Lewis Hamiton Eases to Malaysian GP Victory

After an entertaining start to a new era of Formula One in Australia, the focus moved swiftly to Malaysia for the second race of the season. The Sepang International Circuit has a history of extreme weather changes- from blinding heat to atrocious rainfall. However this weather which can be just unpredictable at times makes the race weekend another exciting one to look forward too.

So could Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes team carry on from where they left off at Australia? Well here are my highlights of the 2014 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton grabs successive Pole Position in the wet

Too say it was wet during Qualifying is an understatement. The heavens truly opened on Saturday as the drivers battled for Pole. And once again, Lewis Hamilton finished top of the time sheets, even though it was just 0.055seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel- who had a decent weekend in an improving Red Bull car. Nico Rosberg, who won two weeks ago, qualified third. It was qualifying to forget for two drivers. Bottas suffered a three place grid penalty to start 18th after being accused of holding up another driver and Jenson Button, usually very accurate with his tyre choice, seemed to choose wrongly- meaning he could only secure 10th position on the grid.

Riccardio struggles again

Daniel Riccardio has found his start at Red Bull a frustrating one. After disqualification in Melbourne- the Australian seemed to have car problems this time around. The first incident occurred during a pit stop. Riccardio pitted as you do and then drove off promptly- however, what he hadn’t noticed was his front left tyre hadn’t been put on properly. This caused the driver to have to pull up in the pits and wait to be dragged back to the Red Bull garage to get the problem fixed. He may have wanted to reverse up the pits but that would have resulted in instant disqualification for unsafe driving and after Australia that was the last thing on his mind. This condemned Daniel to what was at the time a good race where he was comfortable in 4th– to a disastrous race near the back end of the pack. The young driver’s race got even worse a few laps later when his front wing seemed to collapse and cause him to ultimately retire.

Kimi left frustrated

Kimi Raikkonen is another driver finding times tough at the moment. His return to Ferrari hasn’t got off to the best of starts and in Malaysia; things weren’t going to get better. His race suffered after an incident with young Kevin Magnussen, where the Dane clipped Raikkonen’s rear tyre which resulted in a puncher. The Fin then never really got going- and only finished a disappointing 12th.

“Bottas is faster than you. Don’t hold him up.”

This was the team order from Williams to Felipe Massa, a man who has in the past had to let drivers go past him. Well it seemed Felipe has had enough of that, and refused to let Bottas through. As team mates, this may dent their relationship, but at the end of the day- Williams finished 7th and 8th. The team should come first, and silliness about who overtakes who can lead to serious incidents- do you remember Vettel and Webber for Red Bull in Turkey? Both drivers have an argument in this situation. Massa could claim Bottas was too far back to overtake and make a move for Button in sixth, whereas Bottas will feel he couldn’t do anything with Felipe in the way.

Perfect Weekend for Mercedes

It was Lewis Hamilton’s and Mercedes day in the end as they won the race with a 1st/2nd place finish (there first since 1955) which guaranteed them maximum points available for their bid for the constructors championship. Lewis Hamilton was comfortable all race with no real worries as he led for the majority of the race. Nico Rosberg came second to make his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 18 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton who with that win rises to second in the standings.

 Drivers Championship Standings (Top 5)

  1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 48 Points
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 25 Points
  3. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 24 Points
  4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 23 Points
  5. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 20 Points

 

Constructors’ Championship Standings (Top 5)

  1. Mercedes, 68 Points
  2. McLaren, 43 Points
  3. Ferrari, 30 Points
  4. Williams, 20 Points
  5. Force India, 19 Points

 

So I leave you with this- Do you think Massa did the right thing in not letting Bottas through? Either comment below Yes or No or tweet me at @leeham1996 with either #MassaYES or #MassaNO.

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Melbourne Win For Rosberg As New Era in F1 Begins..

Formula One has had one of the most anticipated build ups to a new season in history as the sport returned this weekend with new rules and regulations. These changes have been a struggle for certain teams to come to grips with such as World Champions Red Bull however teams like Mercedes have excelled- making themselves the favourites for this seasons constructors championship.

This season started with action, crashes and pure adrenalin, just as any Formula One season should. Here is my review of the 2014 Australian GP.

