Tag Archives: Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton takes last-gasp pole position in Spa

Lewis Hamilton has taken a surprise pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

While it appeared until the dying minutes that Paul di Resta would take the top spot, the changing conditions meant that the Mercedes driver could unseat the Force India, preventing their first pole position since Belgium 2009. Here is what happened:

Q1

With rain falling 20 minutes before the start of Q1, intermediates were equipped on all 22 cars.

The times tumbled throughout the session, with 10 seconds being shaved off the fastest time in the final few minutes. As the track became drier, the Marussia drivers and Giedo van der Garde opted to take on slick tyres, which paid off immensely. Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were 11th and 16th, while Giedo van der Garde took an unlikely 3rd place after being the last driver to set a time on the improving track.

However, this left a few bemused drivers at the back of the grid. Both Toro Rosso drivers, along with Pastor Maldonado, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutierrez and Charles Pic were all knocked out in the first session. Pic also took on the dry tyres, but was held up at the weighbridge, and was unable to set a fast time.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Pastor Maldonado – 2:03.072

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 2:03.300

19) Daniel Riccardo – 2:03.317

20) Valtteri Bottas – 2:03.432

21) Esteban Gutierrez – 2:04.324

22) Charles Pic – 2:07.384

Q2

As expected, the three backmarkers filled the grid spots from 14th to 16th, but all 3 were pleased with their personal best qualification finishes.

With the track dry in Q2, the best Giedo van der Garde could manage was 14th, with Bianchi and Chilton behind.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:49.088

12) Adrian Sutil – 1:49.103

13) Sergio Perez – 1:49.304

14) Giedo Van der Garde – 1:52.036

15) Jules Bianchi – 1:52.563

16) Max Chilton – 1:52.762

Q3

As 9 drivers sat at the end of the pit lane before Q3, rain began to fall once again. They all scrambled to set a fast time before the track dampened, but were forced to pit for intermediates, as the rain fell harder.

The last remaining driver – Paul di Resta – had quietly emerged from the pits, 30 seconds after everyone else, equipped on the inters. The rest of the paddock could only watch in shock as Di Resta grabbed pole position – or so he thought.

Force India believed that the rain would keep falling, and so pitted Paul, confident that pole was theirs. As the other drivers hastily rejoined the track on wets, they were unable to match Di Resta’s time in the wetter conditions. Nico Rosberg got the closest, but he was still half a second off the mark.

To Force India’s surprise though, the rain clouds slowly cleared, paving the way for a crazed finish to Q3. Rosberg then thought he had provisional pole secured, but within a matter of seconds found himself in 4th place. Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and then Lewis Hamilton all set blinding lap times, with the Mercedes driver eventually on top.

A bemused Di Resta finished 5th, ahead of the two Lotuses and two Ferraris. Hamilton and Vettel share the front row once again, and we are set for a stunner of a race tomorrow.

 

Lewis Hamilton takes first victory for Mercedes at Hungarian Grand Prix

With his first win for Mercedes now under his belt, Lewis Hamilton has now emerged as a serious title contender, taking a commanding victory in Hungary.

After his pole position yesterday, the Brit remarked that it would be a “miracle” if he could cling onto the lead by Lap 2. He did more than that though, stretching out a lead to his rivals during the race, and eventually cruising to the chequered flag.

At the start, Lewis got a clean start, while Sebastian Vettel was pressurised by Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg. Romain was squeezed off the racing line by the Red Bull, while Nico swiftly went backwards – clipping Felipe Massa’s front wing at Turn 5, and falling to 12th place. Grosjean then firmly held off Fernando Alonso, almost shoving him off the road to hold his position.

Up front, Hamilton and Vettel toyed with the DRS zone, but the Mercedes’ straight-line speed was enough for now. Grosjean kept the pressure on Vettel in the opening laps, but couldn’t get close enough to make a move.

It was expected that Mercedes would be forced to pit first, and there were few surprises when Hamilton pitted on Lap 10. He emerged behind Jenson Button, who would turn out to play a massive role in the development of the Grand Prix. Not wanting to be held up by his former teammate, Lewis executed a pass on the McLaren the following lap – which probably won him the race.

Like the race leader, Vettel also emerged behind Button, who had started on the prime tyres. However, Sebastian’s poor straight-line speed was to cripple his chances for victory, as while Hamilton sped away up front, the Red Bull languished behind an increasingly lacklustre McLaren. The same fate befell Grosjean, and the two could only watch as Lewis pulled out a 10 second gap.

