By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes dominated the second free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took first and second place. Rosberg lapped the Monte Carlo street circuit in 1m14.759s on the super soft tyres, he was 1.436s faster than this morning.
Again a strong showing by Ferrari, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took third and fourth place respectively. Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver this afternoon, the Australian took fifth place, while Sebastian Vettel was ninth in the second Toro Rosso.
Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean landed sixth and seventh spot, but Grosjean crashed his Lotus into the wall at Saint Devote after he had run wide, the red flag came out as track marshals used the opportunity to inspect a loose kerb at the swimming pool before the session was restarted.
Second place for Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Jenson Button was again faster than his team colleague Sergio Perez, he was eighth while Perez was 12th. Paul di Resta completed the top ten, but he was closely followed by Adrian Sutil in the second Force India, the German was 11th fastest this afternoon.
Nico Hulkenberg was again quick in the Sauber, he took 13th place, while Esteban Gutierrez was 15th, just 0,112s slower than Hulkenberg. Pastor Maldonado was not as quick as he had been this morning, he took 14th spot for Williams while Valtteri Bottas was 18th.
Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India
Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were 16th and 17th respectively, and at the bottom of the list are the usual suspects, as usual Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was faster than Max Chilton, while tis time Charles Pic outpaced his Dutch team colleague, he was 19th while Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last.
Results of the second free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Nico Rosberg topped the time sheets this morning during the first free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The Mercedes driver set a time of 1m16.195s, however, the difference with the number two, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, was minimal as the Spaniard was only 0.087s slower than Rosberg.
Lotus likes surprises and this time Romain Grosjean was third this morning, while his Finnish team colleague Kimi Raikkonen was 11th. Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari, while Lewis Hamilton took fifth place in the second Mercedes.
Alonso second for Ferrari this morning – Photo: Ferrari F1
Pastor Maldonado surprised friend and foe as he took sixth place for the troubled Williams team, Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams was 17th, the Finn was 1,837s slower than his team colleague.
Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver this morning, as he took seventh place, while triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was tenth. McLaren apparently found some speed as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth respectively.
Just outside the top ten were both Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, the difference between the two was just 0.116s. Sauber tested a few parts and Nico Hulkenberg and his Mexican team colleague Esteban Gutierrez scored 14th and 16th place for the Swiss outfit.
Webber talks with the media – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Jean-Eric Vergne was the fastest Toro Rosso driver and took 15th place, while Daniel Ricciardo was 18th. No ‘guest drivers’ this morning, and thus Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were 19th and 20th for Caterham, while Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton completed the list as they took 21st and 22nd respectively.
The results of the first free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Scuderia Ferrari has won many times on the most iconic circuit of all times: the Monte Carlo street circuit in the Principality of Monaco. Many great drivers have won the race for Ferrari; Niki Lauda (1975, 1976), Jody Scheckter (1979), Gilles Villeneuve (1981) and Michael Schumacher (1997, 1999, 2001). But 2001 was the last time Ferrari won the classic event, and the Maranello-based team is hungry for more.
Fernando Alonso: We have had two podiums here
Ferrari star driver Fernando Alonso is confident he will score a good result at the Monte Carlo track this weekend, “The feeling is good, the team is confident, as we saw we had a competitive package, getting both our cars onto the podium in Barcelona. However, Monaco is a unique track where you need a special set-up and confidence in your driving.”
Alonso doesn’t expect any tyre problems – Photo: Ferrari F1
And the Spaniard added, “We have had two podiums here in the last couple of years, so we should be competitive again and I hope to get a good result.” Asked about his main rivals he commented, “We can expect Mercedes, who have been on pole for the last three races, to be very strong again and remember they were on pole position here last year with Michael (Schumacher) although he lost that place with a penalty. We know how difficult it is to overtake here, so maybe that makes them [Mercedes] favourite here.”
There has been a lot of talk about the Pirelli tyres, Pirelli promised to make changes, how does Alonso feel about that? “I have not formed an opinion on what effect that might have, because we are still waiting to find out what will be the final changes to the tyres,” he explained. “When we know exactly what their characteristics will be and probably we must wait until we have raced on them first, then we will be able to form an idea,” Alonso added.
“From the Ferrari side, we are not taking too much notice of the tyres, as we have an important race to deal with this weekend and we know that the tyres are the same for everyone.”
Felipe Massa – Photo: Ferrari F1
Felipe Massa: Monaco is a very special track
Asked about the circuit Felipe Massa said, “Monaco is a very special track, completely different to all the other venues we race on. Everywhere, you are really close to the edge of the track to the guard rails and you have to drive on the limit but not the slightest bit over it, because the smallest mistake is severely punished in Monaco.”