Albert Park

This is my favourite venue on the F1 calendar because it is fast, and particularly unpredictable, it’s very rare for a driver to win this race season after season.  With a particularly fast second sector and a slow final few corners, many have retired in this race due to driver mistakes. The question posed this season was whether drivers would manage to finish the race let alone challenging for points.

Rules and Regulation changes and their impact

Many changes were on show in Australia. The new V6 engines sound totally different to past engines used in the sport. The new petrol cap means cars must run from the beginning to the end of the race on one tank of petrol without filling back up, and the new eco-system and car system means if something faults the car becomes impossible to drive- therefore many retirements occurred at the weekend. Most noticeably, World champion Sebastian Vettel and world championship favourite Lewis Hamilton both retired due to car problems. It was also a weekend to forget for Lotus who finished last in the qualifying and both cars retired during the race.

The Debutants

It was a weekend to remember for some new drivers, especially McLaren Mercedes new boy Kevin Magnussen. The young Dane managed to secure a highly respectable fourth in qualifying and then third in the race- further pushed up to second following the disqualification of Daniel Riccardio. The Aussie himself before the disqualification had qualified and finished in a comfortable second. Also impressing fans was Torro Rosso’s Russian new boy Kvyat.

Rosberg Cruising to Victory

German Nico Rosberg came a comfortable 1st place in Australia and impressed with the very impressive Mercedes car. He won by a comfortable 26 seconds or so. The established f1 driver follows his father’s footsteps by winning the Australian open and therefore leads the championship after round 1.

Who do you think will win this season’s World Championship? Please comment below or tweet me at @leeham1996 with your answer and #F12014Winner.

Is Vettels’ Domiance ruining F1?

As we enter the final stages of another F1 season, it has once again been dominated by perhaps one of the best talents to ever take part in the sport, Sebastian Vettel. The German has one the past four races and seems likely to make it four consecutive world championships.

The German has been in a league of his own in the past few races, with his latest win in the Singapore nightlight the most convincing, leading to cries of moaning and booing for the current World champ. People don’t like to see dominance in a sport, and the fans are now starting to get somewhat annoyed about the lack of competition.

We can’t just Blame Sebastian for this though, he is a marvellous talent to watch and it’s just a shame that he doesn’t seem to have anyone capable to mount a serious challenge on the German. There are no cars either that can match the pace of Vettel’s Red Bull. Lotus made an early statement of intent along with Mercedes and Ferrari, but as the season has progressed the Red Bull has developed and just can’t be matched for raw pace and ability.

It would be nice to see some more competition in the sport, but personally I enjoy watching Sebastian Vettel, he is truly a world class maestro at Formula One. He manages to take the car to the extreme and pull results out, even if it doesn’t look likely. He can be too aggressive at times, silly mistakes causing him to miss out of the points or take someone out of the race, most ironically, the incident at the Turkey GP in 2011 when Vettel took out Red Bull team mate Mark Webber.

Although the Championship looks wrapped up; there is no reason why the last few races can be competitive. It isn’t over until the Fat Lady sings.

Drivers changing seats? F1 rumours intensify

As we hit the midpoint of the 2013 Formula One World Championship, rumours are already spreading around regarding the starting grid for the 2014 season, with many drivers linked to moves to other teams or being dropped. These are the current rumours spreading around the pit lane and my opinion whether they may go through or not.

One of the biggest rumours is that “Ice Man” Kimi Raikkonen could be the man current world champions Red Bull choose to replace the outgoing Aussie Mark Webber, who is leaving at the end of the season. Raikkonen has had a very stable return to the sport after a short spell in rally, and he secured a very respectable 3rd position in the drivers’ championship last year. I think Kimi has it in him to secure another world championship; having already conquered in motorsports elite competition in 2007 with the ever present Ferrari. With the raw pace and success that has come with Red Bull in the last few seasons, there is no question this would be a very good move for the Fin, as it may ignite a much more realistic title challenge. So watch this space as this is a deal which can be seen as realistic and very much possible.

Recently, Torro Rosso driver Daniel Riccardio has been testing a RB9 and performed admirably. The difference in Riccardio joining Red Bull would be he would very much play second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel, whereas Kimi would make the competition between the two drivers more intensifying. Riccardio hasn’t for me really shone out as a future world champion, he has been average in the Torro Rosso for the past two seasons, he needs to gain more points finishes in my opinion to even be considered for a move to a team higher up the grid.

