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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hamilton Harnesses Top Time in Hot Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The 2015 Formula 1 season is in the process of crossing its halfway point this weekend as the stage is set for the 30th annual Hungarian Grand Prix. The race is also the final race before a month-long summer hiatus for Formula 1 teams. For this reason, drivers and teams want to set a good impression before heading into the latter half of the season.

Just outside of the capital of Budapest, the Hungarian Grand Prix is the 10th event on the 2015 schedule. Second only to the Monaco Grand Prix street circuit, the 4.381-kilometer Hungaroring gains notoriety for being among the slowest and tightest courses the Formula 1 tour has to deal with in the 2015 season. For this reason, handling overrides all-out engine power when racing on the 12-turn track. There is a theory that the Hungarian Grand Prix will allow some of the performance-challenged teams will be on equalized grounds. Last year, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo pulled-off a victory in a series largely dominated by Mercedes AMG. However, with the consistent front-running performance of the Mercedes AMG team in 2015, there is no place where the team’s advantage isn’t shining through.

With the series engaged in the dog days of summer, track temperatures at the Hungaroring soared to the highest levels recorded this Formula 1 season for qualifying. According to tire supplier Pirelli, track temperature held at 52 degrees Celsius. The warmth combined with the dry weather conditions led to a fast track surface. At a Q3 lap time roughly 7/10ths of a second quicker than the 2014 pole time set by teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton recorded a 1-minute, 22.020-second one-lap effort to take the top spot for the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix. The Hungarian Grand Prix is a race the Brit has won four times. Hamilton’s successful pole run places Mercedes AMG in possession of all 10 pole positions available during the 2015 Formula 1 campaign. Nico Rosberg captures snatched the other front row spot at the Hungaroring.

Leading the second row is the Ferrari driven by Sebastian Vettel. Interestingly, Vettel’s top time in Q3 was still slower than the pole position of Rosberg in 2014 symbolizing how far the Mercedes AMG team is ahead of the competition. Ferrari’s gains have been notable in 2015 in the hands of Sebastian Vettel and occasionally in the car of Kimi Raikkonen who starts fifth Sunday.

Based on their recent performances, a fourth and seventh place starting spot for the Red Bull Racing entrants could be viewed as a success. Defending winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo will start in fourth (the same position where the Australian won the 2014 race). Russian teammate Daniil Kvyat is placed on the fourth row of the race in the second Red Bull-Renault.

Both Williams Martini Racing cars will start in the top-10 but Head of Performance Engineering for the team Rob Smedley himself responded to the Hungaroring as, "It’s not a circuit that suits us as much as other tracks do". Valtteri Bottas took sixth place in qualifying for the grand prix while Felipe Massa will start in eighth. Rounding out the top-10 in the line-up for the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix is Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean.

With weather reports calling for a warm, dry event, the 70-lap Hungarian Grand Prix will start at 8:00 AM Eastern time on Sunday.

2015 Formula 1

Hungarian Grand Prix

Starting Line-up


Pos #
Car #
Driver
Team
Engine





1
44
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes AMG
Mercedes-Benz
2
6
Nico Rosberg
Mercedes AMG
Mercedes-Benz
3
5
Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Ferrari
4
3
Daniel Ricciardo
Red Bull
Renault
5
7
Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari
Ferrari
6
77
Valtteri Bottas
Williams F1
Renault
7
26
Daniil Kvyat
Red Bull
Renault
8
19
Felipe Massa
Williams
Mercedes-Benz
9
33
Max Verstappen
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Renault
10
8
Romain Grosjean
Lotus
Mercedes-Benz
11
27
Nico Hulkenberg
Force India
Mercedes-Benz
12
55
Carlos Sainz Jr
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Renault
13
11
Sergio Perez
Force India
Mercedes-Benz
14
13
Pastor Maldonado
Lotus
Mercedes-Benz
15
14
Fernando Alonso
McLaren
Honda
16
22
Jenson Button
McLaren
Honda
17
9
Marcus Ericsson
Sauber
Ferrari
18
12
Felipe Nasr
Sauber
Ferrari
19
98
Roberto Merhi
Manor Marussia
Ferrari
20
28
Will Stevens
Manor Marussia
Ferrari

Monday, July 20, 2015

The All-Too Brief Career of Jules Bianchi




Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.


Despite a short life and career, Jules Bianchi made a reputable impression on the motorsport world. Starting off as a karting champion, the driver was 18 years old when he won the French Formula Renault 2.0 crown in 2007. Nine wins and a championship in Formula 3 Euro Series garnered attention from the Scuderia Ferrari organization.

In late 2009, Jules Bianchi received an invitation to drive a Ferrari F60 Formula 1 with the team. In part of a press release, Bianchi responded to the question of testing the car with the following statement: "I am more than happy! It is difficult for me to explain how I feel, but it is something special. I know this is the first step on a journey that could turn out very nicely, but I’m equally aware that there is still a long way to go to get to Formula 1. In fact, next year, I’m competing in GP2 with ART Grand Prix and that will be the series in which I have to prove my worth." Impressing the team, he was enlisted to the newly-formed Ferrari Driver Academy becoming the first prospect to be granted a position. Bianchi held a test driver position with the Scuderia Ferrari team for 2011 and remained close with Ferrari throughout his Formula 1 career.  

Spending a period as the test driver for Force India in 2012, Jules Bianchi’s race career in Formula 1 would start in 2013. On at least in occasion, Bianchi was eyed for an expanded role Scuderia Ferrari if Formula 1 had allowed teams to run three cars. While the third car possibility never reached fruition, the young Frenchman’s competition career took place with the Marussia F1 Team (now operating as Manor Marussia F1). Despite being a backmarker organization that had not gained a constructor point since its arrival in 2010, Bianchi maintained enthusiasm for the opportunity. "The week before Melbourne I was totally focused on the race and there was room for nothing else in my head," said Jules Bianchi who commented how he actually grew more at ease as he related with the personnel at Marussia. In response to driving for Marussia powered by a Ferrari engine, the Frenchman admitted, "Do I miss fighting for the victory? Every driver wants to win but the important thing is to manage to create for yourself the right incentives and that’s what I’m doing. I am pleased with the way the first races have gone, with the exception of the last one…"



Photo Credit: Andrew Hone/ Pirelli



Campaigning throughout the 2013 Formula 1 season without scoring any points, Marussia F1 Team was impressed with Jules Bianchi as well as his teammate Max Chilton enough to keep both drivers in cars for the following season. In his second year of Formula 1 competition, Bianchi completed a task no other Marussia driver has been able to accomplish. Through a collective effort, the French and the team behind his Marussia-Ferrari obtained a ninth-place finish (Bianchi actually crossed the finish line in eighth but received a time penalty in post-race for an infraction). The result proved to be a stunning achievement for an organization that needed the right time and the right driver to score a top-10 points-paying position in Formula 1.

Although his performance in Monaco gained him a lot of kudos, Jules Bianchi’s future in Formula 1 was put into question with financial problems for the Marussia F1 Team. Due to the outcome of the fateful Japanese Grand Prix, the aspiring driver’s motor racing future was cut tragically short.

Please rest in peace Jules Bianchi.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Jules Bianchi Succumbs to 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Crash Injuries

Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A


The events of a Formula 1 race that concluded October 5th of last year have today become the focus of ultimate sorrow. A former champion of the French Formula Renault 2.0, Formula 3 Euro Series and more-recently up-and-coming Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi has died at the age of 25 years old.

News of Jules Lucien AndrĂ© Bianchi’s Friday evening passing was shared online early Saturday morning in France. A statement arriving from the family of Jules Bianchi was posted on the driver’s official fan club page on Facebook. Translated from French, the statement from the now-departed driver’s parents and siblings said, "Jules fought until the end, as it has always done, but yesterday, his battle has ended.” The Bianchi family expressed their thanks to the medical staff in Japan and France for more than nine months of efforts following the accident at the Suzuka circuit.

In the final laps of the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the Suzuka Circuit was being pounded by heavy rain resulting from Typhoon Phanfone. During the retrieval of the stricken Sauber driven by Adrian Sutil from the Dunlop Curve runoff area, the Marussia-Ferrari driven by the promising French driver Jules Bianchi slid wide entering the same corner. Bianchi’s loss of control resulted in a 212-kilometre per hour impact with a vehicle recovery crane. The Marussia reportedly slid under the tractor crane and proved to be an exceptionally violent accident. Eventually, word came out the driver of the Marussia suffered a severe head injury. When a medical crew reached the crash scene, they arrived to find Jules Bianchi in what his father later described as a “desperate” condition.


Photo Credit: Andrew Hone/ Pirelli 

 

Through the remaining grand prix events for the 2014 season, concerns and well-wishes for Jules Bianchi showed how a multi-million-dollar sport is not without the capacity to care. The hashtag #JB17 was placed on the sole Marussia-Ferrari competing at the following Formula 1 race. #ForzaJules were worn on Ferrari race cars with Bianchi recognized as a graduate of the Ferrari Driver Academy. Lewis Hamilton dedicated victory at the race after Suzuka (the inaugural Russian Grand Prix) to Jules Bianchi. Remaining in a coma since the accident in Japan, the prognosis for the driver grew less positive in recent months. At the beginning of this week, Jule’s father Philippe Bianchi recalled the current state of his son as a “daily torture” as time has gone by.  

Bianchi was as much admired for his personality as he was for his driving skill among his race team. Manor Marussia team principal John Booth described him as a “very special driver.” Serving as the most monumental performance in less than two seasons, Jules Bianchi’s ninth place at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix handed the Marussia team its ever constructor points. After the crash in Japan, Booth remained in the hospital on the weekend the Marussia F1 Team ran a single-car at the Russian Grand Prix. Jules Bianchi’s 2014 teammate with Marussia was quick to share his thoughts in a tweet following the news of the French driver’s passing.



Following the announcement of his death, Ferrari has also remembered the life of Jules Bianchi. Formerly a test driver with Scuderia Ferrari, Bianchi was on the minds of an over 16,000-person crowd that attended Ferrari for Family Day at Maranello. Jules Bianchi becomes the first Formula 1 driver since 1994 to die as a result of a grand prix competition weekend crash when the San Marino Grand Prix claimed the life of Ayrton Senna.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hamilton Recovers from Poor Start to Win British Grand Prix

Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO X PIRELLI
 
One of the more popular rounds on the Formula 1 championship, the British Grand Prix was first run in 1926 and has a history at the former World War II airfield of Silverstone since 1948. From 1987, Silverstone has served as the permanent home of Britain's grand prix race.

For a long time, the event has served as a home race for major teams and drivers. While diversity of competitors has widened changed over the years, but the British Grand Prix is still heavily coveted by national interests including seven current teams based in the country. All through the weekend of the 2015 edition of the race at Silverstone, defending winner and Brit Lewis Hamilton made no secret to how important the British Grand Prix is to him. "I can’t describe the feeling I had last year – lifting that trophy again in front of the sea of fans on pit straight after so many years and after a tough start to the weekend too. It’s something that will always stay with me and nothing less than the same again will do."

Taking the pole on Saturday with teammate Nico Rosberg on the front row, Lewis Hamilton mindset ahead of the 52-lap main event is to be the top Mercedes AMG race car presuming it would be the team's race to lose. In what was a wacky race start Sunday, both Mercedes AMG car drivers were caught off-guard when the five lights went out. In a bizarre sight, the Williams-Mercedes cars on the second row leapfrogged the Mercedes AMG vehicles. Felipe Massa took an early lead with teammate Valtteri Bottas assuming the second place position.

Behind the lead pack, a first lap incident involving Lotus F1 Team and McLaren race cars occurred. Damage race machines on track resulted in a safety car period as well as three of the four cars (Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado) linked to the chaos unable to finish the race. Fernando Alonso was also connected to the mayhem but was able to persevere after reaching the pits for a new front wing.

The early stage of the British Grand Prix claimed a number of vehicles powered by Renault. One exit was Max Verstappen who spun off track in one of the Toro Rosso-Renaults. However, the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. and the Red Bull race car of Daniel Ricciardo both encountered an electrical faults with their powerplants. Daniil Kvyat was the only Renault powered contender to finish at Silverstone crossing the line in sixth place.  

When it appeared the race was lost on the start, the Mercedes AMG team fought back. For Lewis Hamilton, the British Grand Prix was won on pit road. A swift pit stop performed on the #44 car by the Mercedes AMG pit crew placed Hamilton ahead of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Retaking possession of the first place position, Lewis Hamilton was falter-free as he cruised to a 10.956-second victory at Silverstone for his third victory. Describing the entire weekend as very special in his home country, Hamilton expressed he was tearing up in the last lap of the grand prix. In the previous two times Lewis Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix (2008 and 2014), he went on to win the year's championship title.

Both drivers for Williams Martini Racing used the word "frustrating" to describe their results in the 2015 British Grand Prix. Having been in position to win or score a podium finish at Silverstone, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were thrown for a curve with the late race rain. It was near the end of the race where Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel gained an advantage over to Williams-Mercedes race cars to gain podium spots. Williams Martini Racing took fourth and fifth place at Silverstone with Massa claiming the edge over Bottas.

Deeper in the finishing order, both Force India-Mercedes vehicles finished in the points. Nico Hulkenberg took seventh place while Sergio Perez was ninth at the chequered flag. Splitting the two Force Indias was the second Ferrari driven by Kimi Raikkonen. In the tenth and final point-scoring spot in the British Grand Prix's results was Fernando Alonso. Overcoming an opening lap tangle, Alonso grabbed his first point of a season that has been dominated in lackluster results with the McLaren powered its Honda power unit.

The 2015 Formula 1 will get two weeks off to prepare for July 26th's Hungarian Grand Prix.


2015 Formula 1

British 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 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
6 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
11 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
12 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari
13 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
16 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
19 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
20 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari




Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hamilton at Home with British Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO X PIRELLI


The 2015 Formula 1 season is approaching its halfway point as the tour makes its significant stop at the Silverstone Circuit for the British Grand Prix. After eight completed races in 2015, the Mercedes AMG race team cars has continued to their dominance of 2014. A home race for Mercedes AMG driver and reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, this year's British round is a race he would desperately want to repeat winning.

For Sunday, Hamilton will defend his 2014 British Grand Prix win from the pole position. Achieving a Q3 lap time of 1-minute, 32.248 seconds, the Brit edged his teammate by a narrow 0.113-second margin. The 2015 British Grand Prix is the fifth race in a row where the Mercedes AMG team cars own the front row. In the past two British Grand Prix events, the Silverstone Circuit has been extremely kind to the Mercedes AMG team. Nico Rosberg won the 2013 with the team and Lewis Hamilton won last year's round.

Williams Martini Racing has endured a shaky 2015 season entering Silverstone. In Austria, a podium achieved by Felipe Massa has been a breath of fresh air for the race team. With the British Grand Prix serving as a home race for the Williams organization, both drivers came through in qualifying. Felipe Massa will start third in a second row joined by teammate Valtteri Bottas.

After elements of drama in qualifying for the last round in Austria, time trials at Silverstone also provided some additional climatic moments. Qualifying Saturday on the 5.891-kilometer course took place in tricky to predict track conditions. After overnight rains, the weather conditions during the Friday practice session was greatly altered for Saturday. A cooler track and heavily winds proved challenging for teams setting up their cars for qualifying.

Besides the change in weather, the time trials for the British Grand Prix saw several drivers lose their lap times when they incurred track limit penalties when running wide at Silverstone's Copse corner. In Q2, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was one of the drivers hit with an infraction. Barely crossing into Q3, Raikkonen was able to salvage qualifying with an impressive fifth place performance. In a rare feat, Raikkonen will start ahead of Sebastian Vettel who occupies the sixth place spot resulting in an all-Ferrari third row.

Tomorrow's race at Silverstone will take place at 8am eastern time.


2015 Formula 1

British 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 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
6 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
7 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
13 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
14 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
15 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
16 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
17 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
18 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
19 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
20 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari