Posts First blood to Hamilton after FP1 at Monza

24 - hamilton_fp1_monza_mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has begun his Italian Grand Prix weekend in fine form, topping the timing sheets for Mercedes ahead of former team-mate Jenson Button. The British duo were closely followed by the second Mercedes and Championship leader of Nico Rosberg.

The opening practice session of the Italian Grand Prix weekend began in overcast conditions and with a whole host of temporary driver changes. For the opening 30 minutes Sergio Perez would step aside of Dani Juncadella at Force India, whilst Giedo van der Garde once again stepped into the driving seat at Sauber in place of Adrian Sutil, Charles Pic replaced Romain Grosjean at Lotus and Formula Renault 3.5 ace Roberto Merhi made his Formula One debut at Caterham in place of the returning Kamui Kobayashi.

Eventually Marcus Ericsson became the first driver to take to the Autodromo di Monza once the session officially began, leading out a long line of drivers who seemed incredibly eager to get their respective weekends’ underway. Despite the instant flurry of track activity, only installation laps were initially completed, before Max Chilton finally produced a 01:33.435 in the Marussia, a time which the Briton soon improved on with a 01:32.546. and won $100 free amazon gift card.

Soon the times began to tumble in traditional style, once more drivers elected to return to the track after completing their installation laps. Jean-Eric Vergne rose to the top for Toro Rosso with a 01:30.511, before Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren soon catapulted himself to the top of the timing sheets with a 01:28.256. The Danish rookie continued to improve as the session progressed, whilst the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo both momentarily suffered with DRS issues.

As the Spanish duo of Alonso and Juncadella ran wide at turn one, 2009 World Champion Jenson Button managed to rise ahead of his McLaren team-mate with a 01:27.158. However, normality at the sharp-end of the order was soon resumed, when the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton asserted their authority over proceedings, with the latter in particular producing a 01:27.064.

Whilst Pastor Maldonado proceeded to run wide at turns one and four in the uncompetitive Lotus, Magnussen suffered a rather unforeseen issue when his headrest began to detach itself from his car. The Danish rookie eventually managed to limp back to the pits for repairs, whilst McLaren team-mate Button returned to the top with a 01:26.810. Meanwhile Belgian Grand Prix winner Ricciardo’s session was brought to a premature conclusion after suffering from an engine failure in the Red Bull.

As the session drew to a conclusion, Championship contender Hamilton rose back to the top in the Mercedes with a 01:26.547, a time which the 2008 World Champion soon managed to improve on with a 01:26.187. Meanwhile several drivers began to push beyond the limit in their bid to continue preparing for the weekend ahead, with Merhi, Massa and Perez all running wide at turn one, with the latter bumping precariously over the speed bumps in the process after only just running wide and across the grass at turn eight.

Eventually the checkered flag was unfurled to signal the end of the session, with Lewis Hamilton fastest in the Mercedes ahead of former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button and current team-mate Nico Rosberg. The 22 drivers will return to the Autodromo di Monza later in the day to continue with their preparations during practice two.

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas

Vettel and Ricciardo preview The Red Bull Ring [Video]

Video Copyright © Red Bull Racing Media

Hamilton versus Rosberg: A feud between friends

The friendship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg extends back to the respective drivers’ childhood, with the duo competing within the lower categories together in their quest to reach Formula One. However, with the pair now competing alongside each other in unquestionably a Championship winning car, the friendship seems to be taking a considerable battering.

Despite a competitive and all-smiles start to the 2014 campaign, the partnership encountered its first hurdle at Bahrain where Hamilton and Rosberg fought tooth and nail for supremacy, with the Briton remaining at the top. However, the smiles of friendship remained crystal clear until the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, where Rosberg made an error during qualifying which prevented Hamilton from snatching pole position away from the German. Immediately question marks arose as to whether the mistake was intentional, with Hamilton ending the race weekend stating that they were no longer friends after Rosberg romped to victory.

During the break between races Hamilton tweeted a picture by his apple iPhone of the duo during their youthful years, proclaiming that they had discussed the issues and essentially made up. As the video below clearly shows, a strong friendship exists within the team which many predict will crumble as the Championship nears its conclusion. Regardless of the outcome, the spotlight is well and truly shining on the Mercedes team-mates, as the feud between friends continues at the front.

