Tag Archives: McLaren

Honda to return to F1 as engine supplier to McLaren in 2015

Honda is to make its return into Formula 1 after a 5-year absence, supplying engines to the McLaren team from 2015 onwards.

They last partnered McLaren from 1983 to 1992, resulting in several utterly dominant years with clearly superior turbocharged engines. The 2014 V6 formula has clearly piqued Honda’s interest, with president and CEO Takanobu Ito stating:

The new F1 regulations with their significant environmental focus will inspire even 
greater development of our own advanced technologies and this is central to our
participation in F1. “We have the greatest respect for the FIA’s decision to introduce these new regulations
that are both highly challenging but also attractive to manufacturers that pursue
environmental technologies and to Formula One Group, which has developed F1 into a
high value, top car racing category supported by enthusiastic fans.

Honda dropped out of F1 after 2008, after a second dreadful season in a row. Their last engine supplier deal was to Jordan and BAR in 2002, but it seems that the McLaren-Honda releationship is a match made in heaven.

 

Chinese Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton seals inaugural pole position for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has earned his first pole position of his Mercedes career in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside him on the front row, the first time he has done so since 2008. Fernando Alonso is 3rd, while the Red Bulls had a torrid session, struggling with fuel pressures and the option tyres. Sebastian Vettel is 9th, while Mark Webber drops all the way to 22nd after running out of fuel in Q2.

Here is what happened this morning:

Q1

Q1 saw a suspiciously slow start to the session, taking almost 10 minutes for a single car to venture out on track.

This was due to the option tyre being weaker than Pirelli had predicted, and teams feared they would only be good for one or two flying laps.

Eventually the Mercedes drivers set the pace, almost half a second faster than anybody else. Felipe Massa continued his good run of form,  finishing higher than teammate Alonso, while Webber and Vettel attempted to minimise the amount of time spent on track.

Jules Bianchi impressed again, running as high as 16th until the Toro Rosso’s final runs, but he was still within 0.7 seconds of Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:37.769

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:37.990

19) Jules Bianchi – 1:38.780

20) Max Chilton – 1:39.537

21) Charles Pic – 1:39.614

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:39.660

Q2

The second part of qualifying saw most of the focus on Red Bull. They started the session on scrubbed option tyres, landing them 5th and 8th places initially.

But disaster struck Mark Webber, who slowed to a halt at Turn 14 with a fuel pressure problem. It later emerged that Mark’s car was underfuelled, and he will drop to the back of the grid as punishment.

After a disappointing Friday, Sergio Perez was in for more bad form today, as he exited Q2 only 12th, while his teammate easily slotted into Q3.

Daniel Ricciardo impressed with 9th place, well ahead of his teammate, and the first time he has gotten into Q3 since Bahrain 2012.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Paul di Resta – 1:36.287

12) Sergio Perez – 1:36.314

13) Adrian Sutil – 1:36.405

14) Mark Webber – 1:36.679

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:37.139

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:37.199

Q3

Again, it was a slow start to Q3, with only Sebastian Vettel venturing out on track in the opening minutes. However, he pitted soon after, indicating he was not about to set a fast lap in this session.

Nico Hulkenberg attempted the same strategy, while Jenson Button set a slow lap time on the primes to ensure he was to qualify ahead of the two Germans.

It was surprising to see two of the big names participate, but the other drivers weren’t so conservative. Kimi Raikkonen set the initial pace with a 1:34.7, but this was smashed by Hamilton by nearly 3 tenths of a second.

Nico Rosberg made a mistake in the final corner, and could only manage 4th, behind Fernando Alonso, who avoided being out-qualified by his teammate for the 5th time in a row. Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo went almost unnoticed in Q3, taking 6th and 7th respectively.

Obviously, Hamilton is in the best starting position for the win tomorrow, but he has some stiff competition breathing down his neck – Raikkonen, Alonso, Rosberg and even Vettel will also be in contention.

McLaren MP4-28 released in Woking

McLaren are the second team to show off their 2013 challenger – the MP4-28.

Drivers Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, as well as team principal Martin Whitmarsh were at team HQ in Woking to unveil the machine. Button described it as “the best car we’ve ever made”.

