Typhoon Phanfone

Rosberg in the Suzuka sun. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Rosberg in the Suzuka sun. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

In the slow motion replays onscreen, his front left wheel lock-up created a miniature ‘typhoon’. For himself. It disrupted a clean lap until then, but he was outside Nico’s time through the entire mid-sector anyway. So pole may have been out of the question for Roscoe’s master in the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying sessions.

Rosberg’s superb lap he said, was thanks to the unbelievably-quick car Mercedes have strung up this weekend. The only piece of news that overshadowed team Mercedes’ 8th front row lock-out this season was from their countryman.

Sebastian Vettel.

The quadruple & defending world drivers champion announced today that he’s not planning to continue with Red Bull in 2015! It was long rumoured that he would eventually  replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari. Who in turn is rumoured to be moving to McLaren/Honda next year. But no other details were revealed – so for the moment everyone is certain about Phanfone and its furious arrival but nothing is certain about the German and Spaniard’s future team identities.

Drama in Suzuka. A storm that could affect the whole race. World Champions who are being cagey about their drives next season. And teammates, who may just replicate a ‘Senna-Prost-Turn-1-incident’ to influence the 2014 world championship.

You cannot afford to blink.

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 32.506
P2 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 32.703
P3 Bottas –  Williams Martini Racing 1m 33.128

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Turn around time

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LH44 is wheeled in for fresh tyres in Q3. Image Copyright © Ajit Devadason

The momentum is firmly back with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Out-qualifying his team-mate after locking up and losing time into Turn 1 Hamilton showed tremendous commitment and self-belief in slicing Rosberg’s potential pole lap by .007 secs!

All through FP3, Q1 and Q2 the Silver Arrows weren’t the fastest cars leading us to believe that Ferrari first and Williams were in with a genuine shout. Felipe Massa hung on to provisional P1 for a while.

Earlier on, in Q1 Nico Rosberg ran straight off and into an escape road in a very similar-to-Monaco incident but it was of little significance. The ultimate trio have taken the top three Qualifying positions. Will they finish like that or will the streets of the gorgeous-by-night Marina Bay, throw up a surprise winner?

The only occasion Hamilton has won here in Singapore was in 2009. And he started on pole. Maybe it’s ‘Hammer time’ once again. Coded or not!

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P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 45.681
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 45.688
P3 Ricciardo –  Red Bull Racing 1m 45.854

 

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Speed at the temple

Lewis delivers. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Lewis delivers. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

At the Italian Grand Prix Saturday, Lewis Hamilton delivered the precision lap that seemed to have evaded him since Barcelona. Much to the relief of the whole watching Formula 1â„¢ world. Everyone wants the epic intra-team battle to continue. Complete with it’s drama. Nico Rosberg ignored him at the post Qualifying weigh-in. Adding a little more tension to the rivalry.

It is important to note that Rosberg is set-up with a lower-downforce wing angle than Hamilton. This was evident in the speed traps as the Briton’s W05 was 3 kph slower than Rosberg’s 353 kph top speed.

This should make Rosberg faster through the straights and Hamilton sharper through the curves. A super contest is on tomorrow at Monza, the temple of speed.

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P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 24.109s
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 24.383s
P3 Bottas –  Williams Martini Racing 1m 24.697s

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Up in smoke

Blown up and beaten. Image Copyright © Google.com

Blown up and beaten. Image Copyright © Google.com

Mercedes AMG Petronas’ car #44 was last seen burning at the pit entrance, with it’s driver walking away in utter despair. Before qualifying, Lewis Hamilton, dominated the time sheets in a clean sweep of all three practise sessions.

Pole seemed to be guaranteed at the Hungarian Grand Prix. A race he has won 4 times before. But a fuel pipe leak created a memorable image of Hungary 2014.

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 22.715s
P2  Vettel – Red Bull Racing 1m 23.201s
P3 Bottas –  Williams Martini Racing 1m 23.354s

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The gift

The gloves come on! Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

The gloves come on! Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Newly married, World Drivers Championship points leader Nico Rosberg was ‘gifted’ a team-mate-less fight for pole in Germany. However, the season’s new Finnish sensation, Valterri Bottas came close to toppling off the German from P1.

Lewis Hamilton, fresh from a ‘gifted’ win by Rosberg’s retirement in Britain, hit the brakes going into T13 only to find himself smashing the barriers sideways instead of slowing down. Brembo, have confirmed it was a right-front disc failure. Hamilton will start either P15 or from the pit lane.

Aussie Daniel Ricciardo got the better of defending champ Sebastian Vettel, although it was the German who was on top through most of the session. The Red Bulls are P5 and P6. Ahead of them is Kevin Magnussen who put it an astonishing lap to claim P4. He later commented interestingly that McLaren have gained from the FRIC ban.

The start, the expected rain and tyre wear will define the podium tomorrow. Hamilton’s switch to Rosberg’s preferred brand of brake discs i.e. Carbon Industrie might, with some luck, bring back the gift to him.

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 16.540s
P2 Bottas – Williams Martini Racing 1m 16.759s
P3 Massa –  Williams Martini Racing 1m 17.078s

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The agony…

Could this be an award-winning film writer’s ultimate script?

The season, once seemed to appear a totally predictable one, in which the main protagonists run away into history, with all of the champagne and glory. Ending Red Bull Racing’s utter 4-year dominance.

The Mercedes works cars are the class of the field so far and barring a few issues in the race at Canada and qualifying at Austria, they’ve been untouchable. Splitting wins between them. It still looked quite predictable.

Then this. The British Grand Prix, it’s unpredictable weather and the two ‘characters’, one a German serious-faced intellectual, the other an Englishman who runs on high emotions.

Is Lewis Hamilton playing to a fantasy story line where his title conquest sees him go through the ups and downs of a people’s hero? Are the FIA making the final-race-double-points relevant by forcing this drama?

Or has Nico Rosberg rattled him, big time.

Sunday the 6th of July 2014, could be Hamilton’s last chance to hang in there.
To taste some ecstasy…

P6 at Silverstone Q3. Image Copyright Mercedes AMG.

P6 at Silverstone Q3. Image Copyright Mercedes AMG.

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 35.766s
P2 Vettel – RBR Renault 1m 37.386s
P3 Button –  McLaren 1m 38.200s

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Massa on pole!

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Felipe on pole! Image Copyright © Williams F1

The Williams F1 media team took more than 48 hours to upload images of their driver’s amazing P1 & P2 grid lock out. Well, I don’t think they expected it! Nobody did!

At the Red Bull ring in Austria, Nico Rosberg could only manage P3 as Felipe’s team mate Valterri Bottas sealed P2. A first Williams front row lock out since the 2003 German Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton spun out of Q3 and will now start at P9. Sebastian Vettel shocked home fans with his failure to make it into Q3 while team mate Ricciardo once again out qualifies him on P5.

Can Williams Martini Racing hold on to their starting positions or will it be situation normal for Mercedes once they display their true race pace?

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P1 Massa –Williams Martini Racing 1m 08.759s
P2 Bottas – Williams Martini Racing 1m 08.846s
P3 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 08.944s

 

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The smart banker

One would expect Lewis Hamilton to have learnt a lesson from the epic at Monaco a fortnight ago. It was Rosberg’s banker lap in Q3 back then that won him the race on Sunday.

It could yet again tomorrow at the Canadian Grand prix.

Circuit De Villeneuve. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Circuit De Villeneuve. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

All through the Q1 and Q2 sessions, it was Lewis who held the upper hand over his German team mate. But early into Q3, Nico set a blistering time that became the benchmark to beat for anyone.

No one did. And on his final run he improved marginally – putting it even more out of reach. It was a determined performance that added fuel to the dying flames of his Monaco win. With it he’s rubbished the theory that Montreal belonged to Lewis.
Will he further rub it in tomorrow?

Vettel is in P3 to add to Hamilton’s tensions.

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 14.874s
P2 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 14.953s
P3 Vettel – RBR Renault 1m 15.548s

 

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Ironic

The stage is Monaco. The scene is Q3.

Nico Rosberg secures pole position in the circuit where it matters most. With a mistake on his ultimate flying lap. Critically, on everybody else’s flying lap too! The irony lies in the fact that his mistake at Mirabeau brought out yellow flags which meant Lewis Hamilton had to abort his ultimate attempt at P1. Leaving the previous lap time set by Nico to be considered fastest of the day.

Nico at Monaco. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Nico at Monaco. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

The irony could go one further tomorrow on race day.

Hamilton is the only driver in the last decade to have won at Monaco from outside of pole position. With his controversial incident, did Nico unwittingly set it up for Lewis and statistics to take over? We can speculate for the next 24 hours only.

St. Devote has never brimmed with such excitement and tension before. Remember theres room for only single file discipline there…

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P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 15.989s
P2 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 16.048s
P3 Ricciardo – RBR Renault 1m 16.384s

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.168s

That’s under two tenths.

Lewis Hamilton takes P1 in Spain. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Lewis Hamilton took P1 again, in Spain. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

The knock out blow to team mate Nico Rosberg was like the blink of an eye.

Earlier, Lewis looked a bit out of rhythm. It seemed Nico had set up perfectly and was going to repeat the P1 performance of 2013. But that was Q1 and Q2.

In Q3, after Sebastian Vettel reported “…no drive” in his RBR10 and brought out the Red Flag and after Jenson Button stormed to P8 in a hard tyre shod McLaren, Hamilton delivered his lap of precision.

He is peaking. It seems that his career graph is hitting the highest possible peaks. Surely it must be impossible to get any better. The man himself confesses “I haven’t experienced this level of performance before.”

So another lights-to-flag demonstration tomorrow? Possible. But Lewis’ poor finishing record in Barcelona suggests it might not be as easy as that.

P1 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG 1m 25.232s
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1m 25.400s
P3 Ricciardo – RBR Renault 1m 26.285s

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