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Archive for April, 2013

Mateschitz: Webber free to race Vettel this season, Pirelli tyres too dominant


By Berthold Bouman

Mateschitz:: Webber free to race Vettel this season, Pirelli tyres too dominantRed Bull team owner and billionaire Dieter Mateschitz has admitted he was enraged about the Multi 21 affair during the Malaysian Grand Prix. Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders and passed his team mate Mark Webber although he was ordered to stay in second position and let Webber win the race.

The affair re-ignited the feud between the two Red Bull drivers, as Webber still refuses to play second fiddle at the Austrian team. Apparently, Mateschitz has ordered Team Principal Christian Horner not to issue any team orders for the rest of the 2013 season.

“Vettel and Webber can race freely to the end of the season. The motto is ‘Go ahead of me if you can’,” Mateschitz told an Austrian newspaper. Asked whether Webber will stay next year he said, “It all depends on Webber himself, how fast he is and what other offers he has.”

Vettel and Webber on the podium in Malaysia - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Vettel and Webber on the podium in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing

In the same interview the Austrian entrepreneur also said that he is frustrated by the role the Pirelli tyres play nowadays. “Formula One no longer has anything to do with ‘classic’ racing. Today, it’s not the fastest driver in the fastest car winning, but the one with the optimum tyre management,” Mateschitz said.

“We’ve even had to scale down our car, because the tyres were not lasting. If we really went as fast as we can, we would need 10 to 15 pit stops!” And indeed, even the Multi 21 affair had everything to do with the tyres, both drivers were told to hold the same position as Horner feared the tyres would go off very quickly if they would start a fight for the victory.

Pirelli tyres too dominant - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Pirelli tyres too dominant – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Although many drivers also have questioned the fast degrading Pirelli tyres, the Italian manufacturer has always maintained that the tyre game is the same for all drivers, and is good for ‘the show’, but by now Formula One has become the Pirelli show.

Meanwhile, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Pirelli have revealed they will alter the rubber compound of the hard tyre. “The ‘hard’ will be slightly harder as a result and should perform better in a wider temperature range for the start of the European season,” said Pirelli’s Motorsport director Paul Hembery.

And he added, “This latest version of the hard compound is much closer to the 2012 tyre, with the aim of giving the teams more opportunity to run a wider range of strategies in combination with the other compounds, which remain unchanged.”


Bahrain GP: Vettel cruises to victory and extends championship lead


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Vettel cruises to victory and extends championship leadTriple World Champion Sebastian Vettel cruised to the victory on a blazing hot Bahrain International Circuit this afternoon during round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix. Although the German didn’t start from pole, he was fast enough to take over the lead from pole sitter Nico Rosberg.

“I knew it was crucial to get into the lead and look after the tyres, the pace was phenomenal, the car was great. I could push every single lap and look after the tyres,” said the victor. “I lost out to Fernando at the first corner, but I could get him back. I saved some KERS and could out-accelerate him into Turn 6. Out of Turn 4 I did the same on Nico, a little bit of KERS and got him into Turn 5.”

“It was an impeccable performance from Sebastian,” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. “He was absolutely supreme. He had so much in hand and then he has to do the fastest lap at the end just to show he has plenty left in the tyres.”

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Although Raikkonen had said the Lotus just wasn’t fast enough on the Bahrain circuit, the Finn, after numerous fights, moved up the ranks to finally finish in second place. Lotus had given Grosjean a new chassis after the problems he had experienced during the first three races of the season, it was the right move and the Frenchman immediately was considerably quicker than in the old car, and he finished third after a long battle with Paul di Resta in the Force India.

But the Iceman repeated what he had said earlier on, “I don’t think we had the speed this week against Red Bull. We could have finished a few places higher in qualifying but in the end we were still not close enough to Red Bull. I guess it would have helped, but it didn’t happen for many reasons and second was the best we could achieve today.”

Initially, Fernando Alonso took second place from Vettel during the start, but Vettel took his second place back at the end of the first lap. Rosberg, who led the race early on, was a sitting duck when DRS was activated after three laps, he lost the lead to Vettel, then lost more positions to Alonso, di Resta, and Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari.

A tough day for Rosberg, and the disappointed German said, “As nice as it was to start from pole this afternoon, it was just as hard to finish in ninth place. I didn’t feel comfortable in the car today and it wasn’t much fun out there really.” And he added, “We switched to a four-stop strategy at the end of my third stint but it wasn’t enough. We were using the rear tyres too much and at the end, I was really struggling and wasn’t able to push hard enough.”

Bad day for Ferrari - Photo: Ferrari

Bad day for Ferrari – Photo: Ferrari

It certainly wasn’t Ferrari’s day, the DRS flap on Alonso’s rear wing got jammed, he had to visit the pits, a good old whack from a Ferrari mechanic seemed to have cured the problem, but when the Spaniard used the downforce reduction device again, it got stuck for the second time, forcing the double World Champion to visit the pits for a second time, and he couldn’t use his DRS anymore for the rest of the race. Nevertheless, it was still an impressive performance by Alonso, who fought his way back from 17th to eighth position.

Also a bad day for Massa, his front wing was damaged after he had hit the rear of the Force India of Adrian Sutil during the start of the race, then after 17 laps got a right-rear puncture, and another puncture after 37 laps, which effectively robbed the Brazilian of a good points finish, he finished the race in 15th place.

Most drivers were on a three or four-stop strategy, but di Resta was on a two-stop strategy, the Scot showed what the Force India is capable of as he even led the race, but his last set of tyres started to wear out quickly during the closing stages of the race, both Lotus drivers easily overtook him, and he finished in fourth place. Sutil was less lucky and had to be satisfied with 13th place after a very early unscheduled pit stop due to the puncture he got during his fight with Massa.

Fourth place for Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Fourth place for Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Di Resta was pleased with the result today and commented, “It’s great to round off the fly-away races with a fourth place and a race that was probably my strongest Grand Prix. The podium was very close, but with our strategy we were always going to be vulnerable at the end of the race — especially to Grosjean who had two new sets of medium tyres. I had a good start to the race, a strong opening stint and we showed our true speed today, but ultimately fourth place was the maximum that was possible.”

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were involved in several hair-raising wheel-to-wheel battles, the Mexican driver hit the 2009 World Champion several times, and after several other thrilling fights, he wheel-banged his way to sixth place. Button complained about his team colleague over the radio, and it was indeed a bit silly to watch Perez almost taking out Button.

Perez was on a rampage today - Photo: McLaren F1

Perez was on a rampage today – Photo: McLaren F1

Perez was aware of the fact he put McLaren in a tricky situation, “I guess I was a little aggressive on track today; banging wheels with Jenson was perhaps a little too risky, a little too hard, but the team never came on the radio to tell us to stop racing. There were no team orders. There was a lot of adrenaline from both of us, and Jenson is always a very strong racer, but hopefully we’ll help each other a little more in the future.”

It was also a difficult race for Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver was also involved in various fights with Perez, Button, Rosberg and Mark Webber in the second Red Bull. During the closing stages of the race, Hamilton and Webber fought for position, but Hamilton emerged as the winner and finally took fifth place.

“It’s been a tough weekend for us but we got through it and finishing in fifth place was some good damage limitation,” said Hamilton. “My race didn’t start well at all. I was looking after the tyres but I really struggled on the first two stints and was falling back.” About his battle with Webber he commented, “I had so much fun fighting with Mark at the end. We really needed that point and I was so determined to get by. It was good, clean wheel-to-wheel racing.”

Vettel is now leading the Drivers’ Championship with 77 points, followed by Raikkonen (67), Hamilton (50), Alonso (47), Webber (32) and Massa is sixth with 30 points. Red Bull is also leading the Constructors Championship with 109 points, followed by Lotus (93), and Ferrari this with 77 points.


Bahrain GP: Rosberg takes second pole of the season for Mercedes


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Rosberg takes second pole of the season for MercedesNico Rosberg took the second pole of the season for Mercedes this afternoon during qualifying for round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit. The German recorded a time of 1m32.330s, 0.354s faster than the number two, Sebastian Vettel, while Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso will start from third spot on the grid tomorrow.

Asked whether the German was surprised to score pole he said, “A little bit, yes. It wasn’t really clear before who was the quickest car over one lap. I was a little bit closer this morning already so I was a bit happier than yesterday for sure.”

And he added, “We worked really well as a team overnight to improve the car because yesterday we were really struggling, so that’s gone well. That’s fantastic result and great for tomorrow. But tomorrow’s going to be a tough race for sure with rear-tyre degradation, so a lot can still happen.’

During the first qualifying session most drivers went out on the hard (option) tyre compound, but as the session progressed more and more drivers switched to the medium (prime) rubber compound.

Second pole for Mercedes this season - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Second pole for Mercedes this season – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Alonso was the first to put a serious time on the board with a lap of 1m32.878s, and his time proved to be unbeatable during Q1. Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton were the six drivers who didn’t make it into the next session.

Initially drivers stayed in the garage at the start of the second session, but with 10 minutes to go both Red Bull drivers Vettel and Mark Webber were leading, but not for long as Paul di Resta in the Force India took first place, again showing how strong the VJM06 is.

Unfortunately Force India’s joy was short-lived as not much later Rosberg put the fastest time on the board with a lap of 1m32.867s. Meanwhile both McLaren drivers were in the drop-out zone and were visibly struggling to keep the McLaren MP4-28 on track, both went out in a last attempt to make it into the final qualifying session, but only Jenson Button managed to get a ticket to Q3, as the 2009 World Champion improved his time and made it into the top ten.

Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Eric Vergne did not make it into Q3.

In Q3 Rosberg was first out on the track and recorded the fastest time, but with only three minutes left on the clock the usual poker game for pole position unfolded at the Sakhir circuit. But both Vettel and Alonso made small mistakes on their final lap, while Rosberg even improved his time and took a well-deserved pole position for Mercedes.

A very strong performance from Force India - Photo: Sahara Force India

A very strong performance from Force India – Photo: Sahara Force India

Second place man Vettel was pleased with the result, “I’m not disappointed with that [second place]. Well done to Nico, it was a strong lap and it was all his today. When I crossed the line I saw I was second on the screen and didn’t know how much I was missing to pole as the lap was fine.”

About the race tomorrow the triple Word Champion said, “We managed to save some tyres throughout qualifying and it will be about tyre degradation tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. It’s good to start from the front.”

Alonso in third place is also confident ahead of tomorrow’s race, he aborted his last flying lap and said, “We tried to complete the second lap, it was very similar until the last corner and then I saw it was half a tenth slower and we decided to save one lap on the tyres. The car was very competitive in qualifying so this puts us in a strong position to start tomorrow’s race and to fight with the leaders with more of a margin.”

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Bahrain GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Bahrain GP Qualifying Results


Bahrain GP: Alonso beats Vettel in final free practice session in Sakhir


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Alonso beats Vettel in final free practice session in SakhirFernando Alonso was fastest this morning after the third and final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix this morning. The Ferrari driver was followed by his rivals Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber who were second and third respectively for Red Bull at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Bahrain circuit becomes less and less green, as this morning’s fastest time was also the fastest time overall so far this weekend. Kimi Raikkonen took fifth spot for Lotus, while his team colleague Romain Grosjean was sixth.

Alonso already had made an off-track excursion, while Vettel wasn’t happy with the moves of Charles Pic in the Caterham, when more drama unfolded as Lewis Hamilton, who finished in fifth place, had a rear-wheel puncture. Although the 2008 World Champion drove his Mercedes slowly back to the pit lane, not only the suspension, but also the gearbox was damaged and had to be replaced, which means Hamilton gets a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.

Sebastian Vettel - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Again a strong showing by Force India: Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were seventh and eight, while both German Nicos, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg, completed the top ten.

Felipe Massa took 11th spot this morning, but the Brazilian Ferrari driver was faster than both McLarens, as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez didn’t get any further than 12th and 13th place at the Sakhir circuit.

Next on the list are Toro Rosso and Williams, Daniel Ricciardo was this time faster than his team colleague Jean Eric Vergne, they finished in 14th and 16th place. Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Williams driver as he took 15th place, while Pastor Maldonado was 17th.

Five-place grid penalty for Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Five-place grid penalty for Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Further down the order was Charles Pic, he was 18th, while Dutchman Giedo van de Garde in the second Caterham was 20th.

Marussia driver Jules Bianchi once again beat his team colleague Max Chilton, as the Frenchman was 19th, while Chilton was 21. Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez was 22nd and last this morning.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Bahrain GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Bahrain GP FP3 Results


Bahrain GP: Raikkonen fastest for Lotus after second free practice session at Sakhir


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Raikkonen fastest for Lotus after second free practice session at SakhirKimi Raikkonen was fastest for Lotus after the second free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix this afternoon, the flying Fin set a time of 1m34.154s, 0,333s faster than the fastest time set this morning by Felipe Massa.

Both Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel took second and third place this afternoon, Webber was just 0,030s slower than Raikkonen after completing 26 laps. Fernando Alonso was this time the fastest Ferrari driver, he took fourth place, while Massa had to be satisfied with sixth place.

Force India again very fast in Bahrain - Photo: Sahara Force India

Force India again very fast in Bahrain – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta was sandwiched between the two Ferraris, again a strong performance by Force India, the Scot was almost four-tenths behind the leading Lotus of Raikkonen. His team colleague Adrian Sutil was ninth this afternoon.

Further back in seventh place was Raikkonen’s team colleague Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman was almost half-a-second behind the Iceman. Nico Rosberg was eighth for Mercedes, while Lewis Hamilton completed the top ten with a time of 1m34.976s.

Jenson Button was just outside the top ten in 11th place, Sergio Perez was 13th this afternoon after the Mexican completed 36 laps in the troubled McLaren MP4-28.

Jean-Eric Vergne was again the fastest Toro Rosso driver and took 12th place, while Australian Daniel Ricciardo was 14th in the second Toro Rosso, 0.255s adrift of his French team colleague.

Nico Hulkenberg managed to take 15th place, just ahead of both Williams drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas, who were 16th and 17th. But Esteban Gutierrez, who has a five-place grid penalty for crashing into the Force India of Sutil during the Chinese Grand Prix, this time collided with Charles Pic in the Caterham when he tried to overtake him.

Charles Pic not happy with Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic not happy with Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Caterham F1

Pic wasn’t happy with the Mexican’s actions, but at least his car was not damaged and he finished in 19th spot, while Gutierrez was 18th.

Further down the list are the usual suspects, Max Chilton was 20th in the Marussia, and was followed by Jules Bianchi, who was back at the wheel after Heikki Kovalainen has taken his place in FP1. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last after completing 34 laps in the Caterham.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Bahrain GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Bahrain GP FP2 Results


Bahrain GP: Ferrari leading after first free practice session at Sakhir


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Ferrari leading after first free practice session at SakhirFelipe Massa was fastest after the first free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Brazilian set a time of 1m34.487, and he was closely followed by his team colleague Fernando Alonso, who was just 0.077s slower at the Bahrain International Circuit this morning.

As seen before this season, drivers were reluctant to take to the track as they were in tyre-saving mode, meaning there was not much action for the first half hour. Nico Rosberg grabbed third place for Mercedes, after completing 22 laps, while his team colleague Lewis Hamilton was 13th this morning, he was apparently executing another test programme than the German.

Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was fourth, while Mark Webber in the other Red Bull was seventh. Again Force India showed the VJ06 is a very competitive car, Paul di Resta was fifth, less than half-a-second off the pace set by Massa. Adrian Sutil was eighth in the second Force India, just 0.170s slower than his Scottish team colleague.

Always plenty media attention for Raikkonen - Photo: Lotus F1

Always plenty media attention for Raikkonen – Photo: Lotus F1

McLaren announced they had a few car updates for this weekend’s race. They seem to work as Jenson Button took possession of sixth place, only half-a-second off the pace. Again, Sergio Perez was considerably slower than the 2009 World Champion, McLaren told him to up his pace but the Mexican didn’t get any further than 11th place this morning.

Even further down the order was the Lotus piloted by Kimi Raikkonen, he was ninth, and he was closely followed by Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus, the Frenchman completed the top ten and was only two-tenths slower than Iceman Raikkonen.

Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Williams driver, he was 12th, while Pastor Maldonado was 16th. Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were 14th and 15th respectively for Red Bull’s Italian sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Both Sauber drivers clearly experienced problems, the Sauber C32 is not really fast and Nico Hulkenberg finished in 17th, and Esteban Gutierrez in 18th position.

Bahrain is heavy on the brakes: Pastor Maldonado - Williams F1

Bahrain is heavy on the brakes: Pastor Maldonado – Williams F1

Also Caterham has problems to get their car up to speed this season, reason for the Anglo-Malaysian team to hire their ex-driver Heikki Kovalainen to figure out what is wrong with the car, the Finn did what he could, but he didn’t get further than 20th place, while Charles Pic in the other Caterham finished ahead of him in 19th place.

Marussia driver Rodolfo Gonzalez took over Jules Bianchi’s car this morning, but the youngster encountered gearbox problems and he was 22nd and last, while Max Chilton took 21st place.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Bahrain GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Bahrain GP FP1 Results


Bahrain GP: Alonso – Ferrari needs to be a little bit faster


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Alonso - Ferrari needs to be a little bit fasterFerrari are on the right pace this season, but like all other teams, they want to go even faster. The FIA Formula One World Championship is dominated by four World Champions: Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, the latter performed miracles for his new team, Mercedes.

Fernando Alonso: It was eleven or twelve races that we had not won

Alonso looks back at the Chinese Grand Prix and said about his victory, “I was very happy, as not winning for a while is a very difficult matter to deal with,” he said. “It was eleven or twelve races that we had not won, even if we were consistently on the podium. However, [this season] we need to be consistently on the podium if we want to fight for the championship.”

Like many other drivers, the Spaniard reckons it’s all about the new Pirelli tyres in 2013, “Last year, we saw many surprises in the early part of the season and this is the time when we look at everyone’s potential and increase our own learning of the new rules and other new elements: this year the tyres are probably the main learning process we are all tackling right now.”

Fernando Alonso - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso – Photo: Ferrari

About the race for the 2013 crown the double World Champion said, “Not having Sebastian on the podium in China is good news at the moment only because he is currently leading the championship and I would feel the same if it was Lewis or Webber for example in the lead. It’s not because it’s Sebastian the person, it’s because he’s leading!”

But he insisted it is way too early to think about winning the championship, “I don’t think we are the car to beat at the moment, just because we have this one victory. We need to keep improving and to be a little bit faster. There are some new pieces for this race and new components coming to Barcelona and Monaco. So hopefully in the next month and a half, we can be at the level of the best cars.”

Felipe Massa: I have always liked driving this circuit

Felipe Massa has won the Bahrain Grand Prix twice (2007 and 2008), asked about the secret to win this race he answered, “I have always liked driving this circuit, since the first time I came here with Sauber in 2004. It’s a nice track, with long straights and hard braking, where traction is also important.”

Quizzed about his current and former team colleagues at Ferrari he said, “I have always had strong team-mates and many people have said that’s not a good thing, but for me it’s a positive. It motivates you to always do the best you can, because if you don’t do a perfect job, it shows, as your team-mate is always there. I have learned a lot from partnering what people all over the world have usually considered the best drivers of all. You are always under pressure to be perfect every day and I like that!”

Massa won the Bahrain GP twice - Photo: Ferrari

Massa won the Bahrain GP twice – Photo: Ferrari

For this weekend’s race, the Brazilian is a little worried about the tyres, Pirelli has allocated the Medium and Hard tyre compounds. “I had a big problem with graining on the Medium tyres at the last race, already in Friday practice,” Massa revealed. “I am not concerned about having the Hard tyres here, because I had no problem with them in Malaysia: there was graining but it was the same for everyone.”

It’s all about the strategy Massa said, “I think here the time difference will be big between the two tyre types, which means most people will try and use the Medium as much as possible in the race. Therefore, once again, it will be vital to work out a good strategy.”

Ferrari is second in the Constructors’ Championship, just five points behind leader Red Bull, and 13 points ahead of Lotus. Alonso is third in the Drivers’ Championship, while Massa is fifth.

Also read:

Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
Ferrari Bahrain GP Preview
McLaren Bahrain GP Preview
Lotus Bahrain GP Preview
Mercedes Bahrain GP Preview
Sauber Bahrain GP Preview
Force India Bahrain GP Preview
Williams Bahrain GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Bahrain GP Preview
Caterham Bahrain GP Preview
Marussia Bahrain GP Preview


Bahrain GP: Sauber optimistic despite grid penalty for Gutierrez


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Sauber optimistic despite grid penalty for GutierrezSauber also left Shanghai with mixed feelings; rookie Esteban Gutierrez has a five-place grid penalty as he crashed into the back of Adrian Sutil’s Force India, and Nico Hulkenberg only scored one point for the Swiss outfit after a promising start of the race.

Tom McCullough: We know what has to be done

Just like other teams, Sauber is still working to make the C32 faster, and looking back at the race in Shanghai, Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering, commented, ”From a technical point of view, China was a successful weekend for our team. We had taken some measures before that race, which proved to be effective. We now have a direction, and we know what has to be done. The Bahrain circuit is dominated by several long straights with mainly slow and medium speed corners. This places high importance on an efficient aero package and a car with strong low-speed performance — in particular traction.”

Bahrain is a very demanding circuit, and McCullough said, “The circuit layout is very demanding for the brakes. The desert environment results in quite a dusty track — especially when the wind builds up. The chance of rainfall is low, and the typically high ambient and track temperatures make it a real challenge for the cooling level of the car and management of the tyres.”

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: The brakes will play a significant role

Nico Hulkenberg has good memories of the desert circuit, as he started his first Formula One race there in 2010. He reckons the brakes will play an important role, “I like the track, and there is always a One Thousand and One Nights atmosphere in the paddock. Other than high temperatures, the brakes will play a significant role. There are a couple of long straights where we drive at over 300 kph and then we need to brake very hard into the corners, so it will be the usual balancing act between downforce and top speed.”

Grid penalty for Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Grid penalty for Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: Penalty doesn’t change my approach or my motivation

A five-place grid penalty won’t make things easier for Gutierrez, but he has learned from his mistakes and is looking forward to another race. “The penalty doesn’t change my approach or my motivation,” Gutierrez said. “China also had a positive side to it, the engineers took several technical measures, which saw an improvement. Bahrain is another hot place on the calendar.”

He thinks the tyres will also play an important role, “The conditions are not as humid as in Malaysia, but you still have to be in good shape to cope with the heat during the race. I know the track from my time in GP2, and I think it’s a nice one with challenging corners. It’s a very demanding track for the tyres.”

Sauber is currently eighth in the race for the Constructors’ Championship, while Hulkenberg and Gutierrez are 13th and 17th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
Ferrari Bahrain GP Preview
McLaren Bahrain GP Preview
Lotus Bahrain GP Preview
Mercedes Bahrain GP Preview
Sauber Bahrain GP Preview
Force India Bahrain GP Preview
Williams Bahrain GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Bahrain GP Preview
Caterham Bahrain GP Preview
Marussia Bahrain GP Preview


Bahrain GP: Mercedes to improve reliability, targets strong finish for both drivers


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Mercedes to improve reliability, targets strong finish for both driversMixed feelings for Mercedes after three races; last weekend another podium finish for Lewis Hamilton, but yet another retirement for Nico Rosberg at Shanghai. Retiring is not an option for Mercedes, and the Silver Arrows team is aiming to improve the reliability of their 2013 contender, the W04.

Ross Brawn: We must improve the reliability

Team Principal Ross Brawn is aware of the reliability problems, and said, “We have two main areas to focus on; we must improve the reliability and we have to lift our performance to find that extra couple of tenths to our fastest competitors. And of course, that’s a moving target to make the challenge even tougher.”

But, overall, he’s happy with the new car, “With three race weekends under our belts, Bahrain will be the final race of the season-opening quartet. With very different track conditions at each venue, this should give us a good understanding of the car that we have to work with for the rest of the season. The performances so far have been pleasing and perhaps even beyond our pre-season expectations.”

Asked about the team’s target for this weekend he replied, “A strong two car finish will be our target this weekend, and we want to see both Nico and Lewis in a position to score not only points but podiums regularly.”

Two retirements for Rosberg this season - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Two retirements for Rosberg this season – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg: The first three races haven’t quite worked out as we had hoped

“I’ll be really happy to get back in the car again on Friday after a tough weekend in Shanghai. The first three races haven’t quite worked out as we had hoped on my side but the positive is that we have a car that we can really work with,” Rosberg said ahead of the weekend.

The German is confident Mercedes is well-prepared, and said about the desert circuit, “It’s going to be very tough on the rear tyres and our biggest challenge will be to make the most out of the situation. We’re better prepared than we were last year and we have shown that the car is much stronger so I really hope that we can achieve a great result in Bahrain.”

Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton: The Bahrain circuit is a real challenge

Hamilton was pleased with last weekend’s result and commented, “With each race, I am becoming more settled in the team and more comfortable in my car, and we were very happy with the pole and podium finish.”

He is also eager to close the gap on his rivals and said, “There are some areas where we need to improve to close that gap to the fastest cars and we’re working hard to identify and develop those.”

He’s already looking forward to the race, and remarked about the circuit, “The Bahrain circuit is a real challenge, particularly for the tyres with overheating and also the sand on the track, but this helps to make it unique. The layout has a great combination of fast, slow and medium corners which make it tough for the drivers and the car, so it will be a true test for us.”

Mercedes is currently fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, eight points behind Lotus, and 38 points ahead of McLaren. Hamilton is fourth in the Drivers’ Championship with 40 points, while Rosberg, due to two retirements, is seventh with 12 points.

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Bahrain GP: Marussia aiming to close the gap to rivals at challenging Sakhir circuit


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrian GP: Marussia aiming to close the gap to rivals at challenging Sakhir circuitMarussia is determined to iron out some of the issues they encountered in Shanghai last weekend, while the team’s reserve driver Rodolfo Gonzalez will be behind the wheel of Jules Bianchi’s car on Friday morning during the first practice for round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix.

John Booth: We need to work hard

Team Principal John Booth knows Bahrain is quite a different circuit compared to Shanghai, and his team will have to work hard to be competitive, “This track represents a different challenge from Shanghai but both drivers have raced here before in the junior formulae, so factors like the track conditions — the heat, the wind, the sand — are not a completely unknown quantity for them.”

“We’ll need to work hard to achieve the right compromise of car set-up, to manage the grip level and cooling demands. The asphalt can also be quite abrasive here, so it will be interesting to see how the tyre story unfolds here through the weekend.”

About the problems they experienced last weekend Booth commented, “We experienced a few frustrations in Shanghai which we are determined to iron out here so that we give ourselves the opportunity to properly showcase our developments and maintain a clearer picture of where we are in respect to the cars ahead.”

Jules Bianchi - Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi – Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi: I’m excited to see what we can achieve here

Bianchi is happy with the progress he has made and said, “Although it’s still early days, I am really comfortable with my understanding of the car, the direction we are heading in as a team and where I can continue to develop personally. There’s been a nice pace to the season so far, so although we’ve had just a week before this race, I think it will allow us the chance to consolidate the progress we have made with the interim updates.”

About the circuit he remarked, “There are some tricky features and also the conditions make it even more challenging with the high temperatures. It can also be also be quite windy. I’ve had a bit of experience here in GP2 so it’s good to be back and I’m excited to see what we can achieve here.”

Max Chilton - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton: The updates we brought to China were a good step

Max Chilton is also looking forward to yet another challenging circuit and said, “I’ve raced at the Bahrain International Circuit a few times so I know it to be a great track with quite a few challenging elements to it. It’s one of those circuits that seems to be constantly changing through the weekend, so it will be important to get a positive start in Free Practice to provide a good baseline for us to read the rest of the sessions.”

He is also pleased with the car updates and is confident of a strong showing this weekend, “The updates we brought to China were a good step, so hopefully we can feel more of the benefit of those this weekend. All in all, I’m quite comfortable that things are heading in the right direction now and I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off.”

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Bahrain GP: Red Bull drivers – It’s easier to keep the rhythm with back to back races


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Red Bull drivers - It’s easier to keep the rhythm with back to back racesNot much love is lost between Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, that is a fact. In Malaysia Vettel surprised friend and foe when he ignored the, by now famous, team order ‘multi 21’, which means car 2 (Webber) should finish ahead of car 1 (Vettel).

Vettel initially said he didn’t know what it meant, but footage the BBC showed last weekend, proves he does know what it means, as he said over the team radio during the Belgian Grand Prix, “I need a multi 1-2, I need a multi 1-2”, whereupon his team assured him there was nothing to be worried about. And he got what he wanted.

But back to 2013, the Bahrain Grand Prix will be Webber’s 200th Formula One race, and the Australian will become member of an exclusive club in Grand Prix racing this weekend.

200th Grand Prix for Webber this weekend - Photo: Red Bull Racing

200th Grand Prix for Webber this weekend – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber: You need to make sure you’re ready for the next event

Asked about his opinion regarding back-to-back races Webber commented, “We like racing and it’s another opportunity to go racing again soon, so that’s a positive. We’re already roughly in the same part of the world, so back to back races can be an efficient way for us to go racing; as an industry it’s good organisation.”

And how does he prepare for such a race? “It’s important to make sure you get ready for the next race off the back of the first one, so travelling as soon as you can is important. If you have a very big result at the first race then you’re not going to stay in the night club too long that evening celebrating, as you need to make sure you’re ready for the next event. It’s a short turnaround; you want to make sure that the training is sensible and you’re keeping yourself healthy,” said Webber.

Quizzed about the best corner at the Sakhir circuit he was adamant, “I quite like the last sector, Turns 12 and 13, up over the crest, that’s a nice part of the lap. It’s a little bit quicker, because the rest of the track is quite slow and not super exhilarating. There are some quick-ish corners, which are quite rewarding.”

Sebastian Vettel - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel: You get into the rhythm quickly

Also Vettel was asked about his feelings concerning back-to-back races, but the German doesn’t have any problems with it, “The positive is that on the Friday of the second race, you get into the rhythm quickly. You save time by travelling direct from one race to the next and can adapt to the time zone a bit quicker, as you don‘t have to travel so far. The only thing is that there‘s not much time for physical and mental recovery after the first race.”

And how does Vettel prepare for such a race? “I make the most of the Monday after the first race, in terms of relaxing and recovery. On the Tuesday, I do some easy training in the gym or some badminton, to keep the body and mind in correct mode.”

“But,” he said, “It‘s important that the race calendar is well-balanced so that drivers can get proper rest periods in order to be able to push 100 percent at each event. This means that sometimes it is good to have back to back races and then some longer breaks.”

Red Bull is currently leading the Constructors’ Championship with 78 points, just five points ahead of Ferrari. Vettel is leading the Drivers’ Championship with 52 points, while Webber is sixth with 26 points.

Webber’s 200th Grand Prix – Video by Red Bull Racing

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Bahrain GP: Caterham resigns Kovalainen to test new parts during practice


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Caterham resigns Kovalainen to test new parts during practiceA surprise this week as Heikki Kovalainen has signed as reserve driver for Caterham for the forthcoming two Grands Prix of Bahrain and Spain. He will be testing new parts during FP1 and deliver feedback to the Caterham engineers. Caterham stated that the Finn ‘will be helping to support the introduction of the first performance updates to the 2013 car, an important milestone in the strategy the team are working to in the current season’.

Cyril Abiteboul: Kovalainen has six years of Formula One experience

Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is delighted to welcome Kovalainen back to Caterham and said in a team statement, “He has six years of Formula One experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.”

“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”

Heikki Kovalainen returns to Caterham - Photo: Caterham F1

Heikki Kovalainen returns to Caterham – Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic: I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai

Pic finished in 16th place in Shanghai, and said, “I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai and now the aim is to take that on to the race in Bahrain and keep making decent progress before we get back to Europe.”

And the Frenchman added, “We’re also bringing some new parts to Bahrain so we’ll work on optimising their performance as much as possible in each session. This is only the first stage of the 2013 developments we’re bringing so we’re very realistic about what we might find this weekend, and we’re not going to make any predictions about what they’re going to bring in terms of lap time, but we’ll focus on integrating them into the package we’ve used in the first three races and see where we end up.”

Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde: China was a pretty tough weekend

Dutchman van der Garde explained the difficulties of the Sakhir circuit, “It’s quite a technical circuit that evolves a lot as the weekend progresses. It’ll be very sandy on Friday but with every lap that’s completed it rubbers in and the grip levels improve a lot – that’s important in each session, particularly quali as you need to time your run to make the most of the track evolution so strategy will be really important all weekend.”

Van der Garde wants to push harder this weekend and said, “Coming straight after China, the race in Bahrain is also a chance for me to get back to the performance levels I want to be racing at. China was a pretty tough weekend, but I’ve had a couple of days to recharge since leaving Shanghai. Since announcing my F1 drive I’ve been really clear that the first few races were always going to be tough for a rookie, but it’s all part of the learning process so I’m as positive as ever and looking forward to getting back to work.”

Caterham is 11th and last in the 2013 Constructors’ standings, while Pic is 19th, and van der Garde 21st in the race for the 2013 Formula One crown.

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Bahrain GP: Lotus hoping to maintain momentum at Sakhir


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Lotus hoping to maintain momentum at SakhirLotus made a great start this season: Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season in Australia, and scored a podium place last weekend in China. But according to Lotus, ‘nothings stand still in Formula One and the challenge is ongoing’.

Eric Boullier: We’ve seen some great racing this year

Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier is adamant tyre supplier Pirelli is partially responsible for the great racing that fans so far have seen this season. All teams and drivers are talking about the new tyres, what does Boullier think? “As a sport we asked our tyre supplier, Pirelli, to provide us with tyres which encourage different strategies and adapting to this is part of the competition.”

“We’ve seen some great racing so far this year and Pirelli can take some of the credit for this. We are all allocated the same tyres so it’s up to us as teams and the drivers in the cars to make the most of them.”

Asked whether another win is imminent the Frenchman said, “Once again, we’ve shown that we can fight for podiums, but nothing stands still in Formula One and the challenge is ongoing. Maintaining momentum is what we need to do, and we’ll leave no stone unturned in our quest to do this. Our competition is strong and they have a lot of resources at their disposal. We have to maintain the relentless pace over the course of all 19 races this season. Everyone at Enstone is up for this challenge and celebrate every success we see on track. We hope to celebrate many more.

Second place for Raikkonen in China - Photo: Lotus F1

Second place for Raikkonen in China – Photo: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen: I’ve never won in Bahrain before

Also the Iceman was asked for his opinion regarding the fast degrading Pirelli tyres, and the Finn said, “I think you can push on these tyres, but it’s never perfect. You cannot always push 100%. I think they are very good in qualifying and have good grip, so it’s up to you and you have to look after them a bit more in the race. It’s not really any different from last year — at least for us anyway — so I don’t really understand why people are complaining.”

About his chances this weekend the Finn commented, “I’ve had some nice races there and picked up some good points although I’ve never won. It’s a little bit different from others we visit and it’s quite nice to be out there in the sand! Wherever you look around the track you can just see sand in the distance and you notice it in the paddock too. It’s a circuit where I’ve never won before, so maybe this year I’ll change that!”

And he added, “We have to try and do the best we can in every race and try to score some points to keep us in the fight. If everything goes our way, it will be a good result again. However, it is useless to promise anything beforehand. This is motor racing and whatever can happen, will happen.”

Grosjean still struggling to understand the car - Photo: Lotus F1

Grosjean still struggling to understand the car – Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean: I’m spending a lot of time with my engineers

Frenchman Romain Grosjean is still struggling with the Lotus E21, and he explained, “I would be lying if I said the car is exactly where I want it and we are having quite an adventure to get the setup and feeling from the car how we want it.”

“This is very frustrating for a driver, as you want your car to be obedient — to do what you want it to do — and to do it in a consistent manner. Certainly, we’re not the only team who are having a difficult time early in the season, but it’s something we really want to get on top of as quickly as possible. I’m spending a lot of time with my engineers and we’re all working hard to make improvements.”

Asked about his target this weekend he replied, “The priority is to find that connection with the car. I want to be right up there fighting for podiums and showing the speed I showed last year. Hopefully we’ll get there soon, and I think Bahrain would be the ideal place to really start getting some good points or even a return to the podium. We’ve been quick there before, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.”

Lotus is currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, while Raikkonen is second in the Drivers’ Championship, three points behind rival Fernando Alonso. Grosjean is currently ninth in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Bahrain GP: Force India hopes to exploit its full potential at Sakhir


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Force India hopes to exploit its full potential at SakhirThe Chinese Grand Prix was partially a disaster for Force India, as Adrian Sutil had to retire after Esteban Gutierrez crashed his Sauber into the back of his car, but Paul di Resta managed to score four points by finishing in eighth place.

Vijay Mallya: Last year we had an excellent result

Team owner Vijay Mallya left China with mixed feelings, and he commented, “The pace of the VJM06 was evident throughout the sessions and we would have been on track to place both Paul and Adrian in the points had it not been for the unfortunate accident with Gutierrez in the opening stages.”

He also praised the pit crew, “We were also very satisfied by the good job done in the pits with a clean and fast final stop helping Paul emerge ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg after a race-long battle.”

The Indian is hoping for a bit more luck this weekend, “This track, with its high temperature and smooth surface, has generally suited our car and we hope this will be the case this weekend. With a bit more luck, we will be able to fully exploit the potential of our car and get some more points on the board before the European leg of the season.”

Four points for di Resta in China - Photo: Sahara Force India

Four points for Paul di Resta in China – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta: There is more potential to come

About the race in China the Scot said, “I was stuck in traffic, my tyres were graining and I couldn’t move forward. Fortunately we got ourselves into some clean air after my second pit stop and I think we showed that the potential of the car is very strong. In the end we left China feeling pretty satisfied, knowing that there is more potential to come.”

Di Resta is really looking forward to this weekend, as he thinks the car will be strong there. “We’re back in the hot weather and we were strong in the heat of Malaysia so there are no real worries. Last year the car worked well in Bahrain, which gives us confidence heading into the weekend. We’re back to the medium and hard [tyres], the same as we had in Malaysia, where we were strong.”

Sutil's race was over quickly last weekend - Photo: Sahara Force India

Sutil’s race was over quickly last weekend – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: You need a strong car on the brakes

Sutil, who also collided with his team colleague di Resta before he was forced into retirement by Gutierrez, has no hard feelings. “I had a little incident with Paul early on, but we spoke about it, and there’s no problem. Gutierrez just missed his braking point and crashed into my rear. It’s frustrating, but what can you do? He will learn so there are no hard feelings. Hopefully he will not do it again.”

Asked whether Sakhir is a track he enjoys he answered, “With a good car I like almost every circuit. The track is not one of the most difficult ones, but it has a lot of big braking points, so you need a strong car on the brakes. The heat is very different to China, with very high temperatures, and also there’s a different combination of tyres. It should be better for us there!”

Force India is currently sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, di Resta is tenth. and Sutil 12th in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Bahrain GP: McLaren aiming for more points finishes at Sakhir


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: McLaren aiming for more points finishes at SakhirMcLaren is getting ready for round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix. McLaren had a disastrous start of the season, and the Woking-based team only scored 12 points, but there have been some improvements.

Martin Whitmarsh: There’s been a little progress at every race

McLaren team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is aware his team needs to improve to stay in the race for the 2013 crown, and said, “We’ll look to consolidate our achievements in Shanghai with further solid points finishes this weekend. While the first three races haven’t been the easiest for us, there’s been a little progress at every round, and we’ll be looking for another improved showing, as well as the opportunity to increase our understanding of MP4-28, in Bahrain this weekend.”

Back in the UK, McLaren is working hard to improve the pace of the new car, and Whitmarsh said, “The work that goes on at the track is only the tip of the iceberg, though. There’s been an incredible amount of effort expended back at the McLaren Technology Centre [Woking, UK], so as to ensure that the delivery of new parts, and the evaluation of fresh ideas, remain constant.”

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren

Jenson Button: Practice will be more important than ever

Jenson Button thinks the Sakhir circuit is a real challenge for drivers and commented, “The Sakhir circuit requires a good overall car balance. There are some tricky and technical low-speed changes of direction; you need to place the car really precisely at the corner entry in order to maximise traction at the exit. And there are also some high-speed sweeps — Turns 6 and 7, for example — and some fast corners, such as the uphill left-hander at Turn 11. You need a good front-end, but also good traction, to get the best from those corners.”

And the 2009 World Champion added, “It’s a place where the grip levels can be quite hard to anticipate, and where the wind direction can play quite an important part in determining the car’s balance. The wind can affect top speed and cornering performance, so practice will be more important than ever in enabling us to take the best overall package into qualifying and the race.”

Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez – Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez: Sakhir a good combination of high and low-speed corners

Sergio Perez also thinks the circuit is a challenge for man and machine. “The Bahrain Grand Prix circuit has plenty of run-off and a good combination of high and low-speed corners. The challenge for the drivers comes from the constantly evolving nature of the corners, and dealing with the sand — which gets blown onto different areas of the track from the surrounding desert,” said the Mexican.

The DRS zones will play an important role this weekend Perez reckons, “With two DRS zones, I think we should see some decent racing: the two best overtaking opportunities are into the Turn 1 and Turn 4 hairpins. They’re both good places to attack — you can force another driver onto the inside line and then attack on the exit, when they’re more vulnerable. The second DRS zone will mainly be used to close the gap down to the car in front, before attacking again along the pits straight.”

McLaren is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Button and Perez are eighth and 14th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Bahrain GP: Williams hoping to be more competitive, disappointed to not have scored points


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Williams hoping to be more competitive, disappointed to not have scored pointsNot a very good start of the season for Williams: two retirements, and no points scored. Williams is getting ready for round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship: The Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, near Manama.

Mike Coughlan: It has been disappointing not to score points

Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan admitted the new car is not fast enough, but he is confident the car suits the Bahrain circuit better, “We feel that the current car, whilst not as competitive as we would like, will be more competitive in Bahrain.“ And he added, “It’s been disappointing not to score points in our first three races, but we can be pleased with the fact that Valtteri [Bottas] has managed to bring the car home in every race so far with very solid drives.”

But Bahrain is a tough circuit according to Coughlan, “Bahrain is a circuit that has some key characteristics that will present new challenges for the teams. It’s a high braking circuit so brake wear will be a factor, it is tough on rear tyres and it has a high ambient temperature. For engines it is a high power, high-efficiency circuit that places a premium on straight line speed and the Renault engine should be robust at this sort of circuit.”

Two retirements for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: Track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend

Pastor Maldonado is looking forward to another challenging race and commented, “Because the Sakhir circuit is in the desert the track conditions can change quite a lot during the weekend, especially with the sand being blown across the surface, so the teams will have to be ready to react to the different conditions.”

“Tyre degradation is also expected to be quite high at this race which can always throw up some interesting challenges for the teams,” the Venezuelan added.

Williams hoping to be more competitive - Photo: Williams F1

Williams hoping to be more competitive – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: We need to try and find a good car set-up

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas had a busy start this season, but the rookie is learning fast. “It’s been a very busy start to my career with two back to back races in a row, but it has meant that I have had a lot of time in the car and the chance to try and understand its characteristics.”

He thinks the tyres will be an important factor during the race, “The tyres tend to drop off quite a lot at this circuit so in Friday practice we need to try and find a good car set-up to maximise the long run performance for the race so we can keep the tyres alive longer than others.”

Williams is currently ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bottas is 16th, and Maldonado 20th in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Chinese GP: Phenomenal Alonso takes first win of the season for Ferrari in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Phenomenal Alonso takes first win of the season for Ferrari in ShanghaiFernando Alonso was in total control this afternoon as he convincingly won round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship at the Shanghai International Circuit. Thanks to a spot on strategy, the Spaniard was able to beat Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel who were not fast enough to catch the Ferrari.

“It was a fantastic race for us from the start to the end without any big problems from the car,” said the winner. “The tyre degradation was better than expected so we managed the pace. It feels great after the retirement in Malaysia because we had some pressure to finish the race.”

It was a somewhat chaotic race in Shanghai, as drivers were on different strategies, but it was Alonso who ultimately cruised to victory. At the start of the race it was this time Raikkonen who had a bad start, and both Ferraris went right past the Lotus, while Hamilton in the Mercedes stayed in the lead.

Ferrari celebrating victory at Shanghai - Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari celebrating victory at Shanghai – Photo: Ferrari

But after the DRS was enabled, Hamilton didn’t stand a chance and the 2008 World Champion had to watch how both Ferraris passed him. Hamilton immediately made his first pit stop and changed to the medium Pirellis, but he tumbled down the order.

At the same time Esteban Gutierrez misjudged his braking point at the end of the straight and hit the Force India of Adrian Sutil. The Mexican retired on the spot, Sutil made it back to the pits with heavy damage, but had to end his race.

Gutierrez admitted it had been his fault and said, “Right before going into the long straight I had Checo [Sergio Perez] fighting behind me, and I approached the corner too fast. I was braking at the same place where I usually brake, however, didn’t anticipate the loss of downforce and the amount of speed I had. I tried my best to stop, but didn’t succeed.”

Gutierrez crashed into Sutil's Force India - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Gutierrez crashed into Sutil’s Force India – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sutil was obviously very disappointed and commented, “My rear wing was broken and there was no option but to stop. It’s always a shame not to finish a race and I had a good chance of scoring more points today. I was on the soft tyre and the strategy looked to be shaping up well.”

At that point Nico Hulkenberg was leading the race, but when he pitted he lost the lead. Not much later there was a second incident, Mark Webber, who had started the race from the back of the grid, was a bit too eager and tangled with Jean-Eric Vergne, the Australian damaged his front wing and had to pit for repairs.

Unfortunately for him, his right rear wheel wasn’t secured properly when he left the pits, and while he was cruising to get back to the pit lane, the wheel came loose and that was the end of Webber’s race. Webber said about the incident, “It was a couple of laps before our pit stop window, so I had to come in early. The guys thought the tyre was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap.”

More chaos as Raikkonen ran into the back of Sergio Perez, the Finn damaged his front wing but elected to not change it, and despite the damage he was still fast enough to record the fastest lap at that stage of the race.

Jenson Button in the McLaren was leading the race as he was on a different strategy, but he was passed by Alonso who was much quicker on his new tyres. But more importantly, Raikkonen and Hamilton were still behind the Ferrari, and they still had to pit.

Due to the different strategies, Hamilton was now closing in on Button, and Button was advised over the radio to engage the battle with the Mercedes driver, while at the same time Vettel was told not to fight Alonso who had showed up in his rear-view mirrors, and not much later Alonso passed the triple World Champion without a problem.

Second place for the Iceman today - Photo: Lotus F1

Second place for the Iceman today – Photo: Lotus F1

Button was still on his second set of tyres, but his tyres went deterioated very quickly, and both Hamilton and Vettel passed the 2009 World Champion, who then dashed into the pit lane for his last tyre change.

On lap 39 Alonso was still leading, and was followed by Vettel and Button, the Spaniard made his last pit stop on lap 41, Vettel was now right behind him but still had to make a stop to change to the soft tyres, which he hadn’t used yet.

When Vettel pitted and rejoined the race on the soft tyres, he was almost three seconds per lap faster, but it was too little, too late, and Alonso was able to cruise to the finish line. Vettel made a last-minute attempt to overtake Hamilton in third place, but he made two mistakes and ultimately finished in fourth place.

Raikkonen apparently had aimed to win the race, as he later said, “Second wasn’t quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best that we could manage today. I’m not 100% happy because we didn’t win, but it is what it is and second place is a good result after a bad start and the incident with Sergio [Perez].”

About the loss of downforce due to the damaged front wing he commented, “It was quite difficult out there; obviously the car is not designed like that otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was still!”

Second podium place for Mercedes and Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Second podium place for Mercedes and Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Hamilton, who had started from pole and finished in third place, was nevertheless happy with the result, “It was a good race for me today and whilst I would have loved the win, I’m really happy with third place and being on the podium for the second race in a row.”

And he added, “Fernando and Kimi were just a little bit too fast for us during the race and my tyres were shot at the end trying to keep ahead of Sebastian. I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place.”

Vettel earned 12 points today, and he commented, “Our strategy seemed to work today. We knew it would be difficult and that it was crucial to get clean laps, but we didn’t in the first stint.”

The last few laps were very exciting, and the German said, “When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought ‘well, that’s a bit too far’, but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tyres. It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something.”

Vettel wasn't fast enough today in China - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Vettel wasn’t fast enough today in China – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Also Button was happy with his fifth place, the best result of the season so far for McLaren. ” The race was always going to be tricky: we weren’t quick enough to adopt the same strategy as the others, so we had to run longer than the rest and make two pit stops, rather than three.” And he added, “We know we still have a lot of work to do to challenge at the front, but we can take a lot of positives away from this weekend.”

Vettel is currently leading the Drivers’ Championship with 52 points, he is followed by Raikkonen (49), Alonso (43), Hamilton (40) Felipe Massa (30), and Webber is sixth with 26 points. Next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix on the Bahrain International Circuit on April 21.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP Race Results


Chinese GP: Hamilton takes his first pole position for Mercedes at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Hamilton takes his first pole position for Mercedes at ShanghaiLewis Hamilton secured his first pole position with Mercedes today during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. The 2008 World Champion took pole as others like Red Bull, Lotus and McLaren were struggling to come to terms with the tyres on the Shanghai International Circuit.

Hamilton, who set his time on the soft Pirellis, was elated with his first pole with the Mercedes team. “Pole position is a great result for us today and to achieve it in my third race for the team is such a good feeling. I had to make sure the radio was off after my engineer told me I had pole because I was so excited,” Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

About tomorrow’s race the Briton said, “It would be great to convert the position in the race tomorrow but it’s going to be a challenge and we’re realistic about how tough the race will be. The soft tyres don’t last for very long, and with a couple of quick guys starting on the mediums, it’ll be interesting to see how the race plays out.”

Kimi Raikkonen was this time fast during qualifying, he landed second spot on the grid and Fernando Alonso completed the top three for Ferrari.

Again, the focus was on preserving tyres for the race, therefore most teams stayed in the garage in Q1, aiming to qualify for Q2 in just one run. One of the early victims was Valtteri Bottas, who made a mistake in Turn 1 and did not make it into the next session. Also Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde did not make it into Q2.

Webber has to start from the back of the grid - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber has to start from the back of the grid – Photo: Red Bull Racing

In Q2, things went completely wrong for Mark Webber, he had a fuel pressure problem and had to park his car. Webber commented, “In Q2 we lost fuel pressure so I had to turn the car off and couldn’t get it back to the pits. I had to stop on the circuit, so qualifying was over before it started really.” Unfortunately for the Australian, the FIA stewards decided to exclude Webber from qualifying as Red Bull failed to provide enough fuel for the mandatory one litre fuel sample. The Australian will have to start the race from the back of the grid tomorrow.

A FIA statement read, “It was checked whether car number two had enough fuel on board in order to be driven back to the pits under its own power and in addition to this that a one litre fuel sample could be taken. The car had 150ml fuel on board which is not enough for the required one litre fuel sample and to drive the car back to the pits under its own power.”

Paul di Resta was quicker than his team colleague Adrian Sutil in Q2, but both failed to make it into the third and final qualifying session, as did Sergio Perez, Webber (14th before disqualification), Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Then the heat was one for the final run for pole position. Nico Hulkenberg in the second Sauber didn’t even bother to go out in Q3, he finished the day in 10th place, but will have an extra set of fresh Pirellis for tomorrow’s race.

Vettel also stayed in the garage and he was ultimately ranked ninth fastest, but said he was on a different strategy. “We’re obviously on a different strategy to the cars in front, whether that works or not we will see tomorrow, but I’m confident we did the right thing based on the facts we have,” said the triple World Champion. And he added, “We have the advantage of choosing the tyres for tomorrow, so we’ll see.”

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button was the sole McLaren driver to make it into the top ten, he will start from eighth place on the grid. He had the same excuse as Vettel, Button also set his time on the primes (medium rubber compound), and he said, “Our aim was to be the first prime-tyre runner on the grid — even if it meant qualifying 10th — and we did that. This was the best we could do with what we have.”

Daniel Ricciardo must have been the happiest man at the Toro Rosso team, after a great run in Q3 he ended the day in seventh place. Also fast, but not as fast as his team colleague, was Romain Grosjean, he finished in sixth place.

Next on the list are Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg, who took fifth and fourth position respectively, Rosberg reckoned he lost a few places when he made a small mistake. “I made a small mistake at the last corner on my lap in Q3 which cost maybe a tenth and a couple of places. But I’m in a good position for the race and we’ve worked a lot on the race performance this weekend so I hope we can gain some places tomorrow,” said the German.

Alonso was third for Ferrari and he was happy with the result, “The weekend has been very good for us. The car felt competitive from Friday. The car is responding well and I think we have a good set-up for the race and if everything goes well we should be able to fight for the podium with both cars which is good for the team.”

Second place for Kimi Raikkoen - Photo: Lotus F1

Second place for Kimi Raikkoen – Photo: Lotus F1

Lotus indeed improved their qualifying pace, which was the Achilles heel of the Lotus E21, the gap to pole was just three-tenths of a second today, but the Iceman was not completely satisfied. “I think the gap is quite big still and we don’t have that speed right now. We were second, it’s not too bad,” he said about his best qualifying result ever for Lotus.

And he added, “Of course you’d rather be in first place. But like I said we don’t have the speed; I think we’re missing the downforce in the middle sector a bit, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

And last, but not least, the opinion of Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn, and Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff. Brawn commented, “It’s a nice reward for all the hard work both here at the track and back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth. However, there are no points gained on a Saturday as they say and there is a tough job ahead of us tomorrow to convert our qualifying positions. It’s going to be a fascinating race from a strategy and tyre perspective so we will wait and see how it plays out.”

Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Also Wolff warned the race is tomorrow, and not today, and he remarked, “We will not get ahead of ourselves with this result as we expect an interesting race which will be decided by the different tyre strategies. A few competitors have chosen to qualify on prime tyres to run a longer first stint instead of the options which we and most of the runners used in Q3.”

