Alonso and Button form McLaren-Honda 2015 line-up

McLaren Honda 2015

Following months of speculation, McLaren have confirmed that Fernando Alonso will return to the team, with Jenson Button retained for another Formula 1 season.

The announcement was made at a special media briefing at McLaren’s Woking headquarters.

It was well-known that Fernando Alonso will be back racing for McLaren after five difficult and frustration seasons with Scuderia Ferrari. But a decision on his team-mate meant a delay to the announcement on the 2015 line-up.

Debate raged within the team over whether the 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button’s greater experience should be preferred to rookie Kevin Magnussen’s longer-term potential.

A decision on the final driver line-up had been anticipated ahead of the season-finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but an announcement was twice delayed as agreement failed to materialise at boardroom level.

Button, 34, who recently described McLaren’s indecision over its 2015 driver line-up as “strange”, was ultimately given chance to prolong his career.

The decision means Magnussen, 22, will be left without a race seat in Formula 1 next year, but the Woking team said he would be retained as a reserve, test driver.

Alonso Dennis 2015

Alonso said the discussion for him to return to McLaren began over a year ago. “Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest,” he said.

“But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula One scene for so long.”

Alonso added he is excited to be following the footsteps of Ayrton Senna, who won all three of his world championships in a McLaren-Honda.

“I have never hidden my deep admiration for Ayrton Senna, my favourite driver, my idol on track, my reference,” he said.

“I still remember, as a kid, the posters in my wardrobe, my toy cars in which I dreamed I would one day emulate Ayrton, and the kart that my father built for my older sister, and that I ended up falling in love with.

“That kart had the livery of one of the most legendary partnerships in the history of Formula One, McLaren-Honda, the car that Ayrton drove, the same partnership to which I am now honoured to join, to take part in the next Formula One world championship.”

McLaren will therefore join Ferrari in having world champions in both their cars next year. “As regards drivers, McLaren’s policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible,” said Ron Dennis, “and in Fernando and Jenson I firmly believe that is exactly what we have.”

“I can safely say that we now have by an order of magnitude the best driver line-up of any current Formula One team,” Dennis added.

Button McLaren Honda 2015

“Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go,” said Jenson Button.

“I am also very glad that Kevin will remain part of the team. He is a very quick driver and a really nice guy.

“Looking forward, I know the Honda guys well, having driven Formula 1 cars powered by their engines from 2003 to 2008.

“I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for them, and promise to give 100 per cent to make their partnership with McLaren a success.

“Last but far from least, I am very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and as experienced as Fernando as my team-mate. I am sure we will work extremely well together.”

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis said the chance to pair proven world champions Alonso and Button was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“Fernando and Jenson have started a combined total of precisely 500 grands prix between them – a mighty aggregate – and have won 47 of them,” he said.

“I can safely say, therefore, that we now have by an order of magnitude the best driver line-up of any current Formula 1 team.

“I want to thank and pay tribute to Kevin, who has done a great job this season and will continue to be an integral part of our team.

“He will be our test, reserve and third driver, and remains an excellent prospect for the future.”

So an exciting line-up in the shape of two champions. Fernando Alonso returns to the team following that fallout over Spygate back in 2007 and it will be fascinating to see how the double world champion can get along with Ron Dennis now.

As for Jenson Button, it seems the amount of support on social media has convince the McLaren team to retain him for another chance in Formula 1. Button has still got the drive to succeed and it’s going to be exciting to see how he will fare against Alonso.

But it’s a tough blow for Kevin Magnussen. After showing so much promising in his debut season, Magnussen has been sidelined to a test, reserved driver. Can he make a return to Formula 1 in the near future? Perhaps but a certain GP2 star is making waves and could take over, so Keven needs to watch out for Stoffel Vandoorne

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Sebastian Vettel’s ‘fairytale’ debut with Ferrari

Seb Ferrari 1

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has described his first experience of Ferrari as a ‘fairytale’ after completing a four-day test session with the Maranello-based team.

With his Red Bull Racing contract expired, Vettel immediately got to grips in representing Forza Ferrari.

Having arrived at the Ferrari factory on Friday (November 28), Vettel drove the F2012 at Fiorano on Saturday (November 29), spent a whole day in the simulator on Sunday (November 30) and then met senior team figures including Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne, team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and technical chief James Allison for meetings on Monday (December 1).

