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Monaco GP: Rosberg on pole for Mercedes after rainy qualifying session


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg on pole for Mercedes after rainy qualifying sessionNico Rosberg took pole position for round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix. The German set the fastest time on a rainy Monte Carlo circuit on the super soft Pirelli tyres, his team colleague Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, and triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.

It was the third consecutive pole for the German and he said in a BBC interview, “The conditions were [changing] all over the place. Then it started drizzling again so the lap times got a lot slower. It was changing so much — you have to be on the right tyres at the right time. Everything when to plan and the last lap went OK.” Also Hamilton was pleased with his second place and said, “I’ve been struggling all weekend. The first time I have had that in Monaco. Very happy to be here and lock out the front row.”

Nico Rosberg on pole again - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg on pole again – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Vettel made a mistake on his last lap and said, “I was a bit annoyed with my flying lap in Q3; I think I maybe pushed a bit too hard here and there. The start of the lap wasn’t bad, but also it wasn’t great; with hindsight I should have gone for two flying laps at the start of Q3 and not one, but I decided for that.” About his third place he said, “We have a good race car and should be able to do well from there tomorrow.”

The first qualifying session was struck by rain, all drivers went out on the intermediates, except Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean, who were still waiting in the garage until their cars were fixed. First casualty was Jules Bianchi, he went out in his Marussia but stopped at the top of Beau Rivage with smoke emerging from the back of his car.

It soon became a lottery on the wet streets of the gambling capital of Europe, Pastor Maldonado was quickest in the Williams after the chequered flag was waved to signal the end of the first session. Romain Grosjean went out with three minutes remaining, he performed a true miracle, stayed away from the barriers, and scored second place.

Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

Another miracle, as Giedo van der Garde qualified for Q2 in the underpowered Caterham, the Dutchman felt at home on the wet circuit and he was of course elated about his performance today. He finally finished in 15th place and van der Garde said, “I’m obviously very pleased to put my name into the Q2 timesheets for the first time this year and I want to thank Tony [Fernandez], Cyril [Abiteboul] and the whole team for the jobs everyone did today. Honestly, it’s a great feeling.”

And he added, “Sunday could be very interesting. I start between the two Williams cars of Bottas and Maldonado and I’ve had good starts all year, so hopefully I can have another good launch, avoid anything like the GP2 mess on Friday, and from there anything’s possible. I finished on the podium here last year in GP2 and, while that’s not going to happen this year, we will definitely be racing quite a few cars all afternoon!”

Paul di Resta, Charles Pic, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Bianchi and Massa were not so lucky, and didn’t make it into Q2. Massa’s Ferrari still wasn’t fixed and the Brazilian will start from 22nd and last position on the grid tomorrow.

During the second session the circuit started to dry out, but most drivers initially went out on the intermediates, but later switched to the super soft Pirellis. Again van der Garde showed how quick he was in the rain, halfway Q2 he was even in third place, but unfortunately for him, in the last minutes  Q2 everyone tried the super soft tyres and the Dutchman tumbled down the order quickly.

Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, van der Garde and Maldonado did not make it into the third and final qualifying session.

All drivers went out on the super softs for Q3, and lap times were dropping quickly. With three minutes to go, Vettel was the fastest man on track, but again Mercedes did what they have done the whole weekend, and Rosberg landed his third pole of the season.

Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez – Photo: McLaren

Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso completed the top six. Webber was optimistic about the race tomorrow and said,  “The conditions are changing and the tyres are tricky, so starting on the second row here is not bad. It’s a long race and a lot of strategy can unfold, so we’ll see what we can do from there.”

The McLaren team did benefit from the rainy circumstances, Sergio Perez was seventh while Jenson Button was ninth. “It’s not great to cross the finish line, feel like you’ve just done a mega lap, and find that you’re only seventh. Still, I put in a really strong performance here today, and I felt like I’d really maximised the full potential of the car,” Perez said.

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, however, remained optimistic, “Looking forward tomorrow’s race will be long and hard — and, although overtaking will be as difficult as ever, mistakes will inevitably play a part in the race’s unfolding drama, and both Jenson and Checo will be trying their hardest to drive faultlessly again in an effort to score as many world championship points as they possibly can.”

The qualifying results can be found here.


Monaco GP: Rosberg and Hamilton on top of second free practice session


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg and Hamilton on top of second free practice sessionMercedes 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

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

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.


Monaco GP: Mercedes aiming to get the most out of the car at Monte Carlo


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Mercedes aiming to get the most of our the car at Monte CarloAfter a disastrous weekend in Spain, where Nico Rosberg scored pole position for Mercedes, but finished the race in sixth position, while Lewis Hamilton, who started the race in second place, finished the weekend in 12th spot, Mercedes is looking forward to the race in Monaco.  The Silver Arrows have a problem, during qualifying the car is very competitive, but their race pace is not what it should be.

Ross Brawn: The priority is always to get the drivers comfortable

Team Principal Ross Brawn said about the poor performance during the Spanish Grand Prix, “Our work continues back at Brackley and Brixworth to fully understand the reasons for our below-par race performance in Barcelona, in order to develop the right solutions for the upcoming circuits where high tyre usage could once again be a limitation for us.”

Brawn’s main concern is to make the drivers feel comfortable and confident in the cockpit, and he commented, “Monaco is a not usually a race to which teams bring many updates because the track conditions change so much across the weekend. The priority is always to get the drivers comfortable with the unique challenge the circuit presents and to give them a set-up they feel confident pushing to the limit.”

Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg: It’s great to race in the city where I live

For many Formula One drivers, Monaco will be their home Grand Prix, Rosberg also lives in Monte Carlo and remarked, “Monaco is always a fantastic weekend and it’s great to race in the city where I live. Knowing that all my family and friends are watching makes it very special and I love being able to drive from home into the paddock on a scooter!”

On a street circuit where overtaking is difficult and sometimes even impossible, qualifying is very important and the German said, “At the moment we have a good car for qualifying which helps in Monaco as it’s the most important qualifying session of the year as track position is so important. So that might be helpful for us but there are so many unknowns, especially with the tyres, so we will just have to wait and see.”

Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton: You have to perform every single lap

Hamilton has put his disappointing performance in Spain behind him and is looking forward to the challenge of racing on a street circuit. “Monaco is one of my favourite races of the year and I love driving the streets there. As a driver, you know that you have to perform on every single lap and it’s a challenge that I really enjoy,” he said.

About qualifying the 2008 World Champion said, “Perhaps more than at many other tracks, qualifying and getting the best possible track position is crucial in Monaco, but we have to keep our focus on Sunday as well and keep working to improve our race pace. Everyone is working really hard and I know we can get there. We just need to keep motivated and work it out together.”

Mercedes are currently fourth in the Constructor’s Championship with 72 points, while rival McLaren are sixth with only 29 points, Hamilton is fourth, and Rosberg is ninth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

• 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


Spanish GP: Rosberg storms to pole for Mercedes, Hamilton second


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Rosberg storms to pole for Mercedes, Hamilton secondAnother surprise from Mercedes this afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya, during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix Nico Rosberg convincingly took pole position, while his team colleague Lewis Hamilton will start from second spot on tomorrow’s start grid. Rosberg took pole with a lap of 1m20.718s, the fastest time recorded so far this weekend.

