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Monaco GP: Rosberg storms to victory for Mercedes in incident-packed race


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg storms to victory for Mercedes in incident-packed raceNico 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 second - Photo: Red Bull Racing

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

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

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.

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Spanish GP: Massa fastest for Ferrari after final free practice session


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Massa fastest for Ferrari after final free practice sessionFelipe 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.

Romain Grosjean - Photo: Lotus F1

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

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.


Spanish GP: Vettel sets fastest time during second free practice session


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Vettel sets fastest time during second free practice sessionSebastian 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

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.


Spanish GP: Red Bull drivers Vettel and Webber looking forward to race at Barcelona


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Red Bull drivers Vettel and Webber looking forward to race at BarcelonaAfter 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

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

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.

Also read:

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


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


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pirelli tyres too dominant - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Pirelli tyres too dominant – Photo: Red Bull Racing

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

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

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


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


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

Sebastian Vettel - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bahrain GP FP3 Results


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


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bahrain GP FP2 Results


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


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sebastian Vettel - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel: You get into the rhythm quickly

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

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

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

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

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

Also read:

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


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


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raikkonen has plenty of Chinese fans - Photo: Lotus F1

Raikkonen has plenty of Chinese fans – Photo: Lotus F1

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

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

Chinese GP FP1 Results


Chinese GP Preview: Teams aiming for major improvements at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fernando Alonso - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso – Photo: Ferrari

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

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

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

Lewis Hamilton on the podium - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton on the podium – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren F1

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

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

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

Two retirements for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chinese GP: Red Bull says driver feud is over, looking forward to Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Red Bull says driver feud is over, looking forward to ShanghaiRed Bull Racing has been in the spotlight since the Malaysian Grand Prix, after star driver Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to let his team colleague Mark Webber win the race. Webber was furious and threatened to leave the team, Red Bull advisor ex-Formula One driver Helmut Marko, however, insists the row is over.

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

Plenty of media attention for Vettel after the Malaysian GP - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Plenty of media attention for Vettel after the Malaysian GP – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel: Took his first win for Red Bull in 2009 in Shanghai

The Shanghai International circuit was the scene of Vettel’s first win for Red Bull, and he has fond memories of the Chinese track, “My first win with Red Bull Racing in 2009. We had a good qualifying, followed by an amazing race. There was a lot of rain, but we held it together and got our first team win and one-two.”

Asked what he likes about Shanghai he said, “Every time I go to Shanghai I like to explore a bit more, but I really like Pudong, near the river.” And the circuit, what is his favourite part? “The circuit has lots of corners, making it hard for the tyres and tricky for the drivers. I really like the middle sector. Turns 12 and 13 are difficult to get right, as they demand a lot of technique, especially Turn 13 which leads into a really long straight.”

Webber not a happy camper after Vettel took the win in Malaysia - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber not a happy camper after Vettel took the win in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber: Likes Shanghai’s soup dumplings

Asked about his best memories of the circuit Webber said, “Coming from the back of the grid to finish on the podium in third place in 2011.” But his favourite place in Shanghai is actually a restaurant, “I went to a really nice restaurant with some of the boys from the team, Din Tai Fung Shanghai. They do great soup dumplings, a Shanghai specialty!”

And his favourite part of the circuit? “The middle sector, Turns 5 and 6, it’s a nice and flowing section and it’s very important to get the technique right there.”

Also read:

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


Vettel apologises to Red Bull staff, row over Marko insists


By Berthold Bouman

Vettel apologises to Red Bull staff, row over Marko insists - Photo: Red Bull RacingSebastian Vettel has apologised in person to Red Bull Racing’s staff members for ignoring team orders during the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend. The triple World Champion has also spoken with his team colleague Australian Mark Webber, who was visibly upset during the podium ceremony at Sepang International Circuit.

Team Principal Christian Horner said, “He’s apologised to the team and to every single member of staff for his actions, because he recognises the team is vitally important and being part of the team is a crucial aspect to being able to challenge for those championships.”

Vettel celebrates after winning the Malaysian GP - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Vettel celebrates after winning the Malaysian GP – Photo: Red Bull Racing

And he added, “He’s said he can’t turn back the clock but he’s accepted what he did was wrong.” Webber was leading the Malaysian Grand Prix when his team told both drivers to stay in the same position, take it easy and finish the race in the same order, as there were concerns about fuel consumption and tyre wear. Vettel ignored the team order, overtook Webber after a sensational battle for the lead, but Horner told Sky TV Webber should have won the race.

“It was the intent of the team that Mark should win that race,” Horner admitted. About Webber, who after the race hinted he would ‘reconsider’ his position at Red Bull, Horner commented, “He’s big enough to know that there was no malice, no intent from the team to create any situation like that. He’s in a car that’s capable of winning Grands Prix and hopefully going for a championship so I’ve got no doubt that Mark will see out the season with us.”

