Thursday, 16 April 2015

News Round Up

Bernie Ecclestone has been telling those who will listen that we need to ditch the current engines and go back to the old V8's immediately as it will be a) Cheaper and b) bring the fans back?

I'm not quite sure why Bernie says this rubbish its clear it's not true! It'd obviously just to get idiots debating this. but lets face it, the current engine manufacturers are not going to go backwards or spend millions re-calibrating all of their kit to to breathe life to the old dinosaurs!


The Daily Mail have decided that Lewis Hamilton is degrading women by spraying one of the podium hostesses with champagne after winning the Chinese GP.

One again this is just a bad newspaper that really has no idea what they're talking about. The girl herself isn't that bothered about it, She knew that it was possible when she signed up for the job, and many girls do sign up to being podium hostesses / Grid girls etc, that's some people's choices of career so its clear that this is just a story made out of nothing but the aim to bring the British World Champion down.


Nico Rosberg complained after the Chinese GP that Hamilton had driven 'too slow' and backed him into Vettel. The truth is the that Hamilton drove to delta times as required by the team, the slowest time needed in order to keep the tyres in check (partly because of paranoia from the defeat by Ferrari in Malaysia)

Nico is currently making himself look very weak minded and sounds almost like he's resigned himself to losing the championship already. Comments about Hamilton's champions drive in Melbourne etc just point out the gulf in confidence between the two. Nico surely needs to come out fighting this weekend in Bahrain in order to re-gain some ground and do his talking on the track.


McLaren are looking to start ramping up the power on their Honda engine this weekend in Bahrain after an encouraging and reliable double finish in China.


Red Bull are continuing their threats to quit the sport as they cannot get their own way or build a fast enough package in conjunction with their engine supplier. Whilst making these noises they are also re-signing long term sponsors. ....?????


Lotus scored their first points of the season in China with Grosjean and are hopeful that Pastor Maldonardo will be able to start to turn his season around at the Bahrain GP


Williams agree that they are adrift in 3rd place at the moment behind Mercedes and Ferrari. They also believe that Felipe Massa is driving as well as he ever has.

Also today is Sir Frank Williams birthday - Happy Birthday Sir Frank, A true inspiration to all of us.



DRIVERS – Sergio PEREZ (Force India), Max VERSTAPPEN (Toro Rosso), Will STEVENS (Manor), Pastor MALDONADO (Lotus), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)


Lewis, you’re coming off the back of three straight poles to a circuit where you’ve never been in on pole position before in your career. How do you see this weekend and the battleground that is qualifying on Saturday?

Lewis HAMILTON: The same as every race. Excited for it. The team have worked very hard to try to learn from the last race and improve. Naturally, for me, as you suggested, I’ve been on the front row but I’ve not been on pole here. So naturally that’s something I want to try to change.

Now throughout Formula One history the psychological battle between title rivals has always been intense. Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve evolved your attitude that and your thinking about that as you’ve matured as a driver?

LH: It’s not really changed much. I just do my talking on the track, that’s how it’s always been since I was eight years old. And naturally you juts try to learn from decisions you take and experiences you have and hope that you get better.

So, the approach is not to get involved then?

LH: That’s not what I said. You just do your talking on the track and try to do your best. All the stuff that comes out of the car I have no particular interest in it.

OK thank you for that. Coming to you Pastor, some good battles in China last time out and breakthrough points for the team, scored by your team-mate. How do see this Lotus team evolving in 2015?

Pastor MALDONADO: To be honest we’ve been a bit unlucky in the first two races, especially for me in the first corner I’ve been hit by Nasr in Australia and I was P6 already and the same in Malaysia, I was P8 or P9, I think it was P8, and I’ve been hit by Bottas in the first corner, so the first two races have been completely compromised by the first corner, you know. Last race was actually our first race where we’ve been able to compete against the other teams, or the other teams around us. We confirm what we’ve been expecting, the pace of the car. Actually in qualifying we still maybe are not at the top of our package. We’ve been working quite hard and hopefully this weekend it should be a bit better than it was in the past three races. But actually the race pace was quite good, encouraging and we are really looking to do our best and to finally be in the points this weekend.

There’s been a Lotus in the final part of qualifying at every round this year so far but you yourself have only managed it once. Can you tell us what areas you are focusing on in particular to make sure that you get yourself into Q3?

PM: Yeah, quali is maybe the main focus for the team. We just need to try to put everything together. I think the speed is there. But normally it has been like this, even in the past, we’ve been less competitive in quali than in the race. I really expect, and we will approach different ways the qualifying to try to get 100 per cent from the car and then trying to keep the same situation or the same pace for the race.

Thank you for that. Coming to you Max: the performance in China. No points but plenty of praise worldwide for your performance there. Do you feel it’s put you on the Formula One map and what was the highlight?

Max VERSTAPPEN: Well, first of all, I was really enjoying my race. We didn’t have a great qualifying, but still I was very confident that we could do a good race because I think the car and it’s race pace is really strong, especially high speed. I had some good overtakes, I was really enjoying that. It’s also every race I’m getting more and more confident in the car. Especially in the first two race you don’t want to take too many risks and I decided in China it was time to do some overtakes and take some more risk.

Toro Rosso, apparently, have never scored a point here in Bahrain, amazingly in their ten years. This weekend that, I’m sure, will be your target, but you do have some engine issues going into this weekend. Can you give us your thoughts on how that’s going to stack up?

MV: Yeah, for sure it’s very short notice for us after China, where we had the engine issues. But we will try to do our best to deliver a good race and try to score points, because I think at the moment the car is capable of it and I’m feeling much better every race in the car. So I’m really looking forward to this race.

Sergio, coming to you, obviously 12 months ago here a very strong weekend, qualified well, in fourth, got up on the podium. Presumably it’s one of your favourite tracks. What is it about this place and you?

Sergio PEREZ: Obviously it was great, no, to remember that day. It was a fantastic day, a fantastic race for me. It was really difficult to make it onto the podium, as it was a very intense race all the way through. Generally, I have been doing well [here]. The year before I did quite well at this track, so I think I get on with the track quite nicely. Unfortunately we are not in a similar position to dream about a podium for this weekend but I think, hopefully, we can score some points and make a great improvement. I think we managed to do a good step in China, we just finished out of the points, so I hope that here we can score some points.

You have a big update coming in Austria. From what you know of it what is the target of where it’s going to put you in the pecking order?

SP: It’s difficult to say, as everyone is improving all the time and everyone is bringing upgrades. We are not the only ones who are going to bring them but we really have identified our issues with the car, our weaknesses, so in that respect it should put us a lot better. I think if we can solve the general issue of the car, the main weakness of the car, then it can be a really good step that can put us in a really good position to be a constant points scorer.

Q: Will, obviously didn’t start in Australia or Malaysia but a 15th place finish last time out in China. Tell us about the mindset in the team and how you set goals and objectives for each race – and what they are here.

Will STEVENS: As you said, China was the first race that I did personally this year – but as far as the weekend went, I think it was a big step forwards for the team. I think it was good to get both cars to the finish for the first time this year. As the weekend went, it ran pretty smoothly. I think, looking forward to this weekend, obviously we want to finish the race with both cars again. Every time I we back in the car, especially for me, missing Malaysia, I’m getting more and more comfortable. I think the pace that I showed in China was pretty strong. We just need to keep moving forward and see where we can get to.

Q: From what you’ve seen and experienced so far, what makes you believe in this project.

WS: From where we set out, we knew the first few races were going to be difficult. The team, where they finished last year in the Constructors’, they’re in a different position now to what they were before. So I think, moving forwards for the future, we can only get better. I think moving towards the end of this year, hopefully we’ll get the new car coming in and then we can really start to make some progress.

Q: Daniel, coming to you, you’ve scored in all three races so far but not the kind of scores I imagine you were hoping for when the season started. Can you give us a window in on the mindset with things like engine duty cycles and other challenges you’re facing, and how that’s changed your expectations?

Daniel RICCIARDO: It sounded pretty good, finishing the first three in the points – but obviously we hope for more at this stage. Look, we’re trying to do what we can, that’s for sure. There is progress being made. Still, obviously, we’re wanting more each race and I obviously felt we had a better… or rather we all expected a bit more from China. I thought the weekend was going to be better for us, especially after Friday. I think we’d made real good progress. Didn’t turn out that way but here we are a week later. Obviously there’s not much, updates-wise, that can happen in a week but from myself and the team as well, we still know there’s more potential in what we’ve got for now, and I think we can definitely try to grab that this weekend.

Q: Obviously your start in China was a bit of a talking point. I think I’m right in saying that, apart from your start in Malaysia, both you and Kvyat off the line have lost places every single time in the first three races this season. Can you tell us what that’s all about.

DR: Yeah. To be honest, Melbourne wasn’t as bad as it looked. As I guess most people are aware, we had a lot of driveability issues going on in Melbourne and it wasn’t until we got the gears, and where these problems were affecting us, that’s what really hindered our performance in Melbourne – otherwise the actual launch was decent. And yeah, Malaysia wasn’t bad. Obviously it wasn’t ideal, what happened in China, and obviously after looking through everything, yeah, it was my mistake in the end. Sometime I obviously won’t let happen again. The important thing is that I’m aware why it happened and what happened and will move on from there. Definitely last year the starts weren’t the strongest on the grid. In general it’s a point that we all want to improve. I think it’s got to be better this weekend.


Q: (Kate Walker – I’ve got a question for Lewis. Your weekend in Shanghai has been rather overshadowed by coverage of the podium ceremony. I don’t know if you’ve heard the comments from the grid girl who was finally contacted and said she thought the entire thing was a bit of a fuss for something that lasted one or two seconds. What are your thoughts on the podium ceremony and the media furore that has surrounded something entirely normal in motorsport?

LH: Good question. I hadn’t really heard too much about it until today. Obviously when you come into the team you get a kind of debrief of what’s happened during the week. So fortunately for me it’s not overshadowed my week. Ultimately it was a great weekend. My actions are through excitement. This is Formula One, it’s the pinnacle of motorsport, I’d just won a grand prix for the team and… I usually see it as a fun thing. I would never intend to disrespect someone or try to embarrass someone like that. So, yeah, I guess… I don’t really know the reasons why people are starting to bring those kind of things up but this is a sport that so many people love and the more we show character and fun, perhaps it reflects just how great this sport is. That’s what I try to do. I don’t really know what to say about it. It hasn’t really affected me and it’s nice to know that the lady wrote in… if it had been the other way and she’d wrote in and she was really unhappy, then perhaps there would be more concern.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / Speed Sport) Daniel, you said China didn’t go quite the way you thought it would. Is there just maybe some fine-tuning in the setup that you can get the car much better to your liking?

DR: I think so. I mean, there’s definitely, I believe, within the car, there’s more to be unlocked, so to speak. In terms of setup, I don’t think myself or Dany have really found a balance or setting that we’re really comfortable with. I think China took a step forward, we did start to feel more comfortable but it still obviously didn’t give us a big chunk of lap time that we thought was still in there. So, there’s still a few balance things. If we keep ironing them out we will find… I don’t think it’s a second but we are going to find a fair few tenths that will put us in that group with Williams and hopefully get us onto the back of the Ferraris. Yeah. Good race here last year. I think we had good pace. Again just optimistic for a better weekend here. Everyone’s ready to go, and obviously after my start last week I’m hanging out to get back on the grid and redeem myself.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Two questions for Lewis: the first is about management of the rear tyres. This is a hot track like Malaysia, the race is in the night. How afraid are you about the performance of Ferrari with the rear tyres? And the second one is about what Toto Wolff said about team orders. What comment can you make? If a driver says ‘too close’ they can make some unpopular decisions. I would like to have a comment from you.

LH: Regarding the tyres, still as it was in Malaysia, very much a rear-limited circuit so you have to assume that Ferrari will be very strong again, but I think we’re going to try and take, from our experience with Malaysia, we’re going to try and take a slightly different approach and hope that that helps us combat that whatever you want to call it: weakness or area in which we can improve. I feel quite confident that as a team we can rectify that issue that we had in Malaysia, but it’s still going to be tough and Ferrari have been very very competitive in the last couple of races. So I anticipate they will be very strong this weekend and our race is definitely with them.

I’m not really aware of Toto’s comments so I don’t really know anything about it. Team orders is not something we generally talk much about. It’s not our approach but ultimately our job as two drivers is to try to help the team get the best result overall and regardless of whether you’re first or second, it’s your job to try and make sure you try and secure the most points as possible for the team.

Q: (Khodr Rawi – Sergio, how do you motivate yourself coming into this weekend, knowing that the maximum you could do is to score some points while last year you had a podium here?

SP: Yes, it’s already the position that we have at the moment and only 12 months ago it was a different story but now it’s time to give our best, the same as we did those months ago. The difference is now that a great result would be to finish in the points, whereas 12 months ago a great result would be to finish on the podium. But it doesn’t really change anything. As a driver you have to be committed all the time and give your 120 per cent to your team to try to maximise the package that you have. It doesn’t really change anything. Obviously I wish to have a more competitive car with which I can show the potential that I have as a driver but it’s what it is and we will try to do our best. It doesn’t really change anything.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild) Lewis, did you really understand what Nico meant after the race that you drove too slowly? Did you truly understand what he meant?

LH: Well, it’s something we spoke about after the race so I don’t particularly see a reason to go back into it. Obviously you know what my comments were after the race and some people have spun those words in whichever way they wanted to spin them. Yeah, we’re moving forwards and we will re-unite as a team this weekend and try to do a great job. There’s no issue between me and Nico. We saw each other this morning and everything is good. They’re going to be times when people are unhappy about some things but we’re grown-ups and we move past it.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild) The winner of the race is normally the quickest guy on the track, that’s what I mean.

LH: But I was.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, if I can go even further back, to last year’s race when you and Nico had a real battle here, given the comments that have been made over the last few days, do you think he’ll be even more fired up to try and get past you this time?

LH: Well again, I don’t know what comments have been made over the last few days, I don’t read it, simply just not of interest to me, but last year we had an amazing race here, it was really fantastic, great fun, huge huge challenge both for Nico and for me and hopefully... that was the first night race here. It was honestly the best race, visibly, that I had seen here in Bahrain so it was great and I’m looking forward to that. I think with these tyres and with Ferrari in the mix, I think we could see a real special race here. On my part, I’m just going to keep doing what I do and try to... ultimately I want to improve. Last year I didn’t qualify on pole here, I’ve never been on pole here so that’s the challenge but as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the challenge of trying to win the race.

Q: (Nahed Sayouh – Autosport Middle East) Max, after this race you will go to the European season where there are tracks which you have previously raced on. Do you believe that this will help you to show more speed?

MV: To be honest I think so. You always try to do your best on every track and that’s how we are going to continue.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport magazines) Will, you did your first race distance in China; these guys all did race distances in testing. Do you foresee that you have a much better baseline now, starting out the weekend as far as the car is concerned?

WS: Yeah, the longest stint I did before the race was six laps. So I had to learn the race as I was going. I think the race ran pretty smoothly so for sure starting here this weekend, we’re starting off from a much better position so I think as a team we can only progress and keep moving forward.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Statement from Giedo van der Garde

‘We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent. As a passionate race driver, I feel sad and am very disappointed. I have worked very hard my entire career, ever since starting with go-karts at the age of eight, to live my dream and become a successful Formula One driver. I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula One is probably over.
I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it. I pushed very hard until last Saturday in Melbourne to get the drive that I was entitled to. This legal process started in 2014 and has taken a great deal of effort. It was never a last minute thing, but it only became public in the last week when we tried to force the team to accept the rulings of a succession of legal authorities and courts.
I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne. To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team´s cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team´s directors would even be taken into custody. I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself in.
I am very grateful to my fans and many friends in Formula One who have given me a lot of support during the last couple of months. This period has been very difficult for me especially since I could not talk to anybody about the pending proceedings. Last week, many drivers on the grid gave me their support and several of them did so openly in the media as well. The same goes for several leading figures in the paddock who include team bosses and reputable former Formula One drivers. I thank them as well.
My future in motorsport has not finished: on the contrary, I see this as a new beginning. I will sit down with my management in the coming weeks to discuss my future plans. I would love to take part in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP1 car. Former Formula One drivers do very well in this series. We also have our eye on other series such as the DTM in 2016 and beyond.
There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014. This was simply in good faith and to help the team deal with its cash problems at the time. Effectively, it was my sponsor’s advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014.
Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me. Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done.
I want to thank McGregor for sponsoring me from the time I won the Formula Renault 3.5 Ltr. Series in 2008. I hope we can continue to build on this as my motorsport career goes forward in other series.
I want to thank my family, my father Gerrit and my wife Denise in particular, for their tireless support throughout the years that I have been chasing my Formula One dream. The last couple of months have been especially hard for me but they have always stood by me. Of course, I also want to thank my father-in-law, Marcel Boekhoorn, who has been a great supporter during my entire career through the motorsport ranks. Without him, I would not have got this far.
I also thank Jeroen Schothorst and Jan Paul ten Hoopen for managing my career and business affairs since 2008 and in particular for their unconditional support during these last four and a half months. I also extend thanks to my legal advisor Gijs Rooijens and the law firms, Druces, Blackstone Chambers and King & Wood Mallesons (Australia), that worked very hard and enthusiastically – sometimes literally day and night and during weekends – to fight for my rights.
Finally, I would like to direct a few words to the teams, drivers, future drivers, their managers and the Formula One governing bodies. I sincerely hope that what has happened to me will start a movement aimed at setting new standards and bringing about new regulations to help protect the rights of drivers. I would like to think that the values and business ethics that apply in any other business should be equally applicable in Formula One. I am lucky to have had Marcel and Jeroen on my side. Both of them have extensive backgrounds in business and bring a lot of expertise to the table when it comes to resolving complicated business affairs. Without them, I would have remained empty-handed in the wake of this extraordinary affair. There are numerous examples of talented drivers with good intentions but without the sort of professional support that I have had, who have been broken by Formula One and who have seen their careers destroyed. I therefore hope that my unprecedented case which was heard last week by the Supreme Court of Victoria at Melbourne will serve as an example to illustrate what should change, and that new regulations will be implemented to help protect driver rights.’

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

No German GP at Hockenheim

The boss of the German Hockenheim circuit has today announced that there will be no German GP held at the circuit this year.

With the German circuits hosting races alternating years it was hoped that with the Nurburgring's financial difficulties, the Hockenheim circuit might step in to save the race for this year, although no deal has been struck with Bernie Ecclestone.

This leaves the only option as a last minute rescue bid from Nurburgring but that is particularly unlikely. As such the race will have to be reported to the FIA as a cancellation so that it can be formally removed from the calendar leaving us with 19 races for 2015 (the same as last year)

It is incredibly disappointing that the country that has the current world champion constructor, a driver challenging for this years drivers world championship and their very own 4 time world champion making his debut year in a Ferrari, yet a race cannot be sustained.

Red Bully's

Christian Horner knew he would be making headlines with his comments after the Australian GP in which he stated that their should be some equalization to bring all of the sports engines into a similar window of competitiveness, his argument is based on the fact that it would bring closer racing and therefore be better for the sport as a whole.

I really have quite a few problems with the statement, first and foremost, when has the health of Formula One been top of Red Bull's agenda? When they challenged the regulations last year to try and de-stabilize the amazing new technology in these brand new turbo power units? When they were running away with 9 straight wins in 2013?When they entered F1 with an open chequebook policy raising the stakes at a time when the worlds economic climate was nose diving?  There are quite a few more examples too but far too many to go into here. 

Formula One is a competitive sport, everyone wants to be the best, but to be the best at any sport requires hard work, determination, the right funding and usually a bit of luck! Renault have struggles with the current power unit regulations and are still struggling now. But this is the same Renault that powered Sebastan Vettel and Red Bull Racing to 4 straight drivers and constructors titles respectively receiving a tiny footnote of appreciation.

To suggest that engines are equalised when you are not winning is like asking for a spec formula. Would Mr Horner prefer it if all of the teams had standard power units and the freedom to develop aero instead? Therefore keeping Adrian Newey in a challenge and most likely winning with best aero package on the grid? Or would Horner prefer that the whole car is standard and therefore extremely cheap to buy and run? If that is the case then yes the racing would be closer, but it would be GP2.

One of the most amazing things about Formula One is that the teams are constructors, they build their own cars, they buy their engines and have to marry the two together. Those that do the best job will be at the front. those that don't must try harder.

Everything moves in swings and roundabouts, Red Bull threatening to quit (again) if they can't get their own way it is just plain childish. Toto wolff was spot on with his comments, "get your head down and work harder" because at the end of the day, the person that does the best job deserves to win. It really isnt rocket science.

Is a domination good for F1? On the face of it most would say no, but was last year a bad year for racing? no, far far from it. So is their really a problem?