Speaking after his first run in the F2012 which features his chosen number 5 – Vettel confessed to feeling special emotions.

Seb Ferrari 2

“There are a lot of fairytales about Ferrari and how it feels to drive a red car,” said Vettel, who ran with a white helmet.

“In the end I can only confirm these fairytales.

“It’s not just a story; it’s a true legend that exists.

“And it feels really, really special to become part of that and to be inside the car, to see the people coming, running to the track and trying to climb the walls to see the car.

“There is definitely something very magical and something that happened today which I will never forget.”

Seb Ferrari 3

Vettel said his first taste of driving at Fiorano also reminded him of visits he made to Maranello as a kid – when he hoped to catch a glimpse of then hero Michael Schumacher.

“I remember I was here a long, long time ago as a little child, driving through Maranello and trying to look over the fence,” he said.

“So to be here officially as part of the team, it felt fantastic to have the possibility to drive the car, and get to know the team. It was a unique experience.

“Obviously it’s a very different colour for me. Everybody is dressed in red, everything is red, but it’s really something special and I’m very much looking forward to the challenge that we took on for the next years.”

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Hamilton wins race and championship

Hamilton champion 2014

Lewis Hamilton achieved his second Formula 1 World Championship by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as title rival Nico Rosberg’s race was ruined by ERS issues.

Hamilton came into the season finale with a 17-point lead over Rosberg, and only needed to finish directly behind his Mercedes team-mate to take the title, regardless of the unpopular double points awarded at Yas Marina.

Rosberg secured his eleventh pole of the season in qualifying, and his title hopes rested on another car coming between himself and Hamilton if he converted that pole into victory.

As it turned out, excessive wheelspin at the start ensured Rosberg lost the lead to Hamilton before the first corner, meaning he had to chase his rival.

Rosberg stayed within a handful of seconds through most of the first half of the race, but suffered an energy recovery system (ERS) failure on lap 24 of 55, which cost him engine power and effectively ended his challenge.

Rosberg tried to manage the technical issue with help from his Mercedes team, but dropped down the order and eventually finished home in a pointless P14, refusing a suggestion by the team to retire his car in the closing stages as the engine problems worsened and insisting he ended his title bid by taking the chequered flag.

Hamilton also lost pace in the middle of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, though not to the same extent as his team-mate, but recovered enough to beat the charging Williams of Felipe Massa by just 2.5 seconds and clinch the championship with his eleventh victory of the season.

Hamilton narrowly denied Massa his first win since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix – scene of Hamilton’s maiden title triumph for McLaren – but second place was a solid result for Massa in his first campaign with Williams.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas recovered from a slow start from third on the grid to record Williams Racing’s first double podium finish of the season, while Daniel Ricciardo charged from a pit lane start to fourth following Red Bull’s exclusion from qualifying for a technical infringement concerning the RB10’s front wing.

Jenson Button produced another strong drive in what could turn out to be the final Formula 1 of his career to finish fifth for McLaren, ahead of the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, and the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, which also started from the pits.

Fernando Alonso finished ninth in his final race for Scuderia Ferrari, a couple of seconds clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who claimed the final points on offer for tenth position.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen survived a collision with the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez, and being forced off the track by Hulkenberg – who was penalised five seconds – on the first lap to finish P11, ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.

The Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat started fifth on the grid, but retired early on after its Renault engine lost power.

So a deserved world champion in the shape of Lewis Hamilton. His second Drivers’ championship after eleven race victories.

Big respect to Nico Rosberg in putting in a brave fight all season but come race day at Abu Dhabi, the Mercedes driver lost out on the start while ERS failure affected his performance.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race results, 55 laps:

1 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes   1h39m02.619s
2 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes   2.576s
3 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes   28.880s
4 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault   37.237s
5 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    1m00.334s
6 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes 1m02.148s
7 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m11.060s
8 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault   1m12.045s
9 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m25.813s
10 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m27.820s
11 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes   1m30.376s
12 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault  1m31.947s
13 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault   1 lap
14 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes   1-lap
15 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari   1 lap
16 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    1 lap
17 Will Stevens    Caterham-Renault  1 lap

Retirements:

Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault    Retirement
Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    Engine
Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault   Retirement

Final Driver’s standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton    384
2 Nico Rosberg    317
3 Daniel Ricciardo    238
4 Valtteri Bottas    186
5 Sebastian Vettel    167
6 Fernando Alonso    161
7 Felipe Massa    134
8 Jenson Button    126
9 Nico Hulkenberg    96
10 Sergio Perez    59
11 Kevin Magnussen    55
12 Kimi Raikkonen    55
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    22
14 Romain Grosjean    8
15 Daniil Kvyat    8
16 Pastor Maldonado    2
17 Jules Bianchi    2
18 Adrian Sutil    0
19 Marcus Ericsson    0
20 Esteban Gutierrez    0
21 Max Chilton    0
22 Kamui Kobayashi    0
23 Will Stevens    0

Final Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes    701
2 Red Bull-Renault    405
3 Williams-Mercedes    320
4 Ferrari    216
5 McLaren-Mercedes    181
6 Force India-Mercedes    155
7 Toro Rosso-Renault    30
8 Lotus-Renault    10
9 Marussia-Ferrari    2
10 Sauber-Ferrari    0
11 Caterham-Renault    0

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Rosberg keeps Hamilton from pole position in title decider

Rosberg Abu Dhabi 2014

Nico Rosberg denied his championship rival and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamitlon with a crucial pole position at the Yas Marina circuit, the location of the final round of this season’s Formula 1 World Championship.

Title contender Rosberg outpaced his rival by just over three tenths on the first runs in the top ten shootout.

The Mercedes driver improved on his second run, avoiding the lock-up later in the lap that cost him time on the first.

Although Hamilton also improved, he ended up 0.386 seconds off Rosberg to line up second on the grid.

But even if Rosberg wins Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton just needs to finish second to be take the title.

Yet again Williams looked like a potential threat in qualifying but when it came to the fastest runs in Q3, the pace advantage of the Silver Arrows was revealed.

Valtteri Bottas ended up in third place, just over half a second off Rosberg, with team-mate Felipe Massa just behind.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel locked out row three, ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s in the Toro Rosso.

Jenson Button beat the Ferraris to eighth postiton, with Kimi Raikkonen ninth after only completing a single run in Q3 no thanks to having run out of fresh super-softs.

Fernando Alonso, on his final race for Ferrari, was tenth having failed to improve on his second run thanks to locking up and running off the circuit.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen had just one opportunity in Q2, likely because of the same underfuelling problem that also forced Button to abandon his first run before setting a laptime.

Magnussen had looked set to make the top ten, only for Raikkonen and Kvyat to knock him down to P11 on their final laps.

Jean-Eric Vergne was also knocked down the order in the final seconds, ending up P12, with the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg behind.

Sauber driver Adrian Sutil was slowest in Q2, falling three tenths short of his Q1 speed.

Romain Grosjean missed out on reaching Q2 by just over two hundredths of a second during a frenetic battle in the final seconds of the first segment of qualifying.

His fellow Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado moved into a Q2 position before being bumped by Esteban Gutierrez, who was then relegated by Sutil.

Grosjean’s final lap was not quite enough to beat Sutil, leaving him in P16, although he will drop to the rear of the field thanks to 20-place penalty for changing power unit components.

Gutierrez ended up P17, ahead of Maldonado and the Caterhams.

Kamui Kobayashi’s was the quickest in the Caterham, although Formula 1 debutant Will Stevens put on a good show by lapping just over half a second slower despite limited running in the car.

So the championship is almost at a climix, with Mercedes locking out the front row for the twelvth time this season. Only one of the Silver Arrows can become champion but will it be Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton?

Double points come into play in Sunday’s race and if Hamilton finishes second behind pole sitter Rosberg, he will win the championship. But like legenadry motor racing commentator Murray Walker has said many times: “Anything can happen in Formula 1 and it usually does”.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m40.480s
2 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m40.866s
3 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.025s
4 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.119s
5 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m41.267s
6 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault    1m41.893s
7 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m41.908s
8 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    1m41.964s
9 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m42.236s
10 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m42.866s
11 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes    1m42.198s
12 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m42.207s
13 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m42.239s
14 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m42.384s
15 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    1m43.074s
16 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.819s
17 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    1m42.860s
18 Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault    1m44.540s
19 Will Stevens    Caterham-Renault    1m45.095s
20 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault    1m42.768s*

*20-place grid penalty for changing power unit

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Alonso leaves Ferrari while Vettel joins Raikkonen with three-year deal

Alonso and Vettel

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will depart from Ferrari come the season finale at Abu Dhabi as the Scuderia confirmed Sebastian Vettel for 2015.

