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FernandoAlonsoSpanishF1GPQual-2017

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:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
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!

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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:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
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!

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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.

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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

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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:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
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!

hamilton-f1malaysiagp-2016

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia — Results & aftermath

Red Bull 1-2 in Malaysia — Ricciardo wins & Verstappen places; Hamilton undone by late engine failure, Rosberg fights back for P3

After a string of poor results things finally seemed to be going all Lewis Hamilton’s way this race weekend at the Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur. The Mercedes’ driver was the fastest in two out of three practice sessions and then set a blistering lap for pole in Saturday qualifying. Hamilton even made a clean getaway with no hint of the clutch-bite problems that have plagued his starts recently. Better yet, his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was tagged by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel early in the opening lap, spinning the German points leader and dropping him down through the field. After that Hamilton sped away and controlled the race from the front with only the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen & Daniel Ricciardo giving even token pursuit. He appeared on his way to a sure victory.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

But on Lap 41 Hamilton’s luck ran out. Out of nowhere his nearly new Mercedes engine gave up the ghost, coughing out flame and fluid and bringing his usually impervious Silver Arrow to an abrupt stop. As the Englishman held his head in disbelief, his mechanical misfortune gifted the race lead to the twin Red Bulls, with Ricciardo having assumed the dominant position after a side-by-side dice with his precocious junior teammate, Verstappen. Meanwhile, Rosberg’s chassis had survived not only the opening lap belt by Vettel but also a rash challenge into the side of the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, earning Rosberg a 10-second time penalty for avoidable contact. Nonetheless, through dint of good fortune and persistence, Rosberg not only fought his way through the field lap after lap at this most sweltering of tracks but pushed clear enough of Raikkonen at the death to negate his penalty. In the end, it was Ricciardo’s victory, the affable Aussie’s first in two years, with Verstappen falling in line after the earlier challenges for an obedient P2. Rosberg came home a remarkable and oh-so-valuable P3 after what could only be described as a Hamilton-esque drive back from adversity. Meanwhile, the man himself could only rue his ill fortune and vent his spleen at such a flukey mechanical failure. Hamilton scored zero points with his DNF after looking like a sure winner and saw his deficit to Rosberg balloon to 23 points. With only 5 contests left in 2016, Hamilton’s task is daunting but not impossible. He can only be hoping that the reliability gods switch sides and bite Rosberg next time.

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All credit to Red Bull despite the somewhat gift-like nature of the win. Since about the first quarter of the season the team have made tremendous improvements to the car and bringing Verstappen over from the junior Toro Rosso team now looks like a stroke of genius. Verstappen’s unbridled ferocity and ambition have pushed Ricciardo to up his game and after coming up just short in Singapore two weeks ago, the talented Australian is showing once again why he is so highly regarded in the paddock. The 1-2 in Malaysia was Red Bull’s first in three years, the amazing Vettel-Mark Webber salad days, and the massive points haul put them 46 points up on Ferrari for second in the all-important Constructors’ standings. With a lot of hard work and clever in-season development, as well as wringing ever more power out of the much-maligned Renault engine, it is Red Bull that have put themselves firmly in position to capitalize on days when things go wrong for Mercedes.

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And that has been at the expense of Ferrari. It was another disastrous day for the Scuderia and another early lap exit for their putative team leader Vettel, as the damage on the front suspension after his first lap clout into Rosberg was instantly terminal. That left it once again in the hands of Raikkonen to fly the colors for Ferrari and the veteran Finn did the best he could to come home P4. Ever since he re-signed with the team, Raikkonen has driven steadily and with poise, salvaging good points and keeping the car out of trouble while his much vaunted teammate has frankly had an erratic campaign. Perhaps the pressure from Maranello has gotten into Vettel’s head somewhat because he has not always been the icy cold killer that he was when he was winning four consecutive titles. On the contrary, the German has often been impetuous and sometimes unlucky, getting caught up in shunts on track that are sometimes his fault and sometimes not. It all points to overdriving a car that has not developed as Ferrari had hoped and has waned as Red Bull has waxed ascendent. While Raikkonen seems to drive within himself, fighting when necessary but bringing the car home safely and in the points, Vettel seems to be trying to manufacture performance from the SF16-H that simply isn’t there. At this late date in the season Ferrari just look like the third best team in F1 and sometimes one has to accept the results. Obviously the team will keep fighting until the end but there’s a fine line between valiant and desperate and Vettel appears to be on the wrong side of that line all too often this year.

