Extreme E: Ocean Legacy

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing. Image courtesy of Sam Bloxham

As the chequered flag fell on the second round of Extreme E’s inaugural season, the championship still had plenty of work to complete off-track.

Extreme E’s tag line “Race Without a Trace” was put into action again in Senegal, as they aimed to highlight issues surrounding ocean health, whilst leaving a positive impact on the local communities. Educating on sea level rise, plastic pollution, and rising ocean temperatures, as well as planting mangroves and engaging schools were just some of the actions Extreme E took whilst out in Dakar.

Plastic pollution is a substantial problem on the Senegalese coast so Extreme E teamed up with to.org to support the Ecozone Project based in Lac Rose. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of climate issues and mitigation strategies by involving the local communities in the creation of a healthy environment. With this knowledge, the ultimate goal is to build a sustainable economy through guidance, resources, encouraging self-sufficiency, and economic autonomy.

In June 2020, the EcoBrique Challenge was launched. 3000 children and other locals took part in a huge effort to create more than 6000 bricks from plastic waste. Roughly 80% of plastics found in oceans come from land based sources, so not only is the EcoBrique Challenge helping to build a primary school toilet and benches, but it also helps locals recycle the waste that gets washed up on their shores.

Some other infrastructure was also built. Gardens were created to allow children to engage with local farmers, as well as planting more than 600 trees. They also installed a water pump to prevent the community from needing to walk long distances and increase cleanliness, vital for keeping disease at bay.

However, Extreme E’s initiatives weren’t just limited to the EcoBrique Project. They also aim to help to.org and NGO Oceanium plant one million mangroves. So far, over 500 people have helped the team reach the half of that figure in just three weeks.The remaining number will be planted during the 2021 rainy season, and with a whopping 85% of those already in place developing into healthy mangroves, Senegal will really start to see the benefits.

Nachson Mimran, CEO and Co-founder of to.org, explains that “Mangroves are not only the most effective trees on earth for sequestering carbon, they also protect against coastal erosion and regulate soil salinity so coastal communities can farm fertile soil.” She also states that mangroves protect fish habitats, ensuring locals can get the protein their diets need.

As in AlUla, the drivers and staff also took part in a beach clean. Together the likes of Jamie Chadwick, Stephane Sarrazin and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky collected over 100 bags of waste from the Lac Rose beaches.

Extreme E raced in Senegal to highlight the issues surrounding ocean health. It is believed that half of coral reefs and a third mangroves and sea grasses have already been lost, leaving coastal communities vulnerable to erosion, storm damage, and food shortages. Vital fish stocks are teetering on a knife edge, threatening the entire food chain. Plastics, oil spills, and agrochemicals are destroying ocean habitats and affecting every animal in them. Climate change is also causing the heating of oceans, making them more acidic, melting ice, and causing the water to expand. Many islands and coastlines are at risk because the sea levels are rising by about 30 millimetres every ten years.

Sheena Talma, Scientific Committee Advisor to Extreme E, finished “When we talk about things like global climate change and the fact that it’s actually immediate, not two years from now and relying on someone else to deal with it, it makes people uncomfortable. But if we don’t talk about it, find solutions, and take action, we will all be in real trouble.”

Safe to say, Extreme has put some great initiatives together to ensure that they leave a positive impact on the communities they visit.

RXR Come Out On Top In Red Flagged Final

2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s team have sealed a second event win in as many races to extend their lead at the top of the Extreme E Constructors Championship.

Semi Final 1:

Sunday’s action kicked off with the first of the two semi finals. With the top two finishers out of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra progressing to the final, it was sure to be an entertaining watch.

RXR lined up on the inside, with X44 alongside. Abt Cupra took to the outside grid slot. As the lights went green, there was a lot of initial wheel-spin. Ekstrom in the Abt Cupra was the quickest off the line though, and took an early lead into the first breaking zone. Just behind him X44’s Loeb and RXR’s Kristoffersson were battling it out for second place. Loeb narrowed ahead but Kristoffersson attempted a huge switchback move and took the position. All three cars ran nose to tail all the way through the lap but nobody was able to get by. As they came into the switch zone, Abt Cupra lead RXR, who lead X44.

However, more issues for Jutta Kleinschmidt in the switch-over saw Abt fall to the back of the pack and RXR take the lead. Gutierrez pushed Taylor the whole way but just could not find a way through, and, despite Jutta’s best efforts, she was not able to reclaim a position. RXR crossed the line just two seconds ahead of X44, who were themselves just one second ahead of Abt Cupra. Some incredible misfortune meant Abt Cupra finished the weekend in 5th position, as RXR and X44 progressed to the final.

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Semi Final 2:

The second of the two semi finals was just as exciting as the first, arguably more so as Veloce, JBXE, and Xite Energy battled it out for the remaining two places in the final.

This time round, Veloce started on the inside with Jamie Chawick taking their start. JBXE’s Kevin Hansen, and Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennett lined up alongside her. When the lights went out it was Hansen who took the lead, using his hyper drive to extend the gap to the cars behind. As all the cars reached the first turn, JBXE lead with Veloce some way back in second. From there, Hansen continued to extend his lead as Chadwick and Bennett fought over second place the entire lap. For the most part Chadwick was able to keep Bennett behind, but an issue with the pit limiter meant Xite Energy took second in the final few corners before the switch. As all the cars came into the switch zone, JBXE held a significant lead with Xite Energy just edging out Veloce.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky took over for JBXE and continued to extend the gap to finish a whopping thirty seconds ahead of her closest rival. Behind her, however, Christine GZ and Stephane Sarrazin continued an enthralling battle. They followed closely the entire lap but Sarrazin spotted a gap and went for it, causing a tight squeeze through a narrow gate. He pushed his way through and, despite a late wobble with the pit limiter, managed to take the final spot in the final. Xite Energy’s weekend ended there, with them finishing 6th overall.

Shoot-out:

The race for positions seven to nine was hotly contested between the teams who had issues in Saturday qualifying.

Andretti United lined up on the inside this time with Acciona Sainz sandwiching the two American outfits. As the lights went out, Timmy Hansen for Andretti United took an early lead, but the experienced Carlos Sainz dived down the inside into the first braking zone and took the position. From there he built out a bit of a gap as Hansen and Price went nose to tail. Several times it looked like the Chip Ganassi car might get past Hansen but she was unable to and the teams entered the switch zone with Sainz leading Andretti, who lead Chip Ganassi.

But then came the Kyle Leduc show as he battled to make up the lost positions. He showed much of his qualifying pace and quickly closed in on the two leaders. Waiting for the bumpy section he had been so fast in all weekend, Leduc followed close behind Munnings and then put his foot to the floor. He screamed past Munnings before taking Sanz for a lead he would not lose. Munnings too closed in on Sanz but was ultimately unable to pass her. Chip Ganassi crossed the line first, followed by Acciona Sainz and Andretti United respectively.

Sara Price (USA)/Kyle Leduc (USA), Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Final:

The last race of the weekend welcomed two new teams to the final. JBXE and Veloce were taking part in their first final, with RXR and X44 both returning following their success at the Desert X Prix.

RXR started on the inside with X44 alongside. JBXE took the outside grid slot with Veloce taking the space next to them. As the lights went out Veloce’s Sarrazin got squeezed by X44 and JBXE and the Frenchman was forced to lift to avoid a collision.

This wasn’t the only close call of the opening lap though, as X44’s Gutierrez made contact with RXR’s Taylor. It appeared that Rosberg and Hamilton were wanting to renew their old rivalry. It would be short lived, however, as X44 were forced to retire due to damage from the collision. JBXE also stopped as the suspension broke going over a bump on the beach. As the remaining two teams reached the switch zone, race director Scott Elkins brought out the red flag.

Drivers swapped and cars repositioned on the starting grid, the final lap was to be a straight shoot-out between RXR and Veloce. The lights went out and Kristofferson immediately dominated bringing the RXR car home winners of the Ocean X Prix. Chawick suffered no issues and finished the race in second place. JBXE rounded out the podium despite not finishing the race, as Mikaela got round slightly more of the lap than X44.

Another strong weekend for Rosberg X Racing saw them top the Ocean X Prix, while Andretti’s qualifying problems saw them languish at the foot of the table. The final weekend standings:

  1. RXR
  2. Veloce
  3. JBXE
  4. X44
  5. Abt Cupra
  6. Xite Energy
  7. Chip Ganassi
  8. Acciona Sainz
  9. Andretti United

RXR’s win saw them extend their lead at the top of the championship to 14 points over X44. Meanwhile a crucial 5 points were awarded to Chip Ganassi, as Kyle Leduc set the fastest time of the weekend through the super sector. The current championship standings:

  1. RXR 71 Points
  2. X44 57 Points  
  3. JBXE 44 Points 
  4. Andretti 37 Points 
  5. Xite 37 Points
  6. Sainz 36 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 35 Points 
  8. Veloce 31 Points 
  9. Chip Ganassi 30 Points

An incredible weekend of racing saw the middle of the championship fight become closer than ever, whilst bringing issues relating to ocean health to the fore. All eyes now turn to August as Extreme E continues on the glaciers of Greenland. You’d be crazy to miss it.

X44 Top Thrilling Qualifying

image courtesy of ExtremeE -Andrew Ferraro

Reigning Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44 ended an enthralling Qualifying Saturday on top of the time sheets, showing strong pace going into tomorrow’s semi final.

Qualifying 1:

Following little running in the first round, Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick started off qualifying for the second round of the inaugural season of Extreme E. After steady laps from her and her teammate Stephane Sarrazin, the team set a benchmark time of 11:37.599.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE – Sam Bloxham

Acciona Sainz got off to a strong start in their run, but the car unfortunately ground to a halt part way round Laia Sanz’s lap and they were unable to finish. Andretti United’s car also came to a stop but, after a lengthy delay, they were able to get moving again, finishing with a time of 14:39.659.

Image courtesy of ExtremeESam Bloxham

Next was the turn of championship leaders and Desert X Prix race winners Rosberg X Racing. Some of the pace from the last round appeared to be missing though as, despite being on provisional pole, they set a beatable time of 11:02.310.

Abt Cupra followed RXR and their drivers put in a strong performance. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was standing in for the ill Claudia Hurtgen, was particularly impressive, as the 58 year old rounded off their run to put them top of the table with a 10:58.122. Unfortunately for them though, during the changeover, Jutta entered the switch zone before the car had been put into neutral, and the team promptly received a 15 second time penalty.

Then came Lewis Hamilton’s X44, whose drivers put in a superb perormance which saw them leap to provisional pole with a 10:47.289. American racing team Chip Ganassi also had a strong showing with Leduc putting in a phenomenal performance. They ended Q1 just 4 seconds down on X44, with a time of 10:51.528.

JBXE and Xite Energy then rounded off an intriguing first qualifying session with times of 11:13.405, and 11:52.806 respectively.

The standings after Q1:

  1. X44 10:47.289
  2. Chip Ganassi +4.239
  3. RXR +15.021
  4. Abt Cupra +25.833
  5. JBXE +26.116
  6. Veloce +50.310
  7. Xite Energy +1:05.517
  8. Andretti United +3:52.376
  9. Acciona Sainz DNF

Qualifying 2:

Going into Q2 the teams switched around their starting driver, which meant Stephane Sarrazin kicked off the final qualifying session of the Ocean X Prix for Veloce. The team had a relatively uneventful run and saw them post a combined time of 23:05.370.

Andretti United went into this session attempting to claw back as much of their lost time as possible. Unfortunately for the american outfit, they were unable to do so and were left with a 25:57.068. Their only chance of progressing to the semi finals would come from other teams running into problems.

Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor got some serious air time in her final lap but some excellent car control prevented her from spinning out. They achieved a combined time of 22:12.438, putting them in a temporary pole position. Abt Cupra almost dislodged them straight away but ended up just 8 seconds behind with a 22:20.813.