In my opinion, threatening to quit ( and therefore taking 20% of the grid and one grand prix) with them is utmost in selfishness, putting thousands of people potentially out of work? Holding the FIA to ransom by offering to cause an instant crisis by pulling out and leaving a half empty grid? I'm sorry but that is out of order.

If they do leave (and they wont), please close the door on the way out, the negative PR and stroppy ways will definitely not be missed.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Australian GP 2015 Race Results and Selected Quotes

The 2015 Formula One World Championship season has kicked off in Melbourne Australia.

Drama engulfed the weekend from the get go, with a legal dispute between Giedo Van Der Garde and the Sauber F1 team which saw threats of impounding cars and the imprisonment of a team principal. As the weekend wore on and focus returned to the track it was clear that the Manor Marussia cars were not going to make it onto the track, however this is not due to a lack of effort from the team who have been frantically trying to write software and re-create their whole electrical systems on their cars from scratch,

With the absence of Manor the grid would already be reduced to just 18 cars, but then after qualifying it was clear that Valtteri Bottas was in pain with his back. On Sunday morning it was announced that he too would not be taking part in the Grand Prix.

On the way to the grid we had car failures for Kevin Magnussen and Danil Kvyat leaving us with just 15 cars lining up for the first race of this new season.

The Mercedes duo locked out the front row on Saturday and were in a class of their own again on Sunday, Streaking off at the start and keeping a status quo straight through to the end. Lewis Hamilton had the edge on his German team mate Nico Rosberg all through Saturday and Sunday, realistically Nico didn't get anywhere close enough to mount a challenge to the World Champion.

Lewis Hamilton had this to say afterwards:
"It's quite unbelievable, really, what this team has done. It's a great feeling to start off the season the way we finished the last and the car is just incredible, so thank you to the team. It was still a tough race, though, as Nico was very quick throughout. It was about managing fuel and also the tyres - trying to see how long we could push them. Once I'd built a two second gap it was about maintaining it. But when Nico turned up the heat it was tough. He drove really well and it's a great result for the team to start the season with a 1-2. It's good to see Ferrari back up here on the podium. I think they have taken a big step, so I anticipate a good fight with them this year at some point and we can't back off. In fact, the podium was pretty awesome. I don't often get star struck but I can't believe I was up there with the Terminator! Anyway, we've learned a lot this weekend and there will be a lot of analysis to do before Malaysia. Hopefully we'll keep finding ways to improve. Just because we had that gap today it doesn't mean we'll be cruising. There's still a long way to go. "

Nico Rosberg said:
"What a start for us. It's great to have the quickest car again and what an amazing job by everybody involved. A big thank you to the guys back in the factories for all their work. Okay, so now it's 1:0 to Lewis. He did a perfect job this weekend with no mistakes and improved a lot from Friday to Sunday. Yesterday after Qualifying I was already on the back foot and that's difficult to change in a race against Lewis. I need to have a better Saturday, which I was able to do last year. But it's still a long season with lots of races to go. I want to strike back in Malaysia, so that's the focus. Thanks to everyone in Europe for waking up so early and for crossing their fingers for us - we've had fantastic support and it's really great to see. "

Ferrari had clearly achieved a lot over the winter as their pace was vastly improved. Vettel had a solid race starting 4th and finishing 3rd whilst Raikkonen took a knock on the first lap and went on to have trouble with his rear wheel at the pit stop which led to his retirement.

Williams had just the one car after Bottas's withdrawal and the team was out-witted by Ferrari in the strategy stakes so that Vettel could leap frog Massa onto the podium however a solid 4th place was a fair result and the pending duel between the Williams and Ferrari teams looks set to be an exciting part of the coming season.

Felipe Massa had this to say:
"The aim of today was start the season with a solid points haul and demonstrate that we have a competitive car. We have managed to achieve much of what we wanted so this has been a positive start. The only disappointing part of the race was that I was jumped at the first pitstop by Vettel after losing a second and a half behind Ricciardo on my out-lap which was enough to lose the position. I have faith in the team and the car and we head to Malaysia knowing we are very much in the fight."

Valtteri Bottas:
"I have done a lot of work since the issue with my back came in qualifying to get myself ready, starting treatment immediately, so the news that I couldn't race today was obviously disappointing but I respect the decision. I now have two weeks until the next race to receive further treatment to ensure I will be back to full fitness and even stronger in Malaysia. I’m very eager to get back in the car and race because the FW37 is looking competitive and I’m confident we can fight for podiums."

