Lewis Hamilton is on Cruise Control Mode

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Saturday 02 September 2017.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I1954

Lewis Hamilton is on cruise control mode, his steering wheel seems to have an extra hidden button, and the British found it and pressed it with his thumb. At the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton took his 69th pole-position, he is now the driver with the most pole positions in Formula One, he also became the first driver, in 2017, who won two consecutive races and now he is leading the drivers’ championship by three points from Sebastian Vettel.

In Belgium, Lewis looked comfortable and unbeatable, even at the re-start, after the safety car, when Vettel made his move, the Britt managed to defend his first position and a couple of laps later he increased the gap between him and Sebastian Vettel. By seeing the final gap between the two drivers, after 44 laps, someone might assume that Vettel was pushing and was very close to Lewis, but the reality was totally different. The German, was close but still that was not enough for him to make his move and attack for the first place.

At Monza, the Tifosi were expecting to see a fast and competitive Scuderia Ferrari, but instead of that, Ferrari was not even close to Mercedes. The Silver Arrows, were not stopped by the rain and the hours of delay which took place in the FP3 and during the qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton claimed his 69th pole position, followed by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon qualified fourth and fifth respectively, but after the grid penalties which applied almost to every driver on the grid, Stroll promoted to the second position and became the youngest driver who started from the front row.

The two Ferraris qualified seventh (Kimi Raikkonen) and eighth (Sebastian Vettel), both drivers promoted to fifth and sixth respectively. Max Verstappen dropped down to 13th position, while his team-mate started the race from the 16 position.

Lights out

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 03 September 2017.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I4027

Lewis Hamilton had a clean start and remained first after lights out, Lance Stroll lost his second position by Esteban Ocon and dropped down to third place. A few laps later Max Verstappen had a collision with Felipe Massa, Max suffered a puncture which cost him time and dropped him at the back of the grid. The stewards decided to take no further action for the incident between the two drivers. Verstappen managed to recover at the end of the race, the Dutch finished 10th ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

Valtteri Bottas, who qualified sixth, had a good start and gained two positions on the first lap of the race. He was behind Hamilton, Ocon and Stroll and it was a matter of time until he was able to attack the two drivers in front of him. The Finn, had a good pace during the race, he completed Mercedes’ 1-2 as he finished second behind his team-mate.

Daniel Ricciardo started the race from the 16th place and finished fourth, a few seconds, behind Sebastian Vettel. The Australian had an amazing race, he passed the slower cars on the first part of the race, while he was on softs. He had the advantage of fresher and faster tyres during the final laps of the Italian Grand Prix. Twelve laps before the chequered flag, the Australian made his move on Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn was unable to defend his fourth position, Daniel took the inside at the first chicane and with an incredible move, he promoted to fourth place. Ricciardo, was gaining on Vettel lap by lap, but he didn’t have enough laps to close the gap with the German, and finished fourth, about four seconds, behind Vettel.

Both McLaren’s drivers watched the end of the race from the garage. Vandoorne and Alonso retired on 33th and 50th lap respectively. Stoffel had electrical issues, whilst Fernando had problems with his McLaren’s clutch.

The next race will take in Singapore, a circuit which suits more to the Ferrari than to Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel is looking to win his fifth race in 2017 and retake the lead in the drivers’ championship. Lewis Hamilton from the other hand, has the momentum. The British driver, looks very strong, he will have to fight hard to keep his lead and his aim will be to expand his winning streak in Singapore.

Victor Archakis

Twitter – @FP_Passion

 

 

 

Monza Preview: can Ferrari fight back?

GP ITALIA F1/2016 – MONZA (ITALIA) 04/09/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Formula One returns off the back of a thrilling Belgian Grand Prix in which Lewis Hamilton clinched a well-deserved win. This week, the drivers will return to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the thirteenth round of the 2017 F1 season. With just seven points – the difference between first and second place separating Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – things could soon change at the ‘Temple of Speed’ this weekend.

Ferrari: Is the comeback on?

Ferrari impressed at Spa last weekend, despite the track seeming to not suit the set up of their car. Vettel pushed Hamilton all the way to the end, coming close at the end of the safety car restart. He dived up the inside, only to fall foul of the Mercedes’s top line speed. The upgrades to the SF70-H certainly worked wonders at the Belgian circuit. Ferrari will be looking for another win at their home race in front of the passionate Tifosi this weekend and with their showing in Spa, they can certainly be a safe bet on taking the chequered flag for the first time since 2010.

They will need to nail their qualifying position at the circuit and the support of the passionate Italians will certainly provide the team with some much needed confidence. Vettel will want to win his first Italian Grand Prix in Ferrari red, chasing the record five wins that the legendary Michael Schumacher achieved in his time as a Ferrari driver. Expect the Italian team to be riding high with the support of the home crowd behind them.

GP ITALIA F1/2016 – MONZA (ITALIA) 04/09/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)


Mercedes: one eye on the competition

Mercedes left Spa as a team of mixed fortunes. Hamilton claimed a dominant pole and a win that he had to fight until the bitter end for, whilst Valtteri Bottas had a race to forget. On the safety car restart, he was left vulnerable on his soft tyres to the attack of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen, forced off the track and recovering to fifth. Mercedes brought the fourth and final reincarnation of their engine to Spa in order to get around the lower oil burn regulations that come into play for engines introduced after this weekend. It was a decision that flared tempers within Ferrari as the Maranello outfit have yet to introduce the latest incarnation of their engine.

Mercedes surely will be tentative as they enter the Ferrari hunting ground. The circuit itself seems to favour the Silver Arrows with its long straights and low drag, however, Ferrari’s showing at the previous race where the circuit wasn’t one of their strongest will have put Mercedes on the alert. Hamilton will be aiming for Mercedes’s fourth consecutive Monza win and the chance to finally become the championship leader after trailing Vettel all season. Expect Mercedes to keep one eye on the competition, but focus on the job ahead.

Trouble brewing at Red Bull

Red Bull seemed to put themselves in a strong position in Spa. Despite the misfortune of Max Verstappen’s sixth DNF this season, Daniel Ricciardo managed to fight his way onto the podium and claim a third place after a couple of disappointing races. The Austrian team also ran some aero trails which proved critical towards their success in Spa and could potentially earn them success in Monza. Red Bull tested a new spec low-drag rear wing on Ricciardo’s car. This set up will suit the low-downforce track and long straights that Monza is famous for.

However, despite this positivity, Verstappen is set for grid penalties at the circuit after his fourth and final combustion engine failed on the ninth lap of the Belgian Grand Prix. This will no doubt make the young Dutchman hungry to carve his way through the field, hungry for success. However, the doubts over Renault and over their ability to provide a competitive engine will continue to rage, casting Verstappen’s future potentially into doubt.

GP ITALIA F1/2016 – MONZA (ITALIA) 04/09/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)


Force India: Round Two?

The boxing gloves came out once more at Spa as Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon came to blows not once, but twice. They clashed in the opening lap with Perez bumping his teammate into the wall as they came towards Eau Rouge. However, things did not end there. On lap 30, Perez squeezed Ocon into the wall in a similar place as they came up towards Eau Rouge, however, on this occasion the outcome was not so favourable. It ended Perez’s race with a puncture as he spilled debris onto the track, bringing out the safety car. However, Ocon’s race was also compromised by a broken front wing and he limped home in ninth position. Such loss of points have forced the team to take a similar approach to Mercedes last season and introduce new rules of engagement.

Monza will be the first race that these will come into play and although, it seems that the racing will become diluted, it is easy to consider things from Force India’s viewpoint. They do not want to lose any more points and surrender the fourth place they hold in the constructor’s championship as it would affect funding for next year.

McLaren: The curious case of Fernando Alonso

McLaren had a race to forget in Spa. Stoffel Vandoorne had a 65 grid penalty to take as a result of exceeding his quota of power unit elements and for changing his gearbox. Fernando Alonso had similar mixed luck. He failed to get into Q2 due to a failure within the software running in his car as taking Puhon flat confused the system and left the Spaniard with no power. This continued into the race as despite a good start, Alonso retired on lap 26, reporting that once again there was no power. It’s a phrase that has sadly become the norm over the McLaren team radios.  However, shortly after the race, Honda reported that they could not find fault with Alonso’s power unit.

The former world champion had cut a sullen figure all weekend, using his radio to voice his opinion of the car, and things are not likely to change at Monza. The long straights will not favour the Honda engine and it’s likely that the team will have another weekend to forget. Alonso is also poised to take penalties as a result of taking a new upgraded engine to the race, it is hoped that by doing so, McLaren will be in a stronger position for the Singapore GP, considered one of the lower-power circuits. However, the question for McLaren is over Alonso’s future. The former world champion has made it clear that he is unhappy with the technology in the car and that he has other offers on the table. Although it will be a race to forget for McLaren, the future of Fernando Alonso will still loom large over Monza.

The Italian Grand Prix will commence on Friday 1st September with practise at 10am local time, followed by qualifying on Saturday 2nd September at 2pm local time. The race will be held on Sunday 3rd September at 2pm local time.

Sarah Jarvis

Mercedes 2017 Season So Far: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas closer than anyone predicted

For Mercedes, the hybrid era beginning in 2014 had meant unbridled success and Formula One domination which for three years had seen just eight non-Mercedes victories to the end of 2016.

For 2017, the aerodynamic regulations changed plenty about F1. The cars were lower, faster, wider. And Mercedes were no longer having it all their own way.

They’ve more than played their part in a season-long two-team battle with Ferrari that arguably rivals the McLaren-Ferrari duels of 1998-2000 and 2007-08.

Großer Preis von Australien 2017, Sonntag – Wolfgang Wilhelm – Mercedes AMG F1
Mercedes were given a warning by Ferrari in Australia

They were served notice at the Australian Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton was edged out by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari despite the Silver Arrows claiming a familiar pole position. New recruit Valtteri Bottas was a close third.

Hamilton’s victory in China confirmed what the watching motorsport world hoped they knew: That 2017 was going to be a grand battle between two of Formula One’s living greats. Vettel was second while Bottas managed sixth after a chaotic race.

It was a second 2-3 in three races as Hamilton headed Bottas in Bahrain, while in Sochi Bottas took his first Grand Prix win as Hamilton toiled with handling issues all weekend.

Hamilton restored order at Mercedes to win well in Spain ahead of Vettel after earlier falling behind the German as Bottas first collided with Raikkonen and Verstappen before retiring with an engine failure.

Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
Sunday 14 May 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONZ6499
Vettel got his elbows out in Spain but Hamilton eventually took an important victory for Mercedes

Vettel’s consistency was a thorn in the Mercedes side, and at the Monaco Grand Prix he stretched his lead over Hamilton to 25 points. Bad luck in qualifying left Hamilton starting 13th and he did well to recover to seventh, while Bottas could manage only fourth behind the Ferraris and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

The Canadian Grand Prix was a throwback to the good old days of 2014-16. Lewis Hamilton swept all before him to handsomely head teammate Valtteri Bottas, who in turn was well clear of Ricciardo’s Red Bull.

Bottas drover arguably his greatest race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but his drive to second having been a lap down was overshadowed by a controversial incident involving Hamilton and Vettel. Infuriated at what he perceived to be brake-testing, Vettel rammed Hamilton under the Safety Car.

Vettel would finish fourth after a stop-go penalty, which would have seemed severe had Hamilton not had to pit to replace a loose headrest. He would finish fifth.

Bottas took his second career win at the Austrian Grand Prix, holding off Vettel by the slimmest of margins in an impressive rearguard action while Hamilton recovered from eighth on the grid following a gearbox penalty to finish fourth.

Mercedes AMG F1 – Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes-Benz F1 W08 Hybrid celebrates at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 15 July 2017.

At the British Grand Prix, everything went right for Hamilton as it so often does. He took his fourth straight win at Silverstone to head the charging Bottas, who went from ninth to second. HE was helped by both Ferraris suffering tyre failures, with Raikkonen third and Vettel only seventh.

Ferrari were back on song at the Hungarian Grand Prix just before the summer break and secured a 1-2 finish, while Bottas and Hamilton were third and fourth. Bottas had allowed Hamilton through to attack the Ferraris on the condition that should he not pass them, the Finn regained third. Hamilton honoured this agreement at the very end.

Three-time World Champion Hamilton has not bowled the calm Bottas as many had predicted at the start of the season. Bottas has outraced Hamilton five times from eleven starts and sits just 19 points behind the Brit and 33 behind Championship leader Vettel.

Unlike Ferrari, Mercedes have both drivers in title contention at the halfway stage of the season. They might have a difficult decision in the coming weeks.

Why Evergreen Kimi Raikkonen Continues to Stay at Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen’s last three years at Ferrari have dominated by rumours over whether the team would dump him in favour of a younger charger.

The Finn’s F1 obituaries have been written plenty of times during his second spell at Maranello as a roster of drivers including Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez have their names linked with Ferrari’s second seat.

And yet, every year, the publishing of all those obituaries are postponed again.

Ferrari have always been reluctant to rock the boat with their driver pairings unless a genuine star becomes available.

Since the change of the millennium 17 years ago, the Scuderia have

Despite being well behind teammate Vettel, Raikkonen’s relationship with the German has paid dividends for Ferrari –
GP UNGHERIA F1/2017
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO FERRARI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE) Ferrari Media

changed their line-up just six times. Raikkonen himself only joined Ferrari at the expiry of a lengthy McLaren contract in 2006.

So it should come as little surprise should Ferrari announce that they will retain the 2007 World Champion as well as Championship leader Sebastian Vettel for 2018.

The dynamic between Raikkonen and Vettel is helpful to Ferrari if somewhat unusual in Formula One.

While Michael Schumacher had a dutiful teammate in Rubens Barrichello during the juggernaut era of 2000-04, the feeling between Raikkonen and team leader Vettel is somewhat more harmonious.

The 37-year-old is not a demonstrative character and while Monaco and Hungary – where Ferrari lined up behind Vettel to deny and denied Raikkonen victories – proved the Iceman’s fire still burns, he is not a man to hold a grudge and this is a characteristic that Ferrari value.

Raikkonen has  played the team role well in 2017 GP GRAN BRETAGNA F1/2017
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO FERRARI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE) – Ferrari Media

Certainly, there would have been more uproar at Mercedes during the tempestuous partnership between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, while the atmosphere is bubbling at Red Bull too.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez have shown this season the cost of letting teammate issues fester, losing out in Canada and Azerbaijan.

Raikkonen is also helped by the fact that aside from Fernando Alonso, there is no obvious replacement available for next year. The Prancing Horse will not look at Alonso, even if the Spaniard now regrets moving to McLaren-Honda.

Verstappen is locked in a long-term contract at Red Bull while Ricciardo will also remain there until at least the end of next year, and it will be difficult to convince any of the top brass there to part with either driver early.

It will be similarly difficult to persuade them to release Carlos Sainz either, with the Spaniard likely to remain at Toro Rosso next year despite voicing discontent at recent races.

The driver market for 2018 has also been kind to the Iceman GP UNGHERIA F1/2017
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER FERRARI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE) Ferrari Media

2018 will also come too soon for the highly rated Charles Leclerc, who has impressed in F2 this season. With Ferrari having tight bonds to both Haas and Sauber, the Monegasque driver is likely to be loaned to Sauber next season.

This time last year Perez looked a good option for Ferrari, but his everlasting spat with Ocon and the two’s collective penchant for near misses at Force India will likely have put off Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio Arrivabene. Ex-teammate Nico Hulkenberg, previously linked with Ferrari for 2014, signed a long-term contract with Renault at the end of 2016 and will not leave Enstone soon.

While observers and pundits continue to write about the end for one of Formula One’s unique characters, Raikkonen looks likely to remain at Ferrari for 2018 at least.

With Vettel also rumoured to be casting longing looks at Mercedes, don’t be surprised if Kimi’s ice cream doesn’t melt away beyond then, either.

The Spark and the Fire

Mercedes is one of the most successful teams in Formula 1, during the recent years, they have won the constructor’s championship for three consecutive years and Lewis Hamilton celebrated his last two titles with the silver arrows, whilst Nico Rosberg won his one and only world title with Mercedes in 2016 (check out our article about Nico Rosberg).

The Silver Arrows made their appearance in 1930, where they won all the European championships after 1932. Their first official entry in Formula 1 was in 1954 which they were known as Mercedes-Benz. Juan Manuel Fangio signed a contract with Mercedes and moved from Maserati to the silver arrows in order to drive in Mercedes’ debus at the French Grand Prix in 1954. That season Fangio won three races and finished first on the drivers’ championship. The following season, Manuel Fangio repeated his success and with four victories and won his second consecutive championship with Mercedes-Benz. A terrible accident which took place at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1955 led to the cancelation of the Grand Prixs and Mercedes retired from Formula One.

The miracle and the firework

Rubens Barrichello, Barcelona, Spain 2009. Author: Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot

There is one specific year which I believe that most of the young and non-young fans will never forget, the year where a team dominated with almost zero financial support, with only the basic crew and with two very experienced drivers which both had a great “coach”. Of course you will know where I am referring to, the name of the team was Brawn GP and the two drivers where Jenson Button and the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. The master behind the success was Ross Brawn, who believed in his team and led them to the top.

 

Brawn GP participated in 17 races, won eight Grands Prix, finished 15 times on the podium, took five pole positions and scored 172 points. The team became the first to achieve a 100% championship success rate.

Mercedes played a critical role in Brawn GP’s success as they were supporting them with engines.

That season indicated Mercedes’ return to Formula 1, on November 2009, Mercedes with Aabar Investments purchased the 75.1% of Brawn GP. Mercedes had the 45.1%, while Aabar the rest 30%. The next year the team renamed to Mercedes GP. According to reports Mercedes and Aabar paid £110m for the 75.1% and the remaining percentage remained to Ross Brawn in partnership with Nick Fry. Ross Brawn remained as team principal until the end of the 2013 season.

Michael Schumacher, Sepang International Circuit, Selangor, Malaysia 2011. Author: Morio

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were driving for Mercedes the first three years, they managed to get three poles and win three races. After Brawn’s departure the turbocharged engines returned to Formula 1, Mercedes had an advantage as Ross Brawn managed to improve the team’s power unit.

Mercedes dominated during the first three years of the new turbocharged engines, Lewis Hamilton replaced Michael Schumacher, and both he and Nico Rosberg secured 56 pole positions and won 51 of the 59 races. In all these years the two drivers have scored 2169 points combined.

This season, Mercedes is leading in the constructors’ championship by 24 points and Lewis Hamilton is second in the drivers’ standings, 14 points behind his main rival Sebastian Vettel.

Undoubtedly, Mercedes is one of the strongest teams on the grid, Ferrari looks able to challenge them, but it is still too early to make a prediction.

Mercedes and social media – leading the way

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria.In this current turbo era of Formula One, Mercedes AMG F1 have had an almost unprecedented level of success not seen since the days of McLaren Honda. Three straight clean sweeps of both the World Drivers’ Championship and the World Constructors’ Championship have left the Silver Arrows in a buoyant mood in recent seasons. But it isn’t just on the circuit where the team have been at the top of the standings.

The team have also been ahead of their rivals on social media, with their twitter account being among the 100 most followed sports accounts on the social network with 1.83m followers. That’s 20,000 clear of their closest rivals Red Bull on 1.81m while Ferrari on 1.79m make up the podium places. In fact, only McLaren join them with a seven-figure twitter following, despite their relative woes on circuit.

On Facebook, Mercedes also lead the way with over 11m likes, with Red Bull way back on 7.8m and Ferrari on just over a third of their Brackley rivals with 4.2m likes. While on Instagram, the stakes are as tight as this season’s Formula One world championship fight as Mercedes lead on 1.5m followers, with Red Bull just 100,000 short and Ferrari back on 1.3m followers.

Videos such as the onboard shot of Nico Rosberg at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, in which fans almost got a driver’s eye view of the 2016 World Champion performing donuts, are key as fans look to connect with the teams and their drivers more and more in this ever more digital world. Red Bull are also known for inventive promotional videos such as the caravan race around the Red Bull Ring ahead of the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix – the team’s home event. The in-depth and often enthusiastic race commentary provide across the Silver social platforms go further to encapsulate emotions felt by an ardent Mercedes fan during a Grand Prix.

Japery with teams such as Force India and Renault add to the feel-good theme around social media and Formula One, with Red Bull also known for interaction with their fellow F1 peers. With the giveaways and competitions linked to the team, Mercedes make themselves more marketable than many other Formula One teams with their fan interaction. That extends to following, retweeting and replying to fan queries and less serious posts to the team.

Mercedes hasn’t just stolen a march against its F1 rivals on the tarmac, but in the digital world that has finally engulfed Formula One, the team are a leading light.

2012 Monaco Grand Prix – Shades of the old Michael

The 2012 Monaco Grand Prix had plenty of sub-plots, sidestories and points of interest aside from Mark Webber’s final victory in the Principality. Webber became the sixth different winner from six races in an open start to the World Championship, Romain Grosjean had more opening lap contact – and one other important story. That was the performance of Michael Schumacher during Saturday’s qualifying session.

The seven-times World Champion had failed to find the scintillating form seen during those Ferrari days at the beginning of the millennium ever since joining Mercedes for 2010 after three years away. Since that second coming his best result had been a fourth place scored at the famous Canadian Grand Prix of 2011 and 2012 had been beset by bad luck, collisions and sometimes lack of pace. Indeed, Schumacher went into the race weekend with a five-place grid penalty following an accident with Bruno Senna in the previous Spanish Grand Prix.

Monaco. Monaco Grand Prix 2012 BY COURTESY OF PIRELLI

Mercedes had had solid pace all weekend but were not considered to be amongst the favourites – aside from the Chinese Grand Prix in which they were running first and second before Schumacher’s retirement, the car had been inconsistent. However, in the second qualifying session both Mercedes made it comfortably through to the pole position shootout with Rosberg just ahead of fifth-placed Schumacher.

Mark Webber’s time of a 1:14:381 looked like enough as Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean both struggled to eclipse it. But Schumacher, one of the last men over the line, slapped in a 1:14.301 to take his 69th and final pole position of a glittering career. Post-qualifying, in the knowledge that he would start sixth, the then 43-year-old was delighted with the result.

“It is simply a wonderful feeling to set pole after such a long time, and particularly here in Monaco. Okay, it has taken a little bit longer than I might have wanted in the second chapter of my career, but that makes it even sweeter. It’s just beautiful.”

After contact with the pinballing Grosjean at the start, Schumacher remained solidly in the top eight through the Grand Prix until his retirement from a fuel pressure issue with fifteen laps remaining. He would stand on the podium once more before retirement at the end of the season with a third place at a chaotic European Grand Prix in Valencia.

Mercedes Week – The quiz

How good do you know Mercedes F1 history? Check it out and share with us your result!

Welcome to your Mercedes Week Quiz

How many drivers have became the world champion in Mercedes colours?

After what accident did the team withdraw from the sport?

What is popular nickname for the Mercedes F1 cars?

In what season did Mercedes return to F1?

During which season & at what race did Mercedes take their first ever win?

In 2009 Mercedes purchased a team, which team was it?

In which year did Mercedes manage 11 one-two finishes?

Since what year is Toto Wolf the head of motorsport for Mercedes Benz?

In 1994 Mercedes came back to F1 as an engine manufacturer. What team did Mercedes supply?

In what race did Michael Schumacher take the last pole position of his career?

 

Sebastian Vettel Verdict – FIA Right Not to Undermine Their Stewards

Happy Birthday, Sebastian Vettel.


It certainly will be one for him to celebrate, as on his 30th anniversary he avoided being hit with more sporting penalties following his rash clash with title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Vettel was angered by what he saw to be a brake-test on lap 19 at the end of a Safety Car period, and ploughed into Hamilton.

While gesticulating wildly, he then ploughed into the side of his rival and sparked a mass debate over whether he is in fact mad, bad and dangerous to know.

For this, he received a 10-second stop/go penalty, costing him 30 seconds and almost certainly the race victory.

The FIA has noted Vettel’s sincerest apologies and his commitment to devoting time to educational courses over the next 12 months.

They have also warned that a repeat of this behaviour would immediately herald another tribunal, and most likely worse consequences.

In not punishing Vettel any further they have avoided turning themselves into a laughing stock across the wider motorsport world.

It would have sent a bad message out to the stewards to overrule them on something not as cut and dried as many would have you believe.

The debate about whether they awarded the right penalty will no doubt rage on through to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

No doubt partisans on both sides will claim it either to be the biggest injustice of human kind or that in fact it is a victory for the golden old days where “men were men”.

The issue of whether the stewards got the decision right or wrong is not easy to resolve.

The incident does set a bad example to younger drivers, but the fallout following the handbags should act as enough of a pointer to show that a driver must always stay in control.

While mindless and daft, it is difficult to believe Vettel would deliberately risk damaging his car and putting himself out of the race, even at 30mph. This was pointed out by of all people Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.

Hamilton was right to be aggrieved, angry and upset at the outcome of the race and Vettel’s impromptu dodgems ride.

However, much of that stemmed mostly from his own dramas and had he not had to make an unscheduled pit-stop to replace a broken headrest, he’d have walked home.

It would have been wrong to punish Vettel based on others’, including Hamilton’s, misfortune.

Far more dangerous and indeed pivotal acts have been committed in the heat of F1 battle.

Michael Schumacher in 1994 cutting across Damon Hill’s Williams to after earlier contact with the wall at the title-deciding Australian Grand Prix to ensure that if he couldn’t finish, neither would Hill.

And then we have the infamous first corner of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, where Ayrton Senna made sure that Alain Prost didn’t the corner ahead of his McLaren – whatever the cost.

Yes, Vettel’s silliness was under controlled conditions but that just adds to the stupidity of the incident, not the danger.

The FIA have rightly avoided changing the result of the football match because the referee awarded a free-kick instead of a penalty.

With the fall-out from this decision, the Austrian Grand Prix now has more needle than it already had.

Now, let’s get on with racing and watch this intriguing, absorbing title fight play out over the next twenty weeks.

Maybe we’ll all then have our (birthday) cake and eat it.

Mercedes in 2017: Fourth time unlucky?

2017 marks the first year of Formula 1’s hybrid era where Mercedes have not had an advantage that sets them ahead of the rest of the field by a country field. After achieving three consecutive constructor’s championships, might Mercedes and their dominant winning ways finally be coming to an end?

Though we are only eight races into the 2017 season, with another twelve races yet to be contested, it is clear that it is far from the same old story for the German team. By this point last year, Mercedes had won all but one of the races – their one loss an anomaly after the collision between Rosberg and Hamilton in Barcelona – and would go on to win nineteen out of the twenty-one races. It is already impossible for them to hold onto such an impressive win percentage.

Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia.
BY COURTESY OF PIRELLI

It was in Melbourne at the season opener that we saw the first glimpses that Mercedes might have lost their grip on the dominance that they have enjoyed for the past three years. Though Ferrari had outperformed them in terms of ultimate pace in testing, it is always impossible to say whether form will carry over from Spain to Australia. Though Mercedes won pole position Down Under, clearly hanging onto their superiority in putting together a blindingly fast qualifying lap. It was in race pace that they found Ferrari could match them.

Ultimately, it was strategy, and Vettel’s use of the undercut that won the race for them, as well as Hamilton struggles in passing Verstappen, despite his higher speed. This was the first sign that a disadvantage of the new Mercedes package might be its struggles to run in dirty air.

China saw Mercedes back on top, with a grand slam for Hamilton, but Bottas finished a little way down the order in sixth. It was enough for Mercedes to take the lead in the constructor’s championship by a single point. Again there was no denying that the Mercedes engine is as impressive as it has been since the hybrid era began, but the question still remained of whether or not that would be enough to carry them to a fourth consecutive title. Had they got a handle on all aspects of the new regulations; which was always going to be the biggest challenge for them in 2017.

Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia.
BY COURTESY OF PIRELLI

The pendulum swung away from them in Bahrain, and it seemed as though the pattern for the season was set. But it was in Russia, where Valtteri Bottas would win – the first of his career – where it became apparent that Mercedes struggle to get the new Pirelli tyres within the correct operating window. Unfortunately for them, this is something Ferrari have a much better time dealing with.

This problem didn’t seem to hinder them in Spain where Mercedes managed to win with Hamilton thanks to smart tyre strategy, but it returned to haunt them in Monaco. Both drivers, but especially Hamilton, struggled for grip and getting their tyres up to temperature.

Whether it is a setup issue that the team have yet to get on top of, or the design of the car which hinders them from extracting the maximum from the new Pirelli tyres, only time will tell. While it is something the whole grid seems to have trouble with, the fact that it affects Mercedes’ closest rivals Ferrari far less will undoubtedly prove to be crucial.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
BY COURTESY OF PIRELLI

Hamilton’s sixty-fifth career pole in Canada left no doubt that Mercedes have the one lap advantage over the rest of the field, especially at circuits, such as the one on the Île Notre-Dame, which suit the Silver Arrows. But with a one-two for Mercedes followed by a distant Ricciardo in third, after problems for Ferrari, it was one race where they weren’t really under pressure. But it does show that they know how to capitalise on the mistakes of their rivals, and gain the most from such moments.

In the grand scheme of things, Azerbaijan was an outlier for all the teams in terms of gauging their performances. It was always going to be a track that suited the Mercedes engine, and the huge margin Hamilton and Bottas had in qualifying proved just that. But with such a disrupted race, it is impossible to say whether, in normal circumstances, their race pace would have held up.

Bottas’ impressive drive from the back of the grid to second place does suggest that Mercedes might have found a way around their troubles of driving in traffic. Especially compared to the first race of the season in Australia where Hamilton had great difficulty overtaking Verstappen in a much less powerful car.

Where the German team seems to be lacking is in their understanding of these new specification Pirelli tyres, and how their cars run in dirty air. But all things considered, these do not detract from the face that Mercedes have once again produced a package which is more than capable of winning the world championship. The only difference this year is that they are not the only team to have done so.

With Ferrari closer to them than they ever have been before in the hybrid era, it is the little things that matter most. A small mistake during a pit stop, a single lock up in qualifying, a clumsy start; these things are now the difference between winning races .And as the season wears on, these things will become the difference between losing and winning the all important constructors and drivers’ championships.

Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan.
BY COURTESY OF PIRELLI

In the past three years, Mercedes, thanks to their unbeatable machinery, rarely faced such pressure from their fellow competitors. It is entirely possible that they made these small errors but they went unnoticed because of the lack of impact on the bigger picture. Dealing with an inter-team battle is wholly different to an intra-team rivalry.

So far in 2017 Mercedes have dealt with this pressure with composure expected of world champions, but it hasn’t been entirely smooth running – as Sebastian Vettel’s lead in the drivers’ standings proves. If they are to make it to four in a row, they will need technical supremacy, first-rate performances from their drivers, and perhaps just a little bit of good fortune.