Tag Archives: Felipe Massa


2017 F1 Grand Prix of Spain — Qualifying results

Mercedes’ Hamilton takes pole in Barcelona over Ferrari’s Vettel; Bottas P3 in second Silver Arrow

Eager to regain his momentum after a disappointing fourth place finish in Russia two weeks ago, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton stormed to a blisteringly fast pole position on Saturday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. With most of the cars sporting significant upgrades entering Round 5 and the beginning of the pivotal European portion of the Championship, Hamilton ran a remarkable 1.19.149 lap during the latter part of Q3. It was good enough to keep him in front of the hard charging Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel on the warm and windy track if only by a scant .05. Hamilton’s Silver Arrows teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who is coming off the high of his first F1 win at Sochi, was not quite as quick as the elite top two despite pushing his ride to the limit. That separated Bottas from his teammate and pushed him onto the second row in P3. Vettel’s Prancing Horse teammate Kimi Raikkonen slotted in alongside Bottas in P4, once again seeming to be very fast in all the practice sessions but then missing that final special something when the real qualifying began.

The two Red Bulls struggled for top end speed and stability somewhat versus their top-flight opposition despite their own upgrades. Max Verstappen once again outpaced his senior teammate Daniel Ricciardo, P5 to P6. McLaren had a surprisingly good day coming off a huge oil leak issue in practice, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso vaulting his troubled chassis all the way up to P7 despite a serious lack of track time. Must have been the home cooking and tennis break on Friday while the mechanics scrambled to fix the Honda-powered car. Spain will be Alonso’s last race before he skips Monaco and takes on the daunting challenge that is the Indianapolis 500 in two weeks. He and the team would dearly love to grab some points before that cross-continetal adventure after a slew of DNFs to start the season.

Rounding out the Top 10, the two Force Indias once again made a very representative showing, with Sergio Perez qualifying P8 and young Esteban Ocon taking P 10 on the grid. Felipe Massa spilt them with his P9 time for Williams.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Spanish Grand Prix:

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:20.511 1:20.210 1:19.149 12
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:20.939 1:20.295 1:19.200 16
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:20.991 1:20.300 1:19.373 15
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:20.742 1:20.621 1:19.439 14
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:21.430 1:20.722 1:19.706 12
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:21.704 1:20.855 1:20.175 12
7 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:22.015 1:21.251 1:21.048 15
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:21.998 1:21.239 1:21.070 14
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:22.138 1:21.222 1:21.232 15
10 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:21.901 1:21.148 1:21.272 17

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports at 8AM Eastern here in the States. With Ferrari nipping at Mercedes’ heels and Lewis Hamilton desperate for a win it should be all to play for on a track these drivers all know so well. Hope to se you then!


2017 F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain — Qualifying results

Bottas takes first career pole by besting Mercedes’ teammate Lewis Hamilton; Vettel qualifies P3 for Ferrari

Intent on atoning for his inexplicable spin behind a Safety Car last week in China first year Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas scored his first career pole in Bahrain. Bottas pipped his more heralded triple World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton by a razor thin .023 of a second. The Finn and former Williams driver showed his quality in a hot car under the lights on the cooling track and will be hunting his first F1 victory in tomorrow’s race. But as any F1 fan knows besting Hamilton in race competition will be harder said than done. Then again Bottas has a chance to prove that the real intra-team Mercedes competition did not end with Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement at the end of 2016.

Bottas not only kept his teammate behind him but also finally the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. For the first time in this young season Vettel was unable to get on the front row after splitting the Mercedes duo in the first two fast Saturdays of 2017. Vettel will start from P3 on the grid. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was a little too vocal with his displeasure for the Scuderia’s liking in China en route to a fourth place finish, was unable to line up next to him and will start in P5. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo bested Raikonnen by sneaking in a fast lap good enough to claim P4, while his exciting young teammate Max Verstappen, who added to his legend with another monster drive in the wet in Shanghai, could do no better than P6 at the ultra-dry Bahrain International Circuit. The Renault factory team had an impressive effort after a frustrating start to the season, showing rapid development to their engine & chassis that enabled Nico Hulkenberg to take a very strong P7 and junior teammate Jolyon Palmer able to make it into Q3 for the first time in his career with a solid P10 time. Now the yellow Renaults have got to try to put it all together in a race and grab some points. Rounding out the Top 10, Williams’ Felipe Massa took P8 and Romain Grosjean will start P9 for Haas.

