Monthly Archives: March 2015

Classic #jonesonF1: 2001 Australian Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

The most iconic picture of the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

The Australian Grand Prix: Round 1 of 17 in the 2001 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher was the world champion and was hoping to defend his title that season. But the 2001 Australian Grand Prix was 66th running of the event and the first race of the 2001 season too.

Michael Schumacher takes Pole Position for the 2001 Australian GP.

Michael Schumacher takes Pole Position for the 2001 Australian GP.

In Qualifying, Michael Schumacher took Pole Position for the Australian Grand Prix even though he may have been concerned about the recent spate of reliability problems that the Ferrari cars have experienced in Melbourne over the last two days, especially after his crash during a Practice session.

Rubens Barrichello will start next to his team mate in the other Ferrari and Mika Hakkinen will be in third place on the second row of the grid with the Jordan of Heinz-Harald Frentzen next to him in fourth place. Ralf Schumacher qualified in fifth place ahead of David Coulthard in sixth place, Jarno Trulli in seventh place, Olivier Panis in eighth place, Jacques Villeneuve in ninth and Nick Heidfeld who rounded off the top ten of the session.

Fernando Alonso qualifying for the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso qualifying for the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

We should also point out that on his first ever qualifying session in the sport, Minardi driver Fernando Alonso qualified an impressive nineteenth place ahead of the Prost of Gaston Mazzacane and the Jaguar of Luciano Burti. He was over 2 seconds faster than his team-mate Tarso Marques and impressed a lot of people in the paddock with that result.

The carnival atmosphere born of an incessantly diverting line-up of support races and genuine excitement for the start of a new season reached a peak as the field lined up. Jaguar’s Eddie Irvine had elected to swap to the spare car after a power steering failure and more controversially Jenson Button’s mechanics attracted the interest of the stewards as they worked on the spare Benetton until a couple of moments after the order to clear the grid, sparking an investigation. He would later be given a 10-second stop-go penalty.

Also Tarso Marques was on the grid, against all expectation as he had not managed to set a time within 107% of pole in qualifying. An FIA bulletin, however, stated that he was allowed to take the start due to ‘exceptional circumstances’, giving rise to much muttered speculation as to what such phenomena might be.

In truth – or at least Pursuant to Article 131 of the Sporting Regulations – it seemed that because Michael Schumacher’s pole time was so exceptionally fast it didn’t count (or something). While there was almost universal approval that Paul Stoddart would be able to wheel his new team out in front of his home crowd, the words ‘dangerous’ and ‘precedent’ also seemed apposite.

The start of the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

The start of the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

On race day on Sunday, Michael Schumacher led the race into the first corner. Barrichello got off to a poor start, dropping from second to fifth by the first corner. Whilst attempting to regain position Barrichello tried to pass Frentzen’s Jordan, knocking Frentzen into a spin. At this was going on Hakkinen was in second place behind Schumacher.

Enrique Benoldi

Enrique Bernoldi running in the 2001 Australion Grand Prix before retiring on Lap 3.

Arrows rookie Enrique Bernoldi retired on Lap three after colliding with the wall out of the first corner. Tarso Marques’s unequal struggle with the Australian Grand Prix finally ground to a halt on the fourth lap with his old Ford/new European V10 letting go once again. Still his place on the grid was reward enough for the team after a difficult weekend.

Villeneuve crashing into the barriers after the incident with Ralf Schumacher on Lap 5 of the race.

Villeneuve crashing into the barriers after the incident with Ralf Schumacher on Lap 5 of the race.

A lap later, Villeneuve’s BAR ran into the back of  Ralf Schumacher’s Williams Williams at high speed whilst Schumacher was braking into turn three. The collision launched Villeneuve’s car into the air toward the track-side concrete barriers, shedding wheels and bodywork as it cart-wheeled along the wall to a halt deep in the gravel trap.

Ralf Schumacher spun into the same gravel trap after bottoming across the track and kerbs, with a missing rear wing and apparently compromised rear-left suspension, incapable of rejoining the race.

It was initially reported by eyewitnesses that a wheel had entered the marshal’s enclosure through a gap in the debris fence provided for photographers, hitting the marshal in the chest, while eleven spectators suffered cuts and bruises from debris.

It was then announced that track marshal Graham Beveridge was fatally injured when he was struck by a fast-moving wheel from Villeneuve’s car that had passed through a gap in the safety fence. The race was not halted, but the safety car was rapidly deployed and was out for 10 laps whilst medics attended to Beveridge.

Meanwhile as soon after the ambulance rolled gently into the pit lane and out of sight as the field came round to finish its 14th lap, Jos Verstappen’s Arrows dived into the pits to take advantage of the Safety Car situation.

Michael Schumacher leading Mika Hakkinen after the Safety Car goes into the pitlane after Lap 14 of the race.

Michael Schumacher leading Mika Hakkinen after the Safety Car goes into the pitlane after Lap 14 of the race.

At the end of the 15th lap the Safety Car pulled off, the green flags waved and Michael Schumacher set about building himself a lead, immediately reinstating the single second between himself and Mika Hakkinen.

Kimi Raikkonen in the early stages of the 2001 Australian GP.

Sauber rookie Kimi Raikkonen in the early stages of the 2001 Australian GP.

Far behind them Heinz-Harald Frentzen made a forceful move up the inside of Jean Alesi to trail Kimi Raikkonen who was putting in a deeply impressive debut with Sauber. Raikkonen in turn slid purposefully inside Benetton driver Jenson Button whose underpowered Benetton had no answer to the challenge for his tenth place.

The next lap Button was called in for a stop-go penalty for the team’s infringement on the grid. In an ignominious debut for the Benetton B201 and the 111-degree Renault V10 it was purely mathematical and soon his pace began to fall away still further.

David Coulthard running in second place in the latter stages of the 2001 Australian GP.

David Coulthard running in second place in the latter stages of the 2001 Australian GP.

Häkkinen’s race was to end on Lap 25 when his front-right suspension broke under braking and he spun off into a tyre barrier. At the front, Michael Schumacher continued to pull away at the front, whilst David Coulthard rapidly passed Barrichello (who would later mention that he suffered from handling problems during the race).

Michael Schumacher wins the 2001 Australian GP ahead of David Coulthard in second place and Rubens Barrichello in third place.

Michael Schumacher wins the 2001 Australian GP ahead of David Coulthard in second place and Rubens Barrichello in third place.

Schumacher led until the finish, crossing the line ahead of Coulthard and Barrichello. Schumacher was delighted at first, unaware of the death of the marshal. The top three drivers were informed of this before stepping out onto the podium, and all three stood in sombre mood. No champagne was sprayed as a sign of respect to Beveridge and his family.

Nick Heidfeld finished fourth for Sauber and scored his first points in Formula One ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen in fifth place and ahead of his new team mate Kimi Raikkonen who finished in sixth place in his debut race and only his 24th race in a motor car. 

Olivier Panis and Jos Verstappen were penalised 25 seconds for overtaking under yellow flags. Panis finished in seventh place ahead of Luciano Burti in eighth place, Jean Alesi and Verstappen who rounded off the top ten finishers.

The 2001 Australian Grand Prix saw Michael Schumacher start his championship defence in the best way possible by showing throughout the race how great of a driver he really was and why he was a great racing driver.

I should also point out that the 2001 Australian Grand Prix was notable for the fact that two future World Champions, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso  both made their Formula 1 debuts.

This was also the first race for the Michelin tyre company’s return to the sport. The Jaguar of Luciano Burti was the highest placed Michelin runner in eighth place, two places out of the points.

Even though Schumacher won the race, this race will be remembered by the death of track marshal Graham Beveridge during the race. I remember being really upset when I heard the news of his passing and it goes to show just how much marshals risk in order to allow Grand Prix racing to happen and he is very much remembered by the Formula One Community. This was the last trackside death in Formula One until the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.

And as the 2001 World Championship leaded towards the next round in Malaysia at the Sepang Circuit, Schumacher was leading the Driver’s Championship by 10 points ahead of Coulthard with six points, Barrichello with four points, Heidfeld with three points and Frentzen with two points.

Perez feels incident with Grosjean isn’t his fault

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After the Malaysian Gp today, Force India driver Sergio Perez is adamant his collision with Romain Grosjean at Sepang was a racing incident and did not warrant a penalty.

While fighting for position with the Lotus driver, Perez tagged Grosjean and put him into a high-speed spin. Of course Grosjean was unhappy about the incident and complained to his team while minutes later the stewards launched an investigation.

The outcome of that was a 10-second stop-go for the Mexican driver, who finished down in 13th place.

In an interview after the race today, Perez has said that he feels the incident wasn’t his fault and that the penalty didn’t help his race as a result of that.

‘The penalty didn’t help us; I felt I had nowhere to go and couldn’t avoid contact with Romain. I thought it was a racing incident but it ended up costing us a lot.’

Even though the penalty didn’t help Perez and his race and I understand his perspective on the incident, I do feel that the penalty given to him was correct as I felt that he didn’t Grosjean enough room and he was lucky not have to caused damage to his car and also to Grosjean’s car too.

Further on in his interview, Perez believes that tyre degradation also played a role in his lack of points today. Perez added the following:-

‘We knew ahead of the race it would be a big fight to get close to the points and it turned out to be just the case. I struggled with degradation in my first stint, on mediums, and that cost me a lot of time after the Safety Car.

‘We had slightly better pace with the hard compound, but in the end it was not enough to get back in contention. It’s a disappointing result but at least we were able to learn a lot from this race and this will help us going forward.’

Despite everything, Perez knew that it would be hard for him and the Force India team to have scored points this weekend in Malaysia. With Perez struggling with tyre wear during the race and then the penalty, this was bound to impact on his performance, even though Perez and Force India have struggled to get pace and performance out of the car all weekend let’s not forget.

But overall as Perez says himself in his interview after the race; all he can do is take this result on the chin so to speak, learn his lessons from this weekend and use this as motivation to go forward in China in two weeks time where he will hopefully be able to add to his points tally from Australia.

 

Power unit causes both McLaren’s to retire from the Malaysian GP

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After the Malaysian GP today, the McLaren Formula 1 team  have stated to the media that problems with their power unit components were to blame for the retirements of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Button was stopped by a turbo problem, while Alonso was called into the pits after the team discovered an ERS cooling issue.

Despite not making the chequered flag, both drivers said they were hugely encouraged by their pace in the race and how close they had been to the midfield. In an interview with the media after the race, Button was surprised yet happy with what they managed to achieve on the track today before retiring from the race. Button stated the following:-

‘We are actually racing people and closing on the pack in front. In the last stint it was quite a lot of fun. You can see where the strengths and weaknesses are, and it is quite apparent compared to the Force India.

‘But then you also compare us to the Sauber and even some of the quicker cars. Fighting with the pack is the important thing. It is what I enjoy and hopefully race by race we will start to pick them off. Finishing 13th or 14th is not important to me, it is more information collecting [right now].’

Even though Button as expected is not happy with where McLaren-Honda are right now; the main thing is that they saw small steps of improvement this weekend and this will only push on and motivate him and also the team to build upon this and try and get more performance out of the car in China in two weeks time.

In his own interview with the media after the race, Alonso said that McLaren’s race pace was “better than expected” for him as well. Alonso stated the following:-

‘To be able to run with the pack, even catching Red Bull at the end before the stops, was a nice surprise. Maybe one point today was possible. The real positive thing is that we were able to run with everybody else, and were not just the last two cars fighting each other – this was the first step we had to do.’

As Alonso has stated himself, it was a nice surprise to see them battling the Force India’s, Sauber’s and even the Red Bull’s during the race before having to retire. Even though this is a good step forward for Alonso this weekend; he knows this is just the beginning of McLaren improving to get to where they want and need to be.

But overall even though McLaren did not have a great weekend with retiring from the race; it is clear that they are making small yet positive improvements to the car that has been them in a better position than in Melbourne. But as Button and Alonso rightly point out; it isn’t good enough at the moment but they know that a lot of work is needed to get to where they would like to be; which is at the front of the grid.

But at least McLaren-Honda have started to progress in that direction and that has to be a positive from this weekend in Malaysia and hopefully we can see them make more steps in China in two weeks time.

 

Malaysian GP to stay on the calendar until 2018

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It has been announced after the Malaysia GP today that the Sepang International Circuit has extended its contract to stage Formula 1’s Malaysian Grand Prix for a further three years.

The Malaysian GP will continue to be held at the venue until 2018, with Petronas also extending its title sponsorship deal for the duration of the new contract.

Malaysian prime minister YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib announced the contract extension immediately following Sebastian Vettel’s win this afternoon and the previous deal they had with the FIA and FOM was set to expire after this year’s event.

The Malaysian GP has been a regular fixture on the F1 schedule since 1999, with Sepang having staged all 17 of the country’s races.

With Vettel is the most successful F1 driver at the track in terms of victories (with him now having won at Sepang four times) and putting on a great race today, this is great news for everyone associated with the circuit and also for the fans who love the challenges of the circuit wich has produced great races over the years and it looks set to continue for the next three years.

 

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton take Pole Position ahead of Sebastian Vettel for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

After qualifying yesterday, it was announced that the Manor F1 team and its drivers will start the race after gaining permission from the stewards to race after failing to meet the 107% rule. If you want to read more, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/manor-f1-team-drivers-allowed-to-race-tomorrow/

Also, it was announced after qualifying that Romain Grosjean will drop two places on the grid to tenth after a pitlane infracture during Q2. If you want to read more about this, please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/grosjean-to-drop-two-places-on-the-grid-due-to-a-pitlane-infraction/

Before the race, Will Stevens will not be able to start today’s race due to failing to fix the fuel problems he suffered yesterday. It is a great shame for Stevens but he has been on the pace during the Practice sessions and I hope to see him at the next race.

The start of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The start of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Malaysian Grand Prix gets underway. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg got good starts. Rosberg and Vettel battle each other as we head into the first corner. Vettel is then able to pass Rosberg for second place. Daniil Kvyat loses a place to Felipe Massa.

As we head into the next few corners, Marcus Ericsson passes Max Verstappen into Turn 4. Nico Hulkenberg is then able to pass Ericsson. Pastor Maldonado after hitting Valtteri Bottas is suffering with a puncture on his Lotus.

Marcus Ericsson retiring from the race on Lap 4. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Marcus Ericsson retiring from the race on Lap 4. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On Lap 2, Hamilton leads Vettel by 0.7 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen suffers a left rear puncture after Felipe Nasr hit him on track. At the end of the lap, both drivers pit. The next lap sees Grosjean passing Verstappen for ninth place. Lap 4 sees Marcus Ericsson retiring from the race after spinning at Turn 1 and breeching his car. This then brought out the Safety Car and Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Massa and Kvyat pit.

We are racing again on Lap 7 with Vettel leading Hulkenberg. Rosberg tries to pass Massa on the circuit but cannot do so. Ricciardo is able to pass Perez for 6th place. The next lap sees Rosberg and Verstappen passing Perez. Perez then loses more places then Kvyat passes him and Bottas with a great move.

Max Verstappen in the early stages of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to XPB.

Max Verstappen in the early stages of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to XPB.

Two laps later sees Rosberg passing Massa. The next lap sees Hamilton in Turn 1 passing Sainz Jr for position and then at Turn 11 passing Grosjean too. Hamilton is then able to pass Hulkenberg on Lap 11 and is now in second place behind Vettel who is still leading. At Turn 1, we saw Bottas passing Verstappen for ninth place.

The next lap sees Ricciardo losing a place to Rosberg by trying to pass Sainz on the track. Raikkonen is then able to pass Alonso on the circuit. Vettel leads Hamilton on Lap 13 by 9.9 seconds. Rosberg is then able to pass Sainz, Raikkonen is able to pass Perez and Rosberg passes Grosjean for fourth place.

Rosberg at Turn 1 passes Hulkenberg for position. At the end of the lap, Sainz and Raikkonen pit. On Lap 16, the stewards announce that Maldonado will receive a 10 second stop and go penalty for exceeding the safety car time limits. At Turn 14, Button passes Perez. On the pit straight, Perez is able to repass Button. At the end of the lap, Vettel pits.

Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo

Daniil Kvyat passing Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 1 on Lap 18 of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images. 

Hamilton leads Rosberg by 8 seconds on Lap 18. Kvyat passes Ricciardo at Turn 1 and pits at the end of the lap. Raikkonen passes Button for ninth place on the next lap. Two laps later, Vettel passes Rosberg for second place. Lap 22 sees Fernando Alonso officially retire from the race.

By Lap 24, Hamilton leads by 1.9 seconds. On track, Verstappen passes Hulkenberg, Vettel passes Hamilton for the lead of the race and at the end of the lap, Hamilton pits. Vettel now leads the race on Lap 25 by 7.9 seconds ahead of Rosberg. The next lap sees Kvyat spinning after contact with Hulkenberg while trying to pass him on the circuit. At the end of the lap, Bottas pits.

The incident between Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg on Lap

The incident between Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg on Lap 28 of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images. 

Two laps later, Ricciardo at Turn 1 is able to pass Hulkenberg for ninth place. Also at Turn 1, Rosberg passes Raikkonen. The next lap sees the stewards announcing that they will be looking into the incident between Kvyat and Hulkenberg. Lap 30 sees Vettel having a 20.3 second lead over Hamilton. Verstappen passes his team mate for position on track and Kvyat passes Hulkenberg for tenth place.

Lap 31 sees Perez and Grosjean making contact with each other with Grosjean spinning twice but was able to continue running in the race. The next lap sees the stewards announcing that they will be investigating the incident between Grosjean and Perez.

Vettel has a 16.7 lead over Hamilton on Lap 33. Both Perez and Hulkenberg both receive 10 second time penalties for their incidents with Grosjean and Kvyat which will be added to their race times. The next lap sees Verstappen passing Bottas for sixth place and Bottas repassing Verstappen.

Sebastian Vettel leads Nico Rosberg on Lap 39 of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sebastian Vettel leads Nico Rosberg on Lap 39 of the Malaysian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On Lap 38, Hamilton leads Vettel after Vettel pits at the end of the 37th lap but he has to pit at the end of the lap and hands the race lead back to Vettel who now leads Rosberg.

On Lap 42, Jenson Button officially retires from the race. 13.6 seconds is the gap that Vettel has over Hamilton on Lap 44 of the race. Four laps later, Verstappen once again passes his team mate for track position. The next lap sees Maldonado officially retiring from the race

By Lap 55, Vettel continues to lead Hamilton at the front. Meanwhile, there is a battle between the Williams drivers of Bottas and Massa with Bottas getting the upper hand on his team mate and taking position ahead of him.

Sebastian Vettel wins the Malaysian GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Nico Rosberg in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sebastian Vettel wins the Malaysian GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Nico Rosberg in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 58 sees Vettel leading Hamilton by 10.1 seconds. Vettel completes his final lap and wins his first race win of the season at the Malaysian Grand Prix; his first win since Brazil 2013 and Ferrari’s first win since Spain 2013. Hamilton is a brilliant second 8.5 seconds behind Vettel and Rosberg finishes a brilliant third 17.3 seconds behind Vettel.

Raikkonen is a credible fourth 53.8 seconds behind Vettel, Bottas finished a credible fifth 1.10.4 seconds behind Vettel, Massa was sixth 1.13.586 behind Vettel, Verstappen finishes seventh 1.38.085 behind Vettel and scores his first points in Formula One and beats the record of the youngest points finisher in the sport, Sainz Jr was eighth one lap behind Vettel, Kvyat finished in ninth one lap behind Vettel and Ricciardo picked up the final point in tenth one lap behind Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton leads the 2015 Driver’s championship with 43 points, Vettel is second with 40 points, Rosberg is third with 33 points, Massa is fourth with 20 points, Raikkonen is fifth with 12 points, Nasr is sixth with 10 points, Bottas is seventh with 10 points, Ricciardo is eighth with 8 points, Hulkenberg is ninth with 6 points and Verstappen is tenth with 6 points.

Mercedes lead the 2015 Constructor Championship with 76 points, Ferrari is second with 52 points, Williams is third with 30 points, Sauber is fourth with 14 points, Toro Rosso is fifth with 12 points, Red Bull is sixth with 11 points and Force India are seventh with 7 points.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had a disappointing race today after retiring. But even though Button did out-qualify Alonso in qualifying this weekend in his first race back since his accident, they have made steps with regards with their performance on the track. Both drivers were able to race drivers such as Perez, Nasr and Hulkenberg at times during the race and that was quite nice to see.

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 but this will take time.

The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Verstappen scoring his first points in Formula One and beating Daniil Kvyat’s record of being the youngest driver to score points by two years with a seventh place finish.  This is a fantastic achievement and I do feel that Verstappen drove a superb race to gain seventh today and it is very well deserved. He did a brilliant and strong job in Saturday in qualifying and has shown that he can deliver on the track.

Sainz Jr, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Massa, Bottas and Rosberg do deserve mentions. Firstly, Sainz Jr deserves a mention for most of the weekend with the car been able to extract a little bit more pace and performance. As I have already stated before, I believe that Sainz Jr has managed to extract some performance from the car and was rewarded with points for his efforts. But I believe that Toro Rosso took their chance to secure with the good points they have scored this weekend and all credit to him for a superb performance today.

Also Kvyat and Ricciardo did extremely well to gain ninth and tenth places today. Kvyat this weekend has managed to extract pace and performance from the car, but has looked a bit uncomfortable.  But he managed to score points after battling with a group of drivers today just like Ricciardo did too. And I feel that the results that Kvyat and even Ricciardo achieved today will only spur on Red Bull to try and keep this momentum going further into the 2015 season despite not being as competitive as they would like.

Raikkonen did a credible job to finish fourth today. But I do feel that he did have some bad luck this weekend and also in the race today and was only able to finish in that position. Throughout the race, Raikkonen showed that he can race and race well if provided with the opportunity to do so but I am sure that he will only use this to push himself further to perform in 2015 with Ferrari.

Massa did a credible job to finish sixth place today. His race didn’t go according to plan due to the performance of the Ferrari’s but he battled through to get some points and not the amount of points they would have liked but still managed to gain some with a reasonable performance today.

This weekend has saw Bottas picking up some points after returning to racing after his back injury but he drove a strong race to bring home some much needed point for the team today and this will only motivate him further to build upon this during the rest of the season.

Rosberg had a good race to get third place. Rosberg did the best that he could do today with the car and managed to get some points for himself and the Mercedes team. But Rosberg still has a lot of work to do in order to catch up to his team mate and also Vettel in order to fight for the championship.

Hamilton deserves a mention. Despite not being able to challenge for the championship in the manner he would have liked, he gave it everything that he could to take the fight to Hamilton. It is sad that he suffered ERS problems during the race but it happens and that is a factor of racing. I wish we could have saw the battle we all craved and wanted but it wasn’t to be.

But Hamilton has done a superb job this season and he should be proud of himself with the way he has performed this season. And he is a well deserved runner up in the drivers championship.

All that is left to say about this race is that Vettel deserved to win today and win his first race for Ferrari. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Ferrari has built on the results that they have gained so far this season with him and there’s no denying that Vettel has done a great job this weekend and has been rewarded for his efforts with the win.

We have now seen two different winners this season so far with Hamilton winning in Melbourne and Vettel winning in Malaysia. With Ferrari now looking like the nearest challengers to Mercedes, can they keep up what they have achieved this weekend and win once again next time out in Shanghai in two weeks time? Or can Mercedes bounce back? We shall have to wait and see.

Also, please listen and join in to my #JonesonF1 Promotional Partner Pit Stop Radio tomorrow at 8pm BST for their Malaysian Grand Prix Race 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.

Official press release from the McLaren-Honda team after qualifying in Malaysia

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In their official press release after qualifying in Malaysia today, the McLaren-Honda Team are happy with the small steps of progress they have made since Australia two weeks ago.

Jenson Button has stated after qualifying that it was difficult for him to get temperatures into the tyres even though he is happy with the small steps of progress so far this weekend with the MP4-30. Button appears to be happy with the progress that is being made but knows there is still a lot of work for them to do to be competitive once again.

Button stated the following in the team’s press release today:-

‘It was very difficult to get temperature into the tyres during the qualifying session – I really struggled in the first sector on every run I did, but was able to make the car work in the second and third sectors.  Before qualifying, I think we’d have hoped to be a bit closer to the cars in front of us, but this weekend has seen us take a massive step forward in performance.

‘Also, I think our race pace – and our consistency over a long run – look like giving us a little extra. I’d like to think we could get closer to some of the cars in front tomorrow; that’ll be something to look forward to.

‘There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend: we’ve made a big step forwards in terms of pace. There’s more to come from the engine and the aero package, but we know what to do.’

Fernando Alonso has returned to racing this weekend in Malaysia since his pre-season accident in Barcelona last month. Alonso just like Button is pleased with the progress the team have made since Australia but knows they need to improve as quickly as they possibly can.

Alonso adds that if the rain hits the circuit on race day, it’ll something else that the team will learn more about as well as Alonso himself. But Alonso knows there is a lot of work ahead of McLaren in the next few months and understands that it will take some time for them to achieve what they want to achieve.

Alonso stated the following in the team’s press release today:-

‘Our form today wasn’t unexpected, but I think our performance so far this weekend has maybe been better than I’d have anticipated before arriving here in Malaysia.

‘In fact, I’d say the progress we’ve made since Australia has been fantastic – we’re much closer to the cars in front now – but we’re still under-performing and we still need to improve. However, the steps we’re taking with the car show a lot of progress, so I’m optimistic that I won’t be qualifying in Q1 for that much longer.

‘If it rains tomorrow, it’ll be another learning process for the team. For me, too, the start procedure, the formation lap, the pit-stops – they’ll all be firsts for me as I wasn’t able to practise any of them in Australia. That makes me feel confident that there’s a lot more to come in the next few weeks.

‘This isn’t an ideal position from which to start the race, but I’m fully aware that McLaren-Honda is a long-term project: we want to beat Mercedes, and to do that you need time, and to be prepared to take your chances as they come.’

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier may not be happy with where they qualified on the grid today in Sepang but believes that this weekend has been a positive for the team so far. Boullier has stated that it is great to see Fernando back (and I agree!) racing once again and that both drivers managed to get the best result possible from the car today.

Even though McLaren and Honda have made steps forward today, Boullier still knows that they need to put in the hours and the work in order to move up the grid as quickly as possible and that they are in the right direction and they will improve with their performance on the track as a result sooner rather than later.

Boullier stated the following in the teams press release today:-

‘Obviously, qualifying 17th and 18th isn’t what we want to be doing – very far from it – but I don’t wish to dwell on the self-evident negatives when in actual fact there are quite a few positives for me to comment on.

‘First of all, it’s good to see Fernando back in the cockpit, and even better to note that he approached and conducted his first McLaren-Honda qualifying session with such infectious enthusiasm. Jenson and he recorded almost identical lap-times – a testimony to the fact that they both managed to get the absolute maximum from what MP4-30 currently has to offer.

‘Although we’re no farther up the grid here than we were in Melbourne, it’s clear that MP4-30 has a significant amount more to offer on the swooping curves of Sepang than it did on the point-and-squirt switchback that is Albert Park. And that performance delta is a result of the fact that it’s already a better car, not a result of the fact that we’re racing on a very different kind of circuit this weekend.

‘We’re not satisfied; of course we aren’t; we know we still have a mountain to climb. But it’s clear that real progress is being made, and, bearing in mind where we are on our car-development curve at the moment, that’s what matters. That progress will continue, mark my words.’

 

 

 

 

Official press release from the Sauber F1 Team after qualifying in Malaysia today

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In their official press release after qualifying in Malaysia today, the Sauber F1 Team had a mixed session as a result of the wet weather session.

Marcus Ericsson in a statement after qualifying today is happy with what he has achieved so far this weekend. He believes that during Q3 he was close to their rivals which is a step forward for him and also for the team. Ericsson stated the following in the team’s press statement today:-

‘It has been a great weekend so far. I was able to finish every session in a top ten position, and we can be satisfied to have repeated that in Qualifying. In dry as well as wet conditions I felt comfortable in the car. At the end of Q3 we were quite close to our competitors, which is positive. It was another good day for us, so we can be happy with today’s result. Tomorrow we have a promising chance to again score points.’

In contrast, Felipe Nasr hasn’t had a promising day like Ericsson. Nasr has stated that he is still struggling with the rear tyres but in qualifying, he found a solution to that problem. Overall, Nasr believes that he has had a difficult weekend so far but is looking forward to the race tomorrow. Nasr stated the following in the team’s press release today:-

‘After the third free practice session we saw that we were still struggling with the rear tyres. In qualifying we seemed to have found something. However, on my second run on the medium tyres the rear wheels locked in Turn 4, and I lost time there.

‘It has not been an easy weekend for me. We need to review what happened and learn for tomorrow. I’m already looking forward to the race. We know our car is competitive in race conditions, so I am confident about making up some positions.’

Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn believes that the result the team has gained today in qualifying reflects their potential with their car. She is happy with how Ericsson performed today and believes he has a chance to score points. But she believes that Nasr has made a step foward with the balance issues he was suffering with the car in qualifying and was unhappy for him not to have had a good performance in qualifying today and is looking forward to getting a result from the race tomorrow.

Kaltenborn stated the following in the team’s press release today as follows:-

‘This is a qualifying result which has showed again our potential, but mainly with one car. For Marcus it was an excellent personal performance. With this starting position we surely have good chances of scoring points, and we will do our best to achieve that. During the whole weekend Felipe had issues with the balance of the car, but was able to make a good step forward in qualifying.

‘Therefore it is a pity he could not make it into Q2. Now it is important that we all focus together with Felipe on the race tomorrow, as the chances are there.’