire Formula 1 field in the three time trial sessions. Although the circuit became drier as the qualifying progressed, cars were never able to transition to slick tires.

Despite the wet circuit, drivers were able to mount some splendid time attacks against each other. The greatest duel came with the Mercedes AMG team drivers wanting to top spot in qualifying. Though Nico Rosberg prevailed with the fastest time in Q3, Lewis Hamilton made it a close battle throughout the final session. Hamilton will start second with a fast lap time 0.228 seconds off from Rosberg. Both Mercedes AMG cars were around two seconds faster than the second row occupants for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull-Renault was the best non-Mercedes-Benz engine machine in qualifying. The reigning champion's time for third place on the grid was 69/100th of a second faster than the fourth-fastest in Belgium. Fernando Alonso positioned his Ferrari between the Red Bull Racing cars with Daniel Ricciardo starting fifth on Sunday. Customer Mercedes-Benz powered vehicles belonging to Williams and McLaren occupy four of the remaining top-10 positions. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas will start sixth ahead of McLaren rookie driver Kevin Magnussen. The second Ferrari driven by Kimi Raikkonen is the meat inside a Mercedes-Benz sandwich. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button round out the top-10 for the Belgian Grand Prix. 

One change to the field for the Belgian Grand Prix is Andre Lotterer driving a Caterham-Renault. Japanese Kamui Koboyashi is a healthy scratch from the scoreless Formula 1 outfit. Regularly a driver for the Audi Sport Team Joest's R18 prototype sports car in the World Endurance Championship, Lotterer will be starting his first career Formula 1 in 21st spot outrunning teammate Marcus Ericsson by one second in qualifying.

Sunday's 44-lap race around the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is set to take place under dry conditions.

2014 Formula 1
Belgian 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 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
7 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
8 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
10 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
15 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
16 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari
17 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
18 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari
20 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
21 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham Renault
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault

Sunday, July 27, 2014

1 Racing Mind 2014 Formula 1 Mid-Season Report: Caterham F1 Team

2014 Hungarian GP - Saturday 26th July
Photo Credit: Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

Team Score: C-

Kamui Kobayashi: C-
Marcus Ericsson: C

While the Marussia F1 Team relieved themselves of the tyranny of being a non-point scoring organization earlier this year, Caterham is now the only Formula 1 team to enter the second-half of the 2014 season without a career top-10 finish. Based on the Caterham F1 Team's performance in past seasons, it served as a mild shock when Marussia scored points first. Running customer Renault engines since 2011, Caterham has continued to come close to scoring a top-10 spot in a grand prix. In July, headlines around Caterham reflected a change in ownership. Tony Fernandes  (the team's original owner who founded the organization as Lotus Racing) has now detached himself from Caterham. Along with Fernandes' partners, the team was sold to a Swiss/Middle East group. Following completion of the team's sale, a number of positions were shuffled. Prior to the German Grand Prix, Christijan Albers was named Team Prinicipal. 

On-track, 2014 drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson come from different situations but have faced similar results in competition. Both team cars have suffered three or more retirements after 10 races. Ericsson does boast the team's best result for 2014 with an 11th place at Monaco.

Ingredients for Second-Half of 2014: The Caterham F1 Team is still knocking on the door of a top-10 spot. The best chance at scoring points appears to be luck heading into the final nine races of 2014. It's unsure what effect the management changes will have to the remainder of this season. History tends to say that little will change in regards of performance for at least the immediate future.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1 Racing Mind 2014 Formula 1 Mid-Season Report: Sauber

Photo Credit: Sauber Motorsport AG


Team Score: D

Esteban Gutierrez : D+

Adrian Sutil: C-

In past years, Sauber has made the most of being an underdog team. In 2014, the team is floundering during race events. Buried at the lower half of the Formula 1 grid, Sauber is one of two teams lacking constructors' points. Ten team retirements of race vehicles has contributed to miserable season for the Ferrari-powered Sauber. While the Ferrari power unit has been the result of a few retirements, several collisions have also led to the Sauber's finishing low on the grid at the end of grand prix race weekends.
Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez is engaged in his second season with the Sauber operation. The 2010 GP3 Series champion has qualified decently but has not been able to mount quality race finishes largely due to five DNFs. After several respectable seasons with Force India, Adrian Sutil joined Sauber in 2014 apperently expecting he can perform like Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg did with the team in previous years. Just missing out on a championship point in his first race, Sutil is endured a non-point scoring season almost identical to Gutierrez.
Ingredients for Second-Half of 2014: When you're a non-scoring team in Formula 1, the problems appear simple but any fix can prove exceptionally difficult. The 2014 Formula 1 season has been a tough struggle for Ferrari-engined race machines. The only way to improve the performance of the Sauber team will depend largely on bettering reliability and finding more speed.