A tense battle began to form, with Grosjean stalking Vettel, who in turn was watching Button’s pace carefully. Sebastian pounced first – on Lap 23, he pulled a brave move on Button at the unlikely spot of turn 4. Grosjean was eager to also put a move on Jenson, but whacked his wheel off the McLaren’s in the process, earning him an investigation by the stewards. Fernando Alonso, who by now had caught up to this battle, swiftly passed Button one turn later to continue his charge.

With possible wheel damage, Romain pitted on Lap 25 to check for any issues. He emerged behind Felipe Massa, and wasted no time trying to pass the Ferrari. While he pulled a fantastic move around the outside of turn 4, he had put all 4 wheels off the track while doing so, and suddenly he was under investigation again.

A few laps later, the Lotus driver was handed a drive-through for the Massa incident, while the Button clash would be investigated after the race. This scuppered any chances of a race win, but handed the advantage to his teammate, who had executed a 2-stop strategy plan to perfection.

Amidst the tense battles between Vettel, Grosjean, Button and Massa, Raikkonen had quietly used a longer second stint to leap into second place. He wasn’t the only one either – Mark Webber started on primes, and despite not making a single notable pass all day, he had crept up to 5th place, after temporarily leading the race earlier.

Annoyed after losing so much time, Vettel was forced to chase Raikkonen for second. But there was more than a slight chuckle heard in the Lotus garage soon after, after Vettel pitted from his second stop, and emerged behind Button yet again. Luckily, Jenson pitted within 2 laps, but even more damage had been done to the Red Bull’s chances.

After Vettel’s third pit stop of the day, he was left with 15 laps to close the gap to Kimi. With the advantage of fresher tyres, he quickly caught the Lotus, but passing it was another matter. Another tense battle ensued, with Sebastian having a look almost every single lap, but not being able to complete the pass. He had one final shot with 2 laps to go, trying to go around the outside of Turn 4, but Raikkonen slammed the door in Vettel’s face. In Kimi’s mind, this was payback for Sebastian beating him to the line in Germany the race before.

While it was mostly plain sailing for Hamilton in the second half of the race, there was a huge scare with 6 laps to go. Nico Rosberg, who had never really recovered from his first-lap shenanigans, suffered an engine fire and retired from the race. Worried faces were aplenty on the pit wall, but Lewis was unfazed, and took the chequered flag for the first time in 2013.

Raikkonen took second, as he does every time Hamilton wins in Hungary. Vettel was disappointed with 3rd, while Fernando Alonso just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the leaders in 4th. Romain Grosjean put the Ferrari under pressure in the final stint, but was held back. A 20-second time penalty for hitting Button negated any gains he would have made anyways.

Webber was 6th, Button 7th, Massa 8th and half a minute behind his teammate, Perez 9th, while Pastor Maldonado took the first point for Williams this season, although he was helped by Rosberg’s late retirement. Nico Hulkenberg was handed a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding, so he could only manage 11th. Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t convert a good qualifying position into a result, and finished 15th.

The championship battle is now more interesting than ever. While Vettel now has a slightly better lead over Raikkonen and Alonso, he now must deal with the threat of Hamilton and Mercedes in time. The question is, can Lewis recover the 48-point deficit in time?

Hamilton scrapes unlikely Hungary pole position

After an entire weekend struggling with a car that was supposedly off the pace, Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a sudden turnaround in luck, with a surprise pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes team languished in both Friday practice sessions, but were able to claw back the deficit to Red Bull and Lotus, with Hamilton and Rosberg taking 1st and 4th on the grid. A potential McLaren resurgence failed to materialise, while Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed another impressive qualifying performance.

Q1

Immensely hot conditions met the drivers on Saturday afternoon, with track temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celcuis for the entire session.

Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez, both of which missed running in Saturday morning practice, were both able to compete. The Sauber driver locked up his tyres on several of his flying laps though, and qualified 17th.

Paul di Resta suffered another torrid session, and was knocked out of Q1 for the third time in 4 races. This time, the team were not to blame, as a simple lack of grip left the Force India sliding all over the track.