Williams got a decent and much-needed result when Valtteri Bottas drove very well to take P5. But after being shutout in Singapore all was still not terrific for the team. Felipe Massa had a disastrous day when his car wouldn’t fire on the reconnaissance lap and then suffered further misfortune after starting from the pits with an early puncture. Needless to say Massa did not finish in the points so Williams’ disappointing season continues. On the flip side, Force India continued to impress with Sergio Perez coming home P6 and Nico Hulkenberg P8, a strong points haul that kept the little team just ahead of mighty Williams for fourth in the Constructors’. Adding further cause for optimism, Force India announced that it had re-signed Sergio Perez for next year, adding welcome stability to the team by holding on to the talented Mexican driver alongside the very good German ace Hulkenberg for much-needed consistency in their driver line-up.

McLaren also had an encouraging day with Fernando Alonso good enough for P7 and Jenson Button finishing P9 in his 300th Fomrula 1 start. That puts Button third all-time amongst divers and sets the Honda-powered team up nicely for next weekend in Japan at the Honda-owned Suzuka circuit. You know McLaren will be wanting a strong showing there at their engine suppliers’ home court, as will Button at what looks to be his final Japanese GP. And after an up and down weekend Jolyon Palmer had a wonderful end to it all with a surprise P10 for beleaguered team Renault. Utilizing a bold one-stop strategy, Palmer drove beautifully, managing his tires until the end and taking the last points-paying position. After suffering a fuel fire on the sister car in Friday practice the team did yeoman’s work to get that Kevin Magnusson chassis ready for quali. And while Magnusson did not finish on Sunday, Palmer’s point seems a just reward for the entirety of the Renault team’s hard efforts this weekend, so kudos to them.

Top 10 finishers in Malaysia:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 1:37:12.776 25
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 +2.443s 18
3 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 56 +25.516s 15
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 56 +28.785s 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 56 +61.582s 10
6 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 56 +63.794s 8
7 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 56 +65.205s 6
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 56 +74.062s 4
9 22 Jenson Button MCLAREN HONDA 56 +81.816s 2
10 30 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT 56 +95.466s 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

The next race is but a week away from the storied Suzuka course in Japan. Can Hamilton get back on track and cut Rosberg’s lead back down to a manageable size? Will Red Bull continue to thrive on Mercedes’ misfortune? Hope to see you then to find out!

F1GPItaly-2016

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Results & aftermath

Hamilton stumbles at start, Rosberg pounces; Vettel soothes Ferrari pride with P3 at Monza

As closely matched as the two Mercedes teammates and archrivals are this year, it only takes a small error for one to emerge victorious over the other. So it was on Sunday in Italy when Lewis Hamilton fumbled his Monza pole start in a style reminiscent of his early season clutch-bite problems, allowing himself to be swallowed up by the front part of the field. In an instant the championship points leader had fallen back to P6, a nightmare for the Englishman but a dream come true for Mercedes’ teammate Nico Rosberg. Unlike Hamilton, Rosberg made the perfect getaway and was able to fight off the two pursuing Ferraris on the opening lap, immediately pulling out a gap on the Prancing Horses and the rest of the field that he would never truly relinquish. In the end, Rosberg drove a perfect race and sailed to victory by a whopping 15 seconds, his first-ever victory at historic Autodromo Nazionale Monza, on a day when everything broke his way. That made it his second victory in a row after last week’s promenade at Spa and gave the German contender renewed momentum is his desperate quest for his first F1 title. After ceding the points lead during Hamilton’s remarkable July onslaught, Rosberg has won the first two tilts after the summer break to cut the deficit to a mere 2 points with 7 Grand Prix remaining. In this back-and-forth season, the pendulum of luck appears to have swung back his way yet again.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

After his remarkable back-of the-pack to P3 finish last week at Spa, Hamilton could have been forgiven for thinking that he had all the luck firmly on his side, as well as perhaps fatally damaging Rosberg’s confidence with that miracle run in Belgium. But with one pivotal moment of wheel spin as the lights went out, he conceded all that momentum back to his closest competitor in a season when, once again, Mercedes are the class of the field by far. Despite Hamilton’s bobble the team stuck with their 1-stop tire strategy for him, enabling Hamilton to jump the Ferraris and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and come home a well-deserved P2, at least minimizing the self-inflicted damage. Still, Hamilton had to have been rueing what might have been and the missed opportunity to keep Rosberg down. Instead it looks to be game on between these two rivals until the bitter end and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it all come down to the final contest in Abu Dhabi.

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Ferrari had a classic damage-limitation day in front of their rabid home fans, the always enthusiastic tifosi. Faced with the inescapable fact that they are nowhere near as fast as the Silver Arrows especially on a high-speed circuit like Monza, the storied team from Maranello deployed a somewhat risky 2-stop tire strategy. But their drivers were able to execute it perfectly to at least keep Red Bull in their place and reestablish themselves in the battle for second place Constructors’ points. Team leader Sebastian Vettel took the last podium spot with a decent P3 while Kimi Raikkonen set a number of fast laps on his way to P4. All in all, it was realistically about as well as the Scuderia could have expected to do when faced by the outright pace of the Mercedes while competing at their notoriously speedy home track.

For Red Bull the day was a bit of a reality check, as they too saw the limits of their power plant on this brutally fast circuit. Daniel Ricciardo drove an excellent race within those limitations to take P5, while wunderkind Max Verstappen made a poor getaway and had to fight his way back into the points. In the end he was able to recover somewhat to come home P7 in a rather subdued race for the Dutch teenager a week after he received loads of criticism for his borderline reckless driving at Spa. But look for Red Bull to bounce back next week on the very tight and twisty street circuit in Singapore where their RB12 chassis should shine… if Verstappen can keep it out of the walls. Valtteri Bottas scored valuable points for Williams with a hard-fought P6 while his teammate Felipe Massa, who announced this week that he is retiring at the end of the season, came home further back in P9. The two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished P8 and P10 respectively, a valuable haul for the little team on a day when they made the most of what they had and kept the McLarens and Haas duo behind them and out of the points.

Top 10 finishers in the Italian GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 53 1:17:28.089 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 53 +15.070s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 53 +20.990s 15
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 53 +27.561s 12
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 53 +45.295s 10
6 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 53 +51.015s 8
7 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 53 +54.236s 6
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 53 +64.954s 4
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 53 +65.617s 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 53 +78.656s 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

Italy marked the last of the European races this year. The next race is at the always exciting and visually stunning Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks time. Hope to see you then under the dazzling lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit!

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of Italy — Qualifying results

Mercedes lockout front row at Monza as Hamilton scores dominant pole, Rosberg P2; Vettel saves Ferrari’s honor with P3 in front of home crowd

The Mercedes Silver Arrows showed their true from at the ultra-fast Monza Autodromo in Italy during Saturday qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton laying down a scorching lap for pole, besting his teammate Nico Rosberg, who qualified P2, by half a second. It was Hamilton’s record-tying fifth pole at Monza, leveling him with F1 legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna. After Hamilton’s miracle P3 finish last week at Spa when he carved his way through the field after starting at the back of the pack his pole once again laid down a marker for excellence and sent a clear message of dominance to his teammate and archival. Rosberg is going to have to take the belt from the champ and Hamilton, still leading in the points, ain’t giving it up without a serious fight.

Ferrari was the best of the rest of the teams, with Sebastian Vettel grabbing P3 and bettering his hot teammate Kimi Raikkonen’s P4. The pressure is really on at Ferrari in front of their home fans and in the midst of a disappointing season but it seems unlikely that the Prancing Horses have anything for Mercedes unless the two Silver Arrows teammates once again come to blows.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas put his Mercedes power to good use to take an impressive P5 on the grid, while the Red Bulls showed their Achilles’ heel, the lack of pure pace at a speedy track like this one, with Daniel Ricciardo only good enough for P6 and Max Verstappen at P7. No doubt, though, the always well-prepared Red Bull team will have some strategic tricks up their sleeves to try to move their men up come race day. Force India continued their recent excellent form with Sergio Perez good enough for P8 and Nico Hulkenberg taking P9. Esteban Gutierrez had an terrific P10 fast lap for first year American Team Hass on the debut of their new rear wing, a very impressive result that saw him out-qualify not only his more experienced teammate Romain Grosjean but also both McLarens and the Williams of Felipe Massa.

And speaking of those latter two teams, both Massa and McLaren’s Jenson Button announced that they would retire from F1 at the end of the 2016 season. The two veteran stalwarts will be sorely missed but a new generation will be racing to take their spots. So it goes in Formula 1 just as in life!

Top 10 qualifiers for the Italian Grand Prix.

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:21.854 1:21.498 1:21.135 16
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:22.497 1:21.809 1:21.613 15
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:23.077 1:22.275 1:21.972 13
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:23.217 1:22.568 1:22.065 15
5 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:23.264 1:22.499 1:22.388 12
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:23.158 1:22.638 1:22.389 17
7 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:23.229 1:22.857 1:22.411 15
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:23.439 1:22.922 1:22.814 15
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:23.259 1:22.951 1:22.836 18
10 21 Esteban Gutierrez  HAAS FERRARI 1:23.386 1:22.856 1:23.184 21

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports Network here in the States beginning at 8:00 AM Eastern. Hope to see you then to how it all shakes out at the always thrilling cathedral of speed, Monza!

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Results & aftermath

Rosberg reigns supreme in Russia to continue undefeated 2016 start; Hamilton battles back for 2nd; Raikkonen salvages 3rd for Ferrari after Vettel knocked out in first-lap crash

Nico Rosberg continued a flawless start to his 2016 Formula 1 season with his fourth consecutive victory in four races. The Mercedes driver and championship points leader started from pole in Russia and sped away as the lights went out, never to be touched by the chaos that unfolded behind him. No one could challenge his lead the rest of the race and he solidified his status as this year’s driver to beat. Not coincidental to the supremely confident start to his season, Rosberg’s win in Sochi was his seventh victory overall dating to last season, making him only the fourth driver in F1 history to achieve such a feat. The German contender, who is seeking his first-ever Drivers’ title, now has a daunting 43-point lead over his closest pursuer, teammate and archival Lewis Hamilton.

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

But Hamilton managed a gritty drive of his own after engine troubles in qualifying relegated him to P10 on the starting grid. The current consecutive World Champ clawed his way through the field, exhibiting just enough patience to leaven his usual aggression and fight toward the front, finishing and impressive P2. Again, however, there were some problems with Hamilton’s engine even amidst his impressive comeback run and he was forced to back off his pursuit of Rosberg with a water pressure issue. If Hamilton can get any luck going his way it’s clear that he is still a match for anyone on track, including his teammate. But with as well as Rosberg is driving and how fortune seems to have turned its favor upon him, Hamilton needs for his team to quickly bulletproof his Silver Arrow if he is to pose any real threat going forward and contend for victories on even footing.