In Spain the Brazilian finished on the podium in third place, but he wants more and commented, “I was not happy with losing three places on the grid after qualifying, but I had a really great race, during which I managed to overtake many cars on track. We have to make it our target to fight for the podium at every race and of course, what I really want is to get a win soon!”
Felipe Massa talks about the Monaco Grand Prix – Video by Ferrari
Ferrari are currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, just 14 points shy of leader Red Bull. Alonso is third in the Drivers’ Championship with 72 points, and Massa is fifth with 45 points.
• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
• McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
• Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
• Sauber Monaco GP Preview
• Force India Monaco GP Preview
• Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
• Caterham Monaco GP Preview
• Marussia Monaco GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Fernando Alonso took the victory for Ferrari during round five of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon, a great day for Ferrari as Felipe Massa took third place. Alonso reduced the gap to rival Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth and still leads the championship, but Alonso’s win at his home Grand Prix reduced the gap to just four points.
Alonso was of course happy, but also cautious about his championship chances, as he said, “Nothing really changes, we’ve only had five races and we’ve had ups and downs. Some races we have had a good race with no problems, and we more or less finished all of them on the podium. At some races we have had mistakes and mechanical problems that we don’t want to repeat, but we know we have the car to fight with the top and we can fight for the championship.”
Ferrari celebrating Alonso’s win – Photo: Ferrari
Second place was for Kimi Raikkonen, who once again showed how fast the Lotus E21 is, as he was actually the only driver who could keep up with the Ferraris. Raikkonen needed one set of tyres less than his rivals, but the Finn was not pleased with the result, “Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much.”
“The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.” Massa tried to catch Raikkonen during the closing stages of the race, but after concerns about the tyres Ferrari told the Brazilian to take it easy.
Raikkonen not happy with second place … he wants to win! – Lotus F1
Not a great day for Red Bull, Vettel finished in fourth, and Mark Webber finished in fifth place, but at least they still scored a decent amount of points. Vettel could not get closer to the Ferrari of Alonso, as he was struggling to keep his tyres alive for almost the entire race.
The triple World Champion was nevertheless satisfied with the result. “I think we can be happy with fourth today. The first three cars were a little bit too fast for us and regarding looking after the tyres, they did a better job,” Vettel said. He was certainly not happy with the fast degrading tyres, “We need to catch up; we’re not going the pace of the car, we’re going the pace of the tyres and obviously we do something to make the tyres wear more.”
Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton started from first and second place on the grid, but it didn’t take Alonso, who made one of his famous rocket starts, very long before he first passed Hamilton, and after the first round of pit stops also overtook pole sitter Rosberg. The Silver Arrows are fast during qualifying, but are sitting ducks during the race, and the German team still has a lot of work to do.
Rosberg defends, but the Mercedes is a sitting duck – Photo Mercedes-Benz
While Alonso was leading, Rosberg did a great job keeping the Red Bull of Vettel behind him, but it didn’t take long before Vettel got past the Mercedes, and Massa and Raikkonen also didn’t have any problems passing the Silver Arrows, a car that is hard on the tyres and causes massive tyre degradation. At one point Hamilton reported he ‘just had been overtaken by a Williams’, and when his team told him to spare the tyres, the Briton remarked he ‘couldn’t drive any slower’.
Rosberg and Hamilton finished in sixth and 12th place, and both drivers were obviously not happy with the poor result. Rosberg was puzzled by the lack of pace, “I didn’t expect it to be that tough, I thought we’d be in a better position. It was very difficult, it’s so difficult to explain it, you know? Why? Why on one lap so fast and then on a long run it’s so slow? It’s not just rear tyres, it’s front and rear both, both just struggling. No explanation.”
Hamilton, who was even lapped by winner Alonso, was also lost as to why his car was so slow. In an interview after the race he said, “It was an experience I don’t want to go through again. I don’t know why it happened. I did absolutely everything I did in Bahrain but the tyres just didn’t come in and give me any grip. If I pushed, they went off immediately. I’m absolutely lost, I don’t know what went wrong.”
McLaren managed to make some progress during the race, and Jenson Button and Sergio Perez came home in eighth and ninth place respectively. Button said, “We took the same approach as in China, adopting a different strategy from the others. To finish eighth shows what a good job the team did with the strategy. I don’t know whether we’ve improved our package or not, but we certainly beat some cars that we possibly shouldn’t have beaten. There’s still a lot of work to do. It’s tough at the moment, but I’m pleased that we’re making the best of what we have.”
