Tag Archives: Red Bull

Mercedes, Force India, Williams Perform Well in Bahrain Qualifying

Sakhir – This year’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is one to be remembered. Firstly, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Formula 1’s entrance into the Middle East and the Bahrain Grand Prix. Secondly, and perhaps offering more excitement, this marks the first time that the racing will take place after dark in Bahrain, adding it to the ever-growing list of night races alongside Singapore and Abu Dhabi. Equally exciting however was the 3 qualifying sessions undertaken by the teams in preparation for tomorrow’s race.

Q1 was highlighted by the surprisingly strong performance by both Force India drivers, in particular German Nico Hülkenberg, who quickly made his way to the top of the leaderboard. Hülkenberg, who could very well find himself with a top-tier ride in the next few years, proved himself more than able to keep the Mercedes, Ferraris, Red Bulls, McLarens, and Williamses at bay.

At the end of Q1 the usual suspects at Caterham and Marussia found themselves at the bottom, this time joined by the unfortunate Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Lotus and German Adrian Sutil of Sauber.

Q2 was equally impressive and exciting, with strong performances from especially the Mercedes, with both Nico Rosberg (GER) and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) finishing the session at 1, 2. They were closely followed by Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull. Arguably the most shocking moment of the session came at the chequered flag when the reigning world champion, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (GER), finished in 11th and his fellow German, Q1 leader Nico Hülkenberg finished in 12th, eliminating them from the top 10 seat needed to enter the final qualifying round of the day.

Q3 in some ways seemed predetermined, considering how much faster the two Mercedes cars are in comparison to the rest of the pack thus far in 2014. Positions 3 through 10 were left to be determined, however, as the rest of the remaining field seemed evenly matched to the challenge. The McLarens of Jenson Button (GBR) and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) qualified fairly well in 7th and 9th respectively, with Williams’ Felipe Massa (BRA) sandwiched between them. One major surprise of the qualifying results was just how high Force India’s Sergio Pérez (MEX) and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas (FIN) came, with 4th and 5th places respectively.

However, poor luck once again struck the Red Bull paddock, as their Australian driver, Daniel Ricciardo will have to serve a 10-spot grid penalty resulting from him retiring from last Sunday’s race in Malaysia prior to serving a drive-through penalty for leaving the pit with an unsecured tyre. Hopefully the Australian’s luck will return to him here in Bahrain and from here on out in 2014. Likewise, Sauber’s Adrian Sutil will start the race from the back of the grid due to a 5-place grid penalty placed upon him for holding up Lotus’ Romain Grosjean (FRA) in an “unsafe manner” according to F1.com.

The starting grid for Sunday’s Gulf Air Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix are as follows:

  1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (Germany)
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (Great Britain)
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams (Finland)
  4. Sergio Pérez, Force India (Mexico)
  5. Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari (Finland)
  6. Jenson Button, McLaren (Great Britain)
  7. Felipe Massa, Williams (Brazil)
  8. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren (Denmark)
  9. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari (Spain)
  10. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (Germany)
  11. Nico Hülkenberg, Force India (Germany)
  12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (Russia)
  13. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (Australia)
  14. Jean-Éric Vergne, Toro Rosso (France)
  15. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber (Mexico)
  16. Romain Grosjean, Lotus (France)
  17. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (Venezuela)
  18. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham (Japan)
  19. Jules Bianchi, Marussia (France)
  20. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham (Sweden)
  21. Max Chilton, Marussia (Great Britain)
  22. Adrian Sutil, Sauber (Germany)

The 2014 F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will start at 18:00 Kuala Lampur (10:00 Chicago, 15.00 London) and will be broadcast live in the United States in English on NBC Sports at 10.00 y en Español en diferido en Univision Deportes a las 10.00 y 04.00 en Lunes. All US times are in Central Time. In Canada at 10.55 Eastern on TSN in English et il sera dans le même temps sur RDS en français. In the United Kingdom it will be broadcasted at 22.00 on BBC2 and at 14.30 on Sky Sports 1. In Australia it will be broadcasted at 00.15 on Ten.

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Rainy F1 Malaysian Grand Prix Practise and Qualifying sets stage for Race

Kuala Lumpur – This weekend marks the second leg of this year’s Formula 1 World Championship: Malaysia. The tropical setting always offers extreme heat and humidity for the teams to compete in, leading to often surprising results. This year’s Grand Prix however is overshadowed by the tragic disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the passengers and crew of which are being honoured this weekend by the teams.