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Ferrari had yet another frustrating, topsy-turvy day. Their ace, Sebastian Vettel, who qualified P2, received a 5-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change, meaning he had to start back in P7. And being pushed into the midfield cost Vettel dearly when the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat punted his Ferrari from behind not once but twice as they made their way through the opening corners. Continue reading

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Qualifying results

Mercedes yin-yang: Rosberg’s charmed start continues with pole while Hamilton again hobbled by engine trouble; Ferrari’s Vettel qualifies P2 but dropped down 5-spots due to gearbox change; Williams’ Bottas impresses with speedy P3

The luck that seemed to cover Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton like a cloak on his way to two consecutive championships seems to have transferred entirely to his teammate and arch-rival Nico Rosberg in 2016. Thus far, Rosberg has had the charmed season with three straight victories to open his campaign, while Hamilton has been plagued by mechanical gremlins that have cost him valuable points. That dynamic continued in Saturday qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix from the gorgeous seaside Sochi Autodrom, with Rosberg grabbing pole by a large margin over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton having deja vu all over again with the same power plant problem that doomed him at the last race in China. In this case the issue arose after Hamilton had made it into Q3 so he will provisionally start from P10 on the grid. However, it remains to be seen if he will incur any additional engine change penalties that will push him further back (he was reprimanded for cutting a bollard in qualifying but received no further punishment for that). Either way, it will have to be another race of slicing and dicing for the reigning world champ, which he did beautifully in China to salvage a P7 finish after starting from dead last. Sochi, however, is not as optimal a passing track as Shanghai and also sees much less tire deg so don’t expect another crazy 5-stopper. Though Hamilton will surely give his best effort to claw his way to the front, it’s Rosberg who is clearly sitting in the catbird seat for Sunday.

Definitely facing a 5-spot penalty for changing a gearbox before quali, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified P2 but will start from P7. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen posted the 4th fastest time and will start P3 after Vettel’s demotion and everyone above the German Ferrari driver also moves up a spot. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas had the team’s best qualifying effort this season after downforce upgrades on the car with a solid P3, so he’ll start P2, while his teammate Felipe Massa managed the 5th fastest lap and will start P4. Daniel Ricciardo of team Red Bull was quick enough for P6 and will start from 5th on the grid and Force India’s Sergio Perez was able to put in an excellent flyer for P7 and will start from 6th. That split the Red Bulls and leaves Russian-born Daniil Kvyat starting in P8 behind Vettel at his home Grand Prix. Rounding out the Top 10, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen starts from P9.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Russian Grand Prix:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:36.119 1:35.337 1:35.417 16
2 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL*  FERRARI 1:36.555 1:36.623 1:36.123 16
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:37.746 1:37.140 1:36.536 17
4 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:36.976 1:36.741 1:36.663 17
5 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:37.753 1:37.230 1:37.016 16
6 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:38.091 1:37.569 1:37.125 22
7 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:38.006 1:37.282 1:37.212 20
8 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:38.265 1:37.606 1:37.459 22
9 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:38.123 1:37.510 1:37.583 20
10 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:36.006 1:35.820 13

*Vettel will start P7 after 5-spot grid penalty for gearbox change.

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports at the civilized hour of 8AM Eastern. Should make for some very entertaining and picturesque Sunday breakfast viewing.

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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:

POS. DRIVER COUNTRY TEAM TIME POINTS
1 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES 1:31:09.090 25
2 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES +7.756s 18
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI +14.244s 15
4 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FIN FERRARI +47.543s 12
5 VALTTERI  BOTTAS FIN WILLIAMS +1 lap 10
6 NICO HULKENBERG GER FORCE INDIA +1 lap 8
7 DANIIL KVYAT RUS RED BULL RACING +1 lap 6
EX FELIPE MASSA BRA WILLIAMS +1 lap 0
8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN FRA LOTUS +1 lap 4
9 MAX VERSTAPPEN NED TORO ROSSO +1 lap 2
10 PASTOR MALDONADO VEN LOTUS +1 lap 1

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!