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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hamilton Scares Italian Grand Prix Win Away from Rosberg

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli



The 2014 Formula 1 season is slowly drawing to a close. The 13th race on the 2014 calendar, the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo di Monza would be 53 fast laps on a circuit where race cars are trimmed of downforce and engine power reigns supreme. In qualifying, Mercedes-Benz powerplants had the performance edge led by the Mercedes AMG team. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the front row allowed the 2014 Formula 1 drivers' title rivals to battle wheel-to-wheel again. Last race in Belgium resulted in a teammate feud in Mercedes AMG met by their team management sternly reminding both racers that their place is united with the organization. However, with Rosberg 29 points in the lead with Hamilton in striking distance, it would take a lot of will power and authority to keep the teammates cooperative.

The start of the Italian Grand Prix was a shocker. When the lights went out, the Mercedes AMG race car of Lewis Hamilton started slower than teammate Nico Rosberg. By the first corner, Hamilton ran in fourth place. The poor start for the Mercedes AMG was attributed to a problem with the energy recovery system. Felipe Massa's Williams-Mercedes moved up to third place on lap one while Kevin Magnussen was running in the second place. Equally as noteworthy as Hamilton's woes early in the race was the rookie McLaren-Mercedes' driver storming up three positions at the start at Monza.

It could be said that lap 29 made the 2014 Italian Grand Prix. Specifically, it was Monza's turn one on lap 29 that provided two pivotal developments to the race. The first story worth mentioning is a rare the occurrence of a rare event in recent Formula 1 competition. Qualifying seventh, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was the top hope for Sunday's main event. While the Ferrari team has been struggling this season against the Mercedes-Benz powered operations and Red Bull Racing, the Spanish two-time Formula 1 champion has been turning lemons into lemonade with his #14 car. Scoring two podiums this season against challenging odds, Fernando Alonso has most importantly finished in the points in every Formula 1 race heading into the Italian Grand Prix (the only driver who could boast that accomplishment at this point in the Formula 1 season). Alonso's biggest success in Formula 1 is a high average for finishing grand prix races. While Ferrari's steady reliability has helped in the maintenance of a strong finishing percentage, the Monza circuit result in a first for the Spaniard in five seasons with Ferrari.

Running in 11th place, Alonso's Ferrari stopped running along the Italian track's front stretch. Stopping in the run-off area of turn one, Fernando Alonso would exit this Ferrari in front of an Italian fan crowd having suffered a mechanical problem. The first time Alonso retired from a race due to a mechanical issue since his time as a Ferrari Formula 1 driver, it is also the Spanish driver's first mechanical retirement from a Formula 1 race the 2009 season when he drove for Renault. Alonso was only one of two drivers not classified as running at the end of the Italian Grand Prix. Max Chilton went out earlier in the race after he pounded his Marussia into a track barrier on lap six. Similar to Fernando Alonso, Chilton's retirement from a grand prix is an unaccustomed sight. This was only the second time Chilton was classified out of a race during what is his second season with Marussia.


Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli



Before the Alonso retirement, a race-deciding motion took place at the 2014 Italian Grand Prix on lap 29 in turn one. Having capitalized on the poor Lewis Hamilton start, Nico Rosberg was holding the lead. Recovering ground through the first half of the grand prix, Hamilton had closed to within a second of Rosberg after his only pit stop of the race on lap 26. By the 28th lap, Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes AMG race car was filling up his teammate's mirrors just 0.7 seconds back. Within DRS range, the predicament resulted in leader Rosberg into making a mistake. Heading into turn one, Nico Rosberg missed the corner and ran through a run-off area drawing out to the exit of turn two. Having to slow down to navigate a slalom of track signs, the error cost Rosberg the lead as Hamilton came out of turn two the leader of the Italian Grand Prix. The mistake was actually the second time in the race that Rosberg missed turn one. The German driver straight-lined the portion of the Monza track named Variante del Rettifilo on lap nine while leading but was able to maintain his position on that occasion.

Taking the lead, the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG car and driver drove a strong second-half of the Formula 1 race on Monza. Giving some time back to his teammate in the closing laps, Lewis Hamilton kept a sizable 3.1-second gap on Nico Rosberg to win the 2014 Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton's second win at Monza in Formula 1 competition, the victory comes with buzz of contention between him and Rosberg. With the last grand prix being a vivid show of a team breakdown, at least Hamilton and Rosberg celebrated in unity with their Mercedes AMG organization following the Italian Grand Prix.


Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG



Collecting his first podium of the season and first as a Williams driver, Felipe Massa leapfrogged his teammate Valtteri Bottas for the position early. For the 33-year-old Brazilian driver, the result was his first podium since the Spanish Grand Prix. With Bottas claiming fourth place, the strong finish by the Martini Williams Racing driver has the team appearing on the right track when it comes to 2015 plans. During same weekend, Williams confirmed Massa and Bottas will be returning to their cars next season.

Though the top-six cars in qualifying were Mercedes-Benz powered, the race resulted in the Red Bull-Renaults making a climb up the grid. Three-time grand prix winner this season Daniel Ricciardo finished just over 50 seconds back of Lewis Hamilton at Monza in fifth place. Sebastian Vettel placed in sixth on a track that made his Formula 1 career in 2008 when he won driving for Toro Rosso.

The Formula 1 tour shifts back to the Asian continent where teams prepare for the Singapore Grand Prix set for September 21st.



2014 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix
Race Results


Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine





1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
6 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
9 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
10 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
14 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
16 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
17 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
18 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault
20 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
21 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
22 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hamilton Takes Pole in Monza in Session of Mercedes-Benz Supremacy

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli


The Italian Grand Prix is a storied stop on the Formula 1 tour. With the first-ever running of the auto race occurring in 1921, the race had only interrupted by World War Two. For all but five of the years as part of the modern Formula 1 sanctioning body, the Italian Grand Prix's home has been the Monza circuit. Autodromo di Monza currently takes place on an 11-turn, 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile) road course for a 53-lap race in what is the last Western European round in the 2014 championship.

A low-downforce, high-speed circuit, Monza has confirmed a most-evident truth during the 2014 season. Under Formula 1's new gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain technical specifications, Mercedes-Benz engines have been the choice for fast competition laps. The factory team (Mercedes AMG) has been the major benefactor of the manufacturer's engineering heading into this season but customers Williams, McLaren and Force India have also found Mercedes-Benz power to be an advantage. Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix only magnified the struggle for Ferrari and Renault against the Mercedes-Benz juggernaut in 2014.

With qualifying times considerably faster than the Saturday morning practice session, Lewis Hamilton's 1-minute, 21.109-second lap time in Q3 was more than enough for the pole. Hamilton's top lap time was 0.274 seconds faster than teammate Nico Rosberg. Despite their continuing dominance in qualifying (winning all-but one pole position in the season so far) All is not well in the Mercedes AMG team. The stories of a deteriorating relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg reached a high point in the past race in Belgium. Rosberg making contact with Hamilton's car during the race was the most public display of the Mercedes AMG drivers' displeasure with each other. With both drivers competing for a drivers' championship, Mercedes AMG team principal Toto Wolff has warned his pilots that any similar follow-up incidents will not be tolerated by the team.


Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG


Behind the Mercedes AMG cars on the front row, the next two rows on the grid for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix will start with customer Mercedes-Benz engines. Another pattern was the younger team pilots leading their more veteran teammates. Both Williams-Mercedes race cars will occupy the second row at the start of the race on Monza. Valtteri Bottas starts third while Felipe Massa scored a fourth fastest time in Q3. "To have both cars on the second row is a good starting point for the race. I am really happy with the qualifying lap and the car is set-up for the race so I am confident we can push the Mercedes, it’s just a question of how much can we push them.", said Bottas on the Williams team news release. The McLaren team has their pair of entries placed on the third row with Kevin Magnussen recording a 0.065-second advantage over Jenson Button. The only Mercedes-Benz powered team breaking from the trend was the Force India cars. Sergio Perez has qualified 10th while Nico Hulkenberg recorded a 12th fastest time in Q2.


Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli


The best non-Mercedes team throughout the Italian Grand Prix practices came as a source of national pride. The Ferrari organization was led by Fernando Alonso in qualifying with a seventh place result in Q3. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen missed the cut for the third and final qualifying session and will start the Italian Grand Prix in 11th.

Red Bull Racing, the Renault-powered team that succeeded in being the only team to overcome Mercedes AMG for victory this season on three occasions, appeared mismatched in qualifying against the products of the German engine manufacturer. The only Renaults to break into Q3, Red Bull Racing was led by reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel in eighth place followed by Daniel Ricciardo in ninth. Knowing their one lap performance deficient through Friday practice, Renault Sport is looking towards to race pace and reliability as keys for a successful 53 laps at Monza.

With a sunny and warm weather forecast for the afternoon event, Pirelli predicts the race at Monza will be a one-stop affair for front-running teams. Race time for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix 2 pm local time or 8 am Eastern time.


2014 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix 
Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine





1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
5 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
8 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
11 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
16 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
18 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari
20 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari
21 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault

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