Problems for Sutil during his pit stop – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta finished the race for Force India in seventh place, but his team colleague Adrian Sutil wasn’t so lucky, he lost valuable time during a pit stop, and finished in 13th place. Di Resta said, “We said before the race that seventh would be a good result and towards the end I was even fighting for sixth. The result shows the consistency that we have had since the start of the year and that we can perform each weekend.”
Sutil was obviously disappointed and commented, “It’s extremely disappointing to come away empty-handed from this race because we were so quick today. It was all going to plan until the first pit stop when there was an issue and I lost so much time. The team told me to switch the engine off while they sorted the problem, but it cost me the chance of points.”
It was also an eventful race for Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo finished in tenth place, but Jean-Eric Vergne was hit by the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg during his pit stop, and not much later his rear tyre suddenly delaminated and although the Frenchman made it back to the pits, he had to give up his race.
Vergne commented after the race, “The strategy we adopted was the right one and even with a damaged floor and wing I was able to do good lap times. Yet again I was unlucky and I hope that stops soon, because as I was coming into the pits, Sauber did an unsafe release with Hulkenberg who drove into me and then I had a problem with a tyre, so it was one problem after another today.”
Also massive tyre wear for the Williams team – Photo: Williams F1
Williams also had problems with the tyres and Technical Director Mike Coughlan said, “We were suffering with high tyre degradation and so made the decision to switch Pastor [Maldonado] onto a four-stop strategy. We committed to a three-stop with Valtteri, but we then lost a lot of time. We need to check the data as the degradation on his car was unusual compared to the pace we had on Friday.”
For Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, the race was over quickly as his pit crew sent him out while the left rear tyre wasn’t properly secured, “When I came in for my second stop I could feel that there was a problem with the left rear as soon as I rejoined the track. At some point the wheel came off so I tried to make it back to the garage to see if I could continue, but once the team had taken a close look it was clear I had to retire the car.”
The race in Spain was really all about the tyres, Pirelli now rules Formula One, and drivers cannot attack or even defend their position, afraid to damage the tyres. From a ‘green’ point of view, it is also ridiculous one car needs five(!) sets of tyres to finish a race. Pirelli have gone too far by producing tyres that last only ten laps, it is time for Formula One to think about the future, using so many tyres during one race is not acceptable.
Pirelli has responded after the race, and admitted 82 stops in one race is too much. Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said on Twitter, “We aim for 2-3 pit stops. Today was too many, we got it wrong, too aggressive. We will make changes, probably from Silverstone. We were asked to replicate Canada 2010, and aim for 2-3 stops.”
By Berthold Bouman
Sebastian Vettel beat Fernando Alonso this afternoon during the second free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix and recorded the fastest time for Red Bull with a lap of 1m22.808s, the difference with the Spaniard was just 0,017s.
Mark Webber was third fastest, but was very close to his German team colleague as the difference between the two Red Bull drivers was only 0,083s. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest this afternoon, he set a time of 1m23.030s in the Lotus, his French team colleague Romain Grosjean was 18th, over three seconds slower than pace-setter Vettel.
Felipe Massa took fifth place in the second Ferrari, he was followed by the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were sixth and seventh respectively.
Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul di Resta completed the top ten. Not a good afternoon for di Resta, he had to park his Force India after a rear wing failure.
Kimi Raikkonen and his fans – Photo: Lotus F1
Daniel Ricciardo was 11th in the second Toro Rosso, and although they had a new upgrade package, the problems are still not over for McLaren, as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were 12th and 13th for McLaren.
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Williams driver this afternoon, he took 14th spot, while Pastor Maldonado was 16th. Nico Hulkenberg took 15th place for Sauber, while Esteban Gutierrez was 17th.
A good second session for Dutch Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde, who was 19th, a full second faster than his team colleague Charles Pic, who ended the afternoon in 21st place.
The last two on the list were Marussia drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, they were 20th and 22nd.
Results of the second free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Fernando Alonso recorded the fastest time during the first free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya this morning. Alonso set a time of 1m25.252 after completing 20 laps on a damp circuit, Felipe Massa made it an all Ferrari front row as he was second fastest this morning.
The rain and the damp circuit made it difficult for teams to test the new parts they developed for this race, it took an hour before drivers went out on the slick tyres.
Jean-Eric Vergne was the surprise of the morning as he took third place for Toro Rosso, but the Frenchman was almost half a second slower than Alonso. His team colleague Daniel Ricciardo was 11th after completing 26 laps.
Felipe Massa was second this morning – Photo: Ferrari
Plenty of off-track excursions this morning, one of the victims was Romain Grosjean, but the Frenchman could continue and scored fourth fastest time for Lotus. Kimi Raikkonen was eighth in the second Lotus, but it must be said: times were meaningless on the damp track.