X44 were the early pace setters in Q1, and another flying run from both of their drivers saw them jump up to the top of the time sheets with a 21:44.856. Close competitors Chip Ganassi got off to a tremendous start in their final qualifying run and were even a few seconds up on X44’s time. But then disaster struck. Just as Leduc entered the tree section, his car ground to a halt. After some desperate button pressing the car got going again, but it would be impossible to claw back the several minutes of time he had lost. Teammate Sara Price brought the car home, finishing with a 25:41.815.

With three teams having issues, remaining teams JBXE and Xite Energy just needed to have uneventful runs and see the cars home. Both teams did exactly that and finished with total times of 22:25.426 and 23:36.461 respectively.

Acciona Sainz rounded off the session after just managing to fix the issues they had had in Q1. With them not setting a time in that session, all they could do in Q2 was attempt to set the fastest time through the super sector. Both drivers pushed hard but ultimately neither were able to claim it from Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc.

The final qualifying positions:

  1. X44 21:44.856
  2. RXR +27.580
  3. Abt Cupra +35.950
  4. JBXE +40.570
  5. Veloce +1:20.510
  6. Xite Energy +1:51.600
  7. Chip Ganassi +3:56.960
  8. Andretti United +4:12.210
  9. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap

Following an exciting Saturday the gap at the top of the team standings has closed slightly with RXR just 4 points ahead of X44. The current standings:

  1. RXR 46 Points
  2. X44 42 Points  
  3. Andretti 33 Points
  4. Sainz 30 Points 
  5. Xite 27 Points
  6. JBXE 26 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 23 Points 
  8. Chip Ganassi 17 Points  
  9. Veloce 12 Points

All eyes now turn to Sunday where we will see the teams face off to determine the final finishing positions. In Semi Final 1, the first two finishers of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra will progress to the final, where they will be joined by the top two finishers of Semi Final 2 (which consists of JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy). The shoot-out will be contested by Chip Ganassi, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz as they vie for positions seven to nine.

It’s certain to be an exciting final day as the nine teams battle it out to be crowned rulers of the Ocean X Prix.

Extreme E: Ocean X Prix Preview

After a long wait, the inaugural season of Extreme E resumes with the Ocean X Prix; aiming to highlight issues relating to ocean health.

Lac Rose Circuit

Picture courtesy of Extreme E

Following its successful debut in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, the exciting, new, electric rally series heads to the home of off-road racing, with the teams set to take on sections of the world renowned Dakar Rally. Based around Lac Rose, Dakar, the teams and drivers will race along the Senegalese coastline before turning onto a more technical section in among the sand dunes. Along the way the racers will have to contend with surface changes as well as lots of elevation changes. This is sure to be a true test of the drivers skills.

Format Changes

Coming into this weekend there are a couple of format changes to be aware of. Qualifying will continue to take place over two sessions, with the times being added up to give a team’s final qualifying time. The quickest three teams will then face off in the first of two semi finals, with the top two finishers of that race advancing to the final. The fourth to sixth fastest qualifiers will also race against each other in the second of the two semi finals, but with the top two finishers also now advancing to the final. This means we will now see a four car final, as opposed to the three car final we witnessed in AlUla. The slowest three qualifiers will still compete for positions seventh to ninth in the shoot-out.

The Ocean X Prix also sees the introduction of the super sector. An extra five points is now available to the team whose driver is the quickest through a specific section of the track. This means that everyone still has a chance of gaining points for their respective teams, regardless of where they qualify.

Dakar, Senegal Circuit Map
Picture Courtesy of Extreme E

Championship Battle:

Just nine points separate the top four teams in the championship standings with the title fight beginning to heat up. After a dominant win in AlUla, Rosberg X Racing head the table with thirty five points, closely followed by X44, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz with thirty, twenty eight, and twenty six points respectively. Veloce foot the table with just four points following a crash in shakedown that saw them miss most of the rest of the weekend.

Driver Line-up Alterations:

2009 Formula One World Champion and JBXE team owner Jenson Button has stepped aside from his racing duties this weekend in order to focus on his team management role. Stepping in to replace him is Kevin Hansen, rally cross driver and brother of Andretti United driver, Timmy Hansen. Kevin is no stranger to Extreme E, helping to develop and test the Odyssey 21 in its early stages of development. He is also a good friend of teammate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, with the pair having raced together in local rally championships when they were younger.

With a revised format, a title battle on a knife edge, and racing around the famous Dakar Rally, you’d be crazy to miss this weekend’s Extreme E action.

Extreme E’s Saudi Legacy

Last weekend’s Extreme E burst onto the motor racing scene with an enthralling opener in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. But whilst Rosberg X Racing’s Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor were (metaphorically) tearing it up on the track, important environmental work was happening off it. In the build-up to the inaugural round, Extreme E placed heavy focus on to the championship’s desire to leave a positive, lasting impact on the local environment. They claim that not only will each event be completely carbon neutral, but a “legacy program” will also be set up in each location.

For the Saudi Arabia X-Prix, desertification and plastic pollution were the main areas that were focused on, with the legacy program seeing Extreme E support the Ba’a Foundation to help with turtle conservation on the Red Sea coastline. In particular, the program aims to protect the endangered Green turtle, and the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, both of which are suffering from entanglement, rising sand temperatures, and nest flooding due to rising sea levels. Many of the drivers also took part in a clean up of the Ras Baridi beach.

The drivers have come together to support Extreme E’s causes off the track – Courtesy of Charly Lopez

At the start of each session, the all-electric off-road series broadcast information regarding the issue of desertification, and how it is affecting local communities. Desertification is the process by which fertile land is transformed into a desert, typically brought on by drought, rising temperatures, or improper land management. The effects of this can be catastrophic. As the deserts grow, the amount of land available for farming crops diminishes, which results in the loss of food for the community and increases famine. The amount of available water is also reduced, and Extreme E regularly highlighted this across the weekend.

