Hamilton â€“ Â Mercedes AMG PetronasÂ Â 1hr 31m 53.145s
Rosberg â€“ Mercedes AMG Petronas
BottasÂ â€“ Â Williams Martini Racing
Hamilton â€“ Â Mercedes AMG PetronasÂ Â 1hr 31m 53.145s
Rosberg â€“ Mercedes AMG Petronas
BottasÂ â€“ Â Williams Martini Racing
What the Chinese Grand Prix confirmed was that Formula Oneâ„¢ is now well and truly dominated by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The two most popular faces of the current generation. Surprising everyone by signing up for Mercedes from the struggling McLaren and Red Bull Racing teams respectively, both have displayed a keen sense of foresight and fierce ambition for being in the right team at the right time.
A fantastic rivalry is in the making.
Although it was Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes who defendedÂ P2Â successfully from the Ferrari threat, his complaints later about team mate Hamilton suggests he’s not on song with the W06 yet.
Rosberg felt Hamilton unnecessarily drove slowly in the first stint backing him into the clutches of P3 placed Sebastian Vettel who tried in vain to undercut him during the pitstops. Lewis later rejected the claim stating his job wasn’t to “drive for Nico’s race”!
A war of words and mind games within the Mercedes squad reminded us of the squabbling and eventual run-in last year. But this year the German in the Ferrari and it’s amazing recovery to winning form is providing an exciting parallel story.
Elsewhere down the field a new star emerged in the form of 17yr old Max Verstappen. His ability to smoothly overtake rival cars making the manoeuvres stick almost effortlessly has won him applauds up and down the paddock. With Martin Brundle of Sky Sports even toutingÂ him to be the next Senna or Schumacher! Unfortunately for Max his Renault powered Toro Rosso didn’t see the chequered flag.
They don’t call him Baby Schumi without reason. The confidence and self belief that he could triumphÂ again with a win-less Scuderia is all very reminiscent of the great German seven-time champion.
Sebastian Vettel is back. And so is Ferrari. They both took the top step at Sepang while the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for once, had no answer.
Hamilton and Rosberg were heard asking over the radio what the strategy was because they couldn’t understand it!
The SF-15T’s tyre management was far superior to the Mercedes W06. The Mercs had to stick to the more durable but slower primes on a three-stop strategy whereas the Ferrari was kind to the options which meant they could run the faster tyre on Sunday.
Sauber’s Markus Ericsson spun and stalled his car to bring out the Safety Car as early as LapÂ 3. This led to cars who wereÂ three stopping peel into the pit lane. Vettel stayed out and was followed by Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Sainz and Perez behind the Safety Car all on two stops.
Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari saw his lap-down-deficit to the fieldÂ wiped clean post the Safety Car period. He earlier clashed with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, the front wing puncturing his left rear tyre.
Clearly both Ferrari’s gained from the Safety Car period while the Mercs had all to do post it. McLaren Honda were again nowhere close to being competitive. Alonso retiring his MP4-30 on lap 21 with an ERS overheating problem. And Button on lap 41 with a turbo failure. In the paddock interviews later Fernando firmly stuck to his decision about moving to McLaren even though the team he just quit had won!
One wonders if the Fernando Alonso-McLaren partnership wasÂ ever meant to be?
He seems to be signing up to the right teams at the wrong time.
To watch the Red Bulls suffer an inglorious defeat to their sister B team was entertaining for the fans but clearly not what Christian Horner would’ve envisioned same time last year! The searing track temperatures of almost 60 degrees celsius saw the RB12s emit more carbon brake dust than any other team down into braking at Turn 1. However Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen were involved in a right royal battle through out with Max ending up victorious in this battle-of-the-bulls. He now holds the record for youngest ever point scorer in F1â„¢ at the age of 17 finishing in P7.
A record that belonged to Sebastian Vettel.
The fact that the German has now won Grand Prix in three different teams is testament to the amazing talent that he is. The boiler at Sepang may have just played into Ferrari’s hands thanks to their James Allison-led technical team who’ve pennedÂ a machineÂ with no cooling issues and suffers minimalÂ tyre degradation. But in Seb they have a four-time world champion who is hungry for more.
In Lewis Hamilton Mercedes too have a lead driver who is hungry for more. For the fans this can mean only one thing. It’s game on 2015!
VettelÂ â€“ Â FerrariÂ 1hr 41m 05.793s
Hamilton â€“ Â Mercedes AMG Petronas
Rosberg â€“ Mercedes AMG Petronas
“Ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now, to sing my song…”Â â€“Â Led Zeppelin
Lewis Hamilton charged to a lights-to-flag victory at Albert Park unchallenged.
He’s on song to become a triple world champion this year. And if his father Anthony’s prediction is accurate, ‘as early as mid-year’.
At Melbourne, round 1 of the 2015 FIA Formula 1â„¢ Championship could easily have been mistaken for round 21 of 2014. Hamilton and Rosberg in familiar fashion blitzed away from the entire field when the lights went off. The chasing pack ultimately had Sebastian Vettel finish in P3Â withÂ his new Ferrari SF15 â€“ albeit a full 30 seconds adrift from the Mercedes pair.
Behind him two Brazilians made itÂ home. Felipe Massa for Williams and Felipe Nasr for Sauber. The impressive rookie star gave the Swiss team their first points since 2013 on his F1 debut.
Only 11 cars saw the checkerÂ in the AustralianÂ Grand Prix. And only the top 6 were on the same lap as the leading W06s!
Vettel made a sluggishÂ start andÂ new team mate Kimi Raikkonen almost overtook him throughÂ Turn 1. But heÂ forced Raikkonen wide. Behind them Nasr and Maldonado clashed with the Venezuelan hitting the barriers and ending Lotus’ hopes of a good start to it’sÂ campaign.
Raikkonen went backwards to P8 while Vettel chased Massaâ€™s Williams for the first half of the race. Massa later attempted to hold on to his podium place but the four-time World Champion eased home ahead.
Daniel Ricciardo finished in P6 having been lapped by the Mercedes right at the end of the race. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg held on to P7 and team mate Sergio Perez grabbed the last available points ahead of a woeful performance from newly formed partnership McLaren and Honda with Jenson Button.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr. took P8 on his debut. His team mate Max Verstappen, the youngest starter in F1 history ended his run prematurely when his STR10 started smoking and had to be retired.
More bad luck for Lotus, as Romain Grosjean joined Maldonado in retirement on the opening lap with mechanical problems. Raikkonen after his second stop had a problem with this left rear which was not properly attached. His team Ferrari are under investigation for unsafe release.
While everyone else seemed to experience trouble with at least one of their cars or drivers, Mercedes were in a class of their own. They lead both the driversâ€™ and constructorsâ€™ championships.
Hamilton leads Rosberg with 25 points to 18, with Vettel third on 18 and Massa fourth on 12.
In the constructorsâ€™, meanwhile, the Silver Arrows have stolen a scary march over their rivals as they are on 43 points, with Ferrari and Sauber on 15 and 14 respectively.
Is this the year Lewis Hamilton equalsÂ his idol Ayrton Senna’s, world titles? And can Ferrari overhaul the technological advantage Mercedes have? One cannot rule out dramatic turnarounds in Formula One. However a lot dependsÂ onÂ Nico Rosberg to reign in his world famous team mate and take it down to the wire.
Hamilton â€“ Â Mercedes AMG Petronas 1hr 31m 54.067s
Rosberg â€“ Mercedes AMG Petronas
VettelÂ â€“ Â Ferrari
2014 TITLE SHOWDOWN
The opening statement from the Daimler brand website reads: Like no other trademark in the automotive sector, the Mercedes star stands for an unparalleled combination of fascination, perfection and responsibility.
Like its acclaimed road cars, the Mercedes AMG F1â„¢ team has delivered, too. And more precisely, stayed true to the brand’s ethos. The W05 Hybrid has had no parallel on track this entire season wrapping up the Constructors ChampionshipÂ with a huge gap to second-placed Red Bull Racing.
Their drivers, who are the lead characters in the title showdown this year, have played the roles to perfection. Being true brand ambassadors they’ve adhered to the brand’s guidelines like a dream.
Looking back at their rivalryÂ through the season, they’ve provided top notch drama and entertainment on the motorsport’s greatest stage. Through retirements, misjudgements and colossal mistakes they’ve still come through to set up a grand last act. An unparalleled combination indeed.
BeforeÂ the lights went out at Melbourne, it was interestingÂ to anticipateÂ who Mercedes would prefer as their Champion for the new millennium. Lewis Hamilton’s outright pace and star quality was evident. He is listed among the Top 10 most recognisable sporting faces in the world. He has finished 2013 with more points than Nico Rosberg. But Nico is German. And has been with the team since its inception in 2010. Though he out-performed the great Schumacher for threeÂ consecutiveÂ seasons, would he have the same effect the seven-time world champion had on theÂ brand in worldwide markets?