Caterham appeared to have pulled out a gap to Marussia over the 3-week break, with Pic and Van der Garde finishing comfortably ahead of Bianchi and Chilton.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:21.724

18) Paul di Resta – 1:22.043

19) Charles Pic – 1:23.007

20) Giedo van der Garde – 1:23.333

21) Jules Bianchi – 1:23.787

22) Max Chilton – 1:23.997

Q2

In a turn of events as shocking as the Pope announcing he’s a Catholic, Mark Webber suffered a KERS failure and electrical issue in Q2, ruining any chances of competing at the front. His final lap put him 7th, but the team were unable to fix his issues for Q3.

Searing lap times from Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes duo dropped the lap times below the 1:20 mark, while further back the gap between 8th and 12th places was less than a tenth of a second.

Daniel Ricciardo did his chances of a Red Bull drive no harm with another Q3-reaching effort, alongside Sergio Perez, although Jenson Button didn’t do as well. Their last-gasp attempts put Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg out of the final session.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11)  Adrian Sutil Р1:20.569

12) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:20.580

13) Jenson Button – 1:20.777

14) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:21.029

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:21.133

16) Valtter Bottas -1:21.219

Q3

Both Rosberg and Hamilton, as well as Alonso and Raikkonen, did their first Q3 laps on scrubbed soft tyres, resulting in their lap times nearly a second off Vettel’s pace. Mark Webber made no appearance in this session, the team deciding that his car issues negated any advantages to setting a time.

Sergio Perez set a very slow time, albeit on the medium tyre, giving him a strategic advantage for tomorrow’s race. Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo lined up ahead of the McLaren driver.

The top 6 all went for one last attempt in the final few minutes, all on new soft tyres. Oddly enough, despite going extremely fast in the first sector, both Rosberg and Grosjean were unable to unseat the Red Bull. Fernando Alonso took what would become 5th position, with Kimi Raikkonen one place behind.

Lewis Hamilton had played down his chances of a win earlier this weekend, but pole position was still in reach, as demonstrated with a 1:19.388 lap time – just 0.038 seconds faster than Vettel. The Red Bull driver will start from the dirty side of the grid, but watch out for Romain Grosjean in 3rd, who has looked threatening all weekend.

Hamilton scrapes pole position for German Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton endured severe pressure from Sebastian Vettel to take pole position at the Nurburgring.

Teammate Nico Rosberg was hugely frustrated to be knocked out in Q2, while Ferrari are taking up an alternate strategy for tomorrow’s race. Here is what happened:

Q1

Williams suffered a disastrous performance at their 600th Grand Prix weekend, with both drivers failing to make the cut.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:31.693

18) Pastor Maldonado – 1:31.707

19) Charles Pic – 1:32.937

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:33.063

21) Giedo van der Garde – 1:33.734

22) Max Chilton – 1:34.098

Q2

Vettel’s 1:29.992 initially put him fastest, and indicated that the frontrunners were even faster than predicted. An impressive time from Romain Grosjean put him within 0.01 seconds of Vettel’s time.

The two Ferraris and Raikkonen soon knocked the Red Bull off its pedestal. However, the biggest shock of the session was when Nico Rosberg decided to stay in the garage, blinked, and found himself lying in 11th place. The Mercedes team were confident they would get through, but such was the pace of Ricciardo, Hulkenberg and Button, Rosberg will start from 11th place.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Rosberg – 1:30.326

12) Paul di Resta – 1:30.697

13) Sergio Perez – 1:30.933

14) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:31.010

15) Adrian Sutil – 1:31.010

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:31.104

Q3

With Rosberg out of the running, Hamilton was left to defend against both Red Bulls in Q3.

Both Ferraris and Jenson Button went out on the medium tyres, indicating that they didn’t feel that they were in the running. With Nico Hulkenberg opting not to set a time, this resulted in Daniel Ricciardo sealing an excellent 6th place on the grid.

A 1:29.622 for Vettel put him on provisional pole, with Hamilton soon retaking the lead. Webber’s first two sectors were faster, but a mistake at the end of his lap put him 3rd.

Sebastian’s final attempt put him a tenth ahead of Mercedes once again, but a stellar 1:29.398 from Lewis sealed his pole position. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean didn’t have enough pace to challenge, and lined up 4th and 5th.

Nico Rosberg wins bizarre British Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg has taken an unexpected victory today at Silverstone, after 4 tyre blowouts and a shock engine failure for other drivers gifted him first place.

Lewis Hamilton initially led proceedings, until the first of many tyre failures rocked his race. His left rear tyre was blown to bits, and the Mercedes driver dropped to last place after only 8 laps.

