Tag Archives: Williams

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!

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Germany — Results & aftermath

Hamilton lays down the hammer in Hockenheim, Rosberg relegated to 4th by mistakes; Ricciardo & Verstappen P2 & P3 for ascendent Red Bull

Nico Rosberg desperately needed everything to go right for him at his home Grand Prix in Germany to stanch the hemorrhaging of his once-dominant tally of championship points. Instead the Mercedes driver frittered away a hard-fought pole position with a dreadful start off the line as the lights went out, muffing his clutch bite point and bogging down. He was then overtaken not only by his hard-charging teammate and archrival Lewis Hamilton but also by the two surging Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Once again on the back foot, the would-be contender compounded his difficulties by obviously pushing Vertsappen off track on Lap 29 while attempting to claw back a position and the stewards handed down a 5-second stop-and-hold penalty. With an extra-conservative Mercedes team seeming to hold Rosberg even longer than the penalty demanded, the German’s race was effectively destroyed and he was unable to drag himself any higher than fourth for the rest of the 67-lap race. Despite threatening skies towards the end, no rain fell to shake things up and give Rosberg a chance at redemption. The German will no doubt be mulling over this poor performance — the latest in a recent sequence of disappointments since an aberrant win in Baku — for the entirety of the long upcoming August break.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

For Hamilton, his results and momentum have been the complete opposite, as the English defending World Champ swanned away from the rest of the field in Germany after his excellent getaway and stayed ahead for the rest of the race. In truth the Red Bulls had nothing for Lewis and with his teammate self-destructing behind him, Hamilton was free to fly home for the victory, his fourth win in a row and remarkable sixth victory in the last seven contests. Ever since the two Mercedes took each other out in mid-May in Spain, another incident where the majority of commentators put the blame on Rosberg, Hamilton has seemed to grow in determination while Rosberg has seemed to crumble under the pressure. When push came to shove earlier this month in Austria and the two Silver Arrows came together again in the dying laps it was Rosberg who came off second best in an attempted blocking move trying to hold on to to a win but instead losing a sure podium while Hamilton sailed away unscathed to the victory. And while early in the season Hamilton suffered mightily with his starts now it is Rosberg who seems to have the yips when the lights go out. Continue reading

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Canada — Results & aftermath

Hamilton roars back into contention with win in Canada, Rosberg struggles; Vettel a game P2 for Ferrari; Bottas brilliant for Williams in P3

Lewis Hamilton notched a superb win in the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday and it’s now well and truly game on in the Drivers’ Championship. Despite being jumped at the start by the flashing Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, the Mercedes pole-sitter was able to recover from a scuffle with his teammate Nico Rosberg to methodically hunt down Vettel’s blood-red car. And when the Scuderia made the questionable call to pit under a virtual safety car early in the race on Lap 13 and change to the non-mandatory Super Soft tires, Hamilton stayed out and nursed his Ultra-Softs in the cool conditions at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, just as he had babied his Intermediate wet tires in Monte Carlo until the weather cleared. This enabled Hamilton to make it a 1-stop race when he eventually came in for the mandatory Soft Perreli tires and to gain the critical advantage over Vettel on pit strategy. Hamilton then took the race lead on Lap 37 when Vettel made his second stop for the mandatory Softs. And it was a lead that Hamilton would never relinquish no matter how hard Vettel pushed him and let many wondering whether Ferrari had made the right call in pitting from the lead for a 2-stopper. For Mercedes there was no doubt that they had played it perfectly, resulting in Hamilton’s remarkable fifth career victory in Canada. The win also set the Englishman up for another championship run, as he pulled within 9 points of his Mercedes teammate and current points leader, Nico Rosberg.

Pix couretsy GrandPrix247.com

Pix couretsy GrandPrix247.com

For Rosberg the race was another challenge to his sometimes fragile confidence. He came off a decided second best when Hamilton bashed him off the track as they both pursued Vettel into turn one on the opening lap. Not only did he lose a passel of positions trying to rejoin the race but Rosberg’s Silver Arrow seemed to be down on pace after that incident. It wasn’t until late in the race when he was relentlessly harassing Red Bull’s precocious Max Verstappen that he seemed to find the fire again. But when he overcooked it on the final lap while attempting to pass on aging tires and spun, Rosberg’s fate was sealed with a P5. After winning the first four races of the year in dominant fashion, Rosberg has now scored a grand total of 16 points in the last three contests while his archival Hamilton has scored 50 with two consecutive wins. Of course, the Mercedes drivers took each other out in Spain and one wonders if Rosberg has been effected by that contretemps when many observers pointed the finger of blame at him for that double DNF. One thing is for certain: if the German contender wants to break through for his first F1 Championship and overcome his Mercedes teammate’s supreme confidence and form he is going to need to be mentally tougher when things go poorly for him. Otherwise it looks a lot like he is a very good driver who is prone to wilting when the pressure really ramps up, the kind of pilot who wins races but is never consistent enough to claim the Drivers’ title.

Williams had its best finish of the year when Valtteri Bottas was able to convert his seventh-place start on the grid into a P3 podium finish, also benefitting from running a 1-stop tire strategy. The fast park circuit on Ile Notre-Dame suited the Mercedes-powered Williams much more than the tight confines of Monaco, as did the cooler temps, and Bottas was able to drive both hard and smartly to take his first podium since Mexico last year. But the news wasn’t all good for Williams, as Felipe Massa was forced to retire on Lap 37, the first time this season the little Brazilian has not scored points. Verstappen was able to hold on to P4 after his titanic tilt with Rosberg, making his Red Bull very wide to keep the Mercedes man behind. But teammate Daniel Ricciardo was once again bedeviled by poor pit work, even if it wan’t quite as egregious as the tire-less stop in Monaco that cost him the race. After a overlong stop on Lap 39, Ricciardo was shuffled back and could only manage a P7. In truth, it seemed like Red Bull had lost a step to Ferrari, which showed greater straight line speed all weekend long, so they will probably have to wait for twistier tracks to take advantage of the superior downforce of their RB12 chassis and compete for podiums again.

Kimi Raikkonen never seemed to find the pace his Ferrari teammate unlocked in the SF16-H and finished a desultory P6, though one wonders if he might have fared better had Ferrari split their tire strategy rather than running duplicate 2-stoppers for both drivers. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg made it two good points finishes in a row with a solid P8, while his teammate Sergio Perez took 10th for the game little team. And Carlos Sainz recovered from a big crash in qualifying to put in a tremendous drive and take P9 in his Toro Rosso after starting from way back in 20th, an impressive effort for the young Spaniard.

Top 10 finishers in Canada:

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 70 1:31:05.296 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 70 +5.011s 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 70 +46.422s 15
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 70 +53.020s 12
5 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 70 +62.093s 10
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 70 +63.017s 8
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 70 +63.634s 6
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 69 +1 lap 4
9 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 69 +1 lap 2
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 69 +1 lap 1

Complete race results available at Formula1.com.

The teams have but one week to prepare for the European Grand Prix from the debutante city Baku, Azerbaijan a mere 8,000 miles away from Montreal. Hope to see you then to find out if Hamilton can keep on surging, Rosberg can stop the bleeding or Ferrari can break through for a victory!