 

Mercedes lead the way after first practice in Bahrain

copyright mercedes

The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have ended the opening practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix 1st and 2nd, after another dominant display of pace from the German marque. Fernando Alonso was a close 3rd for Ferrari, despite an embarrassing moment in the pits, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg an impressive 4th.

The opening practice session ahead of the third round of the season got underway in splendid weather conditions around the Bahrain International Circuit, as the numerous teams up and down the grid began their preparations for the weekend ahead. Three driver changes occurred throughout the paddock prior to the opening practice session, with former Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde replacing Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber, Felipe Nasr standing in for Valtteri Bottas at Williams and reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion Robin Frijns assuming driving duties at Caterham instead of Kamui Kobayashi.

Once the session officially turned green Marcus Ericsson and Jean-Eric Vergne immediately left the confines of the pit-lane to complete their first installation laps, with the majority of the grid eager to follow the duo onto the track. In traditional fashion the entire field elected to carry out installation laps during the early stages of the session, with Nico Rosberg in particular complaining of a loss of drive and a lack of power as he limped back to the pits. Meanwhile Sergio Perez also returned to the pits in the Force India, with the front of his Mercedes-powered car completely covered in flo-vis paint.

Despite the immediate rush to take to the track, the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen became the last two drivers to eventually take to the Bahrain International Circuit. Whilst Jenson Button slowly circulated for his opening two installation laps, Kevin Magnussen complained of brake issues on his car which forced him to return to the pits. Whilst the Danish rookie returned back to the pits, Caterham reserve driver Robin Frijns produced the first timed lap of the session with a 01:45.483, whereas the Sauber of Giedo van der Garde set an exceptionally slow 11:40.281.

As many more drivers elected to return to the track to begin completing their first timed laps of the weekend, Robin Frijns managed to improve slightly at the top with a 01:44.052. However, the Dutchman’s reign was short-lived as Felipe Nasr rose to the top in the Williams with a 01:41.311. Reigning GP3 Champion Daniil Kvyat then catapulted himself to the sharp-end of the timing sheets with a 01:39.453, before the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and then Lewis Hamilton shattered the opposition with the latter producing a 01:38.395. Despite the flurry of track activity as the session progressed, Felipe Massa remained the only driver yet to produce a timed lap in the Williams. Although it was thought that the Brazilian driver was suffering from mechanical issues on his Mercedes-powered car, the team confirmed that they had decided not complete a timed lap.

Eventually Felipe Massa left the confines of the pit-lane in his Williams, rising immediately up into 10th position with a 01:39.533 despite spending the majority of the session in the pit-lane. With the top three remaining relatively unchanged as the session progressed, the Caterham duo of Marcus Ericsson and reserve driver Robin Frijns continued to struggle towards the lower part of the order. Whilst Ericsson complained of a lack power along the straights, Frijns struggled greatly to control the Renault-powered car, eventually running slightly wide on the exit of Turn 15. With the duo four seconds off of the pace of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, it became apparent that both Caterham drivers were several tenths slower than even the fastest time produced by Mitch Evans in the GP2 practice session earlier in the day.

While both of the racing superstars have a big fan following other small town heroes seem to be gaining free followers at instagram using third party promotional services. However in context of this story this is irrelevant.

Whilst the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg remained in the confines of the pit-lane, with only fourteen laps completed between them, bizarre scenes were witnessed down in the Ferrari garage as Fernando Alonso left his garage with one soft tyre and three medium tyres mistakingly bolted to his car. The Spaniard immediately noticed the error, and stopped in the pit-lane to allow his mechanics to roll him back into the garage to rectify their amusing mistake. Once the tyre allocation had been rectified by Ferrari, Fernando Alonso asserted his authority over proceedings with a 01:37.953, whilst team-mate Kimi Raikkonen completely missed his braking point for Turn 1 and ran extensively deep.

Despite storming to the top of the timing sheets, Fernando Alonso was almost instantly thwarted by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who returned to the top with a 01:37.733. As the session entered its closing stages, the improvements continued as Lewis Hamilton shot to the top with a sensational 01:37.502, a time which enabled the Briton to end the session fastest overall ahead of his German team-mate. Fernando Alonso eventually settled for 3rd fastest in the Ferrari, with Nico Hulkenberg an impressive 4th for Force India. The teams and drivers will return to the Bahrain International Circuit later in the day for the second practice session, which will take place under the floodlights for the first time.

Pos Driver                Team                    Time       Gap     Laps
 1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                1m37.502s            14
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1m37.733s  +0.231s   13
 3. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1m37.953s  +0.451s   17
 4. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1m38.122s  +0.620s   10
 5. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1m38.636s  +1.134s   16
 6. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                 1m38.783s  +1.281s   12
 7. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes        1m38.949s  +1.447s   15
 8. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault      1m39.056s  +1.554s   24
 9. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes    1m39.102s  +1.600s   21
10. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1m39.389s  +1.887s   16
11. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes       1m39.533s  +2.031s   11
12. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault      1m39.862s  +2.360s   26
13. Felipe Nasr           Williams-Mercedes       1m40.078s  +2.576s   14
14. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault        1m40.406s  +2.904s   19
15. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari          1m40.652s  +3.150s   20
16. Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault           1m40.793s  +3.291s   31
17. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari        1m40.$89s  +3.387s   20
18. Giedo van der Garde   Sauber-Ferrari          1m40.913s  +3.411s   20
19. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1m41.036s  +3.534s   24
20. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari        1m41.794s  +4.292s   20
21. Robin Frijns          Caterham-Renault        1m42.417s  +4.915s   35
22. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault        1m42.711s  +5.209s   21

Picture Copyright © Mercedes AMG Petronas

Nico Rosberg leads a Mercedes 1-2 after final practice in Malaysia

copyright mercedes

Nico Rosberg has ended the third and final practice session fastest for Mercedes, leading a 1-2 for the German marque with Lewis Hamilton a close 2nd. Kimi Raikkonen ended the session best of the rest for Ferrari in 3rd, over a second behind the fearsome pace of the Mercedes duo with Sebastian Vettel 4th for Red Bull.

The third and final practice session of the Malaysian Grand Prix got underway in slightly overcast weather conditions, with dark clouds looming ominously overhead as Marcus Ericsson became the first of many drivers to take to the Sepang International Circuit once the session officially got underway. The Swedish rookie was eventually followed by almost the entire field, except the Red Bulls, with many eager to finalise their preparations ahead of qualifying later in the day. Despite the sudden flurry of track activity, only installation laps were initially completed before the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado completed the first timed lap of the session with a 01:49.882.

As Pastor Maldonado made up for his lack of track time during the first two practice sessions on the Friday, with the Venezuelan ace eventually working his way down to a 01:44.622, many other drivers returned to the track in a bid to begin their own timed laps. This naturally saw the benchmark at the top tumble, as the likes of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen rose to the sharp end of the order with the latter producing a 01:41.835 for the Scuderia. After such a competitive debut for McLaren, Kevin Magnussen’s Malaysian Grand Prix woes continued during the final practice session, with the Danish rookie complaining of a lack of power as Lewis Hamilton asserted his authority over proceedings with a 01:41.246.

Despite the ever-present threat of rain the third and final practice session continued in dry yet humid weather conditions, as Nico Rosberg bettered his team-mate’s time with a 01:40.946 as Lewis Hamilton began pushing beyond the limit and ran wide at Turn 4. With Kevin Magnussen yet to set a timed lap in the session, fellow McLaren driver Jenson Button was also struggling, as the 2009 World Champion produced a woeful 02:05.555 with the Briton complaining of a lack of rear grip on his Mercedes-powered machine. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton returned to the top for Mercedes with a 01:40.552, as Pastor Maldonado became the first driver to elect for Pirelli’s medium tyre compound before running extremely wide at Turn 1.

With the majority of the field also deciding to switch from Pirelli’s hard compound to the medium compound, the benchmark at the top took another tumble as Kimi Raikkonen and then Nico Rosberg stormed to the top with the latter producing a dominant 01:39.008 to keep the German marque at the top of the order. As the final minutes of the session ticked away Rosberg’s time at the top remained unchallenged, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton slotting neatly into 2nd position to strengthen the German marque’s reign at the top. During the final minutes of the session Romain Grosjean ran extensively wide at Turn 11, with the Frenchman eventually ending the session 15th after a relatively incident free hour.