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP Qualifying Results


Chinese GP: Ferrari dominates final free practice session in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Ferrari dominates final free practice session in ShanghaiFerrari dominated the final free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit this morning; Fernando Alonso topped the time sheets with a lap of 1m35.391, just 0.056s off the fastest time set this weekend by Felipe Massa on Friday afternoon.

Alonso was followed by his Brazilian team colleague who took second spot, while Lewis Hamilton showed what the Mercedes is capable of as he took third place. The 2008 World Champion was followed by both Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who took fourth and fifth place respectively, but Webber was a little over one second off the fastest time set by Alonso.

Again a welcome surprise from Force India, as returnee Adrian Sutil took sixth spot, just ahead Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus E21, the Finn set a time of 1m36.605, and thus was 1.158s off the pace.

Fourth place for Vettel in FP3 - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Fourth place for Vettel in FP3 – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Next were the two McLaren drivers, Jenson Button took eighth place, while his Mexican team colleague Sergio Perez was ninth, he was just 0.084s slower than 2009 World Champion Button. Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten, while his team colleague rookie Esteban Gutierrez was 17th after completing 20 laps on the Shanghai circuit.

Just outside the top ten were both Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo who took possession of 11th and 12th place. Further down the list was Williams, Pastor Maldonado was 13th, and Valtteri Bottas was 15th, almost two seconds off the pace set by Alonso.

Technical problems for Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Technical problems for Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg’s morning was ruined by a hydraulic issue, the German had to be satisfied with 14th place. Also problems for Paul di Resta, his attempts were hampered by set-up issues, the Scott took 16th spot this morning.

Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus complained about lack of grip, and was 18th. The last four places were again for Marussia and Caterham, Jules Bianchi was 19th in the Marussia, again outperforming his British team colleague Max Chilton, who was 21st.

Charles Pic was 20th for Caterham, while Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last this morning.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP FP3 Results


Chinese GP: Massa takes Ferrari to first place after second practice session in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Massa takes Ferrari to first place after second practice session in ShanghaiFelipe Massa was fastest for Ferrari this afternoon during the second free practice session for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix. The Brazilian set a time of 1m35.340 on the soft Pirellis, 1.377s faster than the fastest time set in the morning by Nico Rosberg. Fernando Alonso in the second Ferrari was third, almost half-a-second slower than Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen claimed second place for Lotus this afternoon, while his team colleague Romain Grosjean was twelfth. Rosberg was again fast as he took fourth place, while Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes was seventh, 1.156s off Massa’s time.

Mark Webber was again the fastest Red Bull driver, he took fifth place while triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel took it a bit easier and landed 10th spot.

McLaren found some more speed today In Shanghai - Photo: McLaren F1

McLaren found some more speed today In Shanghai – Photo: McLaren F1

It seems McLaren have found the leak, like this morning Jenson Button was sixth, while Sergio Perez was 11th. Also Adrian Sutil claimed the same position as this morning, he was eighth again with a lap of 1m36.415s, and was followed by his Scottish team colleague Paul di Resta who took ninth place.

Further down the order we find the first Sauber, Esteban Gutierrez was 13th, this time the Mexican was faster than Nico Hulkenberg, who was 17th after completing 32 laps on the Shanghai circuit.

Both Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were in 14th and 15th place, this afternoon Valtteri Bottas was faster than Pastor Maldonado, the Finn was 16th, while the Venezuelan drivers was 18th.

Daniel Ricciardo - Photo: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo – Photo: Scuderia Toro Rosso

At the bottom of the list are the usual suspects, again Jules Bianchi was faster than Max Chilton, Bianchi was 19th, Chilton 22nd and last.

Giedo van der Garde was 20th, half-a-second faster than Charles Pic, who was back in the car after Ma Qing Hua had been in the car this morning.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP FP2 Results


Chinese GP: Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first practice session in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first practise session in ShanghaiNico Rosberg was fastest this morning after the first free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, the German lapped the Shanghai International Circuit in 1m36.717s, and was followed by his Mercedes team colleague Lewis Hamilton, who took second place almost half-a-second slower than Rosberg,

Both Mercedes drivers were followed by the two Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, who were third and fourth respectively, but they we considerably off the pace set by Rosberg, Webber was 0.941s, and Vettel 1.225s slower than Rosberg.

Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari driver this morning and took fifth place, while Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari was seventh. Jenson Button took the honours for McLaren and scored sixth place, but Sergio Perez in the other McLaren was 16th after he ended up in the gravel trap at the pit lane entry, just like Hamilton did during the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix.

Second place for Hamilton this morning - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Second place for Hamilton this morning – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Adrian Sutil was once again faster than his Force India team colleague Paul di Resta, Sutil was eighth this morning, while di Resta was tenth.

Romain Grosjean took ninth place for Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen was 11th, but just over two seconds off the pace, and two seconds is a lot in Formula One. Jean-Eric Vergne was 12th for Scuderia Toro Rosso and beat his team colleague Daniel Ricciardo who was 15th after completing 20 laps.

Williams still has a lot of work to do on the FW35, Pastor Maldonado was 13th, while Valtteri Bottas was 17th. Also the new Sauber needs more speed, experienced driver Nico Hulkenberg was 14th, the German was faster than Esteban Gutierrez who was 18th after completing 22 laps.

Raikkonen has plenty of Chinese fans - Photo: Lotus F1

Raikkonen has plenty of Chinese fans – Photo: Lotus F1

Jules Bianchi took 19th spot this morning for Marussia, Max Chilton was 20th. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was 21st for Caterham, followed by Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua, who took over the steering wheel from regular Caterham driver Charles Pic.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP FP1 Results


Chinese GP Preview: Teams aiming for major improvements at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP Preview: Teams aiming for major improvements at ShanghaiAfter a three-week break all Formula One teams have arrived at the Shanghai International Circuit for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix. It will be the tenth time the race is held on the 5.451 km long Shanghai circuit, which is similar to the Malaysian Sepang circuit, but the weather conditions are expected to be much cooler this weekend.

Pirelli has nominated the Medium (prime, white marked) and Soft (option, yellow marked) tyres for China: the first time that this combination makes an appearance this year. According to Pirelli, the flexibility of the new 2013 tyres means ‘that several strategies are open to the teams’.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery explained, “China has often produced some of the best races of the year, where strategy has been at the forefront of the action. With all our compounds having got softer this year the degradation is deliberately more extreme leading to increased performance, but history has shown that it never takes too long for the teams and drivers to get on top of the tyres.”

Webber not happy with Vettel's actions in Malaysia - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber not happy with Vettel’s actions in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Unfortunately, the fast degrading tyres are the reason why teams opt to save tyres during qualifying in order to have more fresh sets during the race. Drivers stay in the garage for most of the time, which of course does not contribute to the show on Saturday afternoon. Tyre degradation also played an important role in the hottest story of the season so far.

The team that made the headlines in the past three weeks was of course Red Bull, the rivalry between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel has been re-ignited after Vettel ignored team orders to let Webber win the race at Sepang. Red Bull was afraid both drivers could ruin their tyres and therefore the decision was made to let Webber finish the race ahead of Vettel. Better safe than sorry was the motto.

But according to Red Bull Advisor Helmut Marko, the feud is over. “They don’t have to be completely on the same page but it must be a solid working partnership,” he said. “Sebastian apologised in the press conference and I think that was the first correct step to make. There was a debrief afterwards with the relevant discussions about the race and then there was a handshake between the two drivers. For us now the issue is settled.”

Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season - Photo: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season – Photo: Lotus F1

A pleasant surprise at the start of the season, this time Lotus won the 2013 opener at Albert Park in Australia, but the second race in Malaysia was a bit of a let down for the Lotus fans, as Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen finished the race in sixth and seventh place respectively.

Nevertheless, Lotus’ Team Principal Eric Boullier was happy with the result of the Malaysian Grand Prix and said, “I think we can take some positives from Malaysia. We’ve made a step forward with the car in terms of single lap pace, but still the race pace looks strong as well.”

Lotus will have some significant updates ready for China and Boullier said, “For China, Romain will have the upgraded exhaust and bodywork package which Kimi ran in Malaysia, plus there will be a few additional parts arriving so it’s going to be quite interesting.”

According to Lotus’ Technical Director James Allison, the tyres will again be the deciding factor at the Shanghai circuit, “Some of the lower speed corners are also extended in their radius, even with tightening arcs. This provides quite a stern test for the tyres, as you have a significant excess of torque over grip making it very easy to wreck a set of rear tyres rather quickly.”

Fernando Alonso - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso – Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari is currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, in Australia Fernando Alonso was second, but at Sepang he hit the rear of Vettel’s Red Bull and when his damaged front wing got wedged under the car, he crashed and his race was over after just one lap.

Alonso has spent some time in the simulator during the break, but he’s worried about the very fast degrading tyres. “Shanghai is a very nice track with a variety of corner types and fast straights, so you definitely need a car that works well in the fast sections, but you also need it to have plenty of downforce to deal with the tighter turns. We can expect to see quite high tyre degradation, especially on the fronts,” the Spaniard said.

Also Felipe Massa is upbeat ahead of the race on Sunday. “I know we have only done two races, but I have a good feeling so far this season. The work we did with the F138 over the winter has taken us in the right direction and the car has much more potential,” the Brazilian said.