Today stories emerged that Vettel indeed might have missed the message, a code named ‘Multi-map 21’, which actually means car 2 (Webber)  has to finish ahead of car 1 (Vettel). But Red Bull Team Advisor Helmut Marko rubbished the idea he might have missed it . “We have this certain code — the ’21’ — which was told by the race engineer on two occasions. There was no response,” the Austrian said.

Helmut Marko and Sebastian Vettel - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Helmut Marko and Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing

He further commented, “We told Sebastian to hold his position because we didn’t know what the tyre situation was and both drivers need to bring home a good finish for the team. But then came the attack against that strategy and it got out of control. You couldn’t control it over radio or anything like that. Sebastian the racer came out and took the lead.”

Also Horner could be heard on the team radio saying, “This is silly Seb, come on,” but there was no answer. And last but not least, saying Vettel accidentally ignored the order to stay behind Webber, cannot be true, as he would never have apologized when he hadn’t been aware of the radio messages. You simply don’t apologise for something you didn’t do.

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


Vettel under heavy fire after stealing Webber’s win in Malaysia


By Berthold Bouman

Vettel under heavy fire after stealing Webber’s win in Malaysia - Photo: Red Bull RacingAfter the Malaysian Grand Prix all hell broke loose, as Sebastian Vettel showed his ruthlessness by ignoring the order to stay behind his team colleague Mark Webber, who was leading the race comfortably. The Red Bull drivers are at war now, but the Austrian team tries to play down the effect of the current stand-off between the two.

But Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, who usually protects his star driver and triple World Champion, this time refused to defend Vettel’s actions. The battle started after Red Bull became concerned about the tyre wear, and therefore told their drivers to stay put in order to finish the race without ruining the tyres.

Initially Horner thought Vettel hadn’t heard the call, but when it became apparent that Vettel deliberately ignored the order, he made one more attempt to control the situation by saying over the radio, “This is silly Seb, come on,” but the German remained silent. Of course, sitting at the pit wall meant that Horner couldn’t do much about it, and Vettel overtook Webber to take the win.

Team Principal Horner was not happy at all - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Team Principal Horner was not happy at all – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Of course Webber was livid, and he later said, “After the last stop the team told me the race was over and we turned the engines down and go to the end. The team made their decision. Seb made his own decision and he will have protection as usual.” Vettel later apologised, but by the looks of it, he was probably thinking more about how to get out of the mess he had created, instead of offering a sincere apology.

Of course Vettel knew what he was doing, he wanted the extra seven points and he simply took them. Asked whether Webber was surprised Vettel started the fight the Australian said, “Yeah, well I turned my engine down and started cruising on the tyres and the fight was off. Anyway, we know he’s a quick peddler but I was disappointed with the outcome of today’s race.”

Also Horner wasn’t happy and he said, “He [Vettel] had made it quite clear what his intention was by making the move. He knew what the communication was. He had the communication. He chose to ignore it.” And he added, “He put his interest beyond what the team’s position was. He was focused on those seven points difference between second and first place — which was wrong. He has accepted it was wrong.”

But whether Vettel will be punished by his team for his actions at Sepang, remains to be seen, as Horner said, “We spoke to both drivers, and I have spoken to both drivers, and Sebastian has apologised to both Mark and the team, so we have conducted our debrief as we would usually do and we will focus on the next race.”

The current situation at Red Bull - Photo: Red Bull Racing

The current situation at Red Bull – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Meanwhile, the press has condemned Vettel’s actions, after all, nobody believes Vettel won the race ‘by mistake’, and especially the UK and Australian press came down hard on the German.

The UK Daily Express headlined, “Red Bull rumpus: Sebastian Vettel forced to say sorry after giving Mark Webber the elbow,” and compared him with Michael Schumacher, “It was reminiscent of German compatriot Michael Schumacher at his most callous; the seven-times World Champion earned renown for his underhand tactics as much as his brilliant driving.”

The UK Mail reported, “Red Bull in crisis: Webber gives Vettel the finger as World Champion ignores team orders.” About the battle between the two they wrote, “Vettel, however, was in no mood to give any quarter to his team-mate, and when he finally muscled his way past there was no way back for Webber, who responded with a raised middle finger.”

The UK Sun reported, “Mark Webber turned into a raging Red Bull — giving the finger to team-mate Sebastian Vettel as Formula One exploded in anger.” And, “The incident is likely to damage Vettel’s reputation as previous events like this also threatened to overshadow the achievements of his mentor Michael Schumacher.”

The UK Mirror concluded, “Baby Schumi gets his own way: Sebastian Vettel defies team to beat Mark Webber in Malaysia. Sebastian Vettel was dubbed ‘Baby Schumi’ by the German media when he made his debut in Grand Prix racing as a fresh-faced 20-year-old. Well, now we can take away ‘Baby’. He followed utterly in the footsteps of his idol as he betrayed his teammate Mark Webber, his team Red Bull, boss Christian Horner, and billionaire boss Dietrich Mateschitz who has financed his racing career since he was 13. He stabbed his trusting team and his teammate in the back for his own gain.”