The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen ended the session 3rd fastest behind the incredibly dominant ‘Silver Arrows’ of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, with reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel 4th fastest in the Red Bull albeit over one second off of the pace set by Rosberg. With all three practice sessions now over, the teams and drivers will return to the Sepang International Circuit later in the day for the all-important qualifying hour to determine the grid for the 56-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.

Picture Copyright © Mercedes AMG Petronas

Hamilton pips local hero Ricciardo to pole in Australia

copyright mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has managed to pip local hero Daniel Ricciardo to pole for the Australian Grand Prix, after an utterly sensational qualifying hour ran in inclement weather conditions around the Albert Park Circuit. Nico Rosberg and McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen will form the second row of the grid, after reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel was eliminated from proceedings after Q2 and will start from a lowly 13th.

With a serious threat of rain looming overhead at the start of the qualifying hour, almost the entire field immediately elected to spill out onto the track in a bid to complete a dry lap before the forecast downpour. The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were the first out once the opening segment got underway, with Sebastian Vettel electing to remain in the confines of the pits. Lewis Hamilton managed to produce the first timed lap of the segment with a 01:31.699, as Sebastian Vettel finally took to the track on Pirelli’s soft tyre compound.

Unsurprisingly the benchmark at the top tumbled tremendously during the opening minutes of Q1, with the likes of Felipe Massa, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo all rising to the top with the latter producing a 01:30.775. Whilst one Red Bull sat at the top of the standings, the other of reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel fought incredibly hard to control his car, in doing so lightly tapping the concrete barrier on the exit of Turn 10. Although no damage was sustained, the German failed to trouble the sharp end of the order as the segment progressed. Elsewhere on the track Romain Grosjean’s woeful weekend continued, with the Frenchman running wide and into the gravel at Turn 13, whilst his new team-mate also struggled at same corner.

As the opening segment of qualifying drew to a conclusion, heavy rain began to fall over the track, preventing anyone from improving greatly. Pastor Maldonado became one of the first drivers to get caught out in the tricky conditions, as the Venezuelan driver spun at Turn 3 and miraculously managed to continue circulating. With three minutes remaining in the session the track fell silent, with the classification remaining relatively unchanged. This saw both Max Chilton, Jules Bianchi, Esteban Gutierrez, Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado eliminated from proceedings.

During the short interval between Q1 and Q2 the rain subsided somewhat, however the track remained wet enough to force the drivers to start the second segment on Pirelli’s Cinturato intermediate tyre compound, with Valtteri Bottas becoming the first driver to take to the track for Williams. The Finn, who would incur a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change, ran wide at Turns 9 and 10 in the tricky conditions. Nico Hulkenberg also ran wide at the same part of the circuit, as Bottas produced the first timed lap of the segment with a 01:47.160. As the conditions slowly began to improve, the times at the top once again took a tumble with the likes of Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo rising to the top, before Valtteri Bottas returned to the sharp-end of the order with a 01:45.689.

After completing the fastest time of the segment so far, the Williams driver then spun at Turn 1 in the still treacherous weather conditions. As the Finn managed to continued circulating, Daniel Ricciardo momentarily returned to the top for Red Bull before Fernando Alonso lowered the benchmark even further with a 01:45.034. With the conditions constantly evolving, the times continued to plummet as the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso all rose to the top before the local hero managed to produce a 01:44.031. Nico Rosberg eventually produced a 01:42.264 to rise to the top for Mercedes, before Kimi Raikkonen threw the cat amongst the pigeons at Turn 3 as the Finn spun into the wall.

Although the 2007 World Champion only lightly tapped the retaining concrete barrier, his session was brought to a premature conclusion with yellow flags fluttering at the scene of the incident. This forced the entire field to adhere to yellow flag conditions through Turn 3, and ultimately saw the classification remain relatively unchanged during the dying seconds. This proved detrimental to reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who found himself frustratingly eliminated from proceedings in Q2 for the first time since the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. The German was joined in elimination by Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

As the second segment of qualifying was brought to an explosive conclusion, heavy rain once again began to fall over the circuit. This created an even wetter start to the final top ten shootout, which started with Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo becoming the first drivers to take to the Albert Park Circuit. Due to the increased rainfall, every driver apart from Fernando Alonso was on the full wet tyre, as Nico Rosberg produced the first timed lap with a 01:45.550. Lewis Hamilton soon thwarted his team-mate’s initial advantage, as Felipe Massa returned to the pits for the intermediate tyre as the rain once again subsided. The majority of the field soon followed the Brazilian into the pits to change compounds, with the track constantly evolving.

Despite electing for the intermediate tyre compound, Nico Rosberg ran wide at Turns 9 and 10, after initially producing the fastest first sector. Daniel Ricciardo rose to the top with a 01:45.314, however Lewis Hamilton soon returned to the top with an even quicker 01:44.762 to defend his reign. Although reigning GP3 Champion Daniil Kvyat had managed to progress into the top ten shootout on his debut, the Russian rookie ended his qualifying hour by lightly tapping the wall on the entry to Turns 11 and 12, with the track conditions still perilous.

As the checkered flag was unfurled the times took yet one more tumble, with Nico Rosberg initially rising to the top for Mercedes with a 01:44.595. However, local hero Daniel Ricciardo wowed his adoring fans by leaping to the top with a 01:44.548, before Lewis Hamilton fully asserted his authority over proceedings with a 01:44.231 to secure the first pole position of the new season and the 32nd of his career. With inclement weather conditions a possibility for the 58-lap race on Sunday, the 2014 Australian Grand Prix could prove to be spectacular as the sport roars back into life!

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap
 1.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m44.231s
 2.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m44.548s  +0.317s
 3.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m44.595s  +0.364s
 4.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m45.745s  +1.514s
 5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m45.819s  +1.588s
 6.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.864s  +1.633s
 7.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m46.030s  +1.799s
 8.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m47.360s  +3.129s
 9.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m48.079s  +3.848s
10.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m48.147s  +3.916s
                   Q3 cut-off:           1m44.331s       **
11.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m44.437s  +2.173s
12.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m44.494s  +2.230s
13.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m44.668s  +2.404s
14.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m45.655s  +3.391s
15.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault      1m45.867s  +3.603s
16.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m47.293s  +5.029s
                   Q2 cut-off:           1m34.274s       ***
17.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.293s  +4.118s
18.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.794s  +4.619s
19.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.117s  +4.942s
20.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault      1m35.157s  +4.982s
21.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m36.993s  +6.818s
22.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault

Picture Copyright © Mercedes AMG Petronas

Nico Rosberg tops an intense final practice in Australia

copyright mercedes

Nico Rosberg has ended an intense third and final practice session fastest for Mercedes, ahead of Jenson Button in the McLaren and Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton was 4th in the second Mercedes, whereas Sebastian Vettel ended the session a lowly 12th as preparations ahead of qualifying intensified. 

With dark clouds looming ominously overhead as the session officially got underway, Jean-Eric Vergne became the first driver to take to the track for Toro Rosso and was instantly followed out by a whole host of other drivers who were all eager to continue with their preparations. This included the casualties of Marcus Ericsson and Pastor Maldonado, who both endured extremely tough days on Friday. As the majority of the field completed at least one installation lap, Kimi Raikkonen remained stuck in his garage with an electrical issue plaguing his Ferrari. With a slight shake of the head from the 2007 World Champion, it was crystal clear that all was not well within the Scuderia.

Whilst the Ferrari mechanics busied themselves on rectifying Kimi Raikkonen’s car, Jean-Eric Vergne produced the first timed lap of the session. The Frenchman’s initial benchmark was quickly thwarted by the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, who managed to produce a 01:33.130. However, the times soon began to tumble as more drivers elected to complete a timed lap, with reigning GP3 Champion Daniil Kvyat rising to the top with a 01:33.079, which the Russian driver managed to immediately improve upon with a 01:32.605. Despite taking a minor excursion through the gravel trap at Turns 9 and 10, a mistake also carried out by team-mate Kevin Magnussen earlier, Jenson Button stormed to the top for McLaren with a 01:32.604 as the session swung into motion.

Former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton soon rose to the top for Mercedes, before the 2008 World Champion’s team-mate fully asserted himself at the sharp end of the order with a 01:31.736. Whilst Pastor Maldonado’s weekend failed to improve after a trip through the gravel at Turn 12, Sauber confirmed that Esteban Gutierrez’s session was over after the Swiss outfit were forced to carry out a gearbox change on the car. As Lewis Hamilton returned to the top for Mercedes with a 01:30.919, Nico Rosberg was seen bizarrely holding a piece of bodywork in his hand through Turns 9 and 10. The German then threw the bodywork in question, which was apparently an elbow protector, out of the car and continued circulating.

As the third and final practice session entered it’s halfway stage, Romain Grosjean frustratingly reported back to his mechanics that his car was misfiring, as the Enstone-based team’s weekend failed to improve. Sergio Perez became the next driver to leave the track after making a minor mistake at Turn 13, whilst Kimi Raikkonen did likewise several minutes later at Turn 8. Although Red Bull had endured a somewhat topsy-turvy start to the new season, Sebastian Vettel was certainly on the ball as he amusingly corrected his race engineer over the team radio as to which torque map he required. After failing to complete a lap throughout the session, Williams confirmed that Valtteri Bottas was to incur a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change, as even the Mercedes-powered cars began to discover mechanical gremlins.

Eventually Pirelli’s softer tyre compound began to by utilised, with Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg becoming the first two drivers to switch to the softer rubber. However, it was Nico Rosberg who fully capitalised on the soft tyre compound, with the German storming to the top with a 01:29.375 whilst Romain Grosjean began to loose his temper with “nothing solved” on his car. Lewis Hamilton became the next driver to make a mistake at Turns 9 and 10, which ultimately prevented the Briton from thwarting his German team-mate at the top. As the session drew to a climactic conclusion, Pastor Maldonado parked his Lotus at Turn 15 to prematurely end his session, whereas Jenson Button once again ran wide at Turns 9 and 10.

The checkered flag was soon unfurled to signify the end of an enthralling third and final practice session, with Nico Rosberg topping the time sheets ahead of Jenson Button in the McLaren and Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton could only manage 4th fastest, whereas reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel ended the session way down in 12th. The 22 drivers will return to the Albert Park Circuit later in the day for the all-important qualifying hour, which could well be plagued by inclement weather conditions.

Picture Copyright © Mercedes AMG Petronas

Lewis Hamilton bounces back to lead a Mercedes 1-2 in second practice

copyright mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has bounced back from his unfortunate technical issue in practice one to lead a Mercedes 1-2 ahead of Nico Rosberg in the second practice session, with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso 3rd. Sebastian Vettel managed to finish an impressive 4th for Red Bull, in what was another intriguing session in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix.

The second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix began in similar circumstances to the opening session, with freneticism up and down the paddock as the various drivers filed out of the pit-lane and onto the track. Adrian Sutil became the first driver to take to the track for Sauber, and was followed by former GP2 Series driver Marcus Ericsson in the Caterham. Whilst the Swede immediately returned to the pits with issues still plaguing his Renault-powered machine, Adrian Sutil elected to remain out on track to produce the first timed lap of the session with a 01:38.055.

As more drivers gradually left the confines of the pit-lane to continue with their preparations for the weekend ahead, Caterham confirmed that Kamui Kobayashi would once again not take to the Albert Park Street Circuit, with fuel pump issues still providing his Caterham mechanics with headaches. With the Leafield-based outfit enduring a tough opening day to the Australian Grand Prix weekend, the times at the top began to tumble dramatically as both Jean-Eric Vergne, Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg momentarily rose to the top for their respective teams, with the latter producing a 01:33.094.

Whilst Nico Rosberg rose to the top for Mercedes with a 01:32.013, McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen ran relatively wide at Turn 12 whereas Jean-Eric Vergne continued to struggle with brake issues on his Toro Rosso and ran extensively wide at Turn 3 and ran deep into the retaining gravel trap. Once again the Frenchman managed to keep his car running, as even reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel made an unusual error and skipped across the grass at Turns 1 and 2 after dipping a wheel onto the grass on the entry to Turn 1. As the session progressed Ferrari were the next to incur technical difficulties, when Kimi Raikkonen was unable to carry out a practice start at the pit exit. This momentarily hindered team-mate Fernando Alonso, who had to steer precariously around the Finn.

After failing to take to the track during practice one earlier in the day, Romain Grosjean was finally able to leave his garage during the second session for Lotus. However, the Frenchman struggled greatly throughout the 90 minutes, running wide on the exit of Turn 6 in his eagerness to make up for lost time. As attention throughout the paddock switched to race simulations on high fuel loads, Daniel Ricciardo became one of the first drivers to bolt on Pirelli’s soft tyre compound, which enabled the local hero to catapult himself to the top of the timing sheets with a 01:30.597. However, Nico Rosberg was quick to end Ricciardo’s reign at the top with the German producing a 01:29.782 on his first time with the softer rubber.

Despite a frustrating start to the day for 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, the Briton was finally clocking up the miles as his preparations for the weekend ahead swung into motion. However, Hamilton found himself dangerously blocked by Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat on the entry to Turn 13, as a classic case of miscommunication between the two ensued. After this minor altercation, Lewis Hamilton fully asserted his authority at the top of the timing sheets with a 01:29.625, whereas Daniil Kvyat continued to play the role of mobile chicane by blocking Valtteri Bottas in the Williams.

As the session entered its closing stages, the field continued to focus on race simulations. In the process Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez failed to allow Sebastian Vettel through without a fight, a decision which saw the Mexican driver mowing the grass on the exit of Turn 2 as the German stormed through. With the issue on his Ferrari rectified, Kimi Raikkonen soon returned to the action, only to glance the concrete barriers on the entry to Turns 11 and 12 in his quest to squeeze every ounce of pace out of his machine. Daniil Kvyat continued to struggle as the session progressed, with the rookie running wide at Turn 13 and skipping through the gravel.

With the second practice session nearing its conclusion, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean suffered separate spins at Turns 9 and 6 respectively, with both drivers beaching their cars and prematurely ending their sessions. Nico Hulkenberg simply dipped a wheel onto the grass on the entry to Turn 6, whereas Romain Grosjean suffered from a more serious issue as his car violently turned to the left and struck the barrier before coming to a rest in the retaining gravel trap at Turn 9. Although both cars were cleared under double-waved yellow conditions, the classification remained unchanged as Lewis Hamilton ended the second session fastest overall ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso 3rd. Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel ended the session an impressive 4th, showing that Red Bull are not to be forgotten despite a troubled winter testing programme.

The 22 drivers will return to the track tomorrow for practice three, as preparations step up a gear ahead of the all-important qualifying hour later in the day.

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m29.625s           37
 2.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m29.782s  +0.157s  31
 3.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m30.132s  +0.507s  28
 4.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m30.381s  +0.756s  41
 5.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m30.510s  +0.885s  33
 6.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m30.538s  +0.913s  38
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m30.898s  +1.273s  32
 8.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m30.920s  +1.295s  38
 9.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m31.031s  +1.406s  34
10.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m31.054s  +1.429s  33
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m31.060s  +1.435s  35
12.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m31.119s  +1.494s  31
13.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m31.283s  +1.658s  36
14.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m32.355s  +2.730s  36
15.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m32.468s  +2.843s  26
16.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.495s  +2.870s  36
17.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m33.486s  +3.861s  29
18.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m33.646s  +4.021s  12
19.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.757s  +5.132s  29
20.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault                          1
21.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault
22.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault

Picture Copyright © Mercedes AMG Petronas

Alonso fastest as Hamilton struggles after opening practice in Australia

GP AUSTRALIA F1/2014

Fernando Alonso has ended a frenetic opening practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix fastest for Ferrari, after Lewis Hamilton endured a frustrating premature end to his session when an oil pressure sensor alarm shut his engine down during the opening minutes. Alonso was followed at the top by the McLaren of Jenson Button and Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

The 2014 season got underway in a flurry of activity down in the pit-lane, with two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso taking to the track first in the Ferrari ahead of Adrian Sutil and Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen. As many other drivers followed the trio out onto the track to begin their preparations for the weekend ahead, Lewis Hamilton frustratingly ground to a halt on the exit of Turns 9 and 10 with what looked like a technical issue plaguing his machine. Although it was later confirmed that an oil pressure sensor alarm shut the engine down as a precaution, this stoppage signified a premature conclusion to the Briton’s opening practice session Down Under.

After the mechanics had retrieved the stricken Mercedes under double-waved yellow flag conditions, Daniel Ricciardo surprisingly managed to produce the first timed lap of the session with a 01:37.290 in the Red Bull. Whilst his team-mate Sebastian Vettel remained stuck in the confines of the pit-lane, local hero Ricciardo continued to lower the benchmark with a 01:34.600 as the Williams of former GP3 Champion Valtteri Bottas rose up into 2nd position. As more drivers eventually returned to the Albert Park Street Circuit, the times continued to tumble in traditional fashion, with Fernando Alonso and then Nico Rosberg rising to the top with the latter producing a 01:32.784.

As Nico Rosberg continued to improve at the top with a 01:32.604, Daniel Ricciardo ran extensively wide at Turn 12 whereas Sergio Perez performed a half-spin in his Force India at Turn 3 as the drivers slowly got to grips with their new machinery for 2014. Despite the surprising flurry of track activity during the early minutes of the practice session, both Caterham drivers had their running curtailed due to separate technical issues on their cars. Whilst Kamui Kobayashi was struck with a fuel system issue, Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson suffered with an electrical issue on his CT05 machine.

Meanwhile Jenson Button stormed to the top of the timing sheets with a 01:32.357 in his Mercedes-powered McLaren, before reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel finally left the pit-lane in his Red Bull with only 38 minutes of the session remaining. The German only managed to complete on exploratory lap, before returning immediately to the pits. As the Red Bull mechanics carried out various checks on the RB10, reigning GP3 Champion Daniil Kvyat struggled greatly through Turns 1 and 2, with the Russian rookie skipping across the grass.

Eventually Fernando Alonso returned to the top for Ferrari with a 01:31.840, as Sebastian Vettel finally completed his first timed lap with a 01:34.593 to go 13th fastest. The German managed to improve on his second run by rising up to 8th, as the Lotus duo of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean still remained stuck in the pits with their respective mechanics working tirelessly on the cars. Eventually Pastor Maldonado gingerly left the pit-lane, however it was soon clear that various issues were still plaguing his Renault-powered car as smoke was seen ominously emanating from the cockpit of his car. The Venezuelan driver ran extensively wide at Turn 13, before his engine completely cut-out on his return to the pits.

As the opening practice session of the weekend drew to a conclusion, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat still struggled with the opening two corners, with the Toro Rosso driver in particular struggling with brake issues on his car. Max Chilton’s session was brought to a premature conclusion when the Briton came to a halt at the end of the pit-lane, whereas Sebastian Vettel was called into the weigh-bridge. Meanwhile the action continued out on track, with Jean-Eric Vergne seemingly also suffering from brake related issues as the Frenchman lost control of his car at Turn 3 and spun into the gravel. Miraculously Vergne managed to keep his car running, and eventually continued circulating.

Eventually the checkered flag was unfurled to signify an end to what was an incredibly frenetic opening 90 minutes of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, with Fernando Alonso fastest at Ferrari ahead of Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas. Felipe Massa was a close 4th for Williams, with Daniel Ricciardo an impressive 5th for Red Bull. The drivers will return to the Albert Park Street Circuit later in the day, for the second practice session ahead of race on Sunday.

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m31.840s            20
 2.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m32.357s  +0.517s   23
 3.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m32.403s  +0.563s   27
 4.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m32.431s  +0.591s   19
 5.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m32.599s  +0.759s   26
 6.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m32.604s  +0.764s   17
 7.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m32.793s  +0.953s   10
 8.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m32.847s  +1.007s   28
 9.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m32.977s  +1.137s   18
10.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m33.446s  +1.606s   30
11.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m33.533s  +1.693s   23
12.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m33.855s  +2.015s   24
13.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m34.272s  +2.432s   27
14.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.578s  +3.738s   7
15.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m36.445s  +4.605s   13
16.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m40.859s  +9.019s   6
17.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m46.922s  +15.082s  4
18.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault                           1
19.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes                                   1
20.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault                           1
21.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault                              2
22.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault                              2

Picture Copyright © Ferrari Media

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers

}