Rosberg, who scored his second consecutive pole, and the team’s third pole in a row, commented, ”It’s a great feeling to be on pole again. So far this weekend has been very positive and it’s a pleasure to see that the team is improving and fighting through the problems together.”

“However,” Rosberg said, “We know that this is only half of the job completed and have the painful memory of what happened in Bahrain to prove that. So it will be a big challenge tomorrow and our goal is to make the most of the opportunity we have from starting at the front and get a strong result for the team.”

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Sebastian Vettel took third place for Red Bull, while his Australian team colleague was eighth. Vettel was 0,336s off the pace set by Rosberg, and remarked, “We had a pretty smooth qualifying session, we took a slightly different approach to some others using option tyres only — whether that helps us tomorrow we‘ll have to wait and see, but it will be an interesting race and a lot will be about tyre degradation.”

Fourth place was for Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, the gap to Vettel was just 0,123s, while Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, who was fifth this afternoon, was just 0,041s behind the Finn. Felipe Massa, in his turn, was just 0,001s slower than Alonso, and it indeed seems, compared to last year, that the Brazilian feels at home in the Ferrari F318.

Romain Grosjean was also on the right pace and the Frenchman took seventh place, he was just 0,131s behind his Finnish team colleague, again showing how competitive Formula One is this season.

Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta completed the top ten, Perez was the only McLaren driver to finish in the top ten, as Jenson Button was only 14th in the second McLaren. Thus it was another very disappointing result for McLaren and Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said, “Jenson had a difficult qualifying — and, although we haven’t yet had a chance to examine his data thoroughly, it would appear that perhaps his tyre pressures may have been set a little too high.”

Fernando Alonso - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso – Photo: Ferrari

Not a very good excuse Whitmarsh admitted, “Having said that, McLaren Mercedes’ ambitions extend to a great deal more than merely going through to Q3, and it’s clear that our MP4-28 still requires a lot of development before it becomes as competitive as we need it to be.”

A great afternoon for Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne finished in 11th and 12th place, but there was some disappointment for the Force India team as Adrian Sutil could not match the pace of his Scottish team colleague and finished the day in 13th place.

Sutil said, “Q2 was a bit disappointing because my position on the track for the final run was not ideal. Vergne pulled out of the pits just as I was leaving and I had Nico [Hulkenberg] pushing from behind. Also Webber was on a flying lap and it was difficult to find a gap. I think that’s the main reason why I missed out on Q3 because we had the pace to be in the top ten.”

Further down the list are the two Saubers of Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, who were 15th and 16th respectively. Hulkenberg commented, “Qualifying went according to plan today. It is disappointing, as we are simply too slow. The updates this weekend were a step in the right direction, and the set up of the car during qualifying was good, but not good enough as the other teams might have improved even more. I am very satisfied with my lap in Q2. It was the perfect lap.”

Not much luck for Williams during qualifying - Photo: Williams F1

Not much luck for Williams during qualifying – Photo: Williams F1

They were followed by Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado, they were 17th and 18th for Williams, and it seems the Williams team is heading for another disastrous result, last year Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix, and the Venezuelan admitted things are not going well at Williams, “We’re having a difficult time with the car at the moment, but we have been working very hard to improve things. We were missing a lot of grip which made it difficult to get a good time today. In terms of performance, we’re not there but we will keep focussing on the work needed to move us up the grid.”

Giedo van der Grade outpaced not only his team colleague Charles Pic, but also Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton in the Marussia. Of course van der Garde was pleased with his best qualifying result of the season and said, “We made a few changes to the car overnight to try and find a balance with the new parts and it’s worked out really well. I’m not running the same package as my team mate here — I have most of the new package except the front wing so we went a slightly different way than Charles.

And he added, “This is the sort of performance I’d targeted for when we had new parts on the car so I’m really pleased for me, the whole team and everyone who’s backed me that we can deliver like we did today.”

The qualifying result can be found here


Spanish GP: Mercedes pins hopes on new upgrade package, race pace main concern


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Mercedes pins hopes on new upgrade package, race pace main concernMercedes is also ready for round five of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya. The performance of the Silver Arrows team has been a concern as the car did not perform well during the Bahrain Grand Prix, but a new upgrade package should improve the race pace of the car.

Ross Brawn: We’re not there yet but we are making progress

Team Principal Ross Brawn is aware of the lack of pace of the Silver Arrows team, and has pinned his hopes on a new upgrade package that will be introduced in Spain this weekend. “We have focused our efforts in two key areas; finalising our upgrade package for Spain and understanding our comparative lack of race pace in Bahrain. We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation,” Brawn said.

There is still a lot of work to do, and Brawn further commented, “We’re not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts.” About the Barcelona circuit the Briton said, “Overtaking is more difficult there than at some of the early season tracks and, of course, every team will be bringing new developments so the weekend should provide an interesting challenge.”

Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton: We know the areas that we need to improve

Lewis Hamilton, who switched from McLaren to Mercedes, commented ahead of this weekend’s race, “We’ve been boosted by the results that we’ve had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement.”

He too, knows there is still a lot of work to do, “I’m feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve — so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners.” And he added, “Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then.”

Nico Rosberg took pole in Bahrain - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg took pole in Bahrain – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg: I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend

Nico Rosberg is looking forward to the race and commented, “We know that the car went very well at the Circuit de Catalunya in pre-season testing so I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend. We will have to wait and see how our pace compares however.”

The race-pace of the Mercedes is the main concern according to Rosberg, “Everyone has been working hard to make progress on our race day performance. It will be an interesting weekend and once we see how everyone performs in Barcelona, it should give a good idea of how the rest of the season will look.”

Mercedes is fourth is in the Constructors’ Championship with 64 points, while Hamilton and Rosberg are third and ninth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

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

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


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: 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: 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


Malaysian GP: Vettel ignores team orders and wins at Sepang, Webber livid


By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Vettel ignores team orders and wins at Sepang, Webber livid - Photo: Red Bull RacingAfter a sensational race at Sepang International Circuit for round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship, Sebastian Vettel is leading the Drivers’ Championship — after he ignored team orders. Mark Webber was livid after Vettel passed him, as the Red Bull team had told both drivers to hold position to save the tyres, Vettel decided to ignore the requests from his team and after a bitter, but sensational battle on track, Vettel emerged as the winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel later apologized, but gave no explanation, and said, “I messed up today. I would love to come up with a nice excuse as to why I did it, but I can’t. I can understand Mark’s frustration and the team not being happy with what I did today; I owe an explanation to him and the whole team.”

And he added, “Mark and I are used to fighting each other when we’re close, but with the tyres how they are now, and not knowing how long they will last, it was an extremely big risk to ignore the call to stay second.”

Webber was livid after Vettel denied him victory - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber was livid after Vettel denied him victory – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber was very disappointed after Vettel overtook him, but he nevertheless remained calm and said, “I think Sebastian has respect for me and I have respect for him, but the situation today was not handled well. It’s hard to put your finger on it all now after the race; when we’re racing on the limit and pushing as hard as we can, then it’s the worst situation for a team.”