Big news was also made off-track when McLaren’s Fernando Alonso announced that he will skip Monaco this Memorial Day and race in the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport instead. The prospect of the 2-time Formula 1 champion racing at the Brickyard has whet the appetite of every race fan around the world and it should be exciting to see how the Spaniard performs in his first-ever oval race at the grandaddy of all American tracks. Jenson Button will come out of retirement to sub for Alonso for a one-off in Monte Carlo in the non-competetive McLaren.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Bahrain Grand Prix:

1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:31.041 1:29.555 1:28.769 12
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:30.814 1:29.535 1:28.792 13
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:31.037 1:29.596 1:29.247 12
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:31.667 1:30.497 1:29.545 12
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:30.988 1:29.843 1:29.567 16
6 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:30.904 1:30.307 1:29.687 12
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:31.057 1:30.169 1:29.842 15
8 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:31.373 1:30.677 1:30.074 12
9 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:31.691 1:30.857 1:30.763 16
10 30 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT 1:31.458 1:30.899 1:31.074 15

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live starting at 10:30 AM Eastern on CNBC here in the States. Can Bottas take his first ever F1 victory? Or will Hamilton and Vettel resume their duel for supremacy? Can a Red Bull get into the mix and make their claim as a serious contender? Hope to see you then to find out!


2016 F1 Grand Prix of Mexico — Results & aftermath

Hamilton dominates in Mexico for second win on the trot, Rosberg drives spirited race to secure P2; Ricciardo declared P3 after both Verstappen & Vettel demoted

Lewis Hamilton continued to do the only thing he can do to keep his Championship aspirations alive and the heat on his points-leading Mercedes teammate Nico Roseberg: just win, baby. After dominating last weekend in Austin, Texas at the US Grand Prix, Hamilton continued showing untouchable pace in the thin air of Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. Starting from pole, the English contender and current two-time consecutive World Champ seems to have put his chronic starting woes well and truly behind him and blazed off the line cleanly. Despite Hamilton’s locking up and running off course briefly, Rosberg was still unable to match Hamilton’s acceleration, probably because the German was duking it out for positions with the two aggressive Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. But even though Rosberg had every incentive to drive conservatively and perhaps live to fight another day he banged wheels with Verstappen rather than cede second to the precocious Dutchman.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Careening off and then back onto the track ahead of Verstappenan after the contact, it could have been argued that Rosberg gained an unfair advantage but the stewards ruled no action was warranted. So Rosberg’s decision to fight it out paid off and, as it has more than once this season after contact, he managed to escape any significant damage that might have compromised his race. Despite an early Safety Car period that scrambled the contenders’ tire strategies somewhat, the two Mercedes did what they have done 6 times this season: take another dominant 1-2. Hamilton was never really challenged for the victory, his 51st in F1 overall tying Alain Prost for second all-time. And while Rosberg again had to fight off Verstappen again on Lap 49 to secure second, the day still played to Rosberg’s undoubted advantage. With only two contests remaining in 2016 the 31-year-old German leads by 19 points over his bitter rival in the quest for his first Drivers’ Championship. Even if Hamilton takes the final two victories it will require failure from Rosberg or his car to overhaul him. And with the now-impressive combination of skill and determination that Rosberg has more often than not displayed this year, as well as more than a touch of necessary good fortune, it’s hard to see that happening no matter Lewis’ supreme talent.


Despite being the only real challengers to Mercedes dominance in Mexico the day did not quite play out according to script for team Red Bull. Continue reading


2016 F1 Grand Prix of Mexico — Qualifying results

Surging Hamilton grabs another pole, Rosberg salvages P2 in dying seconds of quali; Verstappen fast enough for 3rd on grid

After dominating all race weekend in Austin last week en route to a commanding win, Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton showed yet again that he is not ready to concede the title belt to his teammate, archival and current points leader Nico Rosberg. Displaying his typical grit and determination, Hamilton once again comprehensively out-qulaified the entire F1 field to grab pole in Mexico City and give himself the best possible chance to not only take victory in Sunday’s Mexican GP but also keep his hopes of a third consecutive title alive in the face of dwindling races and odds. The Englishman bested Roseberg for the second weekend in a row and for a while it looked like the German contender might actually be pushed back to the second row in P4. But Rosberg dug deep in the dying seconds of Q3 and vaulted himself over the very competitive Red Bulls and up to P2, albeit a quarter of a second behind the man who has what he desperately wants. But Rosberg knows that if he can just keep finishing on the podium he can run out the clock no matter how many victories Hamilton claims in these last 3 races. In fact, if Rosberg should somehow win tomorrow and Hamilton stumbles to a sub-tenth place finish the Championship will be mathematically decided in the German’s favor.

Despite the Red Bulls looking very pacy at the high altitude, low drag Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez track all weekend long, they ware foiled by Rosberg’s last-second surge. Wunderkind Max Verstappen was still good enough for P3 and his senior teammate Daniel Ricciardo took P4 on the grid. Nico Hulkenberg was surprisingly fast for Force India and turned in a Q3 lap that earned him an impressive P5 for tomorrow’s race, while Kimi Raikkonen out-qualified his more decorated Ferrari teammate, Sebastian Vettel, P6 to P7. However sitting behind a Force India is not exactly where the Scuderia envisioned themselves on race day.  The two Williams managed to hoist themselves into the top 10 starters’ group after looking like dangerously dropping out in Q2 — Valtteri Bottas will start P8 and the retiring veteran Felipe Massa will occupy P9 on the grid. Following a strong P6 finish for the generally underwhelming Toro Rosso chassis at COTA last weekend, Carlos Sainz again showed improving skill and pace in a mediocre car and will start from P10.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Mexican GP:

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:19.447 1:19.137 1:18.704 18
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:19.996 1:19.761 1:18.958 22
3 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:19.874 1:18.972 1:19.054 14
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:19.713 1:19.553 1:19.133 15
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:20.599 1:19.769 1:19.330 22
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:19.554 1:19.936 1:19.376 21
7 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:19.865 1:19.385 1:19.381 17
8 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:20.338 1:19.958 1:19.551 20
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:20.423 1:20.151 1:20.032 19
10 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:20.457 1:20.169 1:20.378 24

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC starting at 3PM Eastern. With an ultra-fast circuit and a rabid fan base down Mexico way it should be a heated contest full of energy and excitement — just the kind of venue that a hard charger like Hamilton enjoys in his quest to come from behind and put the pressure back on Rosberg to defend his title aspirations. Hope to see you then to find out how it all shakes out!


2016 F1 Grand Prix of the United States — Results & aftermath

Hamilton storms to much-needed victory in America, Rosberg limits damage with P2; Ricciardo strong again for Red Bull with 3rd place

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finally had the end to a race weekend he was looking for at a track he absolutely owns. Facing a victory drought dating back to Round 12 in Germany that also saw his championship lead ceded to his teammate and archrival Nico Rosberg over the course of those five winless Grand Prix, Hamilton was peerless in the USGP at the beautiful Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. After setting a blistering pole time on Saturday, Hamilton finally made a good start when the lights went out, avoiding his chronic clutch-bite problems and warding off his nearest challengers, Rosberg and the two chasing Red Bulls, as they all climbed the iconic hill into Turn 1. The Englishman was never seriously challenged for the rest of the race and flew away to an unsurmountable lead free of any pit dramas or mechanical gremlins that might cost him this certain victory. In the end it was a drama-free and flawless run for Hamilton’s 50th Formula 1 victory, which also put him the exclusive 50-win club that heretofore counted only Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91) as members. Even more mind-blowing, it was Hamilton’s astounding 4th victory in five races at COTA and his 5th overall US Grand Prix win in 6 contests dating back to 2012 at Indianapolis. Rarely has driver been so simpatico with a circuit and a country as Hamilton is with COTA and the USA. Truly, racing deep in the heart of Texas was the tonic the Briton needed to get him back on the front foot in his quest to overhaul Rosberg and take his third world title in a row. Hamilton now trails his German teammate by 26 points in the Drivers’ Championship with three races left to be run.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Facing a Hamilton utterly in tune with a track and his car, the day for Nico Rosberg was one of damage limitation. While the current points leader had nothing for his Silver Arrows squad-mate, Rosberg drove a very solid race and avoided problems and contact that might have cost him valuable positions and points. Using matching tire strategies, Mercedes was able to correctly anticipate Red Bull’s plays and match them, using a Virtual Safety Car to quickly pit for fresh rubber and their chassis’ overall superiority to run a very long closing stint on the Medium tires, the hardest compound on offer this weekend. That kept Rosberg safely out of the clutches of Daniel Ricciardo and allowed him to score a valuable P2 that limited Hamilton’s gains and kept Rosberg looking like the favorite for his first-ever title.

