Spanish GP Winners and Losers.

Images courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Spanish GP winners

F1 – After a disapointing Russian GP two weeks earlier, the fans finally got to see some action with plenty of overtakes and on track action with the help of Pirelli also we got to see 2-3 pit stops, allowing for different strategies to add to the intrigue. Also letting that small Kimi fan into the paddock was an excellent gesture from a sport looking to find its human side once again.

Force India – Fantastic early season form continued for the pink panthers, with a strong race ending with Perez and Ocon finishing fourth and fifth. They kept their noses clean throughout the race while their rivals took each other out and had problems of their own. They extended their lead from over Williams in the constructors championship, and are on course for another superb season.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – What another fantastic battle we witnessed from these to great guys. Right from lights out when Vettel got the jump at turn 1. Then after Vettel made his pit stop rejoining the track squeezing Hamilton out wide fairly and then we had 6 laps of Lewis chasing down Seb finally getting past him in turn 1. Hope this battle will continue all season long.


Nico Hulkenburg
– starting p13 finishing p6 and keeping out of trouble, it was another strong showing for Hulkenberg who scored more points for an upwardly mobile Renault team, with teammate Jolyon Palmer yet to open his account for 2017. The car seems to be getting better and better each race with the team bring small upgrades. Will we soon see him fighting Perez again.

Pascal Wehrlein and Sauber- Wehrlein took eighth and the best finish of his career – as well as Sauber’s best finishing position since 2015 – mainly thanks to their strategy when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed to switch him to a 1 stop strategy. It was a very important points finish for the team and their battle with McLaren for ninth in the constructors championship.

Losers

Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen – both men were unlucky victims of a chain reaction as Bottas tapped Raikkonen sending him into the path of Verstappen ending both of their races, with Ferrari falling behind in the Constructors’ Championship as a result.

Valtteri Bottas – race winner two weeks ago in Russia for the first time, Bottas suffered a DNF with engine failure after technical problems throughout the weekend.

Jolyon Palmer – It was another case offeast or famine in qualifying for the beleaguered Brit as he failed to get out of the first qualifying session for the fourth time in five events. Finishing in 15th while his teammate finished in a strong points finish will have done him few favours either. Palmer is a man fighting for his seat after an error-prone start to the season.

Williams – This was a poor weekend all round for the team. They failed to score while Force India bagged 22 points. With Massa getting a puncture on lap 1 after contact with Alonso, he dropped right to the back of the pack and could only finish 13th. Teammate Lance Stroll struggled once again, and the 18-year-old looks ever more troubled during his first season in Formula One. In this unforgiving business, the young Canadian is under pressure to improve – fast.

By Richard Hindson

Toro Rosso, Spanish GP Weekend Review

Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
Friday 12 May 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONZ4056

It’s time for the Spanish Grand Prix, 2nd race in a row, it’s one of our drivers home GP, this time its Sainz’s turn to be the hero and have thousands of fans cheering him on all weekend.

Thursday- Carlos had to attend the drivers press conference where he got asked many questions and got huge praise from Alonso saying “Sainz is a very talented driver one of the best and his preparation from the Red Bull junior driver program really helps young driver be ready for F1. While Kvyat was stuck answering the media questions outside in the paddock while it was raining. After that it was time for the home hero to meet his fans and sign many autographs, he also managed to get time to go the game zone and try to set the fastest lap on the F1 2016 game time trial of the circuit. And to finish the day off a group of drivers, including our two, got to meet some kids aged 7-12 karting stars hoping to be in F1 one day.

Friday- day of practice, day of collecting data. A day to show off our new enlarged numbers and drivers names on the car. FP1 started slowly for us completing 39 laps between our drivers with Sainz setting a 1.24.0 and Kvyat a +0.600 slower, then it was time for a quick spot of lunch and restroom brake maybe even a quick afternoon nap for Carlos as we are in Spain. FP2 was a bigger improvement for us doing 61 laps with our two guys in the much warming afternoon temperatures where we can collect more accurate data for race conditions.

Quotes from the drivers about Friday. Sainz- “It’s been a tricky first day here in Barcelona. I think the track conditions surprised us a bit as it was much slower compared to winter testing, but overall we end the day on a high making some improvements”.

Kvyat- ” The car has quite a few handling issues at the moment we need to be patient and try and do things overnight so the car will suit me more because it wasn’t the correct window for my driving style”.

Saturday- starts with FP3 a quick 1 hour session our last chance to make changes to the cars. We have done 33 laps in the session, now it’s time to get ready for qualifying. Q1 was a disaster for Kvyat has he struggled with the car and qualified P20. He said the car was undriveable its needs taking apart and rebuilding. Sainz managed to put his car on P12 for Sunday’s race. He said that the car still lacks engine power, but is great in the other areas.

Sunday- Raceday with Sainz lining up in P12 and Kvyat in P20 the lights went out it was go go go Sainz made a great start making up a few positions getting into P9. Kvyat was up to P14 with the cars that made contact on the first corner out of the way. Kvyat pitted on lap 1 fitting the medium tyres to the car. While Sainz made his first pit stop on lap 13 fitting another set of softs on. Both cars pitted once more on laps 33 and 34 fitting the opposite tyre on than before. Both strategies worked great allowing our cars with a bit of luck with the big teams all losing 1 car each, Meaning we could finish in P7 and P9 a double points finish great work from the boys.

Both our drivers were really happy with the performance of the car today and happy to score points, as both started outside the top 10 at the beginning of the day.

See you in Monaco guys

Richard Hindson

(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)

Russian Grand Prix: winners and losers

Großer Preis von Russland 2017, Freitag – Steve Etherington / Mercedes AMG Petronas

 

Winners

Valtteri Bottas: He claimed his first victory in F1, even starting from third and managed to hold his nerve to cross the line ahead of the chasing Vettel. Even with all the talk before the weekend about him going to be the “number two” driver and moving over to let Hamilton past, this weekend Hamilton was off the pace all three days. Will we now see Bottas joining the championship battle and giving Mercedes another driver headache?

Ferrari: They managed to claim their first front row lock out for 9 years on Saturday with Vettel on pole and Räikkönen behind. Even though they lost they lost the lead going into Turn 1, they managed to keep Hamilton behind and take the remaining podium positions, which allowed Vettel to build on his championship lead by another six points. It was also a much needed confidence boost for Räikkönen to get back on the podium after struggling in the first three races. This might keep the “Kimi out” rumours a bit quieter for another couple of weeks.

Force India: What a brilliant weekend for the small team from Silverstone: with both cars in the top ten in qualifying for the first time this season, they managed to build on that in the race to finish sixth and seventh while their main championship rivals struggled. This keeps their 100% points finishes with both cars, and makes Perez the best-of-the-rest in the championship as he ties on points with Ricciardo in seventh. As for Ocon in his first full season in the sport he managed to improve on his run of tenth-place finishes from the previous races, with a superdrive bringing it home in seventh that helped Force India pull a small gap from Williams in the standings.

Nico Hülkenberg: One side of the Renault garage can be happy with a new front wing seemingly helping Hülkenberg’s and Renault’s race pace. He once again managed to get into Q3 and qualified eighth, where he managed to finish the race once again collecting valuable points for the team.

Losers

Lewis Hamilton: Even though he still managed to finish fourth and collect good points, his main championship rival extended his lead, and he was totally out-paced all weekend by his teammate. He only qualified fourth, which was extremely disappointing by his standards, and stayed there all race.

Red Bull: With a second brake failure in as many races costing them even more championship points it’s not looking good for Red Bull. Already a full second slower than Ferrari and Mercedes and with poor reliability too, they really need their B-Spec car to be a huge improvement or it could be a long year.

Williams: Falling behind Force India again, with Massa only managing ninth with a late slow puncture issue which cost him three positions and the team a lot of points. Stroll was also off the pace only finishing eleventh, though doing a good job to take his first race finish, and he has to improve quickly or with the midfield battle so close we could see Williams dropping down the championship. And to make things worse, they even missed out on the fastest pit stop this weekend.

McLaren: Already acquiring penalties for using more engine parts at race four of twenty, its going to be a very long season for Alonso and Vandoorne: even if Honda can fix their reliability issues, there will be many back row starts guaranteed—but at least that’s better than breaking down on the formation lap. It’s not good enough from a team with such great history.

Jolyon Palmer: A very poor weekend for him: crashing in qualifying was the start, and with his teammate Hulkenberg setting a time 1.3s quicker than him Palmer has to quickly rethink his strategy over the next two weeks. Crashing during the race going into Turn 1 didn’t help either, and with many other drivers waiting for a seat could Palmer’s time be running out fast.

Richard Hindson, F1 Correspondent

Totally Toro Rosso in Russia

Formula 1

May 1, 2017

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Before we talk about the Russian Grand Prix weekend let’s have a quick recap of what our drivers did last time out in Bahrain. Bahrain was a really disappointing race for Toro Rosso: we were expecting a lot but Sainz made contact with Lance Stroll moments after his pitstop and ended his race, and Kvyat finished in twelfth after struggling with pace in the race, meaning we come away from Bahrain empty-handed.

After the Grand Prix we had a two-day in-season test, this hopefully would give us chance to gather more data and test new parts. First day our test driver Sean Gelael took to the track and completed 78 laps. Here’s what he had to say:

“Today is a day I will never forget—to finally drive a Formula One car is something every driver dreams of, and to do it with Scuderia Toro Rosso makes it even more special. The power and overall grip is amazing…compared to the Formula Two car I drive.”

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

On day two our two regular guys took over—Kvyat drove in the morning and did 61 laps, and Sainz later in the day completed 68 laps.

 

Talking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Kvyat said: ”The first thing that comes to my mind is Sebastian, as in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it’s my hobby. You know I’m joking!” Kvyat also added a picture of himself riding a torpedo to his helmet design this weekend just to continue the joke.

Sainz added: “I’ve learnt a few Russian words thanks to my team mate, Daniil. I think it’s best that I don’t tell you which words he’s taught me…”

On Wednesday it was Daniil’s 23rd birthday and he got to celebrate it in his home country, while learning how to play curling with the Russian national team, which he said he really enjoyed and liked trying new things.

Later that day Kvyat also presented his book, Daniil Kvyat: The Path to Formula One, all about the early stages of his career. As soon as the English version is released I will be purchasing it.

Pavel Sukhorukov / Red Bull Content Pool

Thursday arrived and it was time for the track walk on a sunny afternoon. Sainz posted a video on Twitter talking about the hairstyles of his race engineers while on the walk, and when they returned to the garage it was time for a huge chocolate birthday cake for Kvyat.

Later that day Kvyat joined Bottas and Grosjean at the drivers’ press conference to face the world’s media, before taking to the stage to speak to his home fans. Meanwhile, Sainz was back onto autograph duty.

Friday arrived and it was time for free practice. In FP1 home hero Kvyat finished eleventh and Sainz fourteenth, and in FP2 Sainz was fifteenth and Kvyat seventeenth. Both drivers were disappointed and said the car was lacking a lot of speed.

On Saturday Sainz ended FP3 in ninth with Kvyat thirteenth. With both drivers still unhappy but with little time to make changes we head into qualifying. Our boys ended in eleventh and thirteenth with Sainz coming out on top, but his three-place grid penalty from Bahrain dropped him to fourteenth and moved Kvyat up to twelfth for his home race. Both drivers said they were much happier with their qualifying positions than their Friday pace.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Sunday meant race day, and with Kvyat starting twelfth and Sainz fourteenth points would be tough but still the aim. As the lights went out Sainz made the better start up to eleventh while Kvyat held onto twelfth place, and in the early laps both boys were looking good.

After the pit stops the race calmed right down and nothing much happened for our boys in the remaining laps: Daniil ended the race where he started in twelfth, but Carlos took a point in tenth. Both drivers struggled with race pace and overtaking was difficult this weekend, but to leave Russia with one point was better than we left Bahrain.

Afterwards, Sainz commented: “What a tough race, especially as we were starting from behind because of the grid penalty… But today we got everything right: the start, the first lap, the pit-stop, the strategy…so we can be happy!”

Kvyat added: “My start today wasn’t the best and I lost a bit of time there. During my pit stop we…got undercut by Stroll and during my second stint I was unfortunately blue-flagged quite a lot and lost some more time having to let the leading cars by.

“On a positive note, the last part of the race in clean air, was fantastic—we were flying and the car felt great!”

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Richard Hindson, F1 Correspondent

Totally Toro Rosso in Australia

The week started on Tuesday for our boys, with a filming day on the beach to promote team sponsor Casio’s new Edifice watches. This meant it was time to swap their race suits for wetsuits, and for a splash in the water on some paddleboards. While Carlos was in the water he got greeted by a friend, later joking he doesn’t like shark fins.

Moving on to Thursday it was autograph day, the drivers signing photos, hats, shirts, and anything else the public wanted. Neither of the boys had press conference duties this week, so it was learning the final few bits before Friday.

Then here came Friday morning and FP1 and F1 was back for 2017 in our new livery. In first practice the boys took it steady, learning and collecting data for the team, and doing race simulations to find the perfect set-up. At the end Sainz set a 1:26.4s and Kvyat a 1:26.5s being P11 and 12 respectively, completing 49 laps collectively in the process. Then after lunch the afternoon session started and the boys completed 73 laps between them, with Carlos finishing P7 and Daniil P10, finishing Friday with no major issues.

Saturday soon came and there was one final hour of practice, one final chance for the team to make any major changes before the cars are in parc fermé. Finishing off in 8th and 9th our two drivers were split by only a tenth of a second n a close weekend between them, with Carlos always coming ahead so far.

Then it was time for a spot of lunch before qualifying. Both of our drivers sailed through Q1 and Q2 making it into Q3 where we finished P8 and P9, ahead of Ricciardo who span. So with two cars in the top 10 it was time to carry on our record of scoring points here in Australia for the 7th time in 8 years.

Finally Sunday arrived and all our hard work over the past two days came down to keeping it clean and finishing well today. After a second formation lap due to a car pulling up in Ricciardo’s empty grid spot, our boys started from eighth and ninth and made it safely through the first corner in one piece. First in the pits on lap eighteen was Carlos, who was still in eighth, changing to the yellow-walled soft tyre. Daniil didn’t make his pit stop still lap 34 which allowed him to change onto the faster supersoft tyre.

He soon caught up with his teammate, who didn’t make it hard for the Russian to overtake as they were on different strategies. After that, Kvyat was right on the gearbox of Perez in the pink Force India, until he was forced back into the pits on lap 47 to replace an empty air bottle to top up pneumatic valve system. When he rejoined he only lost one position to his teammate and was still in the points in ninth. This is how we finished our first race of the season, with Sainz eighth and Kvyat ninth and both scoring points for the team.

Richard Hindson

Toro Rosso – Season Preview

It all started on the 26th February 2017, it was a sunny evening at the Circuit de Catalunya when the car was unveiled to the world in their stunning new colours. We start the season with our two returning drivers, Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz, only one of three teams to retain the same lineup as the previous year.

During winter testing in Spain, the team notched up 584 laps (2718km), with Sainz setting a 1.19.837 and Kvyat setting a 1.20.416. Let’s forget about the times, as none of the teams were pushing 100%. During the test, we saw a problem with the ERS system of all the Renault engined cars which heavily restricted the mileage from the boys. We know Renault will be working hard to fix the problem in time for the Australian GP.

Talking about the Australian GP, Toro Rosso is one of the midfield teams and if Renault can fix its problems with the engine, they could become the best midfield team. As any team, they will want a strong first race.

As always there is big pressure on the two drivers with Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings for a seat either at Toro Rosso or Red Bull both drivers will have to be at the top of their game right from the off as too many mistakes can cost you your seat as we saw last year.

Otherwise, I predict a great year for the team and drivers:

Sainz finishing 10th in the driver’s championship

Kvyat finishing 13th in the driver’s championship

Toro Rosso finishing 5th in the constructor’s championship

Richard Hindson

Image Courtesy of PitSpy