By Berthold Bouman
Nico Rosberg stormed to victory in Monaco during round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, exactly 30 years ago after his father Keke Rosberg won the race for Williams in 1983.
A great win for Mercedes, Rosberg kept his cool and remained in control during an incident-packed race on the streets of Monaco, with two Safety Car interventions, and one red flag period. Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took second and third place respectively.
It’s amazing,” Rosberg said to the BBC. “This is my home, I’ve grown up here all my life and it’s really special. The whole weekend went perfectly. I had a terrible start and I was close with Sebastian and Lewis but after that I controlled the pace. The car was really good, the tyres held on OK and that was really the key, so a massive thanks to the team. I’m ecstatic!”
After the start the whole field of 22 cars made it through Saint Devote without damage, but Dutchman Giedo van der Garde hit the Williams of Pastor Maldonado at the end of the first lap, and he had to pit for a new front wing. His team colleague Charles Pic also had a bad day, his Caterham caught fire and after nine laps and he had to stop his car near the pit lane entry.
Sebastian Vettel finished in second place – Photo: Red Bull Racing
After 25 laps were completed, almost the whole top ten rushed into the pit lane for the first tyre stop, but Rosberg remained in first place, and was followed by Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes, Vettel, Webber and Fernando Alonso.
Just a few laps later Felipe Massa crashed heavily at the same place where he had crashed on Saturday morning, he first hit the guard rail ahead of Saint Devote and then crashed into the barriers. Massa was okay, but was seen wearing a neck brace. The Safety Car came out and Rosberg and Hamilton decided to pit, but Hamilton emerged from the pit lane in fourth position, while Rosberg remained in the lead.
After the Safety Car had returned to the pits, Hamilton was chasing Webber for third place, but the Australian closed the door and kept the Mercedes behind him. At the same time Alonso had to fend off Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, and Perez was pushing his team colleague Jenson Button.
Perez was on a rampage today – Photo: McLaren
The Mexican got past Button outbraking him at the exit of the tunnel, but he ran wide, cut the chicane and was told by his team to give the place back to Button, who had complained about his team colleague over the radio, and thus the rivalry between the two McLaren drivers re-ignited this afternoon in Monaco.
On lap 45 Max Chilton in the Marussia hit the Williams of Maldonado, the latter crashed hard at Tabac, and the race was red-flagged. Fortunately, Maldonado could get out of his battered Williams unscathed, but Marshals had to repair the guard rail and barriers. Chilton’s actions were rewarded with a drive-through penalty. Maldonado said, “It was an unfortunate incident today with the Marussia car and the impact was quite big. Fortunately I am ok and the stewards took immediate action.”
While waiting for the restart of the race, most drivers used the opportunity to change the tyres, which is allowed according to the FIA regulations.
After some 30 minutes the race was restarted behind the Safety Car, again no problems for Rosberg and he remained in the lead. But Alonso had to hand his place back to Perez, as the Spaniard cut the chicane after Perez attempted to overtake him and forced him off the track just before the red flags came out. Perez, who was on a true rampage today, then tried to overtake Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, but the Finn somehow managed to stay ahead of the Mexican.
More drama unfolded after Raikkonen’s team colleague Romain Grosjean crashed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso after he tried to outbrake him at the exit of the tunnel. Both cars ended up on the escape road, Grosjean limped back to the pits for a new front wing, went out again but had to retire with front suspension damage. It was Grosjean’s third crash of the weekend, and he received a ten-place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Safety Car came out again and when the track was cleaned Rosberg again kept his cool and stayed in the lead, but further down the order Perez again did his little trick at the chicane after the tunnel, this time collided with Raikkonen, who just kept his racing line.
The Finn had to pit as his left rear tyre was punctured, meanwhile Perez again cut the chicane to fend off Adrian Sutil in the Force India, but not much later had to give up his race as he had sustained even more damage to his car.
Great race for Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India
Hamilton finished in fourth place, while Sutil was fifth for Force India, Button was sixth and Alonso seventh. Raikkonen finished in tenth place and thus added one point to his tally.