Sauber had a very eventful weekend but their testing pace was no error, they really are quite quick, yes they benefitted from others not taking part and failures, however both drivers finished in the points today which is a stark contrast to their completely pointless 2014 season. Felipe Nasr was involved in a slight knock with Kimi Raikkonen in the first corner however this didn't affect his race and he scored a very solid 5th place whilst his team mate had a spirited and battling performance to claim 8th place.

Felipe Nasr:
"I am very happy with fifth position in my first ever Formula One race. It is such a big relief for the team and myself that we are able to score points, and I am very pleased about this achievement. It was a tough race. Right after the start it was quite messy in turn 1, as another driver hit my wheel. I thought the car was damaged a bit, but after a few laps I noticed everything was fine. After that, the race went according to plan. There was pressure from behind during the whole race, which was not easy. That was an emotional race for me and everyone in the team"

Marcus Ericsson:
"First of all, the team has done a great job over the winter. It is amazing for everyone in the team here in Melbourne and also back home in the factory to get this result in the first race weekend of the 2015 season. We have seen good progress during pre-season testing, and with this achievement I am really happy for everyone. For me as a driver, I have scored my first points in Formula One, which is a big goal achieved. Now, we can build on this for the next race"

Next up was Daniel Ricciardo who Started 7th but finished in 6th. It was a tough day for the Red Bull team with the Renault power unit clearly lacking in power and driveability.

Daniel Said:
"It wasn’t the most exciting race. After the start I was able to stay with Nasr, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to make the move. We finished the race and got some points which was positive, and there are things we can learn; I think on paper sixth was the best for us today. It was a shame for Dany, I feel for him I hope we have a smoother weekend in Malaysia. In terms of where we need to improve, the main issue is the drivability and the power, there are pretty big chunks that we know we need to find there. Beyond that it’s hard, as with the chassis itself I don’t think we’ve really been able to test it to its limits yet due to the other issues we’ve had. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have got a lot of information from this weekend which will help us ahead of Malaysia"

Force India were very late with their car only appearing at the final test for the last couple of days, however the car was extremely reliable straight out of the box and both drivers finished the race, hulkenberg in 7th and Perez in 10th.

Toro Rosso endured a day very similar to the big team with only one car finishing, This was Carlos Sainz Jnr in 9th place whilst Max verstappen retired with a gearbox failure.

The final finisher in 11th place was Jenson Button in the Mclaren Honda, which may read like a disaster but in face this is a massive victory for the Woking team who's troubled start to the year has seen the car not drive for more than 12 laps at a time during testing. So to complete 58 laps and hold off Perez for a lot of the afternoon was a very good afternoon.

Jenson finished the day with these comments:
"Today has been a good day.

"We're still a long way off, but this is a good starting point – and I enjoyed the race. I even had a good little battle with Checo [Perez]. Today also really helps in terms of development: if we'd done three laps, we'd have learned nothing, so we've learned a massive amount by completing a race distance.

"It was also a good opportunity for me to get used to the car and to play around with it, making adjustments in the cockpit. There's a lot of work still needed – on power, driveability, downforce and set-up – but we can make big strides. And, by improving one area, it tends to snowball; more and more areas start to improve, too.

"There were more positives: we're as quick as the Force Indias in the corners, and we look similar in speed through the corners to the Red Bulls and Saubers, too.

"It's been a tough winter – our longest run in testing was just 12 laps, so today's 58-lap run was a good step forward – but we know we've got a lot of work to do. But, with all of today's learning, there are many areas we can improve for the next race."

Full Result:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h31m54.067s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.360s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 34.523s
4 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 38.196s
5 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.149s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1 Lap
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
8 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 2 Laps
- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Wheel
- Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault Power Unit
- Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda Not started
- Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes Withdrawn
- Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault Not started
- Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes Power Unit
- Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes Collision
- Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari Withdrawn
- Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari Withdrawn

Thursday, 12 March 2015

F1 2015 Season Preview

Formula 1 2015 - A Preview
Guest blog by Henry Kelsall

At 1:30 am, UK time, Free Practice 1 begins in Melbourne Australia and 20 (hopefully) cars will hit the track to begin the new season. Ahead of Free Practice, and indeed the race, here is a preview of what we can expect this weekend....