Red Bull’s Ricciardo was foiled by that VSC period and must have been doubly flummoxed when he found out it was produced by his teammate Max Verstappen’s on track engine failure on Lap 31. Until then it looked like the smiling Aussie had a decent shot to fight it out with Rosberg for the second step on the podium. But with Mercedes capitalizing to make that quick pit stop and Ricciardo still out circulating at reduced VSC speed Rosberg came out well ahead. Ricciardo would never again have an opportunity to make it close and finished 15 seconds adrift of Rosberg. Still, it was good run for Red Bull’s veteran driver and a solid P3 for the team. Unfortunately, they had to reckon with Verstappen’s DNF and even before that the young phenom had inexplicably pitted without the team calling him in. So the Dutchman’s race would have already been somewhat undone by the time his engine expired, though he almost certainly would have scored points.


Fortunately for Red Bull and their goal of second place in the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari had problems of their own. Looking to capitalize on a strong run at Suzuka two weeks ago, the Scuderia instead scored an own goal when the team botched a pit stop for Kimi Raikkonen and failed to properly tighten a wheel nut. The Finn, who had been running very strong and might even have had something for Ricciardo at the end, instead had to stop at pit out on Lap 38 with a loose right rear wheel, backing in ignominiously to retirement after that unsafe release. That left it to Vettel to fly the flag for the Prancing Horse and the former 4-time World Champ was able to manage his tires well enough to take P4.  But with Verstappen already out of the race on Lap 31 this was a golden opportunity to make up ground on Red Bull with a strong double-points finish and Ferrari frankly flubbed it. With only three more contests remaining in the 2016 season Ferrari now trail Red Bull by a seemingly insurmountable 53 points.

McLaren saw some promising glimmers of hope at COTA despite a mostly dismal and desultory year so far. After being shut out of the points at their engine supplier Honda’s home track at Suzuka two weeks ago, Fernando Alonso showed real pace in Texas and was able to dispatch with some competitive cars and capitalize on retirements to take a hard-earned P5. Better yet, Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clawed his way up from way back in P19 after a frustrating qualifying to come home a remarkable P9. It was only the fourth time this year that both McLarens finished in the points and the strong result gave the team hope that the future could well be brighter than these last two subpar rebuilding years.

Torro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz also got a superb result for both himself and his beleaguered team when he gave a very strong effort to take P6 at the checkered flag. While he was overtaken late by a storming Alonso, Sainz still had to be well pleased at being able to show his quality again on such a big stage and giving the disappointing Toro Rosso team valuable points and a much-needed lift. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa managed to come home P7 in his last USGP but he was the sole Williams to finish in the points, as Valtteri Bottas was undone by a first lap puncture from which he could never recover. The Finn could never really recover and finished a disappointing P16, another poor result for a 2016 campaign that underwhelming Team Williams would like to forget.

Force India’s Sergio Perez was also forced to fly his team’s colors all by his lonesome in the Lone State State, coming home an acceptable P8 after his teammate Nico Hulkenberg was taken out in a Lap 1- Turn 1 melee with Vettel that was also responsible for Bottas’ puncture at the start of the race. The normally steady German has now retired in three consecutive F1 Grand Prix at COTA and has never finished higher than P6 in the US Grand Prix. He’ll be hoping for better things in the USA when he’s driving for the factory Renault team next year. Romain Grosjean took the last points-paying position with P10 in his Haas. It was nice moment for the French driver and his American team, as Haas were able to score in their maiden run at their home GP. It also broke an 8-race scoring drought for the first-year team.