However, as astute viewers will have noticed by now an issue – the car looks visually very similar compared to last year’s version.

This has led to more speculation that McLaren, following Lotus’ lead, have not fully equipped their cars will all available upgrades, and are hiding them until the pre-season test in Jerez.

Still, technical experts have noted the addition of pull-rod front suspension, lower rear wishbone and higher nosecone. Interestingly, it is believed that McLaren’s car is running the optional FIA “vanity panel”, and has been “blended in” to the front of the car.

More details will be added as they emerge.

Hamilton back on form, takes pole in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton has taken his first pole position in Abu Dhabi since the Singapore Grand Prix. The McLaren driver was miles ahead of anyone else, taking pole by over 0.3 seconds ahead of Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel was disappointed with 3rd, but Fernando Alonso was even angrier with 7th position. Here is what happened:

Q1

Pastor Maldonado was the first driver to set a 1:42, while the Lotuses could only manage 1:43s.

Fernando Alonso was out on track early, but could only pip Maldonado’s time. Jenson Button could only take 3rd place, even when most frontrunners hadn’t left the pits yet. Surprisingly, Maldonado set another good lap time, retaking the fastest time by 0.2 tenths.

Lewis Hamilton had a momumental lock-up on his first flying lap, ruining his front right tyre. Alonso retook the lead, until Lewis’ next attempt slashed the top time by 0.6 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel typically left his laps until late, but scraped the barrier on his first lap, causing a huge array of sparks to come out of his right rear tyre. His next lap left him 5th, while Mark Webber took 2nd.

Jean-Eric Vergne had a huge spin while lying 18th, which sealed his exit from Q1. Charles Pic impressed his team by splitting the Caterhams.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:44.048

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:44.956

20) Charles Pic – 1:45.089

21) Vitaly Petrov – 1:45.151

22) Timo Glock – 1:45.426

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:45.766

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:46.382

Q2

Again, Maldonado impressed right away in Q2, setting a 1:41.9 to take top spot in the early parts of Q2, until he was displaced by both Lotus drivers.

Following a dominative lap in Q1, Hamilton again went fastest in Q2. Vettel’s first lap was aborted, after he took too much kerb on the exit of a corner.

On his next lap, he took 2nd place, while teammate Webber pipped Hamilton’s time by just under a tenth of a second. However, that didn’t last long, as Lewis immediately responded with a 1:40.901.

It appeared as if Mercedes were going to have another embarassing exit from Q2, but Nico Rosberg pulled off a good lap to put himself 7th. After their impressive showing in Friday practice, Force India could only manage 11th and 13th.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:42.019

12) Sergio Perez – 1:42.084

13) Paul di Resta – 1:42.218

14) Michael Schumacher – 1:42.289

15) Bruno Senna – 1:42.330

16) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:42.606

17) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:42.765

Q3

Kimi Raikkonen was the first out of the pits, his Lotus sparking heavily as he undertook his first lap. A 1:41.756 set the benchmark, which was quickly annihilated by Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Button and Webber.

Sebastian Vettel took 2nd, but was almost half a second away from the charging Hamilton. A lock-up for Felipe Massa put him out of contention, with the second Ferrari only taking 6th place.

After good showings in Q1 and Q2, Pastor Maldonado was able to split the Red Bulls, taking 3rd position. After Mark Webber displaced the Williams and his teammate, Vettel was unable to improve, finishing in 3rd. He pulled over at the end of the session, indicating a car problem.

Fernando Alonso struggled on his final lap, and was knocked all the way down to 7th place by Button and Raikkonen.

Hamilton was left unchallenged to pole, and was absolutely ecstatic as he aborted his final lap. The championship battle has taken another twist, with both Vettel and Alonso further back than they would have wanted.

Sergio Perez confirmed to replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren

On the same day that Lewis Hamilton has announced his move to Mercedes, it has been confirmed that Sergio Perez will replace his role at the McLaren team.

Perez leaped into the sport in 2011, instantly taking it by storm. Three podium finishes this year has confirmed him as a “giant killer”, according to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh:

"On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I’m delighted to welcome 
Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he’s an 
extremely exciting prospect for the future.