Vettel said after the race, “Overall I’m happy and pleased with the result, we know that it’s very difficult to overtake here. Congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job and had a very controlled race; I think he had the pace and the tyres to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer to him.” And the triple World Champion added, “It was hard with the restarts, but we can be happy with the result.”
Also a good day for Sutil, who finished in fifth place and the German said, “Fifth place feels fantastic. It’s just the result we needed and I’m very happy right now. The car felt very good and we made the most of the chances that came our way.” About the race itself he said, “It was difficult to move forward in the first half of the race when I was stuck in the train of cars, but the red flag opened up some more opportunities.”
Vettel is still leading the Drivers’ Championship, followed by Raikkonen and Alonso. Red Bull is still leading the race for the Constructors’ title, while Ferrari and Lotus are second and third. Next race is the Canadian Grand Prix, on June 9.
By Berthold Bouman
Nico 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
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
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
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.
By Berthold Bouman
Nico Rosberg was fastest again after the final free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix. The German set a time of 1m14.378s, the fastest time so far recorded on the streets of Monaco this weekend, where the barriers are close and one little mistake can mean disaster, as Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean found out.
Massa’s crash was a nasty one, he hit the barriers just before Saint Devote, and then helplessly slid into the second barrier, his car sustained a lot of damage and his engineers will have to work hard to get the car ready for qualifying this afternoon.
Adrian Sutil crashed his Force India at Beau Rivage, while Grosjean paid an unscheduled visit to the barriers of Saint Devote for the second time this weekend, his mechanics will also have to work hard to get his car ready in time for qualifying.
Rosberg again fastest this morning – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
But the French Lotus driver had already set his time, which gave him the right to second place, while Sebastian Vettel was third this morning. Fernando Alonso was fourth, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen who were fifth and sixth respectively.
Mark Webber was seventh in the second Red Bull while Paul di Resta was the fastest Force India driver as he took eighth place, while team colleague Sutil couldn’t improve his time due to his crash and the German finished the morning in 15th place. Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten.
Another crash for Romain Grosjean – Photo: Lotus F1
No McLarens in the top ten as Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were 11th and 12th, they were followed by both Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. Further down the list were Massa, Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas.
Caterham were faster than their arch rival Marussia this morning, as Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were 19th and 20th, while Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton took 21st and 22nd place.
The result of the third free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Formula One’s tyre supplier Pirelli is under heavy fire after the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend, during the race most drivers needed to pit four times for new tyres, and thus needed five sets of tyres to cover the 300 km Grand Prix distance. Which means on average one set of tyres lasted only 60 km or 13 laps.
Formula One is certainly not an environmentally friendly sport when each of the 22 drivers need five sets of tyres to finish a race, and thus 440 tyres in total were wasted during the Spanish Grand Prix. There are not only concerns about the green image of the sport, as fans and drivers feel Formula One is now ruled by the Pirelli tyres, some even spoke of the ‘tyranny of tyres’.
Drivers cannot really race, afraid to damage their tyres, qualifying is a farce as teams want to save tyres for the race, and following a race is, even for the drivers, confusing to say the least. Drivers are instructed to let their rival pass them, as they are on a different strategy, which must be hugely frustrating.
There are also safety concerns, tyres explode or delaminate unexpectedly, large pieces of rubber fly through the air, and the last thing Formula One needs is a seriously injured driver. If a tyre explodes at 300 km/h, a driver can only hope for the best, and with Formula One now heading to Monaco, a circuit without run-off areas, this doom scenario could become reality.
The start of the Spanish GP – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Although Pirelli’s job was to make the sport more exciting by increasing the number of pit stops, many feel the Italian tyre manufacturer has gone too far, one of them is Red Bull and Toro Rosso owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who said Formula One is not racing anymore.
In an interview with Autosport, Mateschitz vented his frustrations and said, “This has nothing to do with racing anymore. This is a competition in tyre management. Real car racing looks different. Under the given circumstances, we can neither get the best out of our car nor our drivers.”
“There is no more real qualifying and fighting for the pole, as everyone is just saving tyres for the race,” the Austrian complained. “If we would make the best of our car we would have to stop eight or ten times during a race, depending on the track.”
Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner agreed and said, “When you are telling drivers not to push because we are saving tyres, it isn’t great for the sport or for the fans. We need to push the drivers harder and allow them to drive properly!”
Too many pit stops in Spain – Photo: McLaren
During the race at the Circuit de Catalunya, Lewis Hamilton complained that he had just been overtaken by a Williams, the 2008 World Champion, who had qualified in second place, was a sitting duck for the Williams of Pastor Maldonado, who had qualified in 17th place. At one point when his team asked him to spare the tyres, he said, “I can’t drive any slower!”
Hamilton later commented about the lack of pace, “I really don’t know what the problem is. I’m lost. We were slow and I had no grip for some reason. It was really tough, way too tough. I felt like I was going backwards, which I obviously did.”
About his race pace he commented, “The team were asking me to slow down in certain areas but I couldn’t go any slower otherwise I’m going at walking pace. I was already going so slowly to the point that people were just passing me. That is the way the sport has gone to improve overtaking. It is for the public to judge.”
Also Niki Lauda was critical after the race, “The car is quick, there’s no question about it. But the tyre consumption … look at Vettel, the same problem. He couldn’t get anywhere near the Ferraris and Raikkonen. And he added, “So, this is a problem which we need to fix but I don’t know how. They have to fix it. No question [about it].”
Even the race winner, Fernando Alonso, questioned the policy of heavy tyre degradation to ‘improve the show’. “With this year’s degradation and this year’s tyres we see races keep changing all the time. Whatever car keeps the tyres alive normally finishes on the podium or wins the race. Is it too much confusion for the spectators? There is no doubt,” Alonso said.
Jenson Button was also critical, “When we’re going round doing laps three seconds slower than a GP2 car did in qualifying, and only six seconds quicker than a GP3 car did in the race, there’s something wrong. This is the pinnacle of motorsport. We shouldn’t be driving round as slow as we have to look after the tyres. We go 12 seconds slower in a race than we do in qualifying.”
Winner Alonso with Raikkonen and Massa – Photo: Pirelli
Red Bull’s Mark Webber wasn’t happy either and said, “Neither Seb [Sebastian Vettel] nor I had the performance of the cars in front, and without that you can’t nail the magic strategy. With the tyres performing as they do, the races can be a bit frustrating, but that’s the way it is at the moment.”
Sky Sports commentator and ex-Formula One driver Martin Brundle wrote in his column, “Enough is enough. Pirelli have to change their tyres after a race bordering on a farce. I’ve tried my best to be supportive of more interesting — albeit to an extent fabricated — motor racing, but it’s just gone too far. Qualifying clearly means nothing these days, just ask the front row Mercedes boys.”
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery angrily defended the policy of producing rapidly degrading tyres and said, “What do you want? We are only doing what we are asked to do, which is provide two or three stops. I know some people would like us to do one stop where the tyres aren’t a factor.”
“You can go back to processional racing where the qualifying position is the end position. Is that what you want? Unless you want us to give Red Bull the tyres to win the championship, I think it is pretty clear. If we did that there is one team that would benefit.”
Later, in an official press statement, Hembery said, “Our aim is to have between two and three stops at every race, so it’s clear that four is too many: in fact, it’s only happened once before, in Turkey during our first year in the sport. We’ll be looking to make some changes, in time for Silverstone, to make sure that we maintain our target and solve any issues rapidly.”
By Berthold Bouman
Another 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
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
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
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
By Berthold Bouman
Felipe Massa was fastest for Ferrari after the final free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya this morning. The Brazilian set a time of 1m21.901s on the medium compound tyres, almost a second quicker than the fastest time set on Friday by Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso was sixth, but 0,353s slower than the Brazilian.
Kimi Raikkonen was also quick, he took second place in the Lotus, just six-thousandths of a second behind pace-setter Massa. Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus secured fourth place, again confirming the Lotus E21 is very quick at the Barcelona circuit.
Fourth place for Romain Grosjean – Photo: Lotus F1
Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver, he took third place, while triple World Champion Vettel was fifth. Force India was also quick this morning, Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil took seventh and eighth place respectively, the difference between the two was just 0,155s.
Lewis Hamilton and Jean-Eric Vergne completed the top ten, Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes was 11th after the German completed 26 laps, and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Toro Rosso was 18th.
