Monthly Archives: September 2015

British GP’s future is in doubt

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According to The Telegraph today, the future of the British GP could be in serious doubt due to lack of funding that is available.

Despite having a contract until 2026, the British Grand Prix is at threat of losing its place on the Formula One calendar. Silverstone currently needs an investor to pay the fee to host the Grand Prix each year.

These stories surface every season but for a change, the circuit managing director has expressed his concerns over hosting the race as currently, it is not financially viable.

In the contract signed by the circuit and Bernie Ecclestone, there is a clause which allows it to be terminated as early as next year.According to Silverstone managing director Patrick Allen in his interview with the media today, it would seem that the race is at threat of losing its place on the F1 calendar. Allen stated the following:-

‘Can I guarantee the future? No, I can’t. Could I hand on heart say to Mr Ecclestone,‘don’t worry, your money is absolutely safe for the next 10 years?’ No I couldn’t… to pull the contract would be a sad thing for Silverstone, it would be a sad thing for motor racing and it would be a very sad thing for Britain.’

At the moment, Silverstone is currently suffering a loss of rental income due to selling a lease of approximately 300 acres of land to pay off debts. But the hosting fee of the event currently stands at £16 million circa. But I would agree with what Allen has stated in his interview today that it would be a great shame for Britain and also F1 to lose Silverstone from the calendar and we need the race to remain.

We simply cannot afford to lose a track that is so important to Formula One and also has a lot of prestige and history in the sport, that is well liked by the teams and the drivers and most importantly the fans. I really hope that they can acquire the funding needed in order to remain on the calendar for the foreseeable future.

High Court gives Lotus and Renault 10 weeks to sort their situation out

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It has been announced today that the High Court case against Lotus has been adjourned until December 7 in the wake of Renault’s confirmation it  intends to take a controlling state in the Formula 1 team.

Very recently, Lotus has facd the threat of administration as it owed HMRC £2.7million in back PAYE (income tax and national insurance) – £900,000 for each of June, July and August.

With Lotus entering into negotiations and a period of due diligence with Renault in late May/early June with regard to the French manufacturer taking a 65 per cent stake in the Enstone squad, trading was effectively suspended.

Even since then Lotus has since faced several winding-up orders from various companies, but has managed to find a way through the financial mire.

However talking to the HMRC has proven different, with the case twice previously adjourned; as Renault provided Justice Birrs with letters declaring its interest in taking over Lotus.

However the negotiations between the two parties have been protracted due to various complications, but Renault has now provided a signed letter of intent regarding the potential controlling acquisition in Lotus.

That was enough to satisfy Justice Birrs, who has given Renault and Lotus 10 weeks to finalise the deal that will see Renault return to F1 as a works outfit in 2016. And overall all I say on the matter is that I hope both parties are able to finalise their arrangement with each other in the timescale provided as the other option doesn’t bear thinking about.

We need Lotus to remain in the sport and its best chance at the moment is with Renault and I truly hope it happens for the sake of a team that is capable of being world champions once again in the sport.

Classic #jonesonf1: The 1962 Belgian Grand Prix

The most iconic moment of the 1962 Belgian GP.

The most iconic moment of the 1962 Belgian GP.

The Belgian Grand Prix: Round 3 of 17 in the 1962 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, BRM driver Graham Hill lead the Drivers’ Championship by 10 points ahead of Ferrari driver Phil Hill in second place with 10 points ahead of Cooper-Climax driver Bruce McLaren who was in third place with 9 points.

Before the event, the Porsche team announced that they would not be present for the Belgian race because of a strike in Stuttgart and so it was left for Ferrari to take on the usual British teams.

Graham Hill claimed Pole Position for the 192 Belgian Grand Prix.

Graham Hill claimed Pole Position for the 192 Belgian Grand Prix.

Qualifying saw Graham Hill claim Pole Position for the race on Sunday ahead of Bruce McLaren in second place, Trevor Taylor in third place, Phil Hill in fourth place and Innes Ireland in fifth place.

As we head into the latter stages of the grid, Willy Mairesse qualified in sixth place ahead of Ricardo Rodriguez in seventh place, Masten Gregory in eighth place, Richie Ginther in ninth place and Tony Maggs who rounded off the top ten qualifiers. Also, Jim Clark qualified in twelfth place after limited running in the practice sessions. Clark had mechanical trouble and had to wait for a new engine. Eventually he used Taylor’s car and ended up 12th on the grid.

Also, Porsche driver Dan Gurney ran in Wolfgang Seidel’s Lotus-BRM but after qualifying he decided the car was not fast enough and withdrew from the race.

The start of the 192 Belgian Grand Prix.

The start of the 192 Belgian Grand Prix.

On race day on Sunday,  Graham Hill took the lead at the start but battled with McLaren during the first lap. By the end of the lap Hill was back in control but he had Taylor, McLaren, a fast-starting Clark and Mairesse right with him. The early laps saw a lively slipstreaming battle between the front five cars with Taylor and Mairesse both leading.

Jim Clark leading the 192 Belgian Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Getty Images.

Jim Clark leading the 192 Belgian Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Getty Images.

However by Lap 9 of the race, Clark was at the front and he then began to pull away from Taylor who himself moved clear of Mairesse until he spun on Lap 17 and came under pressure once again from the Belgian Ferrari  driver.

Willy Mairesse

Willy Mairesse

On Lap 26, Mairesse and Taylor collided at speed. The Lotus hit a telegraph pole while the Ferrari overturned and caught fire. Both drivers were fortunate to escape with minor injuries.

Jim Clark won the 1962 Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Graham Hill in second place and Phil Hill in third place.

Jim Clark won the 1962 Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Graham Hill in second place and Phil Hill in third place.

Clark was left for the remainder of the race with a big lead over Graham Hill who battled a misfiring BRM most of the way to finish in second place and Ferrari driver Phil Hill who was able to hold off Rodriguez by a tenth of a second for third place.

Ricardo Rodriguez finished the race in fourth place ahead of John Surtees in fifth place, Jack Brabham in sixth place and Carel Godin de Beaufort who finished the race in seventh place. As we head into the latter stages of the grid, Maurice Trintignant finished the race in eighth place ahead of Lucien Bianchi in ninth place and Jo Siffert in tenth place.

The 1962 Belgian Grand Prix saw Jim Clark achieve his first win in Formula One which is a fantastic achievement. Clark drove a good race and showed the world once again that when he has the car underneath him, he can deliver and he showed this when he finally won the first championship in 1963 and then his second championship in 1965.

This race will always be remembered as the start of Clark and Hill’s long six year rivalry in the sport. It will also be remembered that Ricardo Rodriguez became the youngest driver to score championship points (20 years, 123 days), a record which stood for 38 years before Jenson Button aged 20 years, 67 days, broke it at the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix. It is also worth noting that it was the last podium for Phil Hill in the sport as well.

And as the 1962 World Championship leaded towards the next round in France at the Rouen-Les-Essarts Circuit, Graham Hill was leading the Driver’s Championship by 16 points ahead of Phil Hill with 14 points and also ahead of Clark who had 9 points in third place.

Renault signs letter of intent to buy out Lotus

Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 3 March 2012.

It has been announced by Renault this morning that they have signed a Letter of Intent to take a controlling stake in the Lotus team,

Renault confirmed before the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season that they were considering their future with their options being to either pull out of the sport entirely or buy one of the current teams on the grid and run it as a works outfit.

They opted for buying out the Lotus team, but it has taken them months to finally confirm the deal.

Meanwhile, the Lotus team have faced financial problems for several seasons and the buyout will come as a big relief for everyone involved as they are due to appear in the London High Court on Monday over unpaid taxes and national insurance contributions.

Renault finally announced on this morning that they plan to buy a controlling stake in the Enstone squad and has finally put an end to all the speculation surrounding their future in the sport. The statement from Renault stated the following:-

‘Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l., an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, are pleased to announce the signature of a Letter of Intent regarding the potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd.

‘The signature of this Letter of Intent marks Renault’s first step towards the project of a Renault Formula 1 team from the 2016 racing season thereby extending 38 years of commitment of the brand to world’s premier motorsport championship series.

‘Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.’

2015 Japanese Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript from the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix Post-racePress Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS
1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)

PODIUM INTERVIEWS
(Conducted by Kai Ebel)

Lewis, congratulations, you equalled Senna’s record; tell us about your magic start. ?

Lewis Hamilton (referred hereafter as LH):- Yeah, well I firstly have to say a big thank you to all these fans that have come and stood in the rain… I don’t know if anyone can hear us… Oh you hear us: Konnichi-wa! Really I’m so happy right now.

The team has done a fantastic job this weekend. It’s great to be back up here with a one-two. I had a great start. Thanks again to the team for working so hard to make sure we get good starts this race. For me to come here to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive and to match his wins… yeah, I can’t really describe it, it doesn’t really feel real at the moment.

So how important was it for you to strike back after Singapore?

LH:- It definitely was important for us to strike back. The Ferraris were incredibly quick in the last race and I guess we didn’t bring our A-game, so we really had to take a step back in these last few days and make sure we brought it here and, as I said, couldn’t have done it without this team. Just remarkable what they’ve done. The car was beautiful to drive today.

Thanks Lewis. Coming over to you Nico. Fantastic fight-back to the podium but tell me what happened when the light went out?

Nico Rosberg (referred hereafter as NR):- Yeah, Lewis just got a better start, fair play, and then it was a good battle into Turn One but in Turn Two he had the inside and just made it stick, so that was the end of it there. Then it was great to fight back to second place, because fourth place would definitely not have been acceptable.

Second was the best possible thing after that, so I was happy with the fight-back and great also for us as a team. To be back up here after Singapore is really awesome.

Seems that Lewis is pulling a little bit away in the championship. Can you still catch him?

NR: Yeah, for sure, it’s going the wrong way – definitely.  I had to win today, that was important but it didn’t work out. Just need to try to win next time out.

Sebastian, being here on the podium again after a marvelous victory, what do you think about it in front of these fantastic Japanese Ferrari fans?

Sebastian Vettel (referred hereafter as SV):- Yeah, thank you very much. It’s great to be back on the podium here, it’s, I think, my favourite race; I love the track, I love the fans, I love the trophies. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the bigger one today; it was close with Nico. I think we had a chance but it’s always easy with hindsight. Overall, I think it was a fantastic race. The start was very tricky and it was interesting to see those two fighting in the first corner – obviously I could benefit – but, yeah, all in all, very happy with the race today.

Tell me what direction is Ferrari going in right now – are there more victories to come this season?

SV:- I think we are going in the right direction. Obviously we knew from the beginning of the season that these boys would be difficult to beat. They’re doing a great job, first of all, both of them. They have a great car, a great engine and all in all it makes them difficult to beat. But I think we are much better than people expected and it’s nice, as I said, to be back on the podium here.

On top of that it’s been 20 years now that I have been with my helmet supplier Arai. I know that I shouldn’t probably mention this but it’s something very special. I remember when I was a small child walking in, so thanks also to all the people in Japan at Arai and yeah, I love this podium.

Thanks for the commercial block, Seb. Coming back one more time to Lewis. Lewis, we are in the land of karaoke and you are a brilliant singer, not only a brilliant driver, so what will be the song you are going to perform tonight then?
LH:- ‘Victory Dance’? I don’t know! I did a song last night called ‘Victory’ so that’s the one I’ll be playing.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Lewis, well done again, congratulations. It seemed to be a trouble-free race once you had taken the lead at the first corner, but we heard one or two mentions of heat in your seat, which we’ve heard before, and also vibrations as well, so how bad was that?

LH:- It wasn’t too bad, I’ve definitely had worse. It was such an amazing race. This has been a circuit that I can honestly say that I’ve struggled [at] through all the years that I’ve come here but one that I’ve loved driving, and I think that goes for all the drivers. But you really want to come here and dominate at a track like this.

I was able to get the balance in the right place, my engineers did an amazing job – Bonno, Ricky and just the whole crew did a great job to get the car, with the short amount of time we had, in a beautiful window. It was better today than it was even in qualifying. I was really able to work on my lines and improve and at the front there it was just a beautiful… it’s like sailing. When you go through the corners here, it’s flowing.

Honestly, I wish I could share the feeling with you. Also knowing that this would be the race that I would equal Aytron, who won here and who had quite an interesting here. So, yeah, quite an emotional day. But to be honest I’m not a teary guy, so I’m just full of joy and happiness and light and I’m really grateful for, as I posted the other day, all the people who have helped me get to where I am today and this team, because without them I would not be here.

Q: Nico, can you be as ecstatic about your car as Lewis was about his? And what about toughing it around the outside at that first corner?

NR:- Yeah, for sure the car is really back to its best now and that’s reassuring after Singapore, so that’s great. Especially in qualifying, it’s just a pleasure to drive. Like on rails. Then in the the race, yeah, start of course. Pity to lose out at the start and then big battle around Turn One and Two and got very close on the exit of Turn Two so I had to back out of it there and that lost me the race eventually.

Q: Sebastian, it seemed to be damage limitation. You couldn’t really prevent the undercut and from then on, was there anything you could do about the Mercedes?

SV:- Well I think we thought we were safe because tyres were in reasonable shape but I think Nico was a surprise, the pace he had in his out-lap. So, I was very happy with the in-lap, which goes at the same time, but it was a question of a couple of tenths. Into Turn One he just had the upper hand and then it was clear it would be difficult because he was catching before.

So, also the fact that Lewis disappeared: they had a bit more speed today so, yeah. Had we pitted one lap sooner I think it could have been more interesting and challenging for Nico to get past. It’s not so easy to follow the cars here through the high-speed sections, so I think we had a good chance but, yeah, probably underestimated the out-lap that he had, so, with hindsight, it’s always easy so, nevertheless, it’s a great day. Good recovery.

Especially as Friday wasn’t that good for us. I know it was wet but still, the feeling we go was not that great. Saturday morning as well. So, yeah, good quali and obviously that was the base for another podium today.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Lewis and Nico. Can you describe for us the way you start? Is it a different way or is it the same way for both of you?

LH:- Individually are they different? It’s the same sequence for both of us. Yeah, it’s been the same pretty much since we got to Formula One. It’s not really changed, the start, has it? I mean, you have to go through a different sequence to get to the same thing but it’s just a different equation basically.

NR:- It’s the same but you do have your own individual input and you can do your individual thing. You can fine tune it to your liking.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sorry for Nico but we need to come back to that moment where you were a little bit out of the track. Do you think it was a little bit too harsh, Lewis? And for Sebastian, a question, now you are 59 points behind Lewis is it realistic to think that’s it’s fight for the championship or is it done?

NR:- I haven’t even seen it myself on TV. For sure it was close, I had to avoid a collision. It’s difficult for me to comment now.

Sebastian?

SV:- It’s not done ‘til it’s done. So, the chance is there – and what kind of racing driver would I be if I stopped believing? So, of course I know it’s difficult because the opponent is very strong. They are currently in stronger form than us, so it’s not easy to turn things around when you are behind – but you have to keep believing otherwise I guess it’s pointless rocking up and trying to fight.

I think there’s always a chance on Sunday. Being realistic, as I said, I think it will be very, very difficult but who knows what’s going to happen. We have to do our thing and that’s the maximum we can do. Everything else is not in our hands, it’s probably in there hands.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport magazines) Lewis, could you give us your view of that very close moment there coming out of turn two with Nico?

LH:- I didn’t really feel it was particularly that close but the inside line is the inside line, so I had my corner and so we were very very close but I was basically understeering, I was running out of grip. I imagine Nico was running out of road, but that’s what happens when you’re on the outside.

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Seb, are you confident in the development of the car for the next races and the end of the season, considering that maybe you are going to use a fifth engine with more upgrades? You still have four tokens to spend.

SV:- Well, there are still some races to go. We are pushing as hard as we can. Obviously last weekend and this weekend were very different but I think it’s more down to them struggling but we had very strong form in Singapore and we used our chance. It’s very simple; if the chance is there, we have to use it.

We know though that they are very very strong so we will do everything we can in the remaining races of this year, trying to catch them, trying to improve ourselves first of all. I think there are always lessons to learn; this weekend was interesting. Again, thinking about tyres: Friday, Saturday, I think there are some lessons and some things that we can improve.

On top of that, as I said, we try to improve the car naturally. I think the times of big updates, they are over. We try every race to bring everything we have and yeah, everything else we will see when we get there.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) A question again to Lewis and Nico about the start: do you prepare your start differently, Nico and Lewis, on the formation lap? Do you prepare it differently and can you explain why it was so good for you, Lewis, and so bad for you, Nico?

LH:- Honestly, there’s not really much difference. You have to do your sequence when you leave the grid, then you do a normal start. It’s the same movement with the paddles. The input differences are the reaction time from the paddle and then how smooth you are with the second paddle in terms of how you… and also how smooth you are with the throttle which makes the difference generally.

And also obviously the clutch has to perform, sometimes it overperforms but with the new rules we generally have the same set-up with that. So yeah, I guess it’s just the luck of the draw: sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong, sometimes you’ve got the clutch too hot, sometimes you’ve got it too cold, sometimes you have your tyres too cold, sometimes you have them too hot.

So it’s a combination of things, but generally the sequence is very very similar between – I’m pretty sure – the whole grid.

NR:- It’s always the same thing, the same we practise before the formation lap, going through the pit lane and then on the exit of the pit lane, formation lap practice, so you get a feel for it. That’s it.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) For all of you: some of your colleagues yesterday were worried about the tyre pressures. They said there was too much pressure and they were worried they might have some problems during the race. Have you been affected in the race by that?

NR:- No, not at all. Everything was perfect. No problems at all.

SV:- Were you low again? I’m joking. You can laugh as well. It was a joke, come on.

NR:- I’m smiling!

LH:- I don’t know really. All I know is that the tyres were… we don’t say it very often but the tyres were pretty amazing, particularly in the last stint. They were the best they’ve felt for a long time. They really felt really good but it must have been how it felt for him (Vettel) in the last race. Through qualifying, they were good but generally in the race it was getting better and better as the car gets lighter and stuff but I don’t think they were a problem this weekend.

SV: No comment really.

2015 Japanese Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

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

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

The Japanese Grand Prix is underway! Intitially Nico Rosberg had a good start heading into the first corner as did Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo. But Hamilton manages to close up on his team mate and leads into the first corner with Rosberg losing places to Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.

Felipe Massa limping back to the pits after bashing wheels with Daniel Ricciardo at the start of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Felipe Massa limping back to the pits after bashing wheels with Daniel Ricciardo at the start of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

As this is going on, Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa bang wheels together; this then leads to both drivers dropping to nineteenth and twentieth as both may have suspected punctures. The Lotus drivers of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are already up to sixth and seventh, Nico Hulkenberg is up to eighth and Fernando Alonso is also in the top ten. At the end of the lap, Sergio Perez pits who went into the gravel and also has a puncture as well from making contact with Carlos Sainz Jr as Ricciardo and Massa.

Lewis Hamilton leads the Japanese GP on Lap 2. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Lewis Hamilton leads the Japanese GP on Lap 2. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Lap 2 and Hamilton leads ahead of Vettel by 1.6 seconds. Two laps later and there is a battle for ninth between Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jr and Marcus Ericsson. Sainz is slowly gaining on Alonso and is trying to find a way past. But he is able to pass Alonso on the first corner of the fifth lap with a great move heading into Turn 1. And on the next lap, Ericsson passes Alonso at the same corner and takes track position.

There was also a battle between Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen for twelfth place; with Verstappen slowly gaining on the Sauber driver very quickly indeed. By Lap 8, Hamilton extends his lead to 4.2 seconds. Lap 10 sees Marcus Ericsson going off the track at Spoon Curve and this allows his team mate to pass him for position and Button slowly gaining on Ericsson himself until he is forced to pit at the end of the lap.

Lewis Hamilton leading the early stages of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Lewis Hamilton leading the early stages of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

By Lap 12, Hamilton extends his lead over Vettel to 7.2 seconds. Meanwhile, Ericsson finds himself in another battle for eighth place with Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean. The next lap sees Hulkenberg into Turn 1 making a move on Ericsson and is now in eighth place. A few corners later into Degner 1, Grosjean makes a crisp move on Nasr and demotes him a place to tenth place.

Hamilton now leads Rosberg on Lap 15 of the Japanese GP by 12.9 seconds after Vettel has made his first pit stop. There is a battle for eleventh between Alonso, Kvyat and Verstappen on track and Alonso will be under pressure as the Renault powered drivers close up on him; especially on the straights. At the end of Lap 15, Rosberg pits and on Lap 16, Hamilton pits.

Sebastian Vettel running in second place

Sebastian Vettel running in second place on Lap 18 of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Hamilton retains his lead of the race ahead of Vettel in front as the battle between Bottas and Rosberg for third place intensifies on the track. At the end of the lap, Rosberg squeezes past Bottas with a great move and now moves up to third place. Lap 21 sees Kimi Raikkonen gaining on his fellow Finn Bottas for fourth place.

There is a battle with the McLaren-Honda drivers with Alonso battling Verstappen for the final point of the race and Button battling to keep Ericsson behind him for twelfth place. Further down the grid, Sergio Perez passes Nasr into Turn 1 with a great move to take track position. Max Verstappen finally gets past the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso on Lap 26 with a great move into Turn 1 after trying for many laps to get past and is now in tenth place.

Publically on the team radio, Alonso says to the McLaren-Honda team that the Honda engine is of a “GP2 standard” and this will certainly raise a few eyebrows especially at the manufacturer’s home race.

Kimi Raikkonen running in fifth place at the Japanese GP on Lap 31. All rights reserved to Octane Photos

Kimi Raikkonen running in fifth place at the Japanese GP on Lap 31. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Four laps later, Raikkonen has now been able to perform the undercut and is now ahead of Bottas and the battle for sixth is ongoing. But at the hairpin, Bottas passes Pastor Maldonado and continues to chase down Raikkonen as Vettel pits at the end of the lap. But on Lap 31, Rosberg manages to pass Vettel out of the pitlane and is now in second place.

The next lap sees Bottas gaining another place and passes Grosjean for sixth place and still continues to catch Raikkonen for fifth place. After making his pitstop, Hamilton still leads the race ahead of his team mate Rosberg by 9.1 seconds as Perez and Sainz Jr battle on track for ninth place.

Jenson Button running in fifteenth place on Lap 40 of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Jenson Button running in fifteenth place on Lap 40 of the Japanese GP. All rights reserved to Octane Photos.

Lap 36 sees the stewards announcing that they will be an investigation into Will Stevens for speeding in the pitlane. Three laps later, Ericsson, Button, Perez and Kvyat are in a close battle on the circuit for twelfth place. Perez is then able to pass Button for thirteenth place. It is then announced on Lap 40 that Will Stevens will get a five second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

On Lap 44, Perez tries to pass Ericsson in the battle for twelfth place and tries with a great move into Turn 1 to get past but Ericsson brilliantly defends his position and holds on just. On the radio, Kvyat informs his team that he is losing the brakes. The next lap sees Verstappen and Sainz Jr battling each other for position on the track and Verstappen manages to get through and is now ninth place as a result.

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

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

Hamilton leads Rosberg on the final lap of the race by 18 seconds and wins the Japanese Grand Prix and his 41st victory of the season and thoughts of Singapore have long gone now; especially seeing as he has now extended his championship lead.

Rosberg is a credible second 18.9 seconds behind Hamilton, Vettel finished in third place 20.8 seconds seconds behind Hamilton, Raikkonen was a credible fourth 33.7 seconds behind Hamilton and Bottas finished fifth 36.7 seconds behind Hamilton.

Hulkenberg was a credible sixth 55.5 seconds behind Hamilton, Grosjean finishes seventh 1.12.2 seconds behind Hamilton, Maldonado finished in eighth place 1.13.5 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen finished in ninth place 1.33.3 seconds behind Hamilton and Sainz Jr picked up the final point in tenth 1 lap behind Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton leads the Drivers’ Championship with 277 points, Rosberg is second with 229 points, Vettel is third with 218 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 119 points, Bottas is fifth with 111 points, Massa is sixth with 97 points, Ricciardo is seventh with 73 points, Kvyat is eighth with 66 points, Grosjean is ninth with 44 points and Perez is tenth with 39 points.

Mercedes lead the Constructors Championship with 506 points, Ferrari is second with 337 points, Williams are third with 208 points, Red Bull are fourth with 139 points, Force India are fifth with 77 points, Lotus are sixth with 60 points, Toro Rosso are seventh with 44 points, Sauber are eighth with 26 points and McLaren-Honda are ninth with 17 points.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an awful weekend after all their problems. 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 as quickly as possible. And this has been brought to light this weekend despite Honda saying that the car as improved.

The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Hulkenberg getting sixth place in the race today. I do feel that Nico drove a superb race to gain eighth today and it is very well deserved after taking a grid penalty from Singapore into the weekend with him. He did a brilliant job today and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he is a future world champion of the sport.

Bottas, Sainz Jr, Verstappen, Grosjean, Maldonado and Raikkonen do deserve mentions. Bottas did a credible job to finish fifth today. Bottas this weekend has managed to struggle to extract pace and performance from the car this weekend; and I feel that the results that Bottas achieved today will only spur on the Williams team to try and keep this momentum going further into the 2015 season and try to catch the Ferrari team for third in the Constructors Championship.

Sainz Jr battled his way through today to get tenth place today. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Sainz Jr may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Toro Rosso this weekend, but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team who have extended their lead over their rivals in the Constructors today.

Verstappen did a credible job to finish in ninth place today. His race may have been a challenging one but he battled through to get some points after showing form throughout the weekend and this will only motivate the team and himself further to keep this up as the season moves to Sochi in a weeks time.

Grosjean had a bit of a lonely race to finish seventh. But in a race where many did not expect Lotus not to finish, he has managed to gain some points for the team in a challenging time and will want to carry this momentum through to Russia. However, his team mate Maldonado also did a good job to get eighth and bringing home more points that will help them close the gap to Force India in the Constructors Championship.

Raikkonen did a great job to get fourth place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today and had to battle his way through but he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result.

Vettel drove a solid race to get third place today. Even though he didn’t have the pace to challenge the Mercedes drivers but we have seen him showing why he went to Ferrari in the first place and that he is without a doubt a potential winner in the near future again if he can get everything together in a weekend.

Rosberg deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today to second place. He may not have won the battle with his former team mate; and had a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him more confidence as he goes on into the season as he tries to close the gap down to Lewis.

All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win today and he needed to in order to keep the battle going in the championship.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far this season with him and have shown that they are just the  best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Lewis for doing a superb job this weekend.

Will Sochi in a few weeks time be yet another race Mercedes will win? Or can their rivals catch up to them? And who will be leading the championship, will it be Rosberg or will it be Hamilton? Only time will tell.

Verstappen penalised for “dangerous parking”

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It was announced after qualifying today that Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen has been handed a three-place grid penalty for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix for what the stewards called parking “in a potentially dangerous position”.

Verstappen left his Toro Rosso stranded on the exit of the hairpin after it suffered a complete electrical failure towards the end of the opening qualifying session at Suzuka.

Explaining their reasoning behind the penalty, a statement from the stewards read as follows:-

‘Car #33 [Verstappen] experienced a sudden power loss at the exit of Turn 11. The driver initially moved to the left side of the track towards a safe position and when it was about to stop, moved to the right on to the racing line where it eventually stopped.

‘This caused double yellow flags to be shown and endangered oncoming drivers.’

Kvyat to start from the pits after Q3 crash

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After qualifying for the Japanese GP today, it was announced that Daniil Kvyat will start the race on Sunday from the pitlane after heavily damaging his Red Bull Formula 1 car in the biggest crash of his racing career.

Kvyat brought out the red flags at the end of Q3 when he crashed at the kink before the Suzuka hairpin, smashing into the tyre barrier and rolling over before his car came to rest in the gravel trap.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Kvyat will have to start from the pits on Sunday, after what will be “a very long night producing a car for him for tomorrow” as the team changes his chassis as well as the engine, floor and gearbox.

In his interview with the media, Kvyat was asked his opinions on the crash and if it was the worst crash of his career. Kvyat said the following:-

‘This is by far the hardest. I never rolled a car, so unfortunately there’s a first time for everything. It was the harshest one of my career. They told me it was 20g or something. I’m not sure – I thought I could do better than that!

‘You always try to straighten the braking for that corner and I probably did it too much and I just touched the grass there. It happens sometimes – it was my mistake, my error. Nothing special.’

Further on in his interview today, Kvyat has vowed to help his mechanics in any way he can with the rebuild process. Kvyat added the following:-

‘I’m mostly sorry for the guys who will have quite a big job. I wouldn’t say the car looks great, so I will be supporting them tonight. I’m not as good as they are at building the car but I will try to stay with them as late as I can tonight.’

Even though Kvyat has taken responsibility for the crash; the main thing is that he is okay and was unharmed and is able to race tomorrow. It takes a lot of guts to admit that it was his mistake and I think we should respect him for being so honest and open with the media and also seeing him support the team and offering his help is also fantastic.

But Kvyat needs to just put this behind and concentrate on getting the best result possible from the race tomorrow. He may need some luck on his side to score points, but I am sure that Kvyat is eager for the challenge that lies ahead. Let’s hope Kvyat has a great race tomorrow and we can see him race for some points to repay the team back for their hard work that is ongoing to rebuild the car.

2015 Japanese Grand Prix Post-qualifying Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript from the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix Post-qualifying Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Willams)

TV UNILATERAL

Congratulations Nico, once again on pole here. One must wonder what might have happened if you had all had a second run, but earlier in the week you suggested that you might have found a little something in your rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, how much of an influence did that have?

Nico Rosberg (referred hereafter as NR):- Yeah, first of all very happy, great day today and a good comeback also for the team. It’s fantastic after such a difficult weekend in Singapore to be back to back to our usual strength today, a strong performance today from the team – great car, so very thankful for that.

Really turned things around; optimized everything for this track. And for me, pretty much nailed my laps today, so really pleased with the way it went and a great position to be in for tomorrow.

Lewis, there did seem to be a couple of little mistakes on the one lap you had. What might have happened on the second lap?

Lewis Hamilton (referred hereafter as LH):- Well, it doesn’t really matter, but the second lap was looking good. On the first lap I lost a bit of time in, I think it was Turn 11, and I think it was the last corner. No, Nico is driving well this weekend. I definitely felt pretty good on that last lap but I’m glad that… I don’t know if it’s Ricciardo or Kvyat, but I’m glad they’re safe.

Yes, Daniil Kvyat is OK. He got out of the car OK.

LH:- Good.

And Valtteri, how much of a surprise [is it] to win the Williams versus Ferrari versus Red Bull battle?

Valtteri Bottas (referred hereafter as VB):- Well, it’s very good for us obviously. It’s a very different track to Singapore and we always knew it’s going to be better for our car. I think we came in for this weekend, for the dry, with a good set-up already, so we didn’t really have that much work to do from practice to qualifying and today was one the most difficult Saturdays we’ve had, because there was rain on Friday and here qualifying is very important, so good surprise.

Thank you. Nico, all the teams are in the same boat, they’ve had just one hour of dry running to prepare for tomorrow’s race, rather than the usual four hours. So, how prepared, how good is the car for race set-up?

NR:- Well, I’m confident that the car is going to be good but, as for everybody, we didn’t have the perfect preparation, so there might be a few surprises tomorrow. I’m confident I found a good balance. I did do some high-fuel running this morning and the balance was good, so it should be fine. 

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Nico, you were on pole position here last year, eventually finished second, how can you change that?

NR:- Well, for one, hopefully it’s going to be a dry race tomorrow, that would help, for sure. And that’s going to be the big one. Beyond that, I’m really comfortable with the way the car was handling this morning in the dry, good long run, quick, so it should be all good.

Q: Lewis, is it a great relief that Mercedes are back on top again after last weekend?

LH:- Well, the guys are working incredibly hard to try and understand last weekend. It’s definitely great to be back up here and it’s very strange, obviously, to see some of the pace of different people behind but definitely the car feels like normal this weekend, which is great to see.

Q: For both of you, one’s always talking about a perfect car, you’re looking for the perfect car, everything’s got to be absolutely right, so how well has it gone so far this weekend?

NR:- At times today I had the perfect car, for sure, and that’s why it was a great pleasure to drive it. Suzuka is the ultimate track and to have a good car here is just awesome.

LH:- I think the great thing about this sport is that there’s never a perfect car. It’s always evolving, it’s always improving, there are always areas you can improve on, collectively with the drivers. My engineers did a fantastic job working hard to get the set-up in a nice place. It was exciting, qualifying was exciting. I was enjoying the battle with Nico. It was a shame we didn’t get to finish the last lap.

Q: And Valtteri, excellent grid position here again. As I mentioned, perhaps a bit of a surprise considering Red Bull and Ferrari are very good around here and Williams haven’t necessarily been thought of as being good around this sort of circuit.

VB:- Well, we always knew it was going to be better than the last race in Singapore and we had some new bits for the race in Singapore which produced some more downforce and that’s helping here in the high speed corners where you need stability from the car and today I felt really comfortable with it. And from practice onwards, everything was run very smoothly. I think as a group we did a very good job today but it’s tomorrow when we need to do the perfect job.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Nico, last year you struggled in the rain. If it rains tomorrow, do you have the answers to your problems last year against Lewis?

NR:- I didn’t struggle in the rain, I just struggled on the inter tyre and on the inter tyre yesterday I was feeling great so I’m confident about that. So even if it rains, that’s fine.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport magazines) Nico, how much did the track evolve, it was obviously so green at the beginning, from that first lap to the last lap?

NR:- Yeah, well, not much at all because on the prime I did a 1m 33 whatever, I don’t know, very close to the option time so I don’t think it was evolving much, and also the soft tyre somehow underperformed a little bit. We were expecting a bit more from that. It didn’t feel that great out there as well.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Is that maybe the reason why you couldn’t beat last year’s pole position time? I think it was almost equal.

NR:- Yeah, I’m sure the track was surely not as good, because there’s just not as much rubber down there. And beyond that, I’m not sure what the reasons are.

2015 Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying Review

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But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes or Red Bull 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 Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Sauber 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…

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.32.844, Nico Rosberg was second, Kimi Raikkonen was third, Valtteri Bottas was fourth and Romain Grosjean was fifth. Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Jenson Button, Felipe Nasr, Will Stevens, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi.

We also saw in Q1, Marcus Ericsson spinning his Sauber which affected Alexander Rossi’s lap and left him with one shot in Q1 to get a flying lap while also we saw Max Verstappen stopping on the track as he suffered a complete electric failure on his Toro Rosso. This then affected Jenson Button who was suffering problems in the session anyways and affected his laptime.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q2, Rosberg tops the timesheets with a time of 1.32.632, Hamilton was second,  Raikkonen was third, Massa was fourth and Bottas was fifth. Vettel, Ricciardo, Perez, Kvyat and Grosjean managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q2, we lose Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr, Pastor Maldonado, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen.

The battle for Pole Position is on….

Nico Rosberg takes Pole Position for the Japanese GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Valtteri Bottas in third place.

Nico Rosberg takes Pole Position for the Japanese GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Valtteri Bottas in third place.

In Q3, Rosberg takes his second Pole Position of this season at the Japanese GP with a lap time of 1.32.584 and showing the form we saw in 2014. Rosberg finished ahead of his team mate Hamilton who was 0.076 seconds behind Rosberg and also ahead of Bottas who did a super job to finish in third 0.440 seconds behind Rosberg.

Vettel finished in fourth place 0.661 seconds behind Rosberg, Massa finished in fifth 0.753 seconds behind Rosberg, Raikkonen finished in sixth 0.763 second behind Rosberg, Ricciardo finished in seventh 0.913 seconds behind Rosberg, Grosjean finished in eighth 1.383 seconds behind Rosberg, Perez finished in ninth and Kvyat finished in tenth place.

The Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat after his accident at the end of Q3.

The Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat after his accident at the end of Q3.

At the end of Q3, Daniil Kvyat brought out the red flags at the end of Q3 when he crashed at the kink after the Degner curves. Kvyat then smashed into the tyre barrier and rolling over before his car came to rest in the gravel trap.

He thankfully walked away from the wreckage but the accident brought out the red flags and halted any hopes for Hamilton of striking back, thus Rosberg confirmed his first pole since May’s Spanish Grand Prix and only his second all season.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend.

You cannot discount Vettel, Raikkonen, Massa even Bottas even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to leapfrog in the Constructors Championship.

Grosjean, Perez and Ricciardo could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain tomorrow? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know Who will win the championship after this race?

Let’s see what happens tomorrow on the Suzuka circuit on race day tomorrow…