A final rumour spreading around comes away from Red Bull and more towards Ferrari, the most iconic team in F1 History. Current Brazilian and long serving driver Felipe Massa has been rumoured to lose his seat at the end of the season when his current contract expires, with his replacement being touted as either Force India’s British driver Paul Di Resta or Sauber’s German powerhouse driver Nico Hulkenburg. This move would satisfy Di Resta immensely due to his Italian links with his family, and this could make his relationship with the Italian team a lot stronger and friendlier. Paul and Nico have both shown their qualities behind the wheel and I do think they could both push towards a World Championship with a competitive team, no offense to Force India and Sauber.

These are like I’ve said Rumours, and they may not all become reality, but I’d keep an eye on these rumours because I believe they can become reality very easily, a future star will shine in the next few seasons, we’ll just have to wait to find out which lucky driver that will be.

Dominant Vettel wins Canadian GP

Round 7 of the F1 championship sees the franchise spend a weekend in Canada. This was the first race since the debate surrounding the pirelli tyres and Mercedes.
Qualifying saw poor performances by top drivers as Felipe Massa ended 16th, as well as the mclaren pairing Jenson Button and Sergio Perez both went out at q2. It was a familiar story up front as Seb Vettel gained yet another pole position as the championship leader looked quick on the Montreal track. A highlight of the session was Bottas, who ended 3rd in his Williams, his best ever qualifying in f1 and Williams best result this season.
Vettel made a strong start, making a quick start and gaining a lead early on. It was a disastrous start for Bottas though, as his Williams was overtaken by Webber and Rosberg early.
It was a race to forget for Sutil, as he span on lap 6 which saw him drop from 8th to 13th, it was a miracle no car hit the stranded German. The incident was reviewed by race stewards. Kimi Raikonnen also had a rather troublesome race; as he suffered similar problems as he did in China and then on lap 23, had his right rear tyre fail to go on during a pit stop.
One driver looking good for a podium place was Mark Webber- that was until his front wing came off in an incident involving caterham rookie Van Der Gaarde. Webber relucted to go to the pits and consequently was overtaken by Fernando Alonso on lap 42.
Van Der Gaarde eventually retired on lap 48 along with Sauber driver Nico Hulkenburg as the two drivers collided and both suffered race ending problems.
Back to Adrian Sutil, the German was given a penalty for failing to respond to a blue flag- which looked to end his hope of a points finish.
With 7 laps remaining; Alonso managed to eventually overtake Lewis Hamilton to gain second place.
But the race was Seb Vettels from the very start. The German was always in control and will extend his lead at the top of the F1 world championship.

Result: 1. Vettel; 2.Alonso; 3.Hamilton; 4.Webber; 5.Rosberg; 6.Vergne;7.Di Resta; 8.Massa; 9.Raikkonen; 10.Sutil

Retirements: Van Der Graade; Hulkenburg; Guiterrez

“I can Win a Race in 2013”- Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton believes his Mercedes is capable of helping him achieve a maiden win with his new team and told Sky Sports that he can win a race this year. The 2008 World Champion has made a decent start to the 2013 season, although Bahrain didn’t go to plan for the silver arrows.

Although Mercedes have only won a solitary race in their 3 seasons of competitiveness, Hamilton has expressed his confidence of standing on top podium at some stage this season.

“I am Hopeful we can win this year, particularly as we have things coming in the pipeline with upgrades and improvements for the car”. Hamilton told Sky Sports f1’s Martin Brundle in an exclusive interview.

When asked about his view on moving teams in the close season, Hamilton stated “The team is different, different set of people who I’m really enjoying working with and it’s a new set of challenges, which is what I wanted”.

Lewis Hamilton has obviously enjoyed making the transaction from Mclaren to Mercedes and his next opportunity to try and win for the first time with Mercedes is the Spanish GP in two weeks time.

F1: Australian GP review

Last weekend, the much anticipated return of F1 didn’t disappoint. The opening round of the championship is one of my favourites, as you don’t know what to expect. Obviously pre-season testing give a slight indication of the quicker cars; but these never do tell the whole story.

The Australian GP in Melbourne is very much one of the most attractive in the F1 calendar. I love this circuit, as its one of the quickest tracks with plenty of excitement.