The McLaren drivers were again disappointing to say the least, they never made it into the top ten during all three practice session, this morning Jenson Button was 12th, while Sergio Perez, who had problems with the power steering, was 14th.
Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Surprisingly, Esteban Gutierrez was the fastest Sauber driver as the young Mexican outpaced Nico Hulkenberg as he took 13th spot, while his team colleague was 16th.
Further down the order were both Williams drivers, Pastor Maldonado was 15th, and Valtteri Bottas was 17th, thus it seems Williams are certainly no contenders for the victory tomorrow.
The last four places were occupied by Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde.
Results of the third and final free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Sebastian Vettel beat Fernando Alonso this afternoon during the second free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix and recorded the fastest time for Red Bull with a lap of 1m22.808s, the difference with the Spaniard was just 0,017s.
Mark Webber was third fastest, but was very close to his German team colleague as the difference between the two Red Bull drivers was only 0,083s. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest this afternoon, he set a time of 1m23.030s in the Lotus, his French team colleague Romain Grosjean was 18th, over three seconds slower than pace-setter Vettel.
Felipe Massa took fifth place in the second Ferrari, he was followed by the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were sixth and seventh respectively.
Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul di Resta completed the top ten. Not a good afternoon for di Resta, he had to park his Force India after a rear wing failure.
Kimi Raikkonen and his fans – Photo: Lotus F1
Daniel Ricciardo was 11th in the second Toro Rosso, and although they had a new upgrade package, the problems are still not over for McLaren, as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were 12th and 13th for McLaren.
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Williams driver this afternoon, he took 14th spot, while Pastor Maldonado was 16th. Nico Hulkenberg took 15th place for Sauber, while Esteban Gutierrez was 17th.
A good second session for Dutch Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde, who was 19th, a full second faster than his team colleague Charles Pic, who ended the afternoon in 21st place.
The last two on the list were Marussia drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, they were 20th and 22nd.
Results of the second free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
After a hectic first four races of the season, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have settled their differences and are looking forward to round five of the FIA Formula One Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Mark Webber: It’s good to go there and get a nice result
Mark Webber is pleased Formula One returns to Europe and said, “It’s a little bit easier; obviously the travel is very convenient and everything is within a striking distance of two hours. We all know the hotels well and the drill of how to get around. It’s much more straightforward than some of the new venues; it’s a nice time to be racing in Europe with the weather generally and it’s a good atmosphere.”
Mark Webber – Photo: Red Bull Racing
The Australian has fond memories of the Barcelona circuit and asked about his favourite race in Spain he said, “My win in 2010, I qualified on pole and it was a race which I controlled from the front. I pulled a gap from Sebastian [Vettel], then Lewis [Hamilton] was behind me and put a little bit of pressure on me in the middle of the race, but he had a mechanical failure towards the end. It’s rewarding because we do so much testing there, so it’s good to go there and get a nice result.”
And what is his favourite part of the circuit? “The first sector, I like the exit of Turn 2 into Turn 3. I also like Turn 13, which is a weird little right-hander, downhill, blind corner, but I think it’s quite a nice little corner to get right.”
Sebastian Vettel: The win in 2011 was very special
Vettel too, is ready for the first race on European soil, and the German commented, “It’s good to be back in Europe, and in Spain in particular. The atmosphere is always very special at the European races and the weather is usually good too. It helps that the travelling time to and from events is shorter and there’s no need to adapt to a time difference.”
Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Asked about his best memories of the Circuit de Catalunya he said without hesitation, “The win in 2011 was very special. It was a long race and for the last 20 or 30 laps I had a lot of pressure from behind from Lewis [Hamilton]. I had no KERS to defend, so it was good to come out on top at the end.”
And his favourite part of the circuit? “The whole Barcelona circuit is interesting as it includes all types of corners and offers a really good mix, but my favourite part is still the first sector, because it has really quick corners.”
Red Bull Racing is currently leading the Constructors’ Championship with 109 points, but Lotus is catching up and are second, just 16 points behind the Austrian outfit. Vettel is leading the race for the 2013 Drivers’ Championship with 77 points, followed by Kimi Raikkonen who is ten points behind the triple World Champion. Webber is fifth with 32 points, sandwiched between both Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who are fourth and sixth.
