Tuesday, August 29, 2017

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: C+

Driver Grades
Carlos Sainz Jr: B
Daniil Kvyat: D

No one in the sport of Formula 1 mistakes the fact that the Italian-based Toro Rosso race team is heavily influenced by Red Bull Racing. Both drivers competing with Red Bull Racing were recruited directly from Toro Rosso machines.

While switching back to Renault power units after a season with Ferrari power, Toro Rosso has shown no major movement away from their 2016 performance. Toro Rosso is still a steady mid-marker organization on the Formula 1 grid for 2017 with their STR12 race machine (similar to Red Bull Racing, the Renault name does not appear on Toro Rosso vehicles).

In his third consecutive season with the team, Carlos Sainz Jr has developed into a solid top-10 runner. In 11 races, the Spaniard collected championship points in seven events with his season-best performance being a sixth place at the Monaco Grand Prix. Sainz suffered retirements in all four races where is missed the top-10.

Since being ‘demoted’ back to Toro Rosso after his stint with Red Bull Racing was abruptly ended after an on-track incident in the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, Daniil Kvyat has not been able to carryover the consistency he found through 2015. Since rejoining Toro Rosso, the Russian has finished no better than ninth place. In point finishes in Australia and Spain, Kvyat crossed the line on both intenses in ninth.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

With exception to the unforgettable Sebastian Vettel victory at the Italian Grand Prix with the team, Toro Rosso has long-appeared content with motorsport mediocrity. Contending at the lower portion of the top-10 through qualifying and on race day, a podium result would jazz-up this otherwise humdrum group.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Renault Sport Formula One Team

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: C

Driver Grades
Nico Hulkenberg: B-
Jolyon Palmer: D+

Repurchasing their formerly-owned team late in 2015, Renault started the 2016 Formula 1 season behind the eightball. Through the entire 2016 tour, Renault Sport Formula One Team scored just eight points. 2017 has been accepted as another rebuilding year with a great deal of focus in collecting the pieces needed for better performances.

Joining Renault in 2017 was seasoned German pilot Nico Hulkenberg who brought a history of consistency with mid-marker teams in Formula 1. Hulkenberg has scored five finishes in the top-10 so far this season. The Renault race team only had three point-scoring finishes total in 2016 between both drivers. Second generation Formula 1 racer Jolyon Palmer returned to the second Renault R.S. 17. Palmer is still chasing his first point-scoring finish in a 2017 Formula 1 event.

The performance differential between the Renault Sport Formula One teammates has generally been wide. Nico Hulkenberg has proven not only to be better performing on Sunday but also shown the speed potential of the R.S. 17 in qualifying conditions. The German driver placed his Renault into the final Q3 session six times so far in 2017. Jolyon Palmer’s less than remarkable outings this season has resulted in only a few occasions where is placed higher than Hulkenberg. While most team-leading race finishes by Palmer were virtue of a retirement suffered by his teammate, he did out-place Hulkenberg at the Austrian Grand Prix while both Renault cars completed the event.  

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

Nico Hulkenberg will likely continue being the primary breadwinner for the Renault team in 2017. Jolyon Palmer is undoubtedly eager to post points this season being one of only two regular drivers yet to register a point for 2017. It Palmer succeeds, it will only be his second time in his career. Renault’s history in Formula 1 leaves room for optimism heading forward through the remaining races of 2017 and beyond. Entering the sport in 1977 and returning in 2002 in the position as a constructor, Renault has twice been turned around into a front-running competitor after less successful opening seasons.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Sauber F1 Team

Photo Credit: Sauber F1® Team / Sauber Motorsport AG 

Team Grade: C-

Driver Grades
Pascal Wehrlein: C+
Marcus Ericsson: D

Part of the Formula 1 grid since 1993, Peter Sauber gave up ownership of his team in the late part of 2016. Now controlled by Longbow Finance (a Swiss-based investment firm), the new owners and managers of the motorsport group appear intent to maintain the Sauber F1 Team branding. For 2017, the team acknowledges 25 years of competition in Formula 1. The Sauber team’s new owners have yet to immediately change the fortunes of the struggling organization.

After 11 races in the 2017 Formula 1 season, Sauber has scored five points coming entirely from German Pascal Wehrlein. Driving last season for the now-defunct Manor Racing team, Wehrlein missed the first two grand prix events as a result of injuries suffered in pre-season Race of Champions event. Sauber test driver Antonio Giovinazzi served as a replacement for the Australian Grand Prix and Chinese Grand Prix. Giovinazzi finished 12th in his Formula 1 debut but was involved in a massive crash at the Shanghai International Circuit. An accident closely mirroring a qualifying crash the Italian endured a day prior, Giovinazzi escaped both incidents unhurt. Participating with Sauber for a third consecutive season is Swedish pilot Marcus Ericsson. Finishing 11th place twice before the Formula 1 summer break, Ericsson hasn’t scored a Formula 1 championship point since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