Alonso has cut short his contract with the Maranello-based team by two years, while Vettel’s departure from Red Bull Racing was announced during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

“Today is not an easy one for me, because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end,” said Alonso.

“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration. I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too.

“I must thank the team for that, as it understood my position. I leave Scuderia Ferrari after five years, during which I reached my very best level professionally, tackling major challenges that pushed me to find new limits. I also proved to be a true team player, putting the interests of the Scuderia before my own.

“When I had to take important decisions about my future, I did so with Ferrari in my heart, driven by my love for the team. I am very proud of what we have achieved together. Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of Maranello, on three occasions we came second in the Formula One World Championship, two of them fighting for the title right up to and including the final race, running in a championship winning position for many laps.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, these five years produced some of the best moments of my career and I also feel that, in leaving the team, it is family rather than friends I am leaving behind.

“Now I look to the future with great enthusiasm, knowing that part of my heart will always belong to the prancing horse. I want to thank each and everyone of the team for the trust they showed in me.”

Alonso Ferrari

Alonso joined Ferrari from Renault in 2010 and came ever-so-close to winning the championship in his first season. The following year he signed a deal which extended his contract to 2016.

But despite coming close to the title again in 2012, Alonso’s five years with the Scuderia has failed to yield any championships.

Team principal Marco Mattiacci said Alonso “will always occupy a special place” among Ferrari’s greatest drivers.

“We offer him our heartfelt thanks for what has been an extraordinary adventure with the scuderia, when in the past five years, he twice came so close to winning the world championship.

“I am sure that a great driver like Fernando will always hold the prancing horse dear to his heart and I also expect the Ferrari fans will continue to hold him in high regard in his future endeavours.”

Vettel Ferrari

As for the new Ferrari recruit, Sebastian Vettel will take his place alongside Kimi Raikkonen from next season as the four-time world champion begins a three-year contract with Scuderia Ferrari.

“The next stage of my Formula One career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true,” said Vettel.

“When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.

“I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the prancing horse built in Maranello. The scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”

Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci said the team “has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula One”.

“In Formula One terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write a new chapter in the history of Ferrari.”

So out goes one champion replaced with another. Fernando Alonso has ended his dream hopes of winning the championship in the red car. Can Sebastian Vettel achieve the championship after years of promise for Fernando? Only time can tell but Ferrari needs to deliver the ideal car so that the drivers can do their magic.

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Rosberg victorious in Brazil

Brazil GP 2014 winners

Nico Rosberg recorded his eighth career victory in the sport and ended Lewis Hamilton’s five-race winning form by beating his Mercedes team-mate at Interlagos.

By converting his tenth pole position of the 2014 Formula 1 season into victory, Rosberg reduced the  points lead down to 17 heading into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix double-points finale.

Hamilton’s hopes of challenging Rosberg’s supremacy went undone when he half spun at the Descida do Lago on lap 28 of 71.

The Mercedes driver ran wide after correcting a snap of oversteer as he braked for the corner. Lewis subsequently revealed over the radio that he had wound his brake bias too far to the rear.

Hamilton hustled superbly to recover the time lost to Rosberg, and put him under pressure by remaining within DRS range during a frantic final stint (in which both drivers exchanged fastest laps), but ultimately Hamilton had to settle for second.

Home crowd favourite Felipe Massa brought smiles to the faces of the passionate fans by completing the podium.

The Williams driver survived a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane at his first stop, and the embarrassment of accidentally driving into the McLaren pit at his last, to finish third.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas should have been well-placed to capitalise on Massa’s errors, after running fourth early on, but a lengthy delay at his first pitstop set him back badly, and he lost more time when Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India forced him wide while overtaking into the Senna S.

Bottas eventually finished in a lapped tenth.

McLaren’s Jenson Button took that fourth place with a brave pass around the outside of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari at the Descida do Lago with ten laps to the flag.

Their side-by-side duelling also allowed world champion Sebastian Vettel to nip through into fifth in his Red Bull.

Vettel might have finished higher but lost ground while battling Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren on the opening lap, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo retired shortly before half-distance with a left front suspension failure.

Raikkonen started tenth and dropped behind the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez on the opening lap, but made progress by being the only driver to complete the race on two pitstops.

The Iceman lost time to what appeared to be a front jack problem at his second stop, and defended desperately in a battle of world champions with Fernando Alonso in the closing stages, but ultimately couldn’t prevent his Ferrari team-mate passing him for sixth with a couple of laps to run.

Hulkenberg made good use of alternative tyre strategy – running the soft tyre at the end – to finish eighth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren and Bottas, who just held off Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat to claim the final point.

So the championship goes down to the wire at Abu Dhabi, featuring that controversial double points.

Lewis Hamilton will win the title by just finishing in second position no matter if Nico Rosberg wins. But the question remains the reliability of his Mercedes W05 Hybrid.

If will be a major upset if Hamilton, who scores the most victories with ten, loses out to the championship due to the gimmick over the double points at the season finale.

Bring on the championship showdown.

Brazilian Grand Prix, after 71 laps:

1 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h30m02.555s
2 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1.457s
3 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    41.031s
4 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    48.658s
5 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault    51.420s
6 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m01.906s
7 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m03.730s
8 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m03.934s
9 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes    1m10.085s
10 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
11 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
12 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    1 Lap
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
14 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
16 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
17 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault    8 Laps

Retirements:

Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Front suspension failure

Drivers’ Championship:

1 Lewis Hamilton    334
2 Nico Rosberg    317
3 Daniel Ricciardo    214
4 Sebastian Vettel    159
5 Fernando Alonso    157
6 Valtteri Bottas    156
7 Jenson Button    106
8 Felipe Massa    98
9 Nico Hulkenberg    80
10 Kevin Magnussen    55
11 Kimi Raikkonen    53
12 Sergio Perez    47
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    22
14 Romain Grosjean    8
15 Daniil Kvyat    8
16 Pastor Maldonado    2
17 Jules Bianchi    2
18 Adrian Sutil    0
19 Marcus Ericsson    0
20 Esteban Gutierrez    0
21 Max Chilton    0
22 Kamui Kobayashi    0

Constructors’ Championship:

1 Mercedes    651
2 Red Bull-Renault    373
3 Williams-Mercedes    254
4 Ferrari    210
5 McLaren-Mercedes    161
6 Force India-Mercedes    127
7 Toro Rosso-Renault    30
8 Lotus-Renault    10
9 Marussia-Ferrari    2
10 Sauber-Ferrari    0
11 Caterham/Renault    0

Next race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina. November 21-23.

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Rosberg wins the Pole Position trophy

Rosberg Brazil 2014

Nico Rosberg scored his tenth pole of the Formula 1 season at Interlagos and takes the honour of being the first driver to win the sport’s pole position trophy.

The Mercedes driver edged out his team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by just 33 thousandths of a second.

It was a frantic qualifying session for that P1 spot, with Rosberg having the advantage by just 29 thousandths on their first runs in the top ten shootout.

Hamilton then improved his lap time on his second and final run, briefly knocking Rosberg off the number one spot.

But Rosberg, behind him on track, then bagged his 14th career pole position a few seconds later.

Williams did look a potential threat for pole position, but after setting the third and fourth quickest times on their first runs, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas failed to improve at the end.

Jenson Button managed a great turnaround for McLaren following a tricky practice session with fifth on the grid ahead of defending world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Button secured that place with his first qualifying run, but did not improve on his second attempt.

This allowed Vettel to potentially challenge him, but the Red Bull Racing driver ended up eight thousandths of a second behind despite finding almost half a second on his second run.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh, just ahead of Fernando Alonso, who completed only one run in Q3 for Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo had a lacklustre – by his standards – qualifying and will start ninth, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez was bumped out of a top ten slot in the final seconds of Q2 when Ricciardo posted his sole flying lap, ending up P11.

He was almost four tenths faster than Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who had a lock-up into the Senna S on his best lap, with Adrian Sutil P13 and last of those to run in Q2.

Daniil Kvyat was classified P14 and did not run at all in Q2.

This is because he has to serve a grid penalty, carried over from Austin where he used his tenth internal combustion engine of the season but did not qualify well enough to serve his complete ten-place drop.

Romain Grosjean narrowly missed out on a place in Q2 for Lotus, falling a tenth of a second short of beating Sutil to the all-important P14.

Three thousandths of a second behind was Jean-Eric Vergne, who complained variously of understeer and oversteer during Q1.

But his struggles were largely a consequence of the fact he could only complete five laps during practice after handing his car over to Max Verstappen in FP1 and then suffering an ERS problem in the FP2.

Sergio Perez was a quarter of a tenth further back after also suffering a dismal practice during which he was unable to take to the track following reserve driver Daniel Juncadella’s FP1 crash.

He has to serve a seven-place grid penalty for wiping out Sutil on the opening lap of last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, meaning he will drop behind slowest qualifier Pastor Maldonado.

Qualifying times, Brazilian Grand Prix:

1 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m10.023s
2 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m10.056s
3 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m10.247s
4 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m10.305s
5 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    1m10.930s
6 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault    1m10.938s
7 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes    1m10.969s
8 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m10.977s
9 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m11.075s
10 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m11.099s
11 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    1m11.591s
12 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m11.976s
13 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    1m12.099s
14 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault    1m12.037s
15 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m12.040s
16 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    1m12.233s
17 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    No time
18 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m12.076s

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Advantage Hamilton following Austin win

Hamilton USGP 2014

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his fifth consecutive victory of the season by beating Nico Rosberg to the chequered flag at the Circuit of the Americas.

The Mercedes driver is now 24 points ahead of his title rival with only two races left in this exciting season.

Having taken a brilliant pole position, Rosberg narrowly led the United States Grand Prix through the first round of pitstops, as Hamilton nursed a set of soft Pirelli tyres that he flat-spotted during qualifying.

Rosberg seemed less comfortable than Hamilton when they switched to the medium compound tyre though, and his Mercedes team-mate pounced to take the lead by using DRS and diving down the inside under braking for Turn 12 on lap 24 of 56.

From that point on, Rosberg was powerless to prevent Hamilton clinching his tenth grand prix victory of the season – the 32nd of his career, making him the most successful British driver in the history of Formula 1.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo overcame a poor start to beat the Williams duo and complete the podium.

The Australian’s slow getaway from fifth on the grid cost him four places initially, but he climbed back up to sixth before the end of the opening lap, when the safety car was deployed after Sergio Perez’s Force India bounced off Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and into Adrian Sutil’s Sauber.

Ricciardo dived past Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari to take fifth at the restart, before jumping both Williams at successive pitstops to climb to third.

The Williams drivers finished fourth and fifth, Felipe Massa coming home ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas after jumping him at the start.

Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel gambled on a pitlane start and a low-downforce set-up, after exceeding the five-engines-per-season limit for this event.

The reigning world champion found it difficult to make progress initially, but climbed as high as sixth before being passed by Alonso’s Ferrari (on a much fresher and softer set of tyres) in the closing stages.

Vettel then plummeted to P14 after making a late pitstop for fresh rubber, but recovered back to seventh as the cars ahead battled to the end on much older rubber.

The McLaren of Kevin Magnussen succumbed on the final lap and thus finished eighth, while Lotus scored its first points since the Monaco Grand Prix as Pastor Maldonado finished tenth.

The Lotus driver passed Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso for ninth on the final lap, but was bumped back by his second five-second penalty of the race, in this case for pitlane speeding.

Vergne was classified ninth, but is under investigation for hitting Romain Grosjean’s Lotus while lunging down the inside at Turn 1 with six laps to go.

Both Vergne and Maldonado received earlier five-second penalties for speeding behind the safety car.

Grosjean finished P11 on the track, ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button, which fell away badly in the closing laps.

Kimi Raikkonen ran close behind his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso early on, but lost ground with a late first pitstop and never recovered.

The 2007 world champion finished a disappointing P13, ahead of the Sauber of Estaban Gutierrez and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, last of the classified finishers.

So advantage Hamilton with only Brazil and Abu Dhabi remaining to seal the championship. Lewis could actually win the title by finishing second to Nico Rosberg in those two races, but the racer will always go for the ultimate prize.

United States Grand Prix, 56 laps:

1 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h40m04.785s
2 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    4.314s
3 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault   25.560s
4 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    26.924s
5 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    30.992s
6 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m35.231s
7 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.734s
8 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes    1m40.682s
9 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m43.863s
10 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    1m47.870s
11 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault    1 Lap
12 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    1 Lap
13 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1 Lap
14 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso/Renault    1 Lap

Retirements:

Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes
Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes
Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari

Drivers’ Championship:

