Monthly Archives: May 2014

Horner: We didn’t realise Ricciardo would be so quick

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice

In an interview with Sky Sports F1 today, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has admitted that they “didn’t realise how quick” Daniel Ricciardo would be when they signed him up to replace Mark Webber for this season.

Ricciardo fought off competition from Kimi Raikkonen and Jean-Eric Vergne to secure the vacant seat at the World Champions and he has made an immediate impact out-qualifying and out-racing Sebastian Vettel 5-1.

In his interview with Sky Sports F1, Horner has nothing but high praise at the job that Ricciardo is currently doing with the Red Bull team. He stated the following:-

‘Daniel has been a real surprise this year. We knew he was quick – we just didn’t realise how quick. And he is so cool as well, he is quick, he’s good looking, he has got everything going for him.’

I would have to agree with what Horner has stated about Ricciardo. So far this season, I have been really impressed with the performances that Ricciardo has achieved already with the Red Bull team. He has managed to settle into the team really well, has managed to extract pace and performance from the car and is being rewarded for his efforts.

Many pundits and fans before the start of the season (myself included) wondered if Ricciardo would be able to handle the pressure of being promoted from the Toro Rosso team to the Red Bull team despite showing promises of his talent during his two years here. But he has already proved his doubters wrong and continues to do so by showing that he can when he is provided with the opportunity, he can deliver.

Further on in his interview with Sky Sports F1, Horner believes that Ricciardo’s performance at the Monaco Grand Prix is a turning point for the Red Bull team. He stated the following:-

‘For the first time this year we were actually racing them and I think if we had qualified better we could have given them a harder time. But it is definitely a positive step for the team this weekend, we have taken the fight to them a little bit more and there is more to come.’

Even though I can understand why Horner thinks that their pace at Monaco was a step forward for the team, I do still feel that even though it is a step forward for them, they still have a lot of work to do in order to close the gap and advantage that Mercedes have over them currently. There is no question that Red Bull has the personnel and the resources at their disposal to close the gap to the Mercedes team, but I fear it could be too late for them to mount a challenge for the title.

Whilst Horner feels that the Ricciardo’s pace was better, he is realistic enough to know that finding a way past on the tight confines of the Monaco circuit was unlikely admitting that only when Hamilton’s eye issue became apparent did he think they had a chance. He added the following in his interview on the matter:-

‘When he said he got a bit of rubbish in his eye and started to slow down, but with a driver of Lewis’ quality you know he is not going to give up a second place easily. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, overtaking is another thing.’

As Horner rightly points out, despite the issue that Hamilton faced with his eye in the race on Sunday, this would not stop him from racing and performing in the best way that he could. Even though Ricciardo was catching Hamilton at a fast and consistent pace, I feel that passing Hamilton would have not been possible for him due to the characteristics of the Monaco circuit.

In regards to what Horner has stated about Ricciardo today, I feel that Ricciardo has managed to surprise many pundits and fans with the performances he has managed to achieve at the Red Bull team so far this season. There is no question that Ricciardo is a talent of the future, he is improving race by race and is gaining more confidence in himself.

He has shown that he can perform well and also consistently, if he is given the tools and equipment to do the job. Already, he has proven that he is more of a match to his team mate Sebastian Vettel who at this present time is struggling to get to grips with the RB10 and extracting pace from the car.

I would not be surprised if this season sees if Ricciardo is provided with the opportunity to achieve his first win in the sport. It would be thoroughly deserved and would do no further harm in establishing himself as a serious contender in the future to be fighting for more race wins and maybe even a championship further down the line in his career.

Can Ricciardo get quicker throughout the season ahead? I feel that Ricciardo will only get quicker and he has a lot more to give in his first season with Red Bull. We can only watch this space.

Abiteboul: Caterham not a suitable target for Haas

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In an interview with Sky Sports F1 today, Caterham Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul has denied the suggestion that Gene Haas buying the Caterham team would not be a “suitable target” as he looks into setting up in Formula One in either 2015 or the 2016 season.

With Haas recently announcing plans to enter the sport in either 2015 or 2016, he has also stressed his desire to the media that he would like to base the operation in the United States, most likely in North Carolina alongside his NASCAR team.

It would appear from Abiteboul’s interview with Sky Sports F1 today that Haas’s statement of intent is one that he has personally taken on board. Abiteboul stated the following in his interview:-

‘I think they have a very strong opinion of how they want to do Formula 1. I don’t think that we tick their boxes.’

With what Abiteboul has stated during his interview, it would seem that he is under the impression that he believes that Haas will keep his promises that he has made when his entry until Formula One was confirmed and will undergo pursuing and creating his own team as planned ready to enter the sport in 2015 or 2016.

There have been many rumours circulating around the media that Haas has reportedly been in talks with the Caterham team and could maybe be looking at the options of buying the team for himself. Abiteboul has not stated one way or the other that talks about this have taken place. But I do believe that these talks may have taken place as Haas is currently taking the time to explore every avenue that is available to him.

But it has been speculated that alongside the Caterham team, the likes of Marussia, Lotus and Sauber and perhaps even Toro Rosso and Force India are all joining Caterham in being open to new ownership. Abiteboul seems to suggest further in his interview that this could be a possibility that the teams and even Haas could be exploring further. He added the following:-

‘I think everything is for sale in Formula 1, so every team is looking for sponsors, for investors, so I think it’s then just a notion of limits. But I can’t really comment on the limitation. We’ve been talking to potential investors since I joined this team to be honest.’

It would be hard not to argue with what Abiteboul has stated here. With the current economic climate and the rising costs that running and operate a Formula One team competitively rising, there is no question that some of the smaller and independent teams are looking for ways to try and keep going within the sport for as long as they possibly can.

With the issue of a cost cap being introduced into the sport still being debated amongst those running the sport, it may already be too late for some teams to stay within Formula One for the foreseeable future. As Abiteboul rightly points out, every team on the grid is looking to secure their future for as long as possible and looking to keep and gain partnerships in order to do this.

In regards to the Caterham team, let us not forget that the team’s owner Tony Fernandes after five years of keeping the Caterham team in the sport with his investment looks to have had enough of what his investment has given him. Already this season, Fernandes has not visited a Grand Prix which is causing many pundits and fans reason for concern regarding the team’s future within Formula One.

With his other sporting interest in football with Queens Park Rangers gaining promotion back into the Premier League, it could be suggested that his attention maybe turned in getting the most of that investment for the foreseeable future despite their driver Marcus Ericsson equalled their best-ever result with 11th but rivals Marussia had plenty to celebrate when Jules Bianchi finally broke their own points duck by finishing ninth.

As I have argued in a previous article, It’s a result that in terms of prize money that the teams receive based on their performance in the Constructors Championship could have implications for both and also confirms the suspicion that Marussia have been edging clear of their rivals.

Abiteboul believes that despite this concern, the team need to believe that they have a future still in the sport and it’s up to them to show their investor or potential investors that they can achieve what they want to achieve within the sport still. He stated the following:-

‘It’s up to us to demonstrate that we deserve opposition in Formula 1 and to demonstrate to our shareholders that we are a sensible value proposal for themselves.’

Abiteboul sums it up perfectly. All the Caterham team can do for this season is to ensure that they throw every personnel, resources and capital that they can spare in order to unlock and improve the performance of their car throughout the season ahead. Even though Caterham have got limited resources at their disposal, they have to just keep motivated and try to do the best with what they have in order to have a fighting chance of staying in the sport.

In regards to what Abiteboul has stated about Haas, I feel that if Haas was to buy the Caterham team, he would only purchase the factory and the resources that they have alongside running his operation in America. This would then give him an advantage and save him money on building an infrastructure that he could gain for when he enters the sport with his team. This would also keep Haas at the centre of Formula One and close to everything that is going on within the sport’s epicentre.

But will Haas like Abiteboul believes stick to his original plan and base in his team in America and America only? We shall have to wait and see.

Boullier: McLaren have turned a corner

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In an interview with Autosport today, McLaren Team Principal Eric Boullier believes that the team has turned the corner on its season at the Monaco Grand Prix, as it knuckles down for a major development push with its 2014 car.

After three non-point finishes, the team managed to get both of their drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in to the top ten in Monaco. After the Monaco Grand Prix, Boullier welcomed the significance of finally getting back in the points for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix in mid-April.

He also reckons that the medium-downforce package the team has for Canada, allied to major upgrades for the Austrian and British Grand Prix is going to give the McLaren team a good reason to be more optimistic about its future.

In his interview with Autosport, Boullier was asked if getting points in Monaco was important and he agreed. He stated the following:-

‘We could actually have finished sixth and seventh, but we had a loss of electrical power on Kevin’s car which is why for a couple of laps he was struggling to keep the pace. Then obviously Kimi’s move ruined his race.’

I would have to agree with Boullier here and it was great to see that McLaren were able to score points at Monaco last weekend. The fact that McLaren achieved to gain some points out of the race is an achievement in itself in terms of where they are currently in the grid regarding their performances. It would seem that McLaren are starting to achieve little steps forward with unlocking more pace and performance with the car.

In terms of the race on Sunday, McLaren appeared to look comfortable with their levels of performance within the Grand Prix. In regards to what Boullier has stated regarding Magnussen’s electrical power failure, I do believe that both cars could have kept their positions within the race but only due to the characteristics of the Monaco circuit.

Even though the points may not be to the level that the team would like to achieve and score during a race weekend, this will only help them push on and develop their car further in order to get back to competitive ways once more.

‘We need to get back to where we should be. That is the most important thing. Monaco is a special race. It is good to be in the points, but the target is to be in the points every race and then the big points every race.’

In terms of what McLaren have achieved from last weekend, it would appear that they are making small progress in order to try and improve their car and its performance as much as they can. But they need to ensure that they keep on pushing and developing the car for this season before turning their attentions to the 2015 season and their renewed partnership with Honda.

As Boullier has stated today, McLaren need to get back to where they should be as quickly as they possibly can. There is no reason why McLaren cannot get back to how they used to be. They have the resources and the budget required to pursue a continuous development programme that could be the key ingredient to unlocking the true potential of the MP4-29. In my opinion, McLaren just need to believe that it is possible and keep on pushing themselves to get the most of that car as this season continues.

With the car demands of Monaco and the next race in Montreal being unique, McLaren is delaying its major upgrade package for the Austrian Grand Prix next month. However, McLaren have announced that they will be bringing another step and improvement for their car for the British Grand Prix, with the team determined to keep developing its 2014 car as many of the design elements will be relevant for its 2015 challenger.

In regards to what Boullier has stated today, I feel that McLaren have made small progress to try and get back to competitive ways. They still have a lot of work to do in order to close the gap to their rivals and I think that if the team cannot close the gap by Germany, they should focus their attentions on the 2015 car but still try and develop the current car until the season finale at Abu Dhabi.

But will the upgrades announced by McLaren today be the start of the team’s challenge and ambition to be at the front of the grid again? Only time will tell.

Horner: Vettel will not give up

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice

In an interview with Autosport today, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has stated that Sebastian Vettel will not let his current frustrations with Red Bull’s RB10 get the better of him throughout this season.

Vettel failed to finish at Monte Carlo on Sunday when while running third in the race, he was stopped by a failed turbo. But Horner has faith that however downbeat Vettel was after Monaco, he will continue to work hard to help turn things around. In his interview with Autosport, Horner stated the following:-

‘Obviously this weekend was pretty tough on him and he is doing nothing wrong. He is smart enough to recognise that. Like any sportsman he is going to be frustrated when things go wrong but with time to get breath, and reflect, he will just keep working away at it.

‘It is the nature of who he is. He will keep his head down and keep working harder and harder.’

As Horner states, Vettel did not have the weekend that he would have expected at Monaco. At the end of the day, Vettel has been experiencing difficulties with the RB10 since the start of pre-season testing, but he will analyse the data from yesterday and see if there is anything that he can do to help come to terms with getting the maximum performance out of the car.

But despite the issues regarding his failed turbo that he experienced in the race yesterday, there is no question that this will only spur Vettel on to try and improve himself and the car further in order to achieve the best possible result that he can at the next Grand Prix in Canada in two weeks time.

Despite the disappointment for Vettel, further on in his interview with Autosport, Horner says that Ricciardo’s challenge on Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race was a sign that the team’s approach on Sunday was the right one. He added the following:-

‘I think we set out to do our best race and once Dan was in clear air, after Kimi [Raikkonen] had picked up his puncture with [Max] Chilton on the endplate, we were able to run our own race. And rather than go bananas as it looked like the Mercedes guys were pushing each other incredibly hard, we thought let’s just run our fastest race.

‘So we built up and up and up and, in the last 20 laps really, started to push. Daniel had tremendous pace at that point of the race and was able to close Lewis down. But unfortunately around here you are never realistically likely to overtake unless the driver ahead makes a mistake.’

In regards to the performance of Ricciardo, once again he managed to extract the best possible performance from the car that he could achieve. As Horner points out, the only thing Red Bull could do was to run their own race with Ricciardo and see what they could gain from the race yesterday.

Once again, Ricciardo put in an astonishing performance within the last twenty laps of the race in order to close the gap between himself and Hamilton. However, if it was at another racetrack, Ricciardo could have tried to pass Hamilton for position but with the characteristics of Monaco, that was sadly not possible.

But in regards to what Horner has stated today, there is no question that Vettel will not give up his fight to keep himself in the title race for as long as possibly can and also to try and get back to winning and scoring podiums once again as quickly as he can.

I fear that by the time Red Bull are in a position to try and at least challenge the Mercedes, the title will too late for Red Bull and Vettel to achieve. The Mercedes are just quite simply in a class of their own at the moment and have quite a significant advantage over the rest of the field.

This season might be the year that Red Bull is out of the running to secure their fifth consecutive Constructors and Drivers titles. But they may have a fight on their hands in the latter part of the season for “the best of the rest” and it is a fight that Red Bull currently may have the advantage.

But one thing is for sure; they will keep fighting until it is mathematically impossible for them to fight for both titles. Can Red Bull close the gap to the Mercedes team during the season? At the moment, they look the only team that is capable of least trying to close the gap now.

But will they be able to close it enough to keep themselves in the fight for the title? We can only wait and see.

Alonso: We need to push development

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In an interview with ESPN F1 today, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has stated that Ferrari need to step up its development push to put itself in a position to capitalise on the simmering war at Mercedes.

The title fight took a new twist in Monaco, with the relationship between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton reaching a critical point for the first time this season.  Alonso fell out with Lewis Hamilton during the pair’s time together at McLaren in 2007, a feud which ultimately left the door open for Kimi Raikkonen to snatch the title from under their noses.

Alonso was a distant fourth in Monaco but he thinks Ferrari could put themselves in a position to capitilise if it takes a big step forward soon. In his interview with ESPN F1, Alonso stated the following:-

‘I think we are a little bit too far away in the championship battle with them. We would like to be a little bit closer to challenging them for victories or a little bit closer in the points. I think for us they are so much in front we only can see this battle and this relationship from far, from the outside, it’s not really making any difference to us in this moment.

‘But if we get into a position to fight for victories or to fight for the championship that will be interesting, if we are in that position and they are struggling with the relationship.’

I would have to agree with what Alonso has stated in his interview today. As he rightly points out, Ferrari are simply just too far away to even consider fighting for the championship this season despite them hoping that the new technical regulations would provide them with the opportunity to do so.

Quite simply, Ferrari has an awful lot of work to do in order to even challenge for podiums or victories throughout the remainder of this season. All that Alonso and the Ferrari team can do is work together and push to bring as much improvements and updates to their car in order to try and close the gap to their rivals as much as they possibly can before turning their attentions to next season.

There is no question that if the relationship between the Mercedes drivers rapidly starts to ungravel and starts to affects the team’s performances, there is no doubt that if Alonso has an opportunity to seize the advantage, he will do so. But that all depends of if (and it is a big if) that situation occurs in the remainder of the season.

Further on in his interview, Alonso has stated that he thinks it is perfectly natural to see the Mercedes duo at odds this season. He added the following:-

‘I think it is normal with sport and with Formula One, there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of media attention, you should beat your team-mate to get good respect. If you put a championship battle in that garage then things become tense and more public, even sometimes exaggerated.

‘I’m sure they have up and downs throughout the year but things get exaggerated. I hope they have a clean championship both and whoever wins is hopefully the best of the two and the one who deserves it more.’

As Alonso points out, Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport. It is a high pressured environment that pushes the drivers and the teams to perform at the best they possibly can achieve. Alonso makes a valid point that there is a lot of media attention attached to the sport that can help a driver when he is performing or can hinder a driver if he is not performing.

At the moment, the spotlight is firmly on the Mercedes drivers who are pushing each other to try and achieve the best possible chance to take the title for themselves. As Alonso rightly states, with the media attention, things may become exaggerated and taken out of context that may help one driver and hinder the other and vice versa. But I would have to agree with him and I think that the best driver will win the championship at the end of the year and who ever that is, they will deserve it.

But in regards to what Alonso has stated today, will the battle between the Mercedes drivers allow Ferrari the opportunity to keep pushing on with their development programme in the hope that they could close the gap to their rivals? Ferrari will be looking at everything they can in order to gain more performance and pace from the F14 T without the battle that the Mercedes drivers find themselves in.

But will the battle at Mercedes allow Ferrari to capitalise on any opportunity that may occur in the remaining races of the season? I am not so sure. As I have already stated, they have a lot of work to do in order to get that position to capitalise on the Mercedes battle if that situation presents itself.

Can Ferrari get to that position? We can only wait and see what happens during the season ahead.

Booth: Bianchi is ‘ready’ for Ferrari

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In an interview with the media today, Marussia Team Boss John Booth believes that his driver Jules Bianchi has demonstrated that he is “ready” for Ferrari as and when he is required.

As many pundits and fans know, Bianchi is backed by the Ferrari team through the Ferrari Academy Drivers Programme and Bianchi himself was quick to thank Ferrari for the support after netting his first F1 Championship points in Monte Carlo. In an interview, Bianchi stated the following:-

‘I would like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy, who support me every step of my career.’

It is extremely nice to hear that Bianchi has thanked the Ferrari for all the support that they have provided him with over the course of his career in motorsport and also within Formula One so far. With so many young drivers in programmes with teams such as Red Bull, Caterham and McLaren, this will only highlight once again how vital these programmes are in order to bring in talent for the future.

It has been known that Bianchi was linked to a seat at Ferrari prior to Kimi Raikkonen’s return, however at the time he was deemed to be too inexperienced in order to take the seat vacated by Felipe Massa leaving the team last season. But whether Sunday’s points will change the opinion remains to be seen.

When asked in his interview with the media, Booth believes that the future of Bianchi in a Ferrari will depend on where Raikkonen and even Bianchi himself see their futures in the sport. He stated the following:-

‘A lot will depend on Jules and Kimi I’m guessing. If Ferrari need him, I think he’s ready to go now. A lot will depend on how those two (Fernando Alonso and Raikkonen) finish up. But I think he’s a long career ahead of him in F1. He’s an absolute top driver.’

I would have to agree with Booth and I think it depends on where Alonso and Raikkonen see their future within the sport over the next few seasons. But I do believe that whatever happens at Ferrari over the next few seasons, there is no question that Bianchi has a bright future ahead of him within the sport. He is a potential talent of the future and will secure a drive within the sport, even if it is not with the Ferrari team.

Meanwhile, Alonso has praised Bianchi for breaking his duck and securing his first points at the Monaco Grand Prix. Alonso stated the following to the media:-

‘I’m very happy for him. He’s part of the Ferrari driver academy, but also a friend. We spend a lot of time together in Maranello, we play football, go cycling, we travel together on the same plane for some races.

‘He’s a friend and I’m extremely happy for him and very proud of what his result will mean for him in his career. I have no doubt it will be a good career. Hopefully with this result he can have a more competitive car next year and show his talent even more.’

It is extremely nice to hear what Alonso praising the achievements of Bianchi yesterday. It would appear that even Alonso himself has nothing but high praise for him and has a lot of respect for him not just personally, just also for his talent as well. For a double world champion to say such nice things about Bianchi will only help him as he looks to not only develop his talent further but also to have a role model to look up to and seek advice from if he continues within the Ferrari programme. And there is no question that Bianchi will not be leaving the programme anytime soon.

As Alonso rightly points out, this result will help Bianchi further enhance his career within the sport and I am sure that Ferrari will have noticed his performance yesterday. The performance that Bianchi managed to achieve yesterday will start to open up potential opportunities that he may not have imagined in order to try and move closer to a competitive seat that is worthy of the natural talent that he possesses.

In terms of what Booth has stated today; do I feel that Bianchi is ready for Ferrari? I believe that he is. But I do feel that if he can gain more experience with a more competitive car than the Marussia is currently next season, this will only further help him gain more experience when the call to the Ferrari team does come in the near future.

Will this result at the Monaco Grand Prix be the turning point that allows Bianchi the chance to get into a competitive car next season? We can only wait and see.

Hamilton: I will come back stronger

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In an interview with the media today, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has played down claims of a “rift” within the team despite events that happened in the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend.

Tensions bubbled over in the wake of Saturday’s qualifying when a mistake from Nico Rosberg saw the German hold onto pole position. Questions were immediately raised about the incident by pundits and fans over the weekend that brought out the yellow flags and put paid to Hamilton beating Rosberg to pole.

The matter was put before the stewards who ruled that the number six had done nothing wrong. Even though Hamilton was unhappy about this, this seemed to only add to how he felt especially after Rosberg won the race from pole position yesterday.

Despite claiming yet another 1-2 for Mercedes, the atmosphere on the podium was positively frosty with Hamilton claiming “we are not friends” while Rosberg said they “always will be friends” but in a broad sense of the word. However, hours after the race Hamilton’s mood had mellowed out a bit with the 2008 World Champion insisting there is no feud at Mercedes.

In his interview with the media today, Hamilton stated the following when asked about the subject at hand:-

‘We’ve sat down and cleared whatever air was needed to be cleared, and we’ve been through the data and seen what needed to be seen. I wish you guys could see it.

‘Otherwise, we’re good. It was a difficult weekend, but what doesn’t break you will make you stronger. I can only get stronger from this weekend.’

From what Hamilton has stated in his interview with the media today, it would appear that he feels a little bit more satisfied about what happened during the weekend. Even though, it is nice to hear that the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg appears to be okay and both of them have cleared the air after this weekend. I still feel that some parts of their relationship might have changed ever since Bahrain and especially after this weekend.

Of course Hamilton will still not be happy with what has happened this weekend and losing the championship lead to his team mate but as he says himself this will only encourage him to push himself further at the Canadian Grand Prix and regain the lead back for the championship.

Further in his interview with the media, Hamilton believes that the relationship between himself and his team mate Rosberg will not be perfect as many believe it could be due to the fact that both of them are championship rivals. He added the following:-

‘It (the relationship) is never going to be perfect because we’re fierce competitors. You can never expect us to be best friends and compete as fiercely as we do, but we will remain respectful – or I will try to remain respectful.’

Hamilton makes a fair point here. At the end of the day, both of the drivers have known each other since they competed against other in junior formulas and both drivers have a lot of respect for each other. But both of them are racing drivers and will on the track want to have the opportunity to beat each other as often as they possibly can. As Hamilton says himself, all they can do is try and beat each other as often as they can while remaining respectful of each other.

‘Look man, the weekend’s done and dusted. We’ve a one-two for the team, so let’s just focus on moving forward and I plan to be stronger in the next race. We’ll continue to do what we do, work with the team. The team is the priority and that’s what we have to keep in front. We want to get the points for the team. I didn’t do anything silly, just looked after the car.’

As Hamilton points out, there is nothing that he can do about what happened this weekend apart from try to take some small positives from it. Hamilton may have lost the chance to take Pole Position, the victory and keep the lead of the championship, but this will not stop him from trying to be the best driver that he can be throughout the season ahead.

This weekend may not have gone according to plan for Hamilton but he managed to provide the Mercedes team with a 1-2 finish in a consecutive race since the 1954 and 1955 Italian Grand Prix which is a fantastic achievement. And let us not forget that Hamilton scored points again in order to keep himself in the hunt for the title.

All Hamilton can do is analyse the data from this weekend and as he rightly states concentrate on improving for the next race in Canada in two weeks time. And I am sure that Hamilton will do this by sitting down with the team and seeing if there is anything he can work in order to achieve this objective.

Will we see Hamilton bounce back to his very best at Canada in two weeks time? Only time will tell.

Caterham up for sale

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It has emerged over the course of the weekend in the media that Caterham’s owner Tony Fernandes has taken the first steps towards selling the team with a memorandum being circulated in the Middle East.

Fernandes appeared to have told Sky Sports in January that this would be a “pivotal year” for his involvement in Formula 1 and it appears his patience has finally run out. There have been reports circulating over the weekend from Bloomberg claiming a price of £350 million has been set for the F1 team and car company.

Caterham entered F1 under the promise of a budget cap which never materialised and now find themselves without even a say in how the sport is run with Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Williams and Lotus forming F1’s Strategy Group.

The Caterham team made their debut at the 2010 Australian Grand Prix under the Lotus Racing name and now hold the record for most races without a point after Jules Bianchi finished ninth for rivals Marussia in Monaco. Those two points for the Marussia team look likely to consign Caterham to 11th in the Constructors’ Championship for the second consecutive season, which would see them missing out on a share of F1’s prize money pot again.

In an interview with Sky Sports F1 before the start of the season, Fernandes stated the following to them:-

‘There comes a point where coming last all the time you don’t really want to do that so this is a very pivotal year.’

You cannot argue with what Fernandes stated to Sky Sports F1. Even though Caterham are not a team with a budget or resources to challenge the top teams such as Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren, they still have a budget that is more than their rivals Marussia at least.

Over the past four years, Fernandes has invested within the team in order to not only try and push the team further up the grid but also to regain and recoup some of the investment and capital he has put into the team. But Caterham quite simply do not have the investment or the resources needed in order to make a significant jump up the grid that they expected to.

At the end of the day, Caterham may not have effectively used what limited resources at their disposal to achieve their aims and objectives within the sport; simple as that. But I will concur that if the investors cannot afford to provide the team with the level of investment needed in order to make significant progress within the sport, there is nothing that Caterham can do apart from make do with what they are being given to them.

At the start of the season, I did state in an article that this year would be an important year for the Caterham team. Even though we are only currently just over a third into the season, it appears that already Caterham look to be in serious trouble. Not only have they been experiencing problems with the CT05 with the Renault power units (which has been very well documentated) but they are experiencing difficulty trying to unlock and extract the potential with their car also.

In an interview again with Sky Sports F1 in September 2013, Fernandes feels F1 could learn from football. He stated the following:-

‘I think football has done a better job that Formula 1 of narrowing a gap. There are still the haves and the have-nots, but in Formula 1 there is two or even three-tiers. F1 needs to look at itself harder – the gap between top and bottom in the Premier League is not as steep as in Formula 1 and you go to a football game never knowing who is going to win.

‘I was promised a sport that was going to reduce in cost every year, but it has increased every year and I don’t think it is sustainable in the long run.’

In regards to what Fernandes says above regarding the difference between football and Formula One, I can understand his perspective. Both sports have the big and small teams that either have the budget and the capital year upon year in order to either expand or further improve the results that they achieve within the sport or simply make do what the resources and the investment that they have.

I would agree with Fernandes that Formula One needs to look at ways in order to reduce costs that allow all teams to stay within the sport for as long as they possibly can. The debate surrounding the issue of introducing a cost cap is still ongoing and needs to be sorted quickly in my opinion before we could potentially lose teams such as Caterham.

But I will state that I feel Fernandes has been in my view a bit naive when purchasing the Caterham team. I will argue that when Fernandes bought into the Caterham team, he must have been warned that Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, is highly competitive and a lot of time and investment would be needed not only to become competitive, but to also regain some of his investment back.

At the end of the day, I feel that Fernandes knew all the risks that would be associated with investing, buying and running a Formula One team and still went ahead with it. Over the course of five seasons, Fernandes must have realised somewhere along the way that he would have to invest as much capital as he can manage in order to try and help Caterham achieve the progress within the sport that he wanted them to achieve.

I am not disputing that Fernandes has not done this, but to me the amount that he could afford to provide the team with simply was not enough to meet the high goals and objectives that they have set themselves. At the moment, if you have the capital to spend on improving the team and the car you provide your drivers with over the course of the season, it is very likely that you will see some improvement in terms of performance.

I do understand why Fernandes feels exactly the way he feels and it’s no surprise to me that he has put the Caterham team for sale after investing in it for five seasons now. I think the penny has dropped for Fernandes and he simply cannot afford to keep the level of investment or increase it to the levels that are needed in order to get the Caterham team to the level they want to achieve within Formula One.

With the current economic climate, it may only have been a matter of time before Fernandes might have had to put the team for sale anyway before he was pushed by financial matters. But will Caterham be able to find a buyer in order to stay in Formula One? Only time will tell and I really hope that Caterham find a buyer and stay within the sport for as long as they possibly can.

2014 Monaco Grand Prix Race Review

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Yesterday, we saw Nico Rosberg take Pole Position ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton for today’s Monaco Grand Prix in circumstances that have been debated overnight by pundits and fans throughout social media to express their thoughts and opinions on the subject.

After the Qualifying session had ended, it was announced by the FIA and the stewards that an investigation into Rosberg regarding the incident was taking place. A few hours later, it was announced by the FIA and the stewards that Rosberg “did not do anything wrong” after looking at his telemetry data from his car and from the Mercedes team and is allowed to keep his Pole Position ahead of the race.

The announcement last night regarding the results of the investigation into Rosberg has sparked more debate and discussion with many pundits and fans who either believe Rosberg deliberately make the mistake to avoid Hamilton gaining Pole yesterday or that Rosberg simply just made a mistake while trying to go quicker on his final lap in the session.

As I stated yesterday, I believe that Rosberg does not have it within him to deliberately make a mistake to impede Hamilton’s lap in Qualifying yesterday. Rosberg just like Hamilton is a racer and would like to beat his team mate on the track with the same equipment if he is provided with the opportunity. Yesterday, Rosberg managed to get in a quick lap to gain Pole and just made a mistake when trying to go quicker on his final run. But I do sense that this will be a big talking point for all who follow the sport for a little bit longer without even knowing the result of the Grand Prix as of yet.

It was also announced last night that Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson will have a pitlane start and also will have two penalty points on his license after the incident with Williams driver Felipe Massa yesterday.

Before the start of the Grand Prix, Mercedes announce that they have had to change the clutch on Rosberg’s car and also Marussia driver Jules Bianchi will have to take a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

On the Formation Lap, Pastor Maldonado in his Lotus cannot get off the line to join the rest of the grid. The Lotus team push Maldonado into the pit lane to try and restart the car but cannot get going and is forced to retire without taking part of the race at all.

The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go… 22 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!!

The start of the Monaco Grand Prix with Rosberg leading the rest of the field

The start of the Monaco Grand Prix with Rosberg leading the rest of the field. All rights reserved to XPB.

Rosberg gets off the line well as does Raikkonen (who is in fourth place as they head towards Turn 1 and Hamilton slots in behind his team mate in second place. As the drivers head into Turn 1, Magnussen is able to pass both of the Toro Rosso’s for track position. Ricciardo has had a poor start and has dropped back a few positions. Meanwhile, Kobayashi and Button both had good starts and made up a few positions.

Perez walking away from his contact at Mirabeau with Button on the first lap of the race. All rights reserved to XPB.

Perez walking away from his contact at Mirabeau with Button on the first lap of the race. All rights reserved to XPB.

As we head into Mirabeau corner, there is contact between Perez and Button. Perez’s Force India appears to have a damaged front wing and has no choice but retire from the Grand Prix. This incident then brings out the Safety Car while the Force India is removed from the circuit safely. At the end of the lap, Sutil and Grosjean both pit.

By Lap 4, we are backing racing once again. Raikkonen is now into third place on the track. On team radio, Vettel is stating to the Red Bull team that “he has no power”. At the end of the lap, Vettel pits. Lap 6 sees Rosberg leading Hamilton by 0.8 seconds. The stewards announce that an investigation into the incident at Turn 1 between Perez and Button is taking place. The next lap sees Vettel being told by his team to retire the car and Vettel officially retires from the Grand Prix on Lap 8.

Lap 10 and Rosberg still leads Hamilton by 0.6 seconds. On track, Sutil passes Grosjean for track position. It is announced by the stewards that the incident between Button and Perez will be investigated after the race. The next lap sees Hulkenberg and Button battling each other for eighth place.

A lap later sees the stewards announcing that Chilton, Bianchi and Guiterrez are all under investigation regarding moving up grid positions to start the race. Kvyat at the end of the lap officially retires his Toro Rosso from the race after showing yet again his potential all weekend long.

Rosberg has extended his lead to Hamilton to Lap 13 by 1.4 seconds. On track, Sutil passes Ericsson for track position. Four laps later, Sutil once again is able to pass the Marussia of Chilton for track position. By Lap 17, Rosberg is leading the race by 1.7 seconds.

The battle between Ericsson, Grosjean and Sutil. All rights reserved to LAT.

The battle between Ericsson, Grosjean and Sutil. All rights reserved to LAT.

Two laps later sees a battle for 17th place between Ericsson and Grosjean taking place on the circuit. It is announced by the stewards that Chilton, Bianchi and Guiterrez are all to receive 5 second stop and go penalties for stepping out of their grid positions while lining up to start the race after Maldonado could not start off his grid position and retired from the race in the pit lane.

Sutil retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix after getting out of shape exiting the tunnel. All rights reserved to XPB.

Sutil retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix after getting out of shape exiting the tunnel. All rights reserved to XPB.

Lap 24 of the Monaco Grand Prix sees Rosberg still leading ahead of Hamilton by 1.3 seconds. Raikkonen and Ricciardo are battling each other for third place of the race. At the end of the lap, Grosjean pits. The next lap sees Sutil retiring from the Grand Prix after making contact with the barrier after coming out of shape as he exited the tunnel.

This then brings out the Safety Car again and Button dives into the pits at the end of the lap. At the end of Lap 26, Rosberg, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Alonso pit. But an incident in the pit lane while Vergne and Magnussen pitted also sees Vergne potentially looking at a penalty after he was unsafely released into the path of Magnussen while exiting the pit lane.

On Lap 28, it is announced by Race Control that lapped cars may now unlap themselves under Safety Car conditions. At the end of the lap, we see Raikkonen pitting once again after suffering a puncture while a Marussia was unlapping itself and rejoins the race in 14th place. The next lap sees the stewards announce that the incident between Vergne and Magnussen in the pit lane is under investigation.

Rosberg still leads the Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo and Raikkonen after the  second Safety Car

Rosberg still leads the Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo and Raikkonen after the second Safety Car period.

 

By Lap 31, we are back racing at Monaco once more and Rosberg leads Hamilton by 1.1 seconds. The next lap sees Hulkenberg passing Magnussen with a cracking move into Portier. By Lap 33, the battle for 6th place is ongoing between Vergne, Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Button. The stewards announce on Lap 35 that Vergne has a drive through penalty regarding the unsafe release in the pit lane with Magnussen. The next lap sees a battle for 14th place between Kobayashi, Grosjean, Ericsson and Chilton is taking place on track.

On Lap 37, Vergne serves his drive through penalty. Rosberg on Lap 38 leads Hamilton by 0.9 seconds. On track, Bianchi passes Vergne for 12th place. The next lap sees Grosjean passing Kobayashi for position. Lap 40 sees the battle for third place between Ricciardo and Alonso heat up further.

Rosberg still leading the Monaco Grand Prix in the latter stages of the race.

Rosberg still leading the Monaco Grand Prix in the latter stages of the race.

By Lap 45, Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Hamilton by 0.9 seconds. At the end of the lap, Massa after spending 45 laps on the super soft tyres pits for his only stop of the race and rejoins the race in 11th place. Two laps later, we hear on team radio that Hamilton needs to “take extra speed into Turn 1 and 3” in order to try and get closer to Rosberg.

On Lap 48 of the race, Bianchi and Vergne are once again battling each other for 12th place. Vergne tries to pass Bianchi on track but cannot do so. By Lap 51, Rosberg has extended his lead to Hamilton to 1.5 seconds. Vergne officially retires his Toro Rosso from the Grand Prix and Toro Rosso suffer their first double retirement from a race since the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix.

By Lap 54, Rosberg leads the race by exactly a second from Hamilton. Guiterrez and Raikkonen are battling each other for ninth place on the circuit. Two laps later, Guiterrez is starting to look at the possibility of passing Bottas for track position. The battle for eighth place between Bottas, Guiterrez, Raikkonen and Massa is ongoing. The next lap sees Bottas retire his Williams officially from the race after his engine goes up in smoke.

Lap 59 and Rosberg still leads the race by a second exactly. The stewards announce that an investigation into Bianchi is undergoing and could receive a five second penalty. Two laps later, Guiterrez hits the barrier at Racasse corner and suffers a puncture on the right rear of his Sauber and officially retires his Sauber out of the race.

Hulkenberg and Magnussen battling each other for fifth place. All rights reserved to XPB

Hulkenberg and Magnussen battling each other for fifth place. All rights reserved to XPB

Lap 65 sees Rosberg leading Hamilton by 2.5 seconds. Hulkenberg and Magnussen are battling each other on track for 5th place. The stewards announce that Bianchi is to receive a 5 second penalty. The next lap sees Hamilton on team radio announcing that he is suffering from vision problems.

Five laps later sees Rosberg extending his lead to 5 seconds exactly. On team radio, Hamilton is informed by his team that Ricciardo is quickly catching him. Hamilton’s reply to his team was that “he didn’t care about Ricciardo, just inform me about Nico please.” The next lap confirms that Ricciardo is indeed quickly catching Hamilton and is only 3.5 seconds behind him.

By Lap 74, Rosberg once again has extended his lead to 7.2 seconds. Button is able to pass Magnussen on the circuit for track position. There is contact between Raikkonen and Magnussen at the Lowes hairpin which forces Raikkonen once again to pit and receive a new front nose for his Ferrari. Two laps later sees the stewards announce that an investigation between Raikkonen and Magnussen from a few laps earlier being investigated after the race has finished.

Rosberg wins the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time ahead of Hamilton in second and Ricciardo in third. All rights reserved to XPB

Rosberg wins the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time ahead of Hamilton in second and Ricciardo in third. All rights reserved to XPB

Rosberg leads Hamilton by 9.5 seconds on the final lap of the race and completes the final lap and he wins the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time of his career a year after his first win at the circuit. This is the first time since the 1954 and 1955 Italian Grand Prix that the Mercedes team have won the same Grand Prix in consecutive years and it is a fantastic achievement.

Hamilton is a brilliant second 9.2 seconds behind Rosberg, Ricciardo finishes a brilliant third and claims the final spot on the podium 9.6 seconds behind Rosberg, Alonso is a credible fourth 32.4 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finished a credible fifth 1 lap behind Rosberg, Button was sixth 1 lap behind Rosberg, Massa finishes seventh a lap behind Rosberg, Grosjean was eighth a lap behind Rosberg.

The Marussia team and Jules Bianchi celebrating their first points in Formula One at Monaco today. All rights reserved to XPB.

The Marussia team and Jules Bianchi celebrating their first points in Formula One at Monaco today. All rights reserved to XPB.

Bianchi finished an incredible ninth a lap behind Rosberg and picks up his first ever points in the sport for himself and the Marussia team and Magnussen picked up the final point in tenth 1 lap behind Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg leads the Driver’s championship with 122 points, Hamilton is second with 118 points, Alonso is third with 61 points, Ricciardo is fourth with 54 points, Hulkenberg is fifth with 47 points, Vettel is sixth with 47 points, Bottas is seventh with 34 points, Button is eighth with 31 points, Magnussen is ninth with 21 points and Perez is tenth with 20 points.

Mercedes leads the Constructor’s championship with 240 points, Red Bull is second with 99 points, Ferrari is third with 78 points, Force India is fourth with 67 points, McLaren is fifth with 52 points, Williams is sixth with 52 points, Lotus are seventh with 8 points, Toro Rosso are eighth with 8 points and Marussia are ninth with 2 points.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had a reasonable race today after showing a small improvement in their performance throughout the weekend. Even though Button throughout the race tried to show what little pace the car had, he was rewarded with a good amount of points from today. Also, Magnussen had many battles with many drivers during the Grand Prix but throughout the weekend he has shown yet again that he is without question a potential talent of the future and managed to score some points for his hard work.

This weekend has shown that McLaren have had a small step with their performance and pace with the car but the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car that they need in order to get back to competitive ways once again. They need to bring updates to the car as quickly as possible in order to try and get back to fighting for strong points finishes as Formula One continues into the European leg of the season.

Lotus this weekend despite scoring their first points of the season has had a mixed weekend. With Grosjean, it would appear that he is managing to extract pace and performance from the car and was rewarded with finishing eighth today after a long battle throughout the grid. During the race, Grosjean showed that if the car and its pace is there during the race and can be extracted in Qualifying, he can try and fight with the rest of the grid if he can. But this weekend has been a positive step for Grosjean that he will build on during the season ahead.

In terms of Maldonado, he has not had a very good weekend. He simply this weekend did not seem to able to extract the pace from the car that he needs in order to perform. Even though I do not rate Maldonado in the slightest (even though he has won a Grand Prix in his career), these performances are not helping them show the faith and the reward of getting the Lotus drive based on his ‘talent’.

In my opinion, I feel that Maldonado needs to perform for Lotus and needs to perform quickly. I will concur that the issue of his car not starting is not his fault but at the end of the day, we all know that Maldonado is only with the Lotus team for the money that he brings, even though Lotus have claimed he is talented, hence why they signed him. I just feel that Lotus might just be regretting their choice of driver currently. And he has a lot of work ahead in order to kick start his season and I just do not see it happening.

Even though Lotus are nowhere near where they would like or need to be, there have shown this weekend that they have taken steps forward. This will give them more motivation and encouragement to help them get on top of their current issues that they are experiencing.

The biggest surprise this weekend for me was the 9th place of Bianchi. Firstly, he may have not have had a great weekend especially after changing his gearbox before the race. Since the start of the season, Bianchi has been trying to get to grips with the Marussia car. Who knows what would have happened if Bianchi did not make the mistake that he has made that has placed penalty points on his license.

But throughout the first five races of the season, Bianchi has been trying to get his Marussia as far up the grid as he possibly can. But today, Bianchi has consistently been able to pass and challenge his way through the grid and get his first and Marussia’s first points within Formula One today.

Bianchi this weekend for me has been brilliant and thoroughly deserves to equal his and Marussia’s first points in Formula One today with ninth place after a great drive and performance. It is a remarkable achievement for both Bianchi and Marussia and this will only strengthen their quest to keep tenth place in the Constructors standings with the potential to take ninth if Sauber do not improve further throughout the season.

This weekend has seen Ferrari them take some small steps forward. Over the past few weeks, Raikkonen has publically stated that he has had problems trying to get to grips with the brake by wire system that has been introduced for this season. But I do feel that at the moment that Raikkonen is really struggling despite having a better race than he has previously.

Even though Ferrari have a lot of work to do in order to find more performance from the car, Raikkonen needs to try and do the best that he can in order to try and kick start his season into life. But he could not manage to achieve some points from the race today. But his performance until he had to pit for a new nose will only encourage him to keep making more improvements throughout the season ahead.

Meanwhile, Alonso once again has picked up some more points for the Ferrari team and was rewarded with a remarkable fourth after battling with Ricciardo throughout the course of the race. Alonso despite stating that Ferrari need to improve and find performance as quickly as they possibly can, he has managed to extract some performance from the car and was rewarded with points for his efforts. 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.

Ricciardo, Hulkenberg and Massa do deserve mentions. Firstly, Ricciardo drove a solid race this weekend. He has been on top 3 form all weekend and managed to achieve his first podium in Monaco today. Once again, Ricciardo is showing his talent and is able to extract performance out of the car.

In my eyes, he has shown why once again 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. Many pundits and fans have debated over the off season if Ricciardo would be able to match or even beat Vettel over the season and he has already proved many of his doubters wrong.

Vettel has all weekend with the car been able to extract a little bit more pace and performance. But I do feel that Vettel is still struggling with aspects of the car and is not able to put in the performances that Ricciardo is currently. And it would seem that the problems he encountered from pre-season testing look to be making progress in the right direction. Throughout the race, Vettel could not show that he can race and race well if provided with the opportunity to do so due to loss of power but I am sure that Vettel will only use this to push himself further to perform.

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 Canada in two weeks time.

Once again Hulkenberg has had a strong weekend. He did not perform well in Qualifying but he drove a strong 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 do feel that Massa drove a solid race to gain some points today. He did a brilliant and strong job today and has shown that despite not achieving as much as he would have liked in the first 5 races of the season so far. But Massa can shown today that if he has the opportunity and the car underneath him, he can deliver just like his team mate Bottas. And I feel that the results that Massa achieved today will only spur on Williams, Massa and even Bottas (who sadly retired due to his engine blowing up) to try and keep this momentum going further into the season.

Also, Hamilton deserves a mention. This weekend saw Hamilton put in an amazing performance in order to take second place today. He has shown this weekend despite everything that has been going on that he cannot be discounted for challenging at the front of the grid and he may have lost the championship lead today but he is still in the hunt and this will only spur him on to gain back the lead as we head into Canada for the next race.

All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg 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.

With everything that has gone on throughout the weekend, there is no denying that Rosberg has done a great job this weekend and has been rewarded for his efforts with another great win and the lead of the championship. He has shown once again that Mercedes are still the team to beat as we head towards Canada in a few weeks time.

We are left wondering what will happen within the world of Formula One leading up to the next race in Canada in two weeks time? Will the rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg die down within the media? Will Red Bull, Williams, Ferrari and Force India build upon a solid foundation achieved from today? Can McLaren and Ferrari extract more pace from their cars?

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

Also, please listen and join in to my #JonesonF1 Promotional Partner Pit Stop Radio on Tuesday 27th May 2014 at 8pm BST for their Monaco Grand Prix Weekend Review. You can join in the chat by visiting www.pitstopradio.blogspot.com. If you need any further information, you can follow Pit Stop Radio on Twitter @PitStopRadio.

2014 Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying Review

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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 Toro Rosso may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Jean-Eric Vergne tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to LAT

Jean-Eric Vergne tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to LAT

In Q1, Vergne tops the timesheets with a time of 1.17.577, Rosberg was second with a gap of 0.121 seconds behind, Hamilton was third with a gap of 0.266 seconds behind, Alonso was fourth with a gap of 0.296 seconds behind and Button was fifth with a gap of 0.333 seconds behind Vergne. Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Perez and Massa managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Guiterrez, Sutil, Bianchi, Chilton, Kobayashi and Ericsson.

Within Q1, the session was full of drivers trying to not only push the limits on the circuit but also trying to overtake cars in order to find the perfect lap during the session. During the session, Daniil Kvyat managed to keep his Toro Rosso running after experiencing damage to his front wing after an incident at Mirabeau. Magnussen in his McLaren locked up his tyres going into Turn 1 but managed to keep his McLaren running and without incident.

Felipe Massa stopping on track after the incident with Marcus Ericsson heading into Turn 6

Felipe Massa stopping on track after the incident with Marcus Ericsson heading into Turn 6. All rights reserved to LAT

Meanwhile, the biggest talking point of the session was the contact between Ericsson and Massa heading into Turn 6. While heading into the corner, Massa left Ericsson plenty of room as per the regulations in order for him to overtake him. But Ericsson had too much speed heading into the corner and made contact with Massa. Even though Massa had done enough to get into Q2, the contact with Ericsson finally stopped him taking part further into Qualifying.

Before heading into Q2, the stewards announce that an investigation between Massa and Ericsson in Q1 will be taking place after the Qualifying session has ended. Also, investigations between Perez and Guiterrez and also Maldonado and Kvyat will be taking place after the session has ended regarding impeding on the circuit.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to XPB

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to XPB

In Q2, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.16.354, Rosberg is second with a gap of 0.111 seconds behind, Vettel is third with a gap of 0.720 seconds behind, Alonso is fourth with a gap of 0.846 seconds behind and Ricciardo is fifth with a gap of 0.879 seconds behind. Raikkonen, Kvyat, Magnussen, Vergne and Perez finish the top 10 as we head into the final session of Qualifying. At the end of Q2, we lose Hulkenberg, Button, Bottas, Grosjean, Maldonado and Massa.

The battle for pole position is on…

Rosberg takes Pole Position at Monaco ahead of his team mate Hamilton in second and Ricciardo in third

Rosberg takes Pole Position at Monaco ahead of his team mate Hamilton in second and Ricciardo in third

In Q3, Rosberg tops the timesheet and gets pole with an amazingly fast lap time of 1.15.989 to claim Pole Position at the Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton was second fastest with a gap of 0.059 seconds behind Rosberg and Ricciardo was third fastest with a gap of 0.359 seconds behind Rosberg, Vettel was a credible fourth fastest with a gap of 0.558 seconds behind and Alonso was a credible fifth fastest with a gap of 0.697 seconds behind Rosberg.

Raikkonen was sixth fastest with a gap of 1.400 seconds behind, Vergne was seventh fastest with a gap of 1.551 seconds behind, Magnussen was eighth fastest with a gap of 1.566 seconds behind, Kvyat was ninth fastest with a gap of 2.101 second behind and Perez was tenth fastest with a gap of 2.336 seconds behind.

The main talking point from Qualifying today is the way that Rosberg took Pole Position. Over the past few hours since Qualifying has ended, many pundits and fans have took to social media to debate the surroundings behind Rosberg going too deep into Turn 6.

In my opinion, I believe that Rosberg did not do it deliberately as many have argued. If you look at the footage carefully, you can see that Rosberg made a mistake the corner before and is trying to correct the car ready for entry into Turn 6. However, Rosberg just went too deep on the brakes in order to take the car as you normally would do and went off the road.

At the end of the day, Rosberg would not deliberately cause this in order to gain an advantage over Hamilton as may have claimed. Even though the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton for the championship is building session by session, race by race, Rosberg is a racer and would like nothing more than to beat Hamilton with the same equipment fair and square. It is as simple as that.

I can understand that Hamilton and his fans will be disappointed by how Rosberg achieved pole, but at the end of the day Rosberg did a better lap when it counted and made a mistake. But Hamilton needs to just concentrate on the race ahead tomorrow and do the best job that he can.

But despite all the surroundings that came with Rosberg claiming Pole today, 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. Vergne, Kvyat, Perez and even Hulkenberg 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 tomorrow on the glamorous streets of Monte Carlo!