Hamilton snatchedÂ pole at the very firstÂ SaturdayÂ of 2014. But on race day,Â he retired with a misfiring engine. Rosberg began with a head start.
In Sepang,Â Hamilton claimed pole again butÂ this time with no gremlins, ran away with aÂ win. At Bahrain a fortnight later, it was Rosberg who reigned supreme on Saturday. But Sunday gave us the best race of the season so far with Hamilton proving he hadn’t lost any of his race craft from those sensationalÂ karting days!
At Shanghai it was the same story with the momentum strongly on Hamilton’s side of the garage. A lights to flag finish was recorded in Spain, too. And just when the season began to tiltÂ Hamilton’s way, a twist occurred at Monaco.
After claiming provisional pole on theÂ earlier lap a questionable lock-up by RosbergÂ at Mirabeau, brought out the yellow flags and destroyed Hamilton’s attempt. More than the drivers and team themselves, the world of F1â„¢ fans fell apart. One side crying foul and the other maintaining it was a normal racing incident. Importantly though, for the sport it madeÂ the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry fascinating!
This rivalry now moved to Canada, a Hamilton favourite. NicoÂ stole pole from him with a near perfect lap. This was a huge blow for Hamilton and things only got worse during the race when a brake issue led him to retire. Rosberg continuedÂ a psychological attack on the BritonÂ with a successive pole and victory in Austria, the next round. He was now 29 points ahead.
A bit of good luck swept by Hamilton in his home race when Rosberg pulled over with a mechanical issue. His first retirement of the season. But Hamilton’s flawless drive saw him bite back into the title chase. It was down to just four points now andÂ at Hockenheim, Rosberg was perfect again. Claiming all 25 points. A German winning his home grand prix in a German car.
Everything seemed perfect for Mercedes with their drivers dictating the pace all seasonÂ but at Hungary neither driver won. Hamilton disobeyed team orders to hold back Rosberg. It may have cost them the win butÂ the team later accepted it was best for the championship. A braveÂ acceptance that maintained aÂ perfect connect with race fans.
Again at Spa, neither driver won. This time, Rosberg let the team down with an unnecessary collisionÂ on Lap 2 ending his teammate’s race and a possible 1-2 scenario for Mercedes. Senior managementÂ woke him up to the responsibility of the Constructors Championship thatÂ was paramount to the returning German marque.
It was clear that Mercedes would allow both their drivers toÂ genuinely race against each other. This by itself was a huge victory over other teams and manufacturers who don’t accommodate this. The dressingÂ down that their German star received behind closed doors and the subsequent booing from fans in the following races began to affect Rosberg’s performance on track. Hamilton stuck to his racer’s instincts and won five races on the trot!
Monza, Singapore, Suzuka, Sochi and Austin. At Singapore though, Rosberg suffered his second DNF and this turned the championship on its head and back in favour of Hamilton.
Rosberg has returned to his perfect weekend form just in time with a storming display in Brazil, and a few hours ago taking pole at Abu Dhabi for the final round that will decide who will be champion.
The responsibility for a clean and fair fight lies solely in the hands of the two contenders. Will they continue to fascinate with a show of Mercedes perfection? It’s their last performance of the year for their fans and the brand.
A brand that demands â€“ the best or nothing.
Nico Rosberg drove a clinical and calculated near perfect race to set up a grand showdown at Abu Dhabi in a fortnight. He led FP1, FP2, FP3, Qualifying and almost every lap of Sao Paolo to record his 5th win of the season. With this latest pole he also won the FIA Pole Trophy a new introduction this season.
An amazing comeback by the German!
“Epic drive mate, epic drive”Â said Lewis’ race engineer over the radio. The epic drive was faultless and fearless. It didn’t seem to bother him that he was starting from the dirty side of the track in P2 nor that he would be trailing his team mate for the first half of the race. He knew he was going to be lethal on prime tyres in the second stint.
Pulling off aÂ commanding winÂ from P2 on the grid,Â Lewis Hamilton seemed at ease inÂ Austin, Texas â€“ home of the USA Grand Prix. Losing pole to Nico Rosberg earlier on Saturday in Qualifying he worked his race craft to attack an unsuspecting team mate on Lap 24 at T12. Rosberg was caught napping. He was rudely woken up outside the racing line over the kerbs.
Nico later confessed he hit the wrong buttonÂ whilst looking in his mirrors. Somehow these confessions in recent timesÂ don’t help in portrayingÂ him as a strong title contender. If he is taking the consistency route hoping for another technical failure on hisÂ rival’s car he might just end up being crowned world champion. But surely not a very popular one.
