Monthly Archives: March 2014

Alonso: We need to improve for China and Spain

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In an interview with the media today, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso says that his team know that they need to improve massively for China and Spain even though the car will be in the same specification as Australia for Bahrain this weekend.

In an all too familiar situation, Alonso once again finds himself fighting to harvest up as many points as possible whilst watching his title rivals drive off into the distance. Ferrari have been notoriously slow starters in recent years. Since joining the Ferrari team in 2010, only once has Alonso stood atop the podium at the opening race of that year (which was his debut race for the team).

After two fourth-place finishes so far this season, in his interview with the media, he has said that he does not expect the situation to improve this weekend at Bahrain. Alonso stated the following:-

‘We have some work to do. Obviously for Bahrain there will not be much to do as in five days we are in the car again, but for China and Spain I think it is very clear what we need to bring [to] the car. The car from Australia to here has not got anything new so we know that the situation was more or less the same as Melbourne.

‘After qualifying, I thought that today we could challenge Red Bull or at least run close to them, but we didn’t unfortunately and that is hopefully something we can improve for the next run. For Bahrain I don’t think the picture will change too much from here. We are on track again in five days so the cars will not change magically at any of the teams, so it will be more or less similar.’

I agree with Alonso and Ferrari have a lot of work still to do in order to competitively challenge at the front of the grid with their rivals. At this early stage of the season, the Ferrari team or Alonso will not want to be in the position where they are currently in terms of track performance. But all that they can do is make the best of the resources that they have currently and achieve the best performances that they possibly can until they bring further developments onto the car.

Further on with in his interview with the media, Alonso believes that the Bahrain race will be tough for him and the team but he expects the Williams team to perform this weekend based on their performance within pre-season testing. He added the following:-

‘The track will be a little bit different so on the straights we will probably see Williams, who have a very good top speed, be competitive as we saw in the test with [Felipe] Massa and [Valtteri] Bottas.

‘So it is going to be tough again, but somehow we always manage to be in the top five. At the moment with the performance we have it is giving us some good points and we must finish the race in Bahrain.’

It would be hard to disagree with what Alonso has stated to the media. I do feel just like Alonso that it would be hard to discount the Williams team in Bahrain. As Alonso said Williams during pre-season testing have shown that their car is consistent and reliable enough to finish the races, but they do still need to work on their race performance still.

Even though the performance is not where he would like it to be or the Ferrari team need to be, they are still able to perform in order to keep scoring points within the races so far. This will only push Alonso and Ferrari further in order to extract more pace and performance from the car throughout the season ahead.

Despite not being in the fight currently for the title and also fighting with the Force India’s in Malaysiarather than Mercedes’ and Red Bulls, Alonso is still happy that he is performing better than his team mate Raikkonen. He said the following:-

‘It is not the perfect position to start the championship – we would like to have won the first two races, but we were not in that position. The team is doing a massive effort to catch up and improve the situation, personally I would like to fight for victories, but as long as you are in front of your team-mate then you are doing something extra.

‘We will improve. We have only done two races, we are analysing the areas were we need to improve – they seem very clear to us and will try to run as soon as possible to the level of Mercedes and Red Bull.

‘Until that day we need to score points as we are doing and looking at the performance we have had in these two races we have one point less than [Lewis] Hamilton and nine points more than [Sebastian] Vettel and that is something that is less negative from these two races. We are scoring good points and until we are competitive that is the goal.’

As Alonso has said, all he and his team can do is make the most of the resources and the performance that is within the F14 T currently until further developments on the car can be put onto the car as quickly as they possibly can. At the moment, Ferrari need to ensure that they keep gaining track mileage, keeping score as many points as they possibly can within the races and also keep striving to develop their car further in order to try and keep themselves in the fight for the championship.

I do feel that Ferrari have a lot of work still to do in order to get to the level of competitiveness that they need and are expected to achieve. As I believe that if the Ferrari team do not bring developments to their car quickly, their chances to fight for the championship may come too late for them.

There is no question that the Ferrari team will be working hard in order to improve their car and fight at the front of the field, but will it be too late for them? We can only wait and see.

Van der Garde and Sirotkin make their Sauber debuts at the in-season test session in Bahrain next week

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Sauber are the first team to announce to the media about their plans for the first in-season test session at the Bahrain circuit next week. The team have announced that their two test drivers former Caterham driver Gideo van der Garde and Sergey Sirotkin will be driving in the session.

Due to the overhaul of the sport’s testing regulations that have been introduced this year, four two-day test sessions are being held on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Grand Prix. These sessions will take place at Bahrain, Barcelona, Silverstone and Abu Dhabi which have been selected as the venues.

As well as the four tests providing Pirelli the opportunity to test their latest tyre developments, three teams will also be testing these developments at the circuit. Caterham, Mercedes and Williams are the first teams who will complete their respective one mandatory day of work for the Italian supplier in Bahrain. These sessions will crucially also allow teams the chance to fine-tune their complex 2014 cars and trial developments ahead of the forthcoming races.

The first session takes place following this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix on Tuesday. Today, Sauber have confirmed that new reserve driver van der Garde and Sirotkin will complete a day apiece in the struggling C33.

Sirotkin had at one stage had been in contention for a race drive at Sauber for this year following their link-up with a series of Russian businesses. However, Sauber ultimately opted for the more experienced pair of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez as the teams headed into an new technical era of Formula One.

However, Sirotkin does have driving experience within the sport after having driven an old Sauber and Ferrari in the closing months of last year.He will now make his full Formula One testing debut on the opening day of the in season test session in Bahrain (April 8) in order to rack up the mileage necessary to apply for a super licence which would allow him to drive at race weekends.

Van der Garde joined the team in February after being dropped from his race seat by Caterham and will run on the second day of the session. Van der Garde revealed during pre-season in an interview with Sky Sports F1 that he would make his debut for the Sauber team in place of Guiterrez in Friday’s Practice One session at the Sakhir circuit.

My first thoughts on Sauber announcing that Van der Garde and Sirotkin would be driving in the first in-season test at Bahrain was that it was to be expected and I do feel that Sauber have got a really strong driver partnership in terms of test drivers in the sport.

I will concur that I do not know much about Sirotkin and his racing career so far but I am very much looking forward to seeing him in action at the test session. Many pundits and fans have heard great things from the Sauber team since last season about his potential and also his natural racing talent and many are looking to see if this is the case.

With Van Der Garde, I do believe that he deserved to keep his seat at Caterham for this year as he showed in my view enough improvement and progression within his first season as a rookie in the sport. I do feel that Sauber will ultimately benefit from the experience that he has gained from Caterham last year that will help them develop and improve the C33 throughout the year.

In my opinion, I still feel that Sauber should have chosen Van der Garde for a race drive this year instead of Sutil. As I feel that Sutil has had his chance within the sport and has not proved himself enough with the chances he has been given. But I do understand why the Sauber team decided to choose Sutil who has a vast amount of experience within the sport.

Next week we will see just how van der Garde and Sirotkin peform at the first in-season test session at the Bahrain circuit. But will it be enough to help Sauber kickstart their 2014 season? Only time will tell.

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix Race Weekend Review

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What a start to the Formula One season in Melbourne! Nico Rosberg won the first Grand Prix of 2014, Daniel Ricciardo being disqualified from second place, Kevin Magnussen in his first race achieving his first podium in the sport with his promotion to second place and Jenson Button taking his fifteenth podium in Formula One.

Heading into the Grand Prix this weekend, the world of Formula One is in mourning for the loss of everyone who was on board Flight MH370 and their families who have tragically lost their lives. On Sunday before the race, a minute’s silence will be held as a mark of remembrance and respect.

Also, ‘fuel gate’ is still the primary focus of pundits and fans. It has been announced over the past week that the appeal hearing regarding Ricciardo’s disqualification will be taking place on the 14th April 2014, just before the start of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

Many pundits and fans of the sport believe that ‘fuel gate’ may open up a new can of worms for the sport and many believe that the FIA need to be stringent regarding the appeal case coming up. As I have stated previously, if the FIA have solid and substantial evidence that Red Bull have exceeded the fuel limit, then they should be absolutely punished and face the consequences of their actions.

But the debate still goes on with Red Bull and the FIA over the course of the weekend regarding ‘fuel gate’. Both parties have publically to the media stating their cases that will be used for the appeal and fuelling the media fire before the appeal has even taken place.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of the hardest races physically for the drivers and the teams. Due to the very high ambient temperatures, it presents a lot of challenges towards the cars as they try to increase the cooling in order to get maximum benefit of the aerodynamics.

The track has a normal grip evolution over the course of the weekend. On the circuit, you have slow chicanes and Turns 4-8 are extremely fast flowing and the drivers aim to get a good balance for their cars. It is important that they get their braking stability right in their cars in order to set a fast lap time around the circuit.

Track conditions at the Sepang circuit can change rapidly and very quickly indeed (for example 2012’s race started off in the dry and ended up raining heavily), the humidity of the weather (it is extremely hot) and also high degradation with the Pirelli tyres that are presenting the driver with a challenge that tests the best.

There has been controversy, unexpected issues, reasons for concern and signs of promise for a few teams after the first Grand Prix in Australia. Most Formula One fans have now switched their attentions towards the second race of the Formula One season in Sepang. Question is; have Mercedes kept up their advantage from Australia and will they still be seen as championship contenders for 2014?

The race weekend begins now….

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton top the timesheet with a time of 1.40.691 followed closely by Raikkonen with a gap of 0.152 seconds, Rosberg in third with a gap of 0.337 seconds, Button in fourth with a gap of 0.420 seconds and Magnussen in fifth with a gap of 0.583 seconds behind Hamilton.

Within Practice 1, Romain Grosjean in his Lotus stopped on track at Turn 9 and the car was stuck in gear and seemed to be losing hydraulic pressure. Also, McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen stopped on the circuit heading into the pit lane and would appear to be suffering from electrical issues. It was later confirmed that Magnussen suffered an overheating sensor problem which stopped him getting the car back to his pit box.

Also within Practice 1, many drivers were pushing the limit early on in order to get a clear indication of the grip from the circuit. Many drivers such as Sutil, Ericsson, Alonso and Massa experienced problems with Turn 15.

Before Practice 2, it was confirmed by the Mercedes team that Lewis Hamilton after suffering a wire problem that forced him to retire from the Australian Grand Prix has ran with the engine from the Grand Prix during this session. This is great news for Hamilton and the Mercedes team and proves that they made the right decision to retire Hamilton in Melbourne.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2

Practice 2 saw Nico Rosberg topping the timesheets with a time of 1.39.909 followed by Raikkonen with a gap of 0.035 seconds, Vettel in third with a gap of 0.061 seconds, Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.142 seconds behind and Alonso in fifth with a gap of 0.194 seconds behind Rosberg. Nico Hulkenberg managed to achieve a top 10 finish with 10th place. The early pace is showing that Force India may have the pace to get some good championship points this weekend.

Within Practice 2, Marussia driver Max Chilton and Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne experienced spins on the track while trying to find the limit. Grosjean once again stops on track after his Lotus appears to have jumped a gear and once again seem to be experiencing ongoing issues with the car. Also towards the end of the session, Ricciardo has a spin on the track in the Red Bull.

Rosberg once again tops the timesheets in FP3

Rosberg once again tops the timesheets in FP3

Practice 3 saw Rosberg top the timesheet again with a time of 1.39.008 followed by Hamilton with a gap of 0.232 seconds, Raikkonen in third with a gap of 1.148 seconds, Vettel in fourth with a gap of 1.379 seconds and Hulkenberg in a fifth with a gap of 1.515 seconds behind Rosberg. The surprise of the session is Massa managing to grab 8th place showing that Williams may have good pace within their car. Force India look to be having a good weekend so far with Perez also 10th place which show that Force India might be able to get into Q3 with a fight and to gain some championship points on Sunday.

Within Practice 3, Grosjean once again goes off the circuit in his Lotus but is able to continue on with the session. Also Magnussen once again suffers a breakdown on his car and it was confirmed after the session that the McLaren team are experiencing a problem with a faulty sensor that is in the process of trying to be fixed before qualifying.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Raikkonen, Alonso and Vettel also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso, Williams, Force India or Ferrari have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

Qualifying

But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the team to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Force India or Williams may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

However, there is a threat of rain that could hit the Sepang circuit throughout the session, will this spice up the action? Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

The start of Q1 was delayed due to a heavy rain shower that hit the Sepang circuit just before the start of the session. But at quarter to five (Malaysian time), the rain eased off and Q1 began.

In Q1, Rosberg tops the timesheets with a time of 1.57.183, Hamilton was second with a gap of 0.079 seconds behind, Vettel was third with a gap of 0.471 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was fourth with a gap of 1.700 seconds behind and Alonso was fifth with a gap of 1.706 seconds behind Rosberg. Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Massa and Perez managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Maldonado, Sutil, Bianchi, Kobayashi, Chilton and Ericsson.

At the very end of the Q1 session, Ericsson while lapping for the first time in the rain made contact with the kerb coming out of Turn 3 which saw him make contact with the advertising boards at Turn 4. This brought out the red flag and the Q1 session did not restart.

In Q2, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.59.041, Vettel is second with a gap of 0.358 seconds behind, Rosberg is third with a gap of 0.404 seconds behind, Riccardo is fourth with a gap of 1.106 seconds behind and Hulkenberg is fifth with a gap of 1.798 seconds behind. The big surprise of the sessions was Magnussen finishing in 9th place and Vergne finished the session in 10th place. At the end of Q2, we lose Kvyat, Guiterrez, Massa, Perez, Bottas and Grosjean.

Within Q2, there was an incident on track between Alonso and Kvyat where both drivers banged wheels with each other and lead to Alonso suffering damage to his left front suspension. This incident brought out the red flag and left Ferrari with a lot of work to do in order to continue running once the session was restarted.

However, the Ferrari team did a superb job and managed to fix the problem with Alonso’s car as best as they possibly could. This then allowed Alonso to continue running in the session while the stewards investigated the incident further.

The battle for pole position is on…

The Top 3 Qualifiers at the Malaysian Grand Prix: Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel

The Top 3 Qualifiers at the Malaysian Grand Prix: Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel

In Q3, Hamilton tops the timesheet and gets pole with an amazingly fast lap time of 1.59.431 to claim Pole Position at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Hamilton has also equalled Jim Clark’s record of 33 Pole Positions which is a fantastic achievement.

Vettel was second fastest with a gap of 0.055 seconds behind Hamilton and Rosberg was third fastest with a gap of 0.619 seconds behind Hamilton. Alonso was fourth fastest with a gap of 0.744 seconds behind, Ricciardo was fifth fastest with a gap of 1.10 seconds behind, Raikkonen was sixth fastest with a gap of 1.787 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was seventh fastest with a gap of 2.281 seconds behind, Magnussen was eighth fastest with a gap of 2.782 seconds behind, Vergne was ninth fastest and Button was tenth fastest.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Ricciardo or even Vettel to be challenging also for the race win in order to kick start their 2014 season. Alonso could also be the dark horse to take the win away from Mercedes that could see gaining some points on his rivals to start his fight for the championship.

Button, Magnussen, Vergne, Hulkenberg and Massa could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams to start off their 2014 season strongly. Will it rain tomorrow? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping for a Button win!). Who will lead the championship after this race? Will it be Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel, Ricciardo or Hamilton? I don’t know. The Grand Prix has been set up nicely and set to be an exciting return for many fans of the sport. Let’s see what happens…

Race

Prior to the race, Bottas has received a three place grid penalty from the stewards after he was found to have impeded Ricciardo during the qualifying session yesterday. Also, Bottas has also picked up two penalty points on his license as a result of this.

As I have already mentioned, the world of Formula One is in mourning for the loss of everyone who was on board Flight MH370 and their families who have tragically lost their lives. A minute’s silence will be held as a mark of remembrance and respect before the start of the race.

Even before he made his way to the grid, Perez appears to be suffering problems with his Force India and is wheeled back into his garage to see if his team can fix the problem. Sadly, Force India could not fix the problems with Perez’s car and has no choice but to retire from the Grand Prix before the race had even begun.

The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go… 21 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!!

Hamilton leads the field in the lead towards Turn 1

Hamilton leads the field in the lead towards Turn 1

Hamilton appears to have been bogged down off the start line but is still leading the field. Both Hamilton and Vettel find themselves covering Rosberg. Rosberg has a blistering start and now finds himself passing Vettel. Heading into Turn 1, Ricciardo on the outside is trying to get past Alonso, Vettel and even Raikkonen.

There is contact at Turn 4 between Bianchi and Maldonado which sees both drivers coasting in order to make it back to the pits. Further on track, Magnussen tries to pass Raikkonen for position but cannot do so.

Lap 2 sees Hamilton leading Rosberg by 2 seconds. Hulkenberg then tries to make a move on Alonso into Turn 1 and gains track position. Magnussen is now able to pass Raikkonen for 7th place. However, there has been contact between the drivers and Raikkonen has suffered a puncture on his left rear tyre. At the end of the lap, Bianchi pits.

The next lap sees Hamilton extend his lead to 3.2 seconds. Button is then able to pass his team mate for position on the circuit. There is a battle for 9th place between Massa, Bottas, Guiterrez and Kvyat. Massa is now able to pass Bottas for position. Lap 4 sees Vettel passing Ricciardo for third place and Magnussen passing Massa. The FIA announce that the stewards are now looking at the incident between Bianchi and Maldonado on the first lap.

By Lap 6, the lead is 4 seconds exactly. Magnussen, Massa and Bottas are battling each other for 8th place. The FIA announce that the stewards are now looking into the incident between Raikkonen and Magnussen. The next lap sees Bianchi receiving a five second stop and go penalty for the incident with Maldonado. On team radio, Bottas is telling his team that he “has more pace” than his team mate Massa and Maldonado has been informed by his team to box and to retire the car from the Grand Prix.

Lap 9 sees Hamilton leading Rosberg still by 5.2 seconds. At the end of the lap, Magnussen pits and rejoins the race in 17th place. The next lap sees Massa and Bottas still battling each other for 8th place on the track. Magnussen has received a five second stop and go penalty for his part in the incident with Raikkonen. At the end of the lap both Kvyat and Guiterrez pit.

On Lap 13, Hamilton leads the field by 6.4 seconds. Guiterrez and Sutil are battling each other for 14th place. There is a battle on track between Alonso and Ricciardo for 7th place. Alonso tries to get past him but Ricciardo manages to hold his line and keeps the position. At the end of the lap, Vettel and Button pit.

The next lap sees Bottas losing positions as he is struggling with his tyres. Vettel, Ricciardo and Alonso are able to pass him for position. At the end of the lap, Rosberg pits with a 2.5 second stop and rejoins the race back in third place. At the end of Lap 15, Hamilton pits with a 3.1 second stop and rejoins the race in second behind Hulkenberg who hasn’t stopped yet.

On Lap 16, Hamilton very quickly is able to pass Hulkenberg and regain the lead of the race. Bottas and Massa once again are battling each other for position, this time it is for tenth place. At the end of the lap, Hulkenberg pits with a 3.9 second stop and rejoins the race back in 6th place.

Lap 17 sees Hamilton leading the race to Rosberg by 8.6 seconds. Raikkonen tries to pass Ericsson for position and also Vergne also tries to pass Ericsson on the outside. The next lap sees Raikkonen finally able to pass Ericsson’s Caterham. Vettel and Ricciardo are battling for third place. On team radio, it has been confirmed to Ricciardo that his fuel sensor is dead and to listen to the “beeps” in order to keep to the fuel limit. At the end of the lap, Raikkonen pits.

On Lap 19, Vergne sadly has to retire his Toro Rosso from the Grand Prix. Kvyat and Bottas are battling for 9th place. The next lap sees Bottas passing him Kvyat for the position. 9.7 seconds is the gap that Hamilton leads the race ahead of Rosberg. Rosberg and Vettel are now in battle with each other for second place. At the end of the lap, Kvyat pits with a 5.2 second stop and rejoins the race in 15th place.

By Lap 25, the battle for fifth between Alonso and Hulkenberg is still ongoing. One lap later, Sutil passes Chilton for 14th place and Guiterrez is able to finally pass Ericsson. Hamilton leads the race on Lap 27 by exactly 10 seconds. At the end of the lap, Alonso and Massa make their pit stops. The next lap sees Ricciardo pitting with a 2.9 second stop and rejoins the race in 5th place.

Lap 29 sees Hamilton leading by 10.4 seconds. Kobayashi and Magnussen are battling each other for 11th place and Magnussen is able to pass Kobayashi and takes 11th place in the race. Lap 30 sees Grosjean trying to get past Kobayashi for track position and Kobayashi is able at this stage to keep Grosjean behind him.

Hamilton still leads the field on Lap 31 by 10.2 seconds. On team radio, Hamilton is informed by his team that there could be a chance of rain towards the end of the Grand Prix. At the end of the lap, Vettel pits with a 2.7 second stop and rejoins the race in 4th place. The end of the next lap sees Rosberg make his pit stop.

Lap 33 and Hamilton has a 31.3 second gap to Hulkenberg in second place. Rosberg and Vettel are still battling each other for 3rd place. At the end of the lap, Hamilton pits with a 3.8 second stop and retains the lead of the Grand Prix. The next lap sees Hulkenberg, Rosberg and Vettel battling for second. Sutil’s Sauber stops on the final corner of the circuit and brings out the yellow flags. At the end of the lap, Hulkenberg pits.

By Lap 35, on team radio Raikkonen is informed by his Ferrari team that it is now raining on the back section of the Sepang circuit. Two laps later and Hamilton leads by 12.1 seconds. Gutierrez retires his Sauber from the race. This is the first time since 2011 that Sauber have experienced a double retirement from a Grand Prix. On track, Ricciardo and Alonso are battling for 4th place.

Three laps later, Hamilton has an 11.8 second lead. Vettel is told by his team on the radio that “drops” of rain in Turns 9 and 10 of the circuit. The end of the next lap sees both Button and Magnussen pit and rejoin the race in 9th and 11th places. By the end of Lap 40, Ricciardo pits for new tyres only to find that the front left tyre has not been attached to the car properly.

Ricciardo being pushed back to his pit box

Ricciardo being pushed back to his pit box

Ricciardo then with help from his mechanics is reversed back to his pit box in order to correct the problem which has in effect ruined his chances of a decent result today. By Lap 42, the FIA announce that the stewards are looking into the “unsafe release” of Ricciardo after his pit stop.

Lap 43 sees Hamilton leading the race ahead of Rosberg by 10.7 seconds. Ricciardo then suffers front wing damage on his Red Bull after it failed and then has to pit again in order for the front wing to be fixed. Lap 45 sees the announcement that Ricciardo will have to serve a 10 second stop and go penalty for the “unsafe release” from his pit stop.

Lap 46 sees Button and Massa battling for 6th place on track. Massa tries to get past Button but Button defends brilliantly and is able to keep the position for now. By Lap 49, Hamilton extends his lead to 13.8 seconds. Hulkenberg and Alonso are battling for 4th place. At the end of the lap, Vettel pits with a 3.3 second stop and rejoins the race in 3rd place.

Lap 50 sees Hamilton leading by 13.9 seconds. Vettel and Hulkenberg are now battling with each other for 3rd place. At the end of the lap, Rosberg makes his pit stop. The next lap sees Grosjean and Raikkonen battling for 11th place. At the end of the lap, Hamilton makes his final stop and retains his lead.

Lap 52 sees Raikkonen catching Grosjean very quickly. Ricciardo is now told by the Red Bull team to retire his car from the Grand Prix. Alonso is now very quickly catching the Force India of Hulkenberg. Also, we hear over the team radio that Massa has received instructions from the Williams team that “Bottas is faster than him and to let him through”. The next lap sees Alonso finally able to pass Hulkenberg for fourth place. Lap 54 sees the battle between Massa and Bottas still ongoing.

Felipe Massa still leads Valtteri Bottas after Williams give team order

Felipe Massa still leads Valtteri Bottas after Williams give team order

It would appear that Massa despite being told by his team to let his team mate through is not going to do so. Lap 55 sees the battle with Raikkonen and Grosjean still ongoing. Bottas is then informed by the Williams team that “he is racing Felipe”. Bottas then tries to get past Massa but cannot do so.

The Podium of the Malaysian Grand Prix with the winner Hamilton, Rosberg in second and Vettel in third.

The Podium of the Malaysian Grand Prix with the winner Hamilton, Rosberg in second and Vettel in third.

The final lap of the race sees Hamilton leading Rosberg by 14.5 seconds. Hamilton completes the final lap and he wins the Grand Prix. He also clinches his 100th points finish in Formula One and also the first one two finish for the Mercedes team since the Italian Grand Prix in 1955.

Rosberg is a brilliant second 17.3 seconds behind Hamilton, Vettel finishes third and claims the final spot on the podium 24.5 seconds behind Hamilton, Alonso is a brilliant fourth 39.9 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg finished a credible fifth 47.1 seconds behind Hamilton, Button was sixth 1:23.6 seconds behind Hamilton, Massa finishes seventh 1:25 seconds behind Hamilton, Bottas was eighth 57.6 seconds behind Hamilton, Magnussen finished ninth 1 lap behind Hamilton and Kvyat picked up the final point in tenth.

Nico Rosberg leads the Driver’s championship with 43 points, Hamilton is second with 25 points, Alonso is third with 24 points, Button is fourth with 12 points, Magnussen is fifth with 20 points, Hulkenberg is sixth with 18 points, Vettel is seventh with 15 points, Bottas is eighth with 14 points, Raikkonen is ninth with 6 points and Massa is tenth with 6 points.

Mercedes leads the Constructor’s championship with 68 points, McLaren is second with 43 points, Ferrari is third with 30 points, Williams is fourth with 20 points, Force India is fifth with 19 points, Red Bull is sixth with 15 points and Toro Rosso are seventh with 7 points.

Conclusion

After the race, the FIA announced Daniel Ricciardo will take a ten place grid penalty into the Bahrain Grand Prix for the unsafe release from his pit stop as the racing regulations 23.12 (c) which has been introduced for this year states.

Article 23.12 (c) of the Sporting Regulations states the following:-

‘If the car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during the race the driver concerned will receive a ten grid place penalty at the driver’s next event. However, if any car released in an unsafe condition is able to resume the race a penalty under Article 18.3 (c) will also be imposed on the driver concerned.’

At the moment, I do feel for Ricciardo. In my eyes, he has shown why he was picked to be Webber’s replacement at Red Bull for this season. Ricciardo has shown that he when he has the equipment and the resources, he can deliver. He has been on form all weekend and managed to once again race competitively at the front of the grid.

Despite him being disqualified in Australia and then penalised during and after the race today, I believe that Ricciardo can hold his head up high and he will bounce back from this. At this current time, he may have lost second place in the Australian Grand Prix but we will have to see what happens with the appeal that has been started by his team in the next couple of weeks.

Also added to this, he will now suffer a ten grid place penalty in Bahrain, he will just have to do the best job he possibly can during qualifying in order to minimise the damage for the race next weekend.

As for Vettel, this weekend saw him take the final step of the podium that many people did not expect him to achieve. Vettel has all weekend with the car been able to extract pace and performance and it would seem that the problems he encountered from pre-season testing look to be making progress in the right direction.

At the moment, Red Bull and their 2014 season has not got off to the start many expected of them towards the end of last season where they dominated once again. They have throughout the weekend taken major steps forward in order to get on top of the problems with their RB10 and they will build upon this as they look towards Bahrain next weekend.

I feel that McLaren have gained slightly from the race today. I was happy that Button did have some pace to challenge today and managed to score decent points for the team. This weekend Jenson had a tough battle to now achieve sixth place in the race and I am sure the team are thankful for his efforts. I do feel that Button got the most that he could out of his car.

But Magnussen has impressed me once again this weekend. He has shown that he is without question a potential talent of the future. Magnussen has amazed everyone with how quickly he has gotten on the pace with the MP4-29 and he was once again rewarded with a good result this weekend.

This weekend has seen just how far behind Lotus is in regards to the rest of the field. Even though Grosjean has managed to complete a race distance for the team today, this clearly demonstrates to me that there is some potential within their car when it is able to run under racing conditions. But the Lotus team still have a lot of work to do in order to try and be more competitive by Bahrain or even the start of the European leg of the season.

In my view, I feel that this will be an impossible and challenging task for them. This weekend has highlighted even more problems with their car and they will need to fully understand how to solve these without losing even more ground to their rivals before the championship fight dissolves in front of them.

The biggest surprise this weekend for me was the 10th place of Kvyat. Firstly, he has had an impressive weekend. Despite the incident with Alonso during Q2 on Saturday, he drove solidly in the race today to bring home some much needed points for the team. I really believe that Kvyat is starting to show why he was signed by Toro Rosso for this year and he is showing that he can score some points for the team on a regular basis so far.

Alonso, Bottas and Massa do deserve a mention. Firstly, Alonso drove a solid race this weekend. He has been on top 10 form all weekend and managed to gain some good points this weekend with fourth place. Once again, Alonso is showing his talent and is able to extract performance out of the car. But I believe that Ferrari was very lucky to secure with the good points they have scored this weekend even though they need to work on their race pace throughout the season.

Meanwhile, the Williams team have had yet again an encouraging weekend despite the team issuing team orders during the race. Bottas had a battle to claim eighth today. Bottas this weekend has driven solidly. At several stage of the race, Bottas was once again trying to battle his way up the grid as far as he possibly could and got the best result that he could achieve today.

Meanwhile his team-mate Massa has managed to finish the race today after the disappointment he suffered in Australia after being hit by Kobayashi. It was nice to see that Massa was rewarded with some points after showing his form during the weekend.

As we all know, the Williams team during the race asked Massa on the radio to let Bottas go through because “he [Bottas] is faster than you” in order to try and catch Button who was ahead of them. Massa decided that he would not let Bottas past and in the end managed to keep his team mate behind him.

I think that this will be debated over the course of the week ahead. You could argue that Massa was in his right to refuse to let Bottas past. As Massa throughout his career has obeyed team orders to his previous team mates and he really did believe that he would not encounter this situation at Williams this quickly.

If Massa did let Bottas past, you could state the case that this would give a psychological advantage to Bottas. But if he let Bottas past, many pundits and fans would think that Massa once again will play the role of second fiddle in a team that has reinforced his desire to race again and race equally.

I do feel that the situation with the Williams team could now change slightly in terms of the dynamic between both of their drivers. There is no question that both drivers are in my view equally talented and have shown that if they have the equipment, they can deliver for the team.

But I believe that strong words will be spoken during the debriefing in the Williams team after the race in order for the situation to be resolved without affecting the team and also the working relationship between Massa and Bottas.

Even though we did hear during the race that Massa was asked by the Williams team to let Bottas go through, it is great to see that both drivers managed to add to the points tally for the Williams team. They are showing signs of progress for the season ahead, even if they still have a bit of work to still in the dry and especially in the wet.

Once again Hulkenberg has had an impressive weekend but he has impressed me a lot this weekend yet again. He drove a fantastic lap in qualifying and drove a cracking race to bring home some much needed points for the team. I believe that Nico this year has learnt his lessons from last season from the sport and is working harder than ever to keep the form he showed in 2013 going and trying to get some much needed points for Force India in 2014.

I really believe that Nico when is good is a high quality driver that he is and I was happy to him get some points today after a great drive. I would also like to say that he drove to my mind a really good race today, battling with Alonso throughout the race and deserved to take some good points home today after finishing in second place.

Also, Rosberg deserves a mention. This weekend saw Rosberg put in an amazing performance in order to take second place today. He has shown this weekend that he cannot be discounted for challenging at the front of the grid and has gained more points to his championship lead as we head into Bahrain next week.

All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win today. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes have built on the solid foundation from pre-season testing. The Mercedes team seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have proven that their race pace today is consistent and reliable.

Hamilton has done a great job this weekend and has been rewarded for his efforts with a great win after the disappointment of Australia two weeks ago and showing once again that Mercedes are still the team to beat as we head towards Bahrain next week.

We are left wondering what will happen within the world of Formula One leading up to the next race in Bahrain next week. Will Red Bull, McLaren, Williams, Ferrari, Toro Rosso and Force India build upon a solid foundation achieved from today?

But the most important question; will Mercedes be able to keep their advantage and their performance in Bahrain next weekend? We wait with anticipation, bring on Bahrain!

Also, please listen and join in to my #JonesonF1 Promotional Partner Pit Stop Radio on Monday 31th March 2014 at 8pm GMT for their Malaysian Grand Prix Race Review. You can join in the chat by visiting http://www.pitstopradio.blogspot.com. If you need any further information, you can follow Pit Stop Radio on Twitter @PitStopRadio.

 

Classic #jonesonF1: 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix

The most iconic moment of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix: David Coulthard passing Michael Schumacher for the lead on Lap ___.

The most iconic moment of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix: David Coulthard passing Michael Schumacher for the lead on Lap 49.

The Brazilian Grand Prix: Round 3 of 19 in the 2001 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher lead the Drivers’ Championship with 20 points, ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello on 10 points, McLaren driver David Coulthard also on 10 points with Heinz-Harald Frentzen in fourth with 5 points while Nick Heidfeld was fifth on 3 points.

In Qualifying, the star of the show was Michael Schumacher. Schumacher was never threatened during the session. He grabbed provisional pole in the 24th minute with a stunning lap time and kept it right until the end. The lap time from Schumacher was enough to grab Pole Position for the race on Sunday ahead of his brother Ralf Schumacher. Mika Hakkinen was 3rd ahead of fourth place qualifier Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard who qualified in fifth place.

Rubens Barrichello ended up in a disappointing sixth place. The Jordan pair of Jarno Trulli and Heinz-Harald Frentzen were 7th and 8th followed by the Sauber pair of Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen. Olivier Panis and Jacques Villeneuve from BAR were 11th and 12th while Eddie Irvine and Luciano Burti were 13th and 14th!

Hakkinen and Schumacher were the only drivers who came close to challenging Schumacher within Qualifying but couldn’t do it. In the end, Michael set a time that was 0.3 seconds faster than anyone else. Montoya failed to capitalise on the fast time he set in practice. He went into his first flying lap in qualifying looking good but lost it, spun and crashed the car into a tyre barrier. Given that he qualified 4th in the spare, he must be reasonably satisfied.

Coulthard proved that the time he put in yesterday was with less fuel as he failed to make an impression finishing 5th while the biggest disappointment at least from a Brazilian point of view was Barrichello qualifying in 6th place. The top 6 though are very close with only 0.1 second separating 2nd and 6th.

A gap of over 0.4 seconds to 7th place driver Trulli who qualified just 0.003 seconds ahead of his team-mate. The Jordan Honda team once again showing that they are better in qualifying that the BAR Honda team who only managed a disappointing 11th and 12th over 1.2 seconds off the pace and even behind the 2 Saubers.

Barrichello’s car stopped on the track on its way to form on the grid. He had to get back into the spare and just managed to leave the pits seconds before it closed. Then at the start, Hakkinen fails to start the race but too late for aborting the start and very lucky no one crashed into the back of him.

Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher gets a good start while his brother doesn’t. Montoya moves from 4th to second and Coulthard from 5th to 3rd. Ralf drops to 5th. The safety car goes out on the track because of Hakkinen’s car. The safety car pits a lap later once Hakkinen’s car has been cleared by the track marshals.

Through the ‘Senna S’ section of the circuit Montoya manages to squeeze past Schumacher on the pit straight with an absolutely fantastic and brave overtaking manoeuvre that brought out goose pimples all over my skin. Both the drivers bang wheels on the exit of Turn 1 but Montoya keeps the lead ahead of Schumacher. [You can watch the move by clicking the YouTube link below].  

On track, there was more drama for Barrichello. He hits the back of Ralf Schumacher and retires his Ferrari from his home race. Schumacher manages to crawl back to the pits and the mechanics repair his car and rejoins 4 laps later. This is the second incident involving Barrichello and Schumacher this season. It is also the second where a driver as also hit the back of Schumacher.

So with just 2 laps gone, 3 top drivers are out of contention while Montoya is making his mark leading the race ahead of Schumacher and Coulthard with both Jordan’s behind him. Villeneuve made up a few places at the start and benefiting from other retirements he is in 6th place but is forced to pit due to a puncture as he rejoined without delay in the pits.

The situation remains the same for the top 3 until lap 25 when Schumacher makes his first pit stop while Montoya and Coulthard stay out on the track. The real surprise is Montoya being on a heavier fuel load and was still able to pass and stay ahead of Schumacher.

Everything appeared going well for Montoya who was on a single stop until lap 38 when Jos Verstappen moves over to let Montoya lap him but once he moves back behind him he crashes into Montoya forcing both to retire. This was a disappointing end to a great performance and drive from Montoya as he had an excellent chance to win a Grand Prix from his third attempt. In any case, he no doubt made his mark in Formula 1 and the grid will be taking an interest into how his career will develop.

Coulthard takes the lead while Schumacher is in 2nd place as it starts to rain heavily. Most teams pit for intermediates however Coulthard and McLaren chose to stay out for an additional lap which seemingly was a costly mistake as he rejoins the race in 2nd place behind Schumacher.

With the rain falling heavily now and Schumacher leading by more than 10 seconds, the race appeared to be in the bag for Michael as memories of Malaysia struck. It was not to be as Michael spun after making a mistake but managed to keep going. He kept the lead but lost the gap and Coulthard was just 2 seconds behind him.

In an absolutely astonishing move, Coulthard made a move on Schumacher using the backmarker of Minardi driver Tarso Marques and the slipstream from his car (just like his team-mate Hakkinen did with former BAR driver Ricardo Zonta at the Belgium Grand Prix the previous year) and passed him in the wet and taking the lead on Lap 49 [You can watch the move from Coulthard by clicking on the YouTube link below]. 

Schumacher continues to struggle as he went off into the gravel but kept going. He lost more time to Coulthard and it started to look like Coulthard is set for the win.
Behind the 2 leaders, Frentzen was a distant third while Trulli who went on wet tyres started to struggle as the track started to dry and lost 4th place to Heidfeld. Panis managed to get into the points passing Alesi and eventually Trulli. Giancarlo Fisichella manages to also pass Alesi and moves into 7th place.

Podium celebrations at the end of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix

Podium celebrations at the end of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix

At the front of the field, Coulthard maintains his lead of Schumacher and finish in that order. Hard luck for Frentzen who retires from third on lap 63 giving third place to Heidfeld while Panis finishes in 4th ahead of Trulli and Fisichella bring a smile to the struggling Benetton team by finishing in 6th just ahead of Jacques Villeneuve.

The 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix has to be one of the most exciting races that I have seen and one of Coulthard’s best Grand Prix wins of his career. Coulthard showed throughout the race how great of a driver he really was and why he was a great racing driver. Even though he went through many problems throughout the race, Coulthard never gave up.

With some determination and great driving, Coulthard managed to fight his way back to the lead and he was rewarded with a cracking race win for his hard work. The mistake that allowed him to take the victory away from Schumacher is still remembered by most fans of the sport and showed what skill Coulthard had throughout his career in the sport.

I should also point out that for the first time since 1993 that the winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix was not the World Champion of the sport at the end of the season. But this Grand Prix will be fondly remembered by me and many fans of the sport for the two outstanding overtaking moves from Montoya and Coulthard on Schumacher.

It will also be remembered as the race that stopped Schumacher’s winning streak of six consecutive Grand Prix wins. And as the 2001 World Championship leaded towards the next round in San Marino at the Imola Circuit, Schumacher was still leading the Driver’s Championship by 26 points ahead of Coulthard six points behind and Barrichello sixteen points behind.

Alonso: Never been so happy with qualifying fourth

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Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has publically stated that he has never been so happy to qualify in fourth place after a qualifying session after damaging his Ferrari in contact with Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. Alonso came together with Kvyat during the second phase of the qualifying session with Kvyat attempting to pass Alonso up the inside of Turn Nine, but instead hitting the side of the F14 T as the Ferrari came across to take the corner.

The impact broke part of the Ferrari’s front-left suspension, and although it initially looked as though Alonso wouldn’t be back out on track and therefore drop out in Q2, the team’s mechanics made full use of the resultant red-flag period to repair the car and send it back on its way.

From there, Alonso went on to claim fourth on the grid behind the two Mercedes’ and Sebastian Vettel which is just his second second-row start in the last 11 months.  After qualifying today, the stewards looked at the incident between the two drivers both of them were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards.

In his interview with Sky Sports F1 after qualifying, Alonso admitted that he was very relieved to be starting so high up, particularly as the car was still not perfect to drive. Alonso said the following:-

‘The mechanics did a fantastic job. I have to say that the car was not totally repaired – the steering on the right was so light, on the left it was so heavy. It was very strange to drive but enough to complete the qualifying. I’m super happy with this qualifying. Probably the biggest smile on the fourth position in my career.

‘But not enough, we need to do better next time. Obviously avoid any incidents that cost even a little bit of the qualifying positions, [which would have happened on Saturday] if we could not be able to repair it.’

You cannot really argue against Alonso. The Ferrari team did a remarkable job fixing Alonso’s car as best as they could in order to get him back out onto the track to finish qualifying. I do feel that Alonso should indeed be very proud of what he and the team achieved today in qualifying even after the incident with Kvyat. But I do feel that Ferrari as Alonso says do need to improve their performance with their car throughout the weekend and throughout the season ahead.

Alonso admitted further on in his interview that he hadn’t known the Russian was inside him and frowned on the youngster’s driving given it was an outlap in teeming rain. Alonso stated the following:-

“I didn’t see him coming. Obviously it was a bit of an aggressive drive on the outlap with this kind of visibility, but we were lucky enough to put the car together.’

Even though I can see Alonso’s perspective, I believe that with the changing wet weather conditions both drivers should have taken more consideration into their surroundings. I can see where Alonso is coming from and I do feel that Kvyat was slightly a bit more aggressive than he normally would be. And you could state that what Kvyat did there with Alonso could have turned into a more dangerous situation.

However, you could argue that Kvyat was only trying to get heat and grip into his tyres in these conditions ready for his quick lap and was trying to pass Alonso in order to achieve this aim. But I do feel that the incident between the two of them can be equally shared between them and I am glad that both drivers did not have any further action taken against them.

After Ferrari publically expressed disappointment with their performance at the season-opener in Melbourne, the F14 T looked more competitive relative to Mercedes in the dry race simulations on Friday even though Mercedes still showed their dominance throughout the practice sessions this weekend.

We should not forget that Alonso is also a three-times winner at Sepang. Further on in his interview, he has also insisted that Ferrari would do everything they can to pressurise Mercedes even though Ferrari’s reliability is not yet as strong as their outright pace. He said the following:-

‘We will push the maximium tomorrow. If it’s dry or if it’s wet we need to put some pressure on them. It’s also not 100% sure that the cars will finish again. Everybody was very concerned in Australia and we cannot now be so relaxed about finishing the race just two weeks after.

‘We saw one of these Mercedes, who are very dominant at the moment, retire in lap one from Hamilton. So we need to be there tomorrow, we need to put pressure and try to make them not have an easy race. But at the same time we need to be realistic and know that it’s probably going to be difficult for us to keep that pace.’

Alonso is correct. At this early stage of the season, everyone is still trying to get to grips with the new technical regulations and trying to make sure that they can finish the races as reliably as they can. As we saw in Australia, the Mercedes team with Hamilton despite showing their competitiveness suffered a reliability issue that stopped them from finishing the race. And as Alonso stated, they need to grab these opportunities as they arise while trying to develop their car further.

As we saw in Australia, the Mercedes team with Hamilton despite showing their competitiveness suffered a reliability issue that stopped them from finishing the race. And as Alonso stated, they need to grab these opportunities as they arise while trying to develop their car further.

But as Alonso points out (and I agree with him) Ferrari will have their work cut out tomorrow in order to try and race competitively against the Mercedes. I do believe that Ferrari still have a little bit of work to do in order to achieve their aim and fight the Mercedes team at the same level of competitiveness that they are currently at.

However, if the change in weather conditions comes into play, you cannot discount Ferrari. Let us not forget that Alonso in 2012 proved at this very race that even if your car might not be as competitive as you would like to be, if the opportunity comes along, you have to grab it with both hands.

Question is will the weather play into the hands of the Ferrari team and Alonso once again that could help them take the fight to the Mercedes team? We will have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

 

Bottas takes a three grid place penalty after qualifying in Malaysia

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Williams driver Valtteri Bottas has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for impending Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo after qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix today. Bottas who also suffered a grid demotion for the season-opening Australian GP after an unscheduled gearbox change, has been relegated from 15th to 18th in Sepang.

In an interview with Sky Sports F1, Bottas stated that “that for me there is no incident” when quizzed about the investigation. The announcement of the grid penalty did not help Bottas after he failed to make it through to the final segment of qualifying after suffering from a lack of rear grip. Bottas said the following in his interview with Sky Sports F1 today:-

‘The more water there was on track the more we struggled with the rear grip of the car. We tried both the intermediates and the wets but we just couldn’t get the grip we needed from either tyre. The wet conditions highlight where our weaknesses.’

It could be argued that once again Williams lack the pace in wet weather conditions compared to the dry. Even though Williams managed to achieve a great result in Melbourne with Bottas, it would seem that even they still have a lot of work to do in order to develop their car and stay competitive throughout the season ahead.

It is once again a shame for Bottas to receive yet another grid penalty as he goes into the second race of the 2014 season. But the stewards have decided that he did impede Ricciardo and Bottas will have to show once again just like in Australia that he can try and battle his way throughout the grid to gain some points away from the race tomorrow.

Bottas’ driving was angrily condemned by an unusually furious Ricciardo with the Red Bull driver branding the apparent block during the conclusion of Q2 “ridiculous”. In his interview with Sky Sports F1, Ricciardo said the following about the incident with Bottas:-

‘He was on his outlap. I will have a word to him because there were a lot of times last year [Bottas did that] to be honest .We raced each other a lot in junior categories and I thought we had quite a lot of respect for each other, but it’s a bit ridiculous how many times he’s done it now. I’ll go and have a word to him.’

Despite being impeded by Bottas, Ricciardo for me seems to have dealt with the situation rather maturely and rather appropriately. I can understand Ricciardo’s frustrations about the incident but all he can do is leave the decision to the stewards, have a word with Bottas about the incident, then both drivers can move on with the weekend and try and put in the best performances they can for themselves and also their respective teams.

Many pundits and fans will be debating over the course of today if Bottas’ grid penalty was fair and right after impeding Ricciardo in qualifying today. We have seen over the course of previous seasons gone by many drivers being penalised for the same incident we have seen today.

For me, I feel like there was no incident between the two drivers and Bottas in my view has been very unlucky to receive the grid penalty. But the stewards and the FIA believe that the incident took place and Bottas sadly has to face the consequences of this.

Will Bottas be able to battle throughout the race and the grid once more despite the penalty and bring home some points for the Williams team tomorrow? We shall see.

Ericsson: Crash in Qualifying was my mistake

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Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson in his first Formula One outing in the rain today crashed out of the qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix thereby bringing a premature end to Q1. While lapping in the rain for the first time, Ericsson has publically admitted that he has “made a mistake” which put him onto the wet grass and hitting the barriers.

In his interview with the media after Qualifying, Ericsson stated the following regarding the incident:-

‘The rain started before qualifying and we went into the delayed session knowing we’d start on a wet track. That was my first ever wet running in Formula One in any session, so from the first lap it was all a new experience for me.

‘It didn’t start too well with the car cutting out while I was waiting in the pit lane, but we fired it up again in the garage and I rejoined right in the middle of a pack of cars on their first Q1 quick laps- that was pretty interesting I have to say!

‘With every lap I was learning more and more and we made a quick stop with a few minutes left to put on another set of inters, but then on the final quick lap I made a mistake in sector one and crashed.’

As we have seen throughout pre-season testing and during the Australian Grand Prix, Caterham have not had the best start to their 2014 season and have experienced many problems with their car. It would seem once again that Caterham still have a lot of work to do in order to get their season back on back and once again trying to fight with their rivals Marussia.

These problems that Caterham are experiencing at the moment will have affected both Ericsson and Kobayashi as they try to get to grips with the new technical regulations. But the problems have also allowed them not to gain the track time and mileage needed in order to gain data that will help them as they try and develop this year’s car.

As Ericsson has stated in his interview with the media, it has his first ever wet running within Formula One and I am sure that it was not what he had in mind. Of course the problems with the car cutting out in the pit lane will not have helped him going into the session. But at that this early stage of the season, it is expected that Ericsson as a rookie driver will make mistakes as he settles into the Caterham team as he gets to grips with racing in Formula One this year.

Further on his interview with the media, Ericsson stated that he will learn from his mistake today and he apologises to his team for this mistake. He added the following:-

‘I’m really sorry for the team. They’ve worked so hard all weekend on the problems we’ve had and now they have a huge job ahead of them to prepare the car for tomorrow, but I know they’ll keep pushing and we’ll all come back tomorrow fighting tomorrow.

‘This has been another big lesson for me- my first wet running in Formula One, my first Q1 on inters and my first big off- it’s all part of being a rookie in Formula One and I will learn from every single thing that happens.’

As Ericsson has stated in his interview, this will be an important lesson for him to learn in his first season in the sport and it will have been expected by many that he will make mistakes along the way. Despite making a mistake, he has managed to gain some experience and also some much needed mileage for himself and his team that will help them try and sort out the issues that they are experiencing with the car at the moment.

But I do feel that even though Caterham are working on trying to improve their current situation, I do feel that Ericsson will do as he said stated to the media and will learn a lot from today and will continuously learn from this as the season goes on. I do believe that if Caterham can as quickly as possible try and iron out their issues with their car as quickly as they can, I do feel that Ericsson will be able to not only gain mileage and data but will also be able to show what he can do as a driver.

At this stage of the season, we have not seen much running from Ericsson and it is really hard to judge how much he may improve throughout the season ahead. But at this current time, we will have to wait and see if Caterham can sort out their issues and see what Ericsson can do on the track.