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Practises 1 and 2 saw the same general issues marring the various car’s performances. Neither of the Lotuses nor Force India’s Sergio Pérez (MEX) set lap times in P1. Meanwhile, the Mercedes, McLarens, Ferraris, and Red Bulls held the upper echelons of the leaderboard throughout most of Friday and Saturday. P1 concluded with Lewis Hamilton’s (GBR) Mercedes on top. Practise 2 was the only one of the 3 to be fully televised here in the United States by NBC Sports. Hamilton’s lead was taken by his teammate Nico Rosberg (GER). Practise 3 was once again a Mercedes 1, 2. Close behind the silver arrows came the Ferraris, Red Bulls, Force Indias, and Williams.

Qualifying however cut the tempo of the weekend short a bit as what the NBC lads called a “monsoon” sailed over the track at Sepang. After a good 45 minutes, as Q1 began, the teams went out in a variety of mostly intermediate tyres, which proved to be troublesome for the still quite wet track.

Tyre trouble became the main bane of the teams as they struggled to set good qualifying times for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. The more woeful incident of Q1 was Marcus Ericcson’s crash at the end of Q1, which led to a red flag and a premature end to the session with 0:36 seconds remaining on the clock.

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Marcus Ericsson / BBC Sport

Q2 was equally final for the grid placements for the two Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who placed 13th and 15th respectively. Russian rookie, Daniil Kvyat just barely remained at the top of the elimination group at the end of Q2. His teammate Jean-Éric Vergne was able to advance to Q3, qualifying in 9th.

Q3 was marked by a bit of a hurry in the end to get the laps in before more rain hit the circuit. The two McLarens had had their own tyre issues in the previous two qualifying sessions, having chosen to go on the intermediate tyres and soft tyres in such an order that was counterproductive to their own qualifying times.

What should be noted is just how much slower the qualifying times of this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix are in comparison to last year’s, with Lewis Hamilton taking pole with a time of 1:59.431 as opposed to Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 pole a full 9 seconds faster at 1:49.674. The grid positions are as follows:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (GBR) 1:59.431
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (GER) 1:59.486
  3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (GER) 2:00.050
  4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari (ESP) 2:00.175
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (AUS) 2:00.541
  6. Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari (FIN) 2:01.218
  7. Nico Hülkenberg, Force India (GER) 2:01.712
  8. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren (DEN) 2:02.213
  9. Jean-Éric Vergne, Toro Rosso (FRA) 2:03.078
  10. Jenson Button, McLaren (GBR) 2:04.053
  11. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (RUS) Q2 2:02.351
  12. Esteban Gutirrez, Sauber (MEX) Q2 2:02.369
  13. Felipe Massa, Williams (BRA) Q2 2:02.460
  14. Sergio Peréz, Force India (MEX) Q2 2:02.511
  15. Valtteri Bottas, Williams (FIN) Q2 2:02.756
  16. Romain Grosjean, Lotus (FRA) Q2 2:02.885
  17. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (VEN) Q3 2:02.074
  18. Adrian Sutil, Sauber (GER) Q3 2:02.131
  19. Jules Bianchi, Marussia (FRA) Q3 2:02.702
  20. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham (JPN) Q3 2:03.595
  21. Max Chilton, Marussia (GBR) Q3 2:04.388
  22. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham (SWE) Q3 2:04.407
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Lewis Hamilton / BBC Sport

The 2014 F1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix will start at 16:00 Kuala Lampur (03:00 Chicago, 09.00 London) and will be broadcast live in the United States in English on NBC Sports y en Español en diferido en Univision Deportes a las 10.00. In Canada at 04.00 Eastern on TSN in English et il sera dans le même temps sur RDS en français. In the United Kingdom it will be broadcasted at 08.00 on BBC1 and at 07.30 on Sky Sports 1. In Australia it will be broadcasted at 18.30 on One.

2014 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying questions 2013 norms

Coming out of the Free Practice sessions, qualifying for this year’s F1 Australian Grand Prix was bound to be both exciting and up in the air until the last minute. Not only did the famous Melbourne weather raise its standards with silver, though mostly grey, celestial trumpets which heralded the rains that would mark the session at the end of Q1, but the regulation changes equally added to the excitement of today’s highlight.
 
The rains greatly impacted the routines of the teams and drivers, leaving some like Lotus’ Romain Grosjean (FRA) in the paddock with a back of the line grid place. Other typically top tier drivers like Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen fell quite further back than usual with an accident in Q2. Alongside him in the paddock throughout Q3 was 4 time and defending world champion Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (GER) who earned the 12th spot, eliminating him from Q3 for the first time since the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. Likewise Williams’ Felipe Massa (BRA) and McLaren’s Jenson Button (GBR) were eliminated from Q3, having trouble in the second qualifying session.
 
Q3 was marked by surprise and excitement. Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo went out to please his home crowd at Albert Park, making an excellent finish at 2nd place in his first race with Red Bull. Riccardo was outrun by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (GBR) who finished .3 of a second faster than the Australian. Hamilton’s German teammate Nico Rosberg came in third by less than a tenth of a second slower than Riccardo. He was followed by rookie McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen (DEN), and 2 time world champion Fernando Alonso (ESP).
 
The 2014 Australian Grand Prix will begin tomorrow morning at 01.00 Chicago (17.00 Melbourne, 14.00 London) and will be broadcast on NBC Sports in the United States, BBC1 in the United Kingdom, TEN in Australia, and TSN and RDS in Canada for English and French viewing audiences respectively.
 
The full qualifying results are as follows (Source F1.com):
 
01. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (GBR): 1:44.2
02. Daniel Riccardo, Red Bull (AUS): 1:44.5
03. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (GER): 1:44.5
04. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren (DEN): 1:45.7
05. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari (ESP): 1:45.8
06. Jean-Éric Vergne, Scueria Toro Rosso (FRA): 1:45.8
07. Nico Hülkenberg, Sahara Force India (GER): 1:46.0
08. Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso (RUS): 1:47.3
09. Felipe Massa, Williams (BRA): 1:48.0 
10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams (FIN): 1:48.1
11. Jenson Button, Mercedes (GBR): 1:44.4
12. Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari (FIN): 1:44.4
13. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (GER): 1:44.6
14. Adrian Sutil, Sauber (GER): 1:45.6
15. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham (JPN): 1:45.8
16. Sergio Pérez, Force India (MEX): 1:47.2
17. Max Chilton, Marussia (GBR): 1:34.2
18. Jules Bianchi, Marussia (FRA): 1:34.7
19. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber (MEX): 1:35.1
20. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham (SWE): 1:35.1
21. Romain Grosjean, Lotus (FRA): 1:36.9
22. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (VEN): No result

2014 Formula 1 World Championship – Predictions

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Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald

Kansas City – Happy New Year to all! 2014 officially began about 9 days and 13 hours ago here in the Midwestern states. With a new year comes new excitement and new opportunities, and as every other year since 1950, a new season of the Formula 1 World Championship! Though the season doesn’t properly begin until the Australian Grand Prix (14-16 March), the teams and many press writers (myself included in a freelance capacity) are hard at work preparing for the lights to go out and the race to begin in Melbourne.

So, what should we expect for 2014? If you want to start with the big question of “Who will win the 2014 championship?” odds are that that answer could be Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (GER) for the fifth time in a row. After his strong 9 race winning streak at the end of 2013, I would not be surprised if the Newey, Vettel, Horner team outmatch all the other drivers like they did last year. No doubt the new engines will lessen the power of the RB10 in comparison to its immediate predecessor the RB9, but with the design skill of Newey, and the stamina and skill of Vettel, I would be surprised if anyone else took the crown this year.

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Sebastian Vettel (GER)
Courtesy of Planet F1.com

How about second and third then? In terms of constructors, my guess is another repeat of Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG-Petronas, however the prediction as to who will get second and who will get third between the pair is still up for grabs. No doubt the Alonso Räikkönen pair will be one to watch out for, as both are world champions and just fantastic drivers all around, but at the same time the Mercedes team has done quite well in their own right, with Rosberg and Hamilton performing very well for themselves throughout this past season. Considering the fact that Mercedes has lost Ross Brawn, at least only for this season if Niki Lauda has anything to say about it, I could see an off chance of them suffering from what I’d call sudden loss of leadership syndrome, though perhaps not as badly as Manchester United has so far this season. In this light I’ll go for Ferrari taking second in the constructor’s championship, with Alonso and Räikkönen both performing equally well.

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Kevin Magnussen (DEN)
Courtesy of Oradea Magazin.ro

With the top three out of the way, it comes down to the rest of the field. Despite their poor performance in 2013, McLaren’s acquisition of Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen could help bring them back to strength. Having won the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series with 274 points, earning pole in nearly all of the races, not to mention never finishing below second place, Magnussen could help reinvigorate the lads from Woking. Frankly though, I was sad to see the team drop Sergio Pérez (MEX), especially considering how promising the end of the season was for him in regards to his on track performance.

Whilst on the topic of Pérez, I do think he’ll has a promising career ahead of him at Force India. In fact, this could be the season when Force India takes their first win. With the combination of Hülkenberg (GER) and Pérez, they certainly seem stronger than the next competition, Lotus, who I think will be lucky to end up higher than 6th. True, Romain Grosjean (FRA) has been showing great potential with the team, especially at the end of the 2013 season, but I tend to doubt Pastor Maldonado (VEN) will do anything that spectacular this season, though I do expect him to have a few points winning finishes here and there.

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Felipe Massa (BRA)
Courtesy of Auto123.com

The 7th and 8th places in the constructor’s championship could very well go to Sauber and Williams. The Swiss team’s choices of Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez and German Adrian Sutil seem quite suited to the team’s strengths. Though I don’t expect Sauber to win any Grands Prix this year, they could have a decent shot at a few pole positions in the next few years plus a win or two. Williams on the other hand does seem to be on the verge of something good. Though perhaps not the glory of the ’90s so fondly remembered by their Brazilian driver Feilipe Massa, who has left Ferrari after 7 seasons driving for the Italians, Williams’ future is still quite bright. Between Massa and his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, Sir Frank’s team could very well bring in a win or two here or there. I especially admire the resilience of the Williams team, the sort of everyman of F1, who has stuck with the sport, with their passion, despite their generally dismal performance since the team’s last podium at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix.

Finally, in regards to the three teams that I’ve yet to mention: Scuderia Toro Rosso, Marussia, and Caterham, I’d imagine they will stay in that order. True, Toro Rosso’s new young Russian driver Daniil Kvyat did a fantastic job in GP3 this past year, especially for someone who’s only 19 years old, but honestly I don’t see him making much of a mark in Formula 1 for a couple years still. Now, if he does I’ll eat my words right away. Meanwhile his French teammate, Jean-Éric Vergne, doesn’t seem to be setting himself up for anything spectatular either, looking at his 17th place finish in the 2012 tables and 15th place the following year. In any case, Vergne could do some damage to the other teams standings, particularly to Sauber and Williams, but overall I am skeptical.

The big question remaining for the lineup is just who will take the last remaining seat at Marussia and just generally who will be driving for Caterham? Last I checked, Marussia has only confirmed Frenchman Jules Bianchi as one of their two drivers. Judging by his 19th place inaugural performance in 2013 in Formula 1, I could see him staying in about the same area. It really is too bad in that my most striking memory of him from 2013 was when his car caught fire in Germany and proceeded to roll out onto and across the track, taking out a UBS sign on the way. Caterham on the other hand is still a fairly big question. The names proposed on 8 January in an article on F1.com were Frenchman Charles Pic, Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, Finn Heikki Kovalainen, Britons Max Chilton and Paul di Resta (whose name has also come up in Indy Car speculation), Swede Marcus Ericcson, and Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi. Whatever the case, the races between Caterham and Marussia will be as enjoyable as usual.

In any case, these are all just my own musings and predictions based upon what I saw in 2013. If you want to see another angle on predicting the 2014 championship, look no further than Ladbrokes’ 2014 F1 Drivers’ Championship Odds, in which the chances for winning the crown go from Vettel’s 10/11 odds all the way down to Jules Bianchi’s 1000/1 chance. Click here to see the full listings from Ladbrokes, and do gamble responsibly.

Thats’ all for now for my F1 writing. I’ll be back for certain in a few weeks, probably after NBC Sports has their annual season preview broadcast.

2013 F1 US Grand Prix – a fantastic success

USGP 13

Walking on the circuit after the Grand Prix.

Kansas City – I returned a couple mornings ago from a holiday of a lifetime. For a couple Christmases worth of gifts, my Mom bought my Dad and I weekend passes to the F1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. And what a fantastic weekend it was! As first-timers at going to an F1 race weekend, I thought we did a good job. Considering that the sport itself is worth a few billion, it makes sense that the prices were awfully high for most everything – the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team hat that I bought cost me a week’s wages, and the little 6″ personal pizza was $4.00 more expensive than the local Texas wine at the concessions, we did a good job at that ever present necessity known as “money management”.

The grand prix weekend itself began on Friday with Free Practices 1 and 2 (FP1 & FP2 for short).

Foggy Friday morning

Foggy Friday morning

The first of the two was delayed by about an hour because of heavy fog in Greater Austin, covering the circuit and downtown alike, which made it impossible for the medical helicopter to travel between the venue, Circuit of the Americas, and the local hospital where causalities as my British and Irish friends would say (injured people in American English) would be taken. It was a fairly sensible problem, though I rather liked the fog, and wouldn’t have minded if cloud cover remained throughout the weekend. However, the fog lifted, and the Texas sun began to shine, thus the necessity for purchasing that hat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice hat, quite good at keeping my face out of the sun, though it does mean that I’m advertising for Vodafone whenever I wear it, which is a slight problem as my UK mobile is with O2. Of course, since the 2013 F1 season has ended as of this past Sunday, Vodafone is dropping its’ naming sponsorship of McLaren Mercedes.

Jenson Button (GBR) at Turn 12.

Jenson Button (GBR) at Turn 12.

Our tickets were for the bleachers at Turn 12, at the end of the long straightaway that starts at Turn 11 with the DRS zone. Approaching our corner down the straight, the cars were travelling at around 200 mph (321 km/h), however to make the hairpin turn at our corner they had to decelerate to around 65 mph (104 km/h) . For the first day or so we saw more of the Catheram’s and Marussia’s than any other team. However, as the practise sessions ran down and the qualifying sessions commenced, the Red Bulls, Ferraris, Lotuses and McLarens appeared in full glory. From the hairpin at Turn 12, the drivers have to make a u-turn up at 13 and again at 14 before going around 15 and into the wider turn around the base of the observation tower, which leads into the latter turns and the starting grid.

One of the major highlights of the weekend was getting to see one of my favourite drivers, Mark

Mark Webber (AUS) coming up to Turn 12.

Mark Webber (AUS) coming up to Turn 12.

Webber, on his penultimate Formula One weekend as a driver. Not only is he a fantastic man, no matter what the luck may say, but he is also a fine driver. I’ve enjoyed watching him race for Red Bull more than his now-former teammate, 4 time champion Sebastian Vettel, because Webber has seemed, since I first starting watching F1 3 years ago during the Belgian GP, a sort of everyman of F1. He has been a driver that everyone from the English-speaking world can relate to, as long as that Australia-New Zealand rivalry doesn’t come into play.

Parc_Fermé

The Parc Fermé post-race.

The weekend came to a head with Vettel’s 8th consecutive win, which further secured his place as 2013 World Champion. Though I have said that I have preferred Webber to Vettel, it would be foolish of me to pass by Vettel without giving him praise for what he has accomplished. And on top of that, the fellow has shown his humility in interviews and over the team radio. He is truly a master at F1, at driving that awesome Adrian Newey creation that is the RB9. This is truly a historic time in the world of motorsport, and I’m honoured and amazed to say that for 3 days I was able to see the fastest man in the world express those terrific talents in person.

If you have a chance to go down to Austin in 2014, I’d highly recommend doing it. Though our

Free Practise 2 from the Turn 1 berm.

Free Practise 2 from the Turn 1 berm.

seats were at Turn 12, I also enjoyed standing on the berm just opposite the pit lane exit at Turn 1 and also from the berm at the base of the observation tower. Our Turn 12 tickets for Sunday were US$249 per person, whilst the local NBC morning news programme said that Sunday general admission tickets were around US$79 per person. Or, if you’re looking at going posh, I heard from a Ferrari owner on the bus that a weekend pass to the Ferrari club was in the US$4,000 range. They also had a couple of other nicer venues from whence to watch the Grand Prix, including a Legends Club, where such notables as Sir Jackie Stewart and Al Pacino were seen on Sunday. Someday, after I win my Oscar, I’ll look into one of the main grandstand seats. Though by that point I’ll be living in the UK, so Silverstone it is.