Throughout its first race weekend, Extreme E also implemented several other measures that ensured it would be the most sustainable sport possible. No single-use plastics were used on site, communal water stations were placed, and food packaging was made from Polymateria (a biodegradable plastic). The batteries themselves were charged using hydrogen fuel cells manufactured by AFC Energy. These are completely emission free and only have water as a byproduct. The water from the fuel cell was collected and either used to clean the cars, or shared between local communities. AFC Energy also signed a memorandum of understanding with Altaaqa, operator of a large mobile diesel generator rental fleet, meaning both companies share a common goal of transitioning the region away from fossil fuel dependence, and towards zero emission energy. This, however, is not legally binding.

On the whole, it appears that Extreme E’s inaugural event was a big success both on and off the track. It is already clear that the series doing many things to ensure the only trace they leave is a positive legacy.

Imola Returns and Australian Grand Prix Postponed!

Formula One have today confirmed that the season opener, which was due to be held at Albert Park on 21st March, has been postponed. Imola, which was not due to hold a race this year, has also been confirmed to be the second race of the season, filling the Vietnam Void.

Bahrain will now be the opening race of the year, with lights out on 28th March. The Australian Grand Prix has now been moved to 19th-21st November, slotting in between Brazil and Saudi Arabia, both of whose dates have been moved to 5th-7th November and 3rd-5th December respectively. The season finale in Abu Dhabi has also been moved back a week to accommodate this.

The news of Australia’s postponement comes just one year on from the disaster weekend the FIA had at the same track. Appalling indecision and a lack of communication with the fans saw many people arriving at the track, only to be told the race was cancelled; hours before Free Practice One was due to start. Indeed, it may well have happened had it not been for a McLaren team member testing positive. It seems, however, that the FIA learned from this debacle and have therefore called off this year’s event in good time.

As a result of the cancellation, Winter Testing, which was supposed to take place from 2nd-4th March, could be rescheduled and relocated to Bahrain. However, talks with the teams are still ongoing on how they can fit this in.

Yet, the Australian Grand Prix is not the only race expected to be cancelled this year, with doubt also cast over the Chinese Grand Prix. It is believed that Portimao will fill the gap left by China should the event managers cancel it. With Imola set to take place on 16-18th April and a potential return to Portimao, there is much excitement among the fans.

Imola and Portimao were two of several tracks thrust into the 2020 calendar as the FIA tried to put a good package of races together in a Covid-affected season. Imola pleased fans with its history, and Portimao’s roller-coaster of a circuit provided an action-packed race. I don’t think there will be many complaints if they were to return again this year.

What We Learned From Formula E Testing

image courtesy of Sergio Sette Formula e

Earlier this week saw the return of Formula E, as the teams took to the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia to test their cars ahead of the 2020/21 Season. BMWi Andretti’s Maximilian Guenther was the quickest of all over one lap, but what can we actually learn from Formula E testing? Let’s find out!

Changes to Testing

Last year, the Ricardo Tormo circuit implemented a tight chicane into the first corner, in order to try and replicate some of the characteristics of Formula E’s famous (or infamous) street circuits. This year, though, that was removed in an attempt to minimise the risk of the cars sustaining damage. That wasn’t the only change either. Due to the somewhat creative interpretations of where the track limit was last year, it was decided that this year they would monitor it using sensors. The increased awareness of track limits also helped with the batteries’ operating temperatures. Unfortunately, because of all the changes to the track, comparing times with last year would not give an accurate representation of how the technology has developed since then.

Rookies Impressed:

Every year the quality of the Formula E Grid seems to get better and better and this year is no different. The new faces this year, Venturi’s Norman Nato, Andretti’s Jake Dennis, and Virgin’s Nick Cassidy, sprinted out of the starting blocks, posting competitive times almost immediately. By the end of testing, their quickest laps were all within 4 tenths of the overall fastest, Max Guenther, with Cassidy and Nato both quicker than their more experienced teammates.

NIO Resurgence:

It’s fair to say NIO have struggled to be competitive in recent years, often being the slowest car on the grid. However, that seems to have changed this year, as an all-new powertrain helped Oliver Turvey finish testing 10th quickest. NIO also completed the most laps of anyone with a total 535 across all three days; valuable data to help get to grips with the new system. As spectators, we can but hope that the clear improvement in one-lap pace, also means an improvement to their long run pace.

As Tight As Ever:

One of the best things about Formula E is the closeness of the racing, and this year it’s set to be the closest field ever. At the end of testing, all the drivers were covered by a little over half a second. The young Max Guenther lead the pack, but Audi’s Lucas Di Grassi brought up the rear just a mere 0.578 seconds behind. Audi themselves seemed to be a tad behind the others, perhaps as a result of their decision to pull out of the all electric series after this season, so that they can focus on Le Mans. With a field covered by so little, however, this season is going to be as close as ever. Any championship hopefuls will need to be incredibly consistent.

So now that testing has concluded, we have learned many things about what to expect in this coming season. NIO look like they can be competitive again, and anybody can win any race. We look destined to witness one of the best seasons of Formula E to date: you won’t want to miss it when it kicks off in Santiago on January 16th.

Reminiscing over Lewis Hamilton’s seven Championships

After a stunning display of driving during a tricky Turkish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton secured his seventh World Driver’s Championship.

Lewis Hamilton’s win in Turkey put him level with Michael Schumacher on seven championships – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

He now equals the legendary Michael Schumacher for championship wins, with many believing he will beat the record in the next few years. When Michael retired at the end of 2006 (and equally at the end of 2012 after his stint at Mercedes) it appears only he believed that his records could be broken. But just 8 years on from when Schumacher last raced in Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton has been able to match him. But how did Lewis win his championships? Let’s reminisce…

2008:

Lewis’ first championship came in just his second season in Formula One, following an incredible rookie campaign where he lost out on the championship to Kimi Raikkonen by just one point. Naturally for a rookie, you would assume the mistakes that cost him the 2007 title would affect him coming into the new season, but not so. He stormed to pole position at the Australian Grand Prix and subsequently took the chequered flag in a race that saw only 7 drivers finish – 6 after Rubens Barrichello was disqualified.

Hamilton’s quick start didn’t last long however,  as the next 4 races were dominated by Ferrari – Raikkonen and Felipe Massa winning alternately. Lewis achieved podium finishes in the Spanish and Turkish Grands Prix, but could not find a way past the prancing horses. Monaco followed, where Lewis took his first victory in the principality, despite a puncture sustained after making light contact with the barrier mid-race.