1 Lewis Hamilton    316
2 Nico Rosberg    292
3 Daniel Ricciardo    214
4 Valtteri Bottas    155
5 Sebastian Vettel    149
6 Fernando Alonso    149
7 Jenson Button    94
8 Felipe Massa    83
9 Nico Hulkenberg    76
10 Kevin Magnussen    53
11 Sergio Perez    47
12 Kimi Raikkonen    47
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    23
14 Romain Grosjean    8
15 Daniil Kvyat    8
16 Jules Bianchi    2
17 Pastor Maldonado    1
18 Adrian Sutil    0
19 Marcus Ericsson    0
20 Esteban Gutierrez    0
21 Max Chilton    0
22 Kamui Kobayashi    0

Constructors’ Championship:

1 Mercedes    608
2 Red Bull-Renault    363
3 Williams-Mercedes    238
4 Ferrari    196
5 McLaren-Mercedes    147
6 Force India-Mercedes    123
7 Toro Rosso-Renault    31
8 Lotus-Renault    9
9 Marussia-Ferrari    2
10 Sauber-Ferrari    0
11 Caterham-Renault    0

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November 7-9.

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Rosberg edges out Hamilton to take Austin pole

Rosberg USGP qualifying 2014

Championship contender Nico Rosberg achieved his ninth pole position of the Formula 1 season by edging out Lewis Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas.

The Mercedes driver outpaced his team-mate by 0.376 seconds thanks to a superb final Q3 lap.

Rosberg had the advantage over Hamilton during the first runs in Q3, and he improved by just over two tenths on his second attempt to consolidate P1.

Hamilton was behind Rosberg on the track, so still had his lap to complete, but was unable to improve despite setting the fastest final sector seen in qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas beat team-mate Felipe Massa by three tenths as Williams took the second row, while Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo making a big improvement on his final run to grab fifth.

Fernando Alonso was sixth for Ferrari ahead of Jenson Button, although the McLaren driver has to serve a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Kevin Magnussen will benefit over his team-mate’s penalty despite being eighth quickest. At least he edged out Kimi Raikkonen by a tenth of a second.

While Adrian Sutil made it through to Q3, the first time a Sauber has reached the top ten shoot out this season.

Thanks to the absence of Caterham and Marussia – due to the financial crisis hitting these two teams – only four drivers were eliminated in each of the first two stages of qualifying.

Pastor Maldonado narrowly missed out on his first Q3 appearance, ending up P11 after losing an estimated two tenths of a second with a slide in the penultimate corner.

Behind him, Sergio Perez jumped Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg with his final flying lap to take P12.

Daniil Kvyat complained of tyre temperature problems after his out-lap was compromised by traffic and could only manage P14.

He will also be hit with a ten-place penalty for changing a power unit component, some of which must now be carried over to next weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Jean-Eric Vergne missed out on making Q2 by just five hundredths of a second, the Toro Rosso driver ending up in P15 ahead of Esteban Gutierrez.

Sebastian Vettel, who completed a single run on soft tyres as he will start from the pits after a sixth power unit was fitted to his Red Bull, was P17.

Romain Grosjean was slowest having made a mistake on his sole lap on his final run, locking up the front-left wheel under braking for the left-hander at the end of the back straight and running off the track.

But even so, the Lotus driver suspected he would have been unable to advance to the next stage of qualifying because his car was not as competitive as it was during free practice.

So advantage Nico Rosberg at the United States Grand Prix. His 13th career pole position. Can he turn his championship around with race victory over Lewis Hamilton? Sunday’s race is going to be fascinating.

Qualifying positions at the Circuit of the Americas:

1 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m36.067s
2 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m36.443s
3 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m36.906s
4 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.205s
5 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m37.244s
6 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m37.610s
7 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes    1m37.706s
8 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m37.804s
9 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    1m38.810s
10 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    1m38.467s
11 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.554s
12 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    1m37.655s*
13 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.598s
14 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m39.250s
15 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.555s
16 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault    1m39.679s
17 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.699s**
18 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.621s***

*Five-place penalty for gearbox change
**Five-place penalty for engine component change
***Pitlane start for taking sixth power unit

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Hamilton victorious in Russia while Mercedes achieves title

Mercedes F1 Russia 2014

Lewis Hamilton achieved his fourth consecutive victory this season and thereby increasing his lead in the Formula 1 world championship to 17 points over team-mate Nico Rosberg with a commanding win in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

The championship leader also matched Nigel Mansell’s record of 31 Grand Prix victories, which secured Mercedes their first Constructors’ title with three races left in the championship.