There remains a chance that the Sauber team will be able to add to their constructors’ point total for 2017 in the remaining races. However, while both Wehrlein and Ericsson will be competing to break into the rear portion of the top-10, the team’s primary devotion may be slated towards 2018. Much of the performance disadvantage with the race cars is connected to the team’s deal with Ferrari for year-old spec engines. Planning for next year, Sauber has already secured an arrangement to receive Ferrari power units built to current specifications.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: McLaren Honda

Photo Credit: Zak Mauger/LAT Images

Team Grade: F

Driver Grades
Fernando Alonso: C (possible B- weighing Indy 500 effort on mark)
Stoffel Vandoorne: C-

The second oldest active Formula 1 team, McLaren has captured 182 grand prix victories and 8 constructor titles. Historic successes of the McLaren team are completely detached from the 2017 incarnation of the race team. Collecting only 11 points, McLaren Honda is enduring a year where their hybrid power unit’s development appeared to have taken a step backwards from 2016 and a obviously disgruntled veteran driver.

Team drivers Fernando Alonso and Steffel Vandoorne have both registered a non-start due to a mechanical problem. Alonso, a two-time Formula 1 World Champion, has vocally spoke out on the team’s poor performance this season. The widely-publicized choice to run the 2017 Indianapolis 500 instead of the Monaco Grand Prix with McLaren also spoke volumes on the Spaniard’s discontent after three seasons with the once top team. A native of Belgium, Vandoorne is contesting his first full Formula 1 season after debuting last season as a substitute for an injured Fernando Alonso for the Bahrain Grand Prix. At the beginning of the season, Stoffel Vandoorne’s performance on a race weekend sadly almost goes unmentioned lacking either speed or reliability. His efforts have shown improvements in recent races leading up to the summer break with a point-scoring finish of 10th coming at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Heading into the Belgian Grand Prix,

In late 2015, Red Bull Racing who was dissatisfied with their Renault power units was rumoured to have been in discussions with Honda but was apparently blocked into signing an agreement by McLaren. Instead of providing Honda with double the race cars to collect data, McLaren appears to have immersed themselves in development quicksand.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

If McLaren Honda finds some reliability in the final 9 races, the team can mainly focus on scoring points on the lower part of the top 10 grand prix results. A frustrating 2017 season has led to wild speculation relating to the McLaren operations for 2018. McLaren’s return to Mercedes-Benz power has been suggested since June. There’s also much uncertainty surrounding Fernando Alonso’s plans for next season whether his future will involve the team in Formula 1 or could possibly seek a longer visit to IndyCar. Vandoorne can take solace in the knowledge that McLaren Honda has confirmed his return for the 2018 season.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Haas F1 Team

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/LAT Images

Team Grade: C+

Driver Grades
Romain Grosjean: C
Kevin Magnussen: C+

Since debuting in 2016, the Haas F1 Team could be categorized as one of the most fun organizations to watch on a grand prix weekend. While we are currently accustomed to Mercedes AMG, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing at the front of the field, the sophomore American-derived race team has shown some impressive performances for a rather young group.

For 2017, Kevin Magnussen replaced Esteban Gutierrez at the Haas F1 Team. Leaving the Renault organization, Magnussen ultimately followed the same path to Haas as his teammate Romain Grosjean did (Grosjean left the organization during its transition from the Lotus F1 Team). Together, Magnussen and Grosjean has shown themselves to be roughly equal performers with the team. Romain Grosjean captured the best single race results for the Haas F1 Team with a sixth place at the Austrian Grand Prix.

After 11 races, the Haas F1 Team has collected the same amount of points in the constructors’ standings as it did all season in 2016. A highlight for the 2017 campaign, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen combined to deliver their young race team its first double scoring performance at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

With little more than half of the 2017 season concluded, the team’s confidence in their drivers is solidified by the news both Grosjean and Magnussen have already been retained for 2018. Showing some gains over 2016, Haas F1 Team’s 2017 effort still displays a level of infancy with the organization. An area of improvement for the Haas F1 Team should be in reliability. Both team drivers have three retirements apiece in the first 11 Formula 1 events.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Williams Martini Racing

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: C

Driver Grades
Felipe Massa: B-
Lance Stroll: C+

Williams Martini Racing’s 2017 plans were thrown for a loop in only the first month of the year. Unable to resist the opportunity to take over the hotly desirable seat vacated by the retired Nico Rosberg at Mercedes AMG, Valtteri Bottas sought and was granted a release from the team. Brazilian Formula 1 veteran Felipe Massa, who originally intended to hang up his helmet after the 2016 season, was recalled to drive a Williams-Mercedes alongside 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll.

The 40th anniversary season for the Williams Formula 1 team, 2017 has been short in celebration on the track. Felipe Massa started the season off reasonably with sixth place finishes at the Australian Grand Prix and Bahrain Grand Prix. While Massa has been a consistent for the organization with point-scoring finishes in 6 of the 11 races currently completed, Williams’ best effort of the 2017 Formula 1 season was obtained by the first year driver. Lance Stroll scored a third place result at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and was running in second place in the late part of the event before former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. Stroll became the youngest Formula 1 driver to finish on the podium in Formula 1 competition and the first Canadian no named Villeneuve to achieve a three-top result in a grand prix.