For Formula 1â„¢ it would be destructive PR. To have a champion crowned because of a questionable double-points system introduced by the commercial rights holder to spice up the show will only add to the negative headlines the sport has attracted of late.
Behind the all-conquering Mercedes duo, a race was on.
Firstly between the Williamses of Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Bottas lost out to Massa at the start. Massa should have gone on to take the final podium spot with Mercedes power. But yet again a slow-thinking Williams pit wall had him lose out to a fast-thinking Red Bull teamÂ that has the most sensationalÂ driver of the season strapped in. Daniel Ricciardo drove the wheels of his underpowered Renault RB10 to come home a fighting P3. He had an exciting dice with Ferrari’s Alonso en routeÂ and nearly clipped Bottas in a late braking manoeuvre at T1.
Sergio Perez though, was unsuccessful in a similar dive into aÂ hairpin in an attempt to overtake Kimi Raikkonen who ultimately endured a lack lustre afternoon. Nudging the Ferrari from its original line the Force India careened into Adrian Sutil’s Sauber. The clash took out both cars from the USA Grand Prix on Lap 1! And brought out the Safety Car.
Behind the Safety Car at the restart Rosberg simply disappeared leaving Hamilton almost 2s behind. At this point, it seemed the German-polesitter had the race in his bag, in total control. But Hamilton’s smooth and confident passÂ showed that he had Austin covered in his game plan.
Sebastian Vettel, the only other driver to have won the USA Grand Prix in Texas, was having a horrid time initially with an erratic RB10, but after his fourth pitstop on Lap 49 he made up six places in sixÂ laps on fresh tyres to come home in P7 very nearly beating Alonso to P6. His was an aggressive strategy that the Williams team should study closely.
Lewis Hamilton isÂ now the most successful British driver of all time. He has 32 wins. The same as Fernando Alonso. In equal machinery in 2007 he amassed theÂ same number of points as him. And he is most likely to win the title again this year. Which will draw him level there too with the Spaniard. Fernando as we know is consideredÂ the hottest property in the F1â„¢ market.
So that makes Lewis’ achievements till dateÂ even more special then.
Hamilton â€“ Â Mercedes AMG Petronas 1hr 40m 04.785s
Rosberg â€“ Mercedes AMG Petronas
RicciardoÂ â€“ Â Red Bull Racing
Consider it a 19 round bout by knockout in the World HeavyweightÂ Championships. Rounds 1, 6, 8Â and 10 have goneÂ to Nico RosbergÂ â€“Â 7, 11Â andÂ 12Â to Daniel Ricciardo â€“Â 2, 3, 4, 5,Â 9, 13, 14, 15 and 16 to Lewis Hamilton.
He’s the one throwing the maximum punches. The one with the most effective combinations. And his rivals seem to have no answer. Red Bull aren’t helping Dani with radical strategies anymore. The RB10’s lack of outright pace means he isn’t going to surprise-leapfrog any of the Silver Arrows soon. And their refocussed approach towards getting those 1-2 finishes means the best he can aim for is a podium. Which of late has been William’s territory.
Nico, seems to have dug himselfÂ into a psychological pit. One that Hamilton frequently visited post-Monaco. But has successfully climbedÂ out of recently!
When the lights went out at Sochi, the Black Sea resort venue of the Russian Grand Prix, Rosberg had Turn 2 covered. He thought. But instead of turning in earlier than his team mate, he got mixed up adjusting his safety harnesses and braking so late that his front wheels locked up making for spectacular photography! It’s going to be a lasting image in everyone’s memories of Sochi. Two Silver Arrows in formation…one sliding out in trails of thick smoke.
So severe was his lock up that he flat spotted both tyres which led to vibrations so extreme that he had to pit immediately. On Lap 1.
“What’s our strategy now?!” yelled Nico on the radio. “We’ve to race on the mediums till the end Nico” was the reply.
It was a combination of Rosberg’s smooth driving style, Sochi’s new non-abrasive surface and Pirellis super-conservative approach to tyre construction that saw the Championship contender drive the rest of the race without a pit stop! What his drive did underline was the supremacy of the 2014 Mercedes W05 Turbo Hybrid. And it was only fitting thatÂ with both cars taking their 9th one-two finish â€“Â they sealed theÂ Formula 1 World Constructors Championship. With three rounds to spare.
