Ferrari 1-2 at Monaco; Hamilton fights back to seventh

 

A historic win at a historic race: Sebastian Vettel took the victory ahead of Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari triumphed in Monaco. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third. Lewis Hamilton battled from P13 on the grid to claim seventh at the chequered flag.

This was the Scuderia’s 227th world championship win, and the 44th of Vettel’s career. He now leads the championship on 129 points.

As always in Monaco, so much is at stake in the few seconds it takes to get off the grid and run down to the braking zone at Sainte-Devote. However, when you have both your cars on the front row, you in fact have the most normal of starts.

Raikkonen got away well from pole on the right side of the track, pulling Vettel along behind him, who was fighting off the Mercedes. The two SF70Hs soon pulled out a bit of a lead over Bottas, Verstappen and Ricciardo. However, the hot conditions made it difficult to follow another car too closely as there was a risk of overheating. Vettel was running around 1’14” behind Raikkonen at this point, but the Ferraris began to up the pace, lapping in the low 1m 17s.

The basic strategy was quite straightforward: just one tyre stop shortly before half distance, switching from the Ultra to the Superset – therefore it was best to try and build up a small lead right away. A sixth of the way through, there was just a little more than two seconds splitting the Ferraris, while Bottas was dropping back. Things livened up on lap 15 with Vettel posted a fastest lap of 1’16”197.

Next time round, Hulkenberg’s Renault began smoking at the back in the run down to Mirabeau. The engineers started planning for a safety car scenario, but only yellow flags were required.

By lap 26, the backmarkers were already on the agenda and Raikkonen lost time getting by Button and Wehrlein who were scrapping between themselves. Vettel also got past but Bottas had made up 4 seconds and therefore the two Ferrari men responded immediately. On lap 32 Verstappen’s Red Bull kicked off the run of pit stops and next time round it was Bottas’ turn. Immediately Ferrari moved to protect its position and, as planned, brought Raikkonen in first for his stop.

Vettel thus found himself leading from Ricciardo who was pushing very hard, trading fastest sector times with Seb. Vettel’s best lap, a 1’15”587, gave a good idea of the Ferrari’s potential. Ricciardo pitted at half-distance and Vettel continued to push in anticipation of his stop at the end of lap 39. Would that be enough to get him ahead of Raikkonen? Yes, the move worked.

In Monaco, it usually takes some major incident for things to change at the front. Vettel continued to push, while Raikkonen held off Ricciardo. And then came that major incident: with just 18 laps to go, Wehrlein was hit by Button and his Sauber was tipped on its side against the barrier at Portier.

The Safety Car came out and the gaps were wiped out, including the leader’s 12 seconds over Raikkonen. Vettel asked about Pascal over the radio and was told he was okay. The Safety Car stayed out for a long time, coming in with 12 laps to go. The race was on again with the two Ferrari’s getting away well. Behind them there were some battles and Vandoorne went off at Sainte-Devote.

Lewis Hamilton

“The strategists said P10 was probably the maximum today, so it feels great to have beaten that target. To score six points, considering where I was on the grid after a disastrous day on Saturday is a good recovery.

“Today it was impossible to overtake and I tried everything to get past Carlos (Sainz) at the end. I’m just grateful to have ended up in P7. I went on the radio at the end there to make sure the team know that this battle isn’t over. We’ll be sure to push those red cars hard next time out in Canada. We’ve got a real fight on our hands, but there are still 14 races to go.”

That was a bit tense

 

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes took his 55th career victory today – his second at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and second of the 2017 season, beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel into second place with Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull, third.

This race was one of the best of the year – an epic Grand Prix. Racing simply doesn’t go more wheel to wheel – and we were treated to some fantastic racing for the win.

A perfect getaway from second on the grid saw Vettel move ahead of Hamilton and into the lead. Things did not go so well for Kimi Raikkonen: at the first corner, he was tapped from behind by Valtteri Bottas and that pushed him into Max Verstappen which meant the ice man had to pull over to the side of the track with a broken front left suspension.

First one, then the other

Vettel pulled away in the early laps and behind him, Hamilton reacted. For the opening laps, the gap stayed around the two-second mark and then it looked as though the Mercedes man was trying to close with the intention of pulling off an undercut by pitting early to emerge in front. Ferrari reacted, bringing Vettel in on lap 14, fitting another set of Softs. Vettel rejoined behind Ricciardo. At the start of lap 16, he passed the Red Bull under braking and set a fastest lap of 1’24”901.

Hamilton pitted on lap 21 and went for the Medium tyres, while Vettel was attacking Bottas who was doing everything he could to keep ahead. Lap 35 and Vettel dived to the left, went on to the grass and got by at Turn 1, so the Vettel-Hamilton duel was back on. Lewis was 4 seconds down but on the harder rubber. On lap 33, Stoffel Vandoorne closed the door on Felipe Massa, went off the track and the race went into Virtual Safety Car mode. Hamilton came in on lap 37 and soon after the race was on again. Vettel went for the mandatory set of Medium tyres.

Master stroke

Hamilton was passed on the straight and yet again the duel resumed. Vettel pushed hard, really hard in the first two corners. The SF70H hung on to the lead, while Bottas retired. Vettel made the most of getting through the backmarkers to also be able to use the DRS down the main straight. But with a clear track, Hamilton made the most of his tyre advantage and the moveable wing to get ahead finally on lap 44.

But the fight wasn’t quite over, because Vettel’s rival had to look after his softer tyres. “Keep your head down,” Vettel’s engineer Ricky Adami advised his driver. But there were no more opportunities for attempting one final assault.

Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a really good weekend and a great way to bounce back from Russia. It was the rawest fight that I can remember having in a long-time. I loved it, this is why I race. This is what made me get into racing in the first place. This is what the sport needs to be like every single weekend. To have a close battle like that with a four-time champion is awesome.

“I lost out on the start and had to watch Sebastian fly by. He was so fast out in front and it was such a push to keep in touch with him and not let him pull away. I was able to manage my tyres in the first stint and keep relatively close, then it was tricky to keep up on the Medium tyre and then after the second stop.

“We came out so close together which was super tight into Turn 1. He didn’t give me much space, it was close! I thought Seb would get me at the end of the final stint but I was able to do it. I have to congratulate my team today, with the strategy and the pit stops, as well as everyone back at the factory that has worked so hard to deliver these upgrades, enabling us to be so close in this fight with Ferrari.”

Sebastian Vettel: “My start was good, I saw Lewis struggle with wheelspin, and kept looking in the mirror to see if anybody else had a better start. The first stint went OK, then we had to pit, otherwise they might have got us with an undercut. My second stint was also pretty good: I managed to get close to Valtteri who was all over the place with his tyres. He blocked me. In the end I managed to get past, but by then I had lost an awful lot of time. Then in the last stint we did everything we could, the car was good.

“It was close with Lewis. I am happy when we have the chance to race the Mercedes cars, we can be very happy but not entirely happy today. The most important thing, though, is that we were in the fight. The team is in great form, we need to improve because we want to be ahead of them.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m happy to be back on the podium today, it’s the first one of the season for me which is nice but actually the race was quite a lonely one. I didn’t have any real battles and my race was more about trying to keep a rhythm and maintain concentration.

“I got a bit fortunate with Valtteri’s problem towards the end of the race which bumped me up to third, but of course I’m still happy to be up there again and see all the smiles from the team. Today we will enjoy the podium but tomorrow we need to understand how to further close the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes.

“I want to take the positives from this weekend, we will keep working hard and chipping away. I don’t think it’s impossible to catch the leaders at some point, maybe it will take a little longer than we had hoped but we will get there. I think I got the maximum out of the car today and moving on to Monaco we will have a few more updates, which will hopefully give us another step, and at that track it’s fair to say anything can happen.”

Perhaps the last word though should go to Mercedes’ Technical Director, James Allison: “Grands Prix like that are why we go motor racing. Winning is always lovely. But when you win a proper 12-round heavyweight fight in this kind of style, and along the way answer all sorts of questions about tyre degradation, following other teams and the car’s handling – and then see a driver at the peak of his craft like Lewis was today – there’s nothing better than that.”

Lewis by a whisker

 

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claimed his 64th career pole position – his third in four years at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and third of the 2017 season. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the second fastest time. Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from P3.

Lewis Hamilton: “That was a really intense qualifying. We had to pull out every millisecond we could to take pole. We made some changes ahead of qualifying and the car felt great, so I was very happy with it. The race pace is looking good and the team has done an incredible job this weekend, as always.

“I don’t know if the guys back at the factory get tired of hearing this, but they’ve done an incredible job. To make this step forward and bring a great package for this weekend to keep us in the fight with the Ferrari, I’m so grateful to them. We’ll work as hard as we can on Sunday so that effort doesn’t go to waste.”

Sebastian Vettel: “I don’t know how the mechanics did it (a precautionary replacement of the Power Unit required an extraordinary team effort to have Vettel on track in time for Q1). It’s a lot of work to put together. I want to say a big thanks to the team.

“This morning we couldn’t do what we wanted to. We know the track and the car, and I know that it is working. In the end we could have got pole position, but I missed the apex at the chicane. I was a bit late and lost a bit of time there. But, overall, putting the car on the front row is a massive success.

“I think we worked really well. We realised that there was an issue and that we could fix it. Tomorrow, with the race rhythm, it will be fine, because when you get into the pace it is easier. A good start looks always good, so we’ll see, but I am confident for tomorrow and I always try to keep a smile”.

Valtteri Bottas: “For most of the weekend we’ve had the edge on Ferrari but in Q3 they raised their game. For me starting the day with the engine change and moving back to the old engine, I was always going to be on the back foot. I really struggled through qualifying with the rear stability of the car, so it was difficult to find a good rhythm.

“It wasn’t one of my best qualifying sessions but I’m happy with the job that the team has done. You could see Lewis was very strong and quick today. It’s a shorter run down to Turn 1 than in Sochi, but we’ve seen in the past that you can make positions from the second row. I’ve done some good things from P3 before. Everything is still wide open. We’re happy with the race pace and upbeat for tomorrow.”

Ferrari nails it

Valtteri looks a bit cheesed off.

 

Sebastian Vettel produced a gutsy drive this evening to win the Bahrain Grand Prix, having started from third on the grid. His victory was also down to the strategic calls from the Scuderia Ferrari pit wall. Lewis Hamilton took the 107th top three finish of his Formula One career in P2, and Valtteri Bottas, having started on pole, sealed a double podium for Mercedes in P3.

Sebastian Vettel: “At the start, it was important for me to get second place. Also, we got everything right with the strategy. We decided to pit early and this tactic proved to be working. Towards the end, I tried to manage the gap I had over Lewis. I expected him to charge through. Of course I was concerned with all the traffic ahead of me. But in the end it was all OK.

“The car was like a dream to drive. I felt right from the beginning that we had the speed to win. I had a good feeling yesterday. The lap back to pits was so sweet, with all the fireworks around, and I really savoured it. Tonight we enjoy the moment, but tomorrow we’ll be back at work. I haven’t changed my mind – to become world champion, you must first beat the Mercedes. We’ll take it race by race.”

Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a challenging weekend. The start of the race was OK but Sebastian was in my blind spot so I didn’t know where he was and I lost a position there. It was really hard to follow but we generally had similar pace. Under the Safety Car, I just misjudged it myself the situation; that was my fault, so my apologies to the team.

“I had good pace in the second and final stints and we honestly thought we could catch Sebastian. But the five second penalty made that twice as hard. I believe it was the right choice to go with the Soft in the final stint. I think that was the best call as I still had a long way to go. Our guys have been making good calls all year so far. I tried my best to recover from the mistake but it wasn’t quite enough. We still come away with good points.”

Valtteri Bottas: “Not a good day. We had an issue with the tyre pressures at the start. I don’t know what it was but I could really feel it in the first stint and was sliding around as early as Lap 2. The pace wasn’t good and Sebastian put us under real pressure. I tried to extend the first stint but I couldn’t keep up with the pace.

“The second stint was better but I was still struggling with oversteer and then I couldn’t get the rear-end to work in the last stint. Under the Safety Car at the first stop there was a problem and we lost some time in the stop; maybe otherwise I would have just been in front but I know that the team will investigate the issue.

“I had some good racing with Sebastian after the restart but unfortunately it was just for a short moment. I’ve not had the race results that I’d been hoping for so far, but will be targeting a strong weekend in Sochi.”

 

“Sorry you were asked to let me past….. err, twice”

Good news for the season ahead

 

We could have a fight on our hands.

Lewis Hamilton may have dominated today’s Chinese Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel second and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third – having moved up from 16th on the grid to finish third, but I’m pleased to say the season could turn out to be a humdinger between the two champions as Hamilton and Vettel battle it out.

Lewis Hamilton: “My pole lap put me in a great position and then the start was just fantastic. I’m really happy with my starts right now so I want to keep that up!

“During the race I needed to keep my composure in some really tricky conditions out there. After the pit stop under the Safety Car the speed was low and the tyres were very cold, so it would have been very easy to make a mistake, so I’m just grateful that I didn’t. In those final 20 laps Seb and I were just pounding around as fast as we could, exchanging fastest lap times, that’s what racing is all about.

“In the future there will be times when we don’t have a Safety Car and we won’t have that gap. I’m excited for that. It’s very close and there were times when it was hard to match Sebastian. It has been a fantastic weekend… Big congratulations to everyone, especially those back home, I hope they’re celebrating and feeling the spirit and the fight.”

Sebastian Vettel: “The race was a lot of fun, very entertaining. Conditions were tricky at the start, you never know what can happen in those moments, so I was perhaps a bit too conservative. Then we chose to change tyres since the track was quickly drying out, so that we could take advantage from the slicks; but luck was not on our side as the safety car came in right after.

“I can’t say how much this affected the final result, it was still a long way from there to the finish, but I think it had an effect. From then I had to work my way through the field, and I had a tense wheel-to-wheel fight with Ricciardo. I like this way of overtaking, when gaining position comes at a price and not simply by opening up the DRS.

“At that moment though, the gap to Lewis had widened, and I kept pushing to keep some pressure on him, while asking my engineer what pace was needed for me to catch him. I think that pace-wise we were a match today. Sometimes he was faster, sometimes I was: if we can fight with Mercedes also in Bahrain that will be again good news. We can still improve.”

 

Sindelfingen day

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Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Motorsport meets Sindelfingen, Mercedes AMG Petronas, F1, Formel 1, Lewis Hamilton ; Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Motorsport meets Sindelfingen, Mercedes AMG Petronas, F1, Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton;

 

Sindelfingen: “THANK YOU!” – this was the message delivered by Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg and team-mate Lewis Hamilton together with their Mercedes crew today. It was high time to express gratitude for the immense support given by colleagues at Mercedes-Benz in the past three seasons. Rosberg also took the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone at Mercedes-Benz after announcing his retirement yesterday.

16,500 employees accepted the invitation to return to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen for a celebration of the Formula One hat-trick with the freshly crowned World Champion, and let’ not forget three-time World Champion Hamilton. The banner headline for the event was ‘Motorsport meets Sindelfingen’, so the employees and their families were treated to all the fun and glamour of the racetrack during the course of the afternoon.

There was a pit stop contest in which employees could try their hand at changing wheels and discover for themselves the standard required of the professional crews who fit a car with four new tyres in under two seconds on a race weekend. There was also an opportunity to demonstrate driving skills under track conditions on the DTM simulator. The drivers and team officials also gave fascinating insights into paddock life in a number of interview sessions.

But the demo laps on the Sindelfingen testing track were surely the highlight of the day. Among the vehicles given an outing were the Formula One World Championship-winning cars of 2014 and 2016 as well as various DTM and customer sports vehicles such as the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Not only the Formula One stars Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon took their turn at the wheel but also the entire Mercedes-AMG DTM Team as well as junior talents such as Maximilian Günther and Mick Schumacher. To round off the spectacular, there were appearances by motorsport legends David Coulthard, Bernd Mayländer and DTM record champion Bernd Schneider.

Nico Rosberg: “It’s hard to believe that almost a week has gone by since I won the title. And what a crazy week it has been! First came that amazingly tough race in Abu Dhabi, then the enormous sense of relief after crossing the finish line, and after that the emotional moments spent with the team and my family.

“Then on Tuesday, we had the World Championship celebrations with our team partner Petronas in Kuala Lumpur, and yesterday it was the FIA Prizegiving Gala in Vienna at which I announced my retirement from Formula One. At last, I got my hands on the championship trophy. For me, a childhood dream had come true. And now here I am today, standing in front of so many Mercedes-Benz employees and thanking them for the huge support they have given me and my motorsport family over the past years.

“I will never forget you. This is a very special feeling. It’s been long and difficult road, but 2016 was my best ever Formula One season and I’ve also driven my best races this year. The whole thing was just mega.”

 

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Mercedes-AMG, Motorsport, Sindelfingen, F1, Nico Rosberg ; Mercedes-AMG, Motorsport, Sindelfingen, F1, Nico Rosberg;

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Motorsport meets Sindelfingen, Mercedes AMG Petronas, F1, Formel 1, Nico Rosberg ; Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Motorsport meets Sindelfingen, Mercedes AMG Petronas, F1, Formula 1, Nico Rosberg;

The demon duo does it again

 

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, SaturdayLewis Hamilton has taken his 61st career pole position – his third at the Yas Marina Circuit and 12th of the 2016 season so far. Nico Rosberg completed a 14th Silver Arrows front row lockout of the season in P2 – his 60th front row start in Formula One. The team has now taken 20 pole positions from 21 races in the 2016 season, which is a new all-time record. Both drivers completed a single run in Q1 and Q2 then two runs in Q3, using UltraSoft tyres throughout.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third, but 0.834 secs slower than Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been an awesome weekend so far. It’s rare that you end almost every session on top, so I’m very, very happy, with that. It’s down to the hard work done by the mechanics and the engineers to get the car where I need it, so I’m grateful to them for that, as always.

“I felt so great out there tonight. It’s really sad that this is the last Qualifying session we’re going to do in this car! It’s a dream for any driver to have something this good to drive. I’ve been doing my practice starts from the pole slot all weekend as I wasn’t planning on being anywhere else for tomorrow. I came here knowing that was a big part of what I needed this weekend and, now I’ve got that, I can focus on the race. Getting away in front will be the next important step. You need a big pace delta to overtake here, so the start will be crucial.

“Tonight, though, I need to look at strategy and how things need to work for me to get the win. At the moment, my pace is that little bit better. But I can’t control what happens behind me. All I can do is focus on my own race. You never know what might get thrown into the mix, so I’m just hoping my car is as beautiful as it has been so far this weekend and aiming for the win.”

Nico Rosberg: “I came here to be on pole, so I’m not ecstatic today. I was feeling good in the car today and put in some good laps at the end. But Lewis did a great job and was just a few tenths quicker. I’m still in a good position to win the race and I want to end the season on a high. There are a few opportunities tomorrow, so I look forward to an exciting battle.

“The Yas Marina Circuit is a great track and I’m feeling very good before the last race of the year. I am proud and happy about how this season has gone for me until now. Tonight I will relax a bit with Vivian and some friends and come back tomorrow in top shape.”

Tomorrow is promising to be a cracker, yet also tinged with some sadness as we say goodbye to Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.

 

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Saturday

Stunning São Paulo double for Mercedes as chaos reigns at Interlagos

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, Sunday

 

Lewis Hamilton has taken his 52nd career victory – his first at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and ninth of the 2016 season so far. Nico Rosberg completed a seventh Silver Arrows 1-2 of the season in P2, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third.

Rosberg (367) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 12 points from Hamilton (355) in P2. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS (722) leads Red Bull (446) by 276 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

Lewis Hamilton: “I’ve just won my first Brazilian Grand Prix! I remember watching Ayrton win back in 1991 and thinking “one day, that’s what I want to do”. I shared his emotion that day and now I can finally understand how he felt. It’s the 44th Grand Prix here as well, so it’s a really special one for me. To win on Senna’s turn in front of that crowd… it’s a moment I’ll never forget and I genuinely can’t believe it’s finally come.

“It’s crazy – all these years it’s been so hard to win this race and then today was one of the easiest wins I’ve had. Of course, in those conditions I could easily have made a mistake at any point. But I was generally very relaxed out there today and felt completely in control. I love driving in the rain. It must come from years of racing around the UK as a kid! It’s all in the mind – keeping your cool, not making mistakes, having great reactions and knowing where to put the car.

“It was one of those races where I was able to focus purely on driving. That one set of tyres just kept going and going, I didn’t have any problems at all and the car was really fantastic. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone back at both factories who have worked so hard to give us such an incredible car. This result is all down to them.

“Every week we’re making another piece of history and we’ve out-and-out proven that we’re the best team by far, in every area. Our hospitality is the best, our food is the best, our guys in the garage are the best, the guys back in the factory are the best, our cars are the best… it’s so rare to see every area so spot on and I’m proud to be a part of that.

“I’m glad that it’s come down to the last race. All I can do is focus on being as strong as I have been in these past few races. If I can do that, I’ll know in my heart what I’ve achieved this year.”

 

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, Sunday

Nico Rosberg: “The conditions were really tricky out there today. Up the hill there was heavy aquaplaning and a lot of drivers went off the track. I had a bit of a moment when I spun at one point but luckily this wasn’t at high speed, so I was able to catch the car again.

“Lewis did a better job today and deserved the win, so I must be happy with P2. Max also did a good job. We knew that the Red Bull would be very strong in the wet but he drove a great race. Thank you very much to my team for choosing the right strategy and letting me stay out on the full wet tyres. Now I look forward to Abu Dhabi, where I have good memories from last year. I will be going all out for the win there.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “To come away with such a result in a race like that is really quite something. You simply can’t expect a 1-2 in such conditions. It’s a rare achievement and the whole team is to be congratulated for that. I’m very happy with the result. When you consider the circumstances, it’s maybe the best result of the season.

“It was a faultless drive from Lewis, with easily the best pace of the field, while Nico showed his strength to stand firm in P2. A word for Max too, who was very impressive today. It was the Verstappen show out there – really unbelievable driving and great entertainment.

“Also, for Charlie and the Stewards. It’s very difficult in these conditions and, overall, they probably made the right calls. I probably wouldn’t have stopped the race the last time around because the conditions hadn’t changed. But if you have to sit up there, put your neck on the line and take responsibility for the drivers’ safety, you might see it from a different perspective.

“Now, we have a showdown in Abu Dhabi – just as Bernie would have ordered it. Our job is simple – give both drivers the cars they need to fight to the flag on track.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): “Absolutely mind-blowing. To get a 1-2 from a day like that is really incredible. Most of the credit for that must go to the drivers, who kept their heads in very difficult conditions. It was great to see such a thrilling race in the end too for the crowd at this iconic circuit. Such difficult weather makes it tough to run a safe race and their dedication must be applauded.

“In the end we had a lot of exciting racing, so I’m happy for them. From a technical point of view, to us it was clearly a full wet race all afternoon. Twice, others gambled on the intermediate tyre – but we resisted that temptation as the data simply didn’t support it and neither did the drivers.

“On both the initial start and the two re-starts, that proved to be absolutely the right call. Credit to the team and the drivers for making those choices, which won the race for us today. Congratulations to Lewis on becoming the second most winning driver in Formula One history. We now take the Championship finale to the final race in Abu Dhabi, which is a perfect outcome for the sport.”

 

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, Sunday

Mercedes comment

2016 Mexican Grand Prix, Sunday

 

Lewis Hamilton today took his 51st career victory – his first at the AUTÓDROMO HERMANOS RODRÍGUEZ and eighth of the 2016 season so far. With that result, Lewis draws level with Alain Prost in joint second place on the list of all-time Formula One Grand Prix winners.

Nico completed a sixth Silver Arrows 1-2 of the season in P2. Nico (349) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 19 points from Lewis (330) in P2. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS (679) lead Red Bull (422) by 257 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

Lewis Hamilton: “This weekend I’ve had really good pace. The car felt really strong from start to finish – night and day compared to last year. I had a good start – but it’s such a long way down to Turn One that everyone just got the tow on me. The right front brake disc had glazed on the formation lap and I couldn’t un-glaze it. I thought it might be okay – but when I hit the brakes it just locked up as the temperature came up and I went flying across the grass.

“I was lucky to get across and rejoin on the other side of the track. I had a big flat spot – and I mean seriously big. I could barely see the end of each straight with the vibrations and I genuinely didn’t know if my suspension was going to last. I was really lucky not to catch it again and either destroy the tyre or have to come in for an early stop. Luckily, I got it under control and was cruising from quite early on.

“It’s kinda crazy to think I now have 51 wins. It’s a shame these results are coming so late in the season – possibly too late. You can look back at say that maybe if Malaysia didn’t happen then I’d be in a different position right now. But that’s motor racing. All I can do is my best and hope things go as they have done for the past two weekends. History has shown that it’s never too late – that’s why I keep pushing and doing everything I can to repeat weekends like this.

“I hadn’t won here before so it’s a great feeling to do that in front of this incredible crowd. Now my sights are fully set on Brazil. I’ve never won there either – but if I can take this kind of performance into the next weekend I’ll be in a good position. Ultimately, as long as I feel I did the best I could in these final races, I can be happy at the end of the season.”

Nico Rosberg: “The Mexican fans were really outstanding again. I got goose bumps already in the stadium before the race at the driver’s parade. But then, when the people were calling my name on the podium, that was the most emotional moment of the weekend. Thank you to everybody who made this event possible and to every Mexican fan who made their way today to the track today.

“Checo Perez and Esteban Gutiérrez can be really proud of their countrymen. I had a tough race today. At the start I had a good getaway and thought I would be able to take the lead from Lewis, when I saw he had a massive lock up and went straight through the grass. Then, suddenly, Verstappen hit me heavily after he had a lock up too and forced me off the track. Luckily my car wasn’t damaged and it didn’t cost me a position.

“Lewis was that little bit quicker today, so I didn’t manage to achieve my goal and win here again. But being second is not too bad overall. Now I look forward to flying home after two long weeks and relaxing a bit with my family, ready to come back stronger in Brazil and go for the win there. I think the Interlagos track suits our car much better, so I’m looking forward to going there and seeing what we can do.”

First one down, three to go

2016 United States Grand Prix, Sunday

 

Lewis Hamilton’s victory is his 3rd in a row at the Circuit of the Americas and 7th of the 2016 season so far. Nico Rosberg completed a 5th Silver Arrows 1-2 of the season in P2. However, Rosberg (331) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 26 points from Lewis Hamilton (305) in P2.

Lewis Hamilton: “I’m delighted to claim my 50th career victory today, it’s been a long time coming, but most importantly it was great to have a solid race weekend. This race has always gone extremely well for me, but still, it was a massive relief when I crossed the line given my reliability issues in recent rounds.

“I was 100% clear on my start and I knew it was going to turn out that way. It was a nice feeling, especially after so many ups and downs, and I was able to control the race from there. It’s been great to be back here in Austin and the response from the fans has been incredible. The aim is to continue this form next week and I can’t wait to continue the Championship battle in Mexico.”

 

2016 United States Grand Prix, Sunday

Nico Rosberg: “I had a good start and tried to overtake Lewis on the outside but ultimately it meant Daniel Ricciardo had a better line out of turn 1 and was able to capitalise on this. From there it was hard to overtake the Red Bull but our altered strategy paid off.

“We ran the medium tyre and that gave us plenty of options, especially when the virtual safety car came into play. The medium tyre showed some really strong pace and the car felt great which meant towards the end I was closing in on Lewis, but it was too late. He did a better job this weekend and deserved the win and I look forward to continuing our battle in Mexico.”

 

2016 United States Grand Prix, Sunday

Großer Preis der USA 2016, Sonntag

Mercedes seals the triple at Suzuka

2016 Japanese Grand Prix, Sunday

 

Nico Rosberg today took his 23rd Formula One career victory – his first at the Suzuka International Racing Course and ninth of the 2016 season so far. Lewis Hamilton recovered from a slow start which dropped him to P8 on the first lap to clinch P3 at the flag – the 100th podium of his Formula One career.

The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows have now sealed a third consecutive Constructors’ World Championship title with a 60th Formula One Grand Prix victory. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS (593) lead Red Bull (385) by 208 points in the Constructors’ Championship – an unassailable lead with four races remaining in the 2016 season. Rosberg (313) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 33 points from Hamilton (280) in P2, with the battle for the Drivers’ title now solely between the two Mercedes drivers.

Nico Rosberg: “What an awesome weekend! It felt great right from when the lights went green on Friday. I got a good rhythm in practice, had a strong Qualifying, a decent start and then from the lead I was able to control the pace in the race. I had to save my engine a bit as it was my last race in the cycle – but the gap was always safe.

“I came here to win in Japan and I managed to do so, which is really special. It’s a fantastic feeling to win at this legendary race track. Massive congratulations to all of my colleagues here in Japan, back at Brackley and Brixworth, and the hundreds of thousands of Daimler employees out there for the third Constructors’ World Championship. A huge thank you to every single person and to every partner who made this possible. They are really the best! They deserve it so much after the unbelievable effort over these past few years, so let’s celebrate hard!

“I might do a little bit of celebrating myself but not too much. The season is not over yet with a few races still to go around the world, so I need to keep my energy up! Thank you so much to everyone out in the crowds this weekend too. The fans here always create a special atmosphere and they’ve put on such a great show. Arigato! Now we need to focus on the last four races. I look forward to going to America next. See you there!”

A slightly more subdued Lewis Hamilton: “Firstly, I’d like to say a huge congratulations to everyone back at the factories and the whole of Mercedes-Benz. Everyone has done a fantastic job and to have this success three years in a row is incredible. It’s been an awesome effort from so many people over the last three years and that is the most important thing to take from today. We couldn’t have done it without all of their support and I’m very, very proud to be a part of it. I’m also proud to have been part of the Mercedes-Benz journey since 2007 and then since 2013 with this team.

“Looking at the race itself, I’m not really quite sure what happened at the start. I’ll have to see what the engineers say – but I got the worst getaway I could possibly get. My side wasn’t completely dry and there was lots of wheel spin – but that wasn’t the whole issue. I lost a lot of ground as everyone else gained traction moving away. It was frustrating, but that’s the way it is. These things happen. Then, in the first part of the race, I didn’t have the pace of Kimi, so knew I had to go longer and wasn’t really trying to attack him in the first part of the race.

“The second half got a lot more interesting and I was able to pick up some serious pace on the hard tyre. The car was feeling better, I was feeling more comfortable and I was able to overtake people. We put a bit of front wing in and the understeer completely disappeared, so I was able to make my way through the field and close the gap. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take second but I did the best job I could out there today. Every point counts, so I drove my heart out to get as many as possible.

“Nico did a great job today and he has a healthy margin now, so the Drivers’ Championship has got harder for me. I’ll give it everything I’ve got, as I did in the race today and always do. That’s all I can do – focus on doing the best that I can – so we’ll see what happens. A big thank you to everyone who came out today. The fans were amazing here as always. I’m looking forward to getting home and then moving onto the next race.”

 

2016 Japanese Grand Prix, Sunday

Nico, Lewis and Kimi head Sunday’s pack

2016 Japanese Grand Prix, Saturday

The facial expressions say it all. And yes, I know Kimi never smiles…

 

You’ve got to hand it to Nico Rosberg. He keeps on delivering.

Today he took his 30th career pole position – his 3rd in a row at the Suzuka Circuit and 8th of the 2016 season so far. Lewis Hamilton – who really has to beat Rosberg tomorrow – completed a 10th Silver Arrows front row lock-out of the season in P2. Both drivers completed a single run in Q1 (medium), a single run in Q2 (soft) and two runs in Q3 (soft/soft).

Nico Rosberg: “I’ve been feeling great all weekend, having felt incredibly comfortable in the car. It gave me the confidence to push even harder at the end of Q3 which meant I pulled out a great lap to recover pole from Lewis.

“Suzuka is a really difficult circuit because of the varying corners which means it’s even more difficult to get the car set up just right. It’s great to start from P1, but as we’ve realised, it’s not the most important thing this year as you also need to get the start and the race strategy spot on.

“Lewis will push hard and so will the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. It’s clear that both these teams looked very strong on the high fuel. It will be an exciting race tomorrow in front of Suzuka’s amazing fans. I’m definitely looking forward to it!”

I bet you are Nico. Clearly, his head’s in the right place, and he’s the one to beat now.

Meanwhile, this is what Lewis Hamilton had to say: “This weekend has not been that easy. I’d been veering one way with the set-up of the car and then had to shuffle back going into qualifying and it felt like I was in no-mans-land as we approached Q1.

“With that in mind, I’m extremely happy that I was able to bring it back to that kind of gap. Of course, starting on pole is always a good thing but let’s hope the work we’ve been doing on the starts pays off. It’s also still hard to know at this stage what the weather is going to do but I’ll do the best I can tomorrow.”

Brief, and to the point. Tomorrow’s going to be a cracker.

Rosberg salvages podium as Hamilton retires

 

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, SundayAfter all the hope of yesterday’s qualifying and today’s coasting to within 15 laps of a win and championship lead, Lewis Hamilton had something of a wake-up call. He was forced to retire on lap 41 after a sudden failure of his ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) which occurred with no prior warning.

So Formula One. Never think you’ve got everything in the bag. The lady has a nasty habit of biting when you least expect her to.

Lewis says it all: “Max (Verstappen) was in my pit window so I was just trying to push him out of it. I think I’d done that, almost. But then, on the straight, I just lost power all of a sudden. You could hear something blew and I obviously had to stop.

“Honestly, you’ve got to understand it from my point of view. On one side, we’ve had the most incredible success these past two years, for which I’m so grateful. These guys work so hard and we’re all feeling the pain right now. When you get out of the car – that feeling you have after leading the race and then your car fails – it’s pretty hard to say positive things at the time.

“As I said in the tv interviews, Mercedes has built 43 engines or however many it might be with the extra three I’ve had, and I have happen to have most of, if not all of, the failures. So, that is definitely tough to take. But I have 100% confidence in these guys. It’s my fourth year with them now and the guys in the garage and back at the factories – I have 100% faith in them. I love it here and without them I would not have won these two Championships.

“While the struggle is real right now and has been all year, I honestly feel that it’s a test of my will, my spirit and who I am as a person to get back in and keep fighting it head on. It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up. That applies not just to me but to the guys as well. I saw tears in the eyes of my mechanics so I know that we all bear the pain.

“But, as I said, it’s how we re-group. We have to keep in mind what we’ve already built. While in the short term it doesn’t look good and for the long-term this year it might not be so good, there are still lots of positives. There’s still five races to go and if I can perform the way I performed this weekend there’s still everything to play for. We will learn. The guys will take the engine back and they’ll understand what happened. Every time we’ve had engine issues they’ve gone away and found out why. It puts us potentially in a better position to make sure it doesn’t happen next year.

“All I can do is what I’ve done this weekend. Come correct, be as focused as I can possibly be, put in this kind of performance and pray that the car holds together. I still have faith and hope. That’s a powerful thing. It feels a little bit like the man above, or a higher power, is intervening a little bit. But I feel like I’ve been blessed with the opportunity firstly to be here with so many great people around me, in this great team, to have won these last two Championships with lots and lots of victories and records that I’m breaking time and time again.

“Whilst it does not feel great right now, I have to be grateful for all of that. If at the end of the year the higher powers don’t want me to be Champion after everything I’ve given towards it, I will have to accept that. As long as I end the year knowing that I’ve given it everything, done everything I could possibly do and that we’ve done everything we could possibly do, that’s all you can ask for. Don’t forget that I’m World Champion. I’ll be okay.”

You can read a lot about Lewis’s state of mind in these words. Some may say this was the day Rosberg won the Championship. His was an amazing drive to get back into the race and finish third. Others will recognise the thoughts of a mature driver about to redouble his efforts for the remaining races.

Instead of venting frustration, Hamilton returned to the garage and shook the hand of every team member. They talked in a small group and were all really down. Then Lewis stood in front of the team and found the words to lift everybody and help them recover quickly for Japan. This is what the great drivers do, the true Champions.

Malaysian GP qualifying: Mercedes pair seal Sepang front row lock-out

L-R: Rosberg, Hamilton and Max Verstappen for Red Bull starts in third for tomorrow's Malaysian GP.

L-R: Rosberg, Hamilton and Max Verstappen for Red Bull starts in third for tomorrow’s Malaysian GP.

 

Lewis Hamilton has taken his 57th career pole position – his fourth at the Sepang International Circuit and eighth of the 2016 season so far. Nico Rosberg completed a ninth Silver Arrows front row lock-out of the season in P2. Both drivers completed a single run in Q1 and Q2, another two runs in Q3, using soft tyres throughout.

Lewis Hamilton: “It feels great. I’m incredibly grateful for the car being where it is. The guys have done a great job for us to have such performance this weekend. To be able to extract it from the car is the thing I’m really happy about. It’s been night and day in comparison to Singapore. Of the laps I had there, I only really got a few of them together. Here, though, we’ve had lots of mileage, I’ve been able to build through the sessions and I felt really comfortable in the car.

“My final qualifying lap was the first lock-up I’d had all weekend into Turn One, so there was more time out there. It’s a shame I didn’t get to show it but I still got pole and it’s looking good for tomorrow. I’ve been here since last Saturday, so I’ve been able to prepare really well and I’ve been pretty quick all weekend. I’ve had incredible support ever since I arrived here in Malaysia from the people here – and from everyone else around the world too, as always. I want this just as badly as they do, so hopefully we’ll see it through tomorrow. It’s too soon to say how the race will go. When I’m on top of it like I have been this weekend, it generally goes my way on a Sunday. Let’s hope that pattern continues.”

Nico Rosberg: “Congrats to Lewis for the pole. He did a better job today. I was closer to him on my last lap but then I lost a couple of tenths in the last corner, which was a pity. I can be happy with a front row start as we have seen this year that there are some opportunities at the start and qualifying is not quite so important anymore – especially at a track like this where you can overtake. So, overall I’m quite confident for tomorrow. I hope we can give our Malaysian friends from Petronas and the whole country a great race.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “That was a pretty awesome session from Lewis, setting fastest time in all three parts of qualifying and taking pole by a big margin – and without completing his final effort. He’s been on point from the first laps this weekend and, without any reliability problems, he’s got the job done.

Nico also did a great recovery in Q3 after an oversteery first run left him P5. He got a strong P2 on his final lap and he probably left a couple of tenths out there on the track as well. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we need to keep the ball flat and focus on the job. It will be a challenging race with our main rivals very close on long run pace. Strategy will be important and so will avoiding mistakes in the challenging conditions. We’ve hit our first target for the weekend but the big one is still to come.”

 

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, Saturday

 

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