Just seconds after the start a sensational race unfolded, all drivers started on the intermediates as it had rained just ahead of the start of the race. It was a great start for Vettel, he remained in the lead, but Fernando Alonso, who was a bit too eager, hit Vettel’s Red Bull and the Spaniard damaged his front wing and at Turn 1 the wing got wedged under the front wheels of the Ferrari and Alonso ended up in the gravel trap, his race was over.

But the wet track very quickly dried out and Vettel was the first to switch to the slicks, he soon started to make progress and others followed and also pitted for slicks. A number of drivers encountered problems during their first stop, Force India driver Adrian Sutil lost a lot of time when there was a problem changing the left rear wheel and the German lost a lot of time.

More pandemonium in the pit lane as Charles Pic in the Caterham hit the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, who had to be pushed back to his slot for a new front wing. Webber meanwhile, had taken over the lead from Vettel, Hamilton was third, Nico Rosberg fourth and Jenson Button was fifth for McLaren. Hamilton had an embarrassing problem in the pit lane, he stopped at his old McLaren team, his old mechanics waved him off in the right direction.

Button had done the same during the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix, when he stopped at the Red Bull box, and Hamilton said, “I just did a Jenson! He did that a couple of years ago. For so many years I’ve been used to driving in to the McLaren pit stop and I don’t know how I got it wrong but a big apology to my team!”

A race to forget for Force India - Photo: Sahara Force India

A race to forget for Force India – Photo: Sahara Force India

Webber remained in the lead after his second stop, but disaster struck again for Force India when Paul di Resta’s car fell off the jacks and the Scot lost a lot of time before he finally could leave the pit lane. When Sutil pitted, there was again a problem, this time there was a problem changing the left front wheel, poor Sutil lost almost a minute before he left the pit lane and rejoined the race in 20th place.

But the misery wasn’t over for the Indian team, not much later di Resta came in and parked his car in the garage, a few laps later also Sutil returned to the pit lane and his race was also over. It was later established the wheel nuts had caused the problems.

Also Button had a problem in the pit lane, his left front wheel hadn’t been secured properly, he stopped after a few metres and he was pushed back to fix the problem and lost a lot of time as well. It also was a miserable day for McLaren, Button later retired and Sergio Perez finished in ninth place, scoring two points. Strangely enough, Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh later stated his team had made significant progress.

While Vettel chose to ignore his team’s orders, Nico Rosberg decided to stay behind Lewis Hamilton after he had requested to overtake the 2008 World Champion, both drivers were low on fuel and Team Principal Ross Brawn had told them to take it easy to save fuel. Rosberg was obviously disappointed but nevertheless stayed behind Hamilton.

Also team orders for Hamilton and Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Also team orders for Hamilton and Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Meanwhile, Vettel had built up a seven second lead after his fight with Webber, the Australian was perhaps too angry and disappointed and he didn’t even bother to close in on Vettel, and thus he finished in second place, followed by Hamilton and Rosberg.

Felipe Massa had no problems at all and had some fun overtaking both Lotus cars, the Brazilian finished in fifth place, followed by Grosjean and Raikkonen who were sixth and seventh.

During the podium interview Hamilton said his third place, his first podium for Mercedes, actually belonged to Rosberg, he wasn’t happy with the team orders either as he knew Rosberg had been faster.

“If I’m honest I really feel that Nico should be standing here, he generally had better pace than me throughout the race but he’s a great team mate and he did a fantastic job today,” he said, adding, “On our side I was fuel saving for a long, long time so unable to keep the pace of the guys at the front but nonetheless we brought it home, the guys did a great job and I’m proud to be up here for them.”

Massa had problems with his tyres during the early stages of the race and said, “The biggest problem at the beginning of the race was the graining I was having on the tyres. I lost a lot of positions because of that and a lot of time compared to the guys in front, maybe 0.3s per lap. In the dry it was fine and the pace was good so if it was not for this problem at the start of the race maybe I would have had a chance to fight for the podium.”

Raikkonen puzzled by loss of pace - Photo: Lotus F1

Raikkonen puzzled by loss of pace – Photo: Lotus F1

Raikkonen wasn’t really pleased with his seventh place, and he was puzzled by the loss of pace today. He said about the car, “Since Saturday morning it has not been behaving as we expected for some reason, especially in the wet where we really struggled for grip. It was a tough race and I lost part of my front wing at the start which didn’t help, but at least we scored a few points which is better than coming away with nothing.”

And thus it was a race that was won or lost in the pit lane. Today was really the Pirelli show and, as some drivers have already said, the tyres now rule Formula One. Sometimes the show Pirelli puts on is entertaining, sometimes it’s not.

Today spectators saw a great race, but using five sets of tyres during one race is somewhat silly, certainly when the hardest compounds are used like this weekend in Malaysia; it is also a pity two team mates are not allowed to battle for position because they are afraid to ruin the tyres; and on top of that, qualifying also becomes more and more a tyre-saving exercise, which does not contribute to the show.

Next race is the Chinese Grand Prix on April 14 at the Shanghai International Circuit.


Malaysian GP: Vettel tops final practice session at Sepang, Hamilton second


By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Vettel tops final practice session at Sepang, Hamilton secondTriple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was quickest during the third and final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International circuit this morning. The German set a time of 1m36.435s, and was followed by Lewis Hamilton who took second place for Mercedes, while Nico Rosberg was ninth in the second Mercedes.

Adrian Sutil again demonstrated the raw speed of the Force India VJM06, the German was only 0.153s slower than pace-setter Vettel, while Mark Webber in the second Red Bull was fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the Lotus, after completing 19 laps on the Sepang circuit. Romain Grosjean was struggling with his Lotus E21, and didn’t get any further than 14th place this morning.

Sutil again very fast for Force India - Photo: Sahara Force India

Sutil again very fast for Force India – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta has problems keeping up with team colleague Sutil, he was sixth fastest, but it seems Sutil feels much more comfortable in the Force India than de Scotsman.

Some improvement for McLaren this morning, Jenson Button was seventh, but almost four-tenths of a second off the pace, while Sergio Perez was 12th, almost a second slower than Vettel. McLaren are still working hard to improve the MP4-28, but due to the changing weather conditions the engineers are struggling to understand the car and its dynamics.

Felipe Massa was the fastest Ferrari driver and took eighth place, beating Fernando Alonso who was tenth this morning. Williams are also still struggling to come to grips with the FW35, a little improvement today as Pastor Maldonado was 11th, while Valtteri Bottas was 15th with a lap of 1m39.736s, almost 1.5s slower than the leading Red Bull.

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sauber are not as fast as they were at the start of 2012, and Nico Hulkenberg was 13th, and his Mexican team colleague Esteban Gutierrez was 16th.

The Toro Rosso duo Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Riccardo took possession of 17th and 18th places this morning. Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton completed the list of 22 drivers this morning.

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

Malaysian GP Results


Malaysian GP: Mercedes aiming for more competitive qualifying results at Sepang


By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Mercedes aiming for more competitive qualifying results at Sepang - Photo: Mercedes-BenzThe Australian Grand Prix was certainly not a complete success for Mercedes, as Nico Rosberg had to give up his race with technical problems, while Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth place at Melbourne, the Mercedes team is therefore looking forward to round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Ross Brawn: We all hope to put on a good show

Team Principal Ross Brawn thinks there is still much work to be done, he especially wants to be able to get better start positions for his drivers. “Our car performed well and seemed to be competitive in all of the conditions that the Melbourne weather gave us. However, we didn’t quite find the correct balance for the race which compromised our ability to maximise the starting positions of Lewis [Hamilton] and Nico [Rosberg]. With the second race in Malaysia following this weekend, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to put that right.”