While the podium sandwiched by two other point scoring finishes has been a respectable run for Lance Stroll, his rookie has been unstable overall. Stroll’s Formula 1 career started with three consecutive retirements consisting of a brake issue in Australia as well as two collisions in China and Bahrain.

In the first two years of Formula 1's implementation of the current gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain rules, Williams opting for Mercedes-Benz power was almost a winning decision existing as a podium threat for many 2014 and 2015 events. Since 2016, the team’s performance appears to have slipped. While the FW40 race car has rarely appeared in the top half of the point scoring spots, the Williams machines have been fairly reliable with several retirements being due to collisions rather than mechanical issues.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

The current Williams race car has shown much of its strength on slower tracks in 2017 leaving the Singapore Grand Prix as a potential opportunity looking forward through the final nine events.

While Felipe Massa has put in a steady effort with Williams with the exception of his withdraw from the Hungarian Grand Prix due to health reasons, Lance Stroll’s performance has areas requiring growth. Stroll’s qualifying results in the first 11 events have been most atrocious. Cracking Q3 on only two occasions, Stroll’s Williams-Mercedes has most often been seen mired back in last three rows of the grid. Better starting spots would inevitably help the Canadian find point-scoring consistency through the remaining portion of 2017.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Force India

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Team Grade: B

Driver Grades
Sergio Perez: B
Esteban Ocon: B+

Entering its 10th season in Formula 1 competition, the Force India team is still chasing their first grand prix victory. A customer of Mercedes-Benz power since 2009 and occasional podium contender, the likelihood for a great triumph has been something many observers have expected.

Thinking pink for 2017 new colours supplied through the addition of water treatment company BWT AG as a sponsor, the bold-looking VJM10 race cars handled by Mexico’s Sergio Perez and France’s Esteban Ocon has exhibited a near-magnetic attraction to the top-10. So far in the 2017 Formula 1 season, there was only one race where the team failed to score constructor points (the Monaco Grand Prix in May).

Force India’s on-track effort has been led by the veteran Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver has accumulated 56 points with a season-topping finish of 4th place coming at the Spanish Grand prix. Esteban Ocon has been the most pleasant surprise in the Force India group. Driving nine races last season for the now-defunct Manor Racing team, results would not necessarily indicate he would be a consistent top-10 driver in better equipment. In 11 races, the Frenchman has finished in the points all-but once.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

The Force India-Mercedes race cars are generally not as quick as other front-running teams. This fact reveals itself most prominently in qualifying. However, if perseverance is worth anything, Force India could possibly win a race in the remaining part of the season.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Red Bull Racing

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/Getty Images

Team Grade: A-

Driver Grades
Daniel Ricciardo: A-
Max Verstappen: C

Since 2014, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have appeared to exchange ‘second-in-class’ honours in Formula 1 behind the Mercedes AMG team. Although Scuderia Ferrari has surged forward into a viable challenger against the Silver Arrows in 2017, Red Bull Racing has not been standing still. Continuing to source power from a rebadged Renault engine called a TAG Heuer, the Austrian-owned race organization has a total of six podium results in the first 11 grand prix events.

One of the more outstanding performance of the season is coming from Daniel Ricciardo. After an opening round in his home country where his car was unable to take the starting grid but still completed a handful of laps, the Australian driver hit a major stride starting with the Spanish Grand Prix. Ricciardo would grab a podium position in five consecutive races. The success was coupled by a ritualistic sight of Ricciardo drinking from his shoe and sharing it with fellow podium scorers. The highlight for Daniel Ricciardo a victorious outing at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Ricciardo’s first win since Malaysia last season, a Red Bull Racing machine’s win placed a third team at the top of the podium in 2017 (the first time since 2013 when more than two constructors won races in a season).    

The 2017 season has not been kind to Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen. Promoted to the team last season, Verstappen instantly became a winning driver when he captured the Spanish Grand Prix. In his first full season behind the wheel of a Red Bull-TAG Heuer, the 19-year-old’s progress has been countered by bad luck. With five retirements in 2017 (three related to vehicle failure and two resulting from collisions), Max Verstappen finishing results are led by a third place at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

Red Bull Racing has many desirable ingredients for a winning Formula 1 team with a solid driver lineup and a proven technical development staff. About the only obstacle to Red Bull Racing enjoying greater success in 2017 is the Mercedes AMG and Ferrari race cars. A matter of just a few tenths of a second keeps the cars away from being a surefire contender for race wins. Depending on the race track, a Red Bull-TAG Heuer could again find victory in 2017 under the right circumstances.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Ferrari

Photo Credit:  Zak Mauger/LAT Images

Team Grade: A

Driver Grades
Sebastian Vettel: A
Kimi Raikkonen: A-

Scuderia Ferrari needed a strong 2017 season after a winless 2016 campaign. This year, the tifosi was presented with a massive rallying cry thanks to the SF70H race car being wheeled by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

At the first race of the 2017 Formula 1 season in Australia, the prancing horse stormed out of the starting gate against the established Mercedes AMG juggernaut. More than just a race win, Sebastian Vettel’s 2017 Australian Grand Prix victory sent an affirmative message to the motorsport world that the Mercedes AMG could be beaten on pure race pace. While Hamilton and Mercedes AMG grabbed the second race of the season in China, Vettel countered by taking the next event in Bahrain. Winning a total of four grand prix races in 2017, Sebastian Vettel has nosed-out a 14-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in drivers’ championship after 11 events. In the team’s second Ferrari, Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen has been enjoying a consistent season. Raikkonen has placed on the podium for four races so far in 2017 and has played a valuable role in Ferrari’s battle in the constructors’ points.

