Just one day after the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) released a damning statement in regards to the political structure of the sport, F1 has found itself hamstrung once again. Following an anti-climatic and uninspiring qualifying session in Australia – which debuted the brand new for 2016 elimination format – teams, fans and drivers have lobbied for a change back to the 2015 rules. However, a lack of unanimity has stopped such a change from happening.
F1 is left with egg on its face once again, as Bahrain will play host to a decidedly below par qualifying event.
The plot thickened on day three in Barcelona as surprising names appeared at the top of the timesheet. Nico Hulkenberg put Force India on top with an impressive time on the supersoft tyre just three tenths short of Vettel’s ultrasoft benchmark posted yesterday. Meanwhile, Haas cemented what has been a very positive start to life in the sport by finishing the day second.
Here are five things we learnt from today’s running…
Second chances are few and far between in F1. It is one of the most competitive environments in world sport, and with 1000’s of hungry young chargers vying for their shot at the big time, opportunities are few and far between, particularly when it comes to the sport’s premium seats. For Sergio Perez, his chance to shine came in 2013, when McLaren paired him with 2009 champion Jenson Button, following a breakthrough 2012 campaign where the 21 year-old Mexican claimed three podiums for Sauber. Ultimately, Perez fluffed his lines during his spell at Woking but so did his team.
Here’s why Sergio Perez deserves another shot with one of F1’s most illustrious squads.
Over the years, Force India have earned a seat at F1’s table for the underdogs. So often, the Silverstone based squad have turned a lightweight budget into welter-weight machinery over the winter, only to be reigned in by the opposition over the course of the year and 2014 was a clear example of this trait. Conversely, the start of the 2015 campaign was a tale of damage limitation while the engineers could paper over the cracks which formed as a result of a disjointed winter. As it has turned out, Force India have proven that they are just as good in defense as they are attack in the opening exchanges of a campaign.
As drivers, teams and fans were forced to cope with sweltering conditions at the Hungaroring, it was Lewis Hamilton who topped the timesheet in both sessions, on a day when grip was at a premium. Undoubtedly amplified by the track temperature which rarely fell below 50 degrees, a number of drivers found themselves struggling to find a balance, with Sebastian Vettel enduring a particularly challenging Friday, with two spins in FP2 following a slow start to FP1 due to an electrical connector issue. While Ferrari have work to do overnight, it is Red Bull who, on the basis of today, will be the best of the rest behind the class-leaders this weekend, as both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat recorded impressive short and long run times.
Back in February, even the most optimistic of Force India fans were forced to temper their expectations for their team’s up-coming campaign. Following their lavish livery launch at the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, the VJM08 was delayed, with the team announcing that a substantial upgrade package would arrive mid-season to compensate for a winter based on relocation. However, the team’s damage limitation exercise has proved to be a huge success, as they lie fifth in the constructors championship and look set to consolidate their position as the much anticipated aerodynamic overhaul arrives for the British Grand Prix.
It is no wonder, then, that Nico Hulkenberg is “looking forward” to sampling what the new and improved VJM08 has to offer.
Having had the measure of his teammate for all but one lap this weekend, few could take anything away from Nico Rosberg as he saw the chequered flag first at the Red Bull Ring this afternoon. After being beaten to turn one, Lewis Hamilton had no answer to his championship rival’s blistering pace and an uncharacteristic mishap on the pitlane exit extinguished what was left of his already dwindling hopes of a race victory. Rosberg has now claimed three of the past four possible victories, and this, the sweetest of the year to date.