Ferrari go into the Belgian Grand Prix at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps facing a much bigger fight for second place in the Constructors’ Championship than they imagined.
A mixture of bad luck and poor strategy has cost Sebastian Vettel the Drivers’ Championship title tilt that many predicted, as the multiple retirements and unnecessary pitstops see the German four-time World Champion languish down in fifth place.
If ever there was a circuit for Ferrari, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to start improving their fortunes then Spa is the place.
From the mid-noughties, the circuit almost became Raikkonen’s playground as he took victory in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 for both McLaren and Ferrari to take four wins in five stagings of the event.
Vettel too has success in the Ardennes Forest, with two wins in 2011 and 2013 as he enjoyed dominance on a broader scale in F1.
Ferrari themselves have won 16 times in Belgium, both at Spa and at Zolder, although their last Belgian victory came courtesy of Raikkonen in 2009.
This season has at best been unkind to the Scarlet squad. Strategic woes set in from the off as Ferrari converted an almost certain win for Vettel into third place as they pitted him from the lead, before engine failure in Bahrain and a collision with Daniil Kvyat in Russia.
A gearbox penalty put him out of position in Monaco, while a tyre failure saw him take a trip to the wall in Austria, while at Canada he was called into the pits early from the lead and the subsequent two-stopper didn’t work. Since then, it’s been an inconsistent season as Red Bull have overhauled the Prancing Horse.
Mercedes have been allowed to romp away with both Championships as a result of their own consistency coupled with the inconsistency of their opposition, while Ferrari have also been hit by Technical Director James Allison’s departure from the team for personal reasons.
So, will Raikkonen continue his love affair with the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to silence those that feel he doesn’t deserve a seat at Ferrari next year? Can Vettel begin to right the wrongs of 2016 thus far? And will Ferrari give them a car to challenge the Red Bulls and Mercedes?
Red Bull will hope to continue their dominance over Ferrari as Formula One returns from the mid-season break.
The Milton Keynes team have a 14-point advantage over the Italians in the Constructors’ Championship but lie 159 points behind Mercedes.
Christian Horner’s leadership of his team has been impressive as talented driver Max Verstappen has come through Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso.
Whilst Daniel Ricciardo has equally improved since he has worn the famous Red and Blue.
Though the team boss told Motorsport.com that he is aware that one day there may be a battle between the drivers for supremacy, as Mercedes are experiencing this year: With Max and Daniel we’ve got one of-if not the most-exciting driver pairings in F1.
I think as long as we deal with it in an open and honest manner and it’s clear what the objectives of the team are, we will deal with any speed bumps that come our way”.
Spa is next on the Formula One Grand Prix schedule and Red Bull have not fared well in Belgium.
Daniil Kyvat, was demoted to Toro Rosso as he struggled in the early part of the season, subsequently he was replaced by Max Verstappen.
The Russian finished in fourth but Ricciardo did not finish the race in 2015 however the Australian won in Belgium two years ago, stating:
“Spa is cool and the track is amazing. It’s very historic, fast and flowing. I have had a win here so it has always been a good track to return to for me”.
Max Verstappen exploded onto the Formula 1 scene in 2015, and his rise has been nothing short of remarkable. He has rewritten what many though possible for a driver at such a young age. He has caused controversy, created splendour, and enlivened many a race in his so far short career. Along the way, there have been many impressive drives, culminating in his stunning first win for Red Bull in Spain this year.
The start of something special
Perhaps the first indication that Max was indeed a special driver, came in Malaysia 2015. Qualifying was held in atrocious conditions, and Max made it safely to Q3. During the session, he qualified in an incredible 6th position. The race was even more impressive. Some incredible race craft,particulary going around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo, netted a solid 7th place finish. This made him the youngest points scorer in F1 history, at 17 years and 180 days. He beat Danii Kvyat’s record of 19 years and 324 days by more than two years.
Malaysia was the first indication that Max’s age would not hinder him. Far from it, it looked like it might actually help him. Could he go on to achieve Sebastian Vettel like success, except even younger? The Chinese Grand Prix showed even more promise.
The next race in Shanghai showed the incredible overtaking talent of Verstappen. Battling with the Sauber’s, he made some stunning overtaking moves into the hairpin at the end of Shanghai’s back straight, at one point virtually frightening Marcus Ericsson out of the way. He hadn’t expected an underpowered Toro Rosso to be up his inside! A similar move was made on Ericsson’s teammate, Felipe Nasr. As Verstappen made his mark, teammate Sainz was spinning to the back at turn one. Sainz was currently being rather overshadowed. Sadly, for Verstappen, all of his hard work went unrewarded. Just a couple of laps from the end of the race, his car came to a shuddering halt, thanks to a technical failure. A gutting end to a brilliant drive.
Max showed further overtaking perfection in the Belgian Grand Prix. He pulled a stunning move around the outside of Nasr into Blanchimont, going off the track but keeping his foot down, before completing the move into the bus stop chicane.
Further brilliance was shown in the penultimate race of the year, in Brazil. Verstappen made a stunning move around the outside of Perez into the Senna esses, quite possibly his overtake of the season. This followed some bold moves on the likes of Vettel in the US Grand Prix, where he took another fourth place finish. He only narrowly missed out on the podium as well. Verstappens bold overtaking was gaining him a remarkable number of fans, in what was a frustratingly one sided 2015 season.
Verstappen’s rise to the top has been meteoric. After four races of 2016, Daniil Kvyat was dropped from the main Red Bull team, and Verstappen was put in his place. The move was seen as controversial, particularly as Kvyat had taken Red Bull’s first podium of the season in China. The switch came ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
No one expected Verstappen to get up to speed with the RB12 instantly. It would always to take to get used to a new car, particularly one as good as the ever improving Red Bull. But his speed in practice was impressive, finishing fourth behind teammate Ricciardo. He claimed he was still getting up to speed too, which was encouraging for the rest of the weekend! Qualifying though was fantastic, and he forced Ricciardo into leaving it to the wire to decide who would line up behind the Mercedes pair. After a mistake by Hamilton put him provisionally second, Verstappen eventually took fourth, a stunning lap from Ricciardo just edging him out. It was a terrific performance though for his first qualifying with Red Bull.
Then came race day…
Barely legal for the Champagne
We all know what happened on lap one. Rosberg and Hamilton took each-other before the race had hardly begun, which left the Red Bull’s one and two, Ricciardo leading. And thus followed quite possibly the race of the season so far. Ricciardo restarted the race well following the safety car, with Carlos Sainz third. The Ferrari pair swiftly passed the Toro Rosso. Vettel and Raikkonen were arguably faster than the Red Bull’s. Indeed, when in clear air, Vettel was quicker than the RB12’s. But the Red Bull’s superior traction out of the last corner meant the Ferrari’s never had the chance to pass them into turn one with the DRS.
As the race went on, Ricciardo couldn’t quite drop Verstappen. He followed in his footsteps, matching, and sometimes bettering, his pace. Things then began to get very interesting! Vettel and Ricciardo were on different strategies than Verstappen and Raikkonen. They were on the favoured three stop, with the other pair on the two stopper. This strategy shafted Ricciardo, cycling him behind Vettel after the last pit stops. Verstappen though, was managing his tyres beautifully, but Raikkonen was bearing down on him. There were three questions that needed answering. Would the Ferrari and Red Bull’s tyres last? Would Vettel and Ricciardo catch them? And, if they stayed ahead of their teammates, would Raikkonen get past Verstappen?
As it turned out, neither Vettel or Ricciardo caught Verstappen. The Australian’s left rear blew up with just a handful of laps to go, after failing to pass Vettel. Vettel never closed up to the pair ahead due his battles with Ricciardo. And despite immense pressure, Verstappen held off Raikkonen and took a stunning first win in only his first start with Red Bull.
It was the biggest sporting news of the weekend, and made headlines all around the globe. He had defied all the critics who had questioned his promotion to F1 pre 2015. He had shown that age is just a number. He had done something incredible. At the age of just 18, Max Verstappen was a Grand Prix winner.
The star still rises
The following race in Monaco was a disaster for Verstappen, crashing out in both qualifying and the race. But since then, impressive drives have followed in Canada, Austria, and Silverstone, to net three more podiums. A disappointing Hungarian Grand Prix was soon forgotten about with another podium in Germany.
Verstappen’s star continues to rise. The question is, how far can it continue to do so?
An interesting season for Scuderia Toro Rosso so far, before the Spanish Grand Prix Max Verstappen was swapped with Daniil Kvyat, a move which cost points to Toro Rosso.
Toro Rosso is currently sixth, behind Force India, but it will be difficult for the team to score points and finish higher than that position.
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Best Result: 6th
Carlos Sainz is trying to finish in the points in every race, but he struggles as he doesn’t have a very competitive car. Carlos best finish position was the 6th place in the home race in Spain, he started the race from the eighth position. Sainz is eleventh in the drivers’ standings, only three points behind Nico Hulkenberg.
Best Result: 3rd
Daniil Kvyat had to change teams, before Spain. Daniil swapped his seat in Red Bull with Max Verstappen. A move which he didn’t like, but he had to accept it. Kvyat needed some time to get used the new car and the new settings. His best result was the 3rd place in China with Red Bull Racing.
A dream season for McLaren so far. Compared to their last season’s results, McLaren-Honda shows a totally different face. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso scored 41 points for the British team. Despite some reliability issues, McLaren has made a significant improvement and makes me think that next season they might be very close to the top team. In Hungary, both drivers entered the final stage of the qualifying session, for the first time since 2014.
Best Result: 5th
Fernando Alonso has finished only six of the twelve races, due to reliability issues. The Spaniard looks satisfied with the MP4-31 and he has scored 24 points so far. Fernando is in the 13th position, just four points behind Grosjean and six points behind Sainz.
Best Result: 6th
Jenson Button looks calm and he enjoys his moments in the sport. Jenson scored fewer points than his team-mate, but their results are almost similar. Button’s contract ends this season and McLaren might replace him with Vandoorne who scored McLaren’s first point this season in Bahrain.
Haas couldn’t imagine a better debut season, the team has 28 points so far and they look very competitive to the low budget teams. They managed to finish in the top six and in the top fifth in the first two races of the season, since then they finished only two times in the top 10, but still, it’s a great achievement for them.
Best Result: 5th
Romain Grosjean is the driver who has scored all the points for Haas. The French, finished four times in the points, in the first two races he finished sixth and fifth respectively. Generally, it’s a positive season for Romain who has out-raced and outscored his team-mate.
Best Result: 11th
No points for Gutierrez so far this season, but the Mexican finished four times eleventh and also Esteban finished in front of his team-mate in the last two races. Luck is not with him so far, but I believe that he will get his chance and he will score his first point with Haas.
Renault returned to Formula 1 after six years of absence. It was known that it will be a difficult season for Renault. They didn’t have the required time to build a proper car, but despite their issues, they managed to score six points. Renault hasn’t announced their driver line-up for 2017 and it will be interesting to see if they will keep Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.
Best Result: 7th
Kevin Magnussen decided to join Renault and try his luck for the second time in Formula 1. The Danish driver is the one who scored the first points for Renault so far, he finished 7th in Russia. His future in Formula 1 is not clear yet.
Best Result: 11th
Palmer is on the of the rookie drivers this season, the British showed some good driving skills at the start of the season and he almost scored his first point in Formula 1 in Australia, but Jolyon finished 11th behind Max Verstappen.
Manor scored their first point of the season in Austria, and that was the second time where the team finishes in the points in their Formula 1 history. Manor decided to replace Rio Haryanto with Esteban Oco for the second half of the season.
Best Result: 10th
Pascal scored his first point in his Formula 1 career in Austria, his results are better than Rio Haryanto’s and the German has high chances to remain in Formula 1, and maybe sign a contract with a bigger team in the future.
Best Result: 15th
Bad season for Rio Haryanto, Manor’s driver struggles to finish above the 15th position and the team will replace him with Esteban Oco. Haryanto will remain in Manor as a reverse driver.
Sauber is the only team who hasn’t score a point far. Financial problems keep the team behind. Good news is that new owners were announced and will be revealed in July. That allows for the team to upgrade the existing car. A new front wing will be available for Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr in Belgium.
Best Result: 12th
Marcus Ericsson hasn’t scored a point in this season and his results are similar with Felipe Nasr. Marcus finished twice in the 12th position, the first one was in Bahrain and the second one was in Barcelona.
Best Result: 12th
The Brazilian, had some nice highlights during the season with wheel to wheel battles, but Sauber lack of power didn’t allow him to challenge his opponents. Nasr’s best result was in Baku circuits where he finished 12th.
Next race will take place in Belgium, Spa at the end of the month. Take a deep breath, Formula 1 is almost back!
The ideal way to spend your summer break is to be on the beach, with friends and drink cocktails. But if you are a motorsport fan you will not be satisfied until your read an article about Formula 1.
Now you can relax, put your sunglasses on and enjoy the fresh summer mood article.
It’s the best time of the season to analyse how good each time and driver was during the first half of the season.
Another great season for Mercedes so far, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collected 415 combined and they are the first two drivers in the championship standings. Mercedes won 11 of the 12 races, Max Verstappen with Red Bull Racing was the only driver who managed to beat Mercedes and win the Spanish Grand Prix.
Best Result: 1st (6 wins)
Lewis Hamilton had a bad start this seasons, in Australia, he finished second behind his team-mate Nico Rosberg and in Bahrain Hamilton finished third. Everyone had high expectations from the three times world champion, but the Brit needed some time to return to his top form.
After the Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton, realised that if he wants to win this season’s title he must beat his team-mate. Lewis won his first Grand Prix of the season in Monaco, it was the begging of his dominance. After Spain, Hamilton won six of the seven races and now he is on the top of the drivers’ standings.
Best Result: 1st (5 wins)
Nico Rosberg started the season with the ideal way. The German won the first four races and showed that this year he will stop Hamilton’s dominance and win the title. After the collision he had with his team-mate in Spain, Nico’s performance wasn’t as good as it was before Spain. Rosberg managed to win only one of the seven races. Nico couldn’t follow his team-mate form and dropped to the second position, 19 points behind Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull decided to swap Daniil Kvyat with the young Max Verstappen during the season, a move which proved to be right for the team. Max Verstappen’s abilities gave more points to the team and improve their position in the constructors’ standings. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen scored 256 points so far.
Best Result: 2nd
A very positive season for Daniel Ricciardo so far, the Australian finished on the podium the last two races, and he almost won in Monaco. Daniel finished twice in the second place, the first time was in Monaco and the second time was in Germany. He is the only driver who managed to get the pole from Mercedes and he achieved that in Monaco.
Best Result: 1st
No words can describe Max Verstappen’s season. The Dutch won in his debut with Red Bull in Spain and he became the youngest driver who wins a race in Formula 1. After Spain, Max has scored more points than any other driver (except Lewis Hamilton). In every race, he shows how skilful driver he is and why he deserves a seat in Formula 1.
Ferrari started the season with high expectations, in the first races, Ferrari was close to Mercedes and they always had a driver on the podium. In Canada, Sebastian Vettel finished second, almost five seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, but after that race, Ferrari’s performance dropped dramatically. The Italians couldn’t follow Mercedes’s pace and they lost the second position from Red Bull.
Ferrari collected 242 points so far.
Best Result: 2nd
The four-time world champion finished five times on the podium, three of the five times Sebastian finished second. Vettel hasn’t finished on the podium in the last four races. The German struggles to beat his team-mate have dropped to the fifth position. Hopefully, Vettel will be better after the summer break and he will manage to challenge Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull.
Best Result: 2nd
Kimi Raikkonen forced Ferrari, with his results, to renew his contract for another season, and secured a seat in Formula 1 for 2017. The Finn has a good season and despite Ferrari’s issues, he managed to score 122 points and be ahead of his team-mate. Kimi is enjoying every moment in Formula 1. Raikkonen finished four times on the podium, his best result was the second place in Bahrain and the second place in Spain. A few days ago, Kimi Raikkonen married Minttu Virtanen in Italy (F1 Gossip).
It was clear before the season premiere that this season will be tough for Williams. Despite the parts on the FW38 Williams still, struggles to find the required speed in order to finish in the top 4. Valtteri Bottas managed to finish on the podium once and that was in Canada. Not the best season for Williams so far, Bottas and Felipe Massa collected 96 points combined.
Best Result: 3rd
Bottas is trying to keep Williams in the game, has scored more points than his team-mate and managed to finish on the podium in Montreal. It is clear that Bottas can’t challenge Max Verstappen for the sixth position, as the gap between them is 57 points.
Best Result: 5th
Felipe Massa started impressively the season, he finished in the points in the first six races, but that was not enough to secure him enough points in order to be close to his team-mate. The Brazilian cannot find the speed he used to have as a Formula 1 and shows that it will be difficult for him to have a seat in the sport the next season.
Sahara Force India
Force India has a positive season so far, despite the first disappointing results, scored eight points in the first four races, they managed to improve their performance and scored 73 extra points. Team’s aim is to catch and pass Williams in the constructors’ standings.
Best Result: 3rd
Checo has finished twice on the podium (3rd place) so far, the first time was in Monaco and the second one was in Baku. The Mexican scored 48 points and he is only ten behind Valtteri Bottas.
Best Result: 6th
Hulkenberg is not as good as his team-mate, he has scored fewer points, but still, his role is important for the team and his last results show that he is becoming better. The summer break might affect him positively and might help him to score points in Spa and Monza.
This is the first part of the summer break analysis, more to follow the next days. Enjoy the summer.
We managed to get hold of a Team Lotus member from the 1960s – Tony Rudlin, himself a racing driver at one time, who was team manager for the Formula 2 effort at Lotus, and got to see the very best and worst of the great marque during changing times for the team! We asked him a few questions about his time there and the team itself.
Q: How much of a revelation to the team was the Cosworth engine?
Tony Rudlin (TR): Cosworth was God. Well Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth were. Keith was more stay at home and get on with the job while Mike liked to get into the factory and work alongside mechanics and Team Managers. My best moment? A flight in Mike’s Bell Helicopter.
Q: Do you think that Colin Chapman would have approved of the technological leaps in modern F1?
TR: I think CC would have been bemused by the way Grand Prix is run these days. His idea of racing was you got a driver who showed promise, Peterson, Fittipaldi etc, and build a car calculated to win races and fall to pieces on the finishing line. He had very little time for politics and, until Jimmy Clark hit the tree, even less time for the safety aspects of racing. And he would have gone potty about all the stupid in-car instruction from non-drivers in the pits.
Q: Which driver for Team Lotus did you most enjoy working alongside?
TR: What do you mean by who was the most accessible? Jack Oliver was OK but a bit obsessive, Clark was quiet and friendly and Graham Hill could be a bit gritty if things weren’t going right. For instance, Montjuich 1968. Race Control had forgotten to order a little thing like fuel. Jack was stressed, Clark didn’t even seem to notice, Graham made arrangements to siphon fuel from road cars. And Chapman? He was obsessed by why his cars weren’t the fastest in practice.
Q: What do you think was the biggest leap forward you saw for Grand Prix racing during your time as manager?
TR: Painting the cars in sponsors colours instead of colours associated with their home country? I think I’m right in saying that Player’s (the tobacco company which produced Gold Leaf) gave Lotus £50,000 for the first year’s sponsorship and they didn’t know what to do with it. But I think the sexiest car to ever exit the pits was the Lotus 72E.
Q: Is it true that Graham Hill held the best post race parties?
TR: Graham Hill was always a party waiting to happen. I remember one party, from my fading memory I pluck Enna as the venue, after Graham, slightly smashed, jumped on a long table and shimmied along it. Half way along he went down on one knee for dramatic effect. When he stood up the stem of a wine glass was jutting from his knee. It didn’t faze him until I pointed it out. He simply pulled it out and went on with the dance. (Read MR MONACO. Graham Hill Remembered By Tony Rudlin. Often cited as the worst book ever written about Motor Racing.)
Q: Did you prefer the British Racing Green or Gold Leaf colours?
TR: I’m afraid – neither. The green and yellow was a mite old fashion and the red and white too garish. I plump for the Black and Gold of the 72.
We’d like to thank Tony for taking the time to answer our questions for Lotus Week!
There has been much talk recently about the opening laps of this year’s British Grand Prix. A little while before the start of the race, the heavens opened. By the time of the start, conditions had improved somewhat, with the sun trying to break through, but there was still much standing water. So the decision was taken to start the race under the safety car, something that not only the spectators, but also some of the drivers, did not like. Lewis Hamilton pointed out that starting the race without the safety car would have been tricky, “but that’s what racing’s about”. These men are meant to be the best in the world, and there is a lot of opinion that they should have raced from the start, and adjust their speed accordingly…go too fast, and end up spinning off, drive within the limits of the car in those conditions, and truly show the skill that sometimes gets all too masked in modern technology. The safety car staying out for five laps was, for most, the final straw.
Well, let me take you back to a very different time, “In days of old when knights were bold” …and all that.
The scene is the Nurburgring; not the modern day short version, but the full,14.2 mile circuit in the mountains, “The Green Hell”. The German Grand Prix August 4th 1968. Not only is this wonderful circuit the most challenging and dangerous in the world, but low cloud descended on to the Ardenne mountains. Race day bought thick, dense fog, and driving rain, with visibility no more than 100 yards, less in places. No safety car in those days, of course, and the race went ahead, the 20 car grid setting off as the flag dropped, in a ball of spray. That such an event was being held in such conditions was unbelievable even back then, let alone now! If I hadn’t been a fan already that year, and listened in on the radio reports, I may well have thought the whole tale had been made up! But that day, undoubtedly, a legend was born. Just look at this:
At the end of the first lap, Jackie Stewart led from Graham Hill by 8.5s, after the second lap 34.6s, I have no record of the third lap gap but it must have continued at a similar rate because by the end of the fourth lap the gap was 59.7s, 68.5 after the fifth, and, well by now you get the idea! Hill and Amon were battling for second place, leading the rest of the field who were all in a different race altogether. Amon eventually slid off onto the sodden grass, and, unable to restart, was out of the race. Then Hill spun! The car stalled and was broadside across the road, and Hill quite expected Anon to hit it, not realising that he was out. Graham eventually had to get out and push the car down the hill to restart, jump back in, and continue in second place as the next up, Jochen Rindt, had been too far back to capitalise on the situation.
By the end of the race, Stewart took the chequered flag no less than just over four minutes! Jackie had completely mastered the race. I believe that was the day that he became a true great. You had to be somebody very special to win on this most arduous of circuits, and, in these conditions, bordering on superhuman. That day, anyone who took part in the race all became heroes in my book. As for the winner, a certain JYS, he went on to, in effect, save a great many lives through his resolute and unwavering safety campaign over the years that followed. For that, we should all be grateful.
McLaren are heading in to the summer break with a points scoring finish in Germany. This was the team’s 7th points scoring finish this season. Both Jenson and Fernando ran inside the top 10 for most parts of the race, but due to some fuel saving needed for both drivers it ended up where Jenson would remain in the top 10 at the end finishing 8th. Fernando sadly fell back in the closing stages to 12th place. The team are showing clear signs of progress at the half way point of the season now. The Hockenheim circuit was felt like it was going to be a tricky race for the team but a points finished ended up being well deserved.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-02
Started: 13th Finished: 12th Fastest Lap: 1m20.132s on lap 50 (+1.690s, 13th) Pitstops: Three: laps 14 (2.58s), 28 (2.95s) and 47 (2.65s) [Option-Prime-Option-Option]
“It was a very tough race, possibly one of the toughest so far this season, especially towards the end, when my tyres were finished and I had to do a lot of fuel-saving.
“We knew before we came here that it might be a tough weekend. Ultimately, I lost 10th position at the end of the race, so we didn’t score that last point that we were hoping for. But we just didn’t have the pace throughout the entire race.
“Getting ready for the Belgian Grand Prix is our priority now – hopefully we’ll come back stronger after the summer break.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
Started: 12th Finished: 8th Fastest Lap: 1m19.781s on lap 48 (+1.339s, 9th) Pitstops: Three: laps 13 (2.54s), 31 (2.40s) and 46 (2.74s) [Option-Prime-Option-Option]
“I made a very good start and made up most of the places there. After that, it was just about looking after the tyres, which were degrading faster than we’d expected. We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps. In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn’t even been braking hard.
“At the end, I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tyres. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today – we were 20 seconds behind the car in front, and there’s still quite a bit to go before we catch those guys.
“Still, we’ve made good progress: we’re consistently fighting in the points, and the team are doing a great job this year, bringing something new to pretty much every single race. I want to say thank-you and well done to the whole team for their efforts.
“I’m looking forward to coming back and fighting after the summer break – but, right now, I’m looking forward to a holiday!”
Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean drove to hard-fought 11th- and 13th-place finishes, respectively, in the German Grand Prix Sunday at the Hockenheimring.
While the effort did not yield a point-paying result, it was still a strong showing from the American team as both drivers had to rally from deep within the 22-car field. Gutiérrez got bottlenecked at the start and dropped to 18th while Grosjean started the 67-race from 20th after incurring a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on Saturday.
The duo employed a two-stop strategy, but with differing tire selections. Gutiérrez started the race using the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire and Grosjean started with the Red supersoft. Pit stops began on lap eight, but the Haas F1 Team drivers stayed out for as long as they could before making their first stops, allowing each to gain considerable track position.
Grosjean came in for his first stop at the end of lap 17 after climbing to eighth. Gutiérrez was the last driver to make his first stop, hitting pit lane at the end of lap 25 after rising to 12th. Grosjean went with a new set of Yellow softs while Gutiérrez switched to Red supersofts.
The team’s final round of pit stops began on lap 43 when Grosjean came in for a switch to Red supersofts. Gutiérrez followed at the end of lap 47, also taking Red supersofts.
While both drivers were a lap down after their pit cycles, they remained on the cusp of the top-10, with Gutiérrez 14th and Grosjean 15th with 16 laps remaining. Each driver made separate, masterful passes to get around the Renault of Kevin Magnussen, with Gutiérrez overtaking him on lap 52 and Grosjean doing the same on lap 55.
The moves, along with Carlos Sainz Jr. bringing his Toro Rosso to pit lane for his final stop, allowed Gutiérrez and Grosjean to climb to 12th and 13th, respectively.
Twelve rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. However, seventh-place McLaren widened the gap over the American team to 14 points via Jensen Button’s eighth-place finish. Haas F1 Team’s 22-point advantage over ninth-place Renault went unchanged as neither Magnussen nor Jolyon Palmer finished in the points.
Lewis Hamilton won the German Grand Prix by 6.996 seconds over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. It was Hamilton’s 49th career Formula One victory, leaving him but 2 wins from typing Alain Prost for second place on the all times win list.
Nine races remain on the 2016 Formula One schedule, with the next event coming in three weeks with the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps.
Romain Grosjean – Driver #8
“It wasn’t too bad. I think we had a good pace, but the middle stint behind the Renault saw my brakes massively overheat, and I lost them completely for a few laps. That clearly put us on the back foot. I couldn’t get by, and that cost us having a shot at points. We need to understand that, but generally the car behaved in the race. I’m happier this afternoon than I was yesterday. Overall, it’s been an awesome first half of the season. I want us to be able to come back and score regularly in the top-10. There are a few things we need to unlock. We’ve got the potential in the car. We just need to put it all together.”
Esteban Gutiérrez – Driver #21
“It wasn’t an easy start. I had too much wheel spin and I was passed by quite a few cars. We were the only ones on soft tires, which was an aggressive strategy, so we were expecting to struggle for the first stint. After that I started to hold as much as I could and then began to fight back in the second stint. I was pushing all the way, trying to recover as much as I could, as well as trying to handle fuel saving. We’re not satisfied where we ended up, as we didn’t get the points we were aiming for. Now we head into the summer break, which will be good for the team after four races in five weeks. We’re all going to recharge our batteries and come back stronger, fighting for points at Spa.”
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal
“In general, we had a good race, though Esteban had a bad start. We need to look into that, and do better there, because we finished 11th again, one position out of the points. We basically started 18th and 20th and not 11th and 20th. Romain went from 20th to 13th. There wasn’t a lot more to do there, and obviously Esteban finished 11th. The car showed the pace and we had no mistakes, but when you start in those positions, sometimes that’s the best you can achieve. We know the pace is there. We can do it, we just have to pull it all together and get it done. We’ve showed that we can do that, which is ultimately a positive for the team moving forward.”
It was a double point’s finish for Force India in Hockenheim as they closed the gap on fourth placed Williams to just 15 points.
Sergio Perez recovered from a horror start to take tenth while Nico Hulkenberg ran well at his home race to bring home seventh place, with Williams only gaining two points to Force India’s seven.
With a fantastic qualifying performance, which saw both cars in Q3, albeit at the tail end. Hulkenberg qualified seventh but started eighth after an issue saw him drop a place. While Perez rounded up the top ten.
Nico started well but Sergio dropped as low as 16th after a poor start off the line. While the race was bereft of any real action, the Force India team silently and effectively ran their race to the points. Perez was in the action right up until the end as on the penultimate lap, he passed the McLaren of Fernando Alonso to take a point.
The summer break is now upon us and Force India are in a strong position, with two races showing they have more than enough ability to take fourth place from Williams and make it their own.
Meanwhile the struggle appears to be off track as again Perez continues to be linked with a move away from the team. However his wish to drive for a better team appears to be fading as vacant seats remain at a premium.
If Perez does leave however, can he provide the ultimate parting gift in sealing fourth place for Force India and the lucrative rewards that come with it.