The UK Times reported, “The firing squad will have to wait. Sebastian Vettel emerged from the debrief with his Red Bull team after a ferocious and fractious Malaysian Grand Prix without a black eye and with all his limbs intact and no serious threat of further repercussions.”

Webber drinks his champagne, Vettel looks on - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber drinks his champagne, Vettel looks on – Photo: Red Bull Racing

And the UK Telegraph reported, “Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber descend into F1 civil war. A furious Webber refused to join the post-race celebrations and had earlier given Vettel an unambiguous finger salute from behind the wheel after being overtaken.”

The UK Independent reported, “The triple champion’s controversial success when he ignored team instructions to overtake his team-mate Mark Webber became a public relations grenade for the team and exposed the German’s ruthless desire to win at all costs. It also tore apart the fragile truce that has existed between Vettel and Webber since 2010.”

In the UK Guardian, Paul Weaver wrote, “We can now count Vettel as one of the most ruthlessly single-minded drivers the cacophonous old circus has ever seen. Being in one club, of course, does not preclude membership of the other. Vettel merely moves in alongside Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher in that respect. Maybe the ruthlessness underlines the greatness.”

The Australian Daily Telegraph published an article with the headline “A history of bad blood at Red Bull between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.”

The Australian Herald Sun wrote, “It’s no secret that Red Bull’s star pair simply can’t cop each other, but just how little respect exists between them was laid bare for all to see in a series of wheel-to-wheel moments over the closing laps at the Sepang circuit. Any lessons learnt from Vettel’s suicidal crash with Webber at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix that ended Vettel’s race and wrecked the Australian’s chance of victory were clearly out of mind as they again diced for the lead, to the horror of team bosses.”

The incident at Sepang of course re-ignited the discussion about team orders. Well, the truth is simple: you are either in favour, or you are against team orders, if team orders are allowed, drivers should obey them, when team orders are not allowed, drivers should not listen to calls to give the victory to their team colleague.

Many things have been said, but comparing Webber and Vettel with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna is ridiculous at best. But there’s something one can learn from Senna. When he deliberately crashed his McLaren into the Ferrari of Prost during the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix to win the World Championship, a reporter asked Senna whether these kind of moves were acceptable. And Senna replied, “What is acceptable in motor racing, is with what you can get away with.”

And by the looks of it, Vettel got away with it.


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


By Berthold Bouman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raikkonen puzzled by loss of pace - Photo: Lotus F1

Raikkonen puzzled by loss of pace – Photo: Lotus F1

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

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

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

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


Malaysian GP: Webber on top after first free practice session at Sepang


By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Webber on top after first free practice session at Sepang - Photo Red Bull RacingMark Webber took the honours for Red Bull this morning during the first free practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit. The Australian set a time of 1m36.935s, and was followed by Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus who was just 0.068s slower than the Red Bull driver.

A few reliability concerns for Lotus, as Raikkonen spent almost an hour in the garage while his mechanics replaced the KERS battery. Sebastian Vettel was third in the other Red Bull RB9 and after completing 21 laps on the Malaysian circuit the triple World Champion was just 0.169s off the pace set by his team colleague.

Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari driver, as he landed fourth spot, Brazilian Felipe Massa was seventh this morning, just 0.183s slower than the Spaniard. Nico Rosberg was the fastest of the Mercedes drivers and took fifth place, while Lewis Hamilton complained that his set of hard tyres had been completely destroyed. He finished the morning in ninth place.

Sutil again fastest Force India driver - Photo: Sahara Force India

Sutil again fastest Force India driver – Photo: Sahara Force India

Again an impressive practice run for Adrian Sutil, who once again showed that his team boss Vijay Mallya was right to hire him again, the German was sixth, but 0.834s behind pace setter Webber. Paul di Resta was also quick in the second Force India, he was eighth after completing 15 laps.

Romain Grosjean completed the top ten at Sepang, but again bad news for McLaren as Jenson Button didn’t get further than 11th place in the McLaren MP4-28, Sergio Perez was 13th. McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh had already predicted it would be a tough weekend, and by the looks of it he could be right.

Twelfth place was for Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, but he was 1.738s off the pace, also Williams needs a quick fix for the FW35, as rookie Valtteri Bottas was 16th in the second Williams.

Valtteri Bottas was 16th this morning – Photo: Williams F1

The two Sauber drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez took possession of 14th and 15th place respectively, also Sauber seems to be off the pace compared to the start of the 2012 season.

Further down the order were Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, they took 17th and 18th place for Toro Rosso. Giedo van der Garde was this time faster than his team colleague Charles Pic, the Dutchman was 19th, albeit 3.793s slower than Webber, while Pic was 21st this morning.

The last two on this morning’s list are both Marussia drivers, Jules Bianchi was 20th and half-a-second faster than Max Chilton, who was 22nd and last.

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

Malaysian GP Results