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.”

Top 10 wealthiest F1 drivers of all time

Thanks to Wealth-X for this. Its list of the top 10 richest F1 drivers of all time includes active and retired race car drivers.

Cruising into first place on the list is seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher who has an estimated net worth of US$780 million. The retired German driver, who last raced for Mercedes in 2012, is currently recovering from a serious brain injury from a skiing accident in the French Alps in 2013.

Schumacher’s wealth represents 43% of the combined net worth of all 10 men on the list, four of whom have retired from the sport.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton came in fifth place on the Wealth-X list with a personal fortune of US$110 million.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg took 10th place with US$30 million in assets.

The youngest driver on the list is 27-year-old Sebastien Vettel, who has a net worth of US$45 million. The oldest is 60-year-old retired Frenchman Alain Prost, who has amassed a personal fortune of US$70 million.

1 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) $780m – Retired
2 Fernando Alonso (McLaren) $220m
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) $180m
4 Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) $180m – Retired
5 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) $110m
6 Jenson Button (McLaren) $100m
7 Alan Prost (Williams) $70m – Retired
8 David Coulthard (Red Bull) $70m – Retired
9 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) $45m
10 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) $30m

(Latest team for retired drivers)

The new Williams




Williams has released the first images of its 2014 challenger: the Williams Mercedes FW36.

It’s the culmination of two-plus years research and development by the team’s technical departments in Grove and it incorporates the power unit from the team’s new partner, Mercedes-Benz.

Says Chief Technical Officer, Pat Symonds:

“There’s a lot more technology on the cars this year. We’ve had turbo-charged engines in F1 before; what’s different this time is that it is much more than just an engine change, it is a completely different system.

“We’ve gone from a slightly hybridised, normally aspirated engine to a fully integrated hybrid power unit with novel technology at its heart.”

To meet the challenges of the new power unit, Williams signed the deal with Mercedes-Benz High Performance Powertrains midway through last season. The team received the first CAD (computer-aided design) data for the power unit at the end of May, at which point the detailed design of the FW36 could begin to be finalised.

This is the first time that Williams has worked with Mercedes in F1.

The design phase of the FW36 was completed by mid-September, by which time the team had found solutions to the major challenges presented by the regulations. (Cooling, weight, a new gearbox and aerodynamic changes are just some of the areas of focus.)

Continues Symonds:

“Overall the cars will need more cooling this year. The demands on water and oil cooling may be slightly diminished, but the ERS system is significantly more powerful and hence needs more cooling. We also have to cool the charge air from the turbocharger compressor which requires a substantial intercooler.”

The FW36’s gearbox ran on the dyno for the first time at the beginning of November, before running with the full power unit several weeks later. It’s the first eight-speed gearbox in Williams’ history.

Says Symonds:

“We finished the gearbox relatively early. It’s completed a lot of running on the test rig and at Mercedes HPP in Brixworth, but you can’t take reliability for granted. It’s a completely new box and it has to cope with a lot more torque than was the case with the V8.”

The weight of the car, when combined with the FIA’s ever more stringent crash tests, has been another challenge of the 2014 rules. But the FW36 was one of the first cars to pass its crash tests prior to Christmas.

“The build of the new car has gone remarkably smoothly,” says Symonds. “But it’s been a challenge to get the car down to the weight limit. It’s been achievable, but it hasn’t been easy because the new power unit is heavier than the outgoing V8.”

The launch-spec aerodynamic package was finalised in the first week of December, with an upgrade package for Melbourne’s season-opener signed off in early January.

Adds Symonds:

“F1 is still going to be an aerodynamic formula in 2014. There are some significant changes: the nose is lower than last year and the front wing is narrower, which means the end plates are now more shrouded by the front tyre.

“The rear wing isn’t as deep as last year and the beam wing below it is no longer permitted, and we’ve also lost the ability to use the exhaust to enhance aero performance.”

Until the car begins testing the team won’t know how its design solutions will translate on to the track, but Symonds is confident that Williams has done enough to move up the grid after a disappointing 2013 season.

“I’m confident that we’ll be closer to the front aerodynamically than we were last year,” he says. “Our ambition for the year ahead is to have a strong 2014 season.”

A short note to Michael Schumacher

Mr Schumacher is a great Formula One pilot. In most of this season’s races though, he’s looked decidedly average and his behaviour towards the other drivers has been somewhat erratic.

Some say he’s past it. He’s in an understeering car that was originally designed with Jenson Button in mind. The arguments will run and run.

What bothers me more is the incident during today’s Hungarian GP. In my opinion, it had a cloak of blackness about it and it wasn’t something you’d expect from someone of Michael’s pedigree.

Observing the incident from the front – all was clear. Michael had Rubens Barrichello in his right-hand mirror all the way down the finishing straight. His move to the right – almost planting Rubinho in the concrete – looked pretty deliberate to me. Good job there wasn’t a car exiting the pitlane.

No more of this please Michael. Take a long, hard look at the way you’re driving at the moment. Drivers and others who look up to you are watching.

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