Adrian Sutil was the fastest Force India driver, he took fifth place while Paul di Resta was tenth. Lewis Hamilton was sixth in the Mercedes, Nico Rosberg was ninth. Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Williams, while his Venezuelan team colleague Pastor Maldonado finished the morning outside the top ten in 15th place.
Nico Hulkenberg took 12th spot, followed by both Mexican drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez who were 13th and 14th respectively. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde outpaced Heikki Kovalainen, who was doing some test work for Caterham in the car of Charles Pic, the Finn finished in 18th place.
Only one McLaren on track: Sergio Perez – Photo: McLaren F1
Jules Bianchi was 17th for Marussia, while his team colleague for this morning, Rodolfo Gonzalez, who took over from Max Chilton this morning, was 21st, five seconds slower than Alonso.
The big guns didn’t even bother to set a representative time, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were 19th and 20th, and Jenson Button was 22nd and last as he didn’t complete one single lap.
Results of the first free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is determined to score during his home Grand Prix this weekend, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya. Driving a home race is always a special feeling, and racing in front of a home crowd gives you another 10 percent extra, according to the Spaniard.
Fernando Alonso: We need to have a normal weekend
Double World Champion Alonso explained why this race is important, “This year, we have seen that race pace and tyres are the key factors, more so than previously. Obviously it’s good to start from the front, because you know your chances are high and you can almost touch the podium if you qualify on the front row. We need to have a normal weekend, finding the right balance between qualifying and the race.”
Fernando Alonso and his race engineer Andrea Stella – Photo: Ferrari
Alonso is confident he will perform well, “We finished second in Australia and we won in China, because we have a very different package. This gives us optimism and confidence that we can have a good championship, if we deliver consistent results.”
And he added, “This year is the first time I have arrived here with a competitive car but we still need to do everything right and put together a good weekend if we want to fight for the top places. We will also need to see how the car responds to some new parts we have here. But we can say we are approaching this weekend with a positive mentality, not a defensive one like we did in my first years with Ferrari.”
About the gap with his rivals Alonso commented, “We are some points behind at the moment, but it’s a long championship and we have seen many examples of people fighting back: last year, Sebastian [Vettel] was 43 points behind us after the summer break and arrived in Austin leading the classification, so in five or six races you can recover 45 to 50 points if you get some consistent results.”
Felipe Massa – Photo: Ferrari
Felipe Massa: I also hope we will be competitive in qualifying
Brazilian Felipe Massa is also confident ahead of the weekend, “This could be a good track for us and it’s one where we went well in the winter. It’s a track I like too and I also feel very positive about this race, thinking about our race pace, but I also hope we will be competitive in qualifying.”
Ferrari will also be testing new parts on Friday and Massa remarked, “We have new parts yes, and of course we are always hoping for a car with more downforce, that degrades it’s tyres less, but gives more grip and hopefully we end up with a car that helps the tyres work better, not just in qualifying but also in the race.”
Pirelli have changed the hard compound, much to the delight of the Brazilian, as he had criticized the old version of the hardest rubber compound. Massa said, “The new tyre is a positive change, because the difference between the hard and the medium was that the hard this year was always slower but also wore out more than the medium. Now I think the hard should be a little bit quicker than before with slightly better wear than the medium. But it’s hard to say until we’ve used it and also we need to see how the other teams get on with it.”
Ferrari are currently third in the race for the Constructors’ Championship with 77 points, 16 points behind the number two, Lotus, and 32 points behind leader Red Bull. Alonso is fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, while his team colleague Massa is sixth.
• Red Bull Spanish GP Preview
• Ferrari Spanish GP Preview
• McLaren Spanish GP Preview
• Lotus Spanish GP Preview
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• Force India Spanish GP Preview
• Williams Spanish GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Spanish GP Preview
• Caterham Spanish GP Preview
• Marussia Spanish GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Nico 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
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
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.”
By Berthold Bouman
Fernando 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
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
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.
By Berthold Bouman
Felipe 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
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
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.
By Berthold Bouman
Ferrari 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
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
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.
• Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
• Ferrari Bahrain GP Preview
• McLaren Bahrain GP Preview
• Lotus Bahrain GP Preview
• Mercedes Bahrain GP Preview
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• Force India Bahrain GP Preview
• Williams Bahrain GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Bahrain GP Preview
• Caterham Bahrain GP Preview
• Marussia Bahrain GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Fernando 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
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
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
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
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
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.
By Berthold Bouman
Lewis 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
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
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 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
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
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.”
By Berthold Bouman
Ferrari 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
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
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.
By Berthold Bouman
Felipe 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
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
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.