This granted Sebastian Vettel what appeared to be an easy victory. However, he was kept under pressure from Nico Rosberg throughout the race. While tyres were exploding left, right and centre, both Sebastian and Nico hung on, until a shock engine failure for the Red Bull put him out of the race, and granted Rosberg victory.

At the start, Rosberg had been jumped by Sebastian, while Mark Webber was shunted off the racing line by Romain Grosjean, and dropped to 14th place. Felipe Massa had a terrific start, leaping past his teammate up to 5th place.

Hamilton’s tyre failure destroyed his chances of victory soon after though, and Massa’s Ferrari suffered a similar fate only two laps later. This resulted in worried faces across the paddock, which was only made worse after Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a tyre explosion on the Hangar Straight on Lap 15.

The safety car was deployed to clear rubber debris, while team engineers examined tyre data from the first pit stops. Red Bull noticed that Vettel’s tyre had unusual cuts in the sidewalls, meaning they got extremely lucky with their pit stop.

Some engineers blamed the kerbs, the outside of which may have been causing unusual damage to the sidewall of the tyres. Others simply believed that the Pirellis weren’t standing up to regular wear, which is odd considering how the medium and hard compounds were being raced. Either way, it seemed as if a repeat of Indianapolis 2005 was on the cards.

The safety car peeled off on lap 22, with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso becoming embroiled in a battle with Lewis Hamilton, who had recovered from last place. Alonso had made his way up from 10th on lap 1, getting past Daniel Ricciardo, Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta in quick succession earlier on.

Hamilton later had a fantastic battle with di Resta over 11th place, after his second stop. Up front, Rosberg began to slowly catch Vettel, but it proved to be unnecessary, as the Red Bull suffered a catastrophic engine failure, pulling over on the pit straight.

With the safety car out for the second time, Rosberg, Alonso and Webber all pitted. This time, it was Nico who was granted good luck, as it was revealed that his tyres were developing blisters near the end of his stint. With 10 laps to go, Rosberg led Raikkonen – who hadn’t pitted – , Adrian Sutil, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.

The second Red Bull driver swiftly found a way past the Ferrari, and set his sights on the leaders. Together with Fernando, they carved up Sutil and Ricciardo in a matter of minutes, and were immediately all over the back of Raikkonen battling for a podium finish.

Kimi was left to rue not pitting under the safety car, as he was dropped from 2nd to 4th. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton charged up the field from 9th place, making his way up to 5th by the final few laps.

With the Force India and Lotus dispatched, Webber began a last-gap charge to catch Rosberg, getting to within the 1-second window in the final lap. Depsite a nail-biting push, Nico just hung on to take his second win of the year by only 0.7 seconds, with Webber and Alonso joining him on the podium.

Sergio Perez – the fourth victim of Pirelli delaminations – was forced to retire in the closing laps. Hamilton passed Raikkonen for 4th place, while Felipe Massa recovered from last to 6th place, pipping the Force India of Sutil, who had been gunning for a podium finish.

Ricciardo and Paul di Resta were left stranded in 8th and 9th, while Nico Hulkenberg scraped a point for the struggling Sauber team. After 64 consecutive points-scoring finishes, McLaren have now failed to score a single point in the last 2 races.

While this race will be rembered for a thrilling finish and the closing up of the championship contenders, there must also be serious steps taken to ensure that these tyre failures never happen again.

Hamilton storms to pole position for British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has delighted the home fans by taking pole position for his home Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mercedes have locked out the front row, with the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber on row 2 ready to attack. Ferrari and McLaren has poor sessions, with Fernando Alonso only starting 10th, and neither McLaren making it into Q3.

Q1

In a dry but windy session, Mercedes were quick off the mark. A 1:30.995 by Hamilton was the quickest lap all weekend, and saw no response in the first session.

Ferrari almost suffered a huge embarrassment, with their drivers lying 14th and 15th. In particular, Felipe Massa remained in the drop zone until the final few minutes, only matching his teammate’s time despite being on the faster compound tyre.

Esteban Gutierrez was knocked out of Q1 for the 6th time in 8 races, while Pastor Maldonado’s final lap put Valtteri Bottas back in 17th place. While Max Chilton qualified 22nd, Giedo van der Garde will start from the back, after his 10-place grid penalty from Canada.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:32.664

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:32.666

19) Charles Pic – 1:33.866

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:34.108

21) Giedo van der Garde – 1:35.48 1

22) Max Chilton – 1:35.858

Q2

Sebastian Vettel’s initial run in Q2 was 0.005 seconds faster than Hamilton’s Q1 lap – a signal that Red Bull were still in the running.