It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant 
fastest lap in this year’s Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks 
nothing in terms of speed and commitment.

We’ve been monitoring his progress carefully for some months – and, now that he’s 
become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and 
develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.

Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. 
Jenson is one of motorsport’s greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of 
prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for 
victory on any Grand Prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his 
palette of skills, we’re convinced that he’s not only talented and quick, but also 
that he’s willing and eager to learn.”

He’s perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition 
to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver 
line-up for the new season."

Whitmarsh also praised Lewis Hamilton for his services to the team:

"Finally, it’s entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our 
thanks to Lewis. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and 
always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions’ club.

It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes 
without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that 
exclusive club before too long."

Unsurprisingly, Perez was delighted to be joining a frontrunning team:

"I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver.

The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. For more than 40 
years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for – I was 
brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna’s many world championship triumphs for 
McLaren – and I’m truly honoured that they’ve chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 
onwards.”

I’d like to thank Carlos Slim Jr, who has helped me since I was 14 years old, without 
whom I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Our journey together over the past eight years has been an incredible one, and I’ll do 
everything in my power to deliver with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the results that he 
and I have been working so hard and so long to achieve together.

As I say, I’ve worked very hard to get to this stage in my career, and I’m now massively 
looking forward to this next even more exciting stage. It’s fantastic that all the 
sacrifices I’ve made are now paying off.

For example, I remember very clearly the first day I left my family, when I was 15, to 
live in Germany to race in Formula BMW. It was tough for me – I was sleeping in a 
restaurant at that time – but the dream of one day becoming a Formula 1 driver kept me 
going through those difficult days.

Finally, I’d like to thank my beloved family, who’ve encouraged me at every turn, and 
last but far from least the people of Mexico, my home country, whose magnificent support 
I’ll do my very best to reward with future successes with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes."

 

Hamilton comfortably takes Singapore GP pole position

Lewis Hamilton has taken his fifth pole position of the year at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Hamilton comfortably led both Q2 and Q3, while Sebastian Vettel was unable to maintain his pace from the practice session. Pastor Maldonado impressed hugely with second, while championship leader Fernando Alonso is down in 5th.

Q1

As expected, the huge gap between the softs and super-softs caught out a few drivers. The Lotuses were both forced to expend a set of options in order to secure their place in Q2.

After hitting the wall in Friday practice, Bruno Senna again clipped the barriers, but got away with it, taking 17th.

Fastest laps were exchanged between Vettel and Hamilton, before Grosjean topped the timesheets on the super-softs.

Further back, Kamui Kobayashi was knocked out of Q1 for the first time this year.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:49.933

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:50.846

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:51.137

21) Timo Glock – 1:51.370

22) Charles Pic – 1:51.762

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:52.372

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:53.355

Q2

Again, Senna was involved in an incident with the walls – and didn’t get away with it this time. The Williams driver smashed his rear suspension at turn 21, and was out of Q2.

Romain Grosjean also spun and hit the barriers, but was able to continue after checks.

Again, the battle up front was between Vettel and Hamilton, with Lewis winning out by a tenth of a second.

The last-gasp scramble saw Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez all eliminated, while Michael Schumacher just pipped his way into the final qualifying session.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:47.975

12) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:48.261

13) Felipe Massa – 1:48.344

14) Sergio Perez – 1:48.505

15) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:48.774

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:48.849

17) Bruno Senna – N/A

Q3

Most cars exited the pits at the start of Q3, but only Hamilton, Vettel and Button actually set laps.

The Mercedes drivers made a brief appearance, but soon dived into the pits, indicating that they would be starting on the prime tyre.

Vettel’s next attempt was able to put him past one McLaren, but a 1:46.362 from Hamilton put him well ahead of the Red Bull. Sebastian was further surprised, when Pastor Maldonado put in an excellent lap to put him second on the grid.

Fernando Alonso was never on the frontrunners’ pace, and lined up 5th. The same went for Mark Webber, who starts a disappointing 7th, behind Paul di Resta.

With only a slight improvement from Vettel in the dying seconds, it was an easy pole position for Lewis Hamilton – even if he clipped the wall on his final attempt.