Ross Brawn, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Ross Brawn, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton: Hoping for positive weekend

Hamilton is looking forward to the race at Sepang, a race he has never won before. “Malaysia is a beautiful country with great weather and great fans who are always so supportive, I’m really looking forward to seeing them,” said the 2008 World Champion.

And he added, “Sepang is a fantastic circuit and one where I haven’t managed to win before. My favourite part of the track is probably turns five and six but it’s always an exciting challenge here with the heat and humidity.”

Asked about the progress Mercedes had made since winter testing, he commented, “I’m very proud of the work that the team have done so far and I know that the guys are pushing hard back in the UK to bring more performance to the car. I hope we can have a positive weekend here and build on the progress that we made in Melbourne and on what we learned from that race.”

Nico Rosberg: Conditions will be much hotter, rain would be welcome

“Sepang is one of my favourite tracks on the Formula One calendar. The layout has a little bit of everything with the slow and fast corners making a nice mix,” Rosberg said about the circuit.

He has fond memories of Malaysian circuit, “Sepang holds some great memories for me as I achieved my first podium for Mercedes here at the start of the 2010 season. The conditions this weekend will be much hotter than in Australia so it will be a good test to see how the cars perform in such a different environment and how we can adapt to that.”

The Mercedes is fast in the rain, and he would welcome a few rain showers this weekend, “It often rains heavily and from my experience with the performance of the car in the rain in Melbourne, wet conditions would certainly be welcomed by me!”

Also read:

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


Australian GP: Vettel grabs first pole of the season for Red Bull Racing


By Berthold Bouman

Australian GP: Vettel grabs first pole of the season for Red Bull Racing - Photo: Red Bull RacingAfter qualifying on Saturday was postponed until Sunday morning due to the rain storms in Melbourne, triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel did what he usually does and grabbed the first pole of the season with a lap of 1m27.407s on an almost dry Albert Park Circuit.

The last qualifying session Q3 turned into a shoot-out for pole, but it was Vettel who was the smartest and he made good use of the conditions of the drying track. “Obviously I was very happy with the result, but with the adjusted schedule we can’t be too euphoric right now — in a few hours the race is coming up, so it’s head down again to get on with that,” said the pole-sitter.

Polesitter Vettel with the press - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Polesitter Vettel with the press – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber put the second Red Bull on second place of the grid, thus Red Bull will start from the front row this afternoon. “It was slippery yesterday and we came back again today for a very short explosive session; it’s all over in a flash. We needed to get things right, I would have liked two laps but we finished up the grid at the right end. The weather can change very quickly here, so it’s always hard to make a call,” said the Australian driver ahead of his home Grand Prix.

Yesterday, during Q1, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were already eliminated from the rest of qualifying, thus 16 drivers battled for pole this morning.

Lewis Hamilton surprised friend and foe by taking third place for Mercedes, he was 0.680s slower than Vettel, while Nico Rosberg was sixth. Both Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took fourth and fifth place respectively, albeit over a second off the pace.

Third place for Hamilton and Mercedes - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Third place for Hamilton and Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Seventh and eighth place were for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. It was a difficult to set a decent time in just one lap, Raikkonen later said, “It was an okay qualifying session. We had just one lap on the dry tyres and I got a bit sideways at the end on a damp patch which meant I lost some time so that was a bit disappointing.”

Paul di Resta was ninth in the Force India, and the Scotsman commented, “We came here with intentions of reaching Q3 so it’s a good way to start the year. I think we got most things right today, especially the timing of the switch to a fresh set of intermediates towards the end of Q2. Ninth position is a good place to be starting and it’s on the cleaner side of the track too.”

Jenson Button was lucky to get in Q3, but finished the day on tenth spot, while Sergio Perez in the second McLaren didn’t make the cut and the Mexican will be starting from 15th place on the grid this afternoon.

Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo, Perez and Valtteri Bottas also didn’t make it into Q3. It wasn’t an easy day for rookie Bottas, “It wasn’t the easiest qualifying session to start my Formula One career. It was good to get through Q1 yesterday but the conditions were tricky again today as it was getting drier all the time. We tried the super soft tyre, but unfortunately it didn’t allow us to improve our lap time.”

Difficult qualifying for McLaren - Photo: McLaren

Difficult qualifying for McLaren – Photo: McLaren

Sutil reckoned he switched to the slicks too early and commented, “The track conditions were much better this morning, but it was still tricky and I didn’t feel that comfortable on the damp track. The key to Q2 was the timing of your lap and we probably changed a bit too early to the new intermediates because there was only one quick lap in those tyres. I had time for another lap, but my tyres were going off and I could not improve.”

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

Australian GP Results
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Australian GP: Rain causes havoc, qualifying postponed until Sunday morning


By Berthold Bouman

Australian GP: Rain causes havoc, qualifying postponed until Sunday morningQualifying for the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit has been postponed until Sunday morning, as rain storms caused havoc on the Melbourne track, the start of the first session was already postponed due to the rain, after several accidents the FIA decided to continue qualifying on Sunday morning.

During Q1 several drivers crashed, yellow flags came out several times and in the end FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting decided to postpone qualifying as the conditions on track became too dangerous. When qualifying was stopped, Nico Rosberg was leading Q1 for Mercedes.

Both Caterham drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde lost their front wing, Pic’s crash was worst as his car sustained a lot of damage when it hit the barrier at high speed. Miraculously, both drivers made it back to the pits with their damaged car.

Pic commented, “We made the call to switch to inters with about five minutes left of the session and for the first lap it was very tricky — there was a lot of standing water and it was hard to keep the car on track, but it improved pretty quickly and I was starting to push before I touched the white line which caused me to spin and I made contact with the barrier which meant I had to pit.”

Hamilton crashed during his first qualifying for Mercedes - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Hamilton crashed during his first qualifying for Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Felipe Massa was the next driver to crash, he lost it at Turn 11 and the Ferrari F138 smashed into the barrier twice, despite the damage, the Brazilian was able to limp back to the garage for repairs.

Not much later Lewis Hamilton lost it at Turn 2 and hit the barrier backwards. He was able to get his beached Mercedes on track again, and later said, “It was pretty straightforward really, I just lost the back end and was in the wall.” And he added, “Fortunately I got going again — I was beached actually, I was stuck and luckily I put it in reverse and reversed half way up the bloody track! I can dust those kind of things off and keep looking forward to tomorrow.”

Esteban Gutierrez crashed hard at the same spot Massa had earlier crashed, Turn 11, he touched the white line, and spun into the barrier, causing a lot of damage to his brand new Sauber C32. Gutierrez said about the crash, “Unfortunately I made a mistake and feel sorry for the whole team. I feel very comfortable with the car and this is something that is a step forward for me. Now, of course, I need to avoid this kind of mistake and try to make the most of my potential.”

