Sunday, 2 November 2014

United States Grand Prix: Sebastian flies in Texas!

The first corner of the race surprised me, because I expected drama. In fact, privately, I had predicted that Hamilton and Rosberg wouldn't get through the first hairpin, without making contact. Actually, the first few corners were extremely tidy, for everyone. Then all hell broke loose. Perez ran deep in to one of the corners, colliding with the back end of Kimi Raikonnen's Ferrari, and then spinning Adrian Sutil's Sauber around, spreading debris across the circuit. It was very unfortunate for Sutil, who had been so successful in Saturday's qualifying, and led to a lengthy safety car period. It was during this safety car period that Vettel and Red Bull made the decision that resulted in a decent turn around for the German reigning World Champion.

Vettel had been forced to start from the pit lane, due to the fact that he had needed an engine change. As the safety car came out, for the recovery of Sutil's Sauber, Vettel proceeded to make two pitstops, to cover both of his tyre stints, leaving him with an opportunity to go to the end of the race on virtually one set of tyres. Unfortunately, that feat wasn't quite possible, but the decision did give him the chance to have a run at a decent points paying position. On lap forty-nine he was forced to pit one final time, dropping him down to fourteenth, but he fought, with tenacity, back up to seventh place.

It is for this determination that Sebastian Vettel achieves Driver of the Day. He had a couple of opportunities to retire from the Grand Prix, as he reported his lack of pace and his struggle for grip, over the team radio. However, he continued to fight and it paid off in the end. There were some fantastic battles, at different stages of the race. At one point Button and Alonso were trading places, whilst Ricciardo managed to out-pace the two Williams drivers, despite the usual gulf in speed between the teams. Overall, however, the race didn't feature much incident.

The United States Grand Prix wasn't the most action-packed of the season, but it certainly made for an exciting spectacle. The result, at the front, was as predictable as always, with the two Mercedes drivers having very tidy races. That, in itself, was frustrating since we expected to see some action, some contact and maybe even a little foul play. However, Lewis and Nico were extremely civil and boringly responsible. Hopefully we'll see some fireworks in the penultimate race of the season, as both drivers close in on their last chance to take the title.

The Result:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes561:40:04.785225
26Nico RosbergMercedes56+4.3 secs118
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault56+25.5 secs515
419Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes56+26.9 secs412
577Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes56+30.9 secs310
614Fernando AlonsoFerrari56+95.2 secs68
71Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault56+95.7 secs186
820Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes56+100.68 secs74
925Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault56+103.86 secs142
1013Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault56+107.87 secs101
118Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault55+1 Lap16
1222Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes55+1 Lap12
137Kimi RäikkönenFerrari55+1 Lap8
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari55+1 Lap15
1526Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault55+1 Lap17
Ret27Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes16Engine13
Ret11Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1Accident damage11
Ret99Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari0Accident9

Saturday, 1 November 2014

United States Qualifying: So many let downs...

Formula One shot itself in the foot, once again, before the weekend even got underway. The first big news was that the underdogs, albeit very popular teams, Marussia and Caterham would not be taking part in Texas. Very simply put, the inequality in Formula One has pushed two of the teams out of the Championship, leaving only eighteen cars on the grid. Also, it's difficult to take a sport seriously, that, through regulations and imposed penalties, allows its reigning World Champion to be forced to start the race from the pit lane, before the qualifying session has even got underway. The mind boggles!

The biggest news of the session, in my opinion, was Sutil's fantastic performance for the struggling Sauber team. The team have had an absolutely dire season, but this was a small piece of success, which was received with clear enthusiasm and elation. It was only tenth place, but the achievement of actually making it in to the top ten shootout will be a great boost for the team.

The rest of the session was just as tedious as most of the other qualifying sessions. Pole and second place were taken by the usual suspects, although interestingly Nico Rosberg is taking the fight to Lewis Hamilton, by bagging the top spot. The promising thing about the race is that the gloves are off again, at Mercedes. The team have taken the Constructor's Championship, so all that is left is for Lewis and Nico to smash in to each other, block each other and hinder each other. I really don't know who I want to win the Driver's Championship. Hamilton is a Brit, is fair and honest, but he regularly comes across as quite soft and a moaner, which is irritating. Rosberg, on the other hand, is cerebral and smart, with an infectious personality, but he is undoubtedly a cheat. It's a difficult choice, but maybe after this weekend I can make a decision.