Disaster for Red Bull as Perez pushes Hamilton to Monza win

A surprisingly drama-free first corner

A surprisingly drama-free first corner

Lewis Hamilton has taken another victory at the Italian Grand Prix, but was pushed all the way by Sauber’s Sergio Perez. Fernando Alonso recovered from his poor grid position to take a podium, while Felipe Massa faltered and could only manage 4th.

The Red Bull’s races fell apart, as Sebastian Vettel was handed a drive-through penalty, and both drivers retired with only a few laps to go. Here is the full report:

At the start, Hamilton defended his lead against Felipe Massa, who had charged past Jenson Button on the main straight. Button made a move on the Ferrari, but was held back. Fernando Alonso began his charge back up the field, while Mark Webber had another awful start, dropping to 14th.

Michael Schumacher lost 4th place to Sebastian Vettel, while Alonso began pressurising the Mercedes from behind. After a few laps of tussling, Fernando used KERS to blast past him on the main straight.

Further back, Paul di Resta shoved Bruno Senna off the road at the Roggia chicane, and the Williams lost a place, nearly crashing into Mark Webber’s car when he rejoined.

Jean-Eric Vergne flies over the kerbs

Jean-Eric Vergne flies over the kerbs

Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a terrifying crash, as his suspension failed entering the first chicane, and the Toro Rosso nearly flipped crashing over the kerbs. The safety car was not called out, but DRS was temporarily disabled while the wreckage was cleared.

After a terrible few opening laps, Mark Webber sliced his way past Paul di Resta for 10th. However, by then, his teammate was all the way up in 4th, getting closer and closer to Jenson Button. Interestingly though, his team complimented the Brit on his pace, indicating a possible 1-stop strategy.

On lap 18, when most of the frontrunners were thinking of a pit stop, Sergio Perez pulled an excellent move around the outside of Kimi Raikkonen for 6th. At the same time, the sister Sauber was passed by Mark Webber for 9th place.

There were problems for Felipe Massa, as his team informed him that his car had lost telemetry transmissions. It got even worse for the Ferrari, as Jenson Button easily got past him at the Roggia chicane.

Massa pitted in response, taking on the harder tyre. After Pastor Maldonado set the fastest lap on a fresh set of tyres, Vettel and Alonso pitted in unison. They emerged just behind the slowing Massa. This pack of cars all battled to pass Daniel Ricciardo, and Alonso did his absolute best to get past the Red Bull.

Button soon pitted, but an unusually slow stop put him out only just ahead of the Massa-led pack. Hamilton pitted a lap later, leaving Sergio Perez in the lead of the race.

Alonso gets pushed off the track

Alonso gets pushed off the track

Alonso and Vettel soon began to battle lap after lap, with Sebastian eventually pushing the Ferrari onto the grass before Roggia, in a similar fashion to last year. Alonso just about held the car in a straight line, and rejoined the track behind the Red Bull.

Perez still led, but his hard tyres simply didn’t have the pace, and Lewis easily re-took the lead. At the same time, Alonso finally got past Vettel for 5th position. Surprisingly, the stewards showed unusual discipline on Vettel, handing him a drive-through penalty for forcing Alonso off the track.

Soon after, McLaren’s 1-2 fell apart, as Jenson Button pulled over with a mechanical issue. This left Felipe Massa in second, with Alonso fast approaching behind, and Schumacher 4th after Vettel’s penalty. However, Sebastian wasn’t slowed for long, finding his way past Mark Webber for 7th place.

Sergio Perez got past Kimi Raikkonen for 4th, and began closing in on the Ferraris at rapid pace. The situation was very clear, so Massa offered no resistance against the charging Alonso, allowing him into 2nd.

Almost 2 seconds a lap faster, Perez eased past Massa with absolutely no trouble. After only a few more laps, he managed to get past Fernando Alonso as well. Despite an amazing charge up the field, he didn’t stop there, instead putting the pressure on Lewis Hamilton for the rest of the race.

Alonso entertains the fans on the podium

Alonso entertains the fans on the podium

With only 5 laps to go, a disappointing race ended prematurely for Vettel, with a mechanical issue. Amazingly, it got even worse, as a spin and ruined set of tyres ruled Mark Webber out of the race with 2 laps to go.