Esteban Gutierrez crashed hard at the end of Q1 - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez crashed hard at the end of Q1 – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado made a trip through the grass, but were able to bring their cars back to the garage. Perez said, “I think the FIA stewards made the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3. The conditions were becoming too dangerous — in terms of low visibility as well as low grip.”

Jenson Button agreed and added, “I believe the FIA had no choice. It was the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3 until tomorrow, for safety reasons.”

Q2 will start at 11am local time tomorrow, hopefully, under more favourable conditions, the local weather forecast says it should be dry tomorrow morning at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne.


Australian GP: Mercedes soon to find out how much progress they have made


By Berthold Bouman

Australian GP: Mercedes soon to find out how much progress they have made - Photo: Mercedes BenzFor the Mercedes team the season will also kick off in Melbourne, as it will host the first race of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. Many changes at the Silver Arrows’ team, after Norbert Haug and Michael Schumacher left the team, the management team has been reinforced with Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, Ross Brawn remains the Team Principal, and Lewis Hamilton will take over Schumacher’s place.

Team Principal Ross Brawn: Intense but exiting time for the team

“Our factories in Brackley and Brixworth have been buzzing with activity this week with both Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis [Hamilton] visiting to complete their final preparations on the simulator, and the team working to finish the cars, engines and pack the freight for the four flyaway races coming up,” Brawn said ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Asked about the progress the Silver Arrows team has made, he commented, “The first race is where we can really begin to assess our competitive position and how much of a step forward we have made with our new Silver Arrow. We had a successful pre-season testing programme and personally, I am pleased with the progress we have made, both with the car and in terms of how we operate as a team.”

But testing is testing and Brawn added, “Racing is a completely different situation and Melbourne will see much higher track temperatures and more varied conditions than we have experienced so far. We’re looking forward to the challenge and to the action starting in Melbourne next weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton: The beginning of a new adventure

For Lewis Hamilton, everything will be different this season, a new team, a new car and a different way of working. But the 2008 World Champion is looking forward to the new challenge, in fact, he changed teams because he needed a new challenge. “It’s the start of a new season and the beginning of a new adventure for me with Mercedes. I can’t wait to get to Melbourne, get out on track and find out where we stand,” the Briton said.

He’s of course looking forward to race the Silver Arrows in Melbourne, “The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race: the teams don’t know how they compare in terms of performance, the fans are fantastic and, with big changes to the tyres again this year, we just don’t know what will happen in the race.”

“We had a good, reliable car during winter testing so that’s the positive we can take with us into the weekend but we know that in terms of performance, everything begins again from zero in Friday practice.”

Nico Rosberg: Tyre degradation biggest issue

Nico Rosberg welcomes his new team mate, and for him it will be a challenge too to race alongside Hamilton. He too has no idea how fast the Mercedes is, or how fast the competition is, “The first Grand Prix is where everyone finds out where they really are and we can judge how well we have done against our competition as the times in winter testing just don’t tell the full story.”

He’s a little worried about the new tyres, but confident his team will do well down under, “Tyre degradation will be the biggest issue for everyone so we need to look at that carefully and do a good job in managing it. I’m really looking forward to next weekend and getting the season underway.”

Also read:

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


Hamilton on top for Mercedes on penultimate day of Barcelona testing


By Berthold Bouman

Hamilton on top for Mercedes on penultimate day of Barcelona testing - Photo: Mercedes-BenzLewis Hamilton set the fastest time on the penultimate day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain today, the Mercedes driver set a time of 1m20.558s, the fastest time of the week, thanks to a dry and sunny Barcelona circuit.

Hamilton was pleased to finally be able to test on a dry track today, and he commented after his final day of testing, “The reliability, the mileage and the step-by-step improvements that we have achieved during the three tests are all very encouraging. Whilst we’ve been focusing on our own performance, we definitely haven’t seen the full potential of our competitors yet, so it’s difficult to predict where we might be.”

Felipe Massa was second fastest today for Ferrari, but seven-tenths of a second slower than Hamilton. In the morning Ferrari tested ‘aerodynamic components over short distances’, and in the afternoon Massa practiced pit stops, but the day came to a premature end after a ‘problem with the left front upright’, as Ferrari described it.

Felipe Massa was second-fastest today at Barcelona - Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa was second-fastest today at Barcelona – Photo: Ferrari

Adrian Sutil was again in the Force India VJM06 and took possession of third place, but he was a full second slower than the pace-setter. Thanks to the weather gods, Force India was able to carry out their complete test programme to prepare for the first race of the season in two weeks time.

Sutil said, “There was a lot of pit stop practice throughout the day and it’s good that we managed to do a race distance without any disruptions. It was less windy today, which made things easier, and the higher temperatures helped give us ideal testing conditions for understanding the tyres and the degradation.”

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas shared testing duties for Williams today, Maldonado finished in fourth, and Bottas in fifth place today. Williams were one of the teams who already tested an upgrade package for Melbourne and Technical Director Mike Coughlan said, “We brought our updated core bodywork for the first race here this weekend.”

“Pastor spent the morning doing system checks with it before Valtteri went through new sets of each compound tyre this afternoon. Tomorrow we aim to do more performance runs with some further upgrades ahead of Australia.”

Esteban Gutierrez was again fast in the new Sauber, he recorded a time of 1m22.533s after completing 99 laps, good for sixth place on today’s time sheets. He, too, was happy with the sunny weather today in Spain, Sauber did a qualifying and race simulation today.

“It gave me the opportunity to see how the car feels in qualifying and race conditions. The understanding of the tyres was a very important point, especially here in Barcelona where we know graining of the front tyres is a big issue. However, we were able to manage the degradation of the tyres quite well,” Gutierrez later commented.

Mark Webber - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber was only 0.105s slower than the Mexican in the Red Bull RB9, and he said, “We had a few small issues with the car today which delayed us a couple of times and while it wasn’t ideal I think we still learned plenty.”

“In terms of the overall feeling at the end of my spell of testing, I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.”

Again, a bit further down the order, was Sergio Perez who took over from Jenson Button for McLaren today, a bit of a disappointment as the second Mexican driver in Formula One was over two seconds slower than Hamilton. As usual, no official comments from the McLaren drivers, the team reported in a press release they tested ‘different mechanical set-ups’ in the morning, and did ‘long runs’ and ‘live pit stop practice’ in the afternoon.

Jean-Eric Vergne was in the car for Toro Rosso today, he was ninth after completing 114 laps, Toro Rosso also did qualifying and race simulations today. “We can ignore the lap times, because, unlike some other teams we did not do a qualifying simulation. However, our race simulation this afternoon went well,” said Vergne.

Some extra time in the car for Romain Grosjean, as Kimi Raikkonen called in sick today. The Frenchman was tenth, just a few thousandths of a second faster than Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi, who also got an unexpected opportunity due to Raikkonen’s illness, who reportedly suffered from a food poisoning.

Iceman Raikkonen called in sick today - Photo: Lotus F1

Iceman Raikkonen called in sick today – Photo: Lotus F1

Lotus also tested new parts for Melbourne and Director of Trackside Operations Alain Permane reported, “Despite the disrupted running, we still completed a Grand Prix distance worth of laps and were able to put valuable miles on our latest rear wing concept as well as evaluating a new front wing. Both look to be a step in the right direction so it’s likely we’ll use them in Australia.”