The Grid:
16Nico RosbergMercedes1:38.3031:36.2901:36.06720
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:37.1961:37.2871:36.44316
377Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:38.2491:37.4991:36.90619
419Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:37.8771:37.3471:37.20520
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:38.8141:37.8731:37.24417
614Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:38.3491:38.0101:37.61016
722Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:38.5741:38.0241:37.65517
820Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:38.5571:38.0471:37.70616
97Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:38.6691:38.2631:37.80422
1099Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:38.8551:38.3781:38.81015
1113Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1:38.6081:38.46716
1211Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:39.2001:38.55416
1327Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:38.9311:38.59816
1426Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:38.9361:38.69917
1525Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:39.25010
1621Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:39.55510
171Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:39.6213
188Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:39.6798

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Russian Grand Prix: Lewis Putin it to the rest!

Due to travelling commitments I, The F1 Spectator, have been unable to see the race or write my usual blog. As a result I have asked a guest blogger, the aptly named F1 Watcher, to fill in for me. So here goes...

Being asked to be The F1 Spectator's guest blogger, I knew was never going to be an easy job. The first race since Jules Bianchi's accident was always going to be especially tough, his car still sat in the garage waiting for his return. I think I agree with Martin Brundle that the photo call with Bianchi's name in front of the drivers should have been done earlier and not five minutes before the start. This would have allowed the drivers to focus on the driving, to ensure their safety. That said, I respect the tribute to their colleague.

So the cars set up, ready to go, and what a start we were treated to! Cars were everywhere. At times they were three abreast in only a small space of track. Many cars left the track, overrunning corners and generally running out of space. It was such a shame to see Rosberg go too fast too soon, locking up heavily and wrecking his tyres. It would have been nice to see more of a fight between the two Mercedes drivers. Another exciting moment, through the opening laps, was when the two Red Bulls and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat had a brief fight, almost touching each other.

As the Grand Prix unfolded there were a few more bits of good racing, but to be fair this was not turning out to be the most exciting of races. Rosberg did well to move right up through the pack, only having to overtake a few cars, most of the overtaking being done through the pit stops. Massa appeared to be making progress through the field, however, like Ricciardo, he fell back down the order. The Mercedes radio transmissions were nice and calm, which makes a change from Hamilton moaning. There was a transmission from Rosberg saying his tyres were graining and Hamilton jumped in, just after, saying how good his tyres were. When asked if Rosberg could go to the end of the race with only one stop, he replied "yes all good", and proceeded to contradict the question by adding "well they are good at the moment". Sutil had a spin after touching Grosjean and only just managed to miss the wall. After the incidents of last weekend, I did wonder what was going through his mind?

The new track had very much an Indy car feel, maybe because it was quite narrow and enclosed. Interestingly, the track surface stayed very clean, with hardly any marbles to make the drive difficult. Congratulations must go to Mercedes on winning the Constructor's Championship. Despite their dominance being a little boring, at times, they have fully deserved their success this season. We just have to hope it stays close now, for the Driver's Championship.

Thank you to The F1 Spectator, for selecting me to write the blog this week. I look forward to reading the blog after the next race.

The Result:

144Lewis HamiltonMercedes531:31:50.744125
26Nico RosbergMercedes53+13.6 secs218
377Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes53+17.4 secs315
422Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes53+30.2 secs412
520Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes53+53.6 secs1110
614Fernando AlonsoFerrari53+60.0 secs78
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault53+61.8 secs66
81Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault53+66.1 secs104
97Kimi RäikkönenFerrari53+78.8 secs82
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes53+80.0 secs121
1119Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes53+80.8 secs18
1227Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes53+81.3 secs17
1325Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault53+97.2 secs9
1426Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault52+1 Lap5
1521Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari52+1 Lap13
1699Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari52+1 Lap14
178Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault52+1 Lap15
1813Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault52+1 Lap21
199Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault51+2 Laps16
Ret10Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault21Brakes19
Ret4Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari9Retired20