Top 10 finishers in the United States Grand Prix:

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 1:38:12.618 25
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 56 +4.520s 18
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 +19.692s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 56 +43.134s 12
5 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 56 +93.953s 10
6 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 56 +96.124s 8
7 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 6
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 4
9 22 Jenson Button MCLAREN HONDA 55 +1 lap 2
10 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 55 +1 lap 1

Complete race results amiable via Formula1.com.

The next race is but a week away — The Grand Prix of Mexico from the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Hope to see you then to find out if Hamilton can keep up the pressure on Rosberg and keep his championship dream alive for another week!


2015 F1 Grand Prix of Brazil — Results & aftermath

Rosberg makes it two in a row with win in Brazil, Hamilton P2; Vettel earns a familiar P3 for improving Ferrari

Images courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Images courtesy GrandPrix247.com

With the Drivers’ Championship eluding his grasp for the second year in a row, Nico Rosberg’s only remaining mission is to finish out the season with as many race wins as possible in order to gain momentum for another title chase in 2016. With his victory this weekend in the penultimate race at Interlagos in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the German Mercedes driver and Championship runner-up is doing just that. Playing out very much like his win two weeks ago in Mexico, Rosberg started the race from pole and prevented his World Champion teammate and chief tormentor Lewis Hamilton from making a first corner overtaking move. From there, with both Mercedes running the identical race strategy, Hamilton was never able to pass Rosberg on the tight track and Rosberg sailed away to a relatively easy win. One could say that Hamilton no longer has the same manic drive that he displayed prior to clinching his second consecutive title in Austin three races ago. His antics out of his F1 ride would seem to indicate that, as well, with an inexplicable 3 AM collision with parked cars in Monaco last week. And one might also infer that Mercedes is actively trying to boost Rosberg’s fragile confidence after his remarkable unforced error at COTA gifted Hamilton the win and doomed his championship dreams. With Mercedes’ unwillingness to split their race strategy despite Hamilton’s pleas, deciding they would rather cover Ferrari’s 3-stop decision rather than risk Vettel sneaking ahead of one of their men, it might seem as if the team were putting their thumb on the scales in favor of Rosberg. But in truth, Rosberg was quicker these last two Grand Prix and Hamilton has lifted ever so slightly, which is only natural when you’ve got nothing left to prove. And it must feel good for the German to stand on the top step again in back-to-back races even if the bigger contest has been lost. Having finally secured his second place in the Championship over a game Sebastian Vettel with this win, Rosberg will surely be looking to finish out the season with a hat trick in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time, if only to convince himself that he can mount a credible challenge to Hamilton’a dominance come next season.

Ferrari showed the continuing improvement of their F15-T chassis, especially at high downforce circuits like the short, slippery Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Vettel once again was the best of the non-Silver Arrows, re-taking his very familiar P3 after an uncharacteristically poor effort in Mexico. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen managed to avoid any incidents on track with his fellow Finn and new nemesis, Valtteri Bottas, and was able to play the loyal tail gunner to Vettel by coming home a solid P4. Williams’ Bottas, who had clashed with Raikonnen in Mexico for a second time after their tangle in Russia, also managed to keep it clean and bring his car home in P5. That earned enough championship points to secure third in the Constructors’ Championship for Williams Martini Racing, a very impressive result even if their chassis was well short of downforce all season long. Bottas’ teammate Felipe Massa had an awful day, however. After a mediocre qualifying effort saw him starting from eighth on the grid, the native Brazilian finished exactly there but then had his results disqualified due to excessive tire temperatures at the start. All in all, a weekend to forget for the veteran at his home Grand Prix.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg had a great race, on the other hand, out-dueling Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat for 6th place. The talented German has now made it two strong finishes in a row, outscoring teammate Sergio Perez both times and rebounding from bit of a let down after his epic 24 Hours of Le Mans win for Porsche this past summer. Kvyat’s P7 was well ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, however, although the Russian was running the older spec Renault engine while the Aussie was saddled with an “upgraded” version, which forced Ricciardo to start from the back after penalties for that change. The team rolled the dice with an early pit stop for a tire change to the harder compound but it didn’t really work out, especially as the new engine was not actually that powerful, and Ricciardo finished out of the points in P11. Rounding out the top 10, Romain Grosjean had a strong run for Lotus with a P9 (promoted to 8th after Massa’s penalty), Toro Rosso wunderkind Max Verstappen aggressive as usual for a P10 (promoted to P9) and Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado lucky to get the last championship point with a promotion to 10th despite a time penalty for a collision with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