• 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
By Berthold Bouman
Red Bull team owner and billionaire Dieter Mateschitz has admitted he was enraged about the Multi 21 affair during the Malaysian Grand Prix. Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders and passed his team mate Mark Webber although he was ordered to stay in second position and let Webber win the race.
The affair re-ignited the feud between the two Red Bull drivers, as Webber still refuses to play second fiddle at the Austrian team. Apparently, Mateschitz has ordered Team Principal Christian Horner not to issue any team orders for the rest of the 2013 season.
“Vettel and Webber can race freely to the end of the season. The motto is ‘Go ahead of me if you can’,” Mateschitz told an Austrian newspaper. Asked whether Webber will stay next year he said, “It all depends on Webber himself, how fast he is and what other offers he has.”
Vettel and Webber on the podium in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing
In the same interview the Austrian entrepreneur also said that he is frustrated by the role the Pirelli tyres play nowadays. “Formula One no longer has anything to do with ‘classic’ racing. Today, it’s not the fastest driver in the fastest car winning, but the one with the optimum tyre management,” Mateschitz said.
“We’ve even had to scale down our car, because the tyres were not lasting. If we really went as fast as we can, we would need 10 to 15 pit stops!” And indeed, even the Multi 21 affair had everything to do with the tyres, both drivers were told to hold the same position as Horner feared the tyres would go off very quickly if they would start a fight for the victory.
Pirelli tyres too dominant – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Although many drivers also have questioned the fast degrading Pirelli tyres, the Italian manufacturer has always maintained that the tyre game is the same for all drivers, and is good for ‘the show’, but by now Formula One has become the Pirelli show.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Pirelli have revealed they will alter the rubber compound of the hard tyre. “The ‘hard’ will be slightly harder as a result and should perform better in a wider temperature range for the start of the European season,” said Pirelli’s Motorsport director Paul Hembery.
And he added, “This latest version of the hard compound is much closer to the 2012 tyre, with the aim of giving the teams more opportunity to run a wider range of strategies in combination with the other compounds, which remain unchanged.”
By Berthold Bouman
Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel cruised to the victory on a blazing hot Bahrain International Circuit this afternoon during round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix. Although the German didn’t start from pole, he was fast enough to take over the lead from pole sitter Nico Rosberg.
“I knew it was crucial to get into the lead and look after the tyres, the pace was phenomenal, the car was great. I could push every single lap and look after the tyres,” said the victor. “I lost out to Fernando at the first corner, but I could get him back. I saved some KERS and could out-accelerate him into Turn 6. Out of Turn 4 I did the same on Nico, a little bit of KERS and got him into Turn 5.”
“It was an impeccable performance from Sebastian,” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. “He was absolutely supreme. He had so much in hand and then he has to do the fastest lap at the end just to show he has plenty left in the tyres.”
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Although Raikkonen had said the Lotus just wasn’t fast enough on the Bahrain circuit, the Finn, after numerous fights, moved up the ranks to finally finish in second place. Lotus had given Grosjean a new chassis after the problems he had experienced during the first three races of the season, it was the right move and the Frenchman immediately was considerably quicker than in the old car, and he finished third after a long battle with Paul di Resta in the Force India.
But the Iceman repeated what he had said earlier on, “I don’t think we had the speed this week against Red Bull. We could have finished a few places higher in qualifying but in the end we were still not close enough to Red Bull. I guess it would have helped, but it didn’t happen for many reasons and second was the best we could achieve today.”
Initially, Fernando Alonso took second place from Vettel during the start, but Vettel took his second place back at the end of the first lap. Rosberg, who led the race early on, was a sitting duck when DRS was activated after three laps, he lost the lead to Vettel, then lost more positions to Alonso, di Resta, and Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari.
A tough day for Rosberg, and the disappointed German said, “As nice as it was to start from pole this afternoon, it was just as hard to finish in ninth place. I didn’t feel comfortable in the car today and it wasn’t much fun out there really.” And he added, “We switched to a four-stop strategy at the end of my third stint but it wasn’t enough. We were using the rear tyres too much and at the end, I was really struggling and wasn’t able to push hard enough.”