Despite his insane pace, Perez was unable to catch Hamilton, who crossed the line 4 seconds ahead to win the Italian Grand Prix. Perez and Alonso took excellent podiums, while Michael Schumacher pushed Kimi Raikkonen all the way to the line, finishing in 6th place.

Kamui Kobayashi took a quiet 9th, while Bruno Senna leaped up from 12th to 10th on the last lap to snatch a point.

In terms of the championship, this leaves Alonso still well in front, while Hamilton moves up to 2nd, with Raikkonen further behind. Their double retirement leaves the Red Bull drivers 4th and 5th.

Hamilton heads McLaren lockout in Monza

Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for the Italian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was expected to challenge him, but a slip-up by Ferrari left him languishing in 10th place, while Felipe Massa enjoyed 3rd on the grid.

Jenson Button joined Hamilton on the front row, while Paul di Resta impressed with 4th. Predictably, the Red Bulls struggled massively, with Vettel 6th and Mark Webber not even making it into Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

One-off Lotus driver Jerome D’Ambrosio was one of the first out, setting a 1:26.712, while Nico Hulkenberg went straight on at turn 1. Teammate Paul di Resta briefly went a second faster, before he was displaced by Nico Rosberg.

Local hero Fernando Alonso set a 1:24.5, while Hulkenberg was forced to stop, after losing a gear on his Force India. While other drivers scrabbled to beat the Ferrari’s time, Alonso improved on it by another 0.4 seconds.

After several mistakes on his opening laps, Lewis Hamilton set the fastest sector 1 and 2 of the session, but lost a tenth in sector 3, and went 2nd. Jean-Eric Vergne was the first to take on the medium tyre, but didn’t improve on his time.

Jerome D’Ambrosio pulled himself out of the drop zone, but was pushed all the way by Heikki Kovalainen. Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated from Q1 for the first time in his career.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:26.441

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:26.887

20) Timo Glock – 1:27.039

21) Charles Pic – 1:27.073

22) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:27.441

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:27.629

24) Nico Hulkenberg – N/A

Q2

After one Force India was taken out of Q1, the sole remaining car driven by Paul di Resta was out first in Q2. All drivers took on the medium tyres, apart from Jerome D’Ambrosio.

Fernando Alonso’s time of 1:24.2 was again the time to beat. Jenson Button was fastest in S1 and S2, but again fell short to come 2nd. Lewis Hamilton was a tenth off his teammate, but claimed he was held up.

The Red Bulls were off the pace, with Vettel 9th and Webber 13th. The Mercedes drivers both made mistakes on their flying laps, leaving both drivers several tenths off the frontrunners.

After Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado all improved on their times, the Red Bulls were in serious trouble. Both left the pits with a few minutes to go, but only Vettel was able to move back into the top 10. Mark Webber was 11th, 0.06 seconds off Raikkonen.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Mark Webber – 1:24.809

12) Pastor Maldonado – 1:24.820

13) Sergio Perez – 1:24.901

14) Bruno Senna – 1:25.042

15) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:25.312

16) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:25.408

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:25.441

Q3

The Ferraris were first out of the pits for Q3. However, on their first lap they played a very interesting tactical piece – Alonso slowing down, giving a tow to Massa’s car. This small aero advantage put Massa on top with a 1:24.436.

Jenson Button got to within a tenth of Massa, before Hamilton went 0.4 seconds faster than anybody else. Alonso and Massa pitted, with Fernando not yet setting a fast lap.

Nico Rosberg went 4th, with Vettel back in 5th, before they were both displaced by Michael Schumacher. On his first lap with a minute to go, Paul di Resta immediately went into 2nd position.

It appeared as if Ferrari were about to repeat their slipstreaming trick, but Massa appeared to pull away from Alonso, setting his own fast lap, going 3rd on the grid. Alonso’s sector 1 was unusually poor, leaving him 10th.

Jenson Button improved on his time, but could only get within a tenth of his teammate. Lewis Hamilton led a McLaren front row lockout of Monza, while their rivals stumbled. Although Di Resta qualified in 4th, he will take a gearbox penalty for tomorrow’s race.