While Ferrari was able to beat the Mercedes AMG cars three times this season, Ferrari has gone through some unpleasant moments in 2017. A win in Monaco by Sebastian Vettel was an uncomfortable 1-2 finish for Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen started on pole at the Monaco Grand Prix but had to settle for the runner-up spot due to questionable pit strategy where Vettel was allowed to gain an advantage through the first round of pit stops. Assessed by analysts as team orders favouring Vettel, Raikkonen was visibly displeased with the result during podium festivities.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

The Scuderia Ferrari squad has already exploited the mortality of Mercedes AMG in 2017 in a manner no rival had accomplished since the beginning of the 2014 season. With Sebastian Vettel leading the drivers’ championship and the team firmly in the constructors’ title hunt, there is a change for Ferrari to massively disrupt the Silver Arrows’ modern Formula 1 dynasty. In light of a highly contentious drivers’ championship battle between Vettel and Hamilton, we should expect to see Kimi Raikkonen become a support player in the remaining races of 2017.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Mercedes AMG

Photo Credit: Daimler AG/ Mercedes AMG

Team Grade: A-

Driver Grades
Lewis Hamilton: A
Valtteri Bottas: A+

For the fourth consecutive year the Mercedes AMG can be called the cream of the crop in the premier open wheel racing series. At the top of the constructor points once again at the mid-season mark of a Formula 1 season, the team’s primary driver Lewis Hamilton is continuing to perform at a level where his name will don the top of some impressive all-time lists. Tying Ayrton Senna with 65 career pole positions at the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton picked up his 67th career pole at the British Grand Prix on route to race victory.

Following the sudden retirement of world championship winning driver Nico Rosberg at the end of 2016, Mercedes AMG was faced with the immediate task of finding a pilot to occupy the second seat alongside Lewis Hamilton. After several seasons with Williams Martini Racing, Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was rewarded with the illustrious position behind the wheel of the Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ 2017 race car. In his fourth win with the team, Bottas captured his first career Formula 1 win at the Russian Grand Prix. Bottas collected a second victory later in the season in Austria.

Despite the familiarity of the Silver Arrows of Lewis Hamilton at or near the front in 2017, this season is by no means as dominant as previous years for Mercedes AMG. While Hamilton and Bottas claimed six grand prix wins collectively, the win total in previous years over the first 11-race span had been much higher. Between 2014 and 2016, Mercedes AMG won at least nine times in the same span. The simple cause for this disruption to the norms of past seasons is the competition has closed on the group. Ferrari and their SF70H race car have demonstrated an impressive ability of not only following in the tire tracks of Mercedes AMG but outpacing the German outfit. After several years where some assumptions were made that Mercedes AMG had, at times, held back the total speed potential of their vehicles, the Silver Arrows have presented with their first legitimate challenger.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

In the final part of the season, it remains to be seen if the Mercedes AMG team can resist their first major threat to another winning year. From 2014 to 2016, this time in the Formula 1 season saw Mercedes AMG positioned in a manner that the only championship point battles resided within the organization. This year, Lewis Hamilton is trailing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ points by 14 markers heading into the Belgian Grand Prix. Mercedes AMG leads in the constructors’ standings by 39 points after 11 races over Ferrari. There is no specific weakness in the team or with drivers Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas leaving only luck a factor through the remainder of 2017.

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: Intro

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images

An almost month-long silence of Formula 1 engines will be broken this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. The summer break for drivers and teams provide a rest period from touring across the world. For the 20-race 2017 calender taking teams through parts of Europe, North America, Australia and Asia, the break effectively breaks the season into two pieces.

Already in the 2017 Formula 1 season, audiences has already witnessed several spectacular scenes we haven’t seen for a while. Namely, steady competition against Mercedes-AMG for the first year since the introduction of the current gasoline/electric powertrain regulations. Ferrari has been an ongoing threat to defeat the Silver Arrows in almost every race. Between the manufacturers, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are battling for the 2017 drivers’ crown. 2017 is also the first time since 2013 that three constructors have won grand prix events.

Although the summer break is meant as a time to detach from the pressures of the grand prix schedule, there was little chance anyone involved in the sport was not constantly reviewing the first 11 races of the 2017 grand prix season or have not been looking ahead to the final 9 events.

Looking back to the season between the Australian Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix, 1 Racing Mind has compiled the strengths as well as weaknesses for each Formula 1 teams.