 

Qualifying had perhaps the most atrocious weathering conditions for many years. Heavy downpours and consistent showers took their tall and many cars were seen losing control- spinning into barriers and into gravel. Qualifying 1 was complete though, as unsurprisingly both Caterham and Marussia locked up the bottom 4 places on the grid, with Williams driver Pastor Maldonado the surprise driver to miss out on Q2, coming an unconvincing 17th on the grid. The rest of the day was a washout, and red flags indicated that the day’s racing ceased for the day and were to resume early Sunday morning.

 

Sunday was much drier, but water still sat on the track. The most surprising incident was by McLaren Mercedes; who had been underperforming all winter. Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh made the decision to switch to super slick tyres to try and increase the pace of the McLaren car. This plan backfired however, and new driver Sergio Perez (making his McLaren debut) finished a disappointing 15th on the grid.  Jenson Button managed to scrap through in 10th to Qualifying 3.

 

Qualifying 3 was dominated in particular by one team. Guess who?! Yes, Seb Vettel again finished pole, with teammate Mark Webber claiming the position next to him on the grid. A Red Bull front row lockout (again).

 

The race itself started as I hoped it would, a Red Bull mucking up. Although I didn’t feel some sympathy towards Mark Webber as it was not only his home race, but possibly his last. He could only watch as his slow start was taken advantage of by opposing drivers such as the Ferrari pairing of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and Mercedes debutant Lewis Hamilton. Vettel himself though, had a solid start and lead the way in the beginning phrase. As the race played through, team strategies were the key to a successful race. Some worked, and others didn’t. Ferrari brought Alonso in early, and this played to their advantage as they managed to get past current world champ Seb Vettel. Lewis Hamilton’s plan for a 2-stop race backfired when his tyres failed to live with him. He was constantly getting caught up and overtaken and just didn’t have the pace, so he changed to a plan B, perhaps which denied the Briton a dream debut podium with the Mercedes team. Two driver’s plans of action worked magnificently. Firstly, Force India’s Adrian Sutil- who incidentally was making a return to F1 after 12 months out- decided on a 2-stop race and therefore finished an impressive 7th, way ahead of the rather unconvincing McLarens. But the best strategy was that of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen. He again, managed to complete the race with only 2 stops, and convincingly won the Australian GP; many seconds ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Seb Vettel.

 

Overall, the F1 returned to viewers screens with a bang, maybe not as big as last year, but this will certainly be another season to remember, and possibly could go all the way.

 

 

AUSTRALIAN GP RESULT: 1) KIMI RAIKKONEN, 2) FERNANDO ALONSO, 3) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,

4) FELIPE MASSA, 5) LEWIS HAMILTON, 6) MARK WEBBER,

7) ADRIAN SUTIL, 8) PAUL DI RESTA, 9) JENSON BUTTON

10) ROMAIN GROSJEAN

 

RETIREMENTS: NICO HULKENBURG (DNF), NICO ROSBERG, DANIEL RICCARDIO, PASTOR MALDONADO

Formula One 2013: The Drivers…

The 2013 Formula One Championship is shaping up to be one of the most tightly fought contests since its establishment back in 1950. Here is a lowdown on the contenders…

Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel: The current World Champion has won the honour 3 years on the bounce and is searching for a fourth. The young German holds a number of records such as youngest driver to win a GP and is the youngest ever triple world champ. Bookies have been making him the favourite for the championship crown.                                                                                                                                         Mark Webber: Possibly the most loved F1 driver to have never won the world championship. The Aussie will be looking to mount a more serious challenge on the title after finishing a disappointing 6th position last term. He waited the longest to win a GP, failing 129 times before he eventually won a race.

Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso: The speedy Spaniard led most of last season, before Vettel turned up the gas in the last few races, and the 2012 runner up will be looking to go one better this time around, question is; will the Ferrari 138 be as competitive as last year?              Felipe Massa: Long-serving Felipe hasn’t really come close to the title since finishing runner up back in 2008 to Lewis Hamilton. This season; he will be hoping to rekindle that form that saw him narrowly miss out on a maiden title five years ago.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Jenson Button: The longest serving racer in F1 on this year’s grid, Button will be using his experience to try to win his 2nd Drivers Championship. The Briton struggled with the McLaren car last season due to technical errors. Will this season’s car be more consistent or will it be more disappointment for the 2009 world champ?
Sergio Perez: After impressing for Sauber, Sergio Perez was linked heavily with a move for Ferrari, but the Mexican has moved to the Woking-based team looking to be in contention for his first world championship come November. The 23 year old will be hoping to become third youngest world champion in history. He replaces Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.