Mercedes are clearly leading the way once again, the W06 showing lightning fast pace in the final test in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Indeed a lot of people are doubting anyone will get near the Silver Arrows and are placing their bets once again on it being a private battle between Rosberg and Hamilton, as it was in 2014. However, Hamilton will no bout face a much stiffer challenge for Rosberg, who today said 'I am not yet at my peak in Formula 1'. Rosberg pushed Hamilton hard for the title last year, expect him to do so again this year as he seeks to win his first world championship.

The battle behind Mercedes is one of intrigue. Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull all look to be fairly close together, with perhaps Williams just about leading that pack. Williams had a very successful pre-season and have high hopes for this year. The FW37 looked like a very good car out on the track, so expect them to be at the sharp end again, as they were last year. Both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are very confident that they have the car that, given the right circumstances, will bring them and the team race wins in 2015

They should be in front of Ferrari, who have made gains of their own over the winter. The SF15-T looks a lot more driveable and responsive and the Ferrari power unit sounds better and is rumored to have a lot more power than last years. Ferrari appear to have improved the whole package, so they should certainly have a better season in 2015 than in 2014. A stronger season for both Kimi Raikkonen and new Ferrari recruit Sebastian Vettel is expected, both drivers currently relishing the new atmosphere at the Scuderia.

Red Bull however, whilst having what appears to be yet another good chassis in the RB11,will be worried at the current lack of performance from the Renault power unit. Whilst it is more reliable, over the three tests it has not shown the performance gains the French manufacturer hoped it would, although their first test was compromised due to 'stupid little things'. Expect though both Kvyat and Ricciardo do be right up their for Red Bull.

Behind the top four, an interesting battle rages for the remaining spots. Lotus are looking a lot stronger than in 2014 and both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are confident 2015 will bring them a much better season. The E23 was reliable and fairly speedy, although on track it did look a bit ragged. I would be very surprised however if they didn't have a better season than 2014. Who knows, maybe they can even claim a couple of podiums along the way?

Force India arrived late to the party, with the VJM08 only running for two and a half days at the final pre season test. Nico Hulkenburg and Sergio Perez were very pleased at how reliable the car was though and expect the team to recover well. Its difficult to judge where they will be this weekend, but expect them to find their feet soon.

With Sauber currently involved in a legal battle, its aims to solve whether Giedo Van De Garde should race for them this year instead of either Marcus Ericsson or Felipe Nasr, discussing their possible on track performance has sadly become a sub-story. However the C34 does look to be better than the C33, but all the team can really hope for is a season which ends in a decent handful of points. Its only going to get tougher now though, for the Sauber team...

Toro Rosso are fielding two inexperienced drivers in Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. However, both are incredibly talented and have hardly put a foot wrong throughout testing. The STR10 also looks to be quite a handy little racer as well, so expect a sold season from Toro Rosso, but not an amazing one .

McLaren had a woeful pre-season, bar one day during the final test where Jenson Button managed 101 laps. The car looked driveable and solid on track but with the constant stream of issues, courtesy of its new partnership with Honda, it is very hard to predict anything but a slow start to the season for the team. Fernando Alonso is missing Australia due to his crash in testing, so Kevin Magnussen (pictured) will partner Button for the season opener. For McLaren, getting both cars to the finish would probably be a major achievement. However with the team remaining confident, look out for them as the season goes on. They could be a real force to be reckoned with soon...

Finally, Manor have pulled of a remarkable recovery, the former Marussia team reaching the first race with a modified 2014 MR03 and have signed Will Stevens for the season and Roberto Merhi for the opening rounds of 2015. With the car still essentially being a 2014 chassis and being powered by the 2014 Ferrari engine, they will no doubt be at the back, at least until the 2015 car is ready (which will have the new Ferrari engine). However, what they have done is remarkable and it is a real credit to the team that they have survived. I think I speak for everyone in the F1 world when I wish them all the luck in the world, lets hope they can have a half decent season! #ForzaJules

Free Practice One coverage at 1 am on Sky Sports F1, with Free Practice Two coverage starting at 5:15 am. Formula 1 is back folks. Here's to a great 2015!

This was a guest post by Henry Kelsall, please follow him on Twitter