Italian GP practice: McLaren edge ahead of Mercedes

After Friday practice at the Monza circuit, it appears as if McLaren are the team to beat this weekend.

However, Mercedes and Michael Schumacher have shown promising one-lap pace, and several technical issues in FP2 stopped them from showing their full potential. Ferrari have decent pace, and the gap between Alonso and Massa is at its lowest in years.

Red Bull, meanwhile, are disappointed with their pace, stating they need drastic improvements by tomorrow afternoon.

First practice

Much focus was on Ma Qing Hua, making his debut appearance for the HRT team, and the first ever Chinese driver to take part in an official F1 session.

He ended the day last, 1.9 seconds off Pedro de la Rosa. On his first flying lap, he misjudged the braking spot at the first chicane, and clattered over the kerbs.

Kimi Raikkonen made the same mistake, before later crashing his Lotus over the harsher kerbs of the Roggia (second) chicane.

Michael Schumacher set the fastest time on the harder tyre – a 1:25.422, over 0.3 seconds faster than Jenson Button. Teammate Nico Rosberg was third, followed by the two Ferraris. The Red Bulls struggled back in 9th and 11th.

There were two retirements near the end of the session, both appearing to be technical-related. Fernando Alonso stopped at the first chicane and Pastor Maldonado pulled over at Lesmo 1 with his DRS flap open.

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time      Gap     Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1:25.422          26
 2.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.723  +0.301  29
 3.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1:25.762  +0.340  26
 4.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1:25.800  +0.378  22
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1:25.861  +0.439  27
 6.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.944  +0.522  30
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1:26.046  +0.624  25
 8.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.323  +0.901  26
 9.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:26.390  +0.968  24
10.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1:26.504  +1.082  19
11.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1:26.508  +1.086  18
12.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1:26.518  +1.096  21
13.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Renault      1:26.641  +1.219  26
14.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.746  +1.324  23
15.  Jerome d'Ambrosio   Lotus-Renault         1:27.180  +1.758  29
16.  Jules Bianchi       Force India-Mercedes  1:27.192  +1.770  22
17.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:27.373  +1.951  25
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:27.789  +2.367  24
19.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1:27.855  +2.433  27
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1:28.578  +3.156  20
21.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1:28.751  +3.329  26
22.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1:29.207  +3.785  21
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1:29.331  +3.909  21
24.  Ma Qing Hua         HRT-Cosworth          1:31.239  +5.817  26

Second practice

Local hero Fernando Alonso was forced to retire again with 20 minutes to go in FP2, cruising back to the pits in second gear. Despite not appearing for the rest of the session, he still managed third place, 0.05 seconds off Lewis Hamilton.

The McLarens were separated by 3 hundreths of a second at the front. Again, the Ferraris were very evenly matched, but Mercedes were unable to perform in FP2, due to a raft of issues.

Both cars lost their DRS systems at some point during the session. Schumacher’s car stopped communicating telemetry, while Rosberg suffered a variety of technical glitches.

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time      Gap     Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.290          32
 2.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.328  +0.038  35
 3.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1:25.348  +0.058  17
 4.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1:25.430  +0.140  43
 5.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1:25.446  +0.156  41
 6.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1:25.504  +0.214  42
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1:25.546  +0.256  40
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1:25.547  +0.257  36
 9.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.068  +0.778  32
10.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1:26.094  +0.804  38
11.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:26.104  +0.814  35
12.  Jerome d'Ambrosio   Lotus-Renault         1:26.157  +0.867  36
13.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1:26.394  +1.104  31
14.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1:26.404  +1.114  42
15.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.724  +1.434  33
16.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.730  +1.440  17
17.  Bruno Senna         Williams-Renault      1:26.783  +1.493  39
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1:26.841  +1.551  39
19.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.864  +1.574  36
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1:27.222  +1.932  36
21.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.944  +2.654  36
22.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.968  +2.678  36
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1:28.575  +3.285  34
24.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth          1:28.779  +3.489  21

Button crushes opposition with dominant Spa victory

Jenson Button has taken a dominative victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, leading every single lap. The McLaren driver utilised a 1-stop strategy and excellent pace to win by 15 seconds from Sebastian Vettel, who made several well-judged passes during the race. A huge crash at the first corner shook up the grid, allowing Nico Hulkenberg to take a brilliant fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen disappointed with 3rd place, while three of the frontrunners failed to finish the first lap. This is what happened…