Formula 1 Team Report Cards

Mercedes AMG
Scuderia Ferrari
Red Bull Racing
Force India
Williams Martini Racing
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Haas F1 Team
Renault Sport Formula One Team
McLaren Honda
Sauber F1 Team

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Canada Post Puts Stamp on 50 Years of Canadian Formula 1 Racing

Photo Credit: Canada Post

Race fans visiting a Canada Post outlet in recent weeks enjoyed both a reminder of the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix (or also known as the Formula 1 Grand Prix Du Canada) as well as a celebration referencing 50 years since the first Formula 1-sanctioned event was held on our soil. A tribute to five decades of Formula 1 action that occurred almost annually (excluding 1975, 1987 and 2009 seasons), races at Mosport Park, Circuit Mont-Tremblant and at the present home on the track now-known as Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is recalled with a special postal collection. Entitled simply as "F1 in Canada", Canada Post's stamp set commemorating the 2017 milestone features the artistry of Paprika of Montreal in detailing five of Formula 1's most brilliant personalities who ever sat behind a steering wheel for the grand prix.

The official unveiling of the F1 in Canada stamps was made on May 15th with Sir Jackie Stewart and Joann Villeneuve (Gilles Villeneuve's widow). Representing different eras for the sport competing over 50 years, the F1 in Canada stamp set features four past legends as well as one driver who is actively building on his already remarkable 11 seasons in Formula 1.

Three-time World Driving Champion and 55-time race winner Lewis Hamilton scored his initial career win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as a rookie in 2007 driving for McLaren. Winning five Canadian Grand Prix events including the previous two with Mercedes AMG, Hamilton is second only on the total victory chart to Michael Schumacher. Standing at the top of the podium on seven occasions, the record-setting German also earned a spot in the Canada Post stamp set. One record broken by Schumacher was all-time pole positions set by another F1 in Canada stamp image. An iconic Brazilian who won 65 career poles and inspired an entire generation of racers, Ayrton Senna claimed the Canadian Grand Prix in 1988 and 1990 en route to two of his three championship seasons. Popularly remembered as the "Flying Scot" during the 1960s and 1970s, Sir Jackie Stewart competed in the first Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport Park in 1967. Stewart would go on to win the race in Canada during the 1971 and 1972 season.

The fifth and most befitting inclusion on Canada Post's F1 in Canada stamp release is Gilles Villeneuve. A Canadian Formula 1 competitor fondly remembered for his aggression on the race track, one of six career victories captured by Villeneuve was the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix. This 2017 stamp set is the second time the late Gilles Villeneuve is honoured on a Canadian postage paper. Villeneuve was previously celebrated individually by Canada Post in 1997 with a two-stamp offering featuring his likeness wearing a helmet along with his Ferrari 312T3 and 312T4 race cars. Applied to permanent domestic stamps, the pressing of five driver images is also joined by the artwork of a white coloured modern Formula 1 car rushing on track on front of a grandstand and the former American Pavilion seen at the current track on Notre Dame Island.

Being a motorsport enthusiast as well as a person who appreciates philately, I am ashamed to say the stamp set came as a complete surprise to me when it appeared in late May. Generally Canada Post announces many of their planned collector stamp series heading into a new year but did not recall any advance notice on a pressing saluting 50 Years of Formula 1 in Canada. Saying that, I do not mean to express anything other than pleasant surprise for the five-stamp set's release.

Available Releases for the F1 in Canada Stamps and Cost

Pane of 5 Stamps: $4.25
Booklets of 10 featuring two of each stamp design: $8.50
Set of Five First Day of Issue Special Envelopes: $9.25
Uncut Press Sheet Measuring 14.125" by 23.937": $21.25

There is also a very limited edition framed print version of each stamp design available. With between 250 and 750 examples being prepared as a charming framed item, Hamilton, Schumacher, Stewart and Villeneuve ones cost $99.95. 500 Jackie Stewart framed prints will feature an authentic autograph from the three-time Formula 1 champion and will cost $199.95.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hamilton Heralds Strong 2017 Offensive With China Win

Photo Credit: Daimler AG/Mercedes AMG

Formula 1 teams arrive to the Shanghai International Circuit having already made a first impression for the infant 2017 tour. Differences in the first pit stop cycle in the Australian Grand Prix rocked the series in its season opener. Bolstered by fast pit work and opportune timing, Sebastian Vettel was able to edge the lead away from Lewis Hamilton and piloted his Ferrari to a popular win. Showing to be no slouch in overall pace, Scuderia Ferrari stood out in Australia as potentially countering Mercedes AMG in a way not seen since the German team’s dominance stretching to the 2014 Formula 1 season. The second race in China would go a long way to declare whether Ferrari enjoyed what would be one or maybe several flukes or could be a legitimate, season-long challenger for the championship.