Top 10 finishers in Brazil:


Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

Th final race is two weeks from now, the beautiful day-into-night contest at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. We’ll see if Rosberg’s can continue his momentum or if Hamilton can get his mojo back in the season finale. Hope to see you then!


2015 F1 Grand Prix of Mexico — Qualifying results

Rosberg takes Pole in Mexico with Champion Hamilton second fastest again; Vettel P3 in Quali for Ferrari

If Nico Rosberg could only race as well as he qualifies he might have been the one donning the Championship crown last week in Austin. Instead, to the German’s immense hat-throwing frustration, it was his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who won his second consecutive driver’s title by being the fiercer competitor come race time and shoving past Rosberg for the victory. Rosberg did manage to put a week’s worth of anger and self-pity behind him in Saturday qualifying on the slippery new asphalt surface of the Autodrómo Hermanos Rodríguez by decisively earning  pole at the ultra-fast high altitude circuit, his fourth top spot in a row. Hamilton was once again only good enough for second fastest in quali but the champ will surely be trying to better Rosberg again come race day, as there is nothing that seems to delight the pugnacious British ace more than torturing his teammate and archival.

Sebastian Vettel managed 3rd spot on the grid for Ferrari after his teammate Kimi Raikonnen was forced to retire in Q2 with rear brake issues. Vettel bested the very well-planted Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat (P4) and Daniel Ricciardo (P5). The two Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished 6th and 7th fastest respectively with their decidedly quick chassis really coming into its own as the track rubbered in. After a rare double retirement last weekend in Texas, team Williams really need to get back on form and score good points in tomorrow’s race. Toro Rosso teen sensation Max Verstappen qualified in 8th and the two Force Indias rounded out the Top 10, with native son Sergio Perez pipping his German teammate Nico Hulkenberg for 9th on the grid at his home Grand Prix to the delight of his countrymen in the stands.

Top 10 qualifiers:

1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:20.436 1:20.053 1:19.480 23
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:20.808 1:19.829 1:19.668 22
3 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:20.503 1:20.045 1:19.850 18
4 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:20.826 1:20.490 1:20.398 21
5 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:21.166 1:20.783 1:20.399 23
6 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:20.817 1:20.458 1:20.448 26
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:21.379 1:20.642 1:20.567 26
8 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:20.995 1:20.894 1:20.710 28
9 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:20.966 1:20.669 1:20.716 21
10 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:21.315 1:20.935 1:20.788 20

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race, which marks the return of Mexico to the F1 schedule for the first time in 23 years, airs live on NBC proper here in the States beginning at 2:00 PM Eastern time.  With the thin atmosphere playing havoc with the cars’ downforce levels and boosting top speeds on the straights to over 220mph, not to mention possible rain in the forecast, it’s surely a race that promises a lot of action, excitement and unpredictability. Hope to see you then!


2015 F1 Grand Prix of Japan — Qualifying results

Mercedes returns to dominance in Qualifying at Suzuka: Rosberg P1, Hamilton P2 & Bottas P3 — Kvyat suffers massive shunt in Q3

In Japan, Mercedes power was back on track at high speed Suzuka as expected after their subpar performance last week at the slow, narrow confines of Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit. Not only did the Silver Arrows take first & second in Saturday Qualifying but the Mercedes-powered Williams of Valtteri Bottas grabbed 3rd spot on the grid and his teammate Felipe Massa was able to come home P5. However, it wasn’t Championship leader Lewis Hamilton who took pole for Sunday’s race but rather his desperate teammate, Nico Rosberg. With the races dwindling and his opportunity to catch Hamilton slipping away, the German contender and closest pursuer beat out the Englishman for the fastest time by less than .08 seconds.