At the start, it appeared as if Pastor Maldonado had massively jumped the start, leaping up to second place from 6th. A huge pile-up occurred at La Source, as Romain Grosjean clashed with Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren and Lotus cars careered into the first corner, taking out both Saubers, and smashing into Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

With debris everywhere, the safety car was an absolute must, as the marshals cleared up the carnage. Kamui Kobayashi pitted for a new front wing, while Sergio Perez, Alonso, Hamilton and Grosjean were all eliminated.

The safety car pitted at the end of Lap 4, allowing Button to defend his lead against Raikkonen. Further back, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel made progress, slicing past Heikki Kovalainen for 10th and 11th places.

Amazingly, the Force Indias were on fine form, Nico Hulkenberg putting a surprise pass on Kimi Raikkonen for 2nd. Michael Schumacher passed the other Force India for 4th position, having gained 9 positions in the opening laps.

Vettel soon out-braked Massa for 10th place, while teammate Mark Webber put pressure on Bruno Senna for 8th. However, the Red Bull’s short gearing system meant that he was unable to utilise DRS. Sebastian became impatient on the radio, and decided to make a move on the sister Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo furthered the glee of the Toro Rosso crew, passing Paul di Resta for 5th. After falling away drastically from his teammate, the Scot opted to pit on Lap 11, taking on the harder compound tyre. Suffering from the same issue, Webber did the same. He followed Kimi Raikkonen into the pits, who was easily passed by Michael Schumacher.

As Hulkenberg pitted from 2nd, Vettel made further progress, cleverly out-braking Bruno Senna at the Bus Stop chicane. As the order settled down, it became clear that Raikkonen had undercutted Hulkenberg. Soon after, the Lotus put a move on Nico Rosberg, at the same time as Vettel getting past Ricciardo up ahead.

There was more activity, as Ricciardo and Webber got past Nico Rosberg, before the Red Bull made a move on Daniel for 7th.

Vettel was on fire, and quickly was pressurising Michael Schumacher for 2nd. The two went side-by-side through the Bus Stop, but Schumacher caught Vettel unawares as the Mercedes entered the pits. Button pitted on Lap 20, taking on the hard tyres, indicating a 1-stop strategy.

As the order became more clear, Button pulled further and further away at the front, while Raikkonen, Vettel and Hulkenberg all scrabbled to keep up with the McLaren. Felipe Massa’s decent race pace began to deteriorate, being easily passed for 9th by Bruno Senna.

On Lap 28, the 2-stopping drivers began to pit. Hulkenberg, Webber, Massa and Raikkonen all took on fresh tyres, allowing Vettel into clear air in second place.

Having not pitted for a second time, Schumacher began to hold up Raikkonen. The ensuing battle allowed both Hulkenberg and Webber to catch up to the action. By Lap 32, Raikkonen was confident enough to out-brake the Mercedes into La Source. Swiftly after, Hulkenberg was all over the 6-time Spa winner. However, Michael surprised Kimi by being able to deploy DRS to retake his 3rd position.

Raikkonen was having none of it though, putting a brave move on Schumacher through Eau Rouge, in a similar fashion to Mark Webber’s famous pass last year. Hulkenberg tried to take advantage of the slowing Mercedes, going around the outside of La Source, but DRS meant that the Force India stayed in 5th. With 8 laps to go, the team opted to change strategy, putting Schumacher on new medium tyres.

Nico Rosberg suffered from the same issue, and pitted for the third time, dropping out of a points position. Jean-Eric Vergne eased past Bruno Senna for 8th place, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo soon put pressure on the Williams driver. Following the move of Mercedes, Senna decided to take on fresh tyres with 5 laps to go.

At the back, Heikki Kovalainen spun at Pouhon, allowing Pedro de la Rosa in the HRT to move out of last place.

There was nothing left to stop Button, who cruised to the chequered flag to take his second win of the season. Vettel finished 2nd, and Raikkonen struggled to 3rd, complaining to his team of a slow engine mode near the end.

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