Hosting the Chinese Grand Prix for a 14th time, the Shanghai International Circuit has a history for providing a lively competitive affair with several occasions of overpassing. For the 2017 edition of the 56-lap race on the 5.451-kilometer track, a passing rain shower added the challenge of a damp track as all but two drivers started the race on intermediate tires (Carlos Sainz Jr for Toro Rosso and Jolyon Palmer’s Renault were the only exceptions choosing supersoft slick tires). Collecting his second pole of 2017, Lewis Hamilton grows one step closer to setting a new Formula 1 record in the grand prix events upcoming this season. The Mercedes AMG’s total 63rd pole positions is only two behind Ayrton Senna and five short of Michael Schumacher’s current record of 68 poles. Similar to his start at the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton timed his acceleration perfectly. While Lewis Hamilton’s launch served as a major race-impacting move, much of the talk after the start of the Chinese Grand Prix was Sebastian Vettel’s positioning at his grid spot. Though the Ferrari was located noticeably further to the left of his designated starting position, the FIA stewards chose not to levy any form of penalties against Vettel (However, the sanctioning body did caution this may not be the case if similar incidents occurred in the future). This was the second time in this young 2017 Formula 1 season where a start was marred with an irregularity.

Photo Credit: Daimler AG/Mercedes AMG

Evidently, Sebastian Vettel’s positioning provided no tangible advantage as the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG race car darted away for an early lead on the Shanghai International Circuit. Clockwork for the leaders, the opening stage of the Chinese Grand Prix would contain some turmoil for others. Sainz Jr on slick tires spun on lap 1 but was able to resume the grand prix and would ultimately post a strong effort. Unfortunately for Canada’s Lance Stroll, an impact between his Williams-Mercedes and Sergio Perez’s Force India ended poorly for the rookie on the first lap. Alter starting 10th after making his first career Q3 appearance in Formula 1 qualifying, Stroll’s race ended with the turn 10 collision. “I was in front, knew the corner was mine and had to turn in eventually. It was just unfortunate as that was my race over. I got hit and then the car was broken, most likely with a puncture and damaged suspension.”, said Lance Stroll has two retirements to show for his first two Formula 1 starts. For Williams Martini Racing, a strong qualifying effort by both cars was foiled on race day fully as Felipe Massa struggled with grip in the remaining team car crossing the finish line in 14th place.

A virtual safety car came out for Stroll’s gravel trap parked Williams would be replaced by an actual safety car period. On the final corner of lap three for Antonio Giovinazzi, his Sauber-Ferrari kept some standing water on the track and flew dramatically into the inside track barrier. As the yellow flag was deployed and the wrecked Sauber was retrieved, remaining competitors of the grand prix were led down pit road for three laps going through that section. The Italian driver was unhurt from the hard impact that was his second major single-car collision for the weekend in China. Giovinazzi has also crashed in the same area of the Shanghai International Circuit in qualifying on Saturday.

While almost every starter chose intermediate tread tires for the start of the Chinese Grand Prix, the time spent on that type of rubber was brief. Despite track dampness at the start, the remaining Formula 1 field had all converted to Pirelli slick tires by lap four.

When the race went back to green, the drying Shanghai track was controlled at the front by a strong Mercedes AMG race car. As Lewis Hamilton led the Chinese Grand Prix, some of the most impressive driving arrived from competitors who started in the back of the Formula 1 field. Lined up in 16th place on the grid after reported power unit issues in qualifying, Max Verstappen for Red Bull Racing soared quickly through the field. Verstappen climbed to 7th place after 11 laps with his progress continuing during the ensuing laps that would result in a climatic fight.

In the late laps, Max Verstappen held third place with a hard charge coming from his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. After a nightmarish start to the season in his home country’s grand prix, Ricciardo obviously wanted a podium finish as a form of redemption. Daniel Ricciardo appeared to his left nothing on the table when it came to challenge the young Verstappen.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Handsomely controlling the Chinese Grand Prix from the start, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes AMG team retaliated against the challenge of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Crossing the finish line 6.250 seconds ahead of the German establishing himself as the Brit’s 2017 title rival, Hamilton felt the pressure in what he described as “some really tricky conditions” on the track.

In the drivers’ points standings, the result means Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are tied based on the fact they swapped finishing positions from the Australian Grand Prix. The win combined with Valtteri Bottas’ sixth place finish  does hand Mercedes AMG a slim single point lead in the constructors’ title after two races over Ferrari. The fourth consecutive victory for Mercedes AMG, the victory was the time both the team and Lewis Hamilton collected top honours at Shanghai. The retired 2016  world champion Nico Rosberg won last season for the team while also capturing a momentous 2012 win that served as the Silver Arrow’s first full-fledged constructor victory since 1955. Three of Hamilton’s triumphs in the Chinese Grand Prix came with Mercedes AMG with the other two took place with McLaren.  

Aside from some minor controversy relating to the grid positioning, Sebastian Vettel’s 2nd place run in China will be remembered with some positivity for fans looking forward to a solid fighter against the Mercedes AMG juggernaut of recent years. The fastest race lap of Vettel’s Ferrari was just 0.045 seconds short of Lewis Hamilton’s best effort. Ferrari’s second car driven by Kimi Raikkonen finished 5th ahead of Bottas’ Mercedes AMG.