Q3 was brought to a premature end when Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat suffered a lurid, barrel roll shunt late in that final qualifying session after clipping the grass at the hairpin and losing control. Despite the frightening looking crash, the 21-year-old Russian exited his destroyed RB11 chassis under his own power. Assuming the team can put a car together for him by tomorrow’s race, Kvyat will now have to start from the pit lane. His Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo had a drama-free session but after his great run in Singapore where the Aussie ace finished second overall Ricciardo could only coax his underpowered Renault-engined car up to P7 on the grid.

Ferrari care back to earth after last week’s delirious double-podium result, with Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel able to split the Williams for a P4 start but Kimi Raikkonen only good enough for the 6th fastest time after finishing 3rd last race. Team Lotus’ talented Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who is rumored to be heading to the Haas F1 team next year for their maiden season, was P8. Rounding out the top 10, Sergio Perez continued his hot second half for Force India with a solid P9.

Top 10 Qualifiers for the Japanese Grand Prix:

1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:33.015 1:32.632 1:32.584 16
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:32.844 1:32.789 1:32.660 15
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:34.326 1:33.416 1:33.024 11
4 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:34.431 1:33.844 1:33.245 11
5 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:34.744 1:33.377 1:33.337 12
6 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:34.171 1:33.361 1:33.347 10
7 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:34.399 1:34.153 1:33.497 17
8 8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN  LOTUS 1:34.398 1:34.278 1:33.967 19
9 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:35.001 1:34.174 16
10 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:34.646 1:34.201 15

Complete Qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race from the Land of the Rising Sun airs live in the States at 1 AM Eastern on NBC Sports Network. With only 5 races to go after Japan, a win by Hamilton would give him a stranglehold on the Championship. But he’ll have to overtake his hard caring teammate Rosberg to make that happen. Hope to see you then as the drama unfolds from Suzuka!


2015 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Results & aftermath

Hamilton marches to victory at Monza for Mercedes; Vettel a joyful 2nd for Ferrari and Williams’ Massa joins the party in P3

After eprecisely the fast getaway he was looking for when the lights went out to start the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the only question left for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes seemed to be whether a minuscule post-race tire pressure measurement could keep them from victory. But the stewards determined that the scant 0.3 psi under the regualtions had been caused by the natural cooling of the tires and not deliberately executed by Mercedes for unfair competitive advantage. And so, after some tense and mysterious moments late in the race with Hamilton’s engineer cryptically telling the Englishman to push for time but not ask questions, which naturally led to speculation that there could be a problem with his new 2016-spec engine, all came good for the Drivers’ Championship leader with yet another dominant victory. Better still for Hamilton, his closest pursuer and teammate, Nico Rosberg, suffered catastrophic engine failure in the waning laps after Mercedes had turned up the wick on his well used 2015-spec power plant in an effort to take the fight to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for P2. So the German contender might be forgiven for thinking that the stars were aligned against him in these last several races, as he now finds himself not just 53 points adrift of Hamilton with only seven races remaining but also under pressure from the hyper-competitive Vettel in his rapidly improving SF15-T chassis. At least Rosberg can console himself with some big picture thinking after becoming a new father to a healthy baby girl between Spa & Monza.

Pix courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pix courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Vettel not only celebrated a new family addition of his own with the recent birth of his second daughter but also a well-earned P2 for Ferrari at the Scuderia’s home circuit. While he never really had anything for Hamilton’s Mercedes, the German former 4-time World Champ was definitely the best of the rest. Even if Rosberg’s engine had not blown Vettel did not look likely to relinquish his precious second step on the podium. But his teammate Kimi Raikkonen had yet another day that must have left the tifosi tearing their hair out and wondering why the veteran Finn was retained by Maranello for next season. Raikonnen became the most high profile victim of the new “no clutch coaching” rules when he bogged down on the grid at the start. He almost proved all the warnings about the danger of that sort of stall, as well, when Rosberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas nearly ran into his backside. But the two pilots showed excellent car control and got away cleanly from the stationary Ferrari. By the time Riakkonen got it in gear the entire field had passed him and he was forced to battle from behind all day long. He did show good mental toughness in recovering from his self-inflicted wound, using aggressive driving and his car’s superior performance, as well as a superlative pit stop by his crew, to re-pass much of the field and take valuable points with a hard-earned P5.