Lewis Hamilton won in cruise mode. Making him the most successful driver in Britain. He now has 31 wins like Mansell, with a few more to come his way this season for sure.
Barring a few dices between Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel and his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, Jean Eric Vergne and Kevin Magnussen the race was quite a disaster on the entertainment front.
On Lap 32, Rosberg flew past a bewildered Valterri Bottas to reclaim P2. The Williams pit wall reassured their Finn that Mercedes #6 was bound to have degradation issues sooner or later and that “we’ll get the position back…!”. They were playing chess with their estimations of the wear and tear of Mercedes’ Pirellis. They were not alone in their thinking. Jenson Button in the McLaren in P4 was also intrigued about Rosberg’s medium compound pace and durability. To his surprise and to many around the world, the second W05 tucked in behind race leader Lewis Hamilton who was now about 13s ahead to finish in P2.
It’s a wonder that both Williams and McLaren hadn’t taken the Mercedes radio discussion seriously! Rosberg was always one-stopping.
When asked if he liked to party the Russian way by the podium interviewer, Lewis said he loves Vodka. So why not. He’s now joined an elite group of greats who have won 9 or more times in a single season. But that won’t do for Hamilton to sew up championship number two. He has to ensure he keeps the pressure on Rosberg to make more mistakes right till the end.
From what we’ve seen so far, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
Hamilton – Â Mercedes AMG Petronas 1hr 31m 50.744s
Rosberg – Mercedes AMG Petronas
Bottas – Â Williams Martini Racing
Formula 1â„¢ and the FIA have comeÂ under close scrutiny after a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix beganÂ and ended behind the Safety Car on Sunday. The race was red flagged on Lap 44/53 after both the Medical Car and the Safety Car were despatched.
Initially, only Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber was visible on the liveÂ FOM feed as it wasÂ hauled out by a JCB tractor. Moments later it was evident from bits of body work being removed â€“ that the crash site had witnessed another accident. Jules Bianchi’s Marussia had aquaplaned in an almost identical fashion to the Sauber. Only he wasn’t as lucky.
The Frenchman, is believed to have submarined into the rescue vehicle at speeds in excess of 100mph! An ambulance was on the scene quickly and he was soon shifted out by road to the Mie University Hospital, where he is currently declared to be in a critical but stable condition. [Updates from Marussia F1]
— — — —
When the Japanese Grand PrixÂ did get underway, pole-sitter Rosberg pulled away cleanly from the rolling start behind the Safety Car. Hamilton kept the gap down to under twoÂ seconds from his team mate ducking out of Nico’s spray every time he could. Jenson Button pitted first for intermediate tyres. A choice which almost rewarded him a podium in the end. He had to settle for P5.
The Williams team watched their Mercedes power advantage disappear as the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo made short work of them in the span of a few laps. Christian Horner remained quietly confident post-qualifying on Saturday â€“Â both his RB10s were set up for a wet race. This thinking paid off against the superior Mercedes-powered teams who qualified in higher positions. And they ended up P3 and P4. Fernando Alonso suffered his second DNF in three races with the F14T shutting down all systems on the formation lap. With Kimi Raikkonen finishingÂ down in P12, Ferrari recorded their first non points-scoring finish in 82 races!
In stark contrast the Mercedes factory team with their massive downforce advantage this season, were in a race of their own. And Hamilton, a cut above that. After a failed DRS attempt on the earlier lap he then foundÂ someÂ extra grip on the outside lineÂ passing Rosberg going into T1 on Lap 29 never to look back again. He built up a gap of almost 10s to car #6 before the Safety Car was deployedÂ again. This time for the Marussia crash.
By winning in Suzuka for the first time Hamilton joins 7 other Formula One greats after taking his 30th career win. It was his 8th win this season, Rosberg’s 8th second placeÂ andÂ Mercedes’ 8th one-two of the season! Next up is the inaugural Russian Grand Prix at Sochi.
With three consecutive wins now, Hamilton isÂ backÂ firmly in command on topÂ leading Rosberg by 10 points. He has double the number of wins than his German rival. But with the FIA’s new double-points being awarded in the finalÂ round this year, there’s everything to raceÂ for till Round 19. At this point it might be worth looking back at Nico’s father’s title winning year â€“ 1982. Keke Rosberg registered just a single victory the whole season but was crowned champion for his consistency.
Lewis will be wary of that stat!
P1 Hamilton â€“Â Mercedes AMG 1hr 51m 43.021s
P2Â RosbergÂ â€“Â Mercedes AMG
P3Â VettelÂ â€“Â Red Bull Racing