Lewis Hamilton on the podium - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton on the podium – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton moved from McLaren to Mercedes, and already scored his first podium place for the German team in Malaysia. Nico Rosberg scored his maiden win, and so far the only victory for Mercedes, during the Chinese Grand Prix in 2012, but it will be difficult to repeat that according to Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff.

“Like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track this weekend. Then we will see where we stand relative to the competition,” the Austrian said.

Team Principal Ross Brawn is confident ahead of the race, but there is still a lot do, and he commented, “Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development. A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.”

Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Force India is fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, and the return of Adrian Sutil was the best decision they’ve made this season, as he led the Australian Grand Prix for almost 30 laps. But in Malaysia everything went pear-shaped, and both Sutil and Paul di Resta had to retire as there were problems with the wheel nuts.

But team owner Vijay Mallya is adamant the wheel nut issues have been solved, “We’ve had three weeks to understand what went wrong and have worked hard fix the root cause of the problem.” Sutil is confident of a good performance this weekend and the German said, “The layout is not too different to Sepang, so it should suit us again and I hope we can be strong there.”

And he added, “Also, we know there are lots of areas where we can improve because we have learned a lot from the first couple of races. The other teams will not stand still so we need to keep pushing hard and keep up this momentum.”

Sauber had their ups and downs, in Australia Nico Hulkenberg couldn’t start the race due to problems with the fuel system, but he hopes to do better in China. “I have a better feeling now I have driven my first race in the C32, especially because we were able to collect a lot of information. In Malaysia we scored points and that is also my goal for China,” Hulkenberg said.

Sauber will also bring some new parts to China, and they will be tested during the free practice sessions. Tom McCullough, Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering said, “We analysed the data that we collected in Malaysia and found interesting directions for the development of the car, therefore we will bring several test parts to Shanghai. Having secured our first points of the season in Malaysia, we are eager to add to them as soon as possible.”

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren F1

While Ferrari is now up to pace compared to the start of the 2012 season, it seems that McLaren now is the top team that has fallen behind, as they are only seventh in the Constructors’ Championship with just four points. Both drivers have struggled with the new Pirellis, and Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is certainly not happy with seventh place.

“Clearly, our performance in Australia and Malaysia fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect at McLaren,” said Whitmarsh. McLaren made good use of the break and are aiming to improve their performance this weekend, and Whitmarsh added, “We have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso managed to score one point in two races, courtesy to Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished tenth in Malaysia. Plenty of rivalry at Toro Rosso as well, Daniel Ricciardo promised to ‘trash’ his team colleague this season, but Frenchman Vergne has so far beaten the Australian driver, who is also aiming to replace Mark Webber at sister team Red Bull in 2014.

Two retirements for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Also a very difficult start of the season for Williams, last year they were very quick and even won the Spanish Grand Prix, this season Pastor Maldonado retired from both races, while Valtteri Bottas finished just outside the top ten.

Like other drivers, Bottas reckons managing the Pirelli tyres will be the key to success, and he remarked, “Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge facing all of the teams, as the temperatures are often low and the smooth track surface is quite different to what we saw in the first two races.”

Surprisingly, Marussia has beaten Caterham during the first two races, and the Anglo-Russian outfit has even managed to produce a few car updates during the break. Team Principal John Booth explained, “The cars were freighted directly to China, so while we would not call the upgrades we have for this race comprehensive, they are still significant. We will be running some new suspension parts that we proved out in testing but delayed until we had some further race distance experience with the MR02. We also have some new front and rear brake ducts.”

Caterham has been struggling due to massive understeer. “On Friday and Saturday morning we’ll also be working on several performance areas that the team has been looking at since Malaysia, particularly around dialling out the understeer issues I had in Australia and Malaysia,” said Charles Pic.

Dutchman Giedo van der Garde is confident his team will solve the problems and said, “We had oversteer issues on entry into the corners in Malaysia and Australia and that definitely hit my race pace, particularly as it was impacting on tyre degradation levels, so we’ve done a bit of work on that with Pirelli in Milan and back at Leafield since Malaysia so we’ll see what we’ve achieved when we get to Shanghai.”

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix will start at 15:00 hrs local time and the race on Sunday starts at 14:00 hrs local time.


Chinese GP: Mercedes adamant development race will be critical this season


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Mercedes adamant development race will be critical this seasonMercedes won their first Formula One race at the Shanghai International Circuit last year, this year the German team hopes to close the gap on their rivals, and more important, the Silver Arrows team must keep developing the car in order to battle at the front.

Toto Wolff: Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games

Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff thinks it is difficult to repeat last year’s success at the Shanghai track. “One year on from Nico’s win, a lot of people will be asking whether this is something our team can repeat in 2013. But like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track next weekend,” said the Austrian.

Mercedes has planned more new parts for China and Wolff said, “We have made a solid start to the season in the first two races with Nico and Lewis both performing at a very high and equal level. The development race will be critical this season so we have more new parts planned for China. Our aim has to be to improve on our good start to the season and continue scoring good points in both championships.”

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes Benz

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes Benz

Lewis Hamilton: We’ve had a better start than we expected

Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to race again after the three-week break. “My first two races with my new team have been a great experience and everyone has made me feel so welcome. We’ve had a better start than we expected and to have finished in fifth and third places so far is really positive,” Said the 2008 World Champion.

He’s confident his team can keep up the pace of development, “I know there is much more to come so we will keep working hard and pushing the development of the car. I’ll be at the factory this weekend and look forward to hearing about the work that’s gone on in the last couple of weeks and the upgrades that we will take to China.”

Rosbeg won the Chinese GP last year - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Rosberg won the Chinese GP last year – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg: I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal

Of course Nico Rosberg has good memories of the Shanghai circuit, as he scored his maiden win during last year’s Chinese Grand Prix. “I travel to China this week with very good memories from winning my first Formula One race in Shanghai last year, and having led the race there for the past three years. I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal and I have a positive feeling going there with the car that we have at the moment.”

And he added, “We’ve had a strong start to the season and I’m confident that we can keep pushing and hopefully score some good results in China and Bahrain.”

Ross Brawn: We’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close

Team Principal Ross Brawn also thinks that his team has made a good start this season, but there is still work to do. “Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development,” said Brawn

He’s also looking forward to test the new parts the team has developed for Shanghai, “A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.”

Also read:

Red Bull Chinese GP Preview
• Ferrari Chinese GP Preview
McLaren Chinese GP Preview
Lotus Chinese GP Preview
Mercedes Chinese GP Preview
Sauber Chinese GP Preview
Force India Chinese GP Preview
Williams Chinese GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Chinese GP Preview
Caterham Chinese GP Preview
Marussia Chinese GP Preview


Chinese GP: Marussia to test new suspension parts in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Marussia to test new suspension parts in Shanghai - Photo: Marussia F1Marussia is also ready for round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. This weekend’s Grand Prix will be the tenth race on the Shanghai track, a real drivers track similar to Sepang.

John Booth: We will be running some new suspension parts

Marussia’s Team Principal John Booth is satisfied with the start of the season and said, “After such a positive start to the season, I think we are all keen to get back to the racing.”

But there won’t be many major updates available for the race in China and Booth commented, “The cars were freighted directly to China, so while we would not call the upgrades we have for this race comprehensive, they are still significant. We will be running some new suspension parts that we proved out in testing but delayed until we had some further race distance experience with the MR02. We also have some new front and rear brake ducts.”

And he added, “The bigger push will come for Europe, but for now it’s good to be bringing new incremental updates to the car to maintain our positive trajectory. The drivers have spent some time in the simulator during the break and generally they are feeling much better prepared for the next phase of the season.”

Max Chilton - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton: Shanghai a nice challenge with some interesting features

Briton Max Chilton enjoyed the three-week break, but can’t wait to race again. “The break since Malaysia has been really beneficial on the one hand because it has given us the chance to reflect on the first two races and what we need to do to keep on making progress. On the other hand, off the back of the first two races of my Formula One career, it has also felt a bit like an eternity and I can’t wait to head to China now and get back to racing!”

He has never raced on the circuit and Chilton has prepared himself on the simulator, “I only have my experience of watching the races there in the past and my recent simulator work to go by, but it looks like a nice challenge with some interesting features. Shanghai itself will also be a new experience. We have a few updates to the car; so far the developments we have brought have worked well and I’m sure we can keep moving in a positive direction.”

Jules Bianchi - Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi – Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi: It’s all about maintaining the momentum now

Frenchman Jules Bianchi has been the surprise of the season, he clearly outperformed his team colleague, and he too, can’t wait to get behind the wheel of his car again. “Things had started out so well that it was almost a shame to have to stop for a few weeks,” Bianchi said.

“I was able to reflect on what has been a bit of a whirlwind, but a very positive start to my first season of Formula One nonetheless. I am quite happy with the progress so far. It’s all about maintaining the momentum now, so it is good to know that we head into the next race with some new developments which should carry us forward again.”

Asked about his aims for this weekend he said, “The target for this race is to keep closing on the guys ahead and be challenging them consistently, lap for lap.”

Marussia is currently tenth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bianchi and Chilton are 17th and 20th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

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