Bad day for Ferrari – Photo: Ferrari
It certainly wasn’t Ferrari’s day, the DRS flap on Alonso’s rear wing got jammed, he had to visit the pits, a good old whack from a Ferrari mechanic seemed to have cured the problem, but when the Spaniard used the downforce reduction device again, it got stuck for the second time, forcing the double World Champion to visit the pits for a second time, and he couldn’t use his DRS anymore for the rest of the race. Nevertheless, it was still an impressive performance by Alonso, who fought his way back from 17th to eighth position.
Also a bad day for Massa, his front wing was damaged after he had hit the rear of the Force India of Adrian Sutil during the start of the race, then after 17 laps got a right-rear puncture, and another puncture after 37 laps, which effectively robbed the Brazilian of a good points finish, he finished the race in 15th place.
Most drivers were on a three or four-stop strategy, but di Resta was on a two-stop strategy, the Scot showed what the Force India is capable of as he even led the race, but his last set of tyres started to wear out quickly during the closing stages of the race, both Lotus drivers easily overtook him, and he finished in fourth place. Sutil was less lucky and had to be satisfied with 13th place after a very early unscheduled pit stop due to the puncture he got during his fight with Massa.
Fourth place for Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India
Di Resta was pleased with the result today and commented, “It’s great to round off the fly-away races with a fourth place and a race that was probably my strongest Grand Prix. The podium was very close, but with our strategy we were always going to be vulnerable at the end of the race — especially to Grosjean who had two new sets of medium tyres. I had a good start to the race, a strong opening stint and we showed our true speed today, but ultimately fourth place was the maximum that was possible.”
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were involved in several hair-raising wheel-to-wheel battles, the Mexican driver hit the 2009 World Champion several times, and after several other thrilling fights, he wheel-banged his way to sixth place. Button complained about his team colleague over the radio, and it was indeed a bit silly to watch Perez almost taking out Button.
Perez was on a rampage today – Photo: McLaren F1
Perez was aware of the fact he put McLaren in a tricky situation, “I guess I was a little aggressive on track today; banging wheels with Jenson was perhaps a little too risky, a little too hard, but the team never came on the radio to tell us to stop racing. There were no team orders. There was a lot of adrenaline from both of us, and Jenson is always a very strong racer, but hopefully we’ll help each other a little more in the future.”
It was also a difficult race for Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver was also involved in various fights with Perez, Button, Rosberg and Mark Webber in the second Red Bull. During the closing stages of the race, Hamilton and Webber fought for position, but Hamilton emerged as the winner and finally took fifth place.
“It’s been a tough weekend for us but we got through it and finishing in fifth place was some good damage limitation,” said Hamilton. “My race didn’t start well at all. I was looking after the tyres but I really struggled on the first two stints and was falling back.” About his battle with Webber he commented, “I had so much fun fighting with Mark at the end. We really needed that point and I was so determined to get by. It was good, clean wheel-to-wheel racing.”
Vettel is now leading the Drivers’ Championship with 77 points, followed by Raikkonen (67), Hamilton (50), Alonso (47), Webber (32) and Massa is sixth with 30 points. Red Bull is also leading the Constructors Championship with 109 points, followed by Lotus (93), and Ferrari this with 77 points.
By Berthold Bouman
Nico Rosberg took the second pole of the season for Mercedes this afternoon during qualifying for round four of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit. The German recorded a time of 1m32.330s, 0.354s faster than the number two, Sebastian Vettel, while Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso will start from third spot on the grid tomorrow.
Asked whether the German was surprised to score pole he said, “A little bit, yes. It wasn’t really clear before who was the quickest car over one lap. I was a little bit closer this morning already so I was a bit happier than yesterday for sure.”
And he added, “We worked really well as a team overnight to improve the car because yesterday we were really struggling, so that’s gone well. That’s fantastic result and great for tomorrow. But tomorrow’s going to be a tough race for sure with rear-tyre degradation, so a lot can still happen.’
During the first qualifying session most drivers went out on the hard (option) tyre compound, but as the session progressed more and more drivers switched to the medium (prime) rubber compound.
Second pole for Mercedes this season – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Alonso was the first to put a serious time on the board with a lap of 1m32.878s, and his time proved to be unbeatable during Q1. Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton were the six drivers who didn’t make it into the next session.
Initially drivers stayed in the garage at the start of the second session, but with 10 minutes to go both Red Bull drivers Vettel and Mark Webber were leading, but not for long as Paul di Resta in the Force India took first place, again showing how strong the VJM06 is.
Unfortunately Force India’s joy was short-lived as not much later Rosberg put the fastest time on the board with a lap of 1m32.867s. Meanwhile both McLaren drivers were in the drop-out zone and were visibly struggling to keep the McLaren MP4-28 on track, both went out in a last attempt to make it into the final qualifying session, but only Jenson Button managed to get a ticket to Q3, as the 2009 World Champion improved his time and made it into the top ten.
Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Eric Vergne did not make it into Q3.
In Q3 Rosberg was first out on the track and recorded the fastest time, but with only three minutes left on the clock the usual poker game for pole position unfolded at the Sakhir circuit. But both Vettel and Alonso made small mistakes on their final lap, while Rosberg even improved his time and took a well-deserved pole position for Mercedes.
A very strong performance from Force India – Photo: Sahara Force India
Second place man Vettel was pleased with the result, “I’m not disappointed with that [second place]. Well done to Nico, it was a strong lap and it was all his today. When I crossed the line I saw I was second on the screen and didn’t know how much I was missing to pole as the lap was fine.”
About the race tomorrow the triple Word Champion said, “We managed to save some tyres throughout qualifying and it will be about tyre degradation tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. It’s good to start from the front.”
Alonso in third place is also confident ahead of tomorrow’s race, he aborted his last flying lap and said, “We tried to complete the second lap, it was very similar until the last corner and then I saw it was half a tenth slower and we decided to save one lap on the tyres. The car was very competitive in qualifying so this puts us in a strong position to start tomorrow’s race and to fight with the leaders with more of a margin.”
By Berthold Bouman
Fernando Alonso was fastest this morning after the third and final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix this morning. The Ferrari driver was followed by his rivals Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber who were second and third respectively for Red Bull at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Bahrain circuit becomes less and less green, as this morning’s fastest time was also the fastest time overall so far this weekend. Kimi Raikkonen took fifth spot for Lotus, while his team colleague Romain Grosjean was sixth.
Alonso already had made an off-track excursion, while Vettel wasn’t happy with the moves of Charles Pic in the Caterham, when more drama unfolded as Lewis Hamilton, who finished in fifth place, had a rear-wheel puncture. Although the 2008 World Champion drove his Mercedes slowly back to the pit lane, not only the suspension, but also the gearbox was damaged and had to be replaced, which means Hamilton gets a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.
Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Again a strong showing by Force India: Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were seventh and eight, while both German Nicos, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg, completed the top ten.
Felipe Massa took 11th spot this morning, but the Brazilian Ferrari driver was faster than both McLarens, as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez didn’t get any further than 12th and 13th place at the Sakhir circuit.
Next on the list are Toro Rosso and Williams, Daniel Ricciardo was this time faster than his team colleague Jean Eric Vergne, they finished in 14th and 16th place. Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Williams driver as he took 15th place, while Pastor Maldonado was 17th.
Five-place grid penalty for Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Further down the order was Charles Pic, he was 18th, while Dutchman Giedo van de Garde in the second Caterham was 20th.
Marussia driver Jules Bianchi once again beat his team colleague Max Chilton, as the Frenchman was 19th, while Chilton was 21. Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez was 22nd and last this morning.
By Berthold Bouman
Kimi Raikkonen was fastest for Lotus after the second free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix this afternoon, the flying Fin set a time of 1m34.154s, 0,333s faster than the fastest time set this morning by Felipe Massa.
Both Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel took second and third place this afternoon, Webber was just 0,030s slower than Raikkonen after completing 26 laps. Fernando Alonso was this time the fastest Ferrari driver, he took fourth place, while Massa had to be satisfied with sixth place.
Force India again very fast in Bahrain – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta was sandwiched between the two Ferraris, again a strong performance by Force India, the Scot was almost four-tenths behind the leading Lotus of Raikkonen. His team colleague Adrian Sutil was ninth this afternoon.