2015 F1 Grand Prix of The United States — Qualifying results

Rosberg ends up on top in Austin after delayed & truncated qualifying, Hamilton P2; Ricciardo snags 3rd in the wet

With the eastern edge of Hurricane Patricia dumping rain on the Circuit of the Americas at a record clip, Formula 1 found itself in the unusual position of postponing the traditional Saturday Qualifying until race day morning on Sunday. And while the rains never stopped they did let up enough to get in two sessions of the scheduled three knockout rounds of qualifying to determine the grid for the United States Grand Prix, which is to be run at 2:30 Central/3:30 Eastern today. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg managed the best lap in treacherous conditions at the wonderful new track in Austin, Texas, just pipping his Championship-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton for the pole by a tenth of a second. With Hamilton all but fitted for this year’s title crown, however, and the weather supposed to be gradually improving as we count down to the race, it’s not at all certain that Rosberg’s accomplishment will really mean anything significant in the big picture.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was also excellent under the persistent threat of aquaplaning and managed the 3rd fastest time while his teammate Daniil Kvyat took P4. Force India’s Sergio Perez was an impressive P5 and teammate Nico Hulkenberg solid at P6. Felipe Massa pulled himself up to P7 late in the going, with teammate Valtteri Bottas a distant P10, and rookie Max Verstappen was P8 for Toro Rosso while Fernando Alonso drove superbly in his woeful McLaren to grab P9. The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are facing 10 grid-spot penalties for engine changes and will start P14 and P18 respectively, greatly improving Hamilton’s chances of clinching his second consecutive title this weekend. Vettel is his nearest if still distant pursuer and starting so far back really hurts the German’s chances of scoring enough points to keep his hopes alive for the next race in Mexico.

If anyone doubts that Formula 1 drivers are the best in the world they have only to look at the remarkable footage of them manhandling their machines in the deluge at COTA to make them a convert. It was truly one of the more amazing performances by a group of drivers that I’ve ever witnessed. Here’s wishing them less treacherous conditions for the race!

Top 10 Qualifiers at COTA:

1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:56.671 1:56.824 16
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:56.871 1:56.929 14
3 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:56.495 1:57.969 16
4 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:57.640 1:58.434 16
5 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:59.284 1:59.210 16
6 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:58.325 1:59.333 16
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 2:00.902 1:59.999 17
8 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:58.689 2:00.199 17
9 14 FERNANDO ALONSO  MCLAREN 1:59.704 2:00.265 16
10 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:59.569 2:00.334 16

Complete Qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

The teams and drivers will really have to turn it around quickly as the race begins in just about an hour. It can be seen live on NBC here in the states.

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Belgium — Qualifying results

The summer break is over and it’s time to get back to racing in Formula 1. And where better to resume the season than the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit? Today was the first time in nearly a month to see who had the speed and who would take pole for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix. And the answer, much as it has been in the last 6 races, is…

Mercedes’ Hamilton picks up where he left off with 6th straight Pole, Rosberg 2nd fastest; Bottas boosts Williams with P3 in Qualifying

Photos courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Photos via GrandPrix247.com

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the current Drivers’ Championship leader, came back from the summer break and his slow-paced Caribbean vacation just as fast as ever. In typical fashion, the Englishman wrung every ounce of performance out of his car at mythic Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday to grab his 6th consecutive pole position. That made it an astonishing 10 poles for Hamilton in 11 races so far in 2015. Possessing the fastest chassis by far and the fastest driver, the Mercedes factory team has now clinched pole in every race this season. Hamilton’s teammate and closest championship pursuer, German Nico Rosberg, was perhaps running slightly more downforce after his harrowing blown-tire shunt in Friday practice and took P2 to lock out the front row for the Silver Arrows yet again.

Williams got a nice lift after a string of lackluster pre-break results when young Finn Valtteri Bottas was able to secure P3 on the grid. It was a very good effort from Bottas, who surely must have been smarting after learning the news that Ferrari had re-signed the enigmatic and erratic Kimi Raikkonen through next year’s season despite all speculation to the contrary. Bottas’ Williams teammate, former Ferrari hand Felipe Massa, was not as quick in the same machinery and could muster no better than the 7th best time of the day. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean had a remarkably good performance to come home P4 for the troubled team, easily the surprise of the session. However, the Frenchman will still have to serve a 5-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change on Friday. His teammate, the much-maligned Pastor Maldonado, was also unusually strong with the eighth fastest time in Q3. Also stepping up his game was Force India’s Sergio Perez who grabbed an impressive 5th spot on the grid and really seemed to get the most out of his car on this tricky, high speed course.