Jules Bianchi, who joined the Marussia team yesterday after Luiz Razia was ousted, was in the MR02 for the first time, but was at least faster than, also rookie, Giedo van der Garde, who was 13th and last today for Caterham.

Van der Garde, who put 126 laps on the board today, commented about his last test day, “We took full advantage of the weather today, running through the final tyre and setup evaluations this morning and then running a full race simulation after lunch. We only had one minor issue with the car this morning, but apart from that it ran well all day and it was good to get a full race distance done, both for me and the whole team.”

Barcelona testing Day 3 – March 2

Pos  Driver                Team          Time       Gap       Laps  
  1.  Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes      1m20.558             117     
  2.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari       1m21.266   + 0.708    94      
  3.  Adrian Sutil          Force India   1m21.627   + 1.069   109     
  4.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams      1m22.305   + 1.747    34      
  5.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams      1m22.468   + 1.910    31      
  6.  Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber        1m22.553   + 1.995    99      
  7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull      1m22.658   + 2.100    59      
  8.  Sergio Perez          McLaren       1m22.694   + 2.136   101     
  9.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso    1m23.223   + 2.665   114     
 10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus         1m23.380   + 2.822    46      
 11.  Davide Valsecchi      Lotus         1m23.448   + 2.890    16      
 12.  Jules Bianchi         Marussia      1m24.028   + 3.470    74      
 13.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham      1m24.235   + 3.677   126

Webber on top for Red Bull after first day of Barcelona testing


By Berthold Bouman

Webber on top for Red Bull after first day of Barcelona testing - Photo: Red Bull RacingMark Webber topped the time sheets on the opening day of the last pre-season test days at Barcelona, Spain, today. Not a great day for testing as rain showers hit the Barcelona track during the morning and drivers were forced to go out on the full wet and intermediate Pirellis.

The Red Bull driver set a time of 1m22.693, he set his time on a set of the soft Pirellis when the track conditions improved late in the afternoon. About the bad weather he said, “It was pretty heavy, I must say. There was a big tailwind down to Turn 1. And in other sections it was pretty dusty. The level of wind wasn’t trivial but to be honest it was tricky enough anyway because of the greasy conditions on the track. We only got one hour at the end of the day in more stable conditions.”

But he also reckons Red Bull still has a lot of development work to do, “We’ve still got work to do… We are seeing some very fast times from the other cars. There are some very strong teams out there. We’re not on our own — that is for sure!”

Webber fastest today in Barcelona - Photo: Red Bull Racing


Webber fastest today in Barcelona – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Second was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, he was 1.655s slower than the Australian, after completing 113 laps or some 526 km. “The track started out really wet this morning but thankfully the conditions dried out later on and we were able to complete some proper running,” said the 2008 World Champion. “It felt good to work through the race simulation this afternoon; both to get myself back in practice and to put valuable miles on the car.”

Toro Rosso was fast again as Jean-Eric Vergne was third, albeit 2.324s slower than pace setter Webber. Like most drivers, Vergne wasn’t happy with the weather conditions today, ”We had many things to test and the rain meant we were not able to get that much done, but we have to remember that the other teams have similar programmes and the rain affects everyone. Nevertheless, I did plenty of laps, which is good for me and good for the new car to do a high mileage.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Valtteri Bottas completed 85 laps in the new Williams and was fourth with a time of 1m26.458. Williams had a good day and the new FW35 ran almost flawlessly. “It’s a shame we were disrupted a bit by the wet weather, although this did allow us to run on the wet, intermediate and dry tyres,” Bottas said.

And he added, “I clocked up a lot of mileage for myself and was able to get more experience driving in difficult conditions. It was cold, wet and windy all day, and particularly slippery on track this morning.”

Sergio Perez completed 100 laps for McLaren, he had a slow start in the morning and did some aero mapping, in the afternoon McLaren opted to focus on a ‘stable set-up on the Intermediate tyre’.

Only three red flags today, Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber went off at Turn 3 just before lunch, he ended up with the nose of the Sauber in the barrier, but not much damage was done, and the Mexican driver completed 92 laps today. “Unfortunately the weather changed constantly. It was important for us to work with the intermediate tyres, which seem to be the most difficult ones for us. We had to change quite a lot of things to make them work better,” he reported.

Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta, who only today learned who his 2013 team mate is, was seventh in the Force India VJM06. He too tested the wet Pirellis and said, “Quite a disrupted day with the constant rain showers, but it gave me the chance to run in the wet conditions and gain some knowledge of the wet weather tyres. That should mean we’re prepared in case we get a wet race early in the season.”

Felipe Massa was runner-up when it comes to the number of laps completed today; he completed 112 laps in the Ferrari F138. Massa caused the third red flag as his Ferrari came to a halt on track after a full race simulation.

Max Chilton still does all the testing for Marussia, rumours say his team mate Luiz Razia has problems getting the money together he was promised by his sponsors and the Marussia team has therefore decided to let Chilton do all the testing. The Briton was ninth today.

Charles Pic on the full wet Pirellis - Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic on the full wet Pirellis – Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic was on testing duty for Caterham, the Frenchman was especially pleased with the reliability of the new car, “Day one of the final test has been ok — 83 laps and another day where we’ve run without any issues and kept the same consistent approach throughout all the tests.”

Caterham’s progress was hampered too by the unfavourable weather conditions today, “ We had planned to do qualifying and race simulations but with the rain today we’ve switched the race simulation to Sunday when I’m back in the car, but we did run through all the qualifying procedures and that went pretty well.”

And on 11th and last place was Romain Grosjean, who caused the first red flag of the day when he spun at Turn 12 and ended up in the gravel. “It was a bit of a frustrating day as we concentrated on aero runs and never went for a time on the drying track surface. The car feels good on both the intermediate and wet tyres and we’ve run through more of our pre-season test programme so those are positives,” said the unlucky Frenchman.

Lotus then decided to assess their new DDRS system in the afternoon, and Grosjean did not set a representative time today.

Barcelona testing Day 1 – February 28

Pos  Driver              Team            Time       Gap        Laps
 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull        1m22.693               90
 2.  Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes        1m24.348   + 1.655    113
 3.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso      1m25.017   + 2.324     59
 4.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams        1m26.458   + 3.765     85
 5.  Sergio Perez        McLaren         1m26.538   + 3.845    100
 6.  Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber          1m26.574   + 3.881     92
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India     1m27.107   + 4.414     57
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari         1m27.541   + 4.848    112
 9.  Max Chilton         Marussia        1m28.166   + 5.473     78
10.  Charles Pic         Caterham        1m28.644   + 5.951     83
11.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus           1m34.928   + 12.235    52

Hamilton stays on top for Mercedes after rainy test day at Barcelona


By Berthold Bouman

Hamilton stays on top for Mercedes after rainy test day at Barcelona - Photo: Mercedes-BenzLewis Hamilton topped the time sheets for Mercedes today after a rainy test day at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Hamilton set his time on the medium Pirellis during a dry spell in the morning, but, due to the rain in the afternoon, others were not able to improve on the pace of the 2008 World Champion.

“We have been working on our consistency over long runs and we managed one run this morning on dry tyres; the car felt okay but the conditions were also very cool, so we cannot draw too many conclusions,” Hamilton said.

But he thinks Mercedes still needs to do some work to improve the car, “Like I said in Jerez, I can feel that we have a good foundation with this car but there is still a lot to learn and we know that the name of the game is to improve our downforce.”

Hamilton fastest today at Barcelona despite the rain - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

 Hamilton fastest today at Barcelona despite the rain – Mercedes-Benz

Closest was Hamilton’s old team mate Jenson Button, who took second place for McLaren, with a time of 1m23.633, also recorded in the morning on the mediums, he was 0.351s slower than Hamilton.

Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso STR8 was third after completing 80 laps, he was followed by Jules Bianchi in the Force India who took over from Adrian Sutil who tested the VJM06 yesterday, both drivers are in a race to conquer a race seat at the Indian team.

The day was also disrupted by many red flags, Hamilton caused one by stopping in Turn 6, and when Bianchi also stopped on track with just 15 minutes to go, it was decided to end the last test day of this week.

Bianchi later commented, “We did most of our dry running this morning and then did our aero work this afternoon when the track was wet. We didn’t manage to do the long runs we planned because it was so wet, but we still managed to look at a lot of things.”

Esteban Gutierrez 5th in the C32 - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez 5th in the C32 – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Fifth fastest today was Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber, but he was almost three seconds off Hamilton’s pace. “It was a very interesting day for me as  well as for the team, because it was important to get some experience in wet conditions,” said the young Mexican driver.

“For me it was the very first time I had driven a Formula One car in the wet. It was particularly interesting in the morning, when the track was wet to begin with and then started to dry out. I was able to drive with dry tyres in very tricky conditions, which was a situation I could experience in a race.”

Times were almost meaningless with the low temperatures and the rain, but it must have been a good feeling for rookie Giedo van der Garde to finish in sixth place, just 0.134s ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari F138, who was the first to cause a red flag today as he ended up in the gravel trap at Turn 4 after just ten minutes of testing.

Van der Garde said, “The cold weather meant it might not have been much fun for the fans in the stands, but it was useful to get some laps done on the intermediate tyres as it was my first time in a Formula One car in the wet, and to experience the car in the wet/dry conditions we had today. We also tried a couple more ideas to help improve the rear stability but, again, as the tyres weren’t really coming up to temperature we weren’t able to push too hard today.”

Giedo van der Garde on a cold Barcelona circuit - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde on a cold Barcelona circuit – Photo: Caterham F1

Mark Webber’s day in the Red Bull RB9 was also hampered by the rain, he was eighth, 4.334s slower than Hamilton. “It was cold out there today, I can’t remember having a full test day this cold,” Webber said. “But actually it was reasonably consistent; the conditions were pretty stable all day, although not very representative of a Grand Prix weekend. So, unusual conditions but I was happy with what we got done today.”

Max Chilton in the Marussia and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E21 completed the top ten, while Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado again shared testing duties today, Bottas had some pit stop practice in the morning, but both Williams drivers did not officially record a time.

The whole Williams race team was present and Bottas said about his pit stop training, “The key things to work on as a driver are breaking as late as possible for the pit lane speed limit to minimise the time lost, perfecting your positioning in the box and finally pulling away quickly and cleanly.”

And he added, “It’s really interesting as there are a lot of things to think about, but the better I get, the more trust you build with the pit crew which means they are able to react even quicker. We’ll be doing a few more at the next test but then I feel I will be ready for Melbourne when it comes to pit stops.”

Next and final pre-season test will also be held at the Circuit de Catalunya from February 28 to March 3 next week. The first race of the season is the Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

Barcelona testing Day 4 – February 22

 Pos  Driver                Team            Time       Gap       Laps
  1.  Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes        1m23.282              52
  2.  Jenson Button         McLaren         1m23.633   + 0.351    70
  3.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso      1m24.071   + 0.789    80
  4.  Jules Bianchi         Force India     1m25.732   + 2.450    96
  5.  Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber          1m26.239   + 2.957    61
  6.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham        1m27.429   + 4.147    50
  7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari         1m27.563   + 4.281    80
  8.  Mark Webber           Red Bull        1m27.616   + 4.334    64
  9.  Max Chilton           Marussia        1m29.902   + 6.620    51
 10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus           1m34.800   + 11.518   41
 11.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams        --                    23
 12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams        --                    13

Susie Wolff to star in BBC documentary about her life in the fast lane


By Berthold Bouman

Susie Wolff to star in BBC documentary about her life in the fast lane - Photo: Williams F1Williams development driver Susie Wolff is the star of a BBC documentary about her life as a racing driver, currently she’s the only female driver in in the pinnacle of motorsport: Formula One.

Wolff is very likely to become the next female Formula One driver, the documentary, ‘The fastest woman in the world,’ follows her career in a male dominated sport.

A statement on her website read, “Directed by her award-winning, BAFTA-nominated brother David Stoddart, 31, the no-holds-barred film will be broadcast as part of BBC Scotland’s spring schedule, and features appearances from Formula One race ace Lewis Hamilton and racing legend David Coulthard.”

Wolff, from Oban in Scotland, commented, “Shooting the film was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m a fairly private person, so to have my brother follow me for nine months, through some pretty difficult times — let’s just say it was a big challenge.”

Her brother David agreed, “It was tough combining the role of documentary maker and brother. You have to remember you’re there to film Susie’s story, but during the more difficult moments your instinct as a brother kicks in. It was challenging at times to strike the balance, but it’s a great story that needed to be told.”

And he added, “Susie was very open and honest, and I’m enormously grateful to her for that, and for giving me a rare glimpse into life in Formula One.”

Susie Wolff is development driver for the Williams F1 team - Photo: Williams F1

Susie Wolff is development driver for the Williams F1 team – Photo: Williams F1

Wolff started her race career — like most drivers — in karting when she was eight. In 2003 Wolff was one of the finalists of the prestigious BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award. She’s married to Toto Wolff, who left his job at Williams earlier this year to become Mercedes’ Head of Motorsport.

Wolff starred in the German touring car championship (DTM) for seven years, she drove for Mucke Motorsport and later for Persson Motorsport. At the end of the 2012 season she announced she would retire from the DTM series to prepare for her role as Formula One driver.

About her racing career she said, “I don’t race to prove how good women can be against men. I race because it’s my passion and I hope this documentary will give an insight into a very competitive world, in which I’ve been racing since I was a young girl.”

Last woman to participate in a Formula One race was Italian Lella Lombardi. Wolff is now the only female driver in Formula One, as Maria de Villota’s career abruptly ended after a crash at the Duxford Aerodrome while testing for the Marussia Formula One team.

‘The Fastest Woman in the World’ will premiere on BBC2 Scotland in spring.


Brawn confident Hamilton will help Mercedes to move forwards


By Berthold Bouman

Brawn confident Hamilton will help Mercedes to move forwards - Photo: Mercedes-BenzMercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn is adamant his new star driver Lewis Hamilton will help the team to move forwards. The first two test days at Jerez were a disaster for the Silver Arrows team, as testing was halted after they had an electrical problem on Tuesday which caused a fire in the rear section of the W04, while Hamilton crashed the next day due to a rear brake failure.

But Brawn remains confident Hamilton will help his team to make the Mercedes W04 a success, “I think we’ve made it very clear to Lewis that he’s part of the solution. He’s part of the solution to get us where we want to be and he knows that and understands it and I think he’s relishing it.”

“He gives us reference points and helps us understand what we need to focus on … I welcome that approach. It needs to be constructive and it needs to be positive criticism of the right sort and that’s always helpful for the team to drive it forward,” Brawn added.

Lewis Hamilton testing at Jerez - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton testing at Jerez – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Both Hamilton and his German team mate Nico Rosberg have worked hard during the last two days of pre-season testing in Jerez to provide the Mercedes engineers with the car data they so desperately need, Rosberg completed 148 laps on Thursday, and Hamilton completed 145 laps on Friday.

About the time they lost earlier this week Brawn commented, “We had some problems the first two days which were disappointing, but since then it’s been running well. We’ve been learning a lot about the car and about working with Lewis. It’s still very early in terms of understanding what he wants from a car perspective, and of course we’re at one circuit for one day. He’s clearly a person who enjoys being involved at all levels and that’s a great motivation for the team.”

Hamilton was pleased with the Mercedes W04, “We have some work to do but it doesn’t feel like a disaster. I feel like it’s a good platform, a good foundation to work on.”

And he said about his new team, “They are incredibly supportive. They just all want to do right by me. They were caring when I had the incident the other day and were concerned and they don’t really know me that well yet. So already I am building a bond with them and they are working flat-out which is good to see. There’s great motivation in the team.”


Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes test crash at Jerez just a ‘blip’


By Berthold Bouman

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes test crash at Jerez just a 'blip' - Photo: Mercedes-BenzLewis Hamilton seems to be unconcerned by the crash he had yesterday when he had for the first time a taste of the Mercedes W04. The 2008 World Champion crashed at Turn 6 and hit the barriers at 60mph, the front of the car was damaged and testing was over after just 15 laps.

According to Mercedes the crash was caused by a rear brake failure, and Hamilton confirmed this. “I hit the brake, and for a split second they worked, but then the pedal went straight down. It wouldn’t work any more. If all the brakes had stopped working then I would have hit the wall pretty bad,” he said.

“After that I just had to brace for impact. It wasn’t a big one. It didn’t feel great initially, but there was nothing much I could do. Because I went in straight my legs took a bit of a thump,” said Hamilton, who escaped unhurt.

Hamilton unfazed by testing problems - Photo: Mercedes-BenzHe wasn’t really worried about the crash, “I’m just glad that firstly I’m safe and that it’s happened now, not when we’re in the season or something. This is what testing’s all about.”

But it did limit his time in the car, wasn’t that a bit of a set-back? “Of course we would love to have done several days and it is disappointing for all of us in the team because everyone has worked so hard over the winter and we didn’t anticipate this, but I’m glad we get it out of the way now so we don’t have to worry about it hopefully in the future,” said Hamilton.

He remained positive, “You can’t get fazed by these days, you’ve just got to keep looking forward and remain positive. The guys in the garage are not trying to have this kind of thing happen, they’re working as hard as they can, and back at the factory.”

“I’m glad that this didn’t happen in the last test at Barcelona — that would really suck — but with having it now we can get it out of the way. If there’s any more problems to come I hope that they come tomorrow and the next day and then we can have a few days after that.”

“Hopefully it is just a blip,” he added. “We have a long way to go until Melbourne.”

Hamilton’s crash and the small on-board fire Rosberg had on Monday, means Mercedes is now behind on their test schedule, as they have only completed 25 laps in the past two days only, while other teams have already wrapped up 150 to 180 laps and collected valuable data about the new Pirellis as well.


Ross Brawn — The Mercedes F1 W04 is a clear step forward in sophistication


By Berthold Bouman

Ross Brawn -- The Mercedes F1 W04 is a clear step forward in sophisticationRoss Brawn: “The F1 W04 is a clear step forward in sophistication.”

Mercedes revealed its W04 today in the pit lane of the Spanish Circuito de Jerez, where the first pre-season test days will take place. Nico Rosberg was the lucky driver to have tried the new car in the morning, and Team Principal Ross Brawn seemed quite happy with the new Silver Arrows car.

“2013 marks the start of a second era for our Silver Arrows works team,” said the Briton. About the changes within the Mercedes team he commented, “The restructuring we undertook at the team over the past 18 months are now growing in maturity and this is reflected in the F1 W04, which is a clear step forward in design and detail sophistication over its predecessor. Many thousands of hours of work have been invested by our technical teams in Brackley and Brixworth to ensure that the new car delivers a step change in performance compared to last season.”

Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes Benz

About his drivers he said, “We are also hugely proud to welcome Lewis to the team as a works Mercedes-Benz driver. With Lewis and Nico, we have what I believe to be the strongest driver line-up in Formula One and I know that a healthy level of competition between them both will help drive the team forward.”

Nico Rosberg: “We want to make this the best team in Formula One.”

Rosberg had already tested the car in the simulator this winter, and commented, “The car seems to be performing well in the virtual world but we have a very busy and intense programme ahead of us during testing to make sure we can deliver that performance on track.”

He too, was happy with the management changes, “The atmosphere in the team is very positive and the people are highly motivated to succeed. And, of course, I have a new team mate with Lewis. It’s his first time in the Silver Arrow and I look forward to working together and pushing each other hard, to make this the best team in Formula One.”

Lewis Hamilton: “I have never seen a team hungrier for success than this one.”

Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-BenzThroughout his career, Mercedes engines have powered Hamilton’s cars, and now he will finally make his debut as an official works Silver Arrows driver. “It’s a very special day for me to officially present our Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow to the world. There is no company with
a longer history in Grand Prix racing than Mercedes-Benz and it is an honour for me to tread in the footsteps of legends like Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss and Michael Schumacher,” he said.

He was impressed by the Mercedes team, “I’ve been at the factory
for a few days now, getting to know the guys, meeting my mechanics and engineers, learning myself into the team and I have never seen a group of people that is hungrier for success than this one.”

“This is a new start for me with the team in Brackley but I have worked with Mercedes-Benz for a very long time now, and I learned one thing most of all: Mercedes-Benz doesn’t know how to lose!”
But, he warned he needs time before he will be able to score his first victory for Mercedes, “We are playing a long game here but I know we will have success together and I’m excited to be a big part of making it happen.”

Toto Wolff: “The only thing that counts in Formula One is lap time.”

Toto Wolff, who replaces Norbert Haug as Executive Director of Mercedes AMG Petronas, said about the new car, “The first laps for a new car are always filled with emotion and today was no exception. It is even more meaningful when the car is a Silver Arrow: Mercedes-Benz has a long tradition of racing success and this is something we are proud to represent and determined to live up to.”

Although he joined the team just two weeks ago, Wolff has already been impressed by the staff of the Mercedes team, “The people are highly motivated, open-minded and determined to succeed. Our drivers are hungry for success, too, and it will certainly be fascinating this season to see how Nico and Lewis perform together. Ultimately, though, Formula One is very straightforward and the only thing that counts is lap time.”

Pre-season testing will officially start tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday Rosberg will be behind the wheel of the W04, and Wednesday and Friday Hamilton will be driving the car.