With an empty seat left by Webber at the end of this year, both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were keen to impress. However, Vergne ran wide on his final lap, and could only manage 13th, while Ricciardo made it into Q3.

Both McLarens were knocked out, taking only 11th and 14th places. Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen almost joined them, surprisingly, but both drivers scraped through.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:31.649

12) Felipe Massa – 1:31.779

13) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:31.785

14) Sergio Perez – 1:32.082

15) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:32.211

16) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.359

Q3

A 4-way shootout was on the cards, with both Mercedes and Red Bull duking it out in Q3. Mark Webber was first up, setting a 1:30.505, but this was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg by almost half a second.

Hamilton then put himself on top, while Vettel’s first attempt only put him 4th. With a few minutes to go, Rosberg’s second flying lap was initially faster, until a blinding lap by Lewis put him 4 tenths clear of the rest of the field.

Vettel could only slot in front of Webber in response, locking out the second row.

Raikkonen and Alonso were the disappointments of the day, only managing 9th and 10th respectively. Almost unnoticed performances were done by Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo, taking 5th and 6th places. Adrian Sutil was 7th, while Romain Grosjean marginally beat Raikkonen to 8th place.

Hamilton was ecstatic to take pole in front of his home crowd, but will he be able to hold off his 3 rivals behind?

Mercedes banned from 2013 Young Driver test as testing saga concludes

The long-running “testgate” saga has finally come to a close, with the Mercedes team being banned from this year’s Young Driver Test.

It comes as punishment for completing 1000km of in-season testing with Pirelli while using their 2013 car, which is against current sporting regulations.

The FIA noted in their tribunal today that Mercedes had “misconceived” what the team saw as approval from Charlie Whiting to complete the test, as it did not exempt them from the current restriction on using current season cars during testing.

It should also be mentioned that the legal costs of hosting the tribunal are to be shared between Mercedes, the FIA and Pirelli.

The biggest loser from this decision will be Sam Bird, Mercedes’ third driver, who will lose out on three days of potential Formula 1 driving experience before he attempts to break into the sport next year.

Ferrari also to be investigated over tyre testing debacle

The FIA is to include Ferrari in its investigation of in-season testing performed by Pirelli this season.

The only form of in-season testing as of now is straight-line aero tests, up to 4 promotional runs, and any young driver sessions that take place during the year. However, Pirelli and Mercedes have recently come under fire for undertaking 1,000km of testing after the Spanish Grand Prix.

However, Ferrari have now been included in this ever-heatening debate, after it emerged that they also performed a test session with Pirelli after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Both teams will now be forced to report to the FIA on the matter. It must be noted, though, that Ferrari were using their 2011 car instead of Mercedes’ 2013 model.

In a press conference today, Pirelli claimed that they had notified the teams of potential testing in 2013, but few of them had taken note. They also stated that they were not using their 2013 compounds, and Mercedes were not aware what type of tyre they were running on their car.

Whatever the result, it is clear that this saga will only generate more controversy and surprise as the season goes on.

Williams to switch to Mercedes engines for 2014

The Williams F1 team are to use Mercedes power units from 2014 onwards, after a new contract was announced today.

Williams have used Renault engines for the last 2 years, and this announcement comes as a surprise to many, seeing as it was believed that the two teams were to develop engines together for the 2014 season.

Since 2005, Williams have switched engine suppliers 4 times – Cosworth twice, Toyota for one year, and Renault for 2012 and 2013. This announcement with Mercedes did not specify how long the agreement would last for.

Having lost one of their clients, Renault have since announced that they will only supply “up to four” teams from next season onwards. Red Bull and Toro Rosso are confirmed to be staying with Renault, while Lotus and Caterham are still a mystery at this point.

Mercedes to face FIA over “secret tyre test” with Pirelli

Mercedes have been referred to the FIA by the Monaco Grand Prix stewards, over a secret test of Pirelli tyres after the Spanish Grand Prix.

It is understood that Mercedes applied for permission to the FIA for the test, but were granted the approval on condition that the Pirelli test car was used. However, it has emerged that Mercedes had ran their own car during the test, which would have granted the team an unfair advantage.

Ferrari and Red Bull have protested the test, and are clearly to gain if Mercedes face sanction for running their own car.

However, it should be noted that the result of the Monaco Grand Prix will stand regardless of any action by the FIA.

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