At the other end of the spectrum Red Bull and Ferrari must have been extremely disappointed, with both teams getting only one car through to the final shootout in Q3. Daniel Ricciardo took P6 but his teammate Daniil Kvyat was bounced out in Q2 and will start P12 after finishing runner up in the last race at the Hungaroring. It was arguably even worse for Ferrari, with their race winner in Hungary, Sebastian Vettel, unable to do better than a P9 start at Spa and the star-crossed Raikonnen suffering what sounded like terminal transmission failure in Q2. The Finnish veteran, who was retained by Ferrari for next year despite all the prevailing omens, will have to fight his way up from 14th on the grid. 20-year-old Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz grabbed the last spot in the top 10, outdoing his 17-year-old teammate, Max Verstappen (P15), who didn’t really push his car after some drive issues in Q2 because he will face a large grid penalty for engine changes anyway.

Top 10 Qualifiers for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix:

1 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:48.908 1:48.024 1:47.197 16
2 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:48.923 1:47.955 1:47.655 17
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:49.026 1:49.044 1:48.537 19
4 8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN  LOTUS 1:49.353 1:48.981 1:48.561 17
5 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:49.006 1:48.792 1:48.599 16
6 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:49.664 1:49.042 1:48.639 17
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:49.688 1:48.806 1:48.685 15
8 13 PASTOR MALDONADO  LOTUS 1:49.568 1:48.956 1:48.754 17
9 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:49.264 1:48.761 1:48.825 17
10 55 CARLOS SAINZ  TORO ROSSO 1:49.109 1:49.065 1:49.771 1

Complete Qualifying results via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix will also see the debut of a refinement to the starting rules by banning team communication to the drivers as regards clutch bite point and other on-the-fly adjustments durning the warm up laps. That assumed lack of precision could make for a tricky and possibly dangerous start, as the drivers will have to figure out the perfect bite point themselves, which could lead to a stalled car in front of others rocketing forward or just a lurching start in general. Hopefully, despite the good intention of returning more control of the racing to the drivers, the FIA hasn’t gone two steps back on safety.

Tune in tomorrow to see how that tricky start shakes out and whether Mercedes can get back to dominating races the way they’ve dominated qualifying throughout the year. Who knows, maybe a wild card like Force India’s Sergio Perez will finally pull off a major upset on a track that seems to suit him? Find out how it all goes down live on NBC Sports Network here in the states starting at 8AM Eastern. Hope to see you then!

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Austria — Results & aftermath

Rosberg shows toughness and grit with commanding win in Austria, Hamilton 2nd for Mercedes; Williams’ Massa a hard-fought P3

The question in Austria after Saturday’s bizarre Qualifying that saw first Lewis Hamilton spin and then Nico Rosberg gift back the Pole with a spin of his own was whether Rosberg could overcome that error and fight his teammate for the win on Sunday. From the very start of the race Rosberg put that line of query to bed by forcefully grabbing the lead from Hamilton, charging by his English rival into turn one of the Red Bull Ring. After a hairy crash later on that first lap that took out Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and the McLaren of Fernado Alonso and resulted in a Safety Car for several laps (both drivers were thankfully uninjured), Rosberg re-seized the initiative upon the restart, blasting ahead on this track that seems to suit him and building a lead he would not relinquish. Hamilton was also hurt by his own mental error when he crossed the blend line coming out of the pits on Lap 36. Not only did he emerge behind Rosberg but the stewards assessed a 5-second time penalty on the English Championship leader, essentially dooming his chances of victory midway through the race. With the win, Rosberg closed the gap to Hamilton to a mere 10 championship points and perhaps proved that he is not quite as mentally fragile as he has appeared in the past.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

The usual Mercedes dominance left the fight for the last podium position down to the resurgent Williams of Felipe Massa and the very competitive Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Continue reading