The duo between the Red Bull-TAG Heuer machines ended after 56 laps with Max Verstappen prevailing. Within DRS range in the final laps, Daniel Ricciardo just couldn’t find a way around his teammate. The second race of the 2017 Formula 1 season saw the podium represented by three distinct teams. That feat was accomplished only four times during the entire 2016 21-race season with many eager to see greater parity through the upcoming 2017 grand prix events.

In 7th place, Carlos Sainz Jr recovered from his less-than opportune race start to post collect points in both Formula 1 events in 2017. For the first time this season, Haas F1 Team registered a point-scoring result. A newcomer to the American-based Formula 1 organization Kevin Magnussen took the 8th spot at the end of the Grand Prix of China. Magnussen has taken to the Formula 1 grid with all four power units (Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Ferrari and Renault) over four seasons and has gained top-10 finishes with three of them. Off to a good start in 2017, Force India repeated an optimistic feat in China for the team. In order, driver Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon scored the final two point-paying positions indicating a consistent effort from Force India.

From China, the 2017 Formula 1 departs for Bahrain setting up the season’s first back-to-back race weekend stage. The Bahrain Grand Prix is set for Sunday April 16th.

2017 Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
7 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Reanult
8 20 Kevin Magnussen Hass F1 Team Ferrari
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes-Benz
11 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault
13 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
14 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
15 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
16 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
17 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
18 36 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber Ferrari
19 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda
20 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes-Benz

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Vettel And Ferrari Send Message With Season-Opening Win in Australia

Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.

Serving as the opening season round of Formula 1 competition in 24 of the previous 26 seasons, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne hosts 10 teams and 20 drivers all aspiring to put immediately place their best foot forward in 2017. A new season already promising to be one of intrigue, new vehicle regulations and driver lineups greatly buffers a transition from a 2016 campaign.

For the first time since 1994, a Formula 1 season will not feature the reigning champion in title defence. Skillfully capturing the 2016 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship after a heated battle with favoured teammate Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg shocked the motorsport world by announcing his retirement from the series almost before the champagne from the celebration had a chance to go stall. Causing some reorganization within Mercedes AMG (one of four Formula 1 teams intending to maintain their driver lineup for 2017), popular rumours ended up true as Williams Martini Racing driver Valtteri Bottas was named to fill the vacated seat. The move led Felipe Massa out of retirement to retake a place in the second Williams-Mercedes race car alongside Formula 1 newcomer and 2016 Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll.

Beyond chain reaction caused by Nico Rosberg’s surprise pullout of Formula 1, changes made for the 2017 championship includes the addition of Kevin Magnussen to the now-sophomore Haas F1 Team, Nico Hulkenberg joins Renault while Pascal Wehrlein has found a new ride with Sauber in the wake of Manor Racing’s shutdown. Wider Formula 1 cars with an overall width expanded by 20 centimetres compared to 2016 rules are joined by tires with an increased tire width. Promising to deliver fast cornering speeds for 2017, the new cars are also features updated looks courtesy of new team colours. The most striking sights on the 2017 Formula 1 grid are the pink Force India race cars as the Australian Grand Prix prepared to be launched on the 5.303-kilometer race track for 58 laps.

For the fourth year in a row, the Mercedes AMG handled by Lewis Hamilton grabbed the first pole position of the Formula 1 season at Albert Park. Thanks to the new technical regulations, Hamilton obliterated his 2016 pole qualifying lap time by 1.649 seconds. The 1-minute, 22.188-second lap time that gave the #44 Mercedes AMG the top spot for the Australian Grand Prix was the Brit’s 62nd career pole position in series competition drawing his total to within three of Ayrton Senna and six of Michael Schumacher. In defiance to the common appearance of an all-Mercedes AMG front row, Sebastian Vettel piloted his new Ferrari SF70H race car to the second-fastest effort in qualifying narrowly beating Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes by a mere 0.025 seconds in Q3. Kimi Raikkonen recorded the fourth quick time resulting the first two rows of the 2017 Australian Grand Prix being shared by race cars from Germany and Italy. The third row of the first grand prix of the year was shared by Max Verstappen’s Red Bull race car and Romain Grosjean’s Ferrari-powered Haas F1 Team race machine.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone/LAT Images/ Pirelli

Over the course of the previous three seasons, the Mercedes-Benz factory team had only lost eight grand prix events. The seemingly indomitable Silver Arrows have used victory at the Australian Grand Prix as the launching pad for year-after-year of dominance. After an aborted start caused by a mispositioned race car on the grid that saw a lap trimmed from the race’s running distance, Lewis Hamilton powered to an early lead. However, while the Mercedes AMG occupied the top spot, Sebastian Vettel maintained a tight interval with Hamilton. Within a second of the leader in the opening laps, the early pace of the Ferrari resulted in Vettel being able to rely on DRS. Under pressure, Lewis Hamilton still showed some of his trademark strength eventually pulling away from Sebastian Vettel’s car.

