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
Mercedes dominated the second free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took first and second place. Rosberg lapped the Monte Carlo street circuit in 1m14.759s on the super soft tyres, he was 1.436s faster than this morning.
Again a strong showing by Ferrari, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took third and fourth place respectively. Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver this afternoon, the Australian took fifth place, while Sebastian Vettel was ninth in the second Toro Rosso.
Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean landed sixth and seventh spot, but Grosjean crashed his Lotus into the wall at Saint Devote after he had run wide, the red flag came out as track marshals used the opportunity to inspect a loose kerb at the swimming pool before the session was restarted.
Second place for Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Jenson Button was again faster than his team colleague Sergio Perez, he was eighth while Perez was 12th. Paul di Resta completed the top ten, but he was closely followed by Adrian Sutil in the second Force India, the German was 11th fastest this afternoon.
Nico Hulkenberg was again quick in the Sauber, he took 13th place, while Esteban Gutierrez was 15th, just 0,112s slower than Hulkenberg. Pastor Maldonado was not as quick as he had been this morning, he took 14th spot for Williams while Valtteri Bottas was 18th.
Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India
Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were 16th and 17th respectively, and at the bottom of the list are the usual suspects, as usual Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was faster than Max Chilton, while tis time Charles Pic outpaced his Dutch team colleague, he was 19th while Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last.
Results of the second free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
Nico Rosberg topped the time sheets this morning during the first free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The Mercedes driver set a time of 1m16.195s, however, the difference with the number two, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, was minimal as the Spaniard was only 0.087s slower than Rosberg.
Lotus likes surprises and this time Romain Grosjean was third this morning, while his Finnish team colleague Kimi Raikkonen was 11th. Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari, while Lewis Hamilton took fifth place in the second Mercedes.
Alonso second for Ferrari this morning – Photo: Ferrari F1
Pastor Maldonado surprised friend and foe as he took sixth place for the troubled Williams team, Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams was 17th, the Finn was 1,837s slower than his team colleague.
Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver this morning, as he took seventh place, while triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was tenth. McLaren apparently found some speed as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth respectively.
Just outside the top ten were both Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, the difference between the two was just 0.116s. Sauber tested a few parts and Nico Hulkenberg and his Mexican team colleague Esteban Gutierrez scored 14th and 16th place for the Swiss outfit.
Webber talks with the media – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Jean-Eric Vergne was the fastest Toro Rosso driver and took 15th place, while Daniel Ricciardo was 18th. No ‘guest drivers’ this morning, and thus Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were 19th and 20th for Caterham, while Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton completed the list as they took 21st and 22nd respectively.
The results of the first free practice session can be found here.
By Berthold Bouman
After 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: 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: 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.
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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
Mercedes 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: 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: 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.
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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
Felipe Massa was fastest after the first free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Brazilian set a time of 1m34.487, and he was closely followed by his team colleague Fernando Alonso, who was just 0.077s slower at the Bahrain International Circuit this morning.
As seen before this season, drivers were reluctant to take to the track as they were in tyre-saving mode, meaning there was not much action for the first half hour. Nico Rosberg grabbed third place for Mercedes, after completing 22 laps, while his team colleague Lewis Hamilton was 13th this morning, he was apparently executing another test programme than the German.
Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was fourth, while Mark Webber in the other Red Bull was seventh. Again Force India showed the VJ06 is a very competitive car, Paul di Resta was fifth, less than half-a-second off the pace set by Massa. Adrian Sutil was eighth in the second Force India, just 0.170s slower than his Scottish team colleague.
Always plenty media attention for Raikkonen – Photo: Lotus F1
McLaren announced they had a few car updates for this weekend’s race. They seem to work as Jenson Button took possession of sixth place, only half-a-second off the pace. Again, Sergio Perez was considerably slower than the 2009 World Champion, McLaren told him to up his pace but the Mexican didn’t get any further than 11th place this morning.
Even further down the order was the Lotus piloted by Kimi Raikkonen, he was ninth, and he was closely followed by Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus, the Frenchman completed the top ten and was only two-tenths slower than Iceman Raikkonen.
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Williams driver, he was 12th, while Pastor Maldonado was 16th. Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were 14th and 15th respectively for Red Bull’s Italian sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Both Sauber drivers clearly experienced problems, the Sauber C32 is not really fast and Nico Hulkenberg finished in 17th, and Esteban Gutierrez in 18th position.
Bahrain is heavy on the brakes: Pastor Maldonado – Williams F1
Also Caterham has problems to get their car up to speed this season, reason for the Anglo-Malaysian team to hire their ex-driver Heikki Kovalainen to figure out what is wrong with the car, the Finn did what he could, but he didn’t get further than 20th place, while Charles Pic in the other Caterham finished ahead of him in 19th place.
Marussia driver Rodolfo Gonzalez took over Jules Bianchi’s car this morning, but the youngster encountered gearbox problems and he was 22nd and last, while Max Chilton took 21st place.
By Berthold Bouman
Mixed 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
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: 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.
• Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
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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.
By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes 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
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.”
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.”
• Red Bull Chinese GP Preview
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By Berthold Bouman
The 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
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!”
• Red Bull Malaysian GP Preview
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By Berthold Bouman
Sebastian Vettel made no bones about it, he is still the strongest Formula One driver as he was once again on top of the second practice session for round one of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne.
The German triple World Champion set a time of 1m25.908s, three-tenths of a second faster than the time he set in the morning. This time Vettel was joined by Mark Webber who took second place for Red Bull, but the Australian was 0.264s slower than his team mate.
Again, Mercedes had an encouraging afternoon, this time Nico Rosberg was third, but again reliability problems for Mercedes, at the end of the session the German had to stop his car on the track with a gearbox problem. Lewis Hamilton was seventh this afternoon, after he had spun at Turn 3 — according to Mercedes, due to damage of the floor of the car.
Nico Rosberg third for Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Kimi Raikkonen was fast again, he took fourth place, but was almost half-a-second slower than Vettel. Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus was quick too, he took fifth place after completing 30 laps.
Ferrari was a bit further down the order compared to this morning, this time it was Fernando Alonso who was faster than Felipe Massa, as the Spaniard took sixth place, while his Brazilian colleague took eighth place this afternoon.
Adrian Sutil again proved Vijay Mallya has taken the right call to re-sign the German for 2013, he was ninth after completing 30 laps at the Albert Park Circuit, Paul di Resta was 12th, but he was a full second slower than Sutil, who seems to feel more comfortable in the Force India VJM06.
Nico Hulkenberg was in tenth place, but was actually slower than this morning, when he scored 12th place. Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez was fifteenth, and improved on the time he set this morning.
Fernando Alonso at Albert Park – Ferrari
McLaren slid even further down the order compared to this morning, Jenson Button was 11th, and Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez was 13th, and it indeed looks like McLaren is struggling to get some speed in the MP4-28.
The second Australian driver on the 2013 grid, Daniel Ricciardo, was a full second quicker than this morning, and he took 14th place for Toro Rosso. Jean-Eric Vergne was this time 17th, still three seconds slower than pace-setter Vettel.
Also Williams dropped down the order, this morning they were 14th and 15th, this afternoon Pastor Maldonado was 16th, while Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas was 18th after completing 38 laps.
Jules Bianchi was once again the quickest Marussia driver, he was 19th, while his team mate Max Chilton was 21st.
Charles Pic was the fastest Caterham driver as he took 20th place, while Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was struggling to keep up with the Frenchman, and again finished in 22nd and last position. Unfortunately, van der Garde spun at Turn 3, and that was the end of his afternoon, he only completed 11 laps.
Australian GP Results (Opens in new window)