Mercedes Petronas
Lewis Hamilton: Lewis has faced mixed criticism since moving from McLaren to Mercedes in the winter, but Hamilton believes Mercedes and himself can challenge for the drivers and constructers championships. The Brit has won the championship once back in 2008 and will be hoping for a dream debut season for the silver arrows.
Nico Rosberg: The German grew up with Lewis through karting so their partnership should be a good one. The German has had mixed results since joining Mercedes in 2010. He won in China last season but never mounted a serious enough challenge then many thought in 2012.

Lotus Renault F1
Kimi Raikkonen: The Fin could be credited to having a successful comeback season with Lotus last term, finishing an impressive 3rd. The “iceman” has won the championship back in 2007 whilst driving for Ferrari and he will be hoping to go two better in this season run in.
Romain Grosjean: The Frenchman had a relatively good but controversial 2012. He grabbed the headlines for many different things. He finished 3rd in Bahrain, his best finish to date in Formula One. But he can also be wreck less at times, famously remembered for nearly taking Fernando Alonso’s head off in a first corner incident at the Belgian GP.

Williams Renault F1
Pastor Maldonado: Another successful season for a relatively unknown F1 driver last season, the Venezuelan finished a respectable 15th with 45 points, far better than his debut back in 2011. The Williams driver claimed his first victory at Catalunya and will be hoping that he can find his feet in the sport and aim for a top 10 finish this season.
Valtteri Bottas: This is Bottas’ debut season in Formula one- replacing Bruno Senna at Williams. The Fin will hope to follow in the footsteps of Kimi Raikkonen and win a world championship in the future- this season however it will mainly be finding his feet. He has been the Williams test driver since 2010.

Sahara Force India
Paul Di Resta: The Scot has seemed to have come into his own since debuting for Force India in 2011. He was considered as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton at McLaren but that move never materialised and Di Resta will be hoping to score higher this season to show he can be considered a replacement driver at a bigger team.
Adrian Sutil: Sky sources say that Sutil will be returning to Force India and F1 this season after 2 years out, replacing Nico Hulkenberg. The German has just served a ban for an incident in a Shanghai nightclub but will be hoping to make amend for his actions.

Sauber F1
Nico Hulkenberg: Another German driver, but not as prolific. He spent last season at Force India, finishing mid-table. But since moving to the Swiss based team (replacing Kamui Kobayashi) he hopes to make more of a name for himself.
Esteban Gutierrez: Another debutant, Gutierrez will hope to adapt to F1 quickly. The Mexican has impressed in testing for the Swiss team and will hope to take this opportunity with both hands. He replaces fellow Mexican Sergio Perez who left to join McLaren.

Scuderia Torro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne: the Frenchman starts his second season in the Torro Rosso driving seat. Vergne impressed last year and claimed some points for the team known for preparing younger drivers before a possibility for driving for a bigger team such as Red Bull.
Daniel Riccardio: Daniel also reclaims his seat as Torro Rosso go into 2013 unchanged. Riccardio, like Vergne, had a relatively good debut season with the team, enhancing his reputation as a F1 driver.

Caterham F1
Charles Pic: Still finding his feet in the sport, Charles had a season of getting used to the car and dynamics of Formula One racing at a team who aren’t going to compete for the title. He moved to Caterham in the winter and hopes to help the team catch up with the middle order teams. Pic replaces Heikki Kovalainen.
Giedo Van der Garde: The first Dutchman in F1 for a number of years now, it will be a good opportunity for Van der Garde to show off his potential in the sport after impressing as test driver in 2012. Van der Garde replaces Vitaly Petrov at the Malaysian based team.

Maurssia F1
Luiz Razia: The first of a new driving partnership at the Russian team, the Brazilian is hoping to cope with the world of Formula One. He replaces Timo Glock at Maurssia after the German left by mutual consent earlier in the winter.
Max Chilton: The fourth Brit in this seasons competition, Chilton will hope to be able to find a consistently at Maurssia and find a better, more competitive team in years to come.

Overall there have been many changes in the driving line up for this season’s championship; who will win? We’ll just have to wait and see…