With Mercedes AMG and Ferrari showing themselves as frontrunners in the maiden laps in Australia, the appearance of a third team was lacking a second car. Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing RB13 ran strong but his teammate endured a frustrating outing in his home country’s race. Daniel Ricciardo crashed in qualifying and his race team rushed to have their driver compete for the Sunday event. Despite their best efforts, the Red Bull Racing team missed preparing Ricciardo’s car for the start of the race. After the second lap, Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull TAG Heuer vehicle was sent out on track to the delight of the Australian fans. Sadly, this outing was brief as Ricciardo and his team retired their race car after 25 laps. Understandably, Daniel Ricciardo regretted missing the opportunity to mount a good showing for his home nation’s fans. Expressing that he felt for the fans and that he was “...super grateful for everyone that came this weekend”, the Australian competitor responded fondly, “Even when I stopped they were still cheering and shouting my name”.

Daniel Ricciardo travelled further than Romain Grosjean, Jolyon Palmer and Marcus Ericsson who suffered early ends to their opening outings of the 2017 Formula 1 season. With the first grand prix of 2017, the trip to Melbourne was also the first-ever event for Canadian Lance Stroll in the world’s top open wheel racing series. Struggling in qualifying to dial in his Williams-Mercedes, Stroll started at the tail end of the starting field for the Australian Grand Prix. The race provided a better debut outing for Lance Stroll until a brake failure resulted in a retirement after 40 laps.

At the front, a single pit stop among the leaders established the winner of the Australian Grand Prix. Coming to the attention of his Mercedes AMG team on lap 17, Lewis Hamilton was able to swap out his purple-sidewalled ultrasoft Pirelli tires in favour of yellow-sidewalled soft compound tires turning the lead over to Sebastian Vettel. Having not pitted, Vettel led five laps before what would be his stop for tires. When lap 22 arrived, the Ferrari driver made his one and only pit stop. The combination of an attentive service by the Ferrari pit crew and some traffic Hamilton contended with meant Vettel left the pit lane just ahead of the Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power race car of Lewis Hamilton. The pit exit win was the deciding move as the Ferrari would pull away.

Crossing the finish line 9.975 seconds in the lead, Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix and the first race of the 2017 season. Vettel’s 43rd victory in Formula 1 competition, the German driver only previous win at Albert Park came in 2011 when he piloted a Red Bull-Renault. Sebastian Vettel becomes the first driver outside of the Mercedes AMG to lead the World Drivers’ Championship standings since the start of 2014.

Photo Credit: Daimler AG 

Going through the entire 2016 Formula 1 calender without a win, Ferrari returned triumphant with their new SF70H race car. After the race, Ferrari’s chairman Sergio Marchionne stated “It was about time.” for the race team to once again celebrate a win in Formula 1. Along with Sebastian Vettel’s victory, Kimi Raikkonen took 4th place in the Finnish competitor’s best result in the Australian Grand Prix since winning it in 2013. Collecting a total of 37 constructor points, Scuderia Ferrari leads the team standings.

Settling for second-best, Lewis Hamilton recorded his 105th podium result in his Formula 1 career. Graciously accepting his effort in Australia, Hamilton was happy with the start but realized the threat of Vettel’s Ferrari as the starting set of tires on his race car overheated. In his first outing with the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team, Valtteri Bottas made an admirable on-track debut. Capturing the final podium spot, Bottas’ finished less than 1.3 seconds behind his teammate. Both Mercedes AMG team drivers cited grip issues on their ultrasoft slick tires at the beginning of the event but Bottas maintained on the race track eight laps longer than Hamilton before his pit stop. Mercedes AMG left the first race of the 2017 Formula 1 season with a respectable 33 points in the constructors’ championship.

Max Verstappen recorded his best career finish in the Australian Grand Prix in 5th place while Felipe Massa jumped one position from his starting spot to claim 6th place. Force India’s first outing with the eye-catching VJM10 race cars was a double point-scoring affair. Sergio Perez finished in 7th position while Frenchman Esteban Ocon grabbed his first-ever point in Formula 1 competition by crossing the finish line in 10th place.

Photo Credit: Zak Mauger/LAT Images/ Pirelli

Sandwiched between Force India cars in the final result of the 2017 Australian Grand Prix was Scuderia Toro Rosso. Starting his third season in Formula 1 by maintaining a perfect record of scoring points in the opening round, Spain’s Carlos Sainz Jr took the eighth spot driving the STR12 race car powered by a non-branded Renault power unit. All but one top-10 finisher of the 2017 Australian Grand Prix depended upon a single pit stop strategy. The only driver to crack the points-scoring positions using a two-stop plan was Daniil Kvyat finishing behind his Toro Rosso teammate in ninth place.

Heading to the Shanghai International Circuit for the Chinese Grand Prix set with an April 9th race date, the sampling of what could be in store for Formula 1 fans in 2017 presented at Australia may be indicating one of the most contentious seasons in years.


2017 Formula 1
Australian Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Reanult
9 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
10 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes-Benz
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault
12 36 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber Ferrari
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda
14 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Hass F1 Team Ferrari
16 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes-Benz
17 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
18 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
19 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
20 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari