Spanish Grand Prix

2016 Spanish Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Grand Prix win in just 18 years and 228 days

Occasionally, sport will provide a storyline which defies belief. Max Verstappen has completed the impossible, writing his own fairytale by winning his first Grand Prix at the tender age of 18. He has not only broken Sebastian Vettel’s record as the youngest ever race winner, but managed it in his first race with Red Bull. There is not a superlative to do justice to the scale of the achievement.

It was, however, made possible by the latest drama in the Mercedes camp. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on lap one, with both ending the race in the gravel trap at turn four, following decidedly aggressive maneuvers.

(more…)

2015 Spanish Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Rosberg Notches First Victory of 2015

Second best to his teammate at each and every round so far this season, Nico Rosberg has finally delivered a performance to convince his critics that he can challenge the reigning champion for title honors in 2015. The German’s Sunday performance matched the efficiency of his Saturday triumph, aided by the fact that Hamilton needed to negotiate a rather stubborn Sebastian Vettel in the opening exchanges after a below-par start by the Briton. Ultimately, Hamilton could never challenge his teammate after his early set-back. The race did, however, highlight some rather pressing issues for the sport which have been bubbling to the surface in recent races.

(more…)

2015 Spanish Grand Prix: Saturday Analysis

Just when critics limber up to lament another predictable outcome, Formula 1 has the ability to throw a surprise. Lewis Hamilton may have taken four consecutive pole positions, but it was Nico Rosberg’s time to shine, as he dominated qualifying to take top spot by a relatively comfortable margin. The German was imperious today and has achieved the result which has the potential to launch his 2015 title tilt in earnest. Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel’s third place was courtesy of a typically efficient performance but teammate Kimi Raikkonen failed to deliver and was duly engulfed by his rivals and will start P7. Toro Rosso proved that their practice pace was no fluke, with Sainz sensationally lining up in P5, and will be joined on the third row by his fellow rookie Max Verstappen.

(more…)

2015 Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

The first sessions of the fledgling European season saw familiar names at the top of the timesheet. Ferrari may have bolted an ambitious 16 individual upgrades onto the car, reforming much of their aero package, but it was Mercedes who controlled day one of the event, with Rosberg and Hamilton sharing top honors and displaying impressive race pace to compliment their ever-present short run credentials. With plenty of comparatively unfamiliar faces taking advantage of track time at a venue that everyone knows so well, today had more talking points than I can possibly plough through in under 1000 words – but let’s make an attempt…

(more…)

2015 Spanish Grand Prix : Weekend Preview

It is that time of year again when the paddock reconvenes equipped with the grandeur of the motor-homes which mark the start of the European season. The Circuit de Catalunya plays host to the opening round of this all important phase of the campaign and it is Lewis Hamilton who will enter the weekend on the back of a sublime opening innings, which has seen him clinch three victories from a possible four so far in 2015. Clearly, the man to beat, but a rejuvenated Nico Rosberg will look to build upon what was a promising drive in Bahrain, while Ferrari will need to state their claim to title honors, if indeed they are to mount a sustained challenge to the Silver Arrows this season.

2480845910_c7d88ee164_z

(more…)

Spanish Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Never before has there been a more belated Race Analysis! For that, I apologize  As I announced in a previous article, revision for exams has to come first and on this occasion, a late analysis of the Spanish Grand Prix is the resultant bi-product. It may seem like a long time ago, but Fernando Alonso took his second win of the season on Sunday, delighting his home fans in Barcelona. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen reduced Sebastian Vettel’s lead in the championship, with an impressive second place. However, tyres were the major talking point as a ludicrous 82 pit-stops were made over the duration of the race.
Fernando experienced a fantastic race, demonstrating the strength of the Ferrari. While they had performed well in Friday’s long runs, they evidently eclipsed Red Bull, who seemed to be the team to watch judging by their pace during FP2. Alonso managed to execute one of his trademark starts, passing Kimi Raikkonen and then Lewis Hamilton on the outside of turn 3. He went on to jump Sebastian Vettel in the first round of pitstops, before passing Rosberg for the lead only two laps later. From their, the Spaniard never looked back. His commanding lead was abetted by his careful use of the tyres.
Alonso exclaimed, “Even if this is the third time I’ve won a home race, the emotion is still very strong, as if it had never happened before. It’s nice to be able to give the whole of Spain this win, especially at a time when the country is in crisis and for many people, it’s not possible to come here to bring their support. I thank everyone for that support and the team for doing a fantastic job. After a far from easy qualifying, everything went perfectly, the start, the strategy, pit stops, tyre management.”
After such a dominant victory, Fernando is firmly in the championship battle. He evaluated, “I think that with this car we can fight for the World Championship, because in five races we have finished second once and had two wins. From now on, we must manage to produce a consistent performance and score as many points as possible because we are well aware that we are not the quickest and to change that many people are working night and day at the track and in Maranello”.
After the race, Pirelli Motorsport Boss, Paul Hembery announced that Alonso had a tear in the compound of his right rear tyre. Fortunately, he stopped just after the fracture was caused. It was suggested that if he had continued for another lap, the tyre would have delaminated and Fernando’s race would be severely effected.
Joining an exuberant Fernando on the podium were Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. The Finn managed to complete the race in three stops, while his competitors had to make one extra trip to the pits. This once again underlined Lotus’ ability to manage tyre degradation, despite the severity of the drop off. Raikkonen now sits just four points behind Vettel in the championship, after outstanding consistency during the first five races. Only once has Raikkonen been off of the podium this season.
Meanwhile, Felipe Massa continued his promising form, bagging his first podium in 2013. The Brazilian struggled on the hard compound tyre, but showed excellent pace on the medium, which allowed him to pull away from the Red Bull’s behind. Massa stated, “I am very happy with this podium. It was a really nice race and a fantastic result for the whole team. When you start from far back everything’s more complicated, but I managed to get away well and I immediately had a fantastic pace. On the first lap I pulled off a few overtaking moves thanks to the car being very competitive, which meant I could be aggressive, while at the same time looking after the tyres. Right to the very end, I thought it might be possible to fight with Kimi, but when I fitted my last set of Hard tyres, the ones we thought would be best as they were new, I had oversteer and began to lose the rear much earlier than I had expected. All the same, I am very pleased with our performance at this track. Now we head for Monaco, a completely different track where overtaking is very difficult. We know we don’t have the quickest car, but all we can do is continue to work with the same amount of effort, because I’m sure we are going in the right direction”. Massa could later prove to be an invaluable asset to Ferrari, as Fernando Alonso mounts his title challenge. If he can maintain pace, he could easily take points away from Fernando’s rivals, as he did on Sunday.
Worth a notable mention is the young Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez. While he has faced many critics over the past few weeks, (myself included), he impressed on Sunday, using an ingenious strategy to climb up the field from P19 on the grid. He finished P11 and while he missed out on the first points of his career, he achieved the fastest lap of the race. Certainly, an impressive fact, considering that this was only his fifth race. Perhaps, the media have not allowed him enough time to establish himself within the team. Esteban said, “I focused on getting the most out of the car today, and it was important to achieve a result like this for me and the team. The team has given me the patience and tools to improve as a driver and this is what I could extract from the car. It was a tough race and tyre management was critical. At the beginning of the race I was quite surprised about how much I could get out of the tyres. The last two stints were a bit more difficult, but this is a step forward.”

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton experienced one of the most difficult races of his career. After locking out the front row, Mercedes went careering backwards with Rosberg finishing in P6, while Hamilton slid to P12. At one stage the Briton was placed a lonely P15, where he battled with Pastor Maldonado. At the time, he commented, “now I’ve been passed by a Williams” as desperation set in. After the race, Hamilton stated, “A difficult afternoon today and going backwards is never fun. We switched to a four-stop strategy during the race but I suffered with a lack of grip and balance throughout and we were never really able to get the tyres working. I know that everyone at the team is working so hard and we need to keep positive. I’m sure we will figure the problem out and we’ve got to keep pushing together to close the gap. I will be doing my best to help and encourage the guys.”
So, there is my brief report of the Spanish Grand Prix. With one exam done, just 12 more remain. I cannot wait to resume normal service on the blog, but I hope you enjoy the content in the meantime.        

Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

After a lengthy breather, the teams returned to track action this morning, as Formula One returned to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix. An unpredictable FP1 session was typified by an early rain shower, as Ferrari finished 1-2 as the circuit began to dry out. Fortunately, the classic Barcelona sunshine returned during FP2, and it was Sebastian Vettel who topped the timesheet. With what seems to be a Vettel, Alonso battle on the cards, we now eagerly anticipate what could be an enthralling Saturday afternoon.

FP1

As the cars headed out onto a damp circuit, cameras where prepared to take photos of all the latest upgrades as Formula One’s development war begins. Fernando Alonso made the most of the improving conditions to excite his home support with a timesheet topping time of 1:25.252. Felipe Massa completed the Ferrari domination claiming P2 behind his teammate. 
The session saw the majority of teams taking a highly cautious approach, as they tested their latest updates on track for the first time. This approach was compounded by the tricky conditions which the drivers faced early on. It was not until late in the session that they were able to make the switch to the slick tyres and consequently, the final few minutes were frantic, as times began to tumble. Fernando Alonso emerged fastest, despite his teammate Felipe Massa running all of the team’s updates including new sidepod wings, an updated front wing, as well as a new undercut sidepod structure. A surprising move from the team, who will surly fit Fernando’s car with the updates tomorrow morning. Nevertheless, their self-proclaimed number one driver, has lost a day’s experience with the latest prototype. 
Meanwhile, rivals Red Bull were languishing in 18th and 19th as the checkered flag dropped, as neither driver had completed a short run when the track was in its optimum condition. This is one example of how the FP1 timesheet is far from representative of how the pecking order currently stands.
For a large part of the session, Sebastian Vettel ran with an airflow tracking device attached to the back of the car. This was particularly interesting and we can assume that the team were experimenting with their new upgrades. It is anticipated that the RB9 features a new rear wing endplate which possibly effects the direction and application of the coanda effect. Moreover, speculation has begun regarding a possible new diffuser fitted to the RB9. Undoubtedly  Adrian Newey has been busy over the brief break.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg struggled in both FP1 and FP2 as Mercedes are struggling to adjust to their latest updates. Hamilton has commented on their aggressive approach to research and development this season and they seem to be suffering from this at the moment. Both there short run and long run pace was less than impressive and they certainly have ground to make up.
FP1 Timesheet
01 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.252 20 laps
02 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.455 +0.203 20 laps
03 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:25.667 +0.415 25 laps
04 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:26.042 +0.790 21 laps
05 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:26.212 +0.960 24 laps
06 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.374 +1.122 19 laps
07 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:6.456 +1.204 20 laps
08 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:26.614 +1.362 21 laps
09 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.621 +1.369 21 laps
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1:26.755 +1.503 16 laps
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:26.940 +1.688 26 laps
12 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:27.061 +1.809 24 laps
13 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:27.135 +1.883 6 laps
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:27.250 +1.998 26 laps
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:27.576 +2.324 24 laps
16 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:28.600 +3.348 19 laps
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:28.887 +3.635 14 laps
18 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:29.177 +3.925 14 laps
19 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:29.457 +4.205 11 laps
20 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:29.473 +4.221 21 laps
21 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1:30.314 +5.062 12 laps
22 Jenson Button McLaren no time 6 laps     

FP2

FP2 was enticingly close at the top of the timesheet, with Sebastian Vettel narrowly edging out Fernando Alonso, who continued to impress. The gap between the top pairing was a slight 0.017s, while Mark Webber took P3. Red Bull have been stunning today, with a sublime FP2 performance which will spook their rivals ahead of what could be a competitive Qualifying session tomorrow afternoon.
While the session pointed towards Ferrari and Red Bull domination, Kimi Raikkonen managed to challenge the front four in the Lotus. The Enstone based team, who lost the influential Technical Director, James Allison, yesterday, will have hoped to see a greater gain after numerous upgrades are evident on the car. The E21 has been equipt with re-profiled sidepods, new brake ducts, a rear wing upper element and a tweaked diffuser. These updates seem to have potential, not yet unlocked by the team. 
Pirelli were again at the center of the discussion after Paul Di Resta suffered a violent delamination of the left rear on the exit of the last corner. Tyre graining will evidently be an issue during this weekend, after significant graining was experienced up and down the field today. While the circuit is famously hard on tyres considering the aggressive use of kerbs, Pirelli will certainly have questions to answer following another difficult day.
FP2 Timesheet
01 Sebastain Vettel Red Bull 1.22.812 32 laps
02 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:22.825 +0.017 35 laps
03 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:22.891 +0.083 36 laps
04 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:23.030 +0.222 32 laps
05 Felipe Mass Ferrari 1:23.110 +0.302 37 laps
06 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.140 +0.332 35 laps
07 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.398 +0.590 45 laps
08 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:23.840 +1.032 37 laps
09 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:24.058 +1.250 31 laps
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1:24.104 +1.296 25 laps
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:24.175 +1.367 32 laps
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:24.306 +1.498 35 laps
13 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:24.854 +2.046 31 laps
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:24.888 +2.080 38 laps
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:25.167 +2.359 38 laps
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:25.321 +2.513 32 laps
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:25.441 +2.633 37 laps
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:25.851 +3.043 35 laps
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:25.963 +3.155 30 laps
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:26.078 +3.270 31 laps
21 Charles Pic Caterham 1:26.930 +4.122 35 laps
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:26.970 +4.162 25 laps