Williams’ Felipe Massa, the Brazilian veteran and longtime Ferrari driver, held off his rapidly closing teammate to capture an emotional P3 at a track he called home for so many years. The hard-charging Bottas finished right behind Massa in 4th place, making it a tremendous points scoring day for Williams. The ultra-fast Monza circuit rewarded their excellent straightline speed while not punishing their usual lack of downforce. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished P6 and P7 respectively for Force India, another fine result for the little team that could, while Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat took P8 and P10 for Red Bull despite starting near the rear after a passel of engine-change grid penalties. Marcus Ericsson of Sauber grabbed a very strong 9th place after after he was also penalized, in his case for impeding Hulkenberg in Saturday qualifying, and dropped to 12th on the grid. The young Swede has quietly put together an excellent second half of the season with points in his last three races and frankly outdriven his more heralded teammate Felipe Nasr.

Aside from Rosberg’s misfortune, the other DNFs in this full course yellow-free Grand Prix were both unlucky Lotuses within the first 4 laps and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, which expired late in the race. Continue reading


2015 F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain — Results & aftermath

With late rain at Slverstone Hamilton times it perfectly to hold off all comers; Rosberg settles for a forlorn 2nd place but Vettel grabs a fortuitous podium

All race weekend the weather at the famed Silverstone circuit had been absolutely perfect with plentiful sun and balmy temperatures. But with 16 laps remaining in the British Grand Prix the skies turned dark and rain began to spatter half of the track in a more typical display of English summer weather. That meant it was judgement time for the pit wall strategists, as well as the contenders for the win at the front of the race. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikonnen was the first to make the call to gamble on Intermediate wet tires on Lap 39 but it proved to be a wager made too soon and the Finn made no ground in mixed conditions. By Lap 43, however, the intensity of the precipitation picked up and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton dove into pits to make the switch after several squirmingly slow laps. By the time he exited after his service, the skies opened up and Hamilton seized the opportunity, building a gap on his teammate Nico Rosberg, who had stayed out on dry tires and only pitted on Lap 45. It all broke right for the Englishman at that moment and the racing gods had smiled on Hamilton once again at his home Grand Prix. In that decisive moment, he had essentially won at Silverstone for the 3rd time, a very exclusive club. And so he marched home to a dominant win amidst the hearty cheers of his countrymen, the beneficiary of good timing and good luck. But then, luck is the residue of design and after blowing a sure win in Monaco it would be hard to argue he wasn’t owed one after all.

Photos courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Photos courtesy GrandPrix247.com

It was hardly Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ usual uncontested victory. Team Williams had a storming start to the race with both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas overtaking Hamilton and Rosberg directly off the starting line. For a while it seemed as if Frank Williams’ legendary British team could hold off mighty Mercedes and pull the upset. But it wasn’t to be. With Bottas looking the faster of their drivers team Williams did not issue any team orders to have Massa cede the lead to his junior teammate and that seemed to enable Mercedes to keep close despite their unusual starting hiccup. So when the first round of stops came, Hamilton was ideally poised to leapfrog both of the Williams with a typically sterling Mercedes stop. And that was exactly how it played out. Hamilton had a blistering out lap and was able to come around ahead of both Massa and Rosberg after they pitted simultaneously a lap later, as well as Bottas a lap after that. Even worse for Williams, when the rains did come they stayed out too long on slicks while Ferrari called in Sebastian Vettel to change to Intermediates. While their early call with Raikonnen didn’t pay off, the call for Vettel did in spades. Suddenly, in a race in which the German’s Prancing Horse had been nowhere, Vettel was able to reel in several positions including his teammate and both Williams to practically steal the last step on the podium with a fortuitous P3. The unlucky guinea pig Raikonnen finished P8.

That left Williams asking what might have been and relegated Massa to P4 and Bottas to P5. They have got to be cursing the unwanted rain. But they may also be second-guessing their strategy calls earlier in the race and whether they should have let the racy Bottas scoot on by Massa and try to build a gap against Mercedes that might have held up amidst all the whether-related chaos. Continue reading