Hamilton looked more at ease than Rosberg with the demands of the new 3.6-mile circuit in Sochi, and he converted pole position into his ninth win of the year with a measured drive.

Rosberg also started on the front row, and briefly headed his championship rival after sneaking up the inside after the first run through the flat-out Turn 1 right-hander, but Rosberg locked up heavily under braking for Turn 2 and flat-spotted his front tyres.

That forced Nico into the pits for a tyre-change at the end of the opening lap and effectively handed victory to Lewis.

Extraordinarily, Rosberg made his set of medium Pirelli tyres last 52 of the scheduled 53 laps as he limited the damage to his own championship aspirations by recovering to second in a processional race.

This was the Silver Arrows’ eighth one-two finish of the season which clinched the Constructors’ championship for the Brackley-based team.

Valtteri Bottas ran second for the majority of the first half of the Russian Grand Prix, but had to settle for the final podium spot once he had made his own pit stop and it became clear Rosberg’s tyres would last the distance.

Jenson Button recorded his best result since July’s British Grand Prix by finishing fourth, while McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen – who qualified sixth but started P11 thanks to a grid penalty for a gearbox change – made an excellent start and recovered well to finish fifth.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso also got away well from the grid to climb from seventh and lie fourth at the end of the first lap when Rosberg pitted, but the double world champion ultimately lacked the pace to fight the McLarens and also suffered a delay at his only pit-stop.

Alonso held off Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull to finish best of the non-Mercedes runners and round out the top six.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel ran ahead of his slow-starting Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo in the early stages, but his strategy of running an extended first stint didn’t work out and Vettel had to settle for eighth.

Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant ninth for Ferrari, while Force India’s Sergio Perez survived fears of excessive fuel consumption to claim the final point by rounding out the top ten.

Perez held off the second Williams of Felipe Massa, who started P18 after a fuel pressure problem ruined his qualifying session.

Massa attempted an aggressive two-stop strategy in an effort to recover the lost ground, but in the end fell short to score any points.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg took a close P12, while Russian home hero Daniil Kvyat started a superb fifth but slipped backwards after a scruffy opening lap and wound up finishing P14, behind Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.

All the drivers stood united at the front of the grid ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, as a mark of respect to injured Marussia driver Jules Bianchi.

The French racer’s team-mate Max Chilton raced on in Marussia’s sole entry, but retired with a front-left vibration at the end of his ninth lap.

Russian Grand Prix race results, 53 laps
1 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h31m50.744s
2 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes        +13.657s
3 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     +17.425s
4 Jenson Button    McLaren/Mercedes    +30.234s
5 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes     +53.616s
6 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari       +1m0.016s
7 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault      +1m1.812s
8 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      +1m6.185s
9 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari       +1m18.877s
10 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes      +1m20.067s
11 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes       +1m20.877s
12 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes     +1m21.309s
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault     +1m37.295
14 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    +1 Lap
15 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    +1 Lap
16 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    +1 Lap
17 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault   +1 Lap
18 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    +1 Lap
19 Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault    +2 Laps

Not classified/retirements
Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault    21 laps completed
Max Chilton    Marussia-Ferrari    9 laps completed

Fastest lap
Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m40.896s, lap 53

Drivers’ championship
1 Lewis Hamilton    291
2 Nico Rosberg    274
3 Daniel Ricciardo    199
4 Valtteri Bottas    145
5 Sebastian Vettel    143
6 Fernando Alonso    141
7 Jenson Button    94
8 Nico Hulkenberg    76
9 Felipe Massa    71
10 Kevin Magnussen    49
11 Sergio Perez    47
12 Kimi Raikkonen    47
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    21
14 Romain Grosjean    8
15 Daniil Kvyat    8
16 Jules Bianchi    2
17 Adrian Sutil    0
18 Marcus Ericsson    0
19 Pastor Maldonado    0
20 Esteban Gutierrez    0
21 Max Chilton    0
22 Kamui Kobayashi    0

Constructors’ championship
1 Mercedes    565
2 Red Bull-Renault    342
3 Williams-Mercedes    216
4 Ferrari    188
5 McLaren-Mercedes    143
6 Force India-Mercedes    123
7 Toro Rosso-Renault    29
8 Lotus-Renault    8
9 Marussia-Ferrari    2
10 Sauber-Ferrari    0
11 Caterham-Renault    0

Next race: United States Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americans. November 2.

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