Lewis’ only retirement that season came due to a pit lane incident in Canada where he wiped both himself and Raikkonen out of the race, with Nico Rosberg needing a nose change.

Kimi Raikkonen’s wrecked Ferrari sits at the end of the pitlane after being wiped out by Hamilton – courtesy of Ferrari media

Perhaps Hamilton’s most famous victory that season (or even ever), came at Silverstone, where he charged through the lashing rain to lap the entire field bar 2nd and 3rd and finish a whopping one minute, eight seconds ahead of Nick Heidfeld in second. It was a race that saw many people give him the title “Rain Master”, and judging by his performance that day, he definitely deserved it.

Soon after came the controversy of Spa where Hamilton’s victory was stripped from him for leaving the track and gaining an advantage during a battle with Raikkonen. Kimi made slight contact with Lewis, causing the Brit to take to the run-off. Hamilton gave Kimi the position back, but received a 25 second time penalty after the race which saw him drop down to third; a decision that many saw as unfair.

Felipe Massa won the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix after controversy cost Hamilton the win – Courtesy of Ferrari Media

Following redemption in China, Lewis went into the final race in Brazil leading the championship by 7 points over Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. To win the championship Hamilton just needed to finish in 5th place or better, with Massa needing to win. Massa never really looked in doubt for the victory but after some rain started to fall in the closing laps, Hamilton lost fifth place to Sebastian Vettel. They battled hard and as Massa won the race the title looked to have slipped away. Until….”IS THAT GLOCK!?”.  Those imortalised words. The words that meant Lewis had won the championship. The words that stopped the premature celebrations in the Ferrari garage. Anybody who was watching that race (or have seen it since) will always remember the celebrations in the McLaren garage, the unfortunate incident between the Ferrari mechanic and the wall, and the crying Massa on top of the podium. It was a race, and a title battle, that has become the stuff of legends.

Hamilton’s last corner overtake cost a devastated felipe Massa the title in 2008 – Courtesy of Ferrari Media

It was a year in which Hamilton had made some mistakes, but had also had some incredible performances. His first title had gone down to the wire but in the end it would be difficult to say he didn’t deserve it. In just his second season in the sport, Lewis Hamilton was a world champion.

2014:

In the years between 2008 and 2014, Lewis Hamilton struggled to get a quick enough car beneath him to challenge for a title. Whilst he won a race in every single season, the Red Bull and the Brawn GP cars were just too quick week in week out to be able to chase his second drivers title.

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s dominance snuffed out Hamilton’s hopes of winning another championship in his McLaren days – courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

But that would soon change in 2014. Now with Mercedes, who Hamilton joined in 2013, Lewis partnered Nico Rosberg in a team that absolutely nailed the new engine regulations. The car was far superior to anyone else’s and that set up a tense Hamilton vs Rosberg title scrap.

Rosberg took first blood in Australia, winning by a comfortable margin over second placed debutant Kevin Magnussen. Lewis was forced to retire due to an engine issue. Hamilton then won the next four races, the most notable of which was Bahrain. Rosberg and Hamilton battled lap after lap but ultimately it was Lewis who came out on top. It remains to this day one of the most exciting battles for the lead of the modern era.

In Hungary, Hamilton got off to a poor start, sustaining front wing damage after colliding with the wall. Throughout the rest of the race, Hamilton had a great drive to finish 3rd, despite running in last place after the initial crash. Ricciardo won that race after Rosberg was punished by a late safety car.

Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of Mercedes’ struggles for the second time in 2014 in Hungary – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Tensions between the two started to fray in the following race in Belgium, as Rosberg made contact with Hamilton’s tire as the pair went into Les Combes. Lewis suffered a puncture and was later forced to retire from the race as a result. Again, it was Daniel Ricciardo who was there to sweep up and take the victory.

Hamilton then won the next five races, one of which was the Japanese Grand Prix, where we tragically saw the sport lose one of its most exciting young talents in Jules Bianchi.

Going into the Abu Dhabi finale, both Rosberg and Hamilton could still win the championship. In order to win, Lewis needed to finish in the top two, owing to the fact that the 2014 Abu Dhabi grand prix was the only race in history to offer double the usual number of points. Hamilton took the lead into the first corner and never looked like losing it. Whilst his teammate suffered car issues that saw him finish outside the points, Lewis went untroubled as he secured his second drivers title.

Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi victory in 2014 secured his second world title – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

It had been a year of dominance for Mercedes and Hamilton, with the team winning 16 of the 19 races and Lewis winning an incredible 11 of them. When Lewis wasn’t winning, he either finished on the podium or never finished at all, which in itself is very impressive. In a season that brought the world the Hamilton – Rosberg rivalry, it was first blood to Lewis.

2015:

2015 saw Mercedes continue to dominate the sport as Hamilton could not be matched by his teammate. Lewis took victory in three of the opening five rounds, finishing second in those he failed to win.

Then came Monaco, and a rare blunder in strategy for Mercedes saw Hamilton lose the lead and second place to Rosberg and Sebatian Vettel respectively. Mercedes decided it would be a good idea to pit Lewis whilst the virtual safety car was deployed following Verstappen’s heavy crash with the barrier at Sainte Devote. But the German team had misjudged Hamilton’s gap to his teammate, allowing Nico (who had stayed out) to pass him and take the lead of the race. It was a race-losing mistake as Lewis failed to regain the positions he had lost.

An ill-timed pit stop for Hamilton gave Nico Rosberg the win in Monaco in 2015 – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

So far the championship battle had been tightly contested between Hamilton and Rosberg with the gap never being larger than 28 points. However, it was Lewis who came back from the summer break in better form, winning in both Spa and crucially Italy, where Rosberg was forced to retire. The gap between the pair was beginning to grow larger and larger.

Hamilton then took victory in Japan and Russia, the latter proving to be very costly for Rosberg after he was again forced to retire from the race. This allowed Lewis to go into the race in the USA able to wrap up the title by outscoring Vettel by nine points and Rosberg by two. Rosberg started on pole with Lewis alongside. However, it was the brit who led into turn one after he got off of the line better and was able to hang Rosberg out to dry at the first corner. Hamilton lost the lead to Ricciardo later on in the race but was able to gain it back during the pit stops. Lewis went on to win followed by Rosberg and then Vettel, after a race-costing error by his team mate.

Hamilton took advantage of a crucial Rosberg mistake to win his third title in the USA in 2015 – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

With only three races to go, Hamilton could no longer be caught in the drivers championship and thus he was crowned champion. It would be Hamilton’s last victory of the season with Rosberg gaining momentum going into the following season.

The 2015 Formula One World Championship had by no means been a classic, but Lewis was able to capitalise on Rosberg’s unfortunate set of circumstances to take what turned out to be a dominant championship victory. Ferrari had just started to emerge as challengers, but nobody could match the consistency of both Hamilton and Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton was now a three-time world champion.

2017:

Following a challenging season in 2016, Hamilton went into 2017 with a fresh face in the other Mercedes. Reigning champion Nico Rosberg decided to leave the sport on a high following his one and only title win. It would be Williams’ Valtteri Bottas who would partner Lewis for the 2017 season. But could he prove a close match for Hamilton?

Nico Rosberg won his sole championship in 2016 following an intense finale in Abu Dhabi – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

In short: no.  Lewis did not have the championship all his own way, however. After a disappointing 2016, which saw them fail to improve on the promising results of 2015, it was Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari who would prove to be Hamilton’s closest competition. Vettel started the season strongly taking 3 victories and 3 second place finishes in the first 6 races, whilst Hamilton was only able to achieve 4 podium finishes in that time. By this time, Vettel led the championship by 25 points.

Tensions between Vettel and Hamilton were beginning to boil over however, as an incident under the safety car in Azerbaijan saw Lewis and Sebastian both fail to finish on the podium. Hamilton was leading when the safety car was called out with Vettel right behind him. Coming out of Turn 15, Vettel accelerated a lot more than Hamilton, subsequently causing the German to run into the back of him. Vettel wrongly believed that Lewis had brake-checked him and came alongside the Mercedes driver and drove into him. Sebastian was later given a ten second stop/go penalty for this incident. Whilst Vettel served his penalty, Hamilton’s head restraint started to come loose and he was forced to pit on safety grounds to fix it. Lewis eventually finished behind Sebastian with Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, despite dropping to the back of the field on Lap 1. It would be one of the most exciting races of 2017.

Despite a penalty for a moment of road rage, Vettel still managed to finish ahead of Hamilton in Baku in 2017 – Courtesy of Ferrari Media

Silverstone has always been a special place for Lewis, and that proved to be so in 2017. Lewis himself had a comfortable lead throughout the entire race, but his luck really played out when both Ferraris suffered punctures. Vettel’s puncture came at the worst possible time for him, as he had to crawl almost the entire way around the track on 3 wheels. With Lewis winning the race and Sebastian finishing seventh, the gap in championship was down to just a single point in Vettel’s favour.

Lewis, however, is famous for coming alive in the second half of seasons and 2017 was no different. Victories in Belgium and Italy preceded a victory in the infamous 2017 Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton started a lot lower down the order than expected, but rain before the race had started to cause some intrigue. The drivers arrived in their grid slots at the end of the formation lap and the lights started to turn on. As they turned out, Vettel moved over to the left-hand side of the track in order to cover off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Unbeknownst to Vettel however, his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, had made an even better start and was on the other side of Verstappen. Three cars tried to be in one place at the same time and all three crashed out of the race, allowing Hamilton to take the lead; something he would not go on to lose.

A dramatic collision off the line saw Vettel, Raikkonen and Max Verstappen retire from the race in Singapore in 2017 – Courtesy of LAT Images

Victory in Japan and then the USA saw Hamilton place one hand on the championship, especially after Vettel retired in Japan following a spark plug problem. Lewis went into the Mexican Grand Prix just needing to fail to be outscored by Vettel by 16 points to have an unattainable lead over the rest of the field. However, it would not be as simple as it appears. Following a long run off the line into the first corner, Vettel, Verstappen and Hamilton were all jostling for the lead into Turn 1. Then, disaster struck, as contact with Verstappen caused Vettel to puncture Lewis’ rear tire as he himself sustained significant wing damage. Both came into the pits at the end of the first lap and the rest of the race became a reconnaissance mission. Vettel was able to climb his way back to fourth position, whilst Lewis could only finish P9. This, though, was enough to secure Lewis the championship.

Hamilton’s ninth-placed finish was enough to earn him his fourth world championship at the Mexican Grand Prix in 2017 – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

The 2017 season gave birth to the Vettel-Hamilton rivalry; something that was much needed for the sport to be entertaining. Lewis’ new teammate Valtteri Bottas proved to be an excellent number two driver, but just couldn’t match Hamilton across the entire season and so, had it not been for Vettel and Ferrari, we would have been in for a very uninteresting season. It was a season in which the championship was neck and neck for large portions but, in the end, it was Lewis who was able to match Sebastian on 4 world drivers championship titles.

2018:

Many saw the 2018 season as the “race to five championships” as Hamilton and Vettel looked to renew their rivalry coming into the new campaign. As with the season prior, Ferrari looked to be on par with Hamilton and Mercedes, and it’s safe to say Bottas did not.

Vettel started the season strongly, taking victory in the first two rounds in Australia and Bahrain to immediately put him in the lead of the championship. Hamilton bounced back in Azerbaijan, though, after he capitalised on an unfortunate incident that gave teammate Bottas (who was winning at the time) a puncture and caused him to retire. It was believed that the puncture was caused by some debris that had not been removed following the safety car restart. The victory moved Hamilton into the lead of the championship by just four points over Vettel.

Race winner Hamilton consoles Valtteri Bottas after a penultimate lap puncture cost the Finn victory at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

The championship swung again in Austria, where both Hamilton and Bottas suffered from engine and gearbox troubles and were both forced to retire from the race. With Vettel finishing in 3rd, he retook the championship lead by a single point. This was then extended to eight points the following race as Vettel took the victory at Silverstone – Hamilton’s “back yard”.

It was ultimately Lewis who had the last laugh though as a very tricky race in Germany saw Vettel crash in changing conditions and Hamilton win. After an issue in Qualifying 1 prevented him from completing the rest of qualifying, Lewis started from 14th place on the grid. The race began and Vettel was comfortably leading the way, whilst Lewis slowly climbed up the order. Then the rain started  to fall. In the wet conditions, race leader Vettel locked up his brakes and got buried in the gravel trap. He was out. In order to retrieve Vettel’s stricken car, the stewards brought out a safety car and Bottas, who had inherited the race lead, was pitted.

The team, however, were not ready for him and the resulting chaos meant he was stationary for twenty seconds. A miscommunication with his engineer also saw Hamilton begin to come into the pits but change his mind, causing him to allegedly cross the white line. He then took the victory but was summoned to the stewards for the pit lane incident. Hamilton was not given a penalty, a decision which many saw as controversial. This was the turning point in the championship.

Hamilton claimed victory in a remarkable and dramatic German grand prix in 2018 – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Lewis went on to win five of the next six races, whilst Vettel continued to struggle under the pressure. The gap between the pair had grown to 70 points heading into the Mexican Grand Prix and all Hamilton had to do to claim his 5th world drivers championship was fail to be outscored by Vettel by 21 points. The race itself was largely uneventful as Hamilton sought to secure his position (4th) and thereby the championship. Lewis now had an unattainable lead over second place Vettel and the championship was sealed with two races to go.

When you look back on the 2018 season, you can’t help but think that Vettel’s unforced error in Germany affected him greatly. From that point forward, Hamilton and Mercedes were streaks ahead of the rest and only Bottas had a chance at challenging him. For the second season in a row Bottas failed to do so. Lewis had had an incredibly consistent year, rarely finishing off of the podium. He was the deserved champion, and Juan Manuel Fangio’s number of titles had just been equaled.

For the second consecutive year, Hamilton claimed the championship in Mexico in 2018 – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

2019:

It’s fair to say Mercedes hadn’t truly dominated the sport for a couple of seasons; they took it upon themselves to put that right. The opening five races were 1-2s for the German team as Hamilton won 3 and Bottas won 2. In order for the viewers to have a championship battle to watch, Bottas needed to step up his game from 2018. And to his credit, he did.

Despite Bottas’ uptake in form, it was still not quick enough to cause Lewis too many problems, with the Brit having won 7 of the 10 completed races heading into Germany. But Germany 2019 was an uncharacteristic race for Lewis to say the least. The race eventually started in heavy rain after several formation laps, then the chaos started.

The tricky conditions saw drivers were unable to keep the car in a straight line, spinning off and crashing constantly. On Lap 22, Leclerc was a victim of the slippery track and got beached into the gravel. Hamilton joined him that same lap, making contact with the wall, but unlike Leclerc was able to get out of the gravel trap. Lewis needed to pit but in doing so crossed the same white line he allegedly crossed at the same track the year prior.

Panic ensued in the Mercedes garage as they were not expecting Lewis and did not have the tries or a new front wing ready. To top it off, Lewis received a penalty for crossing the white line. Later on in the race, Hamilton spun at turn one; this time just avoiding the barriers. His teammate also spun there, but was not so lucky. In a race where Bottas could have capitalised on Hamilton’s errors, the Finn went home empty handed as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the victory. By this stage the gap in the championship was 41 points.

Max Verstappen won a phenomenal German Grand Prix after a disastrous day for Mercedes – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

After the summer break, Ferrari  – who had looked good on one lap pace all season – were finally able to take three victories in a row, the first being the tough weekend in Belgium which had seen the loss of rising star Anthoine Hubert in the F2 Feature Race. Ferrari’s pace wouldn’t last long though as Hamilton won in Russia, and then again in Mexico, sandwiching a Bottas victory in Japan. Going into the US Grand Prix, Bottas needed to outscore Lewis by 22 points to prevent him from taking the title. The weekend started well for the Finn as he took pole with Lewis down in fifth. Bottas went on to win the race, but with Lewis finishing second, the championship had been sealed.

Despite Bottas’ victory, Hamilton’s second placed finish sealed his sixth world title – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

With the Mercedes being as dominant as they were at the start of the season, the responsibility of having a championship battle rested solely on Bottas’ shoulders.  Whilst his performances were much improved, he could not match Lewis’ consistency and some impressive drives made branded him a deserved winner. Lewis Hamilton was by now a six time world champion. Roll on 2020!

2020:

How else can you describe 2020 other than “it was 2020”? A season that was hotly tipped to be incredible ground to a halt before it even got started in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a considerable time away from the track, the season did eventually start with a new-look race calendar in Austria.

When the teams arrived in Austria, it was Mercedes yet again who dominated the field. The main challengers from prior seasons, Ferrari, had endured a woeful time developing the car and they had become the fifth and occasionally even sixth fastest team. The only team that could challenge Mercedes would be Red Bull, whose car was not fast enough to be a true title contender. Yet again, a title battle rested on Bottas’ shoulders.

Bottas started the season the stronger of the two Mercedes drivers, winning a crazy first race which saw just 11 finishers. Hamilton crossed the line in second place but was dropped down to fourth after he received a penalty for causing a collision with Alex Albon.

Bottas’ victory in the first race in Austria has been one of the few highlights of the season for the Finn – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Lewis bounced back in the following two races, however, taking victory in both the second race in Austria, and the Hungarian Grand Prix.

This saw Lewis enter the first race in Silverstone five points clear of Bottas in the championship standings. Hamilton started on pole at the British Grand Prix and looked comfortable in the lead for almost the entire race. However, in the dying laps, teammate Valtteri Bottas started complaining of vibrations on his tires. Soon after that, his front left tire became punctured and he dropped to the back of the pack as he made a pit stop. To add to the drama, on the final lap, Hamilton’s left front also blew out and he was forced to complete the race with only three inflated wheels, a la Lightning McQueen. Second placed Max Verstappen slowly closed the gap between him and Lewis, just falling short at the line as Lewis took an unprecedented victory.

Following a bizarre final few laps, Hamilton won the British Grand Prix this year – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Further victories in Spain and Belgium meant Lewis went into the Italian Grand Prix 47 points clear of Max Verstappen, who had overtaken Bottas for 2nd in the championship. But the Italian Grand Prix proved tricky for Hamilton, who was only able to finish seventh, despite starting on pole. A rare loss of concentration meant Lewis came into the pits after it had closed and subsequently picked up a ten second stop/go penalty. Bottas, whose only issue that race was that he didn’t feel like being quick, failed to capitalise on Lewis’ error. Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly went on to take the victory – a very popular winner.

A pit lane blunder from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in Monza opened the door for a remarkable Pierre Gasly win – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Victories in four of the next five races meant Hamilton went into a slippery Turkish Grand Prix needing to avoid being outscored by Bottas by eight points to retain the title. Rain, paired with the resurfacing of the track, meant there was very little grip and we were in for a cracking grand prix. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll led from pole position and it looked as if we would have a new race winner.

However, after the first round of pit stops, Stroll dropped off in pace and Lewis was slowly starting to get quicker. As the track dried, Hamilton was one of the few drivers able to keep his car in a straight line and as his tires wore out, the wet weather intermediate tire became more like a very soft slick, allowing him to keep them in a good temperature window. The way he nursed the tires to the end of the race and took victory was extremely impressive. It was a race deserving of sealing his seventh title.

2020 has posed many challenges to the teams and drivers, but the ever-adaptable Lewis Hamilton showed us once again why he deserved to win the championship this season.

Hamilton will now be gunning for an eighth world championship and the title of the most successful driver in Formula One history – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

So, they are Lewis’ seven world championships to date. Throughout his career he has shown the world the sheer amount of talent he has. Yes, he has had the best car for almost all of his championships, but it is near impossible to win one without the best car, especially with the amount of races we see today. To suggest it is all the car is also naive. If it were all the car, how come Rosberg didn’t beat him more often? How come Bottas isn’t closer in pace? The truth is Hamilton is one of the sport’s all-time greatest drivers and thoroughly deserves to be a seven time world champion. Many believed Schumacher’s records would not be broken for a long time, but Hamilton has now matched him and could potentially beat him next year. He is one of the most successful drivers in the sport and still he rises!

The Problems With The Provisional F1 2021 Calendar

Earlier this week Liberty Media released the provisional calendar for the 2021 Formula One season. While there were minimal surprises, it raised some eyebrows about the integrity of the sport.

Many believe that the idea of racing in countries with less than ideal human rights records contradicts the mantra “We Race As One” that Formula One has been pushing so often this year. With races in Bahrain and China, as well as the new Saudi Arabia race, many believe that F1 should not be holding races, and thereby drawing in fans, in countries where seemingly dodgy political regimes can reap the economic rewards.

To counter that, some have argued that it isn’t fair to punish the inhabitants (for whom many will not have had a say in who runs their country) by not allowing any international sport to be held for them to see. Ultimately though, money talks and therefore Formula One is unlikely to avoid controversial venues if they have suitable funds.

Another issue some have raised is Liberty Media’s insistence on quantity over quality. Initial plans are for a 23-race season sometimes covering tracks that have famously struggled to produce exciting racing. F1 is entertainment as much as sport, and as a result fan enjoyment should be a top priority. If you were to ask F1 fans to create their dream race calendar, very few would have as many as 23 venues, and even fewer would include the likes of France and Spain.

By focusing on the number of races over the quality of the racing the track produces, some believe you run the risk of wearing the fans out. Yes, we love racing, but if you’re tuning in every weekend to watch very little of it, you’re going to get worn out and lose some love for the sport. This is all without mentioning the impact on the teams being away from their families for so long.

At the end of the day, Formula One is seen by the owners as a business over a form of entertainment and therefore Liberty Media are certain to want a race calendar that can maximise their profit. Fan opinion is just an aside.

Feature image courtesy of Racing Point F1 Media

Hamilton vs Rosberg: The battle Resumes!

image courtesy of Extreme E

The 2016 Formula One World Championship winner, Nico Rosberg, has announced that he will enter a team into the new electric rally series, Extreme E. Rosberg Xtreme Racing will make its debut in January 2021 when the all new Extreme E racing series begins on the beaches of Lac Rose in Senegal.

Speaking about the announcement, Nico Rosberg has said “We are thrilled to unveil Rosberg Xtreme Racing as the latest edition to Extreme E. The series represents an amazing opportunity to not only drive awareness, but also inspire action against climate change…. Since retiring from F1 I have dedicated my career to sustainable technologies…. to combine these endeavours with my passion for racing is incredibly fulfilling.”

Indeed, since his shock retirement from F1 in 2016, Rosberg has invested in several successful sustainability initiatives, and in 2019, he founded the GREENTECH FESTIVAL, a place to show off what the latest advancements in sustainable technology can do.

Season 1 of Extreme E is now set to field nine teams with the likes of german racing team ABT, american outfit Chip Ganassi Racing, and 6 time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44, all in line to race across different, climate-struck locations around the globe. With Rosberg’s team joining the fray, fans are preparing to witness the revival of the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry that fascinated audiences the world over from 2013-2016.

Many saw Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes in 2013 as a big gamble; even a mistake, but when the team nailed the new regulations in 2014, Mercedes were well clear of the pack. Thus ensued a three season long battle between the brit and the german, with Nico Rosberg finally getting the better of his teammate in 2016, clinching the driver’s title in a tense Abu Dhabi finale. Nico promptly announced his retirement from the sport and replacement Valtteri Bottas has struggled to match Hamilton to the extent of his predecessor. As a result, many fans have come to the realisation that the Lewis-Nico rivalry was something to be savoured. Now it returns in Extreme E, the excitement can start up again.

Extreme E has already announced a star-studded team entry list and a race calendar that has never been seen before. It is tipped to be an incredible series that you won’t want to miss when it begins on 23 and 24th January 2021.