Further back in seventh place was Raikkonen’s team colleague Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman was almost half-a-second behind the Iceman. Nico Rosberg was eighth for Mercedes, while Lewis Hamilton completed the top ten with a time of 1m34.976s.
Jenson Button was just outside the top ten in 11th place, Sergio Perez was 13th this afternoon after the Mexican completed 36 laps in the troubled McLaren MP4-28.
Jean-Eric Vergne was again the fastest Toro Rosso driver and took 12th place, while Australian Daniel Ricciardo was 14th in the second Toro Rosso, 0.255s adrift of his French team colleague.
Nico Hulkenberg managed to take 15th place, just ahead of both Williams drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas, who were 16th and 17th. But Esteban Gutierrez, who has a five-place grid penalty for crashing into the Force India of Sutil during the Chinese Grand Prix, this time collided with Charles Pic in the Caterham when he tried to overtake him.
Charles Pic not happy with Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Caterham F1
Pic wasn’t happy with the Mexican’s actions, but at least his car was not damaged and he finished in 19th spot, while Gutierrez was 18th.
Further down the list are the usual suspects, Max Chilton was 20th in the Marussia, and was followed by Jules Bianchi, who was back at the wheel after Heikki Kovalainen has taken his place in FP1. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last after completing 34 laps in the Caterham.
By Berthold Bouman
Not much love is lost between Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, that is a fact. In Malaysia Vettel surprised friend and foe when he ignored the, by now famous, team order ‘multi 21’, which means car 2 (Webber) should finish ahead of car 1 (Vettel).
Vettel initially said he didn’t know what it meant, but footage the BBC showed last weekend, proves he does know what it means, as he said over the team radio during the Belgian Grand Prix, “I need a multi 1-2, I need a multi 1-2”, whereupon his team assured him there was nothing to be worried about. And he got what he wanted.
But back to 2013, the Bahrain Grand Prix will be Webber’s 200th Formula One race, and the Australian will become member of an exclusive club in Grand Prix racing this weekend.
200th Grand Prix for Webber this weekend – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Mark Webber: You need to make sure you’re ready for the next event
Asked about his opinion regarding back-to-back races Webber commented, “We like racing and it’s another opportunity to go racing again soon, so that’s a positive. We’re already roughly in the same part of the world, so back to back races can be an efficient way for us to go racing; as an industry it’s good organisation.”
And how does he prepare for such a race? “It’s important to make sure you get ready for the next race off the back of the first one, so travelling as soon as you can is important. If you have a very big result at the first race then you’re not going to stay in the night club too long that evening celebrating, as you need to make sure you’re ready for the next event. It’s a short turnaround; you want to make sure that the training is sensible and you’re keeping yourself healthy,” said Webber.
Quizzed about the best corner at the Sakhir circuit he was adamant, “I quite like the last sector, Turns 12 and 13, up over the crest, that’s a nice part of the lap. It’s a little bit quicker, because the rest of the track is quite slow and not super exhilarating. There are some quick-ish corners, which are quite rewarding.”
Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel: You get into the rhythm quickly
Also Vettel was asked about his feelings concerning back-to-back races, but the German doesn’t have any problems with it, “The positive is that on the Friday of the second race, you get into the rhythm quickly. You save time by travelling direct from one race to the next and can adapt to the time zone a bit quicker, as you don‘t have to travel so far. The only thing is that there‘s not much time for physical and mental recovery after the first race.”
And how does Vettel prepare for such a race? “I make the most of the Monday after the first race, in terms of relaxing and recovery. On the Tuesday, I do some easy training in the gym or some badminton, to keep the body and mind in correct mode.”
“But,” he said, “It‘s important that the race calendar is well-balanced so that drivers can get proper rest periods in order to be able to push 100 percent at each event. This means that sometimes it is good to have back to back races and then some longer breaks.”
Red Bull is currently leading the Constructors’ Championship with 78 points, just five points ahead of Ferrari. Vettel is leading the Drivers’ Championship with 52 points, while Webber is sixth with 26 points.
Webber’s 200th Grand Prix – Video by Red Bull Racing
• 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
By Berthold Bouman
Nico 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
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
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.