Australian GP post race: Mercedes

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Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have clinched a memorable 1-2 after a thrilling race in Melbourne. This was the former’s 15th career victory – his second at the Melbourne Grand Prix Cicuit. Hamilton claimed his 88th Formula One podium.

After a poor start dropped them from the front row to P3 (Rosberg) and P7 (Hamilton), strong drives and good strategy calls saw both recover to cling on from a hard-charging Vettel. Rosberg now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 7 points from Hamilton (18) in P2. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS (43) leads Ferrari (15) by 28 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

Nico Rosberg
“That was a perfect race for me. The start was tricky, as I was on the dirty side of the grid and Vettel managed to be ahead. He did a really good job at the start – but we chose the perfect strategy by going on to the medium tyre after the red flag. We know now just how strong those red cars will be this season, so we cannot afford to relax. Finally, I also have to say it was a big relief to see Fernando walk away from his shunt. It shows how incredible the safety of these cars is now, which is great to see.”

Lewis Hamilton
“I’d had a perfect weekend in every way up until the lights went out and felt confident heading into the race. I got a bit of wheelspin off the line then got pushed wide at the first corner, so from there it was just about recovering. But these things happen and I’m grateful for the way I was able to fight back through.

“P2 isn’t bad in terms of damage limitation after a start like that. I spent a long time stuck behind one of the Toro Rossos and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it as he was on a quicker tyre. I could just see the others pulling away, so the safety car definitely helped by bunching us all up again.

“I was already on a one-stop strategy and, to be honest, I don’t know why everyone else didn’t do the same on the medium. I’m happy they didn’t, as I probably would have finished a lot further back. In any case, the team did a great job to help us pull it back and there’s still 20 races to go, so I’m feeling pretty chilled. I’ve had far worse starts to the season, so I’ll take that today and head into the next one looking up.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“First of all, a big relief to see Fernando walk away from that shunt. The race itself was extremely tense throughout – a real cliffhanger and a great way to show what Formula One is really about. We didn’t get it right at the start. The drivers were slow away from the line then touched at the first corner, so we were forced into recovery mode. Our plan from there had been to put Nico on a two stop and Lewis a one stop strategy before the red flag came out. We did the maths and opted to go with one set of mediums to the end, with the drivers on the knife edge of endurance and performance.

“Managing tyres and temperatures became a big challenge, with debris causing an overheating brake caliper that almost forced us to retire Nico at one stage. Thankfully that was not the case and he led Lewis home for a hard-fought 1-2. A perfect result to start the year, a great job from the drivers to manage and recover the race, fantastic work on the pit wall to give them the right strategy to do so and an incredible team effort from everybody at the factories to get us here. We must now sort our starts and look to carry out momentum into Bahrain.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“What can you say after a race like that? Absolutely fantastic to get a 1-2 at the first race of the season – particularly after we made life very difficult for ourselves with a pair of poor starts. After the red flag we opted to run the medium tyre to the end and expected others to do the same – which would have made the win a very big ask, let alone a 1-2.

“Of course, we can look back and enjoy it now – but it was quite stressful at the time. It made for a great spectacle, so I hope the fans enjoyed it. Overall, we can be extremely happy today. Congratulations to everyone back at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. Together, they’ve produced a car which has given us the perfect start to the season in very exciting circumstances.”

Australian GP – Lotus

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Romain Grosjean finished 16th and Pastor Maldonado 17th after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

Romain started from the pit lane and completed a pit stop before an MGU-K problem stopped his run. Pastor started from the back of the grid and also completed a pit stop before his run was cut short, also with an MGU-K issue.

Romain started from the pit lane on new soft tyres, changing to new soft tyres on lap 28. He completed a pit lane drive-through on lap 1 and exited the race on lap 44.

Pastor started with new soft tyres, changing to new soft tyres on lap 29. He exited the race on lap 29.

The new F1 racing year

This year’s season-opener has the added excitement of being the first race for the brand new 1.6-litre power units.

It’s sure to be an unpredictable weekend at Albert Park and one wonders how many cars will make the finish line on Sunday evening; when Melbourne first hosted the Australian Grand Prix in 1996, only 11 cars reached the chequered flag.

Irrespective of what happens on the track, the F1 circus loves racing in Australia. The laid back vibe, the passionate and knowledgeable fans and the chance of some sunshine after the European winter all add to its appeal. As for Melbourne: what a city!

Williams last won this race in 1996 and the team hopes to kick off its new partnership with Mercedes-Benz HPP with another strong result. Says Rod Nelson, Williams’ Chief Test and Support Engineer:

“It’s a street track so we expect a large increase in grip through the weekend as the Pirelli rubber goes down, and as we often see at other temporary tracks it’s also quite bumpy.

“There’s a high probability of a safety car in the race – usually it’s about a 50 per cent chance around here.

“The weather can also be quite changeable as it’s the end of the Australian summer, and with the circuit being less than 1 km from the sea this can have a large effect. The race also starts late in the afternoon so visibility can become an issue for the drivers as the sun goes down.”

It’s been a very busy winter for Sahara Force India. Adds Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya:

“It’s been a massive challenge, especially for a smaller team like ours. That was why we put so many plans in place early last year to be ready for what has become a very different Formula One. All the hard work has paid off, but it has been a very steep learning curve and a huge undertaking to get where we are today.

“It’s the first time for many years that Formula One has been properly aligned with the automotive industry. The prospect of Formula One driving forward technical advances for road cars is a very exciting one.”

According to Renault Sport F1’s track support leader, Cedrik Staudohar, the main challenges of Albert Park will be focused on the power units:

“The high number of low speed turns will put the focus on low speed driveability through correct turbo response. Heavy braking will also need effective engine braking from the ICE to support the new brake-by-wire system. Short bursts of acceleration between the turns compound the challenge, while massively increasing fuel consumption.

“Heavy braking will also give an opportunity for the MGU-K to recover energy, particularly in turns three and four and the last complex through turns 14, 15 and 16 coming back onto the straight.

“Recovering as much energy as possible here is crucial to minimising lap time. Short straights don’t give huge chances for the MGU-H to recover from the exhaust, but there are several of them so it should be sufficient to keep the battery charged.

“It’s one of the tougher races. Fuel consumption is the second highest of the year, and the mechanical challenges add to the difficulty – Melbourne is in the upper half of the table.”

(The Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) which form an integral part of an F1 car’s power unit from 2014 take the concept of KERS to another level, combining twice the power with a performance effect around 10 times greater.

ERS comprise two energy recovery systems (Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) and Